By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Delusion, or The Witch of New England
Author: Lee, Eliza Buckminster, 1788-1864
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Delusion, or The Witch of New England" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


                      By Eliza Buckminster Lee

     "There is in man a HIGHER than love of happiness: he can do without
     happiness, and, instead thereof, find blessedness."--SARTOR.


    Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1839,
    in the clerk's office of the district court of Massachusetts.


The scenes and characters of this little tale are wholly fictitious. It
will be found that the tragic interest that belongs to the history of
the year 1692 has been very much softened in the following pages.

The object of the author has not been to write a tale of witchcraft, but
to show how circumstances may unfold the inward strength of a timid
woman, so that she may at last be willing to die rather than yield to
the delusion that would have preserved her life.

If it is objected that the young and lovely are seldom accused of any
witchcraft except that of bewitching hearts, we answer, that of those
who were _actually_ accused, many were young; and those who maintained a
firm integrity against the overwhelming power of the delusion of the
period must have possessed an intellectual beauty which it would be vain
to endeavor to portray.

This imperfect effort is submitted with much diffidence, to the
indulgence of the courteous reader.



    "Ay, call it holy ground,
    The soil where first they trod:
    They have left unstained what there they found,--
    Freedom to worship God."

New England scenery is said to be deficient in romantic and poetic
associations. It is said that we have no ruins of ancient castles,
frowning over our precipices; no time-worn abbeys and monasteries,
mouldering away in neglected repose, in our valleys.

It is true that the grand and beautiful places in our natural scenery
are not marred by the monuments of an age of violence and wrong; and our
silent valleys retain no remnant of the abodes of self-indulgent and
superstitious devotion; but the descendant of the Pilgrims finds, in
many of the fairest scenes of New England, some memento to carry back
the imagination to those heroic and self-sacrificing ancestors. His soul
is warmed and elevated when he remembers that devoted company, who were
sustained amid hardship and every privation, on the trackless ocean, and
in the mysterious and appalling solitudes of the forest, by a firm
devotion to duty, and an all-pervading sense of the immediate presence
of God.

The faults of our ancestors were the faults of their age. It is not now
understood--and how wide from it was the conviction then!--that _even_
toleration implies intoleration. Who is to judge what opinions are to be
tolerated? He whom circumstance has invested at the moment with power?

The scene I wish to describe was on the borders of one of the interior
villages of New England,--a mountain village, embosomed in high hills,
from which the winter torrents, as they met in the plain, united to form
one of those clear, sparkling rivers, in whose beautiful mirror the
surrounding hills were reflected. The stream, "winding at its own sweet
will," enclosed a smooth meadow. At the extremity of the meadow, and
shadowed by the mountain, nestled one of the poorest farm-houses, or
cottages, of the time.

It was black and old, apparently containing but two rooms and a garret.
Attached to it were the common out-houses of the poorest farms: a shed
for a cow, a covering for a cart, and a small barn were all. But the
situation of this humble and lonely dwelling was one of surpassing
beauty. The soft meadow in front was dotted with weeping elms and
birches; the opposite and neighboring hills were covered to their
summits with the richest wood, while openings here and there admitted
glimpses of the distant country.

A traveller coming upon this solitary spot, and seeing the blue smoke
curling against the mountain side, would have rejoiced. There is
something in the lonely farmhouse, surrounded with its little garden,
and its homely implements of labor, that instantly touches our sympathy.
There, we say, human hearts have experienced all the changes of life;
they have loved and rejoiced, perhaps suffered and died.

The interior consisted of only two rooms. In the ample chimney of that
which served for the common room, was burning a bright flame of pine
knots; for, although it was the middle of summer, the sun sank so early
behind the hills, and the evenings were so chilly, that the warmth was
necessary, and the light from the small window cheered the laborer
returning late from his work.

An old man sat by the chimney, evidently resting from the labors of the
day. He was bent by time, but his brilliant eye and his flowing gray
locks gave a certain refinement to his appearance, beyond that which his
homely garments would warrant.

A woman, apparently as aged as himself, sat by the little window,
catching the last rays of evening, as they were reflected from her white
cap and silvery hair. Before her was a table on which lay a large Bible.
She had just placed her spectacles between the leaves, as she closed it
and resumed her knitting.

These two formed a picture full of the quiet repose of old age. But
there was another in the room,--a youth, apparently less than twenty,
kneeling before the flaming pine, over the leaves of a worn volume that
absorbed him wholly.

The ruddy flame imparted the glow of health to a countenance habitually
pale. Over his dark, enthusiastic eye was spread a clear and noble brow,
so smooth and polished that it seemed as if at seventy it would be as
unwrinkled as at seventeen. His piercing eye had that depth of
expression that indicates dark passions or religious melancholy. He was
slender in form, and very tall; but a bend in the shoulders, produced by
agricultural labor, or by weakness in the chest, impaired somewhat the
symmetry of his form.

They had been silent some moments. The young man closed his worn volume,
an imperfect copy of Virgil, and walked several times, with hurried
steps, across the little room.

At length he stopped before the woman, and said, "Mother, let me see how
much your frugal care has hoarded. Let me know all our wealth. Unless I
can procure another book, I cannot be prepared for the approaching
examination. If I cannot enter college the next term, I never can. I
must give up all hope of ever being any thing but the drudge I am now,
and of living and dying in this narrow nook of earth."

"No, no, my son," answered the woman; "if my prayers are heard, you will
be a light and a blessing to the church, though I may not live to see

The young man sighed deeply, and, taking the key she gave him, he opened
an old-fashioned chest, and, from a little cup of silver tied over with
a piece of leather, he poured the contents into his hand. There were
several crowns and shillings, and two or three pieces of gold.

Apparently the examination was unsatisfactory, for he threw himself into
a chair, and covered his face with his hands.

The old woman rose after looking at him a few moments in silence, and
laid her hand gently on his shoulder.

"My son," she said, "where is the faith that sustained your ancestors
when they left all their luxuries and splendor, their noble homes for
conscience' sake. Yes, my son, your fathers were among the distinguished
of England's sons, and they left all for God."

"Mother," said he, "would that they had been hewers of wood and drawers
of water. Then I should have been content with my lot. Mother, all your
carefully hoarded treasure will not be enough to pay my first term in
college. Without books, without friends, I must give up the hope of an
education," and the large tears trickled between his fingers.

"You forget," she said, "your good friend at C. who has lent you so many
books. Why not apply to him again?"

A deep blush flushed the young man's countenance, but he made no answer,
and seemed to wish to change the subject.

"It is almost evening," he said; "shall we not have prayers?" and,
placing himself near the window to catch the last rays of departing
daylight, he read one of the chapters from the Old Testament.

The aged man, who had not spoken during the discussion, stood up and
prayed with great fervency.

His prayer was made up, indeed, by quotations from the Old Testament,
and he used altogether the phraseology of the Scriptures. He prayed for
the church in the wilderness, "that it might be bright as the sun, fair
as the moon, beautiful as Tirzah, and terrible as an army with banners;"
"that our own exertions to serve the church and our strivings after the
Holy Spirit might not be like arrows in the air, traces in the sea, oil
upon the polished marble, and water spilt upon the ground."

He asked for no temporal blessing; all his petitions were in language
highly figurative, and he closed with a prayer for his grandson, "that
God would make him a polished shaft in the temple of the Lord, a bright
and shining light in the candlestick of the church."

When he had finished his prayer,--"My son," he said, "do not be cast
down; you forget that the great Luther begged his bread. The servants of
the church, in every age, have been poor and despised; even the Son of
God," and he looked reverently upwards, "knew not where to lay his head.
_You_ have only to labor. The peat at the bottom of the meadow is
already dry; there is more than we shall need for winter fuel; take it,
in the morning, to C----, and with the produce buy the book you need."

"No," said the young man, "there are many repairs necessary to make you
and my grandmother comfortable for the winter. I cannot rob you of more.
I can borrow the book."

He lighted his lamp, made from rushes dipped in the green wax of the bay
bush, which affords a beautiful, but not brilliant flame, and went up a
few steps to his chamber in the garret. The old woman gathered the ashes
over the kindling coal, and, with her aged partner, retired to the
bed-room opposite the narrow entrance.


    "Deep thought oft seemed to fix his infant eye;
    Silent when glad, affectionate, though shy:
    And now his look was most demurely sad,
    And now he laughed aloud, yet none knew why.
    The neighbors stared and sighed, yet blessed the lad;
    Some deemed him wondrous wise, and some believed him mad."


Our young student retired to his garret, a small room in the roof of the
cottage, heated by the summer sun resting on its roof almost to the heat
of a furnace. One small window looking towards the east admitted the
evening breeze.

In the remotest corner was a low and narrow pallet, by the side of which
hung the indispensable articles of a man's apparel.

A small table, covered with ink spots, and a solitary chair stood in the
centre of the little apartment. A few deal shelves contained the odd and
worn volumes of the student's library. A Greek Testament, several
lexicons, half a volume of Horace, lay scattered on the table. Virgil
was the book he had brought with him from the pine-knot torch, and it
was the old Grecian, Homer that he was so anxious to possess.

The uncarpeted floor was thickly strewn with sheets half written over,
and torn manuscripts were scattered about. Wherever the floor was
visible, the frequent ink spots indicated that it was not without mental
agitation that these manuscripts had been produced.

It was not to repose from the labors of the day that the young man
entered his little chamber: to bodily labor must now succeed mental

He cast a wistful look towards his little pallet; he longed to rest his
limbs, aching with the labor of the day; but no; his lamp was on the
table, and, resolutely throwing off his coarse frock, he sat down to
think and to write.

Wearied by a long day of labor, the student in vain tried to collect his
thoughts, to calm his weakened nerves. He rose and walked his chamber
with rapid steps, the drops of heat and anguish resting on his brow.

"Oh!" said he, "that I had been content to remain the clod, the
toil-worn slave that I am!"

Little do they know, who have leisure and wealth, and all the
appurtenances of literary ease--the lolling study-chair, the convenient
apartment, the brilliant light--how much those suffer who indulge in
aspirations beyond their lowly fortune.

The student sat down again to write. His hands were icy cold, while his
eyes and brow were burning hot. He was engaged on a translation from the
Greek. His efforts to collect and concentrate his thoughts on his work,
exhausted as he was with toil, were vain and unavailing. At length he
threw down his pen.

"Oh God!" thought he, "is this madness? am I losing my memory, my mind?"
Again he walked his little room, but with gentler steps; for he would
not disturb his aged relatives, who slept beneath.

"Have I deceived myself?" he said; "were all my aspirations only
delusions, when, yet a boy, I followed the setting sun, and the rainbow
hues of the evening clouds, with a full heart that could only find
relief in tears?--when I believed myself destined to be other than a
hewer of wood and a drawer of water, because I felt an immeasurable pity
for my fellow-men, groping, as I did myself, under all the evils of
ignorance and sin? Was it only vanity, when I hoped to rise above the
clods of the earth, and aspired to have my lips, as Isaiah's, touched by
a coal from the holy altar? Was it only impatience at my lot which
destined me to inexorable poverty?"

"Let me not despair of myself;" and he took from his table a manuscript
of two or three sheets, and began to read it.

As he went on, his dissatisfaction seemed to increase. With the
sensitiveness and humility of true genius, when under the influence of
despondency, every line seemed to him feeble or exaggerated; all the
faults glared out in bold relief; while the real beauty of the
composition escaped his jaded and toil-worn attention.

"Oh Heaven!" he said, "I have deceived myself; I am no genius, able to
rise above the lowliness of my station. The bitter cup of poverty is at
my lips. I have not even the power to purchase a single book. Shall I go
again to my good friend at C----? Shall I appear as a beggar, or a
peasant, to beg the trifling pittance of a book?"

A burning blush for a moment passed over his pale countenance. "Will
they not say, and justly, 'Go back to your plough; it is your destiny
and proper vocation to labor?'"

He sat down on the side of his little pallet, and burst into tears. He
wept long, and, as he wept, his mind became more calm. The short
summer's night, in its progress, had bathed the earth in darkness, and
cooled the heated roof of his little apartment. The night breeze, as it
came in at his window, chilled him, and he rose to close it.

As he looked from his little window, the dawn was just appearing in the
east, and the planet Venus, shining with the soft light of a crescent
moon, was full before him.

"O beautiful star!" he thought, "the same that went before the sages of
the East, and guided them to the manger of the Savior! I aspire only to
be a teacher of the sublime wisdom of that humble manger. Let me but
lift up my weak voice in his cause, and let all worldly ambition die
within me.

    '---- Thou, O Spirit! who dost prefer,
    Before all temples, th' upright heart and pure,'

I consecrate my powers to thee."

The morning breeze, as it blew on his temples, refreshed him. The young
birds began to make those faint twitterings beneath the downy breast of
the mother, the first faint sound that breaks the mysterious silence of
early dawn.

He turned from the window; the rush-light was just expiring in its rude
candlestick. He threw himself on his bed, and was soon lost in deep and
dreamless slumbers.


    "I give thee to thy God,--the God that gave thee
    A well-spring of deep gladness to my heart!
          And, precious as thou art,
    And pure as dew of Hermon, He shall have thee!
    My own, my beautiful, my undefiled!
          And thou shalt be his child."

While the student sleeps, we will make the reader acquainted with his
short and simple annals.

His maternal grandfather had been among the Puritan emigrants who sought
the rock-bound coast of New England. He was a man of worth and property,
had been educated at Oxford, and distinguished for classical learning
and elegant pursuits. But at the call of conscience he left the
luxurious halls of his fathers, the rank, and ancestral honors that
would have descended to him, to share the hardships, privations, and
sufferings of the meanest of his companions. He brought with him his
wife and an only child, a daughter of twenty years.

Like her mother, she had been carefully nurtured, and had lived in much
luxury, although in the strict seclusion of the daughters of the

The wives and daughters of the Pilgrims have never been honored as they
deserved to be. Except the Lady Arbella Johnson, is there a single name
that has descended with pride and honor to their daughters, and been
cherished as a Puritan saint?

It is true they lived in an age when the maxim that a woman should
consider it her highest praise to have nothing said about her was in
full force; and when the remark of Coleridge would have been applauded,
"That the perfection of a woman's character is to be _characterless_."

But among the wives of the Pilgrims there were heroic women that endured
silently every calamity. Mrs. Hemans says, with poetry and truth,--

    "_There_ was woman's _fearless_ eye,
    Lit by her deep love's truth."

But how many _fearful_ days and nights they must have passed, trembling
with all a mother's timidity for their children, when they heard the
savage cry, that spared neither the touching smile of infancy, nor the
agonized prayer of woman!

They had left the comforts, and even the luxuries, of their English
homes,--the hourly attendance of servants, to meet the chilling skies
of a shelterless wilderness. She whose foot had trodden the softest
carpets, whose bed had been of down, who had been accustomed to those
minute attentions that prevent the rose-leaf from being crumpled, must
now labor with her own hands, endure the cold of the severest winter,
and leave herself unsheltered; all she asked was to guard her infant
children from suffering, and aid by her sympathy, her husband.

It is indeed true, that the sentiment of love or religion has power to
elevate above all physical suffering, and to ennoble all those homely
cares and humble offices that are performed for the beloved object with
a smile of patient endurance; and it asks, in return, but confidence and

The wife of Mr. Seymore soon sank under the hardships of the times, and
the severity of the climate of New England. Her grave was made in the
solitude of the overshadowing forest, and her daughter, who had brought
with her a fine, hardy, English constitution, lived to console her
widowed father.

He died about five years after his wife, and then his daughter married
an Englishman of small fortune, who had come over with his family: his
father and mother, both advanced in life, had settled on the small farm
we have attempted to describe. He built the cottage for his parents, and
then, with his wife, the mother of our young friend Seymore, returned to

She lived not long after her return. The religious enthusiasm of the
time had taken possession of her mind, and, before her death, she
dedicated this, her only child, to the service of the church, and
requested her husband to send him to America, where poverty presented no
insurmountable barrier to his success.

His father, in sending him to America in his twelfth year, promised to
advance something for his education; but unfortunate circumstances
prevented, and the boy was left to make his own fortune under the roof
of his grandparents.

His disappointment was great to find his grandparents in so narrow
circumstances, and himself condemned to so obscure a station. He had
aspirations, as we have seen, beyond his humble circumstances. The few
books he brought with him were his consolation. They were read, reread,
and committed to memory; and then he longed for more. An accident, or
what we term an accident--the instrument that Providence provides to
shape our destiny--threw some light upon the gloom that seemed to have
settled on his prospects.

He met at C----, where he had gone on some business connected with his
agricultural labors, the clergyman of the place.

Mr. Grafton was interested by his fine intellectual expression, and
pleased with the refined and intelligent remarks that seemed unsuited to
his coarse laborer's frock and peasant's dress.

He took him to his house, lent him the books that were necessary to
prepare him for our young college, and promised his aid to have him
placed on the list of those indigent scholars who were devoted to the

From this time his industry and ambition were redoubled, and we have
seen the poor aspirant for literary distinction striving to unite two
things which must at last break down the body or the mind,--heavy daily
labor, with severe mental toil at night.

He was young and strong; his health did not immediately fail, and we
must now leave him where thousands of our young men have been left, with
aspirations and hopes beyond their humble fortunes.


