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Last look! Behold, the dank drear leaves
Glowed as a ruddy pall;
Sang vigil musical ;
Most blessed change of all.
Homeward he turned to speak kind words
To thriftless Rachel White;
Bade Betty Franks Good night.'
That somehow things weren't right.'
And so she gently knocked before
She really went to bed ;
And softly entered ;
His soul had rendered,
Been prayed beside the dead.
But now that lived out has been
The dream of that May morn,
The thicker set with thorn ?
A. C. D.
AUNT CECILY'S MUSIC LESSONS.
PART I.-MABEL'S MUSIC-BOOK.
It went fairly the first time, admirably the second. As they were ending, Mabel came back to tell them tea was ready, and they followed her to the school-room immediately.
Miss Wells could not forget her surprise at Clement's style of playing the sonata, and she asked who he had studied it with.
“With no one,' he said; he had heard it at concerts often he had heard Joachim play it.'
Miss Wells began to think the youth must be a musical genius, and she began to question him about his method of study. She asked who had been his first teacher.
Clement began to laugh. “When I was seven years old,' he said, 'I spent a summer at my grandfather's place. He had an Italian valet who fiddled very well. He was fond of playing in a summer-house in the woods, a place where we children-I mean my sisters and cousins and myself-used to go every afternoon with the nurses. While they played about or chattered, I stuck to the fiddler; and he made me a present of a toy-violin, and shewed me how to play it. Three years later, when I was at school, I managed to break my leg, jumping over a wall ; and after it was set, the doctors said I must not use it for a long time. So my grandfather had me down to Lancashire again. My old friend Ettore was still with him, and he undertook to keep me quiet with the violin. They got me a small one, and I began to learn regularly. I got a good spell of practising then. When I went back to school I took my fiddle, and I used to play on wet days. Some of the boys took a fancy to learn, and we engaged a master, and took lessons on half-holidays. One fellow learnt the violoncello, and we got to play quartetts at last. That's how I learnt.'
‘But do you mean to say,' said Miss Wells, that you never had any lessons in town-never have been under a first-rate master?'
Oh, I got some right-down good lessons last Christmas, of a German fellow at Manchester. We've got good music in Lancashire, I assure you, Miss Wells. I should just like you to hear Charles Hallé's orchestra in the Hall at Manchester.'
• Who's Charles Hallé ?' Mabel asked of her next neighbour, Charles Lyne.
'A very nobby fellow on the piano,' was the intelligent answer.
Miss Mellany heard it, and said to Mabel, Mr. Hallé is a great musician. He is a German, but has settled in England; and we English people ought to be very grateful to him for having taught us to like good music.'
'Does he teach the Queen ?' said Mabel.
Before anyone could answer, Clara said, “I think, Louisa, that the English people ought to be grateful to Dr. Sterndale Bennett, and to old Cipriani Potter, and to a good many more people besides, who have taught them to know good music from bad. However, I don't mean to say a word against Mr. Hallé, who talks as brilliantly as he plays, and has certainly worked like a steam-engine to get Beethoven understood in England. -Ah, by the way, Cecilia, what a shame it is we are to do nothing from Fidelio!'
'Sing what you like,' said Miss Wells; 'I shall be delighted to add it to our programme.'
At this moment the door opened, and there entered a tall gentleman, with grey hair, and a most benevolent expression in his face, and in his manner too. This was Mr. Auriel, who chose to join the school-room party instead of the one in the drawing-room. Everyone rose, and the unexpected guest was duly honoured. Mr. Auriel was loved by everyone who knew him. Miss Mellany was his favourite niece, though he possessed a good many to choose from. And among the host of children he knew and petted, Mabel was the one he loved best. He had three sons--the eldest in India, and the youngest at Oxford—but po daughter. The only one he ever had was dead, and her name had been Mabel. She had died of fever at the age of fourteen, the very year our Mabel was born. Both children had been named after Mrs. Auriel, who had stood Godmother to Mabel Greene only a few months before her own Mabel was so suddenly cut off.
As we have said before, Mrs. Auriel was a cousin of Mr. Greene's; but she was more than an ordinary cousin, for she had been left an orphan when a little child, and had gone to live at her uncle's at Ashton, before her cousin (our Mr. Greene) was born. She had therefore been like an elder sister to him, and she looked on his children as her nephews and nieces. Mabel's eldest brother was her particular favourite, but she was fond of Mabel too, often giving her books, and noticing what she was learning. Mabel called her cousin 'Aunt,' and Mr. Auriel, ‘Uncle.' They called her Maby,' perhaps because at first they shrunk from uttering the name of their lost daughter. Mr. Greene adopted the name, and so did Nurse Robinson ; but latterly Mrs. Greene had objected to it, saying she disliked spoiling a pretty name,' and Miss Ruler quite agreed with her. Aunt Cecily, hearing this, took care to call the little girl by her proper name.
And now to return to the tea-table in the school-room. Mr. Auriel had hardly taken his seat when Clara Mellany said, 'I hope, Uncle Auriel, you are in good practice, for we have a new pianiste here who expects to play a duett with you.'
Mr. Auriel smiled, and said, "Not new to me, I fancy. Cecilia Wells and I have played duetts longer back than you can remember, Clara.'
