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A Bridal Veil

A Bridal Veil image
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A pretty, dark-eyèd girl began to uní k it, wluse lover was over the sea. She was a French girl, and carne to a family of lace-makers. "I will work my own bridal veil, in my leisure time," she satd. "So, when Walter comes to marry me, I shall be a gay bride." B ut she never flnished the veil ; Walter carne too soon. She married her English lover- ns poor as herself- and went witli Mm: to broad and free America; and ihe half-linished bridal veil went along, carefully folded away at the bottom of a trünk, and, for the time being, quite forgotten. It may have been forgotten in earnest (Inving twelve years, lor aught I know - certainly it lay that long unnoticed. A lovely Iittle ten year old girl was the lairy that broke its long sleep at last. She bad dark eyes, like the peas- ant of twelye years ago, but Walter's golden hair. "Oh, the cliarming lace!" she cried, clapping her hands and dancing delightedly, as Elsie shook it out of the folds. "Dear mamma, wliat is it? and wlio made it? and wliy is ■ it but half done? Can I have it for a bride-dress for mv doll mamma?" The pretty dark-eyed matron laughed and shook her head, and half-sighed, as she pressed the dark fabrie to her lips. Tlien she told thecliildthe lnstory of its ïnaking. "But it shallnot lie liidden so long (rom the ligttt affain," sIio snil, It'iiderly. "Iwill finish it, and when the time comes for my little Adele to be a bride, shewill have a veil to be proud of." Ag-ain the litflë taper lïngers told merrily and busily over the delicate lace, and fairy-like ferna and masses of uracef ui flowers grew steadily under them. Adele watched the progresa of the work with keenest interest. "Mamma, teaeh me to work it," she said one day. "My flngers are much and tinier than yours." Aiter that she would bring her little work-basket to her mother's side and work at a veil for her doll. At the age of íifteen so expert was she that Elsie did not fear to let her take part in the creation of the fanious bridal veil itself, but they worked at it only now and Uien, as the fancy seized them. Louise Itiviere, was froin France, like Adele'á mother- that had been a bond bet ween themírom theñrst - for Adele loved lier mother's country tor lier mother's sake, vhough she herself was proud of being called American; and she also loved the young Frenchrnan. LoOis carne of noble blood, and was well-to-do. He liad some money - not enough lo live upon in idle Iuxur5''but plenty to secure him a fair start in business life. Unwilling to enter upon tliis course in Paris, where lus noble relatives vould not scruple to oppose him, he luid choosen Xew York as tlie scène of his future efforts, and embarked in business as a merchant tfiere. The happy weeks and months grew into years, Adele was now seventeen ; It was agreed and promised that, wlien spring-time carne, she should be Riviere's luidt'. "We raust finish the bridal veil," cried Elsie, eagerly. "I teil you Monsieur Louis, no lady of your proud house ever wore lace more exquisite and rich. Ah shall 1 not be proud wlien L look at my beautif'ul child in lier marriage robes, and think of the poor little peasant girl of long ago, who toiled at the lace to earn coarse bread so i'ar away over the sea." Louis turnea quickly at these words, a look of dispieased surprise in his dark eyes. "Wliat peasant girl, madame?" he questioned uneasily. "Myselfl" „phe answered, happily, not mark'mg tlie look or the tone. What was I but a poor lace-make when my generous young lover mai ried nieV The father of Adele." He iiiiswered nothing, Klsie went inerrily chattering on ; but Adelenoted hls sudüen downcast air and gloomy eyes, thougb she wasfar Erom suspecting the cause oí' Bis haughty family pride had reeeived a blow. A lace-niaker! 'lie said to himself . " A peasant girl 1 if I liad bul known it!" All tbat night, and for daya and nigbts afterwards, thethoughtöf his bride'a humble extraction tortured hiin; the sting to liis pride would not be removed. Unconsciously tohimaelf hie annoyance affected his temper; he became irritable, fretful, Lmpatient, hiinietini(j:s to thc very vergeoíimpoliteness even; above all, lie conceived an absurd but violent (lislike Lo the bridal veil. "I detest the sight of it!.' lie cried one evening, in a moment of self-l'orgetfulness, and when lie and Adele were alone. "lf, indeed, you love me, never work at it i n niy presence, Adele ; and i f I daied ask one special favor of you, it Bhould be - " He paused suddenly - slie was listenma in great