    "Ay, thou art welcome, heaven's delicious breath!
      When woods begin to wear the crimson leaf,
      And suns grow meek, and the meek suns grow brief,
    And the year smiles as it draws near its death:
      Wind of the sunny south, O, still delay!"


It was the close of one of those mild days at the end of October, that
we call the Indian summer, corresponding to the St. Martin summer of the
eastern continent, although the latter is wanting in some of the
essential elements of beauty that belong to ours.

The sun was setting in veiled and softened light, while a transparent
mist, like a silver gauze, was drawn over woods and hills and meadows.
The gorgeous robe of autumn gave to the landscape an air of festivity
and triumph, while the veil of mist, and the death-like silence, seemed
as if happy nature had been arrested in a moment of joy, and turned into
a mourner. The intense stillness pressed on the heart. No chirp of bird
or hum of insect broke the deep silence. From time to time a leaf,
"yellow and sere," loosened, as it were, by invisible fingers from the
stem, lingered a second on its way, and fell noiselessly to the earth.
In the deep distant wood, the sound of the ripe nuts as they fell, and,
at long intervals, the shrill cry of the squirrel, came to the ear, and
interrupted the revery of the solitary wanderer.

The scene I would describe was bounded on one side by high rocks and the
vast ocean, but sloping towards the land into soft and undulating
beauty. A noble river was on one side, and on the promontory thus
formed, were left some of the largest trees of the forest that covered
the whole country when our fathers first arrived. Although so near the
ocean, the scene had a character of tranquil sylvan beauty strangely
contrasted with the ocean when agitated by storms.

One of the largest villages of the time was on the opposite bank of the
river; but, as there was no bridge, the place I would describe was
almost as solitary as if man had never invaded it. The trees upon it
were the largest growth of elm and oak, and seemed left to shelter a
single dwelling, a house of moderate size, but which had much the
appearance of neatness and comfort.

A few rods from the house, and still nearer the headland, stood the
plain New England meeting-house of that period,--square, barn-like,
unpainted, solitary, but for the silent tenants of its grave-yard. A
grass-grown path connected the church with the dwelling-house, and the
overshadowing trees gave to the spot an air of protection and seclusion
unknown to modern New England churches.

At one of the windows of this modest dwelling, that looked towards the
setting sun, which now bathed the whole scene in yellow light, was a
young woman who might have seen seventeen summers. She was slightly but
well formed, and, had it not been for her fresh and radiant health, she
would have possessed that pensive, poetic expression that painters love.
She was not indeed beautiful, but hers was one of those countenances in
which we think we recall a thousand histories,--histories of the inward
life of the soul,--not the struggles of the passions; for the dove
seemed visibly to rest in the deep blue liquid eye, brooding on its own
secret fancies.

By the fire sat a gentleman whose countenance and gray hair showed that
he was approaching the verge of threescore years and ten, and his black
dress indicated his profession. His slippers and pipe presented a
picture of repose from the labors and cares of the day; and, although it
had been warm, a fire of logs burned in the large old-fashioned chimney.

The furniture of the room, though plain, and humble, had been kept with
so much care and neatness that it was seen at once that a feminine taste
had presided there, and had cherished as sacred the relics of another

The occupants of the room were father and daughter. A portrait over the
fireplace, carefully guarded by a curtain, indicated that he was a
widower, and that his child was motherless.

They had both been silent for a long time. The young lady continued to
watch with apparent interest some object from the window, and the old
man to enjoy his pipe; but at last the night closed in, and the autumn
mist, rising from the river, veiled the brilliancy of the stars.

The daughter drew near the table, and seated herself by her father: her
countenance was pensive, and a low sigh escaped her.

Her father laid his hand tenderly on her head: "My poor child," he
said, "I fear your life is too solitary; your young heart yearns for
companions of your own age. True, we have few visitors suited to your

Edith looked up with a smile on her lips, but there was a tear in her
eye, called there by her father's tender manner.

"And where," continued he, "is our young friend the student? It is long
since he came to get another book. I fear he is timid and sensitive, and
does not like that you should see his poor labor-swollen hands; but
_that_ he should be proud of,--far more proud than if they were soft,
like yours."

Edith blushed slightly. "Father," she said, "I want no companion but
you. Let me bring your slippers. Ah! I see Dinah has brought them while
I have been gazing idly at the river. It shall not happen again. What
book shall be our evening reading? Shall I take up Cicero again, or will
you laugh at the Knight of the rueful Countenance."

How soon is ingenuous nature veiled or denied by woman. Edith thus tried
to efface the impression of her sigh and blush, by assuming a gayety of
manner which was foreign to her usual demeanor, and which did not
deceive her father.

"We must go and find out our young friend," pursued her father. "He has
much talent, and will surely distinguish himself, and he must not be
suffered to languish in poverty and neglect. The first fine day, my
daughter, we will ride over and visit him."

Edith looked her gratitude, and the long autumn evening wore pleasantly

It was at the time when slavery was common in New England. At the close
of the evening, Paul and Dinah, both Africans, entered, and the usual
family prayers were offered.

At the close of the prayer, the blacks kneeled down for their master's

This singular custom, though not common to the times, was sometimes
practised; and those Puritans, who would not bend the knee to God except
in their closets, allowed their slaves to kneel for their own blessing.

They went to Edith, who kissed Dinah on both dark cheeks, and gave her
hand to Paul, and the family group separated each to his slumbers for
the night.

The head of the little group we have thus described was one of the most
distinguished of the early New England clergymen. He had been educated
in England, and was an excellent classical scholar; indeed, his passion
for the classics was his only consolation in the obscure little parish
where he was content to dwell.

He had been early left a widower, with this only child, and all the
affections of a tender heart had centred in her. The mildness of his
disposition had never permitted him to become either a bigot nor a
persecutor. He had been all his life a diligent student of the human
heart, and the result was tolerance for human inconsistencies, and
indulgence for human frailties.

At this time accomplishments were unknown except to those women who were
educated in the mother country; but such education as he could give his
daughter had been one of his first cares.

He had taught her to read his favorite classics, and had left the
mysteries of "shaping and hemming," knitting and domestic erudition, to
the faithful slave Dinah. Edith had grown up, indeed, without other
female influence, relying on her father's instructions, as far as they
went, and her own pure instincts, to guide her.

The solitude of her situation had given to her character a pensive
thoughtfulness not natural to her age or disposition. Solitude is said
to be the nurse of genius, but to ripen it, at least with woman, the
sunny atmosphere of love is necessary.

Genius is less of the head than of the heart: not that we belong to the
modern school who believe the passions are necessary to the developement
of genius;--far from it. The purest affections seem to us to have left
the most enduring monuments. Among a thousand others, at least with
woman, we see in Madam De Sevignè that maternal love developed all the
graces of a mind unconscious certainly of its powers, but destined to
become immortal.

Our heroine, for such we must try to make her, had grown up free from
all artificial forms of society, but yearning for associates of her own
age and sex. After her father, her affections had found objects only in
birds and animals, and the poor cottagers of one of the smallest
parishes in the country.

Living, as she did, in the midst of beautiful nature, and with the
grandeur of the ocean always before her, it could not fail to impart a
spiritual beauty, a religious elevation, to her mind that had nothing
to do with the technical distinctions of the day. Edith Grafton was
formed for gentleness and love, to suffer patiently, to submit
gracefully, to think more of others' than of her own happiness. She was
the light and joy of her father's hearth, and the idol of her faithful
slaves, and she possessed herself that "peace that goodness bosoms


    "The mildest herald by our fate allotted
     Beckons! and with inverted torch doth stand
           To lead us, with a gentle hand,
     Into the land of the departed,--into the silent land.

       Ah, when the frame round which in love we cling,
      Is chilled by death, does mutual service fail?
      Is tender pity then of no avail?
      Are intercessions of the fervent tongue
      A waste of hope?"


The two slaves that completed the evening group had been brought into
Mr. Grafton's family at the time of his marriage. Dinah was the most
striking in personal appearance. She had been born a princess in her
native land; and her erect and nobly-proportioned form had never been
crushed by the feeling of abject slavery.

From the moment they entered the family of Mr. Grafton, they were
regarded as children, even the lambs of the flock.

They were both at that time young, and soon entered into the more
intimate relation of husband and wife; identifying their own dearest
interests, and making each other only subordinate to what seemed to them
even more sacred,--their devotion to their master and mistress.

Dinah's mind was of a more elevated order than Paul's, her husband. If
she had not been a princess in her own country, she belonged to those
upon whose souls God has stamped the patent of nobility.

Naturally proud, she was docile to the instructions of her excellent
mistress; and her high and imperious spirit was soon subdued to the
gentle influences of domestic love, and to the purifying and elevating
spirit of Christianity.

Her mistress taught her to read. The Bible was her favorite book; and
she became wise in that best wisdom of the heart, which is found in an
intimate knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. Her character, under the
burning sun of Africa, would have been intolerable; but it was tempered
to a soft moonlight radiance, by the shading of Christianity.

Though her imperious spirit at first rebelled against slavery, there was
no toil, no fatigue, no menial service, however humble, which she would
not have sought for those she loved. Love elevated every toil, and gave
it, in her eyes, the dignity of a voluntary and disinterested service.

She had been the only nurse of her kind mistress through her last long
illness. Hers was that faithful affection that preferred long vigils at
the bedside through the watches of the night,--the nurse that the
sleepless eye ever found awake. Hers was that sentient sympathy that
could interpret the weary look,--that love that steals into the darkened
room, anticipating every wish, divining every want, and which, in
silence, like the evening dew on drooping flowers, revives and soothes
the sufferer.

Her cares were unavailing: her kind mistress died, commending the little
Edith to her watchful love.

Dinah received her as if she had been more than the child of her own
bosom. Henceforth she was the jewel of her life; and, if Mr. Grafton had
not interposed, she would have treated her like those precious jewels of
the old Scottish regalia, that are said to be approached by only one
person at a time, and that by torch-light.

Our forefathers and foremothers had a maxim that the will of every child
must be early broken, to insure that implicit and prompt obedience that
the old system of education demanded. Mr. Grafton wisely left the
breaking of the little Edith's will to Dinah.

As we have seen, she was of a gentle temper, but, as a child, determined
and obstinate. Obstinacy in a child is the strength of purpose which, in
man and woman, leads to all excellence. Before it is guided by reason,
it is mere wilfulness. It was wonderful with what a silken thread Dinah
guided the little Edith.

She possessed in her own character the firmness of the oak, and an iron
resolution, but tempered so finely by the influences of love and
religion, that she yielded to every thing that was not hurtful; but
there she stopped, and went not a hair's breadth further.

It was beautiful to see the little Edith watching the mild and loving
but firm eye of Dinah,--which spoke as plain as eye could speak,--and,
when it said "_No_," yielding like a young lamb to a silken tether.

Nothing is easier than to gain the prompt obedience of a young child.
Gentleness, firmness, and steadiness, are all that is requisite.
Gentleness, firmness, and steadiness,--the two last perhaps the rarest
qualities in tender mothers. When a young child finds its mother
uniform--not one day weakly indulgent, and the next capriciously severe,
but always the same mild, firm being--she is to the child like a
beneficent but unchanging Providence; and he no more expects his own
will to prevail, than children of an older growth expect the sun to
stand still, and the seasons to change their order, for their

As soon as the little girl was old enough, she became the pupil of her
father. Under his instruction, she could read the Latin authors with
facility; and even his favorite Greek classics became playfully familiar
as household words, although she really knew little about them. But the
Christian ethics came home more closely to her woman's heart: their
tender, pure, self-denying principles were more congenial to the truly
feminine nature of the little Edith.

The character and example of her mother were ever held up to her by
Dinah. At night, after her little childish prayer, when she laid her
head on her pillow, her last thought was of her mother.

Ah, it is not necessary to be a Catholic, to believe in the intercession
of saints. To a tender heart, a mother lost in infancy is the beautiful
Madonna of the church; and the heart turns as instinctively to her as
the devout Catholic turns to the holy mother and child.

In all Edith's solitary rambles, her pensive thoughts sought her mother.
There was a particular spot in the evening sky where she fancied the
spirit of her mother to dwell; and there, in all her childish griefs,
she sought sympathy, and turned her eye towards it in childlike


    Where now the solemn shade,
     Verdure and gloom, where many branches meet;
    So grateful, when the noon of summer made
     The valleys sick with heat?

    Let in through all the trees,
     Come the strange rays; the forest depths are bright:
    Their sunny-colored foliage, in the breeze,
     Twinkles like beams of light.


A few days after the evening before mentioned, Edith and her father
prepared for their little journey, to visit the young student.

It was a brilliant morning in the very last of October. All journeys, at
this time, were made on horseback: they were mounted, therefore, Mr.
Grafton on a sedate old beast, that had served him many years, and Edith
on the _petite fille_ of this venerable "ancestress,"--gentle, but
scarcely out of its state of coltship.

The Indians, at this time, were much feared, and the shortest excursions
were never undertaken without fire-arms. Paul, as well as Mr. Grafton,
was well armed, and served them as a guard.

As soon as they had left their own village, their course was only a
bridle-path through the forest; and the path was now so hidden with the
fallen leaves, that it was sometimes indicated only by marks on the
trees. The trees were almost stripped of their foliage, and the bright
autumn sun, shining through the bare trunks, sparkled on the dew of the
fallen leaves. It was the last smile of autumn. The cold had already
commenced. No sound broke the intense stillness of the forest but the
trampling of their horses' feet as they crushed the dry, withered

The sky was intensely blue, and without a cloud. The elasticity of the
air excited the young spirits of Edith. She was gay, and, like a young
fawn, she fluttered around her father, sometimes galloping her rough
little pony in front, and then returning, she would give a gentle cut
with her whip to her father's horse, who, with head down, and plodding
indifference, regarded it no more than he did a fly.

Mr. Grafton, delighted with his daughter's playfulness, looked at her
with a quiet, tender smile: her gayety, to him, was like the play of her
infancy, and he delighted to think that she was yet young and happy.

Edith had ridden forward, and they had lost sight of her, when she came
galloping back, pale as death, and hardly able to retain her seat from

"Edith, my child," said her father, "what has happened?"

She could only point with her finger to a thin column of blue smoke that
curled above the trees. Mr. Grafton knew that it indicated the presence
of Indians, at this time the terror of all the inhabitants.

"No doubt they are friendly, my dear child," said Mr. Grafton; and he
sent Paul, who was armed, forward to reconnoitre.

Paul soon returned, showing his white teeth from ear to ear.

"The piccaninnies," he said.

Mr. Grafton and Edith rode forward, and in a little hollow at the foot
of a rock, from which bubbled a clear spring, a young Indian woman, with
a pappoose at her feet, was half reclining; another child, attached in
its birch cradle to the pendent branch of an elm tree, was gently rocked
by the wind. A fire was built against the rock, and venison suspended
before it to roast.

It was a beautiful little domestic scene, and Mr. Grafton and Edith
stopped to contemplate it. They soon learned that the husband of the
Indian was in the forest; but he was friendly, and, after exchanging
smiles, Edith dismounted.

She sat on the grass, caressing the young pappoose, and talked with the
mother in that untaught, mute language that young and kind hearts so
easily understand.

This little adventure delayed them so long that it was past noon when
they reached the secluded farmhouse we have described in the first
chapter of our little tale.

The old man was sitting at the door, enjoying the kindly warmth of the
declining sun. Seymore was not far off, at work in his laborer's frock.
A vivid blush of surprise, and pleasure, and shame, covered his temples
and noble brow, as he came forward to meet them.

Edith, quick in her perceptions, understood his feelings, and turned
aside her head while he drew off his laborer's frock. This gave an
appearance of embarrassment to her first greeting, and the vivid delight
faded in a moment from his brilliant countenance, and a melancholy shade
passed over it.

They entered the house, and Edith endeavored to remove the pain she had
given, by more marked attention to Seymore; but simple and sincere,
ignorant as she was of all arts of coquetry, it only increased the
bashfulness of her manner.

The family had already dined; but, after some delay, a repast was
prepared for the travellers; and, before they were ready to depart, the
long shadows of the opposite hills brought an early twilight over the
little valley.

Mr. Grafton looked at his daughter; he could not expose her to a dark
ride through the forest; and the pressing invitation of the good old
people, that they should stay the night, was accepted.

After much pleasant talk with the enthusiastic young student, to which
Edith listened with deep interest, Mr. Grafton was tasked to his utmost
polemical and theological knowledge by the searching questions of the
old Puritan. Like douce Davie Deans, he was stiff in his doctrines, and
would not allow a suspicion of wavering from the orthodox standard of
faith. But Edith soon gave undeniable evidence that sleep was a much
better solacer of fatigue than theological discussions; and, after the
evening worship had been scrupulously performed, a bed was prepared for
Mr. Grafton on the floor of the room where they sat, for he would not
allow the old people to give up theirs to him.

Seymore gayly resigned his poor garret to Edith, and slept, as he had
often done before, in the hayloft. Slept? no; he lay awake all night
thinking how lovely Edith looked in her riding _Joseph_,[1] which fitted
closely to her beautiful shape, and a beaver hat tied under the chin, to
confine her hair in riding. She was the angel of his dreams. But why did
she turn aside when they met? and the poor student sighed.

[Footnote 1: We have in vain endeavored to find the etymology of this
name. It might first have been of many colors, and named from the coat
of the patriarch's favorite son.]

