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His companion smiled almost joyously, and went quietly about her household duties.
Weeks passed away, and still that hollow cough was heard even more frequently than before; while the weak frame, which it so shook and tortured, wasted to a mere shadow; but the invalid had got used to the sound, and slept through it, so that she did not much care, for her greatest trouble had always been the fear of disturbing him, who every day grew feebler and feebler, so that the neighbours used to wonder among themselves which would pass away first, the old man, or his gentle and devoted nurse. As we have before said, Mr. Pemberton was blind, and when he called out in the middle of the night for water to cool his parched lips, and Mary brought it with a kind word and a cheerful voice, how was he to guess of the wasting fever which burnt in her own veins of the broken slumber into which she might have just fallen, for the first time for many nights, when she never uttered a complaint. Sometimes he would say:
"I hope I did not disturb you, Mary, but my throat seemed on fire," when her ready reply always was
"Oh no, I was not asleep, and it sounds cheerful to hear your voice in the night, for it seems so long and lonely else." And when he did not call, she used to fear he was ill, and creep out of her warm bed a dozen times to listen if he breathed.
At length came the wished-for spring, when the invalid dreams of the long promised walk beneath the fresh air of heaven, and wakes smiling to see the early sunlight. When the dying girl who has waited wearily for the hour of her release, lifts up her drooping head and prays to be spared yet a little longer. It seems hard to pass away when | all things look so bright and joyous. When the poor, believing that the worst is past, look hopefully forward to the sweet summer time, and little children escaping from their narrow homes, run shouting for very glee in search of the early flowers. When the poet's heart is full to overflowing, and a voice bursts forth, as if by enchantment, finding an echo in a thousand gladsome hearts-a voice now passed away, save in memory, for ever.
"I come! I come! ye have called me long-
But to our tale. It was on one of these bright spring mornings, redolent of sunshine and flowers, that Mary flung open the casement of their little cottage, and leant languidly out, until there gradually stole a tranquil and subdued lustre to her sunken eyes, a warm flush to her hollow cheeks, and she even smiled, as though a tide of sweet remembrances were rushing through her heart. She was thinking, perhaps, of the merry spring days which had come and gone when she was a child; how she used to go with her companions seeking for primroses and violets, others, yet the
same which now cluster in such profusion amid the quiet haunts to which her thoughts had wandered back, so that it seemed her only who was changed.
A branch of fragrant honeysuckle was dancing in the fresh wind, and seemed every now and then to be playfully wooing her to inhale its odour, and be of good cheer, for the warm glad summer had come again; and as the girl put it back with her thin wasted hand, her pale lips moved and half involuntarily gave utterance to some old melody loved years ago, and brought back, as it were, by enchantment. We all know how deep a spell may lay in a simple flower to conjure up the past. That honeysuckle might have been a cherished thing in by-gone days. Low and broken as the sound was, it awoke the old man, although he thought at first that it must be a dream, and spoke not until it died away at length in bitter weeping,
At the first sound of his voice, Mary sprang to the bedside; heaven pardon her, if she rejoiced for a moment that he was blind! Mr. Pemberton had raised himself up in his bed, his head bent eagerly forward, and his lips moving fast and convulsively. "Who was it sang but now?" he questioned a little wildly.
"I am sorry I disturbed you," began his companion timidly.
"Ah! was it you? Nurse, who taught you that song?"
"And she is dead, you have often told me so; but thy father, girl?-why do you weep? Oh, God, if it should be Rhoda !-It was her songPoor Rhoda !"
"Father!" exclaimed his companion, clinging about his neck; and the old man parted the grey hair upon her still youthful brow, and kissed it repeatedly with a bewildered air.
"Poor Rhoda!" repeated he at length.
"No, no, rich now-rich in thy restored affec
"Will never come between me and thy love again-he is gone!"
"Heaven forgive me!" said the old man, "I have been too harsh."
"No, indeed, my punishment was a bitter one, but I deserved it all. I should have remembered that I was your only child. Since I left you, Father, I have known want and hunger; I have seen those I love die away one by one; but that terrible curse was harder to bear than all the rest!"
"My poor child! and I not to know that dear voice; and yet there was something in the coughyour sainted mother's cough, which sounded fearfully familiar. We must get rid of that now; you shall not toil as you have done of late, but only sit by me and relate all your troubles, until I hate myself as their cause; and I will tell you how much I missed you-and how, even with the harsh word upon my lips, the blessing was in my heart for my poor Rhoda."
