페이지 이미지


tale of The Pedigree!' 'Tis quite inconceivable how I could have forgotten it as you went on; but I have gained some valuable hints! I shall now get on with it rapidly, and have it at press as soon as possible. I hope it will be thought worthy by the world of the compliments you took occasion to pay me so delicately yesterday!"

I took my leave of him, in despair.

On reaching Hall, in the evening, I found that the news, with the delivery of which I fancied my self specially and exclusively char. ged, had by some means or other found its way to her ladyship at an early hour in the afternoon of the preceding day. She had been but slightly agitated on hearing it; and the first words she murmured, were a prayer that the Almighty would make the intelligence the means of her husband's restoration to reason; but for herself, she expressed perfect resignation to the Divine will, and a hope that the consolations of religion might not be withdrawn from her during the little interval that lay between her and hereafter. Surely that pure prayer, proceeding from the depths of a broken heart, through guileless lips, found favour with her merciful Maker. Surely it was his influence that diffused thenceforth serenity and peace through the chamber of the dying sufferer; that extracted the keen thorn of mental agony; that healed the broken spirit, while it gently dissolved the elements of life-kindling, amid the decaying fabric of an earthly tabernacle, that light of faith and hope which shines

"Most vigorous, when the body dies !” *

Come hither a moment, ye that doubt, or deny the existence of such an influence; approach with awful steps this deathbed chamber of youth, beauty, rank-of all loveliness in womanhood, and dignity in station-bither! and say, do you call THIS "the deathbed of hope-the young spirit's grave?" Who is it that hath rolled back from this sacred chamber door the boisterous surges

of this world's disquietude, and "bidden them that they come not near?"

It was true that Lady Anne was dying, and dying under bitter circumstances, as far as mere earthly considerations were concerned; but was it hard to die surrounded by such an atmosphere of "peace that passeth understanding ?"

I found my sweet patient surrounded by her sisters, and one or two other ladies, propped up with pillows in a sort of couch, drawn before the fire, whose strong light fell full upon her face, and shewed me what havoc grief had made of her once beautiful features. She was then scarcely eight-and-twenty; and yet you might have guessed her nearly forty! The light with which her full eyes once sparkled had passed away, and left them sunk deep in their sockets, laden with the gloom of death. Her cheeks were hollow, and the deep bordering of her cap added to their wasted and shrunken appearance. One of her sisters-a very lovely womanwas sitting close beside her, and had always been considered her image; alas, what a woful disparity was now visible!

Lady Sarah, my patient's youngest sister, was stooping down upon the floor, when I entered, in search of her sister's wedding-ring, which had fallen from a finger no longer capable of filling it. "You had better wind a little silk about it," whispered Lady Anne, as her sister was replacing it on the attenuated, alabaster-hued finger from which it had dropped. "I do not wish it ever to be removed again. Do it, love!" Her sister, in tears, nodded acquiescence, and left the room with the ring, while I seated myself in the chair she had quitted by her sister's side. I had time to ask only a few of the ordinary questions, when Lady Sarah reappeared at the door, very pale, and beckoned out one of her sisters to communicate the melancholy intelligence, that moment received, that their father, the old Earl, who had travelled up from Ireland, though in an infirm state of health, to see his dying daughter, at her

• Wesley,


earnest request,-had expired upon the road! In a few minutes, all present had, one by one, left the room, in obedience to similar signals at the door, and I was left alone with Lady Anne. "Doctor," said she, calmly, Imly, "I am afraid something alarming has happened. See how they have hurried from the room! I observed Sarah, through that glass," said she, pointing me to a dressing-glass that stood so as to reflect whatever took place at the door. Are you aware of any thing that has happened?" I solemnly assured her to the contrary. She sighed-but évinced not the slightest agitation.


"I hope they will tell me all; whatever it is, I thank God I believe I can bear it! But, Doctor," she pursued in the same calm tone, Cr what ever that may be, let me take this opportunity of asking you a question or two about-Sir Henry, When did you see him?" I told hering ed

"Have you much hope of his case?"-I hesitated.dsw odw Vi "Pray, Doctor, be frank with a dying woman !" said she, with solemnity. Heaven will vouchsafe me strength to bear whatever you may have to tell me!-How is it?"

“I—I—fear that at present at

least, he is p no worse, and certainly

far more tranquil than formerly."


