Page images

my pain returns, and no one is at liberty to light by these proofs of tenderness and restay with me, or perhaps when they do not / gard, than by the most flattering tribute of understand my meaning, I scarcely wish at mere admiration. all; and then you may be sure I am very With the lapse of time, Morton gradually impatient and very wicked. I think the only recovered the serenity of his mind, and could way is to wish as much and as often as we even enjoy a social evening spent in society can, and to pray God not to forget us, in our congenial to his taste. Miss Evelyn had moments of weakness, when we are but too joined a select party, gathered round his fire likely to forget him.

one winter's day, when the conversation turned upon the internal evidence of the

Holy Scriptures, and Morton took up the arMore than twelve months had now passed guments of those who would overthrow the since I first became an inmate with this Christian scheme altogether. It might be family, and the time I spent with Morton and evident to others that he was doing this his interesting child, was certainly the most merely for the sake of proving afresh the useful, as it was the happiest of my life. weakness of these arguments, but to me it Amongst the select circle of their intimate was not; and finding him on the weaker side, associates, was a lady whom I never could and Miss Evelyn on the stronger, and chooscompel myself to like so well as my judging rather to support him, than to defend the ment convinced me that I ought. Had Miss truth, I threw all my force into the rising Evelyn ever been addicted to the levities of scale, convincing those who heard me, that I youth, she was past the age for those levities was ready to advocate the cause of right or to interfere with the dignity of a character wrong, just as caprice might dictate, but that even less intellectual than hers; and the I should never be a very able defender of speculations of idle gossips who sport with either. great characters as well as small, had fixed Argument has a much greater tendency upon her as the future mother of my helpless to convince those who speak, than those who charge. Mother! I almost shuddered when hear; and I was just beginning to be fully I thought of this woman as the mother of confirmed in the truth of the absurdities I poor Eleanor. She was, however, in high was uttering, when Morton suddenly broke favour with the father, and a frequent visitor the thread of our discourse by acknowledging at his house ; where her masculine under himself foiled by the superior dexterity of standing, deep knowledge of books, and fear- Miss Evelyn," or rather," he added, " by the less conversation on subjects usually beyond superiority of that cause, which I only althe aim and compass of her sex, threw me tacked for the pleasure of hearing it defended and my shallow attainments, so far into the by a woman.” back-ground, that had it not been for the Every eye was now turned towards me, kind regard of Morton, not unfrequently and Miss Evelyn was not too dignified to shown me, by little personal attentions in the triumph over a fallen enemy. I tried to look midst of her luminous harangues, I should at ease, and to put on an appearance of harhave felt more disturbed by her presence ing been a: play rather than in earnest; but than was at all reasonable, so long as these a sensation of intense littleness prevented the kind attentions were continued. It was expansion of a smile, and I rejoiced almost enough for me that while Miss Evelyn was for the first time in my life, as soon as I found quoting learned authors, and arguing about mysell forgotten. the construction of a Greek sentence, my When the guests were gone, I looked to personal comfort was not forgotten. It was Morton for consolation; but I looked in vain. more than enough; for what woman's heart His eye was turned towards me with an exis not made to glow with more intense de pression of melancholy tenderness which I