surprise. "WellV'sho said. Itslioald be- ?" "Wear any other veil in the world but that one to be married in!" Sim ('"lded her work, and let her fair hands f all on it in lier lap; one could see those little hands were tremblin-,'. íSIhi was greatly surprised at his manner and request, and also vaguely liurt, she scarce knew how or why. Indeed, shehad wondered of ten, lately, at a subtle and unpleasant change in Louis. Could it be possible she was about to discover its cause? "Y ou ask a singular favor," she said, with forced quietness. "Are you aware that my dear mother worked this veil V" The hot, impulsive temper answered instantly, without a thought; "It is Eor that very reason that I hate it." And then she understood him. This daughter of America had been slow to suspect or comprehend the pride of the French aristocrat, but she saw all cleaiiy now; and she would not marrythe man who thought hestoopedtotakeher. She foldedup the veil and gently, but linnly said: ■You did not know, wlien Rrst you soaght me for a bride, that mamma was a woeker in France; il you Imd iierlinj)!! yn vmU notlmv i me. Since you have learned this fací you have regretted our engagement- you neednot speak; I have seen a change in you-] fee! that thia is so! But there is no tiarm done," she went on, with simple dignity, ríjSince T hare learned the trutfi before it is toó ate, and "so"- she held out to him a little, trembling hand, which he took meclianically- "and so i will grant the favor you covet, my friend. Your brideshall not wear my dariing mother's veil" - here he kissed the hand. nd she drew it quickly away- but lat is because 1 shall not be your )ride !" N"o need to dweil iipon what folwed. His prayers, hia protestations - humble at Qrst, then angry- her ears, that had no power in them to ap the strength of lier resolution. They parted coldly at last- lovers till in heart, for love dies not so easy, but outwardly seeming scarcely ven iriends. She stood proudly as she left the oom- when the sound of the street oor, closing after him, struck like a cnell of hope to her young passionate eart, she flew to the window and vatehed him out of sight. "Go! go!" she cried, dashing away he tears that blinded her. "Go f rom my eyes, hatef ui tears, and let me see lylovefor the last time! Mylove! ny love ! And I have lost him !" She sank down sobbing. Just then he sound of her mother's voice, singng merrily an old French song in a oom above, came to her ears. Once nore she dashed the tears away : 'He despised you, my darlmg mamnil - yüu ! Xo, no, I will never pardon üin !" Her parents questioned her in vain. She had quarrelled with Louis; that was all they could learn. And before a chance for reconciliation came, Elsie was smitten with mortal illness, and died in three days, and Adele, overwhelmed by the awful calamity, was prostrated with brain fever. At tliis jññctlon a summons came froia Trance, demanding his immediate presence there. Strange changes had taken place. Two of the three H es that liad stood bet ween him and the UUe cuid cnlotoo L fcUo Hfni-yiin do la Kiviere had been suddenly swept away, and the third, a frail and delicate cliild, lay dying. The present marquis, himself , a feeble oíd man, was also at the point of death, so they sent in liaste to Louis, as the heir. The news bewildered Mm. His heart swelled with exultation and delight, but it sank again. Adele! Had henotlost Adele? "I care not for rank or wealth unless she shares tliem !" cried his lieart. "1 will go and implore her pardon. He made the attempt, but in vain. He sought her father, and said a few words to him, however, that might have made all well again had she ever heard tnem ; but she never did. When her long and wasting sickness was over at last, and shebegan, slowly and feebly, to take hold on life, she found herself aa orphan in very truth; Walter had followed Elsie to a better world. Nor even then had she drained the cup of sorrow to the dregs; her father's affairs had been terribly involved; when all was settled she was penniless. Toor Adel e! Truly migbt it be said that lier sorrows "came not single spies, but in battalions," father, mortier, lover, home, all gone. What had life left to offer her bat patience and pain? And Louis ? He would have written her iminediately upon his arrival in Paris, but tnat be feit so blissfully sure that lier fatlier would make all well. A few weeks later he did write : informing her f ully of his strangely altered fortunes, and imploring her to pardon and accept once more as her true lover, the Marquis de la Riviere. And the letter never reached her. The house to which it came was