"Dear Father! Ah! how often I have longed to utter that name, but dared not, lest you should send me from you. How I have prayed with
MARCH OF THE TEMPERANCE MEN AT CARRICKMACROSS.
tears in the long winter nights not to be taken | heavily she sleeps-and the old man too, and yet away, until I had received your forgiveness, and their eyes are open-merciful heaven if they should my supplications were not lifted up in vain; and | be dead! Both dead, and help so near!" And yet it is hard to die just now, when I had so much the girl sunk upon her knees, and lifted up her to tell you!" trembling hands in prayer.
It was very terrible, and yet there was comfort in the bright smile, which even in death illuminated the pale face of poor Rhoda; and Lucy knew by it that she had died happy, and forgiven. But the history of the weary years that had intervened before the wanderer's return to her birthplace, was buried with her.
"Hush, my beloved one!" said the old man, pressing his lips to the cold cheek which rested against his; "it is for the aged and bedridden, such as I, to talk of death. And yet even I have dared to hope to live a little longer, now that you are come back to me again. I know I shall be a great trouble to you, but you will not mind thatwill you? And when summer comes, who knows but I may be well enough to sit in the cottage porch, with you at my feet, as in old times, while you sang to me all my favourite airs. And though I shall not be able to see the flowers, and the golden sunsets any more, I can remember just how they used to look at that hour. Rhoda, I was very proud of you, and when the sunlight fell upon your young brow like a glory, used to liken you to one of the angels in the altarpiece at St. John's church, and Ĭ never dared to go to that church after-after you left me. But you are cold-so cold!-I think the casement must be open. Rhoda !-my child!-Oh, if I could see you now!"
The poor girl made an effort to move her pale lips, and to smile upon him, forgetting he was blind; and so the weary spirit passed away for ever. While the old man went on talking until the silence fell upon his heart with a strange fear, and he bent down towards the sweet face which still rested on his bosom, and spoke no more.
"I am sure," said the compassionate Lucy, that evening, as she sat in her comfortable little chamber, for from living so much alone she had got quite into the habit of talking to herself; "I am sure that it is not good for Mr. Pemberton, or his nurse either, to have the window open at this hour; and she with her terrible cough. Oh! how I wish she would not be quite so shy and reserved. I am sure my heart yearns to her, poor thing! How sweetly she smiled this morning when I passed the house, the first time I have ever seen her smile, and yet her look seemed familiar too. Surely she could not be angry if I were just to step over and offer to sit up with the old man for once, and a night's rest would do her a world of good. At any rate, I will warn her how wrong it is to sit with the casement open at this hour."
And crossing the lane she knocked gently at the cottage door, but receiving no answer, after waiting a few moments, lifted up the latch and entered. It was a bright moonlight night, and the fresh breeze from the open window rustled among the neat white bed-curtains, and waved to and fro the damp curls upon the pale, upraised face of the nurse. Lucy thought she was asleep.
"Poor thing! how tired she must have been," said she, "and what quantities of hair!"-for the widow's cap had fallen off. "It is sad to see grey hairs on a young head! But surely-surely I should remember that face, changed and faded as it is? Can it be, that Rhoda Pemberton has been with us so long, and we knew her not?— dear-kind-merry-hearted Rhoda! But how
PEN AND INK SKETCHES.
MY VISIT TO RICHMOND-PART II.
BY MRS. VALENTINE BARTHOLOMEW.
"May 20th, 18-, Richmond.
"You are the only being in Dalton who doubted my guilt, and in return for the balin your guileless remarks gave to my wounded spirit, I am going to inflict upon you the penance of reading my unfortunate history-a history I had neither strength nor courage personally to relate: and yet now, overwhelmed as I am in recalling the agonising like-scenes of the past, I am buoyed with the hope, that by the mysterious ways of the Almighty, you may one day become the instrument of clearing my fame in the eyes of my beloved child. I have, therefore, left instructions in my will, of the best manner of forwarding to that child the two miniatures I entrust to your care.
I lost no time in completing Mrs. Corrie's ness, and on the third morning from my last interview I was with anxious thoughts ringing the
gate-bell at Downe House.
"My mistress is very ill," said the domestic, shaking her head, "and cannot see even you; but she begged me to ask your London address, as she wishes to write as soon as she is able; it was with difficulty she could direct this note, which she requested me to give to you when you called."
I left the miniature with the faithful attendant, and returned to my lodgings full of inquietude; although Mrs. Corrie's letter contained a bank note, double the amount of my price, and which at any other time would have made my heart leap with joy.
