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´╗┐Title: Paul and Virginia
Author: Saint-Pierre, Bernadin de
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Paul and Virginia" ***

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[Illustration: _Paul and Virginia. p.29._]


PAUL AND VIRGINIA,

FROM THE FRENCH

OF

J.B.H. DE SAINT PIERRE.



1851



PREFACE.

The following translation of "Paul and Virginia," was written at Paris,
amidst the horrors of Robespierre's tyranny. During that gloomy epocha it
was difficult to find occupations which might cheat the days of calamity of
their weary length. Society had vanished; and amidst the minute vexations
of Jacobinical despotism, which, while it murdered in _mass_, persecuted in
detail, the resources of writing, and even reading, were encompassed with
danger. The researches of domiciliary visits had already compelled me to
commit to the flames a manuscript volume, where I had traced the political
scenes of which I had been a witness, with the colouring of their first
impressions on my mind, with those fresh tints that fade from recollection;
and since my pen, accustomed to follow the impulse of my feelings, could
only have drawn, at that fatal period, those images of desolation and
despair which haunted my imagination, and dwelt upon my heart, writing was
forbidden employment. Even reading had its perils; for books had sometimes
aristocratical insignia, and sometimes counter revolutionary allusions; and
when the administrators of police happened to think the writer a
conspirator, they punished the reader as his accomplice.

In this situation I gave myself the task of employing a few hours every day
in translating the charming little novel of Bernardin St. Pierre, entitled
"Paul and Virginia;" and I found the most soothing relief in wandering from
my own gloomy reflections to those enchanting scenes of the Mauritius,
which he has so admirably described. I also composed a few Sonnets adapted
to the peculiar productions of that part of the globe, which are
interspersed in the work. Some, indeed, are lost, as well as a part of the
translation, which I have since supplied, having been sent to the
Municipality of Paris, in order to be examined as English papers; where
they still remain, mingled with revolutionary placards, motions, and
harangues; and are not likely to be restored to my possession.

With respect to the translation, I can only hope to deserve the humble
merit of not having deformed the beauty of the original. I have, indeed,
taken one liberty with my author, which it is fit I should acknowledge,
that of omitting several pages of general observations, which, however
excellent in themselves, would be passed over with impatience by the
English reader, when they interrupt the pathetic narrative. In this
respect, the two nations seem to change characters; and while the serious
and reflecting Englishman requires, in novel writing, as well as on the
theatre, a rapid succession of incidents, much bustle and stage effect,
without suffering the author to appear himself, and stop the progress of
the story; the gay and restless Frenchman listens attentively to long
philosophical reflections, while the catastrophe of the drama hangs in
suspense.

My last poetical productions (the Sonnets which are interspersed in this
work) may perhaps be found even more imperfect than my earlier
compositions; since, after a long exile from England, I can scarcely
flatter myself that my ear is become more attuned to the harmony of a
language, with the sounds of which it is seldom gladdened; or that my
poetical taste is improved by living in a country where arts have given
place to arms. But the public will, perhaps, receive with indulgence a work
written under such peculiar circumstances; not composed in the calm of
literary leisure, or in pursuit of literary fame, but amidst the turbulence
of the most cruel sensations, and in order to escape awhile from
overwhelming misery.

H.M.W.



PAUL AND VIRGINIA.


On the eastern coast of the mountain which rises above Port Louis in the
Mauritius, upon a piece of land bearing the marks of former cultivation,
are seen the ruins of two small cottages. Those ruins are situated near the
centre of a valley, formed by immense rocks, and which opens only towards
the north. On the left rises the mountain, called the Height of Discovery,
from whence the eye marks the distant sail when it first touches the verge
of the horizon, and whence the signal is given when a vessel approaches the
island. At the foot of this mountain stands the town of Port Louis. On the
right is formed the road, which stretches from Port Louis to the Shaddock
Grove, where the church, bearing that name, lifts its head, surrounded by
its avenues of bamboo, in the midst of a spacious plain; and the prospect
terminates in a forest extending to the furthest bounds of the island. The
front view presents the bay, denominated the Bay of the Tomb: a little on
the right is seen the Cape of Misfortune; and beyond rolls the expanded
ocean, on the surface of which appear a few uninhabited islands, and, among
others, the Point of Endeavour, which resembles a bastion built upon the
flood.

At the entrance of the valley which presents those various objects, the
echoes of the mountain incessantly repeat the hollow murmurs of the winds
that shake the neighbouring forests, and the tumultuous dashing of the
waves which break at a distance upon the cliffs. But near the ruined
cottages all is calm and still, and the only objects which there meet the
eye are rude steep rocks, that rise like a surrounding rampart. Large
clumps of trees grow at their base, on their rifted sides, and even on
their majestic tops, where the clouds seem to repose. The showers, which
their bold points attract, often paint the vivid colours of the rainbow on
their green and brown declivities, and swell the sources of the little
river which flows at their feet, called the river of Fan-Palms.

Within this enclosure reigns the most profound silence. The waters, the
air, all the elements are at peace. Scarcely does the echo repeat the
whispers of the palm-trees spreading their broad leaves, the long points of
which are gently balanced by the winds. A soft light illuminates the bottom
of this deep valley, on which the sun only shines at noon. But even at
break of day the rays of light are thrown on the surrounding rocks; and the
sharp peaks, rising above the shadows of the mountain, appear like tints of
gold and purple gleaming upon the azure sky.

To this scene I loved to resort, where I might enjoy at once the richness
of the extensive landscape, and the charm of uninterrupted solitude. One
day, when I was seated at the foot of the cottages, and contemplating their
ruins, a man, advanced in years, passed near the spot. He was dressed in
the ancient garb of the island, his feet were bare, and he leaned upon a
staff of ebony: his hair was white, and the expression of his countenance
was dignified and interesting. I bowed to him with respect; he returned the
salutation: and, after looking at me with some earnestness, came and placed
himself upon the hillock where I was seated. Encouraged by this mark of
confidence, I thus addressed him:--

"Father, can you tell me to whom those cottages once belonged?" "My son,"
replied the old man, "those heaps of rubbish, and that unfilled land, were,
twenty years ago, the property of two families, who then found happiness in
this solitude. Their history is affecting; but what European, pursuing his
way to the Indies, will pause one moment to interest himself in the fate of
a few obscure individuals? What European can picture happiness to his
imagination amidst poverty and neglect? The curiosity of mankind is only
attracted by the history of the great; and yet from that knowledge little
use can be derived." "Father," I rejoined, "from your manners and your
observations, I perceive that you have acquired much experience of human
life. If you have leisure, relate to me, I beseech you, the history of the
ancient inhabitants of this desert; and be assured, that even the men who
are most perverted by the prejudices of the world, find a soothing pleasure
in contemplating that happiness which belongs to simplicity and virtue."
The old man, after a short silence, during which he leaned his face upon
his hands, as if he were trying to recall the images of the past, thus began
his narration:--

"Monsieur de la Tour, a young man who was a native of Normandy, after
having in vain solicited a commission in the French Army, or some support
from his own family, at length determined to seek his fortune in this
island, where he arrived in 1726. He brought hither a young woman whom he
loved tenderly, and by whom he was no less tenderly beloved. She belonged
to a rich and ancient family of the same province; but he had married her
without fortune, and in opposition to the will of her relations, who
refused their consent, because he was found guilty of being descended from
parents who had no claims to nobility. Monsieur de la Tour, leaving his
wife at Port Louis, embarked for Madagascar, in order to purchase a few
slaves to assist him in forming a plantation in this island. He landed at
that unhealthy season which commences about the middle of October: and soon
after his arrival died of the pestilential fever, which prevails in that
country six months of the year, and which will forever baffle the attempts
of the European nations to form establishments on that fatal soil. His
effects were seized upon by the rapacity of strangers; and his wife, who
was pregnant, found herself a widow in a country where she had neither
credit nor recommendation, and no earthly possession, or rather support,
save one negro woman. Too delicate to solicit protection or relief from any
other man after the death of him whom alone she loved, misfortune armed her
with courage, and she resolved to cultivate with her slave a little spot of
ground, and procure for herself the means of subsistence. In an island
almost a desert, and where the ground was left to the choice of the
settler, she avoided those spots which were most fertile and most
favourable to commerce; and seeking some nook of the mountain, some secret
asylum, where she might live solitary and unknown, she bent her way from
the town towards those rocks, where she wished to shelter herself as in a
nest. All suffering creatures, from a sort of common instinct, fly for
refuge amidst their pains to haunts the most wild and desolate; as if rocks
could form a rampart against misfortune; as if the calm of nature could
hush the tumults of the soul. That Providence, which lends its support when
we ask but the supply of our necessary wants, had a blessing in reserve for
Madame de la Tour, which neither riches nor greatness can purchase; this
blessing was a friend.

"The spot to which Madame de la Tour fled had already been inhabited a year
by a young woman of a lively, good natured, and affectionate disposition.
Margaret (for that was her name) was born in Britany, of a family of
peasants, by whom she was cherished and beloved, and with whom she might
have passed life in simple rustic happiness, if, misled by the weakness of
a tender heart, she had not listened to the passion of a gentleman in the
neighbourhood, who promised her marriage. He soon abandoned her, and adding
inhumanity to seduction, refused to ensure a provision for the child of
which she was pregnant. Margaret then determined to leave for ever her
native village, and go, where her fault might be concealed, to some colony
distant from that country where she had lost the only portion of a poor
peasant girl--her reputation. With some borrowed money she purchased an old
negro slave, with whom she cultivated a little spot of this canton. Here
Madame de la Tour, followed by her negro woman, found Margaret suckling her
child. Soothed by the sight of a person in a situation somewhat similar to
her own, Madame de la Tour related, in a few words, her past condition and
her present wants. Margaret was deeply affected by the recital; and, more
anxious to excite confidence than esteem, she confessed, without disguise,
the errors of which she had been guilty. 'As for me,' said she, 'I deserve
my fate: but you, madam--you! at once virtuous and unhappy--' And, sobbing,
she offered Madame de la Tour both her hut and her friendship. That lady,
affected by this tender reception, pressed her in her arms, and exclaimed,
'Ah, surely Heaven will put an end to my misfortunes, since it inspires
you, to whom I am a stranger, with more goodness towards me than I have
ever experienced from my own relations!'

"I knew Margaret; and, although my habitation is a league and a half from
hence, in the woods behind that sloping mountain, I considered myself as
her neighbour. In the cities of Europe a street, sometimes even a less
distance, separates families whom nature had united; but in new colonies we
consider those persons as neighbours from whom we are divided only by woods
and mountains; and above all, at that period when this island had little
intercourse with the Indies, neighbourhood alone gave a claim to
friendship, and hospitality toward strangers seemed less a duty than a
pleasure. No sooner was I informed that Margaret had found a companion,
than I hastened thither, in hope of being useful to my neighbour and her
guest.

"Madame de la Tour possessed all those melancholy graces which give beauty
additional power, by blending sympathy with admiration. Her figure was
interesting, and her countenance expressed at once dignity and dejection.
She appeared to be in the last stage of her pregnancy. I told them that,
for the future interests of their children, and to prevent the intrusion of
any other settler, it was necessary they should divide between them the
property of this wild sequestered valley, which is nearly twenty acres in
extent. They confided that task to me, and I marked out two equal portions
of land. One includes the higher part of this enclosure, from, the peak of
that rock buried in clouds, whence springs the rapid river of Fan-Palms, to
that wide cleft which you see on the summit of the mountain, and which is
called the Cannon's Mouth, from the resemblance in its form. It is
difficult to find a path along this wild portion of enclosure, the soil of
which is encumbered with fragments of rock, or worn into channels formed by
torrents; yet it produces noble trees, and innumerable fountains and
rivulets. The other portion of land is comprised in the plain extending
along the banks of the river of Fan-Palms, to the opening where we are now
seated, from whence the river takes its course between those two hills,
until it falls into the sea. You may still trace the vestiges of some
meadow-land; and this part of the common is less rugged, but not more
valuable than the other; since in the rainy season it becomes marshy, and
in dry weather is so hard and unbending, that it will yield only to the
stroke of the hatchet. When I had thus divided the property, I persuaded my
neighbours to draw lots for their separate possessions. The higher portion
of land became the property of Madame de la Tour; the lower, of Margaret;
and each seemed satisfied with her respective share. They entreated me to
place their habitations together, that they might at all times enjoy the
soothing intercourse of friendship, and the consolation of mutual kind
offices. Margaret's cottage was situated near the centre of the valley, and
just on the boundary of her own plantation. Close to that spot I built
another cottage for the dwelling of Madame de la Tour: and thus the two
friends, while they possessed all the advantages of neighbourhood, lived on
their own property. I myself cut palisades from the mountain, and brought
leaves of Fan-Palms from the seashore, in order to construct those two
cottages, of which you can now discern neither the entrance nor the roof.
Yet, alas! there still remain but too many traces for my remembrance! Time,
which so rapidly destroys the proud monuments of empires, seems in this
desert to spare those of friendship, as if to perpetuate my regrets to the
last hour of my existence.

"Scarcely was her cottage finished, when Madame de la Tour was delivered of
a girl. I had been the godfather of Margaret's child, who was christened by
the name of Paul. Madame de la Tour desired me to perform the same office
for her child also, together with her friend, who gave her the name of
Virginia. 'She will be virtuous,' cried Margaret, 'and she will be happy. I
have only known misfortune by wandering from virtue.'

"At the time Madame de la Tour recovered, those two little territories had
already begun to yield some produce, perhaps in a small degree owing to the
care which I occasionally bestowed on their improvement, but far more to
the indefatigable labours of the two slaves. Margaret's slave, who was
called Domingo, was still healthy and robust, although advanced in years:
he possessed some knowledge, and a good natural understanding. He
cultivated indiscriminately, on both settlements, such spots of ground as
were most fertile, and sowed whatever grain he thought most congenial to
each particular soil. Where the ground was poor, he strewed maize; where it
was most fruitful, he planted wheat; and rice in such spots as were marshy.
He threw the seeds of gourds and cucumbers at the foot of the rocks, which
they loved to climb, and decorate with their luxuriant foliage. In dry
spots he cultivated the sweet potato; the cotton-tree flourished upon the
heights, and the sugar-cane grew in the clayey soil. He reared some plants
of coffee on the hills, where the grain, although small, is excellent. The
plantain-trees, which spread their grateful shade on the banks of the
river, and encircled the cottage, yielded fruit throughout the year. And,
lastly, Domingo cultivated a few plants of tobacco, to charm away his own
cares. Sometimes he was employed in cutting wood for firing from the
mountain, sometimes in hewing pieces of rock within the enclosure, in order
to level the paths. He was much attached to Margaret, and not less to
Madame de la Tour, whose negro-woman, Mary, he had married at the time of
Virginia's birth; and he was passionately fond of his wife. Mary was born
at Madagascar, from whence she had brought a few arts of industry. She
could weave baskets, and a sort of stuff, with long grass that grows in the
woods. She was active, cleanly, and, above all, faithful. It was her care
to prepare their meals, to rear the poultry, and go sometimes to Port
Louis, and sell the superfluities of these little plantations, which were
not very considerable. If you add to the personages I have already
mentioned two goats, who were brought up with the children, and a great
dog, who kept watch at night, you will have a complete idea of the
household, as well as of the revenue of those two farms.

"Madame de la Tour and her friend were employed from the morning till the
evening in spinning cotton for the use of their families. Destitute of all
those things which their own industry could not supply, they walked about
their habitations with their feet bare, and shoes were a convenience
reserved for Sunday, when, at an early hour, they attended mass at the
church of the Shaddock Grove, which you see yonder. That church is far more
distant than Port Louis; yet they seldom visited the town, lest they should
be treated with contempt, because they were dressed in the coarse blue
linen of Bengal, which is usually worn by slaves. But is there in that
external deference which fortune commands a compensation for domestic
happiness? If they had something to suffer from the world, this served but
to endear their humble home. No sooner did Mary and Domingo perceive them
from this elevated spot, on the road of the Shaddock Grove, than they flew
to the foot of the mountain, in order to help them to ascend. They
discerned in the looks of their domestics that joy which their return
inspired. They found in their retreat neatness, independence, all those
blessings which are the recompense of toil, and received those services
which have their source in affection.--United by the tie of similar wants,
and the sympathy of similar misfortunes, they gave each other the tender
names of companion, friend, sister.--They had but one will, one interest,
one table. All their possessions were in common. And if sometimes a passion
more ardent than friendship awakened in their hearts the pang of unavailing
anguish, a pure religion, united with chaste manners, drew their affections
towards another life; as the trembling flame rises towards heaven, when it
no longer finds any aliment on earth.

"Madame de la Tour sometimes, leaving the household cares to Margaret,
wandered out alone; and, amidst the sublime scenery, indulged that luxury
of pensive sadness, which is so soothing to the mind after the first
emotions of turbulent sorrow have subsided. Sometimes she poured forth the
effusions of melancholy in the language of verse; and, although her
compositions have little poetical merit, they appear to me to bear the
marks of genuine sensibility. Many of her poems are lost; but some still
remain in my possession, and a few still hang on my memory. I will repeat
to you a sonnet addressed to Love.

       SONNET

       TO LOVE.

    Ah, Love! ere yet I knew thy fatal power,
    Bright glow'd the colour of my youthful days,
    As, on the sultry zone, the torrid rays,
    That paint the broad-leaved plantain's glossy bower;
    Calm was my bosom as this silent hour,
    When o'er the deep, scarce heard, the zephyr strays,
    'Midst the cool tam'rinds indolently plays,
    Nor from the orange shakes its od'rous flower:
    But, ah! since Love has all my heart possess'd,
    That desolated heart what sorrows tear!
    Disturb'd and wild as ocean's troubled breast,
    When the hoarse tempest of the night is there
    Yet my complaining spirit asks no rest;
    This bleeding bosom cherishes despair.

"The tender and sacred duties which nature imposed, became a source of
additional happiness to those affectionate mothers, whose mutual friendship
acquired new strength at the sight of their children, alike the offspring
of unhappy love. They delighted to place their infants together in the same
bath, to nurse them in the same cradle, and sometimes changed the maternal
bosom at which they received nourishment, as if to blend with the ties of
friendship that instinctive affection which this act produces.

'My friend,' cried Madame de la Tour, 'we shall each of us have two
children, and each of our children will have two mothers.' As two buds
which remain on two trees of the same kind, after the tempest has broken
all their branches, produce more delicious fruit, if each, separated from
the maternal stem, be grafted on the neighbouring tree; so those two
children, deprived of all other support, imbibed sentiments more tender
than those of son and daughter, brother and sister, when exchanged at the
breast of those who had given them birth. While they were yet in their
cradle, their mothers talked of their marriage; and this prospect of
conjugal felicity, with which they soothed their own cares, often called
forth the tears of bitter regret. The misfortunes of one mother had arisen
from having neglected marriage, those of the other from having submitted to
its laws: one had been made unhappy by attempting to raise herself above
her humble condition of life, the other by descending from her rank. But
they found consolation in reflecting that their more fortunate children,
far from the cruel prejudices of Europe, those prejudices which poison the
most precious sources of our happiness, would enjoy at once the pleasures
of love and the blessings of equality.

"Nothing could exceed that attachment which those infants already displayed
for each other. If Paul complained, his mother pointed to Virginia; and at
that sight he smiled, and was appeased. If any accident befel Virginia, the
cries of Paul gave notice of the disaster; and then Virginia would suppress
her complaints when she found that Paul was unhappy. When I came hither, I
usually found them quite naked, which is the custom of this country,
tottering in their walk, and holding each other by the hands and under the
arms, as we represent the constellation of the Twins. At night these
infants often refused to be separated, and were found lying in the same
cradle, their cheeks, their bosoms pressed close together, their hands
thrown round each other's neck, and sleeping, locked in one another's arms.

