The lunch commenced.
USE OF COATS IN A STORM.
It was a very picturesque group seated that day beneath the golden trees; and the difference in the appearance of each member of the party made the effect more complete.
Redbud, with her mild, tender eyes, and gentle smile and sylvan costume, was the representative of the fine shepherdesses of former time, and wanted but a crook to worthily fill Marlow’s ideal; for she had not quite
“A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs,—”
her slender waist was encircled by a crimson ribbon, quite as prettily embroidered as the zone of the old poet’s fancy, and against her snowy neck the coral necklace which she wore was clearly outlined, rising and falling tranquilly, like May-buds woven by child-hands into a bright wreath, and launched on the surface of some limpid stream.
And Fanny—gay, mischievous Fanny, with her mad-cap countenance, and midnight eyes, and rippling, raven curls—Fanny looked like a young duchess taking her pleasure, for the sake of contrast, in the woods—far from ancestral halls, and laughing at the follies of the court. Her hair trained back—as Redbud’s was—in the fashion called La Pompadour; her red-heeled rosetted shoes—her silken gown—all this was plainly the costume of a courtly maiden. Redbud was the country; Fanny, town.
Between Verty and Ralph, we need not say, the difference was as marked.
The one wild, primitive, picturesque, with the beauty of the woods.
The other richly dressed, with powdered hair and silk stockings.
This was the group which sat and laughed beneath the fine old tulip trees, and gazed with delight upon the splendid landscape, and were happy. Youth was theirs, and that sunshine of the breast which puts a spirit of joy in everything. They thought of the scene long years afterwards, and saw it bathed in the golden hues of memory; and sighed to think that those bright days and the child-faces had departed—faces lit up radiantly with so much tenderness and joy.
Do not all of us? Does the old laughter never ring again through all the brilliant past, so full of bright, and beautiful, and happy figures—figures which illustrated and advanced that past with such a glory as now lives not upon earth? Balder the beautiful is gone, but still Hermoder sees him through the gloom—only the form is dead, the love, and joy, and light of brilliant eyes remains, shrined in their memory. Thus, we would fain believe that no man loses what once made him happy—that for every one a tender figure rises up at times from that horizon, lit with blue and gold, called youth: some loving figure, with soft, tender smiles, and starlike eyes, and arms which beckon slowly to the weary traveller. The memory of the old youthful scenes and figures may be deadened by the inexorable world, but still the germ remains; and this old lost tradition of pure love, and joy, and youth, comes back again to bless us.