"Art is long, and Time is fleeting, And our hearts, though stout and brave,Still, like muffled drums, are beating Funeral marches to the grave."LONGFELLOW.
It was a lovely summer morning, glorious with sunlight, sweet with the fragrance of flowers and the songs of birds.
The view from the bay-window of the library of Crag Cottage, the residence of Mr. George Leland, architect and artist, was very fine, embracing, as it did, some of the most magnificent scenery on the banks of the Hudson.
The house stood very high, and from that window one might look north and south over wooded mountain, hill and valley, or east upon the majestic river and its farther shore.
The nearer view was of well-kept, though not extensive, grounds; a flower-garden and lawn with a winding carriage-way leading up the hill by a gradual ascent.
It was a pleasant place to sit even on a sunny summer morning, for a tall tree partially shaded the window without greatly obstructing the view, and it was there the master of the house was usually to be found, at this time of day, with Evelyn, his only child, close at his side.
They were there now, seated at a table covered with books and papers, he busied in drawing plans for a building, she equally so with her lessons.
But presently, at the sound of a deep sigh from her father, she glanced hastily up at him.
He had dropped his pencil and was leaning back against the cushions of his easy-chair, with a face so wan and weary that she started up in alarm, and springing to his side, exclaimed, "Dear papa, I am sure you are not well! Do stop working, and lie down on the sofa. And won't you let me tell Patrick to go for the doctor when he has taken mamma to Riverside?"
"Yes, Evelyn, I think you may," he answered in low feeble tones, and with a sad sort of smile, gently pressing the hand she had laid in his, as he spoke. "It will do no harm for me to see Dr. Taylor, even should it do no good."
"What is that? send for the doctor? Are you ill, Eric?" asked a lady who had entered the room just in time to catch his last sentence.
"I am feeling unusually languid, Laura," he replied; "yet not much more so than I did yesterday. Perhaps it is only the heat."
"The heat!" she echoed; "why, it is a delightful day! warm, to be sure, but not oppressively so."
"Not to you or me, perhaps, mamma," remarked Evelyn, "but we are well and strong, and poor papa is not."
"A holiday would do you good, Eric," the lady said, addressing her husband; "come, change your mind and go with me to Riverside."
"My dear," he said, "I should like to go to gratify you, but really I feel quite unequal to the exertion."
"You need make none," she said; "you need only to sit quietly under the trees on the lawn; and I think you will find amusement in watching the crowd, while the fresh air, change of scene, and rest from the work you will not let alone when at home, will certainly be of great benefit to you."
He shook his head in dissent. "I should have to talk and to listen; in short, to make myself agreeable....