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Title: Love After Marriage; and Other Stories of the Heart
Author: Hentz, Caroline Lee, 1800-1856
Language: English
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     LOVE AFTER MARRIAGE;
     AND
     OTHER STORIES OF THE HEART.

     BY
     MRS. CAROLINE LEE HENTZ.

AUTHOR OF "LINDA; OR, THE YOUNG PILOT OF THE BELLE CREOLE," "THE
BANISHED SON," "COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE; OR, THE JOYS AND SORROWS OF
AMERICAN LIFE," "THE PLANTER'S NORTHERN BRIDE; OR, SCENES IN MRS.
HENTZ'S CHILDHOOD," "EOLINE; OR, MAGNOLIA VALE; OR, THE HEIRESS OF
GLENMORE," "ERNEST LINWOOD; OR, THE INNER LIFE OF THE AUTHOR," "HELEN
AND ARTHUR; OR, MISS THUSA'S SPINNING-WHEEL," "RENA; OR, THE SNOW
BIRD," "THE LOST DAUGHTER," "MARCUS WARLAND; OR, THE LONG MOSS
SPRING," "ROBERT GRAHAM;" A SEQUEL TO "LINDA," ETC.

This volume contains some of the most charming stories ever written by
Mrs. Caroline Lee Hentz, among which will be found: "Love After
Marriage." "The Victim of Excitement." "The Blind Girl's Story." "The
Parlour Serpent." "The Shaker Girl." "A Rainy Evening." "Three Scenes
in the Life of a Belle." "The Fatal Cosmetic." "The Abyssinian
Neophyte." "The Village Anthem." "The Brown Serpent." "My
Grandmother's Bracelet," and "The Mysterious Reticule."

     PHILADELPHIA:
     T. B. PETERSON & BROTHERS;
     306 CHESTNUT STREET.



     Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by
     T. B. PETERSON & BROTHERS,

     In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, in
     and for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.



MRS. CAROLINE LEE HENTZ'S WORKS.

Each Work is complete in one large duodecimo volume.

_LINDA; OR, THE YOUNG PILOT OF THE BELLE CREOLE._

_ROBERT GRAHAM. A SEQUEL TO "LINDA."_

_RENA; OR, THE SNOW BIRD. A TALE OF REAL LIFE._

_EOLINE; OR, MAGNOLIA VALE; OR, THE HEIRESS OF GLENMORE._

_MARCUS WARLAND; OR, THE LONG MOSS SPRING._

_ERNEST LINWOOD; OR, THE INNER LIFE OF THE AUTHOR._

_THE PLANTER'S NORTHERN BRIDE; OR, SCENES IN MRS. HENTZ'S CHILDHOOD._

_HELEN AND ARTHUR; OR, MISS THUSA'S SPINNING-WHEEL._

_COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE; OR, THE JOYS AND SORROWS OF AMERICAN LIFE._

_LOVE AFTER MARRIAGE._

_THE LOST DAUGHTER._

_THE BANISHED SON._

Price $1.75 each in Morocco Cloth; or $1.50 in Paper Cover.

Above books are for sale by all Booksellers. Copies of any or all of
the above books will be sent to any one, to any place, postage
pre-paid, on receipt of their price by the Publishers,

     T. B. PETERSON & BROTHERS,
     306 CHESTNUT STREET, PHILADELPHIA, PA.



CONTENTS.


     LOVE AFTER MARRIAGE,                     Page 17

     THE VICTIM OF EXCITEMENT,                     40

     THE BLIND GIRL'S STORY,                       63

     THE PARLOUR SERPENT,                          81

     THE SHAKER GIRL,                             104

     A RAINY EVENING,                             127

     THREE SCENES IN THE LIFE OF A BELLE,         135

     THE FATAL COSMETIC,                          151

     THE ABYSSINIAN NEOPHYTE,                     175

     THE VILLAGE ANTHEM,                          197

     THE BOSOM SERPENT,                           210

     MY GRANDMOTHER'S BRACELET,                   234

     THE MYSTERIOUS RETICULE,                     247



LOVE AFTER MARRIAGE.


A stranger was ushered into the parlour, where two young ladies were
seated, one bonneted and shawled, evidently a morning visiter, the
other in a fashionable undress, as evidently a daughter or inmate of
the mansion. The latter rose with a slight inclination of the head,
and requested the gentleman to take a chair. "Was Mr. Temple at home?"
"No! but he was expected in directly." The young ladies exchanged
mirthful glances, as the stranger drew nearer, and certainly his
extraordinary figure might justify a passing sensation of mirth, if
politeness and good feeling had restrained its expression. His extreme
spareness and the livid hue of his complexion indicated recent
illness, and as he was apparently young, the almost total baldness of
his head was probably owing to the same cause. His lofty forehead was
above the green shade that covered his eyes in unshadowed majesty,
unrelieved by a single lock of hair, and the lower part of his face
assumed a still more cadaverous hue, from the reflection of the green
colour above. There was something inexpressibly forlorn and piteous in
his whole appearance, notwithstanding an air of gentlemanly dignity
pervaded his melancholy person. He drew forth his pocket-book, and
taking out a folded paper, was about to present it to Miss Temple,
who, drawing back with a suppressed laugh, said--"A petition, sir, I
suppose?"--then added in a low whisper to her companion--"the poor
fellow is perhaps getting up a subscription for a wig." The whisper
was very low, but the stranger's shaded though penetrating eyes were
fixed upon her face, and the motion of her lips assisted him in a
knowledge of their sound; he replaced the paper in his pocket-book--"I
am no petitioner for your bounty, madam," said he, in a voice, whose
sweetness fell like a reproach on her ear, "nor have I any claims on
your compassion, save being a stranger and an invalid. I am the bearer
of a letter to your father, from a friend of his youth, who, even on
his death-bed, remembered him with gratitude and affection; will you
have the goodness to present to him my name and direction?"

Then laying his card upon the table, he made a low bow and retreated,
before Miss Temple had time to apologize, if indeed any apology could
be offered for her levity and rudeness. She approached the table and
took up the card--"Gracious Heavens!" she exclaimed--"it cannot be
possible?--Sydney Allison--that bald, yellow, horrid-looking
creature--Sydney Allison! they described him as the perfection of
manly beauty--I never will believe it--he is an impostor--the wretch!"

The young lady who was with her, beheld with astonishment, the passion
that lighted up Miss Temple's face, and her looks besought an
explanation. "Have you not heard," said Miss Temple, "since you came
to this city, that I was betrothed; that I had been so from a child,
to a young gentleman residing in Cuba, whose uncle was the bosom
friend of my father? You must have heard it, for my father has always
taken pains to circulate the report, so that no one might presume upon
my favour. And this is the delectable bridegroom! the one who has been
represented as clothed in every grace calculated to fascinate a female
heart--and I, fool that I was, I believed it, and looked forward with
rapture to the hour of our first meeting." Here she paused, and
throwing herself back in her chair, burst into a passion of tears.

Mary Manning, her more rational companion, endeavoured to soothe the
excited feelings of her friend, and suggested to her, that whatever
disappointment she might feel with regard to his personal appearance,
his character might be such as to awaken a very ardent attachment.
"Indeed," added Mary, "I thought there was something quite interesting
in his address, and his voice was remarkably persuasive in its tones.
He has evidently been very ill, and his bad looks are owing to this
circumstance. He will become handsomer by and by. Besides, my dear
Augusta, what is mere beauty in a man? It is the prerogative of a
woman, and you are so highly gifted in that respect yourself, you
should be willing that your husband should excel in those qualities
which men generally arrogate to themselves."

"Husband!" repeated Augusta; "I would as soon take a death's-head for
my husband. I care nothing about mere beauty, provided there is
intelligence and spirit. But with such a bald, livid-looking wretch at
my side, such a living memento of mortality, I should sink into my
grave in a fortnight. I never will marry him, unless I am dragged to
the altar." Here Mr Temple entered the room, and interrupted her rash
speech. Miss Manning too retired, feeling that her presence might be
an intrusion. He looked astonished at the agitation of his daughter,
who handed him the card, and turning away leaned against the
mantel-piece, the image of woe.

"Sydney Allison arrived!" exclaimed Mr. Temple; "where is he? when was
he here? and why is he gone?--why--what is the matter with you,
Augusta? The first wish of my heart seems accomplished, and I find you
weeping. Tell me the meaning of all this?"

"Oh! father," sobbed Augusta, covering her face with her handkerchief,
"he is _so_ ugly, and you told me he was so _very_ handsome."

Mr. Temple could not forbear laughing at the piteous tone in which
Augusta uttered this melancholy truth, though he immediately resumed,
in an accent of displeasure, "I am ashamed of your folly--I have
always given you credit for being a girl of sense, but you talk like a
little fool;--ugly! if a man is not ugly enough to frighten his horse,
he is handsome enough. Besides, it is nothing but a whim; I saw him
when a child, and he was an uncommonly beautiful boy. I hope you did
not behave in this manner before him--why did you suffer him to go
away?"

"Why, I did not know him," said Augusta, in considerable trepidation,
for she feared her father's anger; "and he looked so thin and
woe-begone, I thought he was some foreigner asking charity, and when
he took out a paper I thought it a petition, and said something about
one--so he was angry, I believe, and went away, saying he had letters
for you, from a friend, who was dead."

"And is he dead!--the good old man!--the best, the earliest friend I
ever had in the world--dead and gone!" Mr. Temple leaned his face over
on his hands, and sat in silence several moments, as if struggling
with powerful emotions. After a while, Mr. Temple lifted his hands,
and fixed his darkened eyes upon his daughter. He took her hand with
affection and solemnity. "Augusta, you are the child of affluence as
well as of indulgence; you are my only child, and all the wealth,
which now surrounds you with luxury, will be at your disposal after my
death."

"Oh! father, do not speak of such a thing."

"Do not interrupt me. Mr. Allison, the uncle of this young man, was my
benefactor and friend, when all the world looked dark upon me. He
extricated me from difficulties which it is unnecessary to
explain--gave me the means of making an ample fortune, and asked no
recompense, but a knowledge of my success. It was through his
influence I was united to your now angel mother--yes! I owe everything
to him--wealth, reputation, and a brief, but rare portion of domestic
bliss. This dear, benevolent, romantic old man, had one nephew, the
orphan child of his adoption, whom he most tenderly loved. When
commercial affairs carried me to Cuba, about ten years ago, Sydney was
a charming boy,"--here Augusta groaned--"a charming boy; and when I
spoke with a father's pride of my own little girl whom I had left
behind, my friend gladdened at the thought, that the union which had
bound our hearts together would be perpetuated in our children; we
pledged our solemn promise to each other, that this union should take
place at a fitting age; you have long been aware of this betrothal,
and I have seen with great pleasure, that you seemed to enter into my
views, and to look forward with hope and animation to the fulfilment
of this contract. The engagement is now doubly binding, since death
has set his awful seal upon it. It must be fulfilled. Do not, by your
unprecedented folly, make me unhappy at a moment like this."

"Forgive me, my dear father, but indeed when you see him, you will not
wonder at the shock I have received. After all you had said of him,
after reading his uncle's letters so full of glowing descriptions,
after dwelling so long on the graceful image my fancy drew, to find
such a dreadful contrast."

"Dreadful contrast! why surely he cannot be transformed into such a
monster."

"You have not seen him yet," said she mournfully.

"No! you remind me of my negligence. After the strange reception you
have given him, it is doubly urgent that I should hasten to him. Have
a care, Augusta, you have always found me a very indulgent father, but
in this instance I shall enforce implicit obedience. I have only one
fear, that you have already so disgusted him with your levity, that he
may refuse, _himself_, the honour of the alliance."

"_He_ refuse _me_!" murmured Augusta, in a low voice, as she glanced
at herself in a mirror that shone above the mantelpiece. As the nature
of her reflections may be well imagined, it may be interesting to
follow the young man, whose figure had made so unfortunate an
impression on his intended bride, and learn something of the feelings
that are passing through his mind.

Sydney Allison returned to his lonely apartment at the hotel with a
chilled and aching heart. The bright day-dream, whose beauty had
cheered and gilded him, even while mourning over the death-bed of his
uncle, while languishing himself on the bed of sickness, and while, a
sea-sick mariner, he was tossed upon the boisterous waves--this dream
was fled. She, who had always risen upon his imagination as the
morning star of his destiny--this being he had met, after years of
romantic anticipation--what a meeting! He was well aware of the sad
ravages one of the violent fevers of a tropical clime had made upon
his beauty, but, never attaching much value to his own personal
attractions, he could not believe that the marks of a divine
visitation would expose him to ridicule, or unkindness; of an
extremely sensitive disposition, he was peculiarly alive to the stings
of satire, and the sarcastic whisper of Miss Temple wounded him to the
quick.

"What!" said he, to himself, as he folded his arms in melancholy
abstraction, in the solitude of his chamber, "what, if the dark
luxuriance of waving hair which once shadowed my temples, is now gone,
is not thought and intelligence still lingering on my brow? Are there
no warm and animated veins of feeling in my heart, because the tide of
health no longer colours my wan and faded cheek? These enfeebled eyes,
which I must now shelter from the too dazzling light, can they not
still emit the rays of tenderness, and the beams of soul? This proud
beauty! May she live to know what a heart she has wounded!"

He rose and walked slowly across the floor, pausing before a large
looking glass, which fully reflected his person. He could not forbear
a smile, in the midst of his melancholy, at the ludicrous contrast to
his former self, and acknowledge it was preposterous to expect to
charm at first sight, under the present disastrous eclipse. He almost
excused the covert ridicule of which he had been the object, and began
to pity the beautiful Augusta for the disappointment she must have
endured. It was under the influence of these feelings Mr. Temple found
him.

"My dear fellow," said the latter, warmly grasping his hand, and
gazing earnestly at him--"My poor boy! how ill you must have
been!--your uncle, too"--the warm-hearted man was incapable of
uttering another syllable, not more moved at that moment, by the
recollection of his friend, than affected by the transformation of the
blooming boy, whose waving locks were once so singularly beautiful.

His sympathy was so unaffected, his welcome so warm, and his affection
expressed in so heartfelt a manner, that Sydney, who had just been
arming himself with proud philosophy against the indifference and
neglect of the world, melted into woman's softness. He had been so
long among strangers, and those of rougher natures--had experienced so
cold a disappointment in his warmest hopes--he had felt so blighted,
so alone--the reaction was too powerful, it unmanned him. Mr. Temple
was a remarkable instance of a man who retained a youthful enthusiasm
and frankness of character, after a long and prosperous intercourse
with the world of business. The rapid accumulation of wealth, instead
of narrowing, as it too often does, enlarged his benevolent heart.
When, in a long and confidential conversation with Sydney, he learned
that Mr. Allison had left but a small fortune for his support, instead
of the immense one he had been led to expect, he was more than ever
anxious to promote his union with his daughter. However mysterious it
seemed that Mr. Allison's property should be so diminished, or have
been so much overrated, he rather rejoiced at the circumstance, as it
gave him an opportunity of showing his gratitude and disinterestedness.
But Sydney was proud. He felt the circumstance of his altered
fortunes, and, though not a poor man, was no longer the heir of that
wealth which was his in reversion when Mr. Temple had plighted his
daughter to him. In his short interview with her he had gained such an
insight into her character, that he recoiled from the idea of
appearing before her as her betrothed lover.

"Receive me as a friend," said he to Mr. Temple; "let your daughter
learn to look upon me as such, and I ask no more; unless I could win
her _affections_, nothing would induce me to accept of her hand--under
existing circumstances, I believe that impossible. Much as I feel your
kindness, and sacred as I hold the wishes of the dead, I hold your
daughter's happiness paramount to every other consideration. This must
not be sacrificed for me. Promise me, sir, that it shall not. I should
be more wretched than words can express, if I thought the slightest
force were imposed upon her sentiments."

"Be satisfied on that score; say nothing about it; only let her get
fully acquainted with you, and there will be no occasion to employ
_force_. You must forget the mistake of the morning. This yellow fever
makes sad work of a man when it gets hold of him, but you will soon
revive from its effects."

       *       *       *       *       *

Sydney Allison became a daily visiter at Mr. Temple's. Had he assumed
the privileges of a lover, Augusta would have probably manifested, in
a wounding manner, the aversion she felt for him in that character;
but it was impossible to treat with disdain one who never presumed to
offer any attentions beyond the civilities of friendship. Though
rendered vain from adulation, and selfish from indulgence, and though
her thoughtless vivacity often made her forgetful of the feelings of
others, Augusta Temple was not destitute of redeeming virtues. Nature
had gifted her with very ardent affections, and opened but few
channels in which those affections could flow. She had the great
misfortune to be the only child of a rich, widowed, and doting parent,
and from infancy had been accustomed to see every one around her
subservient to her will. She had reached the age of womanhood without
knowing one real sorrow, or meeting with a being who had excited in
any degree the affections of her heart. Her warm and undisciplined
imagination had dwelt for years on one image. She had clothed it in
the most splendid hues that fancy ever spread upon her palette; and
had poor Sydney appeared before her in his original brightness, the
reality would probably have been dim, to the visions of ideal beauty
by which she had been so long haunted. In the greatness of her
disappointment, she became unjust and unreasonable, violent in her
prejudices, and extravagant in the manifestations of them. But after
the first ebullition of her grief, she grew more guarded, from the
dread of her father's anger; and as Sydney continued the same
reserved and dignified deportment, she began to think her father's
prediction was fulfilled, and that their aversion was mutual. She did
not derive as much comfort from this supposition as might be
anticipated. She had dreaded his importunity, but she could not endure
his indifference. It was in vain Mr. Temple urged his young friend to
a different course of conduct; he always answered, "Let her cease to
dread me as a lover, then she may learn to prize me as a friend."

One evening, there was a concert at Mr. Temple's. Sydney, who was
passionately fond of music, forgot every cause of inquietude, while
abandoned to its heavenly influence. He stood near the fair songstress
of the hour, keeping time to the harmony, while in a pier-glass
opposite, he had a full view of the groups behind. Augusta was a
little in the rear, leaning on the arm of Miss Manning. He could gaze
on her image thus reflected, without her being conscious of the act,
and he sighed as he paid involuntary homage to her brilliant beauty.
Her figure was of superb proportions, her features formed on the model
of oriental symmetry, while her eyes glittered through their dark
sweeping lashes, like sunbeams through the forest foliage. She stood
with her head a little averted, and her profile presented the softened
outline of the lineaments ascribed to the beautiful daughters of
Judah. He forgot himself entirely, in the contemplation of her
loveliness, when he saw her turn, with an arch smile, and hold up her
hands in a whimsical attitude in the direction of his head, as if in
the act of warming them; for the full blaze of the chandeliers seemed
concentrated in that point, and all eyes, lured by Augusta's gesture,
were turned upon his illuminated skull. For one moment Sydney lost his
self-possession, and the angry spot was seen distinctly burning on his
sallow cheek. The next, he smiled superior to such weakness, and
retreating a few steps, bowed for her to pass forward. She had relied
on the shade that covered his eyes, for security from detection,
unconscious of the piercing glances that were darting beneath. Her
conscience now upbraided her for her folly, and she felt with
bitterness how low she must be in the opinion of the man whose
admiration she secretly coveted, notwithstanding the ridicule she
dared to throw upon his person. After the company dispersed, she
remained alone in the drawing-room, dissatisfied with herself and
sickening at the pleasure that surrounded her. The door softly opened.
It was Sydney, who had returned for his gloves, which he had left on
the mantel-piece. It was the first time she had found herself alone
with him, and she felt excessively embarrassed. In that tone, which
even _she_ acknowledged to be irresistibly sweet, he apologized for
his intrusion, and taking his gloves, was retiring, when she, ever
impulsive, arrested his motions.

"Stay one moment, Mr. Allison--you have great reason to despise me--I
have treated you with unpardonable levity and rudeness. Though I can
hardly hope your forgiveness, I cannot withhold this acknowledgment of
my errors; your calm forbearance has done more for my reformation,
than a thousand reproofs."

Surprised and softened by this unexpected avowal from the cold
sarcastic Augusta, whose fluctuating complexion and agitated voice
bore witness to her sincerity, Allison was at first incapable of
replying.

"Your present candour," at length he said, "would indemnify me for
much greater suffering than you have ever inflicted on me. Allow me,
Miss Temple, to take advantage of this first moment of confidence, to
disarm you of all fear on my account. The relative situation in which
we have been placed by others, has given us both much embarrassment;
but be assured my only wish is to be looked upon as your friend.
Consider yourself as entirely unshackled. In brighter hours I might
have aspired to the distinction our parents designed for me; but, worn
down by sickness, the shadow of my former self, I feel but too
sensibly, that the only sentiment I can now inspire in the female
heart, is that of compassion."

Augusta was so much impressed by his delicacy and generosity, she
began to hate herself for not having more justly appreciated his
worth. She raised her eyes to his face and sighed--"Ah!" said she to
herself, "I must respect and esteem, but I can never love him." Mr.
Temple, who had been absent the whole evening, returned at this
moment, and his countenance expressed his pleasure in finding them
thus alone, in apparently confidential conversation with each other.

"Do not go, Allison," said he; "I have been oppressed with business
to-night, and I want a little social enjoyment before I sleep.
Besides, I do not feel quite well."

They now observed that he looked unusually pale, and pressed his hand
upon his head, as if in pain.

"Father," said Augusta, "you do indeed look ill; you have fatigued
yourself too much. A glass of wine will revive you."

She brought him the glass, but just as he took it from her hand with a
smile, a sudden spasm came over him, and he fell back in his chair,
speechless and convulsed. Augusta's piercing shriek alarmed the
servants, who, rushing in, beheld their master supported in the arms
of Allison, gasping for breath, while Augusta was trying to loosen his
cravat with hands nerveless from terror. A physician was directly
summoned, who bled him profusely, and after a few hours consciousness
was restored. He was removed to his chamber, and Allison remained with
him during the remainder of the night. Augusta sat by her father's
bedside holding his hand, almost stunned by the suddenness of the
calamity. Never, since her recollection, had her father known an
hour's sickness; and now to be prostrated at once, in the midst of
florid health, it was awful. She dared not ask the physician if there
was danger, lest he should confirm her worst fears. She looked at
Allison, and, in his pale and anxious countenance, she saw a
reflection of her own anxiety and sorrow. Towards morning Mr. Temple
opened his eyes, and looked earnestly round him.

"My children," said he, "come near me--both--both."

"Father," cried Augusta, "we _are_ near thee--oh! my father, say that
you are better--only say that you will _live_."

As she uttered the last word she bowed her head upon the bed cover,
and sobbed as if her heart were breaking.

"My child," said Mr. Temple, faintly, "you must call upon God to
sustain you, for there is need. I feel that the hand of death is on
me. Sudden and awful is the summons--but it must be obeyed. Doctor, I
would see my minister. Not to give peace to my parting soul--for all
is peace _here_," said he, laying his hand feebly on his heart, "peace
with God and man--but there is one thing I would witness before I
die."

Sydney, who stood at the bed's head, trembled at the import of these
words; Augusta in her agony comprehended them not.

"Sydney, my son, give me your hand; Augusta, is this your hand I hold?
My children, if you would bless my last hour, you must let my dying
eyes behold your union. It will gladden my friend, when I meet him in
another world, to tell him his last wishes are consummated. Do you
consent, my children?"

He looked up to Sydney, with that earnest expression which is never
seen except in the eye of the dying, and pressed their hands together
in his, already cold and dewy with the damps of death. Sydney sunk
upon his knees, unutterably affected. All the happiness of his future
life was at stake, but it seemed as nothing at that moment.

"Your daughter, sir?" was all he could utter.

"Augusta," repeated Mr. Temple, in a voice fearfully hollow, "will you
not speak?"

"Oh! my father," she murmured, "do with me as you will, only take me
with you."

The reverend figure of the minister was now added to the group that
surrounded that bed of death. Strange and awful was the bridal
ceremony, performed at such a moment, and attended by such
solemnities. Sydney felt that he was mysteriously and irresistibly
impelled on to the fulfilment of his destiny, without any volition of
his own; and he supported, with a firm arm, the sinking form of her he
was now to call his own. It was with bloodless lips and deadened
perceptions Augusta repeated her vows; but low as they were, they fell
like music on the ear that was so shortly to close to all earthly
sound.

"There is a blessing above, mingling with mine," faintly articulated
the dying man. "I bless you, my dear children, and ye will be
blessed."

These were the last words he ever uttered. Augusta fell almost
lifeless on her father's bosom, but what was a moment before the
temple of an immortal spirit, was now but dust and ashes. At the same
moment an orphan and a bride, she was incapable of comprehending the
startling realities of her situation. The images that flitted through
her mind, were like the phantasmagoria of a dream--a vague impression
of something awful and indescribable having occurred, a wild fear of
something more awful still impending, filled her imagination and
paralyzed her frame. But Allison had a full and aching sense of the
responsibilities so unexpectedly imposed upon him. He mourned for the
venerated and generous friend so suddenly snatched away; but he
grieved most of all, that his last act had placed in his keeping that
to which he felt he had no legitimate right. No selfish repinings
filled his heart--but to find himself _married_, joined irrevocably to
a woman who had given him so many proofs of personal aversion; who
never, till that evening, had evinced towards him the slightest
sensibility--a woman whom he did not love, and whose superior fortune
burdened him with a painful sense of obligation--there was something
inexpressibly galling and humbling in these circumstances, to the
sensitive and high-minded Allison. Tenderness, however, mingled with
the bitterness of his reflections; and even then, he could have taken
her to his heart, and wept over her tears of sympathy and sorrow, had
he not dreaded that she would recoil from his embraces. He did not
intrude on the sacredness of her grief, and for days she buried
herself in the solitude of her chamber. She admitted no one but her
chosen friend, Miss Manning, who represented her as inconsolable,
either sunk in a torpor, from which nothing could arouse her, or in a
state of nervous excitement still more distressing. He waited, hoping
that time would restore her to comparative composure, and that she
would be willing to receive from him the consolations of friendship.
Finding, at length, that she persevered in her system of solitary
grief, and that time, while it must, according to its immutable laws,
soften her anguish for her father's death, probably increased her
dread of the shackles that bound her, his resolution was taken. In a
short time everything was arranged for his departure to a foreign
land. The ship, in which he was bound a passenger, was ready to sail,
when he requested a parting interview with Augusta. A parting
interview!--Augusta was roused at that sound, from the selfishness of
her grief. He was going into banishment, and she was the cause. For
the first time since the bridal ceremony, the thought forced itself
into her mind, that _he_ too might have cause for sorrow, and that
_his_ happiness might be sacrificed as well as her own. Allison was
greatly shocked, to see the change wrought in her radiant face. He was
so much agitated, he forgot everything he purposed to say, and
remembered only the strangeness of their situation. He endeavoured to
repress his own emotion, that he might not increase hers; while she,
unused to self-control, abandoned herself to a passion of tears. He
approached her with tenderness and solemnity, and entreated her to
listen to him, as a _friend_, as one willing to promote her happiness
by any sacrifice she might require. "I go," said he, "Augusta, to
another clime, whose genial influence may restore me again some
portion of my former vigour. I go, too, in the hope, that in my
absence you will learn submission to a destiny which my presence
renders insupportable. If you knew the anguish that fills my heart,
when I think of myself as the involuntary cause of your wretchedness,
you would pity me, even as much as you abhor. Hear me, Augusta, while
I repeat with all the solemnity of the vows that bound us to each
other, that I will never claim the name of husband, till your own free
affections hallow the sacred title. In the mean time I leave you with
one who will be to you as a loving sister, in whose father you will
find a faithful and affectionate guardian--will you not part from me,
at least in kindness?"

Augusta sat, with her arms thrown around Miss Manning, weeping, yet
subdued. All the best impulses of her nature were wakened and active.
She would have given worlds to say something expressive of her remorse
and regret for her selfishness and waywardness. Clasping her hands
together she exclaimed, "Oh! forgive me, Sydney, that I cannot love
you;" then, conscious that she was only wounding more deeply when she
wished to heal, she only uttered, "what an unfortunate wretch I am!"

"We are both unfortunate," said he, moved beyond his power of
control--"but we may not be always miserable. Something whispers me,
that we shall meet again with chastened feelings, capable of
appreciating all that is excellent in each other, and both earnest in
the endeavour to merit the blessing that hallowed our nuptial tie. I
leave you that you may be restored to tranquillity--I may never
return--I pray to God, that he may find me a grave in that ocean to
whose bosom I am about to commit myself, if I am only to live for the
misery of others."

"No, no," cried Augusta, "this must not be, you must not become an
exile for me."

"Listen to her," said Miss Manning, earnestly, her whole soul wrought
up into the most painful excitement, at the sight of their mutual
distress--"indeed, sir, you are doing what is rash and uncalled
for--oh! why, with so much to bind you together, with qualities
capable of inspiring the strongest attachment in each other, will ye
close up your hearts in this manner, and resolve to be miserable?"

"I cannot now remain if I would, as I have taken steps which cannot
well be recalled--your father, Miss Manning, knows and approves my
intention. He is the delegated guardian and protector of Augusta. I
will not, I cannot prolong the pain of these moments. Farewell,
Augusta! think of me, if possible, with kindness--should I live to
return, I will be to you friend, brother, or husband, as your own
heart shall dictate."

He pressed her cold and passive hand in his--turned, and was gone.
Augusta would have spoken, but she seemed as if under the influence of
a nightmare. Her faculties were spell-bound; she would have returned
the parting pressure of his hand, but her fingers seemed icicles. She
shuddered with superstitious dread. Her father's upbraiding spirit
appeared to her imagination, armed with the terrors of the grave, and
threatening her with the retribution of heaven. Poor Augusta! her mind
required the stern, but salutary discipline of adversity, and that
discipline was preparing. How she profited by the teachings of this
monitress, whose lessons, however hard, have such high and celestial
bearings, the events of after years may show.

       *       *       *       *       *

Augusta and her friend are once more presented to the view of the
reader, but the destiny of the former is changed. They are seated in a
parlour side by side, but it is not the same, rich in all the
adornments of wealth and fashion, that Augusta once occupied. It is in
a neat rural cottage, in the very heart of the country, embosomed in
trees and flowers. A few words will explain the past. Mr. Temple's
open, generous, uncalculating disposition had exposed him to the
designs of the mercenary and treacherous. He never could refuse to
endorse a note for a friend, or to loan money when it was asked with a
look of distress. He believed his resources as exhaustless as his
benevolence; but by the failure of several houses with which he was
largely connected, his estate was involved in ruin, and his daughter
left destitute of fortune. Mr. Manning suffered so much himself in the
general loss, he was obliged to sell all that he still possessed in
the city and retire into the country, with limited means of
subsistence. But, though limited, he had sufficient for all the
comforts of life, and what he deemed its luxuries--books, music, the
socialities of friendship, and the exercise of the kindly charities. A
cherished member of this charming family, Augusta no longer the
spoiled child of fortune, but the chastened disciple of sorrow,
learned to estimate the purposes of her being, and to mourn over her
former perversity. With such ennobled views of life and its
enjoyments, she began to think she might be happy with a husband, with
such irreproachable worth and exalted attributes as Sydney Allison,
even though he had the misfortune to be bald and sallow. But him she
had banished, and when would he return? He had written to her once or
twice, in the most affectionate manner, as a brother would write; he
had spoken of amended health and reviving spirits, but he spoke of his
return as of something indefinite and even remote. She too had
written, and her letters were transcripts of the progressive elevation
of her character, and expressed with candour and warmth the just
appreciation she now had of his own. She was uncertain whether they
had ever reached him. It was long since she had received any tidings,
and she felt at times that sickness of the heart, which suspense unfed
by hope creates.

"I bring you a messenger, who I trust is the bearer of glad tidings,"
said Mr. Manning, entering, with a benevolent smile, and ushering in a
young gentleman, whom he introduced by the name of Clarence. "Augusta,
you will greet him with joy, for he comes with letters from Mr.
Allison, your husband."

Augusta sprang forward, scarcely waiting to go through the customary
form of introduction, and took the letter with a trembling hand. "Tell
me, sir, do you know him, and is he well?" The stranger bent his dark
and lustrous eyes upon her face, with a look of undisguised
admiration.

"I know him intimately, madam; when I last saw him, he was in perfect
health, and animated by the prospect of a speedy return."

Augusta waited to hear no more, but retired to her own chamber, to
peruse the epistle she had so anxiously anticipated. It was in answer
to her last, and breathed the language of hope and confidence. There
was a warmth, a fervour of sentiment, far different from his former
cold, but kind communications. He rejoiced in the knowledge of her
altered fortune, for he could prove his disinterestedness, and show
her that he loved her for herself alone, by returning and devoting
himself to the task of winning her affections. "Say not, my Augusta,"
said he in conclusion, "that I cannot win the prize. All the energies
of my heart and soul are enlisted for the contest. I could look on
your beauty, all dazzling as it is, without much emotion; but the
humility, the trust, the gentleness and feeling expressed in your
letter has melted me into tenderness. Dare I indulge in the blissful
dream, that even now gilds this page with the hues of heaven? Augusta,
the sad, reluctant bride, transformed into the fond and faithful wife,
cherished in my yearning bosom, and diffusing there the life, the
warmth, the fragrance of love!"

Augusta's tears rained over the paper. "Oh! Allison," she cried, "the
task shall not be in vain; I _will_ love thee for thy virtues, and the
blessing my dying father called down, may yet rest upon us." She was
about to fold the letter, when a postscript on the envelope met her
eye. "Receive Clarence," it said, "as my friend--he knows all my
history, and the peculiarity of our situation--he is interested in
you, for my sake--as a stranger and my especial friend, may I ask for
him the hospitable attentions of Mr. Manning's family?"

When she descended into the room, where Clarence was seated, she could
not repress a painful blush, from the consciousness that he was
familiar with her singular history. "He must despise me," thought she;
but the deference, and respect of his manner forbade such an
impression. Gradually recovering from her embarrassment, and finding
him directing his conversation principally to Mr. Manning, she had
leisure to observe one who possessed strong interest in her eyes, as
the friend of Allison. And seldom does the eye of woman rest upon a
more graceful or interesting figure, or a more expressive and glowing
countenance. There was a lambent brightness in his eyes, a mantling
bloom upon his cheek, that indicated indwelling light and conscious
youth. His hair clustered in soft waves round his temples, relieving
by its darkness the unsunned whiteness of his forehead. Yet the
prevailing charm was manner, that indescribable charm, that, like
sunshine in the summer landscape, gilded and vivified the whole. The
acquisition of such a guest gave life and animation to the domestic
circle. Mr. Manning was a man of varied information, and the society
of this accomplished traveller recalled the classic enthusiasm of his
earlier days. Mary, though usually reserved to strangers, seemed
fascinated into a forgetfulness of herself, and found herself a
partaker of a conversation to which at first she was only a timid
listener. Augusta, while she acknowledged the stranger's uncommon
power to please, was preoccupied by the contents of her husband's
letter, and longed to be alone with Mary, whose sympathy was always as
spontaneous as it was sincere. She was not disappointed in the
readiness of Mary's sympathy; but after having listened again and
again, and expressed her hope and joy that all would yet be for the
happiest and the best, she returned to the subject next in interest,
the bearer of this precious document. "Ah! my dear Augusta," said she,
"if Allison's noble spirit had been enshrined in such a temple, you
had not been parted now." Augusta felt the comparison _odious_. It
brought before her the person of Allison in too melancholy a contrast
with the engaging stranger. "I thought it was Mary Manning," answered
she in a grave tone, "who once reproved me for attaching too much
importance to manly beauty--I never thought you foolish or unkind till
this moment."

"Forgive me," cried Mary, with irresistible frankness; "foolish I may be,
indeed I know I am; but intentionally unkind to you--never--never."
It did not require the recollection of all Mary's tried friendship and
sincerity, for Augusta to accord her forgiveness. Mary was more
guarded afterwards in the expression of her admiration, but Augusta,
in her imagination, had drawn the horoscope of Mary's destiny, and
Clarence shone there, as the star that was to give it radiance. A
constant guest of her father's, she thought it impossible for him to
witness Mary's mild, yet energetic virtues, without feeling their
influence. She was interesting without being beautiful, and Clarence
evidently delighted in her conversation. To her, he was always more
reserved, yet there was a deference, an interest, a constant reference
to her wishes and opinions, that was as delicate as it was flattering.
He was the companion of their walks, and nature, never more lovely
than in this delightful season, acquired new charms from the
enthusiasm with which he sought out and expatiated on its beauties.
Mr. Manning was passionately fond of music, and every evening Mary and
Augusta were called upon for his favourite songs. Now the music was
finer than ever, for Clarence accompanied them with his flute, and
sometimes with his voice, which was uncommonly sweet and melodious.
One evening Augusta was seated at the piano; she was not an excelling
performer, but she played with taste and feeling, and she had
endeavoured to cultivate her talent, for she remembered that Allison
was a lover of music. She had played all Mr. Manning's songs, and
turned over the leaves, without thinking of any particular tune, when
Clarence arrested her at one, which he said was Allison's favourite
air. "Let us play and sing that," said he, repeating the words, "your
husband loves it, we were together when he first heard it; it was sung
by an Italian songstress, whom you have often struck me as resembling.
The manner in which your hair is now parted in front, with those
falling curls behind, increases the resemblance; it is very striking
at this moment."

Augusta felt a strange pang penetrate her heart, when he asked her for
her husband's favourite. There was something, too, in his allusion to
her personal appearance that embarrassed her. He had paid her no
compliment, yet she blushed as if guilty of receiving one. "I cannot
play it," answered she, looking up, "but I will try to learn it for
his sake." She could not prevent her voice from faltering; there was
an expression in his eyes, when they met hers, that bowed them down,
in shame and apprehension. It was so intense and thrilling--she had
never met such a glance before, and she feared to interpret it.

"Shall I sing it for you?" asked he; and leaning over the instrument,
he sang in a low, mellow voice, one of those impassioned strains,
which the fervid genius of Italy alone can produce. The words were
eloquent of love and passion, and Augusta, charmed, melted by their
influence, could not divest herself of a feeling of guilt as she
listened. A new and powerful light was breaking upon her; truth held
up its blazing torch, flashing its rays into the darkest corners of
her heart; and conscience, discovering passions, of whose very
existence she had been previously unconscious. She saw revealed in
prophetic vision, the misery of her future existence, the misery she
was entailing on herself, on others, and a cold shudder ran through
her frame. Mary, alarmed at her excessive paleness, brought her a
glass of water, and asked her if she were ill. Grateful for an excuse
to retire, she rose and took Mary's arm to leave the room; but as she
passed through the door, which Clarence opened and held, she could not
avoid encountering again a glance so tender and impassioned, she could
not veil to herself the language it conveyed. Augusta had thought
herself miserable before, but never had she shed such bitter tears as
bathed her pillow that night. Just as she had schooled herself to
submission; just as she was cherishing the most tender and grateful
feelings towards her husband, resolving to make her future life one
long task of expiation, a being crossed her path, who realized all her
early visions of romance, and who gently and insidiously had entwined
himself into the very chords of her existence; and now, when she felt
the fold, and struggled to free herself from the enthralment, she
found herself bound as with fetters of iron and clasps of steel. That
Clarence loved her, she could not doubt. Enlightened as to the state
of her own heart, she now recollected a thousand covert marks of
tenderness and regard. He had been admitted to the most unreserved
intercourse with her, as the friend of her husband. Like herself, he
had been cherishing sentiments of whose strength he was unaware, and
which, when revealed in their full force, would make him tremble. She
now constantly avoided his society. Her manners were cold and
constrained, and her conscious eyes sought the ground. But Clarence,
though he saw the change, and could not be ignorant of the cause, was
not rebuked or chilled by her coldness. He seemed to call forth, with
more animation, the rich resources of his mind, his enthusiasm was
more glowing, his voice had more music, and his smile more brightness.
It was evident she alone was unhappy; whatever were his feelings, they
inspired no remorse. She began to believe her own vanity had misled
her, and that he only looked upon her as the wife of his friend. She
had mistaken the luminousness of his eyes for the fire of passion. Her
credulity abased her in her own estimation.

One afternoon Clarence found her alone. She had declined accompanying
Mary and her father in a walk, because she thought Clarence was to be
with them. "I did not expect to find you alone," said he, taking a
seat by her side--"but since I have gained such a privilege, may I
ask, without increasing your displeasure, in what I have offended? You
shun my society--your averted looks, your altered mien"--he paused,
for her embarrassment was contagious, and the sentence remained
unfinished. The appeal was a bold one, but as a _friend_ he had a
right to make it.

"You have not offended me," at length she answered, "but you know the
peculiar circumstances of my life, and cannot wonder if my spirits
sometimes droop, when reflecting on the misery of the past, and the
uncertainty of the future."

"If," said he, "the uncertainty of the future makes you unhappy as it
regards yourself, you may perhaps have cause of uneasiness, but as it
respects Allison, as far as I know his sentiments, he has the fullest
confidence, and the brightest hopes of felicity. I once looked upon
him as the most unfortunate, but I now view him as the most blessed of
men. When he told me the circumstances of his exile, how lone and
hopeless seemed his lot! Now, when I see all that woos him to return,
angels might covet his destiny."

"You forget yourself," cried Augusta, not daring to take in the full
meaning of his words--"it is not the office of a friend to
flatter--Allison never flattered--I always revered him for his truth."

"Yes!" exclaimed Clarence, "he has truth and integrity. They call him
upright, and honourable, and just; but is he not cold and senseless to
remain in banishment so long, leaving his beautiful wife in widowhood
and sorrow! and was he not worse than mad to send me here the herald
of himself, to expose me to the influence of your loveliness, knowing
that to see you, to be near you, must be to love, nay, even to
worship."

"You have driven me from you for ever!" cried Augusta, rising in
indignant astonishment, at the audacity of this avowal. "Allison shall
learn in what a friend he has confided."

"I am prepared for your anger," continued he, with increasing
impetuosity, "but I brave it; your husband will soon return, and I
shall leave you. Tell him of all my boldness, and all my sincerity;
tell him too all the emotions that are struggling in your heart for
me, for oh! you cannot deny it, there is a voice pleading for my
pardon, in your bosom now, and telling you, that, if it is a crime to
love, that one crime is mutual."

"Then I am indeed a wretch!" exclaimed Augusta, sinking down into a
chair, and clasping her hands despairingly over her face; "but I
deserve this humiliation." Clarence drew nearer to her--she
hesitated--he trembled. The triumphant fire that revelled in his eyes
was quenched; compassion, tenderness, and self-reproach softened their
beams. He was in the very act of kneeling before her, to deprecate her
forgiveness, when the door softly opened, and Mary Manning entered.
Her step was always gentle, and she had approached unheard. She looked
at them first with a smile, but Augusta's countenance was not one that
could reflect a smile; and on Mary's face, at that moment, it appeared
to her as a smile of derision. Clarence lingered a moment, as if
unwilling to depart, yet uncertain whether to remain or go--then
asking Mary for her father, he hastily retired, leaving Augusta in a
state of such agitation, that Mary, seriously alarmed, entreated her
to explain the cause of her distress.

"Explain!" cried Augusta. "You have witnessed my humiliation, and yet
ask me the cause. I do not claim your sympathy, the grief I now feel
admits of none; I was born to be unhappy, and whichever way I turn, I
am wretched."

"Only tell me one thing, dear Augusta, is all your grief owing to the
discovery of your love for Clarence, and to the sentiments with which
you have inspired him? There is no humiliation in loving Clarence--for
who could know him and not love him?"

Augusta looked in Mary's face, assured that she was uttering the
language of mockery. Mary, the pure moralist, the mild, but
uncompromising advocate for duty and virtue, thus to palliate the
indulgence of a forbidden passion! It could only be in derision; yet
her eye was so serene, and her smile so kind, it was impossible to
believe that contempt was lurking beneath. "Then you _do_ love him,
Mary, and I am doubly treacherous!"

Mary blushed--"with the affection of a sister, the tenderness of a
friend, do I regard him; I admire his talents, I venerate his
virtues."

"Virtues! oh! Mary, he is a traitor to his friend; what reliance is
there on those virtues, which, having no root in the heart, are swept
away by the first storm of passion?"

"Passion may enter the purest heart," answered Mary; "guilt consists
in yielding to its influence. I would pledge my life that Clarence
would never give himself up to the influence of a guilty passion."

"Talk not of him, let me forget his existence, if I can; I think of
one, who will return from his long exile, only to find his hopes
deceived, his confidence betrayed, his heart broken."

Here Augusta wept in such anguish, that Mary, finding it in vain to
console her, threw her arms around her, and wept in sympathy; yet
still she smiled through her tears, and again and again repeated to
her, that heaven had long years of happiness yet in store.

Augusta, in the solitude of her own chamber, recovered an appearance
of outward composure, but there was a deadly sickness in her soul,
that seemed to her like a foretaste of mortality. The slightest sound
made her tremble, and when Mary returned to her, softly, but
hurriedly, and told her her father wished to see her, she went to him,
with a blanched cheek and trembling step, like a criminal who is about
to hear her sentence of doom.

"I have something to communicate to you," said he, kindly taking her
hand, and leading her to a seat. "But I fear you will be too much
agitated."

"Is he come?" cried she, grasping his arm with sudden energy; "only
tell me, is he come?"

"Your husband _is_ arrived; I have just received tidings that he is in
the city, and will shortly be here."

Augusta gasped for breath, she pressed her hands on her bosom, there
was such a cold, intolerable weight there; she felt the letter of her
husband, which she had constantly worn as a talisman against the evil
she most dreaded. That tender, confiding letter, which, when she had
first received it, she had hailed as the precursor of the purest
felicity.

"It is all over now," sighed she, unconscious of the presence of Mr.
Manning. "Poor unhappy Allison, I will tell him all, and then I will
lie down and die."

"I hear a carriage approaching," said Mr. Manning; "the gate
opens--support yourself, my dear child, and give him the welcome he
merits." Augusta could not move, her limbs were powerless, but
perception and sensibility remained; she saw Mr. Manning leave the
room, heard steps and voices in the passage, and then the door reopen.
The shades of twilight were beginning to fall, and a mist was over her
eyes, but she distinctly recognised the figure that entered--what was
her astonishment, to behold, instead of the lank form, bald brows, and
green shade, marked in such indelible characters on her memory--the
graceful lineaments, clustering looks, and lustrous eyes of Clarence?
She looked beyond in wild alarm for her husband. "Leave me," she
exclaimed, "leave me, or you drive me to desperation!"

But Clarence eagerly approached her, as if defying all consequences,
and reckless of her resentment. He clasped her in his arms, he pressed
her to his heart, and imprinted on her brow, cheek, and lips,
unnumbered kisses. "My bride, my wife, my own beloved Augusta, do you
not know me? and can you forgive me for this trial of your love? I did
not mean to cause you so much suffering, but I could not resist the
temptation of proving whether your love was mine, through duty or
inclination. I have been the rival of myself, and I have exulted in
finding, that love in all its strength has still been mastered by
duty. Augusta, I glory in my wife."

Augusta looked up, in bewildered rapture, hardly knowing in what world
she existed. She had never dreamed of such a transformation. Even now
it seemed incredible--it could not be true--her present felicity was
too great to be real--"Can Allison and Clarence be one?"

"Yes, my Augusta, these arms have a right to enfold thee, or they
would not clasp you thus. No miracle has been wrought, but the
skeleton is reclothed with flesh, the locks of youth have been
renewed, the tide of health has flowed back again into the wasted
veins, lending a glow to the wan cheek, and a brightness to the dim
eye; and more than all, the worn and feeble spirit, always
sympathizing with its frail companion, as replumed its drooping wings,
and been soaring in regions of hope, and joy, and love."

Without speaking metaphorically, Augusta's heart actually ached with
its excess of happiness.

"I have not room here," she cried, "for such fulness of joy," again
laying her hand where that precious letter was deposited, but with
such different emotions. "My friends must participate in my happiness,
it is selfish to withhold it from them so long."

"They know it already," said Allison, smiling; "they have known my
secret from the first, and assisted me in concealing my identity."

Augusta now understood Mary's apparent inconsistency, and vindicated
her from all unkindness and wilful palliation of guilt. "I am not
quite an impostor," continued her husband, "for my name is Sydney
Clarence Allison--and let me still wear the appellation you have
learned to love. It was my uncle's, and he left a condition in his
will that I should assume it as my own. I find myself, too, the heir
of sufficient wealth to be almost a burden; for my uncle, romantic to
the last, only caused the report of the failure of his wealth, that I
might prove the sincerity of your father's friendship. My wife, my own
Augusta, is not his blessing resting on us now?"

Mr. Manning and his daughter sympathized largely in the happiness of
their friends. Their only sorrow was the approaching separation. Mary,
whose disposition was naturally serious, was exalted on this occasion
to an unwonted vein of humour. When she saw Augusta's eyes turning
with fond admiration towards her husband, she whispered in her
ear--"Is it possible, that bald, yellow, horrid-looking creature is
your husband? I would not marry him, unless I were dragged to the
altar."

And Allison, passing his hand over his luxuriant hair, reminded her,
with a smile, of the _subscription_ and the _wig_.



THE

VICTIM OF EXCITEMENT.


Intemperance is a vice which is generally considered of the masculine
sex. In the pictured scenes of the ravages it has wrought woman is
seldom introduced but as the patient victim of brutality, or as the
admonishing angel of transgressing man. There are instances on record,
however, of a sad reverse. Not alone in the lower classes of life,
amid the dregs of society, but in higher walks, where intelligence,
wit, beauty, and wealth, virgin worth, wedded love, and Christian
grace, are all cast as unvalued offerings at the beastly shrine of
intemperance. One of these fatal examples (of which, to the honour of
our sex be it said, there are so few) once came under the observation
of the writer. Her character and history form the subject of the
following sketch.

Mr. Manly first met Anne Weston in a ball-room. It was on the evening
of the Fourth of July, and the fairest ladies of the country were
assembled to celebrate the national jubilee. He was a lawyer, and had
been the orator of the day; an eloquent one, and therefore entitled to
distinguished attention. He came from an adjoining town, of which he
had recently become an inhabitant, and now found himself in a scene
which scarcely presented one familiar countenance. He was a very proud
man, and had the air of one who felt himself too superior to the
multitude to mingle in the general amusement. He stood with folded
arms, as remote as possible from the dancers despising those who were
engaged in that exercise on such a sultry night. In vain the
obsequious master of ceremonies begged to introduce him to this and
that fair lady. He declined the honour with a cold bow, declaring his
utter disinclination to dancing. He was told that his disinclination
would cease as soon as Miss Weston arrived. She was the belle of the
place, the daughter of the richest gentleman in town--had received the
most finished education, and refused the most splendid offers. In
short, she was irresistible, and it was predicted that he would find
her so. It cannot be denied, that the fame of this all-conquering lady
had previously reached his ears, but unfortunately he had a
detestation of belles, and predetermined to close his eyes, and shut
his ears, and steel his heart against her vaunted attractions. He had
never yet sacrificed his independence to woman. He had placed his
standard of female excellence very high. He had seen no one that
reached its altitude. "No," said he to himself, "let me live on in
singleness of heart and loneliness of purpose, all the days of my
life, rather than unite myself with one of those vain, flimsy,
garrulous, and superficial beings who win the smiles, and fix the
attention of the many. I despise a weak woman, I hate a masculine one,
and a pedantic one I abhor. I turn with fear from the glittering
belle, whose home is the crowded hall, whose incense the homage of
fools, whose altar the shrine of fashion. Can _she_ sit down contented
in the privacy of domestic love who has lived on the adulation of the
world, or be satisfied with the affection of one true heart, who has
claimed as her due, the vows of all? No, better the fool, the pedant,
than the belle. Who can find that woman, whose price is above rubies?
Ah! 'tis certain I never shall marry." He was aroused from these
reflections, by a movement in the hall, and he felt a conviction that
the vaunted lady was arrived. In spite of his boasted indifference, he
could not repress a slight sensation of curiosity to see one who was
represented as so transcendent. But he moved not, he did not even turn
his eyes towards the spot where so many were clustering. "The late
hour of her arrival," said he, "shows equal vanity and affectation.
She evidently wishes to be conspicuous--studies everything for
effect." The lady moved towards that part of the hall where he was
stationed. She held the arm of one gentleman, and was followed by some
half-dozen others. He was compelled to gaze upon her, for they passed
so near, the folds of her white muslin dress fluttered against him. He
was pleased to see that she was much less beautiful than he had
expected. He scarcely thought her handsome. Her complexion was pale,
even sallow, and her face wanted that soft, flowing outline, which is
necessary to the perfection of beauty. He could not but acknowledge,
however, that her figure was very fine, her motions graceful, and her
air spirited and intellectual. "I am glad she is not beautiful," said
he, "for I might have been tempted to have admired her, against my
sober judgment. Oppressed by the heat of the apartment, he left the
hall and sauntered for a long time in the piazza, till a certain
feeling of curiosity, to know whether a lady whose bearing expressed
so much pride of soul, could be foolish enough to dance, led him to
return. The first object he beheld, was the figure of Miss Weston,
moving in most harmonious time, to an exhilarating air, her
countenance lighted up with an animation, a fire, that had as magical
an effect upon her features, as the morning sunbeams on the face of
nature. The deepest colour was glowing on her cheek,--her very soul
was shining forth from her darkening eyes. She danced with infinite
spirit, but equal grace. He had never witnessed anything to compare
with it, not even on the stage. "She dances entirely too well,"
thought he; "she cannot have much intellect, yet she carries on a
constant conversation with her partner through all the mazes of the
dance. It must be admirable nonsense, from the broad smiles it
elicits. I am half resolved to be introduced and invite her to
dance--from mere _curiosity_, and to prove the correctness of my
opinion." He sought the introduction, became her partner in the dance,
and certainly forgot, while he listened to her "admirable nonsense,"
that she was that object of his detestation--a _belle_. Her
conversation was sprightly, unstudied, and original. She seemed more
eager to listen than to talk, more willing to admire than to be
admired. She did not tell him that she admired his oration, but she
spoke warmly on the subject of eloquence, and quoted in the happiest
manner, a passage of his own speech, _one_ which he himself judged
superb. It proved her to have listened with deep attention. He had
never received so delicate or gratifying a compliment. His vanity was
touched, and his pride slumbered. He called forth those powers of
pleasing, with which he was eminently endowed, and he began to feel a
dawning ambition to make the conquest of a heart which so many had
found indomitable. He admired the simplicity of her dress, its fitness
and elegance. A lady's dress is always indicative of her character.
Then her voice was singularly persuasive in its tones, it breathed of
feminine gentleness and sensibility, with just enough spirit and
independence for a woman. Mr. Manly came to these wise conclusions
before the end of the first dance--at the termination of the second,
he admired the _depth_, as well as the brilliancy of her mind, and
when he bade her adieu for the night, he was equally convinced of the
purity of her feelings and the goodness of her heart. Such is the
strength of man's wisdom, the stability of his opinions, the
steadiness of his purpose, when placed in competition with the
fascinations of a woman who has made the determination to please. In
after years Mr. Manly told a friend of a dream which that night
haunted his pillow. He was not superstitious, or disposed to attach
the slightest importance to dreams. But this was a vivid picture, and
succeeding events caused him to recall it, as one having the power of
prophecy. He lived over again the events of the evening. The winning
accents of Miss Weston mingled in his ear with the gay notes of the
violin. Still, ever and anon, discordant sounds marred the sweet
harmony. The malicious whisper, the stifled, deriding laugh, and the
open scoff came from every corner. Sometimes he saw, through the
crowd, the slow finger of scorn pointing at him. As he turned, with a
fierce glance of defiance, Miss Weston seemed to meet him still,
holding a goblet in her hand, which she pressed him to drain. Her
cheeks and lips burned with a scarlet radiance, and her eyes sparkled
with unnatural brightness. "Taste it not," whispered a soft voice in
his ear, "it is poison." "It is the cup of immortality," exclaimed the
syren, and she drained the goblet to its last drop. In a few moments
her countenance changed--her face became bloated, her features
disfigured, and her eyes heavy and sunken. He turned with disgust from
the former enchantress, but she pursued him, she wound her arms around
him. In the vain struggle of liberating himself from her embrace, he
awoke. It was long before he could overcome the sensation of loathing
and horror excited by the unhallowed vision, and even when, overcome
by heaviness and exhaustion, he again slept, the same bloated phantom
presented her intoxicating draught. The morning found him feverish and
unrefreshed. He could not shake off the impression of his dream, and
the image of Miss Weston seemed deprived of the witchery that had
enthralled his imagination the preceding evening. He was beginning to
despise himself, for having yielded up so soon his prejudices and
pride, when an invitation to dine at Mr. Weston's, interrupted the
severe tenor of his thoughts. Politeness obliged him to accept, and
in the society of Miss Weston, graceful, animated, and intellectual,
presiding with unaffected dignity and ease at her father's board, he
forgot the hideous metamorphose of his dream.

From that day his fate was sealed. It was the first time his heart had
ever been seriously interested, and he loved with all the strength and
ardour of his proud and ardent character. The triumph, too, of winning
one whom so many had sought in vain, threw a kind of glory over his
conquest, and exalted his estimation of his own attributes. The
wedding-day was appointed. The evening previous to his nuptials, Anne
Weston sat in her own chamber, with one of the chosen friends of her
girlhood, Emily Spencer. Anne had no sisters, and from childhood,
Emily had stood to her almost in that dear relation. She was to
accompany her to her new home, for Anne refused to be separated from
her, and had playfully told Mr. Manly, "that if he married _her_, he
must take Emily too, for she could not and would not be parted from
her."

The thought of the future occupied the minds of the two friends. Anne
sat in silence. The lamp that partially illumined the apartment, gave
additional paleness to her pale and spiritual countenance. Her
thoughts appeared to have rolled within herself, and, from the gloom
of her eye, did not appear to be such as usually rest in the bosom of
one about to be wedded to the object of her affection and her trust.

"I fear," said she at length, as if forgetting the presence of her
friend, "that I have been too hasty. The very qualities that won my
admiration, and determined me to fix his regard, now cause me to
tremble. I have been too much accustomed to self-indulgence, to bear
restraint, and should it ever be imposed by a master's hand, my
rebellious spirit would break the bonds of duty, and assert its
independence. I fear I am not formed to be a happy wife, or to
_constitute_ the happiness of a husband. I live too much upon
excitement, and when the deep monotony of domestic life steals on,
what will become of me?"

"How can there be monotony," answered Emily, warmly, "with such a
companion as Manly? Oh, trust him, Anne, love him as he merits to be
loved, as you yourself are loved, and your lot may be envied among
women."

"He has awakened all the capabilities my heart has of loving," cried
Anne, "but I wish I could shake off this dull weight from my spirits."
She rose as she spoke, approached a side table, and, turning out a
glass of rich cordial, drank it, as if conscious, from experience, of
its renovating influence. Emily's anxious gaze followed her movements.
A deep sigh escaped her lips. When her friend resumed her seat, she
drew nearer to her, she took her hand in hers, and, while her colour
heightened, and her breath shortened, she said--

"Anne Weston, I should not deserve the name of friend, if in this
hour, the last, perhaps, of unrestrained confidence between us, I did
not dare--"

"Dare what?" interrupted Anne, shame and resentment kindling in her
eye.

