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“Not one kiss for your wife, RobertSo trusted, you remember, Robert, that after so long-so long !" and the low you laughed at me, as both vain and voice choked, and the clasped fingers foolish, when I had told you, some grew white under each others' pressure. months before, that he seemed to be
“How is it possible, Mary—?". seeking opportunity and encouragement She laid her finger on his lips. for culpable advances, and in very shame
“ Hush !” she said. “I can guess all I tried to persuade myself that you must you would say." Hastily throwing open be right. And then, the thought that a writing-desk, she took from it an old, you and Harry might be dying, among yellow, folded paper, and giving it to strangers, a thousand miles away from him, continued, “Read that, before you me, wrung my heart; and, following my judge me."
first impulse, I started to go to you on The writing was irregular and scrawl the same day he gave me the letter. It ing, as if done by one in great haste or was the second day out before he threw with shattered nerves. Mr. Barnes read off the mask. At first I affected not to the few lines three or four times through, understand him, and tried to laugh ; before he seemed to take in their full but that only encouraged him. Then significance. They ran :
I repulsed him, and threatened to apNEW YORK, August 7th, 1818. peal to the captain of the steamer for My dear Wife: Come to me at once. Har protection. But he taunted me with ry is very ill, and, worn out with care and
my helpless and equivocal position; watching, my own health is giving way. I send this by private hand, to Mr. Jeremy, who
and finally, in his anger and chagrin, will arrange for your departure, and possibly he threw off all disguise, and told me may accompany you part of the way.
that the letter he gave me was written
ROBERT. by himself, and that he had spared no There was a brief silence. Then he pains to commit me irrevocably to his laid the faded letter softly down, and fortunes; and, with devilish malignity, whispering, with bated breath, “I see it he even showed me a copy, a true one all-I see it all,” held towards her his as I found afterwards, of an article trembling hands. A smile like the which he had sent to the press, and memory of childhood's sunny mornings which he assured me had then been cirflushed through her lingering tears, and culated throughout the city. the weary burden of twenty years seem- crushed, but not conquered. I did aped to be lifted from her life like the peal to the captain, who placed me on mists of the night, as the strong arms
the first westward-bound steamer we closed around her again, and she heard met, and, within five days after I started the familiar voice, speaking rather to away, I was at home again. But it was his own heart than to her,
home no longer. I saw Mr. Gage, and “How can I ever atone for these he told me of all you had done, but twenty years of wrong?”
was slow to believe what I had to tell. Oblivious of the young people waiting We have tried repeatedly to learn your and wondering in the next room-obliv- whereabouts; but beyond the cold ious of all the world but themselves, courtesy of the bank-officers at St. they looked in each other's eyes, and Louis we could never penetrate. You talked fitfully for more than an hour; guarded your secret well. but the reply to his first question dis- “ With the little money you left with closed all we care to know.
me, added to what Mr. Gage generously “Who gave you that letter ? "
advanced me, I opened this little shop. “Mr. Jeremy. I did not know what God prospered me abundantly; and to do. It seemed so unlike you to send here I have remained ever since. In my to him, and not to me direct, that I felt inmost heart I knew you would come inclined to doubt. But you were not back again some time; and I have never quite well when you left home, and Mr. closed my eyes in sleep without praying Jeremy was your most trusted friend. God to spare me to see that day. And
now that day has come. Oh, husband that these facts are there stated, amid --dear husband ! the past is buried out much penitent protestation, substantialof sight, and we are young again !" ly as I have just told them to you. God “Is Mr. Gage still living ?
