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Sylph Etherege - (From: "The Snow Image and Other Twice-Told Tales")

26 pages
Project Gutenberg EBook, Sylph Etherege, by Nathaniel Hawthorne From "The Snow Image and Other Twice-ToldTales" #65 in our series by Nathaniel HawthorneCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloadingor redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of thisfile. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can alsofind out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****EBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers*****Title: Sylph Etherege (From: "The Snow Image and Other Twice-Told Tales")Author: Nathaniel HawthorneRelease Date: Nov, 2005 [EBook #9238] [This file was first posted on September 18, 2003] [Last updated on February6, 2007]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK, SYLPH ETHEREGE ***This eBook was produced by David WidgerTHE SNOW-IMAGEANDOTHER TWICE-TOLD TALESSYLPH ETHEREGEByNathaniel HawthorneOn a bright summer evening, ...
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Title: Sylph Etherege (From: "The Snow Image andOther Twice-Told Tales")Author: Nathaniel HawthorneRelease Date: Nov, 2005 [EBook #9238] [This filewas first posted on September 18, 2003] [Lastupdated on February 6, 2007]Edition: 10Language: English*E*B* OSTOAK,R TS YOLFP HT HEET HPERROEJEGCE T* *G*UTENBERGThis eBook was produced by David WidgerTHE SNOW-IMAGEDNA
OTHER TWICE-TOLD TALESSYLPH ETHEREGEyBNathaniel HawthorneOn a bright summer evening, two persons stoodamong the shrubbery of a garden, stealthilywatching a young girl, who sat in the window seatof a neighboring mansion. One of these unseenobservers, a gentleman, was youthful, and had anair of high breeding and refinement, and a facemarked with intellect, though otherwise ofunprepossessing aspect. His features wore evenan ominous, though somewhat mirthful expression,while he pointed his long forefinger at the girl, andseemed to regard her as a creature completelywithin the scope of his influence."The charm works!" said he, in a low, but emphaticwhisper."Do you know, Edward Hamilton,—since so youchoose to be named,—do you know," said the ladybeside him, "that I have almost a mind to break thespell at once? What if the lesson should prove toosevere! True, if my ward could be thus laughed outof her fantastic nonsense, she might be the better
fcorre iatt tuhrreo! uAgnhd l,i fbe.e sBidute st,h eanr,e  syhoeu  ins ost urcuhi nian dg eyliocuarteown chance, by putting forward this shadow of arival?""But will he not vanish into thin air, at my bidding?"rejoined EdwardHamilton. "Let the charm work!"The girl's slender and sylph-like figure, tinged withradiance from the sunset clouds, and overhungwith the rich drapery of the silken curtains, and setwithin the deep frame of the window, was a perfectpicture; or, rather, it was like the original lovelinessin a painter's fancy, from which the most finishedpicture is but an imperfect copy. Though heroccupation excited so much interest in the twospectators, she was merely gazing at a miniaturewhich she held in her hand, encased in white satinand red morocco; nor did there appear to be anyother cause for the smile of mockery and malicewith which Hamilton regarded her."The charm works!" muttered he, again. "Ourpretty Sylvia's scorn will have a dear retribution!"At this moment the girl raised her eyes, and,instead of a life-like semblance of the miniature,beheld the ill-omened shape of Edward Hamilton,who now stepped forth from his concealment in theshrubbery.Sylvia Etherege was an orphan girl, who had spenther life, till within a few months past, under theguardianship, and in the secluded dwelling, of an
