Tales for Fifteen: or, Imagination and Heart
James Fenimore Cooper (writing under the

Part 3 out of 3

"What! not with that voice?" exclaimed the young
man, in surprise.

"Not with this voice, and surely with no other."

Seymour felt uneasy, and, perhaps, disappointed.
He did not seem to have roused a single sensation
in the breast of his companion, and it was seldom
that the elegant possessor of three hundred
thousand dollars failed to do so, wherever he went,
or whatever he did. But, in the present instance,
there was nothing to be discerned in the
countenance or manner of Charlotte that indicated
any thing more than the sweetness of her nature
and the polish of her breeding. He changed the

"I hope your friend did not suffer yesterday from his

"I sincerely hope so too," said Charlotte, with much
simplicity, and yet with a good deal of feeling.

"I am fearful that we idle spectators," continued
the gentleman, "suffered in your estimation, in not
discovering equal benevolence with Mr. Morton."

Charlotte glanced her mild eyes at the speaker, but
made no reply.

"Your silence, Miss Henly, assures me of the truth
of my conjecture."

"You should never put a disagreeable construction
on the acts of another," said Charlotte, with a
sweetness that tended greatly to dissipate the
mortification Mr. Delafield really felt, at the same
time that he was unwilling to acknowledge it, even
to himself.

They were now again interrupted by the music,
which continued some time, during which George
Morton made his appearance. His coat close
buttoned to his throat, and an extra silk
handkerchief around his neck, which he removed
only after he entered the apartment, immediately
arrested the attention of Charlotte Henly. Turning
to Maria, she said, in those tones of real interest
that never can be mistaken for manner--

"I am afraid that George has suffered from his
exposure. Do not ask him to play, for he will be
sure to comply."

"Oh! the chicken has only taken cold," cried Maria;
"If he does not play, what will you do? you came
here to hear him only."

"Has Miss Henly ears for no other performer, then?"
asked Seymour Delafield.

"Miss Henly has as many ears as other people,"
said Maria, "but she does not condescend to use
them on all occasions."

"Rather say," cried Charlotte, laughing, "that the
want of taste in Miss Henly renders her ears of but
little use to her."

"You are not fond of music, then?" asked the youth,
a little vexed at thinking that an accomplishment
on which he prided himself would fail to make its
usual impression.

"Passionately!" exclaimed Charlotte; then, colouring
to the eyes, she added, "at least I sometimes think
so, but I believe I am thought to be without taste."

"Those who think so must want it themselves," said
Seymour, in a low voice; then, obedient to the beck
of one of the presiding nymphs, he hastened to
take his share in the performance.

"Now Charlotte, you little prude," whispered her
friend, the instant he withdrew, "is he not very,
very handsome?"

"Very," said Charlotte; "more so than any other
gentleman I have ever seen."

"And engaging, and agreeable, and gentlemanlike?"

"Agreeable, and gentlemanlike too."

"And graceful, and loveable?"

"Graceful, certainly; and, very possible, loveable, to
those who know him."

"Know him!--what more would you know of the
man? You see his beauty and elegance--you
witness his breeding--you listen to his sense and
information--what more is necessary to fall in love
with him?"

"Really, I pretend to no reasoning upon the subject
at all," said Charlotte, smiling; "but if you have
such an intention, indulge in it freely, I beg of you,
for you will not find a rival in me.--But, listen, he is
about to play a solo on his flute."

A man with three hundred thousand dollars may
play a solo, but he never can be alone where there
are any to listen. The hearts of many throb at the
very breathings of wealth through a flute, who
would remain callous to the bitterest sighs of
poverty. But Delafield possessed other attractions
to catch the attention of the audience: his powers
on the instrument greatly exceeded those of any of
his competitors, and his execution was really
wonderful; every tongue was silent, every ear was
attentive, and every head nodded approbation,
excepting that of our heroine. Delafield, perfectly
master of his instrument and the music, fixed his
eye on the countenance of Charlotte, and he
experienced a thrill at his heart as he witnessed her
lovely face smiling approbation, while his fingers
glided over the flute with a rapidity and skill that
produced an astonishing variety and gradation of
sounds. At length, thought he, I have succeeded,
and have made an impression on this charming girl
that is allied to admiration. The idea gave him
spirits for the task, and his performance exceeded
any thing the company had ever witnessed before.
On laying down the instrument, he approached the
place where the friends were sitting, with an
exultation in his eyes that was inferior only to
modesty in the power to captivate.

"Certainly, Mr. Delafield," cried Maria Osgood, "you
have outdone your own outdoings."

"If I have been so fortunate as to please here, then
I am rewarded indeed," said the youth, with a bow
and an expression that rendered it a little doubtful
to which of the ladies the compliment was
addressed. At this instant, George Morton
approached them.

"Mr. Delafield, let me make you acquainted with Mr.
Morton," said Maria, glancing her eye at the former
in a manner that he understood.

"I have great pleasure in taking Mr. Morton by the
hand," said Seymour, "if he will excuse the want of
ceremony in this company. The lesson that you
gave to me yesterday, sir, will not soon be

"In what manner, sir?" inquired George, with a little
embarrassment and a conscious blush.

"In teaching me, among others, Mr. Morton, the
difference between active and passive humanity--
between that which is satisfied with feeling, and
that which prompts to serve."

To this unexpected compliment young Morton could
do no more than bow in silence, for it was too
flattering for a reply--and too true to deny. As
Delafield turned his eye, at a little loss to know
whether to be pleased or not with his own humility,
he met a look from Charlotte that more than
rewarded him for the effort. It was a mild,
benevolent, pure glance, that spoke admiration and
heartfelt pleasure. He forgot his solo, and the
expected compliments; and, for the rest of the
evening, that thrilling expression floated in his
brain, and was present to his thoughts; it was
worth a thousand of the studied glances that were
continually aimed at him from all sides of the room,
and with every variety of eye--from the piercing
black, to the ogling gray. It was a look that came
directly from, and went to, the heart. If young
ladies always knew how nicely nature has qualified
the other sex to judge of their actions, what
multitudes of astonishingly expressive glances, and
artfully contrived gestures and movements, would
sink down into looks, that indicated feelings and
motives, that were adapted to the occasion! What
trouble in creating incidents that might draw out
charms would be avoided! And, in short, how much
extra labour, both of body and mind, would be

This agreeable contemplation of Mr. Delafield was
soon interrupted by the cheerful voice of Maria
Osgood, who cried--

"Bless me, George, you really do look ill."

"It is seldom that I have much health to boast of,"
replied the youth, in a feeble voice, and with a still
feebler smile.

"But," said Maria, without reflecting, "you look
worse than usual."

There was so much truth in this remark, that the
young man could only smile in silence, while
Seymour, surveying the very plain exterior of his
new acquaintance, turned his eyes with additional
satisfaction towards a mirror that reflected his own
form from head to feet.

"You will not attempt the flute to-night, George?"
said Charlotte.

"I believe I must, or not fulfil my engagement to
Mrs. Osgood."

"Surely," continued Charlotte, in a low tone to her
friend, "George had better not play, looking so ill as
he does."

"Certainly not; besides, his performance would not
shine after that of Mr. Delafield."

