« AnteriorContinuar »
conjecture that so warm, so generous, so tender a heart dwelt within her bosom-that the love she imbibed in early youth kindled, in its own fitting shrine, a pure and steady flame, which burned as brightly as if it had been fed with smiles- not fanned by sighs. I thought—what was there could extinguish woman's love! – a passion scoffed at by those who cannot comprehend its height, its depth, its strength, its duration: sorrow quenches it not-steep it in tears, they but renovate its lustre; crown it with thorns, the blood that trickles from the wounds is as incense on the altar; talk of death, it laughs at the dagger and the bowl, as if they were but
The minister again paused; his wife rubbed her eyes more than once, and then, with the dew still moist upon their lids, seized her husband's hand, and kissing it with genuine emotion, forgetful of a stranger's presence, she exclaimed, “Ah! Jamie Campbell, I wish I had been ye'r first love, and then maybe you’d have spoken of me as you have spoken of her.” He pressed his wife to his bosom; and, looking in her face, tenderly replied: — “I spoke of the love of all women, not of one only. I believe you would do as much for me as Milly did for Ronald M'Lean. Thank God, it is not needed.” “I was right,” thought I to myself. “After all—I was right—there was an affaire de cour here — and that made Milly blush.” “But the lady, sir?” said I. “Oh yes—I had forgotten her; she fell into a soft sleep, from which she awoke in about an hour, and in a low voice called Milly, who came instantly to her side. “‘My children l’ said the young Indian mother. In a few moments they were in the room: she kissed them — blessed them all; then taking a small jewel-casket that was under her pillow, she fastened round the neck of her eldest girl poor Ronald's miniature. She then selected a rich clasp of rubies, and placing it in Milly's hand, added, “His hair and mine are within this. – Tell me-tell me, she continued, rallying her strength for the question, “do you think he is in heaven?”
“‘Through the Redeemer's mercy, I believe it,' replied Milly, deeply
THE TRIALS OF GRACE HUNTILEY, “Wirtue is not more exempt than vice from the ills of fate: but it contains within itself always an energy to resist them, and sometimes an anodyne to sooth.” THE Disown Ep.
“WE will call her Grace,” said a pale, delicate-looking young woman to her husband, as she raised the white flannel hood, that he might gaze upon the features of their new-born babe. “Abel, I never expected to be the mother of a living child; but God has been merciful; so we will give to her the gentle name of Grace; and, dearest, let us pray that, in all the trou. j, of life, not the name merely, but the spirit, may dwell with er!” It was only a few weeks afterwards that the grave closed over the fair oung mother; but the blessing wherewith she had blessed her child had een heard and registered in heaven. sk >k sk sk sk + sk sk “You are not angry with me, my own dear father—not angry with your poor Grace- and you will forgive Joseph Huntley Oh!” added the girl so “if we youngsters could but get your wisdom, without your wrinles, what wonderful creatures we should be '" r “My child, my child! age will bring wrinkles, as autumn brings withered leaves; yet wisdom doth not always come with years. But our hearts do not grow old, girl; so I forgive you!” “And Joseph too, father?” The schoolmaster (for such was his calling) shook his head. “Of all the youths it has been my fortune to instruct, I never met with so wilful a boy as Joseph Huntley.” “He is not a boy now, father; you forget he is out of his time.” “So much the worse. His master, worthy Matthew Greenshaw, tells me he spoils more mahogany than any apprentice that ever entered his house; and you know, Grace, the desk he made, as a present for me last Christmas, tumbled to pieces the second time I leaned upon it.” “Dear father, you lean your elbows so heavily: But Joseph has made you such a pretty ruler of cherry-tree wood!” “I believe he is a kind-hearted fellow ; but, dear Grace, a kind heart alone will not ensure prosperity; there must be forethought, and industry, and discretion. . Yet, truth to say, I fear your heart is too much set upon this same Joseph Huntley. Whatever he does, you view in one light, and I in another. I would not judge harshly, my dear child; yet do I wish it had pleased God your mother had lived: it is no easy thing for a man to bring up a daughter, and make her learned in woman's craft, and other matters meet for her to understand. A pains-taking schoolmaster, like mysels, has but small opportunity of cultivating a knowledge of female sentiment; yet have I not been a bad father, for never did I harbour the thought of giving a second mother dominion over you; and, albeit you are not skilled in the arts of cross-stitch, back-stitch, or Quaker's hem, which our good neighbour Mrs. Craddock so exceedingly laments, yet is our house clean ands well ordered—and few girls comprehend better the first four rules of arithmetic, or can write a fairer hand, than my own Grace.” The simpleminded man looked upon his darling child for a few moments, while a feeling of pride irradiated his countenance; a