Edith looked around the little garret with much interest, and some
little awe. There were the favorite books, heaps of manuscripts, and
every familiar object that was so closely associated with Seymore.
Nothing reveals so much of another's mind and habits, as to go into the
apartment where they habitually live.

The bed had been neatly made with snowy sheets, and some little order
given to the room. Edith opened the books, and read the marked passages;
the manuscripts were all open, and with the curiosity of our mother
Eve, she read a few lines. She colored to the very temples as she
committed this fault; but she found herself irresistibly led on by
sympathy with a mind kindred to her own; and when she laid her head on
the pillow, tears of admiration and pity filled her eyes. She lay awake,
forming plans for the student's advancement; and, before sleep weighed
down her eyelids, she had woven a fair romance, of which he was the

Ah, that youth could be mistress of the ring and the lamp! then would
all the world be prosperous and happy. But wisdom and experience, the
true genii, appear in the form of an _aged_ magician, who has forgotten
the beatings of that precious thing, the human heart.

The next morning, when they were assembled at their frugal breakfast,
Seymore said, "I fear you thought, from the frequent ink-spots on my
little garret, that, like Luther, I had thrown my ink-bottle at the
devil whenever he appeared."

"I hope," said Edith, "you have not thrown away all its contents; for I
had some charming fancies last night, inspired, I believe, by that very

Seymore blushed; but he did not look displeased, and Edith was

The next morning was clear and balmy, and, soon after breakfast, they
mounted their horses for their return.

There are few things more exhilarating than riding through woods on a
clear autumnal morning; but Edith felt no longer the wild gayety of the
previous morning. With a thoughtful countenance, she rode silently by
her father's side when the path would permit, or followed quietly when
it was too narrow.

"You seem to have found food for thought in the student's garret, my
dear," said her father.

Edith blushed slightly, but did not answer.

They had accomplished about half their journey, when Mr. Grafton
proposed turning off from the direct path to visit an old lady,--a
friend of Edith's mother, an emigrant of a noble family from the mother

Edith followed silently, wondering she had never heard her father
mention this friend of her mother before.

They soon after emerged from the forest upon open fields, cleared and
cultivated with unusual care. A beautiful brook ran winding in the
midst, and the whole domain was enclosed in strong fences of stone.
About midway was built a low, irregular, but very large farmhouse. It
consisted of smaller buildings, connected by very strong palisades; and
the whole was enclosed, at some distance, by a fence built of strong
timbers. It was evidently a dwelling designed for defence against
Indians. They entered the enclosure by an iron gate, so highly wrought
and finished that it must have been imported from the mother country.

Edith found herself in a large garden, that had once been cultivated
with much care and expense. It had been filled with rose-bushes,
honeysuckles, and choice English flowers; but all was now in a state of
neglect and decay. The walks were overrun with weeds, the arbors in
ruins, and the tendrils of the vines wandering at their own wanton will.
It seemed as if neglect had aided the autumn frost to cover this
favorite spot with the garb of mourning.

There was no front entrance to this singular building; and the visitors
rode round to a low door at the back, partly concealed by a pent roof.
After knocking several minutes, it was opened by a very old negro,
dressed in a tarnished livery, with his woolly hair drawn out into a
queue, and powdered. He smiled a welcome, and, with much show of
respect, led them through many dark passages to a low but very
comfortable room. The walls were hung with faded tapestry; and the low
ceiling, crossed with heavy beams, would have made the apartment gloomy,
but for two large windows that looked into the sunny garden. The sashes
were of small, lozenge panes of glass set in lead; while the bright
autumn sun streamed through, and shone with cheerful light on the black
oak furniture, and showed every mote dancing in its beams.

Edith looked around with surprise and delight. A lady not much past the
meridian of life came forward to greet them. She was dressed in an
olive-colored brocade, with a snowy lawn apron and neckerchief folded
across her breast. The sleeve reached just below the elbow, and was
finished with a ruffle, and black silk mitts met the ruffle at the
elbow. A rich lace shaded her face, and a small black velvet hood was
tied closely under the chin.

The lady's manner was rather stately and formal, as she greeted Mr.
Grafton with all the ceremony of the old school of politeness, and
looked at his daughter.

"She is the image of her mother," said Lady C----.

"She is a precious flower," answered Mr. Grafton, looking at Edith with
pride and affection, as she stood, half respectful, half bashful, before
the lady.

"You have called her Mary, I hope,--her mother's name."

"No," answered Mr. Grafton; "I have but _one_ Mary,"--and he looked

Edith pressed closer to her father. "Call me Edith, madam," she said,
with a timid smile.

Lady C---- smiled also, and was soon in earnest conversation with Mr.

Edith was engaged in examining a room so much more elegant than any she
had seen before. Her eyes were soon attracted by a full-length portrait
on the opposite side of the apartment. It was a lady in the bloom of
youth, dressed in the costume of the second Charles. It was evidently an
exquisite work of art. To Edith, the somewhat startling exposure of the
bust, which the fashion of the period demanded, was redeemed by the
chaste and nunlike expression of the face. Tender blue eyes were cast
down on a wounded dove that she cherished in her bosom; and the long,
dark eyelash shaded a pale and pensive cheek.

Edith was fascinated by this beautiful picture. Who was she? where did
she live? what was her fate? were questions hovering on her lips, which
she dared not ask of the stately lady on the couch; but, as she stood
riveted before it, "O that I had such a friend!" passed through her
mind; and, like inexperienced and enthusiastic youth, she thought how
fondly she could have loved her, and, if it were necessary, have
sacrificed her own life for hers.

Lady C---- observed her fixed attention.

"That is a portrait of the Lady Ursula," she said, "who built this
house, and brought over from England the fruits and flowers of the
garden. Alas! they are now much wasted and destroyed."

At this moment, the old negro appeared, to say that the dinner was

They passed into another low room, in the centre of which was a long
oaken dining-table, the upper end raised two steps higher than the
lower, and the whole was fixed to the floor. At this time, the upper end
only was covered with a rich damask cloth, where the lady and her guests
took their seats; the other half of the table extending bare beneath

"In this chair, and at this table, the Lady Ursula was wont to dine with
her maidens and serving-men," said Lady C----, as she took her seat in a
high-backed, richly-carved chair of oak; "and I have retained the
custom, though my serving-men are much reduced;" and she glanced her eye
on the trembling old negro.

Edith thought how dreary it must be to dine there in solitary state,
with no one to speak to except the old negro, and she cast a pitying
look around the apartment.

A beauffet was in one corner, well filled with massive plate, and the
walls were adorned with pictures in needle-work, framed in dark ebony.

The picture opposite Edith was much faded and defaced, but it was meant
to represent Abraham offering his son Isaac in sacrifice.

"It was the work of the Lady Ursula's fingers," said Lady C----, "as
every thing else you see here was created by her."

"Is she now living?" asked Edith, very innocently.

"Alas! no, my dear; hers was a sad fate; but her story is too long for
the dining hour;" and as dinner was soon over, they returned to the
other apartment.

Edith longed for a ramble in the garden. When she returned, the horses
were at the door, and she took a reluctant leave, for she had not heard
the story of the Lady Ursula.

As soon as they had turned their horses' heads outside the iron gate,
Edith began her eager questions:

"Who was that beautiful woman, the original of the portrait? Where did
she live? How did she die? What was her fate?" Her father smiled, and
related the following particulars, which deserve another chapter.


    "Loveliest of lovely things are they
    On earth, that soonest pass away.
    Even love, long tried, and cherished long,
    Becomes more tender, and more strong,
    At thought of that insatiate grave
    From which its yearnings cannot save.

    "But where is she, who, at this calm hour,
      Watched his coming to see?
    She is not at the door, nor yet in the bower:
    He calls,--but he only hears on the flower
      The hum of the laden bee."


"The Lady Ursula was the daughter of an English nobleman, the proprietor
of Grondale Abbey. She was betrothed, in early life, to a young man, an
officer in the army. As she was an only daughter, and inherited from her
mother a large fortune, her father disapproved of her choice, and wished
her to ally herself with the heir of a noble family. He was rejoiced,
therefore, when a war broke out, that obliged Col. Fowler to leave the
country with his regiment, to join the army.

"The parting of the lovers was painful, but they parted, as the young
do, full of hope, and agreed to keep up a very frequent correspondence.

"For a year, his letters cheered his faithful mistress; but then they
ceased, and a report of his death in battle reached her. Her father then
urged the other alliance. This the Lady Ursula steadily refused; and she
was soon after relieved from all importunity, by the death of her

"She was an only daughter, but her father left several sons. His estate
belonged to the eldest, by entail, and the younger brothers, having
obtained large grants of land in this country, determined to emigrate to
the new world.

"The Lady Ursula, disappointed of all her cherished hopes, after much
reflection, decided to accompany them, and become an actual settler in
the wilderness.

"She purchased a large farm on this beautiful part of the coast, and as
she was much beloved by her dependents, she persuaded a large number to
unite their fortunes with hers. She brought out twenty serving-men, and
several young maidens, and created a little paradise around her. The
garden was filled with every variety of fruit and flower then cultivated
in England, and the strong fence around the whole was to protect her
from the Indians.

"At the time the Lady Ursula came to this country, she very much
resembled the beautiful portrait that has charmed you so much. It was
painted after she parted from her lover, and was intended as a present
for him, had she not soon after heard of his death."

"You have seen her, then, my dear father," said Edith. "You knew the
beautiful original of that lovely portrait."

"I scarcely knew her," said Mr. Grafton. "Soon after I came to this
country, I was riding, one day, near a part of her estate. The day was
warm and sultry: under some large spreading oaks a cloth was laid for a
repast. I stopped to refresh my horse, and soon after I saw the lady
approach, drawn in a low carriage.

"She had brought her workmen their dinner, and after it was spread on
the grass, she turned her beautiful eyes towards heaven, and asked a
blessing. She then left her men to enjoy their food, and returned as she
came, driving herself in a small poney chaise.

"Among the maidens who came over with her from England was one who had
received a superior education, and was much in her lady's confidence.
This young girl was often the companion of her lady's solitary walks
about her estate. One evening they were walking, and the Lady Ursula was
relating the circumstances of her early life, and said that till this
time she had never parted with all hope; she had cherished unconsciously
a feeling that her betrothed lover might have been a captive, and that
he would at length return. The young girl said, 'Why do you despair now,
my lady? that is a long lane that has no turning.' The lady smiled more
cheerfully. 'My bird,' she said, 'you have given me a name for my
estate. In memory of this conversation, it shall be called _Long Lane_;'
and it has always retained that name.

"The dews were falling, and they returned to the house. Her men and
maidens were soon assembled, and the Lady Ursula herself led the evening
devotions. They were scarcely ended, when a loud knocking was heard at
the gate. It could not be Indians! No; it was a packet from England;
and, O joy unspeakable! there was a letter from her long-lost friend and
lover. He had been taken prisoner when half dead on the field of battle,
had been removed from one place of confinement to another, debarred the
privilege of writing, and had heard nothing from her. But the war was
ended, there had been an exchange of prisoners, and he hastened to
England, trembling with undefined fears and joyful anticipations. He
would embark immediately, and follow his mistress to the new world,
where he hoped to receive the reward of all his constancy.

"The lady could not finish the letter: surprise, joy, ecstasy,--all were
too much for her, and the Lady Ursula fainted. As soon as she recovered,
all was bustle and excitement through the house. The lady could not
sleep that night, and she began immediately to prepare for the arrival
of her lover. He said he should embark in a few days; she might
therefore expect him every hour.

"Every room in the house was ornamented with fresh flowers. A room was
prepared for her beloved guest, filled with every luxury the house could
furnish; and her own portrait was placed there.

"She was not selfish in her joy: she told her men to get in the harvest:
for when _he_ arrived, no work should be performed; there should be a
jubilee. A fatted calf was selected, to be roasted whole: and every one
of her large household was presented with a new suit of clothes. 'For
this my _friend_,' she said, 'was lost, and is now found; was dead, and
is alive again.'

"When all was ready, the Lady Ursula could not disguise her impatience.
She wandered restlessly from place to place, her eye brilliant, and her
cheek glowing. At every sound she started, trembled, and turned pale.

"Her men were at work in a distant field; and she determined again, as
usual when they were far from home, to carry them their dinner. When she
took her seat in the little carriage, she said, 'It is the last time, I
hope, that I shall go alone.'

"The repast was spread, and they all stood around for the blessing from
the lips of the lady. It was remarked by her men that she had never
looked so beautiful: happiness beamed from her eyes, and her usually
pale cheek was flushed with joy. She folded her hands, and her meek eyes
were raised. At that moment, a savage yell was heard; an Indian sprung
from the thicket. With one blow of his tomahawk the Lady Ursula was
leveled to the ground, and, in less than a moment, her long, fair hair
was hanging at his girdle. The Indian was followed by others; and all
but one of her faithful servants shared the fate of their mistress."

Mr. Grafton paused; Edith's tears were falling fast. "What became of her
lover?" she said, as soon as she could speak.

"He arrived a few days after, to behold the wreck of all his hopes, and
returned again, heart-broken, to England."

"And the picture," said Edith; "why did he not claim it, and take it
with him, to console him, as far as it could, for the loss of his
beautiful bride?"

"As she had made no will," said Mr. Grafton, "all the Lady Ursula's
estate belonged to her own family. The lady we have visited to-day is a
daughter of her brother."

Edith continued silent, and heeded not that the shades of evening
gathered around them. She was pondering the fate of the Lady Ursula.
That one so young, so beautiful, so good, should lead a life of sorrow
and disappointment, and meet with so sudden and dreadful a death,
weighed on her spirits; for Edith had not yet solved the mystery of

The sun had long set, when they reached their own door. Dinah had
prepared the evening meal, and the cheerful evening fire; and Edith
smiled her thanks.

As she helped her young mistress to undress, she said, "How pale you
are, and how tired! You need a sweet, refreshing sleep to rest you

When Edith laid her head on the pillow, she called her humble friend to
her: "Ah, Dinah," she said, "I have heard a story that makes me think
there is no happiness on this earth."

Dinah had heard the story of the Lady Ursula.

"Was it not too sad, that she should meet that dreadful fate just as her
lover returned, and she was going to be so happy?"

Dinah thought it was very sad. "But the lady was pure and good: the
words of prayer were on her lips, and she went straight to heaven
without much pain. Had she married and gone to England, she might have
become vain and worldly; she might have lost the heavenly purity of her

"Yes," said Edith; "and Col. Fowler, having lived so long in the army,
might not have loved her as well as she thought he did. Ah, who could
live without love?"

Dinah thought many could and did. "Women depended too much," she said,
"on their affections for happiness. Strong and deep affections were
almost always disappointed; and, if not, death must come and sever the
dearest ties;" and she stooped down and kissed Edith's hand, which she
held in hers.

Poor Dinah! she little knew how entirely her own heart was bound up in

"But what can we live for, if not for love?" said Edith.

"For many things," answered Dinah, in her simple and quiet manner; "to
grow better ourselves, and to do good to others; to make sacrifices, and
to love _all_ good works."

"I should not wish to live, were I to lose my father, and you,
and"--Edith paused, and closed her eyes.

Dinah drew the curtain, and bid her, softly, "good night."

Edith could not sleep. She was reflecting on the fate of the Lady
Ursula. With Dinah's assistance, she had begun to solve the mysteries of

    "Without, forsaking a too earnest world,
    To calm the affections, elevate the soul,
    And consecrate her life to truth and love."

[Footnote 2: The story of the Lady Ursula is founded on fact. In the
author's youth, the farm of "Long Lane" retained its name, and belonged
to the C---- family.]


    "A little cottage built of sticks and weeds,
    In homely wise, and walled with sods around,
    In which a witch did dwell, in loathly weedes
    And wilful want, all careless of her needes;
    So choosing solitairie to abide. Far from all neighbours."


I wish I were a painter, or a poet, to describe a little sheltered nook
on the sea-shore, where devotion would retire to worship, love to dwell
in thought on the beloved, or sorrow to be soothed to rest. It was a
small cove, sheltered on the north by high, overhanging cliffs, that ran
out into the ocean in a bold headland. Opposite these rocks the land
sloped gently down, and the ocean, lulled to rest, came in like a spent
and wearied child, and rippled on a smooth, white sand.

The top of the cliff was covered with many-colored shrubbery. The
drooping branches of the birch, the sumac, and the aspen, tinted with
the rich coloring of autumn, hung half way down the cliff, and were
reflected, like a double landscape, in the water. At sunset, the entire
glassy surface was burnished with the red and yellow rays of the setting
sun; and when the young moon, like a fairy boat, just rested on the
surface, it was a scene of beauty that could not be surpassed in any

Immediately under the cliff, and sheltered like a swallow's nest, was
the smallest of human habitations; so dark, and old, and moss-grown,
that it seemed a part of the rock against which it rested. It consisted
of one room: a door and single pane of glass admitted the light, and the
nets hanging around, and an old boat drawn up on the beach, indicated
that it was the shelter of a fisherman.

The Indian summer still continued, and a few mornings after the little
journey, Edith was induced, by the soft beauty of the weather, to visit
the cove. It was a walk of two miles, but the inhabitants of the cottage
were among the poor of her father's parish, and she was never a stranger
in their cottages.

