University of Virginia Library


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He is a man, and men
Have imperfections; it behooves
Me pardon nature then.

The Patient Countess.

L'homme honore la vertu,
Dieu la recompense.

The dark empire of superstition has passed away.
This is the age of facts and evidence, experience and
demonstration, the enlightened age, par excellence.
Ghosts, apparitions, banshees, phocas, cluricaunes,
fairies, “good people all,” are now departed spirits.
The fairies, the friends of poets and story-tellers, the
patrons, champions, and good geniuses of children, no
longer keep their merry revels on the green sward by
the glow-worm's lamp; they are gone, exhaled like
the dews that glittered on last summer's leaves. The
“dainty spirits” that knew “to swim, to dive into the
fire, to ride on the curled clouds, to put a girdle round
about the earth in forty minutes,” have no longer a
being save in poetry. Like the Peri of the Persian
mythology, they forfeit their immortality when they
pass the bounds of their paradise—that paradise the
poet's imagination.

Though in the full meridian of our “enlightened
day,” we look back with something like regret to the
imaginative era of darkness, when spirits, embodied in
every form that fear or fancy could invent, thronged the
paths of human life, broke its monotony, and coloured
its dull surface with the bright hues and deep shadows


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of magic light. We almost envy the twilight of our
Indian predecessors, whose quickening faith, like the
ancient philosophy, infused vitality into external nature,
imparting a portion of the Infinite Spirit to mountain,
valley, stream, and flower, that faith that gave discourse
and reason to trees, and stones, and running brooks.
Strange that in the progress of light, mind should
surrender its dominion to matter! that the metaphysics
of nature should yield to the physical sciences! that
the materialism of the mineralogist, the botanist, the
geologist, should prevail over the spirituality of the
savage! But so it is. The suggestions of superstition
so universal in man's natural state of ignorance, are
silenced by the clear, cold demonstrations of knowledge.
Who now ventures to tell a fairy tale beyond the
purlieus of the nursery? Who would hope to raise a
ghost above the subterranean region of the kitchen?
The murdered lie as quietly in their graves as if they
had been dismissed to their rest anointed and annealed;
and even Love's martyrs, the most persevering of all
night-walkers, no more revisit the glimpses of the moon.
And yet there seems to be a deep foundation in nature
for a belief in mysterious visitations, in our unknown
and incomprehensible connexion with spiritual beings.
The mighty mind of Johnson was duped by the ghost
of Cocklane, and seized, as he himself confesses, on
every tale of the reappearance of the dead to support
his religious faith! What are we to infer from the
horoscope of the hero of “Guy Mannering,” what from
the “Lady of Avenel,” and all the strange prophecies
fulfilled of Sir Walter Scott, but that the wild and
fantastic superstitions of his native land, that “meet
nurse of a poetic child,” still control his imagination.
Even Napoleon, who feared no power embodied in
flesh and blood, bowed like an Oriental slave before
the dark, mysterious despot Destiny.

We have made this long introduction to a ghost story
it was once our good fortune to hear well told, to


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persuade our readers that we have drunk deep enough
of the spirit of the age to laugh, when we are in the
presence of the honoured public, at the superstition and
credulity of others, though we may still cherish some
relic of it in our secret soul.

Somewhere between twenty and thirty years ago—
there is, alas! a period when accurate dates become a
sort of memento mori—we, or rather I—for, like
a late popular writer, we detest that reviewer in the
abstract, the “cold, and critical,” and pompous we—
was on a visit to a friend of my parents who resided
in New York, Mrs. Reginald Tudor. She was an
Englishwoman by birth, but had long been a resident
in this country, and, though of a noble family, and
educated with aristocratic prejudices, she was, in all acts
of kindness, condescension, and humanity, a Christian;
and is not Christianity the foundation, the essence of
republicanism? Her instincts were aristocratic, or those
principles of conduct that are so early inculcated and
acted on that they become as impulsive and powerful
as instincts; but when a deed of kindness was to be
done, she obeyed the levelling law of the religion of
universal equality. As Mrs. Reginald Tudor, the lady
of polite society, she was versed and strict in all artificial
distinctions and nice observances; but as a Christian,
friend, and benefactress, no fiery revolutionist ever so
well illustrated the generous doctrine of equality; for
hers was the perfect standard of rectitude, and every
one who needed the tender charities of life from her,
was her “brother and her sister.” Forgive her then,
gentle reader, a slight contempt of republican manners,
and a little pride in her titled ancestry and noble
English relatives.

Like most old people, Mrs. Tudor talked always of
the past, and the friends of her youth. Her grandfather,
whose pet she had been sixty years since, was
her favourite topic. Her stories began with “My dear
grandfather, Lord Moreland”—“Lord Moreland” was


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the invariable sequence. But this was an innocent
vanity, and should not cast a shade over my honoured
friend's memory. The only evil attending this foible,
so ill adapted to our country, was that it had infected
her grandaughter, my friend Isabel Williamson.

Isabel, at the period of which I write, was, a beautiful
girl of eighteen, an only child, and as such cherished
and caressed, but not spoiled by her parents and grandmother.
Nothing could spoil so frank and generous a
disposition, so noble-minded a creature. But Isabel
was touched with the family taint of pride. She had
a feeling very closely bordering on contempt for every
thing American, and, though born in the city of New
York, though her mother and her maternal ancestors
were American, she always called herself English,
preferred all English usages, however ill suited to
our state of society, had some pretty affectations of
Anglican phraseology, imported her dresses, hats,
shoes, from England, employed English teachers, and
preferred English men and admirers.

At the time I was with her, her parents were away
from home on a long absence, and during my visit her
cousin Lucy Atwell arrived in town from “the West.”
“The West,” a designation that has removed with our
emigrants to Missouri, then meant one of the middle
district counties of the state of New York. Lucy came,
consigned for life, to Isabel's parents. She was a meek,
timid, country girl, of about seventeen, made an orphan
by sudden bereavement, and by an accumulation of
misfortunes left pennyless. This was an irresistible
appeal to Isabel's heart. “Grandmamma,” she said to
Mrs. Tudor, “we must provide for poor Lucy.”

