« PreviousContinue »
Surely such love as hers, felt in the country, is nearer akin to holy and pious feeling, than that of even pure and youthful hearts amidst the dusky buildings of cities.
The influences of sky and sunshine, of brilliant fluttering, sweet-voiced creatures, whose harmony “ Rory Oge compared to the talking together of angels, or the fine ould ancient airs of Ireland;" the flowers, and trees, and murmuring waters ; “the dawn-light and the star-light; and, oh, blessed moon! by thy light” (only seen between chimney-tops in cities)---surely such sights and sounds soften the heart, as surely as they should elevate the soul to prayer and praise. “() ye children of men, bless ye the Lord; praise him, and magnify him for ever !" This may be, or ought to be, our universal song But let the people of the country know and be thankful for their far happier lot. Let them say—“ Hallelujah! the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” everywhere, but most visibly here.
Shortly after their visit to Eass-na. cruib, Bell went to stay for a time with another friend, and James only spent a short time of each day at the cottage. Fishing or shooting excursions occupied his forenoons, and frequent engagements in the village left bim few even. ings at his disposal, or, ostensibly so. When Mary and he met, there was little to awaken her suspicion, but she grew daily paler, thinner, sadder – waning hope and trembling confidence, fainting under repeated disappointinents, yet still trusting in him-apologising for him—thinking of his excellencies, praying for his happiness.
There were some lines that, in one of her lonely, anxious days, she had written, expecting, God help her! a time of more confidential intercourse with the object of them, when she could show these thoughts. Though they seemed to her to be rea. son without rhyme, to others they may seem to have nor rhyme, nor reason:
“I love thee, dearest, fondly love thee!
Beyond this life that love shall last;
When this wild, weary world hath passed.
I love thee for thy manly pride-
With clear, strong reason, still its guide.
I might be near, and ever loved !
My mind and heart in ways approved.
Fairer, or more fortune-blessed!
In thee and heaven) I then should rest.
In disappointment's rankling smarts;
From tranquil and from trustful hearts.
Whom of mankind I think the best !"
These, her heart-thoughts, were depo.
some withered leaves-even a bunch
of rowan-berries-ominous gift !-bitter, sour, showy-why did she value these? What sad thoughts hover over the tokens of our loves and friendships !--too often the lapse of a few years brings little else than woe to the hoarder of keepsakes--the trustee to the pleasures of memory. 'Tis said there are such pleasures. But as
youth is to age-as Spring is to Au. ing they were alone in the glen. He tumn-so is hope when compared to talked, half-friendship, half-love, little memory, whose best pleasures must be differing from what he had latterly acmelancholy. I remember ! I remem. customed her to, yet not much under ber! is ever a sorrowful burden—it her hopes, till they sat down on a bank must have sad music! The falling ca. of moss, close by the stream. dence of the truth-telling voice sounds “ Mary,” he said, “ we have loved of sorrow. When we, who are travel. each other long. It was before I went ling westward, look back through the abroad I told you I loved you; and dim distance of our years, do we not here, Mary, with gentle firmness for see the pale phantoms of changed which I honour you, you refused any friends, with hearts grown cold or kind of bond between us, except that sordid, or, it may be, vicious, or feel which is alone worth having, the love our own chilled and saddened, think of the whole heart. I am, come, Mary, ing of those who now live only in our to humble myself in your eyes. I am hearts or glide through our dreams come to tell you that I love anotherwith the mournful wail, no more, oh, I cannot help it. You refused the pro. never more? It is wiser to look for- mise I offered you-you were right. ward to the light, though it may be I did not know myself then. I don't setting, where Hope, like the glory of deserve you, Mary.” the evening west, can gild even the Mary was already sobbing, and could portals of the tomb !
not speak. Astonishment, and a pasThe scenery of Glendun, where Ma. sion of tears, choked her. At last she ry's home was, is not so grand as that said of Glenariff. There are no great falls “I feared this, James; I almost in its river, and but one or two small knew it that day in Glenariff. But I ones from the hills. Its magnificence won't reproach you~I will pray to departed with its oaks, but its peaceful, God for strength. I thought I had pastoral beauty remains ; and time, loved you better than myself. I do not which impairs most things, makes that wish to forget entirely. I may try to more beautiful-every year adds shoots be glad if you should be happy-I may to the oak-sapling, and gives a new still love you as a sister or a friend." honeysuckle arch, or garland, to the “ Now, Mary, Mary, what am I to rocks, that rise so rugged from the do? I have asked Bell—she loves me. shamrock pasture.