guardianship, and in the secluded dwelling, of anold bachelor uncle. While yet in her cradle, she hadbeen the destined bride of a cousin, who was noless passive in the betrothal than herself. Theirfuture union had been projected, as the means ofuniting two rich estates, and was rendered highlyexpedient, if not indispensable, by thetestamentary dispositions of the parents on bothsides. Edgar Vaughan, the promised bridegroom,had been bred from infancy in Europe, and hadnever seen the beautiful girl whose heart he was toclaim as his inheritance. But already, for severalyears, a correspondence had been kept upbetween tine cousins, and had produced anintellectual intimacy, though it could but imperfectlyacquaint them with each other's character.Sylvia was shy, sensitive, and fanciful; and herguardian's secluded habits had shut her out fromeven so much of the world as is generally open tomaidens of her age. She had been left to seekassociates and friends for herself in the haunts ofimagination, and to converse with them,sometimes in the language of dead poets, oftenerin the poetry of her own mind. The companionwhom she chiefly summoned up was the cousinwith whose idea her earliest thoughts had beenconnected. She made a vision of Edgar Vaughan,and tinted it with stronger hues than a mere fancy-picture, yet graced it with so many bright anddelicate perfections, that her cousin could nowherehave encountered so dangerous a rival. To thisshadow she cherished a romantic fidelity. With itsairy presence sitting by her side, or gliding alongher favorite paths, the loneliness of her young life
was blissful; her heart was satisfied with love, whileyet its virgin purity was untainted by the earthlinessthat the touch of a real lover would have left there.Edgar Vaughan seemed to be conscious of hercharacter; for, in his letters, he gave her a namethat was happily appropriate to the sensitiveness ofher disposition, the delicate peculiarity of hermanners, and the ethereal beauty both of her mindand person. Instead of Sylvia, he called her Sylph,—with the prerogative of a cousin and a lover,—hisdear Sylph Etherege.When Sylvia was seventeen, her guardian died,and she passed under the care of Mrs. Grosvenor,a lady of wealth and fashion, and Sylvia's nearestrelative, though a distant one. While an inmate ofMrs. Grosvenor's family, she still preservedsomewhat of her life-long habits of seclusion, andshrank from a too familiar intercourse with thosearound her. Still, too, she was faithful to hercousin, or to the shadow which bore his name.The time now drew near when Edgar Vaughan,whose education had been completed by anextensive range of travel, was to revisit the soil ofhis nativity. Edward Hamilton, a young gentleman,who had been Vaughan's companion, both in hisstudies and rambles, had already recrossed theAtlantic, bringing letters to Mrs. Grosvenor andSylvia Etherege. These credentials insured him anearnest welcome, which, however, on Sylvia's part,was not followed by personal partiality, or even theregard that seemed due to her cousin's mostintimate friend. As she herself could have assigned
no cause for her repugnance, it might be termedinstinctive. Hamilton's person, it is true, was thereverse of attractive, especially when beheld forthe first time. Yet, in the eyes of the mostfastidious judges, the defect of natural grace wascompensated by the polish of his manners, and bythe intellect which so often gleamed through hisdark features. Mrs. Grosvenor, with whom heimmediately became a prodigious favorite, exertedherself to overcome Sylvia's dislike. But, in thismatter, her ward could neither be reasoned withnor persuaded. The presence of Edward Hamiltonwas sure to render her cold, shy, and distant,abstracting all the vivacity from her deportment, asif a cloud had come betwixt her and the sunshine.The simplicity of Sylvia's demeanor rendered iteasy for so keen an observer as Hamilton to detecther feelings. Whenever any slight circumstancemade him sensible of them, a smile might be seento flit over the young man's sallow visage. None,that had once beheld this smile, were in anydanger of forgetting it; whenever they recalled tomemory the features of Edward Hamilton, theywere always duskily illuminated by this expressionof mockery and malice.In a few weeks after Hamilton's arrival, hepresented to Sylvia Etherege a miniature of hercousin, which, as he informed her, would havebeen delivered sooner, but was detained with aportion of his baggage. This was the miniature inthe contemplation of which we beheld Sylvia soabsorbed, at the commencement of our story.