"When they began to speak, the first names they learnt to give each other
were those of brother and sister, and childhood knows no softer
appellation. Their education served to augment their early friendship, by
directing it to the supply of their reciprocal wants. In a short time, all
that regarded the household economy, the care of preparing the rural
repasts, became the task of Virginia, whose labours were always crowned
with the praises and kisses of her brother. As for Paul, always in motion,
he dug the garden with Domingo, or followed him with a little hatchet into
the woods, where, if in his rambles he espied a beautiful flower, fine
fruit, or a nest of birds, even at the top of a tree, he climbed up, and
brought it home to his sister.

"When you met with one of these children, you might be sure the other was
not distant. One day, coming down that mountain, I saw Virginia at the end
of the garden, running toward the house, with her petticoat thrown over her
head, in order to screen herself from a shower of rain. At a distance, I
thought she was alone; but as I hastened towards her, in order to help her
on, I perceived that she held Paul by the arm, who was almost entirely
enveloped in the same cavity, and both were laughing heartily at being
sheltered together under an umbrella of their own invention. Those two
charming faces, placed within the petticoat, swelled by the wind, recalled
to my mind the children of Leda, enclosed within the same shell.

"Their sole study was how to please and assist each other; for of all other
things they were ignorant, and knew neither how to read nor write. They
were never disturbed by researches into past times, nor did their curiosity
extend beyond the bounds of that mountain. They believed the world ended at
the shores of their own island, and all their ideas and affections were
confined within its limits. Their mutual tenderness, and that of their
mothers, employed all the activity of their souls. Their tears had never
been called forth by long application to useless sciences. Their minds had
never been wearied by lessons of morality, superfluous to bosoms
unconscious of ill. They had never been taught that they must not steal,
because every thing with them was in common; or be intemperate, because
their simple food was left to their own discretion; or false, because they
had no truth to conceal. Their young imaginations had never been terrified
by the idea that God has punishments in store for ungrateful children,
since with them filial affection arose naturally from maternal fondness.
All they had been taught of religion was to love it; and if they did not
offer up long prayers in the church, wherever they were, in the house, in
the fields, in the woods, they raised towards heaven their innocent hands,
and their hearts purified by virtuous affections.

"Thus passed their early childhood, like a beautiful dawn, the prelude of a
bright day. Already they partook with their mothers the cares of the
household. As soon as the cry of the wakeful cock announced the first beam
of the morning, Virginia arose, and hastened to draw water from a
neighbouring spring; then returning to the house, she prepared the
breakfast. When the rising sun lighted up the points of those rocks which
overhang this enclosure, Margaret and her child went to the dwelling of
Madame de la Tour, and they offered up together their morning prayer. This
sacrifice of thanksgiving always preceded their first repast, which they
often partook before the door of the cottage, seated upon the grass, under
a canopy of plantain; and while the branches of that delightful tree
afforded a grateful shade, its solid fruit furnished food ready prepared by
nature; and its long glossy leaves, spread upon the table, supplied the
want of linen.

"Plentiful and wholesome nourishment gave early growth and vigour to the
persons of those children, and their countenances expressed the purity and
peace of their souls. At twelve years of age the figure of Virginia was in
some degree formed: a profusion of light hair shaded her face, to which her
blue eyes and coral lips gave the most charming brilliancy. Her eyes
sparkled with vivacity when she spoke; but when she was silent, her look
had a cast upwards, which gave it an expression of extreme sensibility, or
rather of tender melancholy. Already the figure of Paul displayed the
graces of manly beauty. He was taller than Virginia; his skin was of a
darker tint; his nose more aquiline; and his black eyes would have been too
piercing, if the long eyelashes, by which were shaded, had not given them a
look of softness. He was constantly in motion, except when his sister
appeared; and then, placed at her side, he became quiet. Their meals often
passed in silence, and, from the grace of their attitudes, the beautiful
proportions of their figures, and their naked feet, you might have fancied
you beheld an antique group of white marble, representing some of the
children of Niobe; if those eyes which sought to meet those smiles which
were answered by smiles of the most tender softness, had not rather given
you the idea of those happy celestial spirits, whose nature is love, and
who are not obliged to have recourse to words for the expression of that
intuitive sentiment. In the mean time, Madame de la Tour, perceiving every
day some unfolding grace, some new beauty, in her daughter, felt her
maternal anxiety increase with her tenderness. She often said to me, 'If I
should die, what will become of Virginia without fortune?'

"Madame de la Tour had an aunt in France, who was a woman of quality, rich,
old and a great bigot. She had behaved towards her niece with so much
cruelty upon her marriage that Madame de la Tour had determined that no
distress or misfortune should ever compel her to have recourse to her
hard-hearted relation. But when she became a mother, the pride of
resentment was stilled in the stronger feelings of maternal tenderness. She
wrote to her aunt, informing her of the sudden death of her husband, the
birth of her daughter, and the difficulties in which she was involved at a
distance from her own country, without support, and burthened with a child.
She received no answer; but, notwithstanding that high spirit which was
natural to her character, she no longer feared exposing herself to
mortification and reproach; and, although she knew her relation would never
pardon her for having married a man of merit, but not of noble birth, she
continued to write to her by every opportunity, in the hope of awakening
her compassion for Virginia. Many years, however, passed, during which she
received not the smallest testimony of her remembrance.

"At length, in 1738, three years after the arrival of Monsieur de la
Bourdonnais in this island, Madame de la Tour was informed that the
governor had a letter to give her from her aunt. She flew to Port Louis,
careless on this occasion of appearing in her homely garment. Maternal hope
and joy subdued all those little considerations, which are lost when the
mind is absorbed by any powerful sentiment. Monsieur de la Bourdonnais
delivered to her a letter from her aunt, who informed her, that she
deserved her fate for having married an adventurer and a libertine; that
misplaced passions brought along with them their own punishment, and that
the sudden death of her husband must be considered as a visitation from
heaven; that she had done well in going to a distant island, rather than
dishonour her family by remaining in France: and that, after all, in the
colony where she had taken refuge, every person grew rich except the idle.
Having thus lavished sufficient censure upon the conduct of her niece, she
finished by a eulogium on herself. To avoid, she said, the almost
inevitable evils of marriage, she had determined to remain in a single
state. In truth, being of a very ambitious temper, she had resolved only to
unite, herself to a man of high rank; and although she; was very rich, her
fortune was not found a sufficient bribe, even at court, to counterbalance
the malignant dispositions of her mind, and the disagreeable qualities of
her person.

"She added, in a postscript, that, after mature deliberation, she had
strongly recommended her niece to Monsieur de la Bourdonnais. This she had
indeed done, but in a manner of late too common, and which renders a patron
perhaps even more formidable than a declared enemy: for, in order to
justify herself, she had cruelly slandered her niece, while she affected to
pity her misfortunes.

"Madame de la Tour, whom no unprejudiced person could have seen without
feeling sympathy and respect, was received with the utmost coolness by
Monsieur de la Bourdonnais; and when she painted to him her own situation,
and that of her child, he replied, 'We will see what can be done--there are
so many to relieve--why did you affront so respectable a relation?--You
have been much to blame.'

"Madame de la Tour returned to her cottage, her bosom throbbing with all
the bitterness of disappointment. When she arrived, she threw herself on a
chair, and then flinging her aunt's letter on the table, exclaimed to her
friend, 'This is the recompense of eleven years of patient expectation!' As
Madame de la Tour was the only person in the little circle who could read,
she again took up the letter, which she read aloud. Scarcely had she
finished, when Margaret exclaimed, 'What have we to do with your relations?
Has God then forsaken us? He only is our father! Have we not hitherto been
happy? Why then this regret? You have no courage.' Seeing Madame de la Tour
in tears, she threw herself upon her neck, and pressing her in her arms,
'My dear friend!' cried she, 'my dear friend!' But her emotion choked her
utterance.

"At this sight Virginia burst into tears, and pressed her mother's hand and
Margaret's alternately to her lips and to her heart: while Paul, with his
eyes inflamed with anger, cried, clasped his hands together, and stamped
with his feet, not knowing whom to blame for this scene of misery. The
noise soon led Domingo and Mary to the spot, and the little habitation
resounded with the cries of distress. Ah, Madame!--My good mistress!--My
dear mother!--Do not weep!'

"Those tender proofs of affection at length dispelled Madame de la Tour's
sorrow. She took Paul and Virginia in her arms, and, embracing them, cried,
'You are the cause of my affliction, and yet my only source of delight!
Yes, my dear children, misfortune has reached me from a distance, but
surely I am surrounded by happiness.' Paul and Virginia did not understand
this reflection; but, when they saw that she was calm, they smiled, and
continued to caress her. Thus tranquillity was restored, and what had
passed proved but a transient storm, which serves to give fresh verdure to
a beautiful spring.

"Although Madame de la Tour appeared calm in the presence of her family,
she sometimes communicated to me the feelings that preyed upon her mind,
and soon after this period gave me the following sonnet:--

       SONNET

       TO DISAPPOINTMENT.

    Pale Disappointment! at thy freezing name
    Chill fears in every shivering vein I prove;
    My sinking pulse almost forgets to move,
    And life almost forsakes my languid frame:
    Yet thee, relentless nymph! no more I blame:
    Why do my thoughts 'midst vain illusions rove?
    Why gild the charms of friendship and of love
    With the warm glow of fancy's purple flame?
    When ruffling winds have some bright fane o'erthrown,
    Which shone on painted clouds, or seem'd to shine,
    Shall the fond gazer dream for him alone
    Those clouds were stable, and at fate repine?
    I feel alas! the fault is all my own,
    And, ah! the cruel punishment is mine!

"The amiable disposition of those children unfolded itself daily. On a
Sunday, their mothers having gone at break of day to mass, at the church of
the Shaddock Grove, the children perceived a negro woman beneath the
plantains which shaded their habitation. She appeared almost wasted to a
skeleton, and had no other garment than a shred of coarse cloth thrown
across her loins. She flung herself at Virginia's feet, who was preparing
the family breakfast, and cried, 'My good young lady, have pity on a poor
slave. For a whole month I have wandered amongst these mountains, half dead
with hunger, and often pursued by the hunters and their dogs. I fled from
my master, a rich planter of the Black River, who has used me as you see;'
and she showed her body marked by deep scars from the lashes she had
received. She added, 'I was going to drown myself; but hearing you lived
here, I said to myself, since there are still some good white people in
this country, I need not die yet.'

"Virginia answered with emotion, 'Take courage, Unfortunate creature! here
is food,' and she gave her the breakfast she had prepared, which the poor
slave in a few minutes devoured. When her hunger was appeased, Virginia
said to her, 'Unhappy woman! will you let me go and ask forgiveness for you
of your master? Surely the sight of you will touch him with pity.--Will you
show me the way?'--'Angel of heaven!' answered the poor negro woman, 'I
will follow you where you please.' Virginia called her brother, and begged
him to accompany her. The slave led the way, by winding and difficult
paths, through the woods, over mountains which they climbed with
difficulty, and across rivers, through which they were obliged to wade. At
length they reached the foot of a precipice upon the borders of the Black
River. There they perceived a well-built house, surrounded by extensive
plantations, and a great number of slaves employed at their various
labours. Their master was walking amongst them with a pipe in his mouth,
and a switch in his hand. He was a tall thin figure, of a brown complexion;
his eyes were sunk in his head, and his dark eyebrows were joined together.
Virginia, holding Paul by the hand, drew near, and with much emotion begged
him, for the love of God, to pardon his poor slave, who stood trembling a
few paces behind. The man at first paid little attention to the children,
who, he saw, were meanly dressed. But when he observed the elegance of
Virginia's form, and the profusion of her beautiful light tresses, which
had escaped from beneath her blue cap; when he heard the soft tone of her
voice, which trembled, as well as her own frame, while she implored his
compassion; he took the pipe from his mouth, and lifting up his stick,
swore, with a terrible oath, that he pardoned his slave, not for the love
of Heaven, but of her who asked his forgiveness. Virginia made a sign to
the slave to approach her master, and instantly sprung away, followed by
Paul.

"They climbed up the precipice they had descended; and, having gained the
summit, seated themselves at the foot of a tree, overcome with fatigue,
hunger, and thirst. They had left their cottage fasting, and had walked
five leagues since break of day. Paul said to Virginia, 'My dear sister, it
is past noon, and I am sure you are thirsty and hungry; we shall find no
dinner here; let us go down the mountain again, and ask the master of the
poor slave for some food.'--'Oh no,' answered Virginia; 'he frightens me
too much. Remember what mamma sometimes says, the bread of the wicked is
like stones in the mouth.'--'What shall we do then?' said Paul: 'these
trees produce no fruit; and I shall not be able to find even a tamarind or
a lemon to refresh you.' Scarcely had he pronounced these words, when they
heard the dashing of waters which fell from a neighbouring rock. They ran
thither, and having quenched their thirst at this crystal spring, they
gathered a few cresses which grew on the border of the stream. While they
were wandering in the woods in search of more solid nourishment, Virginia
spied a young palm tree. The kind of cabbage which is found at the top of
this tree, enfolded within its leaves, forms an excellent sustenance; but,
although the stalk of the tree was not thicker than a man's leg, it was
above sixty feet in height. The wood of this tree is composed of fine
filaments; but the bark is so hard that it turns the edge of the hatchet,
and Paul was not even furnished with a knife. At length he thought of
setting fire to the palm tree, but a new difficulty occurred, he had no
steel with which to strike fire; and, although the whole island is covered
with rocks, I do not believe it is possible to find a flint. Necessity,
however, is fertile in expedients, and the most useful inventions have
arisen from men placed in the most destitute situations. Paul determined to
kindle a fire in the manner of the negroes. With the sharp end of a stone
he made a small hole in the branch of a tree that was quite dry, which he
held between his feet; he then sharpened another dry branch of a different
sort of wood, and afterwards placing the piece of pointed wood in the small
hole of the branch which he held with his feet, and turning it rapidly
between his hands, in a few minutes smoke and sparks of fire issued from
the points of contact. Paul then heaped together dried grass and branches,
and set fire to the palm tree, which soon fell to the ground. The fire was
useful to him in stripping off the long, thick and pointed leaves, within
which the cabbage was enclosed.

"Paul and Virginia ate part of the cabbage raw, and part dressed upon the
ashes, which they found equally palatable. They made this frugal repast
with delight, from the remembrance of the benevolent action they had
performed in the morning: yet their joy was embittered by the thoughts of
that uneasiness which their long absence would give their mothers. Virginia
often recurred to this subject: but Paul, who felt his strength renewed by
their meal, assured her that it would not be long before they reached home.

"After dinner they recollected that they had no guide, and that they were
ignorant of the way. Paul, whose spirit was not subdued by difficulties,
said to Virginia, 'The sun shines full upon our huts at noon: we must pass
as we did this morning, over that mountain with its three points, which you
see yonder. Come, let us go.' This mountain is called the Three Peaks. Paul
and Virginia descended the precipice of the Black River, on the northern
side; and arrived, after an hour's walk, on the banks of a large stream.

"Great part of this island is so little known, even now, that many of its
rivers and mountains have not yet received a name. The river, on the banks
of which our travellers stood, rolls foaming over a bed of rocks. The noise
of the water frightened Virginia, and she durst not wade through the
stream: Paul therefore took her up in his arms, and went thus loaded over
the slippery rocks, which formed the bed of the river, careless of the
tumultuous noise of its waters. 'Do not be afraid,' cried he to Virginia;
'I feel very strong with you. If the inhabitant of the Black River had
refused you the pardon of his slave, I would have fought with
him.'--'What!' answered Virginia, 'with that great wicked man? To what have
I exposed you! Gracious heaven! How difficult it is to do good! and it is
so easy to do wrong.'

"When Paul had crossed the river, he wished to continue his journey,
carrying his sister, and believed he was able to climb in that way the
mountain of the Three Peaks, which was still at the distance of half a
league; but his strength soon failed, and he was obliged to set down his
burden, and to rest himself by her side. Virginia then said to him, 'My
dear brother the sun is going down: you have still some strength left, but
mine has quite failed: do leave me here, and return home alone to ease the
fears of our mothers.'--'Oh, no,' said Paul, 'I will not leave you. If
night surprises us in this wood, I will light a fire, and bring down
another palm-tree: you shall eat the cabbage; and I will form a covering of
the leaves to shelter you.' In the mean time, Virginia being a little
rested, pulled from the trunk of an old tree, which hung over the bank of
the river, some long leaves of hart's tongue, which grew near its root.
With those leaves she made a sort of buskin, with which she covered her
feet, that were bleeding from the sharpness of the stony paths; for, in her
eager desire to do good, she had forgot to put on her shoes. Feeling her
feet cooled by the freshness of the leaves, she broke off a branch of
bamboo, and continued her walk leaning with one hand on the staff, and with
the other on Paul.

"They walked on slowly through the woods, but from the height of the trees,
and the thickness of their foliage, they soon lost sight of the mountain of
the Tree Peaks, by which they had directed their course, and even of the
sun, which was now setting. At length they wandered without perceiving it,
from the beaten path in which they had hitherto walked, and found
themselves in a labyrinth of trees and rocks, which appeared to have no
opening. Paul made Virginia sit down, while he ran backwards and forwards,
half frantic, in search of a path which might lead them out of this thick
wood; but all his researches were in vain. He climbed to the top of a tree,
from whence he hoped at least to discern the mountain of the Three Peaks;
but all he could perceive around him were the tops of trees, some of which
were gilded by the last beams of the setting sun. Already the shadows of
the mountains were spread over the forests in the valleys. The wind ceased,
as it usually does, at the evening hour. The most profound silence reigned
in those awful solitudes, which was only interrupted by the cry of the
stags, who came to repose in that unfrequented spot. Paul, in the hope that
some hunter would hear his voice, called out as loud as he was able, 'Come,
come to the help of Virginia.' But the echoes of the forests alone answered
his call, and repeated again and again, 'Virginia--Virginia.' Paul at
length descended from the tree, overcome with fatigue and vexation, and
reflected how they might best contrive to pass the night in that desert.
But he could find neither a fountain, a palm-tree, nor even a branch of dry
wood to kindle a fire. He then felt, by experience, the sense of his own
weakness, and began to weep. Virginia said to him, 'Do not weep, my dear
brother, or I shall die with grief. I am the cause of all your sorrow, and
of all that our mothers suffer at this moment. I find we ought to do
nothing, not even good, without consulting our parents. Oh, I have been
very imprudent!' and she began to shed tears. She then said to Paul, 'Let
us pray to God, my dear brother, and he will hear us.'

"Scarcely had they finished their prayer, when they heard the barking of a
dog. 'It is the dog of some hunter,' said Paul, 'who comes here at night to
lay in wait for the stags.'

"Soon after the dog barked again with more violence. 'Surely,' said
Virginia, 'it is Fidele, our own dog; yes, I know his voice. Are we then so
near home? at the foot of our own mountain? a moment after Fidele was at
their feet, barking, howling, crying, and devouring them with his caresses.
Before they had recovered their surprise, they saw Domingo running towards
them. At the sight of this good old negro, who wept with joy, they began to
weep too, without being able to utter one word. When Domingo had recovered
himself a little, 'Oh, my dear children,' cried he, 'how miserable have you
made your mothers! How much were they astonished when they returned from
mass, where I went with them, and not finding you! Mary, who was at work at
a little distance, could not tell us where you were gone. I ran backwards
and forwards about the plantation, not knowing where to look for you. At
last I took some of your old clothes, and showing them to Fidele, the poor
animal, as if he understood me, immediately began to scent your path; and
conducted me, continually wagging his tail, to the Black River. It was
there a planter told me that you had brought back a negro woman, his slave,
and that he had granted you her pardon. But what pardon! he showed her to
me with her feet chained to a block of wood, and an iron collar with three
hooks fastened round her neck.

"'From thence Fidele, still on the scent, led me up the precipice of the
Black River, where he again stopped and barked with all his might. This was
on the brink of a spring, near a fallen palm tree, and close to a fire
which was still smoking. At last he led me to this very spot. We are at the
foot of the mountains of the Three Peaks, and still four leagues from home.
Come, eat, and gather strength.' He then presented them with cakes, fruits,
and a very large gourd filled with a liquor composed of wine, water, lemon
juice sugar, and nutmeg, which their mothers had prepared. Virginia sighed
at the recollection of the poor slave, and at the uneasiness which they had
given their mothers. She repeated several times, 'Oh, how difficult it is
to do good.'

