University of Virginia Library




“Now, Truth, perform thine office!”

Grace had eagerly escaped from Mrs. Herbert's forced
politeness, Miss Anne's sulkiness, and, above all, from her
dear uncle's pathetic countenance, and passed the interim of
her lover's absence with her sister at Harlem; where, in
her obscure dwelling, she realized that home is made of
a woman's heart, and its various relations and dependencies
—not of marble, or brick and mortar, or even of May's
magical “wood painted white.” She came to town with her
sister and brother-in-law on the day of her lover's expected
return. They were sitting with Mrs. Herbert's family
around her tea-table. If there was ever an hour in life
when Mrs. Herbert's platitudes could be acceptable, it was
such a one as this, when every one else was kept silent by
suspended or disquieted feeling and fluttering expectation.
Mrs. Herbert herself seemed flooded with serenity, as if
neither “crosses nor losses” had ever invaded her lot.

“How much we miss you, dear Eleanor,” she said, “and
the children, dear little ones. But you must find being in
the country a great saving of time—life seems so cut up, so
very short in town; don't you think so, Mr. Esterly?”

“I don't know, madam; reckoned in poor Charles Lamb's
fanciful mode, by the waste of it, it should seem fearfully

“Long or short,” interposed Miss Carlton, “there is not


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half enough of it to do what one wishes. Mamma and I
have been trying so hard, dear Eleanor, every day to get
out to see you in your dear little cottage, but something always
chances to prevent us—it is so tiresome.”

“`Lord have macy on fine ladies for all the lies they tell,'
as poor old Di' says,” whispered Uncle Walter to Grace, who
sat at his side. “Now, just listen to Eleanor's answer, it
will be gracious, and true, too, I'll be bound.” But before
the answer was finished, a carriage stopped at the door, the
door-bell rang, an ominous silence heralded the expected
guest, and Mr. Copley entered. It was his first appearance
since the engagement. Mrs. Herbert and Anne had had
time to prepare their masks; the rest never wore them.

The blood rushed to Grace's cheeks as her lover kissed
the hand she extended to him. Eleanor, too, gave him her
hand, but, truth itself, she spoke not a word. He looked in
her face, and no doubt his vanity interpreted satisfactorily
the emotion it expressed. Esterly looked grave. After exchanging
the common civilities of meeting, he felt that
something more was expected, and he said, “I congratulate
you, Mr. Copley; my wife is perfection—and Grace is her

“A little equivocal,” interposed Mrs. Herbert; “no doubt
Mr. Esterly means that our dear Grace will go on to perfection
now that she is to be so fortunate, so happy. I hold
that success is as propitious to the character as—as—”

“Sugar-plums to children, mamma. By the way, Mr.
Copley,” added Miss Anne, “though you did not give all
your's to Grace—your sugar-plums, I mean—I was not quite
so blind as you may imagine. I have seen all along that the
farce of `Love 's a riddle' was to end in this charming way.”

Grace turned her eye upon Anne Carlton; its flash disclosed
the hollowness of that vessel; she paled under it, and
was silent.


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Walter Herbert sat sipping his tea, not moving or even
looking up. Grace put her hand on his shoulder, and said,
in a low accent that meant more than met the ear, “Uncle

He started to his feet, and offered his reluctant hand to
Copley. “Excuse me, Mr. Copley,” he said, “excuse me;
I make it a rule never to congratulate people, till they have
been married half a score of years.”

“Then, sir,” replied Copley, with an animation that mollified
Mr. Herbert, “at the end of ten years I will be sure to
claim my dues, with interest.”

“Come, sit down, Mr. Copley,” said Mrs. Herbert, “here,
near me; you can't do better, since brother and Mr. Esterly
have placed Grace a prisoner between them—very wrong,
gentlemen! I hope you observe, Mr. Copley, that I have
endeavored to do honor to the occasion—to dress my tea-table
en pleine toilette. You see John has served my best
china, and the bouquet was expressly ordered for your welcome;
Thorburn has really done his best.”

“`There's rhue for me'—do you see it?” whispered Anne
to Copley.

“You observe,” resumed Mrs. Herbert, “the silver vase
that contains the flowers, is something quite out of the common
way. I keep it locked, you know, Eleanor, in my silver
safe—it's so precious. It was your poor father's gift to me
on our wedding-day; and now, dear Grace, I present it to
you as a pleasant souvenir of your poor father's bridal.”

