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goblets and a flask of wine. In one of the goblets I spied a woman's bracelet. Beside the stand, thrown carelessly across a chair, was a rumpled ball-dress; on the floor lay a wreath of flowers.
The chamber was dusk at first, but by-and-by the fierce light streamed in, and I saw, what I had not before noticed, a sleeping woman! Her bed was in a small alcove, behind a half-drawn curtain. She lay, with her face to the light, fast asleep. One arm was doubled under her head, the other was thrown outside on the quilt. It was a miracle of symmetry I saw, and the little taper fingers were loaded with rings. Her heavy black hair was unbound, and its long tresses straggling over the white pillow, had crept into her whiter bosom. But her face, her beautiful voluptuous face; the ripe curve of her lip; the fresh little rose-bud in her cheek; the delicate droop of her eye-lid - I cannot describe them. She was youth, beauty, passion! These," said I to myself, with a bitter smile, “these be the devils that lead men to their ruin.'
It was evening when I drew near the village. The sun had set behind a mass of dark clouds, piled one upon another, like ruins ; between their ragged rifts, the crumbling walls of temples and palaces, his lurid light was spreading rapidly. In a short time the whole west was a red core of fire. A turn of the road brought me in sight of home. I strained my eyes through the dusk, hoping to see Elma coming to meet me; but she came not. I spurred my horse into the lane, and galloped up to the house; still she came not. I dismounted and ran to the door. It was open; I entered; still she came not! I went to her room; it was empty. I ran to mine; that was empty too. “Elma, where are you?"
; I ran back to her chamber. Perhaps she is hiding,' I said. I looked behind the door; she was not there. I threw open the window-curtains; she was not there. Neither was she under the table, nor on the bed. I could not find her. Elma! Elma! where are you?'
I ran to my own room again, and searched that, peering into every nook and corner;
I could find her nowhere. Great God! what has happened? Perhaps she has gone out to visit a neighbor. I will go and see. I mounted my horse and galloped through the village; but no one had seen her!
I went back to the house, determined to know the worst. I was calmer than I had been, my distraction had given way to apathy. The blow had stunned me. I walked about quietly, rather like a guest in a strange mansion than a man in his own house. I noticed every thing. My curiosity was roused; I was piqued to get to the bottom of the mystery. I lighted a lamp, and went into my room. It was exactly as I had left it. My books were piled on the table; my paper and pens were untouched. There lay the draft of my
great poem, "The Bridal of the Soul, ending abruptly in the middle of a stanza! I went to Elma's room again, and scrutinized it closely. Every thing seemed to be in order : the chairs were in their places; the guitar hung on its peg, and on the little marble
stand lay her work-basket and scissors. Her chair was drawn up to the round table, and on the table stood the astral lamp, just as I had seen it in my thoughts. I started. “There should be a letter,' I murmured. There was a letter! I tore it open and read. It said, 'Return!' I threw myself in the chair, and buried my face in my hands. 'I have returned," I muttered bitterly, and this is what awaits me!' I rocked-to-and fro in my misery.
• You asked me to come back to you, Elma, and I have come. I ask you now to come back to me.' I spoke to the vacant air; there was no reply. • Come back,' I moaned, “come back! I am not worthy
6 of you, I know. I have sinned, and wronged you deeply. But if you give me up, I am lost. Come back! come back! come back!' I sobbed aloud.
The letter was still in my hands, and after my first wild burst of grief, I read it again. How imploring it looked on the paper, that mournful word, Return! There may be something else
“ ' written over leaf,' a faint hope whispered ; I clutched at the suggestion, and turned the leaf. Something else was written there, and it was blotted with tears. “IT IS TOO LATE!' I pored on the awful words until they multiplied themselves and covered the page. I crumpled them up in my hand, but I saw them still. They hovered in the air before me; they danced on the chamber wall. They were written every where. IT IS TOO LATE!' It was the burden of every sound. I heard it in the chirp of the cricket on the hearth, the tick of the clock in the corner, the moan of the wind in the chimney. And the sea without, creeping stealthily over the sands: the exulting dark sea hissed it in the ear of Night : ‘IT IS TOO LATE!'
