« ElőzőTovább »
of exquisite verdure were spread around, while herds of cattle fed on the banks of the river. But a glance at the inhabitants concentrated the thoughts of the Missionaries, and fixed them on the worth of human souls. They were willing, in the devotion of their feelings, to enter one of these hovels, and begin the work of salvation. But new objects arrested their attention, as they journeyed to the seat of the mission. A bridegroom, about ten years of age, was carried in a palankeen crowned with flowers, followed by a procession with musical instruments. Tears started to Isabel's eyes as they followed this idle pageant, at the thought of the rational and simple rites of her own betrothal.
The next object that called prayer deep from the souls of the strangers, was the worship of Juggernaut, the miserably painted wooden idol, before which immense multitudes assembled with overwhelming shouts. Henry and Isabel cast down their eyes at the sacrilege, and remembered the simple church at home, where spiritual prayers were the choicest gift to heaven.
Their curiosity was attracted by a rude kind of basket, suspended from a tree. On looking within they discovered the partially devoured remains of a little child. Isabel shuddered, and thought of the happy home of her childhood, and Rosalie pillowed on her mother's bosom.
But the most horrible scene to Isabel in this memorable journey, and one which Henry would willingly have spared her, was the sacrifice of a woman to the manes of her husband. In vain the missionaries tried to move away from this harrowing scene; there was a spell—a fascination even in its terrors, that chained them to the spot, and Isabel, sick at heart, with starting eyes and panting chest, looked on. A grave was dug near the river, large and deep, and after a few initiatory rites, as unintelligible as they were fantastical, the widow took a formal leave of her friends and descended into the chamber of death. It may be that she was stupified with opium, for there was a mechanical insensibilityabout her that seemed scarcely human. As soon as she reached the bottom of the pit, to which she descended by a rude ladder, she was left alode with the body of her husband, in a revolting state of decay, which she embraced and clasped to her bosom, and then gave the signal for the last act of this shocking scene to commence. The earth was deliberately thrown upon her, while two persons descended into the grave and tramped it tightly round the self-devoted sacrificant. During this tardv and terrible process, the doomed woman sat an unconcerned spectator, occasionally caressing the corpse, and looked with an expression of almost divine triumph
as the earth embraced her body. The hands of her own children aided in this terrible rite, heaping around her the cold dust to which she was so soon to bo resolved. At length all but her head was covered, when the pit was hurriedly covered in, and her nearest relatives danced over the inhuman body with frantic gestures, either of ecstacy or madness.
Before the termination of this scene, Isabel, who had lingered with infatuated interest, fainted. On recovering, she said to Henry, " Assist me, my husband, to hate this act more than I do. Aga in and again I thought, I could bear to die thus with you, rather than live without you. Will God forgive my idolatry V
At length the young Missionaries reached their home. Home? And was this the abode of the delicate Isabel? The late inmates had died of the fever of the climate, and no kind hand had arranged the few relics that remained. The dwelling consisted of two rooms, made of bamboo and thatch, with doors opposite each other; and an air of desolation prevailed every where around. Day after day, Isabel labored with those fair hands so unused to toil, until an air of comfort wrought its charms around her; then her love of the beautiful broke forth; she trained the native shrubbery around the dwelling, and planted a spot on which her husband's eye might gratefully repose as he sat at his daily studies; but alas! hunger, and heat, and debility, often took from her the power of more than necessary effort. Nothing is more wearying to an ardent missionary, who has sacrificed every thing for spiritual good, than to find himself trammelled down to the physical wants of life. Isabel felt this pressure of trial almost more than she could bear, and it was a day of prayerful thanksgiving to her, when she was permitted, by the employment of other hands in menial occupation, to aid her husband in teaching. His labors were lightened by her active spirit, and it was a blessing to her soul to toil with him, to listen to his earnest voice as he preached of salvation. And oh, how beautiful he was to her, as he stood with earnest eyes and gestures, breaking the bread of life to the benighted souls around him; and then, when evening came, they could sit by their open door, and inhale the perfume of their garden, and talk of distant America. Were they happy? Troubled thoughts and forebodings sometimes shot through their minds like an ice bolt, for death might come and sunder them; conversions were slow; brntish ignorance or ingenious skepticism baffled their dearest hopes; the seed which they planted seemed thrown on stony hearts, but still their faith was firm; strong prayer went up daily— hourly—from the temple of their hearts, though all others were closed against them; faith looked with her bright, keen glance beyond the present hour, and showed them precious souls redeemed by their toils.