Grace tried to speak decent thanks, but the words died
on her lips. Anne, whose eyes on some occasions were as
quick as a detective policeman's, saw her embarrassment, and

“What are you smiling at, Anne?” asked her mother.
“Anne has been so happy since this event.”

“Nonsense, mamma; such `events' to other people don't


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particularly delight me.” Anne turned her eye to Copley,
and heaved an honest sigh.

“What did you then smile at, my dear?”

“I have forgotten; it might be Mr. Copley's elaborate
toilet after his railroad journey. What did we hear at the
play about an `hour's delay in love?'”

Miss Carlton's poor spite passed unheeded, for at this moment
a servant brought in a letter, with a paper parcel carelessly
tied, and laid it down before her. “This is not for
me, John,” she said, and passed the letter to Grace. “Why,
what a direction!” she exclaimed, looking at the parcel—
“ `Miss Herbert, Bond-street.' One would think it was
written by a maniac.” Miss Anne partook the very common
curiosity to see the inside of a parcel. As if unconsciously,
and all the while talking to Eleanor, she fumbled at
the carelessly-tied string till it came off; the paper opened,
and the contents rolled on the floor: fans, rings, bits of fantastical
jewelry, a splendid opera-glass, a certain delicately-carved
cigarette-case, and a diamond bracelet.

Walter Herbert moved back his chair. “Hallo! what's
all this?” he exclaimed.

“Dear me,” cried Mrs. Herbert, “the engagement has got
wind. Dear Grace, what a quantity of splendid wedding

“Good heavens!” exclaimed Anne Carlton, picking up the
bracelet, and darting her eyes from Grace to Copley, “as I
live, Mrs. Tallis' bracelet! What can it mean?”

“God knows!” exclaimed Copley, and perhaps unconscious
that he had spoken, he rushed, like a felon from justice,
out of the room, and out of the house.

Miss Anne, for once inspired by her mother's genius, condescended
to borrow her aphoristic style, and murmured,
with ineffable relief, “`There's many a slip between the cup
and the lip.'”


Page 91

Eleanor's eyes were fixed on her sister; her's had not
turned from the letter, which was rustling in her shaking
hand. She was blind and deaf to all that was passing
around her. Without reading the letter, she had, by a
sweeping glance over it, and as if by intuition, comprehended
its mission, and refolding it, she left the room. When
she came to her own apartment, she felt that her intellects
were confused and made incapable by the sudden shock; she
paced up and down, till she became calm and quite self-possessed.
She then lighted the gas, and sat down to the considerate
reading of the letter that follows. It was illegibly
written, evidently by snatches, and blotted with tears. To
Grace's sharpened sense every word was clear; to her quickened
feeling, every meaning sharp as steel.

It began:—“She is dead!—my child, Elise is dead.
God's curse has fallen on me—she is dead—gone from me
forever and forever.

“I kneel by her hour after hour—the hours are minutes,
and the minutes are hours—there is no change. She is still
—oh, so still!—this restless little body that at my least look
would fly into my arms. I kiss her with my burning lips;
they do not warm hers. I take up the little hand that used
to grasp mine, and it falls, heavy and cold. My heart throbs
till I think life stirs in her, but there is no life there. She is
dead—Elise, dead?

“She was a sweet fountain in my life-desert. She should
have kept me from wrong-doing. She did not, and so I
lost her—my darling, darling child. I loved her as I have
loved nothing else. I never loved my husband. My child
loved him. And when I think of that, and look upon
her, it does not much comfort me that I have not been
criminal toward her father, in the world's sense. I see
written on my spotless child, `Blessed are the pure in


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spirit.' And I am sure I feel that such as are not so, are

“One ray of light has penetrated my thick darkness.
One duty appears before me: it seems as if my child had
spoken to me, and that does comfort me, though my head
throbs, so that I know not if I can do what I would. I will

“I have moved away from her. I have dropped the curtain
all around her bed, so that I can not see her while I
write. I will try to write distinctly. Oh, how could she
die? so full she was of life and love.

“Stop—let me think. It was that evening my darling
first showed signs of this fatal illness. She had been hanging
round me all the afternoon, but I think she did not complain
till after a note was brought in to me from Copley, informing
me of your engagement, and telling me he would come to
me in the course of the evening. She was sitting with her
arm over my shoulder, and her little cheek resting on my
breast. I was singing to her—the last time. I dearly loved to
sing to her; how she loved it; how she would ask for `more
and more.' I learned every pretty ballad I could hear of,
to sing to her. When I had read the note, she begged
me to sing more. She said her head did not pain her when
I sang. I thought it was just a little pretext, she was so
petted. Poor little darling!

