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   Chapter 14 No.14

The Iron Rule; Or, Tyranny in the Household By T. S. Arthur Characters: 6061

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


SHOCKED as was Emily Winters at the sight of Andrew, bleeding in the hands of the watchman, and by the subsequent newspaper report of his bad conduct; and estranged from her early regard for him, as she had been, by these and other things that she had heard, the young girl could not entirely banish from her mind the image of the boy who had been to her so gentle and affectionate since the early and innocent days of childhood. In spite of all her efforts to turn her thoughts away from him, they were ever turning toward him; and, as time passed on, and his long absence left all in doubt concerning his fate, his memory became to her something like a hallowed thing.

In passing on to the estate of womanhood, Emily, who possessed more than common beauty, attracted admirers, and from two or three of these she received offers of marriage. But in each case the suitor had failed to win her heart, and she was too true a woman to give her hand to any one unless her heart could go also.

In at least one case her father took sides with the lover, and urged his suit with a degree of feeling that resulted in a partial estrangement of affection. But he afterward had cause to be well satisfied with Emily's decision in the case.

On the morning that had succeeded the day of Andrew Howland's return to P-, Emily Winters, who had long since ceased to think of the young man as alive, was informed that a gentleman had called, and wished to see her.

"Who is he?" was the natural inquiry.

"I don't know," replied the servant.

"You should have asked his name."

"I did so, but he said that it was no matter."

After making some slight change in her dress, Emily went down to the parlor. As she entered, a gentleman arose and advanced a few steps toward her.

"Miss Winters!" said he, while he fixed his eyes intently on her face.

The young lady bowed slightly in return, while she looked at him inquiringly.

"You don't know me?" said the stranger, with perceptible disappointment in his voice.

Emily dropped her eyes for a moment to the floor, and then lifted them again to his countenance. There was a gentle suffusion on her face, as she slowly shook her head.

"I have seen you before," she remarked, "but I cannot, at this moment, tell where."

"Years have passed since we met," replied the stranger, with something of sadness in his voice; "but I had hoped you would not forget me."

As he spoke, he came nearer, and held out his hand, which Emily did not hesitate to take.

At the moment of this contact, a light flashed on the maiden's face, and she exclaimed, with sudden emotion-

"Andrew Howland! Can it be?"

And she stepped back a pace or two, and sunk upon a chair. Andrew did not relinquish her hand, but sat down by her side, replying, as he did so-

"Yes, Emily, it is even so. After a long, long absence, I have come back to my old home, wiser and better, I trust, than when I went away."

It was some time before Emily looked up or replied; but she did not make a moti

on to withdraw the hand which Andrew held with no slight pressure.

"How often, Emily," continued Andrew, seeing that she remained silent, "have I thought of the sweet hours we spent together as children-hours, too often, of stolen delight. Their remembrance has, many a time, saved me from evil when strongly tempted. But for that, and the memory of my mother, I should long since have become a castaway on the ocean of life."

The voice of Andrew became tremulous as he uttered the last sentence. It was then that Emily raised her eyes from the floor, gently withdrawing her hand at the same time, and fixed them upon his face. His words had sent her thoughts back to the old time when they were children together, and when, to be within him, was one of her highest pleasures; and, not only that, his words and tones had reached her heart, and awakened therein an echo.

"It is a long time since you went away," said Emily. "A very long time."

"Yes; it is a long time. But, the weary slow-passing years are ended, and I am back again among early scenes and old friends, and back, I trust, to remain."

"How is your mother?" inquired Emily, after a slight pause.

"I found her much changed-older by twice the number of years that have elapsed since I went away."

But all that passed between Andrew Howland and Emily Winters in the hour they spent together at this first meeting, after so long an absence, we cannot write. For a time, their intercourse was marked by a reserve and embarrassment on the part of Emily; but this insensibly wore off, and, ere the young man went away, their hearts, if not their lips, had spoken to each other almost as freely as in the days of childhood.

Not many months elapsed ere the tender regard that was spontaneously awakened in their bosoms when children, and which had never ceased to exist, led them into a true marriage union, to which no one raised even a whisper of opposition. Almost at the very time that Andrew was holding his first interview with Emily, Mr. Winters was listening to a brief account of his return, with some of the pleasing incidents immediately attendant thereon. In a meeting with the young man shortly afterward, he was prepossessed in his favor, and when he saw that he was disposed to renew the old intimate relations with Emily, he did not in the least object.

Thus, after a lapse of over twenty-five years, two families, each possessed of substantial virtues, and with social qualities forming a plane for reciprocal good feeling, but which had been forced apart by the narrow prejudice and iron will of Mr. Howland, came together in a marriage of two of its members. Alas! how much of wrong and suffering appertained to that long period during which they were thus held apart! How many scars from heart-wounds were left; and these not always painless!

Can any summing up of the causes and consequences set forth in our story give force to the lessons it teaches? We think not; and therefore leave it with the reader to do its own work.

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