"To tell you, that the habit you indulge in, of resorting to
artificial means to exhilarate your spirits, though now attended with
no obvious danger, may exercise most fatal influence on your future
peace. I have long struggled for resolution to utter this startling
truth, and I gather boldness as I speak. By all our friendship and
sincerity, by the past splendour of your reputation, by the bright
hopes of the future, by the trusting vows of a lover, and the gray
hairs of a father, I pray you to relinquish a habit, whose growing
strength is now only known to me." Emily paused, strong emotions
impeded her utterance. "What is it you fear?" asked Anne, in a low,
stern voice; "speak, for you see that I am calm." "You know what I
dread," continued Emily. "I see a speck on the bright character of my
friend. It may spread and dim all its lustre. We all know the fearful
strength of habit, we cannot shake off the serpent when once its coils
are around us. Oh, Anne, gifted by nature with such brilliancy of
intellect and gayety of heart, why have you ever had recourse to the
exciting draught, as if art could exalt the original buoyancy of your
spirits, or care had laid his blighting hand upon you?"

"Forbear," cried Anne, impetuously, "and hear me, before you blast me
with your contempt. It was not till bitter disappointment pressed,
crushed me, that I knew art could renovate the languor of nature. Yes,
_I_, _the_ courted and admired of all, was doomed to love one whose
affections I could not win. You knew him well, but you never knew how
my ineffectual efforts to attach him maddened my pride, or how the
triumph of my beautiful rival goaded my feelings. The world guessed
not my secret, for still I laughed and glittered with mocking
splendour, but with such a cold void within! I could not bear it. My
unnatural spirits failed me. I _must_ still shine on, or the secret
of my humiliation be discovered. I began in despair, but I have
accomplished my purpose. And now," added she, "I have done. The
necessity of shining and deceiving is over. I thank you for the warmth
of friendship that suggested your admonition. But, indeed, Emily, your
apprehensions are exaggerated. I have a restraining power within me
that must always save me from degradation. Habit, alone, makes slaves
of the weak; it becomes the slave of the strong in mind. I know what's
due to Manly. He never shall blush for his choice in a wife."

She began with vehemence and ended with deliberation. There was
something in the cold composure of her manner that forbid a renewal of
the subject. Emily felt that she had fulfilled her duty as a friend,
and delicacy commanded her to forbear a renewal of her admonitions.
Force of feeling had betrayed her into a warmth of expression she now
regretted. She loved Anne, but she looked with many misgivings to
being the sharer of her wedded home. She had deeply studied the
character of Manly, and trembled to think of the reaction that might
one day take place in his mind, should he ever discover the dark spot
on the disk of his sun--of his destiny. Though she had told Anne that
the secret of her growing love for the exciting draught was _known_
only to herself, it was whispered among the servants, suspected by a
few discreet individuals, and had been several times hinted in a
private circle of friends. It had never yet reached the ears of Manly,
for there was something in his demeanour that repelled the most
distant approach to familiarity. He married with the most romantic and
enthusiastic ideas of domestic felicity. Were those bright visions of
bliss realized? Time, the great disenchanter, alone could answer.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was about five years after the scenes we have recorded, that Mr.
and Mrs. Manly took up their residence in the town of G----. Usually,
when strangers are about to become inhabitants of a new place, there
is some annunciation of their arrival; but they came, without any
previous intimation being given for the speculation of the curious, or
bringing any letters of introduction for the satisfaction of the
proud. They hired an elegant house, furnished it rich and fashionably,
and evidently prepared for the socialities of life, as enjoyed in the
highest circles. The appearance of wealth always commands the respect
of the many, and this respect was heightened by their personal claims
to admiration. Five years, however, had wrought a change in both, not
from the fading touch of time, for they were not of an age when the
green leaf begins to grow sere, but other causes were operating with a
power as silent and unpausing. The fine, intelligent face of Mrs.
Manly had lost much of its delicacy of outline, and her cheek, that
formerly was pale or roseate as sensibility or enthusiasm ruled the
hour, now wore a stationary glow, deeper than the blush of feminine
modesty, less bright than the carnation of health. The unrivalled
beauty of her figure had given place to grosser lineaments, over
which, however, grace and dignity still lingered, as if unwilling to
leave a shrine so worshipped. Mr. Manly's majestic person was invested
with an air of deeper haughtiness, and his dark brow was contracted
into an expression of prevailing gloom and austerity. Two lovely
children, one almost an infant, who were carried abroad every fair day
by their nurse, shared the attention their parents excited; and many
appealed to _her_ for information respecting the strangers. She was
unable to satisfy their curiosity, as she had been a member of their
household but a short time, her services having been hired while
journeying to the place. The other servants were hired after their
arrival. Thus, one of the most fruitful sources from which the
inquisitive derive their aliment, was denied to the inhabitants of
G----. It was not long before the house of Mr. and Mrs. Manly was
frequented by those whose society she most wished to cultivate. The
suavity of her manners, the vivacity of her conversation, her
politeness and disinterestedness, captivated the hearts of all. Mr.
Manly too received his guests with a cordiality that surprised, while
it gratified. Awed by the external dignity of his deportment, they
expected to be repulsed, rather than welcomed, but it was universally
acknowledged, that no man could be more delightful than Mr. Manly,
when he chose to unbend. As a lawyer, his fame soon rose. His
integrity and eloquence became the theme of every tongue. Amidst all
the admiration they excited, there were some dark surmises. The
malicious, the censorious, the evil-disposed are found in every
circle, and in every land. It was noticed that Mr. Manly watched his
wife with painful scrutiny, that she seemed uneasy whenever his glance
met hers, that her manner was at times hurried and disturbed, as if
some secret cause of sorrow preyed upon her mind. It was _settled_ in
the opinion of many, that Mr. Manly was a domestic tyrant, and that
his wife was the meek victim of this despotism. Some suggested that he
had been convicted of crime, and had fled from the pursuit of justice,
while his devoted wife refused to separate her destiny from his. They
gave a large and elegant party. The entertainment was superior to
anything witnessed before in the precincts of G----. The graceful
hostess, dressed in unwonted splendour, moved through her
drawing-rooms, with the step of one accustomed to the homage of
crowds, yet her smiles sought out the most undistinguished of her
guests, and the most diffident gathered confidence from her
condescending regards. Still the eye of Mr. Manly followed her with
that anxious, mysterious glance, and her hurried movements often
betrayed inexplicable perturbation. In the course of the evening, a
gentleman refused wine, on the plea of belonging to the Temperance
Society. Many voices were lifted in condemnation against him, for
excluding one of the gladdeners of existence, what, the Scriptures
themselves recommended, and the Saviour of men had consecrated by a
miracle. The subject grew interesting, the circle narrowed round the
advocate of Temperance, and many were pressing eagerly forward to
listen to the debate. The opinion of Mrs. Manly was demanded. She drew
back at first, as if unwilling to take the lead of her guests. At
length she seemed warmed by the subject, and painted the evils of
intemperance in the strongest and most appalling colours. She painted
woman as its victim, till every heart recoiled at the image she drew.
So forcible was her language, so impressive her gestures, so
unaffected her emotions, every eye was riveted, and every ear bent on
the eloquent mourner of her sex's degradation. She paused, oppressed
by the notice she attracted, and moved from the circle, that widened
for her as she passed, and gazed after her, with as much respect as if
she were an Empress. During this spontaneous burst of oratory, Mr.
Manly remained aloof, but those who had marked him in their minds as
the harsh domestic tyrant, were now confirmed in their belief. Instead
of admiring the wonderful talents of his wife, or sympathizing in the
applause she excited, a gloom thick as night lowered upon his brow,
his face actually grew of a livid paleness, till at last, as if unable
to control his temper, he left the drawing-room.

"Poor Mrs. Manly," said one, "how much is her destiny to be lamented!
To be united to a man who is incapable of appreciating her genius,
and even seems guilty of the meanness of annoying her."

Thus the world judges; and had the tortured heart of Manly known the
sentence that was passing upon him, he would have rejoiced that the
shaft was directed to _his_ bosom, rather than _hers_, which he would
fain shield from the proud man's contumely, though it might never more
be the resting-place of love and confidence. Is it necessary to go
back and relate the history of those years which had elapsed since
Anne Weston was presented to the reader as a triumphant belle, and
plighted bride! Is it not already seen that the dark speck had
enlarged, throwing into gradual, but deepening shade, the soul's
original brightness, obscuring the sunshine of domestic joy,
converting the home of love into a prison-house of shame, and
blighting, chilling, palsying the loftiest energies and noblest
purposes? The warning accents of Emily Spencer were breathed in vain.
That fatal habit had already become a passion--a passion which, like
the rising tide, grows deeper and higher, rolling onward and onward,
till the landmarks of reason, and honour, and principle, are swept
over by its waves--a tide that ebbs not but with ebbing life. She had
looked "upon the wine when it was red, when it gave its colour to the
cup," till she found, by fatal experience, that it biteth like a
serpent, and stingeth like an adder. It were vain to attempt a
description of the feelings of Manly when he first discovered the idol
of his imagination under an influence that, in his opinion, brutalized
a man. But a woman!--and that woman--his wife! In the agony, the
madness of the moment, he could have lifted the hand of suicide, but
Emily Spencer hovered near and held him back from the brink to which
he was rushing. She pleaded the cause of her unhappy friend, she
prayed him not to cast her off. She dwelt on the bright and sparkling
mind, the warm, impulsive heart that might yet be saved from utter
degradation by his exerted influence. She pledged herself to labour
for him, and with him, and faithfully did she redeem her pledge. After
the first terrible shock, Manly's passionate emotion settled down into
a misanthropic gloom. Sometimes when he witnessed the remorse which
followed such self-abandonment, the grace and beauty with which she
would emerge from the disfiguring cloud, and the strong efforts she
would make to reinstate herself in his estimation, a ray of brightness
would shine in on his mind, and he would try to think of the past as a
frightful dream. Then his prophetic dream would return to him, and he
shuddered at its confirmation--once it seemed as if the demon had
withdrawn its unhallowed presence, unable to exist in the holy
atmosphere that surrounds a mother's bosom.

For a long time the burning essence was not permitted to mingle with
the fountain of maternal tenderness. Even Manly's blasted spirit
revived, and Emily hoped all, and believed all. But Anne had once
passed the Rubicon, and though she often paused and looked back with
yearnings that could not be uttered, upon the fair bounds she had
left, the very poignancy of her shame goaded her on, though every step
she took, evidenced the shame that was separating her from the
affections of a husband whom she loved and respected, and who had once
idolized her. It has been said that when woman once becomes a
transgressor, her rapid progress in sin mocks the speed of man. As the
glacier, that has long shone in dazzling purity, when loosened from
its mountain stay, rushes down with a velocity accelerated by its
impenetrability and coldness, when any shameful passion has melted the
virgin snow of a woman's character, a moral avalanche ensues,
destroying "whatsoever is venerable and lovely, and of good report."

Manly occasionally sought to conceal from the world the fatal
propensities of his wife. She had occupied too conspicuous a station
in society--she had been too highly exalted--to humble herself with
impunity. Her father, whose lavish indulgence probably paved the way
to her ruin, was unable to bear himself up under the weight of
mortification and grief thus unexpectedly brought upon him. His
constitution had long been feeble; and now the _bowl was, indeed,
broken at the fountain_. The filial hand which he once hoped would
have scattered roses on his dying pillow, struck the deathblow.
Physicians talked of a chronic disease; of the gradual decay of
nature; but Anne's conscience told her she had winged the dart. The
agony of her remorse seemed a foretaste of the quenchless fire, and the
undying worm. She made the most solemn promises of reformation--vowed
never again to taste the poisonous liquor. She threw herself on the
forgiveness of her husband, and prayed him to remove her where her
name was never breathed; that she might begin life anew, and establish
for their children an unblemished reputation. On the faith of these
ardent resolutions, Manly broke his connexion with every former
friend--sold all his possessions, and sought a new home, in a place
far removed from the scene of their present unhappiness. Circumstances
in her own family prevented Emily Spencer from accompanying them, but
she was to follow them the earliest opportunity, hoping miracles from
the change.

Mrs Manly, from the death of her father, came into the possession of a
large and independent fortune. She was not sordid enough to deem money
an equivalent for a wounded reputation; but it was soothing to her
pride, to be able to fill her husband's coffers so richly, and to fit
up their new establishment in a style so magnificent. Manly allowed
her to exercise her own taste in everything. He knew the effect of
external pomp, and thought it was well to dazzle the judgment of the
world. He was determined to seek society; to open every source of
gratification and rational excitement to his wife, to save her from
monotony and solitude. His whole aim seemed to be, "that she might not
be led into temptation." If with all these cares for her safety, he
could have blended the tenderness that once softened his proud
manners, could he have banished from his once beaming eye the look of
vigilance and distrust; could she have felt herself once more
enthroned in his heart, gratitude might, perhaps, have completed the
regeneration begun by remorse. But Anne felt that she was an object of
constant suspicion and fear; she felt that he had not faith in her
good resolutions. She was no longer the sharer of his counsels--the
inspirer of his hopes--or the companion in whom his soul delighted.
His ruling passion supported him in society; but in those hours when
they were necessarily thrown upon each other's resources, he was
accustomed to sit in gloomy abstraction, brooding over his own
melancholy thoughts. Anne was only too conscious of the subject of
these reveries, and it kept alive a painful sense of her humiliation.
She had, hitherto, kept her promise sacred, through struggles known
only to herself, and she began to feel impatient and indignant that
the reward for which she looked was still withheld. Had she been more
deeply skilled in the mysteries of the human heart, she might have
addressed the Genius of the household shrine, in the language of the
avenging Moor, who first apostrophizes the torch that flares on his
deed of darkness:

     "If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
     I can again thy former light restore,
     Should I repent me--but once put out thine,
     I know not where is the Promethean heat
     That can thy light relume."

Mr. Manly was called away by professional business, which would
probably detain him many weeks from home. He regretted this necessity;
particularly before the arrival of Emily, whose coming was daily
expected. He urged his wife to invite some friends to remain as her
guests during his absence, to enliven her solitude. His request, so
earnestly repeated, might have been gratifying to her feelings, if she
had not known the distrust of her faith and strength of resolution it
implied. The last words he said to her, at parting, were, "Remember,
Anne, everything depends on yourself." She experienced a sensation of
unspeakable relief in his absence. The eagle glance was withdrawn from
her soul, and it expanded and exulted in its newly acquired freedom.
She had a constant succession of visiters, who, remarking the
elasticity of her spirits, failed not to cast additional obloquy on
Mr. Manly, for the tyranny he evidently exercised over his wife. Emily
did not arrive, and Mrs. Manly could not regret the delay. Her
presence reminded her of all she wished to forget; for her days of
triumph were returned, and the desire of shining rekindled from the
ashes of scorn, that had for a while smothered the flame.

It wanted about a week of Mr. Manly's return. She felt a strong
inclination to renew the splendours of her party. She had received so
many compliments on the subject:--"Mrs. Manly's delightful party!"
"Her conversational powers!" "Such a literary banquet!" &c.
Invitations were given and accepted. The morning of the day, which was
somewhat warm and oppressive, she was summoned by the kitchen council,
where the business of preparation was going on. Suddenly, however,
they came to a stand. There was no brandy to give flavour to the cake;
and the cook declared it was impossible to make it without, or to use
anything as a substitute.

Mrs. Manly's cheeks flushed high with shame. Her husband had retained
the key of the closet that contained the forbidden article. He was
afraid to trust it in her keeping. The mildest cordials were alone
left at her disposal, for the entertainment of her guests. What would
her husband think if she purchased, in his absence, what he had
himself secreted from her? What would the servants believe if she
refused to provide them with what was deemed indispensable? The fear
of her secret being detected, combined with resentment at her
husband's unyielding distrust, decided her conduct. She bought--she
_tasted_. The cook asserted there was something peculiar in its
flavour, and asked her to judge for herself. Would it not excite
suspicion, if she refused? She broke her solemn vow--she _tasted_--and
was _undone_. The burning thirst once kindled, in those who have been
victims to this fatal passion, it rages with the strength of madness.
In the secrecy of the closet where she hid the poison, she yielded to
the tempter, who whispered, that, as she had been _compelled_ to
taste, her promise had been innocently broken: there could be no harm
in a _little more_--the last that should ever pass her lips. In the
delirium of the moment, she yielded, till, incapable of self-control,
she continued the inebriating draught. Judgment--reason--at length,
perception, vanished. The approach of evening found her still
prostrate on her bed, a melancholy instance of the futility of the
best human resolutions, unsupported by the divine principle of
religion. The servants were at first struck with consternation. They
thought some sudden disease had overtaken her. But the marks of
intemperance, that, like the brand on the brow of Cain, single out its
votaries from the rest of mankind, those revolting traces, were but
too visible. They knew not what to do. Uncertain what guests were
invited, they could not send apologies, nor ask them to defer their
visit. The shades of evening were beginning to fall; the children were
crying, deprived of the usual cares of their nurse; and in the general
bustle, clung to their mother, whose ear was deaf to the appeal of
nature. The little one, weary of shedding so many unavailing tears, at
last crawled up on the bed, and fell asleep by her side, though there
was scarcely room for her to stretch her little limbs, where she had
found the means of climbing. As her slumbers deepened, her limbs
relaxed from the rigid posture they had assumed: her arms dropped
unconsciously over the bed, and she fell. In her fall she was thrown
against one of the posts, and a sharp corner cutting her head,
inflicted a deep wound. The screams of the little sufferer roused the
household, and pierced even the leaden slumbers of intemperance. It
was long, however, before Mrs. Manly came to a clear perception of
what was passing around her. The sight of the streaming blood,
however, acted like a shock of electricity. She sprang up, and
endeavoured to stanch the bleeding wound. The effusion was soon
stopped; the child sunk into a peaceful sleep, and the alarm subsided.

Children are liable to so many falls, and bruises, and wounds, it is
not strange that Mrs. Manly, in the confused state of her mind, should
soon forget the accident, and try to prepare herself for the reception
of her guests, who were already assembling in the drawing-room. Every
time the bell rung, she started, with a thrill of horror, conscious
how unfit she was to sustain the enviable reputation she had acquired.
Her head ached almost to bursting, her hands trembled, and a deadly
sickness oppressed her. The visions of an upbraiding husband, a
scoffing world, rose before her--and dim, but awful, in the dark
perspective, she seemed to behold the shadow of a sin-avenging Deity.
Another ring--the guests were thronging. Unhappy woman! What was to be
done? She would have pleaded sudden indisposition--the accident of her
child--but the fear that the servants would reveal the truth--the hope
of being able to rally her spirits--determined her to descend into the
drawing-room. As she cast a last hurried glance into the mirror, and
saw the wild, haggard countenance it reflected, she recoiled at her
own image. The jewels with which she had profusely adorned herself,
served but to mock the ravages the destroying scourge had made upon
her beauty. No cosmetic art could restore the purity of her
complexion; nor the costliest perfumes conceal the odour of the fiery
liquor. She called for a glass of cordial--kindled up a smile of
welcome, and descended to perform the honours of her household. She
made a thousand apologies for her delay; related, in glowing colours,
the accident that happened to her child, and flew from one subject to
another, as if she feared to trust herself with a pause. There was
something so unnatural in her countenance, so overstrained in her
manner, and so extravagant in her conversation, it was impossible for
the company not to be aware of her situation. Silent glances were
exchanged, low whispers passed round; but they had no inclination to
lose the entertainment they anticipated. They remembered the luxuries
of her table, and hoped, at least, if not a "feast of reason," a feast
of the good things of earth.

It was at this crisis Emily Spencer arrived. Her travelling dress, and
the fatigue of a journey, were sufficient excuses for her declining to
appear in the drawing-room; but the moment she saw Mrs. Manly, her
eye, too well experienced, perceived the backsliding of Anne, and
hope died within her bosom. Sick at heart, wounded, and indignant, she
sat down in the chamber where the children slept--those innocent
beings, doomed to an orphanage more sad than death even makes. Anne's
conscious spirit quailed before the deep reproach of Emily's silent
glances. She stammered out an explanation of the bloody bandage that
was bound around the infant's, head, assured her there was no cause of
alarm, and hurried down to the _friends_ who had passed the period of
her absence in covert sarcasm, and open animadversion on her conduct.

Emily sat down on the side of the bed, and leaned over the sleeping
infant. Though Mrs. Manly had assured her there was no cause of alarm,
she felt there was no reliance on her judgment; and the excessive
paleness and languor of its countenance, excited an anxiety its
peaceful slumbers could not entirely relieve. "It is all over,"
thought she, "a relapse in sin is always a thousand times more
dangerous than the first yielding. She is at this moment blazoning her
disgrace, and there will be no restraining influence left. Oh!
unfortunate Manly! was it for this you sacrificed home, friends, and
splendid prospects, and came a stranger to a strange land!" Absorbed
in the contemplation of Manly's unhappy destiny, she remained till the
company dispersed, and Mrs. Manly dragged her weary footsteps to her
chamber. Completely exhausted by her efforts to command her bewildered
faculties, she threw herself on the bed, and sunk into a lethargy; the
natural consequence of inebriation. The infant, disturbed by the
sudden motion, awakened, with a languid cry, expressive of feebleness
and pain. Emily raised it in her arms, endeavoured to soothe its
complaining; but it continued restless and wailing, till the blood
gushed afresh through the bandage. Greatly alarmed, she shook Mrs.
Manly's arm, and called upon her to awake. It was in vain; she could
not rouse her from her torpor. Instantly ringing the bell, she
summoned the nurse, who was revelling, with the other servants, over
the relics of the feast, and told her to send immediately for a
physician. Fortunately there was one in the neighbourhood, and he came
speedily. He shook his head mournfully when he examined the condition
of the child, and pronounced its case beyond the reach of human skill.
The injury produced by the fall had reached the brain. The very depth
of its slumbers was but a fatal symptom of approaching dissolution.
The tears of Emily fell fast and thick on the pallid face of the
innocent victim. She looked upon its mother--thought upon its father,
and pressed the child in agony to her bosom. The kind physician was
summoned to another chamber of sickness. He had done all he could to
mitigate, where he could not heal. Emily felt that this dispensation
was sent in mercy. She could not pray for the child's life, but she
prayed that it might die in the arms of its father; and it seemed that
her prayer was heard. It was a singular providence that brought him
that very night--a week sooner than he anticipated--urged on by a
restless presentiment of evil; a dread that all was not well.
Imagination, however, had not pictured the scene that awaited him. His
wife, clothed in her richest raiments, and glittering with jewels,
lying in the deep torpor of inebriation. Emily, seated by the side of
the bed, bathed in tears, holding in her lap the dying infant, her
dress stained with the blood with which the fair locks of the child
were matted. What a spectacle! He stood for a moment on the threshold
of the apartment, as if a bolt had transfixed him. Emily was not
roused from her grief by the sound of his footsteps, but she saw the
shadow that darkened the wall, and at once recognised his lineaments.
The startling cry she uttered brought him to her side, where, kneeling
down over his expiring infant, he gazed on its altering features and
quivering frame with a countenance so pale and stern, Emily's blood
ran cold. Silently and fixedly he knelt, while the deepening shades of
dissolution gathered over the beautiful waxen features and the dark
film grew over the eyes, so lately bright with that heavenly blue,
which is alone seen in the eyes of infancy. He inhaled its last, cold,
struggling breath; saw it stretched in the awful immobility of death;
then slowly rising, he turned towards the gaudy figure that lay as if
in mockery of the desolation it had created. Then Manly's imprisoned
spirit burst its bonds. He grasped his wife's arm, with a strength
that might have been felt, even were her limbs of steel, and calling
forth her name in a voice deep and thrilling as the trumpet's blast,
he commanded her to rise. With a faint foretaste of the feeling with
which the guilty soul shall meet the awakening summons of the
archangel, the wretched woman raised herself on her elbow, and gazed
around her with a wild and glassy stare. "Woman," cried he, still
retaining his desperate grasp, and pointing to the dead child,
extended on the lap of the weeping Emily, "woman! is this your work?
Is this the welcome you have prepared for my return? Oh! most
perjured wife and most abandoned mother! You have filled, to
overflowing, the vials of indignation; on your own head shall they be
poured, blasting and destroying. You have broken the last tie that
bound me--it withers like flax in the flame. Was it not enough to
bring down the gray hairs of your father to the grave? to steep your
own soul in perjury and shame, but that fair innocent must be a
sacrifice to your drunken revels? One other victim remains. Your
husband--who lives to curse the hour he ever yielded to a syren, who
lured him to the brink of hell!"

He paused suddenly--relaxed his iron hold, and fell back perfectly
insensible. It is an awful thing to see man fall down in his strength,
struck, too, by the lightning of passion. Anne sprang upon her feet.
The benumbing spell was broken. His last words had reached her naked
soul. She believed him dead, and that he had indeed died _her_ victim.
Every other thought and feeling was swallowed up in this belief; she
threw herself by his side, uttering the most piercing shrieks, and
rending her sable tresses, in the impotence of despair. Poor Emily! it
was for her a night of horror; but her fortitude and presence of mind
seemed to increase with the strength of the occasion. She turned her
cares from the dead to the living. She bathed with restorative waters
the pale brow of Manly; she chafed his cold hands, till their icy
chill began to melt in the warmth of returning animation. All the
while his wretched wife continued her useless and appalling ravings.

The morning dawned upon a scene of desolation. In one darkened room
lay the snowy corpse, dressed in the white garments of the grave; in
another, the almost unconscious Manly, in the first stages of a
burning fever; Anne, crouched in a dark corner, her face buried in her
hands; and Emily, pale and wan, but energetic and untiring, still the
ministering and healing spirit of this house of grief. Yes! darkness
and mourning was in that house; but the visitation of God had not come
upon it: Pestilence had not walked in the darkness, nor Destruction,
at the noon-day hour. Had Anne resisted the voice of the tempter, her
child might have still smiled in his cherub beauty; her husband might
have still presided at his board, and she, herself, at his side; if
not in the sunshine of love, in the light of increasing confidence.
Her frame was worn by the long, silent struggles of contending
passions, hopes, and fears. This last blow prostrated her in the
dust. Had _Anne resisted the voice of the tempter_, all might yet have
been well; but having once again steeped her lips in the pollution,
the very consciousness of her degradation plunged her deeper in sin.
She fled from the writhing of remorse to the oblivious draught. She
gave herself up, body and soul, irredeemably. She was hurrying on,
with fearful strides, to that brink from which so many immortal beings
have plunged into the fathomless gulf of perdition.

Manly rose from the couch of sickness an altered man: his proud spirit
was humbled--chastened--purified. Brought to the confines of the
unseen world, he was made to feel the vanity--the nothingness of
this--and while his soul seemed floating on the shoreless ocean of
eternity, the billows of human passion sunk before the immensity, the
awfulness of the scene. The holy resolutions, formed on what he
believed his death-bed, did not vanish with returning health. He saw
the bitter cup prepared for him to drain, and though he prayed that it
might be permitted to pass from him, he could say, in the resignation
of his heart, "Not my will, oh, Father! but _thine_ be done." He
looked upon his degraded wife rather with pity, than indignation. He
no longer reproached her, or used the language of denunciation. But
sometimes, in her lucid intervals, when she witnessed the subdued
expression of his once haughty countenance--his deep paleness--the
mildness of his deportment to all around him; the watchful guard he
held over his own spirit; and all this accompanied by an energy in
action--a devotedness in duty--such as she had never seen before--Anne
trembled, and felt that he had been near unto his Maker, while she was
holding closer and closer companionship with the powers of darkness.
The wall of separation she had been building up between them, was it
to become high as the heavens--deep as the regions of irremediable
woe?

Emily was no longer their guest. While Manly lingered between life and
death, she watched over him with all a sister's tenderness. Insensible
to fatigue--forgetful of sleep--and regardless of food, she was
sustained by the intensity of her anxiety; but as soon as his
renovated glance could answer her attentions with speechless
gratitude, and he became conscious of the cares that had done more
than the physician's skill in bringing him back to life, she gradually
yielded to others the place she had occupied as nurse--that place,
which she who should have claimed it as her right, was incapacitated
to fill. When Manly was restored to health, Emily felt that she could
no longer remain. There was no more fellowship with Anne; and the
sympathy that bound her to her husband she could not, with propriety,
indulge. Manly, himself, did not oppose her departure; he felt it was
best she should go. She took with her the little Anne, with the
grateful consent of her father. The opposition of the mother was not
allowed to triumph over what Manly knew was for the blessing of his
child. "Let her go," said he, mildly, but determinately; "she will not
feel the want of a mother's care."

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a dark and tempestuous night. The winds of autumn swept against
the windows, with the mournful rustle of the withered leaves,
fluttering in the blast: the sky was moonless and starless. Everything
abroad presented an aspect of gloom and desolation. Even those who
were gathered in the halls of pleasure, felt saddened by the
melancholy sighing of the gust; and a cold, whispered mortality
breathed into the hearts of the thoughtless and gay. It was on this
night that Manly sat by the dying couch of Anne. Every one is familiar
with the rapid progress of disease, when it attacks the votary of
intemperance. The burning blood soon withers up the veins; the
fountain, itself, becomes dry. Fearfully rapid, in this instance, had
been the steps of the destroyer. Here she lay, her frame tortured with
the agonies of approaching dissolution, and her spirit strong and
clear from the mists that had so long and so fatally obscured it. She
saw herself in that mirror which the hand of truth holds up to the eye
of the dying. Memory, which acquires, at that awful moment, such
supernatural power, brought before her all the past--the _wasted
past_--the _irretrievable past_. Her innocent childhood--her bright
and glowing youth; her blasted womanhood, seemed embodied to her eyes.
Her father rose from his grave, and standing by her bedside, waving
his mournful locks, warned her of her broken oath. Her little infant,
with his fair hair dabbled with blood, came gliding in its shroud, and
accused her of being its murderer. Her husband! As her frenzied spirit
called up this last image, she turned her dim eye to him, who was
hanging over her couch with a countenance of such grief and
compassion, the dry agony of her despair softened into a gush of
remorseful tenderness: "Oh! no--no!" cried she, in difficult accents,
"you do not curse me; you live to pardon the wretch who has undone
herself and you. Oh! could I live over the past; could I carry back to
our bridal the experience of this awful hour, what long years of
happiness might be ours!"

The recollection of what she had been--of what she _might have
been_--contrasted with what she then was, and with what she still
_might be_, was too terrible. Her agonies became wordless. Manly knelt
by her side: he sought to soothe her departing spirit by assurances of
his own pardon; and to lead her, by penitence and prayer, to the feet
of Him, "in whose sight the heavens are not clean." He poured into her
soul the experience of his, when he had travelled to the boundaries of
the dark valley: his despair--his penitence, and his hopes. He spoke
of the mercy that is boundless--the grace that is infinite--till the
phantoms, accusing conscience called up, seemed to change their
maledictions into prayers for her behalf. Her ravings gradually died
away, and she sunk into a troubled sleep.

As Manly gazed upon her features, on which death was already fixing
its dim, mysterious impress,--those features whose original beauty was
so fearfully marred by the ravages of intemperance,--the waters of
time rolled back, and revealed that green, enchanted spot in life's
waste, where he was first gilded by her presence. Was that the form
whose graceful movements then fascinated his senses; or those the
eyes, whose kindling glances had flashed like a glory over his soul?
The love, then so idolatrous and impassioned--so long crushed and
buried--rose up from the ruins to hallow the vigils of that solemn
night.

The morning dawned, but the slumbers of Anne were never to be broken,
till the resurrection morn. In the bloom of life--the midst of
affluence--with talents created to exalt society, and graces to adorn
it; a heart full of warm and generous impulses; a husband as much the
object of her pride as of her affections; children, lovely in their
innocence, she fell a sacrifice to one brutalizing passion. Seldom,
indeed, is it that woman, in the higher walks of life, presents such a
melancholy example; but were there but _one_, and that one Anne
Weston, let her name be revealed, as a beacon, whose warning light
should be seen by the daughters of the land.

       *       *       *       *       *

Another year glided by. The approach of another autumn, found Manly
girded for enterprise. He had marked out a new path, and was about to
become a dweller of a young and powerful city, born on one of the
mighty rivers of the West. His child could there grow up, unwithered
by the associations of her mother's disgrace. Amidst the hopes and
anticipations gathering around a new home, in a new land, his own
spirit might shake off the memories that oppressed its energies. He
was still young. The future might offer something of brightness, to
indemnify for the darkness of the past.

He once more sought the native place of his unhappy wife; for his
child was there, under the cherishing care of Emily Spencer. He passed
that ball-room, in whose illuminated walls his destiny was sealed. The
chamber selected for the traveller's resting-place was the one where
the prophetic dream had haunted his pillow. His brow was saddened by
the gloom of remembrance, when he entered the dwelling-place of his
child; but when he saw the bright, beautiful little creature, who
sprang into his arms, with spontaneous rapture, and witnessed the
emotion that Emily strove vainly to conquer, he felt he was not alone
in the world: and the future triumphed over the past. He unfolded all
his views, and described the new scenes in which he was soon to become
an actor, with reviving eloquence.

"Are you going to carry me there too, father?" said the little girl,
whose earnest blue eyes were riveted on his face.

"Are you not willing to go with me, my child? or must I leave you
behind?"

"I should like to go, if you will take Emily, but I cannot leave her
behind," cried the affectionate child, clinging to that beloved
friend, who had devoted herself to her with all a mother's tenderness.

"We will not leave her," exclaimed Manly, a warm glow spreading over
his melancholy features, "if she will go with us, and bless our
western home."

Emily turned pale, but she did not speak--she could not, if her
existence had depended upon it. She was no sickly sentimentalist, but
she had ardent affections, though always under the government of
upright principles. Her mind was well balanced, and though passion
might enter, it was never suffered to gain the ascendancy. From her
earliest acquaintance with Manly, she had admired his talents, and
respected his character; but the idea of _loving_ the husband of her
friend, never entered her pure imagination. It was not till she saw
him borne down by domestic sorrow, on the bed of sickness, thrown by
the neglect of his wife on her tenderness and care, that she felt the
danger and depth of her sympathy. The moment she became aware of her
involuntary departure from integrity of feeling she fled, and in the
tranquillity of her own home, devoted to his child the love she
shuddered to think began to flow in an illegitimate channel. That
Manly ever cherished any sentiments towards her, warmer than those of
esteem and gratitude, she did not believe, but now he came before her,
freed by heaven from the shackles that bound him, and duty no longer
opposed its barrier to her affections, her heart told her she could
follow him to the ends of the earth, and deem its coldest, darkest
region, a Paradise, if warmed and illumed by his love! The simplicity
of childhood had unveiled the hearts of each to the other. It was not
with the romance of his earlier passion that Manly now wooed Emily
Spencer to be his wife. It was love, approved by reason, and
sanctified by religion. It was the Christian, seeking a fellow
labourer in the work of duty; the father, yearning for a mother to
watch over an orphan child--the man awakened to the loftiest, holiest
purposes of his being.

In a beautiful mansion, looking down on one of the most magnificent
landscapes unfolded in the rich valley of the West, Manly and Emily
now reside. All the happiness capable of being enjoyed around the
household shrine is theirs--and the only shade that ever dims their
brows, is caused by the remembrance of the highly gifted--but
ill-fated Anne.



THE BLIND GIRL'S STORY.


All is still and solitary--the lamp burns on the table, with wasting
splendour. The writing-desk is open before me, with the last letter
unfolded--the letter I have cherished so fondly, though every word
seems an arrow to my conscience. I cannot solace myself by the act,
yet I must give utterance to the feelings with which my heart is
bursting. On these unwritten sheets I will breathe my soul--I will
trace its early history, and, perchance, _his_ eye may see them when
mine are veiled in a darkness deeper than that which once sealed them.
Yet what shall I write? How shall I commence? What great events rise
up in the records of memory, over which imagination may throw its rich
empurpling dyes? Alas! mine is but a record of the heart--but of a
_blind_ girl's heart--and that Being who bound my eyes with a fillet
of darkness, till the hand of science lifted the thick film, and
flooded them with the glories of creation, alone knows the mysteries
of the spirit he has made. _His_ eye is upon me at this moment, and as
this awful conviction comes over me, a kind of deathlike calmness
settles on the restless sea of passion. Oh! when I was blind, what was
my conception of the All-seeing eye! It seemed to me as if it filled
the world with its effulgence. I felt as if I, in my blindness, were
placed in the hollow of that rock where Moses hid, when the glory of
the Lord passed by. Would that no daring hand had drawn me from that
protecting shade! The beams that enlighten me have withered up the
fountains of joy, and though surrounded by light, as with a garment,
my soul is wrapped in the gloom of midnight. I was a blind
child--blind from my birth--with one brother, older than myself, and a
widowed father--for we were motherless--motherless, sisterless--yet
blind. What a world of dependence is expressed in these few words!
But, though thus helpless and dependent, I was scarcely conscious of
my peculiar claim to sympathy and care.

My father was wealthy, and my childhood was crowned with every
indulgence that wealth could purchase, or parental tenderness devise.
My brother was devotedly attached to me, giving up all his leisure to
my amusement--for I was looked upon as hallowed by the misfortune
which excluded me from communion with the visible world--and my wishes
became laws, and my happiness the paramount object of the household.
Heaven, perhaps, as a kind of indemnification for depriving me of one
of the wonted blessings of life, moulded me in a form which pleased
the fond eyes of my relatives, and, as it was my father's pride to
array me in the most graceful and becoming attire, my sightless eyes
being constantly covered by a silken screen, I was a happy child. If
it had not been for the epithet, _poor_, so often attached to my name,
I should never have dreamed that mine was a forlorn destiny. "My
_poor_ little blind girl," my father would exclaim, as he took me in
his lap, after his return from his business abroad--"My _poor_ little
sister," was the constant appellation given me by my affectionate
brother, yet I was happy. When he led me in the garden, through the
odorous flowers, I felt a kind of aching rapture at the sweetness they
exhaled--their soft, velvet texture, was ecstasy to the touch, and the
wind-harps that played amid the branches of the trees were like the
lyres of angels to my ears. Then the songs of birds, with what
thrilling sensations would I listen to these harmonists of nature,
these winged minstrels of God's own choir, as they lifted their
strains of living harmony in the dim corridors of the woods! They
painted to me the beauty of the world, and I believed them--but I
could conceive of nothing so beautiful as sound. I associated the idea
of everything that was lovely with music. It was my passion, and also
my peculiar talent. Every facility which art has furnished to supply
the deficiencies of nature was given me, and my progress was
considered astonishing by those who are not aware of the power and
acuteness of touch bestowed upon the sightless. I love to linger on
the days of my childhood, when sunshine flowed in upon my heart in one
unclouded stream. The serpent slumbered in the bottom of the
fountain--had no one gone down into its depths, its venom might have
slumbered yet.

My first cause of sorrow was parting with my brother--"my guide, my
companion, my familiar friend." He was sent to a distant college, and
I felt for a while as if I were alone in the world, for my father was
in public life, and it was only at evening he had leisure to indulge
in the tenderness of domestic feeling. He had never given up the hope
that I might recover my sight. When I was very small there was an
operation performed upon my eyes, but it was by an unskilful oculist,
and unsuccessful. After this I had an unspeakable dread of any future
attempt,--the slightest allusion to the subject threw me into such
nervous agitation, my father at last forbore to mention it. "Let me
live and die under this shade," I would say, "like the flower that
blooms in the cleft of the rock. The sunshine and the dew are not for
me." Time glided away. In one year more Henry would complete his
collegiate course. I was in the morning of womanhood, but my helpless
condition preserved to me all the privileges and indulgences of the
child. It was at this era--why did I here dash aside my pen, and press
my hands upon my temples to still the throbbings of a thousand pulses,
starting simultaneously into motion? Why cannot we always be children?
Why was I not suffered to remain blind?--A young physician came into
the neighbourhood, who had already acquired some fame as an oculist.
He visited in our family--he became almost identified with our
household. Philanthropy guided him in his choice of a profession. He
knew himself gifted with extraordinary talents, and that he had it in
his power to mitigate the woes of mankind. But though the votary of
duty, he was a worshipper at the shrine of intellect and taste. He
loved poetry, and, next to music, it was my passion. He read to me the
melodious strains of the sons of song, in a voice more eloquent, in
its low depth of sweetness, than the minstrels whose harmony he
breathed. When I touched the keys of the piano, his voice was raised,
in unison with mine. If I wandered in the garden, his hand was ever
ready to guide, and his arm to sustain me. He brought me the
wild-flower of the field, and the exotic of the green-house, and, as
he described their hues and outlines, I scarcely regretted the want of
vision. Here, in this book, I have pressed each faded gift. I remember
the very words he uttered when he gave me this cluster.--"See," said
he, "nay, _feel_ this upright stem, so lofty, till bending from the
weight of the flower it bears. It is a lily--I plucked it from the
margin of a stream, in which it seemed gazing on its white, waxen
leaves. Touch gently the briars of this wild rose. Thus heaven guards
the innocence and beauty that gladdens the eyes of the wayfaring man.
Cecilia, would you not like to look upon these flowers?" "Yes, but far
rather on the faces of those I love--my father's--my brother's. Man is
made in the image of his Maker, and his face must be divine." "Oh!"
added I, in the secrecy of my own soul, "how divine must be the
features of that friend, who has unfolded to me such unspeakable
treasures of genius and feeling, whose companionship seems a foretaste
of the felicities of heaven." It was then, for the first time, he
dared to suggest to me a hope that my blindness was not incurable. He
told me he had been devoting all his leisure to this one subject, and
that he was sure he had mastered every difficulty; that though mine
was a peculiar case, and had once baffled the efforts of the optician,
he dared to assure himself of complete success. "And if I fail," said
he, "if through my means no light should visit your darkened orbs,
then," continued he, with an expression of feeling that seemed wholly
irrepressible, "suffer me to be a light to your eyes and a lamp to
your feet. But if it should be my lot to bestow upon you the most
glorious of the gifts of God, to meet from you one glance of gratitude
and love, were a recompense I would purchase with life itself." Did I
dream? or were these words breathed to me?--me, the helpless, blind
girl! to receive the unmeasured devotion of one of the most gifted and
interesting of created beings. I had thought that he pitied me, that
he felt for me the kindness of a brother, that he found in me some
congenial tastes--but that he loved me so entirely, it was a
confession as unlooked for as overpowering. My heart ached, from the
oppression of its joy. Let not the cold-hearted and vain smile, when I
repeat the broken accents of gratitude, trust, and love, that fell
from my lips. My helplessness sanctified the offer, and I received his
pledge of faith as a holy thing, to be kept holy through time and
eternity.

       *       *       *       *       *

Never shall I forget that moment, when the first ray of light
penetrated the long midnight that had shrouded my vision. It was in a
darkened apartment. My father, one female friend, and Clinton, the
beloved physician--these were around me. Faint, dim, and uncertain, as
the first gray of the dawn, was that ray, but it was the herald of
coming light, and hailed as a day-spring from on high. A bandage was
immediately drawn over my brow, but during the weeks in which I was
condemned to remain in darkness, the memory of that dim radiance was
ever glimmering round me. There was a figure kneeling, with clasped
hands and upraised head, pale and venerable--I knew it was my
father's--for the same figure folded me to his heart the next moment,
and wept like an infant. There was one with soft flowing outline, and
loose robes, by my side,--and bending over me, with eyes gazing down
into the mysteries of my being, shadowy but glorious, was he, who
received the first glance of the being he had awakened to a new
creation. Slowly, gradually was I allowed to emerge from my eclipse,
but when I was at last led from my darkened chamber, when I looked
abroad on the face of nature, clothed as she was in the magnificent
garniture of summer, when I saw the heavens unrolled in their majesty,
the sun travelling in the greatness of his strength, the flowers
glowing in the beams that enamelled them, I closed my eyes, almost
fainting from the excessive glory. I will not attempt to describe my
sensations when I first distinctly saw the lineaments of my lover.
Creation contained nothing so lovely to my sight. To see the soul, the
thinking, feeling, immortal soul, flashing with enthusiasm, or
darkening with tenderness, looking forth from his eyes, and feel my
own mingling with his! No one but those who have once been blind, and
now see, can imagine the intensity of my emotions. Next to my Creator,
I felt my homage was due to him, and surely it is not impious to apply
to him the sublime language of Scripture--"He said, let there be
light, and there was light."

Our mansion was transformed. My father gathered all his friends around
him to participate in his joy. My brother was summoned home. There
seemed one continual jubilee. I turned coldly, however, from all these
festivities, occupied almost exclusively with one feeling. I could not
feign an interest in others I did not feel. I began even at this early
period to experience the first symptoms of that passion, which has
since consumed me. Clinton, though still, as ever, the kind, devoted,
and watchful guardian, hovering round my steps, as if to shield me
from every danger, Clinton, I saw, shared in the pleasures of
sociality, and returned the smiles that kindled wherever he moved. He
was a universal favourite in society, and knew how to adapt himself to
others, not from a vague desire of popularity, but from a benevolence,
a sunny glow of feeling, shedding light and warmth all around. Even
then there were moments when I regretted my blindness, and wished I
had never seen those smiles and glances, which I would fain rivet for
ever on myself. Henry, my brother, once whispered to me, as I was
turning, in a languid manner, the leaves of a music book, not caring
to play because Clinton was not bending over my chair, "My dear
Cecilia, do not let Clinton see too glaringly his power over you.
There is scarcely a man in the world who can be trusted with unlimited
power. We are ungrateful creatures, my sweet sister, and you do not
know us half as well as we know each other. You ought to love Clinton,
for he merits it, but be mistress of yourself. Do not love him too
well for _his_ peace and your _own_." Alas! poor Henry--how little
have I heeded your brotherly admonitions? But when did passion ever
listen to the counsels of reason--when will it? When the cygnet's down
proves a barrier to the tempest's breath. We were married. I became
the inmate of a home, fashioned after the model of my own taste.
Everything was arranged with a view to my happiness. The curtains and
decorations of the house were all of the softest green, for the repose
of my still feeble eyes. Oh! thou benefactor of my life--friend,
lover, husband, would that I could go back to the hour when we
plighted our wedded vows, and live over the past, convinced, though
too late, how deeply I have wronged thee--confiding implicitly in thy
love and truth, we might live together the life of angels! And we were
happy for a while. We withdrew as much as possible from the gay world.
He saw that I loved retirement, and he consulted my feelings as far as
was consistent with the duties of his profession. I might have been
convinced by this of the injustice of my suspicions. I might have
known that he loved me better than all the world beside. During the
day he was but seldom with me, as his practice was extensive, and
often called him to a distance from home, but the evening was mine,
and it seemed my peculiar province, for I shrunk from the full blaze
of sunlight. The brightness was too intense, but when the moon was
gliding over the firmament, in her sweet, approachable loveliness, and
the soft glitter of the stars was around, I could lift my undazzled
eyes, and marvel at the wonderful works of God. Clinton was a devout
astronomer--he taught me the name of every planet that burned--of
every star known to science. He was rich in the wisdom of ancient
days, and his lips distilled instruction as naturally and constantly
as the girl in the fairy tale dropped the gems of the Orient. I have
made mention of a female friend--she was the daughter of a deceased
friend of my father, and, as such, came under his especial
guardianship. Since my marriage she had remained with him, to cheer
his loneliness, but her health becoming very delicate, he sent her to
be my guest, that she might receive medical aid from my husband. She
was not a decided invalid, but her mother had died of a consumption,
and it was feared she had a hereditary tendency to that disease. Alice
was a pale, delicate-looking girl, with sometimes a hectic flush on
her cheek, a frail, drooping form, and extremely pensive cast of
countenance. The dread of this constitutional malady hung over her
like a death-cloud, and aggravated symptoms slight in themselves.
Though there was nothing very attractive in the appearance of this
poor girl, she was calculated to excite pity and sympathy, and surely
she had every claim to mine. I did pity her, and sought, by every
attention and kindness, to enliven her despondency, and rouse her to
hope and vivacity. But I soon found that my father had encroached
sadly on my domestic happiness by giving this charge to my husband.
Air, exercise, and gentle recreation, were the remedies prescribed by
the physician, and it was his duty to promote these by every means in
his power. She often accompanied him on horseback in his rides, a
pleasure from which I was completely debarred, for, in my blindness, I
was incapacitated, and the timidity which originated from my situation
remained after the cause was removed. It was some time before I was
willing to acknowledge to myself the pain which this arrangement gave
me. I felt as if my dearest privileges were invaded. I had been so
accustomed, from infancy, to be the sole object of every attention,
these daily offices bestowed upon another, though dictated by kindness
and humanity, were intolerable to me. Had I seen the congregated world
around her, offering every homage, it would not have given me one
envious pang--but Clinton, my husband, he was more precious to me than
ten thousand worlds. She leaned too exclusively on his guardian care.
I tried to subdue my feelings--I tried to assume an appearance of
indifference. My manners gradually became cold and constrained, and
instead of greeting my husband with the joyous smile of welcome, on
his return, I would avert from his the eyes which had received from
him their living rays. Frank and unsuspicious himself, he did not seem
to divine the cause of my altered demeanour. When he asked me why I
was so silent, or so sad, I pleaded indisposition, lassitude--anything
but the truth. I blamed him for his want of penetration, for I felt as
if my soul were bare, and that the eye of affection could read the
tidings revealed by my changing cheek and troubled brow. In justice to
myself, let me say, that Alice, by her manner, justified my emotions.

Enlightened by the sentiment in my own bosom, I could not but mark
that the hectic flush always became brighter when Clinton approached,
that her glance, kindling as it moved, followed his steps with a kind
of idolatry. Then she hung upon his words with an attention so
flattering. Was she reading, reclining on the sofa, apparently languid
and uninterested, the moment he spoke she would close her book, or
lean forward, as if fearful of losing the faintest sound of that
voice, which was the music of my life. I could have borne this for a
day, a week, a month--but to be doomed to endure it for an indefinite
term, perhaps for life, it was unendurable. A hundred times I was on
the point of going to my father, and, telling him the secret of my
unhappiness, entreat him to recall my too encroaching guest, but shame
and pride restrained me. Chilled and wounded by my coldness, my
husband gradually learned to copy it, and no longer sought the smiles
and caresses my foolish, too exciting heart, deemed he no longer
valued. Oh! blissful days of early confidence and love! were ye for
ever flown? Was no beam of tenderness permitted to penetrate the cold
frost-work of ceremony deepening between us? It is in vain to cherish
love with the memory of what has been. It must be fed with daily
living offerings, or the vestal fire will wax dim and perish--then
fearful is the penalty that ensues. The doom denounced upon the
virgins of the temple, when they suffered the holy flame to become
extinct, was less terrible. Alice, when the mildness of the weather
allowed, almost made her home in the garden. She must have felt that I
shrunk from her society, and I knew she could not love the wife of
Clinton. She carried her books and pencil there--she watched the
opening blossoms, and gathered the sweetest, to make her offering at
the shrine she loved. My husband was evidently pleased with these
attentions, flowing, as he thought, from a gentle and grateful heart,
and his glance and voice grew softer when he turned to address the
invalid.

Once during the absence of Alice I went into her chamber for a book I
had lent her, which contained a passage I wished to recall. I took up
several others, which lay upon the table. There was one which belonged
to my husband, and in it was a piece of folded paper, embalmed with
flowers, like some holy relic. It was not sealed--it was open--it was
a medical prescription, written by Clinton, thus tenderly,
romantically preserved. On another half-torn sheet were some broken
lines, breathing passion and despair. They were in the handwriting of
Alice, and apparently original, without address or signature, but it
was easy for my excited imagination to supply them. Poor victim of
passion--by the side of this record of all my fears was the composing
draught, prepared to check the consumptive cough--the elixir to
sustain the failing principles of vitality. How is it that we dare to
kindle an unhallowed flame, even on the ashes of decaying mortality? I
left the chamber, and retired to my own. I knew not in what manner to
act. I endeavoured to reflect on what I ought to do. Alice and myself
could not live long under the same roof, yet how could I bid her
depart, or betray her to my husband? I could not believe such feelings
could be excited in her without sufficient encouragement. I laid
myself down on the bed, and wished I might never rise again. I closed
my eyes, and prayed that the dark fillet of night might rest on them
again and forevermore. My cheeks burned as with consuming fire, but it
was in my heart. When Clinton returned, not finding me in the
drawing-room, he sought me in my own chamber. He seemed really alarmed
at my situation. He forgot all his former constraint, and hung over me
with a tenderness and anxiety that might have proved to me how dear I
was. He sat by me, holding my burning hand, and uttering every
endearing expression affection could suggest. Melted by his caresses,
I yearned to unbosom to him my whole heart--my pride, my jealousy was
subdued. I endeavoured to speak, but the words died on my tongue.
Confused images flitted across my brain--then came a dreary blank. For
weeks I lay on that bed of sickness, unconscious of everything around
me. My recovery was for a long time doubtful--but when I at last
opened my languid eyes, they rested on the face of my husband, who had
kept his unwearied vigils by my pillow, and still he held my feeble
hand in his, as if he had never unloosed his clasp. He looked pale and
wan, but a ray of divine joy flashed from his eye as he met my glance
of recognition.

Humbled and chastened by this visitation from heaven, renovated by the
warm and gracious influences exerted for my restoration, animated by
new-born hope, I rose from my sick-bed. The vulture had unloosened its
fangs, and the dove once more returned to its nest. I could even pity
the misguided girl who had caused me so much unhappiness. I treated
her with a kindness, of late very unwonted--but she evidently shunned
my companionship, and in proportion as my spirits rose from the weight
that had crushed them to the dust, hers became depressed and fitful.
Let me hurry on--I linger too long on feelings. Few events have marked
my brief history, yet some have left traces that all the waves of time
can never wash out.

It was Sunday--it was the first time I had attended church since my
illness. My husband accompanied me, while Alice, as usual, remained at
home. The preacher was eloquent--the music sweet and solemn--the
aspirations of faith warm and kindling. I had never before felt such a
glow of gratitude and trust; and while my mind was in this state of
devout abstraction, Clinton whispered to me that he was obliged to
withdraw a short time, to visit a patient who was dangerously
sick--"but I will return," said he, "to accompany you home." My
thoughts were brought back to earth by this interruption, and wandered
from the evangelical eloquence of the pulpit. The services were
unusually long, and my head began to ache from the effort of
listening. I experienced the lingering effects of sickness, and
feeling that dimness of sight come over me, which was a never-failing
symptom of a malady of the brain, I left the church, and returned
home, without waiting for the coming of my husband. When I crossed the
threshold, my spirit was free from a shadow of suspicion. I had been
in an exalted mood--I felt as if I had been sitting under the
outspread wings of the cherubim, and had brought away with me some
faint reflection of the celestial glory. I was conscious of being in a
high state of nervous excitement. The reaction produced by the
unexpected scene that presented itself, was, in consequence, more
terrible. There, on a sofa, half supported in the arms of my husband,
whose hand she was grasping with a kind of convulsive energy, her hair
unbound and wet, and exhaling the odorous essence with which it had
been just bathed, sat Alice, and the words that passed her lips, as I
entered, at first unperceived by them, were these--"Never, never--she
hates me--she must ever hate me." I stood transfixed--the expression
of my countenance must have been awful, for they looked as if
confronted by an avenging spirit. Alice actually shrieked, and her
pale features writhed, as the scroll when the scorching blaze comes
near it. My resolution was instantaneous. I waited not for
explanations--the scene to my mind admitted none. The sudden
withdrawal of my husband from church, upon the pretence of an errand
of duty, the singular agitation of Alice--all that I saw and heard,
filled me with the most maddening emotions--all the ties of wedded
love seemed broken and withered, at once, like the withes that bound
the awakening giant. "Clinton," exclaimed I, "you have deceived
me--but it is for the last time." Before he could reply, or arrest my
motions, I was gone. The carriage was still at the door. "Drive me to
my father's, directly," was all I could utter, and it was done.

Swiftly the carriage rolled on--I thought I heard my name borne after
me on the wind, but I looked not behind. I felt strong in the
conviction of my wrongs. It would have been weakness to have wept. My
scorn of such duplicity lifted me above mere sorrow. It was in the
gloom of twilight when I reached my father's door. I rushed into the
drawing-room, and found myself in the arms of my brother. "Cecilia, my
sister! what brings you here?" He was alarmed at my sudden entrance,
and through the dusky shade he could discover the wild flashing of my
eyes, the disorder of my whole appearance. The presence of human
sympathy softened the sternness of my despair. Tears gushed violently
forth. I tried to explain to him my wretchedness and its cause, but
could only exclaim, "Clinton, Alice, cruel, deliberate deceivers!"
Henry bit his lip, and ground his teeth till their ivory was tinged
with blood, but he made no comments. He spoke then with his usual
calmness, and urged me to retire to my chamber, and compose myself
before my father's return. He almost carried me there in his arms,
soothing and comforting me. He called for an attendant, again
whispered the duty and necessity of self-control, then left me,
promising a speedy return. I watched for the footsteps of Henry, but
hour after hour passed away, and he returned not. I asked the servants
where he had gone? They knew not. I asked myself, and something told
me, in an awful voice--"Gone to avenge thee." The moment this idea
flashed into my mind, I felt as if I were a murderess. I would
convince myself of the truth. I knew my brother's chamber--thither I
ran, and drawing back the bed curtains, looked for the silver mounted
pistols that always hung over the bed's head. They were gone--and a
coat dashed hastily on the counterpane, a pocket-book fallen on the
carpet, all denoted a hurried departure on some fatal errand. The
agony I had previously suffered was light to what pierced me now. To
follow him was my only impulse. I rushed out of the house--it was a
late hour in the evening--there was no moon in the sky, and I felt the
dampness of the falling dew, as I flew, with uncovered head, like an
unblessed spirit, through the darkness. My brain began to be thronged
with wild images. It seemed to me, legions of dark forms were impeding
my steps. "Oh! let me pass," cried I, "it is my husband and brother I
have slain. Let me pass," continued I, shrieking, for an arm of flesh
and blood was thrown around me, and held me struggling. "Gracious
heavens, it is the voice of my Cecilia!" It was my father that spoke.
I remember that I recognised him, and that was all. My cries were
changed to cries of madness. I was borne back raving. The malady that
had so recently brought me to the door of the grave, had renewed its
attack with increased malignancy. My brain had been too much weakened
to bear the tension of its agony. For long months I was confined
within my chamber walls, sometimes tossing in delirious anguish, at
others lying in marble unconsciousness, an image of the death they
prayed might soon release me from my sufferings. They prayed that I
might die, rather than be doomed to a living death. But I lived--lived
to know the ruin I had wrought.

My father was a man of majestic person, and time had scarcely touched
his raven locks. His hair was now profusely silvered, and there were
lines on his brow which age never furrowed. It was long before I
learned all that had transpired during this fearful chasm in my
existence, but gradually the truth was revealed. All that I was at
first told, was, that my husband and brother lived--then, when it was
supposed I had sufficient strength to bear the agitation, this letter
from my husband was given me.

"Cecilia, how shall I address you? I will not reproach you, for you
have had too bitter a lesson. I would fain have seen you before my
departure, but you decline the interview, and perhaps it is well.
Should I live to return--Oh! Cecilia, what wretchedness have you
brought upon us all! If your alienated heart does not turn from any
memento of me, you will read these lines, and I know you will believe
them. I have been, as it were, to the very threshold of the
presence-chamber of the King of Kings, and am just emerging from the
shadows of approaching death. This is the first effort of my feeble
hand. Most rash and misjudging woman, what have you done? How madly
have I doted on you, how blindly have I worshipped! yet all the
devotion of my life, my truth, love and integrity, weighed nothing in
the balance with one moment's mystery. I leave my vindication to
Alice. She will not deceive you. She will tell you that never did the
heart of man throb with a more undivided passion for another than mine
for you. She will tell you--but what avails it? You have cast me from
you, unvalued and untrusted. Your poor, unhappy brother! his avenging
hand sought my life--the life of him who he believed had betrayed his
sister's happiness, the wretch almost unworthy of a brave man's
resentment. In wresting the weapon from his frenzied grasp, I received
an almost deadly wound. His wrath was slaked in my blood. He believes
me innocent. He has been to me more than a brother. He will accompany
me to another clime, whither I am going, to try the effect of more
genial air on my shattered frame. Would to God we could have met
before we parted--perhaps for ever. Your father says you have been
ill, that you fear the effect of the meeting on both. You have been
ill--my ever adored, still tenderly beloved Cecilia, I write not to
reproach you. Bitter is the penalty paid for one moment of passion.
Had I ever swerved in my affection for you, even in thought, I should
deserve all I have suffered. I recall your sadness, your coldness, and
averted looks. I now know the cause, and mourn over it. Why did you
not confide in me? We might yet have been happy--but the will of God
be done. The vessel waits that is to bear us to a transatlantic
clime--farewell. Should I return, bearing with me some portion of my
former vigour, should your confidence in my love be restored, then,
perchance, through the mercy of heaven, two chastened and humble
hearts may once more be united on earth. If I am never permitted to
revisit my native soil, if I die in a foreign land, know, that,
faithful to you to my latest hour, my last thought, prayer, and sigh,
will be yours."

