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An Old Bachelor's Story

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I am an oíd bachelor. At sixty-five I can say that Í never sfifílL bfl anythifig else wbile 1 live; but, hke all other rftefi --all I have ever met at least I havíe loved au 1 hoptrd to hu happy with my chosen bride: ïhat passion and those hopes faded ï'orty years ago. Sinoe theu I have djiië penaucs tor the histy act of one night } I havo shunned the society óf romen, alid torbade ityself the shadow of a hope tliat I ïiiigbt pateh my tattered hopes iritli new ones. To none who knew me have I ever told the tale. I shonld have been esteemëd ft har, or a niadinSh, and no'ono would willingly accept such a reputatiou. To yotii unknown reader, I dure incite the evente of those fonr and tweiity hours - events whicli turued aiy lii'e int.o its now well-worn channel, and made me the lonely, hopfless man I urn. . At the age ot' twenty-t'our, I was clerk in thfl establishment of Messrs. Citrp & Cavill, lawyers. I had ciiergy aftd AUibition, lienlth and opportunity - everything, in tact, that could be wishad for by ;i m. ui who hoped to iiiit hia way up iii the world, ;nd win weaithaad reputatioil. 1 was engíiged id a young lady by the name of (iraee Huriter, a prètty, deiiuaie so quiot that her pet name, Snowfiake, beeuied the only one suita"ble for her. iir.v step was rioisfeles, her movetuents soft, her voiee Sweet and low. She liever herself oñte'rtained a large couipany by her oonvcrsatior., nor did any of those things that give a woman the reputatiön for briiliancy; but her mental powers were very fine, and irt n tete-a-tete she was enchanting. A lady tö the heart's fitofe, in my eyes, at least, a perfect beauty, she might have yet b'etn forgotten by most men in a room fnll of giggling, chattering girls. I adored her. 1 had feit that her love wis a jewel worthy of an emperor's weáring, and I seaiSely dared to utter the words that told her all I telt. Even now her high-bred reserve kopt me at a litíle distance. I was proud of her. I telt unworthy of her. She was at ouce the Baint whoru I suverefl, and e being whom it was to be my delight to cherish aii'l proteet until death s)iould part us Si montiis had passet! einco she httc! promised to be mine. At the end o? s'i more she was to give rae her hand. I had a small salary, but my grandmot.her ba3 léft nía a legacy which would enable fts to go to housekeeping in plain bvrt eomfortable style, and Grafie was wiliiríg tö fight lií'e's battles by my side. 1 Öe ueemed bright and joyous to me on that night of midwintor, forty yearo ttgo, when I walked throngh the city streets with Gracè apon ïitf arm, and looking down at her in her white WTftppings, with gleams of frosty Stirlight touehirtg her black hair, wondered if the angela wtre i'airer than she was. We wero going tospcnd the evcnifig at a mtrttfal iritnd's residenoe. Th ere was ttf be D30BÍG ;mrl dancing, and cards, awd1 ei sociable supper. I went because G'race desired to go. Her solo sottsiy at hor own house wai more (ïolighttul to me than any other company; but I was young afld light of heart, and wfeíi I had once' enterad the „lighted parlors I did not ï5 gilent iit tho corner. I tulked ; Isang; I tnnied the music for musical ladies ; I walleed through tlïe Lancers. At last I found niyself flirting oi5 of ihp female gi8t. Th eré are woinen a atKÜ is obliged to flirt with. Ile does not admire them, respect them or love lhen one whit ; he does not even desire their society; but he must be more than man ere he can reíate to respond to their alvances. One of these wofhen I know noiv, having played th-e ]ooker-on for so niany yeáre, can fúake any man appear to other woineti desperately in loíe wilh' lior whité he almost detests her. A woman of that kind was uinong thu company. Sheh. d hands that èeligbted in suft tourhes cf hands masculina. Eyes that could cast planees bri-ght aid eutiancinj. Sbó possessed attraitio'ï ra"tkwr thau beauty . What she Baid was notlrns ; her coücrsatiuii had uo interest, but I knew that I seeiued absorbed with her - that I really was absorbed ; in tvo wordi, (;hut I ilirted uboininably witl: her'. Grace, meanwhilosatapaVi from me. She talked to otlwrs in lier low, sweet toñes. ünce shc gang a pretty love song. Quite caliq and seli'-possessed, with 110 appearanco ot' noticinfi my condaet, the tlKjught that it tr"oabkd her neVer occurred' to !