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CHAPTER II. 


AN anxious fortnight was passed by Julia Warren, after this conversation, without bringing any tidings from her friend. She watched, with feverish restlessness, each steam-boat that passed the door on its busy way towards the metropolis, and met the servant each day at the gate of the lawn on his return from the city; but it was only to receive added disappointments. At length Charles Weston good-naturedly offered his own services, laughingly declaring, that his luck was never known to fail. Julia herself had written several long epistles to Anna, and it was now the proper time that some of these should be answered, independently of the thousand promises from her friend of writing regularly from every post-office that she might pass on her route to the Gennessee. But the happy moment had arrived when disappointments were to cease.

As usual, Julia was waiting with eager impatience at the gate, her lovely form occasionally gliding from the shrubbery to catch a glimpse of the passengers on the highway, when Charles appeared riding at a full gallop towards the house; his whole manner announced success, and Julia sprang into the middle of the road to take the letter which he extended towards her.

"I knew I should be successful, and it gives me almost as much pleasure as yourself that I have been so," said the youth, dismounting from his horse and opening the gate that his companion might pass.

"Thank you--thank you, dear Charles," said Julia kindly. "I never can forget how good you are to me- -how much you love to oblige not only me, but every one around. Excuse me now, I have this dear letter to read another time, I will thank you as I ought."

So saying, Julia ran into the summer-house, and fastening its door, gave herself up to the pleasure of reading a first letter. Notes and short epistles from her aunt, with divers letters from Anna written slyly in the school-room and slipped into her lap, she was already well acquainted with; but of real, genuine letters, stamped by the post-office, rumpled by the mail-bags, consecrated by the steam-boat, this was certainly the first. This, indeed, was a real letter: rivers rolled, and vast tracts of country lay, between herself and its writer, and that writer was a friend selected on the testimony of innate evidence. It was necessary for Julia to pause and breathe before she could open her letter; and by the time this was done, her busy fancy had clothed both epistle and writer with so much excellence, that she was prepared to peruse the contents with a respect bordering on enthusiasm: every word must be true--every idea purity itself. That our readers may know how accurately sixteen and a brilliant fancy had qualified her to judge, we shall give them the letter entire.

"My dearest love,

"Oh, Julia! here I am, and such a place!--no town, no churches, no Broadway, nothing that can make life desirable; and, I may add, no friend--nobody to see and talk with, but papa and mamma, and a house full of brothers and sisters. You can't think how I miss you, every minute more and more; but I am not without hopes of persuading pa to let me spend the winter with your aunt in town. I declare it makes me sick every time I think of her sweet house in Park-place. If ever I marry, and be sure I will, it shall be a man who lives in the city, and next door to my Julia. Oh! how charming that would be. Each of us to have one of those delightful new houses, with the new-fashioned basement stories; we would run in and out at all hours of the day, and it would be so convenient to lend and borrow each other's things. I do think there is no pleasure under heaven equal to that of wearing things that belong to your friend. Don't you remember how fond I was of wearing your clothes at school, though you were not so fond of changing as myself; but that was no wonder, for pa's stinginess kept me so shabbily dressed, that I was ashamed to let you be seen in them. Oh, Julia! I shall never forget those happy hours; nor you neither. Apropos--I hope you have not forgot the frock you promised to work for me, to remember you by. I long for it dreadfully, and hope you will send it before the river shuts. I suppose you and Charles Weston do nothing but ride round among those beautiful villas on the island, and take comfort. I do envy you your happiness, I can tell you; for I think any beau better than none, though Mr. Weston is not to my taste. I am going to write you six sheets of paper, for there is nothing that I so delight in as communing with a friend at a distance, especially situated as I am without a soul to say a word to, unless it be my own sisters. Adieu, my ever, ever beloved Julia--be to me as I am to you, a friend indeed, one tried and not found wanting. In haste, your

"ANNA.

"Gennessee, June 15, 1816.

"P. S. Don't forget to jog aunt Emmerson's memory about asking me to Park-place.

"P. S. June 25th. Not having yet sent my letter, although I am sure you must be dying with anxiety to hear how we get on, I must add, that we have a companion here that would delight you--a Mr. Edward Stanley. What a delightful name! and he is as delightful as his name: his eye, his nose, his whole countenance, are perfect. In short, Julia, he is just such a man as we used to draw in our conversation at school. He is rich, and brave, and sensible, and I do nothing but talk to him of you. He says, he longs to see you; knows you must be handsome; is sure you are sensible; and feels that you are good. Oh! he is worth a dozen Charles Westons. But you may give my compliments to Mr. Weston, though I don't suppose he ever thinks it worth his while to remember such a chick as me. I should like to hear what he says about me, and I will tell you all Edward Stanley says of you. Once more, adieu. Your letters got here safe and in due season. I let Edward take a peep at them."

