OUR FIRST FAMILIES.
A TALE OF RURAL SIMPLICITY.
"The mouth of babes."
TUE peeped in the door. Her father was sitting in a corner, his head bent in his hands, the very figure of grief. The girl's heart smote her; she rushed in, fell at her father's feet, and threw her arms around him.
"O father," she exclaimed, "forgive me! I did not mean to leave you so! Oh, have you suffered, dear, this night?"
Mnag lifted his face to his daughter's reproachfully. "I have not deserved to suffer this from you," he said.
"Father, do not look at me so! Do not talk to me so! It was not my fault; I was lost in the forest. I came back as soon as I could."
"I do not regret my pain," said the philosopher, "if it has brought you to reason."
Tue's repentance was now so great that she would have given up anything to her father. "I will do what you wish, father," she said.
Her father threw his arms around her, and pressed his lips to her forehead.
"My daughter, you make me very happy," he said. "I am now going to receive Yung's answer; and I am glad that I need not withdraw my proposal."
Tue grew pale as he left the hut; but by no other sign did she betray the anguish of her mind. When she was alone she sat down to think over the whole situation calmly.
She had become greatly attached to a stranger of whose name and character she was utterly ignorant. She had enjoyed one sweet second, but her joy had lasted no longer than that. Reason took the place of romance; she was pledged to another.
"Can I forget him?" she thought. Then the reflection came, "No pain is unbearable. The imagination of future sorrow is indeed sharp; but when sorrow comes, its sting lasts but for a moment, and is over before we feel it."
"Why, what a great thought!" she said proudly; "one might mistake it for my father's."
A restless impulse sent her to the door. Looking out, she saw a boy and a girl tripping merrily along, chanting gayly a sentence which she did not understand. She was in the mood to be amused; she therefore beckoned to the children, who came toward her rather bashfully.
"Do you like apples?" she asked.
The boy giggled and put his finger in his mouth; but the girl answered boldly, "Guess we do! Me and Bang, we hoped you'd give us an apple; did n't we, Bang?"
The youngster nodded assent. Tue ran into the house, and soon returned with the promised fruit. "What are your names?" she asked.
"I'm Goe," said the girl, "and he's Bang. Ain't you, Bang?" The answer was another nod, emphasized by a large bite of apple. "But when we grow up," continued Goe, "we're both going to be Yung. Ain't we, Bang?"
"Why?" asked Tue, amused.
"Oh, he's so nice! And Loe thinks so, too; don't she, Bang? She says to Ching, 'Tue' - that's you, ain't it? - 'Tue ain't agoing to have Yung;' and Ching says, 'Yung ain't agoing to have Tue, either, so now!' 'Why not?' says she. ''Cause I want her myself,' says he; 'what's your reason?' 'Same reason,' says she. And then they laughed. And says Ching, 'Here's Goe, let's send her to Tue with a story; she's good at stories.' So here I am."
"And what is the story?" asked Tue, smiling.
"Oh, I got it by heart; but I must have a stump or something to stand on. Oh, here's one; that's all right." Mounting the stump, she began her story in the unnatural, high-pitched voice well known to frequenters of school-exhibitions and Sunday-school concerts.
"As I was passing Yung's hut, he cried, 'Come here, little girl.' I went, and he asked me to go and get Ching. So I brought Ching, and Yung asked, 'Ching, is the philosopher rich?' 'Yes,' said Ching, 'and his daughter will have all his wealth.' Then Yung said, 'If I take her now, and in a month leave her and take Loe, whom I like better, can I keep the property?' 'Yes,' said Ching. And Yung said, 'Well, I will.' That's my story," she added, in her natural voice; 'ain't it, Bang? And if you had n't given me an apple, I would n't have told you all about Ching and Loe, but I'd just have said my story."
Tue shivered a little at Ching's treachery. "So you did n't really go by Yung's?" she asked.
"Oh, yes, we did," said Goe, breaking into a merry laugh. "Me and Bang, we went right by his hut; did n't we, Bang? And we heard somebody talking, and what do you think it was? We peeped through a crack, me and Bang did, and we saw Yung walking up and down, and saying something; and did n't he look funny! Did n't he, Bang? And when he got through he looked scared, and said, 'It's a pome, and I'm a pote!' and I'm sure I don't know what that means."
"What was it he said?" asked Tue.
"I must get on my stump again," said Goe; and standing on the stump, she declaimed these verses, emphasizing them with the most ridiculous of gestures: -
"'Oh wondrous passion! Feeling unaccountable!
My soul is swelling in a sweet surrender:
My heart, nought heeding hinderance insurmountable,
Clings to a maiden's heart in union tender.
"'Thy fair fresh face the darksome forest brightening,
Brought to my breast a blessed beam of gladness
That kindled flames of love, and lingers, lightening
My former depths of diffidence and sadness.
"'I know thee not, what they may call thee, tenderest;
But this I know, made wise by passion's teaching:
All must pursue thee, wheresoe'er thou wanderest,
For one kind look from thy sweet eyes beseeching.'
"I think that's real nice, 'bout 'thy fair fresh face the darksome forest,' don't you? Me and Bang was singing it when you called us."
Tue caught her in a close embrace and covered her face with kisses. "Do you want some more apples?" she cried, and rushed into the hut. She returned with her hands full. "Will you show me the way to Yung's?" she asked.
Five minutes later Yung, just finishing his dinner with the philosopher, heard the door open. He looked up; there on the threshold he saw Tue, stretching out her arms toward him.
CHAPTER VI. - Natural Selection Disposes.
"To his love he came
Worthy of love and changed by love indeed,
And with most glorious love to be his meed."
THEN there were kisses and sighs, loving looks and words of passion. It was necessary to admire the fate which had brought together these two, so well suited one to another; and to explain the thoughts of each since their parting a few hours before.
"I was angry with myself," said Yung, "because I did not ask your name; and yet I wondered that I had so far overcome my natural diffidence as to confess my love. But all my diffidence seems to leave me when I see you."
Tue for her part had to relate the accident that brought her to her lover's hut. She told Goe's story, and added, "I thought the poet must be you, and I started off with a happy heart; but on my way I thought, what if he were not you! I could not be sure, you see, and my heart failed me before I reached the door; but then I heard you speak to my father, and I recognized your voice. You said, 'I cannot take your daughter under any circumstances.' Can she change your decision, sir, if she herself begs you to take her?"
Thus the two lovers were happy, and the philosopher, smiling a calm benediction, was happy also; the villains were foiled, and everything was as it should be.
Ching and Loe, disappointed in their plot, naturally turned to one another for consolation; and the villagers cried "Hurrah!" with enthusiasm. Sue was thus unsuccessful in her designs on Ching. It was not her nature, however, long to wear the willow; she soon turned her batteries on Mnag. His heart, softened by the success of his plans, easily yielded; and he was made happy by the constant companionship of "the only woman he had ever seen who could make use of her approximation to brain." In the general happiness Goe and Bang were not forgotten, for an inexhaustible supply of apples was kept for them in Yung's house.
Tue insisted that her eldest son should receive the names of her father and her husband; accordingly a few years later a brilliant youth who rejoiced in the name of Yung Mang might often have been seen creeping about his delighted grandfather's hut. This child grew to be the pride of his relatives and the wonder of Apeland; and the descendants of Yung and Tue to this very day honor the name of their forefather, Yung Mang.