In the midst of these emotions, Henry was seized with the fever of the climate. Poor Isabel left all for him. Night and day she bent over his pillow, and forgot that it was wrong to idolize an earthly form; all memory, all hope was lost in the present thought of his possible death. He recovered. How sweet it was to present him the first fruits from their little garden, to bring him one by one his manuscripts and books, to see the faint glow of health kindle on his cheek, to aid his faltering steps, to leel the cooled hand which so lately burned and throbbed beneath her touch; Isabel sat at his feet, and looked and looked, until tears started to her eyes for love and joy.
One evening Henry was summoned to his wife's apartment. She had given birth to a boy. The little one lived but to receive a father's first and last blessing, before his perfect features settled to repose. And Isabel was departing too;—the loving eye grew dim, the sweet voice low. The boy was brought to her, his young eyes closed, the discolored lips, whore the dark touch of death first appeared, bound up, and his little hands, the exact pattern of his mother's, crossed on his cold breast. She pressed him feebly in her dying arms, raised one meek glance to heaven, then fixed it on Henry, who stood statue-like before her. That look recalled his flitting senses, and kneeling by the bedside he threw his arms around her, and bent his face to hers.
"God calls your Isabel," she whispered. "What he wills is right; but be not alone. Send for Ellen, marry her." A slight convulsion passed over her face, and the lovely spirit was gone.
Henry wept not, his soul seemed hardened to stone; he placed the babe in his mother's arms, and it was a strange pleasure to lay that little head on her bosom, and twine their cold hands together. Night came, his attendants left him alone. The breeze that swept through the open door waved the white garments of the dead. Henry started; a burst of woe, a loneliness most drear and dreadful came over him;—he wrung his hands—he traversed the floor withgroansof unutterable despair—he bent over those pale forms with clenched hands. What was life—what was duty to himl Ho must tread the world alone; the silence was insupportable. He shouted aloud—
"Isabel!—Isabel, speak. Speak—my boy!
—utter a sound—one human cry. Oh, death !—death!" The wretched man threw himself on the floor, and wept aloud. From tears followed prayer. The spirit of God descended, and wrapt him in its folding wings, and he grew calm.
Morning came, and ho was tranquil. He laid his beloved at the foot of the garden beneath a tree she loved, the blessed babe in her arms, and left her there; but when evening drew nigh, and the night odors breathed abroad, he sought the spot. It was a terrible joy to be there; he laid his face to the sod and listened, as if her voice might answer, and the breathings of her heart respond to his own. He struggled for prayer, but his lips were parched, and the words died away. He felt as if an awful temptation were on him, as if God had forsaken him; he lay gasping for breath; dim and dreary shadows' flitted before him, wailings as of new-born infants passed through the air, mingled with gurgling death-moans; he touched cold forms, and they clasped him with chill chatterings. He was found in the morning in high delirium.
Henry recovered, and returned to his duties, but a deep cloud of sadness invested his soul; loneliness as of a desert was around him; there was light, but no warmth in his existence. As he sat one evening in his desolate abode, a keen rush of memory like sudden winds came by him, and he fancied he heard a voice saying, "Be not alone, send for Ellen, marry her." He started ; he drove the thought away like a guilty thing. It came again and again; it clung to him in the midst of duty, in silence, in prayer; thewinda whispered it; it rase in dreams. He ceased to visit the grave of Isabel; young flowers were springing there, and he knew it not. Impulse ripened to resolution. He wrote to Ellen, he told her of her friend's dying request; he made bare the sorrows and wants of his bereaved heart, and he asked if she would be the ministering angel to heal its wounds. He promised to cherish and love her, and though a cloud would shadow their memories, it would be tinged by the hope of aiding each other in the great cause of rescuing souls from death.
