Page:What will he do with it.djvu/412

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402 IVI/A T WILL HE DO WITH IT?

tence, the intermediate connection of meaning often so subtle, that when put clown on paper it requires effort to discern it. But it was his peculiar gift to make clear when spoken what in writing would seem obscure. Look, manner, each delicate accent in a voice wonderfully distinct in its unrivalled melody, all so aided the sense of mere words, that it is scarcely extravagant to say he might have talked an unknown language, and a listener would have understood. But, understood or not, those sweet intona- tions it was such delight to hear, that any one with nerves alive to music would have murmured, " Talk on forever." And in this gift lay one main secret of the man's strange influence over all who came familiarly into his intercourse ; so that if Darrell had ever bestowed confidential intimacy on any one not by some antagonistic idiosyncrasy steeled against its charm, and that in- timacy had been withdrawn, a void never to be refilled must have been left in the life thus robbed.

Stopping at his door, as Lionel, rapt by the music, had forgotten the pain of the reverie so bewitchingly broken, Darrell detained the hand held out to him, and said, " No, not yet — I have some- thing to say to you : come in ; let me say it now."

Lionel bowed his head, and in surprised conjecture followed his kinsman up the lofty stairs into the same comfortless stately room that has been already described. When the servant closed the door, Darrell sank into a chair. Fixing his eyes upon Lionel with almost parental kindness, and motioning his young cousin- to sit by his side, close, he thus began :

" Lionel, before I was your age I was married — I was a father. I am lonely and childless now. My life has been moulded by a solemn obligation which so few could comprehend, that I scarce know a man living beside yourself to whom I would frankly con- fide it. Pride of family is a common infirmity — often petulant with the poor, often insolent with the rich ; but rarely, perhaps, out of that pride do men construct a positive binding duty, which at all self-sacrifice should influence the practical choice of life. As a child, before my judgment could discern how much of vain superstition may lurk in our reverence for the dead, my whole heart was engaged in a passionate dream, which my waking existence became vowed to realize. My father ! — my lip quivers, my eyes moisten as I recall him, even now — my father ! — I loved him so intensely ! — the love of childhood how fearfully strong it is ! All in him was so gentle, yet so sensitive — chivalry without its armor. I was his constant companion : he spoke to me unreservedly, as a poet to his muse. I wept at his sorrows — I chafed at his humiliations. He talked of ances-

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