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my attentive host did not make his appearance. I remained seated on my horse, with my face towards the Blue Ridge. The winding road which led across the mountain, though nearly concealed by the towering trees, was at intervals to be seen, perfectly bare, from the village. A long retinue appeared crossing one of these interstices; it moved slowly along, and was lost in the shades of the forest. When the last had disappeared I alighted, and discovered at a short distance a lad with his eyes fixed intently upon the spot, over which the mournful train had passed. It was little Gilbert, the drummer's child. I inquired the reason of the village being deserted, and he sobbed, “ Hugh Cameron is dead, and they are now burying him where he wished to be buried." The boy, still weeping, led the way to the stable, and supplied my horse with food.
What are the promises of this world! There was a time when fancy whispered to Hugh Cameron, the ceaseless hum of the widow's wheel would be silenced; her chair would occupy the most conspicuous place around his fire-side, and clambering on her knees would be seen, a little image of his lovely Lucy. The dream was a joyous one, and life is but a dream. He whose fancy can paint the hopes of to-morrow in the most vivid colours, attains the summit of all earthly bliss ; for there is much, very much in anticipation, but little, very little in fruition.
In the evening I went to condole with the mourners. Lucy had already retired, for hers was a sorrow to obtrude upon which, would add to its poignancy.
6 The day you left us," said the widow, “ the departed crossed the river with Lucy and little Gilbert. They strolled up the cypress hollow until they arrived at his favourite retreat, where the torrent dashes impetuously
down the side of the mountain, and the surrounding pre cipice sends back numberless echoes. He seated himself, and listened intently to the roar of the waters. Not a sound escaped him, and every note was tried by his ear. He stooped by the stream where the water gurgled over its pebbly bed, and discovered notes imperceptible to any ear less acute than his own. A sudden gust of wind agitated the tall pines; he stood erect, paused and pointing to the bending tops of the trees, exclaimed, it is there too, Lucy, even in that hollow moan of the monarch of the forest I detect it.' He shouted, and the valley rung with echo; he repeated it; listened to every sound, and his face became animated as he caught the faint return made by the most distant hill. His dog raised his ears and barked, it is there too, Lucy,' he exclaimed, even the voice of poor Carlo is full of melody, and your voice, Lucy, even when you first told me that you loved, sounded not so musically, so heavenly sweet.' He directed Gilbert to gather for him, the mountain honeysuckle, the cypress branches, the laurel, and such flowers and blossoms as were putting forth. The boy soon came with his arms full, and laid them at the feet of the invalid. My sense of smelling,' he said, ' was never so acute. The fragrance arising from these branches almost overpowers me. Yet I enjoy it, and although widely different in their odours, I can perceive a portion of the same subduing fragrance proceeding from each. Their colours are more vivid, sounds are more distinct, and my touch more sensible than formerly. These changes tell me that I shall never visit this valley again.' He rose from the rock upon which he was seated, took Lucy by the arm, and proceeded towards the village in silence. Carlo walked closely, and dejectedly by his master's side, and even the reckless Gilbert did not ven
ture to break the silence, until he had safely paddled them across the river, and was left alone to secure the
“ From that day," continued the widow, “ he grew
was evident to all, that the dear boy would not long be with us. The evening preceding his death, he was lying on the bed, and Lucy and myself were taking our solitary meal with little appetite, for he who dispensed joy around our board, was unable to take his wonted place. He turned in his bed, and said in a voice scarcely above his breath, mother, what time does the moon go down ?' I told him the hour, and inquired why he asked. Nothing,' he added, only this, mother, say all
you have to say to me, before the moon goes down.' His voice was scarcely articulate. Lucy burst into tears, and removed her chair to the head of his bed. He perceived her grief, and pressing her hand to his feverish lips, said, do not weep, Lucy, indeed I have more cause to grieve than you, though my heart feels little of sorsow at present.' She asked him his cause of grief.
- It is this, Lucy, that I cannot live to repay your matchless love, and unwearied care of me.' The poor girl's tears flowed afresh, and her heart sobbed as if it would break. The evening was spent in reading such passages of the scriptures to him as he pointed out. His mind continued firm and clear. About midnight he desired that the casement of the window might be thrown open. It opened upon a full view of the river. The night was sultry, and almost as bright as day. An owl was hooting from the grave-yard, and the whip-poor-will was flying low and screaming. Poor Carlo howled sorrowfully. The sounds did not escape the notice of the dying man. three canoes were in the middle of the river, with a bright blazing fire kindled in the stern of each. He said
in a low voice, the villagers are preparing to spear the salmon trout, then the moon must be nearly down. His bed lay beside the window, and he desired to be removed to the extremity, that he might look out upon the sky. He did so.
His face became animated, and as we replaced him in his former position, he said, the works of God never before appeared to me so exquisitely beautiful,' and yet his whole life had been passed in admiring the works of God. He whispered to me, that it was time for us to take our last farewell. My heart in the course of a long life, met only once with so trying a moment as that of parting with the boy ; but my Lucy-my poor Lucy; I thought her heart would break outright. He then desired the window to be closed; the light to be removed into the next room, and not to be disturbed. At a short distance, we listened to the rattling in his throat, for about an hour, when it suddenly ceased. Lucy imagined he slept, and softly approached the bed. I put my hand under the bed cover, and felt his feet. They were stone cold. Animal heat had forsaken his extremities, and the chills of death were fast invading his heart. I induced my child to retire to her chamber, under the belief that he slept, and she did not learn his fate until she arose in the morning.” Thus ended the widow's simple narrative.
Poor Lucy Gray! No being is more deserving of commiseration, than an amiable female brooding over the sorrows of hopeless love. If her afflictions are occasioned by the treachery of man, the bitterness of thought poisons the very sources of life, and works a sure and rapid decay. Even a deviation from the path of rectitude, may be philosophised into a virtue, when occasioned by one beloved, but it will rise up in judgment, when passion has lost its influence, and the fatal convic
tion flashes upon the mind, that the object was unworthy of the sacrifice. But she who has watched by the deathbed of him she doated on, and by her angel-presence, drawn his thoughts to heaven, and taught him resignation ; who kissed his soul when passing from his lips, and watched the glazed eye that even in death expressed his tenderness, until she fancied that he lingered still, and paused to hear him breathing such a one may mingle in society, and pass along unnoticed with the rest of the crowd; she may join the sportive dance and seem to partake of its merriment; the wound may apparently be healed, and the smile of cheerfulness may enlighten her countenance; but still her midnight thoughts are working in the grave, and straining near to madness to picture the being that is mouldering there. She fades, without being conscious herself of gradual decay, and like the tulip, becomes more lovely, in consequence of disease engendered at the root. Such has been the fate of myriads of the fairest and the best of creation, and such was the destiny of Lucy Gray.