“Oh yes! When he spoke to me just now, I almost thought it was mother.”
A tear rolled over Florry’s cheek, and she slowly replied, “I wish I knew somebody that looked like my mother.” In that hour was forged the chain which bound them through life, and made them one in interest.
Years rolled on, and found Mary happy in her adopted home. If her uncle failed to caress her as her loving heart desired, she did not complain, for she was treated like her cousin, and found in the strong love of Florence an antidote for every care. Mary was about sixteen, and Florence a few months younger, at the time our story opens, and had been placed in New Orleans to acquire French and music, as good masters could not be obtained nearer home. We have seen them there, and, hoping the reader will pardon this digression, return to Florry’s letter.
“Philosophy can hold
an easy triumph over past and future
misfortunes; but those which are present, triumph over her.”
A Striking difference in personal appearance was presented by the cousins, as they stood together. Florence, though somewhat younger, was taller by several inches, and her noble and erect carriage, in connection with the haughty manner in which her head was thrown back, added in effect to her height. Her hair and eyes were brilliant black, the latter particularly thoughtful in their expression. The forehead was not remarkable for height, but was unusually prominent and white, and almost overhung the eyes. The mouth was perfect, the lips delicately chiseled, and curving beautifully toward the full dimpled chin. The face, though intellectual, and artistically beautiful, was not prepossessing. The expression was cold and haughty; and for this reason she had received the appellations of “Minerva” and “Juno,” such being considered by her fellow-pupils as singularly appropriate.
Mary, on the contrary, was slight and drooping, and her sweet, earnest countenance, elicited the love of the beholder, even before an intimate acquaintance had brought to view the beautiful traits of her truly amiable character.
And yet these girls, diametrically opposed in disposition, clung to each other with a strength of affection only to be explained by that strongest of all ties, early association.
Florence broke the seal of her letter, and Mary walked to the window. It looked out on a narrow street, through which drays rattled noisily, and occasional passengers picked their way along its muddy crossings.
Mary stood watching the maneuvers of a little girl, who was endeavoring to pass dry-shod, when a low groan startled her; and turning quickly, she perceived Florence standing in the center of the room, the letter crumpled in one hand: her face had grown very pale, and the large eyes gleamed strangely.
“Oh! Florry, what is the matter? Is your father ill—dead—tell me quick?” and imploringly she clasped her hands.