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the carriage, but in all things else the day passed as a melancholy dream.
Almost the first words Arthur spoke were those I have mentioned. As he looked out upon the setting sun, he shuddered through his whole frame, and then became sick and pale. He thought he knew the hill near him; and, as they wound round it, some peculiar old trees appeared, and he was in a few minutes in the midst of the scenery near his home. The river before him, reflecting the rich evening sky, looked as if poured out from a molten mine. The birds, gathering in, were shooting across each other, bursting into short, gay notes, or singing their evening songs in the trees. It was a bitter thing to find all so bright and cheerful, and so near his own home, too. His horses' hoofs struck upon the old wooden bridge. The sound went to his heart. It was here his mother took her last leave of him, and blessed him.
As he passed through the village, there was a feeling of strangeness, that everything should be just as it was when he left it. There was an undefined thought floating in his mind, that his mother's state should produce a visible change in all that he had been familiar with. But the boys were at their noisy games in the street, the laborers returning, talking together, from their work, and the old men sitting quietly at their doors. He concealed himself as well as he could, and bade Thomas hasten on.
As they drew near the house, the night was shutting in about it, and there was a melancholy gusty sound in the trees Arthur felt as if approaching his mother's tomb. He entered the parlor. All was as gloomy and still as a deserted house. Presently he heard a slow, cautious step, over head. It was in his mother's chamber. His sister had seen him from the window. She hurried down, and threw her arms about her brother's neck, without uttering a word. As soon as he could
* Pron. băd.
speak, he asked, "Is she alive?"—he could not say, my mother. "She is sleeping," answered his sister, "and must not know to-night that you are here; she is too weak to bear it now.”—“I will go look at her, then, while she sleeps," said he, drawing his handkerchief from his face. His sister's sympathy had made him shed the first tears which had fallen from him that day, and he was more composed.
He entered the chamber with a deep and still awe upon him: and, as he drew near his mother's bed-side, and looked on her pale, plăcid and motionless face, he scarcely dared breathe, lest he should disturb the secret communion that the soul was holding with the world, into which it was about to enter. The loss, that he was about suffering, and his heavy grief, were all forgotten in the feeling of a holy inspiration. and he was, as it were, in the midst of invisible spirits, ascending and descending. His mother's lips moved slightly, as she uttered an indistinct sound. He drew back, and his sister went near to her, and she spoke. It was the same gentle voice which he had known and felt from his childhood. The exaltation of his soul left him -he sunk down - and his misery went over him like a flood.
The same, concluded.
THE next day, as soon as his mother became composed enough to see him, Arthur went into her chamber. She stretched out her feeble hand, and turned towards him, with a look that blessed him. It was the short struggle of a meek spirit She covered her eyes with her hand, and the tears trickled down between her pale, thin fingers. As soon as she became tranquil, she spoke of the gratitude she felt at being pared to see him before she died.
My dear mother," said Arthur- but he could not go on. His voice was choked, his eyes filled with tears, and the agony of his soul was visible in his face. "Do not be so afflicted, Arthur, at the loss of me. We are not to part forever. Remember, too, how comfortable and happy you have made my days. Heaven, I know, will bless so good a son as you have been to me. You will have that consolation, my son, which visits but a few you will be able to look back upon your past conduct to me, not without pain only, but with a holy joy. And think hereafter of the peace of mind you give me, now that I am about to die, in the thought that I am leaving your sister to your love and care. So long as you live, she will find you a father and brother to her." She paused for a moment. "I have always felt that I could meet death with composure; but I did not know," she said, with a tremulous voice, her lips quivering, "I did not know how hard a thing it would be to leave my children, till now that the hour has come."
After a little while, she spoke of his father, and said she had lived with the belief that he was mindful of her, and with the conviction, which grew stronger as death approached, that she should meet him in another world. She said but little more, as she grew weaker and weaker every hour. Arthur sat by in silence, holding her hand. He saw that she was sensible he was watching her countenance, for every now and then she opened her dull eye, and looked towards him and endeavored to smile.
The day wore slowly away. The sun went down, and the melancholy and still twilight came on. Nothing was heard but the ticking of the watch, telling him, with a resistless power, that the hour was drawing nigh. He gasped, as if under some invisible, gigantic grasp, which it was not for human strength to struggle against.
It was now quite dark, and by the pale light of the nightlamp in the chimney corner the furniture in the room threw
huge and uncouth figures over the walls. All was unsubstantial and visionary, and the shadowy ministers of death appeared gathering round, waiting the duty of the hour appointed them. Arthur shuddered for a moment with superstitious awe; but the solemn elevation, which a good man feels at the sight of the dying, took possession of him, and he became calm again.
The approach of death has so much, which is exalting, that our grief is, for the time, forgotten. And, could one, who had seen Arthur a few hours before, now have looked upon the grave and grand repose of his countenance, he would hardly have known him.
The livid hue of death was fast spreading over his mother's face. He stooped forward to catch the sound of her breathing. It grew quick and faint-"My mother." She opened her eyes, for the last time, him, upon a faint flush passed over her cheek, there was the serenity of an angel in her look, her hand just pressed his. It was all over.
His spirit had endured to its utmost. It sunk down from its unearthly height; and, with his face upon his mother's pillow, he wept like a child. He arose with a violent effort, and, stepping into the adjoining chamber, spoke to his aunt. "It is past," said he. "Is my sister asleep? Well, then, let her have rest; she needs it." He then went to his own chamber, and shut himself in.
It is a merciful thing that the intense suffering of sensitive minds makes to itself a relief. Violent grief brings on a torpor, and an indistinctness, and dimness, as from long watching. It is not till the violence of affliction has subsided, and gentle and soothing thoughts can find room to mix with car sorrow, and holy consolations can minister to us, that we are able to know fully our loss, and see clearly what has been torn away from our affections. It was so with Arthur. Unconnected and strange thoughts, with melancholy but halfformed images, were floating in his mind; and now and then a
gleam of light would pass through it, as if he had been in a troubled trance, and all was right again. His worn and tired feelings at last found rest in sleep.
It is an impression, which we cannot rid ourselves of, if we would, when sitting by the body of a friend, that he has still a consciousness of our presence, that, though the common concerns of the world have no more to do with him, he has still a love and care of us. The face, which we had so long been familiar with, when it was all life and motion, seems only in a state of rest. We know not how to make it real to ourselves, that the body before us is not a living thing.
Arthur was in such a state of mind, as he sat alone in the room by his mother, the day after her death. It was as if her soul had been in paradise, and was now holding communion with pure spirits there, though it still abode in the body that lay before him. He felt as if sanctified by the presence of one to whom the other world had been laid open, as if under the love and protection of one made holy. The religious reflections, that his mother had early taught him, gave him strength; a spiritual composure stole over him, and he found himself prepared to perform the last offices to the dead!
Is it not enough to see our friends die, and part with them for the remainder of our days; to reflect that we shall hear their voices no more, and that they will never look on us again to see that turning to corruption which was but just now alive, and eloquent, and beautiful with all the sensations of the soul? Are our sorrows so sacred and peculiar as to make the world as vanity to us, and the men of it as strangers, and shall we not be left to our afflictions for a few hours? Must we be brought out at such a time to the concerned or careless gaze of those we know not, or be made to bear the formal proffers of consolation from acquaintances who will go away and forget it all? Shall we not be suffered, a ittie