The brilliant sun gave to the ever-changing ocean the tints of emerald
green, royal purple, crimson, and sapphire, and made a path of light,
fit for angels' footsteps. The tide was out, and the smooth beach
glittered in the morning sun. The ocean, as far as the eye could reach,
was smooth as glass. It was not then, as now, white with the frequent
sail: a solitary vessel was then a rare occurrence, and hailed with
rapture, as bringing news from _home_. The white-winged curlew was
wheeling around in perfect security, and the little bay was dotted, in a
few spots, with fishermen's boats. The absence of the old boat from the
beach showed that the owner of the cottage was among them.

Edith was sorry her friend the fisherman was absent, for the old woman
who kept his house was a virago; and, indeed, was sometimes thought
insane. Although Edith's moral courage was great, she possessed that
physical timidity and sensitiveness to outward impressions that belongs
to the poetic temperament.

She lingered in her walk, watching the curlews, and listening to the
measured booming of the waves as they touched the shore and then
receded. The obvious reflection that comes to every mind perhaps came to
hers, that thus succeed and are scattered the successive generations of
men. No; she was thinking that thus arrive and depart the days of her
solitary existence; thus uniformly, and thus leaving no trace behind.
Will it be always thus? she sighed; and her eyes filled with tears. Her
revery was interrupted by a rough voice behind her.

"What have you done, that God should grant you the happiness to weep?"
said the old woman, who now stood at her side.

Edith was startled, for the woman's expression was very wild, but she
answered mildly, "Is that so great a boon, mother, that I should deserve
to lose it?"

"Ask her," she said, "whose brain is burning, and whose heart is like
lead, what she would give for one moist tear. O God! I cannot weep."

Whatever timidity Edith felt when she first saw the malignant expression
of the old woman's countenance, was now lost in pity. She knew that the
poor creature's reason was impaired, and she thought this might be one
of her wild moments.

She laid her hand gently on her arm, and said, with a smile, "Nanny, I
have come on purpose to visit you. Let us go into the house, and you
shall tell me what you think, and all you want to make you comfortable
for the winter."

Nanny looked at Edith almost with scorn. "Tell you what I think!" she
said. "As well might I tell yonder birds that are hovering with white
wings in the blue sky. What do you know of sorrow? but you will not
always be strangers. Sorrow is coming over you; I see its dark fold
drawing nearer and nearer."

A slight shudder came over Edith, but she smiled, and said, soothingly,
"I came to talk with you about yourself; let my fate alone for the

"Ah! no need to shake the glass," answered Nanny; "grief is coming soon
enough to drink up your young blood. The cheek that changes like yours,
with sudden flushing, withers soonest; not with age, no, not, like mine,
with age, but blighted by the cold hand of unkindness; and eyes, like
yours, that every emotion fills with sudden tears, soon have their
fountains dry, and then, ah! how you will long and pray for one drop, as
I do now!"

They had entered the poor hovel, and the old woman, who had been
speaking in a tone of great excitement, now turned and looked full at
Edith: her beauty seemed to awake a feeling of envious contempt.

The contrast between them was indeed great. Edith stood in the narrow
door, blooming with youth and health. Her dark hair, which contrasted so
beautifully with her soft blue eye, had lost its curl by the damp air,
and she had taken off her bonnet to put back the uncurled tresses.

The old woman had seated herself in an old, high-backed chair, and, with
her elbows on her knees, looked earnestly at Edith. Her face might once
have been fair; but it was now deeply wrinkled, and bronzed with smoke
and exposure. Her teeth were gone, and her thin, shriveled lips had an
expression of pain and suffering; while her eyes betrayed the envy and
contempt she seemed to feel towards others.

"Ah," she said, "gather up your beautiful shining locks. How long, think
you, before they will be like mine? But mine were once black and glossy
as yours; and now look at them."

She took down from under her cap her long, gray hair, and spread it over
her breast. It was dry and coarse, and without a single black hair. She
laid her dark, bony hand on Edith's white arm.

"Sorrow has done this," she said,--"not time: it has been of this color
for fifty years."

"And have you then suffered so much?" said Edith,--and her eyes filled
with tears.

The old woman saw that she was pitied, and a more gentle expression came
into her eyes, as she fixed them on Edith.

"My child," she said, "we can learn to bear sorrow, bereavement, the
death of all that are twined with our own souls, old age, solitude,--all
but remorse--_all but remorse_;" and the last word was pronounced almost
in a whisper.

"And cannot you turn to God?" said Edith; "cannot you pray? God has
invited all who are sinners to come to him."

She stopped; for she felt her own insufficiency to administer religious

"And who told you I was so great a sinner?" said the old woman, all her
fierceness returning immediately.

Edith had felt herself all the comfort of opening her heart in prayer to
God; but she was abashed by the old woman: she said only timidly and
humbly, "Why will you not confide in my father? Tell him your wants and
your misery, and he will pray for you, and help you."

"Tell him! and what does he know of the heart-broken? Can he lift the
leaden covering from the conscience? Can he give me back the innocence
and peace of my cottage home in the green lanes of England, or the
blessing of my poor old father?" And, while an expression of the deepest
sadness passed over her face,--"Can he bring back my children, my
beautiful boys, or bid the sea give up its dead? No, no; let him preach
and pray, and let these poor ignorant people hear him; and let me,--ah,
let me lie down in the green earth."

Edith was shocked; and the tears she tried in vain to suppress forced
themselves down her cheeks.

"Poor child!" said the old woman; "you can weep for others, but yours is
the fate of all the daughters of Eve: you will soon weep for yourself.
With all your proud beauty and your feeling heart, you cannot keep your
idols: they will crumble away, and you will come at last to what I am."

Edith tried to direct her attention to something else. She looked around
the cottage, which had not the appearance of the most abject poverty.
The few articles of furniture were neat, and in one corner stood a
comfortable-looking bed. A peat fire slumbered on the hearth, and many
dried and smoked fish were hanging from the beams.

She said, very mildly, "I came, Nanny, to see if you did not want
something to make you comfortable for the winter. My father sent me, and
you must tell me all you want."

"I want nothing," said the old woman; "at least for myself. All your
blankets cannot keep the cold from the heart."

At this moment, a little girl about five years old came running into the
cottage, with a basket of blackberries she had been picking on the
cliffs above the house. Edith was well known to her, as she was to all
the children of the parish. The little girl went up to her and presented
the blackberries, and then ran to her grandmother with the air of a
favored child, as if she were sure of a welcome.

An expression that Edith had never seen, a softened expression of deep
tenderness, came over the face of the old woman.

"I was going to speak of this child," she said. "I feel that I shall
soon be _there_,"--and she pointed towards the earth,--"and this child
has no friend but me."

The little girl, meantime, had crept close to the old woman, and laid
her head on her shoulder. The child was not attractive: her feet and
legs were bare, and her dress was ragged and much soiled; but covering
her eyes and forehead was a profusion of golden-colored ringlets; and,
where her skin was not grimmed with dirt and exposure to the sea air, it
was delicately white.

There was something touching in the affection of the poor orphan for the
old woman; and the contrast, as they thus leant on each other, would
have arrested the eye of a painter.

Edith promised to be a friend to her grandchild, and then entreated
Nanny to see her father, and confide her sorrows to him. This she
steadily refused; and Edith left her, her young spirits saddened by the
mystery and the grief that she could not understand. As she walked home,
she thought how little the temper of the old woman was in harmony with
the external beauty that environed her. The beauty was marred by sin and
grief. And even in her own life, pure as it was, how little was there to
harmonize with the exquisite loveliness around her!

Edith was not happy: the inward pulse did not beat in harmony with the
pulse of nature. She was not happy, because woman, especially in youth,
is happy only in her affections. She felt within herself an infinite
capacity of loving, and she had few to love, Her heart was solitary. Her
affection for her father partook too much of respect and awe; and that
for Dinah had grown up from her infancy, and was as much a matter of
habit as of gratitude. She longed for the love of an equal, or rather of
some one she could reverence as well as love. How she wished she could
have been the companion of the Lady Ursula!

Edith was beginning to feel that she had a soul of infinite longings;
but she had not yet learnt its power to create for itself an infinite
and immortal happiness; and the beauty of nature, that excited without
filling her mind, only increased her loneliness.

It is after other pursuits and other friends have disappointed us, that
we go back to the beautiful teachings of nature; and, like a tender
mother, she receives us to her bosom.

    "O, nature never did betray
    The heart that loved her."

She alone is unchangeable. We may confide in her promises. I have
planted an acorn by a beloved grave: in a few years I returned, and
found a beautiful oak overshadowing it.

Nature is liberal and impartial as she is faithful. The green earth
offers a home for the eyes of the poorest beggar; the soft and purifying
winds visit all equally; the tenderly majestic stars look down on him
who rests in a bed of down, and on him whose pallet is the naked earth;
and the blue sky embraces equally the child of sorrow and of joy.

The teachings of nature are open to all. The poor heart-broken mother
sees, in the parent leaves that enfold the tender heart of the young
plant, and in the bird that strips her own breast of its down to shelter
her young from the night air, the same instinct that teaches her to
cherish the child of sorrow. He who addressed the poor and illiterate
drew his illustrations from nature: the lily of the field, the fowls of
the air, and the young ravens, he made his teachers to those who, like
him, lived in the open air, and were peculiarly susceptible to all the
influences of nature.

To return from this digression. Perhaps my readers will wish to know
more of poor Nanny, as she was called.

Nothing was known of her early history. She had come from the mother
country four years before, with this little child, then an infant, and
had taken a lodging in the poor fisherman's hut. She said the little
girl was her grandchild, and all her affections were centred in her. She
was entirely reserved as to her previous history, and was irritated if
any curiosity was expressed about it, though she sometimes gave out
hints that she had been an accomplice and victim of some deed for which
she felt remorse. As she was quite harmless, and the inhabitants were
much scattered, she was unmolested, and earned a scanty living by
picking berries, fishing, and helping those who were not quite as poor
as herself. Edith visited her often, and Mr. Grafton, though she would
not acknowledge him as a spiritual guide, ministered to all her temporal


    Thou changest not, but I am changed,
    Since first thy pleasant banks I ranged;
    The visions of my youth are past,
    Too bright, too beautiful, to last.


More than two years had passed since Edith's visit to the old woman of
the cliff. Changes had taken place in all the personages of my little
tale; but in Edith they were most apparent. She who had sung all day as
the birds sing, because she could not help it, at nineteen had learned
to reflect and to analyze; a sensitive conscience had taken the place of
spontaneous and impulsive virtue; and the same heart that could be happy
all day long in nursing a young chicken, or watching the opening of a
flower, or carrying food to a poor old woman, now closed her days with
_thinking_, and moistened her pillow with unbidden tears.

It is the natural course of womanhood. Ah! that we could always be
children. We have seen that after Edith had learned the story of the
Lady Ursula, she began to solve some of the mysteries of life. She had
since turned over many of its leaves, all fair with innocence and truth,
but she had not yet found an answer to the question, "Why do we suffer?"

The change that had taken place in young Seymore was deeper and sterner,
but not so apparent. Externally, he was the same beautiful youth that he
was when we introduced him to our kind readers, in his attic.

Since then, he had had much to struggle with; but poverty had not been
his greatest temptation. He could not indeed hope to be exempt from the
bitter experience of almost all who at that time were scholars.

To this very day, the sons of clergymen, and many of the most
distinguished men in New England, have held the plough in the intervals
of their preparation for the university. How many poor mothers have
striven, and labored, and denied themselves all but the bare necessaries
of life, that their sons might gain that sole distinction in New
England,--an education at one of the colleges.

Poverty was not his greatest trial. When he first saw Edith, her timid
and innocent beauty had made an impression on his fancy, that all his
subsequent dreams in solitude, and his lonely reveries, had only served
to deepen. She seemed to embody all his imaginations of female
loveliness. He had, indeed, never before seen a beautiful girl, and he
had no acquaintance with women, except his grandmother.

The remembrance of his mother came softened to him, like something
unconnected with earth; and when he thought of the darkened chamber, the
pale, faint smile, her hand on his head, and her solemn consecration of
him to the church, on her death-bed, he felt a sensation of awe that
chilled and appalled him.

After his acquaintance with Edith and her father, life wore a brighter
hue. His efforts to gain an education to distinguish himself were
redoubled. Mr. Grafton aided in every way; and with the sympathy of his
kind friend came the image of his beautiful daughter. His labors were
lightened, his heart cheered, by the thought that she would smile and

Thus days of bodily labor were succeeded by nights of study; and, for
some time, with his youth and vigorous health, this was hardly felt as
an evil. But we have seen, in our first chapter, that he had moments of
despondency, and of late they had been of more frequent occurrence.

At such times, the remembrance of his mother, and her solemn dedication
of him to the church, came back with redoubled power, and the time he
had spent in lighter literature, in poetry, and even his dreams of
Edith, seemed to him like sins. A darker and less joyous spirit was
gradually overshadowing him. A morbid sensitiveness to moral evil, an
exaggerated sense of his own sins, and of the strict requisitions of the
spirit of the times, clouded his natural gayety.

His visits to the parsonage, indeed, always dissipated his fears for a
little time. Edith received him as a valued friend, and he returned to
his studies, cheered by her smiles, and sustained by new hopes.

He never analyzed the cause of this change, or the nature of his
feelings: but, when he thought of his degree at the college, it was her
sympathy and her approbation that came first to his mind; and, when he
sent his thoughts forward to a settlement and a parsonage like that of
his venerable friend's, it would have been empty, and desolate, and
uninhabitable, if Edith had not been there.

It was in Edith's beloved father that a year had made the saddest
change. The winter had been unusually severe, and the snow deep. His
parish was much scattered, and it was his custom to visit them on
horseback; and, in the deepest snows, and most severe storms, he had
never refused to appear at their bedsides, or to visit and comfort the
afflicted. He had lived, and labored, and loved among his simple flock,
but he now felt that his ministry was drawing towards a close.

In March, he had returned from one of his visits late at night, and much
wet and fatigued. The next morning he found himself ill with a lung
fever. It left him debilitated, and much impaired in constitution; and a
rapid decline seemed the almost inevitable consequence at his advanced


    Howe'er disguised in its own majesty,
    Is littleness; and he who feels contempt
    For any living thing, hath faculties
    Which he has never used.

                              O, be wiser, then!
    Instructed that true knowledge leads to love:
    True dignity abides with him alone,
    Who, in the silent hour of inward thought,
    Can still suspect, and still revere himself,
    In lowliness of heart.


It has been the fashion, of late, to depreciate the clergymen among our
Puritan fathers. It is true they erred, but their errors belonged to the
time and the circumstance that placed in their hands unusual power.
There were among them men that would have done honor to any age; perfect
gentlemen, who would have adorned a drawing-room, as well as consecrated
a church.

The traits that constitute _gentlesse_ do not belong to any age or any
school: they are not formed by the conventions of society, nor the forms
that are adopted to facilitate and give grace to the intercourse of
equals. The precept that says, "In honor preferring one another," if
acted on in perfect sincerity of heart, and carried out in all the
intercourse of society, would form perfect gentlemen and ladies. We have
heard Jesus called the most finished gentleman that ever lived.
Undisguised benevolence, humility, and sincerity, would form such
gentlemen, and the intercourse of society, founded on such principles,
would be true, noble, graceful, and most attractive.

Such a gentleman was Edith's father; and while he was an honored and
cherished guest at the tables of the fathers and princes of the colony,
he seldom left his humble parish. His influence there was unbounded, and
his peculiarities, if he had them, belonged to the age. In an age of
persecutors, he was so averse to persecution, that he did not escape the
charge of heresy and insincerity.

The clergy of that time loved to preach from the Old Testament, and to
illustrate the lives of the patriarchs. An unlimited and implicit faith,
that made each believe he was the especial care and favorite of God, was
the foundation of the religion of the Old Testament. Our fathers had
much of the same persuasion. To an audience of fishermen, and scattered
cultivators of the sterile fields of New England, such a faith came home
to their hearts; the one committing their frail boats to the treacherous
ocean, the other depending on the early and the latter rains, and genial
skies, for their support.

June had come, the genial month of June, and Mr. Grafton was not revived
by its soft air. He declined daily, and Edith, his tender nurse, could
not conceal from herself that there was little hope of his ever

Dinah had watched with him almost every night, but, worn out with
fatigue, Edith had persuaded her to take some moments for repose. After
a night of much restlessness, towards morning, her father fell into a
tranquil slumber. Edith was alone in the darkened room, and as she sat
in the deep silence by his bedside, an old-fashioned clock, that stood
in the corner, seemed, to her excited nerves, to strike its monotonous
tick directly on her temples. A small taper was burning in the chimney,
and the long shadows it cast served only to darken the room. From time
to time, as Edith leaned over her father, she touched his forehead with
her hand: in the solitude and stillness, it seemed a medium of
communication with the mind of her father, and held the place of

At length he opened his eyes, and seeing her bending over him, he drew
her towards him, and kissed her tenderly. In a whisper, he said, "I
feel, my child, that I am dying."

"Do not weep," said he, observing how much Edith was shocked; "you can
trust in God. You can be near me in death, as you have been in life. Now
is the time, my Edith, to feel the value of all those principles we have
learned together through life. I feel that God is near us, and that when
I am gone, he will be near to you."

Edith threw herself into his arms. Her father laid his hand on her head,
and prayed audibly. She arose more calm, and asked him if she should not
call the faithful slaves.

"No, my child," he said; "let the poor children"--he always named them
thus--"let the poor children sleep. God is here. I hold your hands in
mine. What more do we want? Let the quiet night pass. The morning will
be glorious! it will open for me in another world."

