Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

child's heart but yearn for the sunlight of home and love ? So he had planned to creep in among the workers, and win him a place by the exercise of his sweet gift, and he was keeping his malady a secret, lest, as his small experience suggested, they too might cast him off for it. They? - not they!' Who of all the world knew what hardship was, if not they ? -— or who ought to be readier to alleviate it ?

They were working people, hoping and doing; and they did not pause half so long to bewail the misfortune, as to decide upon the surest means of alleviating it. Who knew that it was incurable ? Money was raised forthwith, a purse made up, no one knew how far with • widow's mites;' and the child was carried away to an infirmary, and lo! brought back seeing !

No story is oftener told; and the child now, they add, is a famous vocalist, a man in the great world, singing and composing such music that it seems like interpretations of all beauty. And who knows? Why may not its spirit echo in his music, and go forth into the world revealing its Divinity in the mysterious language of sweet sounds ? A. P.

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

SONNET: ON

RECEIVING A

BOUQUET.

Sort meadows lapped in sunlight; green arcades

Loaded with fragrance; leafy, woodland nooks,
Silent and dim, where the rath floweret fades

Unseen by any ; quiet, shady brooks,
Flecked here and there with spots of dazzling light,

And doubling the green leaves and leaning flowers
That blossom on their banks: how every sight,

That thrilled my soul with gladness in those hours
When life was new, comes o'er me as I gaze

Upon thy gift, dear Lady! Ah, my heart
No longer throbs as in those sinless days,

And in my eyes the unbidden tear-drops start
Only to think how the world's care and strife

Have dimmed the freshness of my boyhood's life !
Washington, July, 1850.

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

On her twenty-ninth birth-day Evelyn Clause bent over the body of her lifeless son, and saw him, the eldest, the most beautiful, the last surviving of her four bright boys, placed in the coffin for burial

. She watched and even assisted in this sad duty, with a calmness that was almost frightful to behold: and the hearts of those who witnessed the strange composure of the bereaved mother trembled and fluttered into quiet, even while their hands were busied with arranging the robes of the dead; the tears which had gathered in their eyes fell not; voices which had faltered as they strove to utter consolation or sympathy grew calm and strong suddenly; even the grief of the nurse who had watched over Frederick from his infancy was hushed, and became voiceless in the presence of the mother, who stood so calm and silent beside her lifeless child.

When Clarence, the baby, died, it was far otherwise with her. Never was infant mourned with such wild, such exceeding sorrow as he. Night and day through his illness, and after his death, the young mother clung to him, until at last they were compelled by force to remove her from the corpse when the funeral hour was come. It seemed then as though she would weep her very life away; and the mourning in which her form was enrobed was not comparable in gloom with that natural mourning which enveloped her lovely face. Though three children still remained to her, it was of him who was lost that she held most constant remembrance; it was of him, the affectionate little one, who had never learned to express his love in words, who had never even learned her name, that her stricken heart held continual thought; and she who had lived all of life -- real life that had been given her to live in her children - trembled now, and looked with constant fear on the future; in them she had fixed all her hope and her love, and behold, one already was taken!

Evelyn Clause was married in her youth to a "merchant prince,' who had already been twice married. They stood together at the altar a strangely matched pair; she a very child in experience and in beauty, and he worn in the world's service — his hair already tinged with gray.

There were some witnessing this bridal who envied the new-made wife of Jesse Clause; for he was a man respected and looked up to in the world; but he was also one to whom it would seem the fancies or the hearts of the youthful would not naturally incline. But he had money, and to the young creature who in the morning of her life joyously consented to wed him, this was his sole recommendation - the only reason why she for a moment thought seriously of his offer. For Evelyn was the daughter of a poor family, (a large family moreover,) and it had been sheer madness in her, and profound selfishness also, (so her own generous heart assured her,) to decline so precious an opportunity of aiding her beloved ones of home. With the sincere earnestness and heartiness of youth, Evelyn strove to feel for her great benefactor more than gratitude, more than respect

- she tried to love him. Poor child! must she also learn that bitter lesson, which they who thus bind Poverty and Wealth together so often, so almost invariably, so fully learn?

As Evelyn learned her husband, to know his nature as his departed companions had, a wild suspicion would anon torture her; that love which she had vowed to maintain for him was not that which she must strive for; to preserve that reverence which she had for him, that respect, that friendliness, that gratitude, she must struggle. Ah, reader, no task like that can be given the bewildered young soul! God save thee from the necessity of learning it! It was then that Evelyn hushed, with an effort one must have himself made in order to fully appreciate, the indignant voice which Nature prompted her to raise against many a word he uttered, many a deed he wrought. She tried, how devoutly, with the charity that thinketh no evil, to forget the evidence he daily forced upon her of his ungenial and unworthy spirit; and had this been a possiblity, she had certainly succeeded in an effort so continuously and so faithfully made.

It was only after years had passed, that the truth, which slowly but surely gathered its force, burst full upon her, and the wife knew that the doom of solitariness in the midst of splendor was upon her. Urged then by the 'strong necessity of loving,' she folded in a more idolatrous passion her young children to her heart, and she made gods of them.

It was said by some who inquisitively watched the fading of her face, and the sadness that revealed itself in her eyes and in her voice, that Evelyn Clause was but reaping in bitter disappointment the fruit which she well deserved, for wedding where her heart could not by possibility have chosen its home. But no word from her lip ever added to the testimony of her face; and it was not the truth which they spoke, who looking on the apparent wreck of her happiness, told of the just reward of the covetous. If it had been a self-immolating sense of duty VOL. XXXVI.

