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To suck the poisoned wound of circumstance,
Brown-skinned and glossy as a Spanish nut, Lazy and warm, and with rich Southern blood Mantling her full cheeks with a crimson dusk, Like the last glow of sunset when the eve Hath half o'ercast it, such the third fair maid. Each round limb, heavy with an indolent grace, Seemed made for repose. Of chestnut brown, her hair Swept in rich, sleepy tresses round her head, Which, as the wind did stir them, seemed to be Silk curtains darkening round her dreaming eyes. Through the arched portals of her parted mouth Low, broken murmurs came, and went and came, Like talk of sleepers. Gently-waving boughs Made a green twilight o'er her as she sate Swung in a cradle of lithe willow wands Together woven, while a few bronzed leaves Fluttered anear, and fanned the sluggish airs Into faint breezes. Thus serenely passed This maiden's being noiselessly along. The basking earth, the hot, unwinking sun Shone through a haze, and so all brightest things Were softened in her eyes. Her very love Was lazy and subdued as tropic noons In matted palm-groves, where the heavy breath Of orchids, like invisible incense, steals, Drowsing the gloom. Indolence beautiful! Slumber incarnate!
Through the parting boughs
“Oh! virgins, pure and fair!
Like these, in which the glories of the South,
MY BROTHER TOM.
Shall I dilate upon his large dark eyes? Talk HE E was a splendid fellow—my brother Tom. to him of a fine girl, and they would dilate of
Two-and-twenty upon his last birthday, themselves. May I hint the rare promise of his stood five feet eleven inches in his boots, trim luxuriant beard, and the curving outline of his patent leathers, and weighed a hundred and ambitious mustache ? I will not trust myself, sixty pounds--not the patent leathers, but Tom for you have lady readers, Mr. Publisher, and himself—in full costume. I had never worn I would not wantonly trifle with their feelings. patent leathers, though something over twenty. One of our rural belles at a party at our house, It sufficed for me to see Tom in them. I could at about the time I speak of, only remarked to never aspire to any thing which he graced so my sister what a handsome fellow Tom was; well. He was my ideal of a fine fellow. I had and in two days afterward exhibited high fever read of heroes in romances, elegant and brilliant and delirium! She affected to have taken cold Adonii—that's a better plural than Adonises-on her way home; and while she was in the in novels, and heard marvels of the handsome, delirium the doctor forbade all access to her. fascinating, irresistible gallants of New York But I have no doubt she raved of Tom; for society. Yes; the fame of Fifth Avenue and they married her off within a month after she its exquisites had been murmured amidst un- got well to a young fellow who professed to dulating emotions of wonder, doubt, admiration have been in love with her for two or three and hesitation—the latter tinged by jealousy, years, and to whom it was said she was devoted. perhaps, in our quiet country town of in But I understand such manæuvres. One thing
County. State pride relieved us. The I may say in her favorshe has made an excity of New York was in the State of New York, cellent wife, so far; a fact from which I infer and we could yield at least a tacit consent to that she is gradually becoming resigned to the some excellences there-though we were, of loss of Tom. I hinted all this to Tom himself; course, aware that it confessed notorieties of a but he assured me that he had “never thought questionable repute, and others by no means of it”—“shouldn't wonder, though.” I should equivocal, which we heartily eschewed. But think not, indeed! whatever its excellences might be, I was quite When Tom was eighteen he had visited New sure it could not boast a more superb specimen York-spent a month there. Of course he was of le jeune homme than my brother Tom. I not then at all to be compared to what he was would have bet—had I been a betting man, as at twenty-two. But even then I admired him. Tom was, sometimes—upon our house, for a Nor I alone. Upon his return he confided to specimen of that genus, against all Fifth Ave- me the most momentous affair in his life-the
Shall I expatiate upon form and feature? fact that a young lady had fallen frightfully in
love with him. “Frightfully” was the very had heard the name of Adela Frome, even from word he used, I believe. He always contem-such unsympathizing and matter-of-fact lips as plated returning to New York out of compas- our father's. He was not aware before how sion to that young lady, if it were only to let indelibly her form and face and name had been her see him once again before she died. He impressed upon his heart. A moment's reflecthought it was likely she would fall into con- tion, he said, had suggested to him the possibilsumption during that year, and die in the next ity of losing her-or rather, he hinted, the terspring. I fully believed it. He was never rible thought that Gus Webster might endeavor sent for, however, and we concluded that she to thwart his love, and become a competitor for had quietly perished, and “never told her the fair Adela's hand. If he did, he insisted love." I always suspected that Tom was a lit- upon it that Gus should meet him in the field tle overcome by that girl himself; for during and give him the satisfaction of a gentleman. that supposititious fatal spring, Tom was affect- He began to cast about for a friend-a second; ed with "spring fever,” and I thought from concluded, happily for me, that it would not do sympathy with the case in New York. He got to call upon a brother; and at last postponed well, however; and, as I said before, had sur- the farther consideration of the subject indefinvived his twenty-second birthday.
