“Oh! Miss Roscom, our dear, dear brother Willie has come at last! Don’t you wish you had a brother Willie too?”
Had he known the pang which his childish remark occasioned me he certainly would never have made it. With much difficulty I kept back my tears and tried to appear as much pleased as the child evidently wished me to be. I had been accustomed, since my residence in the family, to spend my evening mostly with them in the parlor; but on that evening I remained in my own room, feeling that I should be an intruder upon that family reunion. I took up a book and endeavored to interest myself in its pages. I could distinctly hear the joyous murmur of voices from below, varied by bursts of laughter, not loud, but strikingly mirthful. I soon heard light footsteps ascending the stairs; the next moment Birdie rushed in, exclaiming,
“Mamma says she has been so much occupied that she had almost forgotten you; but she says you must come down at once; you mustn’t sit here alone when we are all so happy.”
I begged to be excused from going down, saying that they would probably prefer being left to themselves on this evening of Willie’s return.
“Oh!” said she, “Papa and mamma both expect you to go down.”
Fearful of giving offence, and after making some slight alterations in my dress, I accompanied Birdie down stairs and entered the parlor.
I believe most persons feel a kind of embarrassment when meeting for the first time one of whom they have long heard much. I was sensible of this feeling when I entered the parlor that evening.
Willie rose as I entered the room, and Mrs. Leighton, coming forward, said,—
“Miss Roscom, allow me to introduce to you my son Willie.”
I felt much relieved by this unceremonious introduction. For a time we engaged in general conversation. The manner of Willie was so genial and pleasant that I at once felt at ease in his society. I had often thought that Birdie resembled no other member of the family, but that was before I saw Willie. He had the same complexion, the same cast of countenance, with the same smile, only in a more mature and masculine form.
After an hour spent in social conversation, he said some music would be very welcome to him, it was so long since he had enjoyed that pleasure in their own home. Laura immediately went to the piano, and sang two or three songs which she knew to be favourites of his. Willie invited me to play, but I begged him to excuse me for the time being, as he had three sisters present, who all played more or less.
After his sisters had each in their turn favored him with some music, he rose, and taking the vacant seat at the piano, asked if we would not like to hear an English song. His sisters laughed heartily, thinking him to be only in jest; but their amusement changed to wonder and admiration when, after running his fingers lightly over the keys, he began playing a soft and melodious prelude. It seemed that when a boy of fifteen, he had as a sort of amusement learned the rudiments of music, but he had not begun with any settled purpose of making progress in the study, and had soon become tired of it. What then was their surprise to hear him sing with much taste and skill, to a beautiful accompaniment, a song he had learned in England.