網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

260

THREE

SCENES

OF DEATH.

and interrupting him in the midst of a sentence, he said,

“Do you remember old brother W-?"

· Very well,” replied the young preacher. “ He often staid at my father's house when I was a boy.”

5 I was but little older than you are now," added D, “when brother W- lost his wife. They had lived together for twenty-five years, and during all that time, there had been no discord between them. I felt deeply for brother W in his loss, and thought I could

do no less than offer him some words of consolation. So I went and talked to him, and he seemed to listen with much attention. This encouraged me to go on. But all at once he started up, with the words, · You don't know anything about it ! and left the room. And, my young brother, he was right. I didn't know anything about it.”

D-- said no more. There was an embarrassing pause, and the young preacher changed the subject.

“We only know what we have lived.”

THREE SCENES OF DEATH.

BY KATE CLEVELAND.

Sweet the smile upon that brow,

With the life-tint breathing through, Though the light has fled ere now,

From those eyes of deepest blue. Quenched and gone that light for ever,

Even as the moonbeams part From the darkly-flowing river,

Taking light from its lone heart. Picture sweet of childhood's sleep,

Though that sleep is now for ever; Angels round thee kind watch keep

Thou hast passed the silent river, Which is ever flowing on.

Dark and deep its waters rollThey, when mortal life is done,

Give new life unto the soul.

Hark the slow and cautious tread,

In that dark and silent room; Mourners gather round the bed—

Here is death in youth and bloom. Still those lips of breathing love

Cold the brow with dews of death; While the clustering locks above

Stir not with the sleeper's breath. Here no trace of slow decay

Tells of pain and suffering longLike a dream thou'st passed away,

Borne from out the busy throng, Like a floweret in its bloom, Culled to grace the darksome tomb.

Bud of promise bright and cheering,

Thine is now the better soil ;
And thy leaves a brightness wearing,

Bloom where naught can e'er despoil. Even as the mother gazes,

Though a pearly tear-drop stealing,

Silent grief and deep revealing-As the snowy cloth she raises,

For one long, last kiss of love, Joy comes borne upon her sorrow,

Hope points to the realms above; Where a bright and glorious morrow,

With the darkest day is wove.

Tread gently- let thy voice be low

A hushed, sweet calm is stealing on The senses, as thou gazest now;

The end—the goal of life is won! The silver hair that shades the brow,

Tells of the long and weary years, That as the seasons come and go,

Leave harrowing cares and bitter tears. But round the mouth the same sweet smile

Plays, as on childhood's laughing browWhen as an infant free from guile,

Comes back the old expression now,
No bitter tears shall friendship shed,
So sweetly sleep the aged dead!

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

throw his cravats and collars, of which he regularly tries on and curses twenty, before he condescends to be suited with one.”

Do you always count them as you pick them up, my dear ?" asked Aunt Amy, looking calmly up from her work.

“ Count them !” I repeated; “ one has no time to count where there are so many to be picked up; besides, it is no business of mine to do either."

“ How, then, can you so boldly assert that he always tries on twenty before he is suited, my dear ?" inquired Mrs. Amy.

“La! Aunt Amy, how very matter-of-fact

you are."

[ocr errors]

You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Mr. Frank Carteret, to insist upon the performance of a promise which was won from me in an unguarded moment, knowing, as you do know, that the relation of any disagreement between Aunt Amy and myself, is little likely to tell to my own advantage. It is rather impolitic, however, to make an adınission of that kind, since it is very certain that your eagerness to obtain this important document will be only increased by that circumstance. I shall therefore proceed at once to the performance of my task, since it must be performed, not withstanding my repugnance. The circumstance I am about to relate occurred about a week since, while Aunt Amy was our inmate. I shall spare myself the trouble of relating all the little domestic vexations which had fretted my usually serene temper, and skip at one bound from the breakfast parlor to my dressing-room, whither Mrs. Amy and I had retired at the conclusion of our morning meal to chat together over our óstitchery.'

“Oh yes, Aunt Amy, it is very easy indeed to be calm and cheerful when we have nothing to vex us,"cried I, peevishly, as bending forward to reach the door through which my • better half' had just passed, and closing it with a violence that shook the house, I angrily continued : “He cannot even shut the door after him like other people. I'm sure he's the last man on earth who ought to complain of the expense and trouble of keeping servants ; for nobody living makes half so much work or requires half so much attendance."

Mrs. Amy said nothing, not thinking herself called on either to make excuses for my husband, or efforts to soothe my ill-humor.

