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not shine upon fo fair, fo quick-witted, and amiable a maid ; and better fate did Maria deferve, than to have her banns forbid, by the intrigues of the curate of the parish who published them
He was going on, when Maria, who had made a short pause, put the pipe to her mouth and began the air again they were the same notes ;--yet were ten times sweeter. It is the evening service to the Virgin, said the young manbut who has taught her to play it—or how she came by her pipe, no one knows: we think that Heaven has affilted her in both; for ever since she has been usettled in her mind, it seems her only consolation, she has never once had the pipe out of her hand, but plays that service upon it almost night and day.
The postilion delivered this with fo much discretion and natural cloquence, that I could not help decyphering something in his face above his condition, and should have fifted out his history, had not poor Maria taken such full posfelfion of me.
We had got up by this time almost to the bank where Maria was sitting: he was in a thin white jacket, with her hair, all but two treffes, drawn up in a filk net, with a few olive leaves twisted a little fantastically on one side-The was beautiful; and if ever I felt the full force of an honest heart-ach, it was the moment I saw her
God help her! poor damsel! above a hundred masses, faid the postilion, have been said in the several parishchurches and convents around for her—but without effect; we have still hopes, as she is sensible for short intervals, that the Virgin at last will restore her to herself; but her parents, who know her best, are hopeless upon that score, and think her senses are lost for ever.
As the postilion spoke, this, Maria made a cadence fo melancholy, fo tender and querulous, that I sprung out of the chaise to help her, and found myself fitting betwixt her and her
goat, before I relapsed from my enthusiasm. Maria looked wistfully for some time at me, and then at her goas—and then at me and then at her goat again, and so on alternately
-WELL, MARIA, said I foftly-What resemblance do you
find? I do entreat the candid reader to believe me, that it was from the humbleft conviction of what a beast man is that 1 asked the question; and that I would not have let fall an unfeasonable pleasantry in the venerable presence of Misery, to be entitled to all the wit that ever Rabelais scattered:
ADIEU, Maria ! --adieu, poor hapless damsel !--some time, but not now,
hear thy sorrows from thy own lips- -but I was deceived: for that moment she took her pipe, and told me such a tale of wo with it, that I rose up, and with broken and irregular steps walked softly to my chaise
SECOND PART. When we had got within half a league of Moulines, at a little opening in the road leading to a thicket, I discovered poor Maria fitting under a poplarmshe was fitting with her elbow in her lap, and her head leaning on one side within her handma small brock run at the foot of the tree.
I BADE the poftilion go on with the chaise to Moulines ---and La Fleur to bespeak my fupper-and that I would Halk after him.
She was dressed in white, and much as my friend described her, except that her hair hung loose, which before was twisted within a filk net. She had, superadded likewise to her jacket, a pale green riband, which fell acrofs her shoulder to the waist; at the end of which hung her pipe. Her goat had been as faithless as her lover; and the had got a little dog in lieu of him, which she had kept tied by a string to her girdle; as I looked at her dog, she drew him towards her with the firing-—" Thou shalt not leave me Sylvio!” said she. I looked in Maria's eyes, and saw she was thinking more of her father than of her lover or her little goat; for as she uttered them, the tears trickled down her cheeks.
I sat down close by her, and Maria let me wipe them away as they fell, with my handkerchief. I then steeped it in my own—and then in hers—and then in mine and then I wiped hers again and as I did it, I felt such undefcribable emotions within me, as I am sure could not be account. ed for from any combinations of matter and motion.
I am pofitive I have a soul; nor can all the books, with which materialists have peitered the world, ever convince me of the contrary.
When Maria had come a little to herself, I asked her if shę remembered a pale thin person of a man who had fat down betwixt her and her goat
about two years
before? She faid, she was unsettled much at that time, but remembered it upon two accounts--that, ill as she was, she saw the person. pitied her; and next, that her goat had stolen his handkerchief, and she had beat him for the theft-she had washed it, fae faid, in the brook, and kept it ever since in her pocket, to restore it to him in case she should ever see him again, which the added, he had half promised her. As the told me this, she took the handkerchief out of her pocket to let me see it: fe had folded it up neatly in a couple of vine leaves, tied round with a tendril-oon opening it, I saw an S marked in one of the corners..
She had fince that, she told me, strayed as far as Rome, and walked round St. Peter's once and returned back: that the found her way alone acrofs the Appenines-had travelled all over Lombardy without money-and through the flinty roads of Savoy without foes: how he had borne it, and how she had got supported, she could not tell -but God tempers the wind, said Maria, to the shorn lamb.
Shorn indeed! and to the quick, said I: and waft thou in my own land, where I have a cottage, I would take thee to it and shelter thee; thou shouldst eat of my own bread, and drink of my own cup I would be kind to thy Sylvio -in all thy weaknesses and wanderings I would feek after thee, and bring thee back-when the sun went down I would say my prayers, and when I had done, thou shouldit play thy evening fong upon thy pipe; nor would the incense of my facrifice be worse accepted, for entering heaven along with that of a broken heart.
Narure melted within me, as I uttered this; and Maria observing as I took out my handkerchief, that it was steeped too much already to be of use, would needs go wath it in the stream. And where will you dry it Maria? said I. . -I will dry it in my bosom, said she-it will do me good.
And is your heart still so warm, Maria: said I.
I TOUCHED upon the string on which hung all her sorrows she looked with wistful disorder for some time in
my and then, without saying anything, took her pipe, and played her service to the Virgin-The string I had touched ceased to vibrate in a moment or two Maria returned to herself-let her pipe fall —and rose up.
And where are you going Maria ? said I. She said, to Moulines. Let us go, faid I, together.-Maria put her arm within mine, and lengthening the string, to let the dog follow-in that order we entered Moulines.
THOUCH. I hate falutations and greetings in the marketplace, yet when we got into the middle of this, I stopped to take my last look and last farewel of Maria.
MARIA, though not tall, was nevertheless of the first order of fine forms- Affliction had touched her looks with fomething that was scarce earthly-still she was feminine :and so much was there about her of all that the heart wishes, or the eye looks for in woman, that could the traces be ever worn out of her brain, and those of Eliza's out of mine, she should not only eat of my bread and drink of my own cup, but Maria should lie in my bosom, and be unto me as a daughter.
ADIEU, poor lucklefs maiden! - imbibe the oil and wine which the compassion of a franger, as he journeyeth on his way, now pours into thy wounds—the Being who has twice bruised thee can only bind them up for ever.
my lot to mark