Seymour overheard this speech, which was really
intended only for the ear of Charlotte, and he was
instantly seized with an unaccountable desire to
hear the flute of Mr. Morton. Seymour was
conscious that he played well, and could he have
forgotten the indifference that Miss Henly exhibited
to his performance, would have been abundantly
flattered with the encomiums that were lavished on
his skill.

A request from the mistress of the mansion now
compelled George to make his appearance among
the musicians, and in a few minutes his flute was
heard alone. There was a vacancy in the looks of
Charlotte, during the scientific execution of the
different individuals who had been labouring at the
several instruments in the course of the evening,
that denoted a total indifference to the display.
But, the moment that George was called on to take
his part in the entertainment, this restlessness
disappeared, and was succeeded by an expression
of intense interest and deep anxiety. The melody of
George was simple and plaintive; he aimed at no
extraordinary exhibition of skill, and it was difficult
to compare his music with that of Seymour. The
latter, however, studied the countenance of the
young lady near him as the best index to their
comparative merit, and he was soon able to read
his own want of success. For the first few minutes,
anxiety was the principal expression portrayed in
her lovely face, but it was soon succeeded by a
deep and powerful emotion. There is something
contagious in the natural expression of our
passions, that insensibly enlists the sympathies of
the beholder--and Seymour felt a soft melancholy
stealing over him as he gazed, that was but a faint
reflection of the tenderness excited in the breast of
Charlotte, while she listened to sounds that
penetrated to her very soul. There is no mistaking
the effect of music that depends only on its
melody. Its appeal to the heart is direct end
unequivocal, and nothing but callous indifference
can resist its power. The most profound silence
pervaded the apartment, and George was enabled
to finish his piece with a spirit that increased with
the attention. As the last breathing notes died on
the ear, Delafield turned to meet those eyes which
had already secured an unconscious victory, and
saw them moistened with a lustre that added to
their natural softness. Beauty in tears is
proverbially irresistible--and the youth, bending
forward, said in a voice that was modulated to the
stillness of the room--

"Such melody, Miss Henly, captivates the senses."

"Does it not touch the heart?" asked the young
lady, with a little of unusual animation.

"The heart too. But Mr. Morton looks exhausted
after his labours."

All the pleasure which had shone in the
countenance of Charlotte, vanished instantly, and
gave place to deep concern.

"Oh! it is unjustifiable, thus to purchase pleasure at
the expense of another," said she, in a tone that
Seymour scarcely heard.

How tenderly would the man be loved, thought the
youth, who succeeded in engaging the affections of
this young creature! how disinterested is her
regard--and how considerate are her feelings! Here
will I trust my hopes for happiness in this life, and
here will I conquer, or here will I die!

No two persons could possibly be actuated by
sensations more different than Charlotte and
Seymour Delafield. He had been so long palled with
the attentions of managing mothers and designing
daughters; had seen so much of female
manoeuvring, and had so easily seen through it,
that the natural and inartificial loveliness of
Charlotte touched his senses with a freshness of
delicacy that to him was as captivating as it was
novel. Upon unpractised men, the arts of the sex
are often successful, but generally they are allies
that increase the number of the assailants, without
promoting the victory. It is certain that many a fair
one played that evening in order that Mr. Delafield
might applaud; that some sighed that he might
hear, and others ogled that he might sigh: but not
one made the impression that the quiet, speaking
eye, and artless but peaceful nature of Charlotte
produced on the youth. While this novel feeling was
gaining ground in the bosom of Mr. Delafield,
Charlotte saw nothing in her new acquaintance but
a gentleman of extraordinary personal beauty,
agreeable manners, and graceful address--qualities
that are always sure to please, and, not unusually,
to captivate. But to her he was a stranger; and
Charlotte, who never thought or reasoned on the
subject, would have been astonished had one
seriously spoken of her loving him. The road to
conquest with her lay through her heart, and was
but little connected with her imagination.

"Heigho! George," cried Maria, as he approached,
"you have given me the dolefuls."

"And me both pleasure and pain," said Charlotte.

"Why the latter?" asked the youth, quickly.

"Surely it was imprudent in you to play, with such a

The lip of the youth quivered, and a smile of
mournful and indefinable meaning passed over his
features, but he continued silent.

"It is to be hoped it had one good effect at least,"
continued Maria.

"Such as what?"

"Such as putting the little dears to sleep in the
nursery, which is directly over our heads."

"It is well if I have done that little good," said

"You have brought tears into eyes that never
should weep," cried Delafield, "and melancholy to a
countenance that seems formed by nature to
convey an idea of peaceful content."

Morton looked earnestly at the speaker for a
moment, when a painful feeling seemed suddenly
to seize on his heart--for his cheek grew paler, and
his lip quivered with an agitation that apparently he
could not control. Charlotte alone noticed the
alteration, and, speaking in a low tone, she said--

"Do go home, George; you are far from being well--
to oblige me, go home."

"To oblige you, I would do much more unwelcome
biddings," he replied, with a slight colour; "but I
believe you are right; and, having discharged my
duty here, I will retire."

He rose, and, paying the customary compliments to
the mistress of the mansion, withdrew. With him
disappeared all the awakened interest of Charlotte
in the scene.

In vain was Seymour Delafield attentive, polite, and
even particularly so. That devotedness of
admiration for which so many sighed, and which so
many envied, was entirely thrown away upon
Charlotte. She listened, she bowed, and she
smiled--and, sometimes, she answered; but it was
evidently without meaning or interest, until,
wearied with his fruitless efforts to make an
impression, and perhaps with a hope of exciting a
little jealousy, he turned his attention to her more
lively companion.

"Your mother's nursery, Miss Osgood," he cried,
"ought on such an occasion to be tenantless."

"You think there are enough of us here to make it
so," returned the lady, with an affected sigh.

"I really had not observed the number of your
charming family--how many are there of you?"

"A baker's dozen." Charlotte laughed, and the youth
felt mortified. The laugh was natural, and clearly
extorted, without a thought of himself.

"When you are all married," he said, "you will form
a little world in yourselves."

"When the sky falls we shall catch larks."

{When the sky.... = an old proverb, found in
English, French, and even Latin, meaning that the
idea or proposal is absurd}

"Surely, you intend to marry?"

Maria made no reply, but turned her eyes on
Delafield, with an affected expression of
melancholy that excited another laugh in her friend.

"You certainly have made no rash vow on the
subject," continued Seymour, pretending to a slight
interest in her answer.

"My troth is not yet plighted," said the lady, a little

"But there is no telling how long it will continue

"I am afraid so--thirteen is a dreadful divisor for a
small family estate."

A general movement in the party was gladly seized
by Charlotte as an excuse to go, and Delafield
handed her to her carriage, with the mortifying
conviction that she was utterly indifferent to every
thing but the civility of the act.


