Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/404

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362
ANNE T. WILBUR.

immediately beneath the window. After the first cordial greetings had passed, I said to her, with the authority which, as somewhat her senior in years, I had been accustomed to exercise: “Come, Alice, put away your work for the day, and let me take you with me. I am alone, and want an escort. Your cheek is pale, and this fresh pure air will give it a little colour.” “Go, Alice,” said her mother, “Florence is right; it will do you good.” A word from her mother was enough, and very soon we were threading our way through the crowded streets, and talking with the freedom and confidence of old times.

“Tell me your whole sad story, dearest,” I said, “while we are alone, for but an allusion to it has now and then reached me, and I would know it all from yourself.” An expression of sudden pain crossed the countenance of my friend, but it passed away, and her full heart was relieved by the recital, and happier, I knew, for my sympathy.

She had married young. One of whom we had often heard her speak as a dear friend and brother, but in a station so far above her, that she had never dreamed of aspiring to share it, or that he could turn from the gay and brilliant flowers which lavished their sweets around him, to cull a modest and humble violet, had found more fragrance and beauty in the latter, and passed by the gorgeous parterre, to pluck this and place it in his bosom. Her married life commenced under the happiest auspices. Ernest Vernon was proud, but his pride took the right direction;—he was proud of his own discernment in having transplanted the floweret which otherwise might have bloomed unheeded, or “wasted its sweetness on the desert air.” All the luxuries which wealth could purchase were lavished upon his fair young wife;—he never seemed happy away from her, and bestowed all his love and confidence where it was gratefully appreciated and returned a thousand-fold. Ernest was, like herself, an only child, and their happiness thus centred in each other. No wonder that Alice almost worshipped him. He had always been her beau ideal of manly beauty, and now that those radiant eyes looked lovingly upon her, her heart often ached