THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
HARRY WHITNEY’S INFATUATION. Harry Whitney and his wife sat on the broad piazza in front of their house in the last glow of the sunset. The whole place suggested home ; the sun always seemed to linger on the maples that shaded it, turning their leaves to brilliant green in spring, and in autumn to scarlet and gold. The broad Tow windows admitted floods of light in every room, and just now they were open, and the white muslin draperies swayed idly in the breeze.
The house was in the midst of a quiet little town, just near enough to one of the great cities for Harry to go to and from his business night and morning. “ You must go, dear,” he said, putting his hand tenderly over his wife’s rather thin, white one. “ Why, bless your little heart, it is simply common sense, and I’ve no business to let either my preference or yours stand in the way. If the doctor tells me my wife must go to the springs to save her precious health, there is nothing for me to do but to send her. What do you say ?” That it is simply nonsense. I haven’t been quite strong this spring, I acknowledge ; but when cool weather comes I shall be myself again. How could I pass my summer more quietly than here lotos-eating, lying on the grass all day if I choose, and waiting for you to come at night ?” “ That’s precisely the trouble. You will live too quietly, and all the blood in your veins will turn stagnant, when it ought to be stirred into life. I tell you, Emily, you will settle down into an old lady twenty years before your lime. I’ll promise to go out two or three times every week, and spend my Sundays and vacations there. And go you shall, if I have to exercise my marital authority, which, I confess, has grown a little rusty from want of use.” She went in a week, despite her protestations that she was not in the least ill, and needed no change. Once at the Springs, she found the hotel life rather gay, and woke to a liveliness to which she had been a stranger for years, while Harry, in his frequent visits,_ entered into the care-free, happy spirit of the place, and exclaimed, with boyish exuberance, that it was “ Charming ! exactly like a first-class Utopia.” They were a source of some wonderment to the new people they met, as they had been to friends who had known them both for years, they were so totally unlike. There were so many dissimilar, points that it almost seemed there could be few in sympathy. Emily was very quiet, so quiet that, although by her intelligent listening she led you to talk more freely than did others, you often wondered, after hearing her, if she had spoken at all. She was not noticeable in appearance—rather a pale, small creature, with quietly-folded ; hands, always .preeminently a lady. The hands were those of a lady, too —fine, rather than beautiful. Harry was her exact opposite—a handsome, broad-shouldered man, with an air of general kindliness and protection which made women and children trust him, and men pronounce him a good fellow. He was fond of good music, dancing, and the theatre ; while his wife cared very little for active amusements, and only for drama or music occasionally. She read voluminiously, having a fine, delicately critical mind, while he seldom did more than keep thoroughly conversant with events of the day. And so oh through a whole catalogue of differences. Yet they agreed excellently well, evidently suiting each other exactly, but as one discriminating friend remarked, “Whitney and his wife had yet to fall inlove.”
On Saturday night he came out, and, dressing for the evening with a kind of boyish gaiety after his week’s work, “ Emily,” he said, in the anxious pauses of tying his cravat, “ I wish you could dance. Why in the name of all that’s blue did your relatives send you to a Quaker school and deny you the luxuries of life ?”
“Necessaries, rather, according to your view,” answered his wife, goodhumoredly. She was sitting by the window looking out into the moonlight, where occasional couples were promenading, the sound of the dance-music coming up from below.
“ Of course I might have learned if I had chosen, but I never cared for it. We lived a very quiet life, and I never thought much of what other people were doing.”
No ; but you lost so much ! There is an exhilaration and excitement about music and dancing which makes me fifteen years younger—when I was a boy of 21, and before! ever knew you, dear. Shall we go down ?” That night there was a new arrival, a girl, or rather woman, . who had been discussed for a week by the littleselect party to which Mrs. Whitney had become attached, so that she looked at her with some curosity, when they were introduced., Helen Alexander had been described as fascinating; not handsome nor remarkable for any. special talent, but fascinating. Her talents were rather of the universal order; she sang, conversed brilliantly, and Mrs. Whitney was prepared to be struck with awe before her. Nothing of the sort happened. She saw a pale girl, below medium height, with black hair, twisted up in rather a severe knot on the top of her head, peculiar dark eyes, with reddishbrown lights in them, and a somewhat large mouth, giving a glimpse of white teeth. There was a few minutes’ buzz of conversation, in which no one knew what anyone else was saying, or to whom, and then Emily Whitney sat down beside a plump, little fair-faced woman who had come to the springs for her baby’s health, and saw her husband lead Miss Alexander away to dance. She watched her in the pauses of her own conversation—it was her habit to be dreamily observant of people—and began to feel a certain: charm about the stranger. Her movements had all a meaning; there was a grace and ' suppleness in the slender frame which made her‘dancing; beautiful, and her face became alive with merry excitement.
. Harry Whitney stood by his wife later in the evening, while Miss Alex-
ander sang. Her voice full, resonant and clear-toned as a bell, and there was something triumphant in it. She knew the effect produced, and exulted in it with the real artistic triumph of swaying other minds. Harry drew a long breath when she had finished. “ Ah, heavens, what a voice ! and she seems a woman who could emit flashes of lightning if she chose.” The next day was one of idyllic rest and enjoyment at the Springs. People often said there was never a rainy Sunday there; the sun always shone with his Tull splendor on that day, and everyone drank in pure sensuous enjoyment in draughts of air and sunlight. The boarders went to the; late service at the little chapel in the morning, and in the afternoon lay on the grass or wandered into the woods. (To be conthmed.) ,
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 227, 28 December 1880
THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 227, 28 December 1880
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