forgive me, but it was bewildering “No; he died two years ago ; but work, sometimes, to think of him with his sons have succeeded to his business. any thing but malediction." Several years ago the lots where we There was a long pause, broken only lived were covered by huge business by the scarce audible sobs that marked houses, built by Mr. Gage. The rents the ebb of the storm of emotion which paid for them long ago, and, since then, had so lately swept through that quiet neither father nor sons would take a house. One by one the street-lamps dollar of their proceeds, but have regu- threw their struggling beams into the larly deposited them in a savings bank, settling darkness, and the roar of the to the credit of " little Harry,” as they day subsided gradually into the city's always would call him. Of course, I multitudinous “voices of the night.” would not touch them without your Then she rose softly, and said, consent. Twelve years ago my cousin “Let us call in the children ; and Helen died, and left me her five-year-old when we have satisfied their wonder, girl. You saw her in the front room." you shall tell me all your history " Where is Jeremy ?"
through these many years.” " Dead ten years ago. Mrs. Gage has -In all Chicago's quarter of a mila letter written by him, a few days be- lion souls this day, there are none more fore his death, to her husband. I have serenely and devoutly content than these never seen it, but they have told me “ tried and true.”
Oh sea, old sea, who yet knows half
WHEN you visit the famous old town and unproductive mudbanks stretched of La Rochelle, with its Huguenot out more than four leagues long, and memories and its countless historic
by a miracle of enterprise associations from the days of the great and energy, some six thousand fisherLouis to the closing scene in the men may be seen, as busy in their parks Napoleonic drama, you are most likely and claires as market-gardeners in their invited to take a peep at the seafarms, strawberry-beds. You ask what gives which are the pride and the honor of this multitude of men their lucrative that harbor. You push out with rapid occupation, and adds millions every stroke or spread a picturesque but use- year to the revenue of the region ful little sail into "the sea, the open around, and you learn with astonishsea,” you just begin to feel the swell of ment that it is a scheme, first introduced the billows, and then you enter a rough by a stone-mason with the curious name enclosure formed of huge blocks of of Beef, to raise oysters ! stone, and are bid to gaze into the If you have read your classics well, depths, lighted up by a warm southern
you may remember, at the mention of sun, and to look at the living things the dainty shell-fish, that there was in innumerable which there find a home Rome a man famous for the same bold in the mighty waters. There, near the undertaking, who also bore a name of island of Rhé, you will be introduced quaintest meaning. This was Sergius to the new seafarms of our day, where Äurata, so called because of the number not many years ago a row of enormous of gold rings he loved to wear, as some
said, or, according to others, because he They bolt the living carcass, and was passionately fond of gold-fish. He decline being bothered and bored in seems to have liked shellfish even bet- the act of cannibalism by the ill-timed ter, however, for he was the first to and impertinent interruptions of scitransport oysters from their birthplace ence. And yet they are not the worst; on the coast to the Lucrine Lake, where for if Lucian already ridiculed the they were cleaned by the purer waters philosophers who spent their lives inand fattened for the table, retaining quiring into the souls of oysters, such their own native juices, as Pliny tells wiseacres were respectable, and the man us, and acquiring the flavor of their who eats the oyster with gratitude is at new home. He must have been a pleas- least excusable, when coinpared with ant man to deal with, thanks probably those who care neither for the oyster's to his intimacy with the delicate dish, soul nor its body, but concentrate all for Cicero sings not only the praises of their faculties on the shell. The sad his enormous wealth, but calls him also conchologist eviscerates the oyster as a most pleasant and “ delicious” per- earnestly and as gloatingly as the veriest
To these attractive qualities he Dando, but alas ! he flings the soft and seems to have added great cleverness, savory substance from him, and delights for he was at all times able to supply in the hard and unprofitable covering. the tables of Roman epicures with their His only pleasure is to count all the favorite natives from his own park; and little waves and scales and ribs, illso great was his renown for ingenuity, shapen and sad-colored as they seem to that when he was sued in the courts others, and he thinks not of the living and threatened to have an injunction put body within, as fearfully and wonderupon his trade, his advocate said de- fully made as his own. fiantly, that if his client was prevented Whilst, however, to the mass of men from rearing oysters in the lake, he the oyster may be nothing more than a would grow them upon the roof of his rude and sportive device of Nature, house.
