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sadness of a young widow, and turned from love and lovers with the fond fidelity of a turtle dove that has lost its mate. Never was heart more devoted and true: as Ben Brown, the fat exciseman, and Aaron Keep, the lean shoemaker, and tall Jem Ward, the blacksmith, and little Bob Wheatley, the carpenter, besides at least a score more of rejected suitors, could testify,—George Bailey being nearly the only young man in the parish who had never made Mary Walker an offer, having, within three months of the pheasant present, brought home a very sufficient reason for not doing so in the shape of an exceedingly pretty blackeyed wife. Poor Mary! she would have done wisely in following the example of the rest of the world, and forgetting William Dobson; but as she used to say, when urged on the subject, she could not.
Meanwhile, time rolled on, and it was now some years since any thing had been heard of him. May was drawing towards its close—that loveliest month, which joins the spring flowers with the summer leaves. The country was in its prime of beauty, and Sandleford Green, with its pearly bunches of hawthorn overhanging and reflected in the clear bright pond, the horse chestnuts covered with their pyramidal flowers, the golden broom skirting round the meadows where the young lambs were at play, the orchard one glow of blossom, the lilacs and laburnums scenting the arbour, and the honeysuckle perfuming the porch. Sandleford was the sweetest and prettiest of all country places; and Mary was standing under the honeysuckle, looking at the blue sky and the green grass, and the flowery fruit trees so gay in the sunshine, and thinking how wrong it was in her not to be happy; when all on a sudden the good landlord advanced from the farm yard with a troubled countenance, calling for Mary and Bessy and Kate, a mess of milk, a jug of ale, and a bottle of brandy. “ There's a man lying dead or dying in the cart-house,” added he; “make haste, lasses ! make haste !”
Mary, catching at the hope of life, hurried into the house to despatch some messenger for medical assistance; his daughters flew to his assistance, and half the customers in the tap-room followed with instinctive curiosity to the cart-house.
The man was not dead; and mine host and little Kate were administering, or rather offering (for he seemed incapable either of speaking or swallowing), their various remedies.
“Who can he be, father ?" said Kate ; “what can have brought him here?”
“ How should I know, child ?” replied the man of the Tankard ; “'tis a poor ragged famished wretch, as you see, who I suppose could crawl no farther. But I think he 'll live! He's looking about him! and he seems likely to come to. Get your cousin's smelling bottle, Bessy; and don't crowd round him so, good folks! Why even Neptune has crept up to him, and is half smothering the poor wretch. That looks as if it was somebody the dog knew.”
And the poor creature, the sick, famished, ragged creature writhed on his straw, and groaned and gasped as if for speech.
“ Where are Mary’s salts, girls ? See how Neptune's licking the poor wretch's hands! Where is Mary?”
And at that instant Mary entered; the sick man half rose up, and she knew him!“ William ! gracious God! 't is William !” 'And instantly she was kneeling at his side, and supporting him in her arms, aided, as it happened, by our old friend the keeper, who had been taking his morning draught in the tap. Poor William looked from one to the other
“ Are ye married ?” said he, with a strong effort.
“ Yes,” said George; “no,” said Mary; both in a breath.
“ To think of my not knowing my own son !” exclaimed the father, bending over him, the tears running over his rough cheeks. “ But his very mother could not have known him, so fond of him as she used to be! Nobody would, but Mary. Welcome home, my boy! We'll soon set thee up again. Welcome, my own dear boy!”
“ Welcome home, dear William !” echoed the sobbing sisters.
But William listened to none of them. “ Are you married ?” was again his question.
“ Yes !” said George, smiling.
“But not to me, William ! Not to me, dear William !” said Mary: and the poor runaway grasped her hand between his trembling ones (Neptune fondling them all the time), and life, and health, and love, were in the pressure; and the toils, the wanderings, the miseries of his four years' absence, were all forgotten in that moment of bliss !
STATUE OF CYRIL JACKSON.
CHRIST CHURCH, OXFORD.
Wisdom is on that brow: with reverence tread,