It was a beautiful sight, that young and timid woman sustaining her aged
father, and he trusting so entirely in God, and feeling no anxiety, no
grief, but that of leaving her alone.

As she sat thus holding his hand in hers, his breath became less
frequent; he fixed his eyes on hers with a tender smile. His breathing
stopped--his spirit was gone!

Edith did not shriek, or faint. It was the first time she had been in
the chamber of death, and a holy calmness, a persuasion that her
father's spirit was still there, came over her. She closed his eyes, and
sat long with his hand strained in hers.

The first note of the early birds made her start. She arose, and opened
the window. The morning had dawned, and every leaf, every blade of
grass, was glittering in the early dew. Her father's horse, that had
borne him so many years, was feeding in the enclosure. At the sound of
the window, he came forward: then a sense of her loss came over Edith,
and she burst into tears.


    "----Whene'er the good and just
      Close the dim eye on life and pain,
    Heaven watches o'er their sleeping dust,
      Till the pure spirit comes again.
    Though nameless, trampled, and forgot,
      His servant's humble ashes lie,
    Yet God has marked and sealed the spot,
      To call its inmate to the sky."

It was one of those brilliant and transparent days of June, never
surpassed in any climate. The little church stood clearly defined
against the deep blue sky. The ocean, as the sun shone on it, was gemmed
with a thousand glancing diamonds, and here and there a light sail rose
and fell upon it, like the wings of a bird. It was so still that the hum
of the noontide insects was distinctly heard. At intervals, the slow
tolling of the little bell sent its echoes back from the surrounding

It was the day of the funeral of the beloved pastor, and small groups of
the parishioners began to collect about the church and the house.
Heartfelt grief seemed to shadow every countenance, but the severe and
reserved character of the New England Puritans allowed them to make no
demonstration of sorrow: they shut up within themselves every trace of
emotion, and spoke only in whispers, with a stern, determined air.

The garb and appearance of the people was rough and homely. There were
farmers with their wives, on pillions; fishermen with their rough
sea-coats; aged women, bent and wrinkled, who had come to lay in the
grave one whom they had hoped would have prayed at and blessed their own

The house at length was filled with those who had the nearest claim, and
the ministers of the surrounding villages darkened, with their black
dress, the little apartment.

The two slaves stood near the bier, and the excitable temperament and
violent grief of the poor Africans contrasted with the stern, and
solemn, and composed countenances around them.

Edith at last came in. She was calm, but very pale; and, as she entered
the room, she gave her hand to those who stood nearest. She tried to
speak, but the words died on her lips. Dinah was in a moment at her
side. Her delicate and youthful beauty contrasted by her sable friend,
and her lonely, unprotected state touched the hearts of these stern, but
also tenderly affectionate Puritans, and there were tears in many eyes,
as they looked at her with respect and interest.

The windows were all open; the concert of joyous birds, in their season
of love and happiness, showed no sympathy with man in his grief. It was
so still that the silvery sound of the waves, as they touched the beach,
was distinctly heard; and the voice of prayer, as it broke the silence,
was the only human sound.

The voice of prayer ceased, and the quick hoof of a horse was heard. In
a few moments Seymore entered. He had heard of the death of his friend,
and, impelled by an irresistible impulse, he could not remain at his
studies. As he entered he was violently agitated, for death and sorrow
were new to him.

The color rushed to Edith's pale cheek, as she silently gave him her
hand; but she felt a calmness which she could not herself understand. A
change had been wrought in her character by that nightly death-bed, and
by four days of lonely sorrow. She felt that she must rely on herself.

The changes that are wrought by sorrow and reflection in a timid woman
are not less apparent than those wrought by love. They seem, at first,
to take from the exquisite feminineness of the character, but they bring
out the latent beauty and strength of her spiritual nature. It is said
"that every wave of the ocean adds to the beauty of the pearl, by
removing the scum that reveals its interior and mysterious light." It is
thus with time and sorrow: they reveal to ones self the inward pearl
beyond all price, on which we must forever rely to guide us.

The oldest of the parishioners now approached, to bear their beloved
pastor on their shoulders to the silent grave-yard. The ceremonial of a
country burial is extremely simple, but they had then an affecting
custom which has since been discontinued. As they bore the body to the
grave, they sang an anthem, and, as it entered the little enclosure, the
groups on each side receded, and uncovered their heads. The boys were
hushed to awe, as the anthem rose on the evening air; the sun sank
behind the forest, and its last rays were reflected from the grave of
this servant of God.

The exquisite beauty of the scene oppressed and wearied Edith as she
returned to her solitary home. She felt that though nature may
sympathize with our joy, there is nothing in her bosom that responds to
our sorrow.

But she did not return alone: Seymore had followed her; and, as they
entered the deserted room, her father's arm-chair was in its accustomed
place: even his slippers had been accidentally placed ready for him. The
curtain had been removed from her mother's picture, and as she
approached it, she met its pitying eyes fixed upon her. The unnatural
tension of the nerves, which had denied her, for the last four days, the
relief of tears, gave way, and the very fountains of her soul seemed
opened. She sank down on a chair, and yielded to the overwhelming

There are states of the mind when the note of a bird, the fall of a
leaf, the perfume of a flower, will unlock the bars of the soul, as the
smallest sound will loosen the avalanche. The unexpected sight of her
mother's picture had overpowered Edith. O that we should receive a
mother's love in infancy, when we cannot value or understand it; and, in
after life, when we need it most, when we long for the heart that has
cherished us, "we must go back to some almost forgotten grave," where
that warm heart lies that loved us as no other will ever love us.

Seymore was terrified: he had never seen grief like this, and he walked
the room with rapid and agitated steps.

Edith longed to be alone. She tried to conquer her emotion, but the sobs
that came from the bottom of her heart shook her whole frame. At last
she said, "Pray leave me; I wish to be, _I must_ be alone."

Seymore could not leave her thus. He took her passive hand. "O," said
he, "would that I could spare you one of these tears! If you could know
how I reverence your sorrow, how my heart bleeds for you--O pardon
me--if you could see my heart, you would see there a devotion, a
reverence, such as angels feel in heaven. Might I dare to hope that you
would forgive, that you would pardon the poor, unknown, homeless
scholar, that he has dared to love you?"

Edith had become calm as he spoke thus impetuously, and her hand grew
cold in his. She looked up: a beautiful and timid hope shone in her
eyes; and, though her tears fell fast, a smile was on her lips. "We are
both homeless," she said,--"both orphans."

He caught from her expression a rapturous hope. At this moment the
faithful slave Dinah opened the door to look after her young mistress.
It was the first time since her childhood, that the face of her sable
friend had been unwelcome to Edith; but perhaps it was happy for both;
it arrested their tumultuous emotions, and gave Seymore, who left the
room immediately, time to arrange his thoughts, and reflect on the
blissful prospect opening before him.

Edith held out her hand to her friend. I have before remarked the
figurative expressions in which Dinah clothed her thoughts. Her language
and her feelings were fervid, like her climate.

"I thought," she said, "the heartsease had withered in your bosom; but
it has sprung up, and is blooming again." Then seeing the crimson
overspread Edith's cheek, she added, "perhaps your warm tears have
revived it." But, as if ashamed of having said something not perfectly
true, she took Edith's hand, looked earnestly in her face, as if asking
an explanation of this sudden change.

Edith was wholly overcome. She threw herself into the arms of the
faithful slave, and longed to hide herself there. None but a mother
could understand her feelings, or one who had been to her in the place
of a mother, and knew every beating of her innocent heart.

There are moments when woman needs the sympathy of a mother, that first
and dearest friend of every human being. Dinah could not understand the
imaginative character of Edith's mind; she could not sympathize with her
thirst for knowledge, her love of the beautiful and the unknown; but the
tear in her eye, and her quivering lip, as she pressed her child closer
and closer to her, as though she would cherish her in her inmost heart,
showed that she understood her nature, and sympathized in her happiness
with all a woman's heart.

That night, when Edith laid her head on her pillow, she felt a secret
joy, a lightness of heart, which she could not understand. She
reproached herself that she could feel so happy so soon after the death
of her father. She did not know how insensibly she had suffered an
interest in Seymore to grow in her heart, and that the sentiments of
nature are weak when brought into contact with an absorbing passion.
When she came to offer her prayer for guidance and protection, a feeling
of gratitude, of thankfulness, overpowered all other emotions, and she
closed her eyes, wet with grateful tears.


    "Is this a tale?
        Methinks it is a homily."

Seymore indulged himself with a few days of perfect, unalloyed
happiness. The tumultuous feeling of joy subsided, the dark shade that
had begun to gather over his mind vanished, and a sober certainty of
bliss--bliss too great, he feared, for mortal, appeased his too keen
sensibility to his own imperfections.

The character of Edith was formed to produce this effect. There was
nothing exaggerated in it. Her solitary life, without mother or sister,
had taught her great self-reliance; while her genuine humility had
preserved her from that obstinacy of opinion that a want of knowledge of
the world sometimes creates. The grave and solid studies she had entered
into with her father had strengthened her mind, as it were, with the
"bark and steel" of literature; while the native tenderness of her heart
had prevented her from becoming that odious creature, a female pedant.
Her greatest charm was the exquisite feminineness of her character: this
perhaps, without religion, would have degenerated into weakness, or,
without an enlightened reason, into superstition.

How entirely is the divine spirit of Christianity adapted to woman's
nature! loving as she does, and trembling for the objects of her love;

    "To weep silent tears, and patient smiles to wear,
    And to make idols, and to find them clay."

If ever woman enjoyed all worldly advantages, if ever she was flattered,
made an idol, and worshipped, it was in Europe previous to the French
Revolution. Yet the letters and memoirs of the women of that time, light
and frivolous as they are, reveal a depth of sadness, a desolation of
spirit, a weariness of life,--destitute as many of them are of all
aspiration after an immortal hope,--that tells us how indispensable to
woman's nature are the hopes and consolations of religion. Love was at
that time the object of woman's existence,--a love that, with our
standard of morals, leaves a stain as well as a wound; but, with their
peculiar notions, it robbed them neither of the adulation of society,
nor of their own self-respect. But, with all this, together with their
influence in the affairs of state, we read their memoirs not only with a
shame that burns on the cheek, but with feelings of the deepest

How few, even of the happiest among women, are blest with that love that
can fill and satisfy a woman's heart! How many, disappointed and weeping
o'er "idols of clay," stretch out the arms of their souls for something
they can lean on in safety! How many, solitary at heart in the midst of
gayety, turn away to look into themselves for something more satisfying!
How many broken and contrite spirits feel that he alone who knows what
is in the heart of man, can teach them to bear a wounded spirit!

How full of sympathy for woman is the New Testament! He knew the heart
of woman who said, "She is forgiven; for she has loved much."

It must have been a woman who first thought of prayer. Madame de Stael
says that a mother with a sick child must have invented prayer; and she
is right: a woman would first pray, not for herself, but for the object
of her tenderness.

It had been an object much at heart with Mr. Grafton to save a little
property for his daughter. He had succeeded in purchasing the small
house, and a few acres about it, which was kept in perfect order and
good cultivation under the excellent management of Paul.

Edith's unprotected state, being without near relatives, made him
desirous that she should have an independent home among his attached but
humble parishioners. He knew that she was scarcely less beloved by them
than himself. But he looked forward to his place being filled by a
stranger; and he was mainly anxious that her comfort should not depend
on the bounty, or even the gratitude, of the most disinterested of his

He was able to accomplish his wish, and leave her a small patrimony,
abundantly equal to the wants of their frugal establishment; and Edith
thanked God, with tears of gratitude, that she was not obliged to
separate herself from the graves of both her parents.

The summer and winter that followed her father's death were passed in
tranquillity by Edith, watched over and guarded with the most faithful
care by her two sable friends. No pastor had yet been chosen in her
father's place; and an unacknowledged but cherished hope arose in her
mind, that Seymore might one day stand in that sacred place, hallowed in
her affections, and now regarded with trembling hope.

Seymore indulged himself with as many short visits to Edith as his
circumstances would allow, always struggling as he was with almost
insurmountable obstacles, and straining every nerve to attain that goal
of his hopes, a position in society that would allow him to claim his
bride. The joy that her presence imparted to his whole being, the change
that came over him the moment his weary eye caught sight of the steeple
that rose above the dear spot of all his dreams, the sunshine that she
diffused in the dark places of his mind, prevented Edith from being
sensible of the change, the painful change, that a constant struggle
with the coarse realities of his position had made in his noble nature.
She had often, indeed, said, with Jenny Deans, "It is no matter which
has the siller, if the other wants it." But Seymore's nature was proud
as well as tender.

He possessed, as we have before seen, the temperament of the poet--that
pure, rare, and passionate nature so little able to contend with the
actual difficulties of life--to whom every-day regular labor is a burden
hard to bear. We have seen that his deep religious impressions had made
him consecrate all his fine powers to the service of God; and the
tenderness of his conscience made him fear that the sacrifice was
imperfect. The conflict was ever in his soul. He was unable to satisfy
his own aspirations after a spirituality and purity, which is the slow
growth of a life of exertion. Despondency so intimately allied to the
poetic temperament produced a morbid sensibility, a sort of monomania in
his mind, having the effect of those singular mirages seen from the
sea-shore, where the most trivial and familiar objects are magnified to
temples and altars, and hung, as it were, in the clouds.

We touch with a reverend spirit and trembling hand the mysterious
influences of hidden causes, uniting with unhappy external
circumstances, to involve those who seem formed to bless and to be
blessed in a self-tormenting melancholy. I know not that, under any
circumstances, Seymore's would have been a happy spirit. Under the
present, his love for Edith seemed the only light that could save him
from total shipwreck.

The two lovers wrote to each other as often as the state of
communication between different parts of the country would allow, before
post-roads had been established, and when letters were often entrusted
to wandering Indians, and the postage paid with a little tobacco, or a
handful of meal.

We may judge of the nature of Seymore's letters by one of Edith's, which
appears to be an answer to one of his:

     _October, 1692._

     How can I be so little solitary, when I am more alone than ever? I
     awake from dreams of you to feel your presence still with me; and
     my first emotion is gratitude to God for having given me this
     happiness. Forgive me, beloved father! that I can be so content
     without you! The bonds of nature are weakened, when an absorbing
     emotion fills the heart. The time may come when nature will be
     avenged. Ah, it cannot be wrong to love as I do. God has opened
     this fountain in the desert of life, as a solace for all its evils.
     Ah, how can those who love be sufficiently grateful to God? Every
     hour should be an act of adoration and praise.

     You will tell me, my friend, that this all-absorbing love should
     be given to God. I cannot separate God from his works. This
     beautiful nature--the ocean, in all its majesty, the quiet stars,
     as they seem to look down upon us, the beauty spread every where
     around me--remind me always of God. I cannot represent to myself
     God in his personal form: I feel him every where, and I love him
     especially for having made us capable of love.

     That religion should be a different thing from this pervading love
     and reverence, I cannot yet understand. Faith is the gift of God;
     such faith as you, my dear friend, wish me to possess; but it seems
     to me, like all the other precious gifts of the soul, to be
     obtained by earnest prayer and infinite strivings. When the young
     man mentioned in the gospel came to our Saviour, he demanded of him
     no profession of mysterious faith, but only a proof of
     disinterested love.

     Religion is not a distinct thing from the every-day life,
     as--pardon me, my dear friend--I think you would make it. It is
     like the air we breathe, requisite for a life of goodness, but not
     less nor more perceptible to our well-being than the air is to our
     existence. It should not make itself felt in storms and tempests,
     in hot and cold fits, but in a calm and equal power, sustaining,
     purifying, and nourishing our souls.

     You believe the direct influence of the Spirit of God upon every
     individual mind is necessary, to make him a religious being. I
     cannot but think that the _indirect_ influence, the beautiful and
     ever-renewed miracle of nature, the observation of God's providence
     in the care of his creatures, and the study of the adaptation of
     Christianity to our particular dispositions--not merely by a
     process of reasoning, but aided by the religious sentiment which
     seems to me innate and natural to every human being--is more

     And now that I have finished my sermon, let me scold you for
     wronging yourself, as you too often do. _Truth_ is not to be set
     aside, in looking at our own characters. We should do the same
     justice to ourselves that we do to others. There is a secret
     dishonesty in depreciating ourselves. Could I esteem and honor you
     as I do, were you what you call yourself? I honor you for all the
     noble exertions you have made,--for the ardor of your love of truth
     and duty. Ah, call me not a partial and blinded judge: your true
     honor and your most precious happiness are too dear to me to allow
     me to be a false or partial friend. I would give you a little, a
     very little vanity; not enough to make you a sumptuous robe, but
     just enough to keep you from the cold.

     You say you look upon this delusion of witchcraft, that is
     spreading through the country, with fearful and trembling interest,
     and that you believe God may permit his will to be made known by
     such instruments as these. God forbid that I should limit his
     power! but I fear these poor children are wicked or diseased, and
     that Satan has nothing to do with it.

     The old woman at the cliff is now very ill: I trust God will take
     her from the world before she is seized for a witch. There are many
     ready to believe that she has ridden through the air on a
     broomstick, or gone to sea in an egg-shell. But you do not love me
     to jest on this subject. Forgive me! I will not jest again.

