“Not so, my children,” said the calm voice of the maiden’s father, to whose ears the remark had come. “Not so, my children. The sun and dew never fully restore what the storm has broken and trampled upon. They may hide disfiguring marks, and cover with new forms of life and beauty the ruins which time can never restore. This is something, and we may take the blessing thankfully, and try to forget what is lost, or so changed as to be no longer desirable. Look at this fallen and shattered elm, my children. Is there any hope for that in the dew, the rain and sunshine? Can these build it up again, and spread out its arms as of old, bringing back to me, as it has done daily, the image of my early years? No, my children. After every storm are ruins which can never be repaired. Is it not so with that lightning-stricken oak? And what art can restore to its exquisite loveliness this statue of Hope, thrown down by the ruthless hand of the unsparing tempest? Moreover, is there human vitality in the sunshine and fructifying dew? Can they put life into the dead?
“No—no—my children. And take the lesson to heart. Outward tempests but typify and represent the fiercer tempests that too often desolate the human soul. In either case something is lost that can never be restored. Beware, then, of storms, for wreck and ruin follow as surely as the passions rage.”
IRENE DELANCY was a girl of quick, strong feelings, and an undisciplined will. Her mother died before she reached her tenth year. From that time she was either at home under the care of domestics, or within the scarcely more favorable surroundings of a boarding-school. She grew up beautiful and accomplished, but capricious and with a natural impatience of control, that unwise reactions on the part of those who attempted to govern her in no degree tempered.
Hartley Emerson, as a boy, was self-willed and passionate, but possessed many fine qualities. A weak mother yielded to his resolute struggles to have his own way, and so he acquired, at an early age, control over his own movements. He went to college, studied hard, because he was ambitious, and graduated with honor. Law he chose as a profession; and, in order to secure the highest advantages, entered the office of a distinguished attorney in the city of New York, and gave to its study the best efforts of a clear, acute and logical mind. Self-reliant, proud, and in the habit of reaching his ends by the nearest ways, he took his place at the bar with a promise of success rarely exceeded. From his widowed mother, who died before he reached his majority, Hartley Emerson inherited a moderate fortune with which to begin the world. Few young men started forward on their life-journey with so small a number of vices, or with so spotless a moral character. The fine intellectual cast of his mind, and his devotion to study, lifted him above the baser allurements of sense and kept his garments pure.