The Blind Girl's Story by Caroline Lee Hentz

All is still and solitary—the lamp burns on the table, with wasting splendour. The writing-desk is open before me, with the last letter unfolded—the letter I have cherished so fondly, though every word seems an arrow to my conscience. I cannot solace myself by the act, yet I must give utterance to the feelings with which my heart is bursting. On these unwritten sheets I will breathe my soul—I will trace its early history, and, perchance, his eye may see them when mine are veiled in a darkness deeper than that which once sealed them. Yet what shall I write? How shall I commence? What great events rise up in the records of memory, over which imagination may throw its rich empurpling dyes? Alas! mine is but a record of the heart—but of a blind girl's heart—and that Being who bound my eyes with a fillet of darkness, till the hand of science lifted the thick film, and flooded them with the glories of creation, alone knows the mysteries of the spirit he has made. His eye is upon me at this moment, and as this awful conviction comes over me, a kind of deathlike calmness settles on the restless sea of passion. Oh! when I was blind, what was my conception of the All-seeing eye! It seemed to me as if it filled the world with its effulgence. I felt as if I, in my blindness, were placed in the hollow of that rock where Moses hid, when the glory of the Lord passed by. Would that no daring hand had drawn me from that protecting shade! The beams that enlighten me have withered up the fountains of joy, and though surrounded by light, as with a garment, my soul is wrapped in the gloom of midnight. I was a blind child—blind from my birth—with one brother, older than myself, and a widowed father—for we were motherless—motherless, sisterless—yet blind. What a world of dependence is expressed in these few words! But, though  thus helpless and dependent, I was scarcely conscious of my peculiar claim to sympathy and care.

My father was wealthy, and my childhood was crowned with every indulgence that wealth could purchase, or parental tenderness devise. My brother was devotedly attached to me, giving up all his leisure to my amusement—for I was looked upon as hallowed by the misfortune which excluded me from communion with the visible world—and my wishes became laws, and my happiness the paramount object of the household. Heaven, perhaps, as a kind of indemnification for depriving me of one of the wonted blessings of life, moulded me in a form which pleased the fond eyes of my relatives, and, as it was my father's pride to array me in the most graceful and becoming attire, my sightless eyes being constantly covered by a silken screen, I was a happy child. If it had not been for the epithet, poor, so often attached to my name, I should never have dreamed that mine was a forlorn destiny. "My poor little blind girl," my father would exclaim, as he took me in his lap, after his return from his business abroad—"My poor little sister," was the constant appellation given me by my affectionate brother, yet I was happy. When he led me in the garden, through the odorous flowers, I felt a kind of aching rapture at the sweetness they exhaled—their soft, velvet texture, was ecstasy to the touch, and the wind-harps that played amid the branches of the trees were like the lyres of angels to my ears. Then the songs of birds, with what thrilling sensations would I listen to these harmonists of nature, these winged minstrels of God's own choir, as they lifted their strains of living harmony in the dim corridors of the woods! They painted to me the beauty of the world, and I believed them—but I could conceive of nothing so beautiful as sound. I associated the idea of everything that was lovely with music. It was my passion, and also my peculiar talent. Every facility which art has furnished to supply the deficiencies of nature was given me, and my progress was considered astonishing by those who are not aware of the power and acuteness of touch bestowed upon the sightless. I love to linger on the days of my childhood, when sunshine flowed in upon my heart in one unclouded stream. The serpent slumbered in the bottom of the fountain—had no one gone down into its depths, its venom might have slumbered yet.