itely. Father came in one evening, and brought his Who was Gus Webster? Why, he was a newspapers and a letter from New York-no- sort of a splendid fellow of our village as well thing unusual, as his brother and other relations as Tom, but did not seem to know how to make of ours were in business there. On reading the the most of himself, as a man ought to do. He letter he looked up and smiled.
was about the age of Tom, and almost as “Here will be a fine chance for your gal- handsome,I have heard that some of the girls lantry, boys; a couple of New York belles are thought him quite so. But there is no accountcoming down to practice upon you."
ing for feminine tastes. I liked Gus very well; “ How, father! Who ?” exclaimed Tom, and father had even said that he wished Tom suddenly pausing in the midst of a fantasia on was more like him. He certainly did not mean his German flute, which he played to perfec- in person—I could not detect any other superition, I thought; though envy, I heard, had ority, and would not, I suppose, if I could. muttered detraction through the lips of a little Tom's confidence went further. He insisted darkey in the village, who, it must be confessed, upon becoming Adela's lover the moment she was an absolute Julien upon the Jews-harp. But set foot in He would declare himself at it does not follow, I suppose, that he could dis- an early opportunity, and in good time make her cuss critically Tom's tune and time upon a six- his wife. So it was quite settled in my mind keyed flute.
that Adela Frome was to become Mrs. Wells, “Who are they, father ?” repeated Tom. and my sister. And I went to sleep and dream
"Your cousin Jane and her particular friend, ed of nephews and nieces by the score, and of Miss Adela Frome."
the presents that I, in my respectable bachelorTom started as if a mosquito had bitten him. hood, should make them, when I paid them a And I-I-sunk quietly back in my chair with visit and dandled them on my knee. an easily suppressed feeling of astonishment, re- One evening in the ensuing week Tom had lieved by the assurance that Tom's irresistibil- returned with the light family carriage from the ity had not been fatal in the New York case. railroad station, and had drawn up in the little “Adela Frome !" said Tom.
recess before the house. I was feigning a little “Yes,” returned my father; "do you know business below a small shrubbery on the line of her ?"
the road, whence I could see the occupants of “Well-yes; I saw her, you know, when I the carriage dismount without being myself ohwas in New York."
served. Tom threw the reins upon the horse's “Oyes," said my sister, “Adela is the young back and leaped down himself. As he did so lady who so much affected Tom-—"
the shaft broke, the splintered end flew up, cut “I beg your pardon, Grace,” said Tom; “but the horse's leg, and he started. At a bound he if there was any sentiment between us—" was off, but half a dozen leaps brought him on
“Fie, Tom !” interrupted my mother, “ you a level with my position. Springing into the would not be so ungallant as to insinuate that road I caught the bearing rein, and with a sharp it was all on the young lady's side.”
jerk on his bit checked his pace, and in a mo“Not by any means, mother. I was never ment he was firmly in my hand, though tremmade sensible of any attachment in the case, bling in every fibre of his body. Tom had run either way.” Tom Aung it off with cool indif- up and received Cousin Jane as she leaped out ference.