Henry's frame of mind, for some time after sending this letter, was calm. If his proposal was accepted the answer would be in person, as an immediate opportunity offered for Ellen's departure. But, as the time drew near for her arrival he became nervous and depressed; he re-arranged and improved his residence, and removed every object that directly reminded him of Isabel. He never glanced at her grave, the shrubs grew wildly on its rank soil, and the turf was green. Time flew so rapidly, that Henry sometimes caught his breath at the nearness of his fate. He labored in every possible shape; there was a rapidity in his step and eye, that showed a hurried mind; he slept little, and the meanest companion was more welcome than solitude. Did he wish Ellen to corne?
She arrived-;—the conflict between varying feelings and motives had almost rent her frame, but she came, shrinking, sensitive, but loving. Trembling to her heart's very core, she extended her hand to Henry; he shrank as from a basilisk, and uttering a loud, deep cry of horror and disgust, sank on a chair and wept. Ellen, deeply affected herself, scarcely comprehended the nature of his feelings; she was too willing to weep for the lost and gentle Isabel. Henry roused himself, but there was a strange and hurrying tone and manner that agitated the embarrassed girl. He urged their immediate marriage, as his house was their only residence, and that evening she became his bride.
A year, just a year that night, Isabel had died. What image haunted the new bridegroom? Not that of the adventurous girl, who had braved every thing, even reputation, for him; no! the cold pale form of Isabel was before him, and as he glanced at the apartment where the evening breeze had stirred her shroud, he shrank from entering, and instead of the bridal chamber he sought her grave. Hour after hour passed away; a new alarm filled the breast of poor Ellen, a stranger and alone. She drew back the curtain of her window, the air was sultry, and bore heavily the odor of night blo.-isoms on its wing. She leaned from the casement, the blossoms looked silvery soft in the moon"s rays. Her tears gushed forth, for she felt forsaken, and she knew that the world would point to her in derision. She heard a moan, deep, wild and piteous, like that with which Henry had greeted her, when she had sought him with love's true confidence. Oh, heaven! was this the meeting on which her thoughts had dwelt with such dreams of hope and tenderness? Why had she fancied that his arms could have enfolded and supported her? Her brain grew dizzy, and she leaned once more from the window. Again that groaning shriek met her ear, more wild and fearful than before, and straining her sight to the remotest part of the garden she saw Henry, with frantic gesticulations, embracing a grassy mound. The truth flashed upon her— he had sought the grave of Isabel rather than her arms. Desolate and broken-hearted, she swooned away.
The morning amused her to misery. Henry was raving in the delirium of a fever, now calling on Isabel and his boy, and now shrink-'
ing as from some demoniac vision he dared not name. A few days passed away, and gradually and humbly poor Ellen introduced herself into his apartment, her eyes downcast, her voice in whispers, and performed the gentle offices of woman's love. By and by the sufferer began to call her Isabel, and stroke her hand fondly as it lay by his side, while with the other she smoothed the entangled hair on his burning forehead. He listened as Ellen talked of Isabel, and showed him her picture, the gift of early friendship; he took the gathered flowers when she told him they were fresh from Isabel's grave; she sang him the hymns they had once sung together, in soft rich tones like Isabel's, and kneeling by the bedside, prayed that her pure spirit might look down and bless them.
The struggle of reason was awful and mysterious, and sometimes Ellen's heart failed within her, and a sickness like death came over her soul; then would she go to Isabel's grave, and pray. The soft breeze revived her, and as it played amid her curls, she looked like the spirit of hope and tenderness, and trod back with a lighter step to that scene of darkness and care.
One day while she read, and thought Henry slept, he was gazing upon her, and presently he spoke her name. Was it a dream? Ellen clasped her hands in eager hope.
"Ellen," he said, softly and tenderly. "Ellen, my wife!"
The outcast bride threw herself in intense and trembling joy beside him.
"I have had strange dreams, my love," he said, drawing her gently down toward him, "I am glad you are with me, my sweet nurse."
Ellen could not speak; she laid her head on his bosom sobbing in excess of happiness, and Henry wiped away her tears.—Southern Rose! C. G.
A DOMESTIC PICTURE.
BY JAMES ALDR1CH.
A mother by the fire I see,
Oh, long may I these joys retain!