change, however, soon passed over it, a change striking, yet not uncommon -- a change from pride to piety; his eye moistened, and his voice faltered, as, laying his hand upon the beautiful head of his only one, he continued : “And when I am laid in my grave, Grace, you will remember that your poor old father taught you more than mere writing and ciphering; you will remember our ". evenings, when you sat upon this footstool, and we conversed together on the piety of the Danish Canute, who showed unto his courtiers the vanity of earthly grandeur by a very simple expedient; – on the dignity and purity of our English Alfred, whose virtues were so happily tempered, so justly blended, that each prevented the other from exceeding its proper bounds; — or on the grace and beauty of Cornelia, who regarded her noble children as the richest jewels a matron could possess. You will also call to mind passages of our sublime Milton, which you learned as a recreation from graver studies; but, above all, my child will bear in her memory our holy and simple Sabbath enjoyments—the free, unfettered day, rightly appreciated only by those who toil wearily through the week—the clear breezy morning—the early prayer— the walk to the village church—the evening sacrifice in our own cottage. Ah! I could never read the story of Joseph and his brethren, or the sweet reply of Ruth to her mother, without weeping; and you, too, Grace, -- can you ever forget the parable of the five wise virgins How often have I prayed that the Lord, when he came, might find us watching ! And surely my prayers are heard, for you are a good girl, Grace—although something wilful in the matter of Joseph Huntley, who, by the way, I see coming over the meadow. Perhaps he can mend my desk.” “Then you forgive him, father ?” “Forgive him 1– why, yes; for, to own the truth, I forget what it was I was angry about! Do you remember ?” “O !" never mind, dear father, never mind " and Grace kissed her father affectionately, but too well pleased that his memory was somewhat, and not unfrequently, treacherous on late events. It would, in all human probability, have been far happier for Grace had her mother lived. Abel had spoken truly in saying he had but small opportunity of cultivating a knoweldge of what he designated “female sentiment;” and though he formed his daughter's mind to the best of his ability, yet he formed, or rather directed it, so as to draw forth the higher and nobler faculties, while those that are called into action by the every-day and homely occurrences of life were, comparatively, neglected. It was fortunate for Grace that she was wholly exempt from those small vanities which so often obtain dominion over females who acquire only a moderate degree of information. But she was preserved by the halo and protection of pure and self-denying religious impressions. There are those whose apparent belief emanates from circumstances—the seed is scattered by the way-side, and the sowls of the air may pick, or uproot it. But the religion of the schoolmaster's daughter was not of this kind. . The seed had been sown in good ground, and its fruit was peace, hope, love, and a tender caring for others—the only unquestionable proof of true charity. She was, as her father has said, wilful in the matter of Joseph Huntley, and it was as regarded him that a mother's watchfulness was more especially needed. That the old man was dissatisfied with the person on whom her assections had been placed was evident, since observations such as those I have recorded were of frequent occurrence; yet parent and child differed in the conclusions drawn from the actions of the lover: and no wonder. Acquainted with the schoolmaster's abstracted and peculiar habits, young Huntley was less careful before him than before Grace. Now, a mother would have had sufficient skill, had she perceived his evil propensities, to draw them forth palpably in the presence of her daughter; well knowing that railing at faults whose existence is not credited is the sure way to confirm affection in a youthful bosom – the generous mind being always roused at the bare idea of injustice. But worthy Abel Darley had no notion of such management; he satisfied his conscience by freqent allusions to Joseph's faults, and then, imagining he had been too severe, would, in nearly the same breath, lavish praises on his virtues. As the lover entered the schoolmaster's cottage, it was impossible not to admire his manly form and excellent carriage. Considerably above the middle height, his head well placed, and his finely-developed features set off to every possible advantage by a scrupulous attention to neat and even o, attire, Joseph Huntley might well have been pronounced the handsomest youth in the village of Craythorpe. When he took off his hat, however, there was invariably mingled with admiration a feeling for which it was difficult to account. Those skilled in physiognomy would have observed that his forehead was too low, and that a peculiar contraction of the brows denoted the vicinity of stormy passions; the mouth was mean in expression, but as it usually extended into a smile, discovering even and beautiful teeth, the defect escaped general notice; and Joseph Huntley was