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  ― 39 ―

Life's Lesser Tragedy.

She stood on the wharf, her eyes wandering sadly, bitterly, enviously over the scene before her—the great ocean steamer, which with its living freight would in a few minutes leave the new world for the old. People crowded up the gangways, followed by laden stewards, friends, relatives. For a moment in the interest of the scene the girl forgot her own wild longings, and the sudden impulse which had driven her to break all former resolutions and make one of this little world. She studied the faces—read them as one reads a book. Here, the old traveller looking with a slightly bored air at the bustle and activity surrounding him; there, the young girl taking her first trip, joy and excitement glowing in her eyes. Voyagers and stay-at-homes thronged the decks. A babble of voices, the usual friendly wishes exchanged, sad faces, bright faces, flowers, gifts, officers darting here and there shouting orders, apparent confusion on every hand, gradually lessening, however. A bell sounded; slowly but steadily the gangways became crowded with a descending throng of people. How glad she was she had resisted the desire to go on board. It would have been too hard to come away again. Almost she hated those people on deck—that old man, this, perhaps, his second, third voyage. What pleasure could he find now, while she—ah—— The huge vessel began to move almost imperceptibly from its moorings. Handkerchiefs appeared, last looks, last words exchanged. In a dazed way the girl looked at those around her; several were weeping. Tears welled up in her own eyes, tears of sympathy and yet of self-pity.

Unconsciously she drew near the edge of the wharf, as if to follow the vessel at all costs. Then she became aware of someone speaking: “Excuse me, is this your property?” Mechanically she accepted the glove offered her. “Thank you. Yes; I must have dropped it.” With a strong effort she mastered her tears and emotions, and raised a pair of dark grey eyes, which yet failed to hide an almost painful longing.

“Poor girl! A lover or a husband left in the boat, I suppose,” he thought, and turned away. He did not understand; how could he? No lover, no husband, no friend, only the magic and mystery of the old world calling unto one in the new world, who had not the wherewithal to satisfy that call. A wandering spirit of a wandering ancestry appealing to this one of her children. Perhaps some day, who knows?

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