“Please, miss, a letter for you,” said the post-boy, handing Natalie a letter, which she was not long in discovering, was from her dear mother.
“I thank you, most heartily,” said she, in her low, musical voice, which caused the youthful sprig of Uncle Sam’s department to leave incomplete the angle of forty-five degrees, which he had been in the habit of considering as of no little importance in the perfecting of his duties, as he went his daily rounds.
“Zounds!” said he to himself, as he went whistling up the street, “if I don’t hope they’ll send down another document to her soon!” and his eyes wandered up to the little patch of blue sky which was to be seen between the tops of brick walls.
The Sea-flower perused the letter, and sat, apparently buried in deep thought.
“Why, Natie, darling,” exclaimed Winnie, as she came bounding into the room, “what has given you such a wise look this morning? A letter, eh? good news, I trust; far be the day which shall bring to you aught but happiness.”
“Thank you, thank you, Winnie, for your good wishes; but I cannot well conceive of any other than pleasure coming from my gentle mother’s pen.”
Winnie ran her fingers lightly over the keys of the piano, and Natalie did not suspect, as she listened to her sprightly air, that there was a bright tear glistening in her eye at the holy name of—mother.
“But you are unusually thoughtful to-day, Natalie,” said Winnie, running her taper fingers through the sunny tresses of her friend, “did I not know it were an impossibility, I should say you had lost your best friend;” and putting her dimpled mouth close to her ear, she whispered some mysterious words so softly,—so very softly, that were we disposed to turn listener, we could only have distinguished that one word,—“Delwood;” but we might have seen the delicate tinge of pink, which, tell-tale like, overspread the face and neck of the Sea-flower. Be that as it may, there was a thoughtful look lingering about those expressive features, which could even be traced, when at night-fall, a well-known step was heard, echoing with no unpleasant sound along the corridor, and a hand, which, though of feminine delicacy, could have been fired with sufficient nerve to have wielded a giant’s weapon, at the invader who should come between him and the gentle being, whose hand was not withdrawn as he held it reverently within his own.
“Ah, Miss Sea-flower,” said Delwood, as he gazed deep into her eyes, “you are far away among the invisible sprites of ocean to-night, are you? not one thought for us poor unfortunates, who are so ungenial to those translucent ones, as never to have been initiated to their fairy haunts. Really; I must get up a little smile at your expense, for you could not better please an artist, in the composing of your features, if you were sitting for your picture. By the way, have you seen the famous Madonna, whose great beauty is the theme of all conversation?