“ I'll warrant now," said I with increased peevishness, " that he has left his slippers in the breakfast parlor, his dressing-gown on the stairs balustrade, and half his wardrobe scattered over the chairs and tables, if not the floor of his dressing-room, where it is his custom to

Well, my dear, is it not better always to be accurate ?" she asked, and then added laughingly, “ If your husband should bring you to trial for defamation, such a lapsus lingua might cost you something. It is always best to adhere strictly to the truth, my dear.”

“ Why, Aunt Amy, you do not mean to accuse me seriously of a falsehood, surely," I exclaimed.

“I was warning, not accusing you, my child, though I believe any one would find it difficult to prove that an untruth is not a lie,” answered Mrs. Amy, gravely.

“ A lie!" cried I, in a tone of horror. “Why, Aunt !"

Why, niece!” responded the immovable Mrs. Amy.

“ A lie! Aunt Amy!" I repeated.

" You recoil at the name, my dear; but you should much more dread the thing," observed Mrs. Amy.

“Nay, aunt, if it comes to this,” said I, indignantly, "I challenge you to the proof! How do you know that there are not twenty there this minute ?"

“ I do not know it, my dear, and would therefore be unwilling to assert it. But you said that he always tries on twenty before he is suited, which to me seems rather improbable.”

[ocr errors]

ADAK

AUNT AMY AND HER STRANGE WAYS.

263

[ocr errors]

we are taking here of all his misdemeanors ; but a penny for your thoughts at this moment, Susan,” she added, as she caught the expression of my countenance.

No matter for my thoughts, madam. You are bringing my word to the proof,” replied I, testily.

"I had an object in asking to know it," said Aunt Ainy, “ but I think I can guess it without assistance. Will you confess it truly if I gress rightly, Sue ?”

Certainly; though I think there is little danger of it.”

Well, then, as Bridget left the room, was it not your thought, or your wish rather, that she Inight gather a harvest of forty instead of twenty collars ; come, confess, dear Sue, was it not so ?”

Something like it, perhaps,” said I, coloring, as much with displeasure as conscious

66

4

ness.

“Well, I dare say he does, and sometimes more than twenty, if the truth were known," said I, sullenly.

“ But the truth ought to be known, my dear, before you dare to say any such thing,” re. turned Mrs. Amy. “ It is daring too much, Susan."

* Dear me, Aunt Amy,” cried I, “ if you cal! that lying, I wonder who does not lie every day?"

Many are guilty of it, I fear; but the sin is not diminished in turpitude by the number of those who commit it, my dear," observed Aunt Amy. “You know we are warned against ' following the multitude to do evil.'”

"My dear Aunt, how very seriously you treat the matter," cried I.

“ It is no light matter, my dear,” responded Mrs. Amy, gravely. “ There is no sin more frequently and thoughtlessly committed, and not one more pointedly denounced by the Word of God. There is too much of this extravagant manner of speaking among us all, niece.”

“Well, Aunt Amy, I confess I ought to have left out the always," said I, laughing in spite of myself. “ But I won't give up the twenty,' Aunt Amy ; I'll stand to that, positively."

“ You had better not, Susan,” replied Mrs. Amy, shaking her head; “ you had much better not.”

“ You don't believe me, Aunt Amy !” said I with an offended air. "I declare, madam, that I feel myself almost insulted. I'll ring for Bridget.”

“ Better not, my dear,” repeated Aunt Amy, laughing provokingly as I seized the bell-rope. ** Be advised, my dear. You had much better send Bridget somewhere else !"

Positively, Aunt Amy, this is too bad !” cried I, pettishly, “and now I will know the truth."

“ You should have done that, dear Sue, before you ventured on the assertion," observed the downright Mrs. Amy, notwithstanding the displeasure betrayed by my look and manner; and at this moment Bridget made her appearance in obedience to my impatient summons.

Biddy, go directly to Mr. Travers' room, and bring hither every collar and cravat that you find outside the drawers, whether clean or dirty,” commanded I.

“ Poor Mr. Travers !” exclaimed Aunt Amy, with a shrug, “ little dreams he what strict note

66

That should teachi you the danger of speaking evil of another, even when you speak thoughtlessly, Susan,” observed Mrs. Amy ; " for after having done so, our next wish is to prove him wrong in order to justify our own assertions. Do think seriously of this, whether the collars number twenty or not.”

Do you suppose, Aunt Amy, that I wish my husband to be in the wrong ?" demanded I, indignantly.

“ It is only too natural to wish to prove ourselves in the right, my dear, which often leads us to endeavor to substantiate a charge, however lightly made, against even our own best friends. The best of us have reason to distrust ourselves, dear Susan,” added Mrs. Amy, “ for our hearts are very deceitful. Nor is that the least wise of the wise man's proverbs that warns us tolet contention alone, before it be meddled with.'"