IT was quite early on the following morning, when
Mr. Delafield rung at the door of the house in which
the father of Miss Henly resided. The gentleman
had obtained the permission of the young lady, the
preceding evening, to put himself on the list of her
visiting acquaintance, and a casual introduction to
both of Charlotte's parents had smoothed the way
to this intimacy. It is certain, that, much as Mr. and
Mrs. Henly loved their child, neither of them
entertained the selfish wish of monopolizing all of
her affections to themselves during life. It was
natural, and a thing to he expected, that Charlotte
should marry; and among the whole of their
acquaintance there appeared no one so
unobjectionable as her new admirer. He was
agreeable in person, in manners, and in temper; he
was intelligent, witty, and a man of the world; and,
moreover, he was worth--three hundred thousand
dollars! What parent is there whose judgment
would remain unbiassed by these solid reasons in
favour of a candidate for the hand of his child? or
what female is there whose heart could be steeled
against such attractions in her suitor? Many were
the hours of care that had been passed by the
guardians of Charlotte's happiness, in ruminating
on the event that was to yield their charge to the
keeping of another; frequent were their discussions
on this interesting subject, and innumerable their
plans to protect her inexperience against falling
into those errors that had blasted the peace of so
many around them; but the appearance of Seymour
Delafield seemed as the fulfilment of their most
sanguine expectations. To his refinement of
manners, they both thought that they could yield
the sensitive delicacy of their child with confidence;
in his travelled experience they anticipated the
permanency of a corrected taste; nor, was it a
disagreeable consideration to either, that as the
silken cord of paternal discipline was to be
loosened, it was to be succeeded by the fetters of
hymen cast in polished gold. In what manner their
daughter regarded the evident admiration of Mr.
Delafield will appear, by her conclusion of our tale.

On entering the parlour, Delafield found George
Morton seated in a chair near the fire, with his
person more than usually well guarded against the
cold, as if he were suffering under the effects of a
serious indisposition. The salutations between the
young men were a little embarrassed on both sides;
the face of George growing even paler than before,
while the fine colour on Delafield's cheek mounted
to his very temples. After regarding for a moment,
with much inward dissatisfaction, the apparent
ease with which George was maintaining
possession of the apartment by himself, Mr.
Delafield overcame the sudden emotion created by
the surprise, and spoke.

"I am sorry that you appear so ill, Mr. Morton, and I
regret that you should have suffered so much in the
cause of humanity, when one so much better able
to undergo the fatigue, by constitution, should have
remained an idle spectator, like myself."--

The silent bow of George might be interpreted into
a desire to say nothing of his own conduct, or into
an assent with the self-condemnation of the
speaker. Delafield, however, took the chair which
the other politely placed for him, and continued--

"But, Sir, you have your reward. The interest and
admiration excited in Miss Henly, would
compensate me for almost any privation or hardship
that man could undergo."

"It is no hardship to ride a few miles in a
comfortable coach," said George, with a feeble
smile, "nor can I consider it a privation of
enjoyment, to be able to assist the distressed,"--he
hesitated a moment, and a flush gradually stole
over his features as he continued, "It is true, Sir,
that I prize the good opinion of Miss Henly highly,
but I look to another quarter for approbation on
such a subject."

"And very justly, George," said the soft voice of
Charlotte, "such applause as mine can be but of
little moment to one who performs such acts as

The gentlemen were sitting with their faces towards
the fire, and had not heard the light step of Miss
Henly as she entered the apartment, but both
instantly arose and paid their salutations; the
invalid by a silent bow, and by handing a chair, and
Delafield with many a graceful compliment on her
good looks, and divers protestations concerning the
pleasure he felt at being permitted to visit at her
house. No two things could be more different than
the manners of these gentlemen. That of the latter
was very highly polished, insinuating, and although
far from unpleasantly so, yet slightly artificial;
while that of the former was simple, ingenuous,
and in the presence of Miss Henly was apt to be at
times a little constrained. Charlotte certainly
perceived the difference, and she as certainly
thought that it was not altogether to the advantage
of George Morton. The idea seemed to give her
pain, for she showed several little attentions to her
old friend, that by their flattering, but unstudied
particularity, were adapted to put any man at his
ease and assure him of his welcome, still the
embarrassment of George did not disappear, but he
sat an uneasy listener to the conversation that
occurred, as if reluctant to stay, and yet unwilling
to depart. After a few observations on the
entertainment of the preceding evening, Mr.
Delafield continued--

"I was lamenting to Mr. Morton, as you entered,
that he should have suffered so much from my want
of thought, the day before yesterday; it requires a
good constitution to endure exposure--"

"And such I often tell you, George, you do not
possess," said Charlotte, kindly and with a little
melancholy; "yet you neither seem to regard my
warnings on the subject, nor those of any of your

"There is a warning that I have not disregarded,"
returned the youth, endeavouring to smile.

"And what is it?" asked Charlotte, struck with the
melancholy resignation of his manner.

"That I am not fit company, just now, for hearts as
gay as yours and Mr. Delafield's," he returned, and
rising, he made a hasty bow and withdrew.

"What can he mean!" said Charlotte, in amazement,
"George does not appear well, and latterly his
manner is much altered--what can he mean, Mr.

"He is ill," said Delafield, far from feeling quite
easy at the evident interest that the lady
exhibited; "he is ill, and should be in his bed,
instead of attending the morning levees of even
Miss Henly."

"Indeed, he is too regardless of his health," said
Charlotte in a low tone, fixing her eyes on the
grate, where she continued gazing for some time.
Every effort of Seymour was made to draw off the
attention of the young lady from a subject, that,
however melancholy, seemed to possess peculiar
charms for her. In this undertaking the gentleman
would not have succeeded but for the fortunate
appearance of Miss Osgood, who came into the
room very opportunely to keep alive the discourse.

"What, tete-a-tete!" exclaimed Maria; "you should
discharge your footman, Charlotte, for saying that
you were at home. A young lady is never supposed
to be at home when she is alone--with a

"I shall then know how to understand the servant of
Mr. Osgood, when I inquire for his daughter," cried
Seymour gayly.

"Ah! Mr. Delafield, it is seldom that I have an
opportunity of hearing soft things, for I am never
alone with a gentleman in my father's house"--

"And is Mrs. Osgood so rigid?" returned the
gentleman; "surely the gravity of her daughter
should create more confidence"--

"Most humbly I thank you, Sir,{"} said Maria,
courtseying low before she took the chair that he
handed; "but it is not the caution of Mrs. Osgood
that prevents any solos in her mansion, unless it be
on a harp or flute, or any possibility of a tete-a-

"Now you have excited my curiosity to a degree
that is painfully unpleasant," said Delafield, "I
know you to be too generous not to allay it"--

"Oh! it is nothing more than a magical number, that
frightens away all applicants for such a favour,
unless indeed it may be such as would not be very
likely to be successful were they to apply; and
which even would render it physically impossible to
have a tender interview within the four walls of the

"It is a charmed number, indeed! and is it on the
door? is it the number of the house?"

"Oh! not at all--only the number of the family, the
baker's dozen, that I mentioned last evening; now
in visiting Miss Henly there is no such interruption
to be apprehended."

Charlotte could not refrain from smiling at the
vivacity of her friend, who, perceiving that her wish
to banish the look of care that clouded the brow of
the other had vanished, changed the discourse as
abruptly as she had introduced it.

"I met George Morton at the door, and chatted with
him for several minutes. He appears quite ill, but I
know he has gone two miles in the country for his
mother this raw day; unless he is more careful of
himself he will ruin his constitution, which is none
of the best now."

Maria spoke with feeling, and with a manner that
plainly showed that her ordinary levity was
assumed, and that she had at the bottom, much
better feelings than the trifling intercourse of the
world would usually permit her to exhibit. Charlotte
did not reply, but her brightening looks once more
changed to that pensive softness which so well
became her delicate features, and which gave to
her countenance an expression such as might be
supposed to shadow the glory of angels, when,
from their abode of purity and love, they look down
with pity on the sorrows of man.

