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“A honey-suckle ! absolutely a honey-suckle on the porch!” Mrs. Rivers was almost too forlorn to sympathize with me : but then she had not been quite so long from home. I have been troubled with a sort of home calenture at times since we removed westward. * As we were about to dismount, the sun shone out most provokingly : and I was afraid there would be scarce the shadow of an excuse for a visit to the interesting inmates, for such I had decided they must be, of this delicious home-like spot; but, as we wavered, a young man as wet as ourselves, came up the road, and, opening the gate at once, invited us to enter and dry our dripping garments.
We stayed not for urging, but turned our graceless steeds into the shady lane, and dismounting, not at the front entrance, but, a la Michigan, at the kitchen door, we were received with much grave but cordial politeness by the comely mistress of the mansion, who was sharing with her pretty daughter the after-dinner cares of the day. Our upper garments were spread to dry, and when we were equipped, with urgent hospitality, in others belonging to our hostesses, we were ushered into the parlor or “keeping room.”
Here, writing at an old-fashioned secretary, sat the master of the house, a hearty, cheerful-looking, middleaged man; evidently a person of less refinement than his wife, but still of a most prepossessing exterior. He fell no whit behind in doing the honours, and we soon found ourselves quite at ease. We recounted the adventures of our tiny journey, and laughed at our unlucky over-running of the game.
“Ah! Tinkerville | yes, I think it will be some time yet before those dreams will come to pass. I have told Mr. Jephson there was nothing there to make a village out of.” “You are acquainted then with the present proprietors ?” “With one of them I have been acquainted since we were boys; and he has been a speculator all that time, and is now at least as poor as ever. He has been very urgent with me to sell out here and locate in his village, as he calls it; but we knew rather too much of him at home for that,” and he glanced at his fair spouse with some archness. I could scarcely believe that any man could have been impudent enough to propose such an exchange, but nothing is incredible in Michigan. Mrs. Beckworth was now engaged in getting tea, in spite of our hollow-hearted declarations that we did not wish it. With us, be it known to new comers, whatever be the hour of the day, a cup of tea with trimmings, is always in season; and is considered as the orthodox mode of welcoming any guest, from the clergyman to “the maid that does the meanest chores.” We were soon seated at a delicately-furnished table. The countenance of the good lady had something of peculiar interest for me. It was mild, intelligent, and very pleasing. No envious silver streaked the rich brown locks which were folded with no little elegance above the fair brow. A slight depression of the outer extremity of the eye-lid, and of the delicately-pencilled arch above it, seemed to tell of sorrow and meek endurance. I was sure that like so many western settlers, the fair and pensive matron had a story; and when I had once arrived at this conclusion, I determined to make a brave push to ascertain the truth of my conjecture. I began, while Mrs. Beckworth was absent from the parlour, by telling every thing I could think of; this being the established mode of getting knowledge in this country. Mr. Beckworth did not bite. “Is this young lady your daughter, Mr. Beck. worth 1 ° “A daughter of my wife's—Mary Jane Harrington ?” “Oh ah! a former marriage; and the fine young man who brought us into such good quarters is a brother of Miss Harrington's I am sure.” “A half brother—Charles Boon.” “Mrs. Beckworth thrice married impossible!” was my not very civil but quite natural exclamation. Our host smiled quietly, a smile which enticed me still further. He was, fortunately for my reputation for civility, too kindly polite not to consent to gratify my curiosity, which I told him sincerely had been awakened by the charming countenance of his wife, who was evidently the object of his highest admiration. As we rode through the freshened woods with Mr. Beckworth, who had, with ready politeness, offered to see us safely a part of the way, he gave us the particulars of his early history; and to establish my claim to the character of a physiognomist, I shall here recount what he told me ; and, as I cannot recollect his words, I must give this romance of rustic life in my own, taking a new chapter for it.
Sudden partings, such as press,
If ever more should meet those mutual eyes
HENRY BECKworTH, the eldest son of a Massachusetts farmer, of small means and many mouths, was glad to accept a situation as clerk in the comprehensive “variety store ” of his cousin Ellis Irving, who was called a great merchant in the neighbouring town of Langton. This cousin Ellis had fallen into the dan. gerous and not very usual predicament of having every body’s good word; and it was not until he had failed in business, that any one discovered that he had a fault in the world.
While he was yet in his hey-day, and before the world knew that he had been so good-natured as to endorse for his wife's harum-scarum brother, his clerk, Henry Beckworth, had never dared to acknowledge, even in his dreams, that he loved to very dizziness his sweet cousin Agnes Irving. But when mortification and apoplexy had done their work upon Mr. Irving, and his delicate wife had ascertained that the remnant of her days must pass in absolute poverty, dependant for food and raiment upon her daughter's needle, Henry found his wits and his tongue, and made so good use of both, that, ere long, his cousin Agnes did not deny that she liked him very well. Now young ladies who have been at boarding-school and learned to paint water-melons in water colours, and work Rebecca at the well in chenille and gold thread, find real, thrifty, housewifely sewing, very slow and hard work, to earn even bread and salt by ; but the dove-eyed Agnes had been the sole care and pride of a genuine New England housewife, who could make hard gingerbread as well as soft, and who had plumed herself on being able to put every stitch into six fine shirts between Sunday evening and Saturday night. And so the fair child, though delicately bred, earned her mother's living and her own, with cheerful and ungrudging industry; and Henry sent all the surplus of his clerkly gains to his father, who sometimes found the cry of “crowdie, crowdie, a the day,” rather difficult to pacify. But by-and-bye, Mrs. Irving became so feeble that Agnes was obliged to nurse her instead of plying her skilful needle; and then matters went far astray, so that after a while the kind neighbours brought in almost all that was consumed in that sad little household; Henry Beckworth being then out of employ, and unable for the time to find any way of aiding his cousin, save by his personal services in the sick-room. He grew almost mad under his distress, and the anxious, careful love which is the nursling of poverty, and at length seeing Mrs. Irving's health a little amended, he gave a long, sad, farewell kiss to his Ag