"While she and Paul were taking refreshment, Domingo kindled a fire, and
having sought among the rocks for a particular kind of crooked wood, which
burns when quite green, throwing out a great blaze, he made a torch, which
he lighted, it being already night. But when they prepared to continue
their journey, a new difficulty occurred; Paul and Virginia could no longer
walk, their feet being violently swelled and inflamed. Domingo knew not
whether it were best to leave them, and go in search of help, or remain and
pass the night with them on that spot. 'What is become of the time,' said
he, 'when I used to carry you both together in my arms? But now you are
grown big, and I am grown old.' While he was in this perplexity, a troop of
Maroon negroes appeared at the distance of twenty paces. The chief of the
band, approaching Paul and Virginia, said to them, 'Good little white
people, do not be afraid. We saw you pass this morning, with a negro woman
of the Black River. You went to ask pardon for her of her wicked master,
and we, in return for this, will carry you home upon our shoulders.' He
then made a sign, and four of the strongest negroes immediately formed a
sort of litter with the branches of trees and lianas, in which, having
seated Paul and Virginia, they placed it upon their shoulders. Domingo
marched in front, carrying his lighted torch, and they proceeded amidst the
rejoicings of the whole troop, and overwhelmed with their benedictions.
Virginia, affected by this scene, said to Paul, with emotion, 'O, my dear
brother! God never leaves a good action without reward.'

"It was midnight when they arrived at the foot of the mountain, on the
ridges of which several fires were lighted. Scarcely had they begun to
ascend, when they heard voices crying out, 'Is it you, my children?' They
answered together with the negroes, 'Yes, it is us;' and soon after
perceived their mothers and Mary coming towards them with lighted sticks in
their hands. 'Unhappy children!' cried Madame de la Tour, 'from whence do
you come? What agonies you have made us suffer!' 'We come, said Virginia,
'from the Black River, where we went to ask pardon for a poor Maroon slave,
to whom I gave our breakfast this morning, because she was dying of hunger;
and these Maroon negroes have brought us home.'--Madame de la Tour embraced
her daughter without being able to speak; and Virginia, who felt her face
wet with her mother's tears, exclaimed, 'You repay me for all the hardships
I have suffered.' Margaret, in a transport of delight, pressed Paul in her
arms, crying, 'And you also, my dear child! you have done a good action.'
When they reached the hut with their children, they gave plenty of food to
the negroes, who returned to their woods, after praying the blessing of
heaven might descend on those good white people.

"Every day was to those families a day of tranquillity and of happiness.
Neither ambition nor envy disturbed their repose. In this island, where, as
in all the European colonies, every malignant anecdote is circulated with
avidity, their virtues, and even their names, were unknown. Only when a
traveller on the road of the Shaddock Grove inquired of any of the
inhabitants of the plain, 'Who lives in those two cottages above?' he was
always answered, even by those who did not know them, 'They are good
people.' Thus the modest violet, concealed beneath the thorny bushes, sheds
its fragrance, while itself remains unseen.

"Doing good appeared to those amiable families to be the chief purpose of
life. Solitude, far from having blunted their benevolent feelings, or
rendered their dispositions morose, had left their hearts open to every
tender affection. The contemplation of nature filled their minds with
enthusiastic delight. They adored the bounty of that Providence which had
enabled them to spread abundance and beauty amidst those barren rocks, and
to enjoy those pure and simple pleasures which are ever grateful and ever
new. It was, probably, in those dispositions of mind that Madame de la Tour
composed the following sonnet.

       SONNET

       TO SIMPLICITY.

    Nymph of the desert! on this lonely shore,
    Simplicity, thy blessings still are mine,
    And all thou canst not give I pleased resign,
    For all beside can soothe my soul no more.
    I ask no lavish heaps to swell my store,
    And purchase pleasures far remote from thine.
    Ye joys, for which the race of Europe pine,
    Ah! not for me your studied grandeur pour,
    Let me where yon tall cliffs are rudely piled,
    Where towers the palm amidst the mountain trees,
    Where pendant from the steep, with graces wild,
    The blue liana floats upon the breeze,
    Still haunt those bold recesses, Nature's child,
    Where thy majestic charms my spirit seize!

"Paul, at twelve years of age, was stronger and more intelligent than
Europeans are at fifteen, and had embellished the plantations which Domingo
had only cultivated. He had gone with him to the neighbouring woods, and
rooted up young plants of lemon trees, oranges, and tamarinds, the round
heads of which are of so fresh a green, together with date palm trees,
producing fruit filled with a sweet cream, which has the fine perfume of
the orange flower. Those trees, which were already of a considerable size,
he planted round this little enclosure. He had also sown the seeds of many
trees which the second year bear flowers or fruits. The agathis, encircled
with long clusters of white flowers, which hang upon it like the crystal
pendants of a lustre. The Persian lilac, which lifts high in air its gay
flax-coloured branches. The pappaw tree, the trunk of which, without
branches, forms a column set round with green melons, bearing on their
heads large leaves like those of the fig tree.

"The seeds and kernels of the gum tree, terminalia, mangoes, alligator
pears, the guava, the bread tree, and the narrow-leaved eugenia, were
planted with profusion; and the greater number of those trees already
afforded to their young cultivator both shade and fruit. His industrious
hands had diffused the riches of nature even on the most barren parts of
the plantation. Several kinds of aloes, the common Indian fig, adorned with
yellow flowers, spotted with red, and the thorny five-angled touch thistle,
grew upon the dark summits of the rocks, and seemed to aim at reaching the
long lianas, which, loaded with blue or crimson flowers, hung scattered
over the steepest part of the mountain. Those trees were disposed in such a
manner that you could command the whole at one view. He had placed in the
middle of this hollow the plants of the lowest growth: behind grew the
shrubs; then trees of an ordinary height: above which rose majestically the
venerable lofty groves which border the circumference. Thus from its centre
this extensive enclosure appeared like a verdant amphitheatre spread with
fruits and flowers, containing a variety of vegetables, a chain of meadow
land, and fields of rice and corn. In blending those vegetable productions
to his own taste, he followed the designs of Nature. Guided by her
suggestions, he had thrown upon the rising grounds such seeds as the winds
might scatter over the heights, and near the borders of the springs such
grains as float upon the waters. Every plant grew in its proper soil, and
every spot seemed decorated by her hands. The waters, which rushed from the
summits of the rocks, formed in some parts of the valley limpid fountains,
and in other parts were spread into large clear mirrors, which reflected
the bright verdure, the trees in blossom, the bending rocks, and the azure
heavens.

"Notwithstanding the great irregularity of the ground, most of these
plantations were easy of access. We had, indeed, all given him our advice
and assistance, in order to accomplish this end. He had formed a path which
wound round the valley, and of which various ramifications led from the
circumference to the centre. He had drawn some advantage from the most
rugged spots; and had blended, in harmonious variety, smooth walks with the
asperities of the soil, and wild with domestic productions. With that
immense quantity of rolling stones which now block up those paths, and
which are scattered over most of the ground of this island, he formed here
and there pyramids; and at their base he laid earth, and planted the roots
of rose bushes, the Barbadoes flower fence, and other shrubs which love to
climb the rocks. In a short time those gloomy shapeless pyramids were
covered with verdure, or with the glowing tints of the most beautiful
flowers. The hollow recesses of aged trees, which bent over the borders of
the stream, formed vaulted caves impenetrable to the sun, and where you
might enjoy coolness during the heats of the day. That path led to a clump
of forest trees, in the centre of which grew a cultivated tree, loaded with
fruit. Here was a field ripe with corn, there an orchard. From that avenue
you had a view of the cottages; from this, of the inaccessible summit of
the mountain. Beneath that tufted bower of gum trees, interwoven with
lianas, no object could be discerned even at noon, while the point of the
neighbouring rock, which projects from the mountain commanded a few of the
whole enclosure, and of the distant ocean, where sometimes we spied a
vessel coming from Europe, or returning thither. On this rock the two
families assembled in the evening, and enjoyed, in silence, the freshness
of the air, the fragrance of the flowers, the murmurs of the fountains, and
the last blended harmonies of light and shade.

"Nothing could be more agreeable than the names which were bestowed upon
some of the charming retreats of this labyrinth. That rock, of which I was
speaking, and from which my approach was discerned at a considerable
distance, was called the Discovery of Friendship. Paul and Virginia, amidst
their sports, had planted a bamboo on that spot; and whenever they saw me
coming, they hoisted a little white handkerchief, by way of signal of my
approach, as they had seen a flag hoisted on the neighbouring mountain at
the sight of a vessel at sea. The idea struck me of engraving an
inscription upon the stalk of this reed. Whatever pleasure I have felt,
during my travels, at the sight of a statue or monument of antiquity, I
have felt still more in reading of well written inscription. It seems to me
as if a human voice issued from the stone and making itself heard through
the lapse of ages, addressed man in the midst of a desert, and told him
that I was not alone; that other men, on that very spot, have felt, and
thought, and suffered like himself. If the inscription belongs to an
ancient nation which no longer exists, it leads the soul through infinite
space, and inspires the feeling of its immortality, by showing that a
thought has survived the ruins of an empire.

"I inscribed then, on the little mast of Paul and Virginia's flag, those
lines of Horace:

    Fratres Helenae, lucida sidera,
    Ventorumque regat pater,
    Obstrictis alils, praeter Iapyga.

'May the brothers of Helen, lucid stars like you, and the Father of the
winds, guide you; and may you only feel the breath of the zephyr.'

"I engraved this line of Virgil upon the bark of a gum tree, under the
shade of which Paul sometimes seated himself, in order to contemplate the
agitated sea:--

    Fortunatue et ille deos qui novit agrestes!

'Happy art thou, my son, to know only the pastoral divinities.'

"And above the door of Madame de la Tour's cottage, where the families used
to assemble, I placed this line:

    At secura quies, et nescia fallere vita.

'Here is a calm conscience, and a life ignorant of deceit.'

"But Virginia did not approve of my Latin; she said, that what I had placed
at the foot of her weather flag was too long and too learned. 'I should
have liked better,' added she, 'to have seen inscribed, _Always agitated,
yet ever constant_.'

"The sensibility of those happy families extended itself to every thing
around them. They had given names the most tender to objects in appearance
the most indifferent. A border of orange, plantain, and bread trees,
planted round a greensward where Virginia and Paul sometimes danced, was
called Concord. An old tree, beneath the shade of which Madame de la Tour
and Margaret used to relate their misfortunes, was called, The Tears wiped
away. They gave the names of Britany and Normandy to little portions of
ground where they had sown corn, strawberries, and peas. Domingo and Mary,
wishing, in imitation of their mistresses, to recall the places of their
birth in Africa, gave the names of Angola and Foullepointe to the spots
where grew the herb with which they wove baskets, and where they had
planted a calbassia tree. Thus, with the productions of their respective
climates, those exiled families cherished the dear illusions which bind us
to our native country, and softened their regrets in a foreign land. Alas!
I have seen animated by a thousand soothing appellations, those trees,
those fountains, those stones which are now overthrown, which now, like the
plains of Greece, present nothing but ruins and affecting remembrances.

"Neither the neglect of her European friends, nor the delightful romantic
spot which she inhabited, could banish from the mind of Madame de la Tour
this tender attachment to her native country. While the luxurious fruits of
this climate gratified the taste of her family, she delighted to rear those
which were more graceful, only because they were the productions of her
early home. Among other little pieces addressed to flowers and fruits of
northern climes, I found the following sonnet to the Strawberry.

       SONNET.

       TO THE STRAWBERRY.

    The strawberry blooms upon its lowly bed:
    Plant of my native soil! The lime may fling
    More potent fragrance on the zephyr's wing,
    The milky cocoa richer juices shed,
    The white guava lovelier blossoms spread:
    But not, like thee, to fond remembrance bring
    The vanish'd hours of life's enchanting spring;
    Short calendar of joys for ever fled!
    Thou bidst the scenes of childhood rise to view,
    The wild wood path which fancy loves to trace,
    Where, veil'd in leaves, thy fruit of rosy hue,
    Lurk'd on its pliant stem with modest grace.
    But, ah! when thought would later years renew,
    Alas! successive sorrows crowd the space.

"But perhaps the most charming spot of this enclosure was that which was
called the Repose of Virginia. At the foot of the rock which bore the name
of the Discovery of Friendship, is a nook, from whence issues a fountain,
forming, near its source, a little spot of marshy soil in the midst of a
field of rich grass. At the time Margaret was delivered of Paul, I made her
a present of an Indian cocoa which had been given me, and which she planted
on the border of this fenny ground, in order that the tree might one day
serve to mark the epocha of her son's birth. Madame de la Tour planted
another cocoa, with the same view, at the birth of Virginia. Those fruits
produced two cocoa trees, which formed all the records of the two families:
one was called the tree of Paul, the other the tree of Virginia. They grew
in the same proportion as the two young persons, of an unequal height; but
they rose, at the end of twelve years, above the cottages. Already their
tender stalks were interwoven, and their young branches of cocoas hung over
the basin of the fountain. Except this little plantation, the nook of the
rock had been left as it was decorated by nature. On its brown and humid
sides large plants of maidenhair glistened with their green and dark stars;
and tufts of wave-leaved hartstongue, suspended like long ribands of
purpled green, floated on the winds. Near this grew a chain of the
Madagascar periwinkle, the flowers of which resemble the red gilliflower;
and the long-podded capsicum, the cloves of which are of the colour of
blood, and more glowing than coral. The herb of balm, with its leaves
within the heart, and the sweet basil, which has the odour of the
gilliflower, exhaled the most delicious perfumes. From the steep summit of
the mountain hung the graceful lianas, like a floating drapery, forming
magnificent canopies of verdure upon the sides of the rocks. The sea birds,
allured by the stillness of those retreats, resorted thither to pass the
night. At the hour of sunset we perceived the curlew and the stint skimming
along the sea shore; the cardinal poised high in air; and the white bird of
the tropic, which abandons, with the star of day, the solitudes of the
Indian ocean. Virginia loved to repose upon the border of this fountain,
decorated with wild and sublime magnificence. She often seated herself
beneath the shade of the two cocoa trees, and there she sometimes led her
goats to graze. While she prepared cheeses of their milk, she loved to see
them browse on the maidenhair which grew upon the steep sides of the rock,
and hung suspended upon one of its cornices, as on a pedestal. Paul,
observing that Virginia was fond of this spot, brought thither, from the
neighbouring forest, a great variety of birds' nests. The old birds,
following their young, established themselves in this new colony. Virginia,
at stated times, distributed amongst them grains of rice, millet, and
maize. As soon as she appeared, the whistling blackbird, the amadavid bird,
the note of which is so soft: the cardinal, the black frigate bird, with
its plumage the colour of flame, forsook their bushes; the paroquet, green
as an emerald, descended from the neighbouring fan palms; the partridge ran
along the grass: all advanced promiscuously towards her, like a brood of
chickens: and she and Paul delighted to observe their sports, their
repasts, and their loves.

"Amiable children! thus passed your early days in innocence, and in the
exercise of benevolence. How many times, on this very spot, have your
mothers, pressing you in their arms, blessed Heaven for the consolations
your unfolding virtues prepared for their declining years, while already
they enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing you begin life under the most happy
auspices! How many times, beneath the shade of those rocks, have I partaken
with them of your rural repasts, which cost no animal its life. Gourds
filled with milk, fresh eggs, cakes of rice placed upon plantain leaves,
baskets loaded with mangoes, oranges, dates, pomegranates, pine-apples,
furnished at the same time the most wholesome food, the most beautiful
colours, and the most delicious juices.

"The conversation was gentle and innocent as the repasts. Paul often talked
of the labours of the day, and those of the morrow. He was continually
forming some plan of accommodation for their little society. Here he
discovered that the paths were rough; there that the family circle was ill
seated: sometimes the young arbours did not afford sufficient shade, and
Virginia might be better pleased elsewhere.

"In the rainy seasons the two families assembled together in the hut, and
employed themselves in weaving mats of grass, and baskets of bamboo. Rakes,
spades, and hatchets were ranged along the walls in the most perfect order;
and near those instruments of agriculture were placed the productions which
were the fruits of labour: sacks of rice, sheaves of corn, and baskets of
the plantain fruit. Some degree of luxury is usually united with plenty;
and Virginia was taught by her mother and Margaret to prepare sherbet and
cordials from the juice of the sugar-cane, the orange, and the citron.

"When night came, those families supped together by the light of a lamp;
after which, Madame de la Tour or Margaret related histories of travellers
lost during the night in such of the forests of Europe as are infested by
banditti; or told a dismal tale of some shipwrecked vessel, thrown by the
tempest upon the rocks of a desert island. To these recitals their children
listened with eager sensibility, and earnestly begged that Heaven would
grant they might one day have the joy of showing their hospitality towards
such unfortunate persons. At length the two families separated and retired
to rest, impatient to meet again the next morning. Sometimes they were
lulled to repose by the beating rains, which fell in torrents upon the roof
of their cottages; and sometimes by the hollow winds, which brought to
their ear the distant murmur of the waves breaking upon the shore. They
blessed God for their personal safety, of which their feeling became
stronger from the idea of remote danger.

"Madame de la Tour occasionally read aloud some affecting history of the
Old or New Testament. Her auditors reasoned but little upon those sacred
books, for their theology consisted in sentiment, like that of nature: and
their morality in action, like that of the gospel. Those families had no
particular days devoted to pleasure, and others to sadness. Every day was
to them a holiday, and all which surrounded them one holy temple, where
they for ever adored an Infinite Intelligence, the friend of human kind. A
sentiment of confidence in his supreme power filled their minds with
consolation under the past, with fortitude for the present, and with hope
for the future. Thus, compelled by misfortune to return to a state of
nature, those women had unfolded in their own bosoms, and in those of their
children, the feelings which are most natural to the human mind, and which
are our best support under evil.

"But as clouds sometimes arise which cast a gloom over the best regulated
tempers, whenever melancholy took possession of any member of this little
society, the rest endeavoured to banish painful thoughts rather by
sentiment than by arguments. Margaret exerted her gaiety; Madame de la Tour
employed her mild theology; Virginia, her tender caresses; Paul, his
cordial and engaging frankness. Even Mary and Domingo hastened to offer
their succour, and to weep with those that wept. Thus weak plants are
interwoven, in order to resist the tempests.

"During the fine season they went every Sunday to the church of the
Shaddock Grove, the steeple of which you see yonder upon the plain. After
service, the poor often came to require some kind office at their hands.
Sometimes an unhappy creature sought their advice, sometimes a child led
them to its sick mother in the neighbourhood. They always took with them
remedies for the ordinary diseases of the country, which they administered
in that soothing manner which stamps so much value upon the smallest
favours. Above all, they succeeded in banishing the disorders of the mind,
which are so intolerable in solitude, and under the infirmities of a
weakened frame. Madame de la Tour spoke with such sublime confidence of the
Divinity, that the sick, while listening to her, believed that he was
present. Virginia often returned home with her eyes wet with tears and her
heart overflowing with delight, having had an opportunity of doing good.
After those visits of charity, they sometimes prolonged their way by the
Sloping Mountain, till they reached my dwelling, where I had prepared
dinner for them upon the banks of the little river which glides near my
cottage. I produced on those occasions some bottles of old wine, in order
to heighten the gaiety of our Indian repast by the cordial productions of
Europe. Sometimes we met upon the seashore, at the mouth of little rivers,
which are here scarcely larger than brooks. We brought from the plantation
our vegetable provisions, to which we added such as the sea furnished in
great variety. Seated upon a rock, beneath the shade of the velvet
sunflower, we heard the mountain billows break at our feet with a dashing
noise; and sometimes on that spot we listened to the plaintive strains of
the water curlew Madame de la Tour answered his sorrowful notes in the
following sonnet:--

       SONNET

       TO THE CURLEW.

