And as he went on thus, so gallant, in the bravery of youth and joy, a young lady, sitting on the sun-lit portico, followed him with her eyes; and leaning her fine brow, with its ebon curls, upon her hand, mused with a sigh and a smile. And when the cavalier turned round as the trees swallowed him, and waved his hat, with its fine feather, in the golden light, Miss Fanny murmured—“Really, I think—Ralph—has very much—improved!” Which seemed to be a very afflicting circumstance to Miss Fanny, inasmuch as she uttered a deep sigh.
Meanwhile our little Redbud gazed, too, from the brilliantly-illumined portico, toward the golden ocean in the west. The rich light lingered lovingly upon her golden hair, and tender lips and cheeks, and snowy neck, on which the coral necklace rose and fell with the pulsations of her heart. The kind, mild eyes were fixed upon the sunset sadly, and their blue depths seemed to hold more than one dew-drop, ready to pass the barrier of the long dusky lashes, which closed gradually as the pure white forehead drooped upon her hand.
For a long time the tender heart remained thus still and quiet; then her lips moved faintly, and she murmured—
“Oh, it is wrong—I know it is—I ought not to!”
And two tears fell on the child’s hand, and on the necklace, which the fingers held.
We left our friend Verty slowly going onward toward the western hills, under the golden autumn sunset, with drooping head and listless arms, thinking of Redbud and the events of the day, which now was going to its death in royal purple over the far horizon.
One thought, one image only dwelt in the young man’s mind, and what that thought was, his tell-tale lips clearly revealed:—“Redbud! Redbud!” they murmured; and the dreamer seemed to be wholly dead to that splendid scene around him, dreaming of his love.
There are those who speak slightingly of boyhood and its feelings, scoffing at the early yearnings of the heart, and finding only food for jest in those innocent and childish raptures and regrets. We do not envy such. That man’s heart must be made of doubtful stuff, who jeers at the fresh dreams of youth; or rather, he must have no heart at all—above all, no sweet and affecting recollections. There is something touching in the very idea of this pure and unselfish emotion, which the hardened nature of the grown-up man can never feel again. Men often dream about their childhood, and shed unavailing tears as they gaze in fancy on their own youthful faces, and with the pencil of imagination slowly trace the old forms and images.