18

to her parents which led the girl in her youth to wed with Jesse Clause, it was likewise a sense of justice, lofty and holy and stern, that prompted and constrained her to be to the husband all he should have been to her. The consciousness of his utter uncongeniality was with her constantly, yet she continued unweariedly faithful and devoted to him : still how often, how very often, her heart fainted and failed within her, need I tell ? Let the mortal who has looked for love and found only wealth — who has received a stone where it craved for the bread of life — answer.

Yet the reader has seen that entire bankruptcy was not forced upon the wife. In the children given her, the craving spirit of life within her found consolation; in their unfolding natures her resigned heart aroused to act; the floods which had been fast settling into a Dead Sea were arrested, were stirred again; the clouds which were growing dark and threatening assumed a sun-brightness once more.

Frederick, the first born, was a lovely boy. In him the soul of his mother seemed personified; and well might she look with pride on him, who was the first in all the world to love her as she prayed one human being might. She was satisfied when his eyes fixed upon her, when his voice called her, when he followed in her footsteps, like an attendant angel. She asked no more of Earth's good things when his merry laugh rung in her ear, when his smiling happy face was before her. With the other children born unto these parents, there was a mother's love born — a twin with each, a protector to each. It sprung with them into such exultant life, that none who looked upon Evelyn then could say, 'She is unhappy. She became more beautiful then than she had been in her girlhood; and the peacefulness, the continual harmony of her existence in those days, proved that she was satisfied. In these young beings her own dead youth was beautifully revived; in the sunshine that enveloped them she revelled; and the light-joy' of perfect innocence and contentment, which was over them, reflected itself in and through her.

How terrible then was the awakening from this security of happiness to an unimagined, unthought-of sorrow! The immutability of her idols had seemed a thing unquestioned; she had never borne to think they might be shattered, she had never thought it. And, therefore, when Death came and stood before her, and clasped her infant in his arms, she was frantic in her grief.

In her bereavement the wife was indeed most lonely. During the several months in which one by one the three younger boys successively sickened and died, it was in Frederick's presence, in his voice alone, that she found any comfort. Her husband's tears did indeed fall with hers over the lifeless children, and with a heavy heart he followed them to the burial-place, but it seemed the loss of heirs that he most mourned. The children had never been to him what they were to her. It was in the passionate grief of the last surviving son that she could best sympathize; and with him clasping her hand when the third of her offspring was laid in the grave, Evelyn felt that there was yet left on earth a comfort and an exceeding joy. How infinitely precious he became in her sight, whoso has bound up all their hope in this life,

ness.

and all their deep affection in one human being, will fully comprehend. He was her future. The rainbow of promise circled his glorious forehead, the sunlight of beauty was on his hair, and in his eyes, and in his graceful figure. When he was merry she was a very child in her glad

His boyish grief made her also sorrowful; she seemed indeed an elder sister rather than the mother of the lad; a gentle, fond, and proud companion, rather than an instructor or guide.

As year by year passed on, and still the child was spared, the trembling foreboding with which Evelyn had, on every succeeding morrow, clasped him to her breast, passed, and a blessed conviction that He, who is most merciful and just in all His ways, would grant long life to her darling, began to fill her mind. Then she built up high hopes of his manhood; she saw him pressing on in the loftiest paths of being, and how earnest was she in her endeavor to educate his heart ! And a bright reward was given the mother for this labor of love in the honest and noble spirit of the boy, in his virtue, in his filial reverence and devotedness to both parents. Looking then into his clear eyes, she read a joyful truth in them, respecting the lofty character of her child.

That he should die!' No warning of a calamity so awful was given in the healthful look, the ringing voice, and the winged footsteps of the boy; and indeed it was without any warning that Frederick was called away. There were but a few brief moments of solitary struggle in the night-time that passed between the sleep of life and the breathless slumber of the dead. And she was not there to hear his struggling and his cry; to hear him, when the convulsion and the agony were over, murmur her name with his dying breath!

When the sunlight of morning streamed in at the window of his room, which was close adjoining hers, Evelyn stood by his bed-side, as she was wont, to welcome him back to day and to her heart; but his greeting was for her ear no more; his smile was no longer to rival that sunshine which flooded the little chamber. Long, long continued was the vain effort to bring him back again, and frantic was the voice that rung through the solemnly silent room, whose walls alone coldly echoed his dear name: and all the while upon his young face was an expression inexpressibly tranquil and soft, which, while it bitterly mocked her despair, seemed to rebuke her sorrow.

As I have already said, when Frederick was arrayed for the grave, and placed in his coffin, there was a wondrous calmness, a strange composure in the face, the voice, the manner of the mother. Yes; for in her also had there been a death and a burial, and she had wept the last tears, had passed the last agony. All indeed of life was over to her; and whatsoever of misfortune or of suffering might yet befall her, would be without a name, and without reality to her. Of old a bright, bewildering light had danced in her large eyes, gloriously brilliant when her heart was glad, mournfully sweet in the days of sorrow : that light was now entirely vanished, and it was chilling to the heart when she fixed her gaze on the things of the earth, which were now but as chaos, as void to her. Once in her youth, and after her marriage, indeed, her voice vibrated, like a rich stringed instrument, with every emotion, but a cold, even metallic ring, was now in the calm cadence of her words

« AnteriorContinuar »