Page images


seized his brain; and those who entered the condemned one. A minister of God is endeavapartment to prepare it again for crime and oring to lead the man of crime to thoughts of a folly, found the body of a murdered man, from better world. He is one of those who have whose breast still gushed the warm, crimson their reward in a crown that fadeth not away. blood. He had fled from scenes of earthly mis Withdrawing himself from the cheerful influery, to meet the reward of his crime in another ence of a pleasant home, from the sunshine of world. The good spirit shuddered, and the the world without, he steadily devotes his hours bright spots on his silver wings were dimmed; to the miserable creatures who never breathe the polluting air which breathed in that place of the pure air of heaven. Though their hard crime blasted all before it.

natures seldom melt beneath the influence of his kindly words, and discouragement and indifference often repulse his endeavors, yet he

steadfastly pursues the path which he has CHAPTER IV.

marked out.

The prisoner is touched; could the rays of It was a scene on which the joyous sun shone | light penetrate that dreary place, they would with sadness. The grim, gloomy pile cast a not show features on which infamy is stamped shade on all around, and there was a hushed with indelible marks: they would show a face and solemn stillness in the very air. It was a and form that has not long languished in a murprison-and in the faces of those who dwelt derer's cell. And wherefore are they there within its gloomy walls, a fixed and rigid hard now? He is the survivor of a fatal duel. ness usurped the place of every soft emotion. When the young man saw the friend and comFor they brooded over their wrongs; over the panion of his childhood lying at his feet, while want and temptation which had goaded them the dews of death gathered round his cold brow, on to crime ; over the cold slights and insults a thrill of agony shot through his heart; and which roused their worst passions; and over he even wished to change places with the the heartless justice that coldly doomed them to senseless dead. But this saved him not from drag out their weary lives in the close atmo the punishment of the law-and to-morrow the sphere of a prison. Summer no longer came bell would toll his requiem! The clergyman heralded, as in the days of innocent boyhood, tells him of the promises contained in the Bible, by the voice of the bird and the hum of the bee; and his voice falls on listening ears; a new by the warm breath of clustering flowers, and light has stolen on his mind; and in that the soft glimpses of sunlight that pierced even gloomy cell he tastes the most exquisite bliss the dim old woods ; by the shouts of merry that earth can afford. “You have been my voices that echoed again amid the lonely hills, friend," said he, to the departing minister: No! Summer came to them in the close, sti "you have led me to look above this world and Aing air of their contracted apartments; in the its transitory joys. But I am still proud," he burning heat which scorched their very brains;

continued; “I would not meet my death at the and the crawling insects that shared with them hands of the common executioner; and I feel their dismal cells. This was their fate in this that my wish will be gratified. To-night my world; but sternly they repulsed all conversation spirit will leave its earthly tenement.” The of a better; they nourished the thought of ven clergyman prayed that it might be so, for in geance, and crushed all penitent feelings, ere that cell of condemned crime he had met with the fragile buds could expand into flowers of an instance of faith, rare and glorious. strength and beauty.

The servants of the law came with chains There was a cell darker and more gloomy and fetters, to lead the criminal to execution, as than the others—the cell of the condemned. the golden sun unfolded his beams on the smilNo rays of sun came stealing in to light the ing earth. A faint ray of sunlight from the dark face of the prisoner-dark with conflicting open door, fell upon the narrow bed that conpassions, and horror at his approaching fate; a tained the prisoner; but he moved not. “He gloomy, settled shade threw the figures only of sleeps," said one ; " he sleeps yet, though so the occupants into sight. But hark! there are near death!” They shook him gently, to voices in the cell; they come mingled with the awaken him-for even those rough men felt a clank of fetters that bind the weary limbs of the ray of pity for the condemned prisoner ; but he



slept the sleep of death. No marks of violence disturbed his features, which were calm and placid; no hidden wound was found; he had dropped to sleep like an infant, with a smile upon his face, an emblem of his purified spirit.