“I must tell the whole humiliating truth. Copley's note
set me off crying with vexation, and mortified vanity. Not
disappointed love; no, no, it was not love; no, I never
loved that bad man. My child kissed off my tears, unworthy
the touch of her lips; I rang for her nurse. Again
Elise told me she had pain. I called her `a little make-be-lieve,'


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and kissed her, and sent her away. Oh, my God! if
I could have her now, but one moment living, in my arms!”

“Copley came—I will tell all, for so I resolved on my
knees by my little angel's side. His sacrilegious lips touched
my cheek, still warm with my child's caress. I do not remember
distinctly much of what he said. Like a dream, it
has been all swept away before the dreadful realities that
followed. I remember we sat together, and walked the
room together, hour after hour. Twice, nurse knocked at
the door, and told me Elise was asking for me. I gave no
heed; nature was dead within me. God forsook me when
I sent my child away.

“Oh, yes, now it comes back to me, some things he said that
dreadful evening. `He must marry, sooner or later.' He
believed his incentive in the pursuit of you had been the
difficulty of attaining you. You piqued his pride. He chose
to pursue, not to be caught by the `eager mothers, and ready
daughters,' and stuff like that. And then, oh, how he flattered
me. How he has, from the beginning, talked of my
beauty, my grace, my magnetic attraction, my exquisite
taste in dress. Think of my folly; think of it—and of my
punishment. Oh, my child, my child!

“Why did I not leave him, and go to my darling? Had
I only gone to her little bed to kiss her, as I went to my
room!—it was the first time I ever missed it—it was my sin
that kept me from her. Perhaps I might have saved her if
I had called the doctor then—that way lies madness. She
was awake all night, nurse says, and continually asking her
for me; and when they called me in the morning, she was
in a fit. Since then she has not known me. She has not felt
my kisses. I tried every song she loved, and sang till I


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fainted quite away, but she gave no heed; God would not
let her. She would never have left me of her own free will.

“Her father is absent. Poor Rupert! he will never see
her, not even as she lies now—dead. Oh, that horrid word,
it seems as if I had never heard it, never seen it before. He
will be comforted, for he has not offended. He uttered no
false marriage vows, nor has he broken them in thought,
word, or deed.

“Now that I have done this one duty left in the dark
world before me, I look on my child with less torture. I
seem to have taken one step toward her.

Augusta Tallis.
“P. S.—I send you all the trinkets he has given me. Dispose
of them as you will; throw them into the street, if you
will, and let these witnesses of my vanity and folly be trodden
under foot.”

Half an hour after, Eleanor softly opened the door and
entered her sister's room. Grace was kneeling beneath her
mother's picture; it was the place she had fondly chosen,
when a child, to say her prayers, and she had retained it for
that holy office with something of the feeling of a Catholic
in devout communion with her dearest saint; she raised
her head. All struggle was over; there was a heavenly
peace on her glowing face. “Come here, dear sister,” she
said, “and help me thank the beneficent Providence that
has saved me from perdition.”

Their arms were interlaced and their hearts melted together
in one silent, fervent thanksgiving.

Grace gave Eleanor Mrs. Tallis' letter. She wiped away
her tears as she finished the reading. “Poor mother! poor


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woman!” she murmured, “what can be done for her? She
has neither mother, nor sister, nor, I believe, one intimate
friend.” Grace impulsively answered to what she felt as an
appeal. “Shall I go to her, Eleanor?” she said. “She is
alone with her servants. She must need some one who knows
her whole calamity. I may come between her soul and its
despair—I have been at least as weak as she, and therefore
my presence will be no reproach to her.”

“Yes, go, dear Grace, and support and comfort her if you
can; but do not silence the reproaches of her conscience; remember
in whose name conscience speaks.” Eleanor paused,
Grace rang the bell, and bade the servant order a carriage.

“I thought her so weak,” said Grace, “I would not have
believed there were elements in her for so fearful a tempest.
I am afraid she will lose her senses when it comes to
the last.”

“No, Grace, I think not. I think I hear from out the
storm that gracious voice, `It is I, be not afraid!'”

