« AnteriorContinuar »
brated artist, Benvenuto Cellini, was for a long time confined in the dungeons of this castle by Pope Paul III., who accased him of having stolen some of the pontifical jewels at the time of his predecessor's flight from the victorious Imperial Army.
Immediately past the bridge, on the right bank of the river, stands the Apollo Theatre, the opera house of Rome, built on the site of the old Torre di Nona, formerly used as a prison, but destroyed in 1690. And here another bridge once crossed the Tiber, the Pons Vaticanus, which some archæologists have claimed for the Pons Triamphalis. Now we come to the very foot of the Vatican; and presently, separated from the immediate banks of the river by a street, is the Mausoleum of the family of Augustas, the first Emperor of Rome. The earliest interment was that of his nephew and son-in-law, who died at Baia of malaria, B.C. 23; the latest was that of the Emperor Nerva, A.D. 93. And here, too, long after the Mausoleam had fallen into decay, were burnt the remains of that great champion of liberty and justice, the Tribune Rienzi, sacrificed by the people he had attempted to serve, “ who could make no allowance in the splendour of the horo for the imperfections and weaknesses of the man."
Now, passing between open banks, we approach the confines of the city, and here we pause awhile, to resume our river journey at a future opportunity.
BY BEATRICE BRISTOWE,
CHAPTER XXVIII.-A PEACEABLE HABITATION.
Four years had passed, and Clarissa still dwelt on, within Gracefield Cottage, in the quiet village of Failand. Through these years no tidings had reached her of her husband or her child. That he still lived on the other side of the Atlantic was known through occasional communications received by his old partner, Mr. Locke, and also by the firm of Kingsport accountants entrasted by him with the management of various business affairs ; but this bare fact was all of which his relatives were cognisant.
In answering his letter of farewell, his sisters had declined giving any pledge that his address should not be communicated to his wife, unless, on his part, he gave such explanations as should prove the prohibition reasonable. To this letter no reply had ever been received.
Repeatedly Clarissa had entreated her sisters-in-law to change their purpose and give the required promise. She would not, she said, seek to obtain the address from them; would not ask for any information he desired them to withhold. Something they would be able to tell ; she should be thankfal for any tidings, however scanty; anything would be better than this atter dead silence. Sarah, perhaps, might have yielded, but Elizabeth possessed somewhat of their brother's determination; she was resolute, and the stronger dominated the weaker will.
To bis sister Emily, Edward had not voachsafed a parting letter or any offer of correspondence even on his own terms. Towards her he had long shown a decided coolness on account of her sisterly relations with their brother Henry. Thas it was that, since his departure for America, only by an occasional business transaction had Edward Weatherill kept up any connection with his former life in the old country.
Sometimes it seemed to Clarissa that these years had been very long, and the old life at Kingsport far, far off ; long-oh, so long ! the time since she had seen the face of her husband, of her child, and that the sickening hunger for that sight, for bat one word of tidings, grew in intensity as month after month went by, and made each as it passed seem longer than had those which went before. And sometimes these intervening years seemed not long nor short, but as if they had not been at all—the past life standing out clearly, down to its minutest details, as though present still. Only yesterday it might have been that she parted with Alice on that visit from which she was not to return to her; only yesterday that she rode down Soow Hill with her husband in silence, and had caught that last glimpse of him as he stood grasping the railing, for that moment overmastered by agony.
But this vivid realisation of the past was not because her life was given up to indolent, self-indulgent mourning, or because it lacked interests in the present; and if the years looked back upon appeared long, the days weeks, months had moved not slowly, as they were passing. Unremoved, anallayed, the grief and longing were ; but she had learned to possess her soul in patience and to endure as looking at the things which are not seen.
Help and comfort beyond all she had hoped for had she found in her connection with the Christian community with which, so strangely, she had become associated—a community distinguished by an evangelic teaching emphatic, all-prevailing, yet annarrowed, anobscured by formulated dogmas; hymns, and prayers, finding inspiration in an unfaltering, joyous acceptance of the great facts
of Incarnation and Redemption; of God manifest in the flesh, a mercifal High Priest, by one offering perfecting for ever them that are sanctified.
Prevented by no compelling occapation, seldom by illness, never by weather, Clarissa's seat was rarely vacant when the little sanctaary was open for worship. The Sunday evening service, scarcely distinguishable in the manner of its being conducted from that of any other nonconforming community she did not undervalue; bat she felt that she enjoyed more the services, morning or afternoon, when was used the Church Litany, and whereat were oftener sung hymns peculiar in metre and in idiom, found in no other hymnal than that of the United Brethren, and sung to tunes alone familiar to their worship.
Strange to her at first had seemed the “Love Feasts,” in their quaint simplicity, but ere long they had grown pleasant. In humility, faith, and love, she united in the Communion Service somewhat peculiar in its manner of celebration-in its hymns of penitence and praise, the partaking of the bread by the kneeling congregation at the same moment, the brotherly clasping of hands. the wearing by the minister of a surplice, the substitation of wafer for common bread.
