“Let us retire,” he said, gently urging the burgher to quit the place. “A little reflection will enable us to deride what should be done.”
The Alderman complied. Before quitting the place, however, its closets and drawers were examined; and the search left no further doubts of the step which the young heiress had taken. Her clothes, books, utensils for drawing, and even the lighter instruments of music, had disappeared.
way goes the game,
Now I perceive that she hath made compare
Between our statures—”
The tide of existence floats downward, and with it go, in their greatest strength, all those affections that unite families and kindred. We learn to know our parents in the fullness of their reason, and commonly in the perfection of their bodily strength. Reverence and respect both mingle with our love; but the affection, with which we watch the helplessness of infancy, the interest with which we see the ingenuous and young profiting by our care, the pride of improvement, and the magic of hope, create an intensity of sympathy in their favor, that almost equals the identity of self-love. There is a mysterious and double existence, in the tie that binds the parent to the child. With a volition and passions of its own, the latter has power to plant a sting in the bosom of the former, that shall wound as acutely as the errors which arise from mistakes, almost from crimes, of its own. But, when the misconduct of the descendant can be traced to neglect, or to a vicious instruction, then, indeed, even the pang of a wounded conscience may be added to the sufferings of those who have gone before. Such, in some measure, was the nature of the pain that Alderman Van Beverout was condemned to feel, when at leisure to reflect on the ill-judged measure that had been taken by la belle Barberie.
“She was a pleasant and coaxing minx, Patroon,” said the burgher, pacing the room they occupied, with a quick and heavy step, and speaking unconsciously of his niece, as of one already beyond the interests of life; “and as wilful and headstrong as an unbroken colt.—Thou hard-riding imp! I shall never find a match for the poor disconsolate survivor.—But the girl had a thousand agreeable and delightful ways with her, that made her the delight of my old days. She has not done wisely, to desert the friend and guardian of her youth, ay, even of her childhood, in order to seek protection from strangers. This is an unhappy world, Mr. Van Staats! All our calculations come to nought; and it is in the power of fortune to reverse the most reasonable and wisest of our expectations. A gale of wind drives the richly-freighted ship to the bottom; a sudden fall in the market robs us of our gold, as the November wind strips the oak of its leaves; and bankruptcies and decayed credit often afflict the days of the oldest houses, as disease saps the strength of the body:—Alida! Alida! thou hast wounded one that never harmed thee, and rendered my age miserable!”