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for cold and cheerless winter: not for sunlight and fragrance.
He almost thought that shrouds were for the old and shrunken; and
that they never wrapped the young and graceful form in their
A knell from the church bell broke harshly on these youthful
thoughts. Another! Again! It was tolling for the funeral
service. A group of humble mourners entered the gate: wearing
white favours; for the corpse was young. They stood uncovered by
a grave; and there was a mother--a mother once--among the weeping
train. But the sun shone brightly, and the birds sang on.
Oliver turned homeward, thinking on the many kindnesses he had
received from the young lady, and wishing that the time could
come again, that he might never cease showing her how grateful
and attached he was. He had no cause for self-reproach on the
score of neglect, or want of thought, for he had been devoted to
her service; and yet a hundred little occasions rose up before
him, on which he fancied he might have been more zealous, and
more earnest, and wished he had been. We need be careful how we
deal with those about us, when every death carries to some small
circle of survivors, thoughts of so much omitted, and so little
done--of so many things forgotten, and so many more which might
have been repaired! There is no remorse so deep as that which is
unavailing; if we would be spared its tortures, let us remember
this, in time.
When he reached home Mrs. Maylie was sitting in the little
parlour. Oliver's heart sand at sight of her; for she had never
left the bedside of her niece; and he trembled to think what
change could have driven her away. He learnt that she had fallen
into a deep sleep, from which she would waken, either to recovery
and life, or to bid them farewell, and die.
They sat, listening, and afraid to speak, for hours. The
untasted meal was removed, with looks which showed that their
thoughts were elsewhere, they watched the sun as he sank lower
and lower, and, at length, cast over sky and earth those
brilliant hues which herald his departure. Their quick ears
caught the sound of an approaching footstep. They both
involuntarily darted to the door, as Mr. Losberne entered.
'What of Rose?' cried the old lady. 'Tell me at once! I can
bear it; anything but suspense! Oh!, tell me! in the name of
'You must compose yourself,' said the doctor supporting her. 'Be
calm, my dear ma'am, pray.'
'Let me go, in God's name! My dear child! She is dead! She is
'No!' cried the doctor, passionately. 'As He is good and
merciful, she will live to bless us all, for years to come.'
The lady fell upon her knees, and tried to fold her hands
together; but the energy which had supported her so long, fled up
to Heaven with her first thanksgiving; and she sank into the
friendly arms which were extended to receive her.
CONTAINS SOME INTRODUCTORY PARTICULARS RELATIVE TO A YOUNG
GENTLEMAN WHO NOW ARRIVES UPON THE SCENE; AND A NEW ADVENTURE
WHICH HAPPENED TO OLIVER
It was almost too much happiness to bear. Oliver felt stunned
and stupefied by the unexpected intelligence; he could not weep,
or speak, or rest. He had scarcely the power of understanding
anything that had passed, until, after a long ramble in the quiet
evening air, a burst of tears came to his relief, and he seemed
to awaken, all at once, to a full sense of the joyful change that
had occurred, and the almost insupportable load of anguish which
had been taken from his breast.
The night was fast closing in, when he returned homeward: laden
with flowers which he had culled, with peculiar care, for the
adornment of the sick chamber. As he walked briskly along the
road, he heard behind him, the noise of some vehicle, approaching
at a furious pace. Looking round, he saw that it was a
post-chaise, driven at great speed; and as the horses were
galloping, and the road was narrow, he stood leaning against a
gate until it should have passed him.
As it dashed on, Oliver caught a glimpse of a man in a white
nitecap, whose face seemed familiar to him, although his view was
so brief that he could not identify the person. In another
second or two, the nightcap was thrust out of the chaise-window,
and a stentorian voice bellowed to the driver to stop: which he
did, as soon as he could pull up his horses. Then, the nightcap
once again appeared: and the same voice called Oliver by his
'Here!' cried the voice. 'Oliver, what's the news? Miss Rose!
'Is is you, Giles?' cried Oliver, running up to the chaise-door.