     And this balmy Indian summer,--it seems as if it would last
     forever. But I am so happy now, I can hardly believe there is
     sorrow in the world, or winter in the year. Winter has no terror
     now: the long evenings and nights bring me dreams of you, and I
     awake with the consciousness that you are mine. * * *

Perhaps the reader may think the letter just read a very singular
love-letter. But it must be remembered that religion was the
all-absorbing sentiment of the Puritans, and that Seymore's enthusiastic
temperament made it the subject that most interested him in his letters
to Edith.

Edith's mind was too well balanced and too happily constituted to allow
her to partake of his extravagance; but she gave him that dearest proof
of love, that of softening all his defects, and even exalting them into
the most precious virtues.


    "Apart she lived, and still she rests alone:
    Yon earthly heap awaits no flattering stone."

As it was mentioned in Edith's letter, the old woman who lived at the
cottage by the cliff had become very ill, and it was apparent that she
would never leave her bed again. Edith had been assiduous in her
kindness. Dinah had been with her a part of every day, and had watched
with her many nights. Edith insisted, at last, that her poor slave
should sleep, and resolved herself to take her place by the bedside.

The old woman had made herself feared and hated by the scattered
inhabitants. She was called a witch, and they deserted her sick bed,--a
thing most rare among the kind-hearted dwellers in a thinly-peopled

It was a threatening evening when Edith took her station by the low
pallet of the sick woman. The solitary hut, as I have mentioned, stood
on the edge of the little bay; and, at high water, it was almost washed
by the waves.

How different the whole scene from that brilliant morning when Edith
visited the tenant of the cottage! A leaden cloud seemed now to rest on
the water, shutting out the fair sky; and, as the sullen waves rolled on
the beach, a close and stifling air oppressed Edith's spirits.

The old woman was alone: her poor grandchild, wearied with the services
of the day, had fallen asleep with her hand in her grandmother's, and
her head falling over the pillow: her long hair rested on the old
woman's face, which she seemed not to have strength to remove.

Edith's first care was to take the little girl from her grandmother's
pillow; and, laying her gently on the foot of the bed, she took off her
own shawl, and made a pillow for her head. The old woman looked at her
without speaking, and a tear coursed slowly down her cheek.

Edith hoped the hardness was melting from her heart. She took her hand
tenderly in hers, and whispered, "Cannot you put your trust in God?"

"I cannot pray--to God; no, it is too late. But"--and her voice was
interrupted with short, impeded breath. She pointed to the child, and
looked at Edith with an expression so imploring, so full of tenderness
for the child, of agony that she must leave her, of appeal to Edith's
compassion, that the tears started to her eyes, and she answered, "Fear
nothing: I will take care of her; I will be a mother to her."

The old woman pressed her hand: the look of agony passed away from her
features, and she closed her eyes to sleep.

Edith sat silently by the bedside. The tempest that had been gathering
over the water now shook the little dwelling: torrents of rain fell, and
frequent flashes lighted the little room. At last, a gust of wind from
the broken window extinguished the taper, and Edith was in total
darkness. It was a warm night for the season, and no fire on the hearth
to afford a spark by which she could relight it.

Edith trembled; but she tried to be calm. She only feared the old woman
would die while she held her hand, which she imagined was already
growing cold in hers.

The storm gradually passed away into silence. There was no sound but the
short, interrupted breath of her patient, and the soft, healthful,
regular breathing of infancy. Edith longed for the dawn, and looked
anxiously through the little casement for the first gray streak. As far
as the eye could reach, the bay was white with foam; but no light yet
dawned upon it from the morning.

The old woman awoke. "I cannot see you," she said; "a film is over my

Edith told her the lamp had been extinguished with the wind.

"Alas!" she said; "and I must die as I have lived,--in darkness."

Edith assured her she was not then dying, and begged her to try to pray,
or to listen while she endeavored, as far as she was able, to offer a
prayer to God.

"No," she said; "I have lived without prayer, and I will not mock God on
my death-bed; but, if there is mercy for me, God may listen to you, pure
and good as you have ever been."

Edith knelt; and, with lips trembling with timidity and responsibility,
she uttered a low, humble, and earnest prayer.

The old woman seemed at first to listen; but her mind soon wandered:
broken and, as it afterwards would almost appear, prophetic sentences
escaped from her lips: "Judgments are coming on this unhappy
land,--delusions and oppression. Men and devils shall oppress the
innocent. The good like you, the innocent and good, shall not escape!"
Then she looked at the sleeping child: "Can the lamb dwell with the
tiger, or the dove nestle with the hawk? But you have promised: you will
keep your word; and when God counts his jewels"--

Edith arose from her knees, and trembled like a leaf. With inexpressible
joy, her eyes fell on her own Dinah, standing looking on, with the
deepest awe in her countenance. She had risen before the dawn, and come
to relieve her young mistress, and had entered while Edith was kneeling.
She now insisted on taking her place. Edith committed to her care the
sleeping child, and then sought the repose the agitation of the night
had rendered so necessary.

Before evening, the old woman died; and the next day she was to be
committed to the earth. Little preparation was necessary for her
funeral. No mourners were to be summoned from afar: there was no mockery
of grief. She had lived disliked by her neighbors. A few old women came
from curiosity to see old Nanny, who had never been very courteous in
inviting her neighbors to visit her; and they came now to see how she
had contrived to live upon nothing.

The poor child, since the death of her only friend, had refused to leave
the body, but sat subdued and tearless, like a faithful dog, watching by
the side of her grandmother, apparently expecting her to return again to

Towards evening, a few persons were assembled in the hut to pay the last
Christian services to the dead. The old woman had always said she would
be buried, not in the common grave-yard, but near a particular rock
where her last son who was drowned had been washed on shore and buried.

The neighbors were whispering among themselves, as to what was to be the
fate of the poor child; every one avoiding to look at her, lest it
should imply some design to take charge of her. The child looked on with
wonder, as though she hardly knew why they were there. She had clung to
Dinah as the best known among them; but, when the prayer was finished,
and they began to remove the coffin, she uttered a loud cry, flew from
Dinah's arms, and clung to the bier with all her strength.

The men instinctively paused and laid down their burden. The voice of
nature in that little child was irresistible. They looked at Edith, who
had now made known her promise to the grandmother to take care of the
child, to ask what they should do. She took the child in her arms and
quieted her till all was over, and then, consigning her to the care of
Dinah, she was taken to their own home.

Edith felt deeply the responsibility she had assumed in the care and
instruction of this child. She knew the tenderness of her own heart, her
yielding nature, and feared she should err on the side of too much
indulgence. She said to herself, "She shall never need a mother's care.
I know the heart of the orphan, and no unkindness shall ever make her
feel that she is motherless."

The poor little Phoebe had cried herself to sleep in Dinah's arms, and
had been put to bed in her soiled and dirty state. The next morning a
clean new dress banished the memory of her grandmother, and her childish
tears were dried, and grief forgotten.

Dinah had brought to aid her the power of soap and water, and had
disentangled her really soft and beautiful hair; and when Edith came
down, she would scarcely have known her again. The soil of many weeks
had been taken from the child's skin, and, under it, her complexion was
delicately fair: her cheeks were like pale blush roses, and her lips
were two crimson rosebuds. But with this youthful freshness, which was
indeed only the brilliancy of color, there was an expression in her face
that marred its beauty. It was coarse and earthly, and the absence of
that confiding openness we love to see in children. It reminded one of
her old grandmother; although the one was fair, and smooth, and
blooming, the other dark and wrinkled, a stranger would have said they
were related.

Edith called the child to her, and kissed her fair cheek; but when she
observed the likeness to the old woman, she turned away with a slight
shudder, and something like a sigh.

Dinah, an interested observer of every passing emotion, said, softly,
"The cloud is not gone over yet; a few more tears, and it will pass away
from her young brow, and then it will be fair as your own."

"It is too fair already," answered Edith; "so much beauty will be hard
to guide; and then look at that dark, wayward expression."

"Say not so, my dear mistress;" and Dinah drew back the hair from her
fair forehead. "Look at her beautiful face: in a few days your heart
will yearn to her as mine does to you."

"God grant I may be as faithful to my duty," said Edith; but this is not
the way to begin it; and she drew the child to her knee, and a few
moments of playful caressing brought smiles to the young countenance
that nearly chased away the dark expression.

Edith, although superior to the age in which she lived, could not but be
influenced by its peculiarities. The belief that an all-pervading and
ever-present Providence directed the most minute, as well as the more
important events of life, was common to the Puritans. She could not free
herself from a superstitious feeling that this child was to have, in
some way or other, she knew not how, an unfavorable influence upon her
happiness. She was free, indeed, from that puerile superstition

    "That God's fixed will from nature's wanderings learns."

But the tempest that shook the little building, the incoherent ravings
of the old woman's mind, and the solemn darkness of the hour when she
promised to take charge of the child, had made a deep impression on her

It is true "that coming events cast their shadows before." Who has not
felt presentiments that certain persons and certain places are, in some
mysterious way, we know not how, connected by invisible links with our
own destiny? The ancients gave to this hidden and mysterious power the
name of Fate. The tragedy of life arises from the powerless efforts of
mortals to contend with its decrees. All that the ancient tragedy taught
was, to bear evils with fortitude, because they were inevitable; but the
"hope that is full of immortality" has taught us that they are the
discipline appointed by Heaven to perfect and prepare our souls for
their immortal destiny.


     "There has been too much cause to observe that the Christians that
     were driven into the American desert which is now called New
     England, have, to their sorrow, seen Azahel dwelling and raging
     there in very tragical instances."


The delusion that passed through our country in 1692 has left a dark
chapter in the history of New England. But it was not alone in New
England that this fearful delusion influenced the minds and actions of
men. It was believed all over Europe, in the seventeenth century, that
evil spirits mingled in the concerns of mortals, and that compacts were
made with them, and sealed with the blood of many of the most eminent
persons of the age.

The desire to penetrate the mysteries of the spiritual natures that we
believe every where to surround us, has taken different forms in
different states of society. In New England, it seems to have begun in
the wicked fancies of some nervous or really diseased children, who were
permitted, at last, to accuse and persecute persons who were remarkable
for goodness or intellect, and especially females who were distinguished
for any excellence of mind or person.

An historian of the time says, "In the present world, it is no wonder
that the operations of evil angels are more sensible than that of the
good; nevertheless 'tis very certain that the good angels fly about in
our infected atmosphere to minister to the good of those who are to be
the heirs of salvation. Children and ignorant persons first complained
of being tormented and affected in divers manners. They then accused
some persons eminent for their virtues and standing in society."

We have seen that Edith was disposed to think lightly of the subject at
first, although she rejoiced that the old woman of the cliff had escaped
suspicion by a timely death. But when she found that some of her own
neighbors had been suspected, and that one old woman, in another
village, for denying all knowledge of evil spirits, had been executed,
she was filled with consternation; and when others, to save themselves
from the same dreadful fate, increased the delusion of the times by
confessing a compact with the evil one, her pity was mingled with
indignation. With so much clearness of intellect, and simplicity of
heart, she could not persuade herself that it was any thing but wilful
blindness, and a wicked lie.

But Edith began soon to feel much anxiety for her faithful Dinah.
Persons in any way distinguished for any peculiarity were most likely to
be accused, and she had secretly made arrangements to send her away, and
conceal her, should the smallest indication of suspicion fall upon her.
For herself Edith had no fears. It would have been hard to make this
pure and simple-minded creature believe that she had an enemy in the
world. She had not read the French maxim, that there may be such a
weight of obligation that we can only be released from it by

Dinah had remarked, for several days, in the little Phoebe most strange
and unnatural contortions, and writhings of the body, startings and
tremblings, turning up her eyes and distorting her mouth; and also that
she took little food, and often was absent from home; but, with her
usual tenderness, and fear of giving anxiety to Edith, she had forborne
to mention it.

Indeed, the child had always been wayward and strange, and especially
indocile to Edith's instructions, although she seemed at times to have a
strong affection for her. She was fond of long rambles in the woods, and
of basking in the sun alone on the beach, and retained all her love for
those vagrant habits she had learned from her grandmother. Edith had too
much tenderness and indulgence to restrain what appeared a harmless and
perhaps healthful propensity.

She had tried, however, to civilize the poor, neglected child, and had
taught her to say her prayers every night, kneeling at her side.

It was a cold, chilly evening in our tardy spring: the little family had
drawn around the cheerful evening fire, and the evening meal was just
finished: Edith felt happy, for she had been reading a cheerful letter
from Seymore. The shutters were closed, and she had indulged the little
Phoebe, as she often did at this hour, with a noisy game. Edith was
already tired: she looked at the clock: it was the bed hour for the

"Come, my child, be serious for a moment, and say your evening prayer."
Phoebe kneeled: the prayer was short, but whenever she came to the word
God, or Savior, she cried out that she could not say it.

Edith concealed her fears, and said, very quietly, "I will say it for
you; and now, my child, go peaceably to bed, and pray to God to keep you
from telling falsehoods." Phoebe was awed by her calm, decided manner,
and, without further disturbance, went quietly to bed.

Full of anxiety, and even terror, Edith sought her humble friend, told
her the circumstance, and besought her to fly and conceal herself. She
had provided the means for flight and concealment, and entreated her to
use them before it was too late.

"I do not fear for myself, my dear mistress," said Dinah. "If the child
has such design, she has already formed her plan and already accused us;
and she will not be content with accusing me; you are not safe. You do
not know her hard and stubborn temper. She is like the young hawk in the
nest of the dove."

Seeing Edith was dreadfully alarmed, Dinah added, "Do not fear; we are
in _his_ hand who feeds the young ravens, and numbers the hairs of our

Edith began to be a little more composed, when a loud knocking was
heard at the door. Two men entered, well known to Edith; the officials
in all occasions of this nature. One was the deacon of the church, a
heated fanatic, full of religious bigotry, whose head was too weak to
govern the passionate and blind motions of his heart. While he had been
under the restraint of Mr. Grafton's calm, enlightened reason, he had
been only a zealous and useful officer of the church; but now, that he
considered his own light as no longer hidden under a bushel, his zeal
burned out with more violence, and he lent himself to all the wild
fanaticism of the time. The other was an old man, an elder in the
church; with much tenderness of heart; but he was timid, and relied
little on his own judgment, which was so little enlightened that he
easily yielded to what he afterwards, when the delusion passed away,
bewailed with bitter tears.

Edith was perfectly acquainted with the characters of both. When she saw
them enter, she turned deadly pale; but she pointed courteously to a
seat, and placed herself instinctively between them and Dinah, to shield
her, for she knew too well that there was no escape for her humble
friend if once in their power. She felt, therefore, a sensible relief
when she found that she was herself the object of their visit.

Edith had had time to recover a little from her first consternation,
and, with much self-possession, she asked who were her accusers, and
demanded the right of being confronted with them.

The men informed her that she would be taken in the morning to the
meeting-house for examination, and then it would be time enough to know
her accusers: in the mean time they should leave a guard in the house,
to prevent all attempts to escape.

Escape! ah, there was none for her. But Edith answered that she wished
not to escape; that she should demand an examination. Alas! she knew not
yet the spirit of the times. She was deluded by her own consciousness of
innocence, and she thought fanaticism itself could not attach a
suspicion to harmlessness like hers.

Not so Dinah. She was seized with a terror and grief that, for one
moment, shook her faith in God, and took away all self-possession. She
knew that innocence, youth, piety, beauty, had been of no avail against
the demoniac fury of the accusers. She besought, on her knees, and with
floods of tears, her dear child--as, in her agitation, she called
her--to avail herself of flight. She convinced Edith that they could
easily elude the vigilance of their guard; that they could escape by
water. Paul was an excellent boatman, the sea smooth as a mirror, the
moon nearly full; they could reach Boston without suspicion. Or she
would hide her in the woods: she herself knew a place where she could
bring her food and clothing, and form a shelter for her, and keep her
safe till all suspicion had ceased.

It would have been better for Edith had she yielded; but her own clear
reason, free from the mists of fanaticism, deluded her into the
persuasion that, as nothing could appear against her, it would confirm
the suspicions against her if she were to avoid by flight a full and
open examination.

Before they retired for the night, they kneeled down to pray. Dinah
could not subdue her sobs; but Edith's voice was calm and firm as she
asked the protection of the Father of the fatherless, and committed her
poor friend to him who is no respector of persons.

Dinah entreated her mistress to allow her to sit by her all night and
watch, while she tried to sleep. This Edith refused: she wished to be
alone. She had much to do to prepare herself for to-morrow, and she
justly feared that Dinah's distress would soften her heart, and shake
her firmness too much.

As they passed through the chamber, Dinah bearing the candle, the little
Phoebe, restless in her sleep, had nearly thrown herself out of bed.
Edith stopped, and, bending over, replaced the bedclothes, and said
softly to Dinah, "If to-morrow should be fatal, if I should not live to
keep my promise to the old woman, I can trust her to you: you will be to
her, as you have been to me, a mother; O, more than a mother?"

She stopped; her voice choked. She removed the thick hair from the brow
of the sleeping child, but even in sleep her face wore the frown that so
often marred its beauty. "Dinah," she said, "she is yours; you will love
her as you have me."

"That I can never promise; but I will do my duty," said Dinah.

Edith pressed her lips--thirsting as they ever did for a return of
love--on the fair brow, and then, taking the candle from Dinah, entered
her own room. Her heart was oppressed with apprehension, and she would
not trust herself to say good night to her faithful servants.