Written for the Ladies' Garland.
OR, THE TEST OF SELF-DEPENDENCE. A T A L E
Consequent on that of the " Two Sisters"*
BY PROFESSOR J. H. INGRAHAM.
It may be thought by many of those readers who have followed, in the preceding tale, the course of argument pursued by Mr. Marshall, that the plan he contemplated of putting his daughters' qual ifications to the tria I, a proceeding both cruel and unnecessary. Inasmuch as if they failed, there was now no longer a remedy, and if they were successful, their talents were unlikely ever to be called into exercise. Mr. Marshall, however, thought and felt like a sensible and benevolent man. His experience in life, showed him the value of self-dependence; and that no being is so pitiable, as one of either sex, who, educated only to shine in and adorn society, has by reverse of fortune became dependent upon others, helpless and impotent, from ignorance of every thing useful. He had seen numerous instances of such misfortune among mankind, and he resolved, that, if his parental care and foresight could save his own children from such a possible condition, he would do all in his power to provide and prepare them for such a contingency. If he had more imitators among parents, there would be less vice in our cities, and less misery among the masses thaf compose society.
The young ladies in whom he felt such a deep paternal interest, were now in thejr seventeenth and nineteenth years. Both were lovely, and obedient, and-affectionate in their dispositions. Ann, the eldest, was of a quiet, grave turn of mind ; yet with a cheerful temper, and as happy-hearted as a child. Naturally, she was possessed of good talents, and education had polished and refined her. She
had left Madame 's school with the
honorable testimony of that lady, of her proficiency in all the polite branches of a fashionable education, such as became one of her wealth and station. And, doubtless, for the eye of the world, which is pleased with glitter, she was sufficiently well educated. But what was more than all, her heart was good and pure; and the simplicity and generous tone of her native feelings were not injured by her elegant education. So she came from school to play her part in life, a sweet, lovely, and graceful girl, before whom all existence was happy, and joyous, and beautiful; but she viewed the future through the prism of hope, a false, though dazzling medium which inverts objects with its own bright hues, instead of their own brown and sober
* See last number of the Garland.
colors. Thus youth is ever deceived—ever destined to disappointment.
Caroline was in her seventeenth year, a joyous-hearted girl, whose smile was sunshine, and whose voice conveyed pleasure in its very sound. Though younger than her sister, they had always pursued the same studies, and so left school together. Though Caro's credit for .proficiency did not stand quite so high as Ann's, she nevertheless received a good diploma, (for ladies have diplomas now-a-days) and the praises of her teachers. Indeed, Madame had sel
dom graduated (we believe this is the term) two young ladies of better qualifications than the daughters of Mr. Marshall. Caroline had a generous heart, and was very high-spirited, and not a little proud of her wealth and station. This kind of pride, however, Ann knew nor felt nothing of. But Caroline was younger, and young people are not so wise as those older than themselves. You could see by Caroline's air in the street, at once, that she was a high-bred girl. Each was in expectancy of fifty thousand dollars when they should marry, and were now in the possession and enjoyment of every luxury wealth and taste could afford. Yet these were the young girls who were about to undergo the ordeal of trial whether they were able so to teach music or French, as to support themselves!
The ensuing morning after his conversation with Mrs. Marshall, and his subsequent determination, Mr. Marshall began to devise the best mode of convincing his wife that their children were not in the possession of any one qualification, by which they could, under vicissitudes, maintain themselves. He did not wish to convince himself; for his own anxious fears, and knowledge of the superficial mode of conducting the modern education of young ladies, rendered him sufficiently sure of the result. Mrs. Marshall, after he had fully assured her of his entire solvency, and that he did not foresee any reverse of fortune, entered with interest into his plan; for she wished to show him, that they were not so ignorant as he believed.
The breakfast hour that morning was much later than usual; for the fatigue and late hours of the preceding night, had detained the young ladies longer up stairs than usual. At length they made their appearance, bright with smiles ss the morning: and, after kissing their father affectionately, took their seats at the table.
"So, my dear," he said, addressing Ann, "you enjoyed yourself very much last night, at Col. Wharton's."