“Certainly, Isabel, I was sure you would say so.”

“I have been thinking,” resumed Isabel, “that
Mrs. Arnott's would be such a good place for Lucy
to board.”

“My dear Isabel, we must keep her with us.”



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“Why not, my child?”

Isabel well knew the “why not,” operative on her
mind, but she did not care to tell it, and she offered
the most plausible reason that occurred to her. “You
know, Ma'am, it must be so unpleasant for a person to
live as a dependent in the family of relatives.”

“That depends, Isabel, on the tempers of the parties.
If you are not wanting in kindness and consideration,
I am sure, from little Lucy's sweet face, she will not
fail in gratitude and contentment; at any rate she must
stay with us.”

“Do you not think,” said Isabel to me when we
were alone together, “that grandmamma is getting
childish? She was so decided, so obstinate to-day,
about Lucy.”

The following day I perceived that Isabel suffered
a series of mortifications on her cousin's account. In
the first place nothing could be more decidedly countryfied,
not to say vulgar, for I cannot bear to apply
that word even for once to one so pretty, gentle, and
essentially refined as Lucy—nothing could be more
countryfied, more ill made, and unbecoming than our
little rustic's dress. The date of our story was long
before the artful looms of Europe had prepared every
variety of texture, and brought the light silk and delicate
barege level to the means of the most humble
purchaser. It was the age of cotton cambrics, and
bombazettes, and our country cousin was dressed in a
stiff, glazed, black cotton cambric, with a vandyke of
the same, a crimped leno frill, and white knit yarn
stockings. It was then the fashion to dress the hair
low, with braids and bands after the classic models;
Lucy's was drawn up like a tower on the top of her
head, and walled in by a horn comb. Isabel spent too
much money, time, and thought on her dress not to
pride herself on its style, and never was there a more
striking contrast than the two cousins presented, when
they were both seated together in the parlour. Isabel,


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arrayed in high fashion and taste, with her toy work-basket
filled with the elegant implements of “idlesse”
work, and Lucy, in the costume we have described,
diligently knitting a full sized, substantial cotton stocking.
But in spite of this homely vulgarity, there was
something of nature's aristocracy in her graceful and
delicate outline, in her “serious eye,” and thoughtful,
fair young brow, and I felt hurt and mortified for my
dear friend Isabel, when I perceived a little flutter and
fidgetiness about her at every rap at the street door,
indicating too plainly her dread of having her cousin
seen by her fashionable acquaintance. Isabel was not
sufficiently a woman of the world, and she had too
much good feeling to desembarrass herself of this concern,
as a true woman of ton does, by the current jokes
on country cousins.

It was a day of trial to Isabel. The heavens were
serene, the air balmy, and the walking fine; and it
seemed as if all our acquaintances, and especially those
who for very delicateness were afraid of the rough
visitation of the winds, had selected this day to pour in
upon us. Mrs. Tudor was at her usual station on a
corner of the sofa, and, punctilious in the formal politeness
of the day, she most precisely introduced every
visiter to “Miss Lucy Atwell—Miss Williamson's
niece; and each time, Lucy, according to her notion of
good manners, laid aside her knitting-work, rose and
dropped her little dot of a courtesy; and, though Isabel
affected to laugh and talk in her usual careless style,
I could perceive in her face, as in a mirror, her consciousness
of poor Lucy's every word and motion.

Isabel's Anglo-mania had led her to avoid every
Americanism, word or phrase; and the “concludes,”
“calculates,” and “guesses,” which were in all poor
Lucy's replies to the few questions addressed to her,
grated on her cousin's ear. It is difficult to recall, after
time and matured sense has released us from the galling
fetters that are imposed by the false notions and


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artificial distinctions of fashionable society, it is difficult
to recall the feelings that, like the emotions of a troubled
dream, were then as real to us, as they now are
illusory and ridiculous. It now seems to me incredible
that my friend Isabel, the noble woman whom I
have since seen wrestling with fearful calamities, and
enduring calmly and sweetly the darkest night of adversity,
should at eighteen have wasted tears, and a
flood of them, on the mortifications I have recorded.
But so it was. They were, however, shed in private,
and known only to myself and to her grandmother,
with whom she again expostulated on the subject of
Lucy's removal to some other home. Mrs. Tudor was
mild, but firm in her first decision. In the evening,
at the usual hour for retiring, the good old lady invited
us to her apartment. This was her frequent custom,
and a great pleasure to us, for there is always somethink
in the sociality of one's own room, far more unbending,
intimate, and endearing, than in the parlour
intercourse. Mrs. Tudor left her stateliness, her only
infirmity, below stairs, and in her own apartment was
the true grandmother, easy, communicative, and loving.

It was late, I believe near the witching time of night,
when we, Isabel, Lucy, and myself, drew our low
chairs around Mrs. Tudor's matronly rocking-chair.
The oil in the lamp was expended, a stick of wood was
burning, as all wood burns after twelve o'clock, fitfully,
and the bright, changeful flame threw such strange
distorted figures on the wall, that braver spirits than
ours might have been frightened at a shadow. Our
conversation turned, I don't know how, but it then
seemed naturally enough, on ghost stories. Mrs. Tudor
was the benefactress of the rising generation; her mind
was stored with strange and forgotten events; she had
treasures of marvellous appearances, which had no record
but in her memory. After relating various anecdotes
till we were all in a state of considerable excitement,
till Isabel had forgotten her coldness, and Lucy


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her timidity, Mrs. Tudor said; “There is one ghost
story that I have never told, not even to you, Isabel,
for whose insatiable curiosity I have produced every
other treasure from my storehouse. This is connected
with many sacred recollections, it deeply affected my
imagination at the time, and related to persons in
whom I had some interest. There are many preliminary
circumstances before I can come at the supernatural
incident—it is late—shall I tell it to-night?”

“Oh yes!” was the unanimous voice, and Mrs.
Tudor proceeded.

