Old Mr. Lofton could not be separated from Jenny; and, as he could not separate her from her husband, he has removed to the city, where he has an elegant residence, in which her voice is the music and her smiles the ever present sunshine.
A happy-hearted child was Madeline Henry, for the glad sunshine ever lay upon the threshold of her early home. Her father, a cheerful, unselfish man, left the world and its business cares behind him when he placed his hand upon the door of entrance to his household treasures. Like other men, he had his anxieties, his hopes and losses, his disappointments and troubles; but he wisely and humanely strove to banish these from his thoughts, when he entered the home-sanctuary, lest his presence should bring a shadow instead of sunshine.
Madeline was just twenty years of age, when, as the wife of Edward Leslie, she left this warm down-covered nest, and was borne to a new and more elegant home.
Mr. Leslie was her senior by eight or nine years. He began his business life at the age of twenty-two, as partner in a well established mercantile house, and, as he was able to place ten thousand dollars in the concern, his position, in the matter of profits, was good from the beginning. Yet, for all this, notwithstanding more than one loving-hearted girl, in whose eyes he might have found favor, crossed his path, he resolutely turned his thoughts away, lest the fascination should be too strong for him. He resolved not to marry until he felt able to maintain a certain style of living.
Thus were the heart’s impulses checked; thus were the first tender leaves of affection frozen in the cold breath of mere calculation. He wronged himself in this; yet, in his worldliness and ignorance, did he feel proud of being above, what he called, the weaknesses of other men.
It was but natural that Mr. Leslie should become, in a measure, reserved towards others. Should assume a statelier step, and more set forms of speech. Should repress, more and more, his heart’s impulses.
In Leslie, the love of money was strong; yet there was in his character a firmly laid basis of integrity. Though shrewd in his dealings, he never stooped to a system of overreaching. He was not long, therefore, in establishing a good reputation among business men. In social circles, where he occasionally appeared, almost as a matter of course he became an object of interest.
Observation, as it regards character, is, by far, too superficial. With most persons, merely what strikes the eye is sufficient ground for an opinion; and this opinion is freely and positively expressed. Thus, a good reputation comes, as a natural consequence, to a man who lives in the practice of most of the apparent social virtues, while he may possess no real kindness of heart, may be selfish to an extreme degree.
Thus it was with Mr. Leslie. He was generally regarded as a model of a man; and when he, at length, approached Madeline Henry as a lover, the friends of the young lady regarded her as particularly fortunate.