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Bennett, Emerson, 1822-1905 [1851], The league of the Miami. (Lorenzo Stratton, Cincinnati) [word count] [eaf470T].
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Punctual to his agreement, on the
following morning at the hour of nine,
precisely, Vandemore appeared before
the cottage of Molly Magore, leading
little Cicely by the hand. It was one of
those mild winter mornings not unusual
to this climate, which come, as it were,
to give us a foretaste of the spring; and
the blooming cheeks of Cicely told she
felt that joyous gushing of the soul—
that vigorous elasticity of youth—which,
in the young and innocent, such mornings
rarely ever fail to inspire. As yet she
knew nothing of the object of this visit,
and all with her was hope and gladness.

“What a queer old house, father,”
said Cicely, as they neared it, looking up
to the other's face with a laughing sparkle
in her eyes. “See! those old logs; O I
wouldn't like to live there, would you,

Vandemore turned away his head a
moment, and then said:

“Why not Cicely?”

“O because it isn't pretty, like the
place where we live. Are you going in,
father?” continued she, as he rapped on
the door.

“Yes, my child, a friend lives here.”

At this moment the door opened, and
Molly very civilly bade them enter.

“This then, is to be my sweet, little
girl,” said Molly, approaching Cicely,
who drew back rather suddenly, and
looked at Vandemore with an inquiring,
half startled air.

“She tells you true, Cicely,” said
Vandemore, seating himself, evidently
much affected. “I shall have to leave
you, my child—at least, for a time.”

Cicely stood for a moment looking first
at one and then at the other, while her
eyes filled with tears. Suddenly, by an
impulsive movement, she sprang forward,
threw her arms around Vandemore's
neck, and giving him a kiss, cried:

“No, no, no! dear father; you will
not leave me? you will not leave your
Cicely?” and nestling close to him, she
buried her head upon his breast, and
wept convulsively.

Vandemore fairly shook with emotion—
his lips quivered—his eyes
dimmed—his heart seemed to rise in
his throat—and it was with the utmost
difficulty he was enabled to speak; while
Molly was scarcely less agitated.

“My child! my Cicely! look up—do
not weep—what must be, you know,
must be,” said he, in trembling tones.
“I must go, but I will come back again,
Molly will be a mother to you; she will
take the best care of you; she will see
that you have every thing you need.”

“Indeed I will—the poor unfortunate!”
burst forth the noble-hearted
woman, in a voice of tenderness, wiping
her aye with the corner of her check

Cicely, at this tender strain of feeling,
raised her head, for it had touched a
secret chord in her breast; and raising
her soft, blue eyes, still moist with tears,
which hung like pearls on azure balls, full
upon Molly, who had just placed the
apron to her eyes, she, in a simple, touching
strain, said:

“You must not cry—I don't like to see
you cry.”

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Molly dropped her apron, and gazed
upon Cicely in pleasing astonishment—
her rough, weather-beaten features animated
with a joyous glow, that made her
look almost beautiful.

It was a beautiful picture, that group,
as all three for a moment remained mute,
as if held enchained by some inward
power. But the most beautiful of all,
was the beautiful Cicely, as she sat on
the knees of Vandemore, in a careless,
negligent manner, her head just raised
from his breast, on which one hand still
rested to sustain her position, and, turned
partly round, her blue eyes fastened on
Molly with a sympathetic, languid, tenler
expression. There was the grace and
beauty of youth combined in every expression
of her guileless countenance. It
was the grace of nature—it was the
beauty not only of formation, but of a
softened, exquisite refinement, which we
never see, save in superior, sensitive beings.
Youth, not the least of her charms,
had thrown its rosy flush over all, while
the soul was beaming there to give all
that sweet animation of expression untold
in description. The features, the form
of Cicely, were moulded in the depths of
earthly perfection; and, although not
fully developed, were yet of that peculiar
cast, that to see her was to love her. Her
hair was of a bright, golden yellow, and,
with a natural curl, clustered around her
face and neck in a delightful profusion of
most tasteful ringlets. Her eyes were
full, of a sparkling, vivacious blue when
mirthful; when sad of thoughtful, more
soft and languid. Her skin was fair and
smooth, clear as pearl, and delicate in
texture. Her teeth were white, pearly,
visible when she smiled, and were enclosed
by two half-pouting, rosy, tempting
lips. Thus at all times was she an
interesting being; for with the beauty of
person, we must combine a beauty of
mind—a gentle, affectionate disposition,
which is ever sure to win its way into the
deep recesses of our hearts. Interesting
as she was, Cicely never looked more
interesting than at the moment we have
described her, seated in that negligent
attitude of sympathetic sorrow. Vandemore
gazed upon her with a look of sadness;
his usually stern, dark countenance
was relaxed, and was lighted by a look
of tender admiration, almost child-like
simplicity. We have said this man had
two strong opposing passions—good and
evil: good was now predominant. Molly
stood before her for a moment, gazing on
her with animated, joyful surprise; while
a thrill, a sudden thrill, shot through her
frame like an electric spark—a thrill of
instinctive love for the child before her;
and, involuntarily, she reached forth her
arms as if to clasp her. Something like
this must have passed through the frame
of Cicely; for she leaned gently forward,
extended her beautiful hands, and the
next moment was clasped in the other's
arms. Was this impulsive feeling—this
sympathetic yearning of soul for soul—
this vibration and unison of two hidden
chords—a species of magnetism?—who
shall say?