“When I lived in London, I had an intimate friend
who was, like myself, a widow, with an only son.
Mrs. M`Arthur—that was her name—had set her heart
on having her son fix himself in the calm quiet of
home and domestic life, such as suited her matured
and feminine tastes, but was not at all adapted to a
young man of unchecked ambition and ardent passions.
M`Arthur's mind was early steeped in the military
spirit of tales and songs of chivalry, and as soon as he
was old enough to think of a profession, he avowed
his will—the will, and the wish of a widow's only son
is fate—to be a soldier. My friend opposed him at
first, but he who was never denied anything, was not
long opposed in his most impetuous passion, and his
poor mother, fearing all things and hoping nothing,
procured a captaincy for him, and soon after had her
heart almost broken by his being ordered on the
American service. Your father, Isabel, came to this
country at the same time, and was ever after intimately
associated with M`Arthur, and from him I have received
the particulars that I shall relate to you.

“Captain M`Arthur was appointed to command a
detachment that was sent to wrest the possession of a
small town from the Americans. The male inhabitants,
notwithstanding the confusion of a surprise,
made a valorous resistance, but, overcome by numbers
and discipline, all who could fly, fled to support


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the banner of their country in a more fortunate field,
and defend her where defence would be available.”

“Ah!” said Isabel, whose partialities were always
in the English ranks, “the Yankees often practised
that better part of valour—discretion.”

“Not till its bolder part was useless,” retorted the
gentle Lucy.

“The fray is past, fair champions,” said I, “do not
interrupt the story.”

“No, girls,” continued Mrs. Tudor, “my story has
little to do with the war, though a good deal with the
passions it engendered. Captain M`Arthur had gallantly
achieved his object. He obtained undisputed
possession of the town, but in effecting this, he received
a dangerous wound, and was carried bleeding and insensible
to the best house the place afforded, situate at
the entrance of the town, and belonging to one Amos
Blunt, a bold yeoman, who had been first and last to
fight in defence of his home, and who, as he caught
from a distant hill a last look of the roof that sheltered
his two lovely and now defenceless daughters, swore
eternal hatred to the English. Fatally and cruelly did
he keep his vow.

“To return to M`Arthur. The sad chances of the
battle had made his life to depend on those very daughters
of the yeoman, Emma and Anna Blunt. Unskilful
surgical treatment aggravated his wound; a violent
fever ensued, and for many weeks the gay and gallant
young officer was as dependent as an infant on the
tender vigilance of his pretty nurses.

“The two sisters, as I have heard, were alike in
nothing but their devoted affection to each other; even
their looks were as dissimilar as distinct races, as
unlike, Isabel, as you and your cousin Lucy. You
might, indeed, if I remember their pictures accurately,
stand for their living portraits, so fair, so like a snow-drop,
or rather so like that meek representative of all
spiritual purity and womanly tenderness, the Madonna,


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so like my sweet Lucy was Emma—yes, just so sensitive
and blushing at her own praises, even from the
lips of an old woman; and my dear Isabel—but you
cannot so well bear flattery. It is enough to say that
Anna had a brow of lofty daring, a quick, glancing,
laughter-loving eye, a rich damask on her cheek that
expressed the kindling and burning of her feelings;
lips that a Grecian artist would have chiselled to utter
the laws of love, rather than its prayers; in short, a
face and shape that a painter would have chosen for a
Semiramis, or Zenobia, or Clotilda.”

“Grandmamma!” exclaimed Isabel, “are you describing
two daughters of a farmer?”

“Even so, Isabel; and truly you must remember,
my dear,” what Isabel was prone to forget, “nature
has no aristocratic moulds; the peasant is born with
as fine limbs and beautiful features as his lord. Besides,
you must know, these girls had not impaired
their natural beauty by household drudgery. Their
father was wealthy; they were his only children, and
motherless from extreme childhood, their stern father,
stern to everything but them, had lavished his wealth
to procure for them whatever advantages of education
the country then afforded.

“You must allow, that when the romantic M`Arthur
awoke from his long delirium, and beheld these beautiful
forms flitting around his pillow, he was in more
danger than he had been from their father's sword.
In the flush of health and unbroken spirits, Anna would
have been most attractive to him; but in the gentleness,
the patient watchings, the soft, low toned voice,
the uniform tranquillity of Emma, there was something
so suited to the nurse and leech, so adapted to the
abated spirit of the invalid, that his susceptible heart
was touched, and, in the progress of a slow convalescence,
entirely captivated, and honestly surrendered.

“It was not in human nature, certainly not in
Emma's tender nature, to resist the fondness of the


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most interesting man she had ever seen. She requited
it, with a strength and depth of devotion, that, I believe,
my dear girls, men seldom, if ever, feel.

“The rash, impetuous lover proposed an immediate
marriage. His intentions were strictly honourable;
for Emma's sake he was willing to forget his noble
birth, the wishes of his far-off, widowed, but, alas!
proud mother, the duties of his official station, propriety,
expediency, the world, for love. But Emma was
of another temper. She could have surrendered every
other happiness in life to be M`Arthur's wife, she
could have died for him, but she would not deviate
one point from the straight line of filial duty. She
would not hear M`Arthur's vows, acknowledge him as
a lover, nor think of him as a husband, till she had her
father's sanction. This was strange to the indulged
youth, who had never regarded any sanction but that of
his own inclinations; he felt himself thwarted by her
determination, and half offended by the absolute necessity
of waiting till the consent of her father could
be obtained. However, there was no alternative.
He addressd an earnest letter to Amos Blunt; Emma
added a modest, but decided, postscript; and a trusty
American boy was hired to convey it a distance of
little less than a hundred miles, where Blunt was stationed.
In the then condition of the country, this was
a long and uncertain journey, and during the weary
weeks of waiting, M`Arthur lost all patience. In this
tedious interim the fearful Emma truly anticipated
the result of their appeal to her father, and, with maidenly
modesty withdrew herself from every demonstration
of her lover's tenderness. He called this preciseness
and coldness, and his pride, even more than
his love, was offended.