empty and deserted, the lately happy home w;is breken up, and Uie litüle Amencan girl, for vvhum ahusband,and title and fortune were waitiug in simny Fiancc, was eariung a sovrowful living as a lace-makerl Such are somo of the sirange reverses of real life, more wonderful than any fiction. So the marquis waited for an answer in vain. ïhen pride rose up in arms : "She scorns me," he thought. "She, a peasaüt's child. I am punished formy folly!" And he resolved to drive lier froin his heart. But ai ter many months his letter to Adele was returned to him, crossed and re-crossed with strange addresses. It was amessenger of hope to him. She had not slighted, Bhe had not scorned him; perhapa she had notceased to love. Before anothei day and night had passed the Marquis was on his journey to New York. Need I teil of his welcome there? Whendid wealth and title fail to lind a warm one? Or of the friends of Eormer years who flocked toclaiin acquaintance? Has oot prosperity always hosts of friends! But none could teil him of Adele, beyond the history of her bitter sorrows. She, being poor, had fallen from tlieir bright world. And after three months' search he had failed to lind her. Ile had money influence, deepest heart-interest to aid his search, and yet in spite of all, it failed. "She is dead!" he thought, with anguish. "1 have come too late- it is in the grave that I shall fmd my darling. If it be so, and I prove it so indeed, I will live and die single for her sake!" But that was his heart'a resolve, unsuspected by any one; manya gay belle and brüliant beauty had spread her nets, to secure the splendid prize of a titled hnsband. Foremost among the many was Eosalind líale ; she was tlxe f airest and the wealthiest of them all, and her uolden liair was not nnlike Adele's- it was this that had attracted him towards her inore than the others - the memory of an olden love. She never suspected that, however ; her vanity made sure that he was in her toils. She arranged charades, tableaux, plays - in which he should sustain a iart with her. It never occurred to her that he was at once too goodnatured and too indifferent toïef use. ïhe tableaux were suggestive enough - one, upon which Miss líale had quite set her heart, was that of ;i bridal - need it be said that Louis was the bridegroom, herself tlie bride? "He will speak now, surely," she thought, aa she blushed and trembled beside him, while the curtain came slowly down. Butno; he only bowed as he led her l'rom the platform, and then - one of Uu bulluii.i Ot hin font ':iiirht in her bridal veil ! It bas been said that "trifles make up the sum of human happiness." It seemed so now. As thfe niarquis stooped to disengage the lace, suddenly he uttered a straagè cry. 'it was Adele's bridal veil!" "I borrowed it of a lace-maker," Miss Hale said, in reply to his anxious questioning. "I had ordered one like it, hut her health is poor, and she failed to have it finished in time. So then I made her lend me this, She was quite unwilling, too," she added, pouting, "just because it was her inother's Work. Such fancies for a poor person !" "A young girl?" "Oh, no- very thin and worn, and sad- with fine eyes, but too dull and pale to be called pretty. But an exquisite lace-maker. I shall be glad to give you her address if you have any work for her." Yes, he liad work for her- work that they would share together - the blessed work of binding upan almost broken heart, of restoring love aiid happiness to both their lives! Miss Hale never received her veil the marquis claimed it. ín its stead he"sent lier a complete set of laces that made her - in that regard, at least- the envy of American society; and Louis married Adele. Pale and tlnn, and somewhat careworn still, was the bride of the marquis on her wedding day ; but to his eyes - the eyes of faithful love - it was still the sweetest face in the world thatsmiled and wept beneath Elsie's bridal veil. And he kissed the oíd lace and blessed it, because through it he had found her again. "I love it now!" said he. "I prize it next to yourself, love. It shall be kept as a treasure always." And so it was. Many a fair and high-born bride wore "the bridal veil of liiviei'e" in the years to come. It and its story passed through many generationa of proud and happy we&Ters. But among them all none were more truly biest than she who, 'through much suffering, had attaincd to i()V," The noor liyn jnnt-ni] -.vii,e motlier was a pfeasant girl, but who, lor true love's sake, and for love alone, was chosen from all other wo men to be Madame la Marquise de la Kiviere.


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