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"She goes unto love, yet untried and new; She parts from love which hath ever been true." Mrs. Humans.
"To-morrow, little sister," softly whispered Philip 'Ward, looking down at the blushing face that was lifted timidly to his gaze — "tomorrow, before the sun goes down behind the hills, you will be far away from us. What will father do without you, Jessie? Riverdale will look so strange when you are gone!"
"Nay, dear Philip, that is hardly fair to the rest. I know my father will be left in kind hands. Our good sister Kate has done much more for his comfort than I ever did. I have not been of much use in the house—not like a farmer's daughter ought to be. I have been always so loved and petted, that I am afraid I am a spoiled child."
She turned away her head to hide the tears that filled her eyes, then added, in a gayer tone, "You don't know how often I shall be thinking of you all, Philip. I can guess when you will be out seeing your patients, and when my dear father will be smoking his pipe in his arm-chair after dinner. I Bhall know the time when Katie is tending her plants, and when she will put on her old sun-bonnet, and go out with her little basket of barley to feed her chickens. It will seem as if I was back at Riverdale. I know all its sights and sounds so well."
The speakers were the son and daughter of old Philip Ward, whose farm at Riverdale was one of the largest and best-managed in that part of the country. Young Philip was a surgeon, married, and prosperously settled in the village near his father's home. Mrs. Ward was dead: Jessie, the youngest, and the pet of the household, was only just fifteen when this great sorrow fell upon the family, and her quiet, discreet sister Kate was, at the age of twenty,
called upon to fill her mother's place as mistress of Riverdale Farm.
There were many single ladies in the village, of a certain age, who would gladly have relieved Miss Kate from the cares and duties of her new position. But they saw that it would be a hopeless task to besiege the heart of the widower, whose love for his dead wife, and devotion to his children made the thought of a second marriage quite out of the question.
Time passed very quietly at Riverdale till Jessie was nineteen, when an event occurred that changed her destiny. It was in autumn, when the family at the hall came down for the shooting season, bringing with them a gay troop of city friends; among them came Arthur Glave and his sister Caroline, a haughty London belle. The gentleman was rich, handsome, and eccentric. He had been a bird of passage, fluttering over many lands, and wearying of every scene as soon as a child of its new toy. With this restless craving for excitement and change he came into the country, longing to have new faces and new characters to study— anything that promised a little novelty. In one of liis rambles he heard of the Rose of Riverdale, as Jessie Ward was often called. His curiosity was excited; he saw her, and was struck with her rare beauty, talked to her, and was charmed with her fresh thoughts, and simple grace of manner, which refreshed the man of the world, after the artificial attractions of the beauties in his own sphere. He thought he loved her, more than he had ever loved any other; and Jessie, he won her young heart entirely to himself—it was no wonder, when he had everything in his favour. Before he left the hall her faith was pledged to him.
Arthur Glave laughed at his proud sister's anger when she heard of his intimacy with the country beauty. He was pleased, also, at the opportunity which it gave him of showing his scorn of a certain high-born belle who had haughtily rejected his suit. It piqued him, the storm of opposition that his friends raised. He could act as he pleased; they could not control him. He was rich, and free.
What first began in a light fancy, to trifle away a few weeks, ended in a serious purpose. He would return to the country, and gather for his own wearing the beautiful wild rose, that would far excel any of those exotics. He did return, and sought the consent of Jessie's father to their early marriage. Mr. Ward hesitated: he thought her too young: he had many scruples; but the suitor met them all. He had the tact to hide, both from Jessie and her father, the aversion of his own friends to the marriage. He knew that the honest farmer had that stubborn English pride that would revolt from the idea of his daughter going into any family that would look down upon her. In his heart Mr. Ward would rather Jessie had been wedded in her own sphere, and settled near him: still he could not overlook the worldly advantages of the marriage. He saw that his darling had given her heart to the handsome stranger; that if he said no to his suit he would be stepping between her and happiness : so he gave his content, and laid her little hand in Arthur's with a hoarsely-whispered blessing. The day was fixed: they were to be quietly married in the village churxb, then the young bride would depart with her husband.
