Слике страница
PDF
ePub

defeated, and the individual has lived to no purpose. We must struggle, and that, too, independent of the prospect of favorable accidents. If the accident then comes to fill our laps from the cornucopia of blind fortune, it is not hindered and embarrassed by our former struggles. Were we all, like Micawber, to sit down and wait for something to turn up, the wheels of the great moving universe of physical action would soon stand still. We may die tomorrow, yet we must regulate our conduct as if our three score and ten years were a certainty. Let us plant our tree to-day, though it be possible we will die to-morrow; for, should we not die, our tree is there already planted for our use; should we die, the tree is planted, will grow, and fructify for the use of mankind. The tree may not die, though we do, and in it our munificence lives. It is a narrow and a selfish philosophy that does not in its scope embrace the welfare of future ages—that looks only to individual benefits and selfish gain. The same philosophy that is governed by this narrow conception would prompt its advocates to fell their tree to-day, if they were to die to-morrow, lest some other one would reap the fruits of their labor.

The broad, the humane axiom of life, in this respect, is, live for yourself and for your fellow man. Every individual is mankind's individual, as well as his own.

Eda Wilson retired to bed, but she did not sleep until long after midnight. A nervous unrest had seized her. She had been looking forward, for several days, to hear from her father. That evening she had received his letter, and had read it. It was tender and affectionate, and still it was not satisfactory. She had been three months at Mrs. Ramsdale's residence in the mountains; she had received several letters from her father. The name of Preston had not been mentioned in any of them. She had exiled herself with the intention to habituate herself to a life without a hope of connubial relations, and to school herself in the preliminary lessons of a life of celibacy. She knew full well that this ordeal was to be a severe one. She did not expect to extinguish an affection which had its origin in the deepest and purest impulses of her nature. She had hoped, however, that in placing herself under circumstances which would cut off all communication with the object of that affection, that she would gradually alienate her mind from that object to such a degree as to make its burden tolerable through a life of celibacy. Still she found herself, in the solitude of the mountain life she had chosen, where she was entirely removed from social diversions, and where every scene and circumstance tended to turn her thoughts

more forcibly into her own interior mental nature, that her affection was intensified, and that, like one who strains his ear and holds his breath to catch the last dying tone of a strain of sweet, distant music, she was awaiting to hear even the name of the distant object of her love.

She turned on her pillow and sighed. It was singular that her father had not even mentioned the name of Preston. She reflected and reasoned with herself upon this fact, with a hope to account for it. Had Preston left her father's employment? If so, why not mention it in his letter? Was he about to be united to the Countess? Why not mention that fact? Did her father suspect her attachment and avoid mentioning the fact to save her feelings? She again turned on her pillow, with the determination to dismiss the whole matter from her mind.

She began to recount the various incidents of her life at Mrs. Ramsdale's. She had been an inmate of that worthy lady's family nearly three months. She had accomplished one object of her ambition. After many unsuccessful attempts, she had, three days before, succeeded in making such butter as Aunt Rosa and her husband pronounced equal to any they had ever tasted. Eda had milked the cow herself, had attended to and performed all the minutiæ and details from the milking of the cow to the printing the rich yellow rolls with Aunt Rosa's new butter print, which she brought home with her from Baltimore, and which left on each roll the sharp impress of a star with five points. This success was a triumph for her. She felt it. She felt a pride equal to that of the young Bachelor of Arts when he takes the diploma of his degree for the first time in his hand. It was in the early morning of a clear, bright day that Eda Wilson did her churning, in the little milk house, through which babbled the sparkling waters of a pure fountain that gushed from the rocks a few rods above. The sun arose and beamed through the open door of the milk house, just as the butter was formed. She feared to remove the lid and examine the result. Twice before, under like circumstances, her experiments of butter making had failed. The first disappointment she bore with philosophy, but the second was more discouraging. She wept bitterly over her failure ; and now that the result of her third effort was to be realized, she trembled and fairly turned sick. She did not remove the churn lid to examine her butter. When she discovered that the process of churning was completed, she turned away, and for several minutes leaned against the wall in painful suspense. At last she opened her churn, and cautiously raised a large lump of

[ocr errors]

golden butter into the snow-white wooden tray. A smile illumined her countenance, and her eyes brightened, as she set it upon the milk table and contemplated it. She took a small portion of the butter on a knife and tasted it. The knife tell to the floor, and, clasping her hands above her head, she exclaimed, “Thank fortune! at last I have triumphed! I told papa I would. How proud he will be of me!” She did not stop to walk, but, like a child, skipped up the bank to the kitchen door, where Mrs. Ramsdale was preparing breakfast, exclaiming as she flew along, “Oh, Aunt Rosa, come and see my butter!”

It was a triumph indeed. The whole family rejoiced in it. Each member of it had to come and peer into the churn; the little ones gazed up into the face of the happy Eda in apparent curiosity, for they could perceive no difference between her butter and any other butter.

Several times during the day the daughter of the millionaire made visits to the milk house, uncovered her butter, and contemplated it in silent satisfaction.

This triumph, with all its incidents, passed in review through her mind, but closed with the mental question, “What would Charles Preston say, to see my nice butter?” Then, like a cloud, the whole matter of her situation, and her life without hope, rolled back upon her memory, and she raised up in her bed and wept.