The first time Julia read this letter she was certainly disappointed. It contained no descriptions of the lovely scenery of the west. The moon had risen and the sun had set on the lakes of the interior, and Anna had said not one word of either. But the third and fourth time of reading began to afford more pleasure, and at the thirteenth perusal she pronounced it charming. There was evidently much to be understood; vacuums that the fancy could easily fill; and, before Julia had left the summer-house, the letter was extended, in her imagination, to the promised six sheets. She walked slowly through the shrubbery towards the house, musing on the contents of her letter, or rather what it might be supposed to contain, and unconsciously repeating to herself in a low tone--

"Young, handsome, rich, and sensible--just as we used to paint in our conversation. Oh, how delightful!"

"Delightful indeed, to possess all those fine qualities; and who is the happy individual that is so blessed?" asked Charles Weston, who had been lingering in the walks with an umbrella to shield her on her return from an approaching shower.

"Oh!" said Julia, starting, "I did not know you were near me. I have been reading Anna's sweet letter," pressing the paper to her bosom as she spoke.

"Doubtless you must be done by this time, Julia, and," pointing to the clouds, "you had better hasten to the house. I knew you would be terrified at the lightning all alone by yourself in that summer- house, so I came to protect you."

"You are very good, Charles, but does it lighten?" said Julia in terror, and hastening her retreat to the dwelling.

"Your letter must have interested you deeply not to have noticed the thunder--you, who are so timid and fearful of the flashes."

"Foolishly fearful, you would say, if you were not afraid of hurting my feelings, I know," said Julia.

"It is a natural dread, and therefore not to be laughed at," answered Charles mildly.

"Then there is natural fear, but no natural love, Mr. Charles; now you are finely caught," cried Julia exultingly.

"Well, be it so. With me fear is very natural, and I can almost persuade myself love also."

"I hope you are not a coward, Charles Weston. A cowardly man is very despicable. I could never love a cowardly man," said Julia, laughing.

"I don't know whether I am what you call a coward," said Charles gravely; "but when in danger I am always afraid."

The words were hardly uttered before a flash of lightning, followed instantly by a tremendously heavy clap of thunder, nearly stupified them both. The suddenness of the shock had, for a moment, paralyzed the energy of the youth, while Julia was nearly insensible. Soon recovering himself, however, Charles drew her after him into the house, in time to escape a torrent of rain. The storm was soon over, and their natural fear and surprise were a source of mirth for Julia. Women are seldom ashamed of their fears, for their fright is thought to be feminine end attractive; but men are less easy under the imputation of terror, as it is thought to indicate an absence of manly qualities.

"Oh! you will never make a hero, Charles," cried Julia, laughing heartily. "It is well you chose the law instead of the army as a profession."

"I don't know," said the youth, a little nettled," I think I could muster courage to face a bullet."

"But remember, that you shut your eyes, and bent nearly double at the flash--now you owned all this yourself."

"At least he was candid, and acknowledged his infirmities," said Miss Emmerson, who had been listening.

"I think most men would have done as I did, at so heavy and so sudden a clap of thunder, and so very near too," said Charles, striving to conceal the uneasiness he felt.

"When apprehension for Julia must have increased your terror," said the aunt kindly.

"Why, no--I rather believe I thought only of myself at the moment," returned Charles; "but then, Julia, you must do me the justice to say, that instantly I thought of the danger of your taking cold and drew you into the house."

"Oh! you ran from another clap," said Julia, laughing till her dark eyes flashed with pleasure, and shaking her head until her glossy hair fell in ringlets over her shoulders; "you will never make a hero, Charles."

"Do you know any one who would have behaved better, Miss Warren?" said the young man angrily.

"Yes--why--I don't know. Yes, I have heard of one, I think," answered Julia, slightly colouring; "but, dear Charles, excuse my laughter," she continued, holding out her hand; "if you are not a hero, you are very, very, good."

But Charles Weston, at the moment, would rather be thought a hero than very, very, good; he, therefore, rose, and affecting a smile, endeavoured to say something trifling as he retired.

"You have mortified Charles," said Miss Emmerson, so soon as he was out of hearing.

