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Cummins, Maria Susanna, 1827-1866 [1857], Mabel Vaughan. By the author of The lamplighter. (John P. Jewett and Company, Boston) [word count] [eaf533].
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But deeper signs
Than the radient blush of beauty,
The maiden finds,
Whenever his name is heard;—
The young heart thrills,
Forgetting herself,—her duty,—
Her dark eye fills,
And her pulse with hope is stirred.
Mrs. Osgood.

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While under the influence of her visit to Rosy, and while
actuated by the gentle charities it had awakened, Mabel made
more than one effort to recover her former influence with
Harry, and regain his confidence.

She met with partial success. He seemed, at once, touched
and pained by the revival of those little sisterly attentions,
which had of late been carelessly performed, or wholly omitted.
Occasionally, he manifested something of his old pleasure
in her society; but in other instances, hurried away, as if her
presence were an unwelcome restraint. He avoided the slightest
reference to his late irregularities of conduct, but at the same
time hesitated not to express a deep disgust and weariness with
what he termed New York life.

Sisterly sympathy and perseverance on Mabel's part, might,
in time, have done much toward restoring the confidential relations
which had been wont to subsist between them; but it must
be confessed, she soon met with a signal discouragement to her

She had returned home at a late hour one evening, had
learned from the footman that Harry had not come in, and
feeling herself oppressed with more than usual anxiety, had
determined to await his arrival before retiring to rest. Youth,

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however, craves its season of refreshment, and weariness gradually
overpowering her senses, she threw herself upon a couch
in her own room and fell asleep.

She was awakened some hours later by the shuffling of feet
out-side her chamber door, accompanied by a confused and
noisy altercation. Starting up, her nerves trembling and her
whole frame agitated with a sudden dread, she distinctly recognised
the voice of her father's footman, uttering vain and fruitless
expostulations, while Harry, in rough and abusive language,
heaped upon him the most unsparing invectives and
threats. At the same instant a neighboring door was suddenly
thrown open, and a third, and equally well-known voice min-gled
in the debate, addressing Harry in stern, though suppressed
tones of command. A moment more, and there was the tread
of several feet upon the stair-case leading to the next floor; a
muttered resistance was evident on Harry's part, which gradually
became lost in the distance, and then all was silent.

For several minutes Mabel stood, pale and breathless, with
her ear pressed close to the key-hole, but hearing no sound. at
length ventured to open her door and look out. She started
back, however, as if pierced by an arrow; for, though she
gave but one glance without, it had revealed to her the figure
of her father descending the stair-case, wrapped in his dressing-gown,
and shading with his hand the lamp which he carried,
while its light, falling full upon his face, proclaimed that he
knew the worst.

Mabel had long anticipated this or a similar scene; still, as
her eye met the woe-struck countenance of her parent, pity
for Harry and mortification for herself gave place to a deep
and indignant resentment against the youth who could thus
bring down his father's gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.
She did not weep, she threw herself into no despairing attitude,
but slowly paced up and down the room, her soft hazel eye
glowing with an unwonted excitement, her delicately arched
lip curved with something not unlike scorn. It was long before
she could calm the tumult of her feelings, and when she
did so, there remained a dull, heavy, and despairing

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consciousness of misfortune, such as she had never felt before. The
family calamity had reached its crisis; it was no longer a secret,
stinging anxiety, hid in her own bosom; it was a melancholy
but acknowledged fact.

With this thought, however, painful as it was, there yet
mingled a sense of relief. She had hoped that her father
might long be spared this blow, but, since it had come, it
rested with him to ward off, if possible, future strokes. Some
decisive means might yet be adopted for reclaiming the misguided
youth, and if so, the afflicted parent would not fail to
take the necessary steps. Whether or not these bolder measures
required the aid of her gentle influence, she did not pause
to consider; but too easily discouraged in her own feeble endeavors,
and too readily excusing herself from further participation
in efforts for the reformation of her prodigal brother, she
gladly cast off her share of the burden. Thus, with a heavier
heart, but a lightened sense of personal responsibility, she
finally sought her couch.

