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Anna E. Dickinson




" In flower of youth and beauty's pride. "


A crowded New York street, Fifth Avenue at the height of the afternoon; a gallant and brilliant throng. Looking over the glittering array, the purple and fine linen, the sweeping robes, the exquisite equipages, the stately houses; the faces, delicate and refined, proud, self satisfied, that gazed out from their windows on the street, or that glanced from the street to the windows, or at one another, looking over all this, being a part of it, one might well say, "This is existence, and beside it there is none other. Let us dress, dine, and be merry! Life is good, and love is sweet, and both shall endure! Let us forget that hunger and sin, sorrow and self sacrifice, want, struggle, and pain, have place in the world." Yet, even with the words, "poverty, frost nipped in a summer suit," here and there hurried by; and once and again through the restless tide the sorrowful procession of the tomb made way.

More than one eye was lifted, and many a pleasant greeting passed between these selected few who filled the street and a young man who lounged by one of the overlooking windows; and many a comment was uttered upon him when the greeting was made:

"A most eligible parti !"

"Handsome as a god!"

"O, immensely rich, I assure you!"

" Isn't he a beauty!"

"Pity he wasn't born poor!"


"O, because they say he carried off all the honors at college and law school, and is altogether overstocked with brains for a man who has no need to use them."

"Will he practise?"

"Doubtful. Why should he?"

"Ambition, power, gratify one, gain the other."

"Nonsense! He'll probably go abroad and travel for a while, come back, marry, and enjoy life."

"He does that now, I fancy."

"Looks so."

And indeed he did. There was not only vigor and manly beauty, splendid in its present, but the "possibility of more to be in the full process of his ripening days," a form alert and elegant, which had not yet all of a man's muscle and strength; a face delicate, yet strong, refined, yet full of latent power; a mass of rippling hair like burnished gold, flung back on the one side, sweeping low across brow and cheek on the other; eyes

"Of a deep, soft, lucent hue, Eyes too expressive to be blue, Too lovely to be gray."

People involuntarily thought of the pink and flower of chivalry as they looked at him, or imagined, in some indistinct fashion, that they heard the old songs of Percy and Douglas, or the later lays of the cavaliers, as they heard his voice, a voice that was just now humming one of these same lays:

"Then mounte! then mounte, brave gallants, all, And don your helmes amaine; Death's couriers, Fame and Honor, call Us to the field againe."

"Stuff!" he cried impatiently, looking wistfully at the men's faces going by, "stuff! We look like gallants to ride a tilt at the world, and die for Honor and Fame, we!"

"I thank God, Willie, you are not called upon for any such sacrifice."

"Ah, little mother, well you may!" he answered, smiling, and taking her hand, "well you may, for I am afraid I should fall dreadfully short when the time came; and then how ashamed you'd be of your big boy, who took his ease at home, with the great drums beating and the trumpets blowing outside. And yet I should like to be tried!"

"See, mother!" he broke out again, "see what a life it is, getting and spending, living handsomely and doing the proper thing towards society, and all that, rubbing through the world in the old hereditary way; though I needn't growl at it, for I enjoy it enough, and find it a pleasant enough way, Heaven knows. Lazy idler! enjoying the sunshine with the rest. Heigh ho!"

"You have your profession, Willie. There's work there, and opportunity sufficient to help others and do for yourself... Continue reading book >>

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