On the evening of that day I was on my road to town, having received information from my maid, that I was required at home to paint two children, and that the lady who had brought them had appointed to be with me the following morning at twelve o'clock.
Punctual to the hour, my expected visitors arrived; a young widow, whose mournful looks contrasted sadly with the bright ones of her little boy and girl. The lady did not give me her name, but said she was recommended to me by an Indian family, and she wished to have the children painted the size of the bracelet likeness she wore on her arm. It was fortunate for my pencil that my little sitters possessed the beauty of their mother; for I never gazed upon a more distrustful and mean expression than was depicted in the lineaments of their father's miniature. In the course of con
versation, I learned he had died on his passage to England, whither he was accompanied by his family.
The children were most unmanageable; pulling down my books, clambering up the chairs, and strewing the carpet with my drawings, alike heedless of my entreaties or the remonstrances of their gentle parent. "They will soon be tamed," said I, in reply to the lady's apologies.
English nursemaids are usually more tyrants than slaves to their young charge; for, in this country, a child is oftener taught more obedience to domestics than to their parents.
I made the sitting as short as possible, for I was sad and weary, with thoughts full of my Richmond adventure. And when, the next morning, I received by a coach, a packet, it was with feelings of intense interest I tore it open-it contained the miniature I had just finished of Mrs. Corrie, and the one painted of her when she was a girl: a lovelier face was never seen. These were accompanied by several sheets of closely written paper,
the contents of which were as follows::
"In the village of Brook Mead, not many miles from Dalton, you will probably have seen an oldfashioned white house, with its quaint and sloping garden, surrounded by a moat, over which swings a ponderous drawbridge. It was from that spot I date my first recollections of existence, as the spoiled orphan pet of a maiden aunt, who had long outlived her youth and beauty, and who, in the simplicity of her heart, would overwhelm me with caresses and sweetmeats whenever it had been her painful duty to punish any of my childish faults for a few minutes. Children are excellent judges of character; and I soon found out the way to escape punishment by pretending to refuse all attempts at reconciliation, until my aunt's patience became exhausted in her vain endeavours to coax me to accept her peace-offerings. At length I was suffered to do whatever I pleased: so passed the first period of my childhood; and with all my faults, I was fond of knowledge, and read with eagerness any books that came in my way, some, far beyond the comprehension of my early years, for I had but a limited range, the faded library containing but few readable volumes. My aunt was proud of hearing me read aloud, and though often the subject proved even more puzzling to her than to me, still my pronunciation of hard words, without once stopping to spell them, was such a marvel in the old lady's eyes, that she looked upon me as a prodigy of learning. Then I could knit stockings ten times faster than she could, and copy in tent-stitch the moth-eaten tapestry of our bed-room with an accuracy that to her seemed like magic. In fact, my aunt and I daily grew more and more companionable. I, imitating the tone and manners of maturer age; and she, descending to second childhood. Her self and my nurse were my only associates, my will with them was law, and both gaily joined in all the vagaries of my little head. Alike joyous was every season: winter had no dreariness-it was to me full of the life and light of summer; but a heavy cloud rose above me, which was soon to darken all my future prospects.
"An adventurer arrived in Brookmead; he was about forty years of age: from whence he came none knew, and few cared to inquire, whilst they listened to his skill on the guitar: our servants were full of his fame, and one summer's evening he
for in my wretched home nothing but stripes and harsh words awaited me. Fortunately, my presence had become so intolerable to my aunt as well as to my uncle, that on returning to the school, my governess received instructions to retain me during all future holidays. My eyes sparkled with pleasure at her consenting to this arrangement, and from that hour I became the especial favourite of Mrs. Foxall as well as of the elder girls. After our lessons were learned, we used to crowd round the blazing fire of a winter's evening, where I would relate to eager listeners the legends from the old books I had read at home. Then came the thick slice of bread-and-butter-the marvellous appetite with which it was devoured-the family prayers-the maternal kiss of our beloved governess, followed by the unbroken sleep, which gave health to our bodies and vigour to our minds.
"Year passed on year, and I went no more to my aunt's. She rarely paid me a visit, and scarcely ever wrote. How often have my eyes overflowed with tears, when Mrs. Foxall announced letters to her pupils! how I envied their sacred emotion, as they used to hurry out of the school-room to read their treasures by themselves! Then the boxes of cakes and tarts that were constantly arriving, the feastings divided with all, and frequently the largest share given to me, because I had nothing to give in return. I would fain linger over those brightest scenes of my life, where human nature stood out in such beautiful relief; but soon was that sunny world shut out to me for ever.
