Infomotions, Inc.Woman As She Should Be or, Agnes Wiltshire / Herbert, Mary E.



Author: Herbert, Mary E.
Title: Woman As She Should Be or, Agnes Wiltshire
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): agnes; miss wiltshire; ella; wiltshire; arthur; clifford; bernard; arthur bernard
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Title: Woman As She Should Be
       or, Agnes Wiltshire

Author: Mary E. Herbert

Release Date: June 4, 2005 [EBook #15982]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK WOMAN AS SHE SHOULD BE ***




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WOMAN AS SHE SHOULD BE;

OR,

AGNES WILTSHIRE.

BY

MARY E. HERBERT,

AUTHOR OF "AEOLIAN HARP," "SCENES IN THE LIFE OF A HALIFAX BELLE," &c.



    I saw her on a nearer view,
    A Spirit, yet a Woman, too;
    Her household motions light and free,--
    And steps of virgin liberty;
    A countenance in which did meet
    Sweet records, promises as sweet;
    A creature not too bright or good,
    For human nature's daily food,
    For transient pleasures, artless wiles,
    Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles.

                                    --WORDSWORTH.


    HALIFAX, N.S.:
    PUBLISHED BY MARY E. HERBERT.
    1861.


    CAMBRIDGE, MASS.:
    MILES & DILLINGHAM.
    Printers and Stereotypers




CHAPTER I.


The Sabbath day was drawing to a close, as Agnes Wiltshire sat at her
chamber window, absorbed in deep and painful thought. The last rays of
the sun lighted up the garden overlooked by the casement,--if garden it
could be called,--a spot that had once been most beautiful, when young
and fair hands plucked the noxious weed, and took delight in nursing
into fairest life, flowers, whose loveliness might well have vied with
any; but, long since, those hands had mouldered into dust, and the spot
lay neglected; yet, in spite of neglect, beautiful still. There was no
enclosure to mark it from the fields beyond, that stretched, far as the
eye could discern, till lost in a rich growth of woods, but a few
ornamental trees and graceful shrubs, with here and there a plot, now
gay, with autumn flowers, alone kept alive, in the heart of the
beholder, a remembrance of its purpose. A quiet scene of rural beauty
it was, and so thought the maiden, as, rousing from her reverie, she
gazed on garden, fields, and distant woods, but more lovingly and
lingeringly dwelt her glance on a lake that lay embosomed between the
meadow and the grove, partly skirted by trees that grew even to its
edge, and partly by the rich grass, whose vivid color betrayed the
influence of those placid waters, that now reflected every glowing tint,
and every delicate hue of the peerless sunset sky.

Quiet at all times, the stillness of the scene was now unbroken, save by
the twittering of some belated swallow, the chirp of the cricket, or the
evening hymn of the forest songsters, ere they sank to grateful rest.
All was peace without, but troubled and anxious was the heart of the
solitary occupant of that apartment, who, though for a moment aroused
from deep, and, as it appeared from the expression of her countenance,
painful thought, by the beauty of the landscape, again summoned her
wandering thoughts, and returned to the theme which had so deeply
engrossed her.

A slight tap at the door once more aroused her, and in answer to her
invitation, "Walk in," a lady entered the room, and affectionately
addressed the young girl.

"Forgive my intrusion, my dear Miss Wiltshire, but I feared, from your
remaining so long in your room, that you were not well, and have come
to ascertain whether I am correct or not."

"I am much obliged for your kindness, but I am quite well, in body, at
least," was the reply, while the lips quivered, and the eyes were
suffused with tears.

There was silence for a few moments between them, for Mrs. Gordon was
too delicate to allude to emotions, which her companion evidently strove
to conceal, and with the nature of which she was totally unacquainted.
At length, however, she broke the quiet that had reigned for some
moments in the apartment, by an observation on the service they had both
that day attended.

"Accustomed, as you are, to city churches and city congregations, it
could scarcely be expected that our unpretending house of prayer, with
its humble worshippers, could have found much favor in your eyes, Miss
Wiltshire?"

"And yet, strange to say," exclaimed Agnes, lifting her fine dark eyes
to Mrs. Gordon's sweet, though pensive face, "that unpretending church,
those earnest worshippers, and, above all, that simple, faithful
discourse, affected me far more deeply than any heard from the lips of
the most eloquent divine, in a gorgeous edifice crowded with the =elite=
of the city, and where the solemn notes of the full-toned organ ought,
perhaps, to have filled the soul with sacred and heavenly thoughts.
Those words, so thrillingly pronounced, shall I ever forget them? 'To
whom much is given, of him shall much be required.' They seem still to
ring in my ears, for I, alas, am among those who have received much, yet
rendered back nothing."

The speaker paused, overcome with emotion, but the countenance of the
listener grew radiant with delight,--not that delight which arises from
the realization of some worldly hope, but, rather, a heavenly joy, which
lent to the pale and pensive face a beauty not of this world; it beamed
in the sunken, yet soft blue eye, and flushed the hollow cheek; it was
the joy of a saint, nay, it was the joy of an angel, at the return of
the stray sheep to its Father's fold. But it soon found expression in
words.

"I cannot tell you how happy you make me, in speaking thus, dear Agnes,"
said she, affectionately clasping her hand. "Since you first came here,
I have been thinking so much about you, and praying, too, that you, so
rich in all that makes woman lovely and beloved, might possess that
grace, which will but add lustre to every other endowment, qualifying
you for extensive usefulness here, and glorious happiness hereafter."

"But you know not, my kind friend, what mental struggles I have passed
through this afternoon, nor how conflicting feelings are yet agitating
my soul. I hear the voice of duty, but it calls me to tread a rugged
path. Could I always remain with you, secluded from the gay world, far
removed from its temptations and allurements, then, indeed, would I
gladly make my choice, and say, 'This people shall be my people, and
their God my God;' but in a few days I must depart, and, again, in the
haunts of the busy city, and surrounded by the gayeties of fashionable
life, I fear I shall feel no more those sweet and sacred influences,
which have been as the breath of heaven to my soul."

"'My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest!' Is not
that a sufficiently encouraging promise, dear Agnes? Had you nought but
your own strength to rely on, you might well fear; but forget not Him
who has declared, 'If any lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to
all liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given.'"




CHAPTER II.


Agnes Wiltshire was an orphan. Her father had died during her infancy,
her mother during her childhood; but a happy home had been thrown open
to her, by a kind uncle and aunt, who gladly adopted her as their own,
and lavished on her every tenderness. Mr. and Mrs. Denham were generous
and warm-hearted people; their dwelling was elegant and commodious; the
society in which they mingled, as far as wealth and fashion is
concerned, unexceptionable. What more was wanting? Alas, they were
thoroughly worldly; their standard was the fashionable world; their
maxims were derived from the same source; and while regularly attending
the stated ordinances of the church, and esteeming themselves very
devout,--for were not their lives strictly moral?--they, in reality,
knew as little of heart religion, as the dwellers in a heathen land.

Such was the character of the people among whom Agnes Wiltshire had
attained the age of eighteen; and, surrounded by such influences, what
wonder, that she, too, partook of the same spirit, and was content to
sail down the sunny stream of life, without one thought of its
responsibilities, without one glance at the future that awaited her.
Long might she have continued thus, still pursuing the phantom of
pleasure, seeking ever for happiness, but never seeking aright, had she
not been suddenly startled, in the midst of worldly pursuits, by the
unexpected death of a gay and favorite companion, who, surrounded by all
of earthly happiness, was torn from her embrace. In the agony of
delirium, Agnes had beheld her, gliding, unconsciously, down the dark
valley and the shadow of death, and she trembled, when she felt how
totally unprepared she was to meet the King of Terrors, and yet how soon
she might be called to do so. In the midst of the gay dance, at the
festive board, where mirth ruled the hour, and honeyed flatteries were
poured into her ear, she was still haunted by that pallid, agonized
countenance, and by the voice, whose heart-rending accents she still
seemed to hear, as distinctly as when it cried, in imploring tones,
"Save me, oh save me, from the deep, dark waters. They surround me on
every side; have pity on me, for I sink, I sink, I sink."

So deep an effect had the loss of her young companion, and the
remembrance of her last hours, produced on Agnes, that she fell into a
dejection, from which nothing could rouse her, and her physical powers
soon gave unmistakable evidences of their sympathy with the mind, by
alarming prostration of strength. The physician, on being applied to,
recommended the usual restorative, change of air and scene; and a
pleasant summer's retreat was selected as Agnes's residence, for a few
weeks. Mrs. Denham would fain have accompanied her niece, but a violent
attack of the gout, to which Mr. Denham was subject, rendered it
impossible for her to leave him, and with many tender charges and
injunctions, Agnes was consigned to the care of a friend, travelling in
that direction.

Great was the change to Agnes, yet not the less beneficial on that
account. The absence of the glitter and show of fashionable life, the
quiet that reigned around, the beauty of the scenery, the kindness and
simplicity of the scattered inhabitants,--all delighted her; and the
group of admirers, who were wont to surround her, would scarcely have
recognized, in the warm-hearted, enthusiastic girl, who, in simple
attire, might daily be seen rambling through the fields, or, with a book
in hand, seated beneath a favorite oak, the accomplished and fashionable
Miss Wiltshire.

The lady with whom she resided was a clergyman's widow, who, deprived by
an untimely death of her natural protector and provider, sought to
augment her scanty means, by opening her house during the summer months
to casual visitors. She had been beautiful once, and she was young
still; but the glow and the freshness of life's youth had vanished, not
so much before time as sorrow, for peculiarly distressing circumstances
had attended the loss of her dearest friend, and now, disease had
almost, unsuspected, commenced its insidious ravages on a naturally
delicate constitution.

A mutual friendship was speedily formed between these two, so strangely
thrown together by circumstances. Agnes was charmed with Mrs. Goodwin's
sweet, pensive face, and gentle manners, while her character, so
beautifully exemplifying the power of religion to give support and
happiness, under all circumstances, won her deepest regard. On the other
hand, the genuine warmth, the unsophisticated manners, still uncorrupted
by daily flatteries and blandishments, the lofty and gifted mind, all
delighted Mrs. Goodwin, who had never before formed an acquaintance with
a female possessing so many attractions, and she gazed at her with
wonder and admiration, not unmixed with a sentiment of tenderness and
pity, as she thought of life's slippery paths, and of the injurious
influences of worldly pursuits and worldly gayeties.

But to the city Agnes must again return, for the roses have come back to
her cheeks, her previous dejection has vanished under the kind and
salutary ministrations of her friend, and she has no reasonable excuse
for remaining longer; besides, her friends have become impatient at her
stay,--the light and life of their dwelling,--how can they consent to
her tarrying longer; so the long and interesting conversations on high
and holy themes, which she had scarcely ever before heard alluded to but
in church, must be relinquished, and the quiet scenes of Nature
exchanged for the bustle and show of city life.




CHAPTER III.


A twelvemonth has elapsed, since the events recorded in our first
chapter. In the drawing-room of a spacious mansion, in the suburbs of
the city where Agnes Wiltshire resided, is seated a young man,
apparently perusing a volume which he holds in his hand, but, in
reality, listening to a gay group of young girls, who are chattering
merrily with his sister at the other end of the apartment. Scarcely
heedful of his presence, for he is partly concealed by the thick folds
of a rich damask curtain,--or, perhaps, careless of the impression
produced, they rattled gaily on, for not one of them but in her heart
had pronounced him a woman-hater; for were he not such, could he have
been insensible to the sweetest and most fascinating smiles of beauty?

But the last sound of their retreating footsteps, the echo of their
merry laugh, has died away, and Arthur Bernard emerges from his retreat,
in the enclosure of the window.

"I declare, Arthur, it is positively too bad," exclaimed Ella, his
sister, a gay and pretty young girl; "you are certainly the most
agreeable company in the world. Not a syllable to say beyond 'yes,' or
'no,' 'good morning,' or 'good evening.' I am really ashamed of you. You
are a woman-hater, I really believe. I am sure the girls all set you
down as such."

"I am much obliged for their good opinion, and shall endeavor to deserve
it," was the smiling reply. "But, can you imagine what I have been
thinking about, while you and your merry companions have been talking
all sorts of nonsense?"

"No, indeed. I should like to hear your wise meditations, most grave and
potent seigneur. Doubtless, they will prove very edifying, as the theme,
of course, was woman's foibles."

"I have been thinking rather of what woman might be, than of what she
is. What an exalted part she might perform in the regeneration of the
world, did she but fulfil her mission. An archangel might almost envy
her opportunities of blessing and benefiting others; and yet, with so
many spheres of usefulness open to her, with influence so potent for
good or evil, the majority of your sex do nothing, or, worse than
nothing, injure others by their example. I am not a woman-hater, Ella;
but I must deplore that so many are unmindful utterly of their high
calling, and careless of everything but how to spend the present hour
the most agreeably, instead of being found actively sustaining, as far
as in their power, every good word and work; and ever with a smile and
a word of encouragement to the weary toilers in the path of duty. That
there are such women, I have not the least doubt; but I have never met
with one yet. When I do so, and remain insensible to =her= charms, you
may then call me a woman-hater,"--and a smile concluded the sentence.

A merry, mocking laugh from his, sister rang through the room.

"I thought as much. We, poor women, are not good enough for your most
serene highness; nothing short of one endowed with angelic qualities
will suit you. I must really try if, in my long list of acquaintances, I
cannot find one to come up to your standard; though I am afraid it would
be rather a difficult task. And now, in reply to that grave lecture of
yours, (what a pity the girls were not here to be edified,) for my part,
I always imagined that woman's mission was to be as charming as
possible, and I am quite content with being that,"--and Ella looked up
into her brother's face, with an irresistible smile.

"But may you not be charming and useful both?"

"Well, I don't know about that; I should like to know what you would
have us do."

Do! what might you not do, if you were disposed? What an incalculable
amount of good, and that in the most unobtrusive manner. Society takes
its tone from you, and waits to be fashioned by your hand. But, I verily
believe, running the risk of speaking very ungallantly, that there is
not one in thirty, fifty, or perhaps a hundred of your sex, who have the
slightest idea of exerting their talents for the benefit of others. You
laugh and talk, and enjoy yourselves, careless of the impression your
example may produce, and conform to the usages of society, without one
inquiry, as to whether in those usages may not, sometimes, lurk
frightful dangers, if not to yourselves, to others who follow admiringly
in your steps."

"Frightful dangers! Really, brother, you are growing enigmatical. I
should like to have that sentence made a little plainer, for I certainly
do not understand you."

"Perhaps an incident that occurred not long ago, which I will relate to
you, may explain more clearly my meaning. I can vouch for its
correctness, for it came under my own observation. You have frequently
heard me speak of Henry Leslie, my room-mate at college, one of the
noblest and most gifted of young men, but who unfortunately had
contracted a taste for intoxicating liquors. Unfortunately for himself,
his agreeable manners and fine qualities rendered him a great favorite
with the ladies, and no party seemed complete without him; and thus
constantly exposed to the seducing influence of the wine-cup, the habit
of imbibing largely grew so strong, that he scarcely had any
restraining power left. I remonstrated with him, and, as I trusted, with
some success, for he solemnly promised to abstain totally from the
intoxicating beverage,--but the very next day we found, on returning
home from a walk, an invitation to an evening party lying on our table.
It was from the mother of the young lady to whom report alleged he was
deeply attached, and whatever influence I might have possessed in
dissuading him from attending any other social gathering, I found I was
powerless in this case. But he again renewed his determination to
abstain from intoxicating stimulants.

"'I know what you fear, Arthur, but I have made the resolution to "touch
not, taste not, handle not," as the teetotallers say, and I am
determined not to break it.'

"I made no answer, but prepared to accompany him, with a heavy heart;
for I felt certain, in my own mind, of the result, at least to some
extent, of that evening's visit. I need not enter into particulars;
suffice it to say, that Henry Leslie bravely withstood all
solicitations, from our sex, to partake of the destroying beverage, and
I was beginning to hope that my fears would prove unfounded, when the
daughter of our hostess, the young lady to whom I before alluded,
approached him with a glass of sparkling wine in her hand. She was
beautiful,--I cannot but acknowledge that,--and I shall never forget
her appearance as she stood there, a fascinating smile lighting up her
animated countenance, and, in her sweetest tones, begged him to take a
glass of wine with her. I thought of Satan, disguised as an angel of
light, and trembled for the result, as I stood anxiously listening for
his answer. It came in the negative, but the hesitating, half-apologetic
tone was very different from the firm and decided one, in which he had
resisted all other solicitations. But she was not yet satisfied. Womanly
vanity must triumph, no matter how dearly the victory may be purchased.

"'You surely will not be so ungallant as to refuse a lady so small a
favor,'--and her eyes added, as plainly as words,--'but much less can
you refuse me.'

"'You see how society is degenerating, Mr. Bernard,' she said, turning
to me, 'there was a time when a lady's request was deemed sacred, now we
poor women have little or no influence over your sex.'

"'I devoutly wish you had less, Madam,' was my uncourteous reply; but
she scarcely heard me, for Henry, taking the proffered glass, and in a
low tone, murmuring, 'For your sake alone,' quaffed its contents. A
flush of gratified vanity passed over the lady's countenance, for she
had laid a challenge with some of her friends, who had observed his
previous abstinence, that she would make him drink a glass of wine with
her, before the evening was over. That night week I sat, a lonely
watcher, by the corpse of Henry Leslie. He had died in the horrors of
delirium tremens, and his last cry had been for brandy.

"Oh, it stings me almost to madness," exclaimed Arthur, rising and
pacing the apartment with hurried steps, "when I reflect that that
woman, knowing well his fatal propensity,--knowing, too, how powerful
was her influence over him, for, poor fellow, I believe he would have
laid down his life for her sake, was the immediate instrument of leading
to destruction one who might,--had she encouraged him in his resolution
to abstain, instead of luring him to depart from it,--have been an
honored ornament to society, not filling, as he does to-day, a
drunkard's grave, 'unhonored and unsung.'"

There was silence for a few moments in the apartment, for even the
volatile Ella seemed affected at the narration. At length she spoke in a
subdued tone.

"That is certainly a melancholy story, Arthur, and I shall not be able
to get it out of my mind soon. But now that I think of it, have you seen
Agnes Wiltshire since your return?"

"No; but I have been about to inquire several times where she is, and
why have I not seen her before?"

"Simply, because she has abjured society."

"Abjured society!" and Arthur looked up, with a glance full of
astonishment. "What do you mean, Ella? Has she become a nun?"

