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deed, that afternoon was one of those halcyon spots of moral Sunshine to the heart, which, in this world of care and cloud, occur but once or twice in the course of our lives, when the soul, unconscious of a single ungratified wish, neither turns to the past nor reaches forward to the future, but is fully content with the happiness of the present. And when, with a feeling of surprise, he perceived the unwelcome shadows of evening stealing over the landscape, and warning him that the time at which he had proposed to return had arrived, he wondered how the winged hours could have flown so quickly. Now, reluctantly rising with the intention of bidding his kind entertainers adieu, he proceeded to announce to them, with an effort at calmness which he was far from feeling, his previously formed determination of leaving town the next morning, on his long-delayed return to his college studies, upon the last term of which his class had, many weeks before, , entered. Colonel Maverick, though silent at first, seemed evidently disappointed; and the countenance of his daughter instantly fell at the unexpected announcement. “Is such indeed your purpose, Mr. Amsden P” asked the colonel, seriously. “It is, sir,” answered the other. “But why this haste in leaving us?” resumed the former, “Your health, which needs more firmness, will be gaining in the delay; and a few days can certainly make no essential difference with either your studies or your interests at college.” “If those few,” replied Amsden, “were not to be added to the many already lost, it might vary the case. As it is, however pleasant to me would be a further stay in town, I think I can tarry no longer.” “I confess I can hardly reconcile myself to this,” observed the colonel thoughtfully. “I had counted on a week's inter
course with you, at least. I have much to say to you on subjects connected with recent events, which, though it may appear strange, I feel hardly prepared to say now. But you will hear from me again. And, if you must go,” he continued, advancing and offering his hand in a kind, feeling manner, “I will bid you, with many good wishes for your welfare, a good-bye for the present, but for the present only. I must insist on your visiting us again, as soon as your term of study is closed, and before you make any arrangement for the future.” --Reciprocating the kind wishes of his almost revered friend, and bidding him, as he supposed, an adieu, at least for months, Amsden left the room for another parting, in which he felt far less prepared to act his part; for Mary, who had not uttered a word during the foregoing dialogue, now attended him, in silent agitation, to the door. “Miss Maverick 1" he said, with an effort, as he paused at the threshold, and took her trembling, but frankly-offered hand. She raised her eyes inquiringly to his, but read there that which caused her to drop them again instantly to the floor. “Miss Maverick l’ he repeated, after a hesitating pause, “your circumstances in life, since our last parting, have become much changed.” “They have, Mr. Amsden,” she replied, “and I feel very grateful for the unexpected blessing—but,” she continued, with a half-blushful, half-challenging smile, “it do not follow that I should be changed also.” Another pause of delicate embarrassment succeeded. “Mary 1” once more began Amsden; but as he glanced in thought at his own situation in life, and her altered condition, he could not go on. “I know what you would say,” said she, looking up in sweet confusion; “but come, say it before my father, my
confidant, my adviser. You have as little to fear from him as from me — come, come !” And she drew him, hesitating and irresolute, back towards the room they had just left; and the next moment they stood before Colonel Maverick, who, though evidently surprised, yet welcomed their return with an affectionate smile. “I have returned, sir,” said Amsden, diffidently, but with manly firmness, “I have returned, at the suggestion of your daughter, to say before you what I was about to say to her.” “I am much gratified at your course, my daughter,” interposed the colonel; “but proceed,” he continued, turning encouragingly to the embarrassed lover; “proceed, Mr. Amsden.” . “To say, sir,” resumed the former, “that, however strong have been the feelings and hopes I have secretly cherished towards her, I will not presume, in the new and high position which she "— “Stop, stop ! Mr. Amsden,” interrupted the father; “you do injustice both to us and yourself. We both feel, independent of the high estimation in which we hold you, we both deeply feel how much we have recently become indebted to you for those exertions which cost you so dear. And if this,” he continued, advancing, and with much emotion placing the readily-yielded hand of his daughter into that of her almost overpowered lover, “if this is to you the most desirable boon, then be it your reward. The gift, for me, is indeed a great one; but who, by noble exertions, can ever better earn it, and who, by intrinsic worth, more richly deserves it? And now, Heaven bless you, my children l’” A few more words, and the task of the narrator is ended. With a heart made light and joyous by the prospects which had so unexpectedly and so brightly broken on the path before him, Amsden returned to college. The few weeks now remaining to bring him to the close of his collegiate
career rolled rapidly away; when, with the highest honors of the institution, and the distinguished esteem of his fellows, he left this spot of hallowed associations, and flew back, as if on the fleet wings of love, to the scene where his affections had learned to cluster; and where the wedded felicity, that now speedily succeeded to the happy and deserving pair, who became its mutually blest recipients, was only clouded by the event which had hastened their union, — that of the still gradually failing health of the accomplished and high-minded Colonel Maverick, whom his sorrowing children were, in a few months, called on to bear to the silent tomb; a bereavement for which they felt themselves but poorly compensated by the ample fortune he left them, not only to ensure the means of their own comfort and happiness, as far as such means have effect, but to enable them to become, as they soon did, the dispensers of comfort and happiness to others individually, and of general usefulness to the Society at large, of which, ere long, they were the acknowledged Ornaments.
Pass with us, now, gentle reader, over a short period of time, and we will bring to your view a brief picture of results, which involve at once both the conclusion and moral of our tale, or, at least, so much of the latter as you may not have gathered by the way-side, as, not unpleasantly, we humbly hope, we have journeyed on together. A dozen years have not elapsed since the events whose attempted delineation have occupied us through the latter portion of our unworthy performance; and yet Cartersville, the scene of their occurrence, is almost entirely a different place, in all that should give character to a village community. The old school-house, before described as constructed after the miserable fashion of the times, and situated on a busy street, amidst a clump of noisy shops, has been pulled down; and, to supply its place, a neat little edifice, of interior construction, as regards space, seats, means of heating, and ventilation, calculated alike for the convenience, comfort, and health of the pupil and teacher, is seen standing on a retired slope, surrounded by shade-trees, fancifully grouped over a spacious enclosure. This commodious and attractive establishment was built and given to the district by the wealthy and liberal Mr. Locke Amsden, now a member of Congress for that part of the country. That gentleman and his amiable lady having, in conjunction with their friend Dr. Lincoln, early been the means of introducing adequate teachers at an adequate compensation, have made it their rule to visit the school as often, at least, as once every month, through the whole of its continuance. Captain Bunker — who, as we must pause to inform the reader, has been induced to give up his farm in the “Horn-of-the-Moon” to his two eldest boys, and, with his surplus capital, purchase, and settle down on a small farm, adjoining that of his friend Amsden; through whose influence, with the aiding effect of a scurrilous attack upon him, that, on his being announced as a candidate, appeared in “The Blazing Star,” which, with this effort to extend its political supervision over the affairs of Cartersville, soon expired, he has been advanced to a seat in the State Legislature, where he has become the champion of the farming interests — Captain Bunker, we say, has also lent efficient aid to the common school, having become a convert to the principle of high wages for teachers, since, as he says, he is now satisfied that nobody who is a sufficiently “good thinker” to be a good teacher, can be got at the old rate of wages. Incited to emulation by the example of the now most wealthy and influential family in town, the people of most of the neighboring districts in the village and country around it have built new school-houses, and supplied them with good teachers;