And a smile broke through the tears in her eyes, as she gazed timidly at me. I shall not prolong the account of our interview. She soon left me, resolute to the last; and I came away, perfectly miserable.
What shall I do? I cannot live without her. My life would be a miserable mockery. To see her there near me, at the window, in the street; to see her tresses in the sunlight, her little slipper as it flits through the flower-enveloped gate; to feel that she is near me, but lost to me! Never could I endure it! But what can I do? Is there anything that can move her?
—Ah! that may! Let me try it. Oh, fortunate accident. To-morrow, or very soon—very soon!
A week after my rejection, I went up to my chamber, and drew from the depths of my wardrobe, the old coat which Annie had mended. I had promised her to preserve it. I had kept my promise. Yes, there it was, just as I had worn it at the hall—my shabby old coat of five years ago! I put it on, smiling, and surveyed myself in a mirror. It was strangely old-fashioned; but I did not think of that. I seemed to have returned, all at once, to the past; its atmosphere embraced me; all its flowers bloomed gaily before my eyes.
I looked at the hole in the elbow. There were Annie’s stitches—her fingers had clasped the worn, decayed cloth—the old garment had rested on her arm!
I think I must have gazed at the coat for an hour, motionless in the sunlight, and thinking of old days. Then I aroused myself, suddenly, put on my hat, and, with a beating heart, went to ask if Annie remembered.
I shall not relate the details of our interview. She remembered! Oh, word so sweet or so filled with sadness! with a world of sorrow or delight in its sound! She remembered—and her heart could resist no longer. She remembered the poor youth who had loved her so dearly—whom she, too, had loved in the far away past. She remembered the days when her father was well and happy—when his kind voice greeted me, and his smile gave me friendly welcome. She remembered the old days, with their flowers and sunshine—the old hall, and the lawn, and the singing birds. Can you wonder that her soft, tender bosom throbbed, that her heart was “melted in her breast?”
So she plighted me her troth—the dream and joy of my youth. We shall very soon be married. The ship which I sent from the shore long ago has come again to port, with a grander treasure than the earth holds beside—it is the precious, young head which reclined upon my heart!
—And again I can say, as I said long ago: “how good a thing it is to live!”
(FROM THE FRENCH.)
BY HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.