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Leaves In The Life Of An Idler
by [?]

I saw her form grow fuller and expand into a more queenly beauty. I saw her eyes sparkle with a diviner light, and her bosom swell with new and strange emotions. I watched her until she became a woman, and gloried in her matchless loveliness.

At last the end came. One morning, the brown calico frock was changed for an India silk, and the little school bonnet, with its blue veil, for a new one, covered with artificials. She was accompanied by an elderly lady, and looked nervous and excited. I was troubled at the tremulous, uncertain expression of her face. The next day I read her name in the list of graduates.

It does generally rain at picnics; but this time it didn’t. When shall I ever forget that picnic? I stole a holiday to attend it. It was late when I arrived: the dinner was over, and I had one prepared expressly for me. Would you believe it? my fair attendant was the little Blue Veil. She was so kind and so gentle, and treated me in such a confiding, sisterly way. There was a tenderness in the soft depths of her eyes, a purity in the dazzling loveliness of her face, that my heart yielded to with the blind fervor of a devotee. When shall I ever forget that evening walk under the trees? Oh! those buttercups and daisies, and little Quaker ladies! what recollections they bring back to me! The pressure of that soft little hand on my arm, the timid grace of her manner, the sound of her clear, girlish voice, with what emotions have they stirred my soul! Heaven bless her! Thank God for that one glorious picture! It was years ago; she is married now, and the mother of children; yet even now I sometimes catch myself standing on the corners and gazing wistfully down the street for the bright image that stole into the morning of my young life like a soothing dream in a long, troubled sleep.

Leaf the Second.

Gardening in midwinter!–what new freak has taken possession of that eccentric man? The morning broke dank and drear, for the December air had chilled the moisture into a fog. The wide verandas that opened on the court-yard in rear were dripping with the rain, and the broad flag-stones covered with a greasy slime. The diminutive grass-plot was brown and soggy, but the withered blades rapidly disappeared under the sturdy plunges of Marcel’s spade. I had gone out on the gallery to fill a ewer with water–in his excitement of the previous evening, Marcel had forgotten my morning bath–and saw him distinctly through the jalousies. He must have commenced at daylight; for, though it was then early, the ground was almost entirely dug up. Near him, on the pavement, was the basket over which he had displayed so much agitation. He prepared six holes, each of which was carefully lined with straw, and then deliberately commenced planting the egg-plants whole.

An hour or two later, he came up with the coffee. I thought he turned a shade or two paler at seeing me up and dressed; but no vestige of petulance remained. Having really taken no offense at the outburst, I rallied him concerning it.

“I was wrong,” said he, gravely; “but nature has left me destitute of tact. An artist was once ordered to paint a one-eyed princess: the artful man made the picture a profile. Devoid of his discernment, I saw only my ruined treasures.”

“And, after acting like a wild man, you sneer at my curiosity.”

“One so secure in his position as M. Granger can lose nothing by forbearance.”

“In other words, I am to endure patiently the taunts of an apron, because its wearer is worthy of a surtout?”

“The prompt nature of hunger is well known. Fifty years ago, I might have shrieked in the Place de la Concorde. France has degenerated; I polish your shoes.”