on one side, while Adela, springing out upon I looked incredulous, and merely remarked, the other, gave me a look of touching gratitude, “We shall see."
and hastened round the rear of the carriage to That night, before we went to bed, Tom re- the relief of Jane, who had fainted in Tom's newed his confidence with me on the New York arms. affair. He said, with vast emphasis, that it was We passed a very pleasant evening. Jane impossible for him to describe or for me to un- was full of animation, and overwhelmed me derstand the thrilling emotion with which he with acknowledgments of the brave exploit
which had sared their lives. I had to put a her most devoted slave ? Oh! how I longed
There was a marked contrast in the ger home to me. Nothing less than “the wide,
Tom came into our room that night-we had We were chatting away gayly, though for my always slept in the same roompart I did but little of it, when father came in “Fred, my dear Fred, is she not beautiful ? and introduced Mr. Augustus Webster. Tom's I could not have believed it. She was a lovely courtesy never failed him. He received our little witch when I saw her four years ago, but young friend with all outward cordiality, but I now she is positively enchanting !" soon observed that he was determined to contest “A little witch !" it was sacrilege to talk so. every inch of his approach to closer intimacy I did not say it-merely thought it. with Adela. Tom could always be engaging “Did you observe how completely I was capwith the ladies, and he seemed to be in excel- tivated by her-most hopelessly enamored ?” lent winning condition with Adela by his side. “I did not observe that,” I said ; “ but I It was soon apparent that Mr. Webster was thought she was-fasci— that is, delight, I may content with the position assigned to him--a say, at least, very much pleased with you.” The seat on the other side of Jane. And was it to fact is, I hesitated at too strong an expression ; my chagrin at all that I shortly discovered in a thing I had never done about my brother Tom him a formidable rival for Jane's attentions ? before. And that hesitation—I really felt as if Perhaps not. She certainly found him a more it were verging on fratricide. And it was a sort congenial and delighted companion than me, of a lie, too; for I knew that she was “frightand I became only second in the scope of her fully" in love with him, and would certainly remarks. And so I was relieved. Relieved | perish if she lost him. for what? To more freedom of the eye and “Pleased, was she?” He took it calmly ear-to gaze upon the loveliest being that had enough. Honest fellow, he even attributed that ever, I imagined, entranced mortal vision, and to my partiality. “Ah! Fred, you flatter me, to listen to the sweetest voice that had ever ray- I fear. But I really think she was a little ished the ear. And these were blended in that pleased, or something of the sort.
At all events, wonder of a new creation, as she seemed to me, she did not look at Gus twice after he was seatthe gentle Adela Frome.
ed. She only looked occasionally at you, and And there by her side, pouring witchery into so that's all right.” her ear, sat my handsome, my irresistible brother “At me,” I said, hastily, disclaiming such a Tom. He was winning her, body and soul. fancy. “At me, Tom! Well that is a pleasLike a bird within the gorgeous fascination of antry. Why she does not know that there is a snake sat that helpless victim of my rural such a fellow as I in existence.” exquisite. She scarcely dared to raise her eyes “Oh! does she not? You would think otheven to his, and when she did, they seemed to erwise if you had heard how she spoke of the glance with furtive entreaty occasionally to cool intrepidity with which you risked your life mine, as if to implore a rescue from the too for hers; and of the easy, unassuming grace handsome and remorseless ensnarer of her with which you—” young heart. An appeal to me! I, who dared “Tom, no more of that—no more," I said, not dream of the wealth of happiness in which almost passionately, for my blood began to leap Tom was reveling with extravagant delight. along my veins with unnatural alacrity. How could he possibly talk to her as he did ? “ 'Pon my word, Fred, I would give someWhat magic did he possess by which to preserve hing handsome to have that affair of the carthe cool, imperturbable ease of heart, and mind, riage for a basis to go upon-a point d'appui from and tongue, while, as I very well knew, he was which to assail her heart. Why, she referred
to it half a dozen times, and looked toward you | attachments as presented in fiction and experiwith the most-sisterly sort of affection. I am enced in fact. At that moment Tom drove up, sure she will always esteem you as the best of and pausing for Webster and Jane, they stepped brothers."