Does he know of the event of Saturday? How did it affect him?" "But little, my lady. He did not seem quite to comprehend it." She shook her head slowly, and sighed,

"I hope your ladyship has received consolation from the intelligence?"

"Alas, what should it avail me! But there is my child. Thank God, he will not now be a beggar! Heaven watch over his orphan years!" I thought a tear trembled in her eye, but it soon disappeared. "Doctor," she added, in a fainter tone even than before, for she was evidently greatly exhausted," one word more! I am afraid my weakness has from time to time occasioned you much trouble-in the frequent attempts I have made to see my husband-my poor lost Henry!"-She paused for several seconds, "But the word is spoken from on high; I shall never see him again on this side the grave! I have written a letter to him,

which I wish to be delivered to him after I shall be no more, providedhe be capable-of-of"- again she paused. "It is lying in my port-feuille below, and is sealed with black. It contains a lock of my hair, and I have written a few lines-but nothing that can pain him. Will you take the charge of it?" I bowed in respectful acquiescence. She extended her wasted fingers towards me, in token of her satisfaction. I can give the reader, I feel, no adequate idea of the solemn, leisurely utterance with which all the above was spoken. In her manner there was the profound composure of consciously approaching dissolution. She seemed beyond the reach of her former agitation of feeling shielded, as it were, with a merciful apathy. I sat beside her, in silence, for about a quarter of an hour. Her eyes were closed, and I thought she was dozing. Presently one of her sisters, her eyes swollen with weeping, stepped softly into the room, and sat down beside her.

"Who is dead, enquired Lady Anne, without opening her eyes. Her sister made no reply, and there was a pause. "He would have been here before this, but for"-muttered Lady Anne, breaking off abruptly, Still her sister made no reply. Yes-I feel it; my father is dead!" exclaimed Lady Anne, adding, in a low tone, if I had but strength to tell you of my dream last night! Call them all in-call them all in; and I will try, while I have energy and distinctness than I had strength," she continued, with more heard during the evening. Her eye opened suddenly, and settled upon her sister.

hear my dream!" Her sister, with a "Do not delay-call them all in to surprised and alarmed air, hastened to do her bidding.

16W 9H

"They imagine I do not see my father!" exclaimed Lady Anne, her eye glancing at me with sudden brightness." There be is-he wishes to see his children around him, poor old man!" A faint and somewhat wild smile lit her pale features for a moment. "I hear them on the stairs

they must not find me thus. I am getting cold!" She suddenly rose from her chair, drew her dress about her, and walked to the bed. Her maid that moment entered, and as

sisted in drawing the clothes over her. I followed, and begged her to be calm. Her pulse fluttered fast under my finger.


"I should not have hastened so much," said she, feebly, "but he is beckoning to me!" At this moment her sisters entered the room.. "The lights are going out, and yet I see him!" she whispered, almost inarticulately. "Julia-Sarah-Elizabeth

-Elizabeth-Eliza-El"— she murmured; her cold hand suddenly closed upon my fingers, and I saw that the brief struggle was over!

Her poor sisters, thus in one day doubly bereaved, were heart-broken. What a house of mourning was

Hall! I felt that my presence was oppressive. What could I do to alleviate grief so profound-to stanch wounds so recent! I therefore took my leave shortly after the decease of Lady Anne. As I was walking down the grand staircase, I was overtaken by the nursery-maid, carrying down the little orphan son of her ladyship.

"Well, my poor little boy," said I, stopping her, and patting the child on the cheek, "what brings you


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"Has he asked after his mamma ?" "Yes, sir, often, poor dear thing! He wants to go to her; he says he will sleep with her to-night, or he won't go to bed at all," said the girl, sobbing; "and we daren't tell him that-that-he's no mamma to go to any more!".


the gloom within. The country all around was wrapped in a dreary winding-sheet of snow; the sleet came down without ceasing; and the wind moaned as it were a dirge for the dead. Alas for the dead! Alas for the early dead! The untimely dead!

Alas, alas, for the living!