"At first the brilliancy, confusion, and novelty of the whole, surprised and pleased me, father—as it was my first party. But I soon tired, and wished myself at home with you and mother."
"How could you say so, Ann," cried Caroline, gaily. "I never enjoyed myself so much. I was perfectly wild with happiness. Such numbers of beautiful women—such magnificent dresses—such diamonds and jewelry—such—such —"
"Such beaux, I suppose you mean," said her father, laughing, as he met her down falling lid.
"Yes, father," answered Ann, "Caro made a hundred conquests last night, while poor me was left quite in the shade."
"Fie, sister," said Caroline, whose color had heightened a little, "you shall not do this injustice to yourself. She was not only the most beautiful woman there, but seemed the centre of all admiration—and yet she seemed not to be conscious of it. Besides, I saw several elegant men presented to her by Col. Wharton, whom they had solicited to get them the honor. fndeed, I forgot myself in witnessing her triumph."
"You are a good girl, Caro, and I am glad to find you are not envious," said Mr. Marshall, his eye glowing at the praise of his daughter, and gazing upon the shrinking Ann with pride and fondness. "Did you have no 'elegant men' presented to you by Col. Wharton at their express solicitations?"
Caroline blushed, then laughed, and said with confusion, " I can scarcely recollect any thing particular. I believe I danced with somebody."
"With somebody!" repeated Ann. "She danced the whole evening with more than half a dozen different partners."
"Perhaps by somebody, she means some one in particular, who has driven the others out of her little head," said Mr. Marshall, smiling. "But never mind, Caro, you need not sail your coffee, as the sugar is at your elbow—nor*put cream mto your egg—I hope somebody will one day make you happy. Shall you be at home this evening, hoth of you?"
"Yes, sir," replied Ann, after looking at her sister, who was too much annoyed by the discoveries of her absence of mind, to reply.
"I shall invite here Mr. Laveaux, the young French gentleman, of whom you have heard me speak, who came in charge of the barque consigned to me by his father in Marseilles. He speaks very little, or no English, and I hope, as you both speak French, you will make the evening pass pleasantly to him."
Ann started, at d appeared pained; and Caroline, after giving her sister a covert glance, replied demurely.
"Yes, sir." The two sisters both sudden
ly felt a sad want of confidence in their lingual acquisitions.
"Indeed, father, I fear for my poor French," at length said Ann. "Do not bring him, I entreat of you."
"Madame D says you are a proficient
in the language."
"It is Italian, I think she must mean, father," said Caro, wishing to relieve her sister, and shield Madame.
"Oh, that is just as well. He speaks Italian fluently, and if you can converse with him in that tongue, it will, I have no doubt, be equally agreeable to him. Besides, I may ask you to act as an interpreter, as I speak both the Italian and French with some difficulty."
Mr. Marshall's commercial relations being with France and the Mediterranean, having rendered necessary some knowledge of the languages, he had acquired them, and, in fact, spoke both French, Italian, and the Spanish with fluency. During this conversation, Mrs. Marshall sat trembling between hope and fear; and the embarrassment of the girls did not by any means serve to diminish the latter.
Mr. Marshall left the house for his counting-room, and the sisters interchanged glances of consternation.
. "What shall we do?" said Caroline, as soon as they were in their chamber alone. "I wish I had paid more attention to French."
"I am sure I can't tell. I do wish I could escape this ordeal. I read French well enough, but I can't speak it, I feel confident. Oh, dear, I shall make a fool of myself. My Italian I have only learned for its songs."
"We are in a dilemma. It will pain father, if we tell him frankly beforehand we can't talk the language—and it will mortify him, equally, to see us break down in the attempt. He certainly thinks six years French and Italian ought to perfect us."
"I think so too. But you know how it is taught at school. I am sure I never expected to be called upon to use it. Poor pa! he will think he has sadly dull daughters. What can we do?"
"Can father suspect us of our deficiences," archly asked Caroline.
"He cannot. It is not like him. He believes we know what we profess to know, and his pride would exhibit us to this foreign youth."
"I wonder if he is handsome, and generous, and could be trusted!" said Caroline, after a moment's reflection.
"And what then," eagerly demanded her sister.
"I would send him a note in French, (for I at least write it well enough to be in