Oh, ye tears! Ye are the messengers of the heart to the outer world! Ye are the household angels of the soul, that dissolve its bitterest drops and pour them out into oblivion. Ye come like refreshing dew-drops, with soothing balm and gentle sleep upon your wings.

After Eda had wept several minutes, she laid back upon her pillow and slept soundly until morning.

Here was a triumph-a lofty moral triumph. What matters it whether these great human triumphs deal with the destiny of nations—with lofty human enterprises or with scientific investigations and philosophical researches, or with the more insignificant details of domestic life? They are all moral triumphs of equal importance and equal significance in their way.

The daughter of a millionaire, with the means of commanding every luxury of life, and of gratifying every frivolous ambition of her social position, with no other motive but that of becoming useful in the great social relations, eschews every social enjoyment and secludes herself, to enter the ordeal through which she must needs pass to attain the sacred seat to which she aspires. No motive of greed or gain moves her. She is elevated by a high sense of duty, and supported in her elevation by an exalted abnegation. The tears she shed upon her second disappointment, and her failure to make good butter, were as much tears as those shed by the old Roman General on the loss of a battle, or of the Emperor Napoleon over a demolished throne. Her pride and her rejoicing were as genuine and as laudable, and with them the same moral effect, as if they had been elicited by the erection of a temple or the inauguration of a bronze statue. They both prove the self-sacrifice, the selfwill and the firm, unyielding moral resolution ; the triumph is the same in both cases; and, although of unequal physical importance in some respects, the moral effect is the same and the moral triumph equally laudable.

The daughter of the millionaire, with her own hands, had milked the cow, and by her own toil had changed the milk to butter, and she was prouder of her performance than the millionaire of his millions, to accumulate which he had wasted a lifetime. Well might she be, indeed, when the motives of both come to be truly weighed in the balance. The motive of the one is beneficent and lofty; of the other, selfish gain. The one is a moral triumph, in which the whole human family participate ; the other is a usurpation, a selfaggrandizement peculiarly his own.

As Eda sat at the breakfast table the next morning, she addressed Aunt Roda, and said :

“I will finish my piece of linen to-day, and will return to Baltimore as soon as I get it bleached.”

" It will be rail lonesome when you're gone,” said Mrs. Ramsdale. " It seems as if you was one of the family, like. But I can't see as there's any use of your stayin' any longer, seein' as you can weave, an’ make butter, an' cook, an' keep house just as neat an’ scrumtious as anybody.”

“ Sure enough!” said Eda, “ how can I keep my butter good and fresh until I am ready to go? for I must take it with me. My butter is my diploma."

Why, child,” said Mrs. Ramsdale, “you can't keep it fresh an' nice till you're ready; an’ if you could, it would spile on the way."

“ I will tell you, Aunt Rosa,” continued Eda, “ if you will sell old Brindle to me, I will hire black Jake to drive her down to the city, and I will keep her, and make nice country butter in the city.” " That'll jist be it,” said Mrs. Ramsdale.

66 We have more cows than we want, an' Brin's gettin' old anyhow; an' still you can't

[ocr errors]

VOL, III.-NO. III.-8.

66

find a better cow for butter. An' then she is sich a gentle critter. I never seed a more gentler cow beast in all my borri days."

A contract was made for the cow, and the money paid over.

“ Now," said Eda Wilson, as the arrangement was consummated, now my

father shall have none but good butter on his table. I will make the butter, and supply the table with the luxury of fresh, sweet butter. I can do it, and I will convince him that his daughter is resolute in carrying out her engagements. When I left home, I resolved that I would never return until I was competent to take charge of my father's household, and successfully manage every department of it.”

" Well, child,” said Aunt Rosa, “ you can do it as well as anybody; but remember, dear, that the best of housekeepers will fail sometimes, in spite of all they can do. Sometimes the bread won't rise, an' nobody can tell the reason of it. Sometimes the cream will sour in spite of everything, an' then, again, sometimes the butter won't come good. So you mustn't get discouraged an' give up if things don't work right always. If the persimmons are picked too soon, the beer won't be worth anything. The persimmons must have jist so much frost before they're picked, or the beer don't foment good an's kind of weak like. An' then, you must always have new, fresh wheat bran to mix up the persimmons with, an’ make into cakes an' dry them, for if you take old bran, the beer will have a kind of a bitterish taste, like, an' ain't near so healthy. Mind that, child."

* I will not become discouraged, Aunt Rosa," said Eda, " for I know what I have once done I can do again. Besides, you know I shall not soon forget what you have so often repeated to me, practice makes perfect.'”

The family arose from the table, and separated. Eda went to her loom, the rude structure used at that day by farmers for the manufacture of their domestic fabrics, and, although the daughter of a millionaire, patiently worked away to win another triumph.

(TO BE CONTINUED.)

IN Baltimore, a lady, transiently stopping at Barnum's City Hotel, complained of being sick, and ordered her dinner to be sent to her room. What was the astonishment and aların of the waiter when she ordered dishes to the amount of thirty-four, besides sauces and pickles of various kinds, carefully marked off on the bill of fare.

« ПретходнаНастави »