       *       *       *       *       *

And he was gone--gone--sick, wounded, perhaps dying, he was gone to
another land, and the blood that was drained from him on my soul. My
father forbade him to see me--he was too feeble to bear the shock of
beholding me in the condition I then was. My real situation was
concealed from him. The only means of making the prohibition
effectual, was to word it as proceeding from myself. Thus, he believed
me cold and selfish to the last. My father talked to me of better
days, of the hope of my husband's speedy restoration, and of our
future reunion. I could only listen and weep. I dared not murmur. I
felt too deeply the justice of the judgment the Almighty had passed
against me. I had one ordeal yet to pass--an interview with Alice. She
also was under my father's roof, confined by increasing debility to
her own apartment. As soon as my strength allowed, I made it a
religious duty to visit the poor invalid. I was shocked to see the
ravages of her malady. Her eye of glassy brightness turned on me with
such a look of woe and remorse, it cut me to the heart. I took the
pale thin hand she extended towards me, and burst into tears. Yes! I
saw it but too clearly. Here was another victim. The steps of the
destroyer were fearfully accelerated. She had had a profuse hemorrhage
from the lungs, and her voice was so weak and husky, it was with
difficulty I could understand her. She drew me down near to her
pillow, and, placing my hand on her heart, said, in a careful
whisper--"Remorse, Cecilia, it is here. It is this which gives the
sting to death." She then drew from beneath her pillow a paper that
she had written for me, which she begged me to read when I was alone.
I did read it. It was the transcript of a warm, romantic heart, erring
and misguided, yet even in its aberrations discovering an innate love
for virtue and truth. Her whole soul was bared before me--all her
love, imprudence, and remorse. She described my husband as an angel of
light and purity, soaring high above the clouds of passion that
gathered darkly around herself. She spoke of that scene, followed by
such irremediable woe. "Even now," continued Alice, "wasting as I am
on the bed of death, with the shadows of earthly feeling dimly
floating round me, knowing that I shall soon turn to cold, impassive
clay, the memory of that hour presses with scorching weight on my
brain. I must have been mad. Surely I had not the control of my
reason. I had taken the previous night an unusual quantity of opium,
which, instead of composing me to sleep, had excited my nerves, and
strung them as with fire. Your husband came in only a short time
before your sudden entrance, evidently on some errand; and though he
kindly paused to speak to me, his looks expressed haste to depart.
Just as he was about to leave the room, I was attacked with one of
those spasms you have sometimes witnessed. He came to my relief--he
administered every restorative. I know not all I uttered, but when I
recovered I remember many wild expressions that escaped my lips. It
seemed to me that I was going to die, and while his arms thus kindly
supported me, I felt as if it would be joy to die. With this
conviction, was it so black a crime to breathe forth the love that had
so long pervaded my frail and lonely existence? Cecilia, he recoiled
from me with horror. He proclaimed his inviolable love and devotion
for you--his glance was stern and upbraiding. Then seeing me sinking
in despair, the kindness of his nature triumphed, and he sought to
calm my overwrought and troubled spirit. He expressed the affection of
a brother, the pity of a friend, the admonitions of a Christian.
"Above all," said he, "make a friend of Cecilia. She will always
cherish you with a sister's love." "Never!" I exclaimed, "she hates
me, she must ever hate me." The vision of an injured wife arrested my
unhallowed accents. You know the dreadful tragedy that followed. Never
since that hour have I had one moment's calm. Conscience, with her
thousand scorpions, lashes me--whether sleeping or waking there is no
rest. 'There is no peace,' saith my God, 'to the wicked,' Yet mine was
not deliberate guilt. Had I only wrecked my own happiness!--but the
wide desolation, the irretrievable ruin! I shudder, I weep, I lift my
feeble hands to that Power whose laws I have transgressed, and pray
for pardon. To you, whose home of love I have laid waste, dare I turn
my fading eyes, and hope for forgiveness? To him whom I have driven
from his native land, shorn of the brightness of his manhood--Oh!
sinful dust and ashes"----here the unhappy writer broke off--the blank
was stained with tears. Probably in that broken sentence the embers of
passion flashed out their last fires, through the "dust and ashes" of
withering mortality. Poor Alice! may'st thou be forgiven by a merciful
Creator as freely as thou art by me. Gentle be thy passage through the
valley of the shadow of death, to that country where no storms
desolate the heart, where passion and penitence are unknown. As for
me--why and for what do I live? For hope or despair? I pray for
tidings from the beloved exiles, yet dread to receive them. If the
night gale sweeps with hasty gust against the window, I tremble lest
they be exposed to the stormy deep. When I gaze on the moon and stars,
I ask myself if they are lighting the wanderers on their homeward way,
and sometimes gather hope from their heavenly brightness.

The manuscript of Cecilia here abruptly closes. It has fallen to the
lot of one who afterwards became the devoted friend of Clinton, to
relate the sequel of their melancholy history.

"It was in the spring of the year 18----, I was sitting on the deck,
watching the rapid motion of the boat, as it glided over the waves,
thinking earnestly of the place of my destination, when I first beheld
Cecilia, the wife of Clinton. I was a stranger on board, and gazed
around me with that indefinite expression, which marks the stranger to
the experienced eye. At length my glance was riveted by the appearance
of a lady, leaning on the arm of a gray-haired gentleman, slowly
promenading the deck. They passed and repassed me, while I continued
to lean over the railing, fearing, by a change of position, to disturb
the silent strangers. There was something in the figure of the lady
inexpressibly interesting. She wore a mourning-dress, and her eyes
were covered with a green shade. Notwithstanding her face was thus
partially obscured, the most exquisite beauty of outline and colouring
was visible I ever saw in any human countenance. She wore no bonnet or
veil, for the sun was verging towards the west, and its rays stole
soft and mellow over the golden waters. Fair and meek as the virgin
mother's was the brow that rose above the silken screen, defined with
beauteous distinctness by dark, divided hair, whose luxuriance was
confined by a golden band. At length they seated themselves very near
me, and began to converse in a low tone. There was a melancholy
sweetness in her accents, and I was sure they were speaking of some
sorrowful theme. We were now entering the ---- bay, and the boat
rocked and laboured as she plunged through the increased volume of the
waters. Now, just visible on the glowing horizon, was the topmast of a
vessel. On she came, with sails full spread, her canvas swelling in
the breeze, her majestic outline softened by the sunset hues. The
gentleman pointed out the object to his companion, who lifted the
shade from her brow, revealing as she did so, eyes of such melting
softness, I wondered I had thought her lovely before. She pressed the
arm of the gentleman, and gazed eagerly on the vessel which now bore
down 'majestically near.' She rose, she bent forward with earnest
gestures, her face kindled, and sparkled like the waters themselves.
The ship approached so near we could discern figures on the deck. The
boat had diverged from her path to give place to the nobler craft. She
was sailing with great rapidity, and the noise of the engine and the
dashing of the waves drowned the sound of the voices near me. I began
to feel a strange interest in the vessel on which the eyes of the
strangers were so earnestly riveted. Amid the figures that walked her
deck, I distinguished one, which was aloof from the others, of a more
lofty bearing--a cloak was gathered round him, and from this
circumstance, together with his extremely pallid complexion, I judged
him to be an invalid. From the rapid motion of both vessels, it was
but a glance I obtained, after we were near enough to trace these
lineaments. At this moment the lady sprang upon the bench beneath the
railing--she stretched forth her arms, with a startling cry. I saw her
for an instant, bending far over the edge of the boat. I rose and
rushed towards her to warn her of her danger, but a plunging sound in
the water, that closed darkly over her sinking form, froze my veins
with horror. 'Oh! my God!' exclaimed the father, 'save her! My
daughter! Oh, my daughter!' then fell back, almost paralyzed, on the
seat. To throw off my coat and plunge in after the ill-fated lady, in
whom I had become so painfully interested, was an instantaneous deed.
Alas! all my efforts were unavailing. The current was so powerful, I
found it in vain to struggle with its force. I relaxed not, however,
till my failing strength warned me that I was seeking a grave for
myself, without being able to rescue the victim for whom I had
willingly periled my life.

"I will not attempt to describe the grief of the half-distracted
father. I never left him till he reached his own home. What a scene of
agony awaited him there! The husband and brother, so long absent, were
returned, yearning to behold once more that beloved being, whose
involuntary sin had been so fearfully expiated. It was Clinton whom I
had seen on the vessel's deck. As he afterwards told me, the dazzle of
the rays on the water, in that direction, had prevented him from
distinguishing the features for ever engraven on his heart. The hoarse
sound of the waves swallowed her drowning shriek--onward they bore
him, and he saw not the fond arms that would have embraced him, even
over that watery chasm. I have witnessed many a scene of sorrow, but
never saw I one like this. From the peculiar circumstances that
brought us together, I became almost identified with this unhappy
family. Clinton was the most interesting man I ever saw. He was a
confirmed invalid, never having recovered from the effects of his
wound. I never saw a smile upon his face, nor could I ever smile in
his presence. He seldom spoke, and never but once did he mention the
name of Cecilia. It was one night when he was unusually ill, and I was
sitting alone with him in his chamber. He gave me the manuscript for
perusal which is here transcribed, an act of confidence he considered
due to me, who would have been her saviour. Through the watches of
that night he poured into my ear the hoarded agonies of his grief.
Never before did I know how deep human sorrow could be, or how holy
was that love which clings to the memory of the dead.

"Alice dwelt in 'the dark and narrow house.' She was spared the
knowledge of the fatal catastrophe, for she died before her victim.
Yes--_her victim_! Had she guarded against the first inroads of a
forbidden passion, there might have been 'beauty for ashes, the oil of
joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of
heaviness.' The angel form that lies low, wrapped in the winding-sheet
of the waves, might now be moving in the light of loveliness, love,
and joy. But who shall dare to arraign the doings of the Almighty?"



THE PARLOUR SERPENT.


Mrs. Wentworth and Miss Hart entered the breakfast-room together, the
latter speaking earnestly and in a low confidential tone to the other,
whose countenance was slightly discomposed.

"There is nothing that provokes me so much as to hear such remarks,"
said Miss Hart, "I have no patience to listen to them. Indeed, I think
they are made as much to wound my feelings as anything else, for they
all know the great affection I have for you."

"But you do not say what the remarks were, that gave you so much
pain," answered Mrs. Wentworth. "I would much prefer that you would
tell me plainly, than speak in such vague hints. You will not make me
angry, for I am entirely indifferent to the opinion of the world."

Now there was not a woman in the world more sensitively alive to
censure than Mrs. Wentworth, and in proportion to her sensitiveness,
was her anxiety to know the observations of others.

"If you had overheard Miss Bentley and Miss Wheeler talking of you
last night as I did," continued Miss Hart, "you would not have
believed your own ears. They said they thought it was ridiculous in
you to make such a nun of yourself, because Captain Wentworth was
absent, and to dress so plain and look so moping. One of them said,
you did not dare to visit or receive visiters while he was away, for
that you were as much afraid of him as if you were his slave, and that
he had made you promise not to stir out of the house, or to invite any
company while he was gone."

"Ridiculous!--nonsense!" exclaimed Mrs. Wentworth, "there never was
such an absurd idea. Captain Wentworth never imposed such a restraint
upon me, though I know he would rather I would live retired, when he
cannot attend me himself in the gay world. It is not despotism, but
affection, that prompts the wish, and I am sure I feel no pleasure in
dressing, shining, and mingling in society, when he is exposed to
danger, and perhaps death, on the far deep sea."

"I know all that, my dear Mrs. Wentworth," replied Miss Hart,
insinuatingly, "and so I told them; but how little can a heartless and
censorious world judge of the feelings of the refined and the
sensitive! It seems to be a general impression that you fear your
husband more than you love him, and that this fear keeps you in a kind
of bondage to his will. If I were you, I would invite a large party
and make it as brilliant as possible, and be myself as gay as
possible, and then that will be giving the lie at once to their
innuendoes."

"It is so mortifying to have such reports in circulation," said Mrs.
Wentworth, her colour becoming more and more heightened and her voice
more tremulous. "I don't care what they say at all, and yet I am half
resolved to follow your advice, if it were only to vex them. I _will_
do it, and let them know that I am not afraid to be mistress of my own
house while its master is absent."

"That is exactly the right spirit," answered the delighted Miss Hart;
"I am glad you take it in that way. I was afraid your feelings would
be wounded, and that is the reason I was so unwilling to tell you."

But though Mrs. Wentworth boasted of her spirit and her indifference,
her feelings were deeply wounded, and she sat at the breakfast-table,
cutting her toast into the most minute pieces, without tasting any,
while Miss Hart was regaling herself with an unimpaired appetite, and
luxuriating in fancy on the delightful party, she had so skilfully
brought into promised existence, at least. She had no idea of spending
the time of her visit to Mrs. Wentworth, in dullness and seclusion,
sympathizing in the anxieties of a fond and timid wife, and listening
to a detail of domestic plans and enjoyments. She knew the weak side
of her character, and mingling the gall she extracted from others,
with the honey of her own flattery, and building her influence on
their ruined reputations, imagined it firm and secure on such a
crumbling foundation. It is unnecessary to dwell on the genealogy of
Miss Hart. She was well known as Miss Hart, and yet it would be very
difficult for anybody to tell precisely who Miss Hart was. She was a
general visiter; one of those young ladies who are always ready to
fill up any sudden vacuum made in a family--a kind of bird of
passage, who, having no abiding place of her own, went fluttering
about, generally resting where she could find the softest and most
comfortable nest. She was what was called _excellent company_, always
had something new and interesting to say about everybody; then she
knew so many secrets, and had the art of exciting a person's curiosity
so keenly, and making them dissatisfied with everybody but herself, it
would be impossible to follow all the windings, or discover all the
nooks and corners of her remarkable character. It was astonishing to
see the influence she acquired over the minds of those with whom she
associated, male as well as female. She was a showy, well-dressing,
attractive-looking girl, with a great deal of manner, a large,
piercing, dark eye, and an uncommonly sweet and persuasive tone of
voice. Mrs. Wentworth became acquainted with her a very short time
before Captain Wentworth's departure, and esteemed it a most
delightful privilege to have such a pleasing companion to charm away
the lingering hours of his absence. Acting upon the suggestions of her
friend, and following up the determination she had so much applauded,
she opened her doors to visiters, and appeared in society with a gay
dress and smiling countenance.

"What a change there is in Mrs. Wentworth!" observed Miss Bentley to
Miss Hart, as they met one morning at the house of a mutual friend. "I
never saw any one so transformed in my life. She looks and dresses
like the most complete flirt I ever saw; I suspect Captain Wentworth
has very good reason to watch her as he does."

Miss Hart shrugged her shoulders and smiled significantly, but did not
say anything.

"It must be a very pleasant alteration to you," continued Miss
Bentley, "the house seems to be frequented by gentlemen from morning
till night. I suppose you have the grace to appropriate their visits
to yourself."

"I have nothing to say about myself," answered Miss Hart, "and I do
not wish to speak of Mrs. Wentworth otherwise than kindly. You know
she is excessively kind to me, and it would be ungrateful in me to
condemn her conduct. To be sure I must have my own thoughts on the
subject. She is certainly very imprudent, and too fond of admiration.
But I would not have you repeat what I have said, for the world, for
being in the family it would have such weight. Be very careful what
you say, and above all, don't mention _my_ name."

Miss Bentley was very careful to repeat the remarks to every one she
saw, with as many additions of her own as she pleased, and the
unutterable language of the smile and the shrug was added too, to give
force to the comments. Mrs. Wentworth, in the mean while, unconscious
of the serpent she was nursing in her bosom, suffered herself to be
borne along on the current on which she had thoughtlessly embarked,
without the power to arrest her progress, or turn back into the quiet
channel she had quitted. The arrival of her brother, a gay and
handsome young man, gave additional animation to her household, and
company flowed in still more continuously. Henry More, the brother of
Mrs. Wentworth, was the favourite of every circle in which he moved.
With an uncommon flow of spirits, a ready and graceful wit, a fluent
and flattering tongue, he mingled in society unaffected by its
contrasts, unwounded by its asperities, and unruffled by its
contentions. He seemed to revel in the happy consciousness of being
able to impart pleasure to all, and was equally willing to receive it.
He was delighted to find a fine-looking, amiable girl, an inmate of
his sister's dwelling, and immediately addressing her in his
accustomed strain of sportive gallantry, found that she not only lent
a willing ear, but was well skilled in the same language. Though Miss
Hart was still young, she had outlived the romance and credulity of
youth. She had a precocious experience and wisdom in the ways of this
world. She had seen the affections of many a young man, with a
disposition open and ingenuous as Henry's, won through the medium of
their vanity, by women, too, who could not boast of attractions equal
to her own. She believed that juxtaposition could work miracles, and
as long as they were the inmates of the same house, participating in
the same pleasures, engaged in the same pursuits, and often perusing
the same book, she feared no rival. She rejoiced, too, in the
close-drawing socialities of the winter fireside, and delighted when a
friendly storm compelled them to find all their enjoyment within their
own little circle. Mrs. Wentworth, who had once been cheerful and
serene in clouds as well as sunshine, was now subject to fits of
despondency and silence. It was only when excited by company, that her
eyes were lighted up with animation, and her lips with smiles. She
dreaded the reproaches of her husband on his return, for acting so
contrary to his wishes, and when she heard the night-gust sweep by
her windows, and thought of him exposed to the warring elements,
perhaps even then clinging to the drifting wreck, or floating in a
watery grave, and recollected the scenes of levity and folly in which
she was now constantly acting a part, merely to avoid the censures of
the very people she detested and despised, she sighed and wept, and
wished she had followed her bosom counsellor, rather than the
suggestions of the friend in whom she still confided, and on whose
affection she relied with unwavering trust. It was strange, she could
hear Miss Hart ridicule others, and join in the laugh; she could sit
quietly and see her breathe the subtle venom of slander over the
fairest characters, till they blackened and became polluted under her
touch, and yet she felt herself as secure as if she were placed on the
summit of Mont Blanc, in a region of inaccessible purity and
splendour. So blinding is the influence of self-love, pampered by
flattery, strengthened by indulgence, and unrestrained by religious
principle.

One evening, and it chanced to be the evening of the Sabbath day,
Henry sat unusually silent, and Miss Hart thought that his eyes were
fixed upon her face with a very deep and peculiar expression--"No," he
suddenly exclaimed, "I never saw such a countenance in my life."

"What do you see so remarkable in it?" asked she, laughing, delighted
at what she supposed a spontaneous burst of admiration.

"I don't know; I can no more describe it, than one of those soft,
fleecy clouds that roll melting away from the face of the moon. But it
haunts me like a dream."

Miss Hart modestly cast down her eyes, then turned them towards the
moon, which at that moment gleamed with pallid lustre through the
window.

"Your imagination is so glowing," replied she, "that it invests, like
the moonlight, every object with its own mellow and beautiful tints."

"Jane," continued he, without noticing the compliment to his
imagination, and turning to his sister, who was reading intently,
"Jane, you must have noticed her--you were at the same church."

"Noticed her!" repeated Miss Hart to herself, in utter dismay; "who
can he mean?"

"Noticed who?" said Mrs. Wentworth, laying down her book, "I have not
heard a syllable you have been saying."

"Why, that young lady dressed in black, with such a sweet, modest,
celestial expression of face. She sat at the right hand of the pulpit,
with another lady in mourning, who was very tall and pale."

"What coloured hair and eyes had she?" asked his sister.

"I could no more tell the colour of her eyes, than I could paint yon
twinkling star, or her hair either. I only know that they shed a kind
of glory over her countenance, and mantled her brow with the softest
and most exquisite shades."

"I declare, Henry," cried Mrs. Wentworth, "you are the most
extravagant being I ever knew. I don't know whether you are in jest or
earnest."

"Oh! you may be sure he is in earnest," said Miss Hart. "I know whom
he means very well. It is Miss Carroll. Lois Carroll, the
grand-daughter of old Mr. Carroll, the former minister of ---- church.
The old lady with whom she sat is her aunt. They live somewhere in the
suburbs of the city--but never go anywhere except to church. They say
she is the most complete little methodist in the world."

"What do you mean by a methodist?" asked Henry abruptly--"an
enthusiast?"

"One who never goes to the theatre, never attends the ballroom, thinks
it a sin to laugh, and goes about among poor people to give them
doctor's stuff, and read the Bible."

"Well," answered Henry, "I see nothing very appalling in this
description. If ever I marry, I have no very great desire that my wife
should frequent the theatre or the ballroom. She might admire
artificial graces at the one and exhibit them in the other, but the
loveliest traits of her sex must fade and wither in the heated
atmosphere of both. And I am sure it is a divine office to go about
ministering to the wants of the poor and healing the sick. As to the
last item, I may not be a proper judge, but I do think a beautiful
woman reading the Bible to the afflicted and dying, must be the most
angelic object in the universe."

"Why, brother," said Mrs. Wentworth, "what a strange compound you are!
Such a rattle-brain as you, moralizing like a second Johnson!"

"I may be a wild rattle-brain, and sport like a thousand others in the
waves of fashion, but there is something here, Jane," answered he,
laying his hand half seriously, half sportively on his breast, "that
tells me that I was created for immortality; that, spendthrift of
time, I am still bound for eternity. I have often pictured the
future, in my musing hours, and imagined a woman's gentle hand was
guiding me in the path that leads to heaven."

Mrs. Wentworth looked at her brother in astonishment. There was
something in the solemnity of his expressions that alarmed her, coming
from one so gay and apparently thoughtless. Miss Hart was alarmed too,
but from a different cause. She thought it time to aim her shaft, and
she knew in what course to direct it.

"This Miss Carroll," said she, "whom you admire so much, has lately
lost her lover, to whom she was devotedly attached. He was her cousin,
and they had been brought up together from childhood, and betrothed
from that period. She nursed him during a long sickness, day and
night, and many thought she would follow him to the grave, her grief
was so great."

"Her lover!" exclaimed Henry, in a mock tragedy tone. "Then it is all
over with me--I never would accept the second place in any maiden's
heart, even if I could be enshrined there in heaven's crystal. Give me
the rose before the sunbeams have exhaled the dew of the morning, or
it wears no charms for me."

Miss Hart and Mrs. Wentworth laughed, rallied Henry upon his heroics,
and the beautiful stranger was mentioned no more. Miss Hart
congratulated herself upon the master stroke by which she had
dispelled his enchantment, if indeed it existed at all. She had often
heard Henry declare his resolution never to marry a woman who had
acknowledged a previous affection, and she seized upon a vague report
of Miss Carroll's being in mourning for a cousin who had recently
died, and to whom she thought she might possibly be betrothed, and
presented it as a positive truth. Finding that Henry's ideas of female
perfection were very different from what she had imagined, she was not
sorry when an opportunity offered of displaying those domestic
virtues, which he so much extolled. One night, when Mrs. Wentworth was
prepared to attend a private ball, she expressed her wish to remain at
home, declaring that she was weary of dissipation, and preferred
reading and meditation. She expected Henry would steal away from the
party, and join her in the course of the evening, but her real motive
was a violent toothache, which she concealed that she might have the
credit of a voluntary act. After Mrs. Wentworth's departure, she bound
a handkerchief round her aching jaw, and having found relief from some
powerful anodyne, she reclined back on the sofa and fell at last into
a deep sleep. The candles burned dim from their long, unsnuffed wicks,
and threw a very dubious light through the spacious apartment. She was
awakened by a tall, dark figure, bending over her, with outspread
arms, as if about to embrace her, and starting up, her first thought
was that it was Henry, who had stolen on her solitude, and was about
to declare the love she had no doubt he secretly cherished for her.
But the figure drew back, with a sudden recoil, when she rose, and
uttered her name in a tone of disappointment.

"Captain Wentworth," exclaimed she, "is it you?"

"I beg your pardon," said he, extending his hand cordially towards
her, "I thought for a moment it was my wife, my Jane, Mrs.
Wentworth--where is she? Is she well? Why do I not see her here?"

"Oh! Captain Wentworth, she had no expectation of your coming so soon.
She is perfectly well. She is gone to a quadrille party, and will
probably not be at home for several hours--I will send for her
directly."

"No, Miss Hart," said he, in a cold and altered voice, "no, I would
not shorten her evening's amusement. A quadrille party--I thought she
had no taste for such pleasures."

"She seems to enjoy them very much," replied Miss Hart, "and it is
very natural she should. She is young and handsome, and very much
admired, and in your absence she found her own home comparatively
dull."

The captain rose, and walked the room with a sailor's manly stride.
His brows were knit, his lips compressed, and his cheek flushed. She
saw the iron of jealousy was entering his soul, and she went on
mercilessly deepening the wound she had made.

"You will be delighted when you see Mrs. Wentworth--she looks so
blooming and lovely. You have reason to be quite proud of your
wife--she is the belle of every party and ball-room. I think it is
well that you have returned." This she added, with an arch, innocent
smile, though she knew every word she uttered penetrated like a
dagger, where he was most vulnerable. "How thoughtless I am!" she
exclaimed; "you must be weary and hungry--I will order your supper."

"No, no," said he, "I have no appetite--I will not trouble you. Don't
disturb yourself on my account--I will amuse myself with a book till
she returns."

He sat down and took up a book, but his eyes were fixed moodily on
the carpet, and his hands trembled as he unconsciously turned the
leaves. Miss Hart suffered occasional agony from her tooth, the more
as she had taken off the disfiguring bandage, but she would not
retire, anticipating with a kind of savage delight, the unpleasant
scene that would ensue on Mrs. Wentworth's return. The clock struck
twelve before the carriage stopped at the door. Mrs. Wentworth came
lightly into the room, unaccompanied by her brother, her cloak falling
from her shoulders, her head uncovered, most fashionably and elegantly
dressed. She did not see her husband when she first entered, and
throwing her cloak on a chair, exclaimed, "Oh! Miss Hart, I'm so sorry
you were not there, we had such a delightful party--the pleasantest of
the whole season." Her eye at this moment fell upon her husband, who
had risen upon her entrance, but stood back in the shade, without
making one step to meet her. With a scream of surprise, joy, and
perhaps terror too, she rushed towards him, and threw her arms around
him. He suffered her clinging arms to remain round his neck for a
moment while he remained as passive as the rock on the seabeat shore
when the white foam wreathes and curls over its surface, then drawing
back, he looked her steadfastly in the face, with a glance that made
her own to quail, and her lip and cheek blanch. She looked down upon
her jewelled neck and airy robes, and wished herself clothed in
sackcloth and ashes. She began to stammer forth some excuse for her
absence, something about his unexpected return, but the sentence died
on her lips. The very blood seemed to congeal in her heart, under the
influence of his freezing glance.

"Don't say anything, Jane," said he, sternly. "It is better as it
is--I had deluded myself with the idea, that in all my dangers and
hardships, to which I have exposed myself chiefly for your sake, I had
a fond and faithful wife, who pined at my absence and yearned for my
return. I was not aware of the new character you had assumed. No,"
continued he impetuously, entirely forgetful of the presence of Miss
Hart "I was not prepared for a welcome like this. I expected to have
met a wife--not a flirt, a belle, a vain, false-hearted, deceitful
woman." Thus saying, he suddenly left the room, closing the door with
a force that made every article of the furniture tremble. Mrs.
Wentworth, bursting into hysterical sobs, was about to rush after him,
but Miss Hart held her back--"Don't be a fool," said she; "he'll get
over it directly-you've done nothing at which he ought to be angry; I
had no idea he was such a tyrant."

"He was always kind to me before," sobbed Mrs. Wentworth. "He thinks
my heart is weaned from him. Now, I wish I had disregarded the sneer
of the world! It can never repay me for the loss of his love."

"My dear Mrs. Wentworth," said Miss Hart, putting her arms soothingly
round her, "I feel for you deeply, but I hope you will not reproach
yourself unnecessarily, or suffer your husband to suppose you condemn
your own conduct. If you do, he will tyrannize over you, through
life--what possible harm could there be in your going to a private
party with your own brother, when you did not look for his return? You
have taken no more liberty than every married lady in the city would
have done, and a husband who really loved his wife, would be pleased
and gratified that she should be an object of attention and admiration
to others. Come, dry up your tears, and exert the pride and spirit
every woman of delicacy and sense should exercise on such occasions."

Mrs. Wentworth listened, and the natural pride and waywardness of the
human heart strengthening the counsels of her treacherous companion,
her sorrow and contrition became merged in resentment. She resolved to
return coldness for coldness and scorn for scorn, to seek no
reconciliation, nor even to grant it, until he humbly sued for her
forgiveness. The husband and wife met at the breakfast-table without
speaking. Henry was unusually taciturn, and the whole burthen of
keeping up the conversation rested on Miss Hart, who endeavoured to
entertain and enliven the whole. Captain Wentworth, who had all the
frankness and politeness of a sailor, unbent his stern brow when he
addressed her, and it was in so kind a voice, that the tears started
into his wife's eyes at the sound. He had no words, no glance for her,
from whom he had been parted so long, and whom he had once loved so
tenderly. Henry, who had been absorbed in his own reflections, and who
had not been present at their first meeting, now noticed the silence
of his sister, and the gloom of her husband, and looking from one to
the other, first in astonishment, and then in mirth, he exclaimed,
"Well, I believe I shall remain a bachelor, if this is a specimen of a
matrimonial meeting. Jane looks as if she were doing penance for the
sins of her whole life, and Captain Wentworth as if he were about to
give a broadside's thunder. What has happened? Miss Hart resembles a
beam of sunshine between two clouds."

Had Henry been aware of the real state of things, he would never have
indulged his mirth at the expense of his sister's feelings. He had no
suspicion that the clouds to which he alluded, arose from estrangement
from each other, and when Mrs. Wentworth burst into tears and left the
table, and Captain Wentworth set back his chair so suddenly as to
upset the teaboard and produce a terrible crash among the china, the
smile forsook his lips, and, turning to the captain in rather an
authoritative manner, he demanded an explanation.

"Ask your sister," answered the captain, "and she may give it--as for
me, sir, my feelings are not to be made a subject of unfeeling
merriment. They have been already too keenly tortured, and should at
least be sacred from your jest. But one thing let me tell you, sir, if
you had had more regard to your sister's reputation, than to have
escorted her to scenes of folly and corruption during her husband's
absence, you might perhaps have spared me the misery I now endure."

"Do you threaten me, Captain Wentworth?" said Henry, advancing nearer
to him with a flushed brow and raised tone. Miss Hart here interposed,
and begged and entreated, and laid her hand on Henry's arm, and looked
softly and imploringly at Captain Wentworth, who snatched up his hat
and left the room, leaving Henry angry, distressed, and bewildered.
Miss Hart explained the whole as the most causeless and ridiculous
jealousy, which would soon pass away and was not worth noticing, and
urged him to treat the matter as unworthy of indignation. She feared
she had carried matters a little too far; she had no wish that they
should fight, and Henry, perhaps, fall a victim to excited passions.
She was anxious to allay the storm she had raised, and she succeeded
in preventing the outbreakings of wrath, but she could not restore the
happiness she had destroyed, the domestic peace she had disturbed, the
love and confidence she had so wantonly invaded. Nor did she desire
it. Incapable herself of feeling happiness from the evil passions that
reigned in her bosom, she looked upon the bliss of others as a
personal injury to herself; and where the flowers were fairest and the
hopes the brightest, she loved to trample and shed her blasting
influence. As the serpent goes trailing its dark length through the
long grasses and sweet blossoms that veil its path, silent and deadly,
she glided amid the sacred shades of domestic life, darting in ambush
her venomed sting, and winding her coil in the very bosoms that
warmed and caressed her. She now flitted about, describing what she
called the best and most ridiculous scene imaginable; and the names of
Captain Wentworth and his wife were bandied from lip to lip, one
speaking of _him_ as a tyrant, a bear, a domestic tiger--another of
_her_ as a heartless devotee of fashion, or a contemner of the laws of
God and man. Most truly has it been said in holy writ, that the tongue
of the slanderer is set on fire of hell, nor can the waters of the
multitudinous sea quench its baleful flames. One evening Henry was
returning at a late hour from the country, and passing a mansion in
the outskirts of the city, whose shaded walls and modest situation
called up ideas of domestic comfort and retirement; he thought it
might be the residence of Miss Carroll, for, notwithstanding Miss
Hart's damper, he had not forgotten her. He passed the house very
slowly, gazing at one illuminated window, over which a white muslin
curtain softly floated, and wishing he could catch another glimpse of
a countenance that haunted him, as he said, like a dream. All was
still, and he passed on, through a narrow alley that shortened his
way. At the end of the alley was a small, low dwelling, where a light
still glimmered, and the door being partially open, he heard groans
and wailing sounds, indicating distress within. He approached the
door, thinking he might render relief or assistance, and stood at the
threshold, gazing on the unexpected scene presented to his view. On a
low seat, not far from the door, sat a young lady, in a loose white
robe, thrown around her in evident haste and disorder, her hair partly
knotted up behind and partly falling in golden waves on her shoulders,
holding in her lap a child of about three years old, from whose
bandaged head the blood slowly oozed and dripped down on her snowy
dress--one hand was placed tenderly under the wounded head, the other
gently wiped away the stains from its bloody brow. A woman, whose
emaciated features and sunken eyes spoke the ravages of consumption,
sat leaning against the wall, gazing with a ghastly expression on the
little sufferer, whose pains she had no power to relieve, and a little
boy about ten years of age stood near her, weeping bitterly. Here was
a scene of poverty, and sickness, and distress that baffled
description, and in the midst appeared the outlines of that fair
figure, like a descended angel of mercy, sent down to console the
sorrows of humanity.

"This was a dreadful accident," said the young lady, "dreadful,"
raising her head as she spoke, and shading back her hair, revealing at
the same time the heavenly countenance which had once before beamed on
Henry's gaze. It was Lois Carroll, true to the character Miss Hart had
sarcastically given her, a ministering spirit of compassion and
benevolence.

"She will die," said the poor mother, "she'll never get over such a
blow as that. She fell with such force, and struck her head on such a
dangerous part too. Well, why should I wish her to live, when I must
leave her behind so soon?"

"The doctor said there was some hope," answered the fair Lois, in a
sweet, soothing voice, "and if it is God's will that she should
recover, you ought to bless Him for it, and trust Him who feedeth the
young ravens when they cry to Him for food. Lie down and compose
yourself to rest. I will remain here through the night, and nurse the
poor little patient. If she is kept very quiet, I think she will be
better in the morning."

"How kind, how good you are!" said the mother, wiping the tear from
her wasted cheek, "what should I do without you? But I never can think
of your sitting up the whole night for us."

"And why not for you?" asked Lois, earnestly. "Can I ever repay your
kindness to poor Charles, when he was sick, and you sat up, night
after night, and refused to leave him? And now, when you are sick and
helpless, would you deprive me of the opportunity of doing for you,
what you have done for one so dear to me?"

A pang shot through Henry's heart. This poor _Charles_ must have been
the lover for whom she mourned, and at the mention of his name, he
felt as if wakening from a dream. The love that bound the living to
the dead, was a bond his hand would never attempt to loosen, and
turning away with a sigh, he thought it would be sacrilege to linger
there longer. Still he looked back to catch one more glimpse of a face
where all the beatitudes dwelt. He had beheld the daughters of beauty,
with all the charms of nature aided by the fascinations of art and
fashion, but never had he witnessed anything so lovely as this young
girl, in her simplicity, purity, and gentleness, unconscious that any
eye was upon her, but the poor widow's and weeping orphan's. He had
seen a fair belle in ill-humour for an hour, because a slight accident
had soiled a new dress, or defaced a new ornament, but Lois sat in
her blood-spotted robes, regardless of the stains, intent only on the
object of her tenderness, and that a miserable child.

"Surely," thought he, as he pursued his way homeward, "there must be a
divine influence operating on the heart, when a character like this is
formed. Even were her affections free and not wedded to the dead, I
should no more dare to love such a being, so spiritual, so holy, so
little of the earth, earthy, than one of those pure spirits that live
in the realms of ether. _I!_ what has my life hitherto been? Nothing
but a tissue of recklessness, folly, and madness. I have been trying
to quench the heaven-born spark within me, but it still burns, and
will continue to burn, while the throne of the Everlasting endures."

Henry felt more, reflected more that night, than he had done for five
years before. He rose in the morning with a fixed resolve, to make
that night an era in his existence. During the day the poor widow's
heart was made to "sing for joy," for a supply was received from an
unknown hand, so bounteous and unlooked for, she welcomed it as a gift
from heaven. And so it was, for heaven inspired and also blessed the
act.

Miss Hart began to be uneasy at Henry's deportment, and she had no
reason to think she advanced in his good graces, and she had a vague
fear of that Lois Carroll, whom she trusted she had robbed of all
power to fascinate his imagination.

"By the way," said she to him, one day, as if struck by a sudden
thought, "have you seen that pretty Miss Carroll since the evening you
were speaking of her?"

"Yes," answered Henry, colouring very high, "I have met her several
times--why do you ask?"

"No matter," said she, petrified at this information; "I saw a lady
yesterday, who knows her intimately, and her conversation reminded me
of ours on the same subject."

"What does the lady say of her character?" asked Henry.

"What every one else does, who knows her--that she is the greatest
hypocrite that ever breathed. Perfectly selfish, self-righteous, and
uncharitable. She says, notwithstanding her sweet countenance, she has
a very bad temper, and that no one is willing to live in the same
house with her."

"You told me formerly," said Henry, "that she was _over_ charitable
and kind, constantly engaged in labours of love."

"Oh, yes!" answered she, with perfect self-possession; "there is no
end to the parade she makes about her _good works_, as she calls them,
but it is for ostentation, and to obtain the reputation of a saint,
that she does them."

"But," said Henry, very warmly, "supposing she exercised this same
heavenly charity when she believed no eye beheld her, but the poor
whom she relieved, and the sick whom she healed, and the God whom she
adores; would you call that ostentation?"

"Oh, my dear Mr. More," cried Miss Hart, with a musical laugh, "you do
not know half the arts of the sex. There is a young minister and young
physician too, in the neighbourhood, who know all her secret
movements, and hear her praises from morning till night--they say they
are both in love with her, but as her cousin hasn't been dead long,
she thinks it proper to be very demure--I must say frankly and
honestly, I have no faith in these female _Tartuffes_."

"Nor I neither," added Henry, with so peculiar a manner, that Miss
Hart started and looked inquisitively at him, with her dark, dilated
eyes. She feared she had hazarded too much, and immediately observed,

"Perhaps, in my abhorrence of duplicity and hypocrisy, I run into the
opposite extreme, and express my sentiments too openly. You think me
severe, but I can have no possible motive to depreciate Miss Carroll,
but as she herself stretches every one on the bed of Procrustes, I
feel at liberty to speak my opinion of her character, not mine only,
but that of the whole world."

Henry made some evasive reply, and turned the conversation to another
topic, leaving Miss Hart lost in a labyrinth of conjecture, as to the
impression she had made on his mind--where and when had he met Lois
Carroll, and why was he so reserved upon a theme, upon which he had
once been so eloquent?

She sat for half an hour after Henry left her, pondering on these
things, and looking at one figure in the carpet, as if her eyes grew
upon the spot, when her thoughts were turned into another channel by
the entrance of Captain Wentworth.

She believed that she stood very high in his favour, for he was
extremely polite to her, and showed her so much deference and
attention, that she had no doubt that if Mrs. Wentworth were out of
the way, he would be at no loss whom to choose as a successor. Her
prospects with Henry grew more and more dubious--she thought, upon the
whole, the captain the finer-looking and most agreeable man of the
two. There was no knowing but he might separate from his wife, and as
they seemed divorced in heart, she thought it would be much better
than to remain together so cold and distant to each other. There was
nothing she feared so much as a reconciliation; and as long as she
could prevent Mrs. Wentworth from manifesting any symptoms of
submission and sorrow, she was sure her husband's pride would be
unyielding. She had a scheme on hand at present, which would promote
her own gratification, and widen the breach between them.

There was a celebrated actor in the city, whom she was very desirous
of seeing, and of whom Captain Wentworth had a particular dislike; he
disliked the theatre and everything connected with it, and Miss Hart
had vainly endeavoured to persuade Mrs. Wentworth to go with her
brother, in open defiance of her husband. Henry manifested no
disposition himself, and never would understand the oblique hints she
gave him; she was determined to make a bold attack upon the captain
himself.

"Captain Wentworth," said she, carelessly looking over the morning
paper, "don't you mean to take Mrs. Wentworth to see this superb
actor? she is dying to see him, and yet does not like to ask you."

"She's at perfect liberty to go as often as she pleases," replied the
captain coldly--"I've no wish to control her inclinations."

"But she will not go, of course, unless you accompany her," replied
Miss Hart, "not even with her brother."

"Did she commission you to make this request?"

"Not precisely; but knowing her wishes, I could not forbear doing it,
even at the risk of your displeasure."

"If her heart is in such scenes, there can be no possible
gratification to confine her body within the precincts of home."

The captain walked several times up and down the room, as was his
custom when agitated, then abruptly asked Miss Hart if she wished to
go herself.

She wished it, she said, merely to avoid singularity, as everybody
else went; but had it not been for Mrs. Wentworth, she would never
have mentioned it.

The captain declared that if she had the slightest desire, it was a
command to him, and the tickets were accordingly purchased.

Late in the afternoon, Captain Wentworth sat in the dining-room,
reading. As the sun drew near the horizon, and the light grew fainter,
he sat down in a recess by a window, and the curtain falling down,
completely concealed him. In this position he remained while the
twilight darkened around him, and no longer able to read, he gave
himself up to those dark and gloomy reflections which had lately
filled his mind. He thought of the hours when, tossed upon the foaming
billows, he had turned in heart towards his home,

     "And she, the dim and melancholy star,
     Whose ray of beauty reached him from afar,"

rose upon the clouds of memory, with soft and gilding lustre. Now he
was safely anchored in the haven of his hopes and wishes, but his soul
was drifted by storms, wilder than any that swept the boisterous seas.
The very effort of preserving outward calmness, only made the tempest
fiercer within. This new instance of his wife's unconquerable levity
and heartlessness, filled him with despair. He believed her too much
demoralized by vanity and love of pleasure, ever to return to her duty
and allegiance as a wife.

While indulging these bitter feelings, Miss Hart and Mrs. Wentworth
entered the dining-room, unaware of his presence. Miss Hart, as usual,
was speaking in an earnest, confidential tone, as if she feared some
one was listening to her counsels.

"I beg, I entreat," said she, "that you would rally your spirits, and
not let the world see that you are cast down by his ill treatment. All
the fashionable people will be there tonight, and you must remember
that many eyes will be upon you; and pray don't wear that horrid
unbecoming dress, it makes a perfect fright of you, muffling you up to
the chin."

"It is no matter," replied Mrs. Wentworth, despondingly, "I don't care
how I look--the only eyes I ever really wished to charm, now turn from
me in disgust; I'm weary of acting the part of a hypocrite, of smiling
and chattering, and talking nonsense, when I feel as if my heart were
breaking. Oh! that I had not weakly yielded my better reason to that
fear of the world's censure, which has been the ruin of my happiness."

"I would never suffer my happiness to be affected one way or the
other," cried Miss Hart, "by a man who showed so little tenderness or
delicacy towards me. I wonder your affection is not chilled, nay
utterly destroyed by his harshness and despotism."

"Oh! you little know the strength or depth of a woman's love, if you
deem it so soon uprooted. My heart yearns to be admitted once more
into the foldings of his--a hundred times have I been tempted to throw
myself into his arms, implore his forgiveness, and entreat him to
commence a new life of confidence and love."

Miss Hart began to laugh at this romantic speech, but the laugh froze
on her lips when she saw the window-curtains suddenly part, and
Captain Wentworth rushing forward, clasp his astonished wife in his
arms, exclaiming "Jane, dear Jane, that life is begun!" He could not
utter another word.

When, after a few moments of intense emotion, he raised his head,
tears which were no stain upon his manhood, were glistening on his
dark cheek. Miss Hart looked on with feelings similar to those which
we may suppose animate the spirits of darkness, when they witness the
restoration of man to the forfeited favour of his Maker. There was
wormwood and bitterness in her heart, but her undaunted spirit still
saw a way of extrication from all her difficulties.

"Really, Captain Wentworth," exclaimed she, laughing violently, "the
next time you hide yourself behind a curtain, you must draw your boots
under; I saw the cloven foot peeping out, and spoke of you as I did,
just to see what Mrs. Wentworth would say, and I thought very likely
it would have a happy result--I am sure this is a finer scene than any
we shall see at the theatre."

"That you have deceived me, Miss Hart," answered the captain, "I
acknowledge to my shame, but my eyes are now opened. My situation was
accidental; no, I should say providential, for I have made
discoveries, for which I can never be sufficiently grateful. Jane, I
have been harsh and unjustly suspicious, I know, and richly deserve
all I have suffered; but from the first hour of my return, this
treacherous friend of yours, discovering the weakness of my character,
has fanned the flame of jealousy, and fed the fires that were
consuming me. I despise myself for being her dupe."

"Oh! Miss Hart," cried Mrs. Wentworth, "how could you be so cruel? you
whom I so trusted, and thought my best and truest friend!"

"I have said nothing but the truth to either," cried Miss Hart boldly,
seeing all subterfuge was now vain, "and you had better profit by it.
Everybody has a weak side, and if they leave it unguarded and open to
the attacks of the enemy, they have no one to blame but themselves. I
never made you jealous, Captain Wentworth, nor your wife credulous;
and, as I leave you wiser than I found you, I think you both ought to
be very much obliged to me."

Thus saying, with an unblushing countenance, she left the apartment,
and recollecting the next morning that a certain lady had given her a
most pressing invitation to visit her, she departed, and no one said
"God bless her."

Henry, who had seen full as much as he desired of her, hardly knew
which rejoiced him more, her departure or his sister's happiness.
Indeed the last seemed the consequence of the first, for never was
there such a transformation in a household. There was blue sky for
stormy clouds--spring gales for chill east winds--love and joy for
distrust and sorrow.

Henry had seen the physician and minister whom Miss Hart had mentioned
as the lovers of Lois Carroll. The _young physician_ happened to be a
bald, broad-faced man, with a long nose, which turned up at the end,
as if looking at his forehead, and the _young_ minister, a man whose
hair was frosted with the snow of sixty winters, and on whose
evangelical countenance disease had written deeper lines than those of
age. Charles, too, the lover-cousin, proved to be an only brother,
whose lingering hours of disease she had soothed with a Christian
sister's holy ministration. Henry became a frequent, and, as he had
reason to believe, a welcome visiter, at the house. He found Lois
skilled in all the graceful accomplishments of her sex--her mind was
enriched with oriental and classical literature, her memory stored
with the brightest and purest gems of genius and taste; yet, like the
wise men of the East, who brought their gold and frankincense and
myrrh to the manger of the babe of Bethlehem, she laid these precious
offerings in lowliness of spirit, at the feet of her Redeemer. All at
once, Henry perceived a cloud come over the confidence in which he was
established there. The good aunt was cold and distant; Lois, though
still gentle and kind, was silent and reserved, and he thought he
caught her melting blue eyes fixed upon him more than once with a sad
and pitying expression.

"What has occurred?" asked he with the frankness so peculiar to
him--when for a moment he was left alone with her "I am no longer a
welcome guest."

"Forgive us," answered Lois, her face mantling with earnest blushes,
"if we feel constrained to deny ourselves the pleasure we have derived
from your society. As long as we believed you the friend of religion,
though not her acknowledged votary, our hearts acknowledged a sympathy
with yours, and indulged a hope that you would ere long go goal for
goal with us for the same immortal prize. But an infidel, Mr. More!
Oh! my soul!" continued she, clasping her hands fervently together,
and looking upward, "come not thou into his secret!"

"An infidel!" cried Henry, "and do you believe me such, and condemn me
as such, unheard, without granting me an opportunity of vindication?"

"We would not have admitted the belief from an authority less
respectable. The intelligence came from one who had been an inmate of
your family, and expressed for you the warmest friendship. We were
told that you ridicule our faith, make the Bible a scorn and mockery,
and expose us as individuals to contempt and derision."

"It must have been that serpent of a Miss Hart!" exclaimed Henry,
trembling with passion; "that scorpion, that fiend in woman's form,
whose path may be traced by the slime and the poison she leaves
behind! The lips which could brand _you_, Lois, as a hypocrite, would
not leave my name unblackened. My sister received her into her
household, and her domestic happiness came near being the wreck of her
malignant arts--I could give you any proof you may ask of her
falsehood and turpitude."

"I ask none," cried Lois, with an irradiated countenance, "I believe
your assurance, and rejoice in it. I cannot describe the pain, the
grief I felt that one so kind to others, could be so cruel to
himself."

Lois, in the godly simplicity of her heart, knew not of the warmth
with which she spoke, or of the vivid expression that lighted up her
eyes. Henry thought if ever there was a moment when he could dare to
address her as a being born to love, and to be loved with human
tenderness, it was the present. He began with faltering lips, but in
the intensity of his feelings he soon forgot everything, but the
object for which he was pleading, with an ardour and a vehemence that
made the unsophisticated Lois tremble. She trembled and wept Her
heart melted before his impassioned declaration, but she feared to
yield immediately to its dictates.

Their course of life had hitherto been so different, their early
associations, their pursuits and habits--she dreaded lest he should
mistake the fervour of his attachment for her, for the warmth of
religious sentiment, and that the temptations of the world would
resume their influence over his heart. "Let us still be friends," said
she, smiling through her tears, "till time has more fully unfolded our
characters to each other. We are as yet but acquaintances of a day, as
it were, and if we hope to pass an eternity together, we should pause
a little before we become fellow-travellers in our pilgrimage. The
love of a Christian," continued she, a holy enthusiasm illuminating
her face, "cannot be limited to the transient union of this world--it
soars far, far beyond it, illimitable as space, and everlasting as the
soul's existence." Henry felt, while listening to this burst of
hallowed feeling, that to possess the love of Lois Carroll here,
without a hope of reunion beyond the grave, would be a dark and
cheerless destiny, compared to the glorious hopes that now animated
his being.

It was about two years after this, Miss Hart took passage in the
stage, and started for the habitation of some obscure relative who
lived in a distant town. She had gone from family to family, indulging
her odious propensity, flattering the present, and slandering the
absent, till, her character becoming fully known, all doors were
closed against her, and she was compelled to seek a home, among
kindred she was ashamed to acknowledge. "Whose beautiful country-seats
are those?" asked a fellow-passenger, pointing to two elegant
mansions, that stood side by side as if claiming consanguinity with
each other. "The first belongs to Captain Wentworth, and the other to
Mr. Henry More, his brother-in-law," answered Miss Hart, putting her
head from the window, as they passed--"you must have heard of them."
"No," said the stranger; "is there anything remarkable connected with
them?" "Nothing," replied she, with one of her significant shrugs,
"only the captain is one of your dark Spanish Knights, who lock up
their wives, and fight everybody who looks at them; and his lady likes
every other gentleman better than her husband--and they could not
agree, and the whole city were talking about them, so he took her into
the country, and makes her fast and pray, and do penance for her sins.
The other gentleman, Mr. More, married a low, ignorant girl, who had
never been accustomed to good society; so, being ashamed to introduce
her among his friends, he immured himself in the country also. They
say he is so wretched in his choice, he has turned a fanatic, and
there is some danger of his losing his reason." At this moment one of
the horses took fright, and springing from the road, the stage was
upset, with a terrible crash. Miss Hart, whose head was projecting
from the window, was the only one who was seriously injured. She was
dreadfully bruised and mangled, and carried insensible into Captain
Wentworth's house. The stranger, whose curiosity was excited by the
description he had just heard, and seeing the inhabitants of both
dwellings were gathering together in consequence of the accident,
assisted in carrying her, and lingered as long as he could find a
reasonable excuse for doing so. "I believe that young woman's jaw is
broken," said he, when he rejoined his fellow-passengers; "and it is a
judgment upon her--I know there is not a word of truth in what she has
been saying. If ever domestic happiness, as well as benevolence, dwelt
on earth, I verily believe it is in those two families."

It was long before Miss Hart recovered her consciousness, and when she
did, and endeavoured to speak, she felt such an excruciating pain in
her jaw, as prevented her utterance. It seemed a remarkable instance
of the retribution of Providence, that she should be afflicted in the
very part which she had made an instrument of so much evil to others.
Her jawbone was indeed broken, and there she lay, writhing in agony,
incapable of speech, indebted to the beings she hated because she had
injured, for the cares that prolonged her miserable existence. She
could not speak, but she could see and hear, and her senses seemed
sharpened by the bondage of her tongue. Mrs. Wentworth, and Lois too,
hovered round her, with gentle steps and pitying looks, and the
tenderest alleviations; and for this she might have been prepared. But
when, through the shades of evening, she heard the deep voice of the
once haughty and ungovernable Captain Wentworth, breathing forth
humble and heartfelt prayers, while his wife knelt meek and lowly by
his side, when she heard the gay and gallant Henry More, reading with
reverence God's holy word, and joining with Lois in hymns to the
Redeemer's praise, she rolled her eyes in wild amazement, and her dark
spirit was troubled within her. "There seems a reality in this,"
thought she. "The worldling become the saint, and the lion transformed
into the lamb! How happy they look, while I--poor, wretched, mangled
creature that I am!" Paroxysms of agony followed these reflections,
for which there seemed no mitigation.

She lingered for a long time speechless and in great suffering, but at
length recovered with a frightful distortion in the lower part of the
face. When she first beheld herself in a mirror, the shock was so
great as to produce delirium, and when that subsided, a gloom and
despair succeeded, from which they vainly endeavoured to rouse her by
the soothings of sympathy and the consolations of religion. She felt
that, like Cain, she must carry about an indelible brand upon her
face, and cried like him, in bitterness of spirit, "My punishment is
greater than I can bear." It was intolerable to her to look upon the
fair, serene countenances of Mrs. Wentworth and Lois, and to see too
the eyes of their husbands follow them with such love and delight, and
then to draw the contrast between them and her own disfigured beauty
and desolate lot. She expressed a wish to be sent to her relatives,
and the wish was not opposed. She received from them a grudging
welcome, for they had felt her sting, and feared that serpent tongue
of slander, whose ancestral venom is derived from the arch reptile
that lurked in the bowers of Eden.

Woe to the slanderer!--To use the language of the wise man, "her end
is bitter as wormwood, and sharp as a two-edged sword--Her feet go
down to death, her steps take hold on hell!"



THE SHAKER GIRL.


It was on a Sunday morning, when Roland Gray entered the village of
----. Though his mind was intent on the object of his journey, he
could not but admire the singular neatness and uniformity of the
houses, the velvet smoothness of the grass on the wayside, and the
even surface of the street, from which every pebble seemed to have
been removed. An air of perfect tranquillity reigned over the
whole--not a being was seen moving abroad, not a human face beaming
through the windows; yet far as the eye could reach, it roamed over a
vast, cultivated plain, covered with all the animated hues of
vegetation, giving evidence that the spirit of life was there, or had
been recently active. "Surely," thought Roland, "I have entered one of
those cities, described in the Arabian Nights, where some magician has
suddenly converted the inhabitants into stone. I will dismount and
explore some of these buildings--perchance I shall find some man, who
is only half marble, who can explain this enchantment of silence." He
had scarcely dismounted, and fastened his horse to a part of the
snow-white railing which guarded every avenue to the dwellings, when
he saw a most singular figure emerging from one, and approaching the
spot where he stood. It was a boy of about twelve years old, clad in
the ancient costume of our forefathers--with large breeches, fastened
at the knees with square shining buckles--a coat, whose skirts were of
surprising breadth, and a low-crowned hat, whose enormous brim shaded
his round and ruddy visage. Roland could not forbear smiling at this
extraordinary figure, but habitual politeness checked his mirth. He
inquired the name of the village, and found to his surprise he was in
the midst of one of those Shaker establishments, of whose existence,
and of whose singular doctrines, he was well aware, but which, his own
home being remote, he had never had an opportunity of witnessing.
Delighted with the circumstance, for the love of novelty and
excitement was predominant in his character, he determined to avail
himself of it to its fullest extent. An old man, dressed in the same
obsolete fashion, came up the path and accosted him:

"Are you a traveller," said he, "and seeking refreshments? If so, I am
sorry you have chosen this day, but nevertheless we never refuse to
perform the rites of hospitality."

Roland confessed he had no claims upon their hospitality, having
partaken of a hearty breakfast two hours before in a town not far
distant, and he wondered within himself why they had not mentioned the
vicinity of this interesting establishment; forgetting that to those
who live within the reach of any object of curiosity, it loses its
interest. It is said there are some, who live where the echo of
Niagara's eternal thunders are ringing in their ears, who have never
gazed upon its foam. "If you come to witness our manner of worship,
young man," said the elder, "and come in a sober, godly spirit, I give
you welcome. The world's people often visit us, some, I am sorry to
say, to scoff and to jest; but you have an honest, comely countenance,
and I trust are led by better motives."