    Sooth'd by the murmurs on the sea-beat shore
    His dun grey plumage floating to the gale,
    The curlew blends his melancholy wail
    With those hoarse sounds the rushing waters pour.
    Like thee, congenial bird: my steps explore
    The bleak lone seabeach, or the rocky dale,
    And shun the orange bower, the myrtle vale,
    Whose gay luxuriance suits my soul no more.
    I love the ocean's broad expanse, when dress'd
    In limpid clearness, or when tempests blow.
    When the smooth currents on its placid breast
    Flow calm, as my past moments us'd to flow;
    Or when its troubled waves refuse to rest,
    And seem the symbol of my present wo.

"Our repasts were succeeded by the songs and dances of the two young
people. Virginia sang the happiness of pastoral life, and the misery of
those who were impelled, by avarice, to cross the furious ocean, rather
than cultivate the earth, and enjoy its peaceful bounties. Sometimes she
performed a pantomime with Paul, in the manner of the negroes. The first
language of man is pantomime; it is known to all nations, and is so natural
and so expressive, that the children of the European inhabitants catch it
with facility from the negroes. Virginia recalling, amongst the histories
which her mother had read to her, those which had affected her most,
represented the principal events with beautiful simplicity. Sometimes at
the sound of Domingo's tantam she appeared upon the greensward, bearing a
pitcher upon her head, and advanced with a timid step towards the source of
a neighbouring fountain, to draw water. Domingo and Mary, who personated
the shepherds of Midian, forbade her to approach, and repulsed her sternly.
Upon which Paul flew to her succour, beat away the shepherds, filled
Virginia's pitcher, and placing it upon her head, bound her brows at the
same time with a wreath of the red flowers of the Madagascar periwinkle,
which served to heighten the delicacy of her skin. Then, joining their
sports, I took upon me the part of Raguel, and bestowed upon Paul my
daughter Zephora in marriage.

"Sometimes Virginia represented the unfortunate Ruth, returning poor and
widowed to her own country, where after so long an absence, she found
herself as in a foreign land. Domingo and Mary personated the reapers.
Virginia followed their steps, gleaning here and there a few ears of corn.
She was interrogated by Paul with the gravity of a patriarch, and answered,
with a faltering voice, his questions. Soon touched with compassion, he
granted an asylum to innocence, and hospitality to misfortune. He filled
Virginia's lap with plenty; and, leading her towards us, as before the old
men of the city, declared his purpose to take her in marriage. At this
scene, Madame de la Tour, recalling the desolate situation in which she had
been left by her relations, her widowhood, the kind reception she had met
with from Margaret, succeeded by the soothing hope of a happy union between
their children, could not forbear weeping; and the sensations which such
recollections excited led the whole audience to pour forth those luxurious
tears which have their mingled source in sorrow and in joy.

"These dramas were performed with such an air of reality, that you might
have fancied yourself transported to the plains of Syria or of Palestine.
We were not unfurnished, with either decorations, lights, or an orchestra,
suitable to the representation. The scene was generally placed in an
opening of the forest, where such parts of the wood as were penetrable
formed around us numerous arcades of foliage, beneath which we were
sheltered from the heat during the whole day; but when the sun descended
towards the horizon, its rays, broken upon the trunks of the trees,
diverged amongst the shadows of the forest in strong lines of light, which
produced the most sublime effect. Sometimes the whole of its broad disk
appeared at the end of an avenue, spreading one dazzling mass of
brightness. The foliage of the trees, illuminated from beneath by its
saffron beams, glowed with the lustre of the topaz and the emerald. Their
brown and mossy trunks appeared transformed into columns of antique bronze;
and the birds, which had retired in silence to their leafy shades to pass
the night, surprised to see the radiance of a second morning, hailed the
star of day with innumerable carols.

"Night soon overtook us during those rural entertainments; but the purity
of the air, and the mildness of the climate, admitted of our sleeping in
the woods secure from the injuries of the weather, and no less secure from
the molestation of robbers. At our return the following day to our
respective habitations, we found them exactly in the same state in which
they had been left. In this island, which then had no commerce, there was
so much simplicity and good faith, that the doors of several houses were
without a key, and a lock was an object of curiosity to many of the
natives.

"Amidst the luxuriant beauty of this favoured climate, Madame de la Tour
often regretted the quick succession from day to night which takes place
between the tropics, and which deprived her pensive mind of that hour of
twilight, the softened gloom of which is so soothing and sacred to the
feelings of tender melancholy. This regret is expressed in the following
sonnet:--

       SONNET

       TO THE TORRID ZONE.

    Pathway of light! o'er thy empurpled zone
    With lavish charms perennial summer strays;
    Soft 'midst thy spicy groves the zephyr plays,
    While far around the rich perfumes are thrown:
    The amadavid bird for thee alone
    Spreads his gay plumes, that catch thy vivid rays,
    For thee the gems with liquid lustre blaze,
    And Nature's various wealth is all thy own.
    But, ah! not thine is twilight's doubtful gloom,
    Those mild gradations, mingling day with night;
    Here instant darkness shrouds thy genial bloom,
    Nor leaves my pensive soul that lingering light,
    When musing memory would each trace resume
    Of fading pleasures in successive flight.

"Paul and Virginia had neither clock nor almanac, nor books of chronology,
history, or philosophy. The periods of their lives were regulated by those
of nature. They knew the hours of the day by the shadows of the trees, the
seasons by the times when those trees bore flowers or fruit, and the years
by the number of their harvests. These soothing images diffused an
inexpressible charm over their conversation. 'It is time to dine,' said
Virginia, 'the shadows of the plantain trees are at their roots; or, 'night
approaches; the tamarinds close their leaves.' 'When will you come to see
us?' inquired some of her companions in the neighbourhood. 'At the time of
the sugar canes,' answered Virginia. 'Your visit will be then still more
delightful,' resumed her young acquaintances. When she was asked what was
her own age, and that of Paul, 'My brother,' said she, 'is as old as the
great cocoa tree of the fountain; and I am as old as the little cocoa tree.
The mangoes have borne fruit twelve times, and the orange trees have borne
flowers four-and-twenty times, since I came into the world.' Their lives
seemed linked to the trees like those of fauns or dryads. They knew no
other historical epochas than that of the lives of their mothers, no other
chronology than that of their orchards, and no other philosophy than that
of doing good, and resigning themselves to the will of Heaven.

"Thus grew those children of nature. No care had troubled their peace, no
intemperance had corrupted their blood, no misplaced passion had depraved
their hearts. Love, innocence, and piety, possessed their souls; and those
intellectual graces unfolded themselves in their features, their attitudes,
and their motions. Still in the morning of life, they had all its blooming
freshness; and surely such in the garden of Eden appeared our first
parents, when, coming from the hands of God, they first saw, approached,
and conversed together, like brother and sister. Virginia was gentle,
modest, and confiding as Eve; and Paul, like Adam, united the figure of
manhood with the simplicity of a child.

"When alone with Virginia, he has a thousand times told me, he used to say
to her, at his return from labour, 'When I am wearied, the sight of you
refreshes me. If from the summit of the mountain I perceive you below in
the valley, you appear to me in the midst of our orchard like a blushing
rosebud. If you go towards our mother's house, the partridge, when it runs
to meet its young has a shape less beautiful, and a step less light. When I
lose sight of you through the trees, I have no need to see you in order to
find you again. Something of you, I know not how, remains for me in the air
where you have passed, in the grass where you have been seated. When I come
near you, you delight all my senses. The azure of heaven is less charming
than the blue of your eyes, and the song of the amadavid bird less soft
than the sound of your voice. If I only touch you with my finger, my whole
frame trembles with pleasure. Do you remember the day when we crossed over
the great stones of the river of the Three Peaks; I was very much tired
before we reached the bank; but as soon as I had taken you in my arms, I
seemed to have wings like a bird. Tell me by what charm you have so
enchanted me? Is it by your wisdom? Our mothers have more than either of
us. Is it by your caresses? They embrace me much oftener than you. I think
it must be by your goodness. I shall never forget how you walked barefooted
to the Black River, to ask pardon for the poor wandering; slave. Here, my
beloved, take this flowering orange branch, which I have culled in the
forest; you will place it at night near your bed. Eat this honeycomb, which
I have taken for you from the top of a rock. But first lean upon my bosom,
and I shall be refreshed.'

"Virginia then answered, 'Oh my dear brother, the rays of the sun in the
morning at the top of the rocks give me less joy than the sight of you. I
love my mother, I love yours; but when they call you their son, I love them
a thousand times more. When they caress you, I feel it more sensibly than
when I am caressed myself. You ask me why you love me. Why, all creatures
that are brought up together love one another. Look at our birds reared up
in the same nests; they love like us; they are always together like us.
Hark? how they call and answer from one tree to another. So when the echoes
bring to my ears the air which you play upon your flute at the top of the
mountain, I repeat the words at the bottom of the valley. Above all, you
are dear to me since the day when you wanted to fight the master of the
slave for me. Since that time how often have I said to myself, 'Ah, my
brother has a good heart; but for him I should have died of terror.' I pray
to God every day for my mother and yours; for you, and for our poor
servants; but when I pronounce your name, my devotion seems to increase, I
ask so earnestly of God that no harm may befal you! Why do you go so far,
and climb so high, to seek fruits and flowers for me? How much you are
fatigued!' and with her little white handkerchief she wiped the damps from
his brow.

"For some time past, however, Virginia had felt her heart agitated by new
sensations. Her fine blue eyes lost their lustre, her cheek its freshness,
and her frame was seized with universal languor. Serenity no longer sat
upon her brow, nor smiles played upon her lips. She became suddenly gay
without joy, and melancholy without vexation. She fled her innocent sports,
her gentle labours, and the society of her beloved family; wandering along
the most unfrequented parts of the plantation, and seeking every where that
rest which she could no where find. Sometimes, at the sight of Paul, she
advanced sportively towards him, and, when going to accost him, was seized
with sudden confusion: her pale cheeks were overspread with blushes, and
her eyes no longer dared to meet those of her brother. Paul said to her,
'The rocks are covered with verdure, our birds begin to sing when you
approach, every thing around you is gay, and you only are unhappy.' He
endeavoured to soothe her by his embraces; but she turned away her head,
and fled trembling towards her mother. The caresses of her brother excited
too much emotion in her agitated heart. Paul could not comprehend the
meaning of those new and strange caprices.

"One of those summers, which sometimes desolate the countries situated
between the tropics, now spread its ravages over this island. It was near
the end of December, when the sun in Capricorn darts over Mauritius, during
the space of three weeks, its vertical fires. The south wind, which
prevails almost throughout the whole year, no longer blew. Vast columns of
dust arose from the highways, and hung suspended in the air: the ground was
every where broken into clefts; the grass was burnt; hot exhalations issued
from the sides of the mountains, and their rivulets, for the most part
became dry: fiery vapours, during the day, ascended from the plains, and
appeared, at the setting of the sun, like a conflagration. Night brought no
coolness to the heated atmosphere: the orb of the moon seemed of blood,
and, rising in a misty horizon, appeared of supernatural magnitude. The
drooping cattle, on the sides of the hills, stretching out their necks
towards heaven, and panting for air, made the valleys reecho with their
melancholy lowings; even the Caffree, by whom they were led, threw himself
upon the earth, in search of coolness; but the scorching sun had every
where penetrated, and the stifling atmosphere resounded with the buzzing
noise of insects, who sought to allay their thirst in the blood of man and
of animals.

"On one of those sultry nights Virginia, restless and unhappy, arose, then
went again to rest, but could find in no attitude either slumber or repose.
At length she bent her way, by the light of the moon, towards her fountain,
and gazed at its spring, which, notwithstanding the drought, still flowed
like silver threads down the brown sides of the rock. She flung herself
into the basin; its coolness reanimated her spirits, and a thousand
soothing remembrances presented themselves to her mind. She recollected
that in her infancy her mother and Margaret amused themselves by bathing
her with Paul in this very spot; that Paul afterwards, reserving this bath
for her use only, had dug its bed, covered the bottom with sand, and sown
aromatic herbs around the borders. She saw, reflected through the water
upon her naked arms and bosom, the two cocoa trees which were planted at
her birth and that of her brother, and which interwove about her head their
green branches and young fruit. She thought of Paul's friendship, sweeter
than the odours, purer than the waters of the fountains, stronger than the
intertwining palm trees, and she sighed. Reflecting upon the hour of the
night, and the profound solitude, her imagination again grew disordered.
Suddenly she flew affrighted from those dangerous shades, and those waters
which she fancied hotter than the torrid sunbeam, and ran to her mother, in
order to find a refuge from herself. Often, wishing to unfold her
sufferings, she pressed her mother's hand within her own; often she was
ready to pronounce the name of Paul; but her oppressed heart left not her
lips the power of utterance; and, leaning her head on her mother's bosom,
she could only bathe it with her tears.

"Madame de la Tour, though she easily discerned the source of her
daughter's uneasiness, did not think proper to speak to her on that
subject. 'My dear child,' said she, address yourself to God, who disposes,
at his will, of health and of life. He tries you now, in order to
recompense you hereafter. Remember that we are only placed upon earth for
the exercise of virtue.'

"The excessive heat drew vapours from the ocean, which hung over the island
like a vast awning, and slithered round the summits of the mountains, while
long flakes of fire occasionally issued from their misty peaks. Soon after
the most terrible thunder reechoed through the woods, the plains and the
valleys; the rains fell from the skies like cataracts; foaming torrents
rolled down the sides of the mountain; the bottom of the valley became a
sea; the plat of ground on which the cottages were built, a little island:
and the entrance of this valley a sluice, along which rushed precipitately
the moaning waters, earth, trees, and rocks.

"Meantime the trembling family addressed their prayers to God in the
cottage of Madame de la Tour, the roof of which cracked horribly from the
struggling winds. So vivid and frequent were the lightnings, that, although
the doors and window-shutters were well fastened, every object without was
distinctly seen through the jointed beams. Paul, followed by Domingo, went
with intrepidity from one cottage to another, notwithstanding the fury of
the tempest; here supporting a partition with a buttress, there driving in
a stake, and only returning to the family to calm their fears, by the hope
that the storm was passing away. Accordingly, in the evening the rains
ceased, the trade-winds of the south pursued their ordinary course, the
tempestuous clouds were thrown towards the north-east, and the setting sun
appeared in the horizon.

"Virginia's first wish was to visit the spot called her _Repose_. Paul
approached her with a timid air, and offered her the assistance of his arm,
which she accepted, smiling, and they left the cottage together. The air
was fresh and clear; white vapours arose from the ridges of the mountains,
furrowed here and there by the foam of the torrents, which were now
becoming dry. The garden was altogether destroyed by the hollows which the
floods had worn, the roots of the fruit trees were for the most part laid
bare, and vast heaps of sand covered the chain of meadows, and choked up
Virginia's bath. The two cocoa trees, however, were still erect, and still
retained their freshness: but they were no longer surrounded by turf, or
arbours, or birds, except a few amadavid birds, who, upon the points of the
neighbouring rocks, lamented, in plaintive notes, the loss of their young.

"At the sight of this general desolation, Virginia exclaimed to Paul, 'You
brought birds hither, and the hurricane has killed them. You planted this
garden, and it is now destroyed. Every thing then upon earth perishes, and
it is only heaven that is not subject to change.' 'Why,' answered Paul,
'why cannot I give you something which belongs to heaven? but I am
possessed of nothing even upon earth.' Virginia, blushing, resumed, 'You
have the picture of Saint Paul.' Scarcely had she pronounced the words,
when he flew in search of it to his mother's cottage. This picture was a
small miniature, representing Paul the Hermit, and which Margaret, who was
very pious, had long worn hung at her neck when she was a girl, and which,
since she became a mother, she had placed round the neck of her child. It
had even happened, that being while pregnant, abandoned by the whole world,
and continually employed in contemplating the image of this benevolent
recluse, her offspring had contracted, at least so she fancied, some
resemblance to this revered object. She therefore bestowed upon him the
name of Paul, giving him for his patron a saint, who had passed his life
far from mankind, by whom he had been first deceived, and then forsaken.
Virginia, upon receiving this little picture from the hands of Paul, said
to him, with emotion, 'My dear brother, I will never part with this while I
live; nor will I ever forget that you have given me the only thing which
you possess in the world.' At this tone of friendship this unhoped-for
return of familiarity and tenderness, Paul attempted to embrace her; but,
light as a bird, she fled, and left him astonished, and unable to account
for a conduct so extraordinary.

"Meanwhile Margaret said to Madame de la Tour, 'Why do we not unite our
children by marriage? They have a tender attachment to each other.' Madame
de la Tour replied, 'They are too young, and too poor. What grief would it
occasion us to see Virginia bring into the world unfortunate children, whom
she would not perhaps have sufficient strength to rear! Your negro,
Domingo, is almost too old to labour; Mary is infirm. As for myself, my
dear friend, in the space of fifteen years I find my strength much failed;
age advances rapidly in hot climates, and, above all, under the pressure of
misfortune. Paul is our only hope: let us wait till his constitution is
strengthened, and till he can support us by his labour: at present you well
know that we have only sufficient to supply the wants of the day: but were
we to send Paul for a short time to the Indies, commerce would furnish him
with the means of purchasing a slave; and at his return we will unite him
to Virginia: for I am persuaded no one on earth can render her so happy as
your son. We will consult our neighbour on this subject.

"They accordingly asked my advice, and I was of their opinion. 'The Indian
seas,' I observed to them, are calm, and, in choosing a favourable season,
the voyage is seldom longer than six weeks. We will furnish Paul with a
little venture in my neighbourhood, where he is much beloved. If we were
only to supply him with some raw cotton, of which we make no use, for want
of mills to work it, some ebony, which is here so common, that it serves us
for firing, and some resin, which is found in our woods: all those articles
will sell advantageously in the Indies, though to us they are useless.'

"I engaged to obtain permission from Monsieur de la Bourdonnais to
undertake this voyage: but I determined previously to mention the affair to
Paul; and my surprise was great, when this young man said to me, with a
degree of good sense above his age, 'And why do you wish me to leave my
family for this precarious pursuit of fortune? Is there any commerce more
advantageous than the culture of the ground, which yields sometimes fifty
or a hundred fold? If we wish to engage in commerce, we can do so by
carrying our superfluities to the town, without my wandering to the Indies.
Our mothers tell me, that Domingo is old and feeble; but I am young, and
gather strength every day. If any accident should happen during my absence,
above all, to Virginia, who already suffers--Oh, no, no!--I cannot resolve
to learn them.'

"This answer threw me into great perplexity, for Madame de la Tour had not
concealed from me the situation of Virginia, and her desire of separating
those young people for a few years. These ideas I did not dare to suggest
to Paul.

"At this period, a ship, which arrived from France, brought Madame de la
Tour a letter from her aunt. Alarmed by the terrors of approaching death,
which could alone penetrate a heart so insensible, recovering from a
dangerous disorder, which had left her in a state of weakness, rendered
incurable by age, she desired that her niece would return to France; or, if
her health forbade her to undertake so long a voyage, she conjured her to
send Virginia, on whom she would bestow a good education, procure for her a
splendid marriage, and leave her the inheritance of her whole fortune. The
perusal of this letter spread general consternation through the family.
Domingo and Mary began to weep. Paul, motionless with surprise, appeared as
if his heart was ready to burst with indignation; while Virginia, fixing
her eyes upon her mother, had not power to utter a word.

"'And can you now leave us?' cried Margaret to Madame de la Tour. 'No, my
dear friend, no, my beloved children,' replied Madame de la Tour; 'I will
not leave you. I have lived with you, and with you I will die. I have known
no happiness but in your affection. If my health be deranged, my past
misfortunes are the cause. My heart, deeply wounded by the cruelty of a
relation, and the loss of my husband, has found more consolation and
felicity with you beneath these humble huts, than all the wealth of my
family could now give me in my own country.'

"At this soothing language every eye overflowed with tears of delight. Paul
pressed Madame de la Tour in his arms, exclaiming, 'Neither will I leave
you! I will not go to the Indies. We will all labour for you, my dear
mother; and you shall never feel any wants with us.' But of the whole
society, the person who displayed the least transport, and who probably
felt the most, was Virginia; and, during the remainder of the day, that
gentle gaiety which flowed from her heart, and proved that her peace was
restored, completed the general satisfaction.

