« EelmineJätka »
its pure whiteness ; her rich silken curly hair, of a sunny golden brown ; her violet eyes, with their long, dark fringes and their full, snowy lids; and her perfect features, clear cut and aristocratic. And he really loved her, though he tyrannised over her with all the true license of a spoilt child, and a saucy, high-spirited lad; and to him, in her great sorrow, she clung more than to myself, her daughter, a woman grown, who was silently bearing her own anguish, and longing to weep her bitter tears on that most natural resting-place, her mother's bosom.
And yet I cannot blame my mother ; she and I were unlike in every way–we had nothing in common between us, save our great sorrow, and even that affected us very differently. After the first few hours she began to believe that I felt the bereavement very little ; her nature and mine were essentially opposed : she could not comprehend a grief that did not demonstrate itself in floods of tears, convulsive sobs, and, above all, in one continuous plaint, and one constant statement of one's peculiar sorrows, poured discursively into some ear that sympathised, or seemed to sympathise, with the relation thereof. And I could not do this-it was not in my way ; deep down, out of sight, lay the pain that made no outward sign ; and even before the funeral took place my tears were dried, and I could go about the house, giving necessary directions and attending to matters of business that intruded themselves upon us, notwithstanding the care taken by Mr. and Mrs. Arnold to act for us, whenever they were able to do so.
Sad indeed was our Christmas-day-that day that we were to have spent together-and our hearts were very heavy, and our faces sad, when, after our early dinner, we gathered round the hearth, we three-only we three-listening to the wild wind sweeping down from the woody hills at the back of the town, and watching the white wandering flakes that every now and then went slowly sailing past onr window, "trying to snow," as Eustace said, “but couldn't!" And yet, who shall say that we were very far apart-we, the mourners, in our first grief, and he for whom we mourned ? We know not; we never shall know, in this life, the sacred mysteries of the spirit-world; we cannot tell whether the departed come back to us, silent, invisible witnesses of our joys and our sorrows, or whether, in their own distant sphere of brightness and song, they mingle with angels and archangels, and white-robed saints and martyrs, all unwitting
of the agonies and blisses of those whom they have left behind to struggle a little longer, and to bear, for yet a little while, the burden of mortality.
No, we cannot tell; we can only dimly guess how it is with those with whom we once took sweet counsel, and communed heart to heart, while hand clasped hand, and our eyes looked into each other's depths. Only do we know they are with their risen Lord, supremely blessed, and resting from the toils and troubles of their earthly pilgrimage ; but we believe in the communion of saints; and those of us whose most precious treasure is already safe in the Master's jewel-casket feel a strong and unassailable conviction that death has not snapt the links that bound us spirit to spirit; though only in the fair fields of dreamland de we walk with them hand-in-hand, with smile answering smile, si thought, and word, and glance responding to our own.
And there are times when this strange mortality is swayed by the which hath lost its mortality-when we feel as though we stond only just without the veil; they “ are not far before us, hardly out sight,” and we say with the German, Uhland
“ Yet what binds us friend to friend,
Let us walk in soul once more." But that comfort came not to me then ; for with the communion of saints, either in heaven or on earth, I had nought to do. Yet I remembered my promise to my father, and I read my Bible attestively, and borrowed several serious books from Mr. Arnold, and more than once I had long conversations with him ; and all that he said to me seemed true and just, but it was like a lovely song that passet away, and is forgotten, and the “almost thou persuadest me to be Christian” remained an “almost," and was long ere it became, is sincerity and truth, a fervent and unreserved " altogether."
The new year dawned sadly enough, and the early weeks found once more preparing to go forth from the shelter of my mother's red into the lonely yet busy world again. I had no thought of lingering I had been idle quite long enough, and it was high time to set to work again; and more than ever I was resolved unto myself to be sufficient to depend upon no one, and to earn my bread, if need were, in sweat of my brow, rather than eat the bitter crust of dependence clothe myself with the garments of charity. For I saw plainly a those few weeks of my sojourn at home, that not only would ay mother need every fraction of her poor little income, but that would certainly require help at my hands. So it behoved me to a on, to rise in my profession as fast as I could, and to increase salary as soon as I felt my services to be increasing in value, that might let my mother have as much as I could possibly spare from own necessities.
Again, the end of January found me packing up my trunks, preparing for travel. But this time my journey was comparatird short; Mrs. Miller lived within a short distance of the cathein city of Southchester, and Southchester was only forty miles from Bradbrook. After my experiences of Cannonstone House and Clacking on, I was not very sanguine, and I started in rather low spirits, ind tried throughout the journey to nerve myself to encounter all kinds f disagreeables, and to bear whatever might betide, with equanimity nd fortitude.