Roland was no hypocrite, but the good Shaker opened for him so fair a
door of excuse for his intrusion, he was unwilling to deny that he was
moved by a laudable desire to behold their peculiar form of worship.
Pleased by the sunny openness of his countenance, the elder led the
way to the house set apart for the service of the Most High, exhorting
him at the same time to renounce the pomps and vanities of the world,
and unite with them in that _oneness_ of spirit, which distinguished
their society from the children of mankind. No lofty spire marked out
the temple of the Lord, nor did its form differ from that of a common
dwelling-place. They entered a spacious hall, the floor of which
presented such a dazzling expanse of white, the foot of the traveller
hesitated before pressing its polished surface. The walls were of the
same shining whiteness, chilling the eye by their cold uniformity--and
benches arranged with the most exact precision on each side of the
building, marked the boundaries of either sex Roland seated himself at
some distance from the prescribed limits, and waited with proper
solemnity the entrance of the worshippers. He observed that the men
invariably entered at one door, the women at another, and that they
had as little intercourse as if they belonged to different worlds. The
men were all clothed in the ancient costume we have just described,
and the women were dressed in garments as peculiar and unbecoming. A
shirt of the purest white, short gown of the same texture, a 'kerchief
folded in stiff unbending plaits, a mob cap of linen fastened close
around the face, from which every tress of hair was combed carefully
back, constituted their chill and ghost-like attire. As one by one
these pallid figures glided in, and took their appointed seat, Roland
felt as if he were gazing on the phantasmagoria of a dream, so pale
and unearthly did they seem. The countenances of the males were
generally suffused with a ruddy glow, but cold and colourless as
marble were the cheeks of that sex he had been wont to see adorned
with the roses of beauty and health. They arose and arranged
themselves in a triangular form, while several of the aged stood in
the centre, commencing the worship by a hymn of praise. Their voices
were harsh and broken, but the devotion of their manner sanctified the
strains, and Roland felt not, as he feared he should, a disposition
for mirth. But when they gradually formed into a procession, marching
two and two in a regular line, all joining in the wild and dissonant
notes, then warming as they continued, changing the solemn march into
the liveliest dance, clapping their hands simultaneously and shouting
till the cold white walls resounded with the strange hosannas; all the
while, those hueless, passionless faces gleaming by him, so still and
ghastly mid their shroud-like garments, his brain began to reel, and
he almost imagined himself attending the orgies of the dead, of
resuscitated bodies, with the motions of life, but without the living
soul. Still, over the whole group there was a pervading solemnity and
devotion, an apparent abandonment of the whole world--an anticipation
of the loneliness and lifelessness of the tomb, that redeemed it from
ridicule, and inspired emotions kindred to awe. This awe, however,
soon melted away in pity at such delusion, and this sensation became
at length converted into admiration for an object, at first unnoticed
in the general uniformity of the scene, but which grew upon his eye,
like the outline of the landscape through the morning mist. There was
one young girl moving in this throng of worshippers, whose superior
bearing could not long elude the stranger's scrutiny. Her age might
be fourteen or fifteen, perhaps younger; it was difficult to decide
through the muffling folds of a dress which levelled every distinction
of form and comeliness. As she passed and repassed him, in the
evolutions of their dance, he caught occasional glimpses of a face,
which, though pale, betrayed the flitting colour through the
transparent skin; and once or twice the soft, thoughtful gray eyes
were turned towards him, with a wistful and earnest expression, as if
claiming sympathy and kindness from some congenial being. Fixing his
gaze upon the spot where he first beheld her, he watched her returning
figure with an intensity that at last became visible to the object of
it, for the pale rose of her cheek grew deeper and deeper, and her
beautiful gray eyes were bent upon the floor. Roland leaned from the
window near which he was seated, to see if it was actually the same
world he had inhabited that morning, so strangely were his senses
affected by the shrill music, growing louder and louder, the
shuffling, gliding motions, increasing in velocity, and this sweet
apparition so unexpectedly mingling in such an incongruous scene. The
breath of summer redolent with a thousand perfumes stole over his
brow--the blue sky was arching over his head; never had creation
seemed more lovely or glowing; yet the worshippers within deemed they
were offering an acceptable sacrifice on the altar of God, the
sacrifice of those social affections, which find such beautiful
emblems in the works of nature. Roland became so lost in these
reflections, he hardly noticed the closing of the exercise, or heard
the monotonous tones of one of the elders, who was exhorting in the
peculiar dialect of his sect. When the services were concluded, he
left the hall, still watching the motions of the gray-eyed damsel, in
the bold resolution of accosting her, and discovering if she were a
willing devotee. As she walked along with a light step, in spite of
her clumsy high-heeled shoes, by the side of an ancient dame, Roland,
unconscious of the extreme audacity of the act, and hardly knowing
himself in what manner to address her, crossed her path, and was in
the very act of apologizing for the intrusion, when his arm was seized
with a sturdy grasp, and he saw the old Shaker who had introduced him
into the assembly, standing by his side. "Young man," said he, in a
stern voice--"do you come here, a wolf in sheep's clothing, in the
very midst of the flock? what is your business with this child, whom
our rules forbid you to address?" Roland felt at first very indignant,
but a moment's reflection convinced him he had erred, and
transgressed their rigid rules. He felt too that he had placed himself
in rather a ridiculous situation, and he stood before the rebuking
elder with a blush of ingenuous shame, that completely disarmed his
wrath. "You are young, very young," said the old man--"and I forgive
you--you have been brought up in the midst of the vanities of the
world, and I pity you; yet my heart cleaves to you, young man, and
when you become weary of those vanities, as you shortly will, come to
us, and you will find that peace which the world can neither give nor
take away."

He shook hands with Roland after he had spoken, who acknowledged his
offence, thanked him for his counsel and kindness, and, mounting his
horse, left him with a sentiment of unfeigned respect; so true it is,
that sincerity of faith gives dignity to the professor of many a creed
revolting to human reason. Roland looked back upon the beautiful
village, and wondered at what he had just witnessed. He felt a strong
disposition to linger, that he might discover something more of the
peculiarities of this singular and isolated people. Had he known their
incorruptible honesty, their unwearied industry, their trusting
hospitality, their kindness and charity--had he seen the pale
sisterhood extending their cherishing cares to the children of
orphanage and want, he would have been convinced that warm streams of
living tenderness were flowing beneath the cold forms of their austere
religion.

Roland Gray was very young, and had seen but little of the world. He
had led the secluded life of a student, and, but lately freed from
collegiate restraints, he had been trying his wings, preparatory to a
bolder flight across the Atlantic. He was now on the way to his
sister, who, with himself, was placed under the guardianship of the
excellent Mr. Worthington, for they were orphans, left with an
independent fortune, but singularly destitute of kindred, being the
last of their race. An invalid gentleman, one of his father's early
friends, was about to travel in foreign climes to try the benefit of a
milder atmosphere, and he urged Roland to be his companion. Such a
proposal was accepted with gratitude, and Roland, with buoyant
spirits, returned to his sister, to bid her farewell, before launching
on the "deep blue sea." Lucy Gray was older than her brother, and from
childhood had exercised over him the influence with which a few
additional years, joined to a strength of mind far beyond her years,
invested her. He was the object no less of her love than her pride.
She looked upon him as the last representative of a family, honoured
among the most honourable, and destined to transmit to posterity his
ancestral name, with unblemished and still more exalted lustre. She
resolved he should ennoble himself by marriage, and would have
scorned, as degrading, the thought that love might make the youth a
rebel to her will. She believed the affections entirely under the
control of the reason, and looked upon the passions as vassals to be
dragged at its chariot wheels. Lucy was not loved by her friends, but
she was respected and esteemed for the firmness of her principles, and
the strength of her mind. But Roland loved as much as he revered her.
His heart was a fountain of warm and generous affections, and it
flowed out towards her, his only sister, in the fulness of a current,
that found no other legitimate channel. Accustomed to yield his rash
and ardent impulses to the direction of her cooler judgment, he looked
up to her as the mentor of his follies, rather than as the companion
of his youthful amusements, and now, after an absence of several
months, partly from pleasure and partly from business, he looked
forward to meeting her with something of the feelings of a son,
blended with the affection of a brother. His arrival at Mr.
Worthington's was hailed with a burst of joy, for Roland had a face of
sunshine and a voice of melody, that shed light and music wherever he
went. In relating his adventures, he failed not to give due interest
to his interview with the Shakers, and laughed over the Quixotism that
exposed him to so stern a rebuke. The pretty little Shakeress did not
lose any of her attractions in his romantic description, and he dwelt
upon her dovelike eyes, melting beneath the snows of her antiquated
cap, her sweet, appealing countenance and spiritual air, till Mr.
Worthington's childless heart warmed within him, and Lucy listened
with apprehensive pride lest her brother's excited imagination should
convert this obscure unknown into a heroine of romance. It was but a
transient alarm, for she knew that the waves of the Atlantic would
soon roll between them, and Roland, surrounded by all the glorious
associations of an elder world, would cast aside every light and
ignoble fancy, and fit himself for the high station in society she
felt he was born to fill.

       *       *       *       *       *

After an absence of four years Roland Gray appeared once more in the
family circle of Mr. Worthington. His hair had assumed a darker shade,
and his cheek a darker glow, but the same sunshiny spirit lighted up
his brow and animated his lips; it was Roland Gray still, only the
bloom of boyhood was lost in the sunniness of manhood. Lucy's
handsome, but severe countenance was so irradiated with joy, it was
almost dazzling from the effect of contrast: and as she sat by his
side, and gazed in his face, she felt that all her affections and her
hopes were so completely centered in him, they could be separated only
with the breaking of her heart. Happy as Roland was in being reunited
to his sister, his attention was not so engrossed as to forget the
kindly greetings due to the other members of Mr. Worthington's
household.

"I have an adopted daughter to introduce you to," said Mr.
Worthington, drawing forward a young girl who, on the entrance of
Roland, had retreated behind a stand of geraniums, and busied herself
in picking off the faded leaves. Roland had become too familiar with
beauty in foreign climes, to be surprised into admiration of a face
however fair, but there was a sweetness, a modesty and simplicity
diffused over the young face before him, that interested his feelings
and disarmed his judgment. He could scarcely tell the colour of her
eyes, for they were downcast, but there was something in the play of
her features, that implied she sympathized in the pleasure his coming
had excited. "Roland," continued Mr. Worthington, evidently delighted
with the reception he had given his favourite, "this is my daughter
Grace, whom Providence has kindly given to cheer a widowed and
childless heart. You know I look upon you almost as my son, so you
will find in her, I trust, another sister to love." Roland held out
his hand with great alacrity to seal this new compact, but the pretty
Grace drew back with an embarrassment he was unwilling to increase,
seeing it was entirely unaffected; and there was something in Lucy's
glance that told him she resented the idea of such a partnership in
his affections. He could not but marvel where good old Mr. Worthington
had found such a fairy gift, but believing the mystery would be
explained in due time, he promised himself no slight gratification in
studying a character, concealed under such a veil of bashfulness and
reserve. The twilight hour found the brother and sister walking
together towards their accustomed seat under the sycamore boughs, the
scene of many of Lucy's former counsels, and Roland's high resolves.
She wanted to be alone with him--to guard him against a thousand
dangers and snares, visible only to her proud and jealous eye. "Oh!
Roland," said she, taking his hand and looking earnestly in his
face--"do you return unchanged?--may I still, as wont, presume to
counsel, to direct, and to sustain?" "Unchanged in everything as
regards my affection for you, my dear sister," replied he--"be still
my mentor and my guide, for I fear, with all the worldly wisdom I have
acquired, I am often the same impulsive being you have so long tried
in vain to bring under the square and compass of reason and right.
Now, I feel at this moment an irresistible impulse to know who is this
pretty God-send of Mr. Worthington's; did she drop down from the
skies, or did she come on the wings of the wind?"

"I am glad you have opened the subject, Roland, for I brought you here
to warn you of that girl's influence. Do not laugh, for, knowing you
so well, I feel bound to prevent any imposition on your open, generous
nature. I do not know who she is, probably some poor child of shame
and desertion, whom Mr. Worthington discovered and educated, for it is
but a year since he brought her from school, and introduced her as his
adopted daughter. He made a long visit to his relatives, since you
left us, and found her, I believe, in the family of his brother, in a
dependent and perhaps menial situation. Charmed by her beauty and
beguiled by her arts, the good man conceived the romantic design of
educating her as his own, and now he is felicitating himself with
another project, that of securing for this nameless foundling the
heart and the fortune of Roland Gray." Roland had heard too much about
gentle blood and honourable parentage, and been too much under the
influence of his aristocratic sister, not to shrink from the
supposition of such an union, but he protested against the word
_arts_, which Lucy had used in reference to Grace, for she looked the
most artless of human beings; and he accused her of injustice towards
Mr. Worthington, who in his singleness of heart was incapable of
making a project of any kind. "You must not think it strange," said
Lucy, "that I, a woman should not be blinded by the beauty of one of
my own sex, and I know I am superior to the weakness of envy. With an
insight into character which has never deceived me, I know that girl
to be vain, selfish, and calculating. Mr. Worthington may claim her as
_his daughter_, but he shall never impose her on me, by the name of
_sister_." Those who have witnessed the empire an elder sister of
commanding mind and manners is capable of obtaining over a younger
brother's judgment, will not be surprised that Roland learned to look
upon Grace with distrustful eyes, though he could not believe in the
duplicity Lucy ascribed to her character, and he invariably treated
her with that consideration due to the situation she held in Mr.
Worthington's family. It was impossible, however, to be domesticated
with her, to be seated at the same table, parties in the same
amusements, near each other in the evening circle, and the moonlight
walks, notwithstanding the unsleeping vigilance of Lucy, not to feel
the reality of her loveliness, her simplicity and truth. There was
something about her that haunted him like a dream, and whenever she
turned her eyes towards him, he experienced a sudden thrill of
recollection, as if he had seen that fair face before. In the evening
Mr. Worthington often challenged Lucy to a game of chess, for though
not a skilful performer, he was extravagantly fond of the game, and
Lucy had no rival in the art. She now regretted this accomplishment,
as it threw her brother more immediately into companionship with
Grace, whose conversation, when unrestrained, was perfectly
bewitching, from a mixture of bright intelligence, quick sensibility,
and profound ignorance of the vices and customs of the world. It was
evident she felt oppressed by Lucy's scrutinizing gaze, for when she
was conscious of its withdrawal, her spirits rebounded with an
unobtrusive gayety, that harmonized admirably with the life and
vivacity of Roland's disposition.

One evening, as Lucy was absorbed in the crisis of the game, Grace was
busily plying her needle, making some garments for a poor woman, whose
house and wardrobe were completely consumed by fire, the previous
night; all the ladies in the neighbourhood were contributing their
part towards relieving her wants, and a very pretty little girl, with
a basket half-filled with her mother's offerings, was waiting till
Grace had put the last stitches into a cap, whose fashion seemed to
fix the particular attention of Roland. The child, who was a petted
favourite in the family, caught up the cap the moment it was
completed, and drawing it over the soft brown locks of Grace,
laughingly fastened the linen bands. Roland uttered so sudden an
exclamation, it made Lucy start from her seat, upsetting bishop,
knight, and royalty itself. The mystery was revealed, the pretty
little Shakeress stood before him. The close linen border, under which
every lock of hair was concealed, transformed at once the fashionable
and elegant young lady into the simple and humble Shaker girl. A
scene, which the lapse of years and the crowding events of a
transatlantic tour had effaced from his memory, returned vividly to
his recollection. He wondered he had not recognised her earlier, but
the hue of the soft gray eye was darkened, and its light more warm and
shifting, her complexion had a richer colouring, and shadows of bright
hair relieved the fairness of a brow where intelligence and
sensibility now sat enthroned. Then her figure--now revealed in all
the graces of womanhood, was it the same he had seen muffled in the
stiff starched shirt and 'kerchief, moving on high-heeled shoes with
large shining buckles? Grace blushed deeply beneath his riveted gaze,
and hastily snatching the cap from her head, folded it with the other
garments she had made into the basket, and bade the little girl hasten
to her mother. "What is the meaning of all this bustle?" said Lucy,
looking at Grace with so much asperity it made her involuntarily draw
closer to Mr. Worthington. "It means," said Roland, delighted and
excited by the discovery he had made, and forgetting his sister's
daily cautions--"it means that I have found my pretty Shakeress at
last. Ah! Mr. Worthington, why did not you tell me that your adopted
daughter and my fair unknown were one?" Mr. Worthington laughed, and
taking the hand of Grace drew her upon his knee. "Because the world is
full of prejudice, and I did not like to expose my girl to its
influence. I always wanted to tell _you_, but Grace insisted I should
allow you to find it out yourself, for she told me about the bold
youth, who almost stared her out of her devotion and her wits. Nay,
Grace, I owe him a thousand thanks, for had he not warmed my old heart
by a description of your loveliness, I never should have gone so far
out of my journey to visit your village, begged you of the good people
for my own, nor would I now have such a sweet blossom to shed
fragrance over my declining years."

"And how," exclaimed Roland with irresistible curiosity, "how came she
amongst them?" Before Mr. Worthington could reply, Grace clasped her
hands earnestly together, and cried, "I was a stranger, and they took
me in; I was an orphan and they clothed me, sheltered and--"
Previously much agitated, Grace here entirely lost her self-command,
and leaning her head on the shoulder of Mr. Worthington, she wept
audibly. Lucy actually trembled and turned pale. She saw that her
empire was tottering from its foundation. Accustomed to interpret
every change of her brother's countenance, she read with terror the
intense expression with which his eyes were fixed on Grace. She was
willing he should marry from ambition, but not for love. She had never
for a moment admitted the idea that another should supplant her in his
affections--a jealousy far more dark and vindictive than that excited
by love, the jealousy of power, took possession of her soul, mingled
with a bitter hatred towards the innocent cause of these emotions.
Through life she had bowed the will of others to her own, and as long
as no opposition roused the strength of her passions, she maintained a
character of integrity and virtue, that bid defiance to scandal and
reproach. She did not know herself the evil of which she was capable,
but now the lion was unchained in her bosom, and chafed and wrestled
for its prey. Too politic to attempt checking too suddenly the tide of
feeling, yet too angry to hide her own chagrin, she left the room, and
meditated in what manner she could best arrest the evil she dreaded.
She failed not, however, to breathe a warning whisper into her
brother's ear as she passed out. Here Mr. Worthington entreated Grace
to tell Roland all she knew of herself, assuring her, in his
simplicity, that no one, next to himself, felt so deep an interest in
her, as he did. Roland felt no disposition to contradict this
assertion, and joined his own entreaties so earnestly to Mr.
Worthington's, Grace hesitated not to relate her simple history. It
could be comprised in a few words. She told of her sad and almost
desolate childhood, of her dwelling in a little cottage deep in the
woods, remote from neighbours or friends; of a dark and cruel man she
called father--here Grace's voice grew low and husky--of a pale, sick,
and dying mother, who was found by a good Shaker, on the bed of death,
and who committed her orphan child to the care of the kind Samaritan.
The man who had deserted her mother, in the extremity of her wants,
never appeared to claim his child. She was cherished in the bosom of
that benevolent society, where Roland first beheld her, grateful for
their kindness, though yearning after freedom and the fellowship of
youth, till Mr. Worthington came, and offered her the love and
guardianship of a father, if she would occupy a daughter's place in
his heart and home. Her father's name was Goldman, which she had
willingly resigned for that of Worthington, for the memory she had of
him, was like a dark and terrible dream--fearful to remember. The
dread that he might appear some day to claim her, often made her
shudder in the midst of her happiness; but as so many years had passed
away, it was more natural to suppose he had expiated his cruelty with
his life.

Had Mr. Worthington conceived the project that Lucy had suggested, and
been aware at the same time of Roland's family pride, it is not
probable he would have induced her to reveal to him the sad events of
her childhood; and had Grace been the artful being described, she
would never have told with such straightforward simplicity and deep
sensibility of her father's brutality and vices, nor expressed the
startling fear, that he might still assert the forfeited rights of
nature, and tear her from the arms of her benefactor. Such thoughts as
these filled the breast of Roland, as Grace continued her affecting
recital, where truth was attested by her blushes and her tears. She
unclasped from her neck a golden chain, from which a miniature was
suspended, the sole relic of her mother. The chain was beautifully
wrought, and indicated that however abject was the condition to which
the owner had been reduced, she had once been accustomed to the
decorations of wealth. The miniature was that of a gentleman in the
prime of life, with a dark, but interesting countenance, and dignified
bearing. Grace knew not whether it was her father's picture, for she
had but a faint recollection of his features, and the Shaker who
discovered it around her mother's neck, after she was speechless in
death, could give her no information.

Here was mystery and romance, innocence, beauty, and youth; and Roland
felt as if he would gladly twine them together, and bind them around
his heart, as all "he guessed of heaven." But while his imagination
was weaving the garland and revelling in its fragrance, the vision of

     "A sister's jealous care,
     A cruel sister she,"

rose before him, and the wreath faded and the blossoms fell. With a
stinging sensation of shame, he admitted the conviction, that he
_feared_ his sister. He had long worn her fetters unconsciously, but
now, when for the first time they galled and restrained him, his pride
and his heart rebelled against the hand that bound him in thraldom.
Grace retired that night, with a thousand bright hopes hovering round
her pillow. Roland then was her first benefactor. It was he, who had
awakened the interest of Mr. Worthington, and directed him to her
retreat. He, the handsome and noble-looking youth, whose dark piercing
eyes had kindled in her such yearnings after the world from which she
was excluded, and who for four years had been the morning and evening
star on the horizon of her memory. She knew something of this before,
but she had never realized it so fully as now; for he had himself
confirmed it, by words, which, though simple in themselves, were
unutterably eloquent, accompanied by such looks--she blushed even in
the darkness, as she caught herself involuntarily repeating, "and have
I found my pretty Shakeress at last?" For two or three days, Roland
avoided being alone with Lucy, but to his surprise, she did not seem
to desire an opportunity to renew her warnings. On the contrary, she
was more kind and affectionate towards Grace than she had ever been
before, who, in the confidingness of innocence, relied on her unwonted
testimonies of favour, as the harbingers of her dearest wishes.
"Grace," said Lucy--they were alone and secure of interruption, for
Mr. Worthington and Roland were both absent on business--"Grace, are
you willing to tell me of what you are now thinking?" Grace
started--she had fallen into an unconscious revery, and her work lay
idly in her lap; her cheeks glowed painfully, but with that habitual
reverence for truth which always distinguished her, she answered, "I
was thinking of Roland." Unprepared for such perfect ingenuousness,
Lucy hesitated a moment, and conscience upbraided her for the part she
was about to act, but again fixing her keen eye on a countenance as
transparent as crystal, she continued: "Has Roland ever told you that
he loved you?" Grace crimsoned still more deeply from wounded modesty
and shame, while she answered in a low voice, "Never!" "Then," said
the inquisitor, drawing a relieving breath, "Grace, your task is easy,
and I rejoice that he has made it so; you must not think of Roland,
you must not love him, for he never can be to you anything more than
he now is." Grace turned deadly pale, but she did not speak, and Lucy
went on--"My brother was my father's only son, and is sole heir of a
name long conspicuous for its honours. Our parents died when we were
both young; but I, as the elder, became the guardian and guide. To me,
on his death-bed, my father committed my young brother, charging me
with the solemnity of that awful hour, to guard his honour from stain,
and his name from degradation. My father was a proud and haughty man,
and he has transmitted to his children a portion of his own spirit.
Grace, you have told me all the circumstances of your life; you know
there is mystery, but you may not know in your extreme simplicity,
that there may be disgrace in your birth. The golden chain that
wreathes your neck, shows that your mother was not born to poverty.
Why then did she flee from her friends, to bury herself in solitude
with the dark and cruel man you called father; and why are you an
alien from your kindred? You ought to know these truths, which the
mistaken kindness of your friends conceals from you, and I reveal them
to you, that you may not encourage hopes that never can be realized;
to convince you, you can never be the wife of Roland. For myself, hear
me, Grace, to the end--if Roland could forget himself so far as to
think of such an union, I would forever disown him as a brother, and
load with maledictions the being who had brought such misery on us
both." All the strong passions at work in Lucy's bosom, sent their
baleful lustre to her eyes, and poor Grace shrunk from their beams as
if they were withering her very heart. Brought up in the midst of that
gentle and subdued sisterhood, in whose uniform existence the passions
seemed cradled into unbroken slumber, she had almost forgotten their
existence. The terrible dreams of her childhood were brought back to
her. The curses of her father again rung in her ears--the helpless
cries of her mother. She clasped her hands despairingly over her
eyes--she knew she had been poor and wretched; but benevolence and
charity had administered to her wants, and the very remembrance of
poverty had faded from her mind; but disgrace--that there was a
disgrace attached to her that made it sinful in her to love Roland
Gray, that debarred her from an union with the honourable and
good--that was the thought that crushed her, that chilled her blood,
and turned her cheeks to marble and her lips to ashes. Lucy paused,
and attempted to soothe the agony she had excited. Cold herself to the
softer emotions, she had no faith in the eternity of love. Grace, like
a child robbed of its plaything, now wept and refused to be comforted,
but she would soon smile animated by some new-born hope. Thus Lucy
tried to reason, while she held her chill grasp on the heart of Grace,
and bound her still more closely to her will. "Promise me," said she,
"that you will not reveal to any one the conversation of this
morning--Mr. Worthington has deceived you, and you would not meanly
appeal to the compassion of Roland--promise this, and you shall find
in me a friend who will never forsake you in weal or woe. Deny it,
and you will create an enemy whose power can make you tremble." Grace,
with all her woman's pride rising to her relief, at the idea of
appealing to the compassion of Roland, gave the desired promise, and
still more--she voluntarily declared she would rather die than think
of Roland, after what Lucy had just uttered. Lucy, satisfied with her
promise, for she knew her truth, embraced her with commendations which
fell heedlessly on poor Grace's paralyzed ears--she withdrew to her
chamber, "for her whole head was pained and her whole heart sick;" and
when Mr. Worthington and Roland returned, Grace was said to be unable,
from indisposition, to join the circle, where she was wont to preside
an angel of light and joy. The sympathy and sorrow excited by so
common an event, reconciled Lucy more than anything else, to her
selfishness and cruelty. But was she happy in the success of her
operations! She had planted thorns in the bosom of another--but were
there none rankling in her own! Could she, a daughter of this land of
republicanism, shelter herself under the cold shadow of family pride,
from the reproaches of her own conscience? Ah! no! the heart is its
own avenger, and for every drop of sorrow wilfully wrung from the eyes
of another, shall be doomed to give only tears of blood.

Roland wondered at the change that had come over Grace, and sought by
every means to ascertain the cause, but she seemed wrapped in a cloud
of impenetrable reserve. She avoided him, but in so quiet a manner, it
appeared to him more the result of sudden indifference or aversion,
than unexplained resentment. The sunshine of her smile was gone, and
an expression of calm apathy settled on her brow, where the
alternations of feeling had lately flitted, like the lights and
shadows of a moonlight landscape. Roland sometimes had a painful
suspicion of his sister, but she had always been so open in all her
actions, so undisguised in her least amiable traits, that
notwithstanding all the prejudice she had manifested towards Grace, he
believed her incapable of any mean or dark designings. Mr. Worthington
was anxious and alarmed. He was sure some incipient and insidious
disease was the cause of her pale and dispirited appearance. He was
constantly feeling her pulse, and inquiring her symptoms, and
insisting upon calling in a physician, till poor Grace, really glad to
shelter herself from observation, under the pretext held out,
acknowledged herself ill, and passively submitted to a course of
medicine, which reduced her soon to a state of real debility and
suffering. They applied blisters to her forehead to still its hot
throbbings; they drew blood from her veins to reduce her feverish
pulse, and Lucy sat by her bedside and administered to her
unweariedly, and discussed the nature of her malady, and talked of its
different stages; while all the time she knew it was herself who had
coldly and deliberately dried up the fountain of hope and joy, and
love, which had sent such roses to her cheek and sunbeams to her eye.
She sometimes trembled in the darkness of night, at the possibility
that Grace might die, under the regimen of this imaginary disease; and
then a voice whispered in hollow murmurs, in her ears, "Thou shalt
sleep no more, for thou hast murdered sleep." But in day's broad light
a witness to Roland's abstraction, anxiety and gloom, she steeled her
conscience, in reflecting on the necessity of the act. Let not Grace
be condemned, as too weak and yielding, as too blind an instrument in
the hands of another. Her education had been peculiar, and her natural
disposition was extremely sensitive and timid. The first years of her
life had been passed in terror and sorrow--terror for her father's
cruelty, and sorrow for her mother's woe. Everything around her was
tumultuous and fearful, and she learned to shudder at the awful
manifestations of evil passions, before she knew them by name.
Transplanted to a scene, where everything breathed of peace and
silence, where industry, neatness, and order were heaven's first laws,
where the voice of dissension was unheard, and the storms of passion
unfelt, her spirit had been so hushed and subdued, her sensibilities
so repressed, and her energies held down, she moved along her daily
path a piece of beautiful and exquisite mechanism, but whose most
powerful springs had never been touched. It is true she loved the kind
and gentle Shakers, but it was with a tranquil feeling of gratitude
and trust. The visit of Roland Gray acted as an electrical
communication between her and the world to which he belonged. It
seemed to her it must be inhabited by angels; and when Mr. Worthington
came and induced her benefactor to resign her to his care, she
welcomed the change as into the garden of Eden. In the seclusion of a
school, her timidity still induced her to shrink within herself; in
the companionship of Lucy, she felt awe-struck and abashed; but Roland
came, and then she realized the paradise of her imagination.
Everything around her was music and beauty and love--flowers sprang up
in the waste places, water gushed from the rock, and melody filled
the air. To be forbidden to think of him, to be commanded to wrench
him from her heart, to be made to think of herself as a low and
disgraced being--Grace would have shuddered at the idea of impiety,
but when she laid her head on her pillow, willing to be thought sick,
rather than wretched, she certainly wished to die. But the strength of
youth, though prostrated, rebounded from the pressure. She was not
doomed to the _curse of a granted prayer_. The Providence that had so
long watched over her destiny, still kept its unseen but slumbering
vigils. Grace remembered her old friends, the Shakers, and yearned
once more for their still and passionless existence. She prayed Mr.
Worthington to take her there so earnestly, he did not hesitate to
grant her request, believing the journey would invigorate her
constitution and change of scene animate her mind. She spoke not of
remaining, and the wish was so natural and grateful, it could not
excite surprise or censure.

"You see," said Lucy to her brother, the night before Grace's
departure, "the influence of early habits. Perhaps all this time Grace
has been pining after the Shakers. She has been suffering from a kind
of calenture, and when she sees their green plain, and quiet village,
she will be happy." "Impossible!" cried Roland, completely thrown off
his guard by Lucy's sudden insinuation. "She is strange and
unaccountable, but I never will believe anything so preposterous. She,
that sweet, lovely, spiritual creature, to be immured again in their
cold walls, and to wish it, and pine after it! By heavens! Lucy, if I
could believe such a thing, I would go this moment and prevent the
immolation. I will not deceive you; I do not care any longer for pride
and empty sounding names, and birth and parentage. It is ridiculous to
think of such things in this republican country. Grace is equal to the
highest; for she claims her birthright from the Almighty himself, and
carries on her brow the signet of heaven." "Stop, Roland, for heaven's
sake, and hear me." "I will not stop," continued Roland, a spirit of
determination flashing from his eyes she had never seen in them
before; "shall I sacrifice my happiness to a shadow, a bubble? No! I
have hesitated too long; I love Grace; I love her with all my heart
and soul, and I will go this moment and tell her so." He laid his hand
upon the latch, but Lucy sprang forward like lightning, and seized it
in her own. "One moment, Roland, only one moment; I, your only sister,
ask it." Roland saw she was very pale, and he felt her hand tremble
as it grasped him. She was indeed his only sister, whom he had so much
loved, and he felt he had met her prejudices with too much
impetuosity; they might yield, perhaps, to softer measures. "What is
it you would say, Lucy? You asked for one moment, and I have given you
more." "Only promise to wait till her return; that is all I ask; I
spoke in jest; you knew she would not remain; Mr. Worthington will
never leave her. Promise me this, dear Roland, and I will not oppose
my pride to your happiness." Lucy knew that she was uttering a
falsehood, for she herself had confirmed Grace in her resolution to
remain; but she had begun to weave the tangled web of deceit, and she
wound herself deeper and deeper in its folds. All she wanted now was
to gain time, and she then felt she should be safe. Roland promised,
for delay was not sacrifice, and he was surprised and grateful for
Lucy's concession.

"Grace," whispered Lucy, as she embraced and bid her farewell, "you
are acting right; you will find peace and happiness in the path you
seek. Be assured of my friendship and also my gratitude." Grace was
mute, but she gave Lucy a look that might have melted a heart of
stone.

"Grace," said Roland, "come back to us soon." He kept his promise to
his sister, but his voice trembled, his hand lingered as it pressed
hers in parting, and his eyes spoke a language she must have
understood, had not her own been blinded with tears. She met a warm
reception from the friends of her early days. The kind Susan, who had
taken the first charge of her, and acted toward her a mother's part,
opened her arms to receive her, and when she saw her faded colour and
drooping eyes, she felt as the patriarch did when he took in his weary
dove to the ark, for she knew the wanderer brought back no green olive
branch of hope and joy. Susan had once known the gayeties of the
world, and tasted its pleasures, but her heart had been blighted and
her hopes betrayed, and finding all was vanity, to use her own
expressive language she had "taken up her cross and followed her
Saviour." The seal of silence was placed on the history of her heart,
and Grace dreamed not that one of that tranquil tribe had ever known
the tumult of human passions. By some mysterious communion, however,
between soul and soul, Grace felt an assurance of Susan's sympathy,
and clung to her with increased affection. It was long before Mr.
Worthington would consent to leave her behind. "Only a few months,"
pleaded she, "and then I shall be well and strong again; all I need
is quiet." "The child is right," added Susan; "she is weary of the
world, and wants rest. She shall dwell in my tabernacle, and share my
pillow, and I will nourish and cherish her as my own flesh and blood.
She will not be compelled to join our worship, or follow our rites,
for we now look upon her as our guest, our daughter in love, but not
our sister in the spirit of the Lord." Satisfied with this promise,
Mr. Worthington blessed Grace, embraced her, and left her, bidding her
be ready to return when the first leaf of autumn fell. She did not sit
down and brood over the blighted hopes of her youth. She interested
herself in all their neat and regular occupations, assisted them in
gathering the leaves of the medicinal plants, in spreading them on
pieces of pure white linen to dry; in collecting the garden seeds and
shelling them out of their shrunken capsules, with as much readiness
and grace as if she had never learned to touch the keys of the piano,
or to school her steps by the dancing master's rule. Dressed in the
plainest robes the fashions of the world allow, so as not to offend
the austerity of their taste, with no other ornament than her shining
hair, simply parted on her brow, she looked the incarnation of
sweetness and humility; and Susan, seeing her dawning colour, believed
she had found peace. "Thus will I live," thought Grace, "till Roland
marries, and then if my adopted father claims me, I will try to find
happiness in administering to his."

One evening, just as the sun had set, she returned from the garden,
her white apron gathered up before her, full of damask rose leaves,
while exercise and a bending position had given her cheeks a hue, warm
as the twilight's glow, and calling eagerly to Susan, to present her
offering for distillation, she crossed the threshold and stood
before--Roland Gray. Electrified at the sight, she let go her apron,
and the leaves fell in a rosy shower around her. "Grace, dear Grace!"
exclaimed Roland, and both hands were clasped in his own. Now she had
been called dear Grace, and sweet Grace, and pretty Grace, a thousand
times in her life, but never in such a tone, and with such eyes
looking down into her heart. It is easy to imagine why Roland came,
and how eloquently he proved to Grace that he loved her better than
all the world beside, and that he could not, and would not live
without her. For a moment a flood of rapture, deep and overwhelming,
flowed in upon her heart from the conviction that she was thus
beloved; the next, a cold and freezing thought shot through it and
turned the current to ice. Lucy--her threatened curse, her withering
enmity, her own promise of never thinking of Roland, and of never
revealing what had passed between Lucy and herself--all was
remembered, and suddenly withdrawing her hand from his, she turned
away and wept, without the power of self-control.

Roland was amazed. She had met his avowal with such a radiant blush
and smile--such love and joy had just lighted up her modest eye, and
now he witnessed every demonstration of the most passionate grief.
"Oh, no!" she cried, "it never can be--I had forgotten it all; but I
must not listen to you--oh, no!" and she repeated the interjection in
such a plaintive accent, Roland was convinced there was no deception
in her woe. In vain he entreated her for an explanation. She could not
give any consistent with her promise to Lucy; she could only declare
her unworthiness, her poor and perhaps disgraceful origin; and this
only called forth a more impassioned assurance of his disinterested
love, and his disdain of such scruples. He endeavoured to soothe and
caress, till Grace felt her resolution and her truth fast yielding
before his influence. If she could see Lucy, and be released from her
rash promise, all might yet be well. Perhaps Lucy herself, finding her
brother's pride had yielded to his love, would sanction the union.
This idea once admitted, changed despair into hope. "Wait," said she,
"till I return, and then, if the obstacle I fear no longer
exists,"--she paused a moment, and her truth-telling lips constrained
her to utter--"I shall be the happiest of human beings." Roland, now
believing the obstacle to be Lucy, resolved she should not stand any
longer in the way of their happiness, pressed for no further
explanation. He had departed unknown to her, for he dreaded her
violence. When Mr. Worthington returned alone, he dreaded Grace might
sacrifice herself, as Lucy insinuated, and determined to bear her away
ere it was too late. Grace poured into Susan's calm but sympathizing
ear the story of her love and the obstacles that opposed it. Her
single heart was too narrow to contain the fulness of her emotions.
Susan applauded her integrity, but trembled at her idolatry. She
reminded her of the mutability and uncertainty of all earthly things,
and strengthened her in the resolution never to accept the vows of
Roland, with the threatened vengeance of Lucy hanging over her love.
"Oh, she will relent!" cried Grace; "Roland's sister cannot be such a
monster." Had the chastened Susan witnessed her parting with Roland,
she would have read a still more solemn lesson on the sinfulness of
earthly affections; but she only saw the consequent sorrow, which she
was too gentle to reprove.

The leaves of autumn soon fell, and then everything was changed in the
destiny of Grace. Mr. Worthington claimed his child, and when Susan
resigned her, her last words bid her pray for strength to keep her
virtuous resolution.

It would be difficult to describe the passions that struggled for
mastery in Lucy's breast, when she learned from her brother the part
he had acted. Incapable of concealing them at first, and believing she
had lost the affection of Roland, she no longer disguised the
bitterness of her heart. She hated Grace still more, since she was
conscious she had injured her, and when she, appealing in behalf of
Roland's happiness as well as her own, entreated her to free her from
her promise, she turned a deaf ear to the prayer, and claimed the
fulfilment of her word, renewing the same fearful penalty--"Unless,"
she added, with a scornful smile, "you can prove your family equal to
ours, and that your alliance will bring no disgrace."

Strange paradox of the human heart! Had Lucy taken scorpions into her
bosom, she could not have suffered keener pangs than the consciousness
of Roland's alienated affection caused her; yet she refused to bend
her stubborn pride, and wrapped herself up in the sulliness of
self-will, feeling a kind of stern joy that she had made others as
wretched as herself.

       *       *       *       *       *

Grace was standing in a lighted saloon, leaning on the arm of Mr.
Worthington, and an unwilling partaker of the gay scene. A tall and
majestic-looking man passed the spot where she stood, whose appearance
excited her interest and curiosity, for he was evidently a stranger in
the throng of fashion and wealth, then gathered together. The suns of
warmer climes had darkened his face, and added gloom to features of a
fine and noble expression. As Grace lifted her mild gray eyes his
somewhat stern countenance relaxed, and turning round he gazed
earnestly in her face. Abashed by his scrutiny, she moved into another
part of the room; still the tall stranger followed, with his
melancholy eyes, pursuing her figure. Roland, never far from the
object of his apparently hopeless devotion, now jealous and irritated,
drew to her side. "Oh, Roland," said she, suddenly agitated by a new
emotion, "there is something in that stranger's face, resembling
this!"--and she drew from her bosom the miniature suspended from the
golden chain. There was indeed a resemblance, only the face of the
picture was younger, and the sable locks unbleached. The stranger
observed the motions of Grace, and pressed forward, while the
miniature was still open in her hand. "Pardon me, madam," said he,
earnestly, "I must be pardoned--but allow me to look at that picture."
Grace with trembling fingers unloosed the chain, and gave it into the
stranger's hand. "It was once my mother's," said she, in a faltering
voice, "and her name was Grace Goldman." "_Was_"--said the
stranger--"and yet how could it be otherwise?--she was my sister--my
only sister--and you"--he became too much agitated to finish the
sentence, and entirely forgetting the throng that surrounded them, he
clasped Grace to his bosom, as the living representative of his lost
and lamented sister. Yes! in Mr. Maitland, the rich merchant, just
returned from the East Indies, Grace had found an uncle, which proved
her lineage to be such, that even the proud Lucy must acknowledge to
be equal to her own. His sister, the mother of Grace, had eloped, when
very young, with a handsome but profligate man, and being cast off by
her parents, she was soon doomed to eat the bread of poverty, in
consequence of her husband's excesses. Her brother, as soon as he
learned her situation, offered to support her through life, declaring
his intention never to marry, if she would leave her unprincipled
husband. But she, in the strength of that passion which hopes all,
believes all, and endures all, refused to leave the man she still
loved, and whom she still trusted she might reclaim. Her brother,
finding her wedded to her fate, left her with a purse of gold and his
own miniature as a parting pledge of love, and departed for a foreign
land. Forced to fly from the clamours of his creditors, Goldman
removed his wife from place to place, till she was far out of the
reach of former friends, when, plunging deeper and deeper in the gulf
of inebriation, he left her to die, as we have described, of a broken
heart. For himself, he died a drunkard's death by the wayside, and was
buried by the same humane society that protected his orphan child.
This circumstance had been concealed from Grace, nor did she learn it,
till her subsequent visit to the Shaker village. Mr. Maitland, who had
dwelt long in other lands, accumulating wealth, which his generous
heart longed to share with the friends of his early youth, returned to
mourn over the graves of his parents, and to seek in vain intelligence
of his lost sister, till he saw in the crowd the lovely form of
Grace, such as her ill-fated mother was in the days of her beauty and
youth. Lucy could with sincerity offer her congratulations and welcome
as a sister the niece of Mr. Maitland, though she had scorned the
alliance of the humble Shaker girl. But she felt she was degraded in
her eyes, and this was a punishment to her proud spirit, keener than
the task-master's lash. Mr. Maitland's gratitude to Mr. Worthington
was boundless as it was warm; but he longed to see the kind
Samaritans, who had soothed his sister's dying hours and guarded her
orphan child.

It was a happy day for Grace, when, as the bride of Roland, she
accompanied her husband and her uncle to the home of her early youth.
She introduced with pride the noble-looking stranger to all her true
and single-hearted friends. "But here," said she, throwing her arms
round Susan, "here is my mother and my mother's friend." Mr. Maitland
would gladly have lavished wealth upon them, in remuneration for their
cares, but they steadfastly refused his gifts, asserting they had only
done their duty, and merited no reward. "Do unto others, as we have
done towards yours," replied these followers of our Saviour's golden
rule. "When you hear us reviled by the world, and our worship scorned,
and our rites ridiculed, defend us if you can; and if one of the
disciples of our creed should be in need of succour, be unto him as a
brother, and we ask no more." "Dear Susan," said Grace, when the
parting hour arrived, as she lingered behind to bid her farewell, "am
I not the happiest of human beings?" "I bless God that you _are_
happy, my child," answered Susan, laying her hand solemnly on her
head--"and long, long may you remain so; but forget not, days of
darkness may come, that the bridal garments may be changed for
sackcloth, and ashes be scattered over the garlands of love. Remember
then, O Grace, there is a refuge from the woes and vanities of the
world, where the spirit may wait in peace for its everlasting home."
Grace wept, but she smiled through her tears, and, seated once more at
Roland's side, she felt as if darkness and sorrow could never be _her_
portion.



A RAINY EVENING.

A SKETCH.


A pleasant little group was gathered round Uncle Ned's domestic
hearth. He sat on one side of the fire-place, opposite Aunt Mary, who,
with her book in her hand, watched the children seated at the table,
some reading, others sewing, all occupied, but one, a child "of larger
growth," a young lady, who, being a guest of the family, was suffered
to indulge in the pleasure of idleness without reproof.

"Oh! I _love_ a rainy evening," said little Ann, looking up from her
book, and meeting her mother's smiling glance, "it is so nice to sit
by a good fire and hear the rain pattering against the windows. Only I
pity the poor people who have no house to cover them, to keep off the
rain and the cold."

"And I love a rainy evening, too," cried George, a boy of about
twelve. "I can study so much better. My thoughts stay at home, and
don't keep rambling out after the bright moon and stars. My heart
feels warmer, and I really believe I love everybody better than I do
when the weather is fair."

Uncle Ned smiled, and gave the boy an approving pat on the shoulder.
Every one smiled but the young lady, who with a languid, discontented
air, now played with a pair of scissors, now turned over the leaves of
a book, then, with an ill-suppressed yawn, leaned idly on her elbow,
and looked into the fire.

"And what do you think of a rainy evening, Elizabeth?" asked Uncle
Ned. "I should like to hear your opinion also."

"I think it over dull and uninteresting, indeed," answered she. "I
always feel so stupid, I can hardly keep myself awake--one cannot go
abroad, or hope to see company at home; and one gets so tired of
seeing the same faces all the time. I cannot imagine what George and
Ann see to admire so much in a disagreeable rainy evening like this."

"Supposing I tell you a story, to enliven you?" said Uncle Ned.

"Oh! yes, father, please tell us a story," exclaimed the children,
simultaneously.

Little Ann was perched upon his knee as if by magic, and even
Elizabeth moved her chair, as if excited to some degree of interest.
George still held his book in his hand, but his bright eyes, sparkling
with unusual animation, were riveted upon his uncle's face.

"I am going to tell you a story about a _rainy evening_," said Uncle
Ned.

"Oh! that will be _so_ pretty!" cried Ann, clapping her hands; but
Elizabeth's countenance fell below zero. It was an ominous
annunciation.

"Yes," continued Uncle Ned, "a rainy evening. But though clouds darker
than those which now mantle the sky were lowering abroad, and the rain
fell heavier and faster, the rainbow of my life was drawn most
beautifully on those dark clouds, and its fair colours still shine
most lovely on the sight. It is no longer, however, the bow of
promise, but the realization of my fondest dreams."

George saw his uncle cast an expressive glance towards the handsome
matron in the opposite corner, whose colour perceptibly heightened,
and he could not forbear exclaiming--

"Ah! Aunt Mary is blushing. I understand uncle's metaphor. _She_ is
his rainbow, and he thinks life one long rainy day."

"Not exactly so. I mean your last conclusion. But don't interrupt me,
my boy, and you shall hear a lesson, which, young as you are, I trust
you will never forget. When I was a young man I was thought quite
handsome--"

"Pa is as pretty as he can be, now," interrupted little Ann, passing
her hand fondly over his manly cheek.

Uncle Ned was not displeased with the compliment, for he pressed her
closer to him, while he continued--

"Well, when I was young I was of a gay spirit, and a great favourite
in society. The young ladies liked me for a partner in the dance, at
the chess-board, or the evening walk, and I had reason to think
several of them would have made no objection to take me as a partner
for life. Among all my young acquaintances, there was no one whose
companionship was so pleasing as that of a maiden whose name was Mary.
Now, there are a great many Marys in the world, so you must not take
it for granted I mean your mother or aunt. At any rate, you must not
look so significant till I have finished my story. Mary was a sweet
and lovely girl--with a current of cheerfulness running through her
disposition that made music as it flowed. It was an under current,
however, always gentle, and kept within its legitimate channel; never
overflowing into boisterous mirth or unmeaning levity. She was the
only daughter of her mother, _and she a widow_. Mrs. Carlton, such was
her mother's name, was in lowly circumstances, and Mary had none of
the appliances of wealth and fashion to decorate her person, or gild
her home. A very modest competency was all her portion, and she wished
for nothing more. I have seen her, in a simple white dress, without a
single ornament, unless it was a natural rose, transcend all the gaudy
belles, who sought by the attractions of dress to win the admiration
of the multitude. But, alas! for poor human nature. One of these
dashing belles so fascinated my attention, that the gentle Mary was
for a while forgotten. Theresa Vane was, indeed, a rare piece of
mortal mechanism. Her figure was the perfection of beauty, and she
moved as if strung upon wires, so elastic and springing were her
gestures. I never saw such lustrous hair--it was perfectly black, and
shone like burnished steel; and then such ringlets! How they waved and
rippled down her beautiful neck! She dressed with the most exquisite
taste, delicacy, and neatness, and whatever she wore assumed a
peculiar grace and fitness, as if art loved to adorn what nature made
so fair. But what charmed me most was, the sunshiny smile that was
always waiting to light up her countenance. To be sure, she sometimes
laughed a little too loud, but then her laugh was so musical, and her
teeth so white, it was impossible to believe her guilty of rudeness,
or want of grace. Often, when I saw her in the social circle, so
brilliant and smiling, the life and charm of everything around her, I
thought how happy the constant companionship of such a being would
make me--what brightness she would impart to the fireside of
home--what light, what joy, to the darkest scenes of existence!"

"Oh! uncle," interrupted George, laughing, "if I were Aunt Mary, I
would not let you praise any other lady so warmly. You are so taken up
with her beauty, you have forgotten all about the rainy evening."

Aunt Mary smiled, but it is more than probable that George really
touched one of the hidden springs of her woman's heart, for she looked
down, and said nothing.

"Don't be impatient," said Uncle Ned, "and you shall not be cheated
out of your story. I began it for Elizabeth's sake, rather than yours,
and I see she is wide awake. She thinks I was by this time more than
half in love with Theresa Vane, and she thinks more than half right.
There had been a great many parties of pleasure, riding parties,
sailing parties, and talking parties; and summer slipped by, almost
unconsciously. At length the autumnal equinox approached, and
gathering clouds, north-eastern gales, and drizzling rains, succeeded
to the soft breezes, mellow skies, and glowing sunsets, peculiar to
that beautiful season. For two or three days I was confined within
doors by the continuous rains, and I am sorry to confess it, but the
blue devils actually got complete possession of me--one strided upon
my nose, another danced on the top of my head, one pinched my ear, and
another turned somersets on my chin. You laugh, little Nanny; but they
are terrible creatures, these blue gentlemen, and I could not endure
them any longer. So the third rainy evening, I put on my overcoat,
buttoned it up to my chin, and taking my umbrella in my hand, set out
in the direction of Mrs. Vane's. 'Here,' thought I, as my fingers
pressed the latch, 'I shall find the moonlight smile, that will
illumine the darkness of my night--the dull vapours will disperse
before her radiant glance, and this interminable equinoctial storm be
transformed into a mere vernal shower, melting away in sunbeams in her
presence.' My gentle knock not being apparently heard, I stepped into
the ante-room, set down my umbrella, took off my drenched overcoat,
arranged my hair in the most graceful manner, and, claiming a
privilege to which, perhaps, I had no legitimate right, opened the
door of the family sitting-room, and found myself in the presence of
the beautiful Theresa--"

Here Uncle Ned made a provoking pause.

"Pray, go on." "How was she dressed?" "And was she glad to see you?"
assailed him on every side.

"How was she dressed?" repeated he. "I am not very well skilled in the
technicalities of a lady's wardrobe, but I can give you the general
impression of her personal appearance. In the first place, there was
a jumping up and an off-hand sliding step towards an opposite door, as
I entered; but a disobliging chair was in the way, and I was making my
lowest bow, before she found an opportunity of disappearing. Confused
and mortified, she scarcely returned my salutation, while Mrs. Vane
offered me a chair, and expressed, in somewhat dubious terms, their
gratification at such an unexpected pleasure. I have no doubt Theresa
wished me at the bottom of the Frozen Ocean, if I might judge by the
freezing glances she shot at me through her long lashes. She sat
uneasily in her chair, trying to conceal her slipshod shoes, and
furtively arranging her dress about the shoulders and waist. It was a
most rebellious subject, for the body and skirt were at open warfare,
refusing to have any communion with each other. Where was the graceful
shape I had so much admired? In vain I sought its exquisite outlines
in the folds of that loose, slovenly robe. Where were those glistening
ringlets and burnished locks that had so lately rivalled the tresses
of Medusa? Her hair was put in tangled bunches behind her ears, and
tucked up behind in a kind of Gordian knot, which would have required
the sword of an Alexander to untie. Her frock was a soiled and dingy
silk, with trimmings of sallow blonde, and a faded fancy handkerchief
was thrown over one shoulder.

"'You have caught me completely _en déshabille_,' said she, recovering
partially from her embarrassment; 'but the evening was so rainy, and
no one but mother and myself, I never dreamed of such an exhibition of
gallantry as this.'

"She could not disguise her vexation, with all her efforts to conceal
it, and Mrs. Vane evidently shared her daughter's chagrin. I was
wicked enough to enjoy their confusion, and never appeared more at my
ease, or played the agreeable with more signal success. I was
disenchanted at once, and my mind revelled in its recovered freedom.
My goddess had fallen from the pedestal on which my imagination had
enthroned her, despoiled of the beautiful drapery which had imparted
to her such ideal loveliness. I knew that I was a favourite in the
family, for I was wealthy and independent, and perhaps of all
Theresa's admirers what the world would call the best match. I
maliciously asked her to play on the piano, but she made a thousand
excuses, studiously keeping back the true reason, her disordered
attire. I asked her to play a game of chess, but 'she had a headache;
she was too stupid; she never _could_ do anything on a _rainy
evening_.'

"At length I took my leave, inwardly blessing the moving spirit which
had led me abroad that night, that the spell which had so long
enthralled my senses might be broken. Theresa called up one of her
lambent smiles as I bade her adieu.

"'Never call again on a rainy evening,' said she, sportively; 'I am
always so wretchedly dull. I believe I was born to live among the
sunbeams, the moonlight, and the stars. Clouds will never do for me.'

"'Amen,' I silently responded, as I closed the door. While I was
putting on my coat, I overheard, without the smallest intention of
listening, a passionate exclamation from Theresa.

"'Good heavens, mother! was there ever anything so unlucky? I never
thought of seeing my neighbour's _dog_ to-night. If I have not been
completely caught!'

"'I hope you will mind my advice next time,' replied her mother, in a
grieved tone. 'I told you not to sit down in that slovenly dress. I
have no doubt you have lost him for ever.'

"Here I made good my retreat, not wishing to enter the _penetralia_ of
family secrets.

"The rain still continued unabated, but my social feelings were very
far from being damped. I had the curiosity to make another experiment.
The evening was not very far advanced, and as I turned from Mrs.
Vane's fashionable mansion, I saw a modest light glimmering in the
distance, and I hailed it as the shipwrecked mariner hails the star
that guides him o'er ocean's foam to the home he has left behind.
Though I was gay and young, and a passionate admirer of beauty, I had
very exalted ideas of domestic felicity. I knew that there was many a
rainy day in life, and I thought the companion who was born alone for
sunbeams and moonlight, would not aid me to dissipate their gloom. I
had, moreover, a shrewd suspicion that the daughter who thought it a
sufficient excuse for shameful personal neglect, that there was no one
present but her _mother_, would, as a wife, be equally regardless of a
_husband's_ presence. While I pursued these reflections, my feet
involuntarily drew nearer and more near to the light, which had been
the lodestone of my opening manhood. I had continued to meet Mary in
the gay circles I frequented, but I had lately become almost a
stranger to her home. 'Shall I be a welcome guest?' said I to myself,
as I crossed the threshold. 'Shall I find her _en déshabille_,
likewise, and discover that feminine beauty and grace are incompatible
with a rainy evening?' I heard a sweet voice reading aloud as I
opened the door, and I knew it was the voice which was once music to
my ears. Mary rose at my entrance, laying her book quietly on the
table, and greeted me with a modest grace and self-possession peculiar
to herself. She looked surprised, a little embarrassed, but very far
from being displeased. She made no allusion to my estrangement or
neglect; expressed no astonishment at my untimely visit, nor once
hinted that, being alone with her mother, and not anticipating
visiters, she thought it unnecessary to wear the habiliments of a
_lady_. Never, in my life, had I seen her look so lovely. Her dress
was perfectly plain, but every fold was arranged by the hand of the
Graces. Her dark-brown hair, which had a natural wave in it, now
uncurled by the dampness, was put back in smooth ringlets from her
brow, revealing a face which did not consider its beauty wasted
because a mother's eye alone rested on its bloom. A beautiful cluster
of autumnal roses, placed in a glass vase on the table, perfumed the
apartment, and a bright blaze on the hearth diffused a spirit of
cheerfulness around, while it relieved the atmosphere of its excessive
moisture. Mrs. Carlton was an invalid, and suffered also from an
inflammation of the eyes. Mary had been reading aloud to her from her
favourite book. What do you think it was? It was a very old-fashioned
one, indeed. No other than the Bible. And Mary was not ashamed to have
such a fashionable young gentleman as I then was to see what her
occupation had been. What a contrast to the scene I had just quitted!
How I loathed myself for the infatuation which had led me to prefer
the artificial graces of a belle to this pure child of nature! I drew
my chair to the table, and entreated that they would not look upon me
as a stranger, but as a friend, anxious to be restored to the
forfeited privileges of an old acquaintance. I was understood in a
moment, and, without a single reproach, was admitted again to
confidence and familiarity. The hours I had wasted with Theresa seemed
a kind of mesmeric slumber, a blank in my existence, or, at least, a
feverish dream. 'What do you think of a rainy evening, Mary?' asked I,
before I left her.

"'I love it of all things,' replied she, with animation. 'There is
something so home-drawing, so heart-knitting, in its influence. The
dependencies which bind us to the world seem withdrawn; and, retiring
within ourselves, we learn more of the deep mysteries of our own
being.'

"Mary's soul beamed from her eye as it turned, with a transient
obliquity, towards heaven. She paused, as if fearful of unsealing the
fountains of her heart. I said that Mrs. Carlton was an invalid, and
consequently retired early to her chamber; but I lingered till a late
hour, nor did I go till I had made a full confession of my folly,
repentance, and awakened love; and, as Mary did not shut the door in
my face, you may imagine she was not sorely displeased."

"Ah! I know who Mary was. I knew all the time," exclaimed George,
looking archly at Aunt Mary. A bright tear, which at that moment fell
into her lap, showed that though a silent, she was no uninterested
auditor.

"You haven't done, father?" said little Ann, in a disappointed tone;
"I thought you were going to tell a story. You have been talking about
yourself all the time."

"I have been something of an egotist, to be sure, my little girl, but
I wanted to show my dear young friend here how much might depend upon
a rainy evening. Life is not made all of sunshine. The happiest and
most prosperous must have their seasons of gloom and darkness, and woe
be to those from whose souls no rays of brightness emanate to gild
those darkened hours. I bless the God of the rain as well as the
sunshine. I can read His mercy and His love as well in the tempest,
whose wings obscure the visible glories of His creation, as in the
splendour of the rising sun, or the soft dews that descend after his
setting radiance. I began with a metaphor. I said a rainbow was drawn
on the clouds that lowered on that eventful day, and that it still
continued to shine with undiminished beauty. Woman, my children, was
sent by God to be the rainbow of man's darker destiny. From the
glowing red, emblematic of that love which warms and gladdens his
existence, to the violet melting into the blue of heaven, symbolical
of the faith which links him to a purer world, her blending virtues,
mingling with each other in beautiful harmony, are a token of God's
mercy here, and an earnest of future blessings in those regions where
no _rainy evenings_ ever come to obscure the brightness of eternal
day."



THREE SCENES IN THE LIFE OF A BELLE.


There was a rushing to and fro in the chamber of Ellen Loring, a tread
of hurrying feet, a mingled hum of voices, an opening and shutting of
doors, as if some event of overwhelming importance agitated the
feelings, and moved the frames of every individual in the house. A
stranger, in the apartment below, might have imagined an individual
was dying, and that all were gathering round to offer the appliances
of love and sympathy. But Ellen Loring, the object of all this
commotion, was in all the bloom and beauty of health. She sat in a low
chair and in front of a large mirror, half-arrayed in the habiliments
of the ball-room, her head glowing with flowers, and streaming with
ringlets, her feet encased in silk cobweb and white satin, her face
flushed with excitement, her waist compressed into the smallest
possible compass, while the strongest fingers the household could
supply, were drawing together the last reluctant hook and eye, which
fastened the rich and airy mixture of satin blonde, that fell in
redundant folds round her slender person. "I am afraid, Ellen, your
dress is _rather_ too tight," said Mrs. Loring, who was superintending
the process with a keen and experienced eye; "you had better not wear
it, it may give you a consumption." "Ridiculous!" exclaimed Ellen, "it
feels perfectly loose and comfortable; I am sure it fits delightfully.
Look, Agnes," addressing a weary-looking girl who had been standing
more than half an hour over her, arranging her hair in the most
fashionable style. "Look, Agnes, is it not beautiful?"