“While Emma with the resolution of a martyr, secluded
herself in her own apartment, M`Arthur, still
confined to the house, was limited to the society of
Anna. The vigour of his spirit returned with his improving


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health, and then he found that her gay and
reckless spirit harmonized far better with his natural
temper, than the timid disposition of her sister.

“Anna's beauty was more brilliant, her conversation
more lively and taking, and—have I prepared you for
it, my dear girls?—when the parental fiat arrived, the
peremptory, unchangeable, no, it was received by
him with indifference, I am afraid with a secret satisfaction.
Poor Emma! the cold, precise Emma, fainted
in her sister's arms; and for many successive days
she seemed hovering between life and death. To disobey,
or evade, or attempt to soften her father's will,
was to her impossible; but to endure it, appeared
equally impossible. She must suffer, might die, but
would submit.

“At first she dreaded the remonstrances of her lover,
then she expected them, and expressed this expectation
to Anna, first in broken sentences and then in
more significant looks; but Anna made no reply to her
words or questioning glances. She loved Emma
better than anything but—M`Arthur. She hung over
her with devoted tenderness, and, I doubt not, with a
self-reproach she could not stifle.

“By slow degrees Emma recovered her self-control,
and, armed with all the fortitude she could gather or
assume, she prepared to meet her lover's gaze—that
gaze was altered, the lover her lover no longer. How
sure and rapid is the intelligence of true affection! A
short, slight observation proved to her that M`Arthur's
love was transferred—transferred to her sister. The
infidelity of the two beings she most loved on earth,
almost broke her heart; but, as the most touching of
writers has said of the sweetest manifestation of character,
the “temper of Emma was like an æolian harp
whose sounds die away in the tempest, and are heard
again in every gentle breeze.” She said nothing,
she looked nothing; she was much alone, and found
her troubled spirit found rest where it is only to be


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in every modification of human misery, in those high
communings that are on the spiritual mount, far above
the atmosphere of mortal passions. Anna felt the
rebuke of Emma's silence and downcast eye far more
than she would the gentlest even of reproaches—an
involuntary look. She accused herself, she wept, she
fell at her sister's feet, she offered to abjure her lover
for ever. Emma folded her in her arms, and it was
long before either could speak or listen; but when
Emma could utter her resolves gently, softly, tenderly,
as they were spoken, it was evident they were unalterable.
That bond, Anna, is severed for ever; we
are sisters, our God has united us by this tie, our sin
alone can destroy or weaken it; it has been rudely
jarred, but it is not harmed—is it Anna?” Anna only
replied by a more fervent embrace, a freer burst of tears.
Emma was long silent, but when she at last spoke, no
one would have detected in the tones of her voice a
feeling stronger than sisterly tenderness.

“During their interview, Anna confessed that the
inconstant, but really ardent, and I must say really
honourable lover—

“Oh! say nothing in his favour! say nothing in his
favour! interrupted, in one voice, the indignant young

“Ah! my dear girls,” replied Mrs. Tudor, “we learn,
as we go on in life, to look far more in sorrow than in
anger, on the transgressions of our fellow beings; we
know better how to estimate human infirmity and the
power of temptation; but I have no time to moralize.
I will only beg you to remember, when you have still
more cause for indignation against poor M`Arthur,
that he was then scarce twenty-two, that he was spoiled
by fortune, by admiring friends, and by that chief
spoiler, a doting, widowed mother; and, lest you should
be too harsh, let me tell you, that he has since redeemed,
by a virtuous life, the follies, aye, the sins of
his youth.


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“Where was I? Oh! on the point of telling you
that Anna confessed M`Arthur had urged an immediate
marriage, without a reference to her father, which,
he maintained, experience had taught them would be
useless. “The military events of the day,” he said,
“indicated that the British forces would soon be withdrawn
from —town, and his last letters from his
commanding officer, intimated that he would then
probably be transferred to the southern army.”

“He intreated, with all the vehemence of love, that
Anna would give him a right to claim her, as his wife,
when the disastrous war should be over. Anna had
half consented to sacrifice her filial duty. Against
this Emma remonstrated most earnestly. She adjured
her sister not to provoke the wrath of Heaven, so sure
speedily to overtake filial disobedience. She saw
M`Arthur; and, with the unfaltering, and almost irresistible
voice of determined virtue, intreated him not
to tempt her sister to this departure from filial duty.

“ `But of what use,' asked M`Arthur, `will be an
appeal to your father, when his old prejudices will be all
justified by,' his voice sunk to an almost inaudible tone,
`by the demerit that none but an angel would forgive?'

“ `Emma hesitated for a few moments, and then
said, with decision, `I will go to him myself.'

“ `You, Emma! You cannot, you shall not; there
are a thousand dangers!'

“ `There are none that need to deter me. I will go.
My father, though terrible to his enemies and stern to
the world, never denied me anything that I asked
myself from him. I am sure I can make such representations
that he will give me his consent. I will
hear nothing more from you,—no, I will not hear your
thanks till I return; provide a proper guard to attend
me as far as your lines extend, I shall have nothing to
fear after I get among our own people.”

“M`Arthur would have poured out his admiration
and gratitude, but Emma fled from it all, and hastily


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prepared herself for her romantic expedition. A small
detachment of the regular army, and a large body of
militia, to which her father was attached, had approached
within fifty miles of —town; but for a
young girl to traverse this distance in the unsettled
state of the country, required all the spirit that a noble
purpose inspires, and all the courage of heaven-born
innocence. Poor Emma endured manifold fears, and
encountered some dangers; but this detail I reserve
for some other time. At the expiration of the third
day she arrived safely at the American quarters.

“When her father's first surprise and joy at seeing
her was over, she communicated, with her own sweet
grace and earnestness, the purpose of her journey.
No words can ever describe her father's rage. I would
not repeat to you, if I could, his horrible language.
He commanded her, on pain of his everlasting displeasure,
never again to mention the name of M`Arthur.
He looked upon his daughters as bewitched by a spell
of the arch enemy. He said M`Arthur's conduct
was just what he should have expected from an English
scoundrel, from any, or all of the miscreants.
Every breath that Emma dared to utter, swelled the
torrent of his rage. He swore to revenge her wrongs,
to avenge his polluted home; and, finally, he concluded
by pronouncing curses, loud and deep, and as poor
Emma thought, interminable on Anna, if she did not
immediately break off all connexion with M`Arthur,
and abjure him forever.

