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“Our long rides? I have never been farther than the factory with him!”
“Ah, that is it, they of course only judge by the length of your absence. His frequent visits, I can imagine necessary to the arrangement of your business, and allow me to say, though you may consider it an intrusion, Mrs. Jackson, that both my husband and myself approve and commend your unusual exertions."
Mrs. Jackson smiled gratefully through her tears.
“What do they call forgetting,” said she, as they once more returned to the principal charge made against her, “if it is to think of him by day, and dream of him by night; if it is making his slightest wish my rule of action, trying to imitate his virtues, and avoiding all that he has disapproved of, believing or at least hoping, that he is permitted even now to watch over me, and appealing to him in thought whenever I am troubled, teaching my boy to revere his memory, and training him to take his place; if this be forgetfulness, then am I indeed at fault. I may not wear a widow's veil, but I have a widowed heart. My dress may not be of the deepest hue, but my sorrow is not regulated by it! Life is too earnest with me to dwell constantly upon the past, and I hold it to be a fearful sin when one rebels madly against the decrees of our Heavenly Father. I am sure you do not misunderstand this”-and she felt it was so, as she saw the eyes that sought her own heavy with tears.
Those who have seen how bravely Mrs. Jackson had borne her earlier trials, may wonder that this idle gossip so distressed her. But strange as it may seem, her husband's death had been endured with twice the fortitude. She had been so secure in conscious innocence, and had cherished the memory of her husband
so truly, that she had not dreamed any one could for an instant think that she did not love him.
“I have no patience with these gossiping people," said Mrs. Townsend, as she recounted her visit to her husband that evening. “They have caused Mrs. Jackson more pain, I verily believe, than she had borne before. One cannot help caring for these things and dwelling on them, though you know they are slanders. It's well enough to say 'don't mind it,' but when one is left alone among strangers as she is, they are enough to bear without added misery. I am convinced and have been from the first, that neither she nor Mr. Edward Jackson ever dreamed of marriage, yet these people will not rest until they worry her into an illness, at least.”
“Nay, Louisa," said her husband, gently, "you must not speak harshly in your turn. Mrs. Jackson can never be alone while she trusts in Providence with such earnest, unquestioning faith, and censure may prove the finer's fire to her noble character. The purest gold you must recollect is submitted to the fiercest furnace."
“A fiercer than Mrs. Smith's tongue could scarcely be found. Poor Mrs. Jackson! I left her a little comforted, and I know she will try to stem the torrent bravely, now that she understands its force."
And Mrs. Townsend was right, though many were the fearful struggles which Mrs. Jackson passed through, and often her very heart failed her. Again and again did she pray “Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me," and at last her petition was granted. More than one friend, truly so, though swayed for a time by popular opinion, begged forgiveness, which was kindly accorded, and the petty slanders were quietly but triumphantly
refuted. But Mrs. Harden never could be made to believe that she would not marry Mr. Edward Jackson, until that gentleman brought his pretty and accomplished bride to pass a week with his sister, the ensuing spring.
Even then she remarked that she knew Mrs. Jackson was disappointed, and it had served her right; to which observation Mrs. Smith and Harriet responded fervently.
SKETCH THE FIFTH.
“She gave up all to share his fate,
And now her presence makes the light
That else were desolate."
HE description given by Mr. Edward Jackson, of
to have learned sympathy through sorrow.” This last remark conveyed the impression made on almost every one, when he first came among them. He was always pale, as if from midnight watchings, and his large dark eyes at times seemed filled with an expression of unutterable sorrow. Yet he was so gentle that the smallest child in his congregation ran to meet him, looking up into his face with confiding love; and were
any in affliction or distress, no one could suggest more hopeful words of consolation. He was always grave in manner, yet when he smiled, a beautiful light illumined his whole countenance, giving it that expression which some of the old masters have delighted to portray in pictures of “ the beloved disciple.” Indeed, “ Aunt Underwood," one of the oldest among his charge, often said she was sure “the Apostle John must have looked just like her pastor; and it was no wonder if he did—that the Master had loved him better than all the rest."
His wife was not unlike him in gentleness and forbearance, but her manner was entirely different. She had been the petted, only child of fond parents, who wondered, as did all her friends, at her acceptance of Mr. Townsend, when wealthy and distinguished men at the same time sought her love. She had never been allowed one act of self-denial, for her wishes were anticipated from her cradle, and now she laid aside the gaiety and idleness of her luxurious life, to become the sharer in the humble fortunes of the pastor of a village church.
They had first met in the saloons of fashion, where the young lawyer so rapidly rising in his profession, and the beautiful heiress, Louise Warner, were the observed of many eyes. But though it was only natural that mutual admiration should result in deep regard, no one dreamed that this would still continue when “ Townsend had become a mad religious enthusiast”. said his gayer friends — and avowed his intention of forsaking the paths of wealth and ambition, for that lowlier way which his Master had through suffering trod.
Her parents argued and even pleaded in vain. Her duty to them would not admit that she should marry without their consent, yet she declared her intention of holding sacred the vows
she had plighted to one whom she truly esteemed. When they saw that this resolution did not arise from a girlish sentimentality, but from a sincere conviction of duty and an entire change in her hitherto thoughtless character, opposition ceased.
“Let the child be happy in her own way,” said her father ; and so they were united, and the fashionable world wondered, pitied them, and as soon forgot even their existence.
None of their church to whom he came as a friend and a guide, knew of the self-denial Mr. Townsend had already practised, or how different was the quiet, humble life they now led, from that to which they had been accustomed. Rumours that Mrs. Townsend's family were wealthy, had, indeed, been borne to Rivertown; but the inhabitants decided it could not be true, when they saw how plainly she dressed and how studiously she avoided anything like display. True she had a piano, and for a long time some of the more rigid seemed disposed to consider it an unpardonable sin. Mrs. Townsend was a fine musician, and did not feel herself called upon to close her instrument for ever, or silence the brilliant voice on whose cultivation so much care had been be. stowed. Surely those are “righteous overmuch” who would deny us the most exquisite and the purest of earthly pleasures“the only one," says Horace Walpole, "we are sure of enjoying still in Heaven!” So thought Mrs. Townsend, and so said her husband, as, after the day's weary duties were ended, he listened to the choral strains which Handel and Haydn have left to keep their memory for ever in the hearts of men.
“We fall on our knees with Mozart and rise on wings with Handel,” says a beautiful writer; and who among us has not felt a thrill of purest and most rapturous devotion when listening to the organ's melting, surging strains, as well as the grander