"Not exactly; but she certainly is a Sister of Charity, in the fullest
sense of the term. It was only yesterday morning she passed our windows
quite early, followed by a servant carrying a large basket, and I can
easily imagine it was on some charitable mission. You must know, Arthur,
for I see by your looks that you are impatient to hear all about
her,--by the bye, it is singular that you should take any interest in
her, considering she is a woman,"----

"Dear Ella, do go on with your story."

"It is well for you, Mr. Arthur, that I am very good-natured, for I
should have an excellent opportunity now of retaliation, for all the
unkind things you have been saying about our sex. But I can be generous,
and will forgive you this time,--so now to our story. You must know,
then, that a great change has taken place in Agnes, ever since the
sudden death of poor Lelia Amberton, the particulars of which I wrote to
you at the time it occurred. Agnes grew very low-spirited, and in
consequence lost her health, and was ordered by the physician to the
country, to recruit her failing strength. On her return, her dejection
had entirely vanished; but still she was very different to what she had
formerly been. To the great astonishment, and even displeasure of her
relatives, she gently but firmly declined all invitations to balls, or
gay parties, refused to attend the theatre, and, to her friends' earnest
expostulations and inquiries as to the reasons for such a course,
declared 'that she had, at length, become convinced of the vanity and
sinfulness of such pursuits, and no longer dared to peril her immortal
interests by engaging in them.'"

"But, Edward Lincoln, how does he approve of this strange alteration?"
inquired Arthur, in a tone which, in spite of himself, could not conceal
his evident interest.

"Oh, poor Edward has been discarded long ago."

"Discarded! What do you mean, Ella, that she has broken her engagement
with him?"

"Yes; or, rather, they mutually agreed in the matter, and thereby caused
fresh disappointment to Agnes's friends, whose opposition has risen to
such a height, that I believe they have almost threatened to expel her
from home."

"Barbarous!" exclaimed Arthur, hastily, his eye flashing with
indignation. "But I suspect they would hardly carry that threat into
effect. And what reason was assigned for the breaking of the
engagement?"

"Oh, nothing more than non-agreement of sentiment. When I was reasoning
with Agnes about it, one day, she said to me, 'How can two walk together
except they be agreed? I grant, dear Ella, that Mr. Lincoln is all you
have said, handsome, intelligent, and possesses many estimable
qualities; but these qualities, to be permanent, must be based on
principles drawn from the Word of Truth. Do not think, my friend, that
it was without a struggle I have resigned him. No, the conflict was long
and bitter; but I was enabled, at last, to yield to my convictions of
duty. And, indeed, he himself has confessed, that whatever I might have
done once, I should never have suited him now. Our views are
diametrically opposed; the gayeties of life, which I have gladly
resigned, he still takes delight in, and when I have endeavored feebly,
but earnestly, to lead him to seek for more enduring joys, his only
reply is a merry laugh at my enthusiasm, which, he predicts, will soon
evaporate. No, Ella, there is little in unison between us, and it is far
better to break our engagement now, than to find, when too late, that we
had entered into a union productive of misery to us both.'"

"Agnes is certainly a singular girl," said Arthur, musingly.

"Oh, but I have not told you all. She has been a Sabbath-school teacher,
has established a day school for poor children, which she superintends,
and there is no fear of her tempting a gentleman to take a glass of
wine, for last, but not least, she has become a teetotaller. There, what
think you of that? and yet, I do not know how it happens, but in spite
of her singular ways, I seem to like her better than ever. There is
nothing in her manner that indicates a consciousness of superior merit,
but she is so truly kind, and her countenance wears so peaceful and
heavenly an expression, that I can never weary of gazing at her, and in
my sober moods, which occur once or twice in a twelvemonth, have some
idea of following her example. And now, Arthur," Ella added playfully,
"if Miss Wiltshire comes not up to your standard of female excellence, I
should despair of ever finding one that did."

Arthur was about to reply, but was interrupted by the announcement of a
visitor. Slightly annoyed, for he had become really interested in the
conversation, and, resolving to slip away the first convenient
opportunity, he turned to salute the lady, whose name he had not heard,
when, Ella's exclamation of surprise and pleasure fell on his ear.

"Why, Agnes, have you came at last? I almost thought I was never to see
you again. I called twice, but you were out."

"Yes, I was very sorry, but a particular engagement called me from
home."

"Arthur, have you forgotten your old friend, Miss Wiltshire?" inquired
Ella of her brother, who was waiting an opportunity to address her.

"It would be a difficult task to do that," was the reply, while the
cordial clasp of the hand and kindly tone, told how pleasant was that
meeting to one of the party at least. "You should rather have inquired
if Miss Wiltshire had forgotten me, which is far more probable."

"I never forget my friends," said Agnes, with a slight emphasis on the
word friends.

"And to be numbered among Miss Wiltshire's friends, I consider no
ordinary privilege," was Arthur's reply, as he insisted on her occupying
an easy chair by the blazing fire, which the clear but chilly air of
autumn rendered indispensable to comfort.

"I am afraid you have learned the art of flattery in your travels, Mr.
Bernard."

"Flattery!" exclaimed Ella, drawing up a chair close to her friend, and
smiling at her brother, who was seated opposite; "I only wish you had
heard him, Agnes, a little while ago, in what terms he spoke of our sex,
for if you had, you would agree with me, that the title of woman-hater
would be far more appropriate than flatterer."

"Ella, Ella, that is hardly fair," said Arthur, while his cheek became
slightly flushed.

"But what did he say about us, Ella?" Agnes inquired, smiling half
mischievously at his evident embarrassment.

"Say, all sorts of things; he declared that the great majority of us
care for little else but pleasure; that the idea of exerting our
influence for good is one that we seldom ever entertain, and he wound up
his exceedingly edifying lecture by a dismal story of a lady, whose
persuasions induced a friend of his to break a promise which he had made
to abstain from intoxicating liquors, and was, thereby, led to an
untimely death."

"You have been bringing very grave charges against our sex, Mr.
Bernard," said Agnes, with a sweet seriousness, that, however unusual,
well became her fair youthful face; "and I am afraid we should have to
plead guilty in too many instances. Still, even those who appear the
most thoughtless, have their hours of reflection, no doubt, when they
feel the utter insipidity of a life of pleasure--false pleasure--and
form many resolutions to abandon it; but habit is strong, and example
powerful, and once immersed in the gayeties of life, nothing short of
strength from above can make them to 'come out from the world, and to
become separate.'"

A deeper shade of seriousness passed over Agnes's expressive countenance
as she uttered these words. It was evident they had evoked some painful
recollections, and, as Arthur gazed on the down-cast face, on the long
silken eyelashes that but half concealed the tear that unhidden rose to
the lustrous eye, and observed her lip quivering with suppressed
emotion, he easily divined, from his previous conversation with his
sister, the cause of her agitation.

"She has suffered, and in the cause of truth," was his mental
ejaculation. Oh, to have the privilege of cheering and sustaining one so
lovely! but

    "Man may not hope her heart to win,
    Be his of common mould."




CHAPTER IV.


A few select friends had assembled at Mrs. Bernard's, to celebrate
Ella's birthday.

"It will not do to have a dancing-party, Mamma," said Ella, when they
were making the necessary arrangements, "it will not do to have a
dancing-party, or Agnes will refuse to come, and I have set my heart on
having her, and I strongly suspect somebody else has done the same,"
glancing mischievously at her brother, who had just entered the room. "I
am sure, too, I shall enjoy myself a great deal better with a few select
friends, than if we had a large, gay party."

"Have it your own way, my dear," said the mother, fondly kissing her
daughter's fair upturned brow; "if it pleases you, I am sure it will
satisfy me."

"Thank you, dear Mamma, and now I have nothing to do but to write my
invitations, and send them. But, Arthur, I declare you have not said a
word; one would imagine, only I know better, that you do not feel at all
interested in the matter."

"Interested, why should I, in your foolish parties? Do you not know I
have something better to think of?"

"Doubtless, and you do not care in the least who accepts the
invitations. Now, confess, for you may as well, that when I proposed, a
few evenings ago, having a small select gathering of friends for Agnes's
sake, your very eyes shone with joy, for all you did wear that provoking
grave look. Confess, too, that you have thought of little else ever
since. I am sure you dreamed about it last night, for you looked very
smiling as you entered the breakfast room this morning."

"You are an incorrigible little rattle-brain, Ella, and, to punish you,
I have a great mind to declare I will not enter your party. How would
you like that?"

"I am not in the least alarmed, brother dear, that that threat will be
carried into execution, for the very good and sufficient reason, that
you would thus punish yourself worse than me. But if I stand talking any
longer, my invitations will not be written in season, so I must defer
our very edifying conversation till another opportunity,"--and, humming
a favorite air, the lively girl danced gaily out of the room.

Arthur, left alone, stood for a moment musing, half amused and half
vexed with his sister. He scarcely had ever mentioned Agnes's name, and
yet, he could not conceal from himself that he felt an interest in her,
beyond that he had ever experienced for any other woman.

"Absence is love's food," so poets say, and Arthur proved the truth of
the observation. While spending his college vacations at home, he had
often met with her before; and, even then, she charmed him as no other
woman ever did, but when report told of her engagement to Edward
Lincoln, honor forbade him any longer to cherish hopes which he had
allowed to tint with their bright hues his dreams of the future.

He had shunned her society as far as possible from that time while at
home, and striven, while at college and during his year's sojourn in
foreign lands, to banish her image from his remembrance, and vainly
imagined he had succeeded; but the flame, though it may be dimmed, was
by no means quenched, and was ready, at the slightest encouragement, to
burst forth with renewed vigor.

But we have digressed. Mrs. Bernard's drawing-room presented a picture
of comfort and elegance as Agnes entered it on the evening of Ella's
party. A few select friends were gathered there, all apparently
perfectly at home, and amusing themselves without restraint, according
to their diversified inclinations. Some were examining the choice
engravings that lay scattered on the tables; others were standing in a
group round the piano, admiring some new music which Ella had that day
received; while the elder members of the party were gathered round the
fireside, enjoying its cheerful blaze, and merrily discussing the events
of the season. Innocent amusement seemed to be the rule of the evening,
and Agnes, though she had left home unusually depressed in spirits, felt
a glow of pleasure thrill through her heart as she contemplated the
scene, and responded with her usual sweet, though, latterly, pensive
smile, the kind greetings of her friends.

"How pale Miss Wiltshire looks to-night," observed one young lady to
another who was seated at the piano as Agnes entered the apartment.

"She does, indeed, pale and sad both," was the response.

Arthur, who had overheard the remark, could not help admitting to
himself its correctness, as he crossed the room to pay his respects to
Agnes, and as, unobserved, he watched her closely, it was evident to him
that, while with her usual unselfishness, she strove to promote the
happiness of others by entering cheerfully into conversation, from the
half suppressed sigh, and the shadow that at intervals stole over her
face, some painful subject, very foreign from the scene around, occupied
her thoughts.

"I am afraid you are not well to-night, Miss Wiltshire," he at length
said, in a tone low and gentle as a woman's, for Agnes, seated on a
corner of the sofa, and imagining herself unobserved by the rest of the
company, had for a moment closed her eyes, as though to shut out
surrounding objects, while an expression of mental anguish flitted
across her features.

How precious to the aching heart is human sympathy. The words were
nothing in themselves, but the tenderness of tone in which they were
spoken, told plainly that it was anything but a matter of indifference
to the speaker, and Agnes, blushing deeply as she met Arthur's
compassionate glance, felt the conviction, darting like a ray of sunbeam
through her mind, that to at least one person in the world she was
dearer than aught else beside.

"I have only a slight headache," was her reply to his kind inquiry, and
one which was strictly correct, for the headache was the result of
mental agitation during the day.

"I shall recommend you, then, to sit quite still, while I constitute
myself, for the evening, your devoted knight; and shall, therefore,
remain here, ready to obey your slightest behests, be they what they
may."

"I shall certainly then insist, in the first place, that others be not
deprived of the pleasure of your company for my gratification. I should
be selfish, indeed, if I allowed you to do so."

"Notwithstanding, here I am, and here I intend to remain until I am
forced away," said Arthur, smiling as, seating himself comfortably
beside her on the sofa, he drew a portfolio from the centre table, which
contained some sketches taken during his recent tour, and, in pointing
out the different places and relating his adventures in each, Agnes
became so much interested as to forget her headache, and even the
anxiety which had weighed down her mind but a short time before.

There was one picture that seemed particularly to attract her attention.
It was the sketch of a small church, whose white walls peeped out from
the midst of thick foliage, and whose opened doors seemed to welcome the
worshippers that in every direction were seen apparently wending their
way towards it.

Agnes gazed at it long and earnestly. She laid it down and took it up
again, while Arthur, who could not imagine why she seemed to admire this
sketch in preference to others whose artistic merits were far superior,
gazed on her with some surprise.

"I see you are wondering, Mr. Bernard," she said, as she marked the
inquiring expression of his countenance, "why this scene should
particularly attract me. It is because it reminds me of the happiest
hours of my life, for, in a church, whose situation and appearance
exactly resembles this, I first learned where true bliss was to be
found."

"A valuable lesson truly, Miss Wiltshire, and one which I would feel
thankful if you could impart to me, for I assure you I am sadly in need
of it. Dissatisfied with the world, I still see so much hypocrisy in the
church,--there are so many, even among those who minister in holy
things, who seem by their actions wedded to the vanities which they
profess to renounce, that I turn away with a feeling akin to disgust,
and am almost ready to believe that the piety which characterized the
first professors of Christianity has totally disappeared."

"Perhaps you have not been looking for it in the right place, Mr.
Bernard. There are many whose religion consists in outward observances,
while the heart is given up to its idol; but, granting there was not one
in the world who was really the possessor of true religion, 'What is
that to thee?' The claims of Heaven are not less binding on you, because
not recognized or responded to by the multitude, for each must render an
account of himself, whether the offering of the heart, the only
acceptable one, has been presented, or whether we have turned coldly
away from the voice of the charmer, charm it ever so wisely."

There was silence for a few moments, which was broken by an observation
from Arthur.

"Do you know of whom you remind me, Miss Wiltshire? Of a distant
relative of my mother's, who resided with us for a time, when I was but
a boy. She was a young woman then; I, a wild, heedless boy; but her
look, her smile, her very words, are indelibly impressed on my mind.
What a lovely example of all Christian graces was she, for in her they
seemed blended, like the exquisite tints of the rainbow, into a perfect
whole. Her gentle reproof,--her winning manner ever alluring us to that
which was right,--her unwearied endeavor to make all around her
happy,--these, combined with every womanly charm, made her appear, in my
eyes, more than human; and when death came, much and deeply as I
lamented the loss, I could scarcely wonder that Heaven had reclaimed its
own."

There was a pause, and then Arthur added,--"That I have not gone to the
same extent in folly as others, I believe I owe to her, for when
tempted, by my gay companions at college, to join them in the pleasures
of sin, her look of mild entreaty seemed ever before me, deterring me
from ill; and I often think, had she lived, I might to-day have been a
better and more useful man."

Agnes had been an attentive listener. "I do not wonder," she said, as he
ceased speaking, "that you so highly estimate woman's influence, for you
have largely benefited by it; but though dead, she yet speaketh. Do you
remember what Young says respecting dying friends? That they are

      'Angels sent on errands full of love,
    For us they sicken, and for us they die.'

We sometimes wonder at the mysterious Providence which often suddenly
removes the excellent from earth; while the wicked are allowed to
remain; but may it not be graciously ordered thus, to excite in us an
ardent desire for that preparation which shall enable us to greet our
friends on the shores of the better land. Oh, without such a hope what
would life be.

    'It lifts the fainting spirit up,
    It brings to life the dead.'

How often should I be ready to sink in despair," and Agnes's lips
quivered with emotion, "were it not that I am permitted to look forward
to that inheritance which is incorruptible and undefiled, and which
shall prove an abundant recompense for those 'light afflictions which
are but for a moment.'"

"But you," said Arthur, half inquiringly, "are, I trust, a stranger to
those afflictions.

    'Rose-leaved from the cold,
    And meant, verily, to hold
    Life's pure pleasures manifold.'"

"My childhood and youth has, indeed, passed amid flowers and sunshine,"
was the reply; "and if the future appears now to point to a more gloomy
and thornier path, I will not repine to tread it, for

    'Here little, and hereafter much,
    Is true from age to age.'"

Arthur, as he was about making a reply, was interrupted by his sister,
who came to request Agnes to play for her a favorite tune, and their
conversation, with the exception of an occasional word now and then, was
ended for that evening.




CHAPTER V.


"The only son of his mother, and she was a widow,--" Arthur Bernard, as
he attained to manhood, seemed to realize, in person and character, all
a fond mother's fondest anticipations. His stately form, as he mingled
among his compeers, did not tower more above them, than did his lofty
mind, stored with sound principles, and embellished with varied
learning, seem to soar above their grovelling ideas, and to breathe a
higher and purer atmosphere. A glance at his countenance would have
sufficed for the most casual observer to have read, in every lineament,
the impress of a noble and chivalrous nature. Yes, gentle reader, start
not at the word =chivalrous=. It may be, from his previous conversation
on woman's foibles, that you have been, ready to form a very different
opinion,--but you are mistaken; and so will you often find yourself in
the journey of life, should you thus estimate character in general.
Deceit frequently lurks beneath the smile and honeyed words of the
flatterers, and he who believes that the avenues to woman's heart are
only accessible by such means, proves, beyond a doubt, that he has
associated with none but the frivolous, the vain and weak-minded of the
sex. Poor, indeed, is that compliment which man pays to woman, when he
expatiates on her sparkling eyes, her flowing tresses, and ruby lips, as
though she were only a beautifully fashioned creature of clay, while he
virtually ignores the existence of those higher and holier powers which
she shares in common with man, and which make her, in proportion to
their wise and careful development, akin to the angels.

Arthur Bernard was no flatterer, it is true, but chivalrous in every
sense of the word. A keen appreciator of all that is honorable and
high-minded, he could not stoop to those petty meanesses, which too
often characterize the conduct of those who flatter themselves with the
name of =gentleman=,--a title which Tennyson forcibly describes as

    "Usurped by every charlatan,
    And soiled with all ignoble use."