    "But ye! ye are changed since ye met me last:
    There is something bright from your features past;
    There is that come over your heart and eye,
    Which speaks of a world where the flowers must die.
    Ye smile; but your smile has a dimness yet:
    Oh! what have ye looked on since last we met?"


Before the events mentioned in the last chapter occurred, the winter had
passed away, and the reluctant footsteps of our northern spring began to
appear. The purple Hepatica opened her soft eye in the woods, and the
delicate Sanguinaria spread her snowy bosom to catch the pale sunbeam.
Already the maple-trees had hung out their beautiful crimson blossoms,
and the thrilling note of the song-sparrow echoed through the forest.
Then came the chilling wind from the east, its wings loaded with frost;
and the timid spring hid her tender blossoms, and wrapped herself in a
watery veil.

The weather and the spring were unnoticed by Dinah, when she sought,
soon after sunrise, the pillow of her mistress. The night had brought
no rest to her throbbing temples and anxious heart: she was surprised,
therefore, to find Edith still sleeping. She had sat up late, arranging
her father's and her own papers, and providing, by a distribution of her
little property, for the old age of her two faithful servants. They were
no longer slaves; Mr. Grafton had given them freedom at his death. She
left the little Phoebe under their guardianship. She had also written a
letter to Seymore, to ask him to come and aid her by his counsel in this
extremity. It was nearly dawn when she sought her pillow; and sleep,
which has been called the friend of sorrow--"but it is the happy who
have called it so"--had only for a few moments left her with untroubled
dreams. Her sleep was not heavy; for the gentle footstep of Dinah awoke
her. When she saw her humble friend's troubled expression, she tried to
smile; and, stroking her dark cheek as she bent over her, she said, "We
must look bright to-day, my poor Dinah, or they will think we are

They prepared for the arrival of the officers; and, when breakfast was
ready, the little Phoebe was not to be found. Although Dinah looked
very grave, this occasioned no anxiety in Edith, when she recollected
the vagrant habits of the child.

After breakfast, which was indeed not tasted, the same persons who had
visited her the night before came to conduct Edith to the meeting-house,
the place of examination. The house was nearly full; and among that
crowd there was scarcely one to whom Edith had not been a friend and a
benefactor, as far as her humble means would allow. As she entered,
there was one by whose sick bed she had watched; another whose infant
had died in her arms; and children stood looking on with stupid wonder
to whom she had given flowers, and primers, and, more than all, her own
gentle smile. But now every eye was averted, or turned on her with
suspicion and terror,--so hardening is the power of fanaticism.

I believe I have said that my heroine was not beautiful; but the inward
harmony must have given a spiritual beauty to features animated with
intellect, and softened by tenderness of heart; and a self-relying
innocence and purity imparted something more of grace to her person than
the most finished art could have given.

Edith became very pale as she entered; and Dinah, who had followed her
closely, begged permission to stand near and support her. This was
denied, and she was placed between two men, who each held an arm, and in
front of those who were to examine her.

The afflicted--that is, the accuser--was now called in. Edith looked
eagerly around, and, with grief and astonishment, saw her little Phoebe,
the child of her care, when almost close to her, utter a piercing cry,
and fall down in violent convulsions. She started forward to assist and
raise her, but the men drew her rudely back. And this was her accuser!

At the same time with Edith, a poor old woman, nearly eighty years of
age, was brought in. Her accuser was her own grandchild,--a girl about
the same age as Phoebe. Together they had concerted this diabolical
plot, and had rehearsed and practised beforehand their contortions and
convulsions, excited, no doubt, by the notoriety of wicked children they
had heard of.

The poor old creature was bent and haggard. She would have wept, but,
alas! the fountain of her tears was dried up; and she looked at her
grandchild with a sort of stupid incredulity and wonder. Her inability
to weep was regarded as an infallible proof of her guilt. As she stood
beside Edith, she shook with age and terror; and Edith, touched with
pity, though she trembled herself, and was deadly pale, tried to give
her a smile of hope and encouragement. The poor old wretch did not need
it: she not only confessed to every thing of which she was accused, but
added such circumstances of time and place, and of the various forms the
devil had taken in her person, that Edith almost sickened with disgust.
She could not understand how an old person, on the very verge of the
grave, could wish to lengthen out her few years by such base and wicked

The young cannot believe that the old are unwilling to die. But it is an
acknowledged truth, that the longer we have worn our earthly vesture,
the dearer becomes the thin and faded remnant. The young resign their
hold of life with hardly a regret, while the old cling with the utmost
tenacity to the wavering and nearly-parted thread.

Edith turned away from the partner of her suspected guilt, and asked to
have the child brought near her. She held out her hand, and looked
mildly in her face. The moment the child touched Edith's hand, she was
still: this was a part of the plot: but the moment her hand was
withdrawn, she fell down again in violent convulsions, and cried out
that pins were thrust into her. In the midst of this acting, she caught
Dinah's stern, reproachful eye fixed upon her, and she instantly became
still. But this did not aid poor Edith's cause; for they cried out that
the child was struck dumb by the accused.

The old woman also, feeling perhaps that Edith's integrity was a
reproach to her own weakness, cried out that she was pierced with pins,
and pinched by Edith, although with invisible fingers, as she stood near
her; and, turning back her sleeve from her bony and wrinkled arm, she
showed a discolored spot, which she declared had not been there when she
left her home. It had not, indeed; but every one knows how quickly a
bruise is visible in the stagnant blood of age, and the mark had been
left by the hand of the person who held her arm.

Edith, wearied and disgusted, desired to be taken back to her prison,
there to await her trial before the judges of the Province. Every thing
had occurred that was most unfavorable to her, and she felt but too well
that she must bear the suspicion of a crime of which she was as
unconscious as the unborn infant. Her heart yearned towards the poor
infatuated child, and she earnestly begged that she might be permitted
to talk with her alone. This was granted, and she was guarded to her

There was no proper prison in our village, and Edith was guarded in one
of the rooms of the deacon's house who had been so active in her

During the night that passed after her examination, Edith had time to
arrange her thoughts. Before she knew who her accusers were, she had
been moving in the dark; and now, when she thought of the whole insane
proceeding, she could scarcely believe they would be guilty of the
monstrous crime of condemning her on the testimony of that child alone.

When the deacon visited her in the morning, she said, with much warmth,
"Have the days of Queen Mary come back? Am I to be suspected, condemned,
imprisoned, on the testimony of that poor child,--the child that I took
to my home when no one else among you would offer her a shelter?"

The deacon answered, "that the testimony was so much more convincing, as
the child had lived in the house with her."

"And is her word to be taken against the testimony of my whole life? You
know how I have lived among you from my infancy."

"Yes; but God may choose the fairest of his works as instruments of his
sovereign will."

"Have you forgotten my father?" said Edith,--"how he lived among you? He
was ever your friend--always near you in every trouble. And myself"--she
stopped; for she would not remind them of her deeds of kindness,--of the
daily beauty of her life in their humble circle; nor would she recall
her orphanhood, her unprotected state; but she looked down, and her eyes
filled with tears. "God," she said, at length, "is the protection of the
orphan; and he will avenge this great sin, and you will answer for it at
his bar."

The deacon looked sternly decided and unmoved, but he began to urge her
to confess,--to do as others had done, and save her life by
acknowledging the crime.

Indignation kindled in Edith's eye; but she checked it, and said, "I
cannot, I durst not, belie my own soul, and commit so great a sin. God,
who is the searcher of my heart and your heart, as we shall both answer
at the judgment day, is witness that I know nothing of witchcraft,--of
no temptation of the evil one. I have felt, indeed--as who has not?--the
temptations that arise from our own passions; but I know no other, and
can confess no other."

She then desired that Phoebe might be brought to her, and Dinah
permitted to attend her in her prison. They consented that Edith should
see the child in the presence of one witness; and the mild old man who
was with the deacon said he would bring her himself.


     "I am constrained to declare, as the result of as thorough a
     scrutiny as I could institute, my belief that this dreadful
     transaction was introduced and driven on by wicked perjury and
     wilful malice."


     "Is there any cause in nature that makes these hard hearts?"


There seems sometimes to be an element of evil in the heart of a child,
that would almost persuade us to believe in original sin. In the breast
of those who have been favorably born and kindly nurtured, it may sleep
forever; but, when the conscience has been soiled in early childhood, it
awakes the appetite for sin, and the restraint that comes afterwards
curbs without subduing the disposition to evil.

It is true that poor Phoebe had felt a strong affection for her
grandmother; and, without all other moral restraint, it was the only
point in which her heart could be touched. The vagrant life she had led
had also had its influence:

    "Happy because the sunshine was her dower,"

she could not always be insensible to the beauty of the heaven that had
so often canopied her sleep, or the grandeur of the ocean where she had
passed whole days playing with the waves. She rebelled against the
restraint that every feminine occupation imposed on this wild liberty.
She quailed, indeed, before Dinah's more resolute spirit; but Edith's
gentleness had failed to touch her heart; and she knew that her forced
obedience to Dinah was only the result of Edith's authority.

When the child appeared, Edith held out her hand with her own grave,
sweet smile; but, the moment the child saw her, she began again to act
her part, and to throw her body and limbs into violent contortions.
Edith was not alarmed: she saw it was feigned; and, drawing her to her
knees, she held both her little hands tightly clasped in hers. Phoebe
became instantly calm; but this was a part of the system of
deception,--that, as soon as the accused touched the afflicted, they
should be calmed and healed.

Edith looked in her face, and said, very kindly, "Tell me, my poor
child, who has persuaded you to do this wicked thing,--to accuse me of
this horrible crime? tell me truly. I shall not be angry with you, I
shall not punish you, if you tell me the truth. Who first spoke to you
about it? What have they promised you for bringing this trouble on me?"

The child, unmoved, said, "You yourself made me do it."

"I! O, my poor Phoebe, how can you be so wicked as to tell this dreadful
lie? Do you not know that God sees you and hears you, and that he will
punish you for it? I may die: you may cause my death; but you will live
to repent; and, O, how sorry you will be in after years, when you think
how much I loved you, and you have caused my death! But, my poor Phoebe,
you know not what you do; you know not what death is."

"My grandmother died," said the child.

"Ah, yes; but she died quietly in her bed, and you were sleeping near;
and when I took you in my arms to look at her, you saw only her peaceful
countenance. But I shall not die thus: I shall be dragged before angry
men, and, with irons on my hands and ankles, I shall be lifted to the
scaffold, and there, before hundreds of angry faces turned towards me,
I shall die alone! not peacefully, as your grandmother did, when with my
own hands I closed her eyes, but horribly, in pain and agony! and you
will have done this,--you that I have loved so"--

Phoebe became very red, and the tears came to her eyes.

Edith thought she had touched the child's heart, and continued: "I knew
you could not be so wicked, so young and looking so innocent. No, my
child; you love me, and you will unsay all you have said, and we will go
home again together."

The child answered, with much violence, "No, no, never! you pricked me
with pins, and you tormented me."

"O, monstrous!" said Edith; "if I could believe in devils, I should
believe you were now possessed. O, it is not natural! so young, and with
a woman's nature! You do not love me, then. I have punished you when you
have done wrong, and you have not forgiven me: you wish to be revenged.
You do not answer. Phoebe! tell me: are you angry that I punished you?
God knows it pained me to do so. But your poor grandmother gave you to
me that I might try to make you a good child; and if I had not punished
you when you did wrong, you would have grown up a wicked woman. God
grant you may not be so now! you are already revenged."

Phoebe said, very sullenly, "You punished me twice."

"Good God! and is it for that you have brought on me this terrible evil?
Can such revenge dwell in so young a heart?"

Edith walked several times across the room, trying to calm her agitated
nerves. The child stood with an expression of obstinate determination in
her whole manner.

At length Edith went to her, and took her, as she had often done at
home, in her arms.

"My dear Phoebe, do you remember the day when your grandmother died? I
was there by her bedside; and you, a poor, deserted child, were crying
bitterly. I took you home to my house. Like myself, you were an orphan;
and I prayed to the orphan's Father that from me your little heart might
never know a pang of sorrow. You fell asleep in my arms; and since then
I have ever loved you almost as though I were indeed your mother, and
you were my own child. And you, Phoebe, you have loved me, have you

The child was silent.

"Do you remember the fever you had soon after? when you were restless in
your bed, and I took you in my arms, and all night my bosom was your
pillow, and I watched you many nights, and thought not of sleep or
fatigue when I held your little hand, burning with fever, in my own all
night? Ah! you loved me then; you will love me again, and--"

"I never loved you," said the child; "I do not love you now."

Edith put her quickly from her arms, and turning to the man who was
present, "Take her away," she said; "take the poor child away. O, my
God! is it for this I have lavished on her the tenderness of my heart! I
warmed her in my bosom, and she has stung me to the quick. O, had I been
less indulgent, I might have subdued her stubborn nature. Of what avail
has been a life of self-denial, of benevolence? Of what avail that I
have striven to enlighten my own mind and to do good to others? In one
moment, by that child of my own cherishing, but the creature of my own
bounty, I am suspected of a horrible, contemptible crime; humiliated to
the very dust. O, my Father! it is too much." She covered her face with
her hands, and burst into tears.

The person who had witnessed the scene with the child was the same elder
I have mentioned as possessing much tenderness of heart, but too weak a
head to listen to its dictates when opposed to the influence of others.
He had been much affected by her appeal to the child, and came back to
urge her, if she had any friends to espouse her cause, to send for them.
He said the fanaticism was increasing; that the prisons in many villages
were filled with the accused; that the hearts of the people were
hardened against them; and that her own cause had been much injured by
the confession of the old woman: and he ended by entreating her to
confess also, and save her life.

To the last proposal, Edith did not answer. She said she had already
written to the only friend on whom she could rely, and that Paul had
gone himself with her letter. Her cause, she said, seemed already lost,
and all she wished at present was, that Dinah might be permitted to
visit her, and that she might be left alone.

When Edith was alone, she felt the depression that succeeds to great
excitement. She looked back on her life with that sick and heart-broken
feeling that the young experience after severe disappointments. She was
too young to die; and, though her life had been comparatively blameless,
the excess of feeling she had lavished on a few idols seemed now to her
almost like a crime. She had forgotten, she thought, that her duties had
been plain, and simple, and humble, lying all about her path like
unnoticed flowers, while she had longed for something more exciting to
fill her heart.

It is easy for the accused to believe themselves guilty. She trembled
when she thought how many, not weaker than herself, when suspected and
deserted by friends, had yielded to their fears, and even fancied
themselves _guilty_ of crimes which they abhorred; and she mentally
prayed, "Ah, my Father, save me from myself." Then came the thought of
Seymore, of his grief, his desolation! "Ah, who will understand him,"
she said; "who will comfort him when I am gone? But will he remember
me?" thought she; "will he think of me in 'widowhood of heart?'"

Who would die and be wholly forgotten? We long intensely to live in the
hearts that love us now. We would not pass away "like the summer-dried
fountain," forgotten when its sound has ceased. We would have our lowly
grave visited by holy, twilight thoughts, and our image return at the
hour of prayer. How few are thus remembered! Now Edith thought of her
father, and all the yearning of her heart, which her love for Seymore
had stifled, came back, and torrents of tears flowed as she recalled her
happy childhood.

They were checked by the entrance of Dinah. She brought comfort with
her, and a cheerful countenance, for she did not know the result of
Edith's conversation with the child, and she was full of hope that
Phoebe would retract all she had said.

Edith could not bear to undeceive her poor friend, and smiled, and
thanked her as she arranged a nice, clean bed, placed the books she had
brought within her reach, and pressed her to eat of the delicacies she
had prepared. She arranged the little repast with all the neatness of
home, and gave to the gloomy apartment an air of comfort; and Edith
smiled again, and felt lightened of half her load of despondency, by the
presence of this faithful guardian.


                        "'T is past! I wake
      A captive and alone, and far from thee,
    My love and friend! yet fostering, for thy sake,
      A quenchless hope of happiness to be;
    And feeling still my woman's spirit strong
    In the deep faith that lifts from earthly wrong
    A heavenward glance."


The next morning Edith was informed that Seymore had arrived. As soon as
he received her letter he travelled with all the rapidity the state of
the country permitted, when the journey from Boston to Salem was the
affair of a day, as it is now of half an hour.

From all we have learned of the character of Seymore, the reader will
not be surprised to find that, although never taking an active part in
the persecutions of the time, the character of his enthusiasm was such
that he lent an easy faith to the stories he had heard of the possessed,
and believed that God was manifesting his power by granting, for a
season, such liberty to the prince of evil.

When, however, he received Edith's letter, he felt pierced as it were
with his own sword. He trembled when he thought of his almost idolatrous
love, and with a faith which he fancied resembled that of Abraham, he
believed the time had now come when he must cut off a right hand, and
pluck out a right eye, to give evidence of his submission to the will of

With this disposition of mind he arrived at the scene of our narrative.
In the mean time the tender-hearted elder had become so much interested
to save Edith, that he contrived to have Seymore placed on the jury,
hoping that his deep interest in her would be the means of returning a
verdict of _not guilty_. Seymore was therefore spared the pain of an
interview with Edith, which would probably have convinced him of her
innocence, before the trial.

Edith awoke the next morning from a happy dream. She was walking with
Seymore by the margin of the great ocean, and his low, deep voice
mingled in her ear with the liquid sound of the dying wave. She awoke, a
captive and alone: no, not alone, for the faithful Dinah was standing by
her bedside, so tearful, so subdued, that the smile the happy dream had
left on Edith's lips instantly faded. She remembered it was the day of
her trial, and she prepared to meet it.