did not understand, and for several succeed- happy. I was grateful, too, and bowed my ing days, his behaviour was equally inexpli- knee to return thanks, that at last I had cable. I sometimes detected him gazing si- | found a home, a protector, and a guide. lently upon my face, and could not, when I “All-unworthy as I am, he shall not find turned away, help feeling that I was still the his confidence misplaced. I will cherish his object of his earnest attention. Sometimes, poor child, and in loving her and him, I shall after conversing in a tone unusually familiar, learn in time to love all things holy. he abruptly left the room; and at other An important fact was yet to be ascertimes, his voice was so mournful, and his tained. The seal was unbroken, and my countenance so dejected, that I longed to ecstacy was of such short duration, that I participate in his secret cares, and if possible, had scarcely strength enough remaining to to chase them away. All kinds of caprice unsold the paper. The first ill omen I perand inconsistency were so foreign 10 his na-ceived was a sum of money which fell at my ture, that I was entirely at a loss what con- feet unheeded. The letter was a long one, struction to put upon this change, and had kindly and delicately worded. I remember it not evidently been a case of deeper intri- every sentence, every thought, every syllacacy than ought to be communicated to a ble, at which I looked and looked again, to child, I should have referred my anxiety 10 ascertain whether it would bear a different Eleanor. So far as I could venture with construction. The concluding paragraph propriety, I did, and learned from her that ran thus: she too thought something must have dis- “How ungrateful is the duty of offering turbed her father's mind. “More especially,” you, in return for all your kindness to me she added, “ because he yesterday gave and mine, this painful proof of my entire conorders for the removal of the curtain which fidence. I know that I am depriving myconcealed my mother's picture; and after self of a companion, who has both the power gazing on her face, for a long time, he said, and the wish to soothe me, and that no one in a melancholy voice, ' Eleanor, we need all on earth can now supply your place. I feel the helps we can lay hold of in this trouble- as none but a parent can feel, that I am desome world. May not the holy calm of this priving my helpless child of the tender socountenance sometimes help to preserve you licitude of a mother, and when she appeals and me from evil? If guardian spirits are to me only for those services which you permitted to attend us through the pilgrimage have been accustomed to perform, what of life, surely your mother will be mine and answer shall I make ? All these considerayours. And as I had no thoughts concealed tions I have weighed day after day, and from her while living, so I desire that those often at deep midnight, when you were not eyes may be constantly before me to remind near me to beguile my thoughts, I have me of my duty now.'"

watched you with the eye of a husband and It was not many days before the mystery a father, and my solemn conviction is that was unravelled. I found upon my table, on we must part. Not that you have omitted retiring for the night, a letter directed for to fill up the measure of sympathy and kindmc, in Morton's hand-writing. I took it up ness with all that an amiable heart could -a sudden thought flashed across my mind, supply, but because the mother of my child bright as the beams of the rising sun to the must be religious as well as amiable; the bewildered traveller. “It must be so-then wife of my bosom must be united to her why this melancholy—this deep conflict of God. feeling?" All was accounted for by the “ To a woman of your delicacy I need say idea that a parent has much to take into no more, than that you are too charming, consideration. I gave the reins to my ima- and might become too dear. What I have gination, and for one short moment, was I already said has been wrung from




with more agony than I had thought myself and yet it will be pleasant to think sometimes capable of feeling again. Farewell ! and if when I am suffering, that you would gladly the assistance of a true and faithful friend be near me. May God be good to you, as can ever be of service to you in any future you have been to me. I will pray for you difficulty, remember one who never can for- in the long night, when I cannot sleep; and get you.”

if ever time hangs heavily upon you, if As if in mercy to me, Eleanor was per- friends are unkind, or you are tossed about mitted to sleep soundly that night. In the without a home, think, if it be any consolamorning I learned that Morton had gone out tion to you, that you are remembered in the early, saying that he should not return until supplications of a poor child.” the evening of the following day. I could Eleanor talked and wept until wearied nanot misconstrue his meaning. He wished ture was worn out. I told her that I had not to meet me again. While sending me concluded to set off with the first dawn of the forth from his home, he had done what he morning. Before she sighed her last fare. could to smoothe my way. He had told the well, her strength was so much exhausted domestics that circumstances had occurred that I could perceive the poignancy of her to induce me to leave his family immedi- grief was gone; and before I stole out of her ately. The great difficulty was with poor chamber, I had the satisfaction of feeling her Eleanor. For her he had left a note, and breathe quietly, and regularly, as I stooped when I returned, after having placed it in down to gaze once more upon her calm and her hand, I found that she had buried her beautiful face. face in the pillow, and that her tender frame It was through the dull haze of a winter's was almost convulsed with the violence of morning that I turned to look again into that her grief; but while trying to comfort her, I peaceful valley. I saw the light from the was enabled, in some measure, to forget my window I had called my own-I saw it for

I sat with her all that day, and to the last time glimmering through the trees. wards evening we could both converse more The river was still gliding on-all nature calmly.

was the same as when I first beheld that “My father has not told me," said she, scene. Another spring would clothe those “why you are going to leave us, nor do I trees in verdant beauty, but no bright hope seek to know, for, had it been right that I of renovated gladness shone upon my path, should, he would not have concealed it from for mine was the winter of the soul. me. I almost wish you had never come;


[ocr errors]














« PreviousContinue »