Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 1.djvu/55

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and made her very winning. She was, too, just what she seemed to be — clever, vivacious, interested in everything, and overflowing with inexhaustible kindness. I felt attracted to her as to a second mother, and she treated me as a mother would, for which I have always felt profoundly grateful. My uncle was a highly educated man, but was often blunt in his speech and given to ridicule and sarcasm. He was exceedingly well-informed about American as well as European affairs, and was full of progressive and even radical ideas, and not indisposed to talk. It required but little intercourse with him to bring out his absolutely sterling character, which secured him the highest respect of friends and neighbors and the community at large.

The couple were blessed with eight fine, model children — four boys and four girls. The eldest of the boys was named Gustav, after my father; he was a year older than I, and was away studying to be an engineer. The other boys — Carl, Theodor, and Ernst — ranging from fourteen to ten, were sweet-tempered, confiding, lusty fellows, who took at once to their newly arrived cousin. The eldest daughter, Anna, was of my age, a handsome, well-formed girl, with the black hair and bewitching eyes of her mother. The second daughter was a fresh-looking blonde of a very quiet disposition, never happier than when she could serve others. The other two daughters were affectionate, blooming little girls of seven and eight, with whom I quickly established the most cordial relations.

Altogether, I found myself in a family circle again, the equal of which for perfect harmony and mutual affection it would have been hard to find anywhere. I now felt the softening, elevating influences of this sweet home-life, and a sense of inner peace and happiness awoke in me that I had not felt for years. My aunt begged me to do my duty without delay and write to my parents. It was well indeed that I had delayed doing so till I had drawn in the right inspiration from the domestic picture before