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Jenny Lawson
by [?]


MARK CLIFFORD had come up from New York to spend a few weeks with his maternal grandfather, Mr. Lofton, who lived almost alone on his beautiful estate a few miles from the Hudson, amid the rich valleys of Orange county. Mr. Lofton belonged to one of the oldest families in the country, and retained a large portion of that aristocratic pride for which they were distinguished. The marriage of his daughter to Mr. Clifford, a merchant of New York, had been strongly opposed on the ground that the alliance was degrading–Mr. Clifford not being able to boast of an ancestor who was anything more than an honest man and a useful citizen. A closer acquaintance with his son-in-law, after the marriage took place, reconciled Mr. Lofton in a good measure to the union; for he found Mr. Clifford to be a man of fine intelligence, gentlemanly feeling, and withal, tenderly attached to his daughter. The marriage was a happy one–and this is rarely the case when the external and selfish desire to make a good family connection is regarded above the mental and moral qualities on which a true union only can be based.

A few years previous to the time at which our story opens, Mrs. Clifford died, leaving one son and two daughters. Mark, the oldest of the children, was in his seventeenth year at the time the sad bereavement occurred–the girls were quite young. He had always been an active boy–ever disposed to get beyond the judicious restraints which his parents wisely sought to throw around him. After his mother’s death, he attained a wider liberty. He was still at college when this melancholy event occurred, and continued there for two years; but no longer in correspondence with, and therefore not under the influence of one whose love for him sought ever to hold him back from evil, his natural temperament led him into the indulgence of a liberty that too often went beyond the bounds of propriety.

On leaving college Mr. Clifford conferred with his son touching the profession he wished to adopt, and to his surprise found him bent on entering the navy. All efforts to discourage the idea were of no avail. The young man was for the navy and nothing else. Yielding at last to the desire of his son, Mr. Clifford entered the usual form of application at the Navy Yard in Washington, but, at the same time, in a private letter to the Secretary, intimated his wish that the application might not be favorably considered.

Time passed on, but Mark did not receive the anxiously looked for appointment. Many reasons were conjectured by the young man, who, at last, resolved on pushing through his application, if personal efforts could be of any avail. To this end, he repaired to the seat of government, and waited on the Secretary. In his interviews with this functionary, some expressions were dropped that caused a suspicion of the truth to pass through his mind. A series of rapidly recurring questions addressed to the Secretary were answered in a way that fully confirmed this suspicion. The effect of this upon the excitable and impulsive young man will appear as our story progresses.

It was while Mark’s application was pending, and a short time before his visit to Washington, that he came up to Fairview, the residence of his grandfather. Mark had always been a favorite with the old gentleman, who rather encouraged his desire to enter the navy.

“The boy will distinguish himself,” Mr. Lofton would say, as he thought over the matter. And the idea of distinction in the army or navy, was grateful to his aristocratic feelings. “There is some of the right blood in his veins for all.”

One afternoon, some two or three days after the young man came up to Fairview, he was returning from a ramble in the woods with his gun, when he met a beautiful young girl, simply attired, and bearing on her head a light bundle of grain which she had gleaned in a neighboring field. She was tripping lightly along, singing as gaily as a bird, when she came suddenly upon the young man, over whose face there passed an instant glow of admiration. Mark bowed and smiled, the maiden dropped a bashful courtesy, and then each passed on; but neither to forget the other. When Mark turned, after a few steps, to gaze after the sweet wild flower he had met so unexpectedly, he saw the face again, for she had turned also. He did not go home on that evening, until he had seen the lovely being who glanced before him in her native beauty, enter a neat little cottage that stood half a mile from Fairview, nearly hidden by vines, and overshadowed by two tall sycamores.