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for so long a time, and he listened eagerly for the sound of her step on the stairs. He wondered why Julia should desert him ; there was no one else that he could expect to visit him; and he was fearful of sending for any body, lesi they should tell him he was sick, or talk to him about dying. He tried to think of his business, but thoughts of death would intrude themselves into his mind, in spite of all he could do. A portrait of his mother hung up in bis room, and every time he glanced at it, it reminded him that she was lying in her grave, and that he too must soon be laid by her side. He walked to his book-case, and took up a volume, hoping to amuse himself with its contents. He turned to the title-page; it was the Holy Living and Dying,' and the book dropped like lead from his hands; but another lay vear it. It was Julia's Album, that she had left there the day before. He opened it, and seeing young Tremlett's writing, curiosity led him to read what he had written: it was a little poem:
Oft have I joined in mirth and glee,
When many a weary heart was sighing,
That all around the dead were lying;
Their festal hours with mirth are keeping,
Beside some loved one may be weeping.
Of messengers of death ; the dying
With thoughtless laughter are replying.' He read thus far, and closed the book. He knew that the Bible was full of passages to remind him of death, and he would not open it, although it almost seemed to invite him to do so. He turned from his book-case, and walked to the window, to beguile his thoughts by watching the passers-by; but he had not stood there a minute, before two men came along, bearing an empty coffin on their shoulders. He turned his head quickly away, but not until he had seen that it was about his own measure. To add to his gloomy feelings, it was a dark, dull day, and the wind moaned sadly through the blinds of his windows. He sank down in his chair, with his heart beating violently, and tried to compose himself, but in vain. He could not drive away the gloomy thoughts that oppressed him. When his housekeeper came into his chamber, he detained her as long as he could in conversation, but she appeared in a hurry to leave him.
At last it was dark, and he ordered his shutters to be closed, and a bright light to be placed in his chamber. The servant brought in the evening paper. He took it up, and the first item of news that met his eye, was the death of an old acquaintance, from a disease of the heart. He threw down the paper, and involuntarily put his hand to his left side. He was alarmed, when he felt how his heart throbbed. It seemed to him every moment that it would burst. By and by he fell into a slumber; but he was soon aroused from it by the pelting of the rain against his windows. It sounded to him like the earth rattling on a coffin, as the first shovel-full is thrown in to close up a grave. The cold sweat stood upon his forehead, and the blood rushed furiously into his heart. He tried to reason himself out of his fears. What could they mean? Why had not the same sights and sounds
affected him so before ? He had seen them and heard them a thousand times. He was in the daily habit of passing an undertaker's shop, where coffins stood around like boxes of merchandise ; but they had never awakened a gloomy thought in his mind. His mother's picture had been hanging many years in his chamber, and although he had dropped many a tear when gazing upon her mild countenance, yet it had never before suggested a thought of death ; and why should it now? Without scarcely being aware of what he was doing, he opened his desk and took out his will. He remembered all the revengeful thoughts that were passing in his mind when he wrote it, and how he anticipated the disappointment of some of his relations, when they should come to know its terms; and particularly how he chuckled over the imagined chagrin of his brother's wife, and her two sons, when they should find themselves remembered by the bequest of one dollar each; and he wondered that he should have been moved by such feelings, while engaged in so solemn a duty. But he soon threw his will down, and tried to get rid of the weary load that oppressed him, by pacing his chamber floor. The evening wore away, and at last it was eleven, the hour when he was to take the elixir. He had been counting the minutes for more than an hour. He took the vial from the dark corner in which he had placed it, and remembering the injunction of the doctor, placed it to his mouth, with trembling hands, and swallowed its entire contents.
For a long time after my prostration by the highwayman, as recorded in the conclusion of my last chapter, I remained unable to move from the uncomfortable position into which I had fallen. At length I raised myself up, and crawling up the bank, sat down. My face was covered with blood, and I could see but a faint glimmer of light. Never was there a fall from romance to wretchedness so sudden and so awful. After a while I began to discern the light on the water. I crept down to it; washed the blood from my face and temples, bound up my shattered head with my handkerchief, and having recovered my sight, I felt thankful — indeed almost joyful. I saw my horse, at a little distance, coming slowly toward me. I managed to reach him; and by help of the bank, raised myself into the saddle. All the ribs in my sides seemed to be broken, and at every step of the horse, I shook with pain ; but I feared the enraged ruffian might revisit me, and by great exertion I sustained myself while my horse went on at a slow walk.
* At the distance of half a mile, I came to a log house; and turning up, knocked with all my strength at the door. Presently it was partially opened by a large tangle-haired man, who looked out rather fiercely at me. I told him what had befallen me, and begged his hospitality. At once the door swung broadly open, like the portal of the good man's heart, and displayed, beneath a short shirt, not a little of his bare shins. He helped me down, showed me into his best room, and led me, regardless of blood, to his best bed. His kind wife soon came; a pale, bent, blue-eyed woman: she dressed my wounds, and did all in her power to render me comfortable ; while the whole household, old and young, from the tall kitchen-maid in white cap and night-gown, to the little bare-legged urchins of six, with long face and hair erect, gathered around. I never saw a more kind or sympathetic family circle.
*For a week I kept my bed, in great pain. To turn or change my position, was excruciating; and my head-aches drove sleep from my eyes, and slumber from my eye-lids. Much of the time was lost : my mind wandered in a chaos of strange ideas; utterly unconscious of every reality, save that of pain. As the week waned, I grew better; and on Saturday afternoon I began to consider the circumstances of my situation. It was a bright-day; the sunshine streamed in through the window, and in long smoky rolls, alive with golden motes, through the chinks between the logs. I looked around on the bare log-walls and ceiling, my lowly bed, and my own prostrate condition. The songs of the mountain birds, and the light voices of children, reminded me of the bright world without, and how happy I had been but a few days before. I thought over the pleasant days of my journey; with what delight I had loitered along, careless as the very birds around me; free from pain ; feeling pleasure in the warm-rolling blood ; carrying joy in the health and freshness of my
own heart, and drawing happiness from sweet anticipations, now alas ! demolished forever.
