Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

shivering. Then the habits of her posi- and which she puts from her hands with tive and sensible education returned at a jealous reverence. She therefore measonce, and she came out of her reverie as ured the man with her woman's and mothone breaks from a dream, and lifted all er's eye, and said, with a little statelithese sad thoughts with one heavy sigh ness, from her breast; and opening her Bible, • My dear Sir, I come to tell you the she read: “ They that trust in the Lord result of my conversation with Mary.” shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be She made a little pause, - and the removed, but abideth forever. As the Doctor stood before her as humbly as if mountains are round about Jerusalem, he had not weighed and measured the so the Lord is round about his people universe ; because he knew, that, though from henceforth, even forever.”

he might weigh the mountains in scales Then she kneeled by her bedside, and and the hills in a balance, yet it was a offered her whole life a sacrifice to the far subtiler power which must possess him loving God who had offered his life a of one small woman's heart. In fact, he sacrifice for her. She prayed for grace felt to himself like a great, awkward, to be true to her promise,- to be faith- clumsy, mountainous earthite asking of a ful to the new relation she had accepted. white-robed angel to help him up a lider She prayed that all vain regrets for the of cloud. He was perfectly sure

'ur the past might be taken away, and that her moment, that he was going to be efused; soul might vibrate without discord in and he looked humbly firm,- he would unison with the will of Eternal Love. take it like a man. His large blue eyes, So praying, she rose calm, and with that generally so misty in their calm, had a clearness of spirit which follows an act resolute clearness, rather mournful than of uttermost self-sacrifice; and so calmly otherwise. Of course, no such celestial she laid down and slept, with her two experience was going to happen to him. hands crossed upon her breast, her head He cleared his throat, and said, slightly turned on the pillow, her cheek “ Well, Madam ?” pale as marble, and her long dark lashes Mrs. Scudder's womanly dignity was lying drooping, with a sweet expression, appeased; she reached out her hand, as if under that mystic veil of sleep the cheerfully, and said, soul were seeing things forbidden to the “ She has accepted.waking eye. Only the gentlest heaving The Doctor drew his hand suddenly of the quiet breast told that the heavenly away, turned quickly round, and walked spirit within had not gone whither it was to the window,- although, as it was ten hourly aspiring to go.

o'clock at night and quite dark, there Meanwhile Mrs. Scudder had left was evidently nothing to be seen there. Mary's room, and entered the Doctor's He stood there, quietly, swallowing very study, holding a candle in her hand. hard, and raising his handkerchief severThe good man was sitting alone in the al times to his eyes. There was enough dark, with his head bowed upon his Bible. went on under the black coat just then When Mrs. Scudder entered, he rose, to make quite a little figure in a romance, and regarded her wistfully, but did not if it had been uttered; but he belonged speak. He had something just then in to a class who lived romance, but never his heart for which he had no words; so spoke it. In a few moments he returned he only looked as a man does who hopes to Mrs. Scudder, and said, and fears for the answer of a decisive “ I trust, dear Madam, that this very question.

dear friend may never have reason to Mrs. Scudder felt some of the natural think me ungrateful for her wonderful reserve which becomes a matron coming goodness; and whatever sins my evil charged with a gift in which lies the heart may lead me into, I hope I may whole sacredness of her own existence, never fall so low as to forget the unde served mercy of this hour. If ever I green in his faith, green in his simplicity, shrink from duty or murmur at trials, green in his general belief of the divine while so sweet a friend is mine, I shall in woman, green in his particular humble be vile indeed."

faith in one small Puritan maiden, wbcm The Doctor, in general, viewed him- a knowing fellow might at least have self on the discouraging side, and had manæuvred so skilfully as to break up berated and snubbed himself all his life her saintly superiority, discompose her, as a most flagitious and evil-disposed in- rout her ideas, and lead her up and down dividual,-a

,-a person to be narrowly watch- a swamp of hopes and fears and conjeced, and capable of breaking at any mo- tures, till she was wbolly be wildered and ment into the most flagrant iniquity; and ready to take him at last — if he made up therefore it was that he received his good his mind to have her at all — as a great fortune in so different a spirit from many bargain, for which she was to be sensibly of the lords of creation in similar circum- grateful. stances.