“You will love—you will love rough
old Molly, will you not, sweet Cicely?”
said she pressing a kiss on her smooth,
ivory forehead, while the latter cast down
her eyes with a modest blush. “Will you
not my pretty Cicely?” continued Molly.

A half audible “yes” broke from the
lips of the little girl; but so simple, so
touching, so full of the purity of truth,
that Molly, as she pressed her to her
bosom with a woman's warmth, could not
repress the rising tear.

“O, you will make an old fool of me,”
said she, placing Cicely on the floor, and
wiping her eyes. “I shall be a complete
childish old fool.”

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“Said I not that you would love her?”
put in Vandemore, at the same time
catching her up in his arms and imprinting
a kiss on her glowing cheeks, his own
features animated with a joyful look.
“Said I not that you would love her?”

“And you said well,” returned Molly.

“Now, Cicely,” continued Vandemore,
“I know you for the little angel I ever
supposed you. You will not weep and
grieve for me, when I am gone, will

Cicely looked at him long and earnestly;
her features grew sad—melancholy;
her large blue eyes beamed on
his with a tender, heart-touching gaze;
her lips parted—her voice trembled, as
she inquired:

“Where are you going, father?”

Vandemore started—a sudden paleness
ran like a flash athwart his features;
even his lips whitened; deep furrows
could be traced in his forehead; dark
livid lines were round his eyes; his soul
was in agony. Suddenly he buried his
face in his hands, while his whole frame
shook like an oak in the whirlwind.
Cicely was frightened, and Molly looked
on in silent wonder. By an effort—a
mighty effort—Vandemore recovered
himself, and his features assumed a
severe, death like calmness.

“You asked where I was going, did
you not, Cicely?” said he, at length.

“Yes, father; but as it pains you, do
not answer. I know you will do nothing
but what is good and right, father.”

Again Vandemore became painfully
affected; again that strong, dark man
was shaken by the voice of a child; again
good and evil were struggling for the

“Thank you, my child—thank you,
Cicely, for those kind words,” said he,
in a voice of forced calmness. “Ever
believe that I will do what is good and
right; and if—if—” his voice faltered—
“if it should chance I never
come back—you never see me more—”

“Oh, father!” burst forth Cicely,
clasping her little hands.

“Promise me,” said he, in continuation,
“you will never curse my

“Curse you father?” returned Cicely,
shuddering, looking at him in wonder.

“Ay, Cicely, promise me that whatever
may befall me—let what may ring
in your ears in after years concerning
me—promise me you will never curse

“Oh! no, no, no! father,” cried
Cicely, “I could not—would not—
never will do that, dear, dear father!”
and the next moment she was clasped to
his heart.

“This may look dark and mysterious
to you,” said Vandemore, turning to
Molly, “but you will some day, most
probably, know the meaning.”

“I seek to know nothing,” replied
Molly. Your affairs, whether good or
evil, must rest with yourself and God!”
and she turned her eyes upward, and her
voice was solemnly impressive.

“Farewell, Cicely,” said Vandemore,
reverently pressing a kiss upon her forehead
and lips, placing her on the floor
and rising from his chair, while her eyes
filled with tears; “farewell, my child!
promise me you will not grieve!”

“I cannot promise, but I will try my
best to be good,” said she, sweetly, the
tears rolling down her cheeks.

“I know—I know—I know you
will;” and Vandemore turned away his
head. “Here, Molly,” said he, in a low
voice, drawing a parcel from his breast,
“here is the packet. Remember, death,
or the 13th of June, 1806.”

“I shall remember,” returned Molly,
as she took the papers.

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“Farewell, Cicely,” exclaimed Vandemore,
suddenly catching her up in his
arms, and covering her face with kisses.
“God bless you!” and again placing her
on the floor he turned to Molly—grasped
her hand—“farewell—protect—love
her—God bless you both! Farewell!
farewell!” and he rushed from the house.

Both sprang to the door, and saw a
tall, splendid figure moving rapidly toward
the river. Soon it was lost behind
a hill, and Vandemore was seen no more.

