“What I advise is for your own good, Redbud. I only aim at your happiness. Pursue the plan I have indicated, and whenever you can, avoid this young man—as you will both suffer. Men, men,” murmured Miss Lavinia, “they are our masters, and ask nothing better than that delightful tribute to their power—a broken heart.”
“Yes, yes, Redbud,” said the solemn lady, rising, “this advice I have given you is well worthy of your attention. Both you and this young man will undergo cruel suffering if you persist in your present relations. I will say no more. I have done my duty, and I am sure you will not think that I am actuated by old-maidish scruples, and have made a bugbear for myself. I love you, Redbud, as well as I love any one in the world, and all I have said is for your good. Now I must go.”
And Miss Lavinia solemnly enclosed the weeping girl in her arms, and returned to her carriage. Before her sailed Miss Sallianna, smiling and languishing—her eyes upon the sky, and uttering the most elegant compliments. These were received by Miss Lavinia with grave politeness; and finally the two ladies inclined their heads to each other, and the carriage drove off toward Winchester, followed by Redbud’s eye. That young lady was standing at the window, refusing to be comforted by her friend Fanny—who had given her the pigeon, it will be remembered—and obstinately bent on proving to herself that she was the most wretched young lady who had ever existed.
Meanwhile Miss Lavinia continued her way, gazing in a dignified attitude from the window of her carriage. Just as she reached the bottom of the hill, what was her horror to perceive a cavalier approach from the opposite direction—an elegant cavalier, mounted on a shaggy horse, and followed by a long-eared hound—in whose richly clad person she recognized the whilom forest boy.
Miss Lavinia held up both her hands, and uttered an exclamation of horror.
As to Verty, he passed rapidly, with a fascinating smile, saying, as he disappeared:—
“I hope you gave my love to Redbud, Miss Lavinia!”
Miss Lavinia could only gasp.
ONLY A FEW TEARS.
The theories of Miss Lavinia upon life and matrimony had so much truth in them, in spite of the address and peculiarities of the opinions upon which they were based, that Redbud was compelled to acknowledge their justness; and, as a consequence of this acknowledgment, to shape her future demeanor toward the young man in conformity with the advice of her mentor.
Therefore, when Miss Redbud saw Verty approach, clad in his new costume, and radiant with happy expectation, she hastily left the window at which she had been standing, and, in the depths of her chamber, sought for strength and consolation.
Let no one deride the innocent prayer of the child, and say that it was folly, and unworthy of her. The woes of youth are not our woes, and the iron mace which strikes down the stalwart man, falls not more heavily upon his strong shoulders, than does the straw which bears to the earth the weak heart of childhood.