"I am sure I hope not," said Julia, with a good deal of anxiety; "he is the last person I would wish to offend, he is so very kind."

"No young man of twenty is pleased with being thought no hero," returned the aunt.

"And yet all are not so," said Julia, "I hardly know what you mean by a hero; if you mean such men as Washington, Greene, or Warren, all are surely not so. These were heroes in deeds, but others may be equally brave."

{Greene = Nathanael Greene(1742-1786), Revolutionary General; Warren = Joseph Warren (1741-1775), Revolutionary war hero, killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill}

"I mean by a hero, a man whose character is unstained by any low or degenerate vices, or even feelings," said Julia, with a little more than her ordinary enthusiasm; "whose courage is as natural as it is daring; who is above fear, except of doing wrong; whose person is an index of his mind, and whose mind is filled with images of glory; that's what I call a hero, aunt."

"Then he must be handsome as well as valiant," said Miss Emmerson, with a smile that was hardly perceptible.

"Why that is--is--not absolutely material," replied Julia, blushing; "but one would wish to have him handsome too."

"Oh! by all means; it would render his virtues more striking. But I think you intimated that you knew such a being," returned Miss Emmerson, fixing her mild eyes on Julia in a manner that denoted great interest.

"Did I," said Julia, colouring scarlet; "I am sure--I have forgotten--it must be a mistake, surely, dear aunt."

"Very possibly I misunderstood you, my dear," said Miss Emmerson, rising and withdrawing from the room, in apparent indifference to the subject.

Julia continued musing on the dialogue which had passed, and soon had recourse to the letter of her friend, the postscript of which was all, however, that she thought necessary to read: on this she dwelt until the periods were lengthened into paragraphs, each syllable into words, and each letter into syllables. Anna Miller had furnished the outlines of a picture, that the imagination of Julia had completed. The name of Edward Stanley was repeated internally so often that she thought it the sweetest name she had ever heard. His eyes, his nose, his countenance, were avowed to be handsome; and her fancy soon gave a colour and form to each. He was sensible; how sensible, her friend had not expressly stated; but then the powers of Anna, great as they undoubtedly were, could not compass the mighty extent of so gigantic a mind. Brave, too, Anna had called him. This she must have learnt from acts of desperate courage that he had performed in the war which had so recently terminated; or perhaps he might have even distinguished himself in the presence of Anna, by some exploit of cool and determined daring. Her heart burned to know all the particulars, but how was she to inquire them. Anna, dear, indiscreet girl, had already shown her letters, and her delicacy shrunk from the exposure of her curiosity to its object. After a multitude of expedients had been adopted and rejected as impracticable, Julia resorted to the course of committing her inquiries to paper, most solemnly enjoining her friend never to expose her weakness to Mr. Stanley. This, thought Julia, she never could do; it would be unjust to me, and indelicate in her. So Julia wrote as follows, first seeking her own apartment, and carefully locking the door, that she might devote her whole attention to friendship, and her letter.