"Very beautiful," answered Agnes; "but I think it would look much
better if it were not so very low, and the night is so cold, I am sure
you will suffer without something thrown over your shoulders. These
pearl beads are very ornamental, but they will not give warmth,"
lifting them up as she spoke, from a neck that "rivalled their
whiteness." Ellen burst into a scornful laugh, and declared she would
rather catch her death-cold, than look so old-fashioned and
old-womanish. Mrs. Loring here interposed, and insisted that Ellen
should wear a shawl into the ball-room, and to be sure to put it
around her when she was not dancing, "for you must remember," added
she, "the dreadful cough you had last winter; when you caught cold, I
was really apprehensive of a consumption."

"I do think, mother, you must be haunted by the ghost of consumption.
Everything you say begins and ends with _consumption_--_I_ am not
afraid of the ghost, or the reality, while such roses as these bloom
on my cheeks, and such elastic limbs as these bear me through the
dance."

Mrs. Loring looked with admiring fondness on her daughter, as she
danced gayly before the looking-glass, called her a "wild, thoughtless
thing," and thought it would be indeed a pity to muffle such a
beautiful neck in a clumsy 'kerchief. The carriage was announced, and
Agnes was despatched in a hundred directions for the embroidered
handkerchief, the scented gloves, and all the _et ceteras_, which
crowd on the memory at the last moment. Agnes followed the retreating
form of Ellen with a long and wistful gaze, then turned with a sigh to
collect the scattered articles of finery that strewed the room. "Happy
Ellen!" said she to herself, "happy, beautiful Ellen! favoured by
nature and fortune. Every desire of her heart is gratified. She moves
but to be admired, flattered, and caressed. While I, a poor, dependent
relative, am compelled to administer to her vanity and wait upon her
caprices--oh! if I were only rich and beautiful like Ellen! I would
willingly walk over burning ploughshares to obtain the happiness that
is in store for her to-night."

While the repining Agnes followed Ellen, in imagination, to scenes
which appeared to her fancy like the dazzling pictures described in
the Arabian Nights, let us enter the ball-room and follow the
footsteps of her, whose favoured lot led her through the enchanted
land. The hall was brilliantly lighted, the music was of the most
animating kind, airy forms floated on the gaze, most elaborately and
elegantly adorned, and in the midst of these Ellen shone transcendent.
For a while, her enjoyment realized even the dreams of Agnes.
Conscious of being admired, she glided through the dance, gracefully
holding her flowing drapery, smiling, blushing, coquetting and
flirting. Compliments were breathed continually into her ears. She was
compared to the sylphs, the graces, the muses, the houris, and even to
the angels that inhabit the celestial city. Yes; this daughter of
fashion, this devotee of pleasure, this vain and thoughtless being,
who lived without God in the world, was told by flattering lips, that
she resembled those pure and glorified spirits which surround the
throne of the Most High, and sing the everlasting song of Moses and
the Lamb--and she believed it. Perhaps some may assert that the
daughters of fashion are not always forgetful of their God, for they
are often heard to call upon his great and holy name, in a moment of
sudden astonishment or passion, and were a saint to witness their
uplifted eyes and clasped hands, he might deem them wrapt in an
ecstasy of devotion.

Ellen, in the midst of almost universal homage, began to feel
dissatisfied and weary. There was one who had been in the train of her
admirers, himself the star of fashion, who was evidently offering
incense at a new shrine. A fair young stranger, who seemed a novice in
the splendid scene, drew him from her side, and from that moment the
adulation of others ceased to charm. She danced more gayly, she
laughed more loudly, to conceal the mortification and envy that was
spreading through her heart; but the triumph, the joy was over. She
began to feel a thousand inconveniences, of whose existence she seemed
previously unconscious. Her feet ached from the lightness of her
slippers, her respiration was difficult from the tightness of her
dress; she was glad when the hour of her departure arrived. Warm from
the exercise of the dance, and panting from fatigue, she stood a few
moments on the pavement, waiting for some obstructions to be removed
in the way of the carriage. The ground was covered with a sheet of
snow, which had fallen during the evening, and made a chill bed for
her feet, so ill defended from the inclement season. The night air
blew damp and cold on her neck and shoulders, for her cloak was thrown
loosely around her, that her beauty might not be entirely veiled, till
the gaze of admiration was withdrawn.

Agnes sat by the lonely fireside, waiting for the return of Ellen. For
a while she kept up a cheerful blaze, and as she heard the gust sweep
by the windows, it reminded her that Ellen would probably come in
shivering with cold and reproach her, if she did not find a glowing
hearth to welcome her. She applied fresh fuel, till, lulled by the
monotonous sound of the wind, she fell asleep in her chair, nor waked
till the voice of Ellen roused her from her slumbers. A few dull
embers were all that was left of the fire, the candle gleamed faintly
beneath a long, gloomy wick--everything looked cold and comfortless.
It was long before poor Agnes could recall the cheering warmth. In the
mean time, Ellen poured upon her a torrent of reproaches, and tossing
her cloak on a chair, declared she would never go to another ball as
long as she lived--she had been tired _to death_, chilled _to death_,
and now to be vexed _to death_, by such a stupid, selfish creature as
Agnes. It was too much for human nature to endure. Agnes bore it all
in silence, for she ate the bread of dependence, and dared not express
the bitter feelings that rose to her lips. But she no longer said in
her heart "happy, beautiful Ellen;" she wished her admirers could see
her as she then did, and be disenchanted.

"Take off this horrid dress," cried Ellen, pulling the roses from her
hair, now uncurled by the damp, and hanging in long straight tresses
over her face. What a contrast did she now present to the brilliant
figure which had left the chamber a few hours before! Her cheeks were
pale, her eyes heavy, her limbs relaxed, her buoyant spirits gone. The
terrible misfortune of not having reigned an unrivalled _belle_,
completely overwhelmed her! He, whose admiration she most prized, had
devoted himself to another, and she hated the fair, unconscious
stranger, who had attracted him from his allegiance. The costly dress
which the mantuamaker had sat up all night to complete, was thrown
aside as a worthless rag; her flowers were scattered on the floor;
every article of her dress bore witness to her ill-humour.

"I cannot get warm," said she; "I believe I _have_ caught my
death-cold;" and throwing her still shivering limbs on the bed, she
told Agnes to bury her in blankets, and then let her sleep. Can we
suppose that guardian angels hovered over the couch, and watched the
slumbers of this youthful beauty? There was no hallowed spot in her
chamber, where she was accustomed to kneel in penitence, gratitude,
and adoration, before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Perhaps,
when a mere child, she had been taught to repeat the Lord's Prayer at
her nurse's knee, but never had her heart ascended unto Him, who
created her for his glory, and breathed into her frame a portion of
his own immortal Spirit. She had been educated solely for the circles
of fashion, to glitter and be admired--to dance, to sing, to dress, to
talk, and that was all. She knew that she must one day die, and when
the bell tolled, and the long funeral darkened the way, she was
reluctantly reminded of her own mortality. But she banished the
dreadful and mysterious thought, as one with which youth, beauty, and
health had nothing to do, and as suited only to the infirmities of
age, and the agonies of disease. As for the judgment beyond the grave,
that scene of indescribable grandeur, when every created being must
stand before the presence of uncreated glory, "to give an account of
the deeds done in the body," she deemed it shocking and sacrilegious
to think of a subject so awful; and, to do her justice, she never
heard it mentioned except from the pulpit (for there are fashionable
churches, and Ellen was the belle of the church as well as of the
ball-room). Thus living in practical atheism, labouring to bring every
thought and feeling in subjection to the bondage of fashion,
endeavouring to annihilate the great principle of immortality
struggling within her, Ellen Loring was as much the slave of vice as
the votary of pleasure. Like the king of Babylon, who took the golden
vessels from the temple of the Lord, and desecrated them at his
unhallowed banquet, she had robbed her _soul_, that temple of the
living God, of its sacred treasures, and appropriated them to the
revelries of life. But the hour was approaching, when the invisible
angel of conscience was to write on the walls of memory those mystic
characters which a greater than Daniel alone can interpret.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was the afternoon of a mild summer's day, a lovely, smiling, joyous
summer day, when two female figures were seen slowly walking along a
shaded path, that led from a neat white cottage towards a neighbouring
grove. One was beautiful, and both were young, but the beautiful one
was so pale and languid, so fragile and fading, it was impossible to
behold her without the deepest commiseration. She moved listlessly on,
leaning on the arm of her less fair, but healthier companion,
apparently insensible of the sweet and glowing scenery around her. The
birds sung in melodious concert, from every green bough, but their
music could not gladden her ear; the air played softly through her
heavy locks, but awaked no elastic spring in her once bounding
spirits. It was the late blooming Ellen Loring, who, according to the
advice of her physician, was inhaling the country air, to see if it
could not impart an invigorating influence. She had never recovered
from the deadly chill occasioned by her exposure, the night of the
ball, when she stood with her thin slippers and uncovered neck in the
snow and the blast, in all the "madness of superfluous health." It was
said she had caught a "dreadful cold," which the warm season would
undoubtedly relieve, and when the summer came, and her cough continued
with unabated violence, and her flesh and her strength wasted, she was
sent into the country, assured that a change of air and daily exercise
would infallibly restore her. The fearful word _consumption_, which in
the days of Ellen's health was so often on the mother's lips, was
never mentioned now; and whenever friends inquired after Ellen, she
always told them, "she had caught a bad cold, which hung on a long
time, but that she was so young, and had so fine a constitution, she
did not apprehend any danger." Ellen was very unwilling to follow the
prescriptions of her medical friend. She left the city with great
reluctance, dreading the loneliness of a country life. Agnes
accompanied her, on whom was imposed the difficult task of amusing and
cheering the invalid, and of beguiling her of every sense of her
danger. "Be sure," said Mrs. Loring, when she gave her parting
injunctions to Agnes, "that you do not suffer her to be alone: there
is nothing so disadvantageous to a sick person as to brood over their
own thoughts. It always occasions low spirits. I have put up a large
supply of novels, and when she is tired of reading herself, you must
read to her, or sing to her, or amuse her in every possible manner. If
she should be very ill, you must send for me immediately, but I have
no doubt that in a few weeks she will be as well as ever."

Poor Agnes sometimes was tempted to sink under the weary burden of her
cares. She wondered she had ever thought it a task to array her for
the ball-room, or to wait her return at the midnight-hour. But she no
longer envied her, for Ellen pale and faded, and dejected, was a very
different object from Ellen triumphant in beauty and bloom. The kind
lady with whom they boarded, had had a rustic seat constructed under
the trees, in the above-mentioned grove, for the accommodation of the
invalid. As they now approached it, they found it already occupied by
a gentleman, who was so intently reading he did not seem aware of
their vicinity. They were about to retire, when lifting his eyes, he
rose, and with a benignant countenance, requested them to be seated.
Ellen was exhausted from the exercise of her walk; and, as the
stranger was past the meridian of life, she did not hesitate to accept
his offer, at the same time thanking him for his courtesy. His mild,
yet serious eyes, rested on her face, with a look of extreme
commiseration, as with a deep sigh of fatigue she leaned on the
shoulder of Agnes, while the hectic flush flitting over her cheek,
betrayed the feverish current that was flowing in her veins.

"You seem an invalid, my dear young lady," said he, so kindly and
respectfully, it was impossible to be offended with the freedom of the
address; "I trust you find there is a balm in Gilead, a heavenly
Physician near."

Ellen gave him a glance of unspeakable astonishment, and coldly
answered, "I have a severe cold, sir--nothing more."

The dry, continuous cough that succeeded, was a fearful commentary
upon her words. The stranger seemed one not easily repulsed, and one,
too, who had conceived a sudden and irrepressible interest in his
young companions. Agnes, in arranging Ellen's scarf, dropped a book
from her hand, which he stooped to raise, and as his eye glanced on
the title, the gravity of his countenance deepened. It was one of
----'s last works, in which that master of glowing language and
impassioned images, has thrown his most powerful spell around the
senses of the reader, and dazzled and bewildered his perceptions of
right and wrong.

"Suffer me to ask you, young lady," said he, laying down the book,
with a sigh, "if you find in these pages instruction, consolation, or
support? anything that as a rational being you ought to seek, as a
moral one to approve, as an immortal one to desire?"

Ellen was roused to a portion of her former animation, by this attack
upon her favourite author; and, in language warm as his from whom she
drew her inspiration, she defended his sentiments and exalted his
genius--she spoke of his godlike mind, when the stranger entreated her
to forbear, in words of supplication, but in accents of command.

"Draw not a similitude," said he, "between a holy God, and a being who
has perverted the noblest powers that God has given. Bear with me a
little while, and I will show you what is truly godlike, a book as far
transcending the productions of him you so much admire, as the rays
of the sun excel in glory the wan light of a taper."

Then, taking from his bosom the volume which had excited the curiosity
of Ellen, on account of its apparent fascination, and seating himself
by her side, he unfolded its sacred pages. She caught a glimpse of the
golden letters on the binding, and drew back with a feeling of
superstitious dread. It seemed to her, that he was about to read her
death-warrant, and she involuntarily put out her hand, with a
repulsive motion. Without appearing to regard it, he looked upon her
with sweet and solemn countenance, while he repeated this passage,
from a bard who had drank of the waters of a holier fountain than
Grecian poets ever knew:

     "This book, this holy book, on every line
     Marked with the seal of high divinity,
     On every leaf bedewed with drops of love
     Divine, and with the eternal heraldry
     And signature of God Almighty stamped
     From first to last; this ray of sacred light,
     This lamp, from off the everlasting throne,
     Mercy took down, and in the night of time,
     Stood, casting on the dark her gracious bow;
     And evermore, beseeching men, with tears
     And earnest sighs, to read, believe, and live."

Ellen listened with indescribable awe. There was a power and
sensibility in his accent, a depth of expression in his occasional
upturned glance, that impressed and affected her as she had never been
before.

"Forgive me," said he, "if, as a stranger, I seem intrusive; but I
look upon every son and daughter of Adam, with the tenderness of a
brother, and upon whom the Almighty has laid his chastening hand, with
feelings of peculiar interest. If I were wandering through a barren
wilderness, and found a fountain of living water, and suffered my
fellow-pilgrim to slake his thirst at the noisome pool by the wayside,
without calling him to drink of the pure stream, would he not have
reason to upbraid me for my selfishness? Oh! doubly selfish then
should I be, if, after tasting the waters of everlasting life, for
ever flowing from this blessed Book, I should not seek to draw you
from the polluted sources in which you vainly endeavour to quench the
thirst of an immortal spirit. Dear young fellow-traveller to eternity,
suffer me to lend you a guiding hand."

Ellen Loring, who had been famed in the circles of fashion for her
ready wit and brilliant repartee, found no words in which to reply to
this affectionate and solemn appeal. She turned aside her head, to
hide the tears which she could no longer repress from flowing down her
cheeks. As the polished, but darkened Athenians, when Paul, standing
on Mars Hill, explained to them "that unknown God, whom they
ignorantly worshipped," trembled before an eloquence they could not
comprehend, she was oppressed by a power she could not define. Agnes,
who began to be alarmed at the consequences of this agitation, and who
saw in perspective Mrs. Loring's displeasure and reproaches, here
whispered Ellen it was time to return, and Ellen, glad to be released
from an influence to which she was constrained to bow, obeyed the
signal. Their new friend rose also; "I cannot but believe," said he,
"that this meeting is providential. It seems to me that heaven
directed my steps hither, that I might lead you to those green
pastures and still waters where the Shepherd of Israel gathers his
flock. You are both young, but there is one of you whose cheek is
pale, and whose saddened glance tells a touching history of the vanity
of all earthly things. Take this blessed volume, and substitute it for
the one you now hold, and believe me you will find in it an
inexhaustible supply of entertainment and delight, a perennial spring
of light, and love, and joy. You will find it an unerring guide in
life, and a torch to illumine the dark valley of the shadow of death.
Farewell--the blessing of Israel's God be yours!"

He placed the book in the hand of Agnes, and turned in a different
path. They walked home in silence. Neither expressed to the other the
thoughts that filled the bosom of each. Had an angel from heaven come
down and met them in the grove, the interview could hardly have had a
more solemnizing influence. It was the first time they had ever been
individually addressed as immortal beings, the first time they had
been personally reminded that they were pilgrims of earth, and doomed
to be dwellers of the tomb. The voice of the stranger still rung in
their ears, deep and mellow as the sound of the church-going bell.
Those warning accents, they could not forget them, for there was an
echo in their own hearts, and an answer too, affirming the truth of
what he uttered. That night, when Ellen, unusually exhausted, reclined
on her restless couch, she suddenly asked Agnes to read her something
from _that book_, so mysteriously given. It was the first time she
had addressed her, since their return, and there was something
startling in the sound of her voice, it was so altered. There was
humility in the tone, that usually breathed pride or discontent. Agnes
sat down, and turned the leaves with a trembling hand.

"What shall I read? where shall I commence?" asked she, fearful and
irresolute, in utter ignorance of its hallowed contents.

"Alas! I know not," replied Ellen, then raising herself on her elbow,
with a wild and earnest look, "see if you can find where it speaks of
that dark valley, of which he told--the dark valley of death."

By one of those unexpected coincidences which sometimes occur, Agnes
at that moment opened at the twenty-third Psalm, and the verse
containing this sublime allusion met her eye. She read aloud--"Though
I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for thou art with me--thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."

"Strange," repeated Ellen, and making a motion for her to continue,
Agnes read the remainder of that beautiful Psalm, and the two
succeeding ones, before she paused. Dark as was their understanding
with regard to spiritual things, and deep as was their ignorance, they
were yet capable of taking in some faint glimpses of the glory of the
Lord, pervading these strains of inspiration. Agnes was a pleasing
reader, and her voice, now modulated by new emotions, was peculiarly
impressive. Ellen repeated again and again to herself, after Agnes had
ceased, "Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty?" She
had never thought of God, but as of a Being dreadful in power,
avenging in his judgments, and awful in his mystery. She had
remembered him only in the whirlwind and the storm, the lightning and
the thunder, never in the still small voice. She had thought of death,
but it was of the winding sheet and the dark coffin lid, and the
lonely grave--her fears had rested there, on the shuddering brink of
decaying mortality. Oh! as she lay awake during the long watches of
that night, and conscience, aroused from its deadly lethargy, entered
the silent chambers of memory and waked the slumbering shadows of the
past--how cheerless, how dark was the retrospect! Far as the eye of
memory could revert, she could read nothing but _vanity, vanity_! A
wide, wide blank, on which a spectral hand was writing _vanity_, and
something told her, too, that that same hand would ere long write this
great moral of life on her mouldering ashes. She cast her fearful
gaze upon the future, but recoiled in shivering dread, from the vast
illimitable abyss that darkened before her. No ray of hope illumined
the dread immense. The Star of Bethlehem had never yet shed its holy
beams on the horoscope of her destiny; not that its beams had ever
ceased to shine, since that memorable night when, following its
silvery pathway in the heavens, the wise men of the East were guided
to the cradle of the infant Redeemer, to offer their adoration at his
feet; but her eyes had never looked beyond the clouds of time, and in
its high and pure resplendence it had shone in vain for her.

"I will seek him to-morrow, this holy man," said she, as hour after
hour she lay gazing, through her curtains, on the starry depths of
night, "and ask him to enlighten and direct me."

The morrow came, but Ellen was not able to take her accustomed walk.
For several days she was confined from debility to her own room, and
had ample leisure to continue the great work of self-examination. As
soon as she was permitted to go into the open air, she sought her
wonted retreat, and it was with feelings of mingled joy and dread, she
recognised the stranger, apparently waiting their approach. This truly
good man, though a stranger to them, was well known in the
neighbourhood for his deeds of charity and labours of love. His name
was M----, and as there was no mystery in his character or life, he
may be here introduced to the reader, that the appellation of stranger
may no longer be necessary. He greeted them both with even more than
his former kindness, and noticed with pain the increased debility of
Ellen. He saw, too, from her restless glance, that her soul was
disquieted within her.

"Oh, sir," said Ellen, mournfully, "you promised me joy, and you have
given me wretchedness."

"My daughter," replied Mr. M----, "before the sick found healing
virtue in the waters at Bethesda, an angel came down and troubled the
stillness of the pool."

Then, at her own request, he sat down by her side, and endeavoured to
explain to her the grand yet simple truths of Christianity. And
beginning with the law and the prophets, he carried her with him to
the mount that burned with fire and thick smoke, where the Almighty,
descending in shrouded majesty, proclaimed his will to a trembling
world, in thunder and lightning and flame; he led her on with him,
through the wilderness, pointing out the smitten rock, the descending
manna, the brazen serpent, and all the miraculous manifestations of
God's love to his chosen people; then, taking up the lofty strains of
prophecy, from the melodious harp of David to the sublimer lyre of
Isaiah, he shadowed forth the promised Messiah. In more persuasive
accents he dwelt on the fulfilment of those wondrous prophecies.
Gently, solemnly he guided her on, from the manger to the cross,
unfolding as he went the glorious mysteries of redemption, the depth,
the grandeur, the extent, and the exaltation of a Saviour's love.
Ellen listened and wept. She felt as if she could have listened for
ever. At one moment she was oppressed by the greatness of the theme,
at another melted by its tenderness. Those who from infancy have been
accustomed to hear these divine truths explained, who from their
earliest years have surrounded the household altar, and daily read
God's holy word, can have no conception of the overpowering emotions
of Ellen and Agnes; neither can they, whose infant glances have taken
in the visible glories of creation, comprehend the rapture and
amazement of those who, being born blind, are made in after years to
see.

From this hour Ellen and Agnes became the willing pupils of Mr. M----,
in the most interesting study in the universe; but it is with Ellen
the reader is supposed most strongly to sympathize; the feelings of
Agnes may be inferred from her going hand in hand with her invalid
friend. Ellen lingered in the country till the golden leaves of autumn
began to strew the ground, and its chill gales to sigh through the
grove. What progress she made during this time in the lore of heaven,
under the teachings and prayers of her beloved instructor, may be
gathered from _another_, _and the last scene_, through which this once
glittering belle was destined to pass.

       *       *       *       *       *

The chamber in which Ellen Loring was first presented to the reader,
surrounded by the paraphernalia of the ball-room, was once more
lighted--but what a change now met the eye! She, who then sat before
the mirror to be arrayed in the adornments of fashion, whose vain eye
gazed with unrepressed admiration on her own loveliness, and who
laughed to scorn the apprehensions of her fatally indulgent mother,
now lay pale and emaciated on her couch. No roses now bloomed in her
damp, unbraided locks, no decorating pearl surrounded her wan neck, no
sparkling ray of anticipated triumph flashed from her sunken eye.
Pride, vanity, vainglory, strength, beauty--all were fled.

Come hither, ye daughters of pleasure, ye who live alone for the
fleeting joys of sense, who give to the world the homage that God
requires, and waste in the pursuits of time the energies given for
eternity, and look upon a scene through which you must one day pass!
There is more eloquence in one dying bed, than Grecian or Roman orator
ever uttered.

The dim eyes of Ellen turned towards the door, with a wistful glance.
"I fear it will be too late," said she; "mother, if he should not come
before I die--"

"Die!" almost shrieked Mrs. Loring; "you are not going to die, Ellen.
Do not talk so frightfully. You will be better soon--Agnes, bathe her
temples. She is only faint."

"No, mother," answered Ellen, and her voice was surprisingly clear in
its tones, "I feel the truth of what I utter, here," laying her wasted
hand on her breast, as she spoke. "I did hope that I might live to
hear once more the voice of him who taught me the way of salvation,
and revealed to my benighted mind the God who created, the Saviour who
redeemed me, that I might breathe out to him my parting blessing, and
hear his hallowed prayer rise over my dying bed. But oh, my dear
mother, it is for your sake, more than mine, I yearn for his
presence--I looked to him to comfort you, when I am gone." Mrs. Loring
here burst into a violent paroxysm of tears, and wrung her hands in
uncontrollable agony.

"Oh! I cannot give thee up," she again and again repeated, "my
beautiful Ellen, my good, my beautiful child!"

Mournfully, painfully did these exclamations fall on the chastened
ears of the dying Ellen.

"Recall not the image of departed beauty, oh my mother! I made it my
idol, and my heavenly Father, in infinite mercy, consumed it with the
breath of his mouth. Speak not of goodness--my life has been one long
act of sin and ingratitude. I can look back upon nothing but wasted
mercies, neglected opportunities, and perverted talents. But blessed
be God, since I have been led in penitence and faith to the feet of a
crucified Saviour, I dare to believe that my sins are forgiven, and
that my trembling spirit will soon find rest in the bosom of Him, who
lived to instruct and died to redeem me."

Ellen paused, for difficult breathing had often impeded her utterance;
but her prayerful eyes, raised to heaven, told the intercourse her
soul was holding with One "whom not having seen she loved, but in whom
believing, she rejoiced with joy unspeakable and full of glory." At
this moment, the door softly opened, and the gentle footsteps of him,
whom on earth she most longed to behold, entered the chamber. As she
caught a glimpse of that benign, that venerated countenance, she felt
a glow of happiness pervading her being, of which she thought her
waning life almost incapable. She clasped her feeble hands together,
and exclaimed, "Oh! Mr. M----." It was all she could utter, for tears,
whose fountains she had thought dried for ever, gushed into her eyes
and rolled down her pallid cheeks. Mr. M---- took one of her cold
hands in his, and looked upon her, for a time, without speaking.

"My daughter," at length he said, and he did not speak without much
emotion, "do you find the hand of God laid heavy upon your soul, or is
it gentle, even as a father's hand?"

"Gentle, most gentle," she answered. "Oh! blessed, for ever blessed be
the hour that sent you, heaven-directed, to guide the wanderer in the
paths of peace! Had it not been for you, I should now be trembling on
the verge of a dark eternity, without one ray to illumine the
unfathomable abyss. Pray for me once more, my beloved friend, and pray
too for my dear mother, that she may be enabled to seek Him in faith,
who can make a dying bed 'feel soft as downy pillows are.'"

Ellen clasped her feeble hands together, while Mr. M----, kneeling by
her bed-side, in that low, sweet solemn tone, for which he was so
remarkable, breathed forth one of those deep and fervent prayers,
which are, as it were, wings to the soul, and bear it up to heaven.
Mrs. Loring knelt too, by the weeping Agnes, but her spirit, unused to
devotion, lingered below, and her eyes wandered from the heavenly
countenance of that man of God, to the death-like face of that child,
whose beauty had once been her pride. She remembered how short a time
since, she had seen that form float in airy grace before the mirror
clothed in fair and flowing robes, and how soon she should see it
extended in the awful immobility of death, wrapped in the still
winding-sheet, that garment whose folds are never more waved by the
breath of life. Then, conscience whispered in her shuddering ear,
that, had she acted a mother's part, and disciplined her daughter to
prudence and obedience, the blasts of death had not thus blighted her
in her early bloom. And it whispered also, that _she_ had no comfort
to offer her dying child, in this last conflict of dissolving nature.
It was for this world she had lived herself, it was for this world she
had taught _her_ to live, but for that untravelled world beyond, she
had no guiding hand to extend. It was to a stranger's face the fading
eyes of Ellen were directed. It was a stranger's prayers that hallowed
her passage to the tomb. The realities of eternity for the first time
pressed home, on that vain mother's heart. She felt, too, that _she_
must one day die, and that earth with all its riches and pleasures
could yield her no support in that awful moment. That there was
something which earth could not impart, which had power to soothe and
animate the departing spirit, she knew by the angelic expression of
Ellen's upturned eyes, and by the look of unutterable serenity that
was diffused over her whole countenance. The voice of Mr. M---- died
away on her ear, and an unbroken silence reigned through the
apartment. Her stormy grief had been stilled into calmness, during
that holy prayer. The eyes of Ellen were now gently closed, and as
they rose from their knees they sat down by her side, fearing, even by
a deep-drawn breath, to disturb her slumbers. A faint hope began to
dawn in the mother's heart, from the placidity and duration of her
slumbers.

"I have never known her sleep so calm before," said she, in a low
voice, to Mr. M----. Mr. M---- bent forward and laid his hand softly
on her marble brow.

"Calm indeed are her slumbers," said he, looking solemnly upward; "she
sleeps now, I trust, in the bosom of her Saviour and her God."

Thus died Ellen Loring--just one year from that night when Agnes
followed her retreating figure, with such a wistful gaze, as she left
her for the ball-room, exclaiming to herself, "Happy, beautiful
Ellen!" and Agnes now said within herself, even while she wept over
her clay-cold form, "Happy Ellen!" but with far different emotions;
for she now followed, with the eye of faith, her ascending spirit to
the regions of the blest, and saw her, in imagination, enter those
golden gates, which never will be closed against the humble and
penitent believer.

A few evenings after, a brilliant party was assembled in one of those
halls, where pleasure welcomes its votaries.--"Did you know that Ellen
Loring was dead?" observed some one to a beautiful girl, the very
counterpart of what Ellen once was. "Dead!" exclaimed the startled
beauty, for one moment alarmed into reflection; "I did not think she
would have died so soon. I am sorry you told me--it will throw a damp
over my spirits the whole evening--poor Ellen!" It was but a moment,
and the music breathed forth its joyous strains. She was led in haste
to the dance, and Ellen Loring was forgotten.



THE FATAL COSMETIC.


Charles Brown sat with Mr. Hall in a corner of the room, apart from
the rest of the company. Mr. Hall was a stranger, Charles the familiar
acquaintance of all present. The former evidently retained his seat
out of politeness to the latter for his eyes wandered continually to
the other side of the room, where a group of young ladies was gathered
round a piano, so closely as to conceal the musician to whom they were
apparently listening. The voice that accompanied the instrument was
weak and irregular, and the high tones excessively shrill and
disagreeable, yet the performer continued her songs with unwearied
patience, thinking the young gentlemen were turned into the very
stones that Orpheus changed into breathing things, to remain
insensible to her minstrelsy. There was one fair, blue-eyed girl, with
a very sweet countenance, who stood behind her chair and cast many a
mirthful glance towards Charles, while she urged the songstress to
continue at every pause, as if she were spell-bound by the melody.
Charles laughed, and kept time with his foot, but Mr. Hall bit his
lips, and a frown passed over his handsome and serious countenance.
"What a wretched state of society!" exclaimed he, "that admits, nay,
even demands such insincerity. Look at the ingenuous countenance of
that young girl--would you not expect from her sincerity and truth?
Yet, with what practical falsehood she encourages her companion in her
odious screeching!"

"Take care," answered Charles, "you must not be too severe. That young
lady is a very particular friend of mine, and a very charming girl.
She has remarkably popular manners, and if she _is_ guilty of a few
little innocent deceptions, such, for instance, as the present, I see
no possible harm in them to herself, and they certainly give great
pleasure to others. She makes Miss Lewis very happy, by her apparent
admiration, and I do not see that she injures any one else."

Mr. Hall sighed.

"I fear," said he, "I am becoming a misanthropist. I find I have very
peculiar views, such as set me apart and isolate me from my fellow
beings. I cannot enjoy an artificial state of society. I consider
_truth_ as the corner stone of the great social fabric, and where this
is wanting, I am constantly looking for ruin and desolation. The
person deficient in this virtue, however fair and fascinating, is no
more to me than the whited sepulchre and painted wall."

"You have, indeed, peculiar views," answered Charles, colouring with a
vexation he was too polite to express in any other way; "and if you
look upon the necessary dissimulations practised in society as
falsehoods, and brand them as such, I can only say, that you have
created a standard of morality more exalted and pure than human nature
can ever reach."

"I cannot claim the merit of _creating_ a standard, which the divine
Moralist gave to man, when he marked out his duties from the sacred
mount, in characters so clear and deep, that the very blind might see
and the cold ear of deafness hear."

Mr. Hall spoke with warmth. The eyes of the company were directed
towards him. He was disconcerted and remained silent. Miss Lewis rose
from the piano, and drew towards the fire.

"I am getting terribly tired of the piano," said she. "I don't think
it suits my voice at all. I am going to take lessons on the guitar and
the harp--one has so much more scope with them; and then they are much
more graceful instruments."

"You are perfectly right," replied Miss Ellis, the young lady with the
ingenuous countenance, "I have no doubt you would excel on either, and
your singing would be much better appreciated. Don't you think so,
Margaret?" added she, turning to a young lady, who had hitherto been
silent, and apparently unobserved.

"You know I do not," answered she, who was so abruptly addressed, in a
perfectly quiet manner, and fixing her eyes serenely on her face; "I
should be sorry to induce Miss Lewis to do anything disadvantageous to
herself, and consequently painful to her friends."

"Really, Miss Howard," cried Miss Lewis, bridling, and tossing her
head with a disdainful air, "you need not be so afraid of my giving
you so much pain--I will not intrude my singing upon your delicate and
refined ears."

Mr. Hall made a movement forward, attracted by the uncommon sincerity
of Miss Howard's remark.

"There," whispered Charles, "is a girl after your own heart--Margaret
Howard _will_ speak the truth, however unpalatable it may be, and see
what wry faces poor Miss Lewis makes in trying _not_ to swallow it--I
am sure Mary Ellis's flattery is a thousand times kinder and more
amiable."

Mr. Hall did not answer. His eyes were perusing the face of her, whose
lips had just given such honourable testimony to a virtue so rarely
respected by the world of fashion. A decent boldness lighted up the
clear hazel eyes that did not seem to be unconscious of the dark and
penetrating glances at that moment resting upon them. She was dressed
with remarkable simplicity. No decoration in colour relieved the
spotless whiteness of her attire. Her hair of pale, yet shining brown,
was plainly parted over a brow somewhat too lofty for mere feminine
beauty, but white and smooth as Parian marble. Her features,
altogether, bore more resemblance to a Pallas than a Venus. They were
calm and pure, but somewhat cold and passionless--and under that pale,
transparent skin, there seemed no under current, ebbing and flowing
with the crimson tide of the heart. Her figure, veiled to the throat,
was of fine, though not very slender proportions. There was evidently
no artificial compression about the waist, no binding ligatures to
prevent the elastic motions of the limbs, the pliable and graceful
movements of nature.

"She has a fine face--a very handsome face," repeated Charles,
responding to what Mr. Hall _looked_, for as yet he had uttered
nothing; "but to me, it is an uninteresting one. She is not generally
liked--respected, it is true, but feared--and fear is a feeling which
few young ladies would wish to inspire. It is a dangerous thing to
live above the world--at least, for a woman."

Charles availed himself of the earliest opportunity of introducing his
friend to Miss Howard, glad to be liberated for a while from the close
companionship of a man who made him feel strangely uncomfortable with
regard to himself, and well pleased with the opportunity of conversing
with his favourite, Mary Ellis.

"I feel quite vexed with Margaret," said this thoughtless girl, "for
spoiling my compliment to Miss Lewis. I would give one of my little
fingers to catch her for once in a white lie."

"Ask her if she does not think herself handsome," said Charles; "no
woman ever acknowledged that truth, though none be more firmly
believed."

He little expected she would act upon his suggestion, but Mary was too
much delighted at the thought of seeing the uncompromising Margaret
guilty of a prevarication, to suffer it to pass unheeded.

"Margaret," cried she, approaching her, unawed by the proximity of the
majestic stranger--"Mr. Brown says you will deny that you think
yourself handsome. Tell me the truth--don't you believe yourself
_very_ handsome?"

"I will tell you the truth, Mary," replied Margaret, blushing so
brightly, as to give an actual radiance to her face, "that is, if I
speak at all. But I would rather decline giving any opinion of
myself."

"Ah! Margaret," persisted Miss Ellis, "I have heard you say that to
_conceal_ the truth, when it was required of us, unless some moral
duty were involved, was equivalent to a falsehood. Bear witness,
Charles, here is one subject on which even Margaret Howard dares not
speak the truth."

"You are mistaken," replied Miss Howard; "since you force me to speak,
by attacking my principles, I am very willing to say, I _do_ think
myself handsome; but not so conspicuously as to allow me to claim a
superiority over my sex, or to justify so singular and unnecessary a
question."

All laughed--even the grave Mr. Hall smiled at the frankness of the
avowal--all but Miss Lewis, who, turning up her eyes and raising her
hands, exclaimed, "Really, Miss Howard's modesty is equal to her
politeness. I thought she despised beauty."

"The gifts of God are never to be despised," answered Miss Howard,
mildly. "If he has graced the outer temple, we should only be more
careful to keep the indwelling spirit pure."

She drew back, as if pained by the observation she had excited; and
the deep and modest colour gradually faded from her cheek. Mr. Hall
had not been an uninterested listener. He was a sad and disappointed
man. He had been the victim of a woman's perfidy and falsehood--and
was consequently distrustful of the whole sex; and his health had
suffered from the corrosion of his feelings, and he had been compelled
to seek, in a milder clime, a balm which time alone could yield. He
had been absent several years, and was just returned to his native
country, but not to the scene of his former residence. The wound was
healed, but the hardness of the scar remained.

One greater and purer than the Genius of the Arabian Tale, had placed
in his breast a mirror, whose lustre would be instantaneously dimmed
by the breath of falsehood or dissimulation. It was in this mirror he
saw reflected the actions of his fellow beings, and it pained him to
see its bright surface so constantly sullied. Never, since the hour he
was so fatally deceived, had he been in the presence of woman, without
a melancholy conviction that she was incapable of standing the test of
this bosom talisman. Here, however, was one, whose lips cast no cloud
upon its lustre. He witnessed the marvellous spectacle of a young,
beautiful, and accomplished woman, surrounded by the artifices and
embellishments of fashionable life, speaking the truth, in all
simplicity and godly sincerity, as commanded by the holy men of old.
There was something in the sight that renovated and refreshed his
blighted feelings. The dew falling on the parched herbage, prepares it
for the influence of a kinder ray. Even so the voice of Margaret
Howard, gentle in itself and persuasive, advocating the cause he most
venerated, operated this night on the heart of Mr. Hall.

For many weeks the same party frequently met at the dwelling of Mrs.
Astor. This lady was a professed patroness and admirer of genius and
the fine arts. To be a fine painter, a fine singer, a fine writer, a
traveller, or a foreigner, was a direct passport to her favour. To be
distinguished in any manner in society was sufficient, provided it was
not "bad eminence" which was attained by the individual. She admired
Mr. Hall for the stately gloom of his mien, his dark and foreign air,
his peculiar and high-wrought sentiments. She sought an intimacy with
Margaret Howard, for it was a _distinction_ to be her friend, and,
moreover, she had an exquisite taste and skill in drawing and
painting. Mary Ellis was a particular favourite of hers, because her
own favourite cousin Charles Brown thought her the most fascinating
young lady of his acquaintance. Mrs. Astor's house was elegantly
furnished, and her rooms were adorned with rare and beautiful
specimens of painting and statuary. She had one apartment which she
called her Gallery of Fine Arts, and every new guest was duly ushered
into this sanctuary, and called upon to look and admire the glowing
canvas and the breathing marble. A magnificent pier-glass was placed
on one side of the hall, so as to reflect and multiply these classic
beauties. It had been purchased in Europe, and was remarkable for its
thickness, brilliancy, and fidelity of reflection. It was a favourite
piece of furniture of Mrs. Astor's, and all her servants were warned
to be particularly careful, whenever they dusted its surface. As this
glass is of some importance in the story, it deserves a minute
description. Mrs. Astor thought the only thing necessary to complete
the furnishing of the gallery, were transparencies for the windows.
Miss Howard, upon hearing the remark, immediately offered to supply
the deficiency, an offer at once eagerly accepted, and Mrs. Astor
insisted that her painting apparatus should be placed in the very
room, that she might receive all the inspiration to be derived from
the mute yet eloquent relics of genius, that there solicited the gaze.
Nothing could be more delightful than the progress of the work.
Margaret was an enthusiast in the art, and her kindling cheek always
attested the triumph of her creating hand. Mrs. Astor was in a
constant state of excitement, till the whole was completed, and it was
no light task, as four were required, and the windows were of an extra
size. Almost every day saw the fair artist seated at her easel, with
the same group gathered round her. Mary Ellis admired everything so
indiscriminately, it was impossible to attach much value to her
praise; but Mr. Hall criticised as well as admired, and as he had the
painter's eye, and the poet's tongue, Margaret felt the value of his
suggestions, and the interest they added to her employment. Above all
things, she felt their _truth_. She saw that he never flattered, that
he dared to blame, and when he did commend, she was conscious the
tribute was deserved. Margaret was not one of those beings, who cannot
do but one thing at a time. She could talk and listen, while her hands
were applying the brush or arranging the colours, and look up too from
the canvas, with a glance that showed how entirely she participated in
what was passing around her.

"I wonder you are not tired to death of that everlasting easel," said
Mary Ellis to Margaret, who grew every day more interested in her
task. "I could not endure such confinement."

"_Death_ and _everlasting_ are solemn words to be so lightly used, my
dear Mary," answered Margaret, whose religious ear was always pained
by levity on sacred themes.

"I would not be as serious as you are, for a thousand worlds," replied
Mary, laughing; "I really believe you think it a sin to smile. Give me
the roses of life, let who will take the thorns. I am going now to
gather some, if I can, and leave you and Mr. Hall to enjoy all the
briers you can find."

She left the room gayly singing, sure to be immediately followed by
Charles, and Mr. Hall was left sole companion of the artist. Mary had
associated their names together, for the purpose of disturbing the
self-possession of Margaret, and she certainly succeeded in her
object. Had Mr. Hall perceived her heightened colour, his vanity might
have drawn a flattering inference; but he was standing behind her
easel, and his eyes were fixed on the beautiful personification of
Faith, Hope, and Charity--those three immortal graces--she was
delineating, as kneeling and embracing, with upturned eyes and
celestial wings. It was a lovely group--the last of the
transparencies, and Margaret lavished on it some of the finest touches
of her genius. Mary had repeated a hundred times that it was finished,
that another stroke of the pencil would ruin it, and Mrs. Astor
declared it perfect, and more than perfect, but still Margaret
lingered at the frame, believing every tint should be the last. Every
lover of the arts knows the fascination attending the successful
exercise and development of their genius--of seeing bright and warm
imaginings assume a colouring and form, and giving to others a
transcript of the mind's glorious creations; but every artist does not
know what deeper charm may be added by the conversation and
companionship of such a being as Mr. Hall. He was what might be called
a fascinating man, notwithstanding the occasional gloom and general
seriousness of his manners. For, when flashes of sensibility lighted
up that gloom, and intellect, excited and brought fully into action,
illumined that seriousness--it was like moonlight shining on some
ruined castle, beauty and grandeur meeting together and exalting each
other, from the effect of contrast. Then there was a deep vein of
piety pervading all his sentiments and expressions. The comparison of
the ruined castle is imperfect. The moonbeams falling on some lofty
cathedral, with its pillared dome and "long-drawn aisles," is a better
similitude, for devotion hallowed and elevated every faculty of his
soul. Margaret, who had lived in a world of her own, surrounded by a
purer atmosphere, lonely and somewhat unapproachable, felt as if she
were no longer solitary, for here was one who thought and sympathized
with her; one, too, who seemed sanctified and set apart from others,
by a kind of mysterious sorrow, which the instinct of woman told her
had its source in the heart.

"I believe I am too serious, as Mary says," cried Margaret, first
breaking the silence; "but it seems to me the thoughtless alone can be
gay. I am young in years, but I began to reflect early, and from the
moment I took in the mystery of life and all its awful dependencies, I
ceased to be mirthful. I am doomed to pay a constant penalty for the
singularity of my feelings: like the priestess of the ancient temples,
I am accused of uttering dark sayings of old, and casting the shadows
of the future over the joys of the present."

Margaret seldom alluded to herself, but Mary's accusation about the
thorns and briers had touched her, where perhaps alone she was
vulnerable; and in the frankness of her nature, she uttered what was
paramount in her thoughts.

"Happy they who are taught by reflection, not experience, to look
seriously, though not sadly on the world," said Mr. Hall, earnestly;
"who mourn from philanthropy over its folly and falsehood, not because
that falsehood and folly have blighted their dearest hopes, nay, cut
them off, root and branch, for ever."

Margaret was agitated, and for a moment the pencil wavered in her
hand. She knew Mr. Hall must have been unhappy--that he was still
suffering from corroding remembrances--and often had she wished to
pierce through the mystery that hung over his past life; but now, when
he himself alluded to it, she shrunk from an explanation. He seemed
himself to regret the warmth of his expressions, and to wish to efface
the impression they had made, for his attention became riveted on the
picture, which he declared wanted only one thing to make it
perfect--"And what was that?"--"Truth encircling the trio with her
golden band."

"It may yet be done," cried Margaret; and, with great animation and
skill, she sketched the outline suggested.

It is delightful to have one's own favourite sentiments and feelings
embodied by another, and that too with a graceful readiness and
apparent pleasure, that shows a congeniality of thought and taste. Mr.
Hall was not insensible to this charm in Margaret Howard. He esteemed,
revered, admired, he wished that he dared to love her. But all
charming and true as she seemed, she was still a woman, and he might
be again deceived. It would be a terrible thing to embark his
happiness once more on the waves which had once overwhelmed it; and
find himself again a shipwrecked mariner, cast upon the cruel desert
of existence. The feelings which Margaret inspired were so different
from the stormy passions which had reigned over him, it is no wonder
he was unconscious of their strength and believed himself still his
own master.

"Bless me," said Mary, who, entering soon after, _banished_, as she
said, Mr. Hall from her presence, for he retired; "if you have not
added another figure to the group. I have a great mind to blot Faith,
Hope, and Charity, as well as Truth from existence," and playfully
catching hold of the frame, she pretended to sweep her arm over their
faces.

"Oh! Mary, beware!" exclaimed Margaret; but the warning came too late.
The easel tottered and fell instantaneously against the magnificent
glass, upon which Mrs. Astor set such an immense value, and broke it
into a thousand pieces. Mary looked aghast, and Margaret turned pale
as she lifted her picture from amid the ruins.

"It is not spoiled," said she; "but the glass!"

"Oh! the glass!" cried Mary, looking the image of despair; "what shall
I do? What will Mrs. Astor say? She will never forgive me!"

"She cannot be so vindictive!" replied Margaret; "but it is indeed an
unfortunate accident, and one for which I feel particularly
responsible."

"Do not tell her how it happened," cried Mary, shrinking with moral
cowardice from the revealing of the truth. "I cannot brave her
displeasure!--Charles, too, will be angry with me, and I cannot bear
that. Oh! pray, dearest Margaret, pray do not tell her that it was I
who did it--you know it would be so natural for the easel to fall
without any rash hand to push it. Promise me, Margaret."

Margaret turned her clear, rebuking eye upon the speaker with a
mingled feeling of indignation and pity.

"I will not expose you, Mary," said she, calmly; and, withdrawing
herself from the rapturous embrace, in which Mary expressed her
gratitude, she began to pick up the fragments of the mirror, while
Mary, unwilling to look on the wreck she had made, flew out to regain
her composure. It happened that Mr. Hall passed the window while
Margaret was thus occupied; and he paused a moment to watch her, for
in spite of himself, he felt a deep and increasing interest in every
action of Margaret's. Margaret saw his shadow as it lingered, but she
continued her employment. He did not doubt that she had caused the
accident, for he had left her alone, a few moments before, and he was
not conscious that any one had entered since his departure. Though he
regretted any circumstance which might give pain to her, he
anticipated a pleasure in seeing the openness and readiness with which
she would avow herself the aggressor, and blame herself for her
carelessness.

Margaret found herself in a very unpleasant situation. She had
promised not to betray the cowardly Mary, and she knew that whatever
blame would be attached to the act, would rest upon herself. But were
Mrs. Astor to question her upon the subject, she could not deviate
from the truth, by acknowledging a fault she had never committed. She
felt an unspeakable contempt for Mary's weakness, for, had _she_ been
in _her_ place, she would have acknowledged the part she had acted,
unhesitatingly, secure of the indulgence of friendship and
benevolence. "Better to leave the circumstance to speak for itself,"
said Margaret to herself, "and of course the burden will rest upon
me." She sighed as she thought of the happy hours she had passed, by
the side of that mirror, and how often she had seen it reflect the
speaking countenance of Mr. Hall, that tablet of "unutterable
thoughts," and then thinking how _his_ hopes seemed shattered like
that frail glass, and his memories of sorrow multiplied, she came to
the conclusion that all earthly hopes were vain and all earthly
memories fraught with sadness. Never had Margaret moralized so deeply
as in the long solitary walk she stole that evening, to escape the
evil of being drawn into the tacit sanction of a falsehood. Like many
others, with equally pure intentions, in trying to avoid one
misfortune she incurred a greater.

Mrs. Astor was very much grieved and astonished when she discovered
her loss. With all her efforts to veil her feelings, Mary saw she was
displeased with Margaret, and would probably never value as they
deserved, the beautiful transparencies on which she had so faithfully
laboured.

"I would not have cared if any other article had been broken," said
Mrs. Astor, whose weak point Mary well knew; "but this can never be
replaced. I do not so much value the cost, great as it was, but it was
perfectly unique. I never saw another like it."

Mary's conscience smote her, for suffering another to bear the
imputation she herself deserved. A sudden plan occurred to her. She
had concealed the truth, she was now determined to save her friend,
even at the cost of a lie.

"I do not believe Margaret broke it," said she. "I saw Dinah, your
little black girl in the room, just before Margaret left it, and you
know how often you have punished her for putting her hands on
forbidden articles. You know if Margaret had done it, she would have
acknowledged it, at once."

"True," exclaimed Mrs. Astor; "how stupid I have been!" and glad to
find a channel in which her anger could flow, unchecked by the
restraints of politeness, she rung the bell and summoned the
unconscious Dinah.

In vain she protested her innocence. She was black, and it was
considered a matter of course that she would lie. Mrs. Astor took her
arm in silence, and led her from the room, in spite of her prayers and
protestations. We should be sorry to reveal the secrets of the
prison-house, but from the cries that issued through the shut door,
and from a certain whizzing sound in the air, one might judge of the
nature of the punishment inflicted on the innocent victim of unmerited
wrath. Mary closed her ears. Every sound pierced her heart. Something
told her those shrieks would rise up in judgment against her at the
last day. "Oh! how," thought she, "if I fear the rebuke of my
fellow-creature for an unintentional offence, how can I ever appear
before my Creator, with the blackness of falsehood and the hardness of
cruelty on my soul?" She wished she had had the courage to have acted
right in the first place, but now it was too late. Charles would
despise her, and that very day he had told her that he loved her
better than all the world beside. She tried, too, to soothe her
conscience, by reflecting that Dinah would have been whipped for
something else, and that as it was a common event to her, it was,
after all, a matter of no great consequence. Mrs. Astor, having found
a legitimate vent for her displeasure, chased the cloud from her brow,
and greeted Margaret with a smile, on her return, slightly alluding to
the accident, evidently trying to rise superior to the event. Margaret
was surprised and pleased. She expressed her own regret, but as she
imputed to herself no blame, Mrs. Astor was confirmed in the justice
of her verdict. Margaret knew not what had passed in her absence, for
Mrs. Astor was too refined to bring her domestic troubles before her
guests. Mary, who was the only one necessarily initiated, was too
deeply implicated to repeat it, and the subject was dismissed. But
the impression remained on one mind, painful and ineffaceable.

Mr. Hall marked Margaret's conscious blush on her entrance, he had
heard the cries and sobs of poor Dinah, and was not ignorant of the
cause. He believed Margaret was aware of the fact--she, the true
offender. A pang, keen as cold steel can create, shot through his
heart at this conviction. He had thought her so pure, so true, so
holy, the very incarnation of his worshipped virtue--and now, to
sacrifice her principles for such a bauble--a bit of frail glass. He
could not remain in her presence, but, complaining of a headache,
suddenly retired, but not before he had cast a glance on Margaret, so
cold and freezing, it seemed to congeal her very soul.

"He believes me cowardly and false," thought she, for she divined what
was passing in his mind; and if ever she was tempted to be so, it was
in the hope of reinstating herself in his esteem. She had given her
promise to Mary, however, and it was not to be broken. Mary, whose
feelings were as evanescent as her principles were weak, soon forgot
the whole affair in the preparations of her approaching marriage with
Charles, an event which absorbed all her thoughts, as it involved all
her hopes of happiness.

Margaret finished her task, but the charm which had gilded the
occupation was fled. Mr. Hall seldom called, and when he did, he wore
all his original reserve. Margaret felt she had not deserved this
alienation, and tried to cheer herself with the conviction of her own
integrity; but her spirits were occasionally dejected, and the figure
of Truth, which had such a beaming outline, assumed the aspect of
utter despondency. Dissatisfied with her work, she at last swept her
brush over the design, and mingling Truth with the dark shades of the
back ground, gave up her office as an artist, declaring her sketches
completed. Mrs. Astor was enraptured with the whole, and said she
intended to reserve them for the night of Mary's wedding, when they
would burst upon the sight, in one grand _coup d'oeil_, in the full
blaze of chandeliers, bridal lamps, and nuptial ornaments. Margaret
was to officiate as one of the bridemaids, but she gave a reluctant
consent. She could not esteem Mary, and she shrunk from her flattery
and caresses with an instinctive loathing. She had once set her foot
on a flowery bank, that edged a beautiful stream. The turf trembled
and gave way, for it was hollow below, and Margaret narrowly escaped
death. She often shuddered at the recollection. With similar emotions
she turned from Mary Ellis's smiles and graces. There was beauty and
bloom on the surface, but hollowness and perhaps ruin beneath.

A short time before the important day, a slight efflorescence appeared
on the fair cheek and neck of Mary. She was in despair, lest her
loveliness should be marred, when she most of all wished to shine. It
increased instead of diminishing, and she resolved to have recourse to
any remedy, that would remove the disfiguring eruption. She
recollected having seen a violent erysipelas cured immediately by a
solution of corrosive sublimate; and without consulting any one, she
sent Dinah to the apothecary to purchase some, charging her to tell no
one whose errand she was bearing, for she was not willing to confess
her occasion for such a cosmetic. Dinah told the apothecary her
mistress sent her, and it was given without questioning or hesitation.
Her only confidant was Margaret, who shared her chamber and toilet,
and who warned her to be exceedingly cautious in the use of an article
so poisonous; and Mary promised with her usual heedlessness, without
dreaming of any evil consequences. The eruption disappeared--Mary
looked fairer than ever, and, clad in her bridal paraphernalia of
white satin, white roses, and blonde lace, was pronounced the most
beautiful bride of the season. Mr. Hall was present, though he had
refused to take any part in the ceremony. He could not, without
singularity, decline the invitation and, notwithstanding the blow his
confidence in Margaret's character had received, he still found the
spot where _she_ was, enchanted ground, and he lingered near,
unwilling to break at once the only charm that still bound him to
society. After the short but solemn rite, that made the young and
thoughtless, _one_ by indissoluble ties, and the rush of
congratulation took place, Margaret was forced by the pressure close
to Mr. Hall's side. He involuntarily offered his arm as a protection,
and a thrill of irrepressible happiness pervaded his heart, at this
unexpected and unsought proximity. He forgot his coldness--the broken
glass, everything but the feeling of the present moment. Margaret was
determined to avail herself of the tide of returning confidence. Her
just womanly modesty and pride prevented her _seeking_ an explanation
and reconciliation, but she knew without breaking her promise to Mary,
she could not justify herself in Mr. Hall's opinion, if even the
opportunity offered. She was to depart in the morning, with the
new-married pair, who were going to take an excursion of pleasure, so
fashionable after the wedding ceremony. She might never see him again.
He had looked pale, his face was now flushed high with excited
feeling.

"You have wronged me, Mr. Hall," said she, blushing, but without
hesitation; "if you think I have been capable of wilful deception or
concealment. The mirror was not broken by me, though I know you
thought me guilty, and afraid or ashamed to avow the truth. I would
not say so much to justify myself, if I did not think you would
believe me, and if I did not value the esteem of one who sacrifices
even friendship at the shrine of truth."

She smiled, for she saw she was believed, and there was such a glow of
pleasure irradiating Mr. Hall's countenance, it was like the breaking
and gushing forth of sunbeams. There are few faces, on which a smile
has such a magic effect as on Margaret's. Her smile was never forced.
It was the inspiration of truth, and all the light of her soul shone
through it. Perhaps neither ever experienced an hour of deeper
happiness than that which followed this simple explanation. Margaret
felt a springtide of hope and joy swelling in her heart, for there was
a deference, a tenderness in Mr. Hall's manner she had never seen
before. He seemed entirely to have forgotten the presence of others,
when a name uttered by one near, arrested his attention.

"That is Mrs. St. Henry," observed a lady, stretching eagerly forward.
"She arrived in town this morning, and had letters of introduction to
Mrs. Astor. She was the beauty of ----, before her marriage, and is
still the leader of fashion and taste."

Margaret felt her companion start, as if a ball had penetrated him,
and looking up, she saw his altered glance, fixed on the lady, who had
just entered, with a dashing escort, and was advancing towards the
centre of the room. She was dressed in the extremity of the reigning
mode--her arms and neck entirely uncovered, and their dazzling
whiteness, thus lavishly displayed, might have mocked the polish and
purity of alabaster. Her brilliant black eyes flashed on either side,
with the freedom of conscious beauty, and disdain of the homage it
inspired. She moved with the air of a queen, attended by her vassals,
directly forward, when suddenly her proud step faltered, her cheek and
lips became wan, and uttering a sudden ejaculation, she stood for a
moment perfectly still. She was opposite Mr. Hall, whose eye, fixed
upon hers, seemed to have the effect of fascination. Though darkened
by the burning sun of a tropical clime, and faded from the untimely
blighting of the heart, that face could never be forgotten. It told
her of perjury, remorse, sorrow--yes, of sorrow, for in spite of the
splendour that surrounded her, this glittering beauty was wretched.
She had sacrificed herself at the shrine of Mammon, and had learned
too late the horror of such ties, unsanctified by affection.
Appreciating but too well the value of the love she had forsaken,
goaded by remorse for her conduct to him, whom she believed wasting
away in a foreign land--she flew from one scene of dissipation to
another, seeking in the admiration of the world an equivalent for her
lost happiness. The unexpected apparition of her lover was as
startling and appalling as if she had met an inhabitant of another
world. She tried to rally herself and to pass on, but the effort was
in vain--sight, strength, and recollection forsook her.

"Mrs. St. Henry has fainted! Mrs. St. Henry has fainted!"--was now
echoed from mouth to mouth. A lady's fainting, whether in church,
ball-room, or assembly, always creates a great sensation; but when
that lady happens to be the centre of attraction and admiration, when
every eye that has a loop-hole to peep through is gazing on her
brilliant features, to behold her suddenly fall, as if smitten by the
angel of death, pallid and moveless--the effect is inconceivably
heightened. When, too, as in the present instance, a sad,
romantic-looking stranger rushes forward to support her, the interest
of the scene admits of no increase. At least Margaret felt so, as she
saw the beautiful Mrs. St. Henry borne in the arms of Mr. Hall through
the crowd, that fell back as he passed, into an adjoining apartment,
speedily followed by Mrs. Astor, all wonder and excitement, and many
others all curiosity and expectation, to witness the termination of
the scene. Mr. Hall drew back, while the usual appliances were
administered for her resuscitation. He heeded not the scrutinizing
glances bent upon him. His thoughts were rolled within himself, and

     "The soul of other days came rushing in."