The quick glance of Delafield not only watched, but
easily detected, both the rapid transitions and the
character of these opposite emotions. Under the
sudden influence of passions, that probably will not
escape our readers, he could not forbear uttering, in
a tone in which pique might have been too

"Really, Mr. Morton is a happy fellow!"

The blue eyes of Charlotte were turned to the
speaker with a look of innocent inquiry, but she
continued silent. Maria, however, not only bestowed
a glance at the youth from her laughing hazel ones,
but found utterance for her tongue also.

"How so?" she asked--"He is not of a strong
constitution, not immensely rich, nor over and
above--that is, not particularly handsome. Why is
he so happy?"

"Ah! I have discovered that a man may be happy
without one of those qualifications."

"And miserable who has them all?"

"Nay, nay, Miss Osgood, my experience does not
extend so far--I am not quite the puppy you think

Maria, in her turn, was silent; but she arose from
her seat, and moved with an absent air to a distant
part of the room, and for a short time seemed to be
particularly occupied in examining the beauties of a
port-folio of prints, with every one of which she was
perfectly familiar. The conversation was resumed by
her friend.

"You have mortified Miss Osgood, Mr. Delafield,"
said Charlotte; "she is too good natured to judge
any one so harshly."

"Is her good nature, in this particular, infectious?"
the young man rather whispered than uttered
aloud--"Does her friend feel the same indulgence
for the infirmities of a frail nature to which she
really seems herself hardly to belong?"

"You compliment me, Mr. Delafield, at the expense
of truth, if it really be a compliment to tell me that
I am not a girl--a female; for if I am not a woman,
I must be something worse."

"You are an angel!" said Delafield, with
uncontrollable fervour.

Charlotte was startled by his manner and his words,
and unconsciously turned to her friend, as if to seek
her protecting presence; but to her astonishment,
she beheld Maria in the act of closing the door as
she was leaving the room.

"Maria!" she cried, "whither in such a hurry? I
expected you to pass the morning with me."

"I shall see your mother and return," replied Miss
Osgood, closing the door so rapidly as to prevent
further remark. This short speech, however, gave
Charlotte time to observe the change that
something had produced in the countenance of her
old companion, where, in place of the thoughtless
gaiety that usually shone in her features, was to be
seen an expression of painful mortification; and
even the high glow that youth and health had
imparted to her cheeks, was supplanted by a death-
like paleness. Delafield had been endeavouring to
peruse the countenance of Miss Henly in a vain
effort to discover the effect produced by his warm
exclamation; and these observations, which were
made by the quick eye of friendship, entirely
escaped his notice.

"Maria is not well, Mr. Delafield," Charlotte said
hastily. "I know your goodness will excuse me while
I follow her."

The young man bowed with a mortified air, and was
somewhat ungraciously beginning to make a polite
reply, when the door opened a short space, and the
voice of Miss Osgood was once more heard, saying
in a forced, but lively manner--

"I never was better in my life; I shall run into Mrs.
Morton's for ten minutes; let me find you here, Mr.
Delafield, when I return." Her footstep was heard
tripping along the passage, and in a moment after,
the street door of the house opened and shut.
Charlotte perceiving that her friend was
determined, for some inexplicable reason, to be
alone, quietly resumed her seat. Her musing air
was soon changed to one of surprise, by the
following remark of her companion:

"You appear, Miss Henley," he said, "to be
sensitively alive to the ailings of all you know but

"I did not know that you were ill, Mr. Delafield!
Really, sir, I never met with any gentleman's looks
which so belied him, if you are otherwise than both
well and happy."

As much experience as Delafield possessed in the
trifling manoeuvres of managers, or perhaps in the
manifestations of feelings that are exhibited by
every-day people, he was an absolute novice in the
emotions of a pure, simple, ingenuous female
heart. He was alive to the compliment to his
acknowledged good looks, conveyed in this speech,
but he was not able to appreciate the single-
heartedness that prompted it. Perhaps his
handsome face was as much illuminated by the
consciousness of this emotion as by the deeper
feeling he actually experienced, while he replied,--

"I am well, or ill, as you decree. Miss Henley; it is
impossible that you should live in the world, and be
seen, be known as you are, and must have been
seen and known, and not long since learned the
power you possess over the happiness of

Though Charlotte was simple, unsuspecting, pure,
and extremely modest, she was far from dull--she
was not now to learn the difference between the
language of ordinary trifling and general
compliment, and that to which she now listened,
and which, however vague, was still so particular as
to induce her to remain silent. The looks and
manner of the youthful female, at that moment,
would have been a study to those who love to dwell
on the better and purer beings of creation. She was
silent, as we have already remarked, because she
could make no answer to a speech that either
meant every thing or nothing. The slight tinge that
usually was seated on her cheek spreading over its
whole surface like the faintest glow of sunset
blending, by mellow degrees, with the surrounding
clouds, was heightened to richness, and even
diffused itself like a reflection, across her polished
forehead, because she believed she was about to
listen to a declaration that her years and her
education united to tell her was never to approach
female ears without slightly trespassing on the
delicacy of her sex. Her mild blue eyes, beaming
with the glow on her face, rose and fell from the
carpet to the countenance of Delafield, but chiefly
dwelt in open charity, and possibly in anxiety, on
his own. In fact, there was thrown around her whole
air, such a touch of exquisite and shrinking
delicacy, so blended with feeling benevolence, and
even tender interest, that it was no wonder that a
man, handsome to perfection, young, intelligent,
and rich, mistook her feelings.

"Pardon me, Miss Henley," he cried, and the
apology was unconsciously paid to the commanding
purity and dignity of her air, "if I overstep the rules
of decorum, and hasten to declare that which I
know years of trial would hardly justify my saying;
but your beauty, your grace, your----your----where
shall I find words to express it?--your loveliness,
yes, that means every thing--your loveliness has
not been seen with impunity."

This might have done very well for a sudden and
unprepared declaration; but being a little indefinite,
it failed to extract a reply, his listener giving a
respectful, and, at times, a rather embarrassing
attention to what he was to add. After a short
pause, the youth, who found words as he
proceeded, and with whom, as with all others, the
first speech was the most difficult, continued--

"I have known you but a short time, Miss Henley;
but to see you once is to see you always. You
smile, Miss Henley, but give me leave to hope that
time and assiduity will enable me to bring you to
such a state of feeling, that in some degree, you
may know how to appreciate my sensations."

"If I smile, Mr. Delafield," said Charlotte in a low
but distinct voice, "it is not at you, but at myself. I,
who have been for seventeen years constantly with
Charlotte Henley, find each day something new in
her, not to admire, but to reprehend." She paused a
moment, and then added, smiling most sweetly as
she spoke, "I will not affect to misunderstand you,
Mr. Delafield; your language is not very intelligible,
but it is such that I am sure you would not use to
me if you were not serious, and did not feel, or
rather think you feel what you utter."

"Think I feel?" he echoed. "Don't I know it? Can I
be mistaken in my own sentiments? I may be
misled in yours--may have flattered myself with
being able to accomplish that at some distant day,
which your obduracy may deny me, but in my own
feelings I cannot be mistaken."