Courage to meet any emergency, firmness to resist temptation when
presented in its most alluring form, was blended with that genuine
kindness of manner, that deference towards the weak and defenceless,
which renders its fortunate possessor not only esteemed, but beloved.
Yet with so much that was admirable in mind and heart, of him it might
be said, as it was of one of old, "One thing thou lackest." Strange,
that the subject of the greatest importance should be, too often, the
one most seldom dwelt on, too frequently thrust aside, until, in the
season of affliction and the hour of death, its terrible magnitude is
first realized--realized, perhaps, forever too late. Regular in his
attendance on all the ordinances of worship, his heart had remained
unaffected; but this indifference was owing, it may be, in a measure, to
the discourses to which he was in the habit of listening from Sabbath to
Sabbath,--discourses which, while they portrayed in fairest colors the
beauty of a moral life, seemed to forget the natural depravity of the
human heart, and the necessity of the mind being fully renewed, in order
that it might carry those principles into effect.

Mrs. Bernard, though a devoted mother, and, in many respects, an
excellent woman, had never realized, for herself, "the blessedness of
things unseen." She had been contented to sail smoothly along the stream
of life, which for the most part had been ruffled by few storms, and she
almost forgot, as day after day and week after week glided past, they
were bearing her frail bark swiftly on to the ocean of eternity. There
was a time,--it seemed to her now like a dream as she looked back,--that
she had thought more of these things, for they were presented to her in
a living form, embracing, as it were, in the daily walk and
conversation of a relative, who had been for some time an inmate of her
dwelling. The lovely traits developed in the character of this lady, had
won the matron's heart, and especially had she appreciated the unbounded
care and tenderness which her friend exercised towards her children,
Ella and Arthur. But this messenger of peace passed away to a brighter
clime, and the impression made by her brief sojourn seemed to have
become erased from the memory; like the morning cloud and the early dew,
it soon passed away. Yet was she not altogether forgotten, nor had her
labors of love been entirely in vain. To her it was that Arthur had
alluded in his conversation with Miss Wiltshire, for childhood's heart
is tender and impressible, and from her instructions he had imbided many
of those lofty and noble sentiments which now characterized him; and
often, when the tide of worldliness rushed in to bear him away on its
fierce current, that gentle form would seem to stand before him, and he
would hear again, in fancy, the soft tones of that voice, beseeching him
to pause, and consider his doings.

Oh, woman, woman, how potent is thy influence, which thou exercisest, in
thy apparently limited sphere, over the human race. Thy tender hand
moulds the plastic mind of childhood; thy gentle rebuke checks the
wayward impulses of impetuous youth; thy loving sympathy and voice
counsel, cheer, and stimulate manhood; and to thee age and infirmity
look up with confidence and delight, assured that thy unwearied care
will not be wanting to smooth their passage to the tomb. Blessed office!
High and holy ministration! Well, indeed, for mankind, if woman were but
truly alive to the onerous duties and responsibilities that devolve upon
her; well for her, and those by whom she is surrounded, if instead of
being as, alas, she too often is, the encourager of man in evil, she
would ever prove the supporter and upholder of that which is good, and
by her example and persuasion,

    "Allure to brighter worlds, and lead the way."

Arthur Bernard on leaving college had spent some years in travelling
through Europe, and had but just returned when our story commences. Left
in affluent circumstances at the death of his father, which had taken
place while he was yet a child, there was little necessity for exertion;
but of an active and energetic disposition, he could not remain
comparatively unemployed; and obtaining a situation in one of the
principal banks in the city, he devoted the income, acquired by it, to
aid in the diffusion of useful knowledge among his fellow-townsmen, and
for the alleviation of the wants of the helpless and distressed, for
never did the needy apply to him in vain. He looked not with a captious
eye upon their faults and follies,--did not harshly repel them because
sin had, in many instances, led to their distress, but first relieving
their bodily necessities, strove, by wise counsel, kindly administered,
to raise the fallen, cheer the hopeless, and assist the outcast and
degraded in retrieving their position, and again becoming useful members
of society.

Ella, his sister, a light-hearted girl of eighteen, over whose fair head
prosperity had hitherto scattered its richest blossoms, resembled her
brother in kindness of disposition; but her gay and volatile temper
formed a charming contrast to his grave and subdued manner. Five years
her elder, Arthur's brotherly affection was mingled with an air of
almost fatherly protection; and to him, next to her mother, she had been
in the habit of appealing, and never in vain, for advice and assistance
in any emergency; and while his gravity checked, in some measure, the
mirth which might have degenerated into frivolity, her
light-heartedness, in its turn, exercised a wholesome influence over
him, and, like the gentle breeze, scattered the clouds which sometimes
brooded darkly over his spirit.

But the declaration of Sacred Writ is, "One event happeneth to all."
None, as they beheld that united and happy family, the centre of a
numerous circle of friends, admired and beloved in the community,
imagined the change which was so soon to "come o'er the spirit of their
dream."

A few weeks only had elapsed, after the festive scene we have portrayed
in a former chapter, when one morning Ella, on entering her mother's
chamber, which adjoined her own, was surprised to find, for the hour was
unusually late, that she had not yet risen. With noiseless step she
approached the couch, and with gentle hand drew back the curtain,
thinking to wake her by a kiss, when, terrible spectacle to her
affectionate heart, she beheld her idolized mother, not sleeping as she
had expected, but every lineament transfixed and motionless in death! An
apoplectic fit,--so the physician affirmed,--must have seized her during
the watches of the night, and thus, suddenly and fearfully, had she been
called to her final account. We draw a veil over that mournful scene,
for "too sacred is it for a stranger's eye."

On her children its effect was deep and lasting. Ella especially seemed
sinking beneath the blow, and her brother, fearing for her reason, if
not her life, with gentle violence almost compelled her to bid adieu to
her native city, and, accompanied by him, seek, in change of scene, some
alleviation for the grief that preyed so deeply on her spirit.




CHAPTER VI.


The steamboat wharf of the town of Elton was truly a scene of busy life.
The steamer was making full preparations for the embarkation of
passengers to a distant city; and the wharf was crowded with bales of
goods, casks of water, cabs, trucks, &c. Business men were hurrying to
and fro, sailors were shouting to each other, and friends were hastily
clambering up the plank and springing on deck to remain a few minutes
longer, if possible, with those from, whom they were so soon to be
severed, "it might be for years, and it might be forever."

But the bell has rung once, twice, its warning note, and now, for the
third time, it peals out on the clear air. The last clasp of the hand,
the hurried embrace, the fervent "God bless you," is given, and those
who are to remain have trodden the plank, regained the wharf, and now
turn, before departing to their respective homes, to take a farewell
glance at the steamer, as she moves slowly and gracefully away, bearing,
it may be, from many their heart's most cherished idols. The passengers
are assembled on deck, watching the receding shores, and many
handkerchiefs are waving a last response to those eager glances, an
adieu which, alas, few there dream shall prove final to so many.

At the farther end of the deck, close by the railing, is seated a lady
in travelling costume. She is alone, for her companion, an elderly
gentleman, has left her to salute a friend whose face he had just
recognized among the crowd of passengers.

"A lady accompanies you, I see," was the remark made to Mr. Cameron by
his friend, the Rev. Mr. Dunseer, after the first salutations were over.

"Yes, Miss Wiltshire, from B----.

"Miss Wiltshire? I thought I recognized the countenance as one I had
seen before."

"Ah, so you have had a previous acquaintance with her."

"Yes; for I am sure it is the same person. She is the niece, is she not,
of Mr. Denham, of B----; but I first met her when she was visiting the
part of the country in which I was stationed for a year or two."

"I remember perfectly the time," was the reply. "Her relatives had
become alarmed at her failing health, and change of air had been ordered
by the physician."

"And so she is going to H----."

"Yes, on a visit to her mother's brother, Mr. Edwards. His only daughter
is about to be married, and they have sent for her to be bride's maid.
Miss Wiltshire has never seen any of the family as yet, with the
exception of Mr. Edwards, who came to B----, on business, and then, for
the first time, had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with his
niece."

"It is rather singular," was the reply, while a smile lighted up the
fine countenance of the speaker, "that I am on a somewhat similar
errand. The groom, who for many years has been an intimate friend of
mine, insisted on my performing the marriage ceremony. I maintained that
it was the lady's privilege to select a clergyman, but, as he said that
their wishes were one in that respect, I was compelled to concede, and
am on my way thither for that purpose."

"I am heartily glad of it," said Mr. Cameron. "Miss Wiltshire will, I am
sure, be pleased to see you again, and she will now have more agreeable
company than an old man like me can possibly be; so if you have no
objection we will join her, for she appears to be engaged in a converse
with solitude."

"I was about proposing to do so, for to renew my acquaintance with one
whom I had learned, during her brief sojourn, so highly to esteem, will
indeed be an agreeable episode in my journey."

While this conversation was carried on between the two friends, Agnes
had risen from her seat, and with one hand on the railing was leaning
slightly over the side of the steamer, watching the ebb and flow of the
transparent waves, or gazing fondly on the shores fast fading in the
distance. She was not apt to be melancholy; indeed, she seldom allowed
herself to indulge in a mood so opposed to that cheerfulness which
should characterize a Christian; but as she stood there gazing on the
mingled beauties of sea and land, more beautiful than ever at this hour,
when the golden hues of sunset were reflected in the placid waters, and
touched with fresh glory the distant hills, dark and gloomy shadows
stole over her spirit.

And, indeed, distressing to youth, so dependent on the kindness and
sympathy of others, were the circumstances under which she was now
placed. She had bade adieu to the friends who had watched over her from
childhood, not as hitherto, during her brief visits, with the loving
farewell and the earnest injunction to speedily return; but cold looks
and colder words had marked that parting, with the very distant
intimation, on the part of her uncle, that if, on the expiration of her
sojourn among strangers, her fanatical views; as he termed them,
remained unchanged, she must expect to find herself banished from the
home of her childhood. Poor Agnes! a painful decision awaited her. With
all the affection of her warm and unsophisticated spirit, had she repaid
the tenderness that had been lavished upon her, and now to find herself
charged with having acted a foolish and ungrateful part,--to be thrust
forth from a home of luxury,--from the attention and sympathy of
friends,--to battle with a world that has but little kindness, in
general, to spare for those who need it most; these were painful and
harassing thoughts, and what wonder they weighed down that gentle and
timid spirit, and suffused those lustrous eyes which, until lately, had
seldom shed the tear of sorrow, except for other's woes.

But as, lost in these troubled reflections, she glanced at the giant
waves beneath her, suddenly a sweet promise of Holy Writ was applied to
her agitated mind, "When thou passest through the waters I will be with
thee, and through the floods, they shall not overflow thee,"--and
immediately her spirit grew calmer, while a sense of peace, comfort and
security, quelled each rising doubt.

"I have nothing to fear," she murmured.

    "His voice commands the tempest forth,
        And stills the stormy wave,--
    And though his arm be strong to smite,
        'Tis also strong to save."

Agnes was aroused from her reverie by Mr. Cameron's cheerful voice.

"My dear Miss Wiltshire, allow me to present to you an old friend."

She turned to salute the stranger, but what was her surprise and delight
to find in him the clergyman under whose ministrations she had so
largely profited. The pleasure, indeed, seemed mutual, for though Mr.
Dunseer, having shortly after Agnes's departure for the city left that
part of the country, had consequently heard nothing more of her, he
still remembered his young and attentive hearer, and had often since
then desired to see her again, and ascertain if indeed the impressions
made were lasting, or had been obliterated amid the whirl and gayety of
fashionable life.

Still more delighted was Agnes when she learned of his destination; it
seemed a link binding her to those with whom, with the exception of Mr.
Edwards, she was totally unacquainted; and from the depth of her heart
she silently thanked the kind Providence who had thus directed her
steps, and permitted a meeting so fraught with comfort and encouragement
at the very time most needed.

Long and pleasant was the converse of friends that evening, and it was
not until some time after the sun had set, and dark and heavy clouds,
sweeping across the sky like armies gathering to battle, had obscured
the light of the rising moon, that Agnes, with a heart peaceful and
trusting, retired to her state-room, and in spite of the dash of waves,
and the wail of the rising wind, resigned herself to slumbers calm and
blest.

But from pleasant dreams of home and friends, she was suddenly aroused
by the confusion and hurried tramping of feet above her head, mingled
with the shrieks of women and children, and the fearful ejaculations of
terrified men. Agnes started up, scarcely realizing that she was indeed
"on the wide billows of the raging sea." Drawing aside the curtains from
her berth, she glanced out into the cabin. It was not day, for the
lights were burning brightly, but the place was a scene of wild dismay;
women wringing their hands; children clinging to their mothers; all
bespoke such terror and despair, that for a moment Agnes felt
bewildered; but quickly recovering herself, and hastily rising, she was
soon in the midst of the terrified group, where she was immediately
joined by Mr. Cameron and his friend.

"What is the matter?" was her first ejaculation.

"The steamer is on fire," was the fearful reply. "Quick, my dear girl,
secure whatever you find to be most necessary, while they are getting
the boats ready."

With that self-possession so invaluable in the time of danger, Agnes
hastily, but calmly, equipped herself comfortably, secured about her
person a small purse of money, and then aided the other lady passengers
in their frantic efforts to prepare for this trying emergency. Very soon
the Captain's stentorian voice was heard,--"The boats are ready, ladies,
there is no time to be lost."

With a face pallid as death, yet serene in its very paleness, Agnes,
accompanied by her two friends, and followed by a number of the other
passengers, ascended the staircase, and, having gained the deck, glanced
for an instant at the fearful scene.

There was, indeed, as the Captain had affirmed, no time to be lost. The
fire, which had originated in the engine-room, from the carelessness of
one of the hands, was now making fearful headway, in spite of the
continued efforts of the sailors by deluging it with buckets of water,
to mitigate in a measure, its ravages. All the fore-part of the vessel
was burning, and awfully sublime was the spectacle as the flames mounted
higher and higher, casting their lurid glare over the intensely dark
waste of waters, whose turbid and sullen waves, lashed into fury by a
fierce north-eastern blast, seemed warning the unhappy sufferers of the
fearful fate that awaited them, should they commit themselves more
immediately to its mercy.

But the danger of embarkation in those frail boats, on an ocean that
every moment grew more tempestuous, was almost lost sight of in
contemplation of the nearer and more fearful fate that awaited them
should they linger; and quickly, and with scarce a murmur of
apprehension, the boat was filled.

While Mr. Cameron was assisting Agnes into the frail boat, Mr. Dunseer,
who had secured a life-preserver, as soon as she was safely seated
handed it to her, observing that if the boat should be upset, by
clinging to it she might be preserved from a watery grave.

Thanking him for his kind consideration at such a time, Agnes inquired
anxiously of the two gentlemen whether they were not to accompany her.

"No;" was the reply of Mr. Cameron. "I fear we must be separated, but
only I trust for a time. This boat is not sufficiently large to hold
more than the lady passengers and the sailors who are to manage it. We
are to embark, as soon as you are safely off, in another, but as both
will steer for the same shore, and keep near each other as much as
possible, I trust, by the mercy of Providence, we shall meet again on
=terra firma=.

"Yes," responded the minister, who had been for a moment silent, and his
clear voice sounded like the spirit of peace above the roaring flames
and raging billows, "we are steering, I trust, for the same shore, and
should we never meet again on earth, may it be our happy lot to greet
each other in the haven of eternal rest, haven to take the shipwrecked
in."

Agnes's heart was for a moment too full to speak, but controlling
herself, she said to Mr. Cameron in a hurried whisper, "If anything
should happen to me, and you again behold my friends, tell them, oh,
tell them, that my last thoughts were for them; tell them not to lament
for me, for I shall be at rest, but, oh, I charge, I implore them to
meet me in heaven!"

A burst of tears closed the sentence; she could no longer restrain her
feelings.

"We must leave you now, my dear child," said Mr. Cameron, after
promising compliance with her request. "May heaven bless and help you."

"And may He who holds the winds and the waves in the hollow of his hand,
preserve you, and all, through the hours of this terrible night," was
the solemn ejaculation of Mr. Dunseer, as pressing for the last time her
hand, the final order was given, the boat pushed out from the side of
the burning vessel, and she was left in the midst of strangers;
strangers personally, yet linked together by the sympathy arising from
mutual danger.




CHAPTER VII.


"Letters from home at last," said Arthur Bernard, as he entered the
private salon of an hotel, located in a pretty town in the south of
France.

"I had begun to think our friends had quite forgotten us," he continued,
addressing his sister, who, seated in a recess formed by a large
bow-window, had been anxiously watching for his return.

"You have not opened any of them yet," she said, as she came eagerly
forward to receive her share.

"No;" was the reply. "I knew how anxiously you were waiting, and
hastened that we might read them together."

"Always thoughtful, dear brother, of my comfort, you quite spoil me,"
said Ella, with an affectionate smile, but in a tone, whose subdued
sound, proved a striking contrast to her former vivacity.

For the next few moments silence reigned in the apartment, for each were
busily engaged in perusing their respective epistles.

It was broken at length by an exclamation from Ella, which arrested her
brother's attention, and looking up from the opened sheet he held in his
hand, he ejaculated with alarm,--

"For pity's sake, Ella, what is the matter?" for his sister's cheek had
become colorless as marble, and sinking into a seat, she burst into a
passion of tears.

Still more alarmed, he laid down the letter, and advancing to her,
implored her to tell him the cause of her agitation.

"Read for yourself," she said, "for I cannot bear to speak of it. Oh,
Agnes, Agnes!"

A fresh mist of tears followed these words.

"Agnes, what of her?" and Arthur's cheek became almost as blanched as
his sister's, and his hand trembled as he grasped the fatal manuscript.
He seemed to forget that the name might belong to some other than Miss
Wiltshire, for among the circle of their acquaintance there were two or
three with a similar designation, but in his inmost thoughts, though he
had never thus addressed her, he had been so accustomed to associate it
with the remembrance of herself, that it had become dear and sacred as a
household word, and when his sister's ejaculation of "Agnes, Agnes," met
his ear, he never dreamed of other, for

    "There was but one such name for him
    So soft, so kind, so eloquent."

The letter was from a lady acquaintance of Ella's, written in a fine
Italian hand, not very intelligible, and crossed and re-crossed in a
most elaborate manner.