Painful, as to her Christmas-tide always was, and could not fail to be, she strove to take her part anshrinkingly in the joyous celebration; though the tears would come when all the little ones were gathered at the “ Children's Festival," and timid voices lisped forth text or hymn. With a fuller accord, unhindered by conflicting feelings, she joined year by year in the keeping of Passionweek, when evening by evening the congregation met to listen to the record given of the words and deods of the Lord on that particular day of those last days; and " on the same night in which He was betrayed,” to keep the feast in remembrance of Him. Then on the glad Easter Day, she stood with the assembled congregation gathered very early in the morning, in the peaceful barial ground, where amid springing grass and budding trees and opening flowers, themselves dim types of resurrection life, was read by the minister the triumphant “Easter Morning Litany," with its calmly exultant faith in a risen Lord as the first fruits of them that sleep, and a glad realisation of a present communion with saints departed—its confident aspirations and devout ascriptions. “I have a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better, I shall never taste death ; yea, I shall attain anto the resurrection of the dead, for the body which I shall pat off, this grain of corruptibility, shall put on incorruption, my flesh shall rest in hope. Glory be to Him who is the Resurrection and the Life, He was dead, and behold, He is alive for evermore ; And he that believeth in Him, though He were dead, yet shall he live. Glory bo to Him in the Church which waiteth for Him, and in that which is around Him, forever and ever.”
It was not only within the little chapel and in its precincts that Mrs. Weatherill's presence was familiar. Neither in the peaceful-looking village of Failand, with its pretty cottages, its fine old church and manor-house, its stately avenge of elms, nor in the detached cottages and hamlets scattered here and there away across the pleasant fields, and reached by cross-roads and shaded lanes, were sickness and sorrow unknowy, and wherever pain and weariness, want or grief were to be found, there Clarissa's steps went, and when the eye saw her, then it blessed her!
Nor was her care only for the sick and the sad; from the erring, the sinful, she turned not away. Once and again the joy was hers of seeing wanderers reclaimed; and even when no true penitence and reformation followed on her gentle rebukes and entreaties, these were rarely met by resentment, but more often by a gratitode and affection which made their unavailingness all the more pitifal.
To the village school she was no infrequent visitor, and always the children's eyes brightened when she came; and by the roadside, in the fields, and in cottage homes, the smiles and cartseys of the little ones greeted her. By the teacher she was welcomed gladly as by the children, for she came in no spirit of criticism, interference, or condescersion, but with a frank, respectful appreciation of a teacher's work, with its difficulties, satisfactions, and trials. Once, indeed, when the governess sorely needed rest, and a substitate was hard to find, Mrs. Weatherill took charge of the school for an entire fortnight, greatly to the relief of the managers, who feared for their teacher an entire breakdown; although, truth to tell, the discipline of the school became somewhat relaxed under such lerient sway.
According to her purpose, long ago expressed to Mary, there was always in Gracefield Cottage a young girl in course of training for domestic service under the faithful Susan, who, thus in a measure relieved from actual housework, became the ready helpor of her mistress in her ministrations to the poor and suffering. With a self-denial not small, whenever a girl had proved herself trustworthy, and bad acquired some good measure of aptitude, a suitable situation was sought for her by Mrs. Weatherill, and the process was recommenced on the raw material.
And two years after her coming to Failand yet another method of doing good occurred to her. A cottage, small bat neat and well-built, situated within a minute's walk of her own abode, was for sale. She became the parchaser, and, furnishing
it in a simple, serviceable, but tasteful manner, placed in it as housekeeper a respectable widow, with means too narrow for her entire support and health too feeble for any but self-directed leisurely work, and put it at the disposal of a society of benevolent ladies at Hillsbridge, to be occupied by convalescents requiring country air and quiet, or any other in need of a temporary home. In spring, summer, aatamn always, and not seldom in winter also, the cottage was tenanted by a succession of visitors, all of whom were regarded by Clarissa as in some sort her gueste, to be treated with such consideration and discriminating kindliness as would make all happy according to their different positions and tastes.
For some months after her settlement in the village she had avoided with nervous dread any visit to Northallerton, and this relactance had only been overcome apon hearing that the invalid lady she had visited during the weeks of suspense passed in that town now appeared to be drawing near her end, and had expressed a desire to see her. The effort to enter Northallerton and the house in High Street, darkened by such painful recollections, once made, the nervous repugnance gradually lessened; but it never wholly disappeared, and she get felt that to have taken up her abode there would have been more than she could have borne. Still the loneliness of her lot was lightened by frequent intercourse with her sister, not only, as at first, in her own, but now also in her sister's bome.
Loneliness! Could that be experienced in a life so devoted to the service of others, felt by a heart ever giving forth affection and ever receiving affection in return ?
Yes, even so. No philanthropy, wide-reaching or near, no " enthusiasm of humanity," could wholly take the place of those closer bonds ordained by Him who said at the first, “It is not good for man to be alone,” and who evermore "setteth the solitary in families." Not un hallowed, not anblessed, will be such solitariness of generous, widely-loving spirits. A pain only, not an evil, never narrowing or corroding, as is the isolation born of selfishness; yet surely a pain and loneliness, after all !
One companionship possible to Clarissa there was, on which she had thought with longing on first taking up her abode in Failand. When the home was only prospective the thought had occurred; but, langaid in body and in mind, she had felt little able for consideration or decision, and it was not until the second night spent in her new abode, when Mary was gone and the perfect silence and darkness of night in so secluded a place pressed on her spirits, intensifying the sense of desolation, that she distinctly faced the question, Why not send for Irene to share her home and lessen its