Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/366

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324
ALICE B. NEAL.

“As though a rose should shut,
    And be a bud again.”

So thought the student as he bent down to return the fond caress, and mingled his darker locks with the light floating curls that were thrown back over his shoulder.

“And will you always love me, Miriam?”

“Oh, always!”

“But when I am gone—for I may not be with you long; and then, when you do not see me every day, and you have other friends who love you better, and can make you more beautiful presents?”

She seemed to be pained, as if she understood the worldliness thus imputed to her, young as she was.

“But why must you go? and where will you go? Home?”

“Home! Ah, no, my child; I have not had a home these many years.”

And then they were both silent for a little while; she pitying him because he had no home, and he dwelling on thoughts and recollections which the word had called up. The low brown farmhouse where his boyish days were passed, with the mossy bank around the well; the little garden at the entrance of the orchard; the orchard itself, white with blossoms at this very season of the year. And then there was the brook, gurgling through the alder bushes, and reflecting the tall spires of the crimson cardinal, or the field lily, that sprung among the rich grass. He seemed once more to lie, an idle, careless boy, watching the clouds floating lazily overhead, while the summer insects sang around him, and the wind came gently to lift the hair from his sunburnt forehead.

This brought a recollection of his mother’s kiss. It always seemed to him like the summer wind, so quiet, so warm, so loving. Her kiss and blessing, as she bent over his pillow, and then she would kneel and pray so earnestly for her son, her only child. How unlike his father was that gentle woman! He had wondered at that even when a boy. His stern, rigid parent, who rarely smiled, and made self-denial and never-ceasing labour his religion, as though he felt the curse of Cain ever upon his rugged fields.