Yes, the Doctor was green,

-immor“I am sensible," he added, " that a tally green, as a cedar of Lebanon, which, porr minister, without much power of waving its broad archangel wings over eloquence, and commissioned of the Lord some fast-rooted eternal old solitude, and to sj xk unpopular truths, and whose seeing from its sublime height the vastworldly ondition, in consequence, is nev- ness of the universe, veils its kingly head er likely to be very prosperous,--that with humility before God's infinite majes such an one could scarcely be deemed a ty. suitable partner for so very beautiful a He has gone to bed now, — simple old young woman, who might expect propo- soul! — first apologizing to Mrs. Scudder sals, in a temporal point of view, of a for having kept her up to so dissipated much more advantageous nature; and I and unparalleled an hour as ten o'clock am therefore the more struck and over- on his personal matters. powered with this blessed result.”

Meanwhile our Asmodeus shall trans These last words caught in the Doctor's port us to a handsomely furnished apartthroat, as if he were overpowered in very

ment in one of the most fashionable ho deed.

tels of Philadelphia, where Colonel Aaron In regard to her happiness,” said the Burr, just returned from his trip to the Doctor, with a touch of awe in his voice, then aboriginal wilds of Ohio, is seated “I would not have presumed to become before a table covered with maps, letters, the guardian of it, were it not that I am books, and papers. His keen eye runs persuaded it is assured by a Higher Pow- over the addresses of the letters, and he er; for “when He giveth quietness, who eagerly seizes one from Madame de Fronthen can make trouble ?' (Job, xxxiv. tignac, and reads it; and as no one but 29.) But I trust I may say no effort on ourselves is looking at him now, his face my part shall be wanting to secure it." has no need to wear its habitual mask.

Mrs. Scudder was a mother, and had First comes an expression of profound come to that stage in life where mothers astonishment; then of chagrin and moralways feel tears rising behind their tification ; then of deepening concern; smiles. She pressed the Doctor's hand there were stops where the dark eyelashes silently, and they parted for the night. flashed together, as if to brush a tear out

We know not how we can acquit our- of the view of the keen-sighted eyes; and selves to our friends of the great world then a red Aush rose even to his forehead, for the details of such an unfashionable and his delicate lips wore a sarcastic courtship, so well as by giving them, be- smile. He laid down the letter, and made fore they retire for the night, a dip into a one or two turns through the room. more modish view of things.

The man had felt the dashing against The Doctor was evidently green, - his own of a strong, generous, indignant

66

a

once more

woman's heart fully awakened, and speak- bury it. Then drawing to himself some ing with that impassionad vigor with maps of new territories, he set himself which a French regiment charges in bat- vigorously to some columns of arithmetitle. There were those picturesque, wing- cal calculations on the margin ; and thus ed words, those condensed expressions, he worked for an hour or two, till his those subtile piercings of meaning, and, mind was as dry and his pulse as calm above all, that simple pathos, for which as a machine; then he drew the inkthe French tongue has no superior; and stand towards him, and scribbled hastily for the moment the woman had the vic- the following letter to his most confidentory; she shook his heart. But Burr re- tial associate, - a letter which told no sembled the marvel with which chemists more of the conflict that preceded it amuse themselves. His heart was a vase than do the dry sands and the civil gosfilled with boiling passions, — while bis sip of the sea-waves to-day of the storin will, a still, cold, unmelted lump of ice, and wreck of last week. lay at the bottom.

Self-denial is not peculiar to Christians. “Dear - Nous voici - 0 He who goes downward often puts forth in Philadelphia. Our schemes in Ohio as much force to kill a noble nature as prosper. Frontignac remains there to another does to annihilate a sinful one. superintend. He answers our purpose There was something in this letter so passablement. On the whole, I don't keen, so searching, so self-revealing, that see that we could do better than retain it brought on one of those interior crises him; he is, besides, a gentlemanly, agreein which a man is convulsed with the able person, and wholly devoted to me, struggle of two natures, the godlike and a point certainly not to be overlookthe demoniac, and from which he must

ed. pass out more wholly to the dominion of

“ As to your railleries about the fair the one or the other.

