“The greater our duty,” exclaimed Faith, clasping her hands, “to atone for the wrongs we have inflicted. But, William, some good has been done. Look at my dear, good Esther.”
“Esther deserves your praise, I am sure, because you say it. But it is you that have made her good. She could not be with you, without being benefited.”
“You are very kind, but no merit attaches to me. They were the precepts of Christianity that softened her heart, though she was always gentle.”
“It was the sweetness of religion she heard in your voice, its kindness she read in your eyes, and its loveliness illustrated in your life, that attracted and improved Esther”
“Were I to admit what you say, the credit would, after all, belong to religion.”
The sun had nearly reached his meridian, as the young couple approached the house of Mr. Armstrong. What a change had been produced in a few hours! The warm sunshine, while it glorified the landscape had robbed it of its sparkling beauty. The trees no longer wore their silver armor; the branches, relieved of the unusual weight, had lost the graceful curves and resumed their original positions; white blossoms no longer bedecked the evergreens; and all around, large drops were falling, as if lamenting the passing away of the short-lived magnificence.
On parting from Bernard, at her father’s door, Faith reminded him of his promise, and invited him and Anne to tea with her in the evening. Bernard accepted the invitation for himself, and conditionally for his sister.
“O nymph, with loosely flowing hair,
With buskined leg, and bosom bare,
Thy waist with myrtle girdle bound,
Thy brow with Indian feathers crowned,
Waving in thy snowy hand
An all-commanding magic wand
Of power, to bid fresh gardens blow,
Mid cheerless Lapland’s barren snow!”
Bernard and his sister, on their arrival, found only Mr. Armstrong and his daughter, but were joined, in the course of the evening, by Pownal, at whose arrival all expressed pleasure. The whole company united with Miss Armstrong in requesting Bernard to read the legend, who, at last, produced the manuscript from his pocket.
“I must entreat your indulgence,” he said, “for the defects of which the piece is full. The author is an inexperienced writer, and unable, like an accomplished hand, to atone by elegance of style for improbability or poverty of incident. You will expect no more than that he should observe the proprieties of his subject, nor require him to introduce into a tale of the children of Nature the refinement of language or delicacy of sentiment, to be met with in the modern romance. The stories of an uncivilized people must be rude, even approaching in simplicity tales designed for children.”
“The writer could not have an audience more ready to be pleased,” said Mr. Armstrong; “and are we not all children of various growths?”