“What do you mean? I do not understand you,

“I see in her remorse and in her hard struggle to do the
duty nearest to her, that God is dealing with her soul, and
that she accepts his dealing.”

“Oh, Eleanor, you are so much more religiously wise
than I am, so much wiser every way, that you, not I, should
go to her.”

“No, Grace, for every reason it is better you should go.
Mrs. Tallis must be approached through her feelings. But
do not, dear Grace, in your pity and anxiety for her present
relief, lose sight of her future good. She receives her child's
death as punishment; her mind is filled with this idea.
Make her feel, if you can, that this is not the way that our
great Shepherd in his infinite love deals with us. He chastises
us, not because we leave the fold, but to make us conscious


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of our wanderings, to bring us back and keep us
there. If the child had lived she would have followed the
fashion of her mother's life; that would have been the real
misery. Now the little loving creature's death may bring her
mother out of her idle useless life, may lead to right relations
to her husband, to a sincere, effectual repentance. To this
great end, you must persuade her the bitter draught the
great Physician has put into her hand must be drunk, not
turned aside; and that he gives it to restore, not torment.”

“How right you are, Eleanor, and as much better than I,
as a cure is than a cordial. I thought only of paying the
infinite debt I owe this poor lady, by giving her what comfort
I could in her desolation. Now, by your aid, I will be
true to her, and try to help as well as comfort her. How
different, dear sister,” she said, as she stooped to kiss Eleanor
good-night, “is this from the sweet peace at your child's

“Yes, thank God, it is very different; but Grace, that
affliction discovered moth and rust gathering on our Christian
armor, that we had not perceived.”

“And the angel of death brings in his hand this divine
anointing for all our eyes, does he not, Eleanor?” Grace replied
with a pensive smile, and as she paused at the door,
her face radiant with a sense of her great deliverance, she
added, in a low voice, “May I not say devoutly that `whereas
I was blind, I now see?'”

Once out of the room, she turned back, and in an altered
tone said, “Think of my forgetting Uncle Walter! Go to
him, Eleanor, tell him I have passed the Dead Sea I have
been drifting down the last five days; that I am free and
happy, and his own child again; and if he wishes, tell him
all how it is—most likely I shall never speak of it again.”

The good news was told to Walter Herbert. It was
health to him by day and sleep by night.


Page 97

At two in the morning, Grace, having withdrawn, from the
apartment in which the body of Elise was lying, to Mrs.
Tallis' library, wrote the following letter to her sister:

Dear Eleanor:

“When I came to this house, I summoned Mrs. Tallis'
maid, and inquired for her mistress. `Oh, Miss,' she said,
`it would scare you to see her. The poor lady has not left
the nursery since first the child was taken ill. You can go
in, for she takes no notice who goes in or who comes out;
she seems to know nothing but that the child is dead. She
has swallowed nothing but a sip of tea or coffee; she has
not had a brush through her hair, and only takes her bath,
and slips on her dressing-gown, as if she grudges the minutes
she's away from Miss Elise's side.' I stopped her prating,
and went, as seemed to me best, directly to Mrs. Tallis.
Oh, Eleanor, what a spectacle! The last time I saw Augusta
Tallis was at Mrs. Seton's ball, splendidly arrayed, brilliantly
beautiful! She was now colorless as the little blighted
blossom she hung over. Her flesh has melted away; she
looks ten years older; and yet, haggard as she is, her hair
matted, her dress neglected, her exquisite beauty impressed
me as it never did before. It is now instinct with spirit,
though the spirit be in prison and in torment. She was
kneeling, when I entered, beside her child's little couch,
her head lying on her child's low pillow. I went to her
and laid my hand on her head. She did not notice me.
I stood hoping for some sigh or motion—there was none.
I turned my eyes to the child—she looks like a sleeping
cherub—so serene, so lovely! Thoughts of the salvation
she had wrought for me, flooded my heart. I kissed the
shining locks on her temples, and murmured something, I
know not what, expressions of my debt to her. The mother
started, as if from deep sleep and dreams, and said, `Who


