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France, the realization of her girlish day-dreams. Before he had been with them a fortnight she had brought herself to confess that the whole world without Louis would be nothing to her. She had never been so happy before in her whole life. Oh, those lovely days of early autumn when they strolled together about the woods and fields in the dewy freshness of the morning, or sat together under the gnarled apple trees in the old orchard at the Tannenhaus, with the moon smiling down upon them, as she has smiled upon lovers in all ages, at least ever since the time when Romeo invoked her to be the witness of his vows, beneath the glorious Italian sky so many years ago.
Poor little Natalie ! do not judge her harshly, nor turn away disgusted at her fickleness. She really thought once that she had loved Haps, for she did not know what love was. Now she did know to her cost, for she was tied—bound irrevocably. She could not think of that. She dared not look forward to the future, it was too sad, too hopeless. No, she must enjoy her present happiness as long as she could, for she felt that it would not last long. She was changed altogether, her eyes were brighter than ever, her whole face gleaming with suppressed happiness; she sang lively airs, and danced about the house like a child. Old Jacob Stürmer and his daughter-in-law looked at the girl with astonishment, and wondered what had come to her; indeed I fancy Frau Stürmer had her suspicions of the truth. Natalie had at last found the "something" which had been wanting to her life so long. The “aching void” was filled, the loneliness had departed, still over all her happiness bung a cloud—the dreary thought, “ Louis must go, and then !” ... until with the natural buoyancy of youth and health, she cast away gloomy thoughts in the hope that something unforeseen might yet “ turn up” to favour her wishes. Sévier on his part was equally fond of Natalie Stürmer. He had been attracted towards her in the first place by her innocence and modest beauty. Tbere was a freshness and "naïveté” about her which had an irresistible charm for him. Then she was so essentially French, she could sympathize so heartily with himself and his beloved country, and this sympathy naturally drew them closer together; in short, their acquaintance, begun over the wrongs done to Louis Napoleon, and the obstacles impeding the success of the French army, ended in an exchange of personal sentiment and ripened into a much warmer feeling. He was never happy unless Natalie was with him, and it was with very mingled feelings that he contemplated a speedy return to his military duties. As yet he had said nothing of his love, but words were hardly needed, each felt with a species of “elective affinity" common to lovers, that they were now one in heart and soul. Louis had put off his declaration until the day that he should decide upon leaving the Tannenhaus. He little knew the difficulty that lay in his way. Thinking that Natalie regarded Hans merely as a brother, he had of course no idea that any, engagement existed between them. An unforeseen event however caused him to hasten his
purpose. (To be continued.)
JULY 19, 1873.
THE HARVEST THANKSGIVING.
PREPARATIONS for the yearly Harvest Thanksgiving Service in the fine old church of the lovely village of L- -- were going forward with great zeal.
The Vicar, a man of a large heart and warm sympathies,
united to an earnest Christian disposition, was ever active in bringing before his parishioners at the end of harvest, the necessity for a special thanksgiving for the bounteous goodness of the LORD who "giveth food to all flesh ;” and very earnestly did he entreat all his friends to join heart and hand in giving thanks to God who had blessed their labours with abundant fruits. At the close of his sermon on the preceding Sunday he had reminded them that all had cause for rejoicing, not only the rich, but the poor also, and he begged all of them to contribute something to assist in decorating the temple of the LORD in which they were then assembled—“either flowers from your gardens, wheat from your gleanings, or fruit from your orchards," said the Vicar, “ and I further propose that the corn and fruit used in the House of God be afterwards gathered together and given to the poor.” Formal announcement was then made that a Harvest Thanksgiving Service would be held in the church on the following Thursday evening at seven o'clock, and the choir were requested to assemble for practice on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings of the ensuing week from six to eight o'clock. This they had done, and the organist had been sent for from C-- the neighbouring town, on purpose to train them. The Anthem chosen was the well-known and beautiful composition, “O rest in the LORD," solo and chorus; the Hallelujah Chorus was to terminate the Service ; appropriate hymns and chants were also selected, and the young party at the vicarage and those at the Hall were busy in preparing the numerous devices for the grand old church, which amply repaid their labours. Heartily responding to the appeal of their Pastor, the villagers contributed their share, and now Thursday morning had arrived, and many hands were at work inside the ancient pile. We will look in upon them. : Near the pulpit stand two young girls of about fifteen years of age; they are talking in a low tone as they quickly twine long wreaths of evergreen to ornament the pillars. The daughter of the Vicar, Emily Branstone, is saying to her friend, Eva Marsden, from the Hall :
Papa says we have all cause for rejoicing; now do you think, Eva, that your Aunt Lena has any cause to rejoice ?”