"There was an old lady in Dalton, a Mrs. Stukely, who made a point of inviting all the young people of our school to drink tea on her lawn once in the summer: it was my misfortune to attract her attention, and when she learned my history, she was particularly attentive to me, and eventually invited me to stay at her house the greater part of the Christmas holidays. Whilst on my visit, one of the winter balls took place, and Mrs. Stukely suddenly determined on taking me to it. I was overcome with delight at the proposal, till I remembered my best dress was only of thick cambric muslin.
stood upon the drawbridge and sang a serenade. I clapped my hands with delight, and dragged my aunt towards the spot where he was singing. He knew well how to turn to advantage all things that crossed his path, and before we separated he inveigled my aunt to give him an invitation for the following day. Step by step the acquaintance gained ground, until it increased to an intimacy, and dull seemed those evenings which he did not spend at the old white house. He not only sang to us, but read novels, in which he personated the bero so admirably, that ere the first leaf of autumn had fallen to the earth, my maiden aunt, at the age of sixty-five, had bestowed her hand and fortune upon this daring minstrel. At first I was delighted with the novelty of having an uncle, but gradually I was deprived of all my accustomed indulgencies. My aunt seemed to grow every hour more sorrowful-her smiles were gone; her form, hitherto so upright for her years, became bent: it was evident she was suffering acutely from her folly. She scarcely dared to notice me with her usual affection when her husband was present, but he spent great part of his days at a neighbouring public-house, where he suffered coarse jests to be passed upon his wife's credulity and his own good luck. On such occasions he would return home brutalised by the effects of intemperance, and if he found me up, send me, with an oath or a blow, broken-hearted to my chamber, where, in the arms of my loving nurse, I sobbed myself to sleep. Her sympathy was not long allowed me, for she and the rest of the servants were changed for others, and my tyrant uncle reigned supreme. No wonder that my high spirit was subdued. I became shy and timid as a hare, was laughed and sneered at by the new domestics, and even thought an interloper and a disturber of peace by my once kind aunt-so completely did her husband hold her mind in thrall; and in one of their daily bickerings, it was agreed that I should be removed from their presence, and placed for a time at some cheap establishment at Dalton. My entrance into Mrs. Foxall's school-room was another epoch in my life,-replete for a time with fresh_mortifications, for the girls laughed at the odd fashion of my dress, called my shyness slyness, and ludicrously imitated the stiff curtsey and starched manners of my old aunt when their governess had introduced her to my future companions. Goaded by these perpetual stings, the wilfulness of my nature returned, and book and stools were flung by me at the heads of the scoffers: then followed complaints of my violent conduct, succeeded by the regular routine of punishments--a long list of dictionary words to learn, with their meaning, by heart-a page from scripture, or a piece from the speaker, to recite in a given time. But these tasks were positive pleasures, so quick was my memory; and when, in a few weeks I proudly stood the foremost of the first-class, and assisted my seniors in their lessons, the girls ceased to sneer at my aunt, or quiz the fashion of my long-waisted frock; but it was by still slower degrees that I won the love of the mistress of the establishment. My first vacation arrived, bringing to all but me joyful anticipations,
"Never mind,' said my kind hostess, as she saw my joy changed to sorrow, these long black tresses of your's will amply compensate for your want of finery; why, half the girls would gladly exchange their gauze robes for such an ornament as nature has given you, and here is a broad purple sash I have brought you, and rely on an old woman's judgment when she ventures to prophesy that you will look fairer than any there.'
"All this was very flattering, but the fortitude of sixteen was scarcely strong enough to bear the idea of being the most shabbily dressed young person in the assembly. And, when that night I entered the brilliantly lighted room, my cheeks glowed more with shame than pleasure, as I contrasted my appearance with those around me; and I gladly sheltered myself from observation behind the chair of Mrs. Štukely, as she sat down in a snug corner to make one at the whist table, where, in a few moments, she became so absorbed as entirely to forget I was under her care. With envious looks I watched the smiling faces of the
young girls as their respective partners led them |
"Ah, James,' said Mrs. Stukely, addressing him, whilst she was dealing out the pack, I scarcely expected you to-night; but now you are here, I wish you would do me a favour.'
"Most gladly. What is it, aunt?' said the gentleman.
"I want you to dance with this poor child, a protogèe of mine; I believe she has not had a partner to night,' replied Mrs. Stukely.