"Commend me to a lady's epistle," he said, in a tone more nearly
approaching to bitterness than his sister had ever heard from him
before. And, indeed, trying to the patience at any time, its perusal,
just now, seemed a hopeless task; but at length, at the foot of the
closing page, the writer having largely expatiated on the loss she had
sustained in the departure of her dear friend Ella, and how eagerly she
had looked forward to her return, and having exhausted all other items
of information which "she hoped," she added, "might not prove
uninteresting to her friend and Mr. Bernard," very coolly wound up by
remarking, "By the bye, I suppose you have not heard of Miss Wiltshire's
unhappy fate. I think it was a week or two after you left B----, that
she embarked in one of the steamers, ostensibly on a visit to a relative
who resided in H----, to act as bridesmaid for his daughter, but with an
intimation from her uncle, so I understand, that unless she relinquished
her fanatic notions, she must no longer expect a home beneath his roof.
The vessel in which she embarked sailed at the appointed time, but never
reached its destination. It took fire the night after leaving the
harbor, and all efforts to quench the flames were unavailing. The
passengers, of whom there were a large number on board, attempted to
escape in boats; some were fortunate enough to succeed, but the ladies,
among whom was Miss Wiltshire, without exception, found a watery grave.
It appears that the females had been first placed in one of the boats
manned by two or three sailors, and then another boat received the male
passengers and crew. They had hoped to keep near each other, but were
separated by the dark and tempestuous night. The gentlemen were
fortunate enough to gain land, after a good deal of sailing, and from
thence, having endured much fatigue, at length arrived here in safety;
but of the missing ones no intelligence was gained, until yesterday,
when a boat, identified by the passengers, from the name printed on its
stern, was picked up by some vessel, and brought into our harbor. It had
drifted nearly as far as the coast of Newfoundland, and, strange to say,
a woman's bonnet was found floating near it, which being also conveyed
here, was immediately recognized by Mrs. Denham, as the very one Miss
Wiltshire wore on leaving home, thus proving, beyond the slightest
doubt, the terrible fate which befell her and her unfortunate
companions. Mr. and Mrs. Denham seem almost bereft of their
senses,--they refuse to be comforted,--and blame themselves as the sole
cause of their niece's death; but, for my part, and I am sure you will
agree with me, I think Miss Wiltshire's singular conduct was quite
sufficient to warrant the anger of her relatives, who had always treated
her with such indulgence; for it seems to me a great presumption, for a
young person to set up her own ideas, in opposition to those who
certainly are far more capable of judging of what is right and wrong.

"Poor thing, she has gone now, so it would not be right to speak too
harshly; but I cannot help telling you, that she was never a favorite of
mine, for I do dislike that pretending to be so much better than others,
and she had such a soft, winning way with her, that I believe some
almost thought her an angel, but she couldn't thus have imposed on me."

Arthur read no further. He forgot his sister's presence; forgot that the
epistle belonged to her, and with an impulse of indignation he could not
control, he tore it in pieces, scattering its contents to the winds;
while with open, wondering eyes, the tears suddenly checked, Ella looked
on without speaking, almost ready to conclude that her brother had taken
leave of his senses. He turned from the open casement, and as he met her
inquiring and troubled gaze, instantly became himself again.

"Forgive me, dear sister," he said, in a tone of mingled anger and
grief, "that I have destroyed that =precious= manuscript," laying an
emphasis on the word precious; "but oh, Ella, Ella, is it possible that
such fearful intelligence can be true? It almost seems," he added, in a
tone of anguish and despair, "that heaven could not permit one so
young, so lovely, to perish in such a heart-rending manner,"--he stopped
abruptly,--and Ella was spared replying by a gentle tap at the door.

"Come in," she said in a low, faint voice, and, in compliance with the
invitation, an elderly American lady, who was on a visit to some friends
that resided opposite, and with whom Ella had become quite intimate
during her sojourn in the place, entered the apartment.

"I have been wanting so much to see you, my dear child," she said,
affectionately, "and have been looking for you all the morning, and
finding you did not make your appearance, concluded to come in search of
you. But what is the matter," said she, pausing, and glancing first at
Ella, and then at her brother, "I trust you have not heard any bad
news?"

"We have, indeed, dear Madam," replied Arthur, with an effort to control
his voice, "the loss of a very dear friend,"--here the tones visibly
faltered,--"by the burning of a vessel at sea, and the subsequent
upsetting of a boat, in which some of the passengers were endeavoring to
make their escape."

"That is indeed very, very sad news," said the old lady, affectionately
clasping Ella's hand, "and I, my friends, can sympathize with you, for
five years ago to-day, my son, my darling son, the pride of my heart,
the charm and ornament of our dwelling, set sail from his native shores,
for a distant land, and from that moment unto this, no tidings ever
reached me of his fate, for the vessel was heard of never after."

"Do you know," she said to Ella, a few moments after, as Arthur, with
some murmured apology left the room, for he felt that human sympathy,
however precious at other times, seemed but to madden him now, and he
longed to be alone--"Do you know," she repeated, as the young girl's
eyes, swollen with weeping, were upraised to her benevolent countenance,
"that I was standing at the window right opposite, when you drove up to
the door, and as your brother quickly alighted from the carriage, and
tenderly assisted you out, my heart beat quick; the blood forsook my
cheeks, and my whole frame was convulsed with emotion, for so strikingly
did he resemble my lost one in look and manner, that, for the moment, I
wildly dreamed that he had come back to bless me."

The old lady's tears flowed freely.

"I miss him so much, so very much," she said, "and especially on the
anniversary of that fatal day which tore him from my fond embrace, and I
can well appreciate the emotion which lent intensity to David's pathetic
exclamation, 'Oh my son, my son, would to heaven I had died for thee,
oh, my son, my son.'"

While Mrs. Cartwright was thus, by a relation of her own trials,
endeavoring to divert, in some measure, Ella's mind, and prevent her
from dwelling too exclusively on this painful event, Arthur, having
gained his chamber, was now pacing the floor with restless steps, his
whole soul a prey to the most intense emotions of grief, such as he had
never before experienced. At one moment he felt stupefied, at the
suddenness of the blow; the next, aroused again to the consciousness of
its terrible reality. At length a hope, that seemed to up-spring from
the depth of his despair, shed a faint light over the chaotic darkness
that reigned within. "The information may be exaggerated," was his
mental solving, "for it is plain that the writer, in penning it, was
actuated by no feelings of good-will, and there may yet exist a hope of
Anges's escape." With this idea, he opened another epistle, which he had
received, but not yet read. It was from an elderly gentleman, who had
always held Agnes in the deepest esteem, and with a trembling hand he
broke the seal. Alas for his futile hopes! Not at the close of the page,
as in the one received by Ella, but at the very commencement of the
letter, was the mournful intelligence communicated, and while the
narrator deeply deplored the event, he intimated, at the same time, that
not a doubt existed in his own mind, or in the minds of her friends, as
to the certainty of her untimely fate.

Arthur laid the letter aside, and again commenced his restless pacing.
Alas, he had once almost imagined himself a Christian, for had he not
been sedulous in the discharge of every duty, and, like the young man
referred to in Scripture, could have said, with reference to the moral
law as far as outward observances are concerned, "All these have I kept
from my youth up." But now, mitigating, soothing, extracting from grief,
however mighty, some portion of its bitterness, where was the
resignation of the Christian? Not, certainly, in that heart so full of
bitterness, that was ready to contend with heaven for having reclaimed
its own; its power, its goodness, its wisdom, were almost,
unconsciously, arraigned, and finite man presumed to pass judgment on
the acts of infinite benevolence, until, at length, shocked at his own
rebellious feelings,--and startled, nay, terrified, at this the deepest
insight he had ever obtained of the natural depravity of his heart, he
sank into a chair, and in utter recklessness abandoned himself to the
tide of grief which seemed waiting to overwhelm him.

Oh there are terrible moments in human experience, moments when even the
Christian is so haunted by the demon of unbelief, when the dire enemy of
God and man takes advantage of some unpropitious circumstance, some
painful affliction, to taunt the soul, already almost crushed, and to
inquire, with fiendish malignity, "Where is now thy God?" that if not
wholly overcome, he, at least, escapes alone with fearful wounds from
the trying conflict; how then can that one sustain the assault who is
totally unprepared, and who knows but little of the source from whence
alone help can come? Well, indeed, for frail humanity, that there is a
tender, pitying Father, who "knoweth our frame, and remembereth we are
dust," and oftentimes, when our need is sorest, sends, in his own good
way, unexpected relief.

With his face buried in his hands, heedless of the lapse of time, and of
anything save his own absorbing emotion, Arthur still sat in the
armchair, into which he had thrown himself, his thoughts dwelling, with
strange pertinacity, upon the past,--the past that seemed to mock him
now.

They expected very shortly to have returned home, and he had anticipated
so much pleasure in that return. He had never analyzed the source of
that pleasure, but now that it was removed, he saw it too clearly; it
was the hope, the expectation, of meeting with her. He recalled to mind
the hours he had passed with her,--happy hours, all too quickly flown;
her winning smile, the sweetly persuasive tones of her voice, her
earnest and thoughtful manner, all came back to haunt him with their
memory. Oh, how distinctly he remembered one of the last conversations
he had with her, when, in her own mellifluous tones, she had repeated
Young's exquisite lines,--

             "Stricken friends
    Are angels sent on errands full of love,--
    For us they languish, and for us they die."

Never had he felt their beauty as now, for the storm of passion had in a
measure subsided, and the still small voice of conscience once more
asserted its power.

"Oh, Agnes, Agnes," he murmured, "you tarried on our earth as an angel
of light, and now you have but returned to your native sphere, and
rejoined your sister spirits, but could you see my rebellious heart, how
infinitely removed from the resignation and purity that can alone find
admission into the haven of bliss, how should I sink in your esteem, if,
indeed, surrounded by the spirits of the blessed, your thoughts ever
turn to so miserable an inhabitant of earth."

A book lay on the table beside him. He took it up mechanically, scarcely
knowing what he did. It was an elegant edition of Mrs. Hemans' poems,
and had been the gift of Agnes to his sister a few weeks previous to her
leaving home.

On the fly-leaf she had inscribed Ella's name, and the sight of her
hand-writing sent a fresh thrill of agony to his heart. But last
evening, on borrowing the book from his sister, he had contemplated it
with such delight; now, it was but the fatal reminder of "what had been,
but never more could be." With the restlessness of a weary heart, he
turned over page after page, until his glance was arrested by some lines
she had evidently marked. How bitterly appropriate they seemed now as he
read,--

    "Go, to a voice such magic influence give
    Thou canst not lose its melody and live;
    And make an eye the load-star of thy soul;
    And let a glance the springs of thought control.
    Gaze on a mortal form with fond delight,
    Till the fair vision mingles with thy sight;
    There seek thy blessings; there repose thy trust
    Lean on the willow, idolize the dust!
    Then, when thy treasure best repays thy care,
    Think on that dread '=forever=,' and despair."

It is true these lines, evidently addressed to an unbeliever in our holy
Christianity, were not, in that respect, applicable to him, yet he felt
that the reproof came home to his own conscience; for earth had too much
engrossed his vision, and while from childhood he had been taught that
life and immortality are brought to light by the Gospel, in his
despairing grief he had almost lost sight of the blessed possibility of
being re-united to her, whom he now contemplated as a sinless spirit in
the regions of eternal bliss.

Far reaching as Eternity were the results of these hours of affliction,
and with higher and holier aims, and the determination to consecrate
life's remaining days, weeks, or years, to that service which is alone
worthy of being engaged in by immortal beings, Arthur Bernard returned
once more to the battle of life, with a heart crushed and bleeding, it
is true, but not destitute of Peace, that celestial visitant, or of
heavenly hope, pointing to a brighter and more enduring inheritance.




CHAPTER VIII.


The winter had set in unusually early. Along the bleak coast of
Newfoundland, and through its dreary and sparsely inhabited islands,
November blasts raged fiercely, lashing to fury the crested waves that
beat against the giant rocks, which, standing sentinel-like on the
shore, seemed to frown defiantly on them; or laving, far and wide, the
long, flat sand beach, that afforded less obstruction to their impetuous
progress. To a remote part of this dreary coast we would now direct the
attention of our reader. Scarcely fair, even when Summer lavished upon
it her fairest smiles, there, no traces of beauty invited the weary
pilgrim to tarry and rest within their refreshing shade; no garden, gay
with flowers, rang with childish laughter, as the little ones plucked
their fragrant blossoms; but rugged hills, frowning rocks, and desolate
sand beaches, assumed the place of waving woods, smiling corn-fields,
and blooming orchards; while for the melodious notes of woodland
songsters, was heard the wild cry of the stormy petrel, or the shrill
scream of the large sea-gull.

But "Nature never fails the heart that loves her," and while destitute
of the exuberant charms of more genial climes, the spot to which we
allude was not without attraction to an admirer of the sublime and
picturesque.

Nor was there wanting wild beauty in the scene which greeted the
spectator, who might perchance on some lovely summer's morning ascend
the steep hills, or pause for rest on one of the rocky eminences jutting
out into the sea. Before him lay the wide expanse of ocean, reaching far
beyond the keenest vision, calm at that moment as though it had never
been lashed to fury by wailing tempests, and reflecting in its
mirror-like surface the azure heavens that smiled brightly above.
Beneath his feet the stunted herbage assumed its liveliest hue of
emerald green, diversified here and there by some tiny, hardy wild
flowers, while the distant sail, gleaming in the sunlight, and then
passing beyond the eager vision,--the fishermen's huts, scattered here
and there on the rugged and uneven land,--the fishing shallops, and
boats of every variety, that dotted the waters, with their owners, some
standing on the beach, and some in their vessels, but all engaged in the
one occupation of securing and preserving the finny tribe, their only
source of wealth, gave an air of animation to the scene, while the merry
laugh of children, and the cheerful tones of women, as they hurried to
the beach to assist the parent or husband, spoke of social ties, and
seemed to say, that peace and contentment were not alone the associates
of refinement, education, and luxury.

But quite a different aspect did that barren coast present when chilly
Autumn and relentless Winter resumed their dreaded reign. Then, indeed,
to the inhabitant of the city, dreary beyond description would a
residence within one of its small yet hospitable huts appear, and he
must possess resources in himself of no common order, or be sustained by
a lofty sense of duty, who could cheerfully and contentedly remain
through those cheerless seasons.

Standing somewhat isolated, and at a distance from the shore, yet
commanding a fine view of the sea, was a cottage of larger dimensions,
and of neater appearance than the generality of the fishermen's
dwellings. It was built on an irregular tract of land, that sloped down
to the shore, and behind it rose a ragged hill, in summer partially
covered with coarse grass, that concealed its jagged rocks, and lent it
an air of cheerfulness; but now its rude outline, no longer softened by
the verdure and sunshine, presented a weird and desolate appearance. In
front of the cottage, which contained four or five rooms, with a small
attic above, used for storing away provisions, &c., was a piece of
ground, enclosed by a wooden railing, where a few vegetables were
planted each spring; but these had long ago been gathered in, and the
land was now enjoying its Sabbath, to be continued for six long months,
before it would again yield of its productions, for the benefit of its
hardy and thrifty owners.

The interior of the dwelling, though roughly fashioned, and furnished in
the most simple manner, was not uninviting, for there was that
atmosphere of cleanliness and neatness about it, which renders the
rudest spot more attractive than luxurious habitations, where it is
found wanting. Through the centre ran a narrow hall, out of which opened
the different rooms. On the right hand, just as you entered, was a door
leading into a good-sized apartment, fulfilling the united duties of
kitchen, parlor, and sitting-room, while at the opposite side were
several chambers, small, but clean and airy.

In the sitting-room,--for by that term we shall designate the principal
apartment,--a bright coal fire was blazing cheerily in the large open
fire-place, casting its pleasant light over the spotless and carefully
sanded floor, gleaming on the plastered walls, and lingering to see
itself gaily reflected on the shining pewter, and brightly colored delf,
that, neatly arranged on the bowed shelves of the snowy dresser, were
evidently the pride of the housekeeper.

A white cloth covered the rude wooden table that stood in the centre of
the room, and the mistress of the dwelling was hurrying to and fro,
evidently intent on preparing the evening repast, while from the
bake-kettle, that had just been taken from the fire, the fragrance of
newly-baked bread ascended, filling the place with its odor; an odor by
no means ungrateful to appetites, sharpened by manly labor and healthy
sea-breezes.

While the busy matron was thus happily employed in her labors of
love,--for such they emphatically were to her,--the daughter, a girl of
eighteen years of age, and two younger sons, were with their father on
the beach, assisting him in sorting, and putting in barrels, a quantity
of fish, designed for the family's use during the winter.

"It will be a fearful night, father," said the girl, pausing from her
labors, and looking out on the black, swollen waves, while the wind, as
it swept furiously by, more than once obliged her to cling to the rock
for support.

"It will be a fearful night, father," she repeated,--and, hesitating for
a moment, she added, "and brother William is at sea."

"Ay," responded the brawny, stalwart, and good-humored looking man, "it
will be, as you say, lass, a stormy night, and a terrible one, I reckon,
to poor seamen,--for there is more than William on the ocean."

A faint flush tinged with a deeper hue the girl's countenance, already
bronzed by exposure to sun and wind, while her dark grey eye grew moist
with unshed tears. It was evident that there was something deeper in the
old man's speech, than the mere words would seem to imply,--some covert
allusion which thus called forth her emotion.

"The vessel was to have left more than a week ago; it ought to be near
the coast by this time," said the fisherman, in a tone of uneasiness.

He turned to address his daughter, but she was no longer at his side;
and, looking in the distance, he perceived her climbing a high and
jutting rock, from which the ocean, for miles around, was distinctly
visible. Ellen, for that was her name, having at length ascended, stood
with agile yet firm feet on the eminence, shading, with one hand, the
sun, which now, peering from behind a mass of dark purple clouds, lit up
for a moment the turbid waves, and gleamed on rock and beach and
fishermen's huts,--and with the other holding on to the sharp edge of a
projecting rock, that still towered above her. Nor as she thus stood,
was she, by any means, an unpicturesque object; the sunshine glancing on
her neatly arranged brown hair, her tall figure, slight for that of a
hardy fisherman's child, clad in a black skirt and crimson jacket, and
every feature of her speaking countenance wearing a commingled
expression of anxiety, hope, and tenderness.

How her eager vision seemed to catch, in a moment, each feature of the
scene; the sandy beach--the rugged hill--her father's shallop--and he,
standing in the position she had left him, gazing out into the sea; and
with what a lingering, straining glance, did her eyes wander over that
pathless ocean, while her heart sank within her, as she contemplated its
angry and menacing appearance.

"Not a sail in sight," she murmured, "and the night coming on so
fearfully black. Oh, Edward, shall I ever see you again!" was her
exclamation, uttered in a tone full of wild pathos, while the hand, that
had been upraised to shade the sun's rays, fell listless at her side.

"Oh, if you only come back safe again, I shall quarrel with you and
tease you no more,--and you so patient and so good,"--and her quivering
lip, and the expression of anguish that passed over her features, told
how deep and true her emotion.