others, fortunately, have learnt to spell They will, in all probability, present and to read, to peruse and to study the you with an oyster, and ask you to taste great Bible of Nature, in which this its flavor. Like all of us, you look shell also is an humble letter, and they upon it simply as a delicacy, good to have found out that the device is a sign eat; you open the creature's rough and pregnant with suggestive meaning, carunsightly shell, and swallow the delicate rying them onward and upward to other morsel to satisfy your craving appetite forms higher in the scale of beings, and to please your palate. But even and leading them thus, with all things the most refined and cultivated of oys- created, from Nature up to Nature's ter-eaters takes little note of the curious God. But, to share in their joys and to intricacies of its organization, and knows receive like rewards for our labor, we nothing, nor cares to know, of its wisely must first learn to approach all that contrived network of nerves and tiny was made with the reverence due to the blood-vessels. In fact, men generally majesty of its Maker, and to be able to clip its beard, that wondrous membrane see half-hidden grandeur in the minutest of strange and curious mechanism, by object, and veiled beauty in the most which the creature breathes, as thought- ungainly creature. We must learn to lessly as they shave their own, and gulp estimate each thing not carnally only, down the luscious substance, unmindful by its use and its pleasantness to our that they are devouring a body endowed senses, but spiritually also, by the with organs which all the science and amount of Divine thought which it genius of man has hardly yet been able reveals to our mind, believing that to know and to admire, and which no every pebble holds a treasure, every power but that of the Most High could bud a revelation. With such a spirit ever devise and send forth into life. we shall soon find wonders in every insect, sublimity in the tiny world of a denly the mother opens the shell; a pool, the clearly-written records of past dense mist is spread all around, and the ages in a stone, and boundless fertility young brood scatters far and wide. of thought as of life upon the barren Upon their first appearance in their seashore.
new career, they are all life and motion, Even the life of a poor, silent shell- 'flitting about in the sea as gayly and fish, once reputed the dullest and most lightly as the butterfly roams from flowinert of all animals, will then be found er to flower, or the swallow skims to have its interest and its romance. In through the air. They are odd little vain did Plato already assign, in his cherubs, consisting, like the angels of transmigration of souls, people who, old masters, of nothing but a couple of as men, were thoroughly ignorant and wing-like lobes on both sides of a without thought, to oysters thereafter, mouth and shoulders, but not encumand speak elsewhere of the soul being bered with a heavy, awkward body. fettered to the body like an oyster to The wings, fastened to rudimentary its shell; in vain does Virey, in our shells, are covered on the surface with time, call them the poor and afflicted countless little hairs, which move incesamong the beings of creation, who seem santly up and down, and thus enable to solicit the pity of happier animals- the tiny creature to swim about in the they are, as we shall see, beautifully water. Their infancy is one of permade, capable of enjoying much happi- petual joy and vivacity; they skip to ness, and susceptible of being taught a and fro as if in mockery of their heavy lesson, which most of us proud men and immovable parents. They do not have never been able to acquire.
