It was gratifying and entirely fitting that her beautiful Lucina should have a heart-broken lover at her feet; still, it was sad, very sad, for the poor lover. “When the affections are enlisted, one should not hesitate to share poverty as well as wealth,” she admitted, with a little conscious tremor of delicacy at such pronounced views.
“I do not think Jerome himself wants to be married,” said Lucina, quickly.
Miss Camilla sighed. She remembered again the young man’s fervent eyes. “I hope he does not, my dear,” she said.
“I do not intend to marry either. I am never going to be married at all,” said Lucina, with a seeming irrelevance which caused Camilla to make mild eyes of surprise and wonder sadly, after her niece had gone home, if it were possible that the dear child had, thus early, been crossed in love.
Lucina, ever since Jerome’s confession of love, had experienced a curious revulsion from her maiden dreams. She had such instinctive docility of character that she was at times amenable to influences entirely beyond her own knowledge. Not understanding in the least Jerome’s attitude of renunciation, she accepted it for herself also. She no longer builded bridal air-castles. She still embroidered her chair-covers, thinking that they would look very pretty in the north parlor, and some of the old chairs could be moved to the garret to make room for them. She gazed at her aunt Camilla with a peaceful eye of prophecy. Just so would she herself look years hence. Her hair would part sparsely to the wind, like hers, and show here and there silver instead of golden lustres. There would be a soft rosetted cap of lace to hide the thinnest places, and her cheeks, like her aunt’s, would crumple and wrinkle as softly as old rose leaves, and, like her aunt, in this guise she would walk her path of life alone.
Lucina seemed to see, as through a long, converging tunnel of years, her solitary self, miniatured clearly in the distance, gliding on, like Camilla, with that sweet calm of motion of one who has left the glow of joy behind, but feels her path trend on peace.
“I dare say it may be just as well not to marry, after all,” reasoned Lucina, “a great many people are not married. Aunt Camilla seems very happy, happier than many married women whom I have seen. She has nothing to disturb her. I shall be happy in the way she is. When I am such an old maid that my father and mother will have died, because they were too old to live longer, I will leave this house, because I could not bear to stay here with them away, and go to Aunt Camilla’s. She will be dead, too, by that time, and her house will be mine. Then I, in my cap and spectacles, will sit afternoons in the summer-house, and—perhaps—he—he will be older than I then, and white-haired, and maybe stooping and walking with a cane—perhaps—he will come often, and sit with me there, and we will remember everything together.”