"It is no use lingering here," she mentally ejaculated, as a fresh blast
of wind nearly swept her from the summit. "I may as well go down at
once." Turning to descend, she paused to take a parting glance at the
distant ocean, whose mercy she would fain have invoked for the loved
ones it bore on its bosom, when something at a distance caught her eager
eye. As one transfixed, she stood there, fearing almost to breathe, lest
a breath might dissolve the vision.

"Yes, a sail is in sight; but, ah, is it the one I look for? Oh, this
cruel suspense, how much longer must I bear it! Father, father," she
cried, and the breeze bore the clear tones of her voice distinctly to
his ear; "father, do come here, for I see a sail yonder, and I think it
is the 'Darling,'" for so, by the lover captain,--doubtless to remind
him of another =darling=, tarrying at home,--the little trim schooner
was designated.

The man quickly obeyed her summons, and soon stood by her side,
scanning, too, with eager eyes, the appearance of the vessel, that was
now, favored by a strong breeze, veering rapidly towards them.

"It looks like her cut, Ellen," said the fisherman; "but we shall see
shortly."

"Yes," said the girl, clapping her hands with delight, while her whole
face was lighted up with joy; "it is her, sure enough, for I see her
blue flag bordered with red, and the white square in the centre."

"Well," said the man, with a good-humored smile, "thine eyes must be a
good deal sharper than mine, lass, for I can barely see a flag at all,
much less its color; but certainly thou ought to know best, when it
happens to be the work of thine own hands."

A merry laugh was the response. "I shall hurry down to tell
mother,"--and with an agile step she bounded down the steep eminence,
and in a few moments reached the door of the dwelling, while the
fisherman hastened to the beach, to be first ready to greet the crew of
the schooner with a hearty welcome home.




CHAPTER IX.


"Ben," said the Captain of a smart-looking schooner, that under a heavy
weight of canvas was manfully breasting the breeze, almost conscious,
one might fancy, that it was steering for home.

"Ben," he inquired, addressing the mate, who had just come on deck,
"what is that strange looking thing yonder?" indicating by his finger
the direction of the object. The mate, a weather-beaten and experienced
looking son of the ocean, glanced for a moment in the direction
specified, without speaking.

"It looks to me," he said at length, "like a human being clinging to
some box or chair, but it is floating fast this way, and we shall soon
be able to tell."

Sure enough, in a moment or two, they were enabled to gain a full, clear
view of it, and saw it to be a woman holding fast to a ring of some
kind,--a life-preserver they judged it to be,--which kept her head above
the waters.

"Let us bear down quick," said the Master, in an excited tone, for he
was young and kind-hearted, and the sight of anything in distress, how
much more a woman, was sufficient to arouse his warmest sympathies; and
ere ten minutes had elapsed, the life-preserver, with its clinging
burden, was safely landed on deck.

Agnes, for she it was, whom this worthy man had so promptly and
providentially rescued, was partially insensible; but some restoratives,
which fortunately they happened to have on hand, being applied, she soon
recovered, at least sufficiently to explain from whence she came, and
through what means she had been placed in such a perilous situation.

It appeared, from her statement, that after having embarked on board the
boat during that tempestuous night, which witnessed the conflagration of
their noble steamer, whose fate was recorded in a previous chapter, the
sailors, who had, unknown to the captain, smuggled a large cask of
spirits on board, began freely to imbibe them, to keep out, as they
said, the cold. It was in vain that the ladies remonstrated with them,
and pointed out the dangers which would ensue, should they become
helpless through its means. Unfortunately they had lost sight, in
consequence of the darkness and tempest, of the other boat, containing
the remainder of the passengers, who had just time to push away from the
burning wreck before its final submersion beneath the briny waves; and,
having none to check them, the sailors, in spite of the entreaties of
the women, continued to partake, from time to time, of the
death-destroying liquid.

Morning dawned, but brought little alleviation. It is true, the storm
had abated, and the sky was becoming clear, but the wind was still high,
and the boat rocked fearfully, while the billows, that had not yet been
hushed into quiet, threatened, every now and then, to submerge the frail
and tempest-tossed bark. They had drifted,--so the sailors said,--a long
way through the night, and must be somewhere near the coast of
Newfoundland; but no indication of land was visible, nor was there to be
seen the slightest trace of their companions in misfortune. All that day
the sailors behaved pretty well; a bag of biscuits had been placed on
board, and a jar of water, of which each partook, and all felt a little
comforted and strengthened; but, as night came on, the men commenced
afresh to drink. Most fortunately, the sea had become calm, so the boat
drifted on, pretty much left to its own will. The next morning found the
sailors in a state of almost helpless intoxication; but now land was in
sight, though at a great distance, and the women, seizing the oars,
strove to impel the boat in that direction; but soon, worn out with the
struggle, and finding they made but little headway, most of them gave up
to despair, and resigned themselves, as they said, to their fate. It was
now high noon, at least so they judged from the look of the sun, and
Agnes strove by every means to re-assure her fainting companions. She
spoke of the power and goodness of their heavenly Father, and besought
them to unite with her in earnest petitions to the throne of grace for
timely succor, or for a preparation for a speedy exit from life. Some
heard with attention, and united with agonizing earnestness in the
petition, which, as it ascended from her lips, sounded like a seraph's
pleading, and surely reached the ear of the Lord God of Sabaoth. Others
listened with stolid indifference, or sullen despair. Throughout the
precious years of prosperity, that had been vouchsafed to them, they had
been neglecters of the "great salvation;" and now, in the article and
hour of death, they knew not how to implore his mercy, of whom they had
been hitherto utterly unmindful, much less adored and loved.

At length one of the women lifted her face, haggard with care and grief,
and threw a glance, preternaturally sharpened, over the wild waste of
waters:--

"I see a sail yonder," she cried wildly. "Look," she cried to Agnes,
"can you not see it, too?"--but just at this moment one of the sailors,
not quite so much stupefied as the others, hearing the exclamation,
roused himself, and bent over the side of the boat, and instantly the
frail bark was submerged beneath the waves.

Oh, what shrieks of agony filled the air.

    "Then rose from sea to sky the wild farewell,
    Then shrieked the timid, and stood still the brave."

Agnes had carefully retained the life-preserver, which had been given to
her by her friend the minister, and with the instinct of
self-preservation, almost unconsciously clung to it, while her
companions, less fortunate, and worn out with previous grief, one by one
sank to rise no more "till the sea shall give up its dead."

"I think," she said, as she concluded her narrative, "I must have been
in the water more than half an hour, when I espied the sail, to which my
unfortunate companion had alluded, and seeing it, seemed to inspire me
with new life, for I had become so exhausted and enfeebled by the waves
that surrounded me, that I felt nature could not much longer survive the
icy chills which thrilled through my very frame; and when I found that
you had seen me, and were sailing towards me, evidently with the
intention of effecting my rescue, no language can describe the varied
emotions of my heart,--joy, gratitude and hope preponderating."

Exhausted by the effort of speaking, Agnes sank back on the rude couch,
that the sailors had with kind haste prepared for her.

"Land, yonder," sang one from the mast-head.

"I am heartily glad of it," said the Captain, "for all our sakes, for we
shall soon have a terrible storm, but especially for this poor lady's,
whose strength seems almost gone."

Prospered by a favoring breeze, a few hours sufficed to bear the vessel
to its destined harbor; and that night, sheltered, in comparative
comfort, beneath the hospitable roof of Mr. Williamson, Ellen's father,
Agnes sank into deep and quiet repose.




CHAPTER X.


April, capricious, yet beautiful child of Spring, once more smiled upon
the bleak shores and sterile plains which, when we last beheld them,
were encompassed by the chilling atmosphere, and loomed bleak and
desolate beneath the sombre sky of, to that land at least, unpropitious
winter.

Welcome to all the inhabitants of that rude coast, the return of the
season was hailed with pleasure the deepest, the liveliest, with
gratitude as warm as ever expanded the human heart, by her whom, an
exile from her native shores, had been compelled to sojourn for a season
on its rocky and cheerless wastes. Five months had now elapsed since,
rescued by the kind-hearted sailors, Agnes had become an inmate of the
fisherman's cottage, and these months had seemed to her like a separate
existence, so widely had their experience differed from that of her
accustomed every-day life.

But deem not, gentle reader, that they had been spent by her in sinful
repining at the hardships of her lot. During the first part of her
sojourn among them, severe sickness, caused no doubt by previous
exposure and anxiety, had prostrated her system, and brought her to the
very borders of the grave, but through the unremitting care of Mrs.
Williamson and her daughter, she was restored to health; and full of
gratitude to heaven for this double preservation of her life, which had
been thus vouchsafed, her first inquiry was, how she could best return
the debt of gratitude due to her Father in Heaven, and those through
whose kindly instrumentality she was thus raised up again. Nor was she
long in ascertaining the path of duty, nor hesitating in commencing and
pursuing it with eagerness.

One day, soon after her recovery, she was sitting by the fire, when
Ellen, the fisherman's daughter, to whom we have before alluded, entered
the room, and observing that Agnes looked somewhat downcast, kindly
inquired the cause, for the gratitude she had manifested for every
little act of kindness, had deeply endeared her to those with whom she
was now associated.

"I hope you do not feel any worse, dear lady," she said.

"Oh, no, Ellen," was the reply, while a smile instantly dissipated the
shadow that had obscured for a moment her countenance. "And how deeply
grateful should I feel," she added after a short pause, "first to my
Heavenly Father, and then to you and your kind family, whose unwearied
care and attention have been so instrumental in my recovery; and I trust
yet to have it in my power to show my sense of your kindness."

"Don't, Miss Wiltshire, please don't say anything more. Why, we only did
what any persons, with common feelings, would have done."

"Nevertheless," persisted Agnes, "I feel under very great obligations to
you all. But I will tell you what made me look a little melancholy when
you came in. Your father informed me, this morning, that there would be
no possibility of my communicating with my home until spring, and thus
my relatives and friends, not having any intelligence of me, for so long
a time, will certainly believe that I have found a watery grave."

"But when you return home, what a delightful surprise they will get;
why, it would be worth enduring months of pain for," said Ellen, who
seemed to have the happy faculty of always looking at the bright side.

"Very true, Ellen, but"--and an involuntary sigh followed the
sentence--"you know not, and I trust will never know, from experience,
that 'Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.'"

"I know something about that, too, Miss Agnes, though maybe you think me
too young; but, indeed, there was once a weary while, when I watched the
sea day after day, that is, when the scalding tears would let me see
it, and shuddered to hear the fierce winds moaning round our dwelling,
as though they had a human heart, and sighed and raved for some lost
love. Oh, how I remember the day, when that long-looked for vessel came
back again, for I had got up more down-hearted than ever, and I thought
it no use hoping and waiting, for I shall never see it again,--and then
the salt sea was not salter than the tears I shed, as I sat down on a
rock by the shore, and thought of the stalwart form that would never
meet my eye again, and of the kind voice that should never sound in my
ears,--and as I looked on the sea, its bright waves rippling and smiling
beneath my feet, it seemed to laugh and mock me cruelly, and I almost
wished myself,--I know it was very wicked, Miss Agnes,--far, far beneath
it, where I should forget my troubles, and my heart cease its aching.
And then I laid my head on the rock, and covered my face with my hands,
and cried as though I should never cease, until I felt something touch
my face, and a voice that I knew too well said, 'Ellen, Ellen, what art
thou breaking thy heart for in this manner?'--and I looked up, and saw
two eyes, that, a moment before, I thought death had closed, shining
brightly on me, and--but you have seen him yourself, Miss Agnes, and can
easy guess how happy I was. Oh, it made up for all my weary days, and
wretched, sleepless nights."

Agnes had listened with much interest to the simple narrative, and
while her eyes filled with tears, she murmured, almost unconsciously,

     "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin."

We would not like to vouch for it, but, perhaps, while Ellen had been
speaking, with the remembrance of her relatives, another image had
arisen in her mind, and she thought, "And he, too, he will hear of what
they will deem my terrible fate."

There was pleasure, mingled with pain, as her heart suggested, that
eyes, albeit unused to weep, might even now be shedding a tear over her
untimely doom; for Arthur did not, could not, conceal the deep interest
he felt in her welfare; and as she called to mind his kindness, his
sympathy, when all the world seemed dark to her, she felt her heart
thrill with strange emotion, and she asked herself, again and again,
"Shall I ever be so happy as to see him once more?"

"Mr. Elliot is, indeed," said she, in reply to Ellen, after a short
pause, "worthy of you, as far as I have had an opportunity of judging,
and that is saying a good deal, Ellen. But I must tell you what I was
thinking of, this morning, while I sat here alone. You told me, the
other day, that the children of the neighborhood were growing up in
fearful ignorance, destitute, as they are, of a teacher, and I thought,
if it met with the approbation of their parents, that I could not be
more usefully or happily employed, during the time that must intervene
before I have an opportunity of returning to my friends, than
instructing those little ones, a few hours each day. Our evenings, too,
might be pleasantly occupied, for I overheard you, when I was lying ill,
expressing a wish to know how to write, and these long winter evenings
will afford abundant opportunity for your taking lessons, and any of
your young companions, that may wish to join you."

Ellen was delighted with the proposition, and warmly expressed her
thanks, and Agnes's wishes were speedily carried into effect. A small
unoccupied cottage was fitted up as a school-house, to which all the
children of the neighborhood, far and near, daily repaired, while at
night the young people of both sex filled the good-sized room of Mr.
Williamson's dwelling, thirsting for that instruction which Agnes was so
willing to impart. Nor did her efforts end here. Of pastoral guidance
these poor people were equally destitute; as sheep without a shepherd,
they had long "stumbled on the dark mountains of sin and error," but now
each Sabbath morning found them congregated in the school-house, singing
the hymns that some of them had learned in childhood, in their distant
native lands, or listening to the sweet tones of their teacher and
guide, as she explained, by many simple and touching illustrations, the
sacred Word, or offered up the fervent prayer, which from her lips
seemed to come with double power, and caused even the sturdy fishermen's
hearts to melt within them. The afternoon of the sacred day was
especially devoted to the children; classes were formed, over which the
most intelligent members of the community presided, conspicuous among
whom was Ellen, whose naturally quick and clever mind, brought into
contact with one so superior as Agnes, rapidly developed, while her
whole appearance gave indications of how much she had profited by
constant intercourse with her youthful companion.

Ellen's parents were not natives of the land in which she now resided.
They had come from one of the counties of England, when Ellen was little
more than an infant; their original destination being Canada, but having
been wrecked on the Newfoundland coast, and lost nearly all they
possessed, they had not means to travel farther; and while Williamson
gladly joined the fishermen in their occupation for the purpose of
temporarily supplying the necessities of his family, his wife,--who was
a skilful needle woman, and clever at almost everything,--made herself
generally useful among their families, and thus acquired much influence
over them.

Gradually they came to look upon the sterile coast, unlike, strangely
unlike though it was, to the cultivated lands they had left, as their
home, at least for some years to come. Both frugal and industrious, a
little cottage was speedily erected, which very soon, from the superior
thrift and neatness of its owners, became the best in the place, and as
time passed on, they not only continued to gain a subsistence, but
succeeded in gathering round them many little comforts, which were the
admiration and, sometimes, the envy of their less fortunate neighbors.
From time to time, Mr. Williamson was in the habit of taking a quantity
of their chief export, fish, to H----, and obtaining, in lieu of it,
plentiful supplies of food and clothing; and, what his wife and daughter
had prized more than all, in returning from his last voyage, he had
brought with him a few school-books, with some entertaining works, and
several volumes of interesting and evangelical sermons.

Mrs. Williamson, who was the daughter of a small farmer, had, in her
youth, received the elements of a good English education. She could read
with tolerable fluency, and had taught her children this important
branch; but though, when a child, she had learned to write, want of
practice and varied duties connected with her toilsome condition, had
almost erased the power from memory; and it was with deep regret at her
own neglect, that she found her children growing up as ignorant, as
herself, of the power of communicating their thoughts through the medium
of the pen. It was, therefore, with no small delight, that she had
hailed Agnes's welcome offer; and as she sat, evening after evening, in
her corner by the fireside, apparently busily engaged in knitting, but,
in reality, an attentive listener to the instruction Agnes was imparting
to the young people,--or as she mingled her tones with theirs who, on
the Sabbath, warbled, from hearts attuned to devotion, those melodies
that had been familiar to her from childhood,--again and again, would
memory revert to the happy days of her infancy and youth, when with
beloved parents and friends she had gone up to the house of God, and
while a tear of sorrow and penitence would steal down her cheeks, to
think how much of the instructions, then received, had been forgotten,
she blessed the Parental Hand that had placed beneath her roof, one so
fitted to counsel and comfort, to prove to her, as well as to many
others, a ministering angel indeed.

Thus, happily and usefully employed, the winter months glided by
comparatively swiftly to Agnes. Not that the past was forgotten,--not
that she never sighed for more congenial society, for the friends of her
early youth, or even for the refinement and luxuries by which she had
been surrounded,--that would be affirming too much, for she had a
genuine woman's heart, and that innate perception and love of the
beautiful, which delights in the elegancies and embellishments of life,
and could not as easily accommodate itself, as some could, to a
situation where those are wholly wanting.

There were hours when she felt herself an exile, indeed; hours when
Ellen's young companions would flock to the cottage, and talk and laugh
over subjects in which it was impossible for Agnes to feel any interest;
it was then, more especially perhaps, she thought of home, and of the
educated and refined society in which she had been accustomed to mingle,
and realized more fully the wide gulf dividing her from those among whom
Providence had so mysteriously, as it seemed, placed her. But think not,
fair reader, such considerations were allowed to influence her conduct,
or render her manner haughty and disagreeable. It is true she was
treated with consideration and respect by the female part of the
community; they could not help looking upon her as a being of another
and higher sphere, and her presence had often the effect of checking the
tide of rude mirth, and of rendering their demeanor more quiet and
retired. But while she thus claimed their admiration and reverence, she
at the same time almost unconsciously won their affection, for on her
lip was ever the law of kindness, and the interest she took in their
humble pursuits, the ready counsel and sympathy in every case of
emergency and sorrow, endeared her deeply to them, and her efforts to
impart instruction were received with all the genuine gratitude of
unsophisticated Nature, so that these portions of her time, devoted to
the training of those uncultivated minds, were the ones which afforded
to Agnes the purest pleasure; seasons which she often recurred to in
other years, as being among the most agreeable in her experience.

But the dreary Winter at length gave place to smiling Spring, and Agnes
began to look forward anxiously for an opportunity of returning home.
She scarce allowed herself to dwell on the matter, so intense became her
anxiety as the time drew near for leaving the hospitable home which had
so long afforded her rude but safe protection.

