The Two Destinies
2. Two Young Hearts
"HE is growing too fast," said the doctor to my mother; "and he is getting a great deal too
clever for a boy at his age. Remove him from school, ma'am, for six months; let him run
about in the open air at home; and if you find him with a book in his hand, take it away
directly. There is my prescription."
Those words decided my fate in life.
In obedience to the doctor's advice, I was left an idle boy--without brothers, sisters, or
companions of my own age--to roam about the grounds of our lonely country-house. The
bailiff's daughter, like me, was an only child; and, like me, she had no playfellows. We
met in our wanderings on the solitary shores of the lake. Beginning by being inseparable
companions, we ripened and developed into true lovers. Our preliminary courtship
concluded, we next proposed (before I returned to school) to burst into complete maturity
by becoming man and wife.
I am not writing in jest. Absurd as it may appear to "sensible people," we two children
were lovers, if ever there were lovers yet.
We had no pleasures apart from the one all-sufficient pleasure which we found in each
other's society. We objected to the night, because it parted us. We entreated our parents,
on either side, to let us sleep in the same room. I was angry with my mother, and Mary
was disappointed in her father, when they laughed at us, and wondered what we should
want next. Looking onward, from those days to the days of my manhood, I can vividly
recall such hours of happiness as have fallen to my share. But I remember no delights of
that later time comparable to the exquisite and enduring pleasure that filled my young
being when I walked with Mary in the woods; when I sailed with Mary in my boat on the
lake; when I met Mary, after the cruel separation of the night, and flew into her open
arms as if we had been parted for months and months together.
What was the attraction that drew us so closely one to the other, at an age when the
sexual sympathies lay dormant in her and in me?
We neither knew nor sought to know. We obeyed the impulse to love one another, as a
bird obeys the impulse to fly.
Let it not be supposed that we possessed any natural gifts, or advantages which singled us
out as differing in a marked way from other children at our time of life. We possessed
nothing of the sort. I had been called a clever boy at school; but there were thousands of
other boys, at thousands of other schools, who headed their classes and won their prizes,
like me. Personally speaking, I was in no way remarkable--except for being, in the
ordinary phrase, "tall for my age." On her side, Mary displayed no striking attractions.
She was a fragile child, with mild gray eyes and a pale complexion; singularly
undemonstrative, singularly shy and silent, except when she was alone with me. Such