I was pleased, however, when I reached my destination. Mrs. Miller ras a widow in middle life, and unmistakeably a gentlewoman by birth nd breeding; her house was large, of cheerful aspect, well, and even andsomely appointed ; and it stood in extensive grounds, and in a eautiful and richly diversified country. Mrs. Miller had not the ascinations, or the personal attractions of my dear Madame ; but she was woman of presence and dignity, with a certain winning sweetness of banner, and a kindness that was irresistible-she was eminently fitted to onduct an establishment for the education of young ladies of the upper lasses. She had competent assistants, whom she invariably treated as alued and confidential friends; she employed first-class professors, and ir her own two little girls she retained the services of a steady, lotherly Bonne, who also attended to those departments which at lackington House had occupied so much of my time, and reduced le to the condition of a mere nursery-governess. Besides myself, there was a French and a German teacher—“Mademoi:lle,” and “Fraulein,” of course; a musical governess, and another lady, hose duties were undefined, since she helped in every department, as ccasion required. The girls were clever, far advanced, well-bred, and for the most art amiable and agreeable companions. Some of them, indeed, were as d as myself; but Mrs. Miller alone was in the secret, and as carefully eschewed juvenility in my costume, and had a grave, steady, most sad air, no one suspected me of being under five-and-twenty ears of age; and the school was so well regulated, and Mrs. Miller so axious to uphold the authority and the dignity of her subordinates, and the pupils so good and docile, that I never had any trouble on ccount of my inexperience and my years, and obedience was as freely endered to my behests as to those of any other person in the house. I was eighteen when I first joined Mrs. Miller's family; I remained rith her till I was twenty-one, thriving in health, improving in mind, nd adding copious stores of knowledge to that which had been my Lock on leaving Clackington. Yes! they were pleasant years that I pent under the shadow of the wavy Southchester hills! Our walks were eautiful, and were not taken in the procession-style that involuntarily minds one of a gang of prisoners compelled to “a constitutional.” Ve roamed at will over the breezy upland downs that spread themselves or many miles round the ancient city; we botanised on heath and hill, nd in woody glen ; we gathered mushrooms and blackberries in their rason with a wonderful zest; and last, not least, we were often permitted ) attend service in the glorious Southchester Cathedral. On, that fair cathedral ! my peerless beauty, my first love among cathedrals! It i to me now one of the loveliest memories of those bygone days. How! used to wander up and down the long, shadowy aisles on winter after noons, while arch, and pillar, and fretted roof were lost in mysterion depths of shadow. For during the Christmas vacation, which I alway spent at Southchester, I seldom missed the afternoon service, though! rarely went into the choir, but wandered noiselessly about the long
, shadowy nave, the dimmer aisles, and the ancient chapels, listening o the musical intonation of the prayers, the anthem, and the chant; DOT the thrilling sweetness of the Nunc Dimittis, now the triumphant strains of the Gloria Patri, and now the mighty voice of the great Amen! And then the organ, with its wonderful waves of sound rising and falling from floor to roof, its floods of harmony, its all bui celestial strains, as the rapt musician swept his skilful fingers over the keys, when the service came to an end; the deep-toned murmurs
, the piercing sweetness, the jubilant chords that swelled through those lofty arches, making one think of that eternal song mingled with the harping of the harps of God, chanting evermore the song of Moses and of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvellous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of Saints !" The old verger, who
reigned paramount over the cathedral, happi took a fancy to me. He saw the reverence with which I regarded the glorious beauty of that fretted stone, the worn marble of those ancient tombs, the inexpressible grandeur of the mighty temple itself, founded long centuries ago. He saw how my soul was filled with joy, as
, siles and alone, I crept along the outer aisle, and heard the voice of praça and song sweep by, like a thing unearthly. He watched me as lingered by the sculptured stone, and bent over the mailed warrior and his wimpled dame, as side by side they rested in their unchanging repose. And he testified his regard by permitting me to wande through aisle and chapel at my own sweet will, saying, generally, as he touched his wig, when we exchanged “good afternoons” in the nare, “ The gates be all open,
iniss." There was one tomb especially that excited my admiration, and dres me often to its precincts—the last resting-place of one whose dust had long since mingled itself with its parent earth-it was the tomb of crusader ! A gorgeous fretted canopy was raised on high, adorned with knightly arms and crest, and, conspicuous among them all, the red cros on helm and shield and banner. The knight himself rested in effic on the broad grey slab, clad in armour of the field; the brow looked placid and yet weary, the features grand and grave, and the mailed hand were solemnly lifted in prayer. By his side rested his lady-wife, with long robes falling to her feet, her hair pa'ted and falling back in streaming waves, and her sweet face fixed in that calm repose which
he sculptors of old time knew so well how to convey to the graven tone. And side by side they slumbered, united in death as in life, Sir Valter de Guiton and Alice, his wife, who died in the same month of he same year of the 13th century. I used to weave a thousand fancies bout this noble knight and his gentle Alice. I used to invent for hem a history of romance; to make the warrior the hero of every allant act of " daring-do," and the lady the purest and tenderest of omen. He was always brave, noble, true as steel, bold as a lion, and evoted to the lady of his love; she, lovely as the fairest summer ower that blows, meek and holy, and ever the queen of faithful wives. nd standing in the gloomy chapel, where only faint rays from the ghted choir penetrated, I liked to watch that still repose, and repeat me favourite lines of mine. They are very beautiful, and very little aown, and were contributed to a long-defunct magazine, of little fame, 7 an anonymous author. I may be forgiven if I quote some of them are :
“Night's wild, tempestuous breeze,
Oft did his pennon heave,
And o'er the blue sea-wave.
“ That face is calm and fair,
With a look of peaceful rest;
No heaving of the breast.
“ Within that sacred fane
At dawn of summer day,
At the hour of evening grey,
“And from that tomb doth fall,
At the hour of Sabbath prayer,
Who kneel in worship there;