“Do I promise?” he replied with haughty emotion. “No! I swear I will not! So long as you are free I will love you; and so long as your maidenhood gives the opportunity, I shall tell you of that love. Give you up? I, who love you with a mad and foolish devotion? I promise not to love you? No! no! Never, never, never, while hope lasts. What care I if you are a Jewess? It’s the shrine of beauty where I bow, and because a Jewess breathes therein, shall I withdraw my homage? Never while I live. I swear it!”
Frightened at her desperate lover’s words, Leah walked on in silence, almost regretting that her courage had permitted her to speak her mind so freely. After a time she said, “Do not be angry with me, Mr. Le Grande, I did not mean to offend you.”
“It’s worse than offence, it is death,” he replied.
Ascending the steps of her uncle’s house, by this time reached, Leah extended her hand and said, “Good-by. I’ll tarry here to-night.” Clasping her soft hand, he said, “I shall see you soon. Good-night.”
A week after Madam Truxton’s school closed, the term of the military academy ended. The drilling, drilling, drilling, was stopped, the graduating class of cadets had either won or lost the honors for which they contested; and the roll of candidates for military honors was handed to the world. Conspicuous among the names crowned with well-won distinction was that of George Marshall. A nobler, braver spirit never stepped from college walls upon life’s crowded highway, or one with firmer, truer tread than he.
Time rolled on. Months had melted into months until they were calendared by years, since we bade adieu to Madam Truxton’s finishing class on that departed June day 185-, and watched with regretful eye the last well-executed drill of the graduating cadets of the same year.
Sunny twelvemonths only had so far passed over these sundered friends, many of whom still clung to each other with the old love of school days, and maintained by frequent correspondence a thorough knowledge of each other’s lives and doings. It is worth mentioning that these years had brought some changes to the lives and fortunes of three of the four firm friends at Madam Truxton’s, and to others who were once sworn friends at the institute.
In her quiet home at Melrose, Lizzie Heartwell was confronting daily the stern duties of life amid a bevy of bright-eyed little scholars, wearing with easy grace the dignity of school-mistress.
Helen Le Grande, a bright fresh blonde in school days, had blossomed into a fair, beautiful, fashionable belle, as devoted to society as society was devoted to her.
Bertha Levy, roguish and merry-hearted as ever, had been sent abroad to complete her education in Berlin—“To sober her down, and try and break her spirit,” as she wrote in a letter to Lizzie.