Page 98
is it? what is it?' I sank down beside her, and put my
arm around her quivering frame. `Dear friend,' I said, `I
have come to thank you and to bless her—you and your
child have saved me, Augusta. She inspired you to write
that letter to me.' I shall never forget the instant change
of her countenance—it was from death to life—from despair
to hope. `I thought it was so,' she said; `she seemed to
speak to me out of that death silence—to tell me the only
thing left for me to do in this world—and I did it—and I
shall see her again; shall I? Oh, tell me you believe I
shall! that I am not a castaway!' I thought of your caution,
Eleanor, and resisted my impulse to fold her to my bosom,
and say nothing but the balmiest words I could think of.
I spoke yours instead. `Surely I believe you will see your
child again,' I said, `if you faithfully receive the admonition
our heavenly Father sends to you through her.' `Oh, tell
me what it is,' she said, `my head is so weak, so dizzy.
Why, there is nothing left for me in this life to do—it is all
empty and dark. My husband must hate me, must cast me
off—our child has died by my neglect.' Now I soothed
her, Eleanor; I begged her to be quiet, and to wait, and
by-and-by she would see God's gracious purpose, if she
would but look to him—his arms were always outstretched
to the returning child. She seemed a little comforted and
laid her head on my lap, and the tears flowed with less
anguish. But she broke forth again, and wrung her
hands and said, `Oh, she was not like any other child!
she was so sweet! so bright! such a merry laugh—
did you ever hear her laugh? Oh, my heavens, I shall
never laugh again! And she could be so quiet. When I
had my nervous head-aches she would lie by me for an hour
with her little cool hand on my forehead, and if I but sighed
she would kiss me; but she will never kiss me again, never,
never!' By degrees I soothed away this paroxysm, and she


Page 99
permitted me to lay her on the sofa, and bathe her head, and
while I stroked her temples, she fell asleep, and slept naturally
for an hour, the first time, her woman avers, since the
child became ill; but that can hardly be. Ignorant people
are apt to express their sympathy by exaggerating the
demonstrations of suffering. When Augusta awoke, she
took, without resistance, the nourishment I offered. And
what was more important, she seemed comforted by my
presence, and ready to open her heart to me. She returned
to her child's low couch, and after having sat by her a long
time in thoughtful and tearless silence—`Oh, Grace,' she
said, `I begin to comprehend what you said to me—that
God's dealing with me was supremely wise and loving; was
not that what you said? My head has been so confused—
it is getting clearer now.'

“`I believe all God's dealings with us are so,' I replied.

“`I don't mean in general, but in particular to me—I see
it is so.' It seemed for a moment as if she struggled to
penetrate with the eye of faith the thick clouds that obstructed
it, and then again she reverted to the treasure that had
absorbed all her love, and giving way to a fresh burst of
grief, she said, `I was not fit to be trusted with the precious
spirit of my child. All I did was to pamper her, and to deck
this little body in French finery. I loved her; yes, I loved
her. God knows I loved her. But, oh, Grace, meanly, selfishly,
wickedly. I could not bear she should love any one
but me. I was jealous of her nurse, and bitterly jealous of
her father. I used often to ask her if she did not love me
better than she loved her father; and the dear little creature
would say, `No mamma, I love you both alike; you are good
to me, and papa is just as good to me, and I can't help
loving him as well.' She was so true; she could not say
what was not true, and it was wise and loving to take her
away before I corrupted her. Oh, am I not humbled? I


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should have dragged down to earth that sweet heavenly
spirit. I should have made her just what I am—a mere victim
of vanity, living to no one good purpose. Poor Rupert!
what will he say? what will he do? She was all he had in
the world. I have done nothing for him, but to wear out
of him all the goodness he had. He did love me. He does
love me still.' After a pause, she said, with animation, as if
the thought had just struck her, `Grace, Grace, do you
think it possible that he can ever forgive me, and forget,
and be happy again? Do you think it possible that I can
love him, because I ought. Is that my child's admonition?'

“I hesitated. She seemed gazing into the very depths of
my soul. `Ah,' she said, `you do not believe it possible.'

“Now, Eleanor, you may imagine how much I was perplexed
what to answer her. You know how I have always
maintained against you, whose nature it is to feel as well as
to do right—and who, therefore, have it at will to love or
not—that love is an instinct, or an impulse, or something quite
independent of our will, or our conviction. I tried to think
what you would reply to her, Eleanor. I was frightened,
lest I should put some obstruction to the good work beginning
in her heart, and while I hesitated, she said, `I do not
believe you know how good Rupert is—how forbearing he
has been with me—how much he has overlooked—how
dreadfully I have tried him. And yet I think, I hope he
still loves me.'

“I can not express to you the relief I felt at these words.
I could now answer as I wished, without belying my own
convictions. I saw the child's death was working a change
in the wife's heart.

