Obrázky stránek

now a blessed and honoured guest ? Yes, it

was so.

“You have pleasant news, love !" said the faint voice, as a pair of softened dark eyes looked up at Leslie, who had drawn near with a wonderfully brightened face, and an open

letter in her hand, her headache and weariness were indeed almost forgotten.

“Oh, yes ! so delightful and so strange ! a letter from Aunt Hester ; may I read it to

you ?

The invalid gave a smiling assent, and Leslie read as follows :

" June 17th. “MY DEAREST CHILD,-Great events have been happening in the Corner House! I have walked up stairs twice, and round the garden once without injury! and, oh, Leslie, think of the blessing,—I have the hope of regaining health and strength! Dr. Brown has had a consultation with a very skilful medical man, who speaks most decidedly of a cure. Indeed, I have not felt so well for ten years as I have done this last week. But, dear Leslie, I long


to see you. Could you not come this week, even if only for a few days ? I think that it

a would freshen you up, and send you back to your sick-room duties with greater strength. Write by return of post, and fix the day, for come you must. God bless


and strengthen you.--Yours ever affectionately,

“H. M."

[ocr errors]

“ That is really good news,” said Mrs. North sympathizingly, without once remembering an old jealousy of Hester. “No one would make better use of health and strength." “ And Miss Morris is right about you, Les

, lie,” said Mr. North, looking at his niece rather anxiously for the first time; “how wan and thin she is, Louisa !"

· Yes, indeed, we have been sadly selfish ; go at once, dear Leslie.”

“ But you will miss me, dear aunt," and

* Leslie stroked the thin hand caressingly.

Charlie will be with me," and the wife looked up so happily into her husband's kind,

cordial face, that it indeed seemed as if she needed no one else. A little perverse pang shot through Leslie's heart, which certainly was not strictly “angel-like.” No one really needed her, she was no one's first object; but most people are apt to be a little perverse when they have headache, and the naughty little feeling was subdued, and the next moment she was stooping to kiss her thanks, and arranging her plans with Uncle Charlie for one week's holiday. A friend of his was to start early the next morning for the vicinity of Woodleigh Mordaunt, and would be a pleasant escort for her. So it was settled that she was not to write, but to take Aunt Hester by surprise.

Mrs. North did not forget to wonder who the new doctor was ; perhaps Dr. Thomson, who had recently settled at Colton, and was considered very skilful, or Dr. Winter from Riverton, at all events, Leslie must consult him about her headaches. Leslie suggested that it might be the great Dr. Lindor, who occasionally visited patients in that county.

Mr. North thought that it did not signify who it was,--doctors were all quacks and humbugs; he only hoped that Miss Morris would not believe a word any of them said. The not uncommon masculine want of tact of Mr. North's speech had vexed both his wife and niece; with very rare feminine wisdom his wife and niece took no notice of it, and so the little cloud quickly passed away.

It seemed as if he had repented of it, indeed, the next day, for, after his morning's study of the newspaper there was something peculiarly tender, and yet nervously uncomfortable in his way of bidding Leslie farewell, which puzzled her much.

What a beautiful thing is summer! Leslie felt as if there had been no gradual summer for her that year, as in other years. Now it burst upon her in fresh, sudden, and almost startling beauty. As she closed her eyes in the warm, pleasant sunshine, or opened them to the glory of foliage, and flowers, and pasturage, and blue sky, or in



haled the delicious balm of the south wind, her whole being expanded and rejoiced. Yet it was only another kind of rejoicing, for there had been real peace and joy, even amidst the darkness and leafless branches and wayfaring days of the winter. And these new depths in the joy of summer would have been all unknown and unsounded without that which had gone before. How strange but how true, that healthy, sanctified sorrow teaches us to enjoy with a deeper enjoyment than was ever known in the days of prosperity!

Never do we rejoice so much in the glorious gold and crimson of the sun-rising, as when it bursts upon us after a night of tempest, and while yet surrounded by masses of dun-coloured clouds.

Never had dear old Woodleigh Mordaunt looked so beautiful,—the old oaks were right stately in their July greenness; and the Forest of Mordaunt with its glades and long vistas, and the deer park, with its brown and dappled herd, and the ancient castle rearing above all, itself a princely

« PředchozíPokračovat »