"The next day, at sunrise, while they were offering up, as usual, their
morning sacrifice of praise, which preceded their breakfast, Domingo
informed them that a gentleman on horseback, followed by two slaves, was
coming towards the plantation. This person was Monsieur de la Bourdonnais.
He entered the cottage where he found the family at breakfast. Virginia had
prepared, according to the custom of the country, coffee and rice boiled in
water: to which she added hot yams and fresh cocoas. The leaves of the
plantain tree supplied the want of table-linen; and calbassia shells, split
in two, served for utensils. The governor expressed some surprise at the
homeliness of the dwelling: then, addressing himself to Madame de la Tour,
he observed, that although public affairs drew his attention too much from
the concerns of individuals, she had many claims to his good offices. 'You
have an aunt at Paris, Madam,' he added, 'a woman of quality, and immensely
rich, who expects that you will hasten to see her, and who means to bestow
upon you her whole fortune.' Madame de la Tour replied, that the state of
her health would not permit her to undertake so long a voyage. 'At least,'
resumed Monsieur de la Bourdonnais, 'you cannot, without injustice, deprive
this amiable young lady, your daughter, of so noble an inheritance. I will
not conceal from you that your aunt has made use of her influence to oblige
you to return; and that I have received official letters, in which I am
ordered to exert my authority, if necessary, to that effect. But, as I only
wish to employ my power for the purpose of rendering the inhabitants of
this colony happy, I expect from your good sense the voluntary sacrifice of
a few years, upon which depend your daughter's establishment in the world,
and the welfare of your whole life. Wherefore do we come to these islands?
Is it not to acquire a fortune? And will it not be more agreeable to return
and find it in your own country?'

"He then placed a great bag of piastres, which had been brought hither by
one of his slaves, upon the table. 'This,' added he, 'is allotted by your
aunt for the preparations necessary for the young lady's voyage.' Gently
reproaching Madame de la Tour for not having had recourse to him in her
difficulties, he extolled at the same time her noble fortitude. Upon this,
Paul said to the governor, 'My mother did, address herself to you, Sir, and
you received her ill.'--'Have you another child, Madam? said Monsieur de la
Bourdonnais to Madame de la Tour.--'No, Sir,' she replied: 'this is the
child of my friend; but he and Virginia are equally dear to us.' 'Young
man,' said the governor to Paul, 'when you have acquired a little more
experience of the world, you will know that it is the misfortune of people
in place to be deceived and thence to bestow upon intriguing vice that
which belongs to modest merit.'

"Monsieur de la Bourdonnais, at the request of Madame de la Tour, placed
himself next her at the table, and breakfasted in the manner of the
Creoles, upon coffee mixed with rice boiled in water. He was delighted with
the order and neatness which prevailed in the little cottage, the harmony
of the two interesting families, and the zeal of their old servants.
'Here,' exclaimed he, 'I discern only wooden furniture, but I find serene
contenances, and hearts of gold.' Paul, enchanted with the affability of
the governor, said to him, 'I wish to be your friend; you are a good man.'
Monsieur de la Bourdonnais received with pleasure this insular compliment,
and, taking Paul by the hand, assured him that he might rely upon his
friendship.

"After breakfast, he took Madame de la Tour aside, and informed her that an
opportunity presented itself of sending her daughter to France in a ship
which was going to sail in a short time; that he would recommend her to a
lady a relation of his own, who would be a passenger; and that she must not
think of renouncing an immense fortune on account of bring separated from
her daughter a few years. 'Your aunt,'he added, 'cannot live more than two
years; of this I am assured by her friends. Think of it seriously. Fortune
does not visit us every day. Consult your friends. Every person of good
sense will be of my opinion.' She answered, 'that, desiring no other
happiness henceforth in the world than that of her daughter, she would
leave her departure for France entirely to her own inclination.

"Madame de la Tour was not sorry to find an opportunity of separating Paul
and Virginia for a short time, and provide, by this means, for their mutual
felicity at a future period. She took her daughter aside, and said to her,
'My dear child, our servants are now old. Paul is still very young;
Margaret is advanced in years, and I am already infirm. If I should die,
what will become of you, without fortune, in the midst of these deserts?
You will then be left alone without any person who can afford you much
succour, and forced to labour without ceasing, in order to support your
wretched existence. This idea fills my soul with sorrow.' Virginia
answered, 'God has appointed us to labour. You have taught me to labour,
and to bless him every day. He never has forsaken us, he never will forsake
us. His providence peculiarly watches the unfortunate. You have told me
this often my dear mother! I cannot resolve to leave you.' Madame de la
Tour replied, with much emotion, 'I have no other aim than to render you
happy, and to marry you one day to Paul, who is not your brother. Reflect
at present that his fortune depends upon you.'

"A young girl who loves believes that all the world is ignorant of her
passion; she throws over her eyes the veil which she has thrown over her
heart; but when it is lifted up by some cherishing hand, the secret
inquietudes of passion suddenly burst their bounds, and the soothing
overflowings of confidence succeed that reserve and mystery with which the
oppressed heart had enveloped its feelings. Virginia, deeply affected by
this new proof of her mother's tenderness, related to her how cruel had
been those struggles which Heaven alone had witnessed; declared that she
saw the succour of Providence in that of an affectionate mother, who
approved of her attachment, and would guide her by her counsels; that,
being now strengthened by such support, every consideration led her to
remain with her mother, without anxiety for the present, and without
apprehensions for the future.

"Madame de la Tour, perceiving that this confidential conversation had
produced an effect altogether different from that which she expected, said,
'My dear child, I will not any more constrain your inclination: deliberate
at leisure, but conceal your feelings from Paul.'

"Towards evening, when Madame de la Tour and Virginia were again together,
their confessor, who was a missionary in the island, entered the room,
having been sent by the governor. 'My children,' he exclaimed, as he
entered, 'God be praised!' you are now rich. You can now listen to the kind
suggestion of your excellent hearts, and do good to the poor. I know what
Monsieur de la Bourdonnais has said to you, and what you have answered.
Your health, dear Madam, obliges you to remain here: but you, young lady,
are without excuse. We must obey the will of Providence; and we must also
obey our aged relations, even when they are unjust. A sacrifice is required
of you; but it is the order of God. He devoted himself for you: and you, in
imitation of his example, must devote yourself for the welfare of your
family. Your voyage to France will have a happy termination. You will
surely consent to go, my dear young lady.'

"Virginia, with downcast eyes, answered, trembling, 'If it be the command
of God, I will not presume to oppose it. Let the will of God be done!' said
she, weeping.

"The priest went away, and informed the governor of the success of his
mission. In the meantime Madame de la Tour sent Domingo to desire I would
come hither, that she might consult me upon Virginia's departure. I was of
opinion that she ought not to go. I consider it as a fixed principle of
happiness, that we ought to prefer the advantages of nature to those of
fortune; and never go in search of that at a distance, which we may find in
our own bosoms. But what could be expected from my moderate counsels,
opposed to the illusions of a splendid fortune; and my simple reasoning,
contradicted by the prejudices of the world, and an authority which Madame
de la Tour held sacred? This lady had only consulted me from a sentiment of
respect, and had, in reality, ceased to deliberate since she had heard the
decision of her confessor. Margaret herself, who, notwithstanding the
advantages she hoped for her son, from the possession of Virginia's
fortune, had hitherto opposed her departure, made no further objections. As
for Paul, ignorant of what was decided, and alarmed at the secret
conversation which Madame de la Tour held with her daughter, he abandoned
himself to deep melancholy. 'They are plotting something against my peace,'
cried he, 'since they are so careful of concealment.'

"A report having in the meantime been spread over the island, that fortune
had visited those rocks, we beheld merchants of all kinds climbing their
steep ascent, and displaying in those humble huts the richest stuffs of
India. The fine dimity of Gondelore; the handkerchiefs of Pellicate and
Mussulapatan; the plain, striped, and embroidered muslins of Decca, clear
as the day. Those merchants unrolled the gorgeous silks of China, white
satin damasks, others of grass-green, and bright red; rose-coloured
taffetas, a profusion of satins, pelongs, and gauze of Tonquin, some plain,
and some beautifully decorated with flowers; the soft pekins, downy like
cloth; white and yellow nankeens, and the calicoes of Madagascar.

"Madame de la Tour wished her daughter to purchase every thing she liked;
and Virginia made choice of whatever she believed would be agreeable to her
mother, Margaret, and her son. 'This,' said she, 'will serve for furniture,
and that will be useful to Mary and Domingo.' In short, the bag of piastres
was emptied before she had considered her own wants; and she was obliged to
receive a share of the presents which she had distributed to the family
circle.

"Paul, penetrated with sorrow at the sight of those gifts of fortune, which
he felt were the presage of Virginia's departure, came a few days after to
my dwelling. With an air of despondency he said to me, 'My sister is going;
they are already making preparations for her voyage. I conjure you to come
and exert your influence over her mother and mine, in order to detain her
here.' I could not refuse the young man's solicitations, although well
convinced that my representations would be unavailing.

"If Virginia had appeared to me charming when clad in the blue cloth of
Bengal, with a red handkerchief tied round her head, how much was her
beauty improved, when decorated with the graceful ornaments worn by the
ladies of this country! She was dressed in white muslin, lined with
rose-coloured taffeta. Her small and elegant shape was displayed to
advantage by her corset, and the lavish profusion of her light tresses were
carelessly blended with her simple head-dress. Her fine blue eyes were
filled with an expression of melancholy: and the struggles of passion, with
which her heart was agitated, flushed her cheek, and gave her voice a tone
of emotion. The contrast between her pensive look and her gay habiliments
rendered her more interesting than ever, nor was it possible to see or hear
her unmoved. Paul became more and more melancholy; at length Margaret,
distressed by the situation of her son, took him aside, and said to him,
'Why, my dear son, will you cherish vain hopes, which will only render your
disappointment more bitter! It is time that I should make known to you the
secret of your life and of mine. Mademoiselle de la Tour belongs, by her
mother, to a rich and noble family, while you are but the son of a poor
peasant girl; and, what is worse, you are a natural child.'

"Paul, who had never before heard this last expression, inquired with
eagerness its meaning. His mother replied, 'You had no legitimate father.
When I was a girl, seduced by love, I was guilty of a weakness of which you
are the offspring. My fault deprived you of the protection of a father's
family, and my flight from home, of that of a mother's family. Unfortunate
child! you have no relation in the world but me!' And she shed a flood of
tears. Paul, pressing her in his arms, exclaimed, 'Oh, my dear mother!
since I have no relation in the world but you, I will love you still more!
But what a secret have you disclosed to me! I now see the reason why
Mademoiselle de la Tour has estranged herself from me for two months past,
and why she has determined to go. Ah! I perceive too well that she despises
me!'

"'The hour of supper being arrived, we placed ourselves at table; but the
different sensations with which we were all agitated left us little
inclination to eat, and the meal passed in silence. Virginia first went
out, and seated herself on the very spot where we now are placed. Paul
hastened after her, and seated himself by her side. It was one of those
delicious nights which are so common between the tropics, and the beauty of
which no pencil can trace. The moon appeared in the midst of the firmament,
curtained in clouds which her beams gradually dispelled. Her light
insensibly spread itself over the mountains of the island, and their peaks
glistened with a silvered green. The winds were perfectly still. We heard
along the woods, at the bottom of the valleys, and on the summits of the
rocks, the weak cry and the soft murmurs of the birds, exulting in the
brightness of the night, and the serenity of the atmosphere. The hum of
insects was heard in the grass. The stars sparkled in the heavens, and
their trembling and lucid orbs were reflected upon the bosom of the ocean.
Virginia's eyes wandered over its vast and gloomy horizon, distinguishable
from the bay of the island by the red fires in the fishing boat. She
perceived at the entrance of the harbour a light and a shadow: these were
the watch-light and the body of the vessel in which she was to embark for
Europe, and which, ready to set sail, lay at anchor, waiting for the wind.
Affected at this sight, she turned away her head, in order to hide her
tears from Paul.

"Madame de la Tour, Margaret, and myself were seated at a little distance
beneath the plantain trees; and amidst the stillness of the night we
distinctly heard their conversation, which I have not forgotten.

"Paul said to her, 'You are going, they tell me, in three days. You do not
fear, then, to encounter the danger of the sea, at which you are so much
terrified!' 'I must fulfil my duty,' answered Virginia, 'by obeying my
parent.' 'You leave us,' resumed Paul, 'for a distant relation, whom you
have never seen.' 'Alas!' cried Virginia, 'I would have remained my whole
life here, but my mother would not have it so. My confessor told me that it
was the will of God I should go, and that life was a trial!'

"'What,' exclaimed Paul, 'you have found so many reasons then for going,
and not one for remaining here! Ah! there is one reason for your departure,
which you have not mentioned. Riches have great attractions. You will soon
find in the new world, to which you are going, another to whom you will
give the name of brother, which you will bestow on me no more. You will
choose that brother from amongst persons who are worthy of you by their
birth, and by a fortune which I have not to offer. But where will you go in
order to be happier? On what shore will you land which will be dearer to
you than the spot which gave you birth? Where will you find a society more
interesting to you than this by which you are so beloved? How will you bear
to live without your mother's caresses, to which you are so accustomed?
What will become of her, already advanced in years, when she will no longer
see you at her side at table, in the house, in the walks where she used to
lean upon you? What will become of my mother who loves you with the same
affection? What shall I say to comfort them when I see them weeping for
your absence! Cruel! I speak not to you of myself; but what will become of
me, when in the morning I shall no more see you: when the evening will come
and will not reunite us? When I shall gaze on the two palm trees, planted
at our birth, and so long the witnesses of our mutual friendship? Ah; since
a new destiny attracts you, since you seek in a country, distant from your
own, other possessions than those which were the fruits of my labour, let
me accompany you in the vessel in which you are going to embark. I will
animate your courage in the midst of those tempests at which you are so
terrified even on shore. I will lay your head on my bosom. I will warm your
heart upon my own; and in France, where you go in search of fortune and of
grandeur, I will attend you as your slave. Happy only in your happiness,
you will find me in those palaces where I shall see you cherished and
adored, at least sufficiently noble to make for you the greatest of all
sacrifices, by dying at your feet.'

"The violence of his emotion stifled his voice, and we then heard that of
Virginia, which, broken by sobs, uttered these words: 'It is for you I go:
for you, whom I see every day bent beneath the labour of sustaining two
infirm families. If I have accepted this opportunity of becoming rich, it
is only to return you a thousandfold the good which you have done us. Is
there any fortune worthy of your friendship? Why do you talk to me of your
birth? Ah! if it were again possible to give me a brother, should I make
choice of any other than you? Oh, Paul! Paul! you are far dearer to me than
a brother! How much has it cost me to avoid you! Help me to tear myself
from what I value more than existence, till Heaven can bless our union. But
I will stay or go: I will live or die; dispose of me as you will. Unhappy,
that I am! I could resist your caresses, but I am unable to support your
affliction.'

"At these words Paul seized her in his arms, and, holding her pressed fast
to his bosom, cried, in a piercing tone, 'I will go with her; nothing shall
divide us.' We ran towards him, and Madame de la Tour said to him, 'My son,
if you go, what will become of us?'

"He, trembling, repeated the words, 'My son:--My son'--You my mother,'
cried he; 'you, who would separate the brother from the sister! We have
both been nourished at your bosom; we have both been reared upon your
knees; we have learnt of you to love each other; we have said so a thousand
times; and now you would separate her from me! You send her to Europe, that
barbarous country which refused you an asylum, and to relations by whom you
were abandoned. You will tell me that I have no right over her, and that
she is not my sister. She is everything to me, riches, birth, family, my
sole good; I know no other. We have had but one roof, one cradle, and we
will have but one grave. If she goes, I will follow her. The governor will
prevent me! Will he prevent me from flinging myself into the sea? Will he
prevent me from following her by swimming? The sea cannot be more fatal to
me than the land. Since I cannot live with her, at least I will die before
her eyes; far from you, inhuman mother! woman without compassion! May the
ocean, to which you trust her, restore her to you no more! May the waves,
rolling back our corpses amidst the stones of the beach, give you, in the
loss of your two children, an eternal subject of remorse!'

"At these words I seized him in my arms, for despair had deprived him of
reason. His eyes flashed fire, big drops of sweat hung upon his face, his
knees trembled, and I felt his heart beat violently against his burning
bosom.

"Virginia, affrighted, said to him, 'Oh, my friend, I call to witness the
pleasures of our early age, your sorrow and my own, and every thing that
can forever bind two unfortunate beings to each other, that if I remain, I
will live but for you; that if I go, I will one day return to be yours. I
call you all to witness, you who have reared my infancy, who dispose of my
life, who see my tears. I swear by that Heaven which hears me, by the sea
which I am going to pass, by the air I breathe, and which I never sullied
by a falsehood.'

"As the sun softens and dissolves an icy rock upon the summit of the
Apennines, so the impetuous passions of the young man were subdued by the
voice of her he loved. He bent his head, and a flood of tears fell from his
eyes. His mother, mingling her tears with his, held him in her arms, but
was unable to speak. Madame de la Tour, half distracted, said to me, 'I can
bear this no longer. My heart is broken. This unfortunate Voyage shall not
take place. Do take my son home with you. It is eight days since any one
here has slept.'

"I said to Paul, 'My dear friend, your sister will remain. To-morrow we
will speak to the governor; leave your family, to take some rest, and come
and pass the night with me.'

"He suffered himself to be led away in silence; and, after a night of great
agitation, he arose at break of day, and returned home.

"But why should I continue any longer the recital of this history? There is
never but one aspect of human life which we can contemplate with pleasure.
Like the globe upon which we revolve, our fleeting course is but a day: and
if one part of that day be visited by light, the other is thrown into
darkness."

"Father," I answered, "finish, I conjure you, the history which you have
begun in a manner so interesting. If the images of happiness are most
pleasing, those of misfortune are more instructive. Tell me what became of
the unhappy young man."

"The first object which Paul beheld in his way home was Mary, who, mounted
upon a rock, was earnestly looking towards the sea. As soon as he perceived
her, he called to her from a distance, 'Where is Virginia?' Mary turned her
head towards her young master, and began to weep. Paul, distracted, and
treading back his steps, ran to the harbour. He was there informed, that
Virginia had embarked at break of day, that the vessel had immediately
after set sail, and could no longer be discerned. He instantly returned to
the plantation, which he crossed without uttering a word.

"Although the pile of rocks behind us appears almost perpendicular, those
green platforms which separate their summits are so many stages by means of
which you may reach, through some difficult paths, that cone of hanging and
inaccessible rocks, called the Thumb. At the foot of that cone is a
stretching slope of ground, covered with lofty trees, and which is so high
and steep that it appears like a forest in air, surrounded by tremendous
precipices. The clouds, which are attracted round the summit of those
rocks, supply innumerable rivulets, which rush from so immense a height
into that deep valley situated behind the mountain, that from this elevated
point we do not hear the sound of their fall. On that spot you can discern
a considerable part of the island with its precipices crowned with their
majestic peaks; and, amongst others, Peterbath, and the three Peaks, with
their valley filled with woods. You also command an extensive view of the
ocean, and even perceive the Isle of Bourbon forty leagues towards the
west. From the summit of that stupendous pile of rocks Paul gazed upon the
vessel which had borne away Virginia, and which, now ten leagues out at
sea, appeared like a black spot in the midst of the ocean. He remained a
great part of the day with his eyes fixed upon this object: when it had
disappeared, he still fancied he beheld it: and when, at length, the traces
which clung to his imagination were lost amidst the gathering mists of the
horizon, he seated himself on that wild point, for ever beaten by the
winds, which never cease to agitate the tops of the cabbage and gum trees,
and the hoarse and moaning murmurs of which, similar to the distant sound
of organs, inspire a deep melancholy. On that spot. I found Paul, with his
head reclined on the rock, and his eyes fixed upon the ground. I had
followed him since break of day, and after much importunity, I prevailed
with him to descend from the heights, and return to his family. I conducted
him to the plantation, where the first impulse of his mind, upon seeing
Madame de la Tour, was to reproach her bitterly for having deceived him.
Madame de la Tour told us, that a favourable wind having arose at three
o'clock in the morning, and the vessel being ready to set sail, the
governor, attended by his general officers, and the missionary, had come
with a palanquin in search of Virginia, and that, notwithstanding her own
objections, her tears, and those of Margaret, all the while exclaiming that
it was for the general welfare they had carried away Virginia almost dying.
'At least,' cried Paul, 'if I had bid her farewell, I should now be more
calm. I would have said to her, Virginia, if, during the time we have lived
together, one word may have escaped me which has offended you, before you
leave me for ever, tell me that you forgive me. I would have said to her,
since I am destined to see you no more, farewell, my dear Virginia,
farewell! Live far from me, contented and happy!'