“`The desire for your husband's affections will turn yours
toward him, Augusta. Feeling as you do, this bereavement,
you will know what he feels, and from your infinite pity for
him, affection must spring up; not a girlish love, but the


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considerate affection of a steadfast friend; and then she who
now seems lost to you will not be lost, but the guardian angel
of both.' Augusta looked at me, while I spoke, with an
earnestness I can not describe to you, and when I finished,
instead of replying to me by word, she sank on her knees,
and bending her head over her child, she held such gracious
communion, with Him who had stretched out his arms to
receive the returning prodigal, as I think she never knew

“It was a fitting preparation for what was to follow.
Mrs. Tallis' maid opened the door, and beckoning to me,
said, `Mr. Tallis had arrived, and would I please to go down
to him?—he was in such an awful way they could do nothing
with him.' No, thought I, if it be possible, his wife shall go
to him. Now, while they are baptized in the same affliction,
and the same grief, the past may be obliterated. The ice
formed against him in her heart is already melting in this
fiery crucible—the current may set to him.

“Augusta had risen from her knees, and was looking to
me. `Has he come?' she gasped out. `Yes, Augusta, will
you go to him? You alone can comfort him.' `I,' she said,
`I comfort him?' After hesitating a moment, and gazing
again at her child, as if from her to draw strength and courage,
she said, `Yes, I will go. I will tell him all; everything.
He may—he may forgive me. Oh, Grace, he has a great

“`Yes, I believe he has,' said I, delighted to perceive the
subtle workings of her newly awakened feeling for him, `and
Augusta, such greatness is goodness; trust to it.'

“`I will,' she replied; and added, with almost a smile
beaming through the sweetness of her face, `Our child bids
me go to him.'

“I wrapped a shawl around her, and supported her, shivering
and tottering, to his door. He was weeping aloud


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when she went in. Then followed a fearful stillness. But
afterward, here in the library, where I am sitting, over the
drawing-room, I heard the murmur of their low, sad voices
for half an hour. I doubt not there was humble and full
confession from her, and forgiveness from him. Then they
came up to Elise' nursery together, and the maid now tells
me, that Mr. Tallis has gone, quite calm, to his own apartment,
and she is falling asleep on the sofa. Oh, Eleanor, if
he has lost his child, has he not found his wife?

“This is the second time that I have been so near to
death as to penetrate with a sort of second sight its mysteries.
When our mother died, I was too young for any thing
but the dreadful sense of loss. Aunt Sarah told me she was
gone to heaven, but what heaven was, or where, I knew not.
She was gone from me forever; that I fully comprehended,
and night after night I cried myself to sleep. But never,
till I saw you and Frank meekly resign your child into the
safe wardship of Him who gave him, did I know that
the gates of immortality are never again closed to those
whose eye of faith has seen one they loved pass through
them. Thenceforth, this life has an unction from the life to

“And to this house death has come as an angel, sowing
with light and life the paths of these poor wanderers befogged
by their own follies. And it has an angel's mission to
all those for whom it sets its solemn seal and superscription
on vanity, and levity, and worldliness, and all the utter waste
of God's good gifts.

“But, dear sister, in pointing the moral for others, I do
not evade it for myself. This evening has been what your
good little cousin Effie calls `a teaching period,' and I have
had my own humbling task to con.

“Eleanor, when you prescribed the medicine for Mrs.
Tallis, you meant there should be enough for two. I have


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drank my portion, and now I send you the result; please
examine it, dear physician, and tell me if it be right.

“The blow to my vanity this evening was stunning, but
my affections are unscathed. This is certain from my present
satisfaction, and grateful sense of escape. If I had loved
Horace Copley, blinded, beguiled, I might have been, but
then I should have found extenuation in my delusion. Now,
in my retrospect, I see how my weakness yielded to his
stronger will, how his importunate flattery filled the vacuities
of my life, and bribed my imagination to supply the
defects in his character; obvious enough they were to my
judgment, and glaring to my instincts. I certainly did not
dream of such heartless profligacy as Mrs. Tallis' disclosure
revealed; but at twenty-two, I should have reflected on
what was meant by that term, `man of the world,' which I
have more than once heard applied to him, and I ought to
have reasoned far enough to conclude that a man, false in his
relations to our sex, is unsound, is false throughout, and that
his integrity is not to be trusted when assailed by temptation,
come in what form it may.