íT. So ' i ; 1 1" viun t.ho evening was ovei, a'.Vd: vve had lelt the together, I was astonished beyond meaitkre to see nn üfifended look upon her i'a:e,v--Ml to hear an oll'ended tone in l:i?r volco. I offered her my urn She iejbcted it, replying that thè aud that her harlds were ocenpied with her dress; but I know that this wu ïaerely an escas? ; and feeling myself in tbc wrong, and having swallowed mort: wine tban I t-hould at the supper tablo, I gicvv very angiy. ""May I astt wliat I have dono i said. " Tou know, ' said Uraoö. " I know !" I repeated. " Nay, I know nothing of womeii's ïancies. You must explnm." y '■ I scaicoly Uiink it worth Wblle, said she. " If yuu do not Küd that you have done wrong to-night, I really should not caro. You have negleeted me, aii'A dovotod yourself to that vulgar woman. J haard lady near me say that you seemed to be tired of your Hargaihi She thought that you were i" love with that creature! So did othcr poople. Urlder the oircuïcstancea I havo a. right to feel offended, insulted." Perhaps ehe thought I would deny the oli'irge. Pefhapa she expected me to plead lor Jjardn. God knows vvhat posseesed me. I aüsWoi'é'l only ' " May I r.ot talk to a prutty woman tccause 1 hope to marry you some day ':" "You were rlirting, almost inaking love to her," shfi replied. " She is the Bort of woman with whom iiieil fiill in loves" I said ; " irresistible in herinauner; I've he'drd rili" maKes_ ejnquestö everywhere; I don't doubt it." Gruce lookcd at uie with a stern face- wliite, in the .slarlight, asa i-narble statne. ' üther women are always jealous of such wouien," I added. "I aiu not jealous of her," she said. T would not be like her tor a kiiigdora. She is a terrible Wojnan. But since you tidmire hei' SOj you are free to teil lier so alter yon have seen me to niy dour." " Graoe Í" I éaicL " Miss Hunter, if youplease, IIr. Eutherfordt" sáid hei "We haye both inade a little mistako easüy reetiümi ; that is all." I feit as I stood loóking at her that the effect of thi; unie 1 had drank üjjotl me was stronger than I had thoughi but I gave no heed to tbe warningot my giddy head and rapid pi.lse. " Just aa you pleaSei" I said. " I should think that a jeulous woman would curse any man's lite. 111 go now. 1 wout trouble you longer. Goed by." " We ware not at the dóoref üerfiBiiie ; we were about half a block frora it; but I turned on my heel, then and theré, and lett her. I staggered ;i little asi walked, and I v.-as hot and angry. I made my way home: and without undressingj feil upon my bed and Hrtípped asleej. In two hours I awakened sober. I sat up and look.'d nbout me, The scènes ot tho evening recorred to uio vividly. I ioW blaiiieworthj" I had been aai a terrible grief ugpretsed me. I ptrt aiy bead down up'on my hand und buist inlo bitter tears. I had lost her; and uiih hér, all that made lito precious. Theo hopo da-,v!icd upon iny soul. I wouid write to tier, lull her how, unused to liquor as I was, the winchad affected me. I would teil her thut to my sober self there was no charra in the wonian v.ho hd eeenied to euühiíñt ttie tfce cVuuiiig befoi-fei 1 woul.l draw the coiupiirison I feit no keenly betweën herself nul that bold-eyed flirt. 1 would pray tor forgivenress, and she WOOM folgive me. Springing to n:y feat 1 rushfd to my de-k. 1 drew trom it pen and paper. I -,,r ovorflowipg with iw ind tè-hderttèe ï ruad it and re-fead it. i'hui!, leatipg it lying on the spot where it was written, I stood at the window, waitiug tor the tardy dawn, very jtalonè ot' t'".u liours Üiat kept my missive i'rom my darliCgJ 1 had put out my candió when I left mv desk, und the room should have been durk but as I turned my bead, after a long ind anxiont reríttiej I s:crr tbat it was fii.ll üï a palo radiance, liko that of raoonlight. It Htartled me. Whence did the light corner' Had o. miracle occuried 't Ilid the uu.on risen again 'i fSuddenly. amid th -rüery liiïlit; appearod á Still whiter radiance. It slowly took form A teníale figure, in white garrnents so bright that they dazzlcd the eyes, stood binding over my lette' I remained inot.ionless - to spcak of stir was ant of my power - and gazed on the object with terrifiod intensity. The figure seemed to torn ihe pages of my letter with its transparerit liane?. I heard a gentle sigh ; tbeu tlio head turiïed toward me, aud 1 saw a face 1 knew - the face that seemed loveiieat of alj on earth to me, cmiowod witli a mysterious, divine beauty tor which 110 man could flnd wotJs tho gloriflcd face of swcet Graco Hunter. At the sight I burst tïië borids which held nio - bonds as tangible as though I could have peen them, and rushed forward. I strove to olasp my love, ot her Bhadow, in niy anus. A shock, such as on'! tnlght experience l'rcmi an electrical iflaehiue, flash ed through lne, and I füll powerless to the Hoor. Wbon Irecovered the day han dawncd, and under the blue raorning sky th'; city had awiikeïu'iï, btrt my day neverdawned again. JMy heart never awoke to life's sweetnéss. To eiid this story in a very. few words, Grace Hunter never reaehed her htme ' thaf niirht, and never washeard of ágaia. The family imagine! that sho had retfffiïffed vrith Üer friends, and -verr pot anxious about lier. I had left her within sight ot her own door, and whyska diilu't reach H I shiJl never know. Uut I do know in some wooful manner, she (V.èi that night, and that her parting spirit paused in its fKght to bid ruu a long tarevll. T bnv oítli-í-cd niy. youth, and tho suspieion that l'ell upou me, and embittered maiiy years of my existcncc, bot I nevor sliall outlivc my lovo for iirnco Ilmiter, or my remorso fot fhat night's wooful work. I shall never outlive the knowledge that, in tho madness caused by wine ukL iin evil wommi's eiichantmt'ut, I was the cause of my ánrling's death.


Old News
Michigan Argus