It was at this crisis that Dudley returned to the city. Two
week's sojourn in the climate of Canada, to which place anxiety
concerning some property had suddenly called him, had
effectually cooled his petty jealousy, and he now strove sedulously
to obliterate the recollection of it from Mabel's mind.
It was no difficult task. In the quick beating of her heart at
his presence, she forgot all past estrangement, while the light
in her eye, and the glow on her cheek, proved that no painful
remembrance was suffered to interfere with her pleasure at
his return.

It was now the month of March. The winter gayeties of the
city had subsided, and the fashionable world were already beginning
to look forward, with eager anticipation, to the approaching
summer campaign. In this comparative lull between
the dissipations of the metropolis and the watering-place, Dudley
found the opportunity to engross more exclusively than
ever the mind and heart of Mabel. The brilliant scenes of
fashion no longer claimed their queen; the accomplished opera
troupe had sailed for Havana; Mabel's circle of admirers had,

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for the most part, either boldly urged their unsuccessful suits,
or timidly withdrawn their hopeless claims to her favor; the
weather was unfavorable for the popular drive or promenade;
and now, if ever, was the time when intellectual amusements,
refined tastes, and artistic pursuits, might easily claim their

Scarcely a day passed without affording Mabel the pleasure
of Dudley's society. A new book, a rare flower, the announcement
of an exhibition of choice paintings, the discovery of
some interesting fact in the scientific world,—any of these were
sufficient excuse for a visit; or, if these failed, such were his
address and tact, that he well knew how to render himself
essential in any scheme of pleasure or entertainment which
met her approbation. In Dudley's society, within the magic
sound of his low, persuasive voice, and under the fascinating
influence of his dark, dreamy eyes, Mabel had no leisure for
any other contemplations or thoughts than those which his
presence awakened; while, in searching with him after the
beautiful in poetry, nature, and art, she was unconscious that
life afforded the opportunity for higher or nobler pursuits.

Fatal as this ascendancy was to her truest and purest aspirations,
it may well be believed that it did not tend to encourage
those schemes of sisterly benevolence and charity which
she might otherwise have cherished; for Dudley was not the
man, under any circumstances, to risk his own unstained reputation
by the attempt to countenance and uphold a falling
friend. Mabel was not long in becoming conscious of the
gradual decay of his intimacy with Harry, and thus both his
example and influence tended to discourage her efforts and
hopes in her brother's behalf; while his dominion over her
thoughts was such as to soothe the mortification she suffered
at the misconduct of the unhappy youth, and allay her fears
for his possible fate.

Whatever might be his motive,—or even if he had no
serious motive at all,—Dudley spared no pains to establish
an exclusive empire over Mabel's heart and life, and voluntarily
submitting to his guidance, she yielded herself to his wishes

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and tastes, allowed herself to be swayed by his opinions, and
blindly adopted his maxims.

Thus he was satisfied, and she was happy.

At least she believed herself happy. It was a strange,
fitful, capricious mingling of emotions, unworthy of that name
which expresses what is rarely found on earth, the essence of
all joy. It was a happiness purchased at the price of much
imagined, much hoped for, much forgotten. It was but the
fluttering of a young heart which had not yet found a resting-place.
Alas! like the dove let loose from the ark, it would
long seek repose in vain.

Such as this so-called happiness was, it was subject to many
interruptions. Like all selfish natures, Dudley was ungenerous
even in his affections. He demanded more than he gave. He
scrupulously avoided any other declaration of his sentiments
toward her than that which his whole manner conveyed; but
still, assuming rights to which he had established no claim, he
hesitated not to exercise his influence over her habits of
thought and life, and even presumed to criticise, and occasionally,
as we have seen, take umbrage at her conduct.

It was true, he possessed a grace and tact which knew how
to veil what was in reality officious, beneath an air of flattering
assidurty, and his eccentricities furnished an excuse for what
would have been overbearing in another; still, Mabel's spirit
could not easily brook the inequalities of his manner toward
her, and she occasionally met his sudden coldness and constraint
with a haughtiness equal to his own air of petrified

Then followed intervals of unacknowledged but evident
alienation, when Mabel, suddenly thrown upon her own resources,
experienced a reaction which made her past elation of
spirit seem a delusion and a mockery.

During these intervals, all the elements of unhappiness in
her home presented themselves with redoubled force.