“Emma trembled and wept. She knew how unrelenting
was her father's determination, and her whole
anxiety now was to save her sister from these terrible
curses, as fearful to the duteous Emma as the wrath of
Heaven. She set out on her return without any delay.
A variety of circumstances protracted her journey.
When she arrived at the point where M`Arthur's
guard was to meet her, no guard was there, and her
progress was arrested by an American officer, a friend


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of her father's, who absolutely forbade her proceeding.
The British, he said, were daily contracting their
lines. There were almost hourly skirmishes between
small detachments of soldiers, and nothing could be
more perilous than for a young woman to traverse
even the short distance that remained to her home.
She was conducted to a comfortable lodging in a kind
family, but no kindness or security could tranquilize
her troubled and anxious mind. She knew too well
the impetuous temper of M`Arthur to hope he would
have patience to await her return, and she feared that
her light-hearted, reckless, sanguine sister, would,
trusting implicitly to her success, yield to the importunities
of her lover. For three weeks she was compelled
to endure these apprehensions; to endure the
thought that she was freighted with those curses that
were to fall on her sister's head like the withering vengeance
of Heaven.

“At last she was permitted to proceed, and she arrived
at —town without the slightest molestation
or accident. As soon as she entered it, she saw that
the aspect of things was entirely changed. The military
array that had given to the quiet scene a temporary
life and bustle, had vanished. The street was as quiet
as a sabbath morning. A few well known faces appeared
peeping from the doors and windows. Emma
did not stop to ask any explanation, she did not even
see their welcoming nods and smiles; and though an
old man, the walking chronicle of the town, quickened
his pace towards her, as if he would be the first to communicate
what tidings there were, she hurried her
horse onward. Her home was on the outskirts of the
town. When she reached it, her servant girl met her
at the gate, and broke forth in exclamation of—Emma
knew not what. She cast one wild glance around the
parlour, screamed Anna's name, and flew to her apartment.
The one fear that she had gone with M`Arthur
prevailed over every other. She opened her chamber


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door, she was there, buried in her shawl, and weeping
aloud. At the sight of Emma she uttered an exclamation
of surprise and joy, and her voice dying away
in bitter grief, `Oh! Emma, my sister,' she murmured,
`he is gone, my husband is gone!' `Your husband!'
cried Emma, and it was long, long, my dear girls,
before she uttered another word. It was as she had apprehended.
M`Arthur had been impatient of her delay,
and had persuaded Anna to a private marriage,
only one week after Emma had left them. Emma
did not reproach her sister, she would not have added
a feather's weight to the inevitable consequences of
her rashness. Those consequences it was now her
anxious care to avert. She only communicated to
Anna so much of her father's reply as expressed his
firm negative. This was fearful enough to Anna; but
as her marriage had been strictly private, she hoped to
keep it from his knowledge, and Emma, to shield her
sister, prepared herself, for the first time in her life, for
evasion and concealment.

“There was now no obstacle to her father's return.
He came home the next day, and his wrath against the
enemy grew at every trace of their footsteps. He suspected
nothing, but he was for some time less kind
and frank to his daughters than formerly. He never
alluded to their guest by words, but, when anything
having the most distant relation to his residence with
them occurred, he would contract his brow, become
suddenly pale, bite his lips, and indicate, in ways too
obvious to his gentle daughters, that his hatred burnt
as fiercely as ever.

“Sally, the servant, made her appearance before him
one day in a holiday suit, with a gay locket dangling
from her neck. `Ah! Sally,' said Blunt, `where did
you get that pretty finery in these hard times?'

“The girl knew her master's infirmity, she saw
the colour mount to her young ladies' cheeks, and she
stammered out, as if she had stolen it, `Captain M`Arthur


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gave it to me, Sir.' Blunt tore it from her neck,
and crushed it under his foot.

“Some weeks after this startling demonstration of
his unabated hatred, and several months after M`Arthur's
departure, a little crippled boy, who lived on an
adjoining farm, came into Blunt's parlour with a pretty
flute sticking in his hat-band. `Ah! Jerry, my boy,'
said the old man kindly, for, like the lion, he was tender
to all small and defenceless creatures. `Ah! Jerry,
that is the little flute that makes such pleasant music
for us of these moonlight evenings, and that piped such
a merry welcome to us the day we came home, is it?
let's see it, Jerry.' Jerry gave it to him. Emma
and Anna trembled. `Oh!' said Jerry, `if you could
only have heard the captain play it, Sir; he gave it to
me for finding Miss Anna's ring.'

“The poor boy's flute was instantly crackling in the
flames, and a fiery, suspicious, questioning glance darted
at Anna. It fell on the ring—the fatal wedding
ring. Oh! my dear girls, I cannot describe the scene
that followed. All Blunt's honest feelings were wounded,
all his fierce passions excited. Emma, fearless for
herself, wept and interceded for her sister; but her
voice could no more be heard than the wail of an infant
amidst the raging of the ocean. Anna was cast out
from his door, commanded never again to enter his
presence, every name of dishonour was heaped upon
her, and, while she lay on his door step, fainting in
her sister's arms—for Emma, in spite of his commands,
supported her—the last sounds she heard were her
father's curses.

