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gloominess, in her friend, which elicited from her numberless acts of kindness, the result of friendship in its purest character. What, indeed, may have been the circumstances of Eustace, even conjecture has not developed ; although every attempt which delicacy and politeness permitted, had been employed to discover: it was fully evident to the searching eye and sensitive solicitude of Laura, they had been of a rough and destructive character; and that was sufficient with her, to produce a strong desire in her mind to serve him. Retiring, as Eustace was in his general habits, and cold and distant as were even his civilities, if he possessed any, still he was far from being indifferent to the kind sympathies of the attentive Laura; and as he became gradually acquainted with her history, he felt no less a measure of sympathy for her, and a desire to alleviate her sorrows, than she had experienced towards himself,
Time rolled on, and every passing period rendered the interviews of Eustace and Laura more pleasurable to each. Eustace became a favourite with her father, and a frequent visitor at their retired dwelling. Friendship of the purest, most disinterested, and lofty kind, possessed each of them; and in the exercise of that sacred feeling, they strove to advance each other's best interests. Kind solicitudes for the mutual welfare of each other, and their endeavours to promote it, were not uselessly employed. The advice and exhortations of Eustace were rendered salutary to the mind of Laura, while the counsel and kindness of Laura did not become less beneficial to Eustace. In their experience, the imaginings of the poet found the substance it had airily conceived of, while the cold and insincere formalities of professing friends, might have been fired by its contemplation, or made to blush at its comparison.
Time rolled on, and still their friendship grew, without either knowing, or even conceiving, that a softer passion might possibly succeed. If the thought might at any time occur to them, Laura believed it impossible on her own part; while Eustace even dreaded its existence. Each possessed, in the company of the other, all they wished to enjoy, and all they knew they could possess.
Laura had lately, in company with a young lady of her acquaintance, visited an interesting invalid, a few miles from home. For two years she had been gradually, but perceptibly, sinking; and now, was fast hastening to that home “where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary at rest."
A request had been made by her parents, through Laura's friend, that Eustace would likewise visit her : to this request he cheerfully consented; and, in company with the ladies, he walked to the house of affliction. It was a fine evening, toward the latter end of May, when the party set forth on their errand of Christian love ; and, as they walked onwards, the beauty of the scenery, the charms of nature, and the goodness of Him from whom cometh every good and every perfect gift, intermingled with remarks relative to piety, of an individual and practical character, occupied their thoughts, and furnished them with abundance of the most interesting matter for conversation, until they reached the house.
The situation of the place was most romantic. The house stood on a level spot, more than half way down a deep glen, and was surrounded by some ninety or hundred acres of rich pasture and meadow land, every part of which was now in a high state of cultivation. The visitors had already reached the brow of the lofty hill which rose above the dwelling, and were gently proceeding, when Eustace, who was an enthusiastic admirer of nature in all her varied forms, stood still to gaze awhile on the wide and fascinating prospect which was spread before him. On their right, and partly before them, lay a rich and extensive valley, in the bed of which, winding in serpentine forms, flowed a beautiful river. Occasionally its waters were hid behind jutting plots of land, and then, again, broke forth to the sight, looking like a rich mirror, embossed in a frame of emerald, as the sun rested upon its surface, and the sloping pastures hemmed it in on either side. Here and there, as if to relieve the eye, and give a picturesque effect to the scenery, a rustic bridge was discovered, spanning the stream, and forming a medium of communication to the several inhabitants of the country. In the front distance, a vast extent of hilly country stretched as far as the eye could extend its power of vision; while some rude and precipitous chasms, and abrupt and lofty acclivities, diversified the view. On the left, a portion of unequal land was terminated by a dark copse of fir, birch, and oak trees, growing on the side and summit of another hill, even loftier than that on which Eustace and his companions stood. A humble dwelling or two graced different parts of the scene, and lower down the valley, in the extreme prospective, a few scattered houses, with a glittering village kirk spire, might be discovered. Not a cloud stood in the heavens: the sun gave a gorgeous brilliancy to every object; while a cool breeze played round the tops of the mountains, giving a cheering freshness to the atmosphere. Eustace was enraptured. Again and again he pointed out the objects, as they rose before him, to Laura; and then, with emotions which could not be expressed-feeling the sublime language of Thomson-mentally exclaimed,
“God is ever present, ever felt,
I cannot go
The party moved on, and soon reached the habitation of the invalid.
The ladies entered, and Eustace followed. There sat a form, wasted by slow consumption, which had once been lovely, and which, even now, retained some relics of former beauty. A deep hectic flush played upon her cheeks, her lips were of an ashy paleness, and her dim eyes were sunk deep in their sockets. Occasionally, a distressing cough seemed to tear her shattered system, while her faint and tremulous voice was scarcely audible.
Immediately opposite the place where she sat, stood a rude sort of sofa, which she had occasionally used as such, on which to rest her weak frame. There Laura took her seat with her companion, while Eustace drew a chair close to the youthful sufferer, and strove to instruct and comfort her. The sinfulness of human nature, the atonement of the Saviour, and the way to God, through faith in that blood, were the things upon which, by turns, he dwelt. Tears flowed plentifully from the sinking penitent's eyes, as he spoke to her, and exhibited the cheering evidences of the Saviour's mercy, and expatiated on the peace and happiness of a better world. He then took the Holy Scriptures, and read from its sacred contents, and afterwards, in solemn prayer, commended her to God.
During the period that Eustace was hanging over the invalid, and pointing out to her the way of salvation, the eye of Laura was fixed upon him