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lay broken in pieces, and scattered about the
floor."

Although she professed to regret the accident,
I could not help thinking that there was
an air of malice in her manner of relating it.
But I endeavoured to conceal my vexation,
and answered cheerfully, "I cannot blame
you for doing by accident what I should
have done, perhaps, on purpose. I have
destroyed every image I have made,
excepting this."

"And why? Your conscience troubled
you for having broken the second commandment?"

"A whimnothing more," I answered.
"I shall earn the nickname of Iconoclast, if I
deserve nothing else of Fame."

"What does that mean?"

"'Image-breaker.' An honourable title at
the time when Puritans emptied every niche
in our cathedral. But let us say no more
about this." Then, changing the subject, I
asked her where she had been?

"I have been down to Holy Well Point, to
get some groundsel for the birds. What a
lovely morning! so still; the whole world
seems to be our own, and we the only living
creatures in it. Down yonder, there is a
hollow, where the mist lies, and creeps along
the grass, as if the turf were a-fire and
smoking. Lower down, there is a fir plantation,
which I came through on my way back.
I like that walk better than any in the park.
The earth smells so fresh there, as you walk
in the twilight, ankle-deep in withered leaves
and fir-apples. They say there are snakes
there; but I know better. There are rabbits
there, out of number, and the birds sing all
about; although I never could see one of
them. One at a time they break out from
every side. I think they hold a conversation
together."

I listened to her with delight, and said
nothing. Her tone was so earnest, that I felt
she loved the places that she spoke of. Her
manner, too, was so natural and graceful, so
unconscious did she seem of having charmed
me with her words, that I knew that she
assumed no character, but spoke without
reserve from the feeling of the moment, and
the impulse of her nature. I thought of her
words long after I had left her, with a better
hope than I had felt before of bringing her to
love me, after all. What might I not hope
from that gentleness which showed itself at
times, in spite of her mocking tongue? This,
I thought, will unfold as she grows to fuller
womanhood, and all her lightness will be
softened down by time. After all, it was
better that she should be thus; with that
strong consciousness of being, and quick
perception of what life is, than stung with finer
notions, that are quickly jarred and broken by
experience.

This new hope in my life had already
wrought some changes in my character. I
was no longer locked up in one purposea
mischief to the spirit, though that purpose
were the purest and the best. I looked up,
and saw that there were others in the world,
besides myself, hoping, toiling, and enduring.
I made good resolutions for the future, to bar
out selfishness as far as in my power, and,
conscious of a change for the better in my nature,
I felt, as it were, new life within me. What
wonder, then, that I came to love her, more
and more, and blessed her secretly.

Yet my pride remained. I saw her many
times, and walked with her; and finding her
still changeableshifting from mockery to
seriousnessfrom irony to tenderness, a
hundred times, I kept my love still shut up in
my heart. I dreaded the moment when I should
open my lips and tell her, as the ending of
our friendship; and I waited, waited for a
change that did not come.

In the winter of that year my father died
suddenly. It was a little before Christmas,
and the snow was on the ground. I sat and
watched all night, and heard the carol-singers
in the street, and wept. For days I walked
about the darkened rooms, and thought of my
past life, and grieved for many things that
could not then be changed. Some days after
the funeral, I was sitting in the shop alone,
when I heard a tapping at the door, and,
looking up, saw Alice through the glass. I
rose and opened the door, and she came in.
There was a change in her manner. She shook
my hand when I offered it, and sat looking at
me in silence for some moments. "I have
passed here many times this week," she said,
"but I did not like to knock before." She sat
and talked with me for some time, without
mentioning my father, but, by her tone and
manner, soothing me. She came again, some
days after, and this time I did not hear her
knock, or open the door, but, looking up,
I saw her standing in the doorway. It
was getting dusk, and she was so still, that
I rose in wonder, half thinking that I saw a
vision, such as sometimes have been seen of
friends, who in that moment died elsewhere.
I took her hand, and led her through the shop
to see my aunt. She took her bonnet off, and
sat with us that evening. The mystery that
was about her when she entered lingered in
my mind. As, after earthquakes for awhile,
men lose their old conviction of the firmness
of the earth, so when, for the first time, Death
steals into a peaceful household, and strikes
mute one dear companion of our lives, our
faith in the security of life, and other habits
of the mind are weakened, and give place to
mysteries. I looked at her as she sat talking
with my aunt, by firelight. Her face was
paler than usual, and her long hair, turned
back behind the ears, flowed down on either
side. Never, in pictures, or carven images of
angels, or of women, meant for types of Truth,
or Charity, or Mercy, had I seen a face and
head more perfect. It was then that I first
thought to carve an angel with a face like
hers.

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