The young sailor, Agnes's preserver, who had been long affianced to
Ellen, had just returned from a very successful sea-voyage.

In a few days they were to be united; a minister, who resided at some
distance in the interior of the country, being expected to visit them,
and perform the ceremony; and Agnes, much to the delight of Ellen, had
promised to officiate as bridesmaid. In a few weeks subsequent the
groomsman intended sailing to B----, and Agnes would then have an
opportunity of returning once more to her home.




CHAPTER XI.


"Captain,"--exclaimed a tall, slight young man, as he ascended the cabin
steps of a noble vessel, and, having gained the deck, stood gazing on
the expansive Atlantic stretched out before him,--"Captain," he eagerly
inquired, "this surely is not our destination," pointing at the same
time with his finger to a rude outline of land, now distinctly visible.

"No, indeed," said the Captain, good humoredly; "it would be but a poor
compliment to the stately city of B----, to take this rude coast, with
its sandy beaches, its rocky eminences, and fishermen's huts, for its
handsome dimensions. Nevertheless, poor as this little fishing
settlement looks, it is a very welcome sight just now, I assure you, as
our provisions are getting scarce, and as to the water, my cook tells me
he should have hardly enough to fill a tea-kettle for to-morrow's
breakfast."

"And so you intend putting in here for supplies?"

"Precisely so, though I see by your look you deem it not a very
probable place to obtain them. But this is not the first time I have
been obliged to put in here, and have always found a hearty welcome, and
obtained necessary supplies; not, perhaps, the very best of provisions,
but such as the place can afford; and I am well acquainted with one of
the fishermen, an emigrant from my native place, whose hospitality, and
that of his family, is unbounded; and whenever I happen to tarry here,
they do all in their power to make us comfortable."

"And how long do you expect to remain?" inquired Mr. Clifford.

"For a few days only, but long enough I trust to recover these two
sailors of mine, who have been complaining so much of late; and my
wife's health also is not as good as usual, accustomed though she has
been to long sea-voyages. You, too, Sir, I think," said the Captain,
"will be all the better for a taste of the land breeze, even though it
should not be laden with the balmy breath of flowers."

"You are quite right, Captain," was the reply; "and anxious as I am to
see my home again, after five long years' absence, I shall be none the
worse for a ramble on =terra firma= once more."

In a few hours subsequent to the conversation recorded above, a fine
boat might be seen rapidly cutting the sparkling waves, and the little
party, consisting of the Captain and his wife, with their only
passenger, Mr. Clifford, soon landed on the sandy beach, and gladly
directed their steps towards Mr. Williamson's cottage.

Captain Pierce pointed out the residence to Mr. Clifford, for though it
was at some distance from their landing place, it could be distinctly
seen, owing to the elevation of the ground on which it was built.

"You had better go on, Sir," said the Captain, "and, if you have no
objection, inform them you are a passenger of the barge '=Pearl=.' That
will be sufficient, I know, to insure you a hearty welcome, and you can
add, if you choose, that we are behind; for my wife and myself are but
indifferent walkers, being more accustomed to patrolling the deck of a
vessel than climbing these steep hills, so that if you try to conform
your pace to ours, you will be quite weary when you reach the dwelling."

Mr. Clifford laughingly replied, and hastening his steps, soon came in
sight of the cottage.

It was near the end of April, and the day a balmy one, even for smiling
June.

At the open window of the sitting-room, which commanded a view of the
road and harbor, Agnes was seated busily engaged in embroidering the
muslin dress intended for Ellen's wedding attire. The sound of steps
near at hand arrested her attention, and looking up, she beheld a
stranger, with wonder and admiration depicted on his countenance,
standing and gazing fixedly at her. For a moment her heart seemed to
cease its pulsations, and a death-like pallor overspread her cheeks, for
so strikingly did the form and face resemble Arthur Bernard, that, in
spite of the improbability of the case, Agnes almost believed it to be
him.

Ernest, on his part, was equally surprised at seeing, in a fisherman's
dwelling, one whose elegant appearance formed such a striking contrast
to the unpretending and rudely fashioned abode in which she dwelt.

The small purse of gold, which Agnes had thoughtfully secured about her
person on the night that witnessed the conflagration of the ill-fated
steamer, had enabled her to purchase from Mrs. Williamson some plain
materials, which had been fashioned, by her own skilful fingers, into
neat and becoming attire. Her nicely-fitting brown stuff dress, relieved
by a linen collar of snowy whiteness, displayed to advantage her
graceful figure; her soft brown tresses were smoothly parted from her
fair forehead; and her fine intelligent countenance, on whose every
lineament refinement and sensibility were stamped, wore an expression of
sweet and touching resignation, and hope "subdued but cherished still;"
what marvel, then, that Ernest Clifford's steps were arrested, when he
beheld so lovely an apparition, and that he gazed upon her as though he
expected that the fair vision would soon vanish from his view. He had
watched her for a few moments unobserved, but when their glances met, he
marked, with increasing astonishment, her evident emotion, and pleased,
yet strangely puzzled, he could not find courage to seek admittance at
the cottage, but, retracing his steps, resolved to wait for an
introduction from the Captain.

It was with a good deal of surprise that the Captain and his wife beheld
Ernest advancing towards them.

"Was no one within," he inquired, "that you have come back so soon?"

"Really, Captain," was the reply, "I could not summon courage to knock
at the door and ascertain."

"Courage!" echoed the Captain, wondering as he marked the young man's
heightened color and evident embarrassment,--"courage to knock at a poor
fisherman's dwelling! Really, Mr. Clifford, your sojourn among these
barbarians must have been productive of no little injury to you, if it
has robbed you of that courage with which I am sure, from your
appearance, Nature plentifully endowed you."

"You misunderstand me, my dear Sir, I assure you," was the reply. "I
feared intruding, and thought I would prefer waiting for an introduction
from you."

The Captain could contain himself no longer, but burst into a hearty
fit of laughter, in which he was joined by his wife.

"You must excuse me, Mr. Clifford," he said, apologizing; "but, really,
the idea of your formality amused me no little; for, however acceptable
such would prove to the society with which you have been accustomed to
mingle, I am afraid such ceremonious politeness would be hardly popular
here."

"But, really, Captain,"--and Mr. Clifford looked, it must be confessed,
a little vexed,--"you should have informed me who I was going to meet,
before sending me on as herald. I was not aware that I should be thrown
into the society of ladies, or I should have endeavored to appear to a
little better advantage. As it is, I am hardly fit to be seen; and while
I am aware that your good lady excuses me, knowing the circumstances
under which I took shelter with you, yet, to strangers I would appear
rather ludicrous, clad in those ill-fitting garments."

"They are not the most elegant in the world, I acknowledge," was the
response; "but much better than the fishermen's wives and daughters are
accustomed to see, for those are the only =ladies= that inhabit these
sterile regions."

"It surely could not have been a fisherman's daughter that I beheld just
now, as I neared the dwelling to which you directed me; for, seated at
the window, sewing, was a young lady, neatly though plainly dressed;
but her look and manner bespoke her to be far above such a condition of
life."

The Captain looked puzzled, and turning to his wife, said, "It must, be
Ellen Williamson, to whom Mr. Clifford alludes. She is not ill-favored,
by any means, and indeed quite the belle of the place, being by far the
best looking girl in it; nevertheless, I should hardly mistake her for
one of higher rank; but Mr. Clifford has been so long without beholding
woman's face divine, with the exception of yours, my dear, that he is
ready to magnify good looks into positive beauty and grace."

The young man seemed disconcerted.

"I could almost stake my existence, that the person to whom I refer is
not, cannot be the daughter of a fisherman. However, if it should be so,
Captain, and such a region as this can produce so lovely a being, in
spite of its barren wastes and rocky steppes, I should be ready to
surname it Paradise, or The Enchanted Isle, if you will; for certainly
it was a vision of enchantment I just now beheld."

Captain Pierce, though almost imagining that his young friend's
intellect had been deranged, gaily responded:--

"I must warn you in time, I see, for you are in danger of losing your
heart, if it is not gone already. Ellen Williamson is engaged to a
worthy young man, a captain of a fishing schooner, and their marriage
is to be celebrated this spring, so her father informed me when I was
here last year, and I think it only my duty to give you fair warning,
that another claims your enchantress as his own. But here we are at the
cottage, and your doubts will speedily be put to flight, by an
introduction to the girl herself."

The loud knock of the Captain, at the cottage door, was quickly answered
by Mrs. Williamson, who, in terms of genuine pleasure, welcomed his safe
return, and the little party were ushered into the sitting-room, whose
neat and even tasteful appearance, formed a striking contrast to the
generality of the fishermen's huts.

Mr. Clifford's quick eye, as they entered, sought the window, but the
seat was vacant now; evidences of its having been lately occupied were
discernible in a work-basket that stood on a table near, and on which
some embroidered muslin had been lightly thrown.

The Captain smiled as he observed Mr. Clifford's disappointed look, and
turning to Mrs. Williamson, who was assisting his wife in divesting
herself of her shawl and bonnet, inquired after her daughter.

"She is quite well, thank you," was her reply, "and was here a moment
ago, but observing you in the distance, ran to inform her father; who is
working beyond the hill at the back of the dwelling. She will be back
shortly."

A slight sigh escaped from Mr. Clifford, unheard by all save his friend,
who turned to him with a mischievous smile, which the former easily
interpreted as, "I wonder which was right, you or I?"

In the meanwhile, Mrs. Williamson was entreating Mrs. Pierce to take
some rest, "for indeed you look much in need of it," she added, "and I
will have a cup of strong tea ready for you in a few moments, for you
need something to refresh you, I am sure, after being so long on the
salt water."

Her husband seconded Mrs. Williamson's advice.

"You had better go, my dear, and lay down for a little while, and you
will feel vastly better, I assure you. As for me, I must now go back to
the ship, but will return in time to join you in a good cup of tea,
which, from past experience, I know will be excellent,--and I suppose I
shall then see Mr. Williamson and daughter."

"Oh, yes, Sir," was the reply. "They should have been back before this;
but I expect husband was farther off than Ellen imagined, and seeking
for him has detained her."

Gaily waving an adieu, the Captain hurried away, and Mrs. Pierce
following the fisherman's wife into her chamber, Ernest Clifford was
left alone. He seated himself at the open casement in a listless
attitude; for though he would hardly acknowledge it to himself, he could
not help a feeling of disappointment in finding his air castle so
quickly shattered.

The only object of attraction to be seen from the casement was a fine
view of the sea; but Ernest had been too long a sojourner on the wild
waste of waters, not to have become weary of their monotony, and tired
of gazing at what had been so long a familiar object, he turned his
attention to the interior of the room. As he glanced round the
apartment, he could not help admiring the spotless neatness which marked
it, for everything was in the most perfect order, while the few
ornaments and some pretty shells, that the fisherman and Ellen's
betrothed had brought on their return from different voyages, were
tastefully arranged on the mantel-piece and tables, with several books,
which, from the pencilled passages he observed as he opened them, had
evidently been well conned. In one, a small volume of miscellaneous
poems, Ellen's name was inscribed on the fly-leaf, in a graceful Italian
hand, evidently a lady's writing.

"This fisherman's daughter must certainly be a very superior person," he
said to himself, as he turned over page after page, observing with the
eye of a critic,--for literature to him had been a familiar study from
early youth,--that the finest passages were the only ones marked,
proving, conclusively, that they had been the reader's favorites.

"Strange to find one like her in so remote and desolate a spot," and,
half-aloud, he read the stanzas, in which he had just opened, smiling as
he thought how true they were in this instance.

    "Full many a gem of purest ray serene
    The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear;
    Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
    And waste its sweetness on the desert air."

He was interrupted by the clear, sweet tones of a woman's voice in an
adjoining room.

"You will find my chamber quite comfortable, Mrs. Pierce, and I must
insist on your sharing it, for there is abundance of room for us both."

"But I am afraid of discommoding you, my dear young lady, and can easily
sleep on board, though I will take advantage of your kindness now, to
rest on your bed for a short time."

"Indeed, my, dear Madam, I assure you, that you will be conferring a
favor instead of receiving one, in sharing my apartment, while you
remain, for it is such a delight to me to see the face of a countrywoman
in this, the land of my exile."

"How long did Mrs. Williamson say it was since you were conveyed here?"
inquired Mrs. Pierce.

"Nearly six months."

"And what a dreary time you must have found it, my dear."

"No," said the sweet voice again, that sounded like music to the ear of
the unintentional listener; "No," she repeated, "I have felt tolerably
contented with my lot, and but for the remembrance of my friends and the
sorrow they must have endured on my account, thinking, as they certainly
must, that a watery grave has been my portion,--but for such
remembrances I should have been comparatively happy. But you will never
sleep," she added playfully, "if I go on chattering in this manner, so I
will leave you to your much needed repose."

At this moment, the outer door of the cottage opened, and the Captain,
accompanied by Mr. Williamson and his daughter, whom he had met as he
was returning from the ship, entered the room, and a mutual introduction
to Mr. Clifford took place.

The Captain, as he named "Ellen Williamson," looked roguishly at Mr.
Clifford, who returned his glance with an equally amused smile, but one
that the Captain could not comprehend. Not sorry to find he was in the
right, and with a little mischievous pleasure, as he imagined his
friend's discomfiture, when the fair stranger,--for such from her
conversation she evidently was,--should make her appearance, Ernest's
eyes were riveted at the door, which communicated with an inner
apartment, and at length his patient watching was rewarded.

The fisherman's wife, overhearing the Captain's somewhat loud though
cheerful voice, hastened to meet him again, accompanied by Agnes, who
was anxious to resume the employment which astonishment and emotion had
caused her to throw aside. Besides, it must be confessed, she felt in no
way averse to see again the stranger, whose striking similarity to her
friend, had so deeply overcome her. From Mrs. Pierce she had already
learned his name, and also a sketch of his history, from the period of
her first acquaintance with him, and thrillingly interesting as it was,
Agnes could not help feeling attracted towards one who had suffered so
much, and who, like herself, had been an unwilling exile from his native
land.

Captain Pierce, who was sitting with his face turned from the door, and
who, moreover, was engaged in relating to Mr. Williamson the particulars
of his voyage, did not, at first, observe the new comer; but as she
advanced nearer, he abruptly paused in the conversation, and with a
glance--as full of astonishment and perplexity as Ernest, who was now an
amused spectator, could desire--intently regarded her.

"I see you wonder, Captain, how this young lady, whose name is Miss
Wiltshire," said Mrs. Williamson, "took up her residence in this out of
the way place; but Elliot, on his return voyage from H---- in November,
happened, fortunately, to rescue her from the waves, into which she was
thrown by the upsetting of a boat, and having brought her here, she has
remained ever since in this dreary place, at least it must be such to
her, for she has had no opportunity of returning to her friends."

With her customary grace, Agnes returned the Captain's and Mr.
Clifford's respectful greeting, and resumed again her embroidery,
disclaiming, however, as she did so, the epithet of dreary, as being
quite inappropriate, in her estimation, to the place which had afforded
her so hospitable a shelter.

"It would be impossible for me to find any spot dreary," she said,
"inhabited by so many kind friends, and from whom I have received such
true tokens of hospitality; and while I confess to an eager desire to
behold again my relatives, it will not be without very great pain that I
shall part from those whose warmest sympathies and tenderest care were
exercised towards a helpless stranger."

"I have heard," said Mr. Pierce, turning to Mrs. Williamson, whose
countenance told the emotion she felt at the intimation of Agnes's
speedy departure, "I have heard of =some= entertaining 'angels
unawares,' and I should judge you have been thus fortunate, Mrs. W."

"You may, indeed, say so, Sir," said the good woman, wiping away a tear
with the corner of her apron; "I cannot tell you what a blessing this
young lady has been, not only to my family, but to the whole
neighborhood. Indeed, Sir, you would be surprised to see what a change
has been effected by her in this place. Miss Wiltshire has established a
day school for the children, and a night class for the young people; and
our Sabbaths, that some spent in sleep, others in doing nothing, or
worse than nothing, now pass in a very different manner, for we have
both Church and Sabbath school, and 'come up with those that keep holy
day.' What we shall do without her, I cannot imagine, though, to be
sure, it would be dreadfully selfish in me to wish her to stay longer,
for those to whom she belongs must be breaking their hearts after so
lovely a creature."

The above conversation, which was addressed particularly to the Captain,
was delivered in an under-tone, and was therefore unheard by Agnes, who
was an attentive listener to Mr. Clifford, as he called up all the
varied powers of his fine intellect for the purpose of describing the
scenes through which he had passed; and he was well rewarded for his
efforts by the sweet smile, and breathless interest, with which Agnes
heard the narration.




CHAPTER XII.


"What a lovely evening," exclaimed Arthur Bernard, as rising from his
seat, by the invalid's couch, he drew aside the thick folds of the
crimson damask curtains, allowing the glorious rays of the full-orbed
moon to illuminate the apartment.

"My dear Sir," he said kindly, turning to Mr. Denham, the uncle of
Agnes, for he it was who reclined on the velvet lounge, propped up by
pillows, "I am sure it would do you good, on a fine spring day such as
this has been, to take a short drive through the suburbs of the city.
The fresh, balmy air of delightful May would prove, as your physician
told you, yesterday, the best restorative; better, far better, than all
his drugs; and, besides, it will divert your mind to mark the dawn of
summer, to witness how quickly, almost instantaneously, the trees have
put forth their leaves, and in the parks and fields, how thick and
verdant Nature's flowery carpet. Can I not prevail upon you to accompany
me to-morrow in a short drive? I know, on your return, you will not
regret having been persuaded to try the efficacy of my prescription."

The invalid shook his head, sadly.

"You are very kind, Arthur," he said, "in taking such interest in a
querulous old man, like me, and I would gratify you; but, indeed, it is
not the illness of the body of which I complain, for that only suffers
in sympathy with the mind. Fresh breezes may fan the brow, and verdant
scenes charm the eye, but tell me,

    'Can they minister to a mind diseased,
    Or pluck from mem'ry's roots a barbed arrow?'

If you promise that they can accomplish such wonders as these, then
shall I gladly try your prescription."