go far from her, however, and the time Their life, usually pictured as one of of their joy is in their life, as in ours, utter helplessness and unbroken seclu- but brief, and soon at an end. After a sion, is by no means spent in unvarying day or two they seem to have sown repose. At the proper time, in the their wild oats, and if luck has favored spring of the year, when all Nature is them so as to escape the thousand vorafull of tender love and restless activity, cious enemies that lie everywhere in the mother-oyster also is visited by the wait or prowl about to prey upon their ruling passion, and “the icy bosoms feel youth and want of experience, they the secret fire." Soon after, they are finally settle down upon some suitable seen to contain a large quantity of milk resting-place, a stone or a branch, and white fluid, which the microscope shows become steady, domestic oysters. But us to consist of almost invisible eggs how few of them reach the goal! and milt, lying snugly side by side in When they start from their mother's the same shell. Unlike most marine safe home, they count nearly a million; animals, however, the oyster does not before they can find a new habitation, heartlessly abandon its spawn and leave at least nine tenths of their number it to the mercy of winds and waves; have perished ! but from the ovary the eggs pass into After they have attached themselves the sheltering folds of the mantle, by means of a glutinous substance, with where they remain for some time. which provident Nature has endowed Here they are surrounded by a nutri- them, to some permanent place on what tious substance, which serves to sustain is called a good spatting-ground, the them as the white of an egg supports little wings, now useless, gradually the young chicken. After a while the dwindle and shrink, until they diswhitish mass thickens, and oysters in appear, like the tail of a tadpole when this state are called “milky," because it changes into the full-grown frog. the mass of eggs resembles thick cream Then they begin to grow, slowly, like in consistency and color. The latter
The latter all good things of this earth, from the turns into yellow, then into darker size of a pin's head, at two weeks, to brown, and the eggs are hatched! Sud- that of a pea, at three months; when
they are a year old they are perhaps as it. Others have chosen the better part, large as a small lady's-watch, and at and followed the example of the oyster, the age of five years they are in their either withdrawing with stoic heroism prime. The shell remains frail and into their shell, on which all the storms tender until they reach the size of that of Fate could make no impression, or rare coin, an American dollar, but is travelling sadly from Babylon to JeruLard and complete, when they become salem, from the wicked world and its fit for the table, which is in their fourth tempest-tossed waves into the quiet year. At that time, they are rudely convent, the peaceful haven on earth. torn from their native bed by terrible An oyster-bed in the sunny sea is the iron prongs, to which they yield with concentration of undisturbed bappiness. philosophic resignation, and are carried The countless creatures congregated unresisting to busy cities and the hum there may seem to be dormant, but we of crowds. If they should escape the are sure they lead, each, the beatified gluttony of man, they die at the ap- existence of an epicurean god. The pointed time, leaving their shell, thick- world without does not trouble them; ened by old age, and adorned with its cares and joys, its storms and calms, rings which show their years like the its passions and sins, are all indifferent rings of a tree, to serve as a monument to the unheeding oyster. Apparently for times to come, and to add, with unobservant of what passes around, its millions of their kind, a new layer to whole soul is concentrated in itself, and the crust of the earth.
like the sublime sage of the East in his Such is their life, simple and un- one word Om, the oyster finds bliss in romantic, but by no means as void of simple existence. And yet it does not enjoyment as we are pt to imagine. enjoy itself sluggishly or apathetically; There are countless sneers at the poor its pleasures are neither few nor unimmovable oyster to be found in poet varied, for its body is throbbing with and prose writer, as if to be in per- life and a thousand sources of enjoypetual motion was to be the perfection ment. The performance of every funcof happiness. The oyster has its time tion with which the Creator has enof merry wandering, when it is young; dowed them—and we know not yet but it remembers, by times, that a roll- half their number-brings with it as ing stone gathers no moss, and settles much happiness as they are capable of down quietly in its cool, pleasant home. enjoying. We are so used to roam over the earth The mighty ocean itself is subservient by rail and by steam, that we are apt to their pleasure, and its rolling waves to forget how Cain's curse was, that he waft ever fresh and varied food within should be a fugitive and a vagabond all their reach. They have no care for the of his life! We learn a different lesson morning, for He who feeds the young from the great Kant, whose philosophy lions, provides an abundance for their De Quincey praises above all ancient wants; they need no effort, no labor, and modern wisdom, and who yet never for the flow of the current brings the for a day left his native town on the food to their very doors. Besides, each Baltic, and from thence wielded the atom of water that comes in contact lever that moved a world of minds; or with their delicate, sensitive gills, sets from Burns, who said once that he free its imprisoned air to freshen and envied only two beings in this world, a invigorate their pellucid blood. Nor wild horse roaming freely over the can we doubt that the gentle agitation steppes of Asia, and an oyster on a of the water as it flows around them, lonely rock in the ocean—the former the equal temperature of the ocean, had no wish it could not gratify, the varying only from one degree of please latter knew no wish and no fear. Poor antness to another, the act of imbibing Burns preferred to lead the life of the the fluid and softly expelling again horse, and we all know what came of what is not required for breathing, that