"When he saw that his mother and Madame de la Tour were weeping, 'You must
now,' said he, 'seek some other than me to wipe away your tears;' and then,
rushing out of the house, he wandered up and down the plantation. He flew
eagerly to those spots which had been most dear to Virginia. He said to the
goats and their kids which followed him, bleating, 'What do you ask of me?
You will see her no more who used to feed you with her own hand.' He went
to the bower called the Repose of Virginia; and, as the birds flew around
him, exclaimed, 'Poor little birds! you will fly no more to meet her who
cherished you!' and observing Fidele running backwards and forwards in
search of her, he heaved a deep sigh, and cried, 'Ah! you will never find
her again.' At length he went and seated himself upon the rock where he had
conversed with her the preceding evening; and at the view of the ocean,
upon which he had seen the vessel disappear, which bore her away, he wept
bitterly.

"We continually watched his steps, apprehending some fatal consequence from
the violent agitation of his mind. His mother and Madame de la Tour
conjured him, in the most tender manner, not to increase their affliction
by his despair. At length Madame de la Tour soothed his mind by lavishing
upon him such epithets as were best calculated to revive his hopes. She
called him her son, her dear son, whom she destined for her daughter. She
prevailed with him to return to the house, and receive a little
nourishment. He seated himself with us at table, next to the place which
used to be occupied by the companion of his childhood, and, as if she had
still been present, he spoke to her, and offered whatever he knew was most
agreeable to her taste; and then, starting from this dream of fancy, he
began to weep. For some days he employed himself in gathering together
every thing which had belonged to Virginia; the last nosegays she had worn,
the cocoa shell in which she used to drink; and after kissing a thousand
times those relics of his friend, to him the most precious treasures which
the world contained, he hid them in his bosom. The spreading perfumes of
the amber are not so sweet as the objects which have belonged to those we
love. At length, perceiving that his anguish increased that of his mother
and Madame de la Tour, and that the wants of the family required continual
labour, he began, with the assistance of Domingo, to repair the garden.

"Soon after, this young man, till now indifferent as a Creole with respect
to what was passing in the world, desired I would teach him to read and
write, that he might carry on a correspondence with Virginia. He then
wished to be instructed in geography, in order that he might form a just
idea of the country where she had disembarked; and in history, that he
might know the manners of the society in which she was placed. The powerful
sentiment of love, which directed his present studies, had already taught
him the arts of agriculture, and the manner of laying out the most
irregular grounds with advantage and beauty. It must be admitted, that to
the fond dreams of this restless and ardent passion, mankind are indebted
for a great number of arts and sciences, while its disappointments have
given birth to philosophy, which teaches us to bear the evils of life with
resignation. Thus, nature having made love the general link which binds all
beings, has rendered it the first spring of society, the first incitement
of knowledge as well as pleasure.

"Paul found little satisfaction in the study of geography, which, instead
of describing the natural history of each country, only gave a view of its
political boundaries. History, and especially modern history, interested
him little more. He there saw only general and periodical evils of which he
did not discern the cause; wars for which there was no reason and no
object; nations without principle, and princes without humanity. He
preferred the reading of romances, which being filled with the particular
feelings and interests of men, represented situations similar to his own.
No book gave him so much pleasure as Telemachus, from the pictures which it
draws of pastoral life, and of those passions which are natural to the
human heart. He read aloud to his mother and Madame de la Tour those parts
which affected him most sensibly, when, sometimes, touched by the most
tender remembrances, his emotion choked his utterance, and his eyes were
bathed in tears. He fancied he had found in Virginia the wisdom of Antiope,
with the misfortunes and the tenderness of Eurcharis. With very different
sensations he perused our fashionable novels, filled with licentious maxims
and manners. And when he was informed that those romances drew a just
picture of European society, he trembled, not without reason, lest Virginia
should become corrupted, and should forget him.

"More than a year and a half had indeed passed away before Madame de la
Tour received any tidings of her daughter. During that period she had only
accidentally heard that Virginia had arrived safely in France. At length a
vessel, which stopped in its way to the Indies, conveyed to Madame de la
Tour a packet, and a letter written with her own hand. Although this
amiable young woman had written in a guarded manner, in order to avoid
wounding the feelings of a mother, it was easy to discern that she was
unhappy. Her letter paints so naturally her situation and her character,
that I have retained it almost word for word.

"'My dear and beloved mother, I have already sent you several letters,
written with my own hand but having received no answer, I fear they have
not reached you. I have better hopes for this, from the means I have now
taken of sending you tidings of myself, and of hearing from you. I have
shed many tears since our separation; I, who never used to weep, but for
the misfortunes of others! My aunt was much astonished, when, having, upon
my arrival, inquired what accomplishments I possessed, I told her that I
could neither read nor write. She asked me what then I had learnt since I
came into the world; and, when I answered that I had been taught to take
care of the household affairs, and obey your will, she told me that I had
received the education of a servant. The next day she placed me as a
boarder in a great abbey near Paris, where I have masters of all kinds, who
teach me, among other things, history, geography, grammar, mathematics and
riding. But I have so little capacity for all those sciences, that I make
but small progress with my masters.

"'My aunt's kindness, however, does not abate towards me. She gives me new
dresses for each season; and she has placed two waiting women with me, who
are both dressed like fine ladies. She has made me take the title of
countess, but has obliged me to renounce the name of La Tour, which is as
dear to me as it is to you, from all you have told me of the sufferings my
father endured in order to marry you. She has replaced your name by that of
your family, which is also dear to me, because it was your name when a
girl. Seeing myself in so splendid a situation, I implored her to let me
send you some assistance. But how shall I repeat her answer? Yet you have
desired me always to tell you the truth. She told me then, that a little
would be of no use to you, and that a great deal would only encumber you in
the simple life you led.

"'I endeavoured, upon my arrival, to send you tidings of myself by another
hand, but finding no person here in whom I could place confidence, I
applied night and day to reading and writing; and Heaven, who saw my motive
for learning, no doubt assisted my endeavours, for I acquired both in a
short time. I entrusted my first letters to some of the ladies here, who, I
have reason to think, carried them to my aunt. This time I have had
recourse to a boarder, who is my friend. I send you her direction, by means
of which I shall receive your answer. My aunt has forbid my holding any
correspondence whatever, which might, she says, be come an obstacle to the
great views she has for my advantage. No person is allowed to see me at the
grate but herself, and an old nobleman, one of her friends, who, she says,
is much pleased with me. I am sure I am not at all so with him; nor should
I, even if it were possible for me to be pleased with any one at present.

"'I live in the midst of affluence, and have not a livre at my disposal.
They say I might make an improper use of money. Even my clothes belong to
my waiting women who quarrel about them before I have left them off. In the
bosom of riches, I am poorer than when I lived with you; for I have nothing
to give. When I found that the great accomplishments they taught me would
not procure me the power of doing the smallest good, I had recourse to my
needle, of which happily you had learnt me the use. I send several pair of
stockings of my own making for you and my mamma Margaret, a cap for
Domingo, and one of my red handkerchiefs for Mary. I also send with this
packet some kernels and seeds of various kinds of fruits, which I gathered
in the fields. There are much more beautiful flowers in the meadows of this
country than in ours, but nobody cares for them. I am sure that you and my
mamma Margaret will be better pleased with this bag of seeds, than you were
with the bag of piastres, which was the cause of our separation and of my
tears. It will give me great delight if you should one day see apple-trees
growing at the side of the plantain, and elms blending their foliage with
our cocoa-trees. You will fancy yourself in Normandy, which you love so
much.

"'You desired me to relate to you my joys and my griefs. I have no joys far
from you. As for my griefs, I endeavour to soothe them by reflecting that I
am in the situation in which you placed me by the will of God. But my
greatest affliction is, that no one here speaks to me of you, and that I
must speak of you to no one. My waiting women, or rather those of my aunt,
for they belong more to her than to me, told me the other day, when I
wished to turn the conversation upon the objects most dear to me,
'Remember, madam, that you are a Frenchwoman, and must forget that country
of savages.' Ah! sooner will I forget myself than forget the spot on which
I was born, and which you inhabit! It is this country which is to me a land
of savages; for I live alone, having no one to whom I can impart, those
feelings of tenderness for you which I shall bear with me to the grave.

                           'I am,
                           'My dearest and beloved mother,
                           'Your affectionate and dutiful daughter,
                           'VIRGINIA DE LA TOUR."

"'I recommend to your goodness Mary and Domingo, who took so much care of
my infancy. Caress Fidele for me who found me in the wood.'

"Paul was astonished that Virginia had not said one word of him, she who
had not forgotten even the house dog. But Paul was not aware that, however
long may be a woman's letter, she always puts the sentiments most dear to
her at the end.

"In a postscript, Virginia recommended particularly to Paul's care two
kinds of seed, those of the violet and scabious. She gave him some
instructions upon the nature of those plants, and the spots most proper for
their cultivation. 'The first,' said she, 'produces a little flower of a
deep violet, which loves to hide itself beneath the bushes, but is soon
discovered by its delightful odours.' She desired those seeds might be sown
along the borders of the fountain, at the foot of her cocoa tree. 'The
scabious,' she added, 'produces a beautiful flower of a pale blue, and a
black ground, spotted with white. You might fancy it was in mourning; and
for this reason, it is called the widow's flower. It delights in bleak
spots beaten by the winds.' She begged this might be sown upon the rock
where she had spoken to him for the last time, and that, for her sake, he
would henceforth give it the name of the Farewell Rock.

"She had put those seeds into a little purse, the tissue of which was
extremely simple; but which appeared above all price to Paul, when he
perceived a P and a V intwined together, and knew that the beautiful hair
which formed the cipher was the hair of Virginia.

"The whole family listened with tears to the letter of that amiable and
virtuous young woman. Her mother answered it in the name of the little
society, and desired her to remain or return as she thought proper;
assuring her, that happiness had fled from their dwelling since her
departure, and that, as for herself, she was inconsolable.

"Paul also sent her a long letter, in which he assured her that he would
arrange the garden in a manner agreeable to her taste, and blend the plants
of Europe with those of Africa. He sent her some fruit culled from the
cocoa trees of the mountain, which were now arrived at maturity: telling
her that he would not add any more of the other seeds of the island, that
the desire of seeing those productions again might hasten her return. He
conjured her to comply without delay with the ardent wishes of her family,
and, above all, with his own, since he was unable to endure the pain of
their separation.

"With a careful hand Paul sowed the European seeds, particularly the violet
and the scabious, the flowers of which seem to bear some analogy to the
character and situation of Virginia, by whom they had been recommended: but
whether they were injured by the voyage, or whether the soil of this part
of Africa is unfavourable to their growth, a very small number of them
blew, and none came to perfection.

"Meanwhile that envy, which pursues human happiness, spread reports over
the island which gave great uneasiness to Paul. The persons who had brought
Virginia's letter asserted that she was upon the point of being married,
and named the nobleman of the court with whom she was going to be united.
Some even declared that she was already married, of which they were
witnesses. Paul at first despised this report, brought by one of those
trading ships, which often spread erroneous intelligence in their passage;
but some ill-natured persons, by their insulting pity, led him to give some
degree of credit to this cruel intelligence. Besides, he had seen in the
novels which he had lately read that perfidy was treated as a subject of
pleasantry; and knowing that those books were faithful representations of
European manners, he feared that the heart of Virginia was corrupted, and
had forgotten its former engagements. Thus his acquirements only served to
render him miserable, and what increased his apprehension was, that several
ships arrived from Europe, during the space of six months, and not one
brought any tidings of Virginia.

"This unfortunate young man, with a heart torn by the most cruel agitation,
came often to visit me, that I might confirm or banish his inquietude, by
my experience of the world.

"I live, as I have already told you, a league and a half from hence, upon
the banks of a little river which glides along the Sloping Mountain: there
I lead a solitary life, without wife, children, or slaves.

"After having enjoyed, and lost, the rare felicity of living with a
congenial mind, the state of life which appears the least wretched is that
of solitude. It is remarkable that all those nations which have been
rendered unhappy by their political opinions, their manners, or their forms
of government, have produced numerous classes of citizens altogether
devoted to solitude and celibacy. Such were the Egyptians in their decline,
the Greeks of the lower empire; and such in our days are the Indians, the
Chinese, the modern Greeks, the Italians, and most part of the eastern and
southern nations of Europe.

"Thus I pass my days far from mankind whom I wished to serve, and by whom I
have been persecuted. After having travelled over many countries of Europe,
and some parts of America and Africa, I at length pitched my tent in this
thinly-peopled island, allured by its mild temperature and its solitude. A
cottage which I built in the woods, at the foot of a tree, a little field
which I cultivated with my own hands, a river which glides before my door,
suffice for my wants and for my pleasures. I blend with those enjoyments
that of some chosen books, which teach me to become better. They make that
world, which I have abandoned, still contribute to my satisfaction. They
place before me pictures of those passions which render its inhabitants so
miserable; and the comparison which I make between their destiny and my
own, leads me to feel a sort of negative happiness. Like a man whom
shipwreck has thrown upon a rock, I contemplate, from my solitude, the
storms which roll over the rest of the world; and my repose seems more
profound from the distant sounds of the tempest.

"I suffer myself to be led calmly down the stream of time to the ocean of
futurity, which has no boundaries; while, in the contemplation of the
present harmony of nature, I raise my soul towards its supreme Author, and
hope for a more happy destiny in another state of existence.

"Although you do not descry my hermitage, which is situated in the midst of
a forest, among that immense variety of objects which this elevated spot
presents, the grounds are disposed with particular beauty, at least to one
who, like me, loves rather the seclusion of a home scene, than great and
extensive prospects. The river which glides before my door passes in a
straight line across the woods, and appears like a long canal shaded by
trees of all kinds. There are black date plum trees, what we here call the
narrow-leaved dodonea, olive wood, gum trees, and the cinnamon tree; while
in some parts the cabbage trees raise their naked columns more than a
hundred feet high, crowned at their summits with clustering leaves, and
towering above the wood like one forest piled upon another. Lianas, of
various foliage, intertwining among the woods, form arcades of flowers, and
verdant canopies; those trees, for the most part, shed aromatic odours of a
nature so powerful, that the garments of a traveller, who has passed
through the forest, retain for several hours the delicious fragrance. In
the season when those trees produce their lavish blossoms, they appear as
if covered with snow. One of the principal ornaments of our woods is the
calbassia, a tree not only distinguished for its beautiful tint of verdure;
but for other properties, which Madame de la Tour has described in the
following sonnet, written at one of her first visits to my hermitage:

       SONNET

       TO THE CALBASSIA TREE

    Sublime Calbassia, luxuriant tree!
    How soft the gloom thy bright-lined foliage throws,
    While from thy pulp a healing balsam flows,
    Whose power the suffering wretch from pain can free!
    My pensive footsteps ever turn to thee!
    Since oft, while musing on my lasting woes,
    Beneath thy flowery white bells I repose,
    Symbol of friendship dost thou seem to me;
    For thus has friendship cast her soothing shade
    O'er my unsheltered bosom's keen distress:
    Thus sought to heal the wounds which love has made,
    And temper bleeding sorrow's sharp excess!
    Ah! not in vain she lends her balmy aid:
    The agonies she cannot cure, are less!

"Towards the end of summer various kinds of foreign birds hasten, impelled
by an inexplicable instinct, from unknown regions, and across immense
oceans, to gather the profuse grains of this island; and the brilliancy of
their expanded plumage forms a contrast to the trees embrowned by the sun.
Such, among others, are various kinds of paroquets, the blue pigeon, called
here the pigeon of Holland, and the wandering and majestic white bird of
the Tropic, which Madame de la Tour thus apostrophised:--

       SONNET

       TO THE WHITE BIRD OF THE TROPIC.

    Bird of the Tropic! thou, who lov'st to stray
    Where thy long pinions sweep the sultry line,
    Or mark'st the bounds which torrid beams confine
    By thy averted course, that shuns the ray
    Oblique, enamour'd of sublimer day:
    Oft on yon cliff thy folded plumes recline,
    And drop those snowy feathers Indians twine
    To crown the warrior's brow with honours gay.
    O'er Trackless oceans what impels thy wing?
    Does no soft instinct in thy soul prevail?
    No sweet affection to thy bosom cling,
    And bid thee oft thy absent nest bewail?
    Yet thou again to that dear spot canst spring
    But I my long lost home no more shall hail!

"The domestic inhabitants of our forests, monkeys, sport upon the dark
branches of the trees, from which they are distinguished by their gray and
greenish skin, and their black visages. Some hang suspended by the tail,
and balance themselves in air; others leap from branch to branch, bearing
their young in their arms. The murderous gun has never affrighted those
peaceful children of nature. You sometimes hear the warblings of unknown
birds from the southern countries, repeated at a distance by the echoes of
the forest. The river, which runs in foaming cataracts over a bed of rocks,
reflects here and there, upon its limpid waters, venerable masses of woody
shade, together with the sport of its happy inhabitants. About a thousand
paces from thence the river precipitates itself over several piles of
rocks, and forms, in its fall, a sheet of water smooth as crystal, but
which breaks at the bottom into frothy surges. Innumerable confused sounds
issue from those tumultuous waters, which, scattered by the winds of the
forest, sometimes sink, sometimes swell, and send forth a hollow tone like
the deep bells of a cathedral. The air, for ever renewed by the circulation
of the waters, fans the banks of that river with freshness, and leaves a
degree of verdure, notwithstanding the summer heats, rarely found in this
island, even upon the summits of the mountains.

"At some distance is a rock, placed far enough from the cascade to prevent
the ear from being deafened by the noise of its waters, and sufficiently
near for the enjoyment of their view, their coolness, and their murmurs.
Thither, amidst the heats of summer, Madame de la Tour, Margaret, Virginia,
Paul, and myself sometimes repaired, and dined beneath the shadow of the
rock. Virginia, who always directed her most ordinary actions to the good
of others, never ate of any fruit without planting the seed or kernel in
the ground. 'From this,' said she, 'trees will come, which will give their
fruit to some traveller, or at least to some bird.' One day having eaten of
the papaw fruit, at the foot of that rock she planted the seeds. Soon after
several papaws sprung up, amongst which was one that yielded fruit. This
tree had risen but a little from the ground at the time of Virginia's
departure; but its growth being rapid, in the space of two years it had
gained twenty feet of height, and the upper part of its stem was encircled
with several layers of ripe fruit. Paul having wandered to that spot, was
delighted to see that this lofty tree had arisen from the small seed
planted by his beloved friend; but that emotion instantly gave place to a
deep melancholy, at this evidence of her long absence. The objects which we
see habitually do not remind us of the rapidity of life; they decline
insensibly with ourselves; but those which we behold again, after having
for some years lost sight of them, impress us powerfully with the idea of
that swiftness with which the tide of our days flows on. Paul was no less
overwhelmed and affected at the sight of this great papaw tree, loaded with
fruit, than is the traveller, when, after a long absence from his own
country, he finds not his contemporaries, but their children, whom he left
at the breast, and whom he sees are become fathers of families. Paul
sometimes thought of hewing down the tree, which recalled too sensibly the
distracted image of that length of time which had clasped since the
departure of Virginia. Sometimes, contemplating it as a monument of her
benevolence, he kissed its trunk, and apostrophised it in terms of the most
passionate regret; and, indeed I have myself gazed upon it with more
emotion and more veneration than upon the triumphal arches of Rome.