"No, Sir," was the reply; "admirer as I am of Nature, and powerful as I
deem her ministrations, I dare not undertake in her name, to promise
that she shall perform such a miracle as this. From bitter, yet salutary
experience, I know that the sick heart may turn even with loathing from
her loveliest scenes, as being but reminders of by-gone happiness,
awakening associations too painful for the spirit calmly to
contemplate." He paused abruptly, and then in a lower tone repeated to
himself, as he gazed on the beautiful, park-like grounds, that
surrounded Mr. Denham's residence, fair to view at all times, but never
lovelier than when illumined, as now, by the soft rays of the
full-orbed moon,--

    "Since my Alexis withers in the tomb,
    Untimely fades, nor sees a second bloom;
    Ye hills and groves no more your landscapes please,
    Nor give my soul one interval of ease;
    Delight and joy forever flee your shades,--
    And mournful care your solitude invades."

"But, my dear Mr. Denham," he said, as he turned from contemplating the
scene without, and resumed his seat near the invalid's couch, "though I
cannot promise that Nature will afford you the elixir you require, your
case is not, cannot be hopeless, while there is balm in Gilead, while
there is a Physician there."

"I know well what you would say, Arthur Bernard, and it is easy for you
to speak thus, who have never known the horrors of remorse; who have
never been haunted by the vision of a sweet face, drowned in tears,
whose look of affection was repelled by coldness and harshness. Ah, had
you known my dearly loved Agnes as I have; had you watched from infancy
each expanding grace, until she grew to be your heart's idol; had you
loved her with a love like mine"--

Arthur Bernard groaned involuntarily, but the old man unheeding went on.

"And then, because her pure mind could not be content to feed on the
husks of worldly vanity, and sought for more congenial nourishment,
banish her from your presence, for the very cause that should have
rendered her dear beyond all price, and that banishment to have such a
termination; to think that the wild salt waves should cover my darling,
that the winds should be her requiem, that I shall never hear that sweet
voice pronounce my forgiveness,--oh, it is too much, too much for human
nature to bear, though I deserve it all.

"Talk not to me, Arthur Bernard," and the invalid, in the energy of
passion, half-raised himself from the couch, "talk not to me, I beseech
you, of balm in Gilead, or of a Physician there; others, who have not
sinned as I have done, may find forgiveness, but as for me, unless the
treacherous sea restore my darling to my arms, there is never more peace
or comfort for me, but my gray hairs shall go down with sorrow to the
tomb."

He sank back exhausted by the violence of his emotions, and silence
reigned through the apartment for a few moments, its two occupants
seemingly absorbed in painful thought.

To Arthur the reflection of the almost certain destiny that had befallen
her who had, unconsciously to himself, shared so large a portion of his
affections, was indeed fraught with anguish; the void she had left he
felt, day by day, could never be replaced, and in reference to a passion
at once so absorbing and constant, he might well have adopted, as
embodying his own experience, the language of the poet:--

    "It was life's whole emotion, a storm in its might,
    'Twas deep as the ocean, and silent as night;
    It swept down life's flowers, the fragile and fair,
    The heart had no powers from passion to spare."

It is time, from her loss, he had learned lessons of purest wisdom; he
had sought and found the grace which he so truly exemplified in life and
conduct; nor had the oil and joy of heavenly consolation been denied
him, in the period of his sorest need; and though he could not, he dared
not, dwell on the billows that swept above that once beautiful form, yet
he delighted, in fancy, to visit those regions of bliss, now, as he
deemed, her habitation, and to conjecture what the occupation, and what
the enjoyment of its thrice-blessed inhabitants:--

But, "Earth's children cling to earth; the frail companion, the body,
weighs down the soul, and draws it back from the contemplation of high
and holy realities;" and thus there were seasons in Arthur Bernard's
experience, when his very heart seemed to die within him, exhausted by
its vain yearnings for her who, like an angel of light, had shone upon
his path, and then suddenly disappeared; and as he looked forward into
the probable future, and beheld life stretching out before him,
monotonous and solitary, what wonder that Courage sometimes faltered,
and Faith drooped, and Hope almost ceased to cheer the stricken
pilgrim.

And such a moment of anguish he experienced now, as he sat in silence,
with bowed-down head, while "thought went back to the shadowy past." Mr.
Denham's words had thrilled his soul; had presented Agnes's image to him
so vividly, that he could scarcely refrain from giving expression to his
anguish in bitter groans; and this was the most trying remembrance, "it
might have been" otherwise, had he, to whose care she had been solemnly
committed by dying parents, faithfully fulfilled his trust, and instead
of frowning on her, had cheered and encouraged her in the path of duty.

But there was one who suffered more than Arthur,--he who now lay
listless on his couch, burdened with a heavy weight of anguish and
remorse. Ah, it was this that deepened the sting of sorrow, that
heightened with its bitterness every remembrance that "he alone the deed
had done," and that but for his obstinacy and worldliness, she might
even now be standing beside him, bathing his burning brow with gentle
hands, and in her own sweet tones be imparting all needful consolation.

But Mr. Denham could bear these thoughts no longer, and hastily rousing
himself, he addressed Arthur.

"It is growing late. Will you be so kind as turn on the gas a little
brighter, for it seems to burn but dimly. I am sure," he added, in the
querulous tones of an invalid, "it is time Mrs. Denham had returned. She
took advantage of your coming to remain with me to visit a sick
neighbor, but she must be very ill, indeed, to cause her to remain so
long."

"She will be here very shortly, I dare say," was Arthur's reply, as, in
compliance with the old man's request, he closed the curtains on the
scene without, and caused the magnificent gaseliers to emit a more
dazzling light,--"and in the meanwhile, if you have no objection, I
shall be happy to read to you."

The invalid signified his willingness, and Arthur, sitting down by him,
opened the richly-gilt Bible that lay on the marble stand near at hand,
but ere he could commence, there was the rattling of wheels up the
carriage-road. The vehicle stopped at the hall-door, and the bell was
loudly rung.

The old man listened for a moment, and then, turning to Arthur, said, "I
cannot see any person to-night. Will you be kind enough to inform the
servant, that Mrs. Denham is out, and that I feel too much indisposed to
receive any visitors,--though it is a singular hour for visitors, I must
confess."

Arthur, as he opened the drawing-room door, heard a strange confusion in
the hall below, and quickly closing it on the invalid, stepped out to
convey Mr. Denham's orders, and to ascertain the cause of this unusual
disturbance.

As he descended the staircase, he was met by the servant, whose honest
face was lit up with a strange expression of wonder, joy, and
satisfaction.

"Anything amiss?" inquired Arthur, observing the perturbation of the
man.

"Oh, no, Sir, but how glad I am that you are here, for I am afraid the
news will be too much for Master, and the young lady told me to break it
to him gently."

"What news, what young lady, what do you mean, John?" inquired Mr.
Bernard, in a tone of bewilderment. "I do not understand to what you
allude."

"Beg pardon, Sir, for not telling you before, but it has been so sudden,
it quite overpowered me, to think our dear young lady, whom we thought
long since buried in the sea"--

The man stopped abruptly, and turned his head, evidently too much
affected to go on.

"For pity's sake, speak, John, and put an end to this suspense; what
about her?"

"Oh, Sir, nothing, Sir; I mean nothing at all, to alarm you, Sir; she
has come back again, Sir; she was not drowned, after all, and she is now
waiting in the library. She would have come right up, but I told her how
ill Master had been, and then she stopped, for she was afraid the shock
might be too much for him."

Arthur heard not the conclusion of the sentence.

"She is not drowned,--she has come back again,"--was all he could think
of; and with eager steps, that yet seemed all too slow for his impatient
spirit, he hastened to greet the long-mourned wanderer.

He paused a moment at the door of the library, to calm the tumult of his
soul, and then slowly opening it, entered the room.

Agnes,--for it was indeed her own dear self,--had thrown off her cloak
and hood, and sank back on a sofa, almost overcome with emotion, at
finding herself once more at home,--and, perhaps, a little troubled to
learn what reception she was likely to expect, from those who had parted
with her so coldly.

She started up at the sound of approaching footsteps.

"Miss Wiltshire, this is, indeed, one of the happiest moments of my
life," said Arthur, as clasping her hand, he raised it, involuntarily,
to his lips, and with a voice, tremulous with emotion, continued:

"We have mourned you as one long since departed, but a gracious
Providence has surely miraculously restored you again to your home, and
your deeply sorrowing friends."

"Mine has, indeed, been a miraculous preservation, and one which
demands the most grateful acknowledgment of my heart."

"I trust to have the pleasure of listening to its details, by and bye,
and in joining with you in praising Him, who has so graciously given you
back to us all. But I must not forget that you are, I am sure, very
anxious to see your uncle."

"I am, indeed," was the reply. "Is he dangerously ill?" she earnestly
inquired. "The man told me, he believed my aunt was out, but would go
and ascertain."

"Mrs. Denham went out two hours ago, to visit a sick neighbor, and has
not yet returned. Your uncle has, indeed, been very ill, and is still
quite an invalid; but it has all originated in sorrow for your loss, and
remorse at having been the chief instrument in sending you away. You
will find him wonderfully changed," added Arthur, with kind
consideration; for, fully aware of the circumstances under which she had
left home, he knew she must feel anxiety respecting the terms on which,
it was probable, she would be permitted to remain with her relatives.

"It was only this evening, he was lamenting his loss, and declaiming, in
bitterest terms, against his former conduct, declaring, that, unless the
sea restored his darling to him, his gray hairs would go down with
sorrow to the grave."

Agnes wept tears of joy at this intelligence, but recovering herself,
and recollecting Mr. Clifford, who had accompanied her from the vessel,
and who, seated at the farthest end of the apartment, and partly in the
shade, had, on that account, escaped Arthur's glance, she said,

"I have been very remiss, indeed, Mr. Clifford."

Arthur started, as she pronounced the name, and turning round, for the
first time beheld the stranger.

"But you will excuse me, I am sure; for this return home, and the
meeting with an old friend, has quite bewildered me. Allow me, Mr.
Bernard to introduce to you my companion on the voyage, and one who like
myself, has known the privations of exile, though for a much longer
period than I."

Mr. Clifford advanced to Arthur, and the young men shook hands heartily.

"There needed no apology, Miss Wiltshire," said Ernest; "for your
emotion, at returning home again, is only natural. It has afforded me, I
assure you, the purest pleasure to witness it; a foretaste of what I
trust myself to experience, when I embrace my mother again; if, indeed,
she be yet in the land of the living."

"And now," said Arthur, "you will excuse me, while I go and prepare Mr.
Denham for this interview with his long-lost niece, for it would not be
prudent," he said, turning to Agnes, "for you suddenly to surprise him.
I am afraid it would be too much for him in his present weak state."

Agnes thankfully acquiesced, and awaited with as much patience as she
could command, the return of Arthur.

He was back again in a few moments.

"Your uncle is waiting to see you, and is almost delirious with joy. Mr.
Clifford will excuse me while I conduct you to the apartment, and then I
think my presence can be dispensed with."

The servants had flocked to the hall to see their dear young mistress
again, and to find if it were indeed, as John had declared, her very
self. It was with some difficulty that Agnes made her way through them,
but shaking each warmly by the hand, and with many kind inquiries, she
passed on, requesting, however, the cook to prepare some refreshments
for the gentleman in the library.

Arthur, as he threw open the drawing-room door, observed that Mr. Denham
had raised himself on the couch, and was gazing eagerly in that
direction. Agnes instantly sprang forward into her uncle's outstretched
arms, the old man murmuring with a voice weak with emotion, "My darling
here,--you come back to your old uncle once more."

With instinctive delicacy Mr. Bernard softly closed the door, and
retired, feeling that the scene had become too sacred for a stranger's
eye.




CHAPTER XIII.


Lights streamed gayly from every window of Mr. Hilton's spacious and
hospitable mansion, where a party of friends had assembled to celebrate
the return of the long-lost Agnes. This gentleman, whose letter had
confirmed to Arthur, while yet in France, the painful intelligence of
the destruction of the steamer in which Agnes had embarked, and the
subsequent supposed shipwreck of its passengers, had been among the
first to hasten to welcome her home, for a warm admirer of woman in
general, Miss Wiltshire had secured his especial regard, and having no
daughters of his own, he used often to remark to his excellent wife,
that there was but one thing he envied Mr. Denham, and that was the
possession of so winningly lovely a niece.

The party had been postponed from time to time, awaiting Mr. Denham's
recovery, and it was not until early in July, that his perfect
restoration to health, enabled him, together with Mrs. Denham, to
accompany his niece on this festive occasion.

Mr. Denham, as he entered the brilliantly illuminated drawing-room,
seemed by his appearance almost to have recovered his youth, so much so,
as to call forth from more than one of the company,--

"The old gentleman is looking twenty years younger, than when I last saw
him. What a change the return of his niece has made."

Mr. and Mrs. Denham were accompanied by Mr. Clifford, on whose arm Agnes
leaned as she entered the room. His fine form, no longer enveloped in
sailor-garb, but in more appropriate costume, was displayed to full
advantage, and elicited the admiration of not a few of the ladies, as
the whispers, here and there, of "What a fine looking-man; so tall, and
dignified, so imposing in appearance,"--bore ample testimony.

Agnes was attired in snowy white; a few rose-buds forming her only
ornament; her face was lit up with a joyous smile, as she greeted one
after another of her old companions; and there was something in the
expression of that countenance, a blending of the highest and loftiest
emotions, with all the social tenderness in which woman finds her chief
earthly happiness, so irresistibly attractive, that he who could turn
away coldly or unmoved, must indeed be a cynic, if not the veriest stoic
that ever trod our beautiful earth.

In a recess, formed by a large bow window, and which, though at the
furthest end of the room, was admirably fitted for a looker-on,
commanding, as it did, a view of the whole, two ladies were seated,
busily engaged in that most delightful of occupations, gossiping, for
which they found ample material, as guest after guest paid their
respects to the mistress of the dwelling.

"Only look," said the elderly lady, addressing her companion, as Arthur
crossed the room, to speak to Agnes; "just look, what a melancholy
appearance Mr. Bernard wears. I wonder where his sister is to-night?"

"I heard Mr. Clifford, who you know is a visitor there, say that she had
a violent toothache, and his mother, fearing she would feel lonely, had
remained at home with her."

"Mr. Clifford's mother! You surely do not mean that that old lady, Mrs.
Cartwright, who accompanied the Bernards on their return from France, is
the mother of that fine looking young man?"

"Yes, indeed, his is quite a romantic history."

"Oh, I should like to hear it of all things. Do oblige me by narrating
it, will you? You are so intimate with the Bernards, that you have an
opportunity of hearing everything."

The younger lady's face wore a gratified expression, for it was very
pleasant to learn, whatever the facts of the matter really were, that
others believed her on terms of close intimacy with a family, whose
high standing in the community had never been disputed; and she now
gladly complied with the request, certain that it would afford to her
friend confirmation of her previously expressed opinion, "strong as Holy
Writ."

"You must know, then," she commenced, "that when Ella was visiting the
South of France for the benefit of her health, (for I told Mr. Bernard,
again and again, before they left, that nothing but change of air would
restore her,) she met with this Mrs. Cartwright, whose own home was in
America, but who was then on a visit to a relative. They became quite
intimate in a short time, and Ella, on her return to B----, persuaded
Mrs. Cartwright to accompany them, and to spend some time with them.

"A widow and childless, as she then supposed, and having no near kin to
bind her to her home, she accepted Ellen's invitation, and, accordingly,
they all returned together.

"But this old lady, it appears, had a son, the child of a previous
marriage,--for she has buried two husbands,--who, some five years ago,
sailed on some distant voyage, I do not exactly know what his
destination. However, no tidings were ever received of the vessel having
reached the desired port, and, of course, Mrs. Cartwright, who Ella told
me was exceedingly attached to him, mourned him bitterly as one dead.
But instead of being lost at sea, he had been picked up, the only
survivor of the shipwrecked vessel, by Moorish pirates, who, taking him
into their country, sold him as a slave.

"He managed to make his escape somehow, about six months ago, though he
had a terrible time of it; but he succeeded getting on board an English
vessel, which was just about leaving for America."

"But how did he come to meet with Miss Wiltshire?"

"Why the vessel put into the place where Agnes was conveyed by the
Captain of the fishing schooner, who went to her rescue, and, of course,
Agnes gladly availed herself of the opportunity to return home, and this
accounts, in part, for their intimacy."

"And how did Mr. Clifford meet with his mother? Surely he did not expect
to find her here?"

"No; it was a very singular coincidence. Mr. Bernard happened to be at
Mr. Denham's when Agnes, accompanied by Mr. Clifford, arrived there; and
in the course of subsequent conversation with him, Mr. Bernard
ascertained that he was the son of the very lady who was then a guest at
his dwelling, and, of course, insisted that he, also, should be a
partaker of his hospitality."

"What a strange circumstance," loudly ejaculated the attentive listener,
"and how delighted the old lady must have been. You know I was out of
town at the time, and never heard the rights of the matter."

"Yes, I remember, and the old lady, as you say, was indeed delighted, so
much so, that at first she was completely overcome. She took immediately
to her bed, from which she has not been able to rise, till within the
last few weeks."

"Ah, so that is the reason they have resided so long at Mr. Bernard's."

"That is one reason, but I strongly suspect there is another and
greater," was the reply, as the younger lady, observing that Mr. Bernard
had approached, and stood by a table near examining some very
exquisitely carved ornaments, thought it a good opportunity to give him,
without pretending to notice his proximity, some little
information,--information which might hereafter aid in accomplishing her
own well-planned schemes.

"You said he had another reason for remaining so long, did you not,
Maria?"

"Oh, yes, and one palpable enough to any person who has eyes. Just look
yonder, and you will see for yourself."

Mr. Bernard involuntarily raised his eyes, and glanced at the spot
indicated. At a side-table, a little apart from the others, Agnes was
seated, looking over a large and elegant portfolio, the peculiar
beauties of whose admirable engravings, Ernest Clifford seemed eagerly
pointing out, as he bent over her chair; his handsome countenance lit up
with a smile of pleasurable emotion.

"Ah, yes, I understand you now, Maria. But I heard Mr. Bernard had some
partiality that way."

"Hush, speak lower, for he is standing at the table near you."

"Oh, dear me, I had no idea he was so handy."

"That was mere idle gossip, I assure you," was the reply, as the tones
sank into a whisper. "I have the best evidence in the world as to that."

"Well, well, they will make a handsome couple, I must say," remarked
Maria's companion, as Mr. Bernard moved away with a firm step, which
gave no indication of the mental agony that was rending his soul.

Glad to make his escape, he stepped out from an open window in the
balcony, and from thence descended, by a short flight of marble steps,
into the large and thickly-shaded garden, which it overlooked.

With a feverish step he traversed its winding walks, until wearied he
sank on a rustic seat, beneath the welcome shade of a graceful elm. The
sounds of music and mirth came wafted to him through the open casement,
and never seemed they less congenial to his feelings.

