The complexion of the two children was a sort of compromise between the complexions of their parents—chubby-faced, chestnut-coloured, curly-headed, rollicking little pests, who would never be quiet, and whose little black buttons of eyes were always peering into something, and whose little plugs of fingers would, in spite of every precaution to prevent, be diving into mother’s work-box, and various other highly inconvenient and inappropriate places.
“There!” said Esther, putting the last stitch into a doll she had been manufacturing; “now, take sister, and go away and play.” But little sister, it appeared, did not wish to be taken, and she made the best of her way off, holding on by the chairs, and tottering over the great gulfs between them, until she succeeded in reaching the music-stand, where she paused for a while before beginning to destroy the music. Just at this critical juncture a young lady entered the room, and held up her hands in horror, and baby hastened off as fast as her toddling limbs could carry her, and buried her face in her mother’s lap in great consternation.
Emily Garie made two or three slight feints of an endeavour to catch her, and then sat down by the little one’s mother, and gave a deep sigh.
“Have you answered your brother’s letter?” asked Esther.
“Yes, I have,” she replied; “here it is,”—and she laid the letter in Esther’s lap. Baby made a desperate effort to obtain it, but suffered a signal defeat, and her mother opened it, and read—
“DEAR BROTHER,—I read your chilling letter with deep sorrow. I cannot say that it surprised me; it is what I have anticipated during the many months that I have been silent on the subject of my marriage. Yet, when I read it, I could not but feel a pang to which heretofore I have been a stranger. Clarence, you know I love you, and should not make the sacrifice you demand a test of my regard. True, I cannot say (and most heartily I regret it) that there exists between us the same extravagant fondness we cherished as children—but that is no fault of mine. Did you not return to me, each year, colder and colder—more distant and unbrotherly—until you drove back to their source the gushing streams of a sister’s love that flowed so strongly towards you? You ask me to resign Charles Ellis and come to you. What can you offer me in exchange for his true, manly affection?—to what purpose drive from my heart a love that has been my only solace, only consolation, for your waning regard! We have grown up together—he has been warm and kind, when you were cold and indifferent—and now that he claims the reward of long years of tender regard, and my own heart is conscious that he deserves it, you would step between us, and forbid me yield the recompense that it will be my pride and delight to bestow. It grieves me to write it; yet I must, Clary—for between brother and sister there is no need of concealments; and particularly at such