Her aunt's complaints and inuendoes, which had formerly
been limited to the unamiable deportment of Mrs. Leroy, and
the impositions she continually practised upon her circle of

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relatives, had now found a new and inexhaustible subject,
in that still greater cause of apprehension and distress, which
Mabel had so dreaded to have come to her knowledge, but
with which she had inevitably become acquainted. Louise
had acquired more boldness than ever in her schemes of deception
and self-indulgence; while Mabel's temper was incessantly
tried by her sister's heartless indifference to her pleasure
and convenience. A certain fixed rigidity of expression served
to cover and conceal the emotions and purposes of Mr. Vaughan's
mind, but there was a stoop in his hitherto erect figure,
and a hollowness in his pale cheeks, which stamped him as an
old man, worn with care. And Harry! Ah! poor Harry!
Where and what was he? Mabel dared not ask or think.
But the eye that could no longer look fearlessly into that of
his fellow-man; the hand that hesitated ere it grasped the
hand of him who had once been a friend; the face from which
youth and beauty were rapidly passing away;—all these were
silent witnesses to a sad and sorrowful tale.

But, not only did these intervals of solitary reflection bring
up in long array the trials of Mabel's lot; they brought with
them, also, another remembrance, which was banished from
her gayer and happier hours,—the remembrance of one who,
amid privation, hardship, and pain, had learned life's holiest
lesson, and finding in her little sphere a humble path of duty,
trod it with the heroism of a martyr and the patience of a
saint. She could not be blind to this living example, nor deaf
to the secret monitor it had awakened in her heart. False
theories and selfish reasonings might shake her faith in abstract
principles, but no sophistry could refute or obscure the
sacred truth which emanated from the life of Rosy.

The thought of this pious little pilgrim, and her daily walk
with God, could not fail to awaken in a nature so candid and
impressible as Mabel's, many a pang of self-questioning and
self-reproach; but with these salutary stings of conscience
there came other and no less beneficent influences, which were
at once welcome and sweet.

The heart that was wounded and grieved by unkindness,

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misconstruction, and reserve, found repose and refreshment in
the thought of one, whose spirit, bathed in divine love, scattered
abroad the heavenly dew of a true and tender sympathy;
while hopes that were rudely crushed under a weight of trial,
were renewed and sanctified by the blessed assurance that there
is a rest, even on earth, which remaineth for the people of

Mabel's spirits were invariably calmed and soothed by a
visit to Rosy; her mind at once subdued and strengthened.
She felt something of the patience which springs from submission;
some ray of the hope that comes by faith. She went her
way, if not fortified with a holy purpose, at least imbued with
a humble desire to imitate, while self was for the time forgotten
in the strong and living desire to do something for the
welfare and happiness of others.

These disinterested and generous aspirations were often discouraged
by difficulties, or palsied by indifference, before an
opportunity presented itself for proving their existence; but
occasionally their influence might be detected in the generous
earnestness with which she sought to carry out some benevolent
or praiseworthy purpose.

She was driving one day through a street not very distant
from Mrs. Hope's residence, when her attention was attracted
by some uncommonly fine fruit, displayed in the window of a
grocer's shop. She had observed, on a recent visit to Rosy,
that the stock of oranges with which she had of late kept her
constantly provided, was nearly exhausted, and it occurred to
her that she would take advantage of being in the neighborhood
to renew the supply. She hastily pulled the check
string, and Donald, in obedience to her orders, drew up his
horses in front of the shop, his somewhat scornful countenance
expressing the surprise he felt that his young mistress should
have occasion to enter so insignificant a grocery establishment.
Mabel, however, much more independent than her fastidious
coachman, quite unconscious indeed of derogating from her
dignity, alighted without hesitation, and entering, commenced
making her purchases.

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While the youth who waited on her was engaged in weighing
some grapes, her attention was attracted to a couple of
boys who were lounging outside the counter.

“I say, Jack,” said the taller of the two,—“if you'll wheel
that 'ere load o' shells down to Tattam's, at the river side, I'll
treat to seats in the pit at the Bowery, to-night. Come, old
feller, what do you say to that? Tom Ratlin plays `The
Devil among the Scullions'—that'll be sport. Tom Ratlin's
the boy for me! Come, say done to that.”