The two spirits still follow in each other's

footsteps: one comes like a ministering angel, and draws out all the good that dwells within the heart, to bear flowers of perfect beauty; while the other follows to rouse all bad passions, and choke up the good with flowers of evil growth.


Come back, come back, sweet memories

Of life's young April weather ;
Of hopes that came like morning light,

And fled at eve forever.
Come back, come back, while the stars are out,

In the quiet depths of heaven;
Come back, come back, while this lonely hour

To the bitter past is given-
While the hush of night is on the air,

While the moon's pale beams are falling
On paved path, and lonely street,

And hushed and silent dwelling.
Ye come, sweet visions,—from absent lips

A breath o'er my brow is stealing,
And a kindly eye on my own is bent,

Its world of love revealing.
A gentle, friendly, earnest grasp,

Sweet tones, and words of meeting-
Alas! that tone, and word, and clasp,

Should change so soon their greeting.
Oh, mournfully, visions, fade ye away!

And the air on my brow comes sweeping,
Chill as the lonely heart that yet

Its vigil sad is keeping.



The scene where the incidents I am about hope. But life is full of mysteries, and the to detail took place, is a charming one. I wish strangest of all, perhaps, is, that we can smile I could describe it—the quiet cottage, with its at all in this world of sin and sorrow—that the shade trees and its vine-covered porch, just spirit is not always covered with a gloomy pall large enough for the accommodation of a —that the heart is ever light. It always apyoung and newly married couple, with moder peared to me strange, after I learned their hisate views and still more moderate means, but tory, how these two beings, apparently formed with hearts of capacity to feel contented, be for each other, could wear, as they did wear Cause they seemed filled with each other. I for years, the semblance of happiness, and speak now of the time when they first came show in their conduct to one another all the there to live. It was in the bright and joyous outward tokens of ardent affection, so as to live time of spring. Nature looked all smiles, just for all that time mutually deceived and deceivfull of green leaves and fragrant blossoms, as ing others—how they could smile upon each if rejoicing in the coming of two happy beings other, and twine themselves together in loving to the place. I wish I could describe the two embraces, and press together their lips in love's beings I speak of—the young man full of the kisses-how they could lie in each other's ardent aspirations of one just entering upon the bosom and feign all they did feign year after practice of a profession, in which the promises year, and yet be utterly indifferent to each of fame are only exceeded by the hopes of use other, nay, worse—while they each loved with fulness, and the voice of holy sympathies a deep and passionate idolatry another, and crowding and swelling up in the heart—the loathed and gave grudgingly their mutual emyoung and exceedingly lovely woman, wearing braces. Yet such was the truth; and I say it the bright blushes of a new-made bride, and was wonderful how they lived as they didrejoicing in the prospect of opening years of how they wore always the same cheerful face happiness- I wish I could describe all this, but and smiles, and spoke their words in tones of I cannot. Let the reader then imagine, if he affection. But who can read the human heart? can, a quiet village sleeping on the bank of a who follow it through all its windings and torriver, and the cottage we could wish to paint tuous ways ? Who knows that the heart he for him, just on the outskirts, and overlooking trusts in and folds to his own with ardent love, a broad and beautiful bay, and then fill up the while the eye answers to every look of tenderscenery with all he pleases of beauty and grace, ness, may not be turned at that very moment and he will see nothing more pleasant than the in earnest longings to another ? Who knows place I have in my eye. Perhaps he has been that his own heart, now clinging with intense there. Then he knows all about it, and has | love to some vision of his youth, some fair and had some experience of how glorious nature is beautiful being, may not yet learn to look upon in some places. Perhaps he knew the very that very object with coldness, and contempt, individuals I am speaking of. If he knew and scorn ? But let me tell my story. them at the time I write of, he knew two be Early in the spring, a young man came to ings who, under an exterior of the most pro the village, and after looking around for a few found happiness, bore about in their bosoms days, and seeing that the cottage I have meneach a heart corroded and tortured, and har tioned was to be let, called upon the owner and rowed up with unutterable anguish.

