The Two Guardians
"Perchance it was ours on life's journey to enter
Some path through whose shadows no lovelight was thrown,
With heart that could breast the fierce storms of its winter,
And gather the wealth of its harvest alone;
It is well there are stars in bright heaven to guide us
To heights we ne'er dreamt of,--but oh, to forget
The fortunes that bar, and the gulfs that divide us
From paths that looked lovely, with some we have met."
Many weeks had passed away, and nothing had changed, in any material way, since the
spring. Mrs. Lyddell's condition was still unsatisfactory, and she seemed to be settling
into a confirmed state of ill health, and almost of hypochondriacism. So many shocks,
following each other in such quick succession, on a person entirely unprepared by nature,
experience or self-regulation, had entirely broken her down, and shattered her nerves and
spirits in a manner which she seemed less and less like to recover. She was only able to
rise late in the day, take a short drive, and after dining in her own room, come down in
the evening, if they were alone, and it was a good day with her.
No change, neither sea air, nor London advice, had made much difference, and her
condition had become so habitual, that her family had ceased to expect any considerable
amendment; and it was likely that Clara would, for many years, have full employment as
her companion and attendant. Lionel was perfectly, hopelessly blind, but growing
reconciled to his misfortune, and habituated to the privation, as well as resigned in will.
His natural character, of a high-spirited, joyous, enterprising boy, showed itself still in his
independence and fearlessness, joined to cheerfulness, and enlivened the house. He had
even gone the length of talking freely and drolly to his father, and Mr. Lyddell had learnt
to smile, and even laugh at his fun.
There had been fears that the removal to London, for the session of Parliament, would be
a great privation to him, since he would miss the wandering about the downs by himself,
and the riding with Marian; but his temper and spirits did not fail. He walked every day
with her, and was entertained with all he heard, both by his own quick ears, and by her
description. They went to exhibitions, where she saw for him, and there were lectures,
readings, and other oral amusements, to which his father, or some good-natured friend,
would take him. He began to acquire a taste for music, which he had hitherto never cared
to hear, and concerts became a great delight to him: though he had not the correct ear,
and admirable appreciation of music, that often, in blind persons, seems like a
compensation for the loss of the pleasures of the eye.