What the cherry is to the larger and more luscious fruits, or the lily of the valley to glowing and stately flowers, or what the Pleiades are among the grander constellations, my sister’s protegee is among women;—it is ridiculous to call her Kate’s friend. Many men would find their ideal of loveliness in her. She would surely excite a tender, protecting, cherishing affection. But where is there room in her for the wondering admiration, the loving reverence, which would make an attempt to win her an aspiration? And that is what my love must be, if it is to have dominion over me.
Ah, Mary! I forget continually that for me there is no such joy in the future.
“Hope springs eternal in the human breast,”
and no reasoning can quell it. I subdue my fancy to my fate sometimes, as a rational creature ought surely to do; but then I suffer acutely, and am wretched; while in a careless abandonment of myself to any and every dream of coming joy I find present contentment. I cannot help myself. I shall continue to dream, I am sure, until I have grown so old that I can resign all earthly hopes without sighing. I pray to be spared the sight of any object which, by rousing within me the desire of present possession, may renew the struggle with despair, to which I nearly succumbed when my profession was wrenched from me.
I was at first surprised to find that my sister cherished a more exceeding tenderness for her young friend than I had ever seen her manifest for any one; but my astonishment ceased when I found out that Alice’s half-brother, who bears a different name, is the gentleman I saw with Kate in the box-tree arbor.
Since she has been here, Alice has been occupied in writing to different relatives about the arrangements for her future home,—a matter that is still unsettled. She brings almost all her letters to us, to be corrected; for she has a great dread of orthographic errors.
I was lying upon my couch, in the porch, yesterday, and through the low window I could see Alice as she sat at her writing-desk. Kate was sewing beside her, but just out of my sight. The young girl’s hand flew over the paper, and a bright smile lighted up her face as she wrote.
“This is a different kind of letter from yesterday’s, I fancy,” said Kate,—“not a business, but a pleasure letter.”
“Yes, so it is: for it is to Brother Walter, and all about you! When he wrote to tell me to love you and think much of your advice, and all that, he said something else, which requires a full answer, I can tell you!”
Kate was silent. The letter was finished, and Alice sprang up, tired of her long application. I heard her kiss my sister, who then said, with a lame attempt at unconcern,—
“I suppose I am to look over your letter while you run about to rest yourself.”
Alice quickly answered, “No, thank you. I won’t give you the trouble. The subject will make Walter blind to faults.”