"That must be your fault, aunt,' quickly exclaimed her nephew; I suspect you have forgot-sided, ten to introduce her.'
"But too true, dear James; so atone for my neglect, and do the amiable. You know when once I am at my favourite pastime I forget the whole world. My dear Miss Corrie, this is my nephew, Mr. James Gordon, who I am sure will be kind enough to dance with you.'
"Rather say, aunt, if the young lady will honour me so far,' replied the gentleman, as he politely offered me his arm.
"Frightened as a caged bird, I accepted it with trembling, and did not dare meet his gaze.
"Are you ill,' said my companion, observing my trepidation, or do you dislike to dance?' "Oh, no! I am so fond of it,' I quickly replied; but,' and I hesitated as I looked down on my plain attire, but I do not look as if I belonged to yonder circle.'
James Gordon had formed for Miss Corrie, a mere child and a nobody. Mrs. Stukely was astonished, and for once regretted her love of play had so blinded her to the danger which was coming on; so, by the advice of the old maid, I was sent back that very night to Mrs. Foxall's, on the plea that other visitors would unexpectedly arrive and occupy my room. I was both puzzled and hurt at the cool manner in which the hitherto kind Mrs. Stukely took leave of me.
"My romantic school-fellows, when I related to them my adventures, read the true meaning.
"Ah, Cecile ! Cecile !' said one, Mr. James Gordon, the great lawyer, is in love with you, and the spiteful old aunt is jealous, and I should'nt wonder if he sends you a declaration next Valentine's day.'
Indeed, you do not,' answered Mr. Gordon, emphatically, and I am proud of the privilege of introducing such a partner amongst them: but see, the dance is ended; so for the present you must accept my attentions at the tea-table.'
"In less than an hour all things in that ball-room seemed changed by the wand of a fairy. A gentle voice was whispering words of praise in my ear, with a sweetness that was never heard before by me; and when he made me promise I would accept no other partner but himself, for that evening, I told him, in the innocence of any thoughts, that I was but too gratified for the enjoyment he had given me, to wish to change him for any other. That meeting was only the beginning of a succession of equally delightful ones; and whilst Mrs. Stukely was engaged with her little home parties at whist, Mr. Gordon took every opportunity of remaining at my side and devoting every minute to my amusement and improvement; whilst I was both grateful and proud that a man so many years my senior, should take so much trouble about one inexperienced like myself. But my visit was suddenly cut short by the interference of a friend of Mrs. Stukely's, who called one morning to condole with my hostess on the attachment, which was the talk of the town, that the rich Mr.
"It has come already,' cried another, as the postman knocked at the street door, and I will bet six tartlets it is a letter for Miss Corrie.'
"The merriment of the girls had scarcely subwhen Mrs Foxall, with a very grave face, entered the room.
"I have an unexpected communication to make to you, my dear child,' said my governess, addressing me. I turned very red, and the girls looked at each other. I trust," added Mrs. Foxall, I have taught you to bear all changes of fortune with calmness. Your poor aunt is very ill,-dying, perhaps, and wishes to see you immediately, and it is my duty to see her request complied with; a carriage is already ordered, and I shall accompany you home, in the hope we may arrive in time to see justice done to your merits.'
"Fast as the horses rattled over the creaking drawbridge, the spark of life had fled before we entered the house. In silence the servants ushered us into the chamber of death; my uncle was pacing the room with rapid strides, but the scene had only produced a passing emotion, and he stiffly bowed to Mrs. Foxall without noticing me. remained unwelcome guests till after the funeral, when the will, which was of recent date, was read, in which my uncle was named as the sole legatee. In reply to Mrs. Foxall's remonstrances, he urged that I had no claim upon him, but out of respect to his wife's memory, he would pay for my education three months longer, when, like thousands of other young women, I must get my living by my talents.
"She shall never want a home,' exclaimed my kind governess, whilst I have one to offer;' and with feelings of sorrow and indignation we departed from Brook mead.
"On reaching Dalton, the servant informed her mistress that Mr. James Gordon was anxiously awaiting to see her in the drawing-room. I was therefore dismissed to my chamber, and the purport of his visit remained long a secret to me, and
I saw no more of him for months, except at the church-gate on Sundays, when he always made a point of shaking hands with Mrs. Foxall. One Sabbath-day he was not there, and the news reached us the next morning that he was dangerously ill of a fever. My governess looked fidgetty and uneasy, and I went through the usual routine