“Emma watched over Anna's fate with more than
a sister's love. She procured a humble, but decent
lodging for her, and expended her youth and strength
in secretly working to obtain a pittance for her support.
Blunt had peremptorily forbidden her ever to impart
one shilling of his substance to his discarded child.
Obedience to this command was the hardest of all


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Emma's trials; but she held fast her integrity, and was
compelled to see daily delicacies that she loathed, to
live in overflowing plenty, without daring to give a
crumb that fell from her father's table to her poor

“Three months after Anna was driven from her
father's house, she gave birth to a child, a boy, and,
as if to fill up the measure of her sorrows, he was born
blind. The poor, suffering, crushed mother; wore
away her life in watching over her stricken boy, in
sorrow for the past, and despair for the future. Five
weary years were passed without one word of intelligence
from her husband. Newspapers were then rare,
and few found their way to —town, and in those
few Emma, who diligently inquired, could never ascertain
that any mention was made of M`Arthur. He
might have perished in battle, might have returned to
England, or, worse than all, might have forgotten his
wife. Time had no tendency to soften the heart of
Amos Blunt, time only cut in deeper the first decisions
of his iron will. His property, though necessarily
impaired by the war, was still far superior to his neighbours';
Emma was to inherit it all, and Emma, the
dutiful and still lovely Emma was sought by many an
earnest suitor. But she was alike deaf to all. She had
no heart for anything but duty to her father and love
to her sister, and the tenderest love to the little blind
boy. For them she toiled, and with the inexhaustible
ingenuity of affection, she devised for him every
pleasure of which his darkened childhood was susceptible.
She contrived toys to delight his ear. She
sung for him for hours together. Every body in the
country round loved Miss Emma, and the little rangers
of flood and field brought her wild fruit and sweet
flowers for her favourite.

“The child seemed to be infected with his mother's
melancholy. He would lie on the floor for hours in
most unnatural inactivity; but when he heard Emma's


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step, his feet danced, his hands were outstretched,
his lips were raised, every limb, every feature welcomed
her, all but that sparkling gem that most brightly
and piercingly speaks the feelings of the soul. Emma
would take him from his drooping mother's side, and
try by exercise, and the free enjoyment of the genial
air, to win the colour to his cheek, but alas! in

“Finally, my dear girls, that power, at whose touch
the sternest bend, laid his crushing hand on Blunt.
A slow, but mortal disease seized him; he knew he
must die. He had long before made his will, and given
everything to Emma, but on condition that she never
should transfer one penny of his property in any form
to her sister. If she violated this condition, his estate
was to be divided into one hundred dollar annuities,
to be given to such survivors of the war as had served
in the revolutionary army from the beginning of the
contest, and could give sufficient testimony of their
having killed each ten Englishmen.

“Among Emma's most constant and heartily devoted
lovers was one Harry Lee. He was the favourite
of her father. He had fought, and had triumphed
beside him; and to give Emma to Harry before he
died, was the father's most earnest wish. On this subject
he became every day more and more importunate.
At first, Emma, who really felt a strong friendship
for Lee, only said, `Father, Harry knows I cannot
love him.'

“ `What does that signify?' the old man would
reply; `Harry knows you say that, to be sure; but
he is willing to take you without it; a dutiful child
will make a dutiful wife; and I tell Harry love is
nothing but a jack-o'-lantern business.'

“When this conversation was renewed in every
form that could express that this was Blunt's strongest
and almost only earthly wish, it occurred to Emma it
was possible that, by a sacrifice of her feelings in this


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affair, she might induce her father to relent towards
Anna. This was the hardest sacrifice a woman could
make—but she was a noble creature.”

“Oh! grandmamma,” exclaimed Isabel, “too, too
noble—I cannot believe you are telling us a true story
—I cannot believe that any woman so wronged as
Emma, would have made such exertions, such sacrifices.”

“I believe it,” said Lucy Atwell, her face kindling
with an expression of fervent feeling, “I know there
has been one woman capable of any virtue—my mother,”
she added, dropping her face on Mrs. Tudor's

We were all affected at this involuntary tribute to
her mother, for whom she was still in deep mourning,
and it was some moments before Mrs. Tudor proceeded,
and then in a faltering voice; “It is, in spite of your
unbelief, Isable, `an o'er true tale.' Emma prepared
herself for a scene, and then, her face beaming with
her celestial spirit, and her voice sustained by firm resolve,
she told her father that she would comply with
his wishes—that she would marry Harry Lee, if he
would provide by will for her sister, and revoke those
terrible curses that had already blasted her innocent
offspring with blindness, and were consuming her life.
The old man heard her without interruption, and
without reply; a deadly paleness overspread his countenance,
large drops of sweat rolled from his face, his
breathing was difficult, and it seemed that the terrible
conflict of unexpressed feeling must snap the worn
thread of life. Emma was dreadfully alarmed; she
dared not then urge him further but used every means
to tranquilize and revive him.

“For two days these convulsive agitations continued,
more or less violent. He spoke not one word to
Emma, he did not even look at her; but still there
was something in the gentle touch of his hand as he
received the cordials she gave, that kept her hope alive


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—but just alive, for the physician had pronounced him
dying. He revived, as is usual before the last struggle,
and, looking Emma, for the first time since she had
spoken on the forbidden topic, full in the face, he bade
her bring him a certain sealed packet from his desk.
She obeyed. It was his will. With his trembling
hands he tore it to fragments, and said, as he did so,
`The law will do right to you—both.' Emma fell
on her knees; `Oh, dear father!' she cried, `say you
forgive her.'

“ `I can't, Emma; but I have—I have prayed God
to forgive her; now, my good child, pray for your
father.' Emma began that sacred petition, that blessed
essence of all prayer, `Our Father,' and her parent,
in a low dying whisper, repeated the words after her.
When she came to the clause, `forgive us our trespasses
as we'—`Stop,' he cried, in his own energetic
voice, for then he, for the first time, understood the
full import of those words, `stop! that I may not
say.' At this moment Anna, the poor, disobedient,
discarded, suffering child, rushed with her boy in her
arms to the bedside. She knelt by Emma, she stretched
out her hands, and her lips trembled with the prayer
she could not utter. Pale, emaciated, her form attenuated,
her eye sunken—was this the bright, blooming,
gay Anna? To her father's eye she looked heaven-stricken,
and indeed accursed. He groaned from his
inmost soul. `Oh! I do forgive, but,' as he closed
his eyes, `I never will forget;' and thus divided
between the obdurate passions of earth, and the victorious
spirit of Heaven, he heaved his last breath.”