"If I could only think it some of that ill-natured woman's gossip, I
would not care," he said, half aloud, "for the mind that could indite
such an epistle as Ella received, containing the account of Agnes's
supposed death, would be capable of anything,--but, alas, I fear it is
too true.

    'Her heart it is another's, and
    It never can be mine.'

Yes, she appears reserved, almost cold with me. I am evidently shunned
by her, while =he= is welcomed most warmly, whenever he appears. But I
cannot blame her. It was natural that an acquaintance, thus strangely
formed, should lead to such a result, and he, too, yes, he is worthy of
her. He loves her dearly, I am sure of that; but never, never can he
regard her as I do."

Again the sounds of music swelled on the balmy evening breeze. It was
now a woman's voice that warbled clear and sweet a touching strain.

"It is Agnes," he murmured, adding as a fine manly voice took up another
part, "and that is Ernest Clifford. My fondest hopes, a long, a last,
farewell."




CHAPTER XIV.


A fortnight had elapsed subsequent to the festivity recorded in the
preceding chapter, when, late one afternoon, Arthur,--who had been
engaged from early morning in a distant part of the city, transacting
some business of importance,--as he returned, passing by Mr. Denham's
dwelling, suddenly came in contact with Mr. Clifford, who, with a quick,
eager step, and a countenance all aglow with some pleasurable emotion,
was hurrying on, so absorbed in his own thoughts, that he was only
arrested by the sound of his friend's voice.

"You seem to be in a great hurry, Clifford," said Arthur smiling, though
it must be confessed his heart felt little attuned to mirth; "and,
judging from the expression of your countenance, combined with your
unusual absent-mindedness, something more than usual must have occurred,
and that of a very pleasurable nature, to have thus excited you."

"You have made a capital guess of it, Arthur. I have been putting forth
every energy of late to win a priceless treasure, and after a desperate
effort, have succeeded. Is not that a subject for congratulation?"

"At last, at last, she is won," inwardly murmured poor Arthur, while his
whole frame seemed convulsed, but controlling himself, as he observed
his companion's glance fixed eagerly upon him, he replied, in a tone
which, in spite of his efforts, sounded cold and somewhat ungracious.

"I shall be a better judge of that, Clifford, when I know what the
nature of the prize, and whether it was valuable enough to warrant the
efforts put forth to obtain it."

"=Valuable=, there is no boon on earth to be compared to it. I might
exhaust comparisons in vain to furnish a fit simile; for, in it, is
combined all that is lovely, virtuous and excellent. To descend,
however, from parable, in order to enlighten you, allow me to say," and
a slight flush mounted to the speaker's face, while his companion's
cheek grew ashy pale, "that I have been so truly fortunate as to secure
a place in the affections of a woman, to my mind, the loveliest of her
sex. But, happy as I am in obtaining such an avowal, there is one
drawback to my felicity; her consent must be ratified, so she affirms,
by a beloved relative, before I am to consider it binding. And I--do you
know, Arthur--I never dreamed I was a coward until now; but it seems
such presumption in me to expect a man to part with a flower that he has
tenderly nurtured and cherished, that it may adorn with its beauty and
grace another homestead, far removed, perhaps, from the eyes that
delighted to watch its expanding charms."

"This suspense is intolerable," murmured Arthur Bernard to himself,
while in blissful unconsciousness his companion went on. "Why does he
not speak her name out clearly, and put an end to this torture, which
racks every nerve of my frame?"

"And now, Arthur, I want your advice. Woman-hater as you are,"--Clifford
said with a smile.

"I suppose Agnes told him that, she thought so herself, no doubt," was
Arthur's mental parenthesis.

"Woman-hater as you are, I know you deem my hopes and fears as both
unfounded; but, never mind, you will, I trust, know by experience some
day or other, so, in consideration of that coming, happy time, will you
inform me in what terms I can possibly have the presumption, to request
of the lady's relative, that he graciously permit her to bestow her hand
upon your humble servant?"

"I do not foresee any difficulty," said Arthur, with a tremulous effort
at composure. "The lady's consent once secured, I should think all
others of comparatively little moment, and with the knowledge that her
happiness depends on their sanction, it will, I believe, be readily
accorded."

"How happy you make me, my dear fellow, though you did deliver that
speech, as though you were negotiating some bank business. And so, you
would advise me to put a bold face on the matter, and say to them, 'she
is mine, and I will have her.'"

"If that form of expression suits you best, use it, by all means; I have
no objection."

"Then I shall act upon your advice immediately, Arthur Bernard," and the
voice at once became deeply solemn and earnest. "Are you willing to
resign to my fondest, my tenderest care, your only and beloved sister
Ella, to whom I am aware you are so deeply attached, and who returns
your affection with all the warmth of her loving nature."

Arthur Bernard, could not reply. He was bewildered, stunned, at the
intelligence. From the very depth and agony of despair, to be raised to
the very summit of hope, was almost too much for poor human nature to
bear. His friend observed his emotion, but attributed it to a very
different cause, and his countenance, so joyous a moment before, clouded
instantly.

"I see," he said, in a low and mournful tone, "that this does not meet
your wishes, nor can I wonder at it, for I feel I am not worthy of so
precious a gift, except for the intense love I bear her,--a love which,
I trust, if permitted, shall be manifested in every action of my future
life."

"Not meet my wishes! You have totally mistaken me, my friend, my
brother, as I would now joyfully call you," pressing fervently his
companion's hand as he spoke; "you are worthy of my darling Ella, my
beloved sister, and there is none other, to whom I could yield her less
reluctantly than yourself. With a brother's blessing I commit her to
you, and as she has been to me the most faithful and affectionate of
sisters, so, I am sure, you will find her the truest and most devoted of
wives."

There was a pause. Both the gentlemen were affected, and they continued
their walk, which had been extended to a solitary part of the city's
suburbs, for some time in silence, which Ernest was the first to break.

"I cannot thank you in words; they are too poor to express how I
estimate this frank and generous consent; my actions will, I trust, show
how truly I appreciate it. Forgive me, Arthur, for my unjust suspicions,
but I imagined when I commenced the conversation, that you suspected the
nature of my embassy, and by cold looks and words strove to divert me
from speaking in plainer terms, and forcing you to a denial of my
request."

Arthur was slightly embarrassed, and his companion looked at him,
wondering what could thus discompose his usually sedate friend.

"The truth is," he said after a pause, "that I totally misunderstood
you, so you see there has been a mutual mistake. I have been blind,
indeed, but I had not the slightest idea that you entertained any
feeling but friendship for Ella."

"And pray, then, if you will permit me to inquire," and there was
something mischievous in the speaker's glance and tone, "to whom did you
imagine I alluded, when I informed you that, woman, dear woman, was the
prize so much coveted?"

"Well, I did think," and the speaker's hesitancy was not by any means
unobserved by his friend, "for report affirmed, that Miss Wiltshire was
the lady to whom you intended to vow life-long allegiance."

"And so you supposed I had come to make a confidant of =you=. I wonder
you did not knock me down for my presumption, in expecting to eclipse
you in her eyes. No, no, my dear Sir, I was not such a simpleton, for
had I entertained hopes of that kind before, the joy which lighted up
her fine eyes, and glowed on her countenance, on that eventful meeting
with you on her return, combined, how often, with subsequent similar
observation, would have been quite sufficient proof to me that my
expectations were 'baseless as the fabric of a vision.'"

Arthur smiled and shook his head, though the subject was by no means an
unpleasing one, at least judging from his animated countenance, and the
rapt attention which he paid to every word.

"But who, may I ask, Ernest, was your informant as to my claims to the
title of 'woman-hater?'"

"Not Miss Wiltshire, I can credibly affirm. More than that I do not
think it is fair to tell you."

"Well, well, I am perfectly satisfied, and now I think it is time for us
to retrace our steps in the direction of home."




CHAPTER XV.


"And so our dear young lady is married, Ellen?" said Mrs. Williamson to
her daughter, who had just returned from a visit to B----.

"Yes, mother, and a beautiful bride she made."

"Ay, I doubt it not, and as good as beautiful," said the father, who had
just come in to Ellen's neat little cottage, to hear all the particulars
connected with her late journey.

"And they treated you well, Ellen, did they not?"

"Treated me =well=? why, mother, it was like a new world; and they were
so kind to me, took me to every place, and showed me everything worth
seeing. And, dear me, but it is a beautiful city; such grand buildings,
such water-works, such parks, all laid out with trees, and walks, and
grass-plots, and seats, where you can rest whenever you choose,--and
then at night, the splendid shops are so dazzlingly lit up, and the
streets almost as bright as day. Oh, surely it is a fine thing to live
in the city!"

"Ha, ha," said a clear, manly voice, and the speaker entered the door;
"so my little bird has become restive since her taste of city life, and
longs to fly away again."

"Indeed, Edward, that is not true. If I had been brought up to
city-ways, I think I should like to live there; but, now, I like my home
better, far better. I only wish we could have the meetings on Sunday,
that I went to there; oh, mother," she said, as she turned suddenly
round to address her, "it would have done your heart good to have heard
the singing, and have listened to the sermons, and such grand churches,
all crowded too."

"But I want to hear everything from the beginning," said Mr. Williamson.

"Well, then, I will commence my history from the time we got there. You
know Miss Agnes was expecting me, and they kept a constant look-out, so
that the vessel had not been an hour at the wharf, but what should I see
but a splendid carriage, driven by two white horses, galloping down, and
how overjoyed I was when Miss Agnes stepped out, and came on board, and
ran up and kissed me, and we both shed tears, I believe, for I saw her
put her handkerchief to her eyes, and I cried for joy at seeing her
again. And then I must go right home with her; she would fain have had
Edward, too, but he could not leave his vessel, yet was quite willing
that I should go, so my trunk was handed in, we both stepped into the
carriage, and were off in a few moments, Edward standing on the deck,
watching till we were out of sight; at least I take that for granted.

"Well, we drove to her uncle's dwelling, a large white house, with
splendidly ornamented pillars in front, and a balcony all round. It
stands in the midst of a park, at least so I call it; and there is a
fountain just before the door, flinging its glistening waters to a great
height, and grass, and flowers, and large shady trees, and winding
walks, and it looked altogether so lovely to me, with the sun shining
down upon it, that I cannot find words to describe it. Well, we got out
at the hall-door, and I followed Agnes into a parlor, where her uncle
and aunt were sitting, and, would you believe it, as soon as they saw me
they came forward, and kissed me, and made me sit by them, and told me
that Agnes had related to them all the kindness that had been shown to
her by our family, and how thankful they were to us all for it; and then
asked me about my husband, who, they said, had rescued her from a watery
grave, and how anxious they were to see him, and hoped he would be able
to call soon, and so he did that very evening, and a happy time we had
of it!

"The next morning there came in to Mr. Denham's, a young gentleman with
Mr. Clifford, who you know stopped here with Captain Pierce; and they
both shook me warmly by the hand. This young gentleman's name was
Bernard, and while Agnes was talking to Mr. Clifford, he asked me many
questions about my home, and about the people that lived here, and
wanted to know if there were often shipwrecks near the place. I knew
well enough what he wished to find out, for I saw him, every now and
then, look at Miss Agnes so wistfully and sad, and then at Mr. Clifford,
as though he envied him the seat near her, and so I felt a kind of pity
for him, and began to tell him, in a low tone, what I knew he was
longing to hear, though I suppose he had heard it all before; but,
somehow, people never get weary of hearing about the one they love. And,
oh, he grew so lively, as I went on, and seemed such a pleased
listener,--and when I told him how much good she had done, and what a
change had come over the place, while she stopped here; the day and
night schools she had formed, and the services she had held on the
Sabbath, his very eyes seemed to thank me, they shone so brightly; and
when I had finished, he said, in a low tone, which he did not think I
overheard,

"'Yes, she is indeed an angel; so much the more bitter for me!'

"They left soon after, Mr. Clifford being in somewhat of a hurry; so Mr.
Bernard had but little opportunity of conversing with Miss Agnes; and
after they were gone, she stood by the window in silence for a few
moments, and when she turned to speak, I saw that a tear had fallen on
her long lashes, but she said, in a cheerful tone, 'We will go now and
take the promised drive.'

"And so we did, and a charming one it was. Mr. Denham came with us, and
he pointed out everything to me that was new and beautiful; if I had
been his own daughter, he could not have been kinder.

"But still, while I was looking at all the noble buildings, I could not
help thinking of Mr. Bernard; and then Miss Agnes, while she talked and
laughed a good deal, seemed as though she were striving to be cheerful,
I thought it did not come as natural to her there, as it did when she
was with us, and I half fancied something was going wrong.

"Then her uncle began to talk of Mr. Clifford, and to praise him very
much; and I watched her, though she little knew it; but she joined with
him warmly, and her color never rose a bit, nor her voice faltered. By
and bye, somehow or another, I believe it was myself spoke of Mr.
Bernard, and he, too, came in for a large share of praise from Mr.
Denham; but Agnes only responded, 'Yes, I have no doubt of it,' looking
at the same time very earnestly out of the carriage window; but I caught
a glimpse of her face, as she turned it, and saw a delicate rose-color
flush her cheeks, and then I knew that Mr. Bernard need not despair.

"So it went on from day to day. We rode, and walked, and shopped, and
visited, and attended museums, and lectures, and meetings, and yet I
fancied Agnes grew sadder and sadder; and Mr. Bernard, when I saw him
now and then, for he did not come much to the house, looked like a man
who was bravely struggling against some misfortune, which, in spite of
his efforts, was well nigh crushing him.

"But one evening, Agnes had been invited out to a dinner party; they had
sent me an invitation, also, but I declined going, for I knew I should
not feel at home among so many strangers, and they so far above me; so I
remained with Mr. and Mrs. Denham.

"'I would far rather stay with you,' Miss Agnes said, 'than go out this
evening, but these are very particular friends, who would feel I
slighted them, if I remained away; but, indeed, I do not feel at all
well.'

"I was in her dressing-room at the time, and she was preparing for the
occasion.

"'You do look pale, Miss Agnes,' I replied, 'and your eyes look heavy.'
I was pretty sure, from their appearance, she had been weeping that
afternoon.

"However, she went; for it was not her fashion to consult her own ease,
when others were to be gratified.

"It was little more than 10 o'clock that night; Edward had been with me
during the evening, but had just returned to his ship, and Mr. and Mrs.
Denham had retired to rest, for they kept early hours; I was sitting in
the parlor, reading a beautiful book, a present from Agnes, when I heard
steps coming up the gravel walk, and a murmur of voices in earnest
conversation. I peeped through the half-closed blind, and beheld Miss
Wiltshire arm in arm with a gentleman, whom I took to be, though I could
not see very distinctly, Mr. Bernard.

"In a moment after they entered, and sure enough it was Mr. Bernard,
though every trace of sadness had disappeared from his face, and as he
came forward and shook hands with me, asking me so kindly how I was, his
very voice seemed altered, it was so gay, so joyous. I tried to catch a
glimpse of Miss Agnes's countenance,--it was some time before she lifted
her veil, but when she flung it aside, as she took off her bonnet, I saw
that her former paleness had been succeeded by a rosy-red, and her eyes
seemed beaming with new life.

"We sat and talked for some time, at least Mr. Bernard and I, for Miss
Wiltshire was unusually silent.

"At length he took his leave, but as he clasped her hand, and bade her
'Good night,' I heard him say in a low tone, 'I shall see Mr. Denham, if
nothing happens, early to-morrow morning,'--and so departed.

"We soon separated for the night, and I heard nothing until the next
day, when Agnes told me all the particulars.

"It seems there had been a mistake all round; Mr. Bernard having
believed that Mr. Clifford was his rival, and Miss Wiltshire imagined,
from something some lady told--Maria as they called her, I heard her
other name, but forget it--that Mr. Bernard had been paying her very
great attention, and had almost, if not actually, proposed for her hand.

"There was not a word of truth in that, of course; but this Maria, it
seems, was determined to have the young gentleman, and did not care what
she said or did, if she could only secure him.

"But it came out right, after all; Providence is always good to those
that trust Him, and so, just a week ago to-day, for we sailed
immediately after the wedding, they were married, and Mr. Clifford at
the same time."

"But who did Mr. Clifford marry?" inquired one of the deeply interested
listeners.

"Mr. Bernard's sister, a sweet pretty young creature, with eyes as blue
as a summer's sky. And such a sight it was to see the two brides; both
dressed alike in white satin, with orange blossoms in their hair, and
white veils on the back of the head, falling over their shoulders like a
mantle. It was so strange, too, that the clergyman who married them,
and who was a great friend of Miss Wiltshire's, had been a passenger in
the very steamer from which she had so narrow an escape; he had embarked
in another boat, and with the rest of the male passengers had got safe
to land. A short time before her wedding, Agnes met him in the street,
just after his arrival from some distant part, and she said, she did not
know which was the greatest, his joy or surprise at seeing her, for he
had never heard of her wonderful preservation, and had not, therefore,
the most distant idea she was in the land of the living.

"Well, as soon as it was over, and they stepped out of the church, the
joy bells rang out, so merrily, and every person looked so pleased and
so happy. There was a grand lunch at Mr. Denham's, and then the bridal
party drove away to spend the honeymoon in travelling."

"Well, she deserved a good husband, and I trust she has got one," said
Mrs. Williamson, as Ellen paused to take breath, "and I pray that Heaven
may bless them both!"

"Amen," was the hearty response of the listeners, a response which, we
trust, kind reader, you will have no hesitation in echoing.

The wish of Ellen, which she gave expression to, as she narrated her
visit, unlike most earthly wishes, was, in the space of a year or two,
abundantly realized.

Through the instrumentality of Agnes and her devoted husband, a neat
little church was erected; a school-house quickly followed; a minister
and teacher were obtained; the people, stimulated by their example,
rebuilt and improved their dwellings; began to cultivate their land, and
that with such success, that fruit and flowers, and shady trees, and
fields of waving grain, were, in a comparatively short time, to be seen
in every direction, so that with regard to those changes, and the
instrumentality through which they had been effected, it is little
wonder that Mrs. Williamson, as she pointed them out to her family,
would now and then exclaim,--

"The wilderness and the solitary place were made glad by her, and the
desert rejoices and blossoms as the rose."

Verily Agnes Bernard has her reward now, in the enjoyments which cluster
so thickly around her; in the happiness of which she is at once the
dispenser and partaker; but how greatly shall it be increased, when,
from a Saviour's lips, shall be heard the welcome plaudit:--

"Inasmuch as ye did it unto the least of these, ye did it unto me."





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