The lava that had hardened over the ruin it created, melted anew, and
the greenness and fragrance of new-born hopes were lost under the
burning tide. When Mrs. St. Henry opened her eyes, she looked round
her in wild alarm; then shading her brow with her hand, her glance
rested where Mr. Hall stood, pale and abstracted, with folded arms,
leaning against the wall--"I thought so," said she, in a low voice, "I
thought so;"--then covered her eyes and remained silent. Mr. Hall, the
moment he heard the sound of her voice and was assured of her
recovery, precipitately retired, leaving behind him matter of deep
speculation. Margaret was sitting in a window of the drawing-room,
through which he passed. She was alone, for even the bride was
forgotten in the excitement of the past scene. He paused--he felt an
explanation was due to her, but that it was impossible to make it. He
was softened by the sad and sympathizing expression of her
countenance, and seated himself a moment by her side.

"I have been painfully awakened from a dream of bliss," said he,
"which I was foolish enough to imagine might yet be realized. But the
heart rudely shattered as mine has been, must never hope to be healed.
I cannot command myself sufficiently to say more, only let me make one
assurance, that whatever misery has been and may yet be my doom, guilt
has no share in my wretchedness--I cannot refuse myself the
consolation of your esteem."

Margaret made no reply--she could not. Had her existence depended on
the utterance of one word, she could not have commanded it. She
extended her hand, however, in token of that friendship she believed
was hereafter to be the only bond that was to unite them. Long after
Mr. Hall was gone, she sat in the same attitude, pale and immovable as
a statue; but who can tell the changes and conflicts of her spirit, in
that brief period?

Mrs. St. Henry was too ill to be removed, and Mrs. Astor was unbounded
in her attentions. She could hardly regret a circumstance which forced
so interesting and distinguished a personage upon the acceptance of
her hospitality. Margaret remained with her during the greater part of
the night, apprehensive of a renewal of the fainting fits, to which
she acknowledged she was constitutionally subject. Margaret watched
her as she lay, her face scarcely to be distinguished from the sheet,
it was so exquisitely fair, were it not for the shading of the dark
locks, that fell unbound over the pillow, still heavy with the
moisture with which they had been saturated; and, as she contemplated
her marvellous loveliness, she wondered not at the influence she
exercised over the destiny of another. Mr. Hall had once spoken of
himself as being the victim of falsehood. Could she have been
false--and loving him, how could she have married another? If she had
voluntarily broken her troth, why such an agitation at his sight? and
if she were worthy of his love, why such a glaring display of her
person, such manifest courting of the free gaze of admiration? These,
and a thousand similar interrogations, did Margaret make to herself
during the vigils of the night, but they found no answer. Towards
morning, the lady slept; but Margaret was incapable of sleep, and her
wakeful eyes caught the first gray tint of the dawn, and marked it
deepening and kindling, till the east was robed with flame, the
morning livery of the skies. All was bustle till the bridal party was
on their way. Mrs. St. Henry still slept, under the influence of an
opiate, and Margaret saw her no more. Farewells were exchanged, kind
wishes breathed, and the travellers commenced their journey.
Margaret's thoughts wandered from Mrs. St. Henry to Mr. Hall, and back
again, till they were weary of wandering and would gladly have found
rest; but the waters had not subsided, there was no green spot where
the dove of peace could fold her drooping wings. Charles and Mary were
too much occupied by each other to notice her silence; and it was not
till they paused in their journey, she was recalled to existing
realities. Mary regretted something she had left behind--a sudden
recollection came over Margaret.

"Oh! Mary," said she, "I hope you have been cautious, and not left any
of that dangerous medicine, where mischief could result from it. I
intended to remind you of it before our departure."

"Certainly--to be sure I took especial care of it, I have it with me
in my trunk," replied Mary, but her conscience gave her a remorseful
twinge as she uttered the _white lie_, for she had forgotten it, and
where she had left it, she could not remember. As Margaret had given
her several warnings, she was ashamed to acknowledge her negligence,
and took refuge in the shelter she had too often successfully sought.
Had she anticipated the fatal consequences of her oblivion, her bridal
felicity would have been converted into agony and despair. She had
left the paper containing the powder, yet undissolved, on the
mantelpiece of her chamber. The chambermaid who arranged the room
after her departure, seeing it and supposing it to be medicine, put it
in the box which Mrs. Astor devoted to that department, in the midst
of calomel, salts, antimony, &c. It was folded in brown paper, like
the rest, and there was no label to indicate its deadly qualities.
Mrs. St. Henry continued the guest of Mrs. Astor, for her
indisposition assumed a more serious aspect, and it was impossible to
remove her. She appeared feverish and restless, and a physician was
called in to prescribe for her, greatly in opposition to her wishes.
She could not bear to acknowledge herself ill. It was the heat of the
room that had oppressed her--a transient cold, which would soon pass
away--she would not long trespass on Mrs. Astor's hospitality. The
doctor was not much skilled in diseases of the heart, though he ranked
high in his profession. His grand panacea for almost all diseases was
calomel, which he recommended to his patient, as the most efficient
and speediest remedy. She received the prescription with a very ill
grace, declaring she had never tasted of any in her life, and had a
horror of all medicines. Mrs. Astor said she had an apothecary's shop
at command in her closet, and that she kept doses constantly prepared
for her own use. After the doctor's departure, Mrs. St. Henry seemed
much dejected, and her eyes had an anxious, inquiring expression as
they turned on Mrs. Astor.

"You say," said she to her, in a low tone, "that friends have been
kind in their inquiries for me? Most of them are strangers, and yet I
thank them."

"Mr. Hall has called more than once," replied Mrs. Astor, "he, I
believe, is well known to you."

"He is indeed," said Mrs. St. Henry--"I wish I could see him--but it
cannot be; no, it would not answer."

Mrs. Astor longed to ask the nature of their former acquaintance, but
a conviction that the question would be painful, restrained the
expression of her curiosity.

"Would you not like to send for some of your friends?" inquired Mrs.
Astor--"your husband? My servants shall be at your disposal."

"You are very kind," answered Mrs. St. Henry, quickly--"but it is not
necessary--my husband is too infirm to travel, and believing me well,
he will suffer no anxiety on my account--I think I shall be quite
well, after taking your sovereign medicine. Give it me now, if you
please, while I am in a vein of compliance."

She turned, with so lovely a smile, and extended her hand with so much
grace, Mrs. Astor stood a moment, thinking what a beautiful picture
she would make; then taking the lamp in her hand, she opened her
closet, and took down the medicine casket. It happened that the first
paper she touched was that which Mary had left, and which the servant
had mingled with the others.

"Here is one already prepared," cried she--"I always keep them ready,
the exact number of grains usually given, as we often want it suddenly
and at night."

She mixed the fatal powder with some delicious jelly, and holding it
to the lips of her patient, said with a cheering smile--"Come, it has
no disagreeable taste at all."

Mrs. St. Henry gave a nervous shudder, but took it, unconscious of its
deadly properties; and Mrs. Astor, praising her resolution, seated
herself in an easy chair by the bedside, and began to read. She became
deeply interested in her book, though she occasionally glanced towards
her patient to see if she slept. She had placed the lamp so that its
light would not shine on the bed, and the most perfect quietness
reigned in the apartment. How long this tranquillity lasted it is
impossible to tell, for she was so absorbed in her book, time passed
unheeded. At length Mrs. St. Henry began to moan, and toss her arms
over the covering, as if in sudden pain. Mrs. Astor leaned over her,
and took her hand. It was hot and burning, her cheek had a scarlet
flush on it, and when she opened her eyes they had a wild and alarming
expression.

"Water," she exclaimed, leaning on her elbow, and shading back her
hair hurriedly from her brow--"Give me water, for I die of thirst."

"I dare not," said Mrs. Astor, terrified by her manner--"anything but
that to quench your thirst."

She continued still more frantically to call for water, till Mrs.
Astor, excessively alarmed, sent for the doctor, and called in other
attendants. As he was in the neighbourhood, he came immediately. He
looked aghast at the situation of his patient, for she was in a
paroxysm of agony at his entrance, and his experienced eye took in the
danger of the case. "What have you given her, madam?" said he, turning
to Mrs Astor, with a countenance that made her tremble.

"What have you given me?" exclaimed Mrs. St. Henry, grasping her wrist
with frenzied strength--"You have killed me--it was poison--I feel it
in my heart and in my brain!"

Mrs. Astor uttered a scream, and snatched up the paper which had
fallen on the carpet.

"Look at it, doctor--it was calomel, just as you prescribed--what else
could it be!"

The doctor examined the paper--there was a little powder still
sticking to it.

"Good heavens, doctor," cried Mrs. Astor, "what makes you look
so?--what is it?--what was it?"

"Where did you get this?" said he, sternly.

"At the apothecary's--I took it from that chest--examine it, pray."

The doctor turned away with a groan, and approached his beautiful
patient, now gasping and convulsed. He applied the most powerful
antidotes, but without effect.

"I am dying," she cried, "I am dying--I am poisoned--but oh, doctor,
save me--save me--let me see him, if I must die--let me see him
again;" and she held out her hands imploringly to Mrs. Astor, who was
in a state little short of distraction.

"Only tell me, if you mean Mr. Hall."

"Who should I mean but Augustus?" she cried. "Perhaps in death he may
forgive me."

The doctor made a motion that her request should be complied with, and
a messenger was despatched.

What an awful scene was presented, when he entered that chamber of
death! Was that the idol of his young heart, the morning star of his
manhood; she, who lay livid, writhing and raving there? Her long, dark
hair hung in dishevelled masses over her neck and arms, her large
black eyes were fearfully dilated, and full of that unutterable agony
which makes the spirit quail before the might of human suffering. Cold
sweat-drops gleamed on her marble brow, and her hands were damp with
that dew which no morning sunbeam can ever exhale.

"Almighty Father!" exclaimed Mr. Hall, "what a sight is this!"

The sound of that voice had the power to check the ravings of
delirium. She shrieked, and stretched out her arms towards him, who
sunk kneeling by the bedside, covering his face with his hands, to
shut out the appalling spectacle.

"Forgive me," she cried, in hollow and altered accents--"Augustus, you
are terribly avenged--I loved you, even when I left you for another.
Oh! pray for me to that great and dreadful God, who is consuming me,
to have mercy on me hereafter."

He did pray, but it was in spirit, his lips could not articulate; but
his uplifted hands and streaming eyes called down pardon and peace on
the dying penitent. The reason, that had flashed out for a moment,
rekindled by memory and passion, was now gone for ever. All the rest
was but the striving of mortal pain, the rending asunder of body and
soul. In a short time all was over, and the living were left to read
one of the most tremendous lessons on the vanity of beauty, and the
frailty of life, mortality could offer in all its gloomy annals.

"This is no place for you, now," said the doctor, taking Mr. Hall's
arm, and drawing him into another apartment, where, secure from
intrusion, he could be alone with God and his own heart. There was
another duty to perform--to investigate the mystery that involved this
horrible tragedy. The apothecary was summoned, who, after recovering
from his first consternation, recollected that a short time before, he
had sold a quantity of corrosive sublimate to a little black girl,
according to her mistress's orders. The servants were called for
examination, and Dinah was pointed out as the culprit--Dinah, the
imputed destroyer of the mirror, whose terror was now deemed the
result of conscious guilt. Mrs. Astor vehemently protested she had
never sent her, that it was the blackest falsehood; and Dinah, though
she told the whole truth, how Mary had forbid her telling it was for
her, and she merely used her mistress's name on that account, gained
no belief. The chambermaid, who had found the paper and put it in the
chest, withheld her testimony, fearing she might be implicated in the
guilt. Everything tended to deepen the evidence against Dinah. The
affair of the broken looking-glass was revived. She had been heard to
say, after her memorable flagellation, that she wished her mistress
was dead, that she would kill her if she could; and many other
expressions, the result of a smarting back and a wounded spirit, were
brought up against her. It was a piteous thing to see the fright, and
hear the pleadings of the wretched girl: "Oh! don't send me to
jail--don't hang me--send for Miss Mary," she repeated, wringing her
hands, and rolling her eyes like a poor animal whom the hunters have
at bay. But to jail she was sent--for who could doubt her crime, or
pity her after witnessing its terrific consequences?--a damp, dreary
prison-house, where, seated on a pallet of straw, she was left to
brood day after day over her accumulated wrongs, hopeless of sympathy
or redress. Let those who consider a _white lie_ a venial offence, who
look upon deception as necessary to the happiness and harmony of
society, reflect on the consequences of Mary Ellis's moral
delinquency, and tremble at the view. She had not done more than a
thousand others have done, and are daily doing; and yet what was the
result? The soul of the lovely, the erring, and the unprepared had
been sent shuddering into eternity, a household made wretched, the
innocent condemned, a neighbourhood thrown into consternation and
gloom. Had Mary confessed her negligence to Margaret, instead of
telling an unnecessary and untempted falsehood, a warning message
could have then been easily sent back, and the wide-spread ruin
prevented. There is no such thing as a _white lie_; they are all black
as the blackest shades of midnight; and no fuller on earth can whiten
them.

When Mrs. Astor had recovered from the shock of these events in a
sufficient degree, she wrote to Mary a detailed account, begging her
and Margaret to return immediately, and cheer the home which now
seemed so desolate. The letter was long in reaching her, for the
travellers were taking a devious course, and could leave behind them
no precise directions. Mary was in one of her gayest, brightest
humours, when she received the epistle. She was putting on some new
ornaments, which Charles had presented to her, and he was looking over
her shoulder at the fair image reflected in the glass, whose brow was
lighted up with the triumph of conscious beauty.

"I look shockingly ugly to-day," said she, with a smile that belied
her words.

"You tell stories with such a grace," replied her flattering husband,
"I am afraid we shall be in love with falsehood."

"A letter from our dear Mrs. Astor; open it, Charles, while I clasp
this bracelet; and read it aloud, then Margaret and I both can hear
it."

Before Charles had read one page, Mary sunk down at his feet, rending
the air with hysterical screams. Her husband, who was totally unaware
of the terrible agency she had had in the affair, raised her in
indescribable alarm. Her own wild expressions, however, revealed the
truth, which Margaret's shivering lips confirmed.

"Oh! had you told me but the _truth_," cried Margaret, raising her
prayerful eyes and joined hands to heaven--"how simple, how easy it
had been--Charles, Charles," added she, with startling energy, "praise
not this rash, misguided girl, for the grace with which she _lies_--I
will not recall the word. By the worth of your own soul and hers,
teach her, that as there is a God above, he requires truth in the
inward heart."

Charles trembled at the solemnity of the adjuration; and conscience
told him, that all the agonies his wife suffered, and all the remorse
which was yet to be her portion, were just. Margaret sought the
solitude of her chamber, and there, on her knees, she endeavoured to
find calmness. The image of Mr. Hall, mourning over the death-bed of
her once so madly loved, the witness of her expiring throes, the
receiver of her last repentant sigh rose, between her and her Creator.
Then, that radiant face, that matchless form, which had so lately
excited a pang of envy, even in _her_ pure heart, now blasted by
consuming poison, and mouldering in the cold grave; how awful was the
thought, and how fearful the retribution! She, whose vain heart had by
falsehood endangered the very existence of another, was the victim of
the very vice that had blackened her own spirit. Yes! there is
retribution even in this world.

Mary returned, but how changed from the gay and blooming bride! Her
cheek was pale, and her eye heavy. She hastened to repair the only
wrong now capable of any remedy. The prison doors of poor Dinah were
thrown open, and her innocence declared: but could the long and lonely
days and nights spent in that weary, gloomy abode be blotted out?
Could the pangs of cold, shuddering fear, the dream of the gallows,
the rope, the hangman's grasp round the gurgling throat, the dark
coffin seat, the scoffing multitude, be forgotten? No!--Dinah's spirit
was broken, for though her skin was black, there was sensibility and
delicacy too beneath her ebon colouring. Could Mary bring back the
gladness that once pervaded the dwelling of Mrs. Astor? Everything
there was changed. The room in which Mrs. St. Henry died was closed,
for it was haunted by too terrible remembrances. Bitterly did Mary
mourn over the grave of her victim; but she could not recall her by
her tears. No remorse could open the gates of the tomb, or reclothe
with beauty and bloom the ruins of life.

Margaret, the true, the pure-hearted and upright Margaret, was not
destined, like Mary, to gather the thorns and briers of existence.
Long did the fragrance of _her_ roses last, for she had not plucked
them with too rash a hand. She and Mr. Hall again met. The moral
sympathy that had drawn them together, was not weakened by the tragic
event that had intervened; it had rather strengthened through
suffering and sorrow. Mr. Hall could never forget the death scene of
Laura St. Henry. The love expressed for him at a moment when all
earthly dissimulation was over had inexpressibly affected him. Her
unparalleled sufferings seemed an expiation for her broken faith. It
was at her grave that he and Margaret first met after their sad
separation, when the falling shades of evening deepened the solemnity
of the scene. Sorrow, sympathy, devotion, and truth, form a holy
groundwork for love; and when once the temple is raised on such a
foundation, the winds and waves may beat against it in vain. Mr. Hall
found by his own experience, that the bruised heart can be healed, for
Margaret's hand poured oil and balm on its wounds. He could repose on
her faith as firmly as on the rock which ages have planted. He knew
that she loved him, and felt it due to her happiness as well as his
own, to ask her to be the companion of his pilgrimage. If they looked
back upon the clouds that had darkened their morning, it was without
self-reproach, and remembrance gradually lost its sting. Who will say
she was not happier than Mary, who carried in her bosom, through life,
that which "biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder?"



THE

ABYSSINIAN NEOPHYTE.


Adellan, an Abyssinian youth, approached one of those consecrated
buildings, which crown almost every hill of his native country. Before
entering, he drew off his shoes, and gave them in charge to a servant,
that he might not soil the temple of the Lord, with the dust of the
valley; then bending down, slowly and reverentially, he pressed his
lips to the threshold, performed the same act of homage to each post
of the door, then passed into the second division of the church,
within view of the curtained square, answering to the mysterious _holy
of holies_ in the Jewish temple. He gazed upon the pictured saints
that adorned the walls, long and earnestly, when, kneeling before
them, he repeated, with deep solemnity, his customary prayers. He
rose, looked towards the mystic veil, which no hand but that of the
priest was permitted to raise, and anticipated with inexplicable
emotions the time when, invested with the sacred dignity of that
office, he might devote himself exclusively to Heaven. From early
childhood, Adellan had been destined to the priesthood. His first
years were passed mid the stormy scenes of war, for his father was a
soldier, fighting those bloody battles, with which the province of
Tigre had been more than once laid waste. Then followed the dreadful
discipline of famine, for the destroying locusts, the scourge of the
country, had followed up the desolation of war, and year succeeding
year, gleaned the last hope of man. The parents of Adellan fled from
these scenes of devastation, crossed the once beautiful and fertile
banks of the Tacazze, and sought refuge in the ample monastery of
Walduba, where a brother of his father then resided. Here, he was
placed entirely under the protection of his uncle, for his father,
sickened with the horrors he had witnessed, and loathing the ties
which were once so dear to him, recrossed his native stream, became a
gloomy monk in another convent, where, with several hundred of his
brethren, he soon after perished a victim to those barbarities, which
had robbed him of all that gave value to life. Adellan had never known
the joys of childhood. The greenness and bloom of spring had been
blotted from his existence. Famine had hollowed his boyish cheek, and
fear and distrust chilled and depressed his young heart. After
entering the convent of Walduba, where all his physical wants were
supplied, the roundness and elasticity of health were restored to his
limbs, but his cheek was kept pale by midnight vigils, and long and
painful fastings. The teacher, whom his uncle placed over him, was
severe and exacting. He gave him no relaxation by day, and the stars
of night witnessed his laborious tasks. He was compelled to commit
lessons to memory, in a language which he did not then understand, a
drudgery from which every ardent mind must recoil. Yet, such was his
thirst for knowledge, that he found a pleasure, even in this, that
sweetened his toils. All the strains of the devout Psalmist were
familiar to his lips, but they were in an _unknown tongue_, for in
this manner are the youth of those benighted regions taught. Often,
when gazing on the magnificent jewelry of a tropical sky, shining down
on the darkness and solitude of night, had he unconsciously repeated
the words of the royal penitent--"The heavens declare the glory of
God. The firmament showeth his handy work." He understood not their
meaning, but the principle of immortality was striving within him, and
every star that gemmed the violet canopy, seemed to him eye-beams of
that all-seeing Divinity he then darkly adored.

Adellan left the enclosure of the church, and lingered beneath the
shade of the cedars, whose trunks supported the roof, and thus formed
a pleasant colonnade sheltered from the sun and the rain. Beautiful
was the prospect that here stretched itself around him. All the
luxuriance of a mountainous country, constantly bathed with the dews
of heaven, and warmed by the beams of a vertical sun, was richly
unfolded. Odoriferous perfumes, wafted from the forest trees, and
exhaled from the roses, jessamines, and wild blossoms, with which the
fields were covered, scented the gale. Borne from afar, the fragrance
of Judea's balm mingled with the incense of the flowers and the richer
breath of the myrrh. A cool stream murmured near, where those who came
up to worship, were accustomed to perform their ablutions and
purifying rites, in conformance with the ancient Levitical law.
Wherever Adellan turned his eyes, he beheld some object associated
with the ceremonies of his austere religion. In that consecrated
stream he had bathed, he had made an altar beneath every spreading
tree, and every rock had witnessed his prostrations. He thought of the
unwearied nature of his devotions, and pride began to swell his heart.
He knew nothing of that meek and lowly spirit, that humiliation of
soul, which marks the followers of a crucified Redeemer. He had been
taught to believe that salvation was to be found in the observance of
outward forms, but never had been led to purify the inner temple so as
to make it a meet residence for a holy God.

Near the close of the day, he again walked forth, meditating on his
contemplated journey to Jerusalem, the holy city, where he was not
only to receive the remission of his own sins, but even for seven
generations yet unborn, according to the superstitious belief of his
ancestors. He was passing a low, thatched dwelling, so lost in his own
meditations, as scarcely to be aware of its vicinity, when a strain of
low, sweet music, rose like a stream of "rich distilled perfumes."
Woman's softer accents mingled with a voice of manly melody and
strength; and as the blending strains stole by his ear, he paused,
convinced that the music he heard was an act of adoration to God,
though he understood not the language in which it was uttered. The
door of the cabin was open, and he had a full view of the group near
the entrance. A man, dressed in a foreign costume, whose prevailing
colour was black, sat just within the shade of the cedars that
sheltered the roof. Adellan immediately recognised the pale face of
the European, and an instinctive feeling of dislike and suspicion
urged him to turn away. There was something, however, in the
countenance of the stranger that solicited and obtained more than a
passing glance. There was beauty in the calm, thoughtful features, the
high marble brow, the mild devotional dark eye, and the soft masses of
sable heir that fell somewhat neglected over his lofty temples. There
was a tranquillity, a peace, an elevation diffused over that pallid
face, which was reflected back upon the heart of the beholder: a kind
of moonlight brightness, communicating its own peculiar sweetness and
quietude to every object it shone upon. Seated near him, and leaning
over the arm of his chair, was a female, whose slight delicate figure,
and dazzlingly fair complexion, gave her a supernatural appearance to
the unaccustomed eye of the dark Abyssinian. Her drooping attitude and
fragile frame appealed at once to sympathy and protection, while her
placid eyes, alternately lifted to heaven and turned towards him on
whose arm she leaned, were expressive not only of meekness and
submission, but even of holy rapture. A third figure belonged to this
interesting group: that of an infant girl, about eighteen months old,
who, seated on a straw matting, at the feet of her parents, raised her
cherub head as if in the act of listening, and tossed back her flaxen
ringlets with the playful grace of infancy.

Adellan had heard that a Christian missionary was in the neighbourhood
of Adorva, and he doubted not that he now beheld one whom he had been
taught to believe his most dangerous enemy. Unwilling to remain longer
in his vicinity, he was about to pass on, when the stranger arose and
addressed him in the language of his country. Surprised at the
salutation, and charmed, in spite of himself, with the mild courtesy
of his accents, Adellan was constrained to linger. The fair-haired
lady greeted him with a benign smile, and the little child clapped its
hands as if pleased with the novelty and grace of his appearance; for
though the hue of the olive dyed his cheek, his features presented the
classic lineaments of manly beauty, and though the long folds of his
white robe veiled the outlines of his figure, he was formed in the
finest model of European symmetry. The missionary spoke to him of his
country, of the blandness of the climate, the magnificence of the
trees, the fragrance of the air, till Adellan forgot his distrust, and
answered him with frankness and interest. Following the dictates of
his own ardent curiosity, he questioned the missionary with regard to
his name, his native country, and his object in coming to his own far
land. He learned that his name was M----, that he came from the banks
of the Rhine to the borders of the Nile, and, following its branches,
had found a resting-place near the waters of the beautiful Tacazze.

"And why do you come to this land of strangers?" asked the abrupt
Abyssinian.

"I came as an humble servant of my divine Master," replied the
missionary, meekly; "as a messenger of 'glad tidings of great joy,' to
all who will receive me, and as a friend and brother, even to those
who may persecute and revile me."

"What tidings can you bring us," said Adellan, haughtily, "that our
priests and teachers can not impart to us?"

"I bring my credentials with me," answered Mr. M----, and taking a
Testament, translated into the Amharic language, he offered it to
Adellan; but he shrunk back with horror, and refused to open it.

"I do not wish for your books," said he; "keep them. We are satisfied
with our own. Look at our churches. They stand on every hill, far as
your eye can reach. See that stream that winds near your dwelling.
There we wash away the pollution of our souls. I fast by day, I watch
by night. The saints hear my prayers, and the stars bear witness to my
penances. I am going to the holy city, where I shall obtain remission
for all my sins, and those of generations yet unborn. I shall return
holy and happy."

Mr. M---- sighed, while the youth rapidly repeated his claims to
holiness and heaven.

"You believe that God is a spirit," said he; "and the worship that is
acceptable in his eyes must be spiritual also. In vain is the nightly
vigil and the daily fast, unless the soul is humbled in his eyes. We
may kneel till the rock is worn by our prostrations, and torture the
flesh till every nerve is wakened to agony, but we can no more work
out our own salvation by such means, than our feeble hands can create
a new heaven and a new earth, or our mortal breath animate the dust
beneath our feet, with the spirit of the living God."

The missionary spoke with warmth. His wife laid her gentle hand on his
arm. There was something in the glance of the young Abyssinian that
alarmed her. But the spirit of the martyr was kindled within him, and
would not be quenched.

"See," said he, directing the eye of the youth towards the
neighbouring hills, now clothed in the purple drapery of sunset; "as
sure as those hills now stand, the banner of the cross shall float
from their summits, and tell to the winds of heaven the triumphs of
the Redeemer's kingdom. Ethiopia shall stretch out her sable hands
unto God, and the farthest isles of the ocean behold the glory of his
salvation."

Adellan looked into the glowing face of the missionary, remembered the
cold and gloomy countenance of his religious teacher, and wondered at
the contrast. But his prejudices were unshaken, and his pride rose up
in rebellion against the man who esteemed him an idolater.

"Come to us again," said the missionary, in a subdued tone, as Adellan
turned to depart; "let us compare our different creeds, by the light
of reason and revelation, and see what will be the result."

"Come to us again," said the lady, in Adellan's native tongue; and her
soft, low voice sounded sweet in his ears, as the fancied accents of
the virgin mother. That night, as he sat in his lonely chamber, at the
convent, conning his task in the stillness of the midnight hour, the
solemn words of the missionary, his inspired countenance, the ethereal
form of his wife, and the cherub face of that fair child, kept
floating in his memory. He was angry with himself at the influence
they exercised. He resolved to avoid his path, and to hasten his
departure to Jerusalem, where he could be not only secure from his
arts, but from the legions of the powers of darkness.

       *       *       *       *       *

Months passed away. The humble cabin of the missionary was gradually
thronged with those who came from curiosity, or better motives, to
hear the words of one who came from such a far country. His pious
heart rejoiced in the hope, that the shadows of idolatry which
darkened their religion would melt away before the healing beams of
the Sun of Righteousness. But he looked in vain for the stately figure
of the young Adellan. His spirit yearned after the youth, and whenever
he bent his knees at the altar of his God, he prayed for his
conversion, with a kind of holy confidence that his prayer would be
answered. At length he once more presented himself before them, but so
changed they could scarcely recognise his former lineaments. His face
was haggard and emaciated, his hair had lost its raven brightness, and
his garments were worn and soiled with dust. He scarcely answered the
anxious inquiries of Mr. M----, but sinking into a seat, and covering
his face with his hands, large tears, gathering faster and faster,
glided through his fingers, and rained upon his knees. Mary, the
sympathizing wife of the missionary, wept in unison; but she did not
limit her sympathy to tears, she gave him water to wash, and food to
eat, and it was not until he rested his weary limbs, that they sought
to learn the history of his sufferings. It would be tedious to detail
them at length, though he had indeed experienced "a sad variety of
woe." He had commenced his journey under the guidance and protection
of a man in whose honour he placed unlimited confidence, had been
deceived and betrayed, sold as a slave, and, though he had escaped
this degradation, he had been exposed to famine and nakedness, and the
sword.

"I have been deserted by man," said Adellan; "the saints have turned a
deaf ear to my prayers; I have come to you to learn if there is a
power in _your_ Christianity to heal a wounded spirit, and to bind up
a broken heart."

The missionary raised his eyes in gratitude to Heaven.

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me," cried he, repeating the
language of the sublimest of the prophets: "because the Lord hath
anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to
bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive, and
the opening of the prison to them that are bound."

"Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted," repeated
Mary, softly; and never were promises of mercy pronounced in a sweeter
voice. Afflictions had humbled the proud spirit of Adellan. But his
was not the humility of the Christian. It was rather a gloomy
misanthropy, that made him turn in loathing from all he had once
valued, and to doubt the efficacy of those forms and penances, in
which he had wasted the bloom of his youth, and the morning strength
of his manhood. But he no longer rejected the proffered kindness of
his new friends. He made his home beneath their roof. The Testament he
had formerly refused, he now gratefully received, and studied it with
all the characteristic ardour of his mind. Persevering as he was
zealous, as patient in investigation as he was quick of apprehension,
he compared text with text, and evidence with evidence, till the
prejudices of education yielded to the irresistible force of
conviction. When once his understanding had received a doctrine, he
cherished it as a sacred and eternal truth, immutable as the word of
God, and immortal as his own soul.

He now went down into the hitherto untravelled chambers of his own
heart, and, throwing into their darkest recesses the full blaze of
revelation, he shuddered to find them infested by inmates more deadly
than the serpent of the Nile. Passions, of whose existence he had been
unconscious, rose up from their hiding places, and endeavoured to wrap
him in their giant folds. Long and fearful was the struggle, but
Adellan opposed to their power the shield of Faith and the sword of
the Spirit, and at last came off conqueror, and laid down his spoils
at the foot of the cross. The missionary wept over him, "tears such as
angels shed." "Now," exclaimed he, "I am rewarded for all my
privations, and my hitherto unavailing toils. Oh! Adellan, now the
friend and brother of my soul, I feel something like the power of
prophecy come over me, when I look forward to your future destiny. The
time will shortly come, when you will stand in the high places of the
land, and shake down the strong holds of ancient idolatry and sin. The
temples, so long desecrated by adoration of senseless images, shall be
dedicated to the worship of the living God. Sinners, who so long have
sought salvation in the purifying waters of the stream, shall turn to
the precious fountain of the Redeemer's blood. Oh! glorious,
life-giving prospect! They who refuse to listen to the pale-faced
stranger, will hearken to the accents of their native hills. Rejoice,
my beloved Mary! though I may be forced to bear back that fading frame
of yours to a more congenial clime, our Saviour will not be left
without a witness, to attest his glory, and confirm his power."

To fulfil this prophecy became the ruling desire of Adellan's life. He
longed to liberate his deluded countrymen from the thraldom of that
superstition to which he himself had served such a long and gloomy
apprenticeship. He longed, too, for some opportunity of showing his
gratitude to his new friends. But there is no need of signal occasions
to show what is passing in the heart. His was of a transparent
texture, and its emotions were visible as the pebbles that gleam
through the clear waters of the Tacazze. The beautiful child of the
missionary was the object of his tenderest love. He would carry it in
his arms for hours, through the wild groves that surrounded their
dwelling, and, gathering for it the choicest productions of nature,
delight in its smiles and infantine caresses. Sometimes, as he gazed
on the soft azure of its eyes, and felt its golden ringlets playing on
his cheek, he would clasp it to his bosom and exclaim, "Of such is the
kingdom of heaven."

Mary idolized her child, and Adellan's great tenderness for it,
inexpressibly endeared him to her heart. She loved to see the fair
face of her infant leaning against the dark cheek of Adellan, and its
flaxen locks mingling with his jetty hair. One evening, as it fell
asleep in his arms, he was alarmed at the scarlet brightness of its
complexion, and the burning heat of its skin. He carried it to its
mother. It was the last time the cherub ever slumbered on his bosom.
It never again lifted up its head, but faded away like a flower
scorched by a noonday sun.

Day and night Adellan knelt by the couch of the dying infant, and
prayed in agony for its life; yet even in the intensity of his
anguish, he felt how sublime was the resignation of its parents. They
wept, but no murmur escaped their lips. They prayed, but every prayer
ended with the submissive ejaculation of their Saviour, "Not our will,
O Father! but thine be done." And when the sweet, wistful eyes were at
last closed in death, and the waxen limbs grew stiff and cold, when
Adellan could not restrain the bitterness of his grief, still the
mourners bowed their heads and cried, "The Lord gave, the Lord taketh
away--blessed be the name of the Lord."

Adellan had witnessed the stormy sorrow of his country-women, whose
custom it is to rend their hair, and lacerate their faces with their
nails, and grovel, shrieking, in the dust; but never had his heart
been so touched as by the resignation of this Christian mother. But,
though she murmured not, she was stricken by the blow, and her fragile
frame trembled beneath the shock. Her husband felt that she leaned
more heavily on his arm, and though she smiled upon him as wont, the
smile was so sad, it often brought tears into his eyes. At length she
fell sick, and the missionary saw her laid upon the same bed on which
his infant had died. Now, indeed, it might be said that the hand of
God was on him. She, the bride of his youth, the wife of his fondest
affections, who had given up all the luxuries of wealth, and the
tender indulgences of her father's home, for the love of him and her
God; who had followed him not only with meekness, but joy, to those
benighted regions, that she might share and sweeten his labours, and
join to his, her prayers and her efforts for the extension of the
Redeemer's kingdom; she, whose presence had been able to transform
their present lowly and lonely dwelling into a place lovely as the
Garden of Eden--could he see _her_ taken from him, and repeat, from
his heart, as he had done over the grave of his only child, "Father,
thy will be done?"

Bitter was the conflict, but the watchful ear of Adellan again heard
the same low, submissive accents, which were so lately breathed over
his lost darling. Here, too, Adellan acted a brother's part; but
female care was requisite, and this his watchful tenderness supplied.
He left them for a while, and returned with a young maiden, whose
olive complexion, graceful figure, and long braided locks, declared
her of Abyssinian birth. Her voice was gentle, and her step light,
when she approached the bed of the sufferer. Ozora, for such was the
name of the maiden, was a treasure in the house of sickness. Mary's
languid eye followed her movements, and often brightened with
pleasure, while receiving her sympathizing attentions. In her hours of
delirious agony, she would hold her hand, and call her sister in the
most endearing tone, and ask her how she had found her in that land of
strangers. Sometimes she would talk of the home of her childhood, and
imagine she heard the green leaves of her native bowers rustling in
the gale. Then she thought she was wandering through the groves of
Paradise, and heard the angel voice of her child singing amid the
flowers.

Ozora was familiar with all the medicinal arts and cooling drinks of
her country. She possessed not only native gentleness, but skill and
experience as a nurse. She was an orphan, and the death-bed of her
mother had witnessed her filial tenderness and care. She was an
idolater, but she loved Adellan, and for his sake would gladly embrace
the faith of the European. Adellan was actuated by a twofold motive in
bringing her to the sick-bed of Mary; one was, that she might exercise
a healing influence on the invalid, and another, that she might
witness the triumphs of Christian faith over disease, sorrow, and
death. But Mary was not doomed to make her grave in the stranger's
land. The fever left her burning veins, and her mind recovered its
wonted clearness. She was able to rise from her couch, and sit in the
door of the cabin, and feel the balmy air flowing over her pallid
brow.

She sat thus one evening, supported by the arm of her husband, in the
soft light of the sinking sunbeams. Adellan and her gentle nurse were
seated near. The eyes of all were simultaneously turned to a small
green mound, beneath the shade of a spreading cedar, and they thought
of the fairy form that had so often sported around them in the
twilight hour.

"Oh! not there," cried Mary, raising her glistening eyes from that
lonely grave to heaven--"Not there must we seek our child. Even now
doth her glorified spirit behold the face of our Father in heaven. She
is folded in the arms of Him, who, when on earth, took little children
to his bosom and blessed them. And I, my beloved husband--a little
while and ye shall see my face no more. Though the Almighty has
raised me from that couch of pain, there is something tells me,"
continued she, laying her hand on her heart, "that my days are
numbered; and when my ashes sleep beside that grassy bed, mourn not
for me, but think that I have gone to my Father and your Father, to my
God and your God." Then, leaning her head on her husband's shoulder,
she added, in a low trembling voice--"to my child and your child."

It was long before Mr. M---- spoke; at length he turned to Adellan,
and addressed him in the Amharic language: "My brother! it must be
that I leave you. The air of her native climes may revive this
drooping flower. I will bear her back to her own home, and, if God
wills it, I will return and finish the work he has destined me to do."

Mary clasped her hands with irrepressible rapture as he uttered these
words; then, as if reproaching herself for the momentary selfishness,
she exclaimed, "And leave the poor Abyssinians!"

"I will leave them with Adellan," he answered, "whom I firmly believe
God has chosen, to declare his unsearchable riches to this portion of
the Gentile world. The seed that has been sown has taken root, and the
sacred plant will spring up and increase, till the birds of the air
nestle in its branches, and the beasts of the forest lie down beneath
its shade. Adellan, does your faith waver?"

"Never," answered the youth, with energy, "but the arm of my brother
is weak. Let me go with him on his homeward journey, and help him to
support the being he loves. I shall gather wisdom from his lips, and
knowledge from the glimpse of a Christian land. Then shall I be more
worthy to minister to my brethren the word of life."

A sudden thought flashed into the mind of the missionary. "And would
you, Adellan," asked he, "would you indeed wish to visit our land, and
gain instruction in our institutions of learning, that you might
return to enrich your country with the best treasures of our own? You
are very young, and might be spared awhile now, that you may be fitted
for more extensive usefulness hereafter."

Adellan's ardent eye told more expressively than words could utter,
the joy which filled his soul at this proposition. "Too happy to
follow you," cried he; "how can I be sufficiently grateful for an
added blessing?"

Ozora, who had listened to the conversation, held in her own
language, with intense interest, here turned her eyes upon Adellan,
with a look of piercing reproach, and suddenly rising, left the cabin.

"Poor girl!" exclaimed Mary, as Adellan, with a saddened countenance,
followed the steps of Ozora; "how tenderly has she nursed me, and what
is the recompense she meets? We are about to deprive her of the light
that gladdens her existence. She has not yet anchored her hopes on the
Rock of Ages, and where else can the human heart find refuge, when the
wild surges of passion sweep over it!"

"Adellan is in the hands of an all-wise and all-controlling power,"
answered the missionary, thoughtfully; "the tears of Ozora may be
necessary to prove the strength of his resolution; if so, they will
not fall in vain."

A few weeks after, everything being in readiness for the departure of
the missionary and his family, he bade farewell to the Abyssinians,
who crowded round his door to hear his parting words. He took them
with him to the hillside, and, under the shadow of the odoriferous
trees, and the covering of the heavens, he addressed them with a
solemnity and fervour adapted to the august temple that surrounded
him. His deep and sweet-toned voice rolled through the leafy
colonnades and verdant aisles, like the rich notes of an organ in some
ancient cathedral. The Amharic language, soft and musical in itself,
derived new melody from the lips of Mr. M----.

"And now," added he, in conclusion, "I consign you to the guardianship
of a gracious and long-suffering God. Forget not the words I have just
delivered unto you, for remember they will rise up in judgment against
you in that day when we shall meet face to face before the bar of
eternal justice. This day has the Gospel been preached in your ears.
Every tree that waves its boughs over your heads, every flower that
embalms the atmosphere, and every stream that flows down into the
valley, will bear witness that the hallowed name of the Redeemer has
been breathed in these shades, and promises of mercy so sweet that
angels stoop down from heaven to listen to the strains that have been
offered, free, free as the very air you inhale. I go, my friends, but
should I never return, this place will be for ever precious to my
remembrance. It contains the ashes of my child. That child was yielded
up in faith to its Maker, and the spot where it sleeps is, therefore,
holy ground. Will ye not guard it from the foot of the stranger, and
the wild beast of the mountain? Let the flower of the hills bloom
ungathered upon it, and the dew of heaven rest untrodden on its turf,
till he, who is the resurrection and the life, shall appear, and the
grave give back its trust."

He paused, overpowered by the strength of his emotions, and the sobs
of many of his auditors attested the sympathy of these untutored
children of nature. He came down from the elevated position on which
he had been standing, and taking the hand of Adellan, led him to the
place he had just occupied. The people welcomed him with shouts, for
it was the first time he had presented himself in public, to declare
the change in his religious creed, and such was the character he had
previously obtained for sanctity and devotion, they looked upon him
with reverence, notwithstanding his youth. He spoke at first with
diffidence and agitation, but gathering confidence as he proceeded, he
boldly and eloquently set forth and defended the faith he had
embraced. That young, enthusiastic preacher would have been a novel
spectacle to an European audience, as well as that wild, promiscuous
assembly. His long, white robes, girded about his waist, according to
the custom of his country, his black, floating hair, large, lustrous
eyes, and dark but now glowing complexion, formed a striking contrast
with the sable garments, pallid hue, and subdued expression of the
European minister. They interrupted him with tumultuous shouts, and
when he spoke of his intended departure and attempted to bid them
farewell, their excitement became so great, he was compelled to pause,
for his voice strove in vain to lift itself above the mingled sounds
of grief and indignation.

"I leave you, my brethren," cried he, at length, "only to return more
worthy to minister unto you. My brother will open my path to the
temples of religion and knowledge. He needs my helping arm in bearing
his sick through the lonely desert and over the deep sea--what do I
not owe him? I was a stranger and he took me in; I was naked and he
clothed me; hungry and he fed me, thirsty and he gave me drink; and
more than all, he has given me to eat the bread of heaven, and water
to drink from the wells of salvation. Oh! next to God, he is my best
friend and yours."

The shades of night began to fall, before the excited crowd were all
dispersed, and Mr. M----, and Adellan were left in tranquillity. Mary
had listened to the multitudinous sounds, with extreme agitation. She
reproached herself for allowing her husband to withdraw from the scene
of his missionary labours out of tenderness for her. She thought it
would be better for her to die and be laid by her infant's grave, than
the awakened minds of these half Pagan, half Jewish people, be allowed
to relapse into their ancient idolatries. When the clods of the valley
were once laid upon her breast, her slumbers would not be less sweet
because they were of the dust of a foreign land.

Thus she reasoned with her husband, who, feeling that her life was a
sacred trust committed to his care, and that it was his first duty to
guard it from danger, was not moved from his purpose by her tearful
entreaties. They were to depart on the following morning.

That night Adellan sat with Ozora by the side of a fountain, that
shone like a bed of liquid silver in the rising moonbeams. Nature
always looks lovely in the moonlight, but it seemed to the imagination
of Adellan he had never seen her clothed with such resplendent lustre
as at this moment, when every star shone with a farewell ray, and
every bough, as it sparkled in the radiance, whispered a melancholy
adieu.

Ozora sat with her face bent over the fountain, which lately had often
been fed by her tears. Her hair, which she had been accustomed to
braid with oriental care, hung dishevelled over her shoulders. Her
whole appearance presented the abandonment of despair. Almost every
night since his contemplated departure, had Adellan followed her to
that spot, and mingled the holiest teachings of religion with the
purest vows of love. He had long loved Ozora, but he had struggled
with the passion, as opposed to that dedication of himself to heaven,
he had contemplated in the gloom of his conventual life. Now
enlightened by the example of the missionary, and the evangelical
principles he had embraced, he believed Christianity sanctioned and
hallowed the natural affections of the heart. He no longer tried to
conquer his love, but to make it subservient to higher duties.

Mary, grieved at the sorrow of Ozora, would have gladly taken her with
her, but Adellan feared her influence. He knew he would be unable to
devote himself so entirely to the eternal truths he was one day to
teach to others, if those soft and loving eyes were always looking
into the depths of his heart, to discover their own image there. He
resisted the proposition, and Mr. M---- applauded the heroic
resolution. But now Adellan was no hero; he was a young, impassioned
lover, and the bitterness of parting pressed heavily on his soul.

"Promise me, Ozora," repeated he, "that when I am gone, you will never
return to the idolatrous worship you have abjured. Promise me, that
you will never kneel to any but the one, invisible God, and that this
blessed book, which I give you, as a parting pledge, shall be as a
lamp to your feet and a light to your path. Oh! should you forget the
faith you have vowed to embrace, and should I, when I come back to my
country, find you an alien from God, I should mourn, I should weep
tears of blood over your fall; but you could never be the wife of
Adellan. The friend of his bosom must be a Christian."

"I cannot be a Christian," sobbed the disconsolate girl, "for I love
you better than God himself, and I am still an idolater. Oh! Adellan,
you are dearer to me than ten thousand worlds, and yet you are going
to leave me."

The grief she had struggled to restrain, here burst its bounds. Like
the unchastened daughters of those ardent climes, she gave way to the
wildest paroxysms of agony. She threw herself on the ground, tore out
her long raven locks, and startled the silence of night by her wild,
hysterical screams. Adellan in vain endeavoured to soothe and restore
her to reason; when, finding his caresses and sympathy worse than
unavailing, he knelt down by her side, and lifting his hands above her
head, prayed to the Almighty to forgive her for her sacrilegious love.
As the stormy waves are said to subside, when the wing of the halcyon
passes over them, so were the tempestuous emotions that raged in the
bosom of this unhappy maiden, lulled into calmness by the holy breath
of prayer. As Adellan continued his deep and fervent aspirations, a
sense of the omnipresence, the omnipotence and holiness of God stole
over her. She raised her weeping eyes, and as the moonbeams glittered
on her tears, they seemed but the glances of his all-seeing eye. As
the wind sighed through the branches, she felt as if _His_ breath were
passing by her, in mercy and in love. Filled with melting and
penitential feelings, she lifted herself on her knees, by the side of
Adellan, and softly whispered a response to every supplication for
pardon.

"Oh! Father, I thank thee for this hour!" exclaimed Adellan,
overpowered by so unlooked-for a change, and throwing his arms around
her, he wept from alternate ecstasy and sorrow. Let not the feelings
of Adellan be deemed too refined and exalted for the region in which
he dwelt. From early boyhood he had been kept apart from the
companionship of the ruder throng; his adolescence had been passed in
the shades of a convent, in study, and deep observation, and more than
all he was a Christian; and wherever Christianity sheds its pure and
purifying light, it imparts an elevation, a sublimity to the character
and the language, which princes, untaught of God, may vainly emulate.

The morning sunbeam lighted the pilgrims on their way. The slight and
feeble frame of Mary was borne on a litter by four sturdy Ethiopians.
Seven or eight more accompanied to rest them, when weary, and to bear
Mr. M---- in the same manner, when overcome by fatigue, for it was a
long distance to Massowak. Their journey led them through a desert
wilderness, where they might vainly sigh for the shadow of the rock,
or the murmur of the stream. Adellan walked in silence by the side of
his friend. His thoughts were with the weeping Ozora, and of the
parting hour by the banks of the moonlighted fountain. Mary remembered
the grave of her infant, and wept, as she caught a last glimpse of the
hill where she had dwelt. The spirit of the missionary was lingering
with the beings for whose salvation he had laboured, and he made a
solemn covenant with his own soul, that he would return with Adellan,
if God spared his life, and leave his Mary under the shelter of the
paternal roof, if she indeed lived to behold it. On the third day, Mr.
M---- was overcome with such excessive languor, he was compelled to be
borne constantly by the side of his wife, unable to direct, or to
exercise any controlling influence on his followers. Adellan alone,
unwearied and energetic, presided over all, encouraged, sustained, and
soothed. He assisted the bearers in upholding their burdens, and
whenever he put his shoulder to the litter, the invalids immediately
felt with what gentleness and steadiness they were supported. When
they reached the desert, and camels were provided for the travellers,
they were still often obliged to exchange their backs for the litter,
unable long to endure the fatigue. Adellan was still unwilling to
intrust his friends to any guidance but his own. He travelled day
after day through the burning sands, animating by his example the
exhausted slaves, and personally administering to the wants of the
sufferers. When they paused for rest or refreshment, before he carried
the cup to his own parched lips, he brought it to theirs. It was his
hand that bathed with water their feverish brows, and drew the curtain
around them at night, when slumber shed its dews upon their eyelids.
And often, in the stillness of the midnight, when the tired bearers
and weary camels rested and slept after their toils, the voice of
Adellan rose sweet and solemn in the loneliness of the desert, holding
communion with the high and holy One who inhabiteth eternity.

There was a boy among the negro attendants, who was the object of
Adellan's peculiar kindness. He seemed feeble and incapable of bearing
long fatigue, and at the commencement of the journey Adellan urged him
to stay behind, but he expressed so strong a desire to follow the good
missionary, he could not refuse his request. He wore his face muffled
in a handkerchief, on account of some natural deformity, a
circumstance which exposed him to the derision of his fellow slaves,
but which only excited the sympathy of the compassionate Adellan.
Often, when the boy, panting and exhausted, would throw himself for
breath on the hot sand, Adellan placed him on his own camel and
compelled him to ride. And when they rested at night, and Adellan
thought every one but himself wrapped in slumber, he would steal
towards him, and ask him to tell him something out of God's book, that
he, Adellan, had been reading. It was a delightful task to Adellan to
pour the light of divine truth into the dark mind of this poor negro
boy, and every moment he could spare from his friends was devoted to
his instruction.

One evening, after a day of unusual toil and exertion, they reached
one of those verdant spots, called the Oases of the desert; and sweet
to the weary travellers was the fragrance and coolness of this green
resting-place. They made their tent under the boughs of the flowering
acacia, whose pure white blossoms diffused their odours even over the
sandy waste they had passed. The date tree, too, was blooming
luxuriantly there, and, more delicious than all, the waters of a
fountain, gushing out of the rock, reminded them how God had provided
for the wants of his ancient people in the wilderness. The missionary
and his wife were able to lift their languid heads, and drink in the
freshness of the balmy atmosphere. All seemed invigorated and revived
but the negro boy, who lay drooping on the ground, and refused the
nourishment which the others eagerly shared.

"What is the matter, my boy?" asked Adellan, kindly, and taking his
hand in his, was struck by its burning heat. "You are ill," continued
he, "and have not complained." He made a pallet for him under the
trees, and they brought him a medicinal draught. Seeing him sink after
a while in a deep sleep, Adellan's anxiety abated. But about midnight
he was awakened by the moanings of the boy, and bending over him, laid
his hand on his forehead. The sufferer opened his eyes, and gasped,
"Water, or I die!" Adellan ran to the fountain, and brought the water
immediately to his lips. Then kneeling down, he removed the muffling
folds of the handkerchief from his face, and unbound the same from his
head, that he might bathe his temples in the cooling stream. The moon
shone as clearly and resplendently as when it beamed on Ozora's
parting tears, and lighted up with an intense radiance the features of
the apparently expiring negro. Adellan was astonished that no
disfiguring traces appeared on the regular outline of his youthful
face; his hair, too, instead of the woolly locks of the Ethiopian, was
of shining length and profusion, and as Adellan's hand bathed his brow
with water, he discovered beneath the jetty dye of his complexion the
olive skin of the Abyssinian.

"Ozora!" exclaimed Adellan, throwing himself in agony by her side;
"Ozora, you have followed me, but to die!"

"Forgive me, Adellan," cried she, faintly; "it was death to live
without you; but oh! I have found everlasting life, in dying at your
feet. Your prayers have been heard in the desert, and I die in the
faith and the hope of a Christian."

Adellan's fearful cry had roused the slumberers of the tent. Mr.
M----, and Mary, herself, gathering strength from terror, drew near
the spot. What was her astonishment to behold her beloved nurse,
supported in the arms of Adellan, and seemingly breathing out her last
sighs! Every restorative was applied, but in vain. The blood was
literally burning up in her veins.

This last fatal proof of her love and constancy wrung the heart of
Adellan. He remembered how often he had seen her slender arms bearing
the litter, her feet blistering in the sands; and when he knew, too,
that it was for the love of him she had done this, he felt as if he
would willingly lay down his life for hers. But when he saw her mind,
clear and undimmed by the mists of disease, bearing its spontaneous
testimony to the truth of that religion which reserves its most
glorious triumphs for the dying hour, he was filled with rejoicing
emotions.

"My Saviour found me in the wilderness," cried she, "while listening
to the prayers of Adellan. His head was filled with dew, and his locks
were heavy with the drops of night. Oh, Adellan, there is a love
stronger than that which has bound my soul to yours. In the strength
of that love I am willing to resign you. I feel there is forgiveness
even for me."

She paused, and lifting her eyes to heaven, with a serene expression,
folded her hands on her bosom. The missionary saw that her soul was
about to take its flight, and kneeling over her, his feeble voice rose
in prayer and adoration. While the holy incense was ascending up to
heaven, her spirit winged its upward way, so peacefully and silently,
that Adellan still clasped her cold hand, unconscious that he was
clinging to dust and ashes.

They made her grave beneath the acacia, whose blossoms were strewed
over her dying couch. They placed a rude stone at the head, and the
hand of Adellan carved upon it this simple, but sublime inscription,
"I know that my Redeemer liveth." The name of _Ozora_, on the opposite
side, was all the memorial left in the desert, of her whose memory was
immortal in the bosom of her friends. But there was a grandeur in that
lonely grave which no marble monument could exalt. It was the grave of
a Christian:

     "And angels with their silver wings o'ershade
     The ground now sacred by her relics made."

It would be a weary task to follow the travellers through every step
of their journey. Adellan still continued his unwearied offices to his
grateful and now convalescent friends, but his spirit mourned for his
lost Ozora. When, however, he set foot on Christian land, he felt
something of the rapture that swelled the breast of Columbus on the
discovery of a new world. It was, indeed, a new world to him, and
almost realized his dreams of Paradise.

The friends of Mary and her husband welcomed him, as the guardian
angel who had watched over their lives in the desert, at the hazard of
his own; and Christians pressed forward to open their hearts and their
homes to their Abyssinian brother. Mary, once more surrounded by the
loved scenes of her youth, and all the appliances of kindred love, and
all the medicinal balms the healing art can furnish, slowly recovered
her former strength. All that female gratitude and tenderness could
do, she exerted to interest and enliven the feelings of Adellan, when,
after each day of intense study, he returned to their domestic circle.
The rapidity with which he acquired the German language was
extraordinary. He found it, however, only a key, opening to him
treasures of unknown value. Mr. M---- feared the effects of his
excessive application, and endeavoured to draw him from his books and
studies. He led him abroad amongst the works of nature, and the
wonders of art, and tried to engage him in the athletic exercises the
youth of the country delighted in.

Whatever Adellan undertook he performed with an ardour which no
obstacles could damp, no difficulties subdue. Knowledge, purified by
religion, was now the object of his existence; and, while it was
flowing in upon his mind, from such various sources, finding, instead
of its capacities being filled, that they were constantly enlarging
and multiplying, and the fountains, though overflowing, still
undrained: and knowing too, that it was only for a short time that his
spirit could drink in these immortal influences, and that through them
he was to fertilize and refresh, hereafter, the waste places of his
country, he considered every moment devoted to relaxation alone, as
something robbed from eternity.

One day, Adellan accompanied a number of young men belonging to the
institution in which he was placed, in an excursion for the collection
of minerals. Their path led them through the wildest and most
luxuriant country, through scenes where nature rioted in all its
virgin bloom; yet, where the eye glancing around, could discern the
gilding traces of art, the triumphs of man's creating hand. Adellan,
who beheld in every object, whether of nature or of art, the
manifestation of God's glory, became lost in a trance of ecstasy. He
wandered from his companions. He knelt down amid the rocks, upon the
green turf, and on the banks of the streams. In every place he found
an altar, and consecrated it with the incense of prayer and of praise.
The shades of night fell around him, before he was conscious that the
sun had declined. The dews fell heavy on his temples, that still
throbbed with the heat and the exertions of the day. He returned
chilled and exhausted. The smile of rapture yet lingered on his lips,
but the damps of death had descended with the dews of night, and from
that hour consumption commenced its slow but certain progress. When
his friends became aware of his danger, they sought by every possible
means to ward off the fatal blow. Mr. M---- induced him to travel,
that he might wean him from his too sedentary habits. He carried him
with him, through the magnificent valleys of Switzerland, those
valleys, embosomed in hills, on whose white and glittering summits
Adellan imagined he could see the visible footprints of the Deity. "Up
to the hills," he exclaimed, with the sweet singer of Israel, in a
kind of holy rapture, "up to the hills do I lift mine eyes, from
whence cometh my help." When returning, they lingered on the lovely
banks of the Rhine, his devout mind, imbued with sacred lore, recalled
"the green fields and still waters," where the Shepherd of Israel
gathered his flock.

The languid frame of Adellan seemed to have gathered strength, and his
friends rejoiced in their reviving hopes; but "He who seeth not as man
seeth," had sent forth his messenger to call him to his heavenly home.
Gentle was the summons, but Adellan knew the voice of his divine
Master, and prepared to obey. One night, as he reclined in his easy
chair, and Mr. M---- was seated near, he stretched out his hand
towards him, with a bright and earnest glance: "My brother," said he,
"I can now say from my heart, the will of God be done. It was hard to
give up my beloved Abyssinians, but I leave them in the hands of One
who is strong to deliver, and mighty to save. You, too, will return,
when you have laid this wasted frame in its clay-cold bed."

"I made a vow unto my God," answered Mr. M----, "that I would see them
again, and that vow shall not be broken. When they ask me the parting
words of Adellan, tell me what I shall utter."

"Tell them," exclaimed Adellan, raising himself up, with an energy
that was startling, and in a voice surprisingly clear, while the glow
of sensibility mingled with the hectic fires that burned upon his
cheek; "tell them that the only reflection that planted a thorn in my
dying pillow, was the sorrow I felt that I was not permitted to
declare to them once more, the eternal truths of the Gospel. Tell
them, with the solemnities of death gathering around me, in the near
prospect of judgment and eternity, I declare my triumphant faith in
that religion your lips revealed unto me, that religion which was
sealed by the blood of Jesus, and attested by the Spirit of Almighty
God; and say, too, that had I ten thousand lives, and for every life
ten thousand years to live, I should deem them all too short to devote
to the glory of God, and the service of my Redeemer."

He sunk back exhausted in his chair, and continued, in a lower voice,
"You will travel once more through the desert, but the hand of Adellan
will no longer minister to the friend he loves. Remember him when you
pass the grave of Ozora, and hallow it once more with the breath of
prayer. She died for love of me, but she is gone to him who loved her
_as man never loved_. Her spirit awaits my coming."

The last tear that ever dimmed the eye of Adellan here fell to the
memory of Ozora. It seemed a parting tribute to the world he was about
to leave. His future hours were gilded by anticipations of the
happiness of heaven, and by visions of glory too bright, too holy for
description. He died in the arms of the missionary, while the hand of
Mary wiped from his brow the dews of dissolution. Their united tears
embalmed the body of one, who, had he lived, would have been a burning
and a shining light, in the midst of the dark places of the earth;
one, who combined in his character, notwithstanding his youth and his
country, the humility of the Publican, the ardour of Peter, the love
of John, and the faith and zeal of the great Apostle of the Gentiles.
Perhaps it should rather be said, with the reverence due to these holy
evangelists and saints, that a large portion of their divine
attributes animated the spirit of the Abyssinian Neophyte.