'I shall go mad, I shrieked, 'if I stay in this cursed room!' So I rose and fled.
That night I locked up the house and threw the key into the sea.
Years have passed since then, and I have changed in heart and brain ; but I have not found my dear, lost wife. I may have grown better; who knows? I may have grown worse; I have certainly grown wiser; but I have not found my lost wife. Elma has not come back. I am care-worn and wrinkled, and my hair is becoming gray. I have a stoop, too, in the shoulders, and I need some one to lean on.
I begin to totter in my walk. But Elma does not come back. I was very sick last spring : they did not think I would live. I lay weeks and weeks at Death's door. _But Elma would not come back. She will never come back. For did she not say in her letter : ‘IT IS TOO LATE! IT IS TOO LATE!'
I passed the old house by the sea a few days ago. It was blackened by rain, bleached by sun, shattered by wind and lightning. The chimney had blown down; part of the roof had tumbled in; and the shutters were off their hinges. A bloated toad sat on the door-step; the garden was a wilderness of weeds. It was as great a wreck as its master. I wonder if Elma has ever gone back there since that fatal night ?
Elma! still Elma! Her name is ever on my lips. I cannot
banish her from
mind. She haunts me like a ruined soul. If she would only return once more; if I could only see her face, and hear her whisper, in the sweet tones of old, “You are forgiven,' I would lie down and die with a smile. I would give the world to regain my beautiful Elma. For what shall it profit man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ? I have lost
You remember the sea-beach, MARITA,
Which gently sloped back to the land,
And were always melodious grand ?
You remember the headland, MARITA,
Which jutted far into the sea,
But was music to you and to me?
You remember the OCEAN, MARITA;
Qur'ocean, our boundless domain :
Almost to our castles in Spain ?
You remember the dreams, MARITA,
Which we dreamed by the side of the sea :
As we dreamed there of you and of me?
We are far apart now, Marita,
As far as we ever could be,
As I think now of you and of me.
I am dreaming no more, Marita,
And I seldom recall the past :
Will surely be true at last.
But oh! the blue ocean, Marita,
And oh! the brown house by the sea !
Made music for you and for me!
It was a summer day in the island. The intense light came down along snow-capped peaks, ragged mountains, plains of lava, down, down into glens and hollows bright with the rapid vegetation of an Arctic July. The sun-shine, also, walked upon the shore, warming the cold feet of the waves, and cheering the eiderduck as she sat on her nest among the cliffs.
A ship was moored in the little harbor, though it was easy to see, from the curious gazers around, and from the busy gestures of her sailors, that she was about to weigh anchor, and
She seemed a feeble craft, ill able to brave the war of the elements; but on her deck were groups
women, and children, who had covenanted with her to convey them to America, that home of the homeless, receiver of the out-cast, comforter of the persecuted.
She was an English vessel, frail and over-laden, and having encountered a tempest, had been driven upon the shore of this remote island. Skilful surgery had healed her lacerated sides, and being fitted with new sails, she now signified her readiness to complete her contract with the emigrants crowding her deck: she even permitted an accession to her list of passengers before leaving the Icelandic harbor. The added name stood thus on the ship’s register-ZELDA.'
The time of which I speak was long ago in days when the Roundheads were fain to fly before triumphant Cavaliers, glad to secure rest in lands far remote; and the bark I tell of, numbered among its inmates both Puritans and Quakers, bound for the land of the free. A frown was perceptible on more than one face as the above cognomen, savoring somewhat of heathendom, was whispered around the deck.
The possessor of the odd appellative was a maiden, who stood now several paces to the right of the ship, hidden from view by an intervening angle of rock. She had thrown aside whatever covering had shaded her glowing cheeks; but her long hair hung around her like a veil , and a nameless something in her
that she was quite different from the common herd of mankind. One fair arm rested on the rock, while the other hung carelessly over a harp of quaint device. She looked forth upon the sea, and gazing at her in imagination, I saw at first only the earthly beauty of face and form, as she lingered in that unconscious attitude of