* More than all other sufferings, there was one consideration that afflicted me.
It was connected with the loss of my money. With that in hand, I had contemplated a little project that lay near my heart. It had long cheered me; it had been to me as a sweet morsel; it was a pleasure that lay beyond the meeting of friends. After the gladdening sight of old, brightened faces; the anticipated gatherings around the fireside; the pleasant talks over old times, and the stories of life's new scenes, were all enjoyed, there remained that little project, a secret bliss to my soul. It was nothing more than this : my father had parted with the old farm; the little burying-ground had become the property of strangers, and remained in its neglected condition. My plan was, to buy back that little meadow; to put a fence around the graves ; to lay a tablet on the grave of the pilgrim; and to erect a simple monument to my mother, for which, after a hundred designs, I had fixed upou the model.
• And this little project was whisked to the winds! I felt deeply the disappointment. For that little purpose I had lived; I had considered it accomplished; aud now that it was all over, I closed my eyes to all the other hopes and gratifications of life. Full of the gloomy, desponding feelings which usually intervene between a last campaign, and the rallying of the energies to begin a new, I suffered my mind to wander back to the peaceful scenes of my childhood : tender remembrances stole upon me; and I was buried in a train of melancholy reflections until late at night, when sleep relieved me.
"I awoke about eleven o'clock. A young woman was sitting by my bed-side, reading. The light stood on a small octagonal stand, and a large volume was placed before it, to shade my eyes. The book which the young lady was reading, was of highly gilded but much worn binding : it had the appearance of a favorite volume, or of belonging to a scanty library, in which there were few to share its service. It was a warm night, yet ihe girl was enveloped in a large thick shawl. The texture of her dress somewhat surprised me. Her face was rather thin, and the pale clear skin seemed to bear the trace of recent sickness. The combs had been taken from her hair, as if for the night; and the rich mass fell in long loose flakes over her shawl, while the curling front-locks were turned behind her ears. There was a saintly beauty in the face; and in gazing on those chaste features, my very soul felt its influence. The light fell on the fair brow, and revealed the blue veins of the temple. I studied the countenance; the clear lid of the down-cast eye; the innocent mouth; the vague, magical expression of sweetness; the deep repose of all expression, subdued under a presiding intellect. I know not how long I had been gazing, and insensibly losing myself in the delicate beauty of that face, when the lids were raised, and the soul looked out upon me from the soft, clear eyes. The sudden unveiling of those brilliant orbs threw me into a slight confusion : my eyes involuntarily closed, and I drew my hand over my brow, to the no little disturbance of sundry patches and bandages.
When I ventured to look again, the eyes were still fixed kindly on
me, but a clear sparkle in their deep recesses discovered to me the calmness with which the girl observed my confusion. She came and replaced the bandage on my brow; and I felt the light tips of her fingers about my forehead. She re-seated herself; sat a moment observing the flame of the lamp; and then, with more averted face, resumed her book. There was about her an air of lofty composure, in which the tenderness of sympathetic woman beautifully mingled. I longed to open a conversation ; but I felt that the proper opportunity had passed. I could not bring myself to begin, and every moment increased my
embarrassment. Still I could see that she was not so much absorbed in her book as when I first saw her; and both my. heart and my tongue fluttered, when I saw the eyes of the beautiful creature wandering about the borders of the page. At length she raised them, and observed me with timid scrutiny. There were the first faint streaks of a smile's bright dawn. The rosy tint of the morning was stealing faintly over the pale cheek. There was a tear in the gentle eye, and a familiar brilliancy, which went at once to my heart, and aroused a host of generous emotions; and I turned a glance to my vague memories of the week of balf insensibility from which I had just emerged. Gradually the smile broke over that effulgent face. It was one of the sunny things that I remember greeting ine in the days of artless, simple-bearted childbood. The simplicity of the beautiful being was perfectly enchanting. I found my tongue readily.
'I was not aware that I had been attended by night-watchers. I little expected to find any one by my bed-side at midnight ; little indeed, to find so beautiful a creature; and in the enthusiasm of the moment, I regarded the incident as one of those occurrences of unexpected delight, by which kind Providence often throws a cheerful ray into the darkest hour. It was followed by a train of pleasant thoughts, and threw me into a slight excitement, which kept me long awake. In the morning, the chair was vacant. I looked around in vain for the young lady. It was late, and she was gone. I knew she could not be one of the family; and when the good woman came in, I made a variety of ingenious inquiries about the neighborhood; but all my careful, roundabout endeavors to learn more of the fair unknown, were singularly unsuccessful, and I saw no more of her sweet face.
“In a few days I was able to travel ; and my plans were soon formed. “I will return,' said I, “to the wilderness; and at the end of a year I shall be able to resume this journey, happy as ever in the romance of moonlight, and the sunshine of prosperity.' Fortunately, I had in my purse, in current bills, the amount necessary for my journey; and thinking I could trust to a ten dollar bill, I gave the remainder to the good woman, and took my leave of that hospitable family. I returned to the camp; and endeavored to forget my defeated enterprise. But often in my dreams I accomplished that journey; and mingled again with my old friends, and rambled over the fields of home, and busied myself whole days, as it seemed, about my little projects; and I could hardly believe my senses, when, starting from sleep, I beheld the starry canopy, and heard the moan of the forest winds.