« PreviousContinue »
being of a superior nature, and had treated her as such, but when she was thrown into affliction for the death of her child, she had become more dependent on her kind friends for support and comfort, and at this interesting period Enrico had first learned to love her. The sweetness and gratitude with which she received his little attentions in procuring her everything he thought would please her, charmed and subdued him. Soon he saw no object but Teresa; for minutes together he would gaze unobserved on the beauty of her countenance, the unruffled serenity of her brow, the deep expression of her holy eyes, the angelic sweetness of her rare smile. He loved to listen to her voice as she read to them sometimes of an evening, and the gentle tenderness of her manner towards his poor cousin filled him with gratitude and delight.
Enrico had always been a great favourite amongst all the young damsels in his neighbour hood, and many black, blue, hazel and grey eyes grew more pensive as they noted his terrible insouciance; but Enrico had never thought of
love, and his time had hitherto been too fully occupied in farming concerns and manly sports, to allow him leisure for such fond fancies. But now his whole character was altered, and his whole soul engrossed by Teresa.
One evening, which succeeded an unusually warm day, considering the lateness of the season, Teresa, Maria, and Enrico, sat under a porch which overshadowed the entrance to the house, and enjoyed the freshness and balmy softness of the air.
The porch was covered with jessamine, and ever and anon the light breeze swept a shower of its fragrant blossoms over the young people. A vine, which overspread the front of the farmhouse extended its branches, heavily laden with fruit, across the porch, and many a rich, tempting cluster of golden grapes hung invitingly down around its frame work. The orchard in front of the house was filled with fruit trees, and some of them were yet unstripped of their treasures, and glowed with yellow apples and downy plums.
The sky was chequered with fleecy clouds of all shapes and sizes, and Teresa was watching their progress, and marking the brilliant hues imparted to them by the approach of sunset ; her fanciful imagination traced lofty palaces, and glittering lakes, and rugged mountains, and strange faces in their changing shapes, and as she gazed, her thoughts penetrated beyond Heaven's arched portal, and fixed themselves on scenes of more than mortal beauty, scenes where the imagination grows bewildered, and we feel our own incompetency to conceive the joy reserved for us.
At length some slight sound recalled her to earth, and she turned towards Enrico to comment on the gorgeous appearance of the sky, for Enrico was an unsophisticated lover of nature ; but when her eyes encountered his, which were not withdrawn from the contact, the colour mounted to her pure temples, and a pang shot through her heart, her glance drooped to the ground, and for some moments she mused painfully, that look of Enrico's,
what had it not revealed the fervent love-the
first love of youth-the hopes of a life, the constancy of a manly character, the tenderness of a refined nature !
Teresa could not be mistaken in its meaning -such a look she had once before encountered from one she might see no more, and the memory
of that look had never left her. Her heart bled for the hapless Enrico ; she pitied him most sincerely, for she had experienced the difficulty of uprooting such affection from the bosom. Enrico felt that Teresa had read his feelings in his eyes, and when he noted her blush and downcast eyes, and above all when he observed the tears resting on her fringed eyelashes, hope entered his heart, and he dared to take her hand and press it gently in his.
Suddenly Teresa rescued her hand and turned coldly from him ; poor Enrico, at this mark of her displeasure, rose hastily from his seat and left the porch. Apparently, this little scene had passed unobserved by Maria, who was sitting with her back partly turned to them and apseemingly absorbed in a book.
Teresa remained motionless on the seat for some time, and her thoughts were wholly occupied with the sorrow she had so innocently brought on this amiable young man.
Her eyes were again raised to the skies; but the sun had set, leaving a faint radiance behind it, and the pale blue of the firmament began to be studded with innumerable stars. A dark cloud had gathered just over the house, and Teresa saw in it an emblem of the grief which had fallen on it. The cloud broke and came down in a heavy shower of rain, but Teresa and Maria were protected by the porch and remained stationary. Teresa was at length surprised at her companion's long silence, and she stole gently to her side and asked her what was the subject of the book which seemed to interest her so much. She received no answer, and she leaned forward and looked into Maria's faceber book was turned upside down in her hands, and Teresa saw, by the faint light in the heavens,