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The circling hours, that swiftly wing their way,
Whilst we are in the enjoyment of health, we often repeat, “in the midst of life we are in death ;” but how frequently words are uttered which are not deeply felt or understood.
Persons who live near a church grow, at length, accustomed to the tolling of that bell which warns us that a soul has left its tenement of clay; that bell which might serve as a warning voice becomes, at length,
a sound scarcely heard ; so much are we the creatures of habit. But a time was drawing near when Cunnington was to see the forcible lesson which sometimes so salutarily speaks to the heart.
Who can see the clay-cold hands of death touching the form, which a short time since beamed in health—who can watch the change of features, the nothingness of that which once moved in the pride of life—who can watch the searing hand of death, and not experience deep feelings of awe, resolutions of amendment, an inexplicable qualm of fear?
Cunnington knelt beside Alphonzo's deathbed; stricken with the fatal fever of the country, his eyes were closing in neverwaking sleep.
The seeds of genius were crushed in the bud,—the world was receding before him,the heir had sought the only kindred he could claim on earth—had pressed his sister to his heart, and now he was dying.
The world and its pleasures faintly whispered a tale of regret ; the fear of dying mixed with its rays of hope, a sigh for that which is of the world battled with brighter thoughts of blessings to come; but at length Alphonzo learned resignation.
The delirium of fever had passed away; that fearful time of illness when friends are not known, and imaginary foes conjured up; the warm sun shone on his pale face, so wan—so altered; who would have known Alphonzo di Lucia ?
It was an impressive lesson : death is at all times, even when the weak and suffering are released from their pain,—when life has been dragged on without enjoyment, and death comes without regret ; but when the young are prostrate in strength, -oh, it is doubly mournful!
The tree is yet young—if spared, we fondly hope the branches would have been so fair ; we fancy each germ of virtue would have grown to maturity.
A clock on the mantle-shelf was unerringly marking the time, Anna on one side, Cunnington on the other ; the baron supporting the dying form; and Alphonzo marked the hands of that dial as they pointed each moment to a different spot.
Poor Alphonzo! he looked mournfully round, and said, in very feeble accents,
“ Withdraw that clock, I pray; my moments are fleeting-death is at hand. I have often wasted precious moments I would now recall; then the dial pointed as it now does, and I laughed at the warning hands. Take away the clock.”
The wish was obeyed, and the dying youth continued, “ Anna, I have made my will; you are heiress to my property. As we die, what care we for gold; but, Anna, it is worshipped in the world. Do not thou worship it, my sister. Relieve the poor, succour the aged, heed the voice of suppliant infancy, wipe the tears from eyes which overflow with grief. God bless thee ! God protect thee! God keep thee from the trials of the world, in which thou wilt be surrounded by flattery and deceit !"
Anna dropped on her knees, and Alphonzo deemed her grief too natural to wish to restrain it; turning from her sobbing voice, he pressed his thin hand on Cunnington's.
“ Cunnington,” he said, “ seek again your native land; you have a fond father and mother, live not away from their tender care ; die not afar from those caresses which fall so gently on our dying ears. We have spent happy days together, forming plans for manhood, never to be re