I thought of the FATHER-then of the son-then of the precious link between them that lay severed and broken in the chamber above; and with moist eyes and a quivering lip, kissed the child and left the Hall. It was a wretched November night. The scene without harmonized with

Tuesday, Nov. 8th." On Sunday, the 6th November, at Hall, of rapid decline, Lady Anne, wife of Sir Henry Harleigh, Bart., and third daughter of the late Right Hon. the Earl of whom she survived only one day.”


about so late as this ?"

and so eager in k me how I 'Deed, sir,” replied the girl, sob- had hardly time till he had proved







bing, "I don't know what has come to Master Harry to-night!' He was well enough all day; but ever since seven o'clock, he's been so restless, that we didn't know what to do with him. He's now dozing, and then waking; and his little moans are very sad to hear. Hadn't he better have some quieting physic, sir ?"

by the winner, and great was his exultation. "I'll play you for a hundred pounds, Doctor said Sir Henry; to dozen!" and give you


"Have you nothing to say to your friend, Dr "replied Dr Y who knew that I had called for the purpose of attempting to make Sir Henry sensible of the death of Lady Anne.

The child looked, indeed, all she said. He turned from the light, and his little face was flushed and feverish.



[ocr errors]

Such was the record of my sweet patient's death that appeared in today's papers. Alas, of what a sum of woes are these brief entries the exponents! How little does the eye that hastily scans them see of the vast accumulations of suffering which are there represented!

This entry was full before my eyes when I called to-day upon Sir Henwho busily engaged at bilHards in the public room with Dr Y. He played admirably, but was closely matched by the Doctor, gane, that he

Oh, yes; I'll play with him; but before I lay odds, we must try our skill against one another. Come, Doctor," extending the cue; “you shall begin!"

Of course I excused myself, and succeeded in enticing him to his own apartment, by mentioning his tale of the "Pedigree."

"Ab, true," said he, briskly; "I'm glad you've thought of 1t! I wish to talk a little to you on the subject."

We were soon seated together before the fire, he with the manuscripts lying on his knee.

"And what have you done with the wife?" said I, pointedly.

"Oh, Lady Mary? Why-let me see. By the way—in your version of my story, the other day-how did you dispose of her?" he enquired curiously.

I heaved a deep sigh. "God Almighty has disposed of her since then," said I, looking him full in the face. "He has taken her gentle spirit to himself; she has left a dreary world, Sir Henry!" He looked at me with a puzzled air.

"I can't for the life of me make you out, Doctor! What do you mean? What are you talking of? Whom are you confounding with my heroine? Some patient you have just left? Your wits are wool-gathering!"

"To be serious, Sir Henry," said I, putting my handkerchief to my eyes, "I am thinking of one who has but within this day or two ceased to be my patient! Believe me-believe me, my dear Sir Henry, her case-very-closely-resembled the one you describe in your story! Oh, how sweet-how beautiful-how resigned!"


He made no reply, but seemed considering my words-as if with a reference to his own fiction.

"I can tell you, I think, something that will affect you, Sir Henry!" I continued.

"Aye! What is that? What is that ?"

"She once knew you!" "Knew me! What, intimately ?" "Very-VERY! She mentioned your name on her deathbed; she uttered a fervent prayer for you!"

"My God!" he exclaimed, removing his papers from his knee, and placing them on the table, that he might listen more attentively to me; "how astonishing! Who can it be?" he continued, putting his hand to his forehead-" Why, what was her name ?"

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]

ed, turning pale as ashes, and trembling violently, "What-wh-at do you mean? Are you talking about my wife ?"

"Yes-your wife, my dear bereaved Sir Henry! But your little boy still lives to be a comfort to you!"


"Oh, do! do!" he interrupted me eagerly," I know what you are afraid of; but-honour! Her name shall be safe with me! I cannot be base enough to talk of it!"


Lady Anne Harleigh!" I uttered, with a quivering lip. "Po-po-poh!" "he stammer

the boy!" said he, uttering, or rather gasping a violent imprecation, continuing, in a swelling voice, "You were talking about my wife!"

"For Heaven's sake, be calm-be calm-be calm," said I, rising.

"MY WIFE!" he continued exclaiming, not in the way of an enquiry, but simply shouting the words, while his face became transformed almost beyond recognition.

* **

I shall, however, spare the reader the scene which followed. He got calm and pacified by the time I took my leave, for I had pledged myself to come and play a game at billiards with him on the morrow. On quitting the chamber, I entered the private room of Dr Y--; and while he was putting some questions to me about Sir Henry, he suddenly became inaudible-invisible, for I was fainting with excitement and agitation, occasioned by the scene I have alluded to.

