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Not Great, But Happy
by [?]

How pure and sweet is the love of young hearts! How little does it contain of earth–how much of heaven! No selfish passions mar its beauty. Its tenderness, its pathos, its devotion, who does not remember, even when the sere leaves of autumn are rustling beneath his feet? How little does it regard the cold and calculating objections of worldly-mindedness. They are heard but as a passing murmur. The deep, unswerving confidence of young love, what a blessed thing it is! Heart answers to heart without an unequal throb. The world around is bright and beautiful: the atmosphere is filled with spring’s most delicious perfumes.

From this dream–why should we call it a dream?–Is it not a blessed reality?–Is not young, fervent love, true love? Alas! this is an evil world, and man’s heart is evil. From this dream there is too often a tearful awaking. Often, too often, hearts are suddenly torn asunder, and wounds are made that never heal, or, healing, leave hard, disfiguring scars. But this is not always so. Pure love sometimes finds its own sweet reward. I will relate one precious instance.

The Baron Holbein, after having passed ten years of active life in a large metropolitan city of Europe, retired to his estate in a beautiful and fertile valley, far away from the gay circle of fashion–far away from the sounds of political rancor with which he had been too long familiar–far away from the strife of selfish men and contending interests. He had an only child, Nina, just fifteen years of age. For her sake, as well as to indulge his love of quiet and nature, he had retired from the world. Her mother had been with the angels for some years. Without her wise counsels and watchful care, the father feared to leave his innocent-minded child exposed to the temptations that must gather around her in a large city.

For a time Nina missed her young companions, and pined to be with them. The old castle was lonely, and the villagers did not interest her. Her father urged her to go among the peasantry, and, as an inducement, placed a considerable sum of money at her command, to be used as she might see best in works of benevolence. Nina’s heart was warm, and her impulses generous. The idea pleased her, and she acted upon it. She soon found employment enough both for her time and the money placed at her disposal. Among the villagers was a woman named Blanche Delebarre, a widow, whose only son had been from home since his tenth year, under the care of an uncle, who had offered to educate him, and fit him for a life of higher usefulness than that of a mere peasant. There was a gentleness about this woman, and something that marked her as superior to her class. Yet she was an humble villager, dependent upon the labor of her own hands, and claimed no higher station.

Nina became acquainted with Blanche soon after the commencement of her residence at the castle. When she communicated to her the wishes of her father, and mentioned the money that had been placed at her disposal, the woman took her hand and said, while a beautiful light beamed from her countenance–

“It is more blessed to give than to receive, my child. Happy are they who have the power to confer benefits, and who do so with willing hearts. I fear, however, that you will find your task a difficult one. Everywhere are the idle and undeserving, and these are more apt to force themselves forward as objects of benevolence than the truly needy and meritorious. As I know every one in the village, perhaps I may be able to guide you to such objects as deserve attention.”

“My good mother,” replied Nina, “I will confide in your judgment. I will make you my almoner.”