I am ashamed of myself, but she has At the back of Mrs. Mac Alister's consented to marry me." cottage is a burn, or little river, which she dried her tears. Henceforth, tumbles over rocks from above, and for evermore, those hopes and fears, then hurries precipitously for a quar- those joys and sorrows, so dearly nursed ter of a mile through a wooded glen and loved so long, must be as nothing of hazel and rowan-tree. There na- to her-her world is emptyture has made many a sheltered seat,
" The heart is dead, surely. In her world plainly to tempt lovers to forget time, friends
All seemeth amiss. to forget reserve, and childhood to ga To thy heaven, Holy One ! call home thy little one, ther laps-full of wild flowers, and
She hath partaken of all earth's blibe
Living and loving." plumes of feathery fern. Here Mary and James had many a happy hour; A long paused ensued. At length, and here, but a few weeks since, he “Oh, Mary!” he cried, “how meanly had renewed his protestation of affec- you must think of me; but indeed it tion, and thought himself sincere. To has not been deliberate wrong to youthis seat he led her, not many days af. I grieve for the pain I have giventer their visit to Glenariff-he wished, but you have strength of mind, and yet feared to speak. There was a war you will yet meet some one far more within his heart. An easy, self-indul. deserving of your excellence.” gent life, a pretty wife, novelty, and “ There now, James, don't talkindependence-these were the idol. His don't make speeches now-we part first love's grace, goodness, gentleness, friends-- I'll try to believe the best of faith, and no common share of love. you—I'll be reconciled to my lot in liness-these were the offerings he was time; but there is one thing I fear, about to immolate on that idol's altar. I am sorry for my poor mother-how Oh, that mistaken self! On this even ill she will take what she must think a VOL. XXXII.NO. cxc.
slight upon me, and she has had so crushed back to its home, in her own much to bear, and is so full of hope sad heart. These arts did not entirefor me ; we must not let her know all ly avail to deceive even a blind mothe truth; she must be led to think ther's watchful ear. the fault mine, if fault there be-she “ Mary, machree! what ails you ?--can know this truth, that I would not you're not getting better, I think-your marry you now, knowing your altered hands are burning-your brows throbfeelings- I would not, for my own sake, bing-God be good to you, my child, yet 'tis to save her pride, not my own, is it fever you're taking ?-_or, dear, I beg this; let her not think that you has anything happened to vex you? let her think me capricious-anything Is it James that's fretting you ?". -but save her heart this blow, let us Mary did not answer. go now-I am not well-I am so sick “Something is wrong between you Oh, James, take me home.”
- there is something in the tones of The shock, and the effort to express your voices I never heard before ; and, her feelings, was too much, and she Mary, you speak proudly-I'm sure fainted. He carried her to the stream, he's as good-natured, and the fault sprinkled her face with the clear, cold is your own, Mary." water, and used every means to restore « It may be, mother, but I cannot her. The faint lasted long, and he, pretend one thing and think another dreading he had killed her, was in de. I never, never can be his wife-he will spair, and about to carry her home, be very happy without me-he can get a when she began to recover. He re- wife with money and beauty-he knows proached himself, and with tears in I don't love him as I did the change his eyes, said all he could to entreat just came by degrees, but that does forgiveness, and to assure her of his not make him so unhappy as you think unalterable friendship; and there was - I won't marry him!" the end of poor Mary's dream of hap- . “ Now, Mary, aroon, what makes piness. As soon as she was able to you speak that way?-_'tis not like walk, she rose, and leaning on his yourself_nobody shall urge you, my arm, reached home. A heart-ache child—may the saints and the Lord and a head-ache sent her to bed, Jesus guide you! Sure you know I'd there to come to peace as she might be content with what pleases you best. and James, half in shame, half in sor- I might have been glad, dear, to have row, went to spend the evening with left you with a husband like him, and Bell. There they talked over their your change will vex him. Sure he future prospects, and built their hopes loves you ten times better than when upon the quicksands of selfishness. you were children together - when, if