Giles popped out his nightcap again, preparatory to making some
reply, when he was suddenly pulled back by a young gentleman who
occupied the other corner of the chaise, and who eagerly demanded
what was the news.
'In a word!' cried the gentleman, 'Better or worse?'
'Better--much better!' replied Oliver, hastily.
'Thank Heaven!' exclaimed the gentleman. 'You are sure?'
'Quite, sir,' replied Oliver. 'The change took place only a few
hours ago; and Mr. Losberne says, that all danger is at an end.'
The gentleman said not another word, but, opening the
chaise-door, leaped out, and taking Oliver hurriedly by the arm,
led him aside.
'You are quite certain? There is no possibility of any mistake
on your part, my boy, is there?' demanded the gentleman in a
tremulous voice. 'Do not deceive me, by awakening hopes that are
not to be fulfilled.'
'I would not for the world, sir,' replied Oliver. 'Indeed you
may believe me. Mr. Losberne's words were, that she would live
to bless us all for many years to come. I heard him say so.'
The tears stood in Oliver's eyes as he recalled the scene which
was the beginning of so much happiness; and the gentleman turned
his face away, and remained silent, for some minutes. Oliver
thought he heard him sob, more than once; but he feared to
interrupt him by any fresh remark--for he could well guess what
his feelings were--and so stood apart, feigning to be occupied
with his nosegay.
All this time, Mr. Giles, with the white nightcap on, had been
sitting on the steps of the chaise, supporting an elbow on each
knee, and wiping his eyes with a blue cotton pocket-handkerchief
dotted with white spots. That the honest fellow had not been
feigning emotion, was abundently demonstrated by the very red
eyes with which he regarded the young gentleman, when he turned
round and addressed him.
'I think you had better go on to my mother's in the chaise,
Giles,' said he. 'I would rather walk slowly on, so as to gain a
little time before I see her. You can say I am coming.'
'I beg your pardon, Mr. Harry,' said Giles: giving a final
polish to his ruffled countenance with the handkerchief; 'but if
you would leave the postboy to say that, I should be very much
obliged to you. It wouldn't be proper for the maids to see me in
this state, sir; I should never have any more authority with them
if they did.'
'Well,' rejoined Harry Maylie, smiling, 'you can do as you like.
Let him go on with the luggage, if you wish it, and do you follow
with us. Only first exchange that nightcap for some more
appropriate covering, or we shall be taken for madmen.'
Mr. Giles, reminded of his unbecoming costume, snatched off and
pocketed his nightcap; and substituted a hat, of grave and sober
shape, which he took out of the chaise. This done, the postboy
drove off; Giles, Mr. Maylie, and Oliver, followed at their
As they walked along, Oliver glanced from time to time with much
interest and curiosity at the new comer. He seemed about
five-and-twenty years of age, and was of the middle height; his
countenance was frank and handsome; and his demeanor easy and
prepossessing. Notwithstanding the difference between youth and
age, he bore so strong a likeness to the old lady, that Oliver
would have had no great difficulty in imagining their
relationship, if he had not already spoken of her as his mother.
Mrs. Maylie was anxiously waiting to receive her son when he
reached the cottage. The meeting did not take place without
great emotion on both sides.
'Mother!' whispered the young man; 'why did you not write
'I did,' replied Mrs. Maylie; 'but, on reflection, I determined
to keep back the letter until I had heard Mr. Losberne's
'But why,' said the young man, 'why run the chance of that
occurring which so nearly happened? If Rose had--I cannot utter
that word now--if this illness had terminated differently, how
could you ever have forgiven yourself! How could I ever have
know happiness again!'
'If that HAD been the case, Harry,' said Mrs. Maylie, 'I fear
your happiness would have been effectually blighted, and that
your arrival here, a day sooner or a day later, would have been
of very, very little import.'
'And who can wonder if it be so, mother?' rejoined the young man;
'or why should I say, IF?--It is--it is--you know it, mother--you
must know it!'
'I know that she deserves the best and purest love the heart of
man can offer,' said Mrs. Maylie; 'I know that the devotion and