into the carriage. A few paces and we came “Sisterly affection !" “The best of broth- up. I was about--or rather designing—to hand ers!" What pleasant phrases in their proper Adela to a seat by the side of Tom, and return association! What hideous, hateful thoughts alone, when Adela, playfully, but with the deand fancies they conjured up within my brain! cision she could exercise at will, said, waving her No, no, I could not bear it. Fly, I must. Fly? hand to Tom, and wherefore ? No, I will perish here. Life “Go on; we'll follow and enjoy the evening were a worthless thing without her. I will die, air. Mr. Frederick and myself are debating a if I must, at the very altar side. And so I de- very interesting topic-one which will entertain termined to give to the heartless world one us on the way. I am sure he will forego the proof, at least, of that love which knows no al- ride, and consent to accompany me," with an ternative but death!
inquiring look. A month had passed, and the two fair en- I don't know what or how I replied, but slavers of three aspiring youths still tarried at muttered something about Tom, who would my father's house. I felt my doom, as it were, prefer to walk, perhaps, and I could drive the under the relentless hand of some invisible pow- carriage home. Tom, however, thought it best er, gradually, but surely, closing upon me. Tom to conform to Adela's suggestion; and to my and Adela were companions in the morning surprise, and I confess my inexpressible delight,
walk and the afternoon drive. Webster and I saw the carriage presently moving off homed. Jane were similarly associated, as I saw, and ward, and myself alone with Adela. I can not
believed was the necessary consequence of tell what expression was in my face as I turned ?
Tom's devotion to the charming Adela. Half to look a moment upon hers, but hers was raa dozen times, perhaps, Tom had confided to mediant with beauty. The archness which it the special charge of his beloved, assured that seemed to have involuntarily assumed as she she was safe from his dreaded rival while in my disposed of Tom and the carriage was utterly hands. And Webster, as if conscious of the gone, and superseded by a suffused tenderness
trust thus devolved upon me, never obtruded which pervaded every feature. Her eyes were ap- upon us, or seemed disposed to abate his atten- brimming with moisture, and a tide of crimson
tions to Jane; although I felt that he was suf- flushed for a moment her cheek and brow, and fering an intense privation. For me-ah! those then gently receded, as if to hide within the
were seasons of paradisiacal delight. Yet I dis- betrayal of some secret emotion. I felt that l'he
covered that Adela was less free and familiar there had been an instant self-accusation, and
with me than with Tom. At times, she even in that instant I cherished to my heart the first Cum seemed embarrassed; and again, there was a developed hope, and nurtured the first aspira
tenderness in her tone that thrilled my spirit tion of my delirious love.
Upon one theme she was always reserved, flutter of her white dress in the moonlight, and and that was, my praises of my brother Tom. she disappeared by a side-door, which admitted She would calmly assent to some general appre- her, unperceived, to her own apartment.
ciation of him, and then adroitly change the I stood fascinated. The dew of her lip was please subject. And I-oh! the guilt that was in my yet upon my own, when I heard the voice of
heart--would as adroitly thrust him before us, my brother Tom. I dared not answer, for I I verily believe only to test the spirit with which felt an audible voice whispering mischievously she put him aside. Alas! It wrung my heart about my heart, “ There, go tell your brother
with the conviction that the delicacy of her love Tom of that!" potrebe only insisted upon holding the lover as a forbid- He approached me. den subject of remark.
“What! moon-struck, Fred ?” He never One evening Tom had driven to the station suspected, poor fellow ! " Where's Adela ?" to receive some parcels for the house, and we I replied that she had gone into the house as walked in the sunset by the roadside a mile or soon as we returned. two to meet him. Webster and Jane were “Oh! you have been back some time, then? some distance in advance of Adela and myself. I wondered what had become of you." By some inexplicable process of remark, we I did not answer. had trespassed upon the mystery of love. We “ Fred," said Tom, passing his arm through were discussing the contrasts and durability of mine, “I have concluded to propose to Adela