“I won't touch none o' your old oyster shells,” answered
the boy who was thus addressed,—a short, stout, freckled,
and thick-lipped urchin, whose great prominent teeth gave a
peculiar expression to his face, but who had, nevertheless, a
frank, honest, and on the whole, prepossessing countenance.

“You won't?” answered the first speaker—“more fool
you. It pays enough sight better than sellin' your mother's'
lasses candy;” and he glanced contemptuously at a tray loaded
with that article, suspended by a leather strap around the neck
of his companion.

The latter, evidently mortified and touched by this allusion
to his occupation, which he had in truth somewhat outgrown,
turned very red in the face, and with mingled shame and
anger retorted, “Candy sellin' is better business, any how, than
workin' for folks that promise big and do n't pay at all. Better
settle old scores 'fore you talk o' runnin' up new ones.”

“I do n't owe yer nothin',” replied the first speaker angrily.

“Do n't yer?” exclaimed Jack. “What did ever I get, I
want to know, for luggin' them two kegs of oysters from your
old man's cellar down to the Jersey ferry? Nice kind o' business,
was n't it? to see you jump on board the boat with your
kegs, and go off a leavin' me in the lurch. I ain't forgot it, I
tell yer.”

The larger boy laughed boisterously at this reminiscence,
seeming to think it a capital joke. “Why, what could I
do?” exclaimed he—“could n't keep the boat a wait'n—
had n't no chance to bribe the capt'n; had to be off in a
jiffy. But, look here Jack,” continued he persuasively, “you

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wheel the shells down to Tattam's, and I'll pay up—honor

“What, pay for both jobs—this and t' other one too?”

“I guess so. I'll see,” said the tall boy evasively.

“No, none o' yer guessin', Bob,—we'll have a clear bargain
this time.”

“Well, well,” said Bob, “you shall have a chance at the
theatre, any way.”

“And the cock-tail, too?”

“'T wa'n't a cock-tail I promised,” said Bob.

“'T was a cock-tail,—'t wa'n't nothin' else,” retorted Jack,
with spirit.

“Oh, Jack! you 're a goin' it like a fine feller,” exclaimed
Bob, slapping him on the shoulder; “Tom Ratlin and a cock-tail.
Well, you shall have both on 'em if you'll go right away.
I'll have the shells round there in the wink o' your eye. I
left the wheelbarrow just round the corner; you hold on till I
fetch it,” and with these words Bob shot off through a side door,
to complete his bargain.

“What does he mean? what is he going to give that boy?”
asked Mabel, of the youth who was tying up her purchases.

The lad looked up, met her earnest, inquiring eye, and
stooping down to bite off a piece of twine, endeavored to hide
a smile which was creeping over his face.

Mabel, observing his hesitation, repeated her question, and
the youth looking up again, and seeing the immovable gravity
of her features, composed his own, while he said, in answer to
the second query—

“Mean by what, ma'am? a cock-tail?”


Something to drink,” replied the young man; and unable
now to conceal how much he was amused at Mabel's curiosity,
he laughed outright, at the same time collecting his parcels
with the view of taking them to the carriage.

“I thought so—I was afraid so,” said Mabel, her features
still grave and reproachful; “it is a shame!” Then, as the

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shopman's clerk passed out with the packages, she hesitated,
and finally walked directly up to Jack, who was casting a side-long
glance at her, as if he suspected himself to be the subject
of remark.

“Don't you take it,” said she kindly and impressively, at
the same time giving more force to her words by laying a gentle,
restraining hand on Jack's arm.

Jack—Jack Hope, for he it was, though Mabel had no suspicion
of the fact—looked up, met her mild, reproving glance,
cast an eye at the same time at her rich garments, striking air,
and noble figure, and then looking down with a half-defiant,
half-mortified expression, stood kickling one foot against the

“What shall I give you not to take it?” asked Mabel, after
a pause.

Once more Jack's eye met hers, but drooped the next instant
beneath the compassionate and imploring expression with
which she gazed into his face.

There was another instant of silence, for Jack made no reply
to her question.

Mabel now drew a gold dollar from her purse, and laid it on
the counter. Jack glanced at it with an eager longing that
could not be mistaken, but this time he did not venture to look
up at Mabel.

“Do you want that?” said she.

“I want it bad,” said the boy, “but—but—”

“But what?”