rented it. He was just through his studies as Such beings there are in this world, and who a medical student, and had determined to comhas not known them? It is a mystery how mence business there ; and as he was to bring they smile with such heavy hearts—how they his young wife with him, he had fixed upon wear a face beaming with joy and happiness, the cottage as a desirable residence, and one while care sits in their breast and lays its red which he thought would please her. The hot hand on every thought, and feeling, and grounds were arranged by him in advance of


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

her arrival, with exquisite taste. Everything apparent feelings, for I would have my readers was done to beautify the place and make it remember what I have said above, that deep smile in joy and gladness to welcome the beau sorrow, and cankering care, and mutual loathtiful bride, who was to outshine all the attrac ing and contempt sat continually in both their tions around her. Then she came, and the hearts, and made them, under all the joyous villagers gazed at her admiringly, for such and happy exterior that deceived others as well beauty and grace were rarely seen. The quiet as themselves, the most miserable of beings. smile that sat upon her face, was a welcome to And it is this I wish to make distinctly appear every one, and every lip was ready to bless the - that the face is no criterion of the heart, but fair and happy young bride, even before they is often the veriest hypocrite, wreathing itself knew her. It required but a few days for them into smiles, when tears of anguish are ready to become domesticated in their new residence, to start from the eye, and being checked and and to become acquainted with the kind and smothered down, eat into and corrode the spirit. hospitable neighbors; and their manners won The time then at which we visit them, is an for them at once the affection and regards of evening a few months after the commencement all around them. It was pleasant to see them of our narrative. The sun is just setting, and on the first Sunday after their arrival, as they sheds upon the beautiful bay in front of the issued from the little arched gate, and arm in cottage, a broad path of golden light. All is arm passed on to the village church ; how all calm, and the very air seems filled with the met them with a smile of welcome, and many | same quiet that seems to fill their bosoms. He an old and gray-headed man and woman, find is seated on the piazza, and she, almost at his ing their hearts drawn to the strangers, grasped feet, on a low ottoman, leans confidingly upon their hands with warm affection, and gave them his knee. If they love not, and trust not in promises, which, from the mouth of age, seemed each other, who do? Aye, there is the fault. like prophecies of success and happiness. And They each believe the other loves, and trusts in the bosoms of the young arose no thought of and believes, and thus they deceive themselves envy, for they loved them as soon as they saw and each other. them, and in the silence of their own hearts “ How very beautiful it is,” says Amy. “ To pledged them kindness and sympathy. I say it a heart like yours, Henry, filled with high and was pleasant to see these two, strangers to all glorious thoughts of nature, nothing can be they met, gathering at once around them good more lovely than this ?” wishes and hearty love, and finding so soon “ And why not to yours, my sweet wife? Is their way into the very hearts of their new not your heart tuned to the same feeling of friends. But it could not be otherwise.

beauty as mine? Have we not always, since I have much, very much to tell, in the short we have known each other, loved the same space allotted me. I must compress the joys things, books, and songs, and scenery, and flowand sorrows of four years in a few pages, and ers? Do we not think alike and feel alike in I hardly know how to do it. If I could take everything? Then why should not this be to you on from day to day, and month to month, you as it is to me ?” I could show you the constantly accumulating “ It is,” said she; "and I could almost wish sources of pleasure and happiness that gath it would last forever. But it is all passing ered around our young friends, and opened to away, just as the joys of earth pass.” them promises of enduring bliss. But I can "Only to be succeeded by others as bright,” only say that as business increased upon the said her husband. young physician, he only seemed to court it | “Do you believe, Henry, that there are any, and rejoice in it, because of the wider sphere to whom life is always happy, and who never which it opened for his beautiful wife to find see the clouds that darken the path of so enjoyment. He seemed entirely absorbed in many ?her, and she in him; yet they entered into | He looked in her face a moment, as if he society with all the zest of those who find in expected to see there the very clouds she spoke it their only comfort, and all around them loved of. But though there was a singular tone of them.

sadness in her voice, there was nothing there But I may best show the apparent feelings but the same happy and contented smile she which filled their hearts, by showing them in ever wore, and she returned his gaze with a the solitude of their cottage home. I say the still warmer smile.