Madame, I must say, in justice both to Nobody knew the true better than her and myself, that any grace with Burr. He knew the godlike and the which she has been pleased to honor pure; he had fell its beauty and its force me is not to be misconstrued. You are to the very depths of his being, as the de- not to imagine any but the most Plamoniac knew at once the fair Man of tonic of liaisons. She is as high-strung Nazareth ; and even now he felt the as an Arabian steed, - proud, heroic, voice within that said, “What have I to romantic, and French ! and such must do with thee ?” and the rending of a be permitted to take their own time and struggle of heavenly life with fast-coming way, which we in our gaucherie can only eternal death.

humbly wonder at. I have ever proThat letter had told him what he might fessed myself her abject slave, ready be, and what he was. It was as if his

to follow any whim, and obeying the dead mother's hand had held up before slightest signal of the jewelled hand. him a glass in which he saw himself white- As that is her sacred pleasure, I have robed and crowned, and so dazzling in been inhabiting the most abstract realms purity that he loathed his present self. of heroic sentiment, living on the most

As he walked up and down the room diluted moonshine, and spinning out perturbed, be sometimes wiped tears from elaborately all those charming and sehis eyes, and then set his teeth and com- raphic distinctions between tweedle-dum pressed his lips. At last his face grew calm and tweedle-dee with which these ecand settled in its expression, his mouth static creatures delight themselves in wore a sardonic smile; he came and took certain stages of affaires du cæur. the letter, and, folding it leisurely, laid it “ The last development, on the part on the table, - and put a heavy paper- of my goddess, is a fit of celestial anger, weight over it, as if to hold it down and of the cause of which I am in the most

а

6

innocent ignorance. She writes me three tilty for admiring, and find ravissant. I pages of French sublimities, writing as fancy I see it.” only a French woman can, - bids me

а an eternal adieu, and informs me she is When Burr had finished this letter, he going to Newport.

had actually written himself into a sort Of course the affair becomes stimu- of persuasion of its truth. When a finelating. I am not to presume to disputely constituted nature wishes to go into her sentence, or doubt a lady's perfect baseness, it has first to bribe itself. Evil sincerity in wishing never to see me again; is never embraced undisguised, as evil, but yet I think I shall try to pacify the I

but under some fiction which the mind tantas in animis cælestibus iras.'

accepts and with which it has the singu

lar power of blinding itself in the face If a woman hates you, it is only her of daylight. The power of imposing on love turned wrong side out, and you one's self is an essential preliminary to may turn it back with due care. The imposing on others. The man first arpretty creatures know how becoming a gues himself down, and then he is ready grande passion is, and take care to keep to put the whole weight of his nature themselves in mind; a quarrel serves to deceiving others. This letter ran so their turn, when all else fails.

smoothly, so plausibly, that it produced “ To another point. I wish you to ad- on the writer of it the effect of a work vertise S—, that his insinuations in re- of fiction, which we know to be unreal, gard to me in the · Aurora' have been but feel to be true. Long habits of this observed, and that I require that they be kind of self-delusion in time produce a promptly retracted. He knows me well paralysis in the vital nerves of truth, so enough to attend to this hint. I am in that one becomes habitually unable to earnest when I speak; if the word does see things in their verity, and realizes nothing, the blow will come, and if I the awful words of Scripture, — " He strike once, no second blow will be feedeth on ashes ; a deceived heart hath needed. Yet I do not wish to get him turned him aside, that he cannot delivon my hands needlessly; a duel and a er his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in love affair and hot weather, coming on

my right hand ?" together, might prove too much even for me. -- V. B. Thermometer stands at 85.

CHAPTER XXVIII. I am resolved on Newport next week.