"Not where they are so very new; nay, do not start
so eagerly--where they MUST be so very new.
Surely your fancy only leads you to say so much,
and to-morrow, or next day, your fancy, unless
encouraged by you to dwell on my unworthy self,
will lead you elsewhere."

"Now, Miss Henley, what I most admire in your
character is its lovely ingenuousness, its simplicity,
its HEART; and I will own I did not expect such an
answer to a question put, like mine, in sincerity and

"If I have failed to answer any question you have
put to me, Mr. Delafield, it is because I am
unconscious than any was asked; and if I have
displayed disengenuousness, want of simplicity, or
want of feeling, it has been unintentional, I do
assure you; and only proves that I can be guilty of
errors, without their being detected by one who has
known me so long and so intimately."

"My impetuosity has deceived me and distressed
you," said Delafield--"I would have said that I love
you ardently, passionately, and constantly, and
shall for ever love you. I should have asked your
permission to say all this to your parents, to
entreat them to permit me to see you often, to
address you; and, if it were not impossible, to hope
that in time they would consent to intrust me with
their greatest treasure, and that you would not
oppose their decree."

"This is certainly asking many questions in a
breath," said Charlotte smiling, but without either
irony or triumph; "and were it not for that word,
breath, I should experience some uneasiness at
what you say; I find great satisfaction, Mr.
Delafield, in reflecting that our acquaintance is not
a week old."

"A week is time enough to learn to adore such a
being as you are, Miss Henley, though an age would
not suffice to do justice to your merits. Say, have I
your permission to speak to your father? I do not
ask you yet to return my affection--nay, I question
if you can ever love as I do."

"Perhaps not," said Charlotte; "I can love enough to
feel a great and deep interest in those who are
dear to me, but I never yet have experienced such
emotions, as you describe--I believe, in this
particular, you have formed a just opinion of me,
Mr. Delafield; I suspect such passions are not in
the compass of my feelings."

"They are, they must be, Miss Henley: allow me to
see you often, to speak to your father, and at least
to hope--may I not hope that in time you will learn
to think me a man to be trusted with your
happiness as your husband?"

The quiet which had governed the manner of
Charlotte during this dialogue, was sensibly
affected by this appeal, and for a short time she
appeared too much embarrassed to reply. During
this interval, Delafield gazed on her, in delight; for
with the sanguine feelings of youth, he interpreted
every symptom of emotion in his own favour.
Finding, however, that she was distressed for a
reply, he renewed his suit--

"Though I have known you but a few days, I feel as
if I had known you for years. There are, I believe,
Miss Henley, spirits in the world who commune with
each other imperceptibly, who seem formed for
each other, and who know and love each other as
by instinct."

"I have no pretensions to belong to that class,"
said Charlotte; "I must know well to love a little,
but I trust I feel kind sentiments to the whole
human race."

"Ah, you do not know yourself. You have lived all
your life in the neighbourhood of that Mr. Morton
who just went out, and you feel pity for his illness.
He does indeed look very ill--but you have yet to
learn what it is to love. I ask the high favour of
being permitted to attempt the office of--of--of--"

"Of teaching me!" said Charlotte with a smile."

"No--that word is too presumptuous--too coarse--"

"Hear me, Mr. Delafield," said Miss Henley after a
short pause, during which she seemed to have
experienced some deep and perhaps painful
emotions--"I cannot undertake to give you a reason
for my conduct--very possibly I have no good one;
but I feel that I should be doing you injustice by
encouraging what you are pleased to call hopes--I
wish to be understood now, as saying that I cannot
consent to your expecting that I should ever
become your wife."

Delafield was certainly astonished at this refusal,
which was given in that still, decided manner that
admits of little opposition. He had long been
accustomed to apprehend a sudden acceptance, and
had been in the habit of strictly guarding both his
manner and his language, lest something that he
did or said might justify expectations that would
have been out of his power to fulfil; but now, when,
for the first time, he had ventured a direct offer, he
met with a rejection that possessed all the
characteristics of sincerity, he was, in truth, utterly
astounded. After taking a sufficient time to collect
in some degree his faculties, he came to the
conclusion that he had been too precipitate, and
had urged the suit too far, and too hastily.

"Such may be your sentiments now, Miss Henley,"
he said, "but you may alter them in time: you are
not called on for a definite answer."

"If not by you, I am by truth, Mr. Delafield. It would
be wrong to lead you to expect what can never--"

"Never?" said Delafield--"you cannot speak so

"I do, indeed I do," returned Charlotte firmly.

"I have not deceived myself in believing you to be
disengaged, Miss Henley?"

"You have a right to require a definite answer to
your questions, Mr. Delafield; but you have no right
to exact my reasons for declining your very
flattering offer--I am young, very young--but I know
what is due to myself and to my sex--"

"By heavens! my suspicion is true--you are already

"It would be easy to say NO to that assertion, sir,"
added Charlotte, rising; "but your right to a reason
in a matter where inclination is so material, is
exactly the same as my right would be to ask you
why you did not address me. I thank you for the
preference you have shown me, Mr. Delafield. I
have not so little of the woman about me, not to
remember it always with gratitude; but I tell you
plainly and firmly, for it is necessary that I should
do so--I never can consent to receive your

"I understand you, madam--I understand you," said
the young man with an offended air; "you wish my
absence--nay, Miss Henley, hear me further."

"No further, Mr. Delafield," interrupted Charlotte,
advancing to him with a kind, but unembarrassed
air, and offering her hand--"we part friends at least;
but I think, now we know each other's sentiments,
we had better separate."

The gentleman seized the hand she offered, and
kissed it more with the air of a lover, than of an
offended man, and left the room. A few minutes
after he had gone, Miss Osgood re-appeared.


NOTWITHSTANDING the earnest injunction that
Maria had given to Mr. Delafield to continue where
she left him, until her return, she expressed no
surprise at not finding him in the room. The
countenance of this young lady exhibited a droll
mixture of playful mirth and sadness; she glanced
her eyes once around the apartment, and perceiving
it was occupied only by her friend, she said,

"Well, Charlotte, when is it to be? I think I retired
in very good season."

"Perhaps you did, Maria," returned the other,
without raising her face from the reflecting attitude
in which she stood--"I believe it is all very well."

"Well! you little philosopher--I should think it was
excellent--that--that is--if I were in your place. I
suspected this from the moment you met."

"What have you suspected, Maria?--what is it you
imagine has occurred?"

"What! why Seymour Delafield has been
stammering--then he looked doleful--then he
sighed--then he hemmed--then he said you were an
angel--nay, you need not look prudish, and affect to
deny it; he got as far as that before I left the
room--then he turned to see if I were not coming
back again to surprise him--then he fell on his
knees--then he stretched out his handsome hand--
it is too handsome for a man's hand!--and said take
it, take me, take my name, and take my three
hundred thousand dollars!--Now don't deny a
syllable of it till I tell your answer."

Charlotte smiled, and taking her work, quietly
seated herself at her table before she replied--

"You go through Cupid's exercise so dexterously,
Maria, one is led to suspect you have seen some

"Not under such an officer, girl! Ah! Colonel
Delafield, or General--no, Field Marshal Delafield, is
an officer that might teach"--as Miss Osgood spoke
with short interruptions between her epithets, as if
in search of proper terms, she dwelt a moment on
the last word in such a manner as to give it a
particular emphasis--Charlotte started, more
perhaps from the manner than the expression, and
turning her glowing face towards her friend, she
cried involuntarily--

"Is it possible that you could have overheard--"


"Nothing--what nonsense!"