“No, I do not, because you know all these years—I think eight years—she has never heard a word from Captain Arbuthnot, and when he left her they were to be married on his return, but he did not come back.”
“Where was he going?”
“He was not going a voyage at all, he only went to see his first mate take the command of his vessel for that voyage, and he was to return in a fortnight and spend the following year in England, during which time Aunt Lena and he were to be married. Mamma says he did not write even, and every trace of him has been lost since that time, also of his vessel,—is it not a strange history ? but here comes aunty.”
A lady of a beautiful countenance, and still youthful in figure and movements, here joined them, saying in the brightest manner,
Well, dears, how do the evergreens suit ?”
“How beautiful !” burst from the two girls, when they saw the whole of the screens and choir stalls traced out with the richest fruit laid in moss.
“Mrs. Leverington has assisted me," said Miss Marsden, turning to where the village schoolmistress stood, still arranging a group, "and it is as much to her taste as to her industry that I am indebted for the beauty of my work.”
“No, Miss Marsden, indeed I have only followed your suggestions ; I am glad the young ladies admire the effect.”
“We do very much, Mrs. Leverington,—where is mamma?” continued Emily Branstone.
“With Mrs. Marsden and your sister Norah,--they are busy with the altar and the window over it,-let us walk up and see them," and Miss Marsden led the way to where Mrs. Marsden, with Norah Branstone and her mother, were showing the village carpenter and one of their own men-servants how to dispose of the various beautiful devices and texts which formed the ornaments in this part of the church.
Round the pulpit, where three ladies were working, viz., the wife of thè curate and the wives of two of the principal farmers of the village, the devices promised to be quite a success. Dablias, fuchsias, gladiolias, evergreens, and many more rich autumn flowers here took prominence; while before the lectern stood a young man, who was skilfully decorating it with hedge fruit and wild flowers. Not until one closely approached him did one discover that he was blind; his eyes were to all appearance bent upon his work, and he handled the wild
fruit and flowers with a delicacy of manipulation which kept his hands untouched by thorns. He was tall and slight, and of a handsome countenance and noble bearing ; he was twenty-three years of age, and was the eldest son of Squire Marsden of the Hall. His outward appearance did not belie his inward purity of heart; indeed, Arthur Marsden was one who walked with God. Just after he had completed his terms at the University of Oxford, a terribly severe illness suddenly attacked him. For many weeks he lay at the point of death, and when at last, in answer to the earnest prayers of his friends, he was restored to them, it was with the sad discovery of total and irretrievable loss of sight. This was indeed a bitter trial to one who was just about to enter upon the numerous duties and pleasures of his life, but Arthur Marsden showed himself equal to the occasion. Always having been greatly loved and esteemed for his amiable disposition, he now exhibited a deep and abiding faith in GOD; his perfect resignation and absence of gloom made him still more an object of affection to all around, while as he regained his strength he entered as far as he was able into the pursuits which occupied him before this sad calamity; and never did a father experience a more able counsellor in a son, or a mother and sisters a more tender protector. They were a large family party at the Hall, and Arthur was the champion of all the younger ones in turn; he settled their disputes, helped them in their studies, and gave to them a bright example in himself.
He had been blind two years at the time of which I write, and was expert at finding his way in all his familiar haunts, and especially in the dear old church where he had been baptized and confirmed, and where he had hoped to have been married; but Arthur tries to think that dream over now, although he listens for every tone of her voice and to the fall of her light footstep on the chancel floor, and all the time he is as busily occupied as the rest.
We have not seen the font; Eva and Emily are going to look at it, -we will go with them.
“Eva," said Emily, “ look at poor Mrs. Frere ; she is as usual decorating the font at which all her children have been baptized ; do you think after her losing the whole eight of them, that she can really rejoice in doing that?”
“Perhaps she does, dear, although I think she must feel very sad when she recalls each baptism and death, and she is still in deep mourning for poor Margaret, her last remaining child.” Turning to