[ocr errors]

"Depend upon it, my dear Doctor, you are mistaken," said Dr Ypursuing the conversation, shortly after I had recovered, "Sir Henry's case is by no means hopeless-by no means!"

"I would I could think so! If his madness has stood two such tremendous assaults with impunity, rely upon it it is impregnable. It will not be accessible by any inferiornay, by any other means whatever."


Ah, quite otherwise-experto crede !" replied the quiet Doctor, helping himself to a glass of wine; "the shocks you have alluded to have really, though invisibly, shaken the fortress; and now we will try what sapping-undermining-will do -well followed out in figure, by the way, is it not? But I'll tell you a remarkable case of a former patient of mine, which is quite in point."

"Pray, forgive me, my dear Doctor, pray excuse me at present. I really have no heart to listen to it; I am, besides, all in arrear with my day's work, for which I am quite

unfit, and will call again in a day or


"N'importe-Be it so-'twill not lose by the keeping," replied the Doctor, good-humouredly; and shaking him by the hand, I hurried to my chariot, and drove off. Experience had certainly not sharpened the sensibilities of Dr Y--!

[Bear with me, kind reader! Suffer me to lay before you yet one or two brief concluding extracts from this mournful portion of my Diary. If your tears flow, if your feelings are touched, believe me, 'tis not with romance-it is with the sorrows of actual life. "It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting; for that is the end of all men-and the living will lay it to his heart."]

Wednesday, Nov. 16.-This was the day appointed for the funeral of Lady Anne, which I was invited to attend. I set apart, therefore, a day for that melancholy, that sacred purpose. I was satisfied that no heavier heart could follow her to the grave than mine.

It was a fine frosty day. The sky was brightly, deeply blue, and the glorious sun was there, dazzling, but apparently not warming, the chilly earth. As I drove slowly down to the Hall, about noon, with what aching eyes did I see here a scarlet jacketed-huntsman, there a farmer at his work whistling; while the cheery sparrows, fluttering about the bare twigs, and chirruping loudly, jarred upon my excited feelDrings, and brought tears into my eyes, as I recollected the words of the Scotch song,

Nov. 9th to 14th inclusive.-Between these periods I called several times at Somerfield House, but saw little alteration in Sir Henry's deportment or pursuits, except that he was at times, I heard, very thoughtful, and had entirely laid aside his tale,-taking, in its place, to chess. He grew very intimate with the crazy gentleman before mentioned, who was imagined, both by himself and Sir Henry, to be the king. More than once, the keeper warned Y to interfere for the purpose of separating them, for he feared lest they should be secretly concerting some dangerous scheme or other. Dr Y- watched them closely, but did not consider it necessary to interrupt their intercourse. I found Sir Henry, one evening, sitting with his friend the king, and their two keepers, very boisterous over their wine. Sir Henry staggered towards me, on my entry, singing snatches of a drinking-song, which were attempted to be echoed by his majesty, plainly far gone. I remonstrated with the keepers, full of indignation and alarm at their allowing two madmen the use of wine.

several decanters, complaining all the while of their being allowed nothing but sherry! I need hardly add, that they had, in a manner, talked, and laughed, and sung themselves tipsy! Sir Henry, with a hiccup-whether real or affected I know not-insisted on my joining them, and told his majesty of the hoax I had lately been playing upon him, by "getting up" his own "tale," and mystifying him with telling it of another. His majesty shouted with laughter.

"Lord, Doctor," said one of them, smiling, taking a decanter, and pouring out a glass of its contents, "taste it, and see how much it would take to intoxicate a man."

I did it was toast and water, of which the two lunatics had drunk

"Ye'll break my heart, ye merry birds!" In vain I strove to banish the hideous image of Sir Henry from my recollection - he seemed to stand gibbering over the corpse of his lady!

Hall was a spacious building, and a blank desolate structure it looked from amidst the leafless trees-all its windows closed-nothing stirring about it but the black hearse, mourning-coaches and carriages, with coachmen and servants in sable silk hat-bands. On descending, and entering the Hall, I hastened out of the gloomy bustle of the undertaker's arrangements below, to the darkened drawingroom, which was filled with the distinguished relatives and friends of the deceased —a silent, mournful throng! Well, it was not long before her remains, together with those of her father, the Earl of were deposited

« 이전계속 »