"Let me tell you, Miss Prude, it is in such nonsense,
however, that the happiness or misery of us poor
sports of fortune, called women, in a great measure
blooms or fades--now that I call poetical!--but for
your answer: first you said--indeed, Mr. Delafield,
this is SO unexpected---though you knew well
enough what was coming--then you blushed as you
did a little while ago, and said I am so young--I--
am but poor seventeen--then he swore you were
seventy--no, no,--but he said you are old enough to
be his ruling star--his destiny--his idol--his object
of WORSHIP--ha! I do hit the right epithet now and
then. Well--then you said you had parents, as if the
poor man did not know that already, and that they
must be consulted; and he desired you to ask the
whole city--he defied them all to say aught against
him--he was regular at church--subscribed to the
widow's society, and the assembly; and in short,
was called a 'good' young man, even in Wall-

"All this is very amusing, Maria--but--"

"It is all very true. Then he was pressing, and you
were coy, until finally he extorted your definitive
answer, which was--" Maria paused, and seemed to
be intensely studying the looks of the other--Miss
Henley smiled as she turned her placid, ingenuous
features to her gaze, and continued the
conversation by repeating,

"Which was?"

"NO; irretrievable--unanswerable--unalterable NO."

"I have not authorized you to suspect any part of
this rhapsody to be true--I have not said you were
right in a single particular."

"Excuse me, Miss Henley, you have said all, and
Seymour Delafield told me the same as we passed
each other at the street door."

"Is it possible!"

"It could not be otherwise. His mouth was shut, it
is true, and his tongue might have been in his
pocket, for any thing I know: but his eyes and his
head, his walk, and even his nose were downcast,
and spoke mortification. On the other hand, your
little body looks an inch higher, your eyes look
resolute, as much as to say, 'Avaunt, false one!
your whole appearance is that of determined denial,

"Mingled with what, trifler?"

"Mingled with a little secret, woman's pride, that
you have had an opportunity of showing your
absolute character."

"You know these feelings from experience, do you?"

"No child, my very nature is charity; if the request
had been made to me, I should have sent the
desponding youth to my father, and if he refused,
to my mother--"

"And if she refused?"

"Why then I should have said, two negatives make
an affirmative."

Charlotte laughed, and in this manner the serious
explanation which, between friends so intimate
might have been expected, was avoided. Maria, at
the same time, that she fell and manifested a deep
interest in the TETE-A-TETE that she had promoted,
always avoided any thing like a grave explanation,
and we have failed in giving the desired view of the
character of Miss Henley, if our readers deem it
probable that she would ever touch on the subject

The winter passed by in the ordinary manner in
which other winters pass in this climate, being a
mixture of mild, delightful days, clear sky, and
invigorating sun, and of intense, cold, raw winds,
and snow storms. The two latter seemed to try the
constitution of poor George Morton to the utmost.
The severe cold that he took in his charitable
excursion lingered about him through the cold
months, and before the genial warmth of May
occurred to relieve him, his physicians pronounced
that his lungs were irremediably affected. During
the period of doubt and apprehension which
preceded the annunciation of this opinion, and of
distress and agony which succeeded it, the family
of Mr. Henley warmly sympathized in the feelings of
their neighbours. The long intimacy that had
existed between George and Charlotte and their
parents, removed all superfluous forms, and the
latter passed a great deal of her time with Mrs.
Morton, or by the side of the invalid. Her presence
gave him such manifest and lively pleasure, that it
would have been cruel to have denied him what the
other appeared to grant spontaneously. Charlotte
had gradually withdrawn herself from society as the
illness of George increased, and his danger became
more apparent; and at the expiration of the month
of April, she was seldom visible to those who are
called the world, with the exception of the
immediate connexions of her family, and her friend
Maria 0sgood. In the beginning of May both Mr.
Morton and his neighbour withdrew to their country
houses, and thus the retirement from the world and
the intercourse between the two families became
more complete.

Delafield had made one or two efforts to renew his
addresses to Charlotte, but finding them in every
instance firmly, though mildly rejected, he
endeavoured to discover such imperfections in the
object of his regard as might justify him in disliking
her. The more he reflected on her conduct, however,
the more he became sensible of the propriety and
simplicity of her deportment; and had not the
impression she had made on the young man
proceeded rather from the effect on his fancy, than
from having touched his heart, the consequences of
his conviction of her purity and truth might have
been more lasting and deplorable. As it was, his
heated imagination gradually ceased to glow with
the beauties of an image that was, however perfect
in itself, extravagantly coloured by his own youthful
imagination, and in time, if he thought at all of
Charlotte Henley, he thought of her as a beautiful
object, it is true, but as of one that brought
somewhat mortifying reflections along with it. This
might not have been manly or generous, perhaps,
but we believe it is the manner in nine cases out of
ten in which such sudden emotions expire,
especially if the ardour of the youth has
precipitated a declaration that the more chastened
feelings of the damsel are not yet prepared to
reciprocate. While the image of Charlotte was still
lingering in his mind, he was in the habit of visiting
Maria Osgood almost daily, to ask questions about
her, and perhaps with a secret expectation of their
meeting her at the house of her friend. The gay
trifling of Miss Osgood aided greatly both in cooling
his spleen and removing his melancholy, till in the
course of a month he even proceeded so far as to
make her the confidant of what she already knew,
though only by conjecture and inference. Delafield
at this time was so urgent, and secretly so
determined to prevail, in order that his pride if not
his affections might be soothed, that in an
unguarded moment he induced the inconsiderate
Maria to betray, we will not say the confidence of
her friend, but such facts as could only have come
to her knowledge by the intimacy of unaffected
association. If there were any thing to extenuate
this breach of decorum by Maria, it was the manner
in which it was effected. Miss Osgood had just
returned from one of her frequent visits to the villa
of Mr. Henley, when Delafield made his customary
morning call: the absence of Maria, and the object
of her visit, had been well known to him, and as it
was a time when he began to speak of Miss Henley
without much emotion, and but little love, he could
not avoid yielding so far to his pique as to express
himself as follows:

"So, Miss Maria, you have just returned from paying
another visit to your beautiful little friend without
any heart."

"My little friend without any heart! Of whom do you
speak? and what do you mean!"

"I speak of Miss Charlotte Henley, the nun,--she
who has all of heaven about her but its love--that
brilliant casket without its jewels--that woman--
yes, that YOUNG woman without any heart."

"Upon my word, sir, this is a very pretty poem you
have been reciting! but in my opinion, your
conclusion is wrong. As she refused to give you her
heart, it is the more probable that she has it yet in
that brilliant casket you speak of--"

"No--she never had one. She wants the greatest
charm that nature can give to a woman--a warm,
grateful, and affectionate heart."

"And pray, sir," said Maria, bending her eyes
inquisitively toward the youth, "if she want it, what
has she done with it!"

"She never had one, Miss Osgood. I will grant you
that she is lovely, exquisitely lovely! pure, gentle,
amiable, every epithet you may wish to apply, that
indicates nothing but acquired excellence: but as to
natural feelings, she is as cold as an icicle--in short
she is destitute of HEART--the thing of all others I
most prize in a woman, and for which I admire you
so much."