"Dearest Anna,

"Your kind letter reach'd me after many an anxious hour spent in expectation, and repays me ten-fold for all my uneasiness. Surely, Anna, there is no one that can write half so agreeably as yourself. I know there must be a long--long--epistle for me on the road, containing those descriptions and incidents you promised to favour me with: how I long to read them, and to show them to my aunt Margaret, who, I believe, does not suspect you to be capable of doing that which I know, or rather feel, you can. Knowing from any thing but feeling and the innate evidence of our sympathies, seems to me something like heresy in friendship. Oh, Anna! how could you be so cruel as to show my letters to any one, and that to a gentleman and a stranger? I never would have served you so, not even to good Charles Weston, whom I esteem so highly, and who really wants neither judgment nor good nature, though he is dreadfully deficient in fancy. Yet Charles is a most excellent young man, and I gave him the compliments you desired; he was so much flattered by your notice that he could make no reply, though I doubt not he prized the honour as he ought. We are all very happy here, only for the absence of my Anna; but so long as miles of weary roads and endless rivers run between us, perfect happiness can never reign in the breast of your Julia. Anna, I conjure you by all the sacred delicacy that consecrates our friendship, never to show this letter, unless you would break my heart: you never will, I am certain, and therefore I will write to my Anna in the unreserved manner in which we conversed, when fate, less cruel than at present, suffered us to live in the sunshine of each other's smiles. You speak of a certain person in your letter, whom, for obvious reasons, I will in future call ANTONIO. You describe him with the partiality of a friend; but how can I doubt his being worthy of all that you say, and more--sensible, brave, rich, and handsome. From his name, I suppose, of course, he is well connected. What a constellation of attractions to centre in one man! But you have not told me all--his age, his family, his profession; though I presume he has borne arms in the service of his country, and that his manly breast is already covered with the scars of honour. Ah! Anna, "he jests at scars who never felt a wound." But, my dear creature, you say that he talks of me: what under the sun can you find to say of such a poor girl as myself? Though I suppose you have, in the fondness of affection, described my person to him already. I wonder if he likes black eyes and fair complexion. You can't conceive what a bloom the country has given me; I really begin to look more like a milk-maid than a lady. Dear, good aunt Margaret has been quite sick since you left us, and for two days I was hardly out of her room; this has put me back a little in colour, or I should be as ruddy as the morn. But nothing ought ever to tempt me to neglect my aunt, and I hope nothing ever will. Be assured that I shall beg her to write you to spend the winter with us, for I feel already that without you life is a perfect blank. You indeed must have something to enliven it with a little in your new companions, but here is nobody, just now, but Charles Weston. Yet he is an excellent companion, and does every thing he can to make us all happy and comfortable. Heigho! how I do wish I could see you, my Anna, and spend one sweet half hour in the dear confidence of mutual sympathy. But lie quiet, my throbbing heart, the day approaches when I shall meet my friend again, and more than receive a reward for all our griefs. Ah! Anna, never betray your Julia, and write to me FULLY, CONFIDINGLY, and often.

"Yours, with all the tenderness of friendship that is founded on mutual sympathy, congenial souls, and innate evidence of worth. JULIA."

"P.S. I should like to know whether Antonio has any scars in his face, and what battles he was in. Only think, my dear, poor Charles Weston was frightened by a clap of thunder--but Charles has an excellent heart."

This letter was written and read, sealed and kissed, when Miss Emmerson tapped gently at the door of her niece and begged admission. Julia flew to open it, and received her aunt with the guileless pleasure her presence ever gave her. A few words of introductory matter were exchanged, when, being both seated at their needles again, Miss Emmerson asked--

"To whom have you been writing, my love?"

"To my Anna."

"Do you recollect, my child, that in writing to Miss Miller, you are writing to one out of your own family, and whose interests are different from yours?"

"I do not understand you, aunt," cried Julia in surprise.

"I mean that you should be guarded in your correspondence--tell no secrets out"--

"Tell no secrets to my Anna!" exclaimed the niece in a species of horror. "That would be a death-blow to our friendship indeed."

"Then let it die," said Miss Emmerson, coolly; "the affection that cannot survive the loss of such an excitement, had better be suffered to expire as soon as possible, or it may raise false expectations."

"Why, dear aunt, in destroying confidence of this nature, you destroy the great object of friendship. Who ever beard of a friendship without secrets?"

"I never had a secret in my life," said Miss Emmerson simply, "and yet I have had many a friend."

"Well," said Julia, "yours must have been queer friends; pray, dear aunt, name one or two of them."

"Your mother was my friend," said Miss Emmerson, with strong emotion, "and I hope her daughter also is one."

"Me, my beloved aunt!" cried Julia, throwing herself into the arms of Miss Emmerson and bursting into tears; "I am more than a friend, I am your child-- your daughter."

"Whatever be the name you give it, Julia, you are very near and dear to me," said the aunt, tenderly kissing her charge: "but tell me, my love, did you ever feel such emotion in your intercourse with Miss Miller?"

It was some time before Julia could reply; when, having suppressed the burst of her feelings, she answered with a smile--

"Oh! that question is not fair. You have brought me up; nursed me in sickness; are kind and good to me; and the idea that you should suppose I did not love you, was dreadful--But you know I do."

"I firmly believe so, my child; it is you that I would have know what it is that you love: I am satisfied for myself. I repeat, did Anna Miller ever excite such emotions?"

"Certainly not: my love to you is natural; but my friendship for Anna rests on sympathy, and a perfect knowledge of her character."

"I am glad, however, that you know her so well, since you are so intimate. What testimony have you of all this excellence?"

"Innate evidence. I see it--I feel it--Yes, that is the best testimony--I feel her good qualities. Yes, my friendship for Anna forms the spring of my existence; while any accident or evil to you would afflict me the same as if done to myself--this is pure nature, you know."

"I know it is pleasing to learn it, come from what it will," said the aunt, smiling, and rising to withdraw.

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