accounted, as I have said, the handsomest youth in the retired village of Craythorpe. What he was in reality, actions will tell better than words; but my readers must permit me to remind them that, in books as well as in actual life, it takes time for character to unfold itself. About fifteen months after Abel Darley had complained of Joseph Huntley's bad workmanship and careless habits, his zeal for his daughter's happiness triumphed over his fears, and he gave all that he valued upon earth into the keeping of one she loved, “not wisely, but too well.” The father shuddered involuntarily, and turned pale, as he presented her hand to the gay bridegroom; and all present were dismayed by an oversight of the sexton, who opened the prayer-book at the funeral, instead of at the wedding, service. The clergyman had absolutely read the first words before the error was discovered. Old women grouped in the church. to talk over the unluckly omen; and the bride's companions blessed her with a tearful earnestness, rarely to be seen among the youthful at a rustic wedding. Alas, for the loneliness of the father's hearth, when it is deserted by a beloved, an only child Often did Abel Darley lift his eyes from the Bible, whereon (perhaps for the first time since his fire-side was first left desolate) he looked without receiving instruction—often did he raise them from the sacred page, and gaze upon the long candle, wondering why it waxed dim — and then, remembering that the hand which trimmed it was away, and another's, sigh heavily, and pore again over the book, without, however, brightening the light, or calling to the little serving-maiden to do so for him ; – then, when the clock chimed ten, he read aloud as usual the evening prayer, and commenced the simple hymn that consecrates the name of Ken more than the mitre which crowned his brows. He had taught Grace, when a child, to sing with him, alternately, a verse of this gentle strain; and when he finished the line—
“Beneath thime own almighty wings,” he paused for a few moments, expecting to hear her voice, so low, so soft, so like the murmuring music of a young bird's warblings before it knows its own powers of song; then, as if the truth came suddenly upon him, that her melody had gone to delight another's dwelling, the old man burst into a flood of tears, and, covering his face with his hands, wept long and bitterly, even to the solitary hour of one, when, like a troubled child, he retired to his bed, and sobbed and slumbered until morn.
“Grace, what are you in such a bustle about !” inquired her husband, as she busied herself with more than usual diligence to set all things in order in their clean and cheerful-looking cottage. Grace silently pointed to the watch that hung over the chimney-piece. “Well,” replied he, “and what then? I see it is rather late; but this is Sunday, and we who work must have a holyday sometimes.” “And so we should, Joseph. But do you not hear—” “What ?” “The church-bell.” “Well ?” “Come then, dearest, and make haste, or we shall be late, and that will not be right.” “Then, I suppose, it will be wrong. But I do not think I shall go to church to-day.” f “My dear, are you ill ?” inquired his wife, looking affectionately in his ace. “Never was better; but I do n’t feel inclined — is that so very extraordinary 7” “Oh, Joseph ! you will surely not stay from church 1– what would the clergyman think? — what would my father say ? You will not suffer me to walk all through the lanes by myself, dear Joseph I’’ “But you are not obliged to go. It is very proper to attend church; but to tramp such a distance through all weathers! — why it rained almost the whole night !” “It is beautiful now ; the air is so clear, and the birds are singing so gayly: Oh, do come !” “I will not, so do not tease me; I must take a long walk after dinner.” “Dear Joseph,” she continued, kissing him, though her eyes were filled with tears, “and must 1 indeed go by myself?” “If you go, you must, most certainly,” he replied, returning her caress at the same time with all his usual affection. It was the first solitary walk she had taken during the last seven months – since her marriage, in fact; and she thought that, considering her situation, it was rather unkind of Joseph to permit her to go alone. Almost every tree — certainly every stile she passed — was hallowed by some remembrance connected with the playmate of her childhood – the lover of her early youth — the husband of her affections. When she looked on the dew dancing amid the delicate tracery of the field-spider's web— when the joyous whistle of the gay blackbird broke upon her ear— gazing silently on all that was really fresh and beautiful in nature—she felt that, instead of warming, it fell chilly upon her heart. And yet all was as usual — the bright sun, and the smiling landscape. Why, then, was she less cheerful? She was alone No one she loved was by her side, to whom to say, “How beautiful!” The knowledge, the painful knowledge, which this, and a few other similar circumstances, conveyed to Grace, as to the real state of her husband's religious sentiments, made her a wiser but a sadder woman. , Conscious that he had deceived her in one instance, she dreaded to ask her