“The Little Pigeon breeds them,” Dick Straw informed
"I will write," was all Maude had a chance to say ere Nellie joined them, accompanied by J.C., who had not yet terminated his visit at Laurel Hill, and as soon as his cousin left he intended removing to the hotel, where he would be independent of Dr. Kennedy, and at the same time, devote himself to the daughter or stepdaughter, just as he should feel inclined.
Some such idea might have intruded itself upon the mind of James, for, when at parting he took his cousin's hand, he said, "You have my good wishes for your success with Nellie, but--"
"But not with t'other one, hey?" laughingly rejoined J.C., adding that James need have no fears, for there was not the slightest possibility of his addressing the milkman's heiress.
Alas for J.C.'s honesty! Even while he spoke there was treachery in his saucy eyes, for the milkman's heiress, as he called her, was not to him an object of dislike, and when, after the carriage drove away, he saw the shadows on her face, and suspected their cause, he felt a strong desire that his departure might affect her in a similar manner. That evening, too, when Nellie sang to him his favorite song, he kept one ear turned toward the chamber above, where, in a low, sweet voice, Maude Remington sang her suffering brother to sleep.
The next morning he removed to the hotel, saying he should probably remain there during the summer, as the air of Laurel Hill was highly conducive to his rather delicate health; but whether he meant the invigorating breeze which blew front the surrounding hills, or an heir of a more substantial kind, time and our story will show.
Mr. De Vere had been gone four weeks. Louis had entirely recovered from his illness, and had made the acquaintance of J.C., with whom he was on the best of terms. Almost every bright day did the young man draw the little covered wagon through the village, and away to some lovely spot, where the boy artist could indulge in his favorite occupation--that of sketching the familiar objects around him. At first Nellie accompanied them in these excursions; but when one day her aunt, who still remained at Laurel Hill, pointed out to her a patch of sunburn and a dozen freckles, the result of her outdoor exercise, she declared her intention of remaining at home thereafter--a resolution not altogether unpleasant to J.C., as by this means Maude was more frequently his companion.
If our readers suppose that to a man of J.C.'s nature there was anything particularly agreeable in thus devoting himself to a cripple boy they are mistaken, for Louis Kennedy might have remained indoors forever had it not been for the sunny smile and look of gratitude which Maude Remington always gave to J.C. De Vere when he came for or returned with her darling brother. Insensibly the domestic virtues and quiet ways of the black-haired Maude were winning a strong hold upon J.C.'s affections, and still he had never seriously thought of making her his wife. He only, knew that he liked her, that he felt very comfortable where she was, and very uncomfortable where she was not; that the sound of her voice singing in the choir was the only music he heard on the Sabbath day, and though Nellie in her character of soprano ofttimes warbled like a bird, filling the old church with melody, he did not heed it, so intent was he in listening to the deeper, richer notes of her who sang the alto, and whose fingers swept the organ keys with so much grace and beauty.
And Maude! within her bosom was there no interest awakened for one who thought so much of her? Yes, but it was an interest of a different nature from his. She liked him, because he was so much more polite to her than she had expected him to be, and more than all, she liked him for his kindness to her brother, never dreaming that for her sake alone those kindly acts were done. Of James De Vere she often thought, repeating sometimes to herself the name of Cousin Maude, which had sounded so sweetly to her ear when he had spoken it. His promise she remembered, too, and as often as the mail came in, bringing her no letter, she sighed involuntarily to think she was forgotten. Not forgotten, Maude, no, not forgotten, and when one afternoon, five weeks after James' departure J.C. stood at her side, he had good reason for turning his eyes away from her truthful glance, for he knew of a secret wrong done to her that day. There had come to him that morning a letter from James, containing a note for Maude, and the request that he would hand it to her.
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