"At the foot of this papaw I was always sure to meet with Paul when he came
into our neighbourhood. One day, when I found him absorbed in melancholy,
we had a conversation, which I will relate to you, if I do not weary you by
my long digressions; perhaps pardonable to my age and my last friendships.

"Paul said to me, 'I am very unhappy. Mademoiselle de la Tour has now been
gone two years and two months; and we have heard no tidings of her for
eight months and two weeks. She is rich, and I am poor. She has forgotten
me. I have a great mind to follow her. I will go to France; I will serve
the king; make a fortune; and then Mademoiselle de la Tour's aunt will
bestow her niece upon me when I shall have become a great lord.

"'But, my dear friend,' I answered, 'have you not told me that you are not
of noble birth?'

"'My mother has told me so,' said Paul. 'As for myself I know not what
noble birth means.'

"'Obscure birth,' I replied, 'in France shuts out all access to great
employments; nor can you even be received among any distinguished body of
men.'

"'How unfortunate I am!' resumed Paul; 'every thing repulses me. I am
condemned to waste my wretched life in labour, far from Virginia.' And he
heaved a deep sigh.

"'Since her relation,' he added, 'will only give her in marriage to some
one with a great name, by the aid of study we become wise and celebrated. I
will fly then to study; I will acquire sciences; I will serve my country
usefully by my attainments; I shall be independent; I shall become
renowned; and my glory will belong only to myself.'

"'My son! talents are still more rare than birth or riches, and are
undoubtedly an inestimable good, of which nothing can deprive us, and which
every where conciliate public esteem. But they cost dear: they are
generally allied to exquisite sensibility, which renders their possessor
miserable. But you tell me that you would serve mankind. He who, from the
soil which he cultivates, draws forth one additional sheaf of corn, serves
mankind more than he who presents them with a book.'

"'Oh! she then,' exclaimed Paul, 'who planted this papaw tree, made a
present to the inhabitants of the forest more dear and more useful than if
she had given them a library.' And seizing the tree in his arms, he kissed
it with transport.

"'Ah! I desire glory only,' he resumed, 'to confer it upon Virginia, and
render her dear to the whole universe. But you, who know so much, tell me
if we shall ever be married. I wish I was at least learned enough to look
into futurity. Virginia must come back. What need has she of a rich
relation? she was so happy in those huts, so beautiful, and so well
dressed, with a red handkerchief or flowers round her head! Return,
Virginia! Leave your palaces, your splendour! Return to these rocks, to the
shade of our woods and our cocoa trees! Alas! you are, perhaps, unhappy!'
And he began to weep. 'My father! conceal nothing from me. If you cannot
tell me whether I shall marry Virginia or no, tell me, at least, if she
still loves me amidst those great lords who speak to the king, and go to
see her.'

"'Oh! my dear friend,' I answered, 'I am sure that she loves you, for
several reasons; but, above all, because she is virtuous.' At those words
he threw himself upon my neck in a transport of joy.

"'But what,' said he, 'do you understand by virtue?'

"'My son! to you, who support your family by your labour, it need not be
defined. Virtue is an effort which we make for the good of others, and with
the intention of pleasing God.'

"'Oh! how virtuous then,' cried he, 'is Virginia! Virtue made her seek for
riches, that she might practise benevolence. Virtue led her to forsake this
island, and virtue will bring her back.' The idea of her near return fired
his imagination, and his inquietudes suddenly vanished. Virginia, he was
persuaded, had not written, because she would soon arrive. It took so
little time to come from Europe with a fair wind! Then he enumerated the
vessels which had made a passage of four thousand five hundred leagues in
less than three months; and perhaps the vessel in which Virginia had
embarked might not be longer than two. Ship builders were now so ingenious,
and sailors so expert! He then told me of the arrangements he would make
for her reception, of the new habitation he would build for her, of the
pleasures and surprises which each day should bring along with it when she
was his wife? His wife! That hope was ecstasy. 'At least, my dear father,'
said he, 'you shall then do nothing more than you please. Virginia being
rich, we shall have a number of negroes, who will labour for you. You shall
always live with us, and have no other care than to amuse and rejoice
yourself:' and, his heart throbbing with delight, he flew to communicate
those exquisite sensations to his family.

"In a short time, however, the most cruel apprehensions succeeded those
enchanting hopes. Violent passions ever throw the soul into opposite
extremes. Paul returned to my dwelling absorbed in melancholy, and said to
me, 'I hear nothing from Virginia. Had she left Europe she would have
informed me of her departure. Ah! the reports which I have heard concerning
her are but too well founded. Her aunt has married her to some great lord.
She, like others, has been undone by the love of riches. In those books
which paint women so well, virtue is but a subject of romance. Had Virginia
been virtuous, she would not have forsaken her mother and me, and, while I
pass life in thinking of her, forgotten me. While I am wretched, she is
happy. Ah! that thought distracts me: labour becomes painful, and society
irksome. Would to heaven that war were declared in India! I would go there
and die.'

"'My son,' I answered, 'that courage which, prompts us to court death is
but the courage of a moment, and is often excited by the vain hopes of
posthumous fame. There is a species of courage more necessary, and more
rare, which makes us support, without witness, and without applause, the
various vexations of life; and that is, patience. Leaning not upon the
opinions of others, but upon the will of God, patience is the courage of
virtue.'

"'Ah!' cried he,' I am then without virtue! Every thing overwhelms and
distracts me.'

"'Equal, constant, and invariable virtue,' I replied, 'belongs not to man.'
In the midst of so many passions, by which we are agitated, our reason is
disordered and obscured: but there is an ever-burning lamp, at which we can
rekindle its flame; and that is, literature.

"'Literature, my dear son, is the gift of Heaven; a ray of that wisdom
which governs the universe; and which man, inspired by celestial
intelligence, has drawn down to earth. Like the sun, it enlightens, it
rejoices, it warms with a divine flame, and seems, in some sort, like the
element of fire, to bend all nature to our use. By the aid of literature,
we bring around us all things, all places, men, and times. By its aid we
calm the passions, suppress vice, and excite virtue. Literature is the
daughter of heaven, who has descended upon earth to soften and to charm all
human evils.

"'Have recourse to your books, then, my son. The sages who have written
before our days, are travellers who have preceded us in the paths of
misfortune; who stretch out a friendly hand towards us, and invite us to
join their society, when every thing else abandons us. A good book is a
good friend.'

"'Ah!' cried Paul, 'I stood in no need of books when Virginia was here, and
she had studied as little as me: but when she looked at me, and called me
her friend, it was impossible for me to be unhappy.'

"'Undoubtedly,' said I, 'there is no friend so agreeable as a mistress by
whom we are beloved. There is in the gay graces of a woman a charm that
dispels the dark phantoms of reflection. Upon her face sits soft attraction
and tender confidence. What joy is not heightened in which she shares? What
brow is not unbent by her smiles? What anger can resist her tears? Virginia
will return with more philosophy than you, and will be surprised not to
find the garden finished: she who thought of its establishments amidst the
persecutions of her aunt, and far from her mother and from you.'

"The idea of Virginia's speedy return reanimated her lover's courage, and
he resumed his pastoral occupations; happy amidst his toils, in the
reflection that they would find a termination so dear to the wishes of his
heart.

"The 24th of December, 1774, at break of day, Paul, when he arose,
perceived a white flag hoisted upon the Mountain of Discovery, which was
the signal of a vessel descried at sea. He flew to the town, in order to
learn if this vessel brought any tidings of Virginia, and waited till the
return of the pilot, who had gone as usual to visit the ship. The pilot
brought the governor information that the vessel was the Saint Geran, of
seven hundred tons, commanded by a captain of the name of Aubin; that the
ship was now four leagues out at sea, and would anchor at Port Louis the
following afternoon, if the wind was favourable: at present there was a
calm. The pilot then remitted to the governor a number of letters from
France, amongst which was one addressed to Madame de la Tour in the
hand-writing of Virginia. Paul seized upon the letter, kissed it with
transport, placed it in his bosom, and flew to the plantation. No sooner
did he perceive from a distance the family, who were waiting his return
upon the Farewell Rock, than he waved the letter in the air, without having
the power to speak; and instantly the whole family crowded round Madame de
la Tour to hear it read. Virginia informed her mother that she had suffered
much ill treatment from her aunt, who, after having in vain urged her to
marry against her inclination, had disinherited her; and at length sent her
back at such a season of the year, that she must probably reach the
Mauritius at the very period of the hurricanes. In vain, she added, she had
endeavoured to soften her aunt, by representing what she owed to her
mother, and to the habits of her early years: she had been treated as a
romantic girl, whose head was turned by novels. At present she said she
could think of nothing but the transport of again seeing and embracing her
beloved family, and that she would have satisfied this dearest wish of her
heart that very day, if the captain would have permitted her to embark in
the pilot's boat; but that he had opposed her going, on account of the
distance from the shore, and of a swell in the ocean, notwithstanding it
was a calm.

"Scarcely was the letter finished, when the whole family, transported with
joy repeated, 'Virginia is arrived!' and mistresses and servants embraced
each other. Madame de la Tour said to Paul, 'My son, go and inform our
neighbour of Virginia's arrival.' Domingo immediately lighted a torch, and
he and Paul bent their way towards my plantation.

"It was about ten at night, and I was going to extinguish my lamp, when I
perceived through the palisades of my hut a light in the woods. I arose,
and had just dressed myself when Paul, half wild, and panting for breath,
sprung on my neck, crying, 'Come along, come along. Virginia is arrived!
Let us go to the Port: the vessel will anchor at break of day.'

"We instantly set off. As we were traversing the woods of the Sloping
Mountain, and were already on the road which leads from the Shaddock Grove
to the Port, I heard some one walking behind us. When the person, who was a
negro, and who advanced with hasty steps, had reached us, I inquired from
whence he came, and whither he was going with such expedition. He answered,
'I come from that part of the island called Golden Dust, and am sent to the
Port, to inform the governor, that a ship from France has anchored upon the
island of Amber, and fires guns of distress, for the sea is very stormy.'
Having said this, the man left us, and pursued his journey.

"'Let us go,' said I to Paul, 'towards that part of the island, and meet
Virginia. It is only three leagues from hence.' Accordingly we bent our
course thither. The heat was suffocating. The moon had risen, and it was
encompassed by three large black circles. A dismal darkness shrouded the
sky; but the frequent flakes of lightning discovered long chains of thick
clouds, gloomy, low hung, and heaped together over the middle of the
island, after having rolled with great rapidity from the ocean, although we
felt not a breath of wind upon the land. As we walked along we thought we
heard peals of thunder; but, after listening more attentively, we found
they were the sound of distant cannon repeated by the echoes. Those sounds,
joined to the tempestuous aspect of the heavens, made me shudder. I had
little doubt that they were signals of distress from a ship in danger. In
half an hour the firing ceased, and I felt the silence more appalling than
the dismal sounds which had preceded.

"We hastened on without uttering a word, or daring to communicate our
apprehensions. At midnight we arrived on the sea shore at that part of the
island. The billows broke against the beach with a horrible noise, covering
the rocks and the strand with their foam of a dazzling whiteness, and
blended with sparks of fire. By their phosphoric gleams we distinguished,
notwithstanding the darkness, the canoes of the fishermen, which they had
drawn far upon the sand.

"Near the shore, at the entrance of a wood, we saw a fire, round which
several of the inhabitants were assembled. Thither we repaired, in order to
repose ourselves till morning. One of the circle related, that in the
afternoon he had seen a vessel driven towards the island by the currents;
that the night had hid it from his view; and that two hours after sun-set
he had heard the firing of guns in distress; but that the sea was so
tempestuous, no boat could venture out; that a short time after, he thought
he perceived the glimmering of the watch-lights on board the vessel, which
he feared, by its having approached so near the coast, had steered between
the main land and the little island of Amber, mistaking it for the point of
Endeavour, near which the vessels pass in order to gain Port Louis. If this
was the case, which, however, he could not affirm, the ship he apprehended
was in great danger. Another islander then informed us, that he had
frequently crossed the channel which separates the isle of Amber from the
coast, and which he had sounded; that the anchorage was good, and that the
ship would there be in as great security as if it were in harbour. A third
islander declared it was impossible for the ship to enter that channel,
which was scarcely navigable for a boat. He asserted that he had seen the
vessel at anchor beyond the isle of Amber; so that if the wind arose in the
morning, it could either put to sea or gain the harbour. Different opinions
were stated upon this subject, which, while those indolent Creoles calmly
discussed, Paul and I observed a profound silence. We remained on this spot
till break of day, when the weather was too hazy to admit of our
distinguishing any object at sea, which was covered with fog. All we could
descry was a dark cloud, which they told us was the isle of Amber, at the
distance of a quarter of a league from the coast. We could only discern on
this gloomy day the point of the beach where we stood, and the peaks of
some mountains in the interior part of the island, rising occasionally from
amidst the clouds which hung around them.

"At seven in the morning we heard the beat of drums in the woods; and soon
after the governor, Monsieur de la Bourdonnais, arrived on horseback,
followed by a detachment of soldiers armed with muskets, and a great number
of islanders and blacks. He ranged his soldiers upon the beach, and ordered
them to make a general discharge, which was no sooner done, than we
perceived a glimmering light upon the water, which was instantly succeeded
by the sound of a gun. We judged that the ship was at no great distance,
and ran towards that part where we had seen the light. We now discerned
through the fog the hull and tackling of a large vessel; and
notwithstanding the noise of the waves, we were near enough to hear the
whistle of the boatswain at the helm, and the shouts of the mariners. As
soon as the Saint Geran perceived that we were enough to give her succour,
she continued to fire guns regularly at the interval of three minutes.
Monsieur de la Bourdonnais caused great fires to be lighted at certain
distances upon the strand, and sent to all the inhabitants of that
neighbourhood, in search of provisions, planks, cables, and empty barrels.
A crowd of people soon arrived, accompanied by their negroes, loaded with
provisions and rigging. One of the most aged of the planters approaching
the governor, said to him, 'We have heard all night hoarse noises in the
mountain, and in the forests: the leaves of the trees are shaken, although
there is no wind: the sea birds seek refuge upon the land: it is certain
that all those signs announce a hurricane.' 'Well, my friends,' answered
the governor, 'we are prepared for it: and no doubt the vessel is also.'

"Every thing, indeed, presaged the near approach of the hurricane. The
centre of the clouds in the zenith was of a dismal black, while their
skirts were fringed with a copper hue. The air resounded with the cries of
the frigate bird, the cur water, and a multitude of other sea birds, who,
notwithstanding the obscurity of the atmosphere, hastened from all points
of the horizon to seek for shelter in the island.

"Towards nine in the morning we heard on the side of the ocean the most
terrific noise, as if torrents of water, mingled with thunder, were rolling
down the steeps of the mountains. A general cry was heard of, 'There is the
hurricane!' and in one moment a frightful whirlwind scattered the fog which
had covered the Isle of Amber and its channel. The Saint Geran then
presented itself to our view, her gallery crowded with people, her yards
and main topmast laid upon the deck, her flag shivered, with four cables at
her head, and one by which she was held at the stern. She had anchored
between the Isle of Amber and the main land, within that chain of breakers
which encircles the island, and which bar she had passed over, in a place
where no vessel had ever gone before. She presented her head to the waves
which rolled from the open sea; and as each billow rushed into the straits,
the ship heaved, so that her keel was in air; and at the same moment her
stern, plunging into the water, disappeared altogether, as if it were
swallowed up by the surges. In this position, driven by the winds and waves
towards the shore, it was equally impossible for her to return by the
passage through which she had made her way; or, by cutting her cables, to
throw herself upon the beach, from which she was separated by sand banks,
mingled with breakers. Every billow which broke upon the coast advanced
roaring to the bottom of the bay, and threw planks to the distance of fifty
feet upon the land; then rushing back, laid bare its sandy bed, from which
it rolled immense stones, with a hoarse dismal noise. The sea, swelled by
the violence of the wind, rose higher every moment; and the channel between
this island the Isle of Amber was but one vast sheet of white foam, with
yawning pits of black deep billows. The foam boiling in the gulf was more
than six feet high: and the winds which swept its surface, bore it over the
steep coast more than half a league upon the land. Those innumerable white
flakes, driven horizontally as far as the foot of the mountain, appeared
like snow issuing from the ocean, which was now confounded with the sky.
Thick clouds, of a horrible form, swept along the zenith with the swiftness
of birds, while others appeared motionless as rocks. No spot of azure could
be discerned in the firmament; only a pale yellow gleam displayed the
objects of earth sea, and skies.

"From the violent efforts of the ship, what we dreaded happened. The cables
at the head of the vessel were torn away; it was then held by one anchor
only, and was instantly dashed upon the rocks, at the distance of half a
cable's length from the shore. A general cry of horror issued from the
spectators. Paul rushed towards the sea, when, seizing him by the arm, I
exclaimed, 'Would you perish?'--'Let me go to save her,' cried he, 'or
die!' Seeing that despair deprived him of reason, Domingo and I, in order
to preserve him, fastened a long cord round his waist, and seized hold of
each end. Paul then precipitated himself towards the ship, now swimming,
and now walking upon the breakers. Sometimes he had the hope of reaching
the vessel, which the sea, in its irregular movements, had left almost dry,
so that you could have made its circuit on foot; but suddenly the waves
advancing with new fury, shrouded it beneath mountains of water, which then
lifted it upright upon its keel. The billows at the same moment threw the
unfortunate Paul far upon the beach, his legs bathed in blood, his bosom
wounded, and himself half dead. The moment he had recovered his senses, he
arose, and returned with new ardour towards the vessel, the planks of which
now yawned asunder from the violent strokes of the billows. The crew, then
despairing of their safety, threw themselves in crowds into the sea, upon
yards, planks, hencoops, tables, and barrels. At this moment we beheld an
object fitted to excite eternal sympathy; a young lady in the gallery of
the stern of the Saint Geran, stretching out her arms towards him who made
so many efforts to join her. It was Virginia. She had discovered her lover
by his intrepidity. The sight of this amiable young woman, exposed to such
horrible danger, filled us with unutterable despair. As for Virginia, with
a firm and dignified mien, she waved her hand, as if bidding us an eternal
farewell. All the sailors had flung themselves into the sea, except one,
who still remained upon the deck, and who was naked, and strong as
Hercules. This man approached Virginia with respect, and, kneeling at her
feet attempted to force her to throw off her clothes; but she repulsed him
with modesty, and turned away her head. Then was heard redoubled cries from
the spectators, 'Save her! Save her! Do not leave her!' But at that moment
a mountain billow, of enormous magnitude, ingulfed itself between the Isle
of Amber and the coast, and menaced the shattered vessel, towards which it
rolled bellowing, with its black sides and foaming head. At this terrible
sight the sailor flung himself into the sea; and Virginia seeing death
inevitable, placed one hand upon her clothes, the other on her heart, and
lifting up her lovely eyes, seemed an angel prepared to take her flight to
heaven.

"Oh, day of horror! Alas! every thing was swallowed up by the relentless
billows. The surge threw some of the spectators far upon the beach, whom an
impulse of humanity prompted to advance towards Virginia, and also the
sailor who had endeavoured to save her life. This man, who had escaped from
almost certain death, kneeling on the sand, exclaimed, 'Oh, my God! thou
hast saved my life, but I would have given it willingly for that poor young
woman!'

"Domingo and myself drew Paul senseless to the shore, the blood flowing
from his mouth and ears. The governor put him into the hands of a surgeon,
while we sought along the beach for the corpse of Virginia. But the wind
having suddenly changed, which frequently happens during hurricanes, our
search was in vain; and we lamented that we could not even pay this
unfortunate young woman the last sad sepulchral duties.

"We retired from the spot overwhelmed with dismay, and our minds wholly
occupied by one cruel loss, although numbers had perished in the wreck.
Some of the spectators seemed tempted, from the fatal destiny of this
virtuous young woman, to doubt the existence of Providence. Alas! there are
in life such terrible, such unmerited evils, that even the hope of the wise
is sometimes shaken.

