Sometimes, when the day’s work is over and the servant is gone, Georgiana comes to the window and looks away towards the sunsets of winter, her hands clasped behind her back, her motionless figure in relief against the darkness within, her face white and still. Being in the shadow of my own room, so that she could not see me, and knowing that I ought not to do it, but unable to resist, I have softly taken up the spy-glass which I use in the study of birds, and have drawn Georgiana’s face nearer to me, holding it there till she turns away. I have noted the traces of pain, and once the tears which she could not keep back and was too proud to heed. Then I have sat before my flickering embers, with I know not what all but ungovernable yearning to be over there in the shadowy room with her, and, whether she would or not, to fold my arms around her, and, drawing her face against mine, whisper: “What is it Georgiana? And why must it be?”
The fountains of the great deep opened. A new heaven, a new earth. Georgiana has broken her engagement with her cousin. Mrs. Cobb let it out in the strictest confidence to Mrs. Walters. Mrs. Walters, with stricter confidence still, has told me only.
The West-Pointer had been writing for some months in regard to the wild behavior of his cousin. This grew worse, and the crisis came. Georgiana snapped her thread and put up her needle. He travelled all the way down her to implore. I met him at the gate as he left the house—a fine, straight, manly, handsome young fellow, with his face pale with pain, and his eyes flashing with anger—and bade him a long, affectionate, inward God-speed as he hurried away. It was her father’s influence. He had always wished for this union. Ah, the evils that come to the living from the wrongful wishes of the dead! Georgiana is so happy now, since she has been forced to free herself, that spring in this part of the United States seems to have advanced about half a month.
“What on earth will she do with all those clothes?” inquired Mrs. Walters the other night, eying me with curious impressiveness.
“They ought to be hanged,” I said, promptly.
There is a young scapegrace who passes my house morning and evening with his cows. He has the predatory instincts of that being who loves to call himself the image of his Maker, and more than once has given annoyance, especially last year, when he robbed a damson-tree of a brood of Baltimore orioles. This winter and spring his friendly interest in my birds has increased, and several times I have caught him skulking among the pines. Last night what should I stumble on but a trap, baited and sprung, under the cedar-tree in which the cardinal roosts. I was up before daybreak this morning. Awhile after the waking of the birds here comes my young bird-thief, creeping rapidly to his trap. As he stooped I had him by the collar, and within the next five minutes I must have set up in his nervous system a negative disposition to the caging of red-birds that will descend as a positive tendency to all the generations of his offspring.