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- After the Storm - 1/42 -


Edited by Charles Aldarando (aldarondo@yahoo.com)

AFTER THE STORM.

BY T. S. ARTHUR.

PHILADELPHIA:

1868

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I. THE WAR OF THE ELEMENTS. CHAPTER II. THE LOVERS. CHAPTER III. THE CLOUD AND THE SIGN. CHAPTER IV. UNDER THE CLOUD. CHAPTER V. THE BURSTING OF THE STORM. CHAPTER VI. AFTER THE STORM. CHAPTER VII. THE LETTER. CHAPTER VIII. THE FLIGHT AND THE RETURN. CHAPTER IX. THE RECONCILIATION. CHAPTER X. AFTER THE STORM. CHAPTER XI. A NEW ACQUAINTANCE. CHAPTER XII. IN BONDS. CHAPTER XIII. THE REFORMERS. CHAPTER XIV. A STARTLING EXPERIENCE. CHAPTER XV. CAPTIVATED AGAIN. CHAPTER XVI. WEARY OF CONSTRAINT. CHAPTER XVII. GONE FOR EVER! CHAPTER XVIII. YOUNG, BUT WISE. CHAPTER XIX. THE SHIPWRECKED LIFE. CHAPTER XX. THE PALSIED HEART. CHAPTER XXI. THE IRREVOCABLE DECREE. CHAPTER XXII. STRUCK DOWN. CHAPTER XXIII. THE HAUNTED VISION. CHAPTER XXIV. THE MINISTERING ANGEL. CHAPTER XXV. BORN FOR EACH OTHER. CHAPTER XXVI. LOVE NEVER DIES. CHAPTER XXVII. EFFECTS OF THE STORM. CHAPTER XXVIII. AFTER THE STORM.

AFTER THE STORM.

CHAPTER I.

THE WAR OF THE ELEMENTS.

_NO_ June day ever opened with a fairer promise. Not a single cloud flecked the sky, and the sun coursed onward through the azure sea until past meridian, without throwing to the earth a single shadow. Then, low in the west, appeared something obscure and hazy, blending the hill-tops with the horizon; an hour later, and three or four small fleecy islands were seen, clearly outlined in the airy ocean, and slowly ascending--avant-couriers of a coming storm. Following these were mountain peaks, snow-capped and craggy, with desolate valleys between. Then, over all this arctic panorama, fell a sudden shadow. The white tops of the cloudy hills lost their clear, gleaming outlines and their slumbrous stillness. The atmosphere was in motion, and a white scud began to drive across the heavy, dark masses of clouds that lay far back against the sky in mountain-like repose.

How grandly now began the onward march of the tempest, which had already invaded the sun's domain and shrouded his face in the smoke of approaching battle. Dark and heavy it lay along more than half the visible horizon, while its crown invaded the zenith.

As yet, all was silence and portentous gloom. Nature seemed to pause and hold her breath in dread anticipation. Then came a muffled, jarring sound, as of far distant artillery, which died away into an oppressive stillness. Suddenly from zenith to horizon the cloud was cut by a fiery stroke, an instant visible. Following this, a heavy thunder-peal shook the solid earth, and rattled in booming echoes along the hillsides and amid the cloudy caverns above.

At last the storm came down on the wind's strong pinions, swooping fiercely to the earth, like an eagle to its prey. For one wild hour it raged as if the angel of destruction were abroad.

At the window of a house standing picturesquely among the Hudson Highlands, and looking down upon the river, stood a maiden and her lover, gazing upon this wild war among the elements. Fear had pressed her closely to his side, and he had drawn an arm around her in assurance of safety.

Suddenly the maiden clasped her hands over her face, cried out and shuddered. The lightning had shivered a tree upon which her gaze was fixed, rending it as she could have rent a willow wand.

"God is in the storm," said the lover, bending to her ear. He spoke reverently and in a voice that had in it no tremor of fear.

The maiden withdrew her hands from before her shut eyes, and looking up into his face, answered in a voice which she strove to make steady:

"Thank you, Hartley, for the words. Yes, God is present in the storm, as in the sunshine."

"Look!" exclaimed the young man, suddenly, pointing to the river. A boat had just come in sight. It contained a man and a woman. The former was striving with a pair of oars to keep the boat right in the eye of the wind; but while the maiden and her lover still gazed at them, a wild gust swept down upon the water and drove their frail bark under. There was no hope in their case; the floods had swallowed them, and would not give up their living prey.

A moment afterward, and an elm, whose great arms had for nearly a century spread themselves out in the sunshine tranquilly or battled with the storms, fell crashing against the house, shaking it to the very foundations.

The maiden drew back from the window, overcome with terror. These shocks were too much for her nerves. But her lover restrained her, saying, with a covert chiding in his voice,

"Stay, Irene! There is a wild delight in all this, and are you not brave enough to share it with me?"

But she struggled to release herself from his arm, replying with a shade of impatience--

"Let me go, Hartley! Let me go!"

The flexed arm was instantly relaxed, and the maiden was free. She went back, hastily, from the window, and, sitting down on a sofa, buried her face in her hands. The young man did not follow her, but remained standing by the window, gazing out upon Nature in her strong convulsion. It may, however, be doubted whether his mind took note of the wild images that were pictured in his eyes. A cloud was in the horizon of his mind, dimming its heavenly azure. And the maiden's sky was shadowed also.

For two or three minutes the young man stood by the window, looking out at the writhing trees and the rain pouring down an avalanche of water, and then, with a movement that indicated a struggle and a conquest, turned and walked toward the sofa on which the maiden still sat with her face hidden from view. Sitting down beside her, he took her hand. It lay passive in his. He pressed it gently; but she gave back no returning pressure. There came a sharp, quick gleam of lightning, followed by a crash that jarred the house. But Irene did not start--we may question whether she even saw the one or heard the other, except as something remote.

"Irene!"

She did not stir.

The young man leaned closer, and said, in a tender voice--

"Irene--darling--"

Her hand moved in his--just moved--but did not return the pressure of his own.

"Irene." And now his arm stole around her. She yielded, and, turning, laid her head upon his shoulder.

There had been a little storm in the maiden's heart, consequent upon the slight restraint ventured on by her lover when she drew back from the window; and it was only now subsiding.

"I did not mean to offend you," said the young man, penitently.

"Who said that I was offended?" She looked up, with a smile that only half obliterated the shadow. "I was frightened, Hartley. It is a fearful storm!" And she glanced toward the window.

The lover accepted this affirmation, though he knew better in his heart. He knew that his slight attempt at constraint had chafed her naturally impatient spirit, and that it had taken her some time to regain her lost self-control.

Without, the wild rush of winds was subsiding, the lightning gleamed out less frequently, and the thunder rolled at a farther distance. Then came that deep stillness of nature which follows in the wake of


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