Mrs. Tudor paused, her auditors were silent, appalled
by the history of passions too stern to have come
within the scope of their young experience, or even
their imaginations. Isabel was the first to resume her
interest in the progress of the story, and to revert to
M`Arthur, who, in his character of an English officer,
had peculiar claims in her eyes. “Grandmamma,”


Page 89
she said, “I hope we have got over the dreadful part
of the story, through the thick of it; Anna must die,
that I see—poor, poor girl! I am sure she suffered
more than she sinned—and I foresee how it will end,
M`Arthur will return, find his wife dead, and marry

“But,” said Lucy, “that was impossible, you know,
after her promise to marry Harry Lee.”

“Oh! he was a generous fellow; I dare say he gave
that up, and it would be a different case, you know,
after poor Anna died. Ah! I know now how it will
all be. Grandmamma began by saying it was a ghost
story, and the only one she ever heard she fully believed.
`Alas! poor ghost!' we did all forget thee.
Anna's ghost appeared to Emma, and bade her marry
M`Arthur, or perhaps the old man's—oh! I should hate
to see him come back.”

“Well, my dear Isabel, if you are not more interested
in your own speculations than in my story, I
will proceed; and, in the first place, I assure you the
old man's spirit never revisited the earth. I am a
little astonished that you should, for a moment, think
M`Arthur worthy of the saintly Emma; but, since
you have such a predilection for him, I will let you
know your instincts do not entirely err. He did afterwards
become all that I—that—that his mother ever
hoped of him.

“He was, as he had expected to be, transferred to
the army of the south. The ardour of his attachment
to his wife was unabated for a long time; but he received
no communications from her, and his own letters
and remittances never reached her. After the
lapse of two years the impression made by his short
intercourse with Anna, in some measure faded. He
distinguished himself in his military career, was loaded
with favours by his commanding officer, he associated
exclusively with the high-born, gay, and, I fear, in too
many cases, unprincipled young men of the army, and


Page 90
his own natural pride and self-indulgence were fostered;
and—it must be told—he looked back on his
humble alliance with mortification and deep regret.
He never communicated it to a human being. At last
came that monitor, so friendly, so necessary to human
virtue, that messenger of Heaven—sickness. For
months he was confined and wasting away under the
effects of the fever of the southern climate, and it was
not till about the period of the peace that he had health
and strength to execute a resolution he had formed and
cherished in the salutary solitude of his sick-room.

“A few weeks after Amos Blunt's death, M`Arthur,
mounted on a fine, but way-worn steed, reined him up,
at an inn, a few miles distant from —town. It
was late, on a mild star-lit evening. Two or three
men were sitting in the porch of the inn. His intention
was to make some inquiries in relation to his wife's
family, but he could not utter them. He merely asked,
`How far is it to —town?' `Five miles and
better.' He did summon courage to add, `How far
to Amos Blunt's? he lives, I think a little on this side
of the town?' `Yes; it is four miles to Amos Blunt's,
to where he did live; the old man is dead, but you'll
find some of the family there.'

“M`Arthur turned his horse's head abruptly, and
spurred him on, afraid to hear another word; and he
hurried him forward, or slackened his pace, as his
hopes or fears prevailed. His mind was overshadowed
with dark apprehensions; the lapse of years had given
a new colouring to life, the pangs of awakened conscience
a new aspect to his past career. He now looked,
with something bordering on contempt, on his boyish,
impetuous, and inconstant passion, and with deep anguish
on his rash marriage and criminal neglect. He
felt that he deserved the judgments of Heaven; he
believed he was going to receive them.

“His road gradually wound up a mountain. The
feeble star-light was shut out by the towering pines,


Page 91
the lighter beeches, and the straggling dwarf oaks, that,
with all their summer's growth of foliage, overhung
the path. The woods were alive with the autumn insects,
whose monotonous notes, associated as they are
with the first fading and decay of nature, are always
sad. To M`Arthur they seemed creatures of evil
omen, and a whip-poor-will, who had lingered behind
his tribe, for it was now September, and was perched
on a blasted and riven oak, repeating his piercing
plaint, was a bird of evil augury to his disturbed imagination.
What sweet intimations these `wood notes
wild' would have conveyed to the sense of a returning
happy and hopeful lover! and how true it is that
the mind does not receive, but gives its impressions to
the outward world! When M`Arthur attained the
summit of the mountain, the wide amphitheatre in
in which —town lay, was outspread before him.
The waning moon had just risen above the horizon,
but was veiled by a mass of dense clouds, their silvered
edges just giving the intimation of her sweet presence.
Above the moon there was a singular illumination of
the atmosphere, resembling a column of golden mist,
now streaming up like the most brilliant northern
lights, and then fading and melting away in the clear
depths of ether. The phenomenon was beautiful, but
it was singular, and, to M`Arthur it appeared unnatural
and portentous; so apt is man, even in his misery,
to magnify himself, and so quick is his conscience to
interpret and apply the manifestations of nature in the
glorious heavens, as if they were a `hand-writing on
the wall.'

“Every variety of evil that could have happened to
his wife, by turns offered itself to M`Arthur's imagination;
but the fear that she might be dead, that she
had passed the barrier whence the voice of forgiveness
and love never comes, was stronger than any other.
As he proceeded, the moon rose triumphantly above
the clouds, and lent him her clear and steady light.


Page 92
He passed a rustic bridge, a sudden turn in the road,
and mounted a little knoll that brought him in full
view of Blunt's house. There it stood, just as he had
left it, an irregular and spacious building, with its
wealth of outhouses and its court yard, sparingly
dotted with a few lilacs. Not a single `little beam'
of cheering, hope-inspiring light streamed from any of
its windows; all was dark and sullen.

“Before M`Arthur reached the house, he had to
pass a spot associated with his tenderest recollections,
and now with his saddest fears. It was a smooth
green area of about forty yards in breadth, level to the
road-side, but elsewhere enclosed by a steep rocky
bank, thickly set with maples, beech, and lime trees.
Two old and magnificent elms sheltered this little
sanctuary from the road. Amos Blunt, rough as he
was, blind and deaf to all the beauties and appeals of
nature, at some soft moment, had his heart touched by
the genius of this sacred spot, and there he had said
he would bury his dead. There M`Arthur had often
been with the two sisters to visit their mother's grave;
the sight of her grave inspired them with tenderness
unmingled with gloom, and there they had often
talked with him of death, as young persons, my dear
girls, talk of it, to whom it is a matter of sentiment,
not of experience.