I evaded a reply by seizing a handful of collars and cravats, with which Bridget just then entered.

** There, Aunt Amy, is a fine assortment of crushed collars and cravats ; count them yourself, madam, and then you will know that they are accurately numbered,” said I, as I threw the whole assortment into her lap.

“ A comfortable supply, upon my word,” exclaimed Aunt Amy, laughing, as she laid aside her work, and commenced counting, while I watched her with a smile of anticipated triumph.

66

264

AUNT AMY AND HER STRANGE WAYS.

worn.

66

you

"Well, my dear, here are five cravats and only nine collars,” said Aunt Amy, after counting them thrice.

* Only nine! quite moderate, upon my word! and all so twisted and crushed that they must be done over again before they can be

Only nine collars and five cravats, Aunt Amy!" I repeated.

Well, my dear, nine and five do not make twenty," rejoined Aunt Amy, with provoking coolness, as she deliberately folded and laid them away; "at least we reckoned differently when I was young."

“Of course, then, I am proved guilty of falsehood, madam, which I suppose you are not sorry for," said I, spitefully, as you had charged me with it, and we all love to prove ourselves in the right even by proving our best friends guilty. Of course you must be glad to prove your niece a liar.”

“No, my dear, I should not be glad my niece were proved a liar. I have never slandered you with such an epithet, and should not take it as patiently as I ouglit, perhaps, if I heard it applied to you by another. Of one thing I am glad, however, Susan,” added Aunt Amy, lowering her voice ; "I am very glad to find that my young friend Charles has not sworn so outrageously to-day.”

Why, who said he had ?" demanded I in a tone of defiance, while all the blood in my veins mustered in

my

face. “I heard it asserted, (no matter by whom,) that he regularly cursed twenty collars for every one he wore,” said Aunt Amy, fastening her searching eyes on my face, as she asked, “Was it not so ? or did my ears deceive me?"

“Aunt Amy, you are the most provoking woman on the face of the earth !" I exclaimed in uncontrollable anger.

“ Thank you, my dear niece,” responded Mrs. Amy with imperturbable mildness. Had I called your husband a profane swearer, you would not be offended without reason."

“ You have misunderstood me, Aunt Amy ; I surely did not say that," I replied in no little confusion.

“ You did not use the words 'profane swearer,' certainly, Susan; but you accused him of uttering twenty curses a day-a pretty large allowance, I think,” returned Aunt Amy. "Oh beware of giving utterance to such unfounded accusations, Susan, no good can come of it!"

“Unfounded, Aunt Amy!" cried I, forgetting her late admonition in the eagerness of selfvindication ; “ nay, Aunt Amy, that at least is no unfounded allegation. I say it with sorrow.”

“ But why say it at all, dear child ? why speak evil of your own husband ?" expostulated Mrs. Amy.

“ To be convicted of one lie is enough for one day methinks,” said I, angrily, “and you warned me of accusing him falsely—of that at least I am innocent."

“Oh Susan, my dear Susan! how suffer yourself to be blinded and misled by passion,” exclaimed Aunt Amy in earnest remonstrance. “ Here are you again publishing the faults of your husband, in order to justify yourself."

“Good gracious, Aunt Amy! you are enough to drive one distracted !” cried I, resentiment again getting the better of my politeness. “What on earth have I said wrong now?” .

“ Only vindicating yourself at the expense of another, Susan, and that other your own husband!” repeated Mrs. Amy reproachfully. “Learn from this, dear Sue, how wrong it is to give utterance to angry feelings! Had any one else said this of Charles Travers, I should have contradicted it flatly; for I never heard before that your husband was a swearer, and you, Susan, his own wife, are my informer."

Unable alike to deny the truth of her charge, or to allege anything in my own excuse, I covered my face with my hands, and burst into a hysterical passion of tears, which Mrs. Amy witnessed without a word, either of rebuke or sympathy, until having sobbed to my heart's content, her unfeeling immobility, as I thought it, roused my resentment, and wiping away my tears, I had just resumed my work, when a violent ringing at the door caused my heart to leap to my throat, and springing from my chair—“ Mercy on me!" I exclaimed, “ there is husband! What shall I do, Aunt Amy, for I am ashamed to meet him?"

* Ashamed to meet him!” repeated Mrs. Any reproachfully ; “ashamed to meet the dearest friend you have on earth, Susan !" she repeated. “Surely, surely, my dear child, this is the work of conscience, and must make you feel that you have wronged him. But step into my chamber where he will not seek you, and try to recover yourself. I will detain him here meantime."

my

« 上一頁繼續 »