Jack hesitated, then said, bringing out his words with a jerk,
as if they were forced from him, “I don't like to be bought off,—
it's mean.”

Mabel was struck with the boy's rude sense of honor; she
looked puzzled for a moment, then said, “Is n't there some one
at home you could spend it for? have n't you a mother, or a
sister? it would not be mean, if you bought something for

Unconsciously she had struck the master-chord. Jack looked

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searchingly up in her face, forgetting his former awe in the
deeper curiosity to discover how she had pierced his secret

Mabel saw her advantage, and acted upon it.

“Do not take what that wicked boy promised you,” said she,
“and don't go to the theatre either; keep out of such bad company,
or you will be ruined; here, you shall have the dollar,
and welcome, only don't put it to a bad use; perhaps you can
think of something to buy with it that will please them all at
home, and make them proud and happy.”

“I do want it for somethin' particklar,” said the boy; “it
a'n't nothin'bad, as true as the world it a'n't.”

“Well, then,” said Mabel, “take it; I believe you, for you
look as if you were speaking the truth; here, put it in your

“What shall I tell Bob?” said the boy, in audible soliloquy.

“Oh, don't tell him anything,—run off before he comes back—
that's the best way.”

Jack smiled at the earnestness of his beautiful mentor, and
lifted his tray of candy, which he had lain down in anticipation
of entering Bob's service.

In her eagerness to see him depart, Mabel stretched out her
delicately gloved hand and assisted him in fitting the leather
strap to his shoulder.

“There, now, run,” said she, smiling with pleasure at her
own success. “Good-bye! remember!” and Jack trudged off,
looked back once or twice to watch her as she entered her carriage,
and then took to his heels, according to her recommendation.

About half an hour afterwards, as Mabel was sitting in the
widow Hope's shop, talking with Rose, while Donald was
pacing his horses up and down at some little distance from the
house, the shop-door was violently flung open, the bell which
was attached to it rung unmercifully, and Jack rushed hastily
in, holding up his dollar and exclaiming, “Hurrah, Rose! no
matter now where I got it, but here is just money enough to

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pay for—” her had reached this point in his exclamation, when
he suddenly caught sight of Mabel, who had hitherto been concealed
by the door behind which she sat. He stopped short,
staggered back in his astonishment, turned very red in the
face, and without pausing for question or apology, clapped
both fists to his mouth and darted out as abruptly as he had

Rose, sadly mortified at this unmannerly entrance and exit,
endeavored to excuse him to Mabel by remarking, “That is
Jack—he isn't much used to company.”

But Mabel, whose mind was wholly occupied with the coincidence
which had thus proved the candy-boy to be identical
with Rose's brother, did not seem to hear her, and Rose, fearing
from her silence that she was displeased, suggested in further
extenuation of Jack's behavior, “He is not always so rude,
Miss Mabel.”

“Rude, Oh, no!” answered Mabel promptly, recovering from
her momentary abstraction, and observing Rosy's troubled expression;
“he did not mean to be rude; he was surprised,
that was all. I feel very much interested in Jack, Rose. He
seems to be a good-hearted boy.”

Rose looked inexpressibly gratified. “He is—he is, Miss
Mabel,” exclaimed she earnestly; and thus encouraged to
speak on the subject, she did not pause until she had exhausted
the catalogue of his good qualities.

Mingled with her praises, however, it was not difficult to
detect a secret anxiety and doubt lest these very good qualities
should become corrupted by the evil influences to which his
street traffic inevitably exposed him, and with the clue furnished
her by the occurrences of the morning, Mabel understood better
than ever before the self-devotion and perseverance with which
his little invalid sister strove to keep him as much as possible
at her side.

This little incident failed not to leave a strong impression on
Mabel's mind. It had afforded her the happiness of performing
a benevolent action; it had created a new bond of

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sympathy between herself and Rose,—above all, it had revealed to
her a fresh proof of the beauty and power of that holy love
which no selfish doubts can chill or blight, but which, living on
through suffering, change, decay, and death, beareth all things,
believeth all things, hopeth all things, and endureth all things.

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Cummins, Maria Susanna, 1827-1866 [1857], Mabel Vaughan. By the author of The lamplighter. (John P. Jewett and Company, Boston) [word count] [eaf533].
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