"In the meantime, Paul, who began to recover his senses, was taken to a
house in the neighbourhood, till he was able to be removed to his own
habitation. Thither I bent my way with Domingo, and undertook the sad task
of preparing Virginia's mother and her friend for the melancholy event
which had happened. When we reached the entrance of the valley of the river
of Fan-Palms, some negroes informed us that the sea had thrown many pieces
of the wreck into the opposite bay. We descended towards it; and one of the
first objects which struck my sight upon the beach was the corpse of
Virginia. The body was half covered with sand, and in the attitude in which
we had seen her perish. Her features were not changed; her eyes were
closed, her countenance was still serene; but the pale violets of death
were blended on her cheek with the blush of virgin modesty. One of her
hands was placed upon her clothes: and the other, which she held on her
heart, was fast closed, and so stiffened, that it was with difficulty I
took from its grasp a small box. How great was my emotion, when I saw it
contained the picture of Paul; which she had promised him never to part
with while she lived! At the sight of this last mark of the fidelity and
tenderness of the unfortunate girl, I wept bitterly. As for Domingo, he
beat his breast, and pierced the air with his cries. We carried the body of
Virginia to a fisher's hut, and gave it in charge to some poor Malabar
women, who carefully washed away the sand.

"While they were employed in this melancholy office, we ascended with
trembling steps to the plantation. We found Madame de la Tour and Margaret
at prayer, while waiting for tidings from the ship. As soon as Madame de la
Tour saw me coming, she eagerly cried, 'Where is my child, my dear child?'
My silence and my tears apprised her of her misfortune. She was seized with
convulsive stiflings, with agonizing pains, and her voice was only heard in
groans. Margaret cried, 'Where is my son? I do not see my son!' and
fainted. We ran to her assistance. In a short time she recovered, and being
assured that her son was safe, and under the care of the governor, she only
thought of succouring her friend, who had long successive faintings. Madame
de la Tour passed the night in sufferings so exquisite, that I became
convinced there was no sorrow like a mother's sorrow. When she recovered
her senses, she cast her languid and steadfast looks on heaven. In vain her
friend and myself pressed her hands in ours: in vain we called upon her by
the most tender names; she appeared wholly insensible; and her oppressed
bosom heaved deep and hollow moans.

"In the morning Paul was brought home in a palanquin. He was now restored
to reason but unable to utter a word. His interview with his mother and
Madame de la Tour, which I had dreaded, produced a better effect than all
my cares. A ray of consolation gleamed upon the countenances of those
unfortunate mothers. They flew to meet him, clasped him in their arms, and
bathed him with tears, which excess of anguish had till now forbidden to
flow. Paul mixed his tears with theirs; and nature having thus found
relief, a long stupor succeeded the convulsive pangs they had suffered, and
gave them a lethargic repose like that of death.

"Monsieur de la Bourdonnais sent to apprise me secretly that the corpse of
Virginia had been borne to the town by his order, from whence it was to be
transferred to the church of the Shaddock Grove. I hastened to Port Louis,
and found a multitude assembled from all parts, in order to be present at
the funeral solemnity, as if the whole island had lost its fairest
ornament. The vessels in the harbour had their yards crossed, their flags
hoisted, and fired guns at intervals. The grenadiers led the funeral
procession, with their muskets reversed, their drums muffled, and sending
forth slow dismal sounds. Eight young ladies of the most considerable
families of the island, dressed in white, and bearing palms in their hands,
supported the pall of their amiable companion, which was strewed with
flowers. They were followed by a band of children chanting hymns, and by
the governor, his field officers, all the principal inhabitants of the
island, and an immense crowd of people.

"This funeral solemnity had been ordered by the administration of the
country, who were desirous of rendering honours to the virtue of Virginia.
But when the progression arrived at the foot of this mountain, at the sight
of those cottages, of which she had long been the ornament and happiness,
and which her loss now filled with despair, the funeral pomp was
interrupted, the hymns and anthems ceased, and the plain resounded with
sighs and lamentations. Companies of young girls ran from the neighbouring
plantations to touch the coffin of Virginia with their scarfs, chaplets,
and crowns of flowers, invoking her as a saint. Mothers asked of heaven a
child like Virginia; lovers, a heart as faithful; the poor, as tender a
friend; and the slaves, as kind a mistress.

"When the procession had reached the place of interment, the negresses of
Madagascar, and the caffres of Mosambiac, placed baskets of fruit around
the corpse, and hung pieces of stuff upon the neighbouring trees, according
to the custom of their country. The Indians of Bengal, and of the coast of
Malabar, brought cages filled with birds, which they set at liberty upon
her coffin. Thus did the loss of this amiable object affect the natives of
different countries, and thus was the ritual of various religions breathed
over the tomb of unfortunate virtue.

"She was interred near the church of the Shaddock Grove, upon the western
side, at the foot of a copse of bamboos, where, in coming from mass with
her mother and Margaret, she loved to repose herself, seated by him whom
she called her brother.

"On his return from the funeral solemnity, Monsieur de la Bourdonnais came
hither, followed by part of his numerous train. He offered Madame de la
Tour and her friend all the assistance which it was in his power to bestow.
After expressing his indignation at the conduct of her unnatural aunt, he
advanced to Paul, and said every thing which he thought most likely to
soothe and console him. 'Heaven is my witness,' said he, 'that I wished to
ensure your happiness, and that of your family. My dear friend, you must go
to France: I will obtain a commission for you, and during your absence will
take the same care of your mother as if she were my own.' He then offered
him his hand; but Paul drew away, and turned his head, unable to bear his
sight.

"I remained at the plantation of my unfortunate friends, that I might
render to them and Paul those offices of friendship which soften, though
they cannot cure, calamity. At the end of three weeks Paul was able to
walk, yet his mind seemed to droop in proportion as his frame gathered
strength. He was insensible to every thing; his look was vacant; and when
spoken to, he made no reply. Madame de la Tour, who was dying, said to him
often, 'My son, while I look at you, I think I see Virginia.' At the name
of Virginia he shuddered, and hastened from her, notwithstanding the
entreaties of his mother, who called him back to her friend. He used to
wander into the garden, and seat himself at the foot of Virginia's cocoa
tree, with his eyes fixed upon the fountain. The surgeon to the governor,
who had shown the most humane attention to Paul, and the whole family, told
us that, in order to cure that deep melancholy which had taken possession
of his mind, we must allow him to do whatever he pleased, without
contradiction, as the only means of conquering his inflexible silence.

"I resolved to follow this advice. The first use which Paul made of his
returning strength was to absent himself from the plantation. Being
determined not to lose sight of him, I set out immediately, and desired
Domingo to take some provisions and accompany us. Paul's strength and
spirits seemed renewed as he descended the mountain. He took the road of
the Shaddock Grove; and when he was near the church, in the Alley of
Bamboos, he walked directly to the spot where he saw some new-laid earth,
and there kneeling down, and raising up his eyes to heaven, he offered up a
long prayer, which appeared to me a symptom of returning reason; since this
mark of confidence in the Supreme Being showed that his mind began to
resume its natural functions. Domingo and I followed his example, fell upon
our knees, and mingled our prayers with his. When he arose, he bent his
way, paying little attention to us, towards the northern part of the
island. As we knew that he was not only ignorant of the spot where the body
of Virginia was laid, but even whether it had been snatched from the waves,
I asked him why he had offered up his prayer at the foot of those bamboos.
He answered, 'We have been there so often!' He continued his course until
we reached the borders of the forest, when night came on. I prevailed with
him to take some nourishment; and we slept upon the grass, at the foot of a
tree. The next day I thought he seemed disposed to trace back his steps;
for, after having gazed a considerable time upon the church of the Shaddock
Grove with its avenues of bamboo stretching along the plain, he made a
motion as if he would return; but, suddenly plunging into the forest, he
directed his course to the north. I judged what was his design, from which
I endeavoured to dissuade him in vain. At noon he arrived at that part of
the island called the Gold Dust. He rushed to the seashore, opposite to the
spot where the Saint Geran perished. At the sight of the Isle of Amber and
its channel, then smooth as a mirror, he cried, 'Virginia! Oh, my dear
Virginia!' and fell senseless. Domingo and myself carried him into the
woods, where we recovered him with some difficulty. He made an effort to
return to the seashore; but, having conjured him not to renew his own
anguish and ours by those cruel remembrances, he took another direction.
During eight days he sought every spot where he had once wandered with the
companion of his childhood. He traced the path by which she had gone to
intercede for the slave of the Black River. He gazed again upon the banks
of the Three Peaks, where she had reposed herself when unable to walk
further, and upon that part of the wood where they lost their way. All
those haunts, which recalled the inquietudes, the sports, the repasts, the
benevolence of her he loved, the river of the Sloping Mountain, my house,
the neighbouring cascade, the papaw tree she had planted, the mossy downs
where she loved to run, the openings of the forest where she used to sing,
called forth successively the tears of hopeless passion; and those very
echoes which had so often resounded their mutual shouts of joy, now only
repeated those accents of despair, 'Virginia! Oh, my dear Virginia!'

"While he led this savage and wandering life, his eyes became sunk and
hollow, his skin assumed a yellow tint, and his health rapidly decayed.
Convinced that present sufferings are rendered more acute by the bitter
recollection of past pleasures, and that the passions gather strength in
solitude, I resolved to tear my unfortunate friend from those scenes which
recalled the remembrance of his loss, and to lead him to a more busy part
of the island. With this view, I conducted him to the inhabited heights of
Williams, which he had never visited, and where agriculture and commerce
ever occasioned much bustle and variety. A crowd of carpenters were
employed in hewing down the trees, while others were sawing planks.
Carriages were passing and repassing on the roads. Numerous herds of oxen
and troops of horses were feeding on those ample meadows, over which a
number of habitations were scattered. On many spots the elevation of the
soil was favourable to the culture of European trees: ripe corn waved its
yellow sheaves upon the plains: strawberry plants flourished in the
openings of the woods, and hedges of rose bushes along the roads. The
freshness of the air, by giving a tension to the nerves, was favourable to
the Europeans. From those heights, situated near the middle of the island,
and surrounded by extensive forests, you could neither discern Port Louis,
the church of the Shaddock Grove, nor any other object which could recall
to Paul the remembrance of Virginia. Even the mountains, which appear of
various shapes on the side of Port Louis, present nothing to the eye from
those plains but a long promontory, stretching itself in a straight and
perpendicular line, from whence arise lofty pyramids of rocks, on the
summits of which the clouds repose.

"To those scenes I conducted Paul, and kept him continually in action,
walking with him in rain and sunshine, night and day, and contriving that
he should lose himself in the depths of forests, leading him over untilled
grounds, and endeavouring, by violent fatigue, to divert his mind from its
gloomy meditations, and change the course of his reflections, by his
ignorance of the paths where we wandered. But the soul of a lover finds
everywhere the traces of the object beloved. The night and the day, the
calm of solitude, and the tumult of crowds, time itself, while it casts the
shade of oblivion over so many other remembrances, in vain would tear that
tender and sacred recollection from the heart, which, like the needle, when
touched by the loadstone, however it may have been forced into agitation,
it is no sooner left to repose, than it turns to the pole by which it is
attracted. When I inquired of Paul, while we wandered amidst the plains of
Williams, 'Where are we now going?' he pointed to the north and said,
'Yonder are our mountains; let us return.'

"Upon the whole, I found that every means I took to divert his melancholy
was fruitless, and that no resource was left but an attempt to combat his
passion by the arguments which reason suggested. I answered him, 'Yes,
there are the mountains where once dwelt your beloved Virginia; and this is
the picture you gave her, and which she held, when dying, to her heart;
that heart, which even in her last moments only beat for you.' I then gave
Paul the little picture which he had given Virginia at the borders of the
cocoa tree fountain. At this sight a gloomy joy overspread his looks. He
eagerly seized the picture with his feeble hands, and held it to his lips.
His oppressed bosom seemed ready to burst with emotion, and his eyes were
filled with tears which had no power to flow.

"'My son,' said I, 'listen to him who is your friend, who was the friend of
Virginia, and who, in the bloom of your hopes, endeavoured to fortify your
mind against the unforeseen accidents of life. What do you deplore with so
much bitterness? Your own misfortunes, or those of Virginia? Your own
misfortunes are indeed severe. You have lost the most amiable of women: she
who sacrificed her own interests to yours, who preferred you to all that
fortune could bestow, and considered you as the only recompense worthy of
her virtues. But might not this very object, from whom you expected the
purest happiness, have proved to you a source of the most cruel distress?
She had returned poor, disinherited; and all you could henceforth have
partaken with her was your labours: while rendered more delicate by her
education, and more courageous by her misfortunes, you would have beheld
her every day sinking beneath her efforts to share and soften your
fatigues. Had she brought you children, this would only have served to
increase her inquietudes and your own, from the difficulty of sustaining
your aged parents and your infant family. You will tell me, there would
have been reserved to you a happiness independent of fortune, that of
protecting a beloved object, which attaches itself to us in proportion to
its helplessness; that your pains and sufferings would have served to
endear you to each other, and that your passion would have gathered
strength from your mutual misfortunes. Undoubtedly virtuous love can shed a
charm over pleasures which are thus mingled with bitterness. But Virginia
is no more; yet those persons still live, whom, next to yourself, she held
most dear; her mother, and your own, whom your inconsolable affliction is
bending with sorrow to the grave. Place your happiness, as she did hers, in
affording them succour. And why deplore the fate of Virginia? Virginia
still exists. There is he assured, a region in which virtue receives its
reward. Virginia now is happy. Ah! if, from the abode of angels, she could
tell you, as she did when she bid you farewell. 'O, Paul! life is but a
trial. I was faithful to the laws of nature, love, and virtue. Heaven found
I had fulfilled my duties, and has snatched me for ever from all the
miseries I might have endured myself, and all I might have felt for the
miseries of others. I am placed above the reach of all human evils, and you
pity me! I am become pure and unchangeable as a particle of light, and you
would recall me to the darkness of human life! O, Paul! O, my beloved
friend! recollect those days of happiness, when in the morning we felt the
delightful sensations excited by the unfolding beauties of nature; when we
gazed upon the sun, gilding the peaks of those rocks, and then spreading
his rays over the bosom of the forests.

"'How exquisite were our emotions while we enjoyed the glowing colours of
the opening day, the odours of our shrubs, the concerts of our birds! Now,
at the source of beauty, from which flows all that is delightful upon
earth, my soul intuitively sees, tastes, hears, touches, what before she
could only be made sensible of through the medium of our weak organs. Ah!
what language can describe those shores of eternal bliss which I inhabit
for ever? All that infinite power and celestial bounty can confer, that
harmony which results from friendship with numberless beings, exulting in
the same felicity, we enjoy in unmixed perfection. Support, then the trial
which is allotted you, that you may heighten the happiness of your Virginia
by love which will know no termination, by hymeneals which will be
immortal. There I will calm your regrets, I will wipe away your tears. Oh,
my beloved friend! my husband! raise your thoughts towards infinite
duration, and bear the evils of a moment.'

"My own emotion choked my utterance. Paul, looking's at me stedfastly,
cried, 'She is no more! She is no more!' and a long fainting fit succeeded
that melancholy exclamation. When restored to himself, he said, 'Since
death is a good, and since Virginia is happy, I would die too, and be
united to Virginia.' Thus the motives of consolation I had offered, only
served to nourish his despair. I was like a man who attempts to save a
friend sinking in the midst of a flood, and refusing to swim. Sorrow had
overwhelmed his soul. Alas! the misfortunes of early years prepare man for
the struggles of life: but Paul had never known adversity.

"I led him back to his own dwelling, where I found his mother and Madame de
la Tour in a state of increased languor, but Margaret drooped most. Those
lively characters upon which light afflictions make a small impression, are
least capable of resisting great calamities.

"'O, my good friend,' said Margaret, 'me-thought, last night, I saw
Virginia dressed in white, amidst delicious bowers and gardens. She said to
me, 'I enjoy the most perfect happiness;' and then approaching Paul, with a
smiling air, she bore him away. While I struggled to retain my son, I felt
that I myself was quitting the earth, and that I followed him with
inexpressible delight. I then wished to bid my friend farewell, when I saw
she was hastening after me with Mary and Domingo. But what seems most
strange is, that Madame de la Tour has this very night had a dream attended
with the same circumstances.'

"'My dear friend,' I replied, 'nothing, I believe, happens in this world
without the permission of God. Dreams sometimes foretell the truth.'

"Madame de la Tour related to me her dream, which was exactly similar; and,
as I had never observed in either of those persons any propensity to
superstition, I was struck with the singular coincidence of their dreams,
which, I had little doubt, would soon be realized.

"What I expected took place. Paul died two months after the death of
Virginia, whose name dwelt upon his lips even in his expiring moments.
Eight days after the death of her son, Margaret saw her last hour approach
with that serenity which virtue only can feel. She bade Madame de la Tour
the most tender farewell, 'in the hope,' she said, 'of a sweet and eternal
reunion. Death is the most precious good,' added she, 'and we ought to
desire it. If life be a punishment we should wish for its termination; if
it be a trial, we should be thankful that it is short.'

"The governor took care of Domingo and Mary, who were no longer able to
labour, and who survived their mistresses but a short time. As for poor
Fidele, he pined to death, at the period he lost his master.

"I conducted Madame de la Tour to my dwelling, and she bore her calamities
with elevated fortitude. She had endeavoured to comfort Paul and Margaret
till their last moments, as if she herself had no agonies to bear. When
they were no more, she used to talk of them as of beloved friends, from
whom she was not distant. She survived them but one month. Far from
reproaching her aunt for those afflictions she had caused, her benign
spirit prayed to God to pardon her, and to appease that remorse which the
consequences of her cruelty would probably awaken in her breast.

"I heard, by successive vessels which arrived from Europe, that this
unnatural relation, haunted by a troubled conscience, accused herself
continually of the untimely fate of her lovely niece, and the death of her
mother, and became at intervals bereft of her reason. Her relations, whom
she hated, took the direction of her fortune, after shutting her up as a
lunatic, though she possessed sufficient use of her reason to feel all the
pangs of her dreadful situation, and died at length in agonies of despair.

"The body of Paul was placed by the side of his Virginia, at the foot of
the same shrubs; and on that hallowed spot the remains of their tender
mothers, and their faithful servants, are laid. No marble covers the turf,
no inscription records their virtues; but their memory is engraven upon our
hearts, in characters, which are indelible; and surely, if those pure
spirits still take an interest in what passes upon earth, they love to
wander beneath the roofs of these dwellings, which are inhabited by
industrious virtue, to console the poor who complain of their destiny, to
cherish in the hearts of lovers the sacred flame of fidelity, to inspire a
taste for the blessing of nature, the love of labour, and the dread of
riches.

"The voice of the people, which is often silent with regard to those
monuments raised to flatter the pride of kings, has given to some parts of
this island names which will immortalize the loss of Virginia. Near the
Isle of Amber, in the midst of sandbanks, is a spot called the Pass of
Saint Geran, from the name of the vessel which there perished. The
extremity of that point of land, which is three leagues distant, and half
covered by the waves, and which the Saint Geran could not double on the
night preceding the huricane, is called the Cape of Misfortune; and before
us, at the end of the valley, is the Bay of the Tomb, where Virginia was
found buried in the sand; as if the waves had sought to restore her corpse
to her family, that they might render it the last sad duties on those
shores of which her innocence had been the ornament.

"Ye faithful lovers, who were so tenderly united! unfortunate mothers!
beloved family! those woods which sheltered you with their foliage, those
fountains which flowed for you, those hillocks upon which you reposed,
still deplore your loss! No one has since presumed to cultivate that
desolated ground, or repair those fallen huts. Your goats are become wild,
your orchards are destroyed, your birds are fled, and nothing is heard but
the cry of the sparrowhawk, who skims around the valley of rocks. As for
myself, since I behold you no more, I am like a father bereft of his
children, like a traveller who wanders over the earth, desolate and alone."

In saying these words, the good old man retired, shedding tears, and mine
had often flowed, during this melancholy narration.


THE END.





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