* * * * *
It is upon a soft September afternoon that we last see Dr. Gardner and his lovely wife. Within a snug little arbor beside the lake in Central Park the two sit side by side, watching the idly-floating pleasure crafts, and noting the lazy ripples of the green wavelets. Their hearts grow tender with a mighty love that finds no language in which to clothe itself.
Every blessing of life is theirs; every cadence that affection knows makes harmony in their words. Gayly-dressed children pass by, some with toy balloons, bounding into air. Evelyn shuddered at even this tiny reminder of her reckless adventure, and clinging to her husband’s arm, blesses him and the day that confided her to his keeping. Accident had tested his noble nature as the ordinary course of events never could have done; and now was fulfilled the last wish of his parents, that in Evelyn Howard should Weldon Gardner find the glory of heaven’s last, best gift to man.
A FIRESIDE SKETCH
“Walk right in, Mr. Lightus, do,” said the cheery voice of the Widow Partridge, as the portly figure of Mr. Hezekiah Lighthouse appeared in her hospitable doorway.
“Thankee, thankee, I don’t care if I do, Mis’ Patridge,” responded the visitor, heavily bringing himself within the family circle.
“How’s all?” he asked, comfortably establishing himself in the arm-chair.
“Middlin’, thankee,” said the widow. “I’ve been enjoyin’ very poor health till lately. Now I seem to be pickin’ up a little,” as brushing the seat of a rocker with her gingham apron, she sat down at the opposite end of the hearth.
“An’ Cicely Ann—how’s she?”
“Oh, she—why she’s allers the picture o’ health. Here she comes now.”
As she spoke, a fair, rosy-cheeked girl entered the cheerful room, with her arms full of painting materials. These she deposited upon the table, then dutifully greeted the visitor.
“An’ how do you like them new fol-de-rols, Cicely Ann?” inquired Hezekiah, eyeing askance the collection.
The fol-de-rols consisted of some wooden plaques of different sizes, which the new art craze had brought to the widow’s cottage.
“She’s gettin’ along right nice, I think,” replied the widow, looking proudly at her one chick. “You see, she’s a lot o’ darnin’ an’ one thing another to do, but she finds time for her landskips and things.”
“Well, mebbe so,” assented Hezekiah grudgingly. “For my part there’s nothing set’s a gal off like spinnin’ an’ weavin’, an’ it puts more money in her pocket, besides.”
“La, Mr. Lightus,” said the widow deprecatingly, “spinnin’ an’ weavin’s gone out o’ fashion. Gals will be gals, and they mostly go in for fashion, you know.”
Cicely’s red lip curled in scorn as she applied herself vigorously to her plaque, where the inevitable girl with muff and umbrella was stumbling into a snowdrift.