Maria laughed, but she coloured also. It had long
been obvious to herself, and to the world too, that
Delafield sought her society, now that he was not
admitted at Mr. Henley's, much more than that of
my other young woman in the city; but she thought
that she well understood the secret reason for this
preference, though the world might not. How
gratifying this speech was to the feelings of the
gay girl, the sequel of our tale must show. The
young man however did not judge her too
favourably, when he supposed her to possess those
kindred sensations that unite us with our fellow-
beings, and he might have added a good deal of
generosity to the catalogue of her virtues. After a
pause of a moment she replied--

"I suppose I must thank you, Delafield, for the
pretty compliment you have just paid me, but I am
so unused to this sort of thing, that I really feel as
bashful as sweet fifteen, though I am at mature

"That is because you DO feel, Miss Osgood; I might
have said as much to Charlotte Henley without
exciting the least emotion in her, or of even
bringing one tinge of that bright blush over her
features which makes you look so handsome."

"Mercy! mercy! have mercy, I entreat you," cried
Maria, averting her face, "or I shall soon be as red
as the cook. But I cannot, I will not consent to hear
my friend traduced in such a manner; so far from
wanting feeling, Charlotte Henley is all heart. To
use your own language," she added, turning her
eyes towards him archly, "it is for her heart that I
most love her."

"You deceive yourself. Early attachment, and long
association, and your own generous, warm feelings
deceive you. She is accustomed to show gentle and
kind civilities to all around her, and you mistake
habit for affection."

"She is accustomed to do all that, I own; but to do
it in a manner that adds to its value by her simple
unaffected feelings. She is not, I must
acknowledge, like certain people of my
acquaintance, a bundle of tinder to take fire at
every spark that approaches, but she loves all she
should love, and I fear she loves one too well that
she should not love."

"Love one that she should not love?" cried
Delafield: "what, is her heart then engaged to
another! Is it possible that Miss Henley, the cold,
prudish Miss Henley, can indulge an improper
attachment after all?"

"Mr. Delafield," said Miss Osgood, gravely, "I am
not apt to betray what I ought to conceal, although
I am the giddy creature that I seem. But I have
spoken unguardedly, and must explain: in the first
place, I would not have you suppose that Charlotte
Henley and I talk of our hearts and our lovers to
each other, like two girls at a boarding school. If I
know that she has such a thing as a heart at all, it
is not from herself but from my own observation;
and as for lovers, though she may have had dozens
for any thing I know, to ME they are absolutely
strangers.--Don't interrupt me, I am not begging
one. After this explanation I will say, trusting,
Delafield entirely in your honour, which I do believe
you to possess in a high--"

"You may--you may," interrupted the young man
eagerly: "I will never betray your confidence--you
might trust yourself to my honour and good faith--"

"I wish you would not be bringing yourself and
myself constantly into the conversation," said the
lady, compressing her lips to conceal a smile; "we
are talking of Charlotte Henley, and of her only. She
was brought up in the daily habit of seeing much of
George Morton, who, I believe, even you will own
has a heart, for it will cost him his life."

"His life!"

"I fear so; nay, it is without hope. The cold he took
in carrying the poor sufferer to the hospital last
winter has thrown him into a decline. I do believe
that Charlotte Henley is fond of him; but mind, I do
not say that she is in love--if appears to be less of
passion than of intense affection."

"Yes, such as she would feel for a brother."

"She has no brother. I do not intend to define the
passions: but I do believe that if he were to live
and offer himself, she would marry him, and make
him such a wife as any man might envy."

"What! do you think she loves him unasked, and
yet refuse me who begged her hand like her slave."

"It is not unasked; he has known her all her life--
has ever shown a preference for her--has been kind
to her and to all others in her presence--he has
long anticipated her wishes, in trifles, and--and--in
short, he has done just what he ought to do, to
gain her love."

"Then you think I erred in the manner in which I
made my advances?"

"Your advances, as you call them, would have
succeeded with nine girls in ten, though not with
Miss Henley--besides, you are too late."

"Certainly not too late when no declaration had
been made by any other."

"I am not about to discuss the proprieties of
courtship with you, Mr. Delafield," cried Maria,
laughing and rising from her chair. "Come, let us
walk; it is a sin to shut ourselves up on such a
morning. The subject must now he changed and the
scene too."

He accepted her challenge, and they proceeded
through the streets together; but she evaded every
subsequent attempt he made to renew the
discourse. Perhaps she felt that she had gone too
far--perhaps there was something in it that was
painful to her own feelings.

The explanation, however, had a great tendency to
destroy the remains of what Delafield mistook for
love. Instead of having his affections seriously
engaged in a short intercourse with Miss Henley,
our readers may easily perceive that it was nothing
but his imagination that was excited, and which
had kept his brain filled with images still more
lovely than the original: but now that the wan
features of George Morton were constantly brought
into the picture by the side of the deity he had
worshipped, the contemplation of these fancied
beauties become hourly less pleasant, and in a
short time he ceased to dwell on the subject

A consequence, however, grew out of his short-lived
inclination, that was as unlooked for by himself as
by the others interested in the result. He became
so much accustomed to the society of Maria
Osgood, that at length he fell it was necessary to
his comfort. To the surprise of the whole city, the
handsome, rich, witty, and accomplished Mr.
Seymour Delafield declared himself in form before
the spring had expired to one of the plain
daughters of Mr. Osgood, a man with a large family,
and but little money. Maria had a difficult task to
conceal the pleasure she felt, as she listened to,
not the passionate declaration of her admirer, but
to his warm solicitation that she would unite her
destinies to his own. She did conceal it, however,
and would only consent to receive his visits for a
time, on the condition that he was not to consider
her as at all engaged by the permission.


WHILE such happy prospects were opening on the
future life of her friend, the time of Charlotte
Henley was very differently occupied in the country.
There is, however, a tendency in youth to rise with
events that does not readily admit of depression,
and the disorder of George Morton was one of all
others the most flattering when near its close. Even
the more mature experience of his parents was
misled by the deceptive symptoms that his
complaint assumed in the commencement of
summer. They who so fondly hoped the result,
began to believe that youth and the bland airs of
June were overcoming the inexorable enemy. That
the strength of the young man lessened with every
succeeding day, was an event to be expected from
his low diet and protracted confinement; but his
brightening eyes, and the flitting colour that would
at times add to their fiery radiance, brought to the
youthful Charlotte the most heartfelt, though
secret, rapture. This state between reviving hope
and momentary despondency had prevailed for
several weeks, when the affectionate girl entered
an apartment that communicated with George's own
room, where she found the invalid reclining on a
settee apparently deeply communing with himself.
He was alone; and his appearance, as well as the
heavens and the earth, united to encourage the
sanguine expectation of the pure heart that
throbbed so ardently when its owner witnessed any
favourable change in the countenance of the young
man. The windows were raised, and the balmy air
of a June morning played through the apartment,
lending in reality an elastic vigour to the decaying
organs of the sick youth. The tinge in his cheeks
was heightened by the mellow glow of the sun's
rays as they shone through the medium of the rose-
coloured curtains of the window, and Charlotte
thought she once more beheld the returning colour
of health where it had been so long absent.