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“ Why do you ask, Amy?" he inquired.

" Because I sometimes fear, that happy as we are, it may all be false and by and by fade away."

“ Dreams, Amy-all dreams. This earth is not a place where we are to look for nothing but shadowy unrealities—where happiness is only a transient ray of sunshine, to be darkened over by clouds or torn away by stormy winds. There is infinitely more here-all that the wildest dreams of visionary ever conceived.”

“But where are we to look for it, Henry ? Not surely in ourselves."

“No-fır from it, my beloved. In each other-in our friends—in the deep and ardent love of one another, and the kindred hearts we are gathering around us to share it, and bestow theirs in return. Love, Amy, is the universe to those who understand and know its power. Not that selfish contracted affection which confines itself in sickly solitude to one only object, and banishes all the world besides ; but that universal benevolence, that, with one object uppermost and supreme in the heart, embraces all, and loves all, and delights in the happiness of all."

She laughed as she replied, “ You speak like an enthusiast or a philosopher, I can hardly tell which; but either way, I believe you are right.”

“Right !-to be sure I am. We are happy now. Is it only in each other, or is it not also in the affection and kindness we meet in every one of our new neighbors ? Should we continue to be happy alone, confined to the society of each other, such would only be the inactive content of the birds and beasts. We should tire, my own one, of that one only presence, and our restless hearts would wander out, anxious and dissatisfied, and longing for communion with others like ourselves."

“Were I inclined to be jealous, Henry, I should fear for the future. But I am not. I am too sure that I am the one uppermost in your love, and I rejoice in seeing you loved and honored by others."

“And loving others; is it not so, dear Amy? You yourself would not be so happy, did you see me ever tied to your side, and slighting the affection that is springing up around me, and making me feel as if my life and yours are only a part of the great whole, that is folding us to its heart in so much gladness.".

Poor, deluded self-deceivers! Thus they spoke, but far from thus did they feel. But a

I few months before, they had both, by a strange

coincidence, seen their early hopes and wishes broken, and their hearts had bowed down in unutterable anguish. But they were proud and strong-hearted, and they met to rise above their sorrows--met for the first time, and unknowing each other's griefs, rushed with a strange willingness into each other's arms, as if they were thus to drown the misery they suffered. Both thought themselves beloved, and thus trusted to the other a heart weighed down with sorrow, vainly thinking that in their fancied affection they could forget. From this moment life to them became a constant struggle to deceive. Every power of their minds was tasked to the utmost to play the hypocrite successfully, and from their heavy and overburdened hearts were forced up smiles, to repay the love each believed the other to feel. Yet during all this, they were ever looking back with anxious regrets to what they had lost, and in their solitude they sighed for the past and mourned bitterly over the step they had taken. And thus wore on month after month of this life of terrible struggle—a life in which every advancing day, covered and filled as it was with joyous smiles and the honeyed words of affection, only made them loathe more and more the presence of each other, because they were continually compelled to strive against the real feelings of their hearts, and show in their outward acts a love which they were utterly ignora nt and destitute of.

It must have been terrible to live thus, and yet for years they continued to maintain the same undiminished appearance of affection, and to cheat themselves, and all who knew them. But it could not last forever. The time drew on slowly and gradually, when they began to discern the truth, or iather, at first, to suspect it. I know not what first revealed to them the true condition of their hearts. It might have been the muttering of a name in sleep; or the discovery of some toy or little keepsake, treasured in secret through long and solitary years of bitterness, and almost worshipped for the memories it brought back of the past; or, perhaps, a letter written years ago, in the young heart's first love, and cherished since, and read and read again when the other was absent, till it had become soiled, and worn, and faded, and blotted with tears, and now left by accident in some place where it had been seen and read unsuspectingly by the very one who ought to have been the last one to see it. There are a

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »