THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
THE STORY OF A BROKEN HEART. “ Clara, I am off to-morrow; ” and Albert Cushman looked at his companion, a lovely girl of eighteen, watching the color fade out of cheek and lip, and a wild look of despair the beautiful eyes; and as he did so his conscience reproached him bitterly, for he knew that, not unsought by him, had the innocent heart of Clara Moore been won, ■ ■ ■ r
“ You will think of me sometimes, dearest, will you not ? ” and his arm was thrown round the trembling girl,, and he drew her closely to him. “ Oh, Albert! do not leave me. I. cannot live without you ! ” she moaned, as her head sank on his breast, Albert Cushman was not a bad man, only a weak, self-indulgent one, given to gratifying any whim that promised pleasure for the time being, without giving a thought to the consequences ; but now he would have given all he possessed to have undone his last two months’ work.
In the beginning of the summer he had come, an invalid, to Farmer Moore’s little, brown, one-storied house, nestling under the oak-trees far up among the Catskills ; and good Mrs. Moore and pretty Clara had nursed him faithfully, and the young girl, who had been educated far above her station in life, had read and chatted with him, and as he grew stronger had been his daily companion in all his rambles. He had grown very fond of the lovely girl, and had let her see it so plainly that Clara’s innocent' heart had gone out to him unresistingly ; and during these sweet summer months the young girl had lived in a dream of perfect happiness, not thinking of the future. But the idyl was Over; the leaves were beginning to put on their scarlet and brown dresses, and Albert Cushman knew that he could no longer linger in that quiet country nook, for before the winter snow should fall he was to be the husband of Eliza Vaughan, and he also had at last awakened to a sense of the bitter wrong he had done poor Clara,; in winning the deep love of her trusting heart, when all of his belonged _to another.
“ Dear Clara,” he said, soothingly, to the weeping girl; “ dear little one, I am very sorry to have to go; but, dear, you must have known that I could not stay always ; besides —there is another, one, Clara”—and the young man hesitated and his voice faltered, for he knew that what he was going to say would be like a dagger thrust into the gentle heart beating so near his own—“another one, Clara, who is looking impatiently for me every day now—and —and —who in'a few weeks will be my —my wife, dear.” A low despairing cry of agony broke .from the white lips of the girl, and disengaging herself from his encircling arm, she turned to leave him; but he caught her hand. “ Dear Clara, I am very sorry you feel it so much. I —l—ought to have told you. before, I suppose, but we have been so happy; and then I did not think that you cared so very deeply for me. I did not really mean to deceive you, Clara; you will forgive me, will you not, dear ?” and he tried to draw her towards him again. “Don’t, please don’t,” she said faintly, trying to free herself; “let me go home.”
“ Say that you forgive me then, Clara,” he asked pleadingly, “and give me one farewell kiss.”
A hot flush dyed the young girl’s cheek.
“ I shall forgive you, Albert, much sooner, than you will forgive yourself; but you must not ask me for kisses now.”
“ Clara, darling Clara, you will not leave me so? Just one little kiss?” pleaded he, and he clasped her closely in his arms.
“ O my love ! my love !” moaned the girl, “ how can I give you up ?” Albert made no answer, only held her closer, raining eager kisses on her white lips. “ I must go,” she cried wildly, struggling to free herself; “ let me go !” and he did so, and Clara fled away. “ Poor little girl!” mused Albert, “ I am very sorry for her, but I never dreamed she would take a little flirtation so seriously. She is a sweet girl, and I am very fond of her, but of course I can do nothing now. I wish to heaven I had never come here. What would Eliza say ? By jingo ! wouldn’t she rave? Ah! well, poor Clara ; she is very young yet; she will get over it, and perhaps in a year’s time forget that I ever existed. I ought to hojDe so, I suppose; but, ah me !” and the deep sigh with which Albert Cushman ended his soliloquy was hardly an .indication that such a hope was very deeply rooted.
Clara did not appear at the teatable ; “ she was not well,” her mother said, and the old lady’s, face wore an anxious look that went like a knife to Albert’s heart.
: Will she not see me once more, just to say “good-by,” the: young man wondered the next morning, as the time for his departure approached and Clara still appeared not. At the very last moment she came, and, standing by her mother’s side in the low doorway, she held out her hand. “ Good-by, Clara. God bless you !” said Albert, tightly clasping her cold hand. “ Good-by, Mr. Cushman,” she answered simply, never raising her eyes to his face, and then drew back the little hiand, and Albert sprang into the wagon. Looking back, he caught one last look from the sad blue eyes of Clara Moore that haunted him for many years afterwards; Grace Church is thronged with a gay and fashionable assemblage, gathered to witness the marriage of Albert Cushman and Eliza Vaughan. ; A hum of expectation, and then, as the organ joyously peals forth the wedding march, the bridal train sweep up the broad ajsle and stand before the altar. A 'few moments later the bright December sun-throws his golden beams .upon the kneeling couple,- as the venerable, white-robed bishop solemnly invokes God’s blessing upon them as man and wife. ; The .same ,golden beams fell upon another and'far different scene. Far up among the Catskills, under no
fretted rodf and to no sound of pealing with the winds sighing a sad through the leafless trees, a little, baud oltihourners, with tears and sobs, 1 linear Clark Moore to her restingplace utider, the old oak tree, where, in the long, bright summer days so lately gone, she had spent such happy hours, and there tenderly they lay her down and leave her to dreamless sleep.
“ See, Eliza, there is house where I spent last, summer. Would .you like to go .out .andWisit it ?” “ No, Albert, I think like to do so, pray/do not hesitate.” 4 . And waiting l i6i sion, Albert Cushman sprang from the carriage, and, promising to Ihe /bkfckl ih a few moments, hastened theiirelV i : \ remembered ground. * t “ I wonder if little Glamfoagot-y ten me ?” he muttered to himself as hqp| approached, the house, ; whtclfi seemed" ' ' more quiet than he remembered it be- :(i fore. His k nock was answered ity «W£‘ ‘ Moore, paler, and with deep , lines of sorrow on her kindly face, . , “Do you remember' 1 hie?” cried Albert taking -her hancf into her eyes. “Mr. Cushman, you-ha vexiowe ttv very changed housed- replied she, with quivering lips. “ Poof !Clara 1” arjd,t|ie mother’s voice was in tears.*; ' Albert Cushman’s heart stood still with a guilty fear. “Where is she?” hk w|i|pered hoarsely. , , i “There !” and the Kanjy. pointed to the grove... With unsteady step he sought! the i-> familiar spot, and. undef the tree where he had uttered the words that had broken her young heart; Albeit 1 GtlsM man found and bedewed With'>ek& unavailing remorse ( the mound under which lay all that was JeEtJl" of sweet Clara Moore., - - - rr
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 254, 28 January 1881
THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 254, 28 January 1881
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