• • • *
It was on the eve of the bridal-day that the brother and sister talked together, in the cool shadow of the vine-wreathed porch. One of the stable-boys, quite proud of his office, was leading Philip's handsome brown horse slowly up and down in front of the garden-gate. ■
It was a lovely evening: the rich purple light of the June sunset lingered on the grey front of the old house, as if it loved it; and the bright windows flashed back its warm glow through their screen of ivy-leaves. The soft west wind was laden with all the fragrance of the garden as it passed bv, fanning Jessie's blushing cheek, and lightly fluttering the strings of her gipsyhat. She sighed as she thought of the home she was so soon to leave. She was sure the world could not show a fairer spot than dear old Riverdale: but the beauty of the scene was lost upon Philip. He could think of nothing but the eventful morrow—the marriage, and the parting that would follow. He had taken his lister's hand, and was looking at her with such tender anxiety in his eyes that the look startled Juiie.
"What are you thinking about, Philip? and why do you look at me so?"
"Why, Jessie, I was just thinking what a contrast there will be in the lives of my two sisters. Kate will marry George Summers, and •ettle down into a thrifty farmer's wife, for which the ii 10 well fitted. But you, dear Jessie" (and he gave her a troubled look), "Arthur Glave's wife, will go into the gay world, and they will try to make her a fashionable lady. Ah, sister, I am selfish enough to wish we could keep you with us I"
V But Arthur lovei me, Philip, Mine wij) he
a happy lot! Think what he gives up for my sake—to marry a simple country-gitl, when he could have had his choice among his equals in rank and wealth."
Philip's brown eyes sparkled, and he drew up his head proudly.
"Is it nothing, Jessie, that yon are the daughter of an honest English farmer, whose old family name is without a stain, and whom no man can accuse of a mean or dishonoanhle act? Think of that, sister 1 It should make you hold up your head, even if Arthur Glare could give you a coronet 1"
Jessie looked at her brother with a pleased smile; but her tone was half-chiding, as the said, "Ah, Philip, I know very well that yon don't like Arthur as you ought. It is such a pity that you don't know him better 1"
"I shall like him if he makes you happy, little sister!"
The brother and sister lingered in the porch till the sun went down. They were just parting when Jessie's watchful eyes caught sight of I well-known figure coming along one of the field. paths. It was Arthur Glave. Philip hastily excused himself from waiting to meet him, saying with a meaning smile, "You don't want me now, Jessie; and I see that I have only just time to run in and say good-night to father and Kate."
The lovers were standing by the sweetbriirhedge at the bottom of the garden, when Philip passed down the path to the gate: be looked at them a moment, then mounted his horse and rode slowly towards the village in the pey twilight. "Transplanted flowers!" he murmured, sadly—" if the strange soil does not receive them kindly they droop and die. I wish that proud stranger had left our sweet wild rose to bloom in peace, where he found it. If she could but have loved Walter Grey as hit patient devotion to her deserved I It was one of my dearest wishes to see my pet sister the mistress of the Eectory. Oh, Jessie 1 God forgive me if I wrong the man you love so dearly, hut I have not your faith in him. I have more than once seen a look in his eyes that told me lie could break loving hearts as lightly as h« could win them 1 She is everything to him now j but will his love last for a life-timer"
The bridal morning dawned without a clod in the blue sky: Jessie was married in the frycovered church, while the summer-birdi were singing, and the golden sunbeams danrinjrni the corners of the old oak pews. When the belli were ringing out so merrily from the old tower, the young bride had sobbed out her farewell on her father's breast, and hid taken ber tearful leave of Riverdale and its loved ones. As Phih'P sorrowfully predicted the evening before, "hen the sun went down behind the hills, she was far on her way to her new home, and the villas maidens were talking over the great event of the day, and envying the good fortune which had fallen to the lot of pretty Jessie Ward. And her weeping bridesmaid Kate hid threw*
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