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DISCIPLINE OF LIFE.
A COUNTRY NEIGHBOURHOOD.
PART THE FOURTH.
Sorrows like showers descend; and, as the heart
We must pass over many months.
At the latter end of October, in the year following the short year of Mrs. Maxwell's married happiness, Evelyn Villars was on the eve of leaving England for Italy.
The health of Juliet Harcourt had, during the last few months, given Mr. Harcourt great uneasiness. He was blind to the greatness of the evil-he did not see that her days were numbered—that her life slowly yet surely was ebbing away; but every week, as it passed, added to his anxiety on her account; and, having received some slight encouragement from an eminent physician, he determined to try once more what Italy could do.
He had anxiously wished that Evelyn should accompany them, but feared to make it a request to Mr. Villars; but the idea having been casually thrown out, Mr. Villars caught at it with so much eagerness that, Mr. Harcourt no longer refraining from expressing his wishes, it was soon decided that Evelyn and Miss Drake were to go, under his care, and Mr. Villars was to follow in the course of a few weeks.
The truth was, that Mr. Villars was seriously annoyed at the change which had taken place in Evelyn. She was no longer what she had been. The early death of Clarice, in the spring of her life and happiness, and the sad andexciting scenes which she had gone through at Redlynch, had left a shadow upon the brightness of her mind, which she could not
chase away-an oppression upon her spirits, far greater than that which her early disappointment had caused. She was outwardly changed; and there, perhaps, the change was altogether a sad one; but she was also changed within; and those who had watched with interest the gradual formation of her character could not but own that, in this latter change, there was much of good. She had been forced, young as she was, to look upon the trials and temptations of life, and the sight had not been profitless. At the time, she had not seen “ the bright light in the clouds, but the wind had passed and had cleansed her.”
This good, however, did not repay, in Mr. Villars's eye,
for the loss of her bright childishDess. He could not forget the days which had been gladdened by her sunny heart—and still he hoped that, with time, the sunshine would returu—her softened temper, her increased thoughtfulness for others, the earnestness with which she set herself to consider the duties of life; these might be improvements, he did not deny it; but to him they could not replace the charm of her careless youth, her gay laugh,
her ceaseless song. And, as once he had hoped, from the novelty of a visit to Southampton, so now he looked to a perfect cure from the excitement of a journey to Italy.
His grief in the change in his daughter's tone and temper of mind can scarcely be wondered at. We know that it must be so; the thoughtless innocence of youth has not strength to bear the storms, and trials, and temptations of life; it must vanish, to be replaced by a stronger virtue, and, even in the most buoyant and elastic minds, by a calmer and serener cheerfulness. We know that it must be so; yet there are few sadder sights than to watch the change—the gradual dawning of thought and care -- there are few things, frail and fragile as it is, which we are more inclined to lament over, than the unclouded, untroubled temper of childhood and youth.
A few days before her departure from Wilmington, Evelyn drove with Miss Drake to Redlynch. She had not been there since the day after Clarice's funeral, and she could not leave the country without a visit to the