These trials were held in the meeting-house, and were opened and closed
with a religious service. This seems like a mockery to us, but our
fathers thought they were performing a sacred duty; and however
frivolous or disgusting were many of the details, the trial was rendered
more appalling by giving to the whole the appearance of a holy

Edith was far from being insensible to the terrors of her situation, but
she found it necessary to assume a cheerfulness she did not feel, in
order to soothe the dreadful agitation of Dinah. The poor African
trusted in God; but she could not shield her child from the tyranny of
human power.

When Edith entered the thronged meeting-house, a paleness, like that of
death, overspread her countenance. She requested that Dinah might stand
near her to support her, lest she should faint. This was rudely denied.
She was answered, "If she had strength to torment that child, she had
strength to stand alone."

She could not wipe the tears that gushed into her eyes at this cruel
answer, for each hand was extended, and closely held by an officer,--a
precaution always adopted in these trials, lest the prisoner should
afflict some person in the crowded multitude.

She had no sooner become a little calm, than her eye sought Seymore
among the crowd. She was shocked with the change an "o'erwrought spirit"
had effected in his person. His pale forehead was traced with veins that
were swelled almost to bursting; a fire was burning in his dark, sunken
eyes, and crimson spots flushed each cheek.

As Edith looked at him, her heart swelled with an infinite pity. For the
moment, her own appalling situation melted away from her thoughts. For
the moment, it was of little importance to her whether she lived or
died. All she wished was to be near Seymore, to speak to him, to soothe
and calm his agitated spirit.

She was recalled to herself by the opening of the trial. The prisoner
was first commanded to repeat the Lord's prayer. This Edith did in a
low, sweet voice, that sounded to the hushed audience like plaintive

It is not my purpose to enter into the details of this trial. It is
enough that "every idle rumor, every thing that the gossip of the
credulous, or the fertile memories of the malignant could produce that
had an unfavorable bearing on the prisoner, however foreign it might be
to the indictment, was brought before the jury,"[3] in addition to the
testimony of the child, and the falsehood of the old woman.

[Footnote 3: Upham's History of Witchcraft.]

The cause was at length given to the jury. They did not leave their
seats; and when it came to the turn of Seymore, who was the last to
speak, the crimson blood rushed to the cheek, brow, and temples of
Edith, and then left them paler than before: a sick sensation came over
her, and she would have fainted, had she not been relieved by tears,
burning hot, that gushed from her eyes.

Seymore had covered his face when he first entered, and had not looked
at Edith. So hushed was the crowd, that the word "_guilty_," wrung as it
were from him in the lowest whisper, was heard distinctly through the
whole meeting-house. It pierced Edith's ear like the voice of a trumpet;
and from that moment the spirit of a martyr entered her breast. She felt
herself deserted by the whole of her little world, falsely convicted of
a crime she abhorred, and left without human sympathy. She turned to
God. "He who seeth in secret," she said, "knows my innocence;" and she
bowed her head, and made no further answer.

The trial was closed as it began,--with religious services. A hymn was
sung; and Edith, feeling, as I have said, an elevation that she could
not herself understand, joined in the devotion. The others stopped; for
they would not mingle their voices with one convicted of witchcraft: the
very evil one was mocking them. Edith continued alone; and her rich,
sweet tones thrilled their hearts like the voice of an angel. She was
reminded by a whisper from Dinah that she was singing alone; and,
ceasing, she blushed deeply, and covered her face from the curious gaze
of the multitude.

As Edith returned to her prison, guarded on each side, and followed by
Dinah, she thought of the Lady Ursula, whose cruel fate had moved her so
deeply. And was she indeed the same person? The child that had wept her
fate so bitterly was now to meet one far more terrible: and she felt
strength to meet it. Every wave, as it had passed over her, had brought
out the hidden beauty and strength of her soul; and, though there was in
her no air of triumph, a tranquil contentment and repose was expressed
in her whole person.


    "No, never more, O, never in the worth
    Of its pure cause, let sorrowing love on earth
    Trust fondly,--never more! The hope is crushed
    That lit my life,--the voice within me hushed
    That spoke sweet oracles."

The unnatural excitement that had borne our heroine up during the last
part of her trial forsook her when she entered once more her dreary
prison. She was again alone,--again a weak and timid woman. The
momentary exaltation that a sense of injustice had given her when under
the gaze of numbers, gave way to memories of the deep and unforgotten
happiness she had connected with Seymore. All her sweet anticipations of
soothing his spirit, of leading him to more rational views of God and of
himself, faded away. In a few days, she would be no more, and
remembered, perhaps, with pity or scorn. One last, lingering weakness
remained: it was the fear of losing the respect and tenderness of

Like all who love deeply, she had dated her existence from the time she
became acquainted with Seymore: all before had become a blank in her
memory; but now her early years rose up before her, like the reflected
sunlight on distant hills. The thought of her father came back with
melting tenderness. Ah, now was he avenged for the short forgetfulness
with which she had ever reproached herself.

She threw herself on her knees, and prayed silently. She felt calmed and
elevated, as if in immediate answer to her prayer. All selfish and
agitating emotions passed away. A spirit of forgiveness, of endurance,
of calm and patient trust, entered her soul. She felt that, with
Seymore's convictions and sense of duty, he could not have acted
otherwise; he could not but bear his testimony to what he thought truth;
and almost a divine pity for his errors, and a purer love for his truth,
filled her heart.

She was informed that Seymore was waiting to see her. This was a trial
she had expected, and she was now prepared to meet him. He entered
trembling, pale, and wholly unmanned. As he tried to speak, his voice
failed, and he burst into tears.

It is fearful to see a strong man weep. Edith was not prepared for this
excess of emotion. Those who have seen Retch's exquisite drawing of
Cordelia when Lear awakes, and she asks "if he knows her," can imagine
the tender pity of her expression as she went to him and placed her hand
in his. A sweet smile was on her lips,--that smile that shows that woman
can mingle an infinite tenderness with the forgiveness of every injury.
He pressed her hand to his heart--his lips; and when he caught her
eye,--"O, do not look so mildly at me," he said; "reproach me, scorn me,
hate me: I can bear all rather than those meek eyes,--than that
forgiving smile."

"Be calm, dear Seymore," she said; "with your convictions, you could not
have done otherwise. You believe in the reality of these possessions.
The evidence against me was more and stronger than has been sufficient
to condemn many as innocent as I am. You can have no cause for

"Innocent! O, say not that you are innocent! God has many ways of trying
his elect. You he has tried severely with temptations from the prince of
evil. He chooses souls like yours. O, Edith, for my sake, for your own
sake, acknowledge that you have been tempted. It only is required that
you should say you have been deceived; then all will be well."

For a moment, Edith's face was crimsoned. "What! become a traitor to my
own soul! lose forever the unsullied jewel of truth, and the peace of a
pure conscience! and do you counsel this?"

"Many have confessed," he said, "many of undoubted truth, of ripe
wisdom, who could not be deceived, and who would not confess to a

[Footnote 4: "Fifty-five persons, many of them previously of the most
_unquestionable character for intelligence, virtue, and piety_,
acknowledged the truth of the charges that were made against them,
confessed that they were witches, and had made a compact with the devil.
It is probable that the motive of self-preservation influenced most of
them: an awful death was in immediate prospect. The delusion had
obtained full possession of the people, the witnesses, the jury, and the
court. By acknowledging the crime, they might in a moment secure their
lives and liberty. Their principles could not withstand the temptation:
they made a confession, and were rewarded by a pardon."--_Upham's
Lectures on Salem Witchcraft._]

"But _I_ should confess to a lie,--a base and wicked lie. I have no
faith in these temptations. I believe God suffers us to be tempted by
our own passions and unrestrained imaginations, but not by visible or
invisible evil spirits. O, listen to me: go no further in this mad,
this wicked delusion. Spare the innocent blood that will be shed. If I
must die, let my death be the means of turning you and others from this
dreadful sin."

"And can you bear to have your name sullied by this alliance with the
wicked? Those who die as criminals are believed guilty of crimes; and
can you consent to be remembered as the associate of evil spirits?"

"Falsehood can live but a few years," she answered; "there is an
immortality in truth and virtue. I cannot blush to be confounded with
the guilty; for it is my unwillingness to sully my conscience with a lie
that leads me there."

Seymore was silent for a few moments. "Edith," he said at last,
straining both her hands in his, "have you been able to think how cruel
this death may be? Have you fortitude? Can you bear to think of it?" and
he shuddered, and covered his face with his hands.

Edith for a moment turned pale. "I have ever shrunk," she said, "from
physical pain. My own extreme timidity has never given me courage to
bear the least of its evils. I believe, then, that it will be spared me:
God will give me courage at the moment, or he will mercifully shorten
the pain; for what is beyond our strength we are not called to bear."

"And can you part with life thus triumphantly?"

"Ah, my friend, there is no triumph in my soul. In its deepest
sanctuary, I feel that God will pardon my sins, and accept my death as
in obedience to my conscience. But, O! I have not sought it: life is
still sweet to me."

"You shall not die,--you must not! you will not leave me! Edith, have
you forgotten our moments of bliss,--our dreams of happiness to
come,--the quiet home, the peaceful fireside, where we hoped to pass our
lives together? Have you forgotten how long, how truly, how fervently, I
have loved you? and is this to be the close of all?"

Edith's hand trembled in his, but she answered cheerfully: "The close!
ah, no: look upward. God has tried us both with grievous trials. Mine
will cease first. Yours is the hardest to bear: to linger here--to do
God's work alone. Let me be to you like one departed a little while
before you, that would not be mourned, but remembered always."

They were both silent for some moments; Seymore contending with
unutterable regret, oppressed with an emotion that was almost the agony
of remorse.

Edith understood his contending emotions. "Think," she said, "that you
have been the instrument of Providence to lead me to heaven. I do not
regret to die early: God has permitted me to solve the mystery of life.
I see his hand even from the moment when that child was committed to my
care. Thank God, I can now submit to his will; and, although life were
sweet with you, my death may bring you nearer to heaven."

"Edith," he said at last, "I have been deceived. Such faith, such divine
forgiveness, such noble fortitude, cannot be the work of evil spirits.
Your faith is purer and stronger than mine,--your reason more
enlightened. I have erred, dreadfully erred."

A bright smile illumined her face, and she pressed his hand in hers.

"I have done most dreadfully wrong," he said; "I sinned from ignorance."

"God will forgive you," said Edith; "and I,--I cannot forgive, for I
could not blame."

He started up. "It is not too late to repair this dreadful evil: it will
be easy for you to escape. If I cannot gain a reversion of the
sentence, we can escape: we will leave this country of delusion and
error; we will go home--to England. There, O Edith--"

The blood for a moment rushed to Edith's cheek and brow; but she
answered, sadly, "No, Seymore, it cannot be; after all that has passed,
it would ruin your character, your prospects, your usefulness, forever.
We are too weak to stem, to oppose this mad delusion. Bigotry and power
are all around us."

"You hesitate. Ah, you do not love me as you did;" and he became again
violently agitated.

Edith took his hand in hers, and pressed it to her lips. "Tempt me not,"
she said, "with visions of happiness that can never be. Let us rather
pray to God to support us in this bitter hour."

They bowed their young heads together, and their tears mingled. Edith's
silent prayer was wholly for him. True to her woman's nature, she forgot
herself in his deeper sorrow.

He was calm, and Edith would not prolong the interview; and Seymore left
her all the more hastily as he was determined to employ every means to
save her. He was not permitted to enjoy that happiness.


      "See, they are gone!--
    The earth has bubbles, as the waters have,
    And these are some of them. They vanished
    Into the air, and what seemed corporal,
    Melted as breath into the wind."


When Edith was alone, she felt that weakness and exhaustion of the body
that all the painful excitements of the day had produced. She threw
herself on the bed, and Dinah was soon at her side.

"Sing me one of the hymns you used to sing in my happy childhood;
perhaps I may sleep."

Dinah sat by the side of the bed, and Edith laid her head on the breast
of her faithful friend, while she began in a tremulous, low tone, that
became stronger and clearer as the holy fervor of the hymn inspired her.

Edith lay motionless, but between her closed eyelids the large tears
forced themselves, and fell slowly down her cheeks. At length, like a
tired infant, she slept.

Dinah laid her head gently on the pillow; with the tenderest hand, wiped
away the tears; drew the covering over her; with noiseless step excluded
the light, and then sat down to watch by her.

It was the bitterest hour poor Dinah had ever passed. She tried to pray,
but she found submission impossible. She had had many trials. She had
been torn from her native land, chained in a slave ship, exposed for
sale in the slave market; but since she had been a Christian, she had
blessed her various trials. Now her faith in God seemed entirely to

She took, as she had often done to comfort her, the cool, soft hand of
her mistress in hers. It was now burning hot, and her own tears, as they
fell, seemed to scald her.

But just at that moment a thought darted into her mind, and she has
often said that it was a direct inspiration from God. "I will save her!"
was the thought. The blood rushed to her head and face, and then
retreated again to the heart; she trembled, and, for the first time in
her life, the poor African was near fainting. She fell on her knees:
"Yes, God help me, I will save her." The operations of the mind at such
moments are rapid as lightning; and, in a few moments, her plan was

When Edith awoke and saw the change a few moments had wrought in Dinah's
appearance, the light that shone in her eye, and her cheek "flushed
through its olive hue," she feared, for an instant, that great anxiety
and grief had shaken her reason.

"My poor Dinah," she said, taking her hand in hers, "you are ill; you
are feverish; you have been too long shut up in this dismal room with
me. Go out, I pray you, and take the cool evening air, and I will try to
sleep again."

It was what Dinah wished, for she desired to consult Paul; but she
busied herself with all those little nameless attentions that love alone
can devise. As she was folding her mistress's hair for the night, Edith
said, "Dinah, I can escape this dreadful death that awaits me."

"O, my dear mistress, how?" said Dinah, her whole face quivering with

"With a lie! by confessing that I have tormented that poor child, and
that I am myself possessed by evil spirits."

Dinah drooped again. "You could not do that," she said; "no, you could
not dishonor yourself with a falsehood: but if you could escape without
violating your conscience, would you not?"

"Certainly," answered Edith: "if God were to place the means of escape
within my reach, I would make use of them, as I would use the means to
recover from a fever. I should violate no law, for the proceedings
against me were unjust, and the testimony false. I could not yield to
Seymore's desire that I should escape, because his was one of the voices
that condemned me, and he could open my prison door, if at all, only by
an open and honorable confession of his error."

Dinah trembled with joy at hearing Edith speak thus of her willingness
to escape, could it be effected with truth; but she would not hint at
her hopes till she had arranged her plan with the assistance of Paul.

After a pause, Edith said, "Alas, there is no hope of escape: and why do
you fold my hair so carefully? it will never delight your eyes more."

Dinah answered, "Never despair: I see a light behind the cloud: the
morning is breaking."

Dinah consulted Paul, and the plan they concerted together was not
difficult to execute. Edith, after long entreaty, yielded to the
affectionate creature, and the more readily, as she knew Dinah was so
great and universal a favorite in the village that no evil could befall

After having her complexion darkened with an herb which Dinah had
prepared, Edith exchanged clothes with her humble friend; and at night
Dinah remained in the prison, while, with infinite precaution, she
eluded the observation of the one person who had been placed at the door
to guard her. Paul was secreted without, and the trembling Edith,
without being observed, found shelter and concealment in the ruined hut
of Phoebe's grandmother.

Paul, as I have said before, was an excellent boatman. Soon as the first
streak of dawning light appeared, secretly and in silence, he dipped his
oar into the water.

The beautiful morning star shone alone in the sky, and as the shore
melted away, Edith strained her eyes to catch the outline of her happy
home, and the little mound where her parents reposed.

They reached a place of safety, and Edith was soon made happy by hearing
of the safety of her affectionate and humble friend.

It is well known that this fearful delusion of our country ceased as
suddenly as it had risen. Edith was one of the last of the accused. When
it was discovered that she had escaped, no inquiries were made, and no
regret expressed. "The curtain had fallen, and a close was put to one of
the most tremendous tragedies of real life. The wildest storm, perhaps,
that ever raged in the moral world, instantly became a calm. The tide
that had threatened to overwhelm every thing in its fury sank back, in a
moment, to its peaceful bed."

What could have been Seymore's emotions when the cloud had vanished, and
he stood in the clear sunshine of reason? Happy he was indeed,
inexpressibly happy, that his beloved Edith had escaped the most
dreadful consequences of this mad delusion.

Whether their union ever took place, I must leave to the imagination of
my readers. The young who have never had their hearts stirred with a
deeper love than that for a pet lamb, or a canary bird, will reject the
thought as impossible. The old, if any who have passed the age of
thoughtless amusement should condescend to read these pages, perhaps
will judge otherwise. Having learned from that severe teacher,
experience, how prone we are to err, and how often we need forgiveness
from each other, as well as from Heaven; having found, also, that the
jewel of true love, though sullied by error, and sometimes mixed with
baser stones, yet, like the diamond, can never lose its value,--they
will cherish the belief that Seymore found, in the devoted affection of
Edith, a balm for his wounded spirit, and an unfailing strength for the
duties and trials of life.


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Delusion, or The Witch of New England" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.