“M`Arthur felt a coldness and shivering come
over him, as he approached the little wicket gate,
where he knew he could see distinctly every mound
of earth. `I will not look that way,' he said to himself,
`I cannot bear to learn my fate here.' But he
could not command his eye. It turned by irresistible
instinct, and was fixed. He saw a figure approaching
a grave, that, dim as the light was, appeared newly
made. The figure had the height and movement of
his wife. It was enveloped in a winding-sheet and,
having reached the grave, laid down beside it, and
rested its head on it. M`Arthur's fears now all


Page 93
vanished, for they had sprung, not from cowardice,
but affection. He was not superstitious, all the habits
of his mind and his life were opposed to superstition;
and his first impression was that he was tricked by his
sickly fancy, that his gloomy portents, the lateness of
the hour, the associations of the place, and his coward
conscience had conjured up the apparition before him.
He dismounted from his horse, turned his eyes from
the figure to assure himself, by each familiar and sensible
appearance, of the reality of the scene, and then,
resolved not to be the sport of idle fancies, again turned
towards the grave.

“The figure was still extended there. He approached
so near as to discern the features. It was no
illusion of his disordered imagination—the death-stricken
cheek laid on the glittering and broken sods.
It was the form of his wife, such as she was at parting,
save the mortal paleness, and the signet sage that sad
thought had stamped on her brow. Her face wore
the peace and serenity of death, without its sternness;
her eyelashes rested on her cheek as if the lids had
fallen naturally in sleep. There was nothing of the
rigidity of death about the figure; even the winding-sheet
in which it was enfolded, had nothing of the
precision of the drapery of death, but was wrapped
about the form with a careless grace. One arm was
thrown over the grave, as if encircling some loved object,
with a consciousness of possession and security,
and on the finger gleamed the wedding ring! M`Arthur
at first gazed at the apparition with a critical eye.
Incredulity was roused, and reason questioned, revolted
from being duped by a mere phantasm of the
brain; but as he gazed, as he marked each well remembered
feature, his incredulity was overcome, his reason
assented to the convictions of his senses, and yielding
himself to the power of this awful visitation from the
dead, he prostrated himself on the earth, and breathed
a prayer he could not utter, that Heaven would vouchsafe


Page 94
to interpret the purpose of this spectral apparition
to his senses. Again he lifted his head and looked at
that silent, immoveable figure. In the eagerness of
excited feelings, he drew nearer to it, he knelt beside
it, he bent over it, and gazed till the awe and shrinking
from a preternatural appearance gave place to a gush
of tenderness and bitter grief and broken ejaculation
to the spirit of his wife.

“At the sound of his impassioned voice, the figure
became instinct with life, the blood mounted to her
lips and cheeks, and Anna, his living Anna, stood before
him. Her eye glanced wildly around, then fell
on the new made grave, then fixed on her husband,
and, uttering a shriek, expressive of her alarmed and
uncertain feelings, she sunk senseless in his arms. She
was living—he might hear the accents of forgiveness
and love from her lips, and, nerved by this blessed
assurance, he bore her in his arms to her father's house.
Emma, first awakened by his footsteps, was at the

“I need not, my dear girls, detain you with any
unnecessary particulars. The grave, as you have no
doubt conjectured, was the little blind boy's. He
had been interred there the preceding day; and his
poor mother, exhausted by many nights' watchings,
had in a deep sleep, risen, wrapped the sheet over her
night dress, and, led by her feverish dreams, had gone
to the grave over which her imagination and affections

We were all silent for a few moments, partly absorbed
in the pleasure of finding the story turn out
better for the happiness of all concerned than we had
expected, and partly—I must confess it—disappointed
that it was, after all, no ghost story. Isabel, as usual,
was the first to speak. “And M`Arthur, grandmamma,”
said she, “was M`Arthur always afterwards
faithful and kind?”

“Always, my dear Isabel. He took his wife to


Page 95
England, where she was honourably received by his
mother, and she has since been ever tenderly cherished.”

“And Emma,” asked Lucy, “the sweet, excelling,
sacrificing Emma, of course she married as she promised?”

“Yes, my dear girl, she did so; and in her growing
affection for her excellent husband, she found what is
not always the consequence of a first and romantic
passion, a stable and tranquil happiness.”

“But,” asked Isabel, “what did Anna — what
could she do, to testify her gratitude to that angelic

“There are feelings, Isabel, for which there is no
adequate expression, but Anna manifested in every
mode their relative condition permitted her, love and
gratitude; and Emma was satisfied, for when a sudden
reverse of fortune befell her, and was followed by a
mortal sickness, she bequeathed her only daughter to
her sister, in the reposing confidence that she would
share an equal care, an almost equal love with her own

Isabel looked eagerly in Mrs. Tudor's face—she
started up, “Grandmamma!” she exclaimed, “it is so
—I know it is. You have been telling us of our

It was plain enough that she had guessed rightly.
She turned to Lucy and folded her in her arms. I
saw in Isabel's glowing face, and fine up-raised eye,
the quick succeeding thoughts that were afterwards
embodied in sisterly affection and kindness to Lucy;
and Lucy's saintly face shone with a holy triumph
such as the virtue of a parent may inspire.

The reason why these circumstances had never
before been related to the daughters was obvious; the
reason why Mrs. Tudor had now disclosed them, and
deferred the expose, by using assumed names, was as


Page 96
apparent, and fully approved by its permanent happy

Isabel, with the generosity of a noble nature, assumed
her mother's debt; and the only vestige I
perceived of the worldliness that tinged her first
intercourse with Lucy, was in the elaborate care with
which she lavished all the elegant refinements of
fashion on the native graces of the Country Cousin.