THE

VILLAGE ANTHEM.


"What is that bell ringing for?" asked Villeneuve of the waiter, who
was leaving the room.

"For church," was the reply.

"For church! Oh! is it Sunday? I had forgotten it. I did not think
there was a church in this little village."

"Yes, indeed," answered the boy, his village pride taking the alarm,
"and a very handsome one, too. Just look out at that window, sir. Do
you see that tall, white steeple, behind those big trees there? That
is the church, and I know there is not a better preacher in the whole
world than Parson Blandford. He was never pestered for a word yet, and
his voice makes one feel so warm and tender about the heart, it does
one good to hear him."

Villeneuve cast a languid glance through the window, from the sofa on
which he was reclining, thinking that Parson Blandford was very
probably some old hum-drum, puritanical preacher, whose nasal twang
was considered melodious by the vulgar ears which were accustomed to
listen to him. Dull as his present position was, he was resolved to
keep it, rather than inflict upon himself such an intolerable bore.
The boy, who had mounted his hobby, continued, regardless of the
unpropitious countenance of his auditor.

"Then there is Miss Grace Blandford, his daughter, plays so
beautifully on the organ! You never heard such music in your life.
When she sits behind the red curtains, and you can't see anything but
the edge of her white skirt below, I can't help thinking there's an
angel hid there; and when she comes down and takes her father's arm,
to walk out of church, she looks like an angel, sure enough."

Villeneuve's countenance brightened. Allowing for all the hyperbole of
ignorance, there were two positive things which were agreeable in
themselves--music and a young maiden. He rose from the sofa, threw
aside his dressing-gown, called for his coat and hat, and commanded
the delighted boy to direct him to the church, the nearest way. His
guide, proud of ushering in such a handsome and aristocratic-looking
stranger, conducted him to one of the most conspicuous seats in the
broad aisle, in full view of the pulpit and the orchestra, and
Villeneuve's first glance was towards the red curtains, which were
drawn so close, not even a glimpse of white was granted to the
beholder. He smiled at his own curiosity. Very likely this angel of
the village boy was a great red-faced, hard-handed country girl, who
had been taught imperfectly to thrum the keys of an instrument, and
consequently transformed by rustic simplicity into a being of superior
order. No matter, any kind of excitement was better than the ennui
from which he had been aroused. A low, sweet, trembling prelude stole
on his ear. "Surely," thought he, "no vulgar fingers press those
keys--that is the key-note of true harmony." He listened, the sound
swelled, deepened, rolled through the arch of the building, and sank
again with such a melting cadence, the tears involuntarily sprang into
his eyes. Ashamed of his emotions, he leaned his head on his hand, and
yielded unseen to an influence, which, coming over him so
unexpectedly, had all the force of enchantment. The notes died away,
then swelled again in solemn accompaniment with the opening hymn. The
hymn closed with the melodious vibrations of the instrument, and for a
few moments there was a most profound silence.

"The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before
him:" uttered a deep, solemn voice.

Villeneuve raised his head and gazed upon the speaker. He was a man
rather past the meridian of life, but wearing unmarred the noblest
attributes of manhood. His brow was unwrinkled, his piercing eye
undimmed, and his tall figure majestic and unbowed. The sun inclined
from the zenith, but the light, the warmth, the splendour remained in
all their power, and the hearts of the hearers radiated that light and
warmth, till an intense glow pervaded the assembly, and the opening
words of the preacher seemed realized. Villeneuve was an Infidel; he
looked upon the rites of Christianity as theatrical machinery,
necessary, perhaps, towards carrying on the great drama of life, and
when the springs were well adjusted and oiled, and the pulleys worked
without confusion, and every appearance of art was kept successfully
in the background, he was willing to sit and listen as he would to a
fine actor when reciting the impassioned language of the stage. "This
man is a very fine actor," was his first thought, "he knows his part
well. It is astonishing, however, that he is willing to remain in such
a limited sphere--with such an eye and voice--such flowing language
and graceful elocution, he might make his fortune in any city. It is
incomprehensible that he is content to linger in obscurity." Thus
Villeneuve speculated, till his whole attention became absorbed in the
sermon, which as a literary production was exactly suited to his
fastidiously refined taste. The language was simple, the sentiments
sublime. The preacher did not bring himself down to the capacities of
his auditors, he lifted them to his, he elevated them, he
spiritualized them. He was deeply read in the mysteries of the human
heart, and he knew that however ignorant it might be of the truths of
science and the laws of metaphysics, it contained many a divine spark
which only required an eliciting touch to kindle. He looked down into
the eyes upturned to him in breathless interest, and he read in them
the same yearnings after immortality, the same reverence for the
Infinite Majesty of the Universe, which moved and solemnized his own
soul. His manner was in general calm and affectionate, yet there were
moments when he swept the chords of human passion with a master's
hand, and the hectic flush of his cheek told of the fire burning
within.

"He is a scholar, a metaphysician, a philosopher, and a gentleman,"
said Villeneuve to himself, at the close of his discourse. "If he is
an actor, he is the best one I ever saw. He is probably an enthusiast,
who, if he had lived in ancient days, would have worn the blazing
crown of martyrdom. I should like to see his daughter." The low notes
of the organ again rose, as if in response to his heart's desire. This
time there was the accompaniment of a new female voice. The
congregation rose as the words of the anthem began. It was a kind of
doxology, the chorus terminating with the solemn expression--"for ever
and ever." The hand of the organist no longer trembled. It swept over
the keys, as if the enthusiasm of an exalted spirit were communicated
to every pulse and sinew. The undulating strains rolled and
reverberated till the whole house was filled with the waves of
harmony. But high, and clear, and sweet above those waves of harmony
and the mingling voices of the choir, rose that single female voice,
uttering the burden of the anthem, "for ever and ever." Villeneuve
closed his eyes. He was oppressed by the novelty of his sensations.
Where was he? In a simple village church, listening to the minstrelsy
of a simple village maiden, and he had frequented the magnificent
cathedral of Notre Dame, been familiar there with the splendid ritual
of the national religion, and heard its sublime chantings from the
finest choirs in the Universe. Why did those few monotonous words so
thrill through every nerve of his being? That eternity which he
believed was the dream of fanaticism, seemed for a moment an awful
reality, as the last notes of the pæan echoed on his ear.

When the benediction was given, and the congregation was leaving the
church, he watched impatiently for the foldings of the red curtains to
part, and his heart palpitated when he saw a white-robed figure glide
through the opening and immediately disappear. The next minute she was
seen at the entrance of the church, evidently waiting the approach of
her father, who, surrounded by his people, pressing on each other to
catch a kindly greeting, always found it difficult to make his egress.
As she thus stood against a column which supported the entrance,
Villeneuve had a most favourable opportunity of scanning her figure,
which he did with a practised and scrutinizing glance. He was
accustomed to Parisian and English beauty, and comparing Grace
Blandford to the high-born and high-bred beauties of the old world,
she certainly lost in the comparison. She was very simply dressed, her
eyes were downcast, and her features were in complete repose. Still
there was a quiet grace about her that pleased him--a blending of
perfect simplicity and perfect refinement that was extraordinary. Mr.
Blandford paused as he came down the aisle. He had noticed the young
and interesting looking stranger, who listened with such devout
attention to all the exercises. He had heard, for in a country village
such things are rapidly communicated, that there was a traveller at
the inn, a foreigner and an invalid--two strong claims to sympathy and
kindness. The pallid complexion of the young man was a sufficient
indication of the latter, and the air of high breeding which
distinguished him was equal to a letter of recommendation in his
behalf. The minister accosted him with great benignity, and invited
him to accompany him home.

"You are a stranger," said he, "and I understand an invalid. Perhaps
you will find the quiet of our household more congenial this day than
the bustle of a public dwelling."

Villeneuve bowed his delighted acceptance of this most unexpected
invitation. He grasped the proffered hand of the minister with more
warmth than he was aware of, and followed him to the door where Grace
yet stood, with downcast eyes.

"My daughter," said Mr. Blandford, drawing her hand through his arm.
This simple introduction well befitted the place where it was made,
and was acknowledged by her with a gentle bending of the head and a
lifting of the eyes, and they walked in silence from the portals of
the church. What a change had the mere uplifting of those veiled lids
made in her countenance! Two lines of a noble bard flashed across his
memory--

     "The light of love, the purity of grace,
     The mind, the music breathing from her face."

Then another line instantaneously succeeded--

     "And oh! that eye is in itself a soul."

There was one thing which disappointed him. He did not notice a single
blush flitting over her fair cheek. He feared she was deficient in
sensibility. It was so natural to blush at a stranger's greeting. He
did not understand the nature of her feelings. He could not know that
one so recently engaged in sublime worship of the Creator, must be
lifted above fear or confusion in the presence of the creature.
Villeneuve had seen much of the world, and understood the art of
adaptedness, in the best sense of the word. He could conform to the
circumstances in which he might be placed with grace and ease, and
though he was too sincere to express sentiments he did not feel, he
felt justified in concealing those he did feel, when he knew their
avowal would give pain or displeasure. It was a very singular way for
him to pass the Sabbath. The guest of a village pastor, breathing an
atmosphere redolent of the sweets of piety, spirituality, and holy
love. The language of levity and flattery, so current in society,
would be considered profanation here; and a conviction deeply
mortifying to his vanity forced itself upon him, that all those
accomplishments for which he had been so much admired, would gain him
no favour with the minister and his daughter. He could not forbear
expressing his surprise at the location Mr. Blandford had chosen.

"I would not insult you by flattery," said Villeneuve, ingenuously,
"but I am astonished you do not seek a wider sphere of usefulness. It
is impossible that the people here should appreciate your talents, or
estimate the sacrifices you make to enlighten and exalt them."

Mr. Blandford smiled as he answered--"You think my sphere too small,
while I tremble at the weight of responsibility I have assumed. If I
have the talents which you kindly ascribe to me, I find here an ample
field for their exercise. There are hundreds of minds around me that
mingle their aspirations with mine, and even assist me in the
heavenward journey. In a larger, more brilliant circle, I might
perhaps gain a more sounding name and exercise a wider influence, but
that influence would not be half as deep and heartfelt. I was born and
bred in a city, and know the advantages such a life can offer; but I
would not exchange the tranquillity of this rural residence, the
serenity of my pastoral life, the paternal influence I wield over this
secluded village, and the love and reverence of its upright and
pure-minded inhabitants, for the splendid sinecure of the Archbishops
of our motherland."

Villeneuve was astonished to see a man so nobly endowed, entirely
destitute of the principle of ambition. He wanted to ask him how he
had thus trampled under his feet the honours and distinctions of the
world. "You consider ambition a vice, then?" said he.

"You are mistaken," replied Mr. Blandford, "if you believe me
destitute of ambition. I am one of the most ambitious men in the
world. But I aspire after honours that can resist the mutations of
time, and partake of the imperishability of their Great Bestower."

There was a silence of some moments, during which Mr. Blandford looked
upward, and the eyes of Grace followed her father's with kindling ray.

"But, your daughter," continued Villeneuve, "can she find contentment
in a situation for which nature and education have so evidently
unfitted her?"

"Let Grace answer for herself," said Mr. Blandford, mildly; "I have
consulted her happiness as well as my own, in the choice I have made."

Villeneuve was delighted to see a bright blush suffuse the modest
cheek of Grace--but it was the blush of feeling, not of shame.

"I love the country rather than the town," said she, "for I prefer
nature to art, meditation to action, and the works of God to the works
of man; and in the constant companionship of my father I find more
than contentment--I find happiness, joy."

Villeneuve sighed--he felt the isolation of his own destiny. The last
of his family, a traveller in a strange land, in pursuit of health;
which had been sacrificed in the too eager pursuit of the pleasures of
this world, without one hope to link him to another. Affluent and
uncontrolled, yet sated and desponding, he envied the uncorrupted
taste of the minister's daughter. He would have bartered all his
wealth for the enthusiasm that warmed the character of her father.
That night he was awakened by a singular dream. He thought he was
alone in the horror of thick darkness. It seemed that he was in the
midst of infinity, and yet chained to one dark spot, an immovable
speck in the boundless ocean of space. "Must I remain here for ever?"
he cried in agony, such as is only known in dreams, when the spirit's
nerves are all unsheathed. "For ever and ever," answered a sweet,
seraphic voice, high above his head, and looking up he beheld Grace,
reclining on silver-bosomed clouds, so distant she appeared like a
star in the heavens, yet every lineament perfectly defined. "Am I then
parted from thee for ever?" exclaimed he, endeavouring to stretch out
his arms towards the luminous point. "For ever and ever," responded
the same heavenly accents, mournfully echoing till they died away, and
the vision fled. He was not superstitious, but he did not like the
impression of his dream. He rose feverish and unrefreshed, and felt
himself unable to continue his journey. Mr. Blandford came to see him.
He was deeply interested in the young stranger, and experienced the
pleasure which every sensitive and intellectual being feels in meeting
with kindred sensibility and intellect. The intimacy, thus commenced,
continued to increase, and week after week passed away, and Villeneuve
still lingered near the minister and his daughter. His health was
invigorated, his spirits excited by the novel yet powerful influences
that surrounded him. It was impossible, in the course of this
deepening intimacy, that the real sentiments of Villeneuve should
remain concealed, for hypocrisy formed no part of his character. Mr.
Blandford, relying on the reverence and affection Villeneuve evidently
felt for him, believed it would be an easy task to interest him in the
great truths of religion. And it was an easy task to interest him,
particularly when the father's arguments were backed by the daughter's
persuasive eloquence; but it was a most difficult one to convince. The
prejudices of education, the power of habit, the hardening influence
of a worldly life, presented an apparently impenetrable shield against
the arrows of divine truth.

"I respect, I revere the principles of your religion," Villeneuve was
accustomed to say at the close of their long and interesting
conversations. "I would willingly endure the pangs of death; yea, the
agonies of martyrdom, for the possession of a faith like yours. But it
is a gift denied to me. I cannot force my belief, nor give a cold
assent with my lips to what my reason and my conscience belie."

Mr. Blandford ceased not his efforts, notwithstanding the unexpected
resistance he encountered, but Grace gradually retired from the
conflict, and Villeneuve found to his sorrow and mortification that
she no longer appeared to rejoice in his society. There was a reserve
in her manners which would have excited his resentment, had not the
sadness of her countenance touched his heart. Sometimes when he met
her eye it had an earnest, reproachful, pitying expression, that
thrilled to his soul. One evening he came to the Parsonage at a later
hour than usual. He was agitated and pale. "I have received letters of
importance," said he; "I must leave you immediately. I did not know
that all my happiness was centered in the intercourse I have been
holding with your family, till this summons came." Grace, unable to
conceal her emotions, rose and left the apartment. Villeneuve's eyes
followed her with an expression which made her father tremble. He
anticipated the scene which followed. "Mr. Blandford," continued
Villeneuve, "I love your daughter. I cannot live without her--I cannot
depart without an assurance of her love and your approbation."

Mr. Blandford was too much agitated to reply--the blood rushed to his
temples, then retreating as suddenly, left his brow and cheek as
colourless as marble. "I should have foreseen this," at length he
said. "It would have spared us all much misery."

"Misery!" replied Villeneuve, in a startling tone.

"Yes," replied Mr. Blandford, "I have been greatly to blame--I have
suffered my feelings to triumph over my judgment. Villeneuve, I have
never met a young man who won upon my affections as you have done. The
ingenuousness, ardour, and generosity of your character impelled me to
love you. I still love you; but I pity you still more. I can never
trust my daughter's happiness in your hands. There is a gulf between
you--a wall of separation--high as the heavens and deeper than the
foundations of the earth." He paused, and bowed his face upon his
hands. The possibility that his daughter's happiness might be no
longer in her own keeping, completely overpowered him. Villeneuve
listened in astonishment and dismay. He, in all the pride of affluence
and rank (for noble blood ran in lineal streams through his veins), to
be rejected by an obscure village pastor, from mere religious
scruples. It was incredible--one moment his eye flashed haughtily on
the bending figure before him; the next it wavered, in the
apprehension that Grace might yield to her father's decision, and seal
their final separation. "Mr. Blandford," cried he, passionately, "I
can take my rejection only from your daughter--I have never sought her
love unsanctioned by your approbation--I have scorned the guise of a
hypocrite, and I have a right to claim this from you. You may destroy
_my_ happiness--it is in your power--but tremble lest you sacrifice a
daughter's peace."

Mr. Blandford recovered his self-command, as the passions of the young
man burst their bounds. He summoned Grace into his presence. "I yield
to your impetuous desire," said he, "but I would to Heaven you had
spared me a scene like this. Painful as it is, I must remain to be a
witness to it." He took his daughter's hand as she entered, and drew
her towards him. He watched her countenance while the first vows of
love to which she had ever listened were breathed into her ear with an
eloquence and a fervour which seemed irresistible, and these were
aided by the powerful auxiliary of a most handsome and engaging
person, and he trembled as he gazed. Her cheek kindled, her eye
lighted up with rapture, her heart panted with excessive emotion. She
leaned on her father's arm, unable to speak, but looked up in his face
with an expression that spoke volumes.

"You love him, then, Grace," said he mournfully. "Oh, my God! forgive
me the folly, the blindness, the madness of which I have been
guilty!"

Grace started, as if wakening from a dream. Her father's words
recalled her to herself--one brief moment of ecstasy had been hers--to
be followed, she knew, by hours of darkness and sorrow. The warm glow
faded from her cheek, and throwing her arms round her father's neck,
she wept unrestrainedly.

"She loves me," exclaimed Villeneuve; "you yourself witness her
emotions--you will not separate us--you will not suffer a cruel
fanaticism to destroy us both."

"Grace," said Mr. Blandford, in a firm voice, "look up. Let not the
feelings of a moment, but the principles of a life decide. Will you
hazard, for the enjoyment of a few fleeting years, the unutterable
interests of eternity? Will you forsake the Master _he_ abjures for
the bosom of a stranger? In one word, my daughter, will you wed an
Infidel?"

Grace lifted her head, and clasping her hands together, looked
fervently upward.

"Thou art answered," cried Mr. Blandford, with a repelling motion
towards Villeneuve. "The God she invokes will give her strength to
resist temptation. Go, then, most unhappy yet beloved young man--you
have chosen your destiny, and we have chosen ours. _You_ live for
time. _We_, for eternity. As I said before, there is a deep gulf
between us. Seek not to drag her down into the abyss into which you
would madly plunge. My soul hath wrestled with yours, and you have
resisted, though I fought with weapons drawn from Heaven's own armory.
Farewell--our prayers and our tears will follow you."

He extended his hand to grasp Villeneuve's for the last time, but
Villeneuve, with every passion excited beyond the power of control,
rejected the motion; and, snatching the hand of Grace, which hung
powerless over her father's shoulder, drew her impetuously towards
him. "She loves me," exclaimed he, "and I will never resign her; I
swear it by the inexorable Power you so blindly worship. Perish the
religion that would crush the dearest and holiest feelings of the
human heart! Perish the faith that exults in the sacrifice of nature
and of love!"

With one powerful arm Mr. Blandford separated his daughter from the
embrace of her lover, and holding him back with the other, commanded
him to depart. He was dreadfully agitated, the veins of his temples
started out like cords, and his eyes flashed with imprisoned fires.
Villeneuve writhed for a moment in his unrelaxing grasp, then, reeling
backward, sunk upon a sofa. He turned deadly pale, and held his
handkerchief to his face.

"Oh! father! you have killed him!" shrieked Grace, springing to his
side; "he faints! he bleeds, he dies!"

Even while Grace was speaking, the white handkerchief was crimsoned
with blood, the eyes of the young man closed, and he fell back
insensible.

"Just Heaven! spare me this curse!" cried Mr. Blandford. "Great God! I
have killed them both!"

They did indeed look like two murdered victims, for the blood which
oozed from the young man's lips not only dyed his own handkerchief and
neckcloth, but reddened the white dress of Grace and stiffened on her
fair locks, as her head drooped unconsciously on his breast. All was
horror and confusion in the household. The physician was immediately
summoned, who declared that a blood-vessel was ruptured, and that the
life of the young man was in the most imminent danger. Grace was borne
to her own apartment and consigned to the care of some kind
neighbours, but Mr. Blandford remained the whole night by Villeneuve's
side, holding his hand in his, with his eyes fixed on his pallid
countenance, trembling lest every fluttering breath should be his
last. About daybreak he opened his eyes, and seeing who was watching
so tenderly over him, pressed his hand and attempted to speak, but the
doctor commanded perfect silence, assuring him that the slightest
exertion would be at the hazard of his life. For two or three days he
hovered on the brink of the grave, during which time Mr. Blandford
scarcely left his side, and Grace lingered near the threshold of the
door, pale and sleepless, the image of despair. One night, when he
seemed to be in a deep sleep, Mr. Blandford knelt by his couch, and in
a low voice breathed out his soul in prayer. His vigil had been one
long prayer, but he felt that he must find vent in language for the
depth and strength of his emotions. He prayed in agony for the life of
the young man; for his soul's life. He pleaded, he supplicated; till,
language failing, sigh and tears alone bore witness to the strivings
of his spirit. "Yet, not my will, oh! God!" ejaculated he again, "but
thine be done."

"Amen!" uttered a faint voice. The minister started as if he had heard
a voice from the dead. It was Villeneuve who spoke, and whose eyes
fixed upon him had a most intense and thrilling expression. "Your
prayer is heard," continued he. "I feel that God is merciful. A ray
of divine light illumines my parting hour. Let me see Grace before I
die, that our souls may mingle once on earth, in earnest of their
union hereafter."

The minister led his daughter to the couch of Villeneuve. He joined
her hand in his. "My daughter," cried he, "rejoice. I asked for him
life. God giveth unto him long life; yea, life for evermore."

Grace bowed her head on the pale hand that clasped her own, and even
in that awful moment, a torrent of joy gushed into her soul. It was
the foretaste of an eternal wedlock, and death seemed indeed swallowed
up in victory. Mr. Blandford knelt by his kneeling daughter, and many
a time during that night they thought they saw the spirit of
Villeneuve about to take its upward flight; but he sunk at length into
a gentle slumber, and when the doctor again saw him, he perceived a
favourable change in his pulse, and told Mr. Blandford there was a
faint hope of his recovery. "With perfect quiet and tender nursing,"
said he, looking meaningly at Grace, "he may yet possibly be saved."

The predictions of the excellent physician were indeed fulfilled, for
in less than three weeks Villeneuve, though still weak and languid,
was able to take his seat in the family circle. Mr. Blandford saw with
joy that the faith which he had embraced in what he believed his dying
hour, was not abandoned with returning health. He had always relied on
the rectitude of his principles, and now, when religion strengthened
and sanctified them, he felt it his duty to sanction his union with
his daughter. The business which had summoned him so unexpectedly to
his native country still remained unsettled, and as the physician
prescribed a milder climate, he resolved to try the genial air of
France. It was no light sacrifice for Mr. Blandford to give up his
daughter, the sole treasury of his affections, and doom himself to a
solitary home; but he did it without murmuring, since he hoped the
blessing of heaven would hallow their nuptials. Villeneuve promised to
return the ensuing year, and restore Grace again to her beloved
parsonage.

The Sunday before their departure, Grace accompanied her father and
husband to the village church. Villeneuve saw the boy who had guided
him there the first time, standing at the portal. He returned his
respectful salutation with a warm grasp of the hand. "He led me to
the gate of heaven," thought he; "he shall not go unrewarded."

"She will be too proud to play on the organ any more," said the boy to
himself, "now that she has married a great man and a foreigner;" but
Grace ascended the steps as usual, and drew the red curtains closely
round her. What the feelings of the musician were, within that sacred
sanctuary, as she pressed the keys, probably for the last time, could
only be judged from a trembling touch; but at the close of the
services, when the same sublime anthem, with the burden "for ever and
ever," was sung by the choir, Villeneuve recognised the same clear,
adoring accents which first fell so thrillingly on his ear. He
remembered his dream. It no longer filled him with superstitious
horror. It was caused by the workings of his dark and troubled mind.
Now every thought flowed in a new channel; he seemed a new being to
himself.

"Are we indeed united?" said he, while his soul hung on the echoes of
that sweet strain, "and shall we be united for ever?"

"For ever and ever," returned the voice of the worshipper; and the
whole choir, joining in, in a full burst of harmony, repeated again
and again, "for ever and ever."



THE BOSOM SERPENT.


"I have something to tell you, Rosamond," said Cecil Dormer, taking
Rosamond Clifford on his knee and seating himself in a corner of her
mother's sofa--"Don't you want to hear a story to-night?"

"Is it a sure enough story?" asked Rosamond, "or a fairy tale, like
the Arabian Nights Entertainment?"

"Every word of it truth," answered Cecil--"though some portions of it
may 'freeze your young blood.' It is of a little girl, about your own
age, and a woman who I verily believe is Lucifer himself, dressed in
woman's clothes."

"You have excited my curiosity," said Mrs. Clifford closing her book,
and taking a seat on the sofa--"for as every story must have a hero, I
suspect you are the hero of your own."

"Please tell it," cried Rosamond, with the impatience of a petted
child--"I want to hear about the little girl."

"Well," said Cecil, "you recollect how bright and beautiful the moon
shone last night, and how peaceful and lovely everything looked. As I
was returning to my lodgings, rather later than usual, I passed
through a lane, which shortened the distance, though the walk itself
was rough and unpleasant. As I was indulging in my old habit of
building castles by the moonlight, I heard the most piercing shrieks
issuing from a low building to which I was directly opposite. There
must be murder going on, thought I, and like the giant, I imagined I
could 'smell the blood of an Englishman.' I rushed to the door, almost
shook it from its hinges in opening it, and found myself in the
narrow, dark passage--but, guided by the cries, I soon reached another
door, which I opened with as little ceremony, and what do you think I
saw?"

"Were they killing the poor little girl?" cried Rosamond, drawing a
long breath, her eyes growing larger and darker.

"You shall hear. In the centre of the room, there was a large,
iron-framed woman, with her right hand extended, brandishing a
leathern thong over the head of a pale, shrinking girl, whom she
grasped with her left hand, and from whose bare shoulders the blood
was oozing through grooves that thong had cut. You may well start and
shudder, for a more hideous spectacle never met the eye. She was just
in the act of inflicting another lash, when I arrested her arm with a
force which must have made it ache to the marrow of the bones, and
caused her involuntarily to loosen her hold of her victim, who fell
exhausted to the floor. The woman turned on me, with the fury of a
wolf interrupted in its bloody banquet."

"Did she look like the picture of the wolf in little _Red Riding
Hood_?" asked Rosamond.

"Yes, a most striking resemblance. Her cap was blown back to the crown
of her head by the barbarous exercise in which she had been engaged,
her tongue actually protruded from her mouth, in the impotence of her
rage, and her hard, dull-coloured eyes glowed like red-hot stones in
their deep sockets."

"'What do you want?' cried she, in a voice between a growl and a
scream--'and who are you, and what is your business? You had better
take care, or I'll make your back smart, in spite of your fine coat.'

"I could not help smiling at the idea of being whipped by a woman, but
I answered as sternly as possible--'I want humanity, for I am a man.
My business is to snatch this child from your clutches, and to give
you up to the city authorities for disturbing the public peace.'

"'It is her fault, not mine,' replied she, a little intimidated by my
threat--'she always screams and hollows when I whip her, as if I were
murdering her, if I but scratch her skin. I gave her a task to do, and
told her if she did not do it I would whip her--a good-for-nothing,
lazy thing!--mope, mope from morning to night, nothing but mope and
fret, while I'm drudging like a slave. I'm not going to support her
any longer, if I have to turn her out of doors. She thinks because her
mother happened to die here, I must give her a home, forsooth, and she
do nothing to pay for it, the ungrateful hussy!'"

"Oh! don't tell any more about that horrid old woman," interrupted
Rosamond--"I want to hear about the little girl. What did she do?"

"Why, she wept and sobbed, and said she did all she could, but that
she was sick and weak, and she wished she was in the grave, by her
poor mother's side, for there was nobody in the world to take care of
her, and she knew not what would become of her. I told her impulsively
that _I_ would see she was taken care of, and if that vile woman but
lifted her finger against her once more, she should rue it to her
heart's core."

"There, Cecil, you have made a rhyme, so you must wish before you
speak again," said Rosamond, laughing.

"Well, I wish that poor, desolate child had a home like this, and a
mother like Mrs. Clifford, and a companion like Rosamond--or I wish
that I had a kind mother and sister, to whose care I could intrust
her, or a sweet gentle wife--and it is the first time in my life I
ever breathed that wish--who would be willing to protect and cherish
her for my sake."

"Is she a pretty child?" interrogated Mrs. Clifford, feelings best
known to herself prompting the question.

"Yes!" repeated Rosamond, eagerly, stealing a look in the glass at her
own bright eyes, fair complexion, and curling locks--"is she pretty,
and was she dressed nice?"

"No!" answered Cecil, "the only emotion she could excite is that of
the deepest pity. She is thin to emaciation, sallow to cadaverousness,
and her eyes occupy the greatest portion of her face, they look so
large and hollow and wild. She might sit for a miniature
representation of famine, disease, or woe. There is something about
her, however, that speaks of gentle blood and early gentle breeding.
Her name at least is aristocratic, and bespeaks a French
extraction--Eugenia St. Clair."

Rosamond was delighted with the name, and wondered how she could help
being pretty with such a beautiful name.

"Poor child!" said Mrs. Clifford, "it is a pity she is not handsome,
it would add so much to the romance of the adventure."

"She is helpless and oppressed," cried Cecil warmly, "and if she had
the beauty of a cherub her claims would not plead more eloquently than
they do in my heart. I should think I were guilty of murder, if I left
her in the hands of that virago. It is true I put a _douceur_ in her
hand, terrifying her at the same time with the threatenings of the
law, but this will only purchase the child's security for a short
time. I made a vow to myself, when she clung to me convulsively, as I
attempted to leave her, that I would place her in some situation where
she could find kindness and protection, till fitting arrangements can
be made for her education."

"You are indeed romantic," said Mrs. Clifford, seriously, "and know
not what you may entail upon yourself."

"I am sorry if you think me so," said Cecil, with a look of
mortification and disappointment--"I see I have as usual drawn too
hasty conclusions. You have been so very kind to me, so kind as to
make me forget in your household the absence of domestic ties. I dared
to hope you would assist me in my design, and perhaps receive for a
little while, under your own roof, this neglected child of orphanage
and want. I have no other friend of whom I could ask a similar favour,
and if I find I am presuming too much on you, I believe I must try to
fall in love and get married, so that I can take my protegée to a home
of my own."

Mrs. Clifford had not the most distant idea of permitting him to do so
preposterous a thing, for she had long since appropriated him to
Rosamond, whom as a child he now petted and caressed, and whom, if he
continued as he now was, fancy free, as a woman he must inevitably
love. When he first mentioned the girl, and expressed such a strong
interest in her behalf, she began to tremble in anticipation, fearing
a future rival in her views; but the lean, sallow face, half eyes and
half bone, just delineated, tranquillized her fears, and as her fears
subsided, her pity strengthened. And Rosamond, though too young to
enter into her mother's speculations, felt her sympathy increased
tenfold since she had learned that nature had gone hand in hand with
fortune, and been equally niggard of her boons. She was unfortunately
an only child, and accustomed to be an object of exclusive attention
in the household, from her idolizing mother down to the lowest menial.
The guests too easily understood the way to Mrs. Clifford's heart, and
as Rosamond was pretty and sprightly, they derived amusement from her
little airs and graces. But what flattered her vanity and elated her
pride more than anything else, Cecil Dormer, so distinguished for
wealth and accomplishments, so courted and admired, seemed to prefer
her company to the society of grown ladies, who had often declared
themselves jealous of her, and threatened, when she was a few years
older, to shut her up in some convent or cell. Thus imperceptibly
acquiring an exaggerated idea of her own consequence, and believing
the love and admiration of all her inalienable right, had Cecil
represented the orphan Eugenia as beautiful and charming, it is more
than probable she would have regarded her as a dreaded encroacher on
boundaries which nature had prescribed and fortune guarded--but for
the ugly Eugenia all her sympathies were enlisted, and she pleaded her
mother so warmly to bring her there directly, and take her away from
that dreadful woman _for good and all_, that Cecil was delighted with
her sensibility and benevolence, and rejoiced in such a juvenile
coadjutor.

The next morning Mrs. Clifford accompanied Dormer to Mrs. Grundy's,
the woman of the leathern thong, of whom she requested the history of
Eugenia. Mrs. Grundy was sullen, and but little disposed to be
communicative. She declared she knew nothing about her mother, only
that she came there as a boarder, with barely sufficient to pay the
expenses of her lodgings; that she fell sick soon after, and died,
leaving the little girl on her hands, with nothing in the world but a
grand name for her support. She expressed no gratitude or pleasure at
the prospect of being released from the burthen under which she
groaned, but grumbled about her own hard lot, insinuating that
idleness and ingratitude were always sure to be rewarded. Eugenia's
appearance was a living commentary on the truth of Dormer's story. Her
neck and shoulders were streaked with swollen and livid lines, and her
large, blood-shot eyes spoke of repressed and unutterable anguish.
When told of the new home to which she was to be transferred, that she
was to be placed by Dormer under the protection of Mrs. Clifford, and
that if she were a good girl, and merited such advantages, she should
be sent to school, and be fitted for a respectable station in
society--she stood like one bewildered, as if awaking from a dream.
Then, after taking in the truth of her position, she turned towards
Dormer with wonderful quickness and even grace of motion, and clasping
her hands together, attempted to speak, but burst into a passionate
fit of weeping.

"There!" cried Mrs. Grundy, "you see what an ungrateful cretur she is.
Do what you will for her, she does nothing but cry. Well, all I hope,
you'll not be sick of your bargain, and be imposing her on me, before
the week comes round again. But I give you warning, when once she gets
out of my doors, she never darkens them a second time."

Dormer cast upon her a withering look, but, disdaining to reply to
mere vulgarity and insolence, he took the hand of the sobbing child,
and motioning to Mrs. Clifford, they left the room, while Mrs.
Grundy's voice, keeping up a deep thorough bass, followed them till
the door of the carriage was closed and the rumbling of the wheels
drowned accents which certainly "by distance were made more sweet."

Eugenia had not been an hour under the roof of Mrs. Clifford, before a
complete transformation was effected, by the supervising care of the
proud and busy Rosamond. Her waiting-maid was put in active
employment, in combing, brushing, and perfuming Eugenia's neglected
hair, her wardrobe was ransacked to supply her fitting apparel, her
mother's medicine chest was opened to furnish a healing liniment for
her lacerated neck, which was afterwards covered by a neat muslin
apron.

"Now look at yourself in the glass," said Rosamond, leading her to a
large mirror, which reflected the figure at full length; "don't you
look nice?"

Eugenia cast one glance, then turned away with a deep sigh. The
contrast of her own tawny visage and meagre limbs with the fair,
bright, round, joyous face and glowing lineaments of Rosamond, was too
painful; but Rosamond loved to linger where a comparison so favourable
to herself could be drawn, and her kind feelings to Eugenia rose in
proportion to the self-complacency of which she was the cause.

It was a happy little circle which met that evening around Mrs.
Clifford's table. Mrs. Clifford was happy in the new claim she had
acquired over Cecil Dormer, and the probable influence it might exert
on her future plans. Rosamond was happy in enacting the character of
Lady Bountiful, and being praised by Cecil Dormer; and Cecil himself
was happy in the consciousness of having performed a benevolent
action. Eugenia's spirits had been so crushed by sorrow and
unkindness, it seemed as if their elastic principle were destroyed.
She was gentle, but passive, and appeared oppressed by the strangeness
of her situation. Yet, as she expressed no vulgar amazement at the
elegancies that surrounded her, and had evidently been taught the
courtesies of society, Mrs. Clifford became convinced that Dormer was
right in his belief that she was of gentle blood, and the fear that
Rosamond's manners might be injured by contact with an unpolished
plebeian subsided. When Eugenia was somewhat accustomed to her new
situation, Mrs. Clifford questioned her minutely with regard to her
parentage and the peculiar circumstances of her mother's death. She
gathered from her broken and timid answers, that her father was
wealthy, and that the first years of her life were passed in
affluence; that as she grew older her mother seemed unhappy and her
father stern and gloomy, why she could not tell; that one night,
during her father's absence, her mother had left her home, accompanied
by herself and one servant girl, and taken passage in a steamboat for
that city. They boarded in obscure lodgings, never went abroad, or
received visiters at home. Her mother grew paler and sadder. At length
the servant girl, who seemed greatly attached to them, died. Then she
described her mother as being much distressed for money to pay her
board, being obliged to part with her watch and jewels, and when these
resources failed, thankful to obtain sewing from her landlady, or,
through her, from others. As they became more wretched and helpless,
they were compelled to go from house to house, where her mother could
find employment, till she was taken sick at Mrs. Grundy's, and never
lifted her head again from the pillow so grudgingly supplied. A
diamond ring, the most valued and carefully preserved of all her
jewels, procured for her the sad privilege of dying there. Over her
consequent sufferings Eugenia only wept, and on this subject Mrs.
Clifford had no curiosity.

It was about six years after these events, that Cecil Dormer again was
seated on the sofa in Mrs. Clifford's drawing-room, but Rosamond no
longer sat upon his knee. The rosy-cheeked child, with short curling
hair, short frock, and ruffled pantalettes, had disappeared, and, in
her stead, a maiden with longer and more closely fitting robes,
smoother and darker hair, and cheeks of paler and more mutable roses.
Cecil was unchanged in face, but there was that in his air and manner
which spoke a higher degree of elegance and fashion, and a deeper
acquaintance with the world. He had passed several years at Paris.
Rosamond had been in the mean time at a distant boarding-school, where
Eugenia still remained.

"What are you going to do with Eugenia," asked Mrs. Clifford, "when
she returns? Will you not find a young female protegée rather an
embarrassing appendage to a bachelor's establishment?"

"I have just been thinking of the same thing," replied Cecil. "I
believe I must still encroach on your kindness as I was wont to do in
former days, and request you to receive her under your protection,
till some permanent arrangement can be made for her home."

"That permanent arrangement must be your own marriage, I should
presume," said Mrs. Clifford; "and indeed, Cecil, I wonder that with
your fortune and rare endowments, you do not think seriously of
assuming the responsibility of a household."

"What! the sensible Benedict a married man?" cried Cecil, with a
theatrical start. "I shall lose all my consequence in society--I shall
dwindle down into complete insignificance. No--I am not quite old
enough to be married yet. I must act, too, as protector and elder
brother to Rosamond, on her entrance into the world, an office which I
promised to perform, when I dandled her a child in my arms."

"I am sure Rosamond would not wish to interfere with your personal
arrangements," replied Mrs. Clifford, in a tone of pique--she was
vexed and astonished at Cecil's coldness and indifference. She could
not imagine the stoicism which could resist the influence of
Rosamond's blooming beauty. She had looked forward to their meeting,
after an absence of years, as the moment which should realize her
long-cherished hopes, and nothing could be more provoking than the
nonchalance of Cecil, unless it was the warm interest he manifested in
everything respecting Eugenia.

"No, indeed," said Rosamond, laughing, "I willingly relinquish every
claim on your protection, for Eugenia's sake. Perhaps some one else
will take pity on my forlorn condition, and volunteer as my champion."
Rosamond laughed, but her voice was unsteady, and a bright blush
suffused her cheek.

Cecil noticed the vibration of her voice, and the sudden crimson
rushing even to her temples. Her emotion surprised--interested
him--was it possible, his marriage was an event capable of awakening
such visible agitation? He looked at her more intently. Sensibility
had added wonderful charms to her features. His vanity was flattered.
He had been much admired in the world, and the language of adulation
was familiar to his ear. But here was a young girl, in all the
freshness and purity of life's vernal season, incapable of artifice,
unpractised in the blandishments of society, one too whom he had known
and loved as a beautiful child, and caressed with the familiarity of a
brother, who was paying him an involuntary homage, as unexpected as it
was fascinating. It was surprising what a long train of images swept
over his mind, rapid and dazzling as lightning, called up by that deep
maiden blush. How delightful it would be to secure the possession of a
heart which had never yet known the pulsations of passion, whose
master chords were waiting the magic of his touch to respond the deep
music of feeling and love! How happy Eugenia would be in the constant
companionship of her juvenile benefactress, her schoolmate and friend!
Mrs. Clifford, too, had always shown him the tenderness of a mother,
and was so interested in his future establishment. Strange, what
slight circumstances sometimes decide the most solemn, the most
important events of life! The opportune blush of Rosamond sealed her
own destiny, and that of Cecil Dormer. In less than one month the
"sensible Benedict" was indeed a married man, the husband of the young
and happy Rosamond. Seldom indeed was there a prouder and happier
bride--ambition, pride, vanity, love--all were gratified, and could
she have purchased the lease of immortality on earth, she would have
asked no other heaven. But, even in the fulness of love's silver
honeymoon, a dark cloud rose. The mother, who had lived but for her,
and who was basking in the blaze of her daughter's prosperity, without
one thought beyond it, was stricken by a sudden and fatal disease, and
Rosamond's bridal paraphernalia was changed to the garments of
mourning. It was her first felt misfortune, for her father died in her
infancy; and the blow was terrible. At any other time it would have
been so, but now this sudden and startling proof of mortality, in the
morn of her wedded felicity, was chill and awful. Still there was a
consolation in the sympathy of Cecil, that disarmed sorrow of its
keenest pang, and there were moments, when she felt it even a joy to
weep, since her tears were shed on the bosom of a husband so
passionately loved. The arrival of Eugenia, a few weeks after this
melancholy event, turned her feelings into a new channel. Cecil had
often asked of her a description of Eugenia, whose letters, breathing
so eloquently of gratitude and affection, and so indicative of
enthusiasm and refinement of character, had been a source of pleasure
and pride to him. "If her person has improved only half as much as her
mind," he would say, "she cannot be ugly." Rosamond, who had been her
daily associate, was hardly sensible of the gradual transformation
that was going on in her external appearance. The strength of her
first impression remained, and whenever she thought of Eugenia, she
remembered her as she stood, pale and hollow-eyed, by her side,
before the mirror, which gave back the blooming image of her own
juvenile beauty. Still, though she felt her immeasurable superiority
to this poor, dependent girl, she was agitated at her coming, and
regretted the commanding claims she had on her husband's kindness and
protection.

"Can this indeed be Eugenia?" exclaimed Cecil, in a tone of delighted
surprise, when, unbonneted and unshawled, she stood before him,
tearful, smiling, and agitated. "Rosamond, are we not deceived? Tell
me, can this indeed be our Eugenia?"

"It is indeed that Eugenia whom your bounty has cherished, the child
whom you"--Eugenia paused in unconquerable emotion, and clasped her
hands together with characteristic fervour and grace. Cecil was deeply
affected. He recollected the little girl whose emaciated features told
a tale of such unutterable woe, whose shoulders were furrowed with
bleeding streaks, whose cries of agony had pierced the silence of his
evening walk. He contrasted the image drawn on his remembrance, with
the figure of exquisite symmetry, the face moulded into the softness
of feminine loveliness, the eyes of such rare beauty and lustre, that
they actually illuminated her whole countenance. His heart swelled
with the consciousness of rewarded benevolence, it softened into
tenderness towards every human being, and overflowed with a love for
Rosamond, such as he had never felt before. So true it is that the
exercise of every kind and generous affection increases the soul's
capacities for loving, instead of draining and impoverishing them.
"You must henceforth be sisters," said he, taking a hand of each, and
seating himself between them. "I need not tell you to love each other
as such. I am sure that injunction is unnecessary. But there is one
task I must impose upon you, Rosamond. You must teach Eugenia to look
upon me as a brother, a friend, not as a benefactor, for I feel repaid
a thousand times over, for all I have done for her, in the happiness
of this moment. Let the idea of obligation be banished for ever, and
we can be the happiest trio in the universe, bound together by a
threefold and indissoluble cord."

"My mother!" ejaculated Rosamond, and drawing away her hand from her
husband, she covered her face and wept. He reproached himself for his
transient oblivion of her sorrow, and in endeavouring to soothe it,
Eugenia was for a while forgotten. But he little dreamed of the
fountain of Rosamond's tears. It would have been difficult for
herself to have analyzed the strange feelings struggling within her.
The _bosom serpent_, of whose existence she had been previously
unconscious, then wound its first cold coil in her heart, and instead
of shuddering at its entrance, and closing its portals on the deadly
guest, she allowed it to wind itself in its deepest foldings, where
its hissings and writhings were no less terrible, because unheard and
unseen. Rosamond from earliest childhood had been the object of
exclusive devotion from those she loved. She had never known a sharer
in her mother's love, for unhappily she was an only child. The
undivided fondness of her husband had hitherto been all that her
exacting heart required. Now, she must admit an acknowledged sharer of
his thoughts and affections, not as an occasional visiter, but as an
constant inmate, an inseparable companion. The hallowed privacy of the
domestic altar was destroyed, for the foot of the stranger had
desecrated it. She could no longer appropriate to herself every look
and smile of him, whose glances and smiles she believed her own
inalienable right. If she walked abroad, another beside herself, must
henceforth lean upon his arm. If she remained at home, another must
also be seated at his side. And this invasion of her most precious
immunities, was not to be endured for a short season, for weeks or
months, but years, perhaps for life. These new and evil anticipations
swept darkly across the troubled surface of Rosamond's mind, as she
gazed on the varying countenance of Eugenia, and wondered she had
never thought her handsome before. The gratitude and sensibility that
beamed from her eyes whenever they turned on her benefactor, seemed to
her diseased imagination the harbingers of a warmer emotion, and the
constitutional ardour and frankness of her expressions were indicative
of the most dangerous of characters. It was well for Rosamond that the
recent death of her mother was a legitimate excuse for her pensiveness
and gloom, as the incipient stage of the malady that was beginning to
steal into her soul must otherwise have been perceived. Cecil, frank,
confident, and unsuspecting, never dreamed that every attention
bestowed on Eugenia was considered as a robbery to herself. Eugenia,
warm-hearted, impulsive, and grateful, as little imagined that the
overflowings of her gratitude were construed into feelings she would
have blushed to have cherished. Cecil was passionately fond of music.
Since her mother's death, Rosamond could not be prevailed upon to
touch the keys of the instrument, and he was too kind to urge upon
her a task repugnant to her feelings. But when Eugenia discovered that
she possessed an accomplishment capable of imparting pleasure to him
who had given her the means of acquiring it, she was never weary of
exercising it. She sang too with rare sweetness and power, and never
refused to sing the songs that Cecil loved to hear. Rosamond could not
sing. She had never mourned over this deficiency before, but now she
could not bear to think that another should impart a pleasure to her
husband, she had not the means of bestowing. She forgot that she had
selfishly denied to gratify his taste, in the way she had the power of
doing, because it would have interrupted the indulgence of her filial
grief. Another thing deeply wounded Rosamond's feelings: always
accustomed to being waited upon by others, to have all her wishes
anticipated, she never thought of showing her love by those active
manifestations which most men love to receive. She would have laid
down her life for her husband, if the sacrifice were required, but she
never thought of offering him a glass of water with her own hand,
because it was the office of the servants to supply his recurring
wants. Never till she saw these attentions bestowed by another who was
not a menial, did she imagine that affection could give an added
relish, even to a cup of cold water, when offered to the thirsty lip.
One warm, sultry day, Cecil entered after a long walk, and throwing
himself on a sofa exclaimed, "Give me some drink, Titania--for I
faint--even as a sick girl." Rosamond smiled at his theatrical
assumption of Cæsar's dignity, and reaching out her hand, rang the
bell. Eugenia flew out of the room, and returned long before a servant
could answer the summons, with a glass of water, and bending one knee
to the ground, with sportive grace she offered it to his acceptance.

"Eugenia!" cried Rosamond, colouring very high, "we have no lack of
servants. I am sure there is no necessity of your assuming such a
trouble."

"Oh! but it is such a pleasure!" exclaimed Eugenia, springing up, and
placing the empty glass on the sideboard. "It is all I can do. You
would not deprive me of the privilege if you knew how dearly I prize
it."

Had Cecil observed the heightened colour of Rosamond, he might have
conjectured that all was not right in her bosom, but she sat in the
shadow of a curtain, and her emotion was unperceived. A few evenings
afterwards, they were walking together, when they met a woman
bustling through the streets, with her arm a-kimbo, and an air of
boldness and defiance, that spoke the determined Amazon. Eugenia clung
closely to Cecil's arm as she approached, and turned deadly pale; she
recognised in those stony eyes and iron features the dreaded Mrs.
Grundy, the tyrant of her desolate childhood, and she felt as if the
thong were again descending on her quivering flesh, and the iron again
entering into her soul. Such a rush of painful recollections came over
her, she was obliged to lean against a railing for support, while
Cecil, who saw what was the cause of her agitation, gave a stern
glance at the woman, who had stopped, and was gazing in her face with
an undaunted stare.

"Heyday!" cried she, "who's this? 'Tisn't Giny, sure enough? I never
should have thought of such a thing, if it hadn't been for the
gentleman. Well! can't you speak to a body, now you have got to be
such a fine lady? This is all the gratitude one gets in the world."

"Gratitude!" repeated Cecil, "how dare you talk of gratitude to her,
before me? Pass on and leave her, and be thankful that your sex
shields you a second time from my indignation."

"Well you needn't bristle up so, sir," cried she, with a sneer. "I'm
not going to kill her. I suppose you've got married to her by this
time. But you'd better look sharp, lest she gets into a rambling way,
as her mother did before her." With a malignant laugh the virago
passed on, delighted to find that she had drawn quite a crowd to the
spot where Eugenia still leaned, incapable of motion, and Rosamond
stood, pale as a statue, brooding over the words of the woman, as if,
like a Delphian priestess, she had uttered the oracles of fate.

"Why should she imagine _her_ to be his wife," whispered the bosom
serpent, subtle as its arch prototype in the bowers of Eden, "if she
had not witnessed in him evidences of tenderness, such as a husband
only should bestow? That random sentence spoke volumes, and justifies
thy fearful suspicions. Alas for thee, Rosamond! The young blossoms of
thy happiness are blighted in the sweet springtime of their bloom.
There is no more greenness or fragrance for thee--better that thou
hadst died, and been laid by thy mother's side, than live to
experience the bitter pangs of deceived confidence and unrequited
love."

Cecil, unconscious of the secret enemy that was operating so
powerfully against him in the breast of Rosamond, wondered at her
coldness to Eugenia; a coldness which became every day more apparent,
and was even assuming the character of dislike. It seemed so natural
in one so young and affectionate as Rosamond, to wind her affections
round a being of corresponding youth and sensibility, so foreign to
her gentle nature to treat one entirely dependent on her kindness,
with such reserve and distrust--he wondered, regretted, and at length
remonstrated. Eugenia had just anticipated a servant's movements in
bringing him a book from the library, which he expressed a desire to
see, and he had taken it from her hand with a smile of acknowledgment,
when the instantaneous change in the countenance of Rosamond arrested
his attention. It was so chilling, so inexplicable, he dropped the
book to the ground in his confusion, which Eugenia, with her usual
graceful readiness, again lifted and laid upon his knee. In raising
her face from her bending position, she encountered the glance of
Rosamond, which seemed to have upon her the momentary effect of
fascination. She stood as if rooted to the spot, gazing steadfastly on
her, then with a cheek as hueless as ashes, turned and precipitately
left the apartment. Cecil and Rosamond looked at each other without
speaking. Never had they exchanged such a look before. "Good heavens!"
he exclaimed, rising and walking two or three times across the
apartment, with a resounding tread. "Good heavens! what a
transformation! I must know the cause of it. Tell me, Rosamond, and
tell me truly and unreservedly, what means your mysterious and unkind
behaviour to one who never can have offended you? What has Eugenia
done to forfeit your affection as a friend, your consideration as a
guest, your respect to the claims of your husband's adopted sister?"

"It were far better to subject your own heart and conscience to this
stern inquisition, than mine, Cecil," replied Rosamond bitterly. "Had
you informed me sooner of the length and breadth of my duties, I might
have fulfilled them better. I did not know, when Eugenia was received
into our household, how overwhelming were her claims. I did not know
that I was expected to exalt _her_ happiness on the ruins of my own."

"Rosamond! Rosamond!" interrupted Cecil, vehemently--"Beware what you
say--beware lest you strike a deathblow to our wedded love. I can bear
anything in the world but suspicion. Every feeling of my heart has
been laid bare before you. There is not a thought that is not as open
to your scrutiny as the heavens in the blaze of noonday. How unworthy
of yourself, how disgraceful to me, how wounding to Eugenia, this
unjustifiable conduct!"

Every chord of Rosamond's heart quivered with agony at this burst of
indignant feeling from lips which had never before addressed her but
in mild and persuasive tones. Had the wealth of worlds been laid at
her feet, she would have given it to recall the last words she had
uttered. Still, in the midst of her remorse and horror, she felt the
overmastering influence of her imagined wrongs, and that influence
triumphed over the suggestions of reason and the admonitions of
prudence.

"It is ungenerous--it is unmanly," she cried, "to force me into the
confession of sentiments which you blame me for declaring--I had said
nothing, done nothing--yet you arraign me before the bar of inexorable
justice, as the champion of the injured Eugenia. If the sincerity of
my countenance offends you, it is my misfortune, not my fault. I
cannot smile on the boldness I condemn, or the arts I despise."

"Boldness! arts!" repeated Cecil. "If there was ever an unaffected,
impulsive child of nature, it is she whom you so deeply wrong; but you
wrong yourself far more. You let yourself down from the high station
where I had enthroned you, and paid you a homage scarcely inferior to
an angel of light. You make me an alien from your bosom, and nourish
there a serpent which will wind you deeper and deeper in its envenomed
folds, till your heart-strings are crushed beneath its coils."

"I am indeed most wretched," exclaimed Rosamond; "and if I have made
myself so, I deserve pity rather than upbraiding. Cecil, you never
could have loved me, or you would not so lightly cast me from you."

Cecil, who had snatched up his hat, and laid his hand on the latch of
the door, turned at the altered tone of her voice. Tears, which she
vainly endeavoured to hide, gushed from her eyes, and stole down her
colourless cheeks.

"Rosamond," said he, in a softened tone, approaching her as he spoke,
"if you believe what you last uttered, turn away from me, and let us
henceforth be strangers to each other;--but if your heart belies their
meaning, if you can restore me the confidence you have withdrawn, and
which is my just due, if you are willing to rely unwaveringly on my
integrity, my honour, and my love, come to my arms once more, and
they shall shelter you through life with unabated tenderness and
undivided devotion."

Poor, foolish Rosamond! she had wrought herself up to a state
bordering on despair, and the revulsion of her feelings was so great
that she almost fainted in the arms that opened to enfold her. Her
folly, her madness, her injustice and selfishness stared her so
fearfully in the face, she was appalled and self-condemned. Like the
base Judean, she had been about to throw away from her "a gem richer
than all its tribe," a gem of whose priceless worth she had never till
this moment been fully conscious. She made the most solemn resolutions
for the future, invoking upon herself the most awful penalties if she
ever again yielded to a passion so degrading. But passion once
admitted is not so easily dispossessed of its hold. Every self-relying
effort is but a flaxen withe bound round the slumbering giant, broken
in the first grasp of temptation. Jealousy is that demon, whose name
is Legion, which flies from the rebuking voice of Omnipotence alone.
Rosamond did not say, "If God give me strength, I will triumph over my
indwelling enemy." She said, "The tempter shall seek me in vain--I am
strong, and I defy its power." Rosamond was once more happy, but she
had planted a thorn in the bosom of another, sharp, deep, and
rankling. No after kindness could obliterate the remembrance of that
involuntary, piercing glance. It was but the sheathing of a weapon.
Eugenia felt that the cold steel was still lurking in the scabbard,
ready to flash forth at the bidding of passion. A few evenings after
the scene just described, when she had been playing and singing some
of Cecil's favourite songs, at the magnanimous request of Rosamond,
she turned suddenly to Cecil and said--

"I think I overheard a friend of yours say to you the other day, that
I might make my fortune on the stage. Now," added she, blushing, "I do
not wish to go upon the stage, but if my musical talents could give me
distinction there, they might be made useful in the domestic circle. I
have been told of a lady who wishes an instructress for her daughters.
Suffer me to offer myself for the situation. If through your bounty I
am possessed of accomplishments which may be subservient to myself or
others, is it not my duty to exercise them? I should have done this
sooner--I have been too long an idler."

"No, no, Eugenia," said Rosamond, warmly, every good and generous
feeling of her heart in full and energetic operation--"we can never
sanction such a proposition. Is not this your home as well as mine?
Are you not our sister? Remember the threefold cord that never was to
be broken." She pressed Eugenia's hand in both her own, and continued,
in a trembling voice--"If I have ever seemed cold or unkind, forgive
me, Eugenia, for I believe I am a strange, fitful being. You found me
a sad mourner over the grave of my mother, with weakened nerves and
morbid sensibilities. My mind is getting a healthier tone. Remain with
us--we shall be happier by and by."

Completely overcome by this unexpected and candid avowal, Eugenia
threw her arms round Rosamond's neck, and exclaimed--"I shall be the
happiest being in the world, if you indeed love me. I have no one else
in the world to love but you and my benefactor."

Cecil felt as if he could have prostrated himself at Rosamond's feet,
and thanked her for her noble and generous conduct. He had waited in
trembling eagerness for her reply. It was more than he expected. It
was all he wished or required.

"Be but true to yourself, my beloved Rosamond," said he, when he was
alone with her, "and you can never be unjust to me. Continue in the
path you have now marked out, and you shall be repaid not only with my
warmest love, but with my respect, my admiration, and my gratitude."

Thus encouraged, Rosamond felt new life flowing in her veins. Though
she could not sing according to scientific rules, her buoyant spirit
burst forth in warbling notes, as she moved about her household
duties, with light, bounding steps, rejoicing in the consciousness of
recovered reason. Week after week glided away, without any
circumstance arising to remind them of the past. Indeed all seemed to
have forgotten that anything had ever disturbed their domestic peace.

"Oh! what beautiful flowers!" exclaimed Rosamond, as, riding with her
husband, on a lovely autumnal evening, they passed a public garden,
ornamented with the last flowers of the season. "I wish I had some of
them. There are the emblems of love, constancy, and devotion. If I had
them now, I would bind them on my heart, in remembrance of this
enchanting ride."

"You shall have them speedily, dear Rosamond," replied he, "even if,
like the gallant knight who named the sweet flower _Forget-me-not_, I
sacrifice my life to purchase them."

Rosamond little thought those flowers, sought with such childish
earnestness, and promised with such sportive gallantry, were destined
to be so fatal to her newly acquired serenity. As soon as they reached
home, Cecil returned to seek the flowers which Rosamond desired, and
selecting the most beautiful the garden afforded, brought them with as
much enthusiasm of feeling as if it were the bridegroom's first gift.
When he entered the room Eugenia was alone, Rosamond being still
engaged in changing her riding apparel.

"Oh! what an exquisitely beautiful nosegay," cried Eugenia,
involuntarily stretching out her hand--"how rich, how fragrant!"

"Yes! I knew you would admire them," he replied--"I brought them
expressly for----" Rosamond, he was just going to add, when he was
suddenly called out, leaving the flowers in the hand of Eugenia, and
the unfinished sentence in her ear. Not knowing anything of their
appropriation, Eugenia believed the bouquet a gift to herself, and she
stood turning them to the light in every direction, gazing on their
rainbow hues with sparkling eyes, when Rosamond entered the apartment,
with a cheek glowing like the roses before her.