"How much better you appear this morning,
George," she cried, in a voice whose melody was
even heightened by its gaiety. "We shall soon have
you among us once more, and then, heedless one,
beware how you trifle again with that best of
heaven's gifts, your health. Oh, this is a blessed
climate! our summer atones with its mildness for
the dreariness and perils of our winter; it has even
given me a colour, pale-face as I am--I can feel it
burn on my cheek."

He raised his head from its musing position at the
first sounds of her voice, and smiled faintly, and
with an expression of anguish, as she proceeded;
but when she had ended, and taken her seat near
him, still keeping her eyes on his varying
countenance, he took her hand into his own before
he replied. A good deal surprised at his manner,
and at this act, which exceeded the usual
familiarity of even their affectionate intercourse,
the colour, of which Miss Henley had been so
playfully boasting, changed once or twice with rapid

"Seem I so well, dear Charlotte?" he at length said
in a low, tremulous, and hollow voice, "seem I so
well? I believe you are right, and that I shall
shortly be better--much better."

"What mean you, George? feel you any worse? have
I disturbed you with my presence and my
thoughtless gaiety?"

The young man smiled again, but the expression of
his face was no longer mingled with a look of
anguish; it was a kind benevolent gleam of
gratitude and affection which crossed his ghastly
features, like a ray of sunshine enlivening the
gloom of a day in winter.

"You disturb me, Charlotte!" he answered, his very
voice trembling as if in sympathy with his frame: "I
do believe but for you I should have been long
since in my grave."

"No, no, George, this is too melancholy a theme for
us both just now; let us talk of your returning

He pressed her hand to his heart before he replied--
"My health will never return; I am lost to this world;
and in fact at this moment I properly belong to
another in my body: would to God that I was purely
so in feelings also."

"Surely, George, you are alarming yourself

"I am not alarmed," he replied; "I have too long
foreseen this event, to feel alarmed at my
approaching dissolution--no, for that, blessed be
my God and my Redeemer, I am in some degree
prepared; but I feel it impossible to shake off the
feelings of this life while the pulse continues to
beat, and yet the emotions I now experience must
be in some measure allied to heaven; they are not
impure, they are not selfish; nothing can partake of
either, dear Charlotte, where your image is
connected with the thoughts of a future world."

"Oh, George! talk not so gloomily, so cruelly, this
morning--your whole countenance contradicts your
melancholy speech, and you are better--indeed you
are;--you must be better."

"Yes, I am better, I am nearly well," returned the
youth, pausing a moment, while a struggle of the
most painful interest seemed to engross his
thoughts. As it passed away, he drew his hand
feebly across his clammy brow, and, smiling faintly,
resumed his speech,--"on the brink of the grave, at
a moment when all thoughts of me must be
connected with the image of death, there can no
longer be any necessity for silence. You have been
kind to us, dear Miss Henley, as you are kind to all;
but to me your sympathy has been trebly dear, for
it has brought with it a consolation and pleasure
that you but little imagine."

Miss Henley raised her tearful eyes from the floor to
his wan features, that now appeared illumined with
more than human fires, and her pale lips quivered,
but her voice was inaudible.

"Yes, Charlotte, I may now speak without injustice,
or the fear of being selfish: I have long loved you--
how tenderly, how purely, none can ever know; but
could I, with a certainty of my fate before my eyes,
with the knowledge that my days were numbered,
and that the sun of my life could never reach its
meridian, woo you to my love, to make you
miserable! No, dearest! your gentle heart will
mourn the brother and the friend too much for its
own peace; it needed not the sting of a stronger

"George, George," sobbed the convulsed girl, "think
not of me; speak not of me--if it can cheer you at
such a moment to know how much you are valued
by me, no cold reserve shall be found on my part."

The young man started, and fastened his eyes on
her face with an indefinable look of delight mingled
with sorrow.

"Charlotte!" he exclaimed, "do I hear aright? am I
so miserable! am I so happy! repeat those words--
quick--my eyes grow dim--my senses deceive me."

"Live, George Morton," said Charlotte firmly: "you
are better--your whole face bespeaks it; and if the
tender care of an affectionate wife can preserve
your health, you shall long live a blessing to all
who love you."

As Charlotte uttered, thus ingenuously, her pure
attachment, the youth extended his hand towards
her blindly. She gave him her own, which he drew to
his heart, and folded to his bosom with a warm
pressure for an instant, when his hold relaxed, his
form dropping backward on the sofa, and in that
attitude he expired without a struggle.

We shall not dwell on the melancholy scene that
followed. At the funeral of George Morton Miss
Henley was not to be seen, nor was it generally
understood that the young people had been
connected in the closest ties of feeling. She made
no display of her grief in her dress, unless the
slight testimonials of a few bright ribbands on the
virgin white of her robe could be called such, and
the rumour that was at first propagated of their
being engaged to each other was discredited,
because the traces of sorrow were not particularly
visible in the attire of Miss Henley. When the
season of gaiety returned, she appeared as usual in
her place in society. Though her cheeks were
seldom enriched with the faint glow that once
rendered her so beautiful, and she was less
dazzling in her appearance, yet, if possible, she
was more lovely and attractive. In the course of the
winter, several gentlemen approached her with the
evident intention of offering their hands. Their
advances were received with great urbanity, but in
most instances with that unembarrassed manner
that is fatal to hope. One of her admirers, however,
persevered so far as to solicit her hand: the denial
was mild, but resolute; like most young men who
think their happiness dependent on a lady's smile,
he wished to know if he had a successful rival. He
was assured he had not. His curiosity even went so
far as to inquire if Miss Henley had abjured
matrimony. The answer was a simple, unaffected
negative. Amazed at his own want of success, the
youth then intimated his intention of making a
future application for her favour.

In the mean time, Seymour Delafield, after casting
one longing, lingering look at Miss Henley, became
the husband of her friend, and made the fourteenth
in the prolific family of the Osgoods, where his
wealth was not less agreeable to the parents, than
his person to the daughter.

Many years have rolled by since the occurrence of
these events, and Miss Henley continues the same
in every thing but appearance. The freshness of her
beauty has given place to a look of intelligence.
and delicacy that seems gradually fitting her for her
last and most important change. The name of
George Morton is never heard to pass her lips. Mrs.
Delafield declares it to be a subject that she never
dares to approach, nor in her repeated refusals of
matrimonial offers has Charlotte ever been known
to allude to the desolation of her own heart. Her
father is dead; but to her mother Miss Henley has
in a great measure supplied his loss. With her
friends she is always cheerful, and apparently
happy, though the innocent gaiety of her childhood
is sensibly checked, and there are moments that
betray the existence of a grief that is only the more
durable, because it is less violent. In short, she
lives a pattern for her sex, unfettered by any
romantic and foolish pledges, discharging all the
natural duties of her years and station in an
exemplary manner, but unwilling to incur any new
ones, because she has but one heart, and that was
long since given with its purity, sincerity, and truth,
to him who is dead, and can never become the
property of another.

When Charlotte Henley dies, although she may not
have fulfilled one of the principal objects of her
being, by becoming a mother, her example will
survive her; and those who study her character and
integrity of feeling, will find enough to teach them
what properties are the most valuable in forming
that sacred character--while her own sex can learn
that, though in the case of Miss Henley, Providence
has denied the full exercise of her excellences, it
has at the same time rendered her a striking
instance of female dignity, by exhibiting to the
world the difference between affection and caprice,
and by shewing how much imagination is inferior to


Back to Full Books