THE BLUSH

By Mrs. Elizabeth Smith

The soft warm air scarcely stirred the leaves of the vine, that clustered about the bower of Eve, as she lay with pale cheek and languid limbs, her first born daughter resting upon her breast. Adam had led his sons to the field, that their sports might not disturb the repose of our first mother, and the low murmur of the tiny cascade, the monotonous hum of insects, and happy twitter of unfledged birds, all wooed her to slumber; yet she slept not. She looked with a mother's deep unutterable love upon the face of her babe, yet tears were in her eye, and anxiety upon her brow. Herself the last, the perfection of the Creator's workmanship, she still marvelled at the surprising beauty of her daughter. She looked into its dark liquid eye, and drank deep from the fountain of maternal love. She pressed its small foot and hand to her lips, hugged it to her full heart, and felt again the bitterness of transgression. She thought of Paradise, whence she had expelled her children. She thought of generations to come, who might curse her for their misery. She thought of the sweet beauty of her child on whom she had entailed sorrow, suffering and temptation. She felt it murmuring at the fountain of life while it stretched its little hand to her lips. She turned aside the thick leaves of the grape vine, and looked out upon the still blue sky, over which, scarcely moved the white thin clouds. "My daughter," she faintly articulated, "thou knowest not the evil I have done thee. Let these bitter tears attest my penitence. Let me teach thee so to live, that thou mayst hereafter obtain in another world the Paradise thou hast lost in this—lost by thy mother's guilt. O, my daughter, would that I alone might suffer, that the whole wrath of my offended Creator might fall on my head and thou, and such as thou, might escape." The tears, the penitence of Eve prevailed; a Heavenly messenger was despatched to console her, to lift her thoughts to better hopes and less gloomy anticipations.—Since the sin of our first parents, and their banishment from Paradise, these angel visits had been "few and far between," and our first mother hailed his approach with awe and pleasure. "Eve," kindly spake the divine visitant, "thy sorrow and thy penitence are all known to thy Creator, and though thy fault was great, he yet careth for thee. I am sent to comfort thee. As thou didst disobey the commands of God, death has been brought, indeed, upon thy posterity, but thy children may not curse thee. Thy daughters shall imitate thy penitence, and so secure the favor of Heaven. To each one shall be given a spirit, capable of resisting temptation, and assimilating to that holiness from which thou hast departed. Though sin and death have entered the world by thy means, thy children will still have only their own sins to answer for, and may not justly reproach thee for their errors." "True, Lord," responded Eve, "but the altered sky, the hard earth that scarcely yields its treasures to the labor of Adam, and the changed natures of the animals that once meekly and kindly sported together, all tell of my disobedience, and my daughter will turn her eyes upon me when suffering and trial come, and that look will reproach me as the cause. I am told that our children shall equal in number the leaves of the green wood, and the earth shall hereafter be peopled with beings like ourselves. I shrink to think on the mass of sorrow I have brought upon my daughters."

She looked fondly on her babe, and timidly raised it towards the beneficent being who paused at her bower. "When men shall become numerous, and there shall be many beings like these, fair and frail, may not their beauty—" She paused and looked anxiously up. "Speak, Eve," said the messenger, "thy request shall be granted. I am sent to bestow upon thee whatever thou shalt ask, for this thy first born daughter." "I scarcely know," resumed Eve, thus encouraged, "but I would ask for this first daughter of an erring mother, something, to warn her of even the approach of sin, something, that will whisper caution, and speak of innocence and purity. Something, Lord, that will remind us of Paradise." "Hast thou not all that, Eve, in the voice within, the voice of conscience?" Eve dropped her head upon her bosom. "But that monitor may be disregarded, my daughters may, like their unhappy parent, stifle its voice and heedlessly neglect its warnings. I would have something, that when flattery would mislead, beauty bewilder, or passion lead astray, would outwardly as it were bid them take heed, warn them to shrink from the very trail of the serpent whose insidious poison may corrupt and destroy. Hast thou nothing that will be to the innocent, the virtuous, like a second conscience, to cause them to shrink even from the appearance of evil?" The angel smiled, and answered our mother with kindness, and a look of heavenly satisfaction. "Most wisely hast thou petitioned, O Eve. Thou hast asked blessings for thy posterity, not for thyself. Thy daughters shall bless thee for the gift thy prayer has obtained." The spirit departed. The gift he bestowed may be seen on the face of the maiden when she shrinks from the too admiring gaze, when her ear is listening to the tale of love, or flattery, when in the solitude of her own thoughts she starts at her own imaginings, when she shrinks even from her own reflected loveliness in the secrecy of home; or abroad, trembles at the intrusive touch, or familiar language, of him who should be her guide, her protector from evil. That gift was the blush.