h o m e........
p a s t   i s s u e s....
s u b m i s s i o n s....
l i n k s

 

 

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BOYD SPAHR


  Kate Sinclair (1857) and The Household Angel in Disguise (1857)



 

For some days after Kate’s arrival at Granby, the weather had been so cold and wet, with driving sleet and snow, that she and her little pupils had been entirely confined to the house. A bright, frosty morning now tempted her to lay aside the books and prepare for a long walk; the children, delighted at the prospect of emancipation from their lessons, were in joyous spirits, and immediately proposed that they should walk to Granby, and show Kate the pretty village and church, which she had not yet seen. All were soon equipped in their warm, comfortable walking dresses, and the little girls, each taking a hand of their kind young governess, proceeded through a shrubbery path at the back of the house, which winding round the hill soon led them to a point where the village, with its pretty church, could be seen in the valley before them at the distance of about a mile, surrounded by well-watered meadows, and thickly wooded hedge-rows; but as Henrietta observed, this was “the worst season of the year for seeing the country, though when spring comes, I am sure you will be delighted with this spot, and I hope we shall often come here. And do you know,” she added, “we often used to bring poor Julia

Julia went on with her lessons; and her teacher, willing to ascertain whether she had advanced as far as Edith, playfully proposed to examine the latter in the branches she had pursued at school. There was no shade of diffidence in the character of Edith, and she willingly consented that either he or his friend should do so. Young Huntington had from the first looked with an admiring eye upon Edith, so free, open and frank she appeared. He compared her with others whom he had met, and thought her very superior to them. Clarence found she had pursued a great variety of studies, and that she had a skilful way of covering her deficiencies by asking questions connected with the subject. To an interested observer like Mr. Huntington, this appeared to show a great desire for knowledge; and he did not hesitate to express his admiration in looks, if not in words. But upon Mr. Sydney the impression was different. He perceived at once that some faculties of her mind were very mature, that she had a smattering of many subjects, but in force and thoroughness could not be compared with Julia. Edith was far in advance of his pupil in her knowledge of the world, and in the variety of her accomplishments; yet Julia

 




  Echoes of a Belle (1853) and The Lofty and the Lowly (1853)



 

How charming their own home seemed to our weary travellers, and what a luxury a good bed is! Such a one as Mrs. Vere’s, neither too hard nor too soft, but elastic, and suggestive of repose, in its fair linen and downy pillows, a regular six-footer, with its tall mahogany posts and rich carving, surmounted by a set of chintz curtains, covered with blue and pink peacocks, perched upon trees, bearing simultaneously the most tempting fruits and flowers. How often, as a child, had Julia esteemed it a happy privilege to be allowed to sleep beneath those “peacock curtains,” or, during some temporary indisposition, to while away the tedious hours in counting over the gay birds, until her little brain was puzzled by their endless number; and the splendid tail of one, just over her, seemed to open more widely, as she gazed fixedly at its bright plumage, until her weary eyes closed in sleep, and her peacocks became the mute sentinels of her slumbers. Refreshed by her tranquil rest, Julia

Between these young girls there was a strange contrast and no less strange resemblance. This might be asserted even of their personal appearance, but was yet more true of their mental traits. Isabelle’s erect form—the haughty carriage of her little head, with its raven curls drooping around a face whose large black eyes, delicate yet well cut features and glowing coloring, would have enchanted a painter, seemed in every particular the perfect opposite of the gentle Julia, with her soft brown curls falling on either side of a face of lily-like fairness, only relieved from insipidity by the earnest expression of the dove-like eyes of dark gray, and by the intellect which sat throned on the broad though not high forehead. They were certainly most unlike in individual feature, and yet there was a certain something about them, none could define what, which marked them as of one family and caused them generally to be supposed sisters. So in mental features, Isabelle was usually more rapid in her perceptions, Julia






  Aunt Phillis’s Cabin (1852) and The Clifford Family (1852)



 

William was tall and athletic for his age, passionate when roused by harshness or injustice, but otherwise affectionate in his disposition, idolizing his sister. His uncle looked at him with surprise when he saw him assume the independence of manner, which sat well upon him; and his aunt sometimes checked herself, when about to reprove him for the omission of some unimportant form of politeness, which in her days of youth was essential. Julia dwelt with delight upon the approaching time, when she would be mistress of her brother’s establishment, and as important as she longed to be, on that account. Though she looked upon her uncle’s house as a large cage, in which she had long fluttered a prisoner, she could not but feel an affection for it; her aunt and uncle often formal, and uselessly particular, were always substantially kind. It was a good, though not a cheerful home, and the young look for joy and gaiety, as do the flowers for birds and sunshine. Julia

Sophia saw in Frederic Arlington the realization of her ideal; she perceived no deficiencies in him, and would have wished him to be nothing that he was not, except, perhaps, a little taller, and even in this respect, she was beginning to doubt whether she had not been mistaken in thinking William Clifford’s height the model for manly beauty; if there was more of majesty, there was, perhaps, less of elegance in such lofty statures. She lived in the happiness of the present moment, and thought of the future with all the careless short-sightedness of childhood, and became so entirely engrossed with the Arlingtons, and their concerns, that her own family and former friends, seemed to sink into comparative insignificance. Two years ago, and Julia would have been deeply mortified to observe of how very little consequence her tastes, her feelings, her society were, in comparison with those of Laura or Catharine Arlington; but these two years had been replete with lessons as instructive, as purifying to Julia

 




  Light and Darkness (1855) and Harvesting (1855)



 

Julia was standing near, surrounded by a group of gentlemen. As Claude pronounced her name, her ear caught the sound, and she looked round. Their eyes met. Sudden as an electric shock, the glance thrilled through each. In Claude, Julia beheld the idol of her early dreams, the face and form which had haunted many a pensive hour. The gay laugh died on her lip, and her gaze remained transfixed on his. A moment, and she recovered herself, and continued talking gayly as before. The sensations of Claude were different, yet perhaps akin in some degree to hers. When his gaze first fell on her, he was struck by a resemblance which he vainly endeavored to identify. The noble features, the full and finely curved lip, the cloud of raven black hair, the starry midnight brightness of those deep, dark brooding eyes; all were daguerreotyped in his memory; but the face there, wore not the crimson flush on lip and cheek; nor the expression beaming with the witchery of smiles belonging to Julia

Julia was resting a moment by my side, and Mr. Cunningham had drawn an ottoman before her, where he sat conversing with the ease of an old acquaintance. He arose with the music, begging her once more to join the dancers. Julia rarely waltzed,—it was her mother’s wish, and she knew it to be Herbert’s also, that she should not,—and she declined; but it was with such evident reluctance that the gentleman felt himself emboldened to repeat his petition; and Julia rose slowly, irresolutely, but a bright smile met her glance, and, with a faint answering one on her own lips, she suffered him to lead her away. He waltzed well, and Julia was fond of dancing. With irrepressible admiration I was watching their graceful evolutions, when a deep sigh arrested my attention, and, looking round, I beheld Herbert Manners, with a clouded brow, watching that fairy-like form in the distance. With her hand clasped to her side, above a heart beating with excitement, with beaming glance and glowing cheek Julia




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Bio: Boyd Spahr lives in Los Angeles, is the author of the chapbook The Julias (Horse Less Press), and his writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Western Humanities Review, Mississippi Review, Octopus, Alice Blue, Poor Claudia/Phenome, DIAGRAM and elsewhere.





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