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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Aurelia as a Grandmother
By George William Curtis (1824–1892)
 
From ‘Prue and I’

THERE will be a time when you will no longer go out to dinner; or only very quietly, in the family. I shall be gone then; but other old bookkeepers in white cravats will inherit my tastes, and saunter on summer afternoons to see what I loved to see.  1
  They will not pause, I fear, in buying apples, to look at the old lady in venerable cap who is rolling by in the carriage. They will worship another Aurelia. You will not wear diamonds or opals any more, only one pearl upon your blue-veined finger,—your engagement ring. Grave clergymen and antiquated beaux will hand you down to dinner, and the group of polished youth who gather around the yet unborn Aurelia of that day will look at you, sitting quietly upon the sofa, and say softly, “She must have been very handsome in her time.”  2
  All this must be; for consider how few years since it was your grandmother who was the belle, by whose side the handsome young men longed to sit and pass expressive mottoes. Your grandmother was the Aurelia of a half-century ago, although you cannot fancy her young. She is indissolubly associated in your mind with caps and dark dresses. You can believe Mary Queen of Scots, or Nell Gwyn, or Cleopatra, to have been young and blooming, although they belonged to old and dead centuries; but not your grandmother. Think of those who shall believe the same of you—you, who to-day are the very flower of youth.  3
  Might I plead with you, Aurelia,—I, who would be too happy to receive one of those graciously beaming bows that I see you bestow upon young men, in passing,—I would ask you to bear that thought with you always, not to sadden your sunny smile, but to give it a more subtle grace. Wear in your summer garland this little leaf of rue. It will not be the skull at the feast, it will rather be the tender thoughtfulness in the face of the young Madonna.  4
  For the years pass like summer clouds, Aurelia, and the children of yesterday are the wives and mothers of to-day. Even I do sometimes discover the mild eyes of my Prue fixed pensively upon my face, as if searching for the bloom which she remembers there in the days, long ago, when we were young. She will never see it there again, any more than the flowers she held in her hand, in our old spring rambles. Yet the tear that slowly gathers as she gazes is not grief that the bloom has faded from my cheek, but the sweet consciousness that it can never fade from my heart; and as her eyes fall upon her work again, or the children climb her lap to hear the old fairy-tales they already know by heart, my wife Prue is dearer to me than the sweetheart of those days long ago.  5
 
 
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