Yours ever,

BURR. BETWEEN three and four the next “P. S. I forgot to say, that, oddly morning, the robin in the nest above enough, my goddess bas gone and placed Mary's window stretched out his left herself under the wing of the pretty wing, opened one eye, and gave a short Puritan I saw in Newport. Fancy the and rather drowsy chirp, which broke up mélange! Could anything be more piqu- his night's rest and restored him to the ant ? -- that cart-load of goodness, the full consciousness that he was a bird with old Doctor, that sweet little saint, and wings and feathers, with a large appleMadame Faubourg St. Germain shaken tree to live in, and all heaven for an esup together! Fancy her listening with tate, - and so, on these fortunate premwell-bred astonishment to a critique on ises, he broke into a gush of singing, clear the doings of the unregenerate, or flirting and loud, which Mary, without waking, that little jewelled fan of hers in Mrs. heard in her slumbers. Scudder's square pew of a Sunday ! Scarcely conscious, she lay in that dim Probably they will carry her to the clairvoyant state, when the half-sleep of weekly prayer-meeting, which of course the outward senses permits a delicious she will contrive some fine French sub- dewy clearness of the soul, that perfect

a

THE BETROTHED.

ethereal rest and freshness of faculties, little ones of Christ's flock, who positively comparable only to what we imagine of know that much that is dogmatically the spiritual state, - season of celestial propounded to them of their Redeemer enchantment, in which the heavy weight is cold, barren, unsatisfying, and utter“ of all this unintelligible world ” dropsly false, who yet can give no account off, and the soul, divinely charmed, nes- of their certainties better than that of tles like a wind-tossed bird in the pro- the inspired fisherman, “We know Him, tecting bosom of the One All-Perfect, and have seen Him.” It was in such All-Beautiful. What visions then come hours as these that Mary's deadly fears to the inner eye have often no words cor- for the soul of her beloved had passed all responding in mortal vocabularies. The away, - passed out of her,— as if some poet, the artist, and the prophet in such warm, healing nature of tenderest vitality hours become possessed of divine certain- had drawn out of her heart all pain and ties which all their lives they struggle coldness, and warmed it with the breath with pencil or song or burning words of an eternal summer. to make evident to their fellows. The So, while the purple shadows spread world around wonders; but they are their gauzy veils inwoven with fire unsatisfied, because they have seen the along the sky, and the gloom of the sea glory and know how inadequate the broke out here and there into lines of copy.

light, and thousands of birds were anAnd not merely to selectest spirits swering to each other from apple-tree come these hours, but to those humbler and meadow-grass and top of jagged poets, ungifted with utterance, who are rock, or trooping in bands hither and among men as fountains sealed, whose thither, like angels on loving messages, song can be wrought out only by the Mary lay there with the flickering light harmony of deeds, the patient, pathetic through the leaves fluttering over her melodies of tender endurance, or the be- face, and the glow of dawn warming the roic chant of undiscouraged labor. The snow-white draperies of the bed and poor slave-woman, last night parted from giving a tender rose-hue to the calm her only boy, and weary with the cotton- cheek. She lay half-conscious, smiling picking,—the captive pining in his cell, the while, as one who sleeps while the - the patient wite of the drunkard, sad- heart waketh, and who hears in dreams dened by a consciousness of the growing the voice of the One Eternally Beautiful vileness of one so dear to her once,- and Beloved. the delicate spirit doomed to harsh and Mrs. Scudder entered her room, and, uncongenial surroundings,—all in such thinking that she still slept, stood and hours feel the soothings of a celestial looked down on her. She felt as one harmony, the tenderness of more than does who has parted with some precious a mother's love.

possession, a sudden sense of its value It is by such seasons as these, more coming over her; she queried in herself often than by reasonings or disputings, whether any living mortal were worthy that doubts are resolved in the region of of so perfect a gift; and nothing but a religious faith.

The All-Father treats remembrance of the Doctor's prostrate us as the mother does her “ infant cry- humility at all reconciled her to the sacing in the dark”; He does not reason ritice she was making. with our fears, or demonstrate their fal- “ Mary, dear!” she said, bending over lacy, but draws us silently to His bosom, her, with an unusual infusion of emotion and we are at peace. Nay, there have in her voice, —“ darling child !” been those, undoubtedly, who have known The arms moved instinctively, even God falsely with the intellect, yet felt before the eyes unclosed, and drew her Him truly with the heart,- and there be mother down to her with a warm, clingmany, principally among the unlettered ing embrace. Love in Puritan families

« AnteriorContinua »