so much pleasure. Shadowy and indistinct became the landscape, which seemed a little while before so fair and inviting. A cloud settled down upon it here, and a cloud there, breaking up its unity, and destroying much of its fair proportion. I was no longer mounting up, and moving forwards on the light wing of a castle-building imagination, but down upon the hard, rough ground, coming back into the consciousness that all progression, to be sure, must be slow and toilsome.

I had the afternoon paper in my hands, and was running my eyes up and down the columns, not reading, but, in a half-absent way, trying to find something of sufficient interest to claim attention, when, among the money and business items, I came upon a paragraph that sent the declining thermometer of my feelings away down towards the chill of zero. It touched, in the most vital part, my scheme of gain; and the shrinking bubble burst.

“Have the goods sold to that new customer from Alton been delivered?” I asked, as the real interest of my wasted day loomed up into sudden importance.

“Yes, sir,” was answered by one of my clerks; “they were sent to Kline & Co.’s immediately. Mr. B----said they were packing up his goods, which were to be shipped to-day.”

“He’s a safe man, I should think. Kline & Co. sell him.” My voice betrayed the doubt that came stealing over me like a chilly air.

“They sell him only for cash,” said my clerk. “I saw one of their young men this afternoon, and asked after Mr. B----‘s standing. He didn’t know anything about him; said B----was a new man, who bought a moderate cash bill, but was sending in large quantities of goods to be packed—five or six times beyond the amount of his purchases with them.”

“Is that so!” I exclaimed, rising to my feet, all awake now to the real things which I had permitted a shadow to obscure.

“Just what he told me,” answered my clerk.

“It has a bad look,” said I. “How large a bill did he make with us?”

The sales book was referred to. “Seventeen hundred dollars,” replied the clerk.

“What! I thought he was to buy only to the amount of a thousand dollars?” I returned, in surprise and dismay.

“You seemed so easy about him, sir,” replied the clerk, “that I encouraged him to buy; and the bill ran up more heavily than I was aware until the footing gave exact figures.”

I drew out my watch. It was close on to half past six.

“I think, Edward,” said I, “that you’d better step round to Kline & Co.’s, and ask if they’ve shipped B----‘s goods yet. If not, we’ll request them to delay long enough in the morning to give us time to sift the matter. If B----‘s after a swindling game, we’ll take a short course, and save our goods.”

“It’s too late,” answered my clerk. “B----called a little after one o’clock, and gave notes for the amount of his bill. He was to leave in the five o’clock line for Boston.”

I turned my face a little aside, so that Edward might not see all the anxiety that was pictured there.

“You look very sober, Mr. Mayflower,” said my good wife, gazing at me with eyes a little shaded by concern, as I sat with Arty’s head leaning against my bosom that evening; “as sober as baby looked this morning, after his fruitless shadow chase.”

“And for the same reason,” said I, endeavoring to speak calmly and firmly.

“Why, Mr. Mayflower!” Her face betrayed a rising anxiety. My assumed calmness and firmness did not wholly disguise the troubled feelings that lay, oppressively, about my heart.

“For the same reason,” I repeated, steadying my voice, and trying to speak bravely. “I have been chasing a shadow all day; a mere phantom scheme of profit; and at night-fall I not only lose my shadow, but find my feet far off from the right path, and bemired. I called Arty a foolish child this morning. I laughed at his mistake. But, instead of accepting the lesson it should have conveyed, I went forth and wearied myself with shadow-hunting all day.”

Mrs. Mayflower sighed gently. Her soft eyes drooped away from my face, and rested for some moments on the floor.

“I am afraid we are all, more or less, in pursuit of shadows,” she said,—”of the unreal things, projected by thought on the canvas of a too creative imagination. It is so with me; and I sigh, daily, over some disappointment. Alas! if this were all. Too often both the shadow-good and the real-good of to-day are lost. When night falls our phantom good is dispersed, and we sigh for the real good we might have enjoyed.”

“Shall we never grow wiser?” I asked.

“We shall never grow happier unless we do,” answered Mrs. Mayflower.

“Happiness!” I returned, as thought began to rise into clearer perception; “is it not the shadow after which we are all chasing, with such a blind and headlong speed?”

“Happiness is no shadow. It is a real thing,” said Mrs. Mayflower. “It does not project itself in advance of us; but exists in the actual and the now, if it exists at all. We cannot catch it by pursuit; that is only a cheating counterfeit, in guilt and tinsel, which dazzles our eyes in the ever receding future. No; happiness is a state of life; and it comes only to those who do each day’s work peaceful self-forgetfulness, and a calm trust in the Giver of all good for the blessing that lies stored for each one prepared to receive it in every hour of the coming time.”

“Who so does each day’s work in a peaceful self-forgetfulness and patient trust in God?” I said, turning my eyes away from the now tranquil face of Mrs. Mayflower.

“Few, if any, I fear,” she answered; “and few, if any, are happy. The common duties and common things of our to-days look so plain and homely in their ungilded actualities, that we turn our thought and interest away from them, and create ideal forms of use and beauty, into which we can never enter with conscious life. We are always losing the happiness of our to-days; and our to-morrows never come.”

I sighed my response, and sat for a long time silent. When the tea bell interrupted me from my reverie, Arty lay fast asleep on my bosom. As I kissed him on his way to his mother’s arms, I said,—

“Dear baby! may it be your first and last pursuit of a shadow.”

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