" As if I meant Cecilia !' Clara said scornfully. "That would be stale news indeed. The lady that hopes to have the honour of performing with you this evening is Miss Greene.--Isn't it true, Mabel ?'
Poor Mabel could hardly believe her ears ; Clara spoke so seriously, and looked at her so gravely, with no signs of joking in her eyes, that Mabel thought she must be in earnest. The poor child was quite overcome by the idea that she must have said something very conceited to have given Clara such an idea. She was painfully conscious that she had really been secretly indulging in a dream of playing a duett with Uncle Auriel some time or other, but not for many a long day yet; and she fancied she had never divulged this ambitious hope to anyone, not even to Aunt Cecily. But the suddenness of the blow quite upset her, and she had not time to turn over in her memory what she had,
and what she had not said; and she could not doubt that her secret had escaped her in some unguarded moment, that Clara had discovered it, and now held it forth to view to shame her for her vanity. Poor little girl! she suffered downright agony, such as only children of her peculiar temperament do suffer on such occasions. She grew crimson, and then turned quite white. She made an effort not to cry, but her quivering lips and trembling hands shewed what she was suffering. Aunt Cecily understood it in a moment, and so did Mr. Auriel. The others thought the child was not well.
Miss Wells felt very angry with Clara, but she thought it would be bad for Mabel to have a fuss made, so she said quietly, 'Mabel, darling, Clara's only joking, as usual. Don't be frightened. Nobody thinks you forward and conceited.'
Mabel's colour came back, and two tears welled up out of her large blue eyes and trickled down her cheeks. Mr. Auriel took one of her little trembling hands, which were as cold as ice, and said in a cheery voice, Well, Maby, how are the guinea-pigs? and the rabbits? Ah, I've something to tell you. What do you think is waiting for you at Oldham? Guess! Or shall I tell you? But it's a secret, so I must whisper.' And Canon Auriel bent down and whispered in Mabel's ear, "A snow-white kitten-& real Angora; one of Irene's kittens, and just like her.' Great was Mabel's delighted surprise, and in her joy she forgot Clara's unkind attack.
Clara did not mean to be cruel. She bad not the slightest idea of what a child of Mabel's temperament endures under the impression that she is held to be guilty of presumption and conceit. Clara had been brought up on a very different system to the one Mabel was subjected to; and besides, her organization in childhood had been a great deal stronger than Mabel's. Clara believed herself to be remarkably clear-sighted in reading character, and particularly large' in her views, but this was a great mistake; she was really short-sighted and narrow-minded, as all persons must be who never take the slightest trouble to understand anything that strikes them as peculiar' in their neighbours, nor try to put themselves in the place of others, and consider what they would feel, or how they would act, if they were placed in circumstances altogether different to those they find themselves in.
What made Miss Mellany, Miss Wells, and Mr. Auriel, so considerate to everybody, was that they all had the habit of studying those they lived among, with a view to understanding them, and by that means making things go as smoothly in the circle they happened to find themselves, as they could. They were not fussy and meddling, nor given to expecting that everyone would see with their eyes and hear with their ears, neither had they any inclination to rule or govern; but they felt kindly disposed towards others, and were always ready to lay down their own pursuits for the sake of helping anybody who asked for help. Clara could be generous now and then, and exert herself with energy on behalf of special objects; but she never persevered in her good works a day longer than suited her inclinations, and though she was habitually good-natured, she never would give up anything she had set her heart on in order to avoid being hard on others. Clara took a dislike to Miss Ruler the first time she saw her, and was always ridiculing or abusing her. And in some points she and Miss Ruler were very unlike. But for all that, they resembled each other in a great many ; and had Clara been placed from childhood in the position Miss Ruler had been in, she would have had the same sort of character that Miss Ruler had grown into. But we must leave Clara and Miss Ruler, and return to our music.
(To be continued.)
ANTIQUE GEMS AND SIGNET RINGS.
AMONG the varied uses and powers of rings, there is one which appeals so directly to our romantic and poetic feelings, in the indulgence of which this is certainly far too matter-of-fact, not to say too selfish an age to need any check, that it would be wrong not to dwell a few moments upon it. The ring which an accepted suitor of the present day gives to his future wife, and which he will probably call her engaged ring,' and not—like his more æsthetic forefathers, who would have disdained the idea of ticketing a fair lady as one does a railway carriage or a stall at the opera— by its proper name of “betrothal ring,' has its origin far back in the misty depths of ages.
Amongst the Romans this betrotbal ring, or 'annulus pronubus,' was originally a mere circlet of iron; afterwards it was garnished with a piece of loadstone, by way of gem, typifying the magnetic attraction which had brought these two, of different sexes, together.*
To this custom M. Latour St. Ybars so elegantly alludes in a passage quoted by Madame Barrera, in which he depicts a 'faithful woman to her love' rejecting with scorn the richer gifts of a seducer, that I must transcribe the few lines in their original language :
. Alors qu' Icilius ne m'a jamais offert
* The classical reader will find a very pretty though lengthy epigram on this subject in Claudian's 'De Magnete,' commencing
"Quis quis sollicita mundum ratione secutus,' &c.