For several days Mary kept her I'd find a fault with you, or you would bed; not that she was so very sick, but cry, he'd be as bad as if 'twas himself that she might get leave to weep in was punished. Agh, it will be the peace, without letting any one see. sore heart to him, poor fellow, this James came often to ask for her, and turn in you, I'm thinking." the poor mother never doubted but "Well, mother, he will soon be gothat all was as usual. As soon as she ing out to Spain again, and if I loved sat up again, he would visit them him, I'd break my heart. He does not either morning or evening. Mary care so much as you think, and all is would gladly have left the parlour best as it is, except that I am not well. when he came, but could not, as her I feel as if what you said of fever may be mother sat there to spin or knit; so, true_ there is a heavy illness upon me." without exciting suspicion of careless The fever set in rapidly, and for ness, or puzzling questions, she seldom some weeks her recovery was doubtful. could do that ; when obliged to stay, Her ravings were too wild to be made she talked upon indifferent subjects, or anything of; yet general suspicion sometimes read aloud, as a resource rested on the minds of her friends that from the awkwardness of her situation. the fault had not been hers, though the
She contrived, however, to keep up a suffering was. The priest, the kind show of cheerfulness, far, far from her old man, felt for her like a father ; heart; the double-sobbing sigh, broken reasoned with James, comforted the between her words, sometimes forced its mother, who was gradually reconciled, way, sometimes mixed with the hum- as day by day Mary gave signs of reming of an old tune, but was oftener covery,
Had she died, James would have glorious as those in which he had suffered, no doubt. The lingering already distinguished himself; not to remains of affection was not altogether lose one day, but return, as he vaextinguished, selfish as he was, and lued all a soldier should prize. Here wavering ; yet he was often deeply was matter for his thoughts ; his state pained, though not sufficiently so to see of mind could scarcely be guessed. his conduct in the light that his good His soldierly fame jeopardised! Isafriend the priest would willingly have bella refused to him ! yet neither were made him view it; and no one rejoiced absolutely lost. If she loved him, more sincerely in Mary's recovery than she would marry him, even without he did ; that heavy pressure, at least, her uncle's consent; then he would was removed from his conscience. join his regiment, and retrieve his He was unremitting and brotherly in lost ground. his kindness: and she was able to move “Oh," said he, “ let me but be sure about once more unrepining and al. of Bell_let her be my wife, and they most cheerful, anxious to perform an shall see I can be treble-sinewed, other painful task, even yet a formi. hearted, breathed, and fight malidable one to her feelings; but she felt ciously.'' that, if his letters and presents were with these thoughts and hopes he returned, she would be better satisfied went to Isabella ; she read her uncle's with herself. Some she packed up letter composedly, and, with a languid and sent to him; the others she heap- voice and soft sigh, handed it back to ed upon the fire, with tears in her eyes, James. and sorrow in her heart, over the " What do you say, Isabella ?". ashes of her hopes.
« Oh, that must decide the affair. I " Well," she said, drying her eyes, cannot displease my uncle! You " he shall see I am neither foolish nor know by my father's will I'd lose onemean I can be a sister and a friend, half my fortune, if I marry without at all events.”
his approbation.” In the meantime, James wrote to - Is it possible, Isabella! Can you Isabella's uncle and guardian, to ask be serious ? Why should even the his consent to his marriage with Bell. the fear of that, the loss of money, or Two or three weeks passed without the prejudices of a doting fanatic any reply to his letter, and he might make us give up our mutual happi. te daily seen waiting the arrival of the ness? I cannot offer your wealth post, and inquiring, with feverish anx- I cannot say I have a home to take iety, for his letters, and then turning you to ; but I do not care for money : away, with slow step and thoughtful I have my sword and my commission. eye. At length an answer came. We will have means enough in the Mr. M
h ad been from home, meantime-one-half of the money is had only arrived the day before, but yours, at all hazards : marry me withhastened to acknowledge the receipt out his consent. I shall then have of his letter, and the honour of his confidence in the future-I must join proposal. However, an insurmount my regiment for a time, to save my able obstacle existed in the difference honour, and do credit to you, my of their faith-James being a Roman pearl of the golden hair ! but God will Catholic. It was impossible, with the protect me for your sweet sake ; then principles be had so deeply implanted when I shall have got a company, or, in Isabella's heart, that they could hope it may be, a step further, I'll come for happiness, &c., &c.; and ended in home, love, and take you to some the most decisive manner, by a direct sweet spot in this delightful land, and refusal of his consent.