Such, in truth, was too often the habit of the shyand musing girl. The beauty of the picturedcountenance was almost too perfect to represent ahuman creature, that had been born of a fallen andworld-worn race, and had lived to manhood amidordinary troubles and enjoyments, and mustbecome wrinkled with age and care. It seemed toobright for a thing formed of dust, and doomed tocrumble into dust again. Sylvia feared that such abeing would be too refined and delicate to love asimple girl like her. Yet, even while her spiritdrooped with that apprehension, the picture wasbut the masculine counterpart of Sylph Etherege'ssylphlike beauty. There was that resemblancebetween her own face and the miniature which issaid often to exist between lovers whom Heavenhas destined for each other, and which, in thisinstance, might be owing to the kindred blood ofthe two parties. Sylvia felt, indeed, that there wassomething familiar in the countenance, so like afriend did the eyes smile upon her, and seem toimply a knowledge of her thoughts. She couldaccount for this impression only by supposing that,in some of her day-dreams, imagination hadconjured up the true similitude of her distant andunseen lover.But now could Sylvia give a brighter semblance ofreality to those day- dreams. Clasping theminiature to her heart, she could summon forth,from that haunted cell of pure and blissfulfantasies, the life-like shadow, to roam with her inthe moonlight garden. Even at noontide it sat withher in the arbor, when the sunshine threw its
broken flakes of gold into the clustering shade. Theeffect upon her mind was hardly less powerful thanif she had actually listened to, and reciprocated,the vows of Edgar Vaughan; for, though the illusionnever quite deceived her, yet the remembrancewas as distinct as of a remembered interview.Those heavenly eyes gazed forever into her soul,which drank at them as at a fountain, and wasdisquieted if reality threw a momentary cloudbetween. She heard the melody of a voicebreathing sentiments with which her own chimed inlike music. O happy, yet hapless girl! Thus tocreate the being whom she loves, to endow himwith all the attributes that were most fascinating toher heart, and then to flit with the airy creature intothe realm of fantasy and moonlight, where dwelthis dreamy kindred! For her lover wiled Sylvia awayfrom earth, which seemed strange, and dull, anddarksome, and lured her to a country where herspirit roamed in peaceful rapture, deeming that ithad found its home. Many, in their youth, havevisited that land of dreams, and wandered so longin its enchanted groves, that, when banishedthence, they feel like exiles everywhere.The dark-browed Edward Hamilton, like the villainof a tale, would often glide through the romancewherein poor Sylvia walked. Sometimes, at themost blissful moment of her ecstasy, when thefeatures of the miniature were pictured brightest inthe air, they would suddenly change, and darken,and be transformed into his visage. And always,when such change occurred, the intrusive visagewore that peculiar smile with which Hamilton had
glanced at Sylvia.Before the close of summer, it was told SylviaEtherege that Vaughan had arrived from France,and that she would meet him—would meet, for thefirst time, the loved of years—that very evening.We will not tell how often and how earnestly shegazed upon the miniature, thus endeavoring toprepare herself for the approaching interview, lestthe throbbing of her timorous heart should stifle thewords of welcome. While the twilight grew deeperand duskier, she sat with Mrs. Grosvenor in aninner apartment, lighted only by the softenedgleam from an alabaster lamp, which was burningat a distance on the centre-table of the drawing-room. Never before had Sylph Etherege looked sosylph-like. She had communed with a creature ofimagination, till her own loveliness seemed but thecreation of a delicate and dreamy fancy. Everyvibration of her spirit was visible in her frame, asshe listened to the rattling of wheels and the trampupon the pavement, and deemed that even thebreeze bore the sound of her lover's footsteps, asif he trode upon the viewless air. Mrs. Grosvenor,too, while she watched the tremulous flow ofSylvia's feelings, was deeply moved; she lookeduneasily at the agitated girl, and was about tospeak, when the opening of the street-doorarrested the words upon her lips.Footsteps ascended the staircase, with a confidentand familiar tread, and some one entered thedrawing-room. From the sofa where they sat, inthe inner apartment, Mrs. Grosvenor and Sylvia
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