Hearts Afire - By J. D. Rawden Page 0,1

venturing among the oil-begrimed machinery, turned to Harleigh, who had stood awe-stricken before the beautiful young girl, and said:

“Harleigh, this is my daughter, Miss Charlotte. She desires to learn something of the uses to which the machinery is applied. Show her around the shop.”

At the sound of his employer’s voice Harleigh recovered a portion of his senses, and, blushing and bowing toward the radiant beauty, who flashed the brilliancy of her brown eyes full upon him, muttered some incoherent response, and waited for the young lady’s commands.

Mr. Morgan walked away toward his office, and Miss Charlotte’s manner toward the young mechanic was so kind that his first confusion melted away like snow before the summer sun, and in five minutes the beautiful heiress and the hard-handed mechanic were chatting together with the familiarity of old acquaintances.

Miss Morgan seemed determined to learn all the details of the business, and Harleigh was only too pleased to instruct her in the use and appliance of the tools and machinery.

All pleasant things must some time have an ending, and the tour of the shop was at last completed. It had taken them nearly two hours to go through, however, and Harleigh would have been the happiest of mortals if he could have had the privilege of being Miss Charlotte’s conductor and instructor forever.

“Good-by, Harleigh,” murmured Miss Charlotte, extending her aristocratic hand, white as alabaster, toward our young man, when the inspection of the machinery was at last completed. “Good-by. I am ever so much obliged to you.”

It was, undoubtedly, very foolish and very improper, but when those dainty fingers touched his palm, Harleigh caught them up and, bending over, kissed the little hand with the courtly grace of a cavalier. Miss Charlotte blushed, but did not seek to prevent this delicate homage, and with another “Good-by,” tripped away, while poor Harleigh’s head whirled around more rapidly than did the fly-wheel of the great engine.

Harleigh lingered in the shop, because he had suddenly, and as yet unconsciously, entered into that tender mystery, so common and so sovereign, which we call Love. In Charlotte's presence he had been suffused with a bewildering, profound emotion, which had fallen on him as the gentle showers fall, to make the flowers of spring. A shy happiness, a trembling delightful feeling never known before, filled his heart. This beautiful youth, whom he had only seen once, and in the most informal manner, affected him as no other mortal had ever done. He was a little afraid; something, he knew not what, of mystery and danger and delight, was between them; and he did not feel that he could speak of it. It seemed, indeed, as if he would need a special language to do so.

This was the beginning, and all the remainder of that day and the next and the next Harleigh saw nothing, could think of nothing but Miss Charlotte Morgan. He lost his appetite, grew moody, shunned companionship with his fellow-workmen, and it is positively asserted that on more than one occasion he secreted himself in the vicinity of the Morgan mansion to feast his eyes, if possible, on the person of his lady love.

Seldom is Love ushered into any life with any pomp of circumstance or ceremony; there is no overture to our opera, no prologue to our play, and the most momentous meetings occur as if by mere accident. A friend delayed Miss Charlotte Morgan a while on the Brooklyn street; and turning, she met Harleigh face to face; a moment more, or less, and the meeting had not been. Ah, but some Power had set that moment for their meeting, and the delay had been intended, and the consequences foreseen!

In a dim kind of way Harleigh realized this fact as he sat the next day with an open book before him. He was not reading it; he was thinking of Charlotte—of her pure, fresh beauty; and of that adorable air of reserve, which enhanced, even while it veiled her charms. “For her love I could resign all adventures in life and prison myself in a book of love,” he said, “I could forget all other beauties; in a word, I could marry, and live in the country. Oh how exquisite she is! I lose my speech when I think of her!”

Then he closed his book with impatience, and went to the Brooklyn floral shop and bought a little rush basket filled with sweet violets. Into their midst he slipped his calling card, and saw the