live in love and peace. Say yes, Bell." Another letter, nearly as important “I am very sorry, James, we ever ly painful, drove him almost distracted thought of each other. I cannot
a letter from a brother-officer. His marry you—my uncle's will shall alleave was on the point of espiring; ways rule me. I am quite determined ; an engagement had taken place; whis. So you should join your regiment as pers and insinuations, injurious to his soon as possible ; you need not say character as a soldier, were prevailing, another word to me on the subject." to his ruin. Late as it was, however, No arguments he could use-Do these envious cavillers might be si. pleading could change her decision, he lenced; opportunities awaited him, as rushed from the house like a madman.
To any one who had met him, as he crossed the hill--his swift, firm step, steady, but glaring eye, compressed lips, and pale face, would have told, that he was a man bent upon some wild, hopeless, daring deed. Mary was in the hall, as he came to the door : she said, “ Oh, James what is the matter?-are you unwell ?"
“Oh, only a little uncomfortable ; I'll be better presently-are you going out?"
“ Yes ; I was just going down to the bay. Will you come? You will be better out in the air. I'll wait, if you are not disposed to come immediately."
“ Thank you, Mary! I'll just go up for my gun."
- Oh, then, James, I must make a bargain with you. If you come with me, you must not fire very near me; I am weak even yet, and might appear ri. diculously nervous ; you, strong people, can't understand what some goodnatured people call fine-lady airs; but come, make haste now, and I'll talk away our sad, or sick, or sorry fancies, for I feel well to-day."
He stopped half-way up the ball, came back-put his arm round her waist-kissed her passionately, and said, “ Mary, my own kind, gentle love! my first love, good and trueGod bless you!"
Mary released herself, blushing, half-crying, and almost angry.
" James, this is unjust, unkind, foolish!—I don't understand you : remember we are friends. Now, I trust to be always that to you, so don't vex me again."
He turned away with a look-such a look of sorrowland she walked out to wait his coming, or almost inclined to go alone : but she relented, and turned back, for she wondered at his
his unusual manner, and saw that something had distressed him. Just as she entered the hall again, she heard a gun fired; the report startled her so, she nearly screamed, and thought for an instant, he must have intended it to try her; then she was sure he could not be so illnatured, and thought it must have been to clear or re-charge it. She waited awhile, then called two or three times, and becoming impatient, went to the stairs, but there was no an. swer ; all was silence; then the awful thought struck her heart like an arrow-she ran up stairs, and there was blood coming out under the doorway:
the lobby was swimming, and the slow, smoking steam was trickling down the staircase ! She called, she screamed—and, sick as death, she fainted, just as the other persons of the house came, terrified by her cries.
They forced the door, and there the body of poor James was found; his feet towards the door-his gun beside him_his face disfigured-his skull shattered—and his spirit fled! From the position of the body, there was a hope that his death might have been accidental—but God alone knew ! and the wild lament of the mourners was blended with the petition, for intercession and pardon for his madness.
Bell Maclelland's feelings, never hitherto very acute or lasting, were painfully so on this occasion. For a year she mourned
" She mourned, but smiled,
At length, yet smiling mourned." She married happily, and lived three years a wife and mother, blessed with all that wealth and love could give, to lighten the gloom of the shadow of death, that too often hovers for years over the path of the consumptive,
“And makes a twilight of a sunny place." She died young, and beautiful, and be. loved her short trials had improved her character, and rendered her fitter for a happier world.
Dark as Mary's future prospects ap. peared, time, the sorrow-kilier, brought her contentment. She found calmer pleasure in the fulfilment of her constant duties. In our disappointments and sorrows here, when misfortunes, like dark clouds, hang heaviest-we should remember, that the sunbeams are bright, behind those clouds, and will, in God's good time, break through, and clear the gloom
* For though sunbeams now are tarrying
Away beyond the shadow,
Each greenwood here and meadow, And round our hills and valleys is
A prison, chill and black ;
Of gold upon its back,
Out of the drifted rack."
Mary lived unmarried, though be. loved by all who knew her. She dwells among her own people, and might never have been heard of out of her own mountain glen, but for the melancholy fate, and mad romance, of her soldier-lover.