“What do you say, Ranney?”
“Well, I would like to go, and I would like to have Barton go with us.”
“Would you, though?”—brightening. “No, I can’t go; though I would be glad to go with you anywhere.”
What the girls said.
Kate’s little party, out on the dry, bright yellow leaves, gay with early flowers, under the grand old maples, elms and beeches, in the warm sun, came and went, with laughter and light hearts. If it could be reproduced with its lights, and colors, and voices, what a bright little picture and resting-place it would be, in this sombre-colored annal! I am sad for poor Bart, and I cannot sketch it.
The young lawyers had been there, seen, talked to, got acquainted with, were looked up to, deferred to, admired and flirted with, and had gone, leaving themselves to be talked about.
Two young girls, amid the fading light, with the rich warm blood of young womanhood in their cheeks, and its latent emotions sending a softened light into their eyes, with their arms about each other’s waists, were pensively walking out of the dusky woods to the open fields, with a little ripple and murmur of voices, like the liquid pearls of a brook.
They had been speaking of the young lawyers. “And these two,” said Julia, “are some of those who are to go out and shape and mould and govern. I am glad to have seen them, and hear them talk.”
“Do you think these are to be leading men?” asked Flora Walters.
“I presume so. It is generally conceded that Henry Ridgeley is a young man of ability; and I don’t think any one could be long in the company of Mr. Ranney without feeling that he is no ordinary man. Indeed, Henry said that he was destined to a distinguished career.”
“Well, now to me they were both a little heavy and commonplace. Mr. Ridgeley was easy and gentlemanly; Mr. Ranney a little shy and awkward. I’ve no doubt one would come to like either of them, when one came to know him.”
“Oh, Flora! the beauty of a man is strength and courage, and power and will and ability. When one comes to see these, the outside passes out of sight.”
“Do you think that absolute ugliness could be overcome in that way?”
“Yes, even deformity. I should be taken even by beauty, in a man, and should expect conforming beauty of heart and soul. Do you know, I sometimes half feel that I would like to be a man?”
“You, Julia! with your wealth, beauty and friends, who may, where you will, look and choose?”
“Yes, I, as much as you flatter me. I can feel the ambition of a young man; and were I one, how gladly would I put the world and its emptiness from me, and nurse and feed my soul and brain with the thoughts and souls of other men, till I was strong and great; and then, from my obscurity, I would come forth and take my place in the lead;” and her great eyes flashed.