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tones that wing the spirit up to God, think, mother, that I am there, with my sweet sister who has gone before us, — kneeling at our Saviour's feet, and happy, — oh, how happy! ”
The afflicted mother made no reply, — her heart was too full to speak.
“ You remember, mother, how calmly Amie died. She was so young and beautiful! I always pray that I may die as she did. I do not fear death, as I did before she was taken from us. But, oh, — this pain, — this cruel pain !-it seems to draw my mind back from heaven. When it leaves me, I shall die in
My poor child! God's holy will be done !” The invalid soon sank into a quiet slumber. The excitement was over, and exhausted nature sought relief in sleep.
The persons between whom this scene passed were a widow and her sick daughter, from the neighborhood of Tours. They had left the banks of the Loire to consult the more experienced physicians of the metropolis, and had been directed to the maison de santé at Auteuil for the benefit of the pure air. But all in vain. The health of the uncomplaining patient grew worse and worse, and it soon became evident that the closing scene was drawing near.
Of this Jacqueline herself seemed conscious; and towards evening she expressed a wish to receive the last sacraments of the church. A priest was sent for; and ere long the tinkling of a little bell in the street announced his approach. He bore in his hand a silver chalice containing the consecrated wafer, and a small vessel filled with the holy oil of the extreme unction hung from his neck. Before him walked a boy carrying a little bell, whose sound announced the passing of these symbols of the Catholic faith. In the rear, a few of the villagers, bearing lighted wax tapers, formed a short and melancholy procession. They soon entered the sick-chamber, and the glimmer of the tapers mingled with the red light of the setting sun that shot his farewell rays through the open window. The vessel of oil and the silver chalice were placed upon the table in front of a crucifix that hung upon the wall, and all present, excepting the priest, threw themselves upon their knees. The priest then ap
proached the bed of the dying girl, and said, in a slow and solemn tone,
“ The King of kings and Lord of lords has passed thy threshold. Is thy spirit ready to receive him ?”
" It is, father."
“ Confess thyself, then, that thy sins may be forgiven, and thy name recorded in the book of life."
And, turning to the kneeling crowd around, he waved his hand for them to retire, and was left alone with the sick girl. He seated himself beside her pillow, and the subdued whisper of the confession mingled with the murmur of the evening air, which lifted the heavy folds of the curtains, and stole in upon the holy scene. Poor Jacqueline had few sins to confess, — a secret thought or two towards the pleasures and delights of the world, – a wish to live, unuttered, but which, to the eye of her self-accusing spirit, seemed to resist the wise providence of God;
The confession of a meek and lowly heart is soon made. The door was again opened; the attendants entered, and knelt around the bed, and the priest proceeded, —
“ And now prepare thyself to receive with contrite heart the body of our blessed Lord and Redeemer. Dost thou believe that our Lord Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary?”
" I believe."
And all present joined in the solemn response,
“ I believe."
“Dost thou believe that the Father is God, that the Son is God, and that the Holy Spirit is God, three persons and one God?”
“ Dost thou believe that the Son is seated on the right hand of the Majesty on high, whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead ?"
66 I believe.”
“Dost thou believe that by the holy sacraments of the church thy sins are forgiven thee, and that thus thou art made worthy of eternal life?”
6 I believe.”
the hands, feet, and breast, in the form of the cross. When these ceremonies were completed, the priest and his attendants retired, leaving the mother alone with her dying child, who, from the exhaustion caused by the preceding scene, sank into a deathlike sleep.
“ Between two worlds life hovered like a star, 'Twixt night and morn, upon the horizon's verge."
“ Dost thou pardon, with all thy heart, all who have offended thee in thought, word, or deed?"
“ I pardon them.”
" And dost thou ask pardon of God and thy neighbor for all offences thou hast committed against them, either in thought, word, or deed?”
" Then repeat after me, — O Lord Jesus, I am not worthy, nor do I merit, that thy divine majesty should enter this poor tenement of clay ; but, according to thy holy promises, be my sins forgiven, and my soul washed white from all transgression.”
Then, taking a consecrated wafer from the vase, he placed it between the lips of the dying girl, and, while the assistant sounded the little silver bell, said,
* Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam eternam."
And the kneeling crowd smote their breasts and responded in one solemn voice,
The priest then took a little golden rod, and, dipping it in holy oil, anointed the invalid upon
The long twilight of the summer evening stole on; the shadows deepened without, and the night-lamp glimmered feebly in the sickchamber; but still she slept. She was lying with her hands clasped upon her breast, — her pallid cheek resting upon the pillow, and her bloodless lips apart, but motionless and silent as the sleep of death. Not a breath interrupted the silence of her slumber. Not a movement of the heavy and sunken eyelid, not a trembling of the lip, not a shadow on the marble brow, told when the spirit took its flight. It passed to a better world than this: “There's a perpetual spring, - perpetual youth ; No joint-benumbing cold, nor scorching heat, Famine, nor age, have any being there."
Do you set down your name in the scroll of youth, that are written down old, with all the characters of age ? Have you not a moist eye, a dry hand, a yellow cheek, a white beard, a decreasing leg ?
THERE he goes, in his long russet surtout, sweeping down yonder gravel-walk, beneath the trees, like a yellow leaf in autumn wafted along by a fitful gust of wind. Now he pauses,
now seems to be whirled round in an eddy, - and now rustles and brushes onward again. He is talking to himself in an undertone, as usual, and flourishes a pinch of snuff between his forefinger and his thumb, ever and anon drumming on the cover of his box, by way of emphasis, with a sound like the tap of a woodpecker. He always takes a morning walk in the garden, — in fact, I may say he passes the greater part of the day there, either strolling up and down the gravel-walks, or sitting on a rustic bench in one of the leafy arbors. He always wears that same dress, too; a bell
crowned hat, a frilled bosom, and white dimity waistcoat soiled with snuff, - light nankeen breeches, and, over all, that long and flowing surtout of russet-brown Circassian, hanging in wrinkles round his slender body, and toying with his thin, rakish legs. Such is his constant garb, morning and evening; and it gives him a cool and breezy look, even in the heat of a noonday in August.
The personage sketched in the preceding paragraph is Monsieur d'Argentville, a sexagenarian, with whom I became acquainted during my residence at the maison de santé of Auteuil. I found him there, and left him there. Nobody knew when he came, — he had been there from time immemorial ; nor when he was going away, — for he himself did not