"See what beautiful flowers your husband has just given me," cried
Eugenia--"he must have been endowed with second sight, for I was just
yearning after such a bouquet."

Had Rosamond beheld the leaves of the Bohon-Upas, instead of the
blossoms she loved, she could not have experienced a more sickening
sensation. She had begged for those flowers--she had pointed out their
emblematic beauties--had promised to bind them to her heart, and yet
they were wantonly bestowed on another, as if in defiance of her
former wretchedness. She grew dizzy from the rapidity of the thoughts
that whirled through her brain, and leaning against the mantelpiece,
pressed her hand upon her head.

"You are ill, dear Rosamond," cried Eugenia, springing towards
her--"lean on me--you are pale and faint."

Rosamond recoiled from her touch, as if a viper were crawling over
her. She had lost the power of self-control, and the passion that was
threatening to suffocate her, found vent in language.

"Leave me," cried she, "if you would not drive me mad. You have
destroyed the peace of my whole life. You have stolen like a serpent
into my domestic bower, and robbed me of the affections of a once
doting husband. Take them openly, if you will, and triumph in the
possession of your ill-gotten treasure."

"Rosamond!" uttered a deep, low voice behind her. She started, turned,
and beheld her husband standing on the threshold of the door, pale,
dark and stern as the judge who pronounces the doom of the
transgressor. Eugenia, who had dropped the flowers at the commencement
of Rosamond's indignant accusation, with a wild, bewildered
countenance, which kindled as she proceeded, now met her scorching
glance, with eyes that literally flashed fire. Her temple veins
swelled, her lip quivered, every feature was eloquent with scorn.

"Rosamond," said she, "you have banished me for ever. You have
cruelly, wantonly, causelessly insulted me." She walked rapidly to the
door, where Cecil yet stood, and glided by him before he could
intercept her passage. Then suddenly returning, she snatched his hand,
and pressed it to her forehead and to her lips.

"My benefactor, brother, friend!" cried she, "may Heaven for ever
bless thee, even as thou hast blessed me!"

"Stay, Eugenia, stay!" he exclaimed, endeavouring to detain her--but
it was too late. He heard her footsteps on the stairs, and the door of
her chamber hastily close, and he knew he could not follow her.

"Rash, infatuated girl!" cried he, turning to Rosamond, "what have you
done? At a moment too when my whole heart was overflowing with
tenderness and love towards you. Remember, if you banish Eugenia from
the shelter of my roof, I am bound by every tie of honour and humanity
still to protect and cherish her."

"I know it well," replied Rosamond; "I remember too that it was to
give a home to Eugenia you first consented to bind yourself by
marriage vows. That home may still be hers. I am calm now, Cecil--you
see I can speak calmly. The certainty of a misfortune gives the spirit
and the power of endurance. Those flowers are trifles in themselves,
but they contain a world of meaning."

"These worthless flowers!" exclaimed Cecil, trampling them under his
feet till their bright leaves lay a soiled and undistinguishable
mass--"and have these raised the whirlwind of jealous passion? These
fading playthings, left for a moment in another's keeping,
accidentally left, to be immediately reclaimed!"

"You gave them to her--with her own lips she told me--rapture
sparkling in her eyes."

"It was all a misunderstanding--an innocent mistake. Oh, Rosamond! for
a trifle like this you could forget all my faith and affection, every
feeling which should be sacred in your eyes--forget your woman's
gentleness, and utter words which seem branded in my heart and brain
in burning and indelible characters. I dare not go on. I shall say
what I may bitterly repent. I wish you no punishment greater than your
own reflections."

Rosamond listened to his retreating footsteps, she heard the outer
door heavily close, and the sound fell on her ear like the first fall
of the damp clods on the coffin, the signal of mortal separation. She
remained pale as a statue, gazing on the withering flowers, counting
the quick beatings of her lonely heart, believing herself doomed to a
widowhood more cruel than that the grave creates. Cecil's simple
explanation, stamped with the dignity of truth, had roused her from
the delirium of passion, and seeing her conduct in its true light, she
shuddered at the review. Her head ached to agony--one moment she
shivered with cold, the next the blood in her veins seemed changed to
molten lead. "I feel very strangely," thought she--"perhaps I am going
to die, and when I am dead, he will pity and forgive me." She had
barely strength to seek her own chamber, where, throwing herself on
the bed, she lay till the shades of night darkened around her,
conscious of but one wish, that her bed might prove her grave, and
Cecil, melted by her early fate, might shed one tear of forgiveness
over the icy lips that never more could open to offend. The bell rang
for supper--she heeded not the summons. A servant came to tell her
that Mr. Dormer was below. Her heart bounded, but she remained
immovable. Again the servant came.

"Shall I make tea for Mr. Dormer?" she asked. "Miss Eugenia is gone
out."

Rosamond started up, and leaned on her elbow. "Gone!" repeated she,
wildly--"when? where?"

"I don't know, ma'am," replied the girl; "she put on her bonnet and
shawl an hour ago and went out through the back gate."

"Does Mr. Dormer know it?" asked Rosamond faintly.

"I don't know, ma'am--he has just come in," was the reply.--"I saw him
reading a note he found on the table in the hall, and he seemed
mightily flustered."

There was an insolent curiosity in the countenance of the girl, who
had hitherto been respectful and submissive. She placed the lamp near
the bedside and left the room; and almost simultaneously, Cecil
entered, with an open note in his hand, which he threw upon the bed
without speaking. She seized it mechanically, and attempted to read
it, but the letters seemed to move and emit electric sparks, flashing
on her aching eyeballs. It was with difficulty that she deciphered the
following lines, written evidently with a trembling hand:--

"Farewell, kindest, noblest, and best of friends! May the happiness
which I have unconsciously blighted, revive in my absence. I go,
sustained by the strength of a virtuous resolution, not the excitement
of indignant passion. The influence of your bounty remains, and will
furnish me an adequate support. Seek not, I pray you, to find the
place of my abode. The Heaven in which I trust will protect me.
Farewell--deluded, but still beloved Rosamond! Your injustice shall be
forgotten, your benefits remembered for ever."

Rosamond dropped the letter, cast one glance towards her husband, who
stood with folded arms, pale and immovable, at the foot of the bed,
then sinking back upon her pillow, a mist came over her eyes, and all
was darkness.

When she again recovered the consciousness of her existence, she found
herself in a darkened chamber, the curtains of her bed closely drawn,
saving a small aperture, through which she could perceive a neat,
matronly figure, moving with soft, careful steps, and occasionally
glancing anxiously towards the bed. She attempted to raise herself on
her elbow, but she had not strength to lift her head from the pillow;
she could scarcely carry her feeble hand to her forehead, to put back
the moist hair which fell heavily over her brow.

"How weak I am!" said she faintly. "How long have I slept?"

"Be composed," said the stranger, approaching her gently, "and do not
speak. You have been very ill. Everything depends on your keeping
perfectly quiet."

Rosamond began to tremble violently as she gazed up in the stranger's
face. Why was she committed to _her_ charge? Was she forsaken by him
whom awakening memory brought before her as an injured and perhaps
avenging husband?

"Where is he?" cried she, in a voice so low, the woman bent her ear to
her lips, to hear.

"The doctor?" replied she. "Oh, he will soon be here. He said if you
waked, no one must come near you, and you must not be allowed to speak
one word. It might cost you your life."

Rosamond tried to gasp out her husband's name, but her parched lips
were incapable of further articulation. Her eyes closed from
exhaustion, and the nurse, supposing she slept, drew the curtains
closer, and moved on tiptoe to the window. At length the door slowly
opened, and the footstep of a man entered the room. Rosamond knew it
was not her husband's step, and such a cold feeling fell on her heart,
she thought it the precursor of death. She heard a whispered
conversation which set every nerve throbbing with agony. Then the
curtains were withdrawn, and she felt a stranger's hand counting the
pulsations of her chilled veins. "I am forsaken," thought she, "even
in my dying hour. Oh God! it is just." Again the chamber was still,
and she must have fallen into a deep slumber, for when she again
opened her eyes, she saw a lamp glimmering through the curtains, and
the shadow of her nurse reflected in them, seated at a table, reading.
She was reading aloud, though in a low voice, as if fearful of
disturbing the slumbers she was watching. Rosamond caught the sound,
"I the Lord thy God am a jealous God." She repeated it to herself, and
it gave her an awful sensation. The commanding claims of her Maker
upon her affections, for the first time rose before her in all their
height, depth, power, and majesty. "A jealous God!" How tremendous,
how appalling the idea. If she, a poor worm of the dust, was so severe
and uncompromising in her demands upon a fellow being, what terrible
exactions might a neglected Deity make from the creature he had formed
for his glory? She remembered the command from which that fearful
sentence was extracted. She had broken it, trampled it under her feet.
She had bowed down in adoration to an earthly idol, and robbed her
God, her _jealous God_, of the homage due to his august name. The
light that poured in upon her conscience was like the blazing of a
torch through a dark mine. She had felt before the madness of her
bosom passion, she now felt its sin and its sacrilege. "I am
forsaken," again repeated she to herself, "but I had first forsaken
thee, O my God! Thou art drawing me home unto thee." Tears gathering
thick and fast, fell down her pale cheeks, till the pillow they
pressed was wet as with rain-drops. She wept long, and without one
effort to restrain the gushing forth of her melting heart, when
exhausted nature once more sought relief in sleep. Her first
consciousness, on awakening, was of a soft hand laid gently on her
brow, a warm breath stealing over her cheek, and a trembling lip
gently pressed upon her own. Had she awakened in the abodes of the
blest, in the midst of the hierarchy of heaven, she could hardly have
experienced a deeper rapture than that which flooded her breast.
Slowly, as if fearing to banish by the act the image drawn on her now
glowing heart, she lifted her eyes, and met the eyes of her husband
looking down upon her, no longer stern and upbraiding, but softened
into woman's tenderness. The next moment he was kneeling by the
bedside, his face buried in the covering, which shook from the strong
emotion it concealed.

When Rosamond learned that Cecil, instead of having left her to her
bitter consequences of her rashness, in just and unappeasable
resentment, had never left her in her unconsciousness, and since her
restoration to reason had hovered near the threshold of her chamber
day and night, forbidden to enter, lest his presence should produce an
agitation fatal to a frame apparently trembling on the brink of the
grave, she again reproached herself for believing he could have been
capable of such unrelenting cruelty. When she was assured too that
Eugenia was safe under the protection of an early friend, whom she had
most unexpectedly encountered, and only waited a passport from the
physician, to come to her bedside, her soul swelled with gratitude
that found no language but prayer.

"I have sinned against Heaven and thee, my husband!" exclaimed
Rosamond, from the depth of a penitent and chastened spirit--"I am no
more worthy to be called thy wife."

"We have both erred, my beloved Rosamond; we have lived too much for
the world and ourselves, regardless of higher and holier relations.
Never, till I feared to lose thee for ever, did I feel the drawings of
that mighty chain which links us inseparably to Him who created us.
Let us both commence life anew--awakened to our responsibilities as
Christians, and, profiting by the sad experience of the past, let us
lay the foundations of our happiness too deep and broad for the
storms of passion to overthrow. Let us build it on the Rock of Ages."

And who was the friend whom Eugenia had so providentially discovered?
When she left the dwelling of Cecil Dormer, to seek the lady who
wished for an instructress for her daughters, one of the first persons
who crossed her path was the terrific Mrs. Grundy. This woman, whose
hatred for her seemed implacable as the injuries she had inflicted
were deep, seeing her alone and in evident disorder of mind, began to
revile and threaten her. A stranger, observing the terror and loathing
with which a young and attractive-looking girl shrunk from a coarse
and masculine woman, paused and offered his protection. The remarkable
resemblance which Eugenia bore to her ill-fated mother led to a
discovery as unexpected as it was interesting. The melancholy stranger
was no other than her own father, who believed his wife and child had
perished in their flight, having heard of the destruction of the boat
in which they fled. Thus mysteriously had Providence transmuted into a
blessing, what seemed the greatest misfortune of her life.

The history of Mr. St. Clair and his unfortunate wife, which he
subsequently related to Cecil and Rosamond, was fraught with the most
intense interest. Like Rosamond, he had cherished a _bosom serpent_,
remorseless as death, "cruel as the grave;" but he had not, like her,
found, before it was too late, an antidote for its deadly venom.



MY GRANDMOTHER'S BRACELET.


We were all seated in a piazza, one beautiful summer's night. The
moonbeams quivered through the interlacing vines that crept
fantastically over the latticework that surrounded it. My grandmother
sat in an arm-chair in the centre of the group, her arms quietly
folded across her lap, her hair white and silvery as the moonbeams
that lingered on its parted folds. She was the handsomest old lady I
ever saw, my revered grandmother, and in the spring of her years had
been a reigning belle. To me she was still beautiful, in the gentle
quietude of life's evening shades, the dignity of chastened passions,
waiting hopes, and sustaining religious faith. I was her favourite
grandchild, and the place near her feet, the arm laid across her lap,
the uplifted eye fixed steadfastly on her face, constant as the
recurrence of the still night hour, told a story of love and devotion
on my part, which defied all competition. As I sat this night, leaning
on her lap, I held her hand in mine, and the thought that, a few more
years, that hand must be cold in the grave, incapable of answering the
glowing pressure of mine, made me draw a deep inspiration, and I
almost imagined her complexion assumed an ashen hue, prophetical of
death. The weather was warm, and she wore a large loose wrapper, with
flowing sleeves, left unconfined at the wrist. As I moved her hand,
the folds of the sleeve fell back, and something pure and bright
glittered in the moonlight. She made a movement to draw down the
sleeve, but the eager curiosity of childhood was not to be eluded. I
caught her wrist, and baring it to the gaze of all, exclaimed--

"Only think--grandmother has got on a bracelet--a pearl bracelet! Who
would think of her indulging in such finery? Here are two sweet pearl
lilies set together in a golden clasp, with golden leaves below them.
Why, grandmother, you must be setting up for a bride!"

"It was a bridal gift," replied she, sliding the bracelet on her
shrunken arm; "a bridal gift, made long ago. It was a foolish thought,
child. I was looking over a casket, where I have deposited the
choicest treasures of my youth, and I clasped it on my wrist, to see
how my arm had fallen from its fair proportions. My mind became so
lost in thinking of the story of this gem, I forgot to restore it to
the place where it has so long lain, slumbering with the hoarded
memories of other days."

"A story!" we all eagerly exclaimed,--"please tell it--you promised us
one to-night."

"Ah! children, it is no fairy tale, about bright genii, and enchanted
palaces, and ladies so beautiful that they bewitch every one who comes
within the magic reach of their charms. It is a true tale, and has
some sad passages in it."

"Grandmother," said I, in a dignified manner, "I hope you don't think
me so silly as not to like anything because it is true. I have got
over the Arabian Nights long ago, and I would rather hear something to
make me feel sorry than glad--I always do feel sad when the moon
shines on me, but I can't tell the reason why."

"Hush! Mina, and let grandmother tell her story--you always talk so
much," said little Mitty, who sat on the other side of her venerable
relative.

The old lady patted with one hand the golden head of the chider, but
the arm clasped by the magic bracelet was still imprisoned by my
fingers, and as she proceeded in its history, my grasp tightened and
tightened from the intenseness of my interest, till she was compelled
to beg me to release her.

"Yes," said she, in a musing tone, "there is a story depending on
this, which I remember as vividly as if the events were of yesterday.
I may forget what happened an hour ago, but the records of my youth
are written in lines that grow deeper as time flows over them."

She looked up steadily for a few moments, appearing to my imagination
like an inspired sibyl, then began as follows:

"When I was a young girl, I had no brothers or sisters, as you have,
but was an only, I might say a lonely child, for my father was dead
and my mother an invalid. When I returned from school, I obtained
permission to invite a sweet young cousin of mine, whose name was
Eglantine, to be my companion. We were affluent, she was poor; and
when my mother proposed to make our house her home, she accepted the
offer with gratitude and joy. She was an interesting creature, of a
peculiar temperament and exquisite sensibility. She was subject to
fits of wonderful buoyancy, and equal despondency; sometimes she would
warble all day, gay and untiring as the bird perched on yonder spray,
then a soft melancholy would sit brooding on her brow, as if she
feared some impending misfortune. This was probably owing to the
peculiar circumstances of her infancy, for she was born during her
mother's widowhood, and nursed by a mother's tears. A poetical friend
had given her the name of Eglantine, and well did her beauty,
sweetness, delicacy, and fragility justify the name. In our girlhood
we grew together, like the friends of the Midsummer's Night, almost
inseparable in body, and never divided in heart, by those little
jealousies which sometimes interpose their barriers to young maidens'
friendships. But I see little Mitty has fallen asleep already. My
story is too grave for the light ears of childhood. I shall be
obliged, too, to say something about love, and even you, Mina, are
entirely too young to know anything of its influence."

"Oh! but I do know something, grandmother," exclaimed I, impulsively;
"that is, I have read--I have thought"--I stammered and stopped,
unable to express my own vague ideas.

"You may not be too young to sympathize, but certainly too young to
feel," said my grandmother, mildly; "but, ardent and sympathizing as
your nature is, it will be hard for you to carry back your mind to the
time when all the warm passions and hopes of youth were glowing in my
bosom. It is enough to say that there was one who came and rivalled
Eglantine in my affections, one to whom I was betrothed, and to whom I
was to be shortly wedded. It was on such an eve as this, so clear and
bright, that he gave me the pledge of our betrothal, this bracelet of
pearl, and clasped it on an arm which then filled the golden circlet.
Perhaps you wonder that the first token of love should not have been a
ring; but Ronald did not like to follow the track of other men, and
even in trifles marked out for himself a peculiar and independent
course. That night, when I retired to my chamber, I found Eglantine
seated at the open window, apparently absorbed in the contemplation
of the starry heavens. She sat in a loose undress, her hair of pale
gold hung unbound over her shoulders, and her head, being slightly
thrown back, allowed the moonlight to flood her whole face with its
unearthly radiance.

"'You look very beautiful and romantic, dear Eglantine,' said I,
softly approaching her, and throwing my arms round her neck; 'but come
down from the stars a little while, my sweet cousin, and share in my
earthborn emotions.' My heart was too full of happiness, my spirits
too excited, not to overflow in unreserved confidence in her bosom.
She wept as I poured into her ears all my hopes, my recent vows, and
future schemes of felicity. It was her usual manner of expressing deep
sympathy, and I loved her the better for her tears. 'All I wonder at
and blame in Ronald is,' and I spoke this in true sincerity, 'that he
does not love you better than me. Never, till this evening, was I sure
of his preference.'

"Eglantine withdrew herself from my arms, and turned her face to the
shadow of the wall. There was something inexplicable in her manner
that chilled, and even alarmed me. A thought, too painful to be
admitted, darted for a moment to my mind. Could she be jealous of
Ronald's love for me? Was my happiness to be built on the ruin of
hers? No! it could not be. She probably feared my affections might
become alienated from her in consequence of my new attachment. Such a
fear was natural, and I hastened to remove it by the warmest
professions, mingled with covert reproaches for her doubts and
misgivings.

"I had a young waiting-maid, who, next to Eglantine, was the especial
object of my regard. She was the daughter of a gentlewoman, who, from
a series of misfortunes, was reduced to penury, to which was added the
helplessness of disease. To relieve her mother from the pressure of
immediate want, the young Alice offered herself as a candidate for a
state of servitude, and I eagerly availed myself of the opportunity of
securing the personal attendance of one so refined in manner and so
winning in appearance. Alice now came forward, as was her custom, to
assist me in preparing for my nightly rest. She was about to unclasp
the bracelet from my wrist, but I drew back my arm. 'No, no, Alice,'
said I, 'this is an amulet. Sweet dreams will come to my pillow,
beckoned by its fairy power. I cannot sleep without it. See how
beautifully the lilies gleam in the moonlight that gilds my couch.'
Alice seemed as if she could never weary in admiring the beauty of
the ornament. She turned my arm to shift the rays, and catch the
delicate colouring of the pearls, and looped up the sleeve of my
night-dress in a fantastic manner, to display it fully to her gaze.
Once or twice I thought I saw the eyes of Eglantine fastened upon it
with a sad, wistful expression, and the same exquisitely painful
thought again darted to my mind. I struggled against its admission, as
degrading both to myself and her, and at last fell asleep, with my arm
thrown on the outside of the bed, and the bracelet shining out in the
pure night-beams. Alice slept in a little bed by the side of mine, for
I could not bear that a creature so young and delicate, and so gentle
bred, should share the apartments devoted to the servants, and be
exposed to their rude companionship. She generally awoke me with her
light touch or gentle voice, but when I awoke the next morning, I saw
Alice still sleeping, with a flushed cheek and an attitude that
betokened excitement and unrest. Eglantine sat at her window, reading,
dressed with her usual care by her own graceful fingers. In the school
of early poverty she had learned the glorious lesson of independence,
a lesson which, in my more luxurious life, I had never acquired.
'Alice must be ill,' said I, rising, and approaching her bedside; 'she
looks feverish, and her brows are knit, as if her dreams were
fearful.' I bent down over her, and laid my hand upon her shoulder, to
rouse her from her uneasy slumbers, when I started--for the precious
bracelet was gone. Eglantine laid down her book at my sudden
exclamation, and Alice, wakening, looked round her with a bewildered
expression. 'My bracelet!' repeated I--'it is gone.' I flew to my
couch; it was not there. I looked upon the carpet, in the vain hope
that the clasp had unloosed, and that it had fallen during the night.
'Alice,' cried I, 'rise this moment, and help me to find my bracelet.
You must know where it is. It never could have vanished without aid.'
I fixed my eyes steadfastly on her face, which turned as hueless as
marble. She trembled in every limb, and sunk down again on the side of
the bed.

"'You do not think _I_ have taken it, Miss Laura?" said she, gasping
for breath.

"'I do not know what to think,' I answered, in a raised tone; 'but it
is very mysterious, and your whole appearance and manner is very
strange this morning, Alice. You must have been up in the night, or
you would not have slept so unusually late----

"'Do not be hasty, Laura,' said Eglantine, in a sweet, soothing voice;
'it may yet be found. Perhaps it is clinging to your dress, concealed
in its folds. Let me assist you in searching.' She unfolded the
sheets, turned up the edges of the carpet, examined every corner where
it might have been tossed, but all in vain. In the mean while Alice
remained like one stupefied, following our movements with a pale,
terrified countenance, without offering to participate in the search.

"'There is no use in looking longer, Eglantine,' said I, bitterly. 'I
suspect Alice might assist us effectually to discover it, if she
would. Nay, I will not say suspect--I believe--I dare to say, I
know--for conscious guilt is written in glaring characters on her
countenance.'

"'Do not make any rash accusations, Laura,' cried Eglantine; 'I
acknowledge appearances are much against her, but I cannot think Alice
capable of such ingratitude, duplicity, and meanness.'

"Alice here burst into a passionate fit of weeping, and declared, with
wringing hands and choking sobs, that she would sooner die than commit
so base and wicked a deed.

"'Oh! Miss Eglantine,' she exclaimed, 'didn't you take it in sport? It
seems as if I saw you in a dream going up to Miss Laura, while she was
asleep, and take it from her wrist, softly, and then vanish away. Oh!
Miss Eglantine, the more I think of it the more I am sure I saw
you,--all in sport, I know,--but please return it, or it will be death
to me.'

"The blood seemed to boil up in the cheeks of Eglantine, so sudden and
intense was the glow that mantled them.

"'I thought you innocent, Alice,' said she, 'but I see, with pain,
that you are an unprincipled girl. How dare you attempt to impose on
me the burthen of your crime? How dare you think of sheltering
yourself under the shadow of my name?'

"The vague suspicions which the assertion of Alice had excited,
vanished before the outraged looks and language of the usually gentle
Eglantine. Alice must have been the transgressor, and in proportion to
the affection and confidence I had reposed in her, and the
transcendent value of the gift, was my indignation at the offence, and
the strength of my resolution to banish her from me.

"'Restore it,' said I, 'and leave me. Do it quietly and immediately,
and I will inflict no other punishment than your own reflections, for
having abused so much love and trust.'

"'Search me, if you please, Miss Laura, and all that belongs to me,'
replied Alice, in a firmer tone, 'but I cannot give back what I have
never taken. I would not, for fifty thousand worlds, take what was not
mine, and least of all from you, who have been so kind and good. I am
willing to go, for I would rather beg my bread from door to door, than
live upon the bounty of one who thinks me capable of such guilt:' with
a composure that strangely contrasted with her late violent agitation,
she arranged her dress, and was walking towards the door, when
Eglantine arrested her--

"'Alice, Alice, you must be mad to persist in this course. Confess the
whole, return the bracelet, and Laura may yet forgive you. Think of
your sick mother. How can you go to her in shame and disgrace?'

"At the mention of her mother, Alice wept afresh, and putting her hand
to her head, exclaimed--

"'I feel very, very sick. Perhaps we shall die together, and then God
will take pity on us. The great God knows I am innocent of this
crime.'

"Grandmother," interrupted I, unable to keep silence any longer, "tell
me if she was not innocent. I know she must have been. Who could have
taken it?"

"Do you think Eglantine more likely to have stolen it from her cousin,
who was to her, as it were, another soul and being?"

"Oh! no," I replied, "but I shall feel unhappy till I discover the
thief. Please, grandmother, go on. Did Alice really go away?"

"Yes, my child," answered my grandmother, in a faltering voice, "she
went, though my relenting heart pleaded for her to linger. Her extreme
youth and helplessness, her previous simplicity and truthfulness, and
her solemn asseverations of innocence, all staggered my belief in her
guilt. It was a mystery which grew darker as I attempted to penetrate
it. If Alice were innocent, who could be guilty--Eglantine? Such
thought was sacrilege to her pure and elevated character, her tried
affection for me, her self-respect, dignity, and truth. Alice returned
to her mother, in spite of our permission for her to remain till the
subject could be more fully investigated.

"When the door closed upon her retreating form, I sat down by the side
of Eglantine, and wept. The fear that I had unjustly accused the
innocent, the possibility, nay, the probability that she was guilty,
the loss of the first pledge of plighted love, indefinite terrors for
the future, a dim shade of superstition brooding over the whole, all
conspired to make me gloomy and desponding. We were all unhappy.
Ronald tried to laugh at my sadness, and promised me 'gems from the
mine, and pearls from the ocean,' to indemnify me for my loss, yet I
watched every change of his expressive countenance, and knew he
thought deeply and painfully on the subject. The strange suspicion
which had risen in my mind the preceding night, with regard to
Eglantine's feelings towards him, revived when I saw them together,
and I wondered I had not observed before the fluctuations of her
complexion, and the agitation of her manner whenever he addressed her.
He had always treated her with the kindness of a brother--that
kindness now made me unhappy. I was becoming suspicious, jealous, and
self-distrustful, with a settled conviction that some strange barrier
existed to my union with Ronald, a destiny too bright and too
beautiful to be realized in this world of dreams and shadows. My
mother was firm in her belief of the guilt of Alice, who had never
been a favourite of hers. Perhaps I lavished upon her too many
indulgences, which displeased my mother's soberer judgment. She
forbade all intercourse with her, all mention of her name, but she was
ever present to my imagination; sometimes the shameless ingrate and
accomplished deceiver, at others the eloquent pleader of her outraged
innocence. One day Eglantine came to me, and laid her hand on mine
with a look of unspeakable dismay--

"'I have heard,' said she, 'that Alice is dying. Let us go to her,
Laura, and save her, if it be not too late.'

"What I felt at hearing these words I never can tell,--they pressed
upon me with such a weight of grief--her innocence seemed as clear to
me as noonday--my own unkindness as cruel as the grave. Quickly as
possible we sought the cottage where her mother dwelt, and a piteous
spectacle met our eyes. There lay Alice, on a little bed, pale,
emaciated, and almost unconscious; her once bright hair dim and
matted; her sweet blue eyes sunk and half closed; her arms laid
listlessly by her side, the breath coming faint and flutteringly from
her parted lips. On another bed lay her poor, heart-broken mother,
unable to relieve the sufferings of her she would gladly have died to
save. Frantic with grief, I threw myself by the side of Alice, and
disturbed the solemn stillness of the death-hour with my incoherent
ravings. I declared her innocence; I called upon her to live, to live
for my sake, and throwing my arms wildly round her wasted form,
struggled to hold her back from the grave yawning beneath her. It was
in vain to cope with Omnipotence. Alice died, even in the midst of my
agonies, and it was long before I was able to listen to the story of
her illness, as related by her disconsolate mother. She had returned
home sick and feverish, and sick and feverish she evidently was on her
first awakening, and that wounded spirit, which none can bear, acting
on a diseased frame, accelerated the progress of her fever till it
settled on her brain, producing delirium, and ultimately death. During
all her delirium, she was pleading her cause with an angel's
eloquence, declaring her innocence, and blessing me as her
benefactress and friend."

Here my grandmother paused, and covered her eyes with her
handkerchief. I laid my head on her lap, and the ringlets of little
Mitty's hair were wet with my tears. I felt quite broken-hearted, and
ready to murmur at Providence for placing me in a world so full of
error and woes.

"Did you ever feel happy again, dear grandmother?" asked I, when I
ventured to break the silence,--curiosity was completely merged in
sympathy.

"Yes, Mina, I have had hours of happiness, such as seldom falls to the
lot of woman, but those bright hours were like the shining of the gold
that comes forth purified from the furnace of fire. The mother of
Alice soon followed her to the grave, and there they sleep, side by
side, in the lonely churchyard. Eglantine soothed and comforted me,
and endeavoured to stifle the self-upbraidings that ever sounded
dolefully to my heart. Alice had been the victim of inexplicable
circumstances, and so far from having been cruel, I had been kind and
forbearing, considering the weight of evidence against her. Thus
reasoned Eglantine, and I tried to believe her, but all my hopes of
joy seemed blighted, for how could I mingle the wreath of love with
the cypress boughs that now darkened my path? Ronald pressed an
immediate union, but I shrunk with superstitious dread from the
proposition, and refused the ring, with which he now sought to bind my
faith. 'No, no,' I cried, 'the pledges of love are not for me--I will
never accept another.'

"My mother grew angry at my fatalism. 'You are nursing phantasies,'
said she, 'that are destroying the brightness of your youth. You are
actually making yourself old, ere yet in your bloom. See, if there are
not actually streaks of gray threading your jetty hair.' I rose and
stood before a mirror, and shaking my hair loose from the confining
comb, saw that her words were true. Here and there a gleam of silver
wandered through those tresses which had always worn that purple depth
of hue peculiar to the raven's plumage. The chill that penetrated my
heart on the death-bed of Alice, had thus suddenly and prematurely
frosted the dark locks of my youth. My mother became alarmed at my
excessive paleness, and proposed a journey for the restoration of my
spirits and health. Ronald eagerly supported the suggestion, but
Eglantine declined accompanying us. She preferred, she said, being
alone. With books at home, and Nature, in the glory of its summer
garniture, abroad, she could not want sources of enjoyment. I did not
regret her determination, for her presence had become strangely
oppressive to me, and even Ronald's manners had assumed an
embarrassment and constraint towards her very different from their
usual familiarity. The night before our departure I felt more
melancholy than ever. It was just such a night as the one that
witnessed our ill-starred betrothal. The moon came forth from behind a
bed of white clouds, silvering every flake as it floated back from her
beauteous face, and diffusing on earth the wondrous secret of heavenly
communion. I could not sleep; and as I lay gazing on the solemn
tranquillity of the night heavens, I thought of the time when 'those
heavens should be rolled together as a scroll, and the elements melt
with fervent heat,' and I, still thinking, living, feeling, in other,
grander, everlasting scenes, the invisible dweller of my bosom's
temple assumed such magnitude and majesty in my eyes, the
contemplation became overwhelming and awful. The sublime sound of the
clock striking the midnight hour--and all who have heard that sound in
the dead silence of the night, can attest that it is sublime--broke in
on my deep abstraction. Eglantine, who had lain wrapped in peaceful
slumbers, here softly drew back the bed-cover, and rising slowly,
walked round with stilly steps to the side where I reclined, and stood
looking fixedly upon me. 'Eglantine!' I exclaimed, terrified at her
attitude and singular appearance. 'Eglantine, what is the matter?' She
answered not, moved not, but remained standing, immovable, with her
eyes fixed and expressionless as stone. There she stood, in the white
moonlight, in her long, loose night-dress, which hung around her, in
her stillness, like the folds of the winding-sheet, her hair streaming
down her back in long, lifeless tresses, and lighted up on her brow
with a kind of supernatural radiance--and then those death-resembling
eyes! I trembled, and tried to draw the sheet over my face, to shut
out the appalling vision. After a few moments, which seemed
interminable to me, she bent over me, and taking my right hand, felt
of my wrist again and again. Her fingers were as cold as marble. My
very blood seemed to congeal under her touch. 'It is gone,' murmured
she, 'but it is safe--I have it safe. It fits my wrist as well as
hers.' Terrified as I was at this unexpected apparition, my mind was
clear, and never were my perceptions more vivid. The mystery of the
bracelet was about to be unravelled. Poor Alice's assertion that she
had seen Eglantine standing by my side, and taking the bracelet from
my wrist, came back thundering in my ears. 'It is gone,' replied
Eglantine, in the same low, deep voice, 'but I know where it is laid;
where the bridegroom or the bride can never find it. Perhaps the moon
shines too brightly on it, and reveals the spot.' Thus saying, she
glided across the floor, with spirit-like tread, and opening the door,
disappeared. In the excess of my excitement I forgot my fears, and
hastily rising, followed her footsteps, determined to unravel the
mystery, if I died in the act. I could catch the glimpses of her white
garments through the shadows of the winding staircase, and I pursued
them with rapid steps, till I found myself close behind her, by the
door which opened into the garden. There she stood, still as a corpse,
and again the cold dew of superstitious terror gathered on my brow. I
soon saw a fumbling motion about the keyhole, and the door opening,
she again glided onward towards the summer-house, my favourite
retreat, the place where I had received this mysterious bracelet--the
place where Flora had collected all her wealth of bloom. She put aside
the drooping vines, sending out such a cloud of fragrance on the dewy
air, I almost fainted from their oppression, and stooping down over a
white rose-bush, carefully removed the lower branches, while the
rose-leaves fell in a snowy shower over her naked feet. 'Where is it?'
said she, feeling about in the long grass. 'It isn't in the spot where
I hid it. If she has found it, she may yet be a bride, and Ronald
still her own.' She stooped down lower over the rose-bush, then rising
hastily, I saw, with inexpressible agitation, the lost bracelet
shining in the light that quivered with ghostlike lustre on her pallid
face. With a most unearthly smile she clasped it on her wrist, and
left the arbour, muttering in a low voice, 'I will not leave it
here--lest she find out where it lies, and win back her bridal gift.
I will keep it next my own heart, and she cannot reach it there.' Once
more I followed the gliding steps of Eglantine, through the chill
silence of night, till we ascended the stairs, and entered our own
chamber. Quietly she laid herself down, as if she had just risen from
her knees in prayer, and I perceived by her closed lids and gentle
breathing, that a natural sleep was succeeding the inexplicable
mysteries of somnambulism."

"She was walking in her sleep, then, grandmother!" I exclaimed,
drawing a long breath. "I thought so all the time; and poor Alice was
really innocent! And what did Eglantine say the next morning, when she
awaked, and found the bracelet on her arm?"

"She was astonished and bewildered, and knew not what to think; but
when I told her of all the events of the night, the truth of which the
bracelet itself attested, she sunk back like one stricken with death.
So many thoughts crowded upon her at once in such force, it is no
wonder they almost crushed her with their power. The conviction that
her love for Ronald could no longer be concealed, the remembrance of
the accusation of Alice, which she had so indignantly repelled, the
apparent meanness and turpitude of the art, though performed without
any conscious volition on her part, the belief that another had been
the victim of her involuntary crime, all united to bow her spirit to
the dust. My heart bled at the sight of her distress, and, every
feeling wrought up to unnatural strength by the exciting scenes I had
witnessed, I promised never to wed Ronald, since the thought of our
union had evidently made her so unhappy. Eglantine contended against
this resolution with all her eloquence, but, alas! she was not
destined long to oppose the claims of friendship to the pleadings of
love. Her constitution was naturally frail, a fragility indicated by
the extreme delicacy and mutability of her complexion, and the
profusion of her pale golden hair. Day by day she faded--night by
night she continued her mysterious rambles to the spot where she had
first deposited the bracelet, till she had no longer strength to leave
her bed, when her soul seemed to commune with the cherubim and
seraphim, which, I doubt not, in their invisible glory surrounded her
nightly couch. As she drew near the land of shadows, she lost sight of
the phantom of earthly love in aspirations after a heavenly union. She
mourned over her ill-directed sensibilities, her wasted opportunities,
her selfish brooding over forbidden hopes and imaginings. She gave
herself up in penitence and faith to her Redeemer, in submission to
her Father and her God; and her soul at last passed away as silently
and gently as the perfume from the evening flower into the bosom of
eternity."

"Oh! grandmother, what a melancholy story you have told," cried I,
looking at the bracelet more intently than ever, the vivid feelings of
curiosity subdued and chastened by such sad revealings; "but did not
you marry Ronald at last?"

"Yes," replied she, looking upward with mournful earnestness; "the
beloved grandfather, who has so often dandled you in his arms, in this
very spot where we are now seated, whose head, white with the snows of
threescore years and ten, now reposes on the pillow all the living
must press,--who now awaits me, I trust, in the dwellings of
immortality, was that once youthful Ronald, whose beauty and worth
captivated the affections of the too sensitive Eglantine. Many, many
years of happiness has it been my blessed lot to share with him on
earth. The memories of Alice and Eglantine, softened by time, were
robbed of their bitterness, and only served to endear us more tenderly
to each other. The knowledge we had gained of the frailty and
uncertainty of life, led us to lift our views to a more enduring state
of existence, and love, hallowed by religion, became a sublime and
holy bond, imperishable as the soul, and lofty as its destinies. I
have lived to see my children's children gather around me, like the
olive branches of scripture, fair and flourishing. I have lived to see
the companion of my youth and age consigned to the darkness of the
grave, and I have nothing more to do on earth but to fold the mantle
of the spirit quietly around me, and wait the coming of the Son of
Man."

I looked up with reverence in my grandmother's face as she thus
concluded the eventful history of the Pearl Bracelet, and I thought
what a solemn and beautiful thing was old age when the rays of the Sun
of Righteousness thus illumed its hoary hair, and converted it into an
emblematic crown of glory.



THE

MYSTERIOUS RETICULE.


"I own," said Fitzroy, "that I have some foolish prejudices, and this
may be one. But I cannot bear to see a lady with a soiled
pocket-handkerchief. I never wish to see anything less pure and
elegant than this in the hand of a beautiful maiden." He lifted, as he
spoke, a superb linen handkerchief, decorated with lace, that lay
carelessly folded in the lap of Mary Lee.

"Ah, yes," exclaimed her cousin Kate, laughing, "it looks very nice
now, for she has just taken it from her drawer. See, the perfume of
the lavender has not begun to evaporate. But wait till to-morrow, and
then it will look no nicer than mine."

"To-morrow!" cried the elegant Fitzroy, with an expression of disgust;
"surely no lady would think of using a handkerchief more than once. If
I were in love with a Venus de Medici herself, and detected her in
such an unpardonable act, I believe the spell would be broken."

"I would not give much for your love, then," cried Kate, "if it had no
deeper foundation--would you, Mary?"

Mary blushed, for she was already more than half in love with the
handsome Fitzroy, and was making an internal resolution to be
exceedingly particular in future about her pocket-handkerchiefs.

Fitzroy was a young man of fashion and fortune, of fine person,
elegant manners, cultivated mind, and fastidiously refined taste. He
had, however, two great defects--one was, attaching too much
importance to trifles, and making them the criterion of character; the
other, a morbid suspicion of the sincerity of his friends, and a
distrust of their motives, which might become the wildest jealousy in
the passion of love. He had a most intense admiration of female
loveliness, and looked upon woman as a kind of super-angelic being,
whose food should be the ambrosiæ and nectar of the gods, and whose
garments the spotless white of vestal purity. He had never known
misfortune, sickness, or sorrow, therefore had never been dependent on
those homely, domestic virtues, those tender, household cares, which
can alone entitle woman to the poetical appellation of a ministering
angel. He was the spoiled child of affluence and indulgence, who
looked, as Kate said, "as if he ought to recline on a crimson velvet
sofa, and be fanned with peacocks' feathers all the day long." He was
now the guest of Mr. Lee, and consequently the daily companion of the
beautiful, sensitive Mary and her gay cousin. With his passionate
admiration for beauty, it is not strange that he should become more
and more attracted towards Mary, who never forgot, in the adornments
of her finished toilet, the robe of vestal white and the pure,
delicate, perfumed handkerchief, which Fitzroy seemed to consider the
_ne plus ultra_ of a lady's perfections. The cousins walked, rode, and
visited with the elegant stranger, and never did weeks glide more
rapidly away. Mary was happy, inexpressibly happy, for life began to
be invested with that soft, purple hue, which, like the rich blush of
the grape, is so easily brushed away, and can never be restored.

Fitzroy had often noticed and admired, among the decorations of Mary's
dress, a beautiful reticule of white embroidered satin. One evening,
on returning from a party, Mary's brow became suddenly clouded. "Oh,
how could I be so careless?" exclaimed she, in a tone of vexation; "I
have left my reticule behind. How unfortunate!"

Fitzroy immediately offered his services, but Mary persisted in
refusing them, and dispatched a servant in his stead.

"You must have something very precious in that bag," said Kate. "I
have no doubt it is full of billetdoux or love-letters. I intend to go
after it myself, and find out all Mary's secrets."

"How foolish!" cried Mary. "You know there is no such thing in
it--nothing in the world but----" She stopped, in evident
embarrassment, and lowered her eyes, to avoid Fitzroy's searching
glance.

The servant came without the bag, and again Fitzroy renewed his offers
of search in the morning.

"No, indeed," said Mary; "I am very grateful, but I cannot allow you
to take that trouble. It is of no consequence; I insist that you do
not think of going. I am very sorry I said anything about it."

Mary's ill-concealed embarrassment and flitting blushes awakened one
of Fitzroy's bosom enemies. Why this strange anxiety and confusion
about a simple reticule? It must be the receptacle of secrets she
would blush to have revealed. Kate's suggestion was probably true. It
contained some confessions or tokens of love which she was holding in
her heart's treasury, while her eye and her lip beamed and smiled
encouragement and hope of him.

The next morning he rose from his bed at an early hour with a feeling
of restlessness and anxiety, and resolved to go himself in search of
the lost treasure. He found it suspended on the chair in which he
remembered to have seen her last seated, leaning against the window,
with the moonbeams shining down on her snowy brow. The soft satin
yielded to his touch, and the exquisite beauty of the texture seemed
to correspond with the grace and loveliness of the owner. He was
beginning to be ashamed of his suspicions, when the resistance of a
folded paper against his fingers recalled Kate's laughing assertions
about love-letters and billetdoux, and jealous thoughts again tingled
in his veins. For one moment he was tempted to open it and satisfy his
tantalizing curiosity, but pride and honour resisted the promptings of
the evil spirit.

Poor Mary! had she known what sweeping conclusions he brought against
her during his homeward walk, she would have wished her unfortunate
bag in the bottom of the ocean. She was false, coquettish, and vain!
He would never bestow another thought upon her, but bid adieu, as soon
as possible, to her father's hospitable mansion, and forget his
transient fascination. When he entered the room where Mary and Kate
were seated, Mary sprang forward with a crimsoned cheek and extended
her hand with an eager, involuntary motion. "I thank you," said she,
coldly; "but I am very, very sorry you assumed such unnecessary
trouble."

She thanked him with her lips, but her ingenuous countenance expressed
anything but gratitude and pleasure. Fitzroy gave it to her with a
low, silent bow, and threw himself wearily on the sofa.

"I will know what mystery is wrapped up in this little bag!" exclaimed
Kate, suddenly snatching it from her hand. "I know it contains some
love talisman or fairy token."

"Ah, Kate, I entreat, I pray you to restore it to me," cried Mary.

"No--no--no," answered Kate, laughing, and holding it high above her
head.

Mary sprang to catch it, but Kate only swung it higher and higher with
triumphant glee. Fitzroy looked on with a scornful glance; Mary's
unaffected alarm confirmed all his suspicions, and he felt a selfish
gratification in her increasing trepidation.

"Kate, I did not think you could be rude or unkind before," said Mary,
looking reproachfully at Fitzroy, for not assisting her in the
contest.

"Since Miss Lee evidently endures so much uneasiness lest the
mysteries of her bag should be explored," cried Fitzroy, with a
sarcastic smile, "I am sure her friends must sympathize in her
sufferings."

"Oh, if you are in earnest, Mary," cried Kate, tossing the reticule
over her head, "I would not make you unhappy for the world."

There was a beautiful child, about two or three years old, a little
sister of Kate's, who was playing on the carpet with the paraphernalia
of her dolls. The bag fell directly in her lap, and she caught it with
childish eagerness. "I got it--I got it!" cried she, exultingly; and
before Mary could regain possession of it, she had undrawn the silken
strings, and emptied the contents in her lap--a parcel of faded
rose-leaves scattered on the floor, from a white folded paper that
opened as it fell. Fitzroy beheld it, and his jealous fears vanished
into air; but another object attracted his too fastidious gaze--a
soiled, crumpled pocket-handkerchief lay maliciously displayed in the
little plunderer's lap, and then was brandished in her victorious
hand. Mary stood for a moment covered with burning blushes, then ran
out of the room, stung to the soul by the mocking smile that curled
the lip of Fitzroy.

"Cousin Mary been eating cake," said the child, exposing the poor
handkerchief still more fully to the shrinking, ultra-refined man of
taste and fashion.

The spell was broken, the goddess thrown from her pedestal--the charm
of those exquisite, transparent, rose-scented handkerchiefs for ever
destroyed. Kate laughed immoderately at the whole scene. There was
something truly ridiculous to her in the unfathomable mystery, Mary's
preposterous agitation, and Fitzroy's unconcealed disgust. There was a
very slight dash of malice mingled with the gayety of her character,
and when she recollected how much Fitzroy had admired and Mary
displayed her immaculate and superb handkerchiefs, pure from all
earthly alloy, she could not but enjoy a _little_ her present
mortification. She ridiculed Fitzroy so unmercifully that he took
refuge in flight, and then the merry girl sought the chamber of Mary,
whither she had fled to conceal her mortification and tears.

"Surely you are not weeping for such a ridiculous cause?" said Kate,
sobered at the sight of Mary's real suffering. "I had no idea you were
so foolish."

Mary turned away in silence; she could not forgive her for having
exposed her weakness to the eyes of Fitzroy.

"Mary," continued Kate, "I did not mean to distress you; I did not
imagine there was anything in the bag you really wished concealed, and
I am sure there was not. What induced you to make such a fuss about a
simple pocket-handkerchief? It looks as nice as mine does, I dare
say."

"But he is so very particular," sobbed Mary, "he will never forget it.
I have always carried a handkerchief in my bag for use, so that I
could keep the one which I held in my hand clean and nice. I knew his
peculiarities, and thought there was no harm in consulting them. He
will never think of me now without disgust."

"And if he never will," cried the spirited Kate, with flashing eyes,
"I would spurn him from my thoughts as a being unworthy of respect or
admiration. I would not marry such a man were he to lay at my feet the
diadem of the East. Forgive me for having made myself merry at your
expense, but I could not help laughing at your overwrought
sensibility. Answer me seriously, Mary, and tell me if you think that
if Fitzroy really loved you, and was worthy of your love, he would
become alienated by a trifle like this?"

Mary began to be ashamed of her emotions in the presence of her
reasonable cousin;--she was ashamed, and endeavoured to conceal them,
but they were not subdued. She was conscious she must appear in a
ridiculous light in the eyes of the scrupulously elegant Fitzroy,
whose morbid tastes she had so unfortunately studied. When they met
again, it was with feelings of mutual estrangement. She was cold and
constrained--he polite, but reserved. Mary felt with anguish that the
soft, purple hue which had thrown such an enchantment over every
scene, was vanished away. The realities of existence began to appear.

Fitzroy soon after took his leave, with very different feelings from
what he had once anticipated. He blamed himself, but he could not help
the chilled state of his heart. Mary was a mortal, after all; she ate
cake, drank lemonade, and used her handkerchiefs like other ladies,
only she kept them out of sight. Her loveliness, grace, and feminine
gentleness of manner no longer entranced him. He departed, and Mary
sighed over the dissolving of her first love's dream; but
notwithstanding her weakness on this subject, she had a just
estimation of herself, and a spirit which, when once roused, guided
her to exertions which astonished herself. Her gay cousin, too,
departed, and she was thrown upon her own resources. She read much,
and reflected more. She blushed for her past weakness, and learned to
think with contempt upon the man who had so false an estimate of the
true excellence and glory of a woman's character. "Oh," repeated she
to herself a hundred times, as, interested in domestic duties, she
devoted herself to the comfort of her widowed father, "how miserable I
should have been as the wife of a coxcomb, who would desire me to sit
all day with folded hands, holding an embroidered handkerchief, with
fingers encased in white kid gloves! How could I ever have been so
weak and foolish?" Mary generally concluded these reflections with a
sigh, for Fitzroy was handsome, graceful, and intellectual, and he
was, moreover, the first person who had ever interested her young
heart.

The following summer she accompanied her father to a fashionable
watering-place. She was admired and caressed, but she turned coldly
from the gaze of admiration, and cared not for the gayety that
surrounded her. While others hurried to the ball-room, she lingered
over her book, or indulged in meditations unfamiliar to the lovely and
the young. One evening, when she had been unusually dilatory, she
heard her father call, and taking a lamp, began to thread the passage,
which led through a long suite of apartments occupied by the visiters
of the spring. As she passed by one of the rooms, the door of which
was partially opened, she heard a faint, moaning sound, and paused to
listen. It returned again and again, and she was sure some stranger
was suffering there, probably forgotten in the gay crowd that filled
the mansion. Her first impulse was to enter, but she shrunk from the
thought of intruding herself, a young maiden, into the apartment of a
stranger. "My father will go in and see who the sufferer is," cried
she, hastening to meet him on the stairs.

Mr. Lee required no entreaties from his daughter, for his kind and
humane feelings were immediately excited by the idea of a lonely and
perhaps dying stranger, in the midst of a heartless crowd. Mary gave
the lamp into her father's hand, and stood in the passage while he
entered. A sudden exclamation, echoed by a faint low voice, made her
heart palpitate with vague apprehensions. Who could this lonely
stranger be whom her father evidently recognised? She stood holding
her breath painfully, fearing to lose the sound of that faint voice
which awakened strange emotions within her, when her father suddenly
came to the door and beckoned her to him. "I do believe he is dying,"
said he, in an agitated tone. "It is Fitzroy himself! You must come to
him, while I call a physician."

Mary almost mechanically obeyed the summons, and stood the next
moment, pale and trembling, by the bedside of the man she had once
loved. Could that, indeed, be the elegant Fitzroy?--with disordered
hair, half-closed eyes, parched and trembling lips, which now vainly
endeavoured to articulate a sound?--the pillows tossed here and there,
as if in wrestling with pain; the white counterpane twisted and
tumbled--were these the accompaniments of this fastidious exquisite?
These thoughts darted through Mary's mind, as the vision of her soiled
handkerchief came ghost-like before her. But she was no longer the
weak girl who wept tears of bitter agony at the discovery that she was
made of mortal mould; she was a woman awakened to the best energies
and virtues of her sex. She found herself alone with the sick man, for
her father had flown for the assistance he required, and left her to
watch till his return. She saturated her handkerchief with cologne,
and bathed his burning temples and feverish hands. Her heart softened
over the invalid in his prostrate and dependent state. "Ah, proud
Fitzroy," thought she, "this handkerchief is now more soiled and
defaced than the one which alienated your fancy from me, and yet you
shrink not from its contact. No pride or scorn now flashes from those
dim eyes, or curls those pallid lips. Alas! he is very, very ill--I
fear even unto death." The tears gathered into her eyes at this
appalling idea, and even mingled with the odorous waters with which
she embalmed his forehead.

Her father soon came in with the physician, and Mary resigned her
watch by his bedside. She withdrew to her own apartment, and waited
with intense anxiety the tidings which he promised to bring her. She
was surprised at her own emotions. She thought Fitzroy perfectly
indifferent to her--nay, more, that she disliked him; but now, when
she saw him in suffering and danger, she remembered the charm with
which her imagination had once invested him, and accused herself of
harsh and vindictive feelings.

"Yes," said Mr. Lee, in answer to her earnest inquiries, "he is very
ill--dangerously ill. Imprudent exposure to the burning mid-day sun
has brought on a sudden and violent fever, the consequences of which
are more to be dreaded, as he has never been sick before. Could he
have commanded immediate attention, perhaps the disease might have
been arrested. But in this scene of gayety and confusion--though got
up for the express accommodation of invalids--Heaven save the sick and
the dying."

"Who will take care of him, father? He has no mother or sister near.
Oh, surely we must not let him die for want of these!"

"I know what you are thinking of, Mary," said Mr. Lee, shaking his
head; "but I cannot consent to it. The fever may be contagious, and
you are too young and too delicate for such a task. Besides, there
might be remarks made upon it. No; I will remain with him to-night,
and to-morrow we will see what can be done for him."

"But to-night may be the crisis of his fate," pleaded Mary; "to-morrow
it may be too late. You are very kind, father, but you are not a
woman, and you know there are a thousand gentle cares which only a
woman's hand can tender. I am a stranger here; I don't care if they do
censure me. Let me act a true woman's, a kind sister's part. You know,
by your own experience, what a skilful nurse I am."

Mary pleaded earnestly, and wound her arms caressingly around her
father's neck, and looked up into his face with such irresistible
eyes, that he could not refuse her. The pallid face of Fitzroy seemed
to be leaning beside her own, clothed with that authority which
sickness and approaching death impart. So Mary twisted up her shining
ringlets, and took the rings from her jeweled fingers, and donned a
loose, flowing robe. Behold her, one of the loveliest nurses that
ever brought the blessings of Hygea to the chamber of disease. There
is a great deal said in romances of the interesting appearance of
invalids, of a languor more lovely than the bloom of health, of a
debility more graceful than the fullness of strength; but this is all
romance. It has been said by one of the greatest moralists of the age,
that the slow consuming of beauty is one of the greatest judgments of
the Almighty against man for sin. Certainly a sick chamber is not the
place for romantic beings to _fall in love_, but it is the place where
love, once awakened, can exert its holiest influences, and manifest
its death-controlling power; it is the place where religion erects its
purest altar, and faith brings its divinest offerings. Yea, verily, it
is hallowed ground. Thus Mary thought through the vigils of that long
night. She had never been dangerously sick herself, but she felt the
entire dependence of one human being upon another, and of all upon
God. She felt, too, a kind of generous triumph, if such an expression
may be used, in the conviction that this proud and over-sensitive
being was so completely abandoned to her cares. Fitzroy lay in the
deep lethargy of a burning fever, unconscious whose soft footsteps
fell "like snow on snow" around his bed. "He never shall know it,"
said Mary, to herself. "He would probably feel disgust, instead of
gratitude. If he saw this handkerchief, all impregnated with camphor,
and stained with medicine, he might well think it unfit for a lady's
hand. Shame on me, for cherishing so much malice against him--he so
sick and pale!"

For more than a week Fitzroy languished in that almost unconscious
condition, and during that interval Mary continued to lavish upon him
every attention a kind and gentle sister could bestow. At length he
was declared out of danger, and she gradually withdrew from her
station in the sick chamber. Her mission was fulfilled, and an angelic
one it had been. The physician, her father, and a youthful, unimpaired
constitution accomplished the rest.

"What do I not owe you?" said Fitzroy, when, liberated from
confinement, he was slowly walking with her through one of the green,
shady paths of the enclosure. Now he, indeed, looked interesting. The
contrast between his dark brown hair and pale cheek was truly
romantic. That dark hair once more exhaled the odours of sweet-scented
waters, and his black dress and spotless linen were as distinguished
for their elegance as in former days. "What do I not owe you?"
repeated he, with more fervour.

Mary smiled. "You were sick, and I ministered unto you. I only obeyed
a divine command. A simple act of obedience deserves no reward."

"Then it was only from a sense of duty that you watched over me so
kindly?" repeated he, in a mortified tone. "You would have done the
same for any stranger?"

"Most certainly I would," replied Mary; "for any stranger as helpless
and neglected as you appeared to be."

"Pardon me," said he, evidently disconcerted, "but I thought--I dared
to think--that----"

Mary laughed, and _her_ rosy lip began to curl with a slight
expression of scorn. She was a woman, and her feelings had once been
chafed, humiliated through him, if not by him. Her eyes sparkled, not
vindictively, but triumphantly. "You dared to think that I was in love
with you! Oh, no; that is all passed--long, long ago."

"Passed? Then you acknowledge that you _have_ loved?"

"Yes," replied she, in the same laughing tone, though she blushed
deeply all the while; "I did love you, Fitzroy, and I could have loved
you with a life-long passion. To win your affection I tried to pass
myself off as an angel, to whose garments the dust of mortality never
adhered. You discovered my folly, and turned from me in contempt. It
was a bitter lesson at first, but I thank you for it now. I am not the
foolish girl that I was when I first knew you, Fitzroy. You must not
think that I am----"

"And _I_ am not the fool I was then," interrupted he. "I know now what
constitutes the perfection of a woman's character. You only captivated
my fancy then, now you have won my whole heart."

"Better lost than won," cried Mary, in the same careless accents. "I
could not keep the treasure, and I cannot take it. You think you love
me now, but I might fall sick, you know, and people do not look so
pretty when they are sick, and you might not like the scent of camphor
and medicine, and then one's handkerchiefs get so terribly soiled!"

She stopped, and looked archly at Fitzroy's clouded countenance.

"I understand it all," cried he, bitterly; "you pitied me in sickness,
and watched over me. But I must have looked shockingly ugly and
slovenly, and you became disgusted. I cannot blame you, for I deserve
such a punishment."

"No, no--not ugly, Fitzroy, but helpless, weak, and dependent, proud
man that you are. But, oh! you ought to know that this very
helplessness and dependence endear the sufferer ten thousand times
more to a fond woman's heart than all the pride of beauty and the
bloom of health. I have had my revenge; but believe me, Fitzroy, the
hours passed in your chamber of sickness will be remembered as the
happiest of my life."

The tone of playful mockery which she had assumed, subsided into one
of deep feeling, and tears gathered in her downcast eyes. Fitzroy--but
it is no matter what Fitzroy said--certainly something that pleased
Mary, for when they returned, more than an hour afterwards, her cheeks
were glowing with the roses of Eden.

It was about six months after this that Cousin Kate visited Mary--but
not _Mary Lee_--once more. Fitzroy, who now often complained of a
headache, was leaning back in an easy chair, and Mary was bathing his
temples, which she occasionally pressed with her linen handkerchief.

"Oh, shocking!" exclaimed Kate; "how can you bear to see Mary touch
anything so rumpled and used, about your elegant person?"

"The hand of affection," replied Fitzroy, pressing Mary's gently on
his brow, "can shed a beautifying influence over every object. Mary is
a true alchemist, and has separated the gold of my heart from the
worthless dross that obscured its lustre. She put me in the crucible,
and I have been purified by the fires through which I passed."


THE END





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