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turned to him with her old, loving smile, I told the falsehood—the first, as it although her eyes were dim with tears, shall be the last—to keep trouble from as he said: “So you might have been you until you were well enough to bear a rich man's wife! You never told me it, strong enough to remedy it, and I this, Hester;" then, addressing their might have told you to-morrow. I only visitor, he added, “I am quite ready wanted this—our Christmas Day—to to hear the rest of your story—nothing be, for you, free from care. will surprise me now, Mr. Dyson." husband, forgive me!”
“Chance seemed to favor my brother's Very gently, very tenderly, as though. views,” he continued. “You and I he were half afraid that she might vanish were connected in business, and after from his touch, John stooped and raised I had seen your wife I did not wonder his kneeling wife, clasping her to him, at what I had hitherto called infatuation. while Amy looked on, wondering what Of what occurred before your illness all that was being said and done might I need not speak, except to say that I mean, and Mr. Dyson felt a sudden need fancied the dull season must have nearly for his pockethandkerchief. affected you, for you seemed anxious, “My Hester, my poor little faded and the idea became a certainty when, flower,” said John, “I understand it all a few days after you were taken ill, now-all the care and thought for your wife came and asked for copying small things at which I, blind fool that I
gave it to her, gave her as much as I was, used to smile ; all the loving little she could do. Still that much brought stratagems by which you avoided sharin very little to meet the expenses of ing any of the things procured for me; such a time; but through seeing her so and I know now why every day you often I grew to know her better, and have been growing paler and thinner. learned to esteem her for her simple My darling, don't reproach me so bitterfaith and untiring industry, and to love ly by the mockery of asking me to her for the love she bore her husband forgive you, for never, through the and child ; although I knew not (for no longest future, can the debt I owe you word of complaint ever passed her lips) be repaid. And now, Mr. Dyson, let how nearly want-real, stern want-me-hear the end,
me. hear the end, if there be one, of had reached you. I only thought to try this story.” her a little further, when—forgive me, “ There's not much of an ending, Mrs. Carroll, if I tell your secret— when said Mr. Dyson ; “ but what there is I I refused to purchase the manuscripts trust you will think a happy one. I you sent me.”
wanted to tell you my brother's story “What!” cried John, starting from on this, the holiest and happiest day his seat, "did you not buy those pieces ? in all the year—the day on which, Hester, is this true ?"
four years ago, his honest, kindly spirit “Oh, John, John, my dear husband, went back to its Maker. Knowing forgive me!” cried Hester, falling on that you had a small banking account, her knees beside his chair. “Indeed I thought things could not be so bad I never wished to deceive; but I feared that you could not afford to wait. lest you should be taken from me, and | However, yesterday morning I learned
that your money had been in one of the roses to my wife's cheeks; but your banks that failed this autumn; and, as kind proposal is out of the question, though to chide me for my delay, I saw, Mr. Dyson. I haven't a dollar in the during a walk I took last evening, a world.” figure, that seemed like your wife's, “Nor brains either, I presume ?” enter a pawnbroker's. Actuated by smiled Mr. Dyson.
“Why, man, something more than mere curiosity, I they're your capital, of which no broken watched her, and saw her give up a mug bank can rob you. Mrs. Carroll, I -a little child's silver mug—and meet- hold you responsible for your husband's ing her face to face as she came out, I good behavior. We can't get the busifound that my suspicions were correct. ness done to-day: but the day after That such an expedient was ever neces to-morrow, when people have got over sary, none can regret more than I do; the effects of their Christmas dinners, for had I guessed anything of the truth, we'll have it all settled.” I would gladly have bought your pieces And so, with Hester's head resting of music over and over again.” on his shoulder, and Amy's fingers
“You have no need to reproach performing an imaginary fantasia of yourself, Mr. Dyson,” said John; “you her own composing on his knee, were perfectly justified in declining what could John do but put his pride anything you did not think would suit in his pocket, fling his cares to the
wind, and be made happy that Christ“ There, don't get on the stilts, mas Day! Then Hester suddenly John Carroll,” said Mr. Dyson. “I am discovered that all this time a coach come to make reparation ; that is, if had been waiting for Mr. Dyson, that you are not too proud to accept it; gentleman confessing, in explanation, though, goodness knows, the favor is that he had given his housekeeper a conferred on me, not on you. The fact holiday for the day, after she had is I want a partner, some one who un-packed up the largest possible number derstands music (for I can scarcely tell of good things in the largest possible when it is upsidedown), to take my hamper, which hamper he had brought brother's place in the business. And, in the coach. Then he added, after all, though it does not sound so desperately, by way of finale, “And well, I suppose a good business is I am come to spend the day with better than a profession, at all events, you. for a man with a family. You see, an
His self-invitation was indorsed alartist may look very well in his velvet most before it was spoken ; and when coat; but it doesn't wear like good old- that happy Christmas Day was spent, fashioned cloth, and 'tis not much use the publisher thought his lonely home to his wife or children. Do you think seemed more lonely by comparison with you could come down from being a the one he had just quitted. professor to the level of a tradesman ?” Since then other Christmas Days
“I would come down to the level of have put that one-in date at leasta crossing-sweeper,” replied John, “if into the background. Other little faces by so doing I could bring back the than Amy's gather round John Carroll's table; other little feet help to wear out his brother's or his parents' grave, he the carpets in the old room; and went to see it in order clearly to underamongst them, sharing their pleasures, stand the matter. He found to his softening their childish griefs, standing astonishment that the slab bore the in their affections next to father and simple inscription “Viola, aged 18," mother, is Mr. Dyson.
and a border of broken lilies. John For many months after that memo- heard, also, that this one was to replace rable Christmas Day, Hester wondered the original, erected more than thirty how it was that, having such a keen years ago, and that from the time appreciation of home enjoyments, Mr. the grave had been made a gardener Dyson's own home had been without a living near the churchyard had been mistress ; but her wonder ceased when handsomely paid to keep it always surone day she went into a neighboring rounded by the fairest and most frajeweller's, and had her attention at- grant flowers, and that from time to time tracted by a large open locket which his employer—a young man when the was being repaired; and the man agreement was made, but ageing rapidrecognizing her, gave it into her hand, ly now-came down to see how the at the same time volunteering the work was performed. information that it had been brought Out of this Hester, womanlike, wove there by Mr. Dyson to have a new ring the sweetest and saddest of love stories, made to it.
and her wonder at Mr. Dyson's loneliHester started as she heard the ness ceased, while her memory of the
She had been gazing intently old-fashioned locket and the carefully at the miniature the locket contained tended grave, made her very careful -a sweet, fair face, with the word, for, very gentle toward him; and “ Viola” under it; and now she felt though the little we have told will probas if she had unfairly detected some- ably be all she and her husband will thing not intended for her knowledge; ever know, certainly all they will ever but the incident had nearly faded try to discover, that little seems to them from her memory when John, during to be the index to a character formed Mr. Dyson's temporary absence from on the principles of Him who was born town, was applied to by a firm in on Christmas Day; which principles Brooklyn, concerning some difficulty in Hester had tried to carry out—the the design of a new marble slab for a principles that lead us to say, in the grave for which his partner had given darkness as in the light, “ Though we orders, and, thinking it was either for suffer, yet we trust.”
If all the year were playing holidays,