“This man has been a sort of possession to me. What
hours, hours! years of precious responsible life I have wasted
on him. I now dismiss him from my mind forever, and
truly without resentment or contempt; he has exercised too
much power over me for contempt, and for resentment,
Eleanor, my self-abasement is too deep, my penitence too
keen, to permit resentment. You are my confessor, dear
sister. Every sound is hushed within and without. The
city is steeped in solemn silence. I feel like making a
clean breast of it, so have patience. I begin with a confession
that makes my cheeks burn, while I write it. I
was, no, I was not jealous of Anne Carlton, but the thought
that she might finally triumph over me, would intrude, and
I could not brook it. I looked forward with pleasure to


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baffling Mrs. Herbert's manœuvring. I will keep the memory
of those miserable vanities as a scourge for all future
intrusions of this subtle weakness, which like the fretting
worm works into the very root of virtue. Don't tell your
husband, Eleanor; I am not humbled enough for that. To
you alone, who are so good, so `lowly-wise,' and to my God
can I confess this most humiliating weakness.

“I have gifts that compel the world to admire me, and
make Anne Carlton, and birds of her feather, hate me—it
would be mock-modesty to deny it—and other gifts that
make you and Frank, and my dear Uncle Walter, love me;
but what use have I made of them, Eleanor? I have been
one of the veriest idlers in that wide harvest-field, where
the laborers are few and the harvest still plenteous. I have
made myself my own centre; I have studied art and
literature as ends, not means; I have fretted in the harness
of the frivolous society in which my lot was cast,
but I have not thrown it off; I craved, and expected—as I
believe most young women do—an adoring, exclusive love,
as if we came into this working world merely to worship
idols, and be idols in turn; in short, Eleanor, amid my
morbid repinings, and insolent exactions of Providence, I
sought for peace everywhere but where it is to be found, and
where, being found, all pure human affections, all gifts and
graces, all diversities of attainments, are its gracious accessories,
never its substitutes.

“I have looked upon you, sweet sister, wrapped in your
humility, and going through the paths of duty heavenward,
as my inferior, because you had not my longings—aspirations,
I think I called them in my nomenclature. The
steeps I climbed were as the mere mole-hills on earth's surface,
while your way led up those shining heights seen only
by the eye of faith. You, Eleanor, have been like sunshine
in your course, imparting vitality to every thing you touched;


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even the few possible virtues in our step-mother and in
Anne Carlton have put forth and blossomed in your beams;
whereas I have been the sphynx, with its riddle, to them,
and they, heaven knows, a desert to me.

“I lay some trifling unction to my soul from the fact that
your plastic youth was moulded by our martyr-aunt, while
my willful and wayward childhood was left to the corrosions
of Mrs. Herbert, and dear Uncle Walter's petting, which
nurtured my affections, and thereby brought forth some
flowers, but certainly had no tendency to root out the weeds.

“But these are accidents; the difference between us is
essential. You have been a Christian, and lived a Christian's
life; I have been a heathen, and lived a heathen's life. I
know the inscription is the same to us both—all those who
are baptized, and have conformed to the rule of their church,
as I have to ours, are called Christians, as I am called; but
I also know, that those only are so who hear His word and
do it.

“Dear sister, I have had a long life in this solemn night,
if time is to be reckoned by sensations. I have laid the
cross upon my heart, and comprehended, as I never did before,
this symbol of humility, love, and fidelity.

“I am penitent, Eleanor. Time must prove whether I
am repentant.”

The following passage from a recent publication seems to
us of so apt an application to Grace Herbert's letter, that
we take the liberty to enrich our pages with it:

“Have you, reader, ever experienced a great sorrow? and
if so, have you not seen afterward how it discloses heights
and depths in your spiritual nature which you had never
known, and resources upon which you had never drawn;
how it produces susceptibilities which you had never before


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felt; how it induces a tenderness of mind that makes it ductile
almost as the clay, and ready to receive the stamp of the
divine image; how little animosities and hatreds are banished
and forgotten, while the heart has new yearnings toward
all that live, and especially toward all that suffer; how
the soul sickens at mere shows and appearances, and demands
realities, while it hungers after the good and the
true; how this world recedes less, while the world of immortality
comes on as if now first revealed, and incloses you
in its light, just as when the glare of the day is withdrawn
and the darkness moves over us, we gaze on a new sky,
and bathe in the starry splendors of the milky way?”