Sad and gloomy were the hearts of
Molly and her little protege, as they
turned back into the house after the final
disappearance of Vandemore. Cicely
was sad, because she feared her father
would never come back. Molly felt for
the child, and consequently she was sad;
but she endeavored by the best of her
abilities to cheer and comfort her “little
unfortunate,” as she termed her; and
gradually, as time wore on, she, by unceasing
care and attention succeeded; so
much so, that Cicely, who at first took it
very hard, and for several days looked
pale and careworn with grief, at last
resumed a fresher color—bloomed out
like a rose—while the brilliant sparkle
once more danced in her eye. She soon
began to look up to Molly as to a mother,
benefactor, counsellor, and instructor;
while old Molly in turn called her
daughter, darling, unfortunate, and the
like. She moreover took great pride in
instructing her in all the various branches
of housewifery, together with those belonging
to a good English education,
which she found had been sadly neglected;
for it will be recollected by the
reader that Molly was a woman of superior
education herself.

Thus days, weeks, months, and years
rolled on, and Cicely grew up under the
care and instruction of Molly into a beautiful,
blooming, rosy-cheeked damsel;
moulded in grace and beauty of person—
moulded in truth and virtue of intellect.
Molly was a religious woman, and yet she
professed no creed. She believed in
doing all that was conscientiously right;
she believed a person could worship and
call upon the Supreme Being beneath his
or her own roof, be it never so humble,
as well as in marble halls on velvet cushions;
and these views, these principles,
(which perhaps a few bigots will sneer
at, but which will not alter them, thank
God!) she instilled into the mind of
Cicely, gently, and unperceived, as falls
the dew upon the flower; and with these
holy feelings Cicely awoke to all the
charms, the beauties of nature, and of
Nature's God, whom she worshiped, not
through fear, but because she believed
him the perfection of existence, the full
embodiment of love.

Cicely, as she ripened in years, became
more and more poetic; her imagination
became enlarged; her eye more fully developed
to her mind the beauty, the harmony
of creation; while the mind in turn
gave the eye a more delightful appreciation
of the real, by connecting it with the
enchanting ideal.

Thus lived she, as it were, in a world
of her own; sometimes sad, and sometimes
merry, but always affectionate, grateful,
and kind to all. She grew to love Molly
with an earnest affection, which not only
lasts through life, but carries its remembrance
even into the solemn solitude of
the tomb. Cicely had loved Vandemore
as a father; but, be it said, she had never
loved him with that pure affection which
she felt for Molly. She had loved him as
the vine the oak—its protector; she loved
Molly as the flower the dew—its nourisher.
The one was the love of respect—
a something to cling to; the other the love
of affection—a something to revive. The
one of the head, the other of the heart.

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We would not infer by these remarks,
that she had thrown off Vandemore—had
forgotten him—far from it. She often
thought of him with wonder and regret:
wonder, that he had left her, and where
he could have gone, for she had never
heard of him since he left: regret, that,
if living, he did not return. He had ever
been kind to her—had given her her
will—had gratified every wish in his
power to please the outward eye, the carnal
sense; Molly had turned her thoughts
inward and upward—had gratified her
mental vision—had opened to her soul
a new existence, more charming, more
holy, more beautiful. She delighted to
wander alone on the banks of the silvery
Ohio, and would sit for hours listening to
its gentle ripple—and gazing upon its
blue, placid bosom; while a soft summer
breeze, stealing past, would gently kiss
her rosy cheeks and wave her golden
hair. Again she would wander farther—
climb some rugged peak—plunge into the
shady forest, and listen with delight to
the song of birds and humming insects.
Again she would sit at night in the door
of the cottage—old Molly near with her
sewing, or knitting—and gaze at the stars,
and wonder what they were—whether
they were balls of fire, or worlds of human
beings like ourselves? And then,
when wearied with the day, she would
throw her arms around old Molly's neck,
give her a hearty kiss, and retire to her
pillow, to dream sweet, pleasing dreams.

Thus summer rolled on summer, for all
seemed summer with her, and Cicely
Vandemore numbered seventeen—an
airy, graceful, beautiful being. All, thus
far, had been of the child—pure and
simple; but now she began to feel new
sensations; she began to experience feelings
she had dreamed not of before; her
mind seemed to expand; she began to
feel the calm dignity of woman; she began
to conceive that youth, bright, joyous
youth, could not always last. She grew
sad, constrained; she felt not that desire
of wandering alone as formerly; she felt
there was a void—a something wanting
in the pleasures that had once been her
sole delight. Did Cicely love? Had
you questioned her, she would have simply
answered “no!” for Cicely had yet
to learn the powerful meaning of that
word. And yet, we may venture to say,
there was one with whom, in holding converse,
Cicely felt a strange, a sweet delight.
Reader, for the present you must
draw your own conclusions—our task
now calls us to another scene.

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Bennett, Emerson, 1822-1905 [1851], The league of the Miami. (Lorenzo Stratton, Cincinnati) [word count] [eaf470T].
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