My first cause of sorrow was parting with my brother—"my guide, my companion, my familiar friend." He was  sent to a distant college, and I felt for a while as if I were alone in the world, for my father was in public life, and it was only at evening he had leisure to indulge in the tenderness of domestic feeling. He had never given up the hope that I might recover my sight. When I was very small there was an operation performed upon my eyes, but it was by an unskilful oculist, and unsuccessful. After this I had an unspeakable dread of any future attempt,—the slightest allusion to the subject threw me into such nervous agitation, my father at last forbore to mention it. "Let me live and die under this shade," I would say, "like the flower that blooms in the cleft of the rock. The sunshine and the dew are not for me." Time glided away. In one year more Henry would complete his collegiate course. I was in the morning of womanhood, but my helpless condition preserved to me all the privileges and indulgences of the child. It was at this era—why did I here dash aside my pen, and press my hands upon my temples to still the throbbings of a thousand pulses, starting simultaneously into motion? Why cannot we always be children? Why was I not suffered to remain blind?—A young physician came into the neighbourhood, who had already acquired some fame as an oculist. He visited in our family—he became almost identified with our household. Philanthropy guided him in his choice of a profession. He knew himself gifted with extraordinary talents, and that he had it in his power to mitigate the woes of mankind. But though the votary of duty, he was a worshipper at the shrine of intellect and taste. He loved poetry, and, next to music, it was my passion. He read to me the melodious strains of the sons of song, in a voice more eloquent, in its low depth of sweetness, than the minstrels whose harmony he breathed. When I touched the keys of the piano, his voice was raised, in unison with mine. If I wandered in the garden, his hand was ever ready to guide, and his arm to sustain me. He brought me the wild-flower of the field, and the exotic of the green-house, and, as he described their hues and outlines, I scarcely regretted the want of vision. Here, in this book, I have pressed each faded gift. I remember the very words he uttered when he gave me this cluster.—"See," said he, "nay, feel this upright stem, so lofty, till bending from the weight of the flower it bears. It is a lily—I plucked it from the margin of a stream, in which it seemed gazing on its white, waxen leaves. Touch gently the briars of this wild rose. Thus heaven guards the innocence and  beauty that gladdens the eyes of the wayfaring man. Cecilia, would you not like to look upon these flowers?" "Yes, but far rather on the faces of those I love—my father's—my brother's. Man is made in the image of his Maker, and his face must be divine." "Oh!" added I, in the secrecy of my own soul, "how divine must be the features of that friend, who has unfolded to me such unspeakable treasures of genius and feeling, whose companionship seems a foretaste of the felicities of heaven." It was then, for the first time, he dared to suggest to me a hope that my blindness was not incurable. He told me he had been devoting all his leisure to this one subject, and that he was sure he had mastered every difficulty; that though mine was a peculiar case, and had once baffled the efforts of the optician, he dared to assure himself of complete success. "And if I fail," said he, "if through my means no light should visit your darkened orbs, then," continued he, with an expression of feeling that seemed wholly irrepressible, "suffer me to be a light to your eyes and a lamp to your feet. But if it should be my lot to bestow upon you the most glorious of the gifts of God, to meet from you one glance of gratitude and love, were a recompense I would purchase with life itself." Did I dream? or were these words breathed to me?—me, the helpless, blind girl! to receive the unmeasured devotion of one of the most gifted and interesting of created beings. I had thought that he pitied me, that he felt for me the kindness of a brother, that he found in me some congenial tastes—but that he loved me so entirely, it was a confession as unlooked for as overpowering. My heart ached, from the oppression of its joy. Let not the cold-hearted and vain smile, when I repeat the broken accents of gratitude, trust, and love, that fell from my lips. My helplessness sanctified the offer, and I received his pledge of faith as a holy thing, to be kept holy through time and eternity.

Never shall I forget that moment, when the first ray of light penetrated the long midnight that had shrouded my vision. It was in a darkened apartment. My father, one female friend, and Clinton, the beloved physician—these were around me. Faint, dim, and uncertain, as the first gray of the dawn, was that ray, but it was the herald of coming light, and hailed as a day-spring from on high. A bandage was immediately drawn over my brow, but during the weeks in which I was condemned to remain in darkness, the memory of that dim radiance was  ever glimmering round me. There was a figure kneeling, with clasped hands and upraised head, pale and venerable—I knew it was my father's—for the same figure folded me to his heart the next moment, and wept like an infant. There was one with soft flowing outline, and loose robes, by my side,—and bending over me, with eyes gazing down into the mysteries of my being, shadowy but glorious, was he, who received the first glance of the being he had awakened to a new creation. Slowly, gradually was I allowed to emerge from my eclipse, but when I was at last led from my darkened chamber, when I looked abroad on the face of nature, clothed as she was in the magnificent garniture of summer, when I saw the heavens unrolled in their majesty, the sun travelling in the greatness of his strength, the flowers glowing in the beams that enamelled them, I closed my eyes, almost fainting from the excessive glory. I will not attempt to describe my sensations when I first distinctly saw the lineaments of my lover. Creation contained nothing so lovely to my sight. To see the soul, the thinking, feeling, immortal soul, flashing with enthusiasm, or darkening with tenderness, looking forth from his eyes, and feel my own mingling with his! No one but those who have once been blind, and now see, can imagine the intensity of my emotions. Next to my Creator, I felt my homage was due to him, and surely it is not impious to apply to him the sublime language of Scripture—"He said, let there be light, and there was light."

Our mansion was transformed. My father gathered all his friends around him to participate in his joy. My brother was summoned home. There seemed one continual jubilee. I turned coldly, however, from all these festivities, occupied almost exclusively with one feeling. I could not feign an interest in others I did not feel. I began even at this early period to experience the first symptoms of that passion, which has since consumed me. Clinton, though still, as ever, the kind, devoted, and watchful guardian, hovering round my steps, as if to shield me from every danger, Clinton, I saw, shared in the pleasures of sociality, and returned the smiles that kindled wherever he moved. He was a universal favourite in society, and knew how to adapt himself to others, not from a vague desire of popularity, but from a benevolence, a sunny glow of feeling, shedding light and warmth all around. Even then there were moments when I regretted my blindness, and wished I had never seen those smiles and glances, which  I would fain rivet for ever on myself. Henry, my brother, once whispered to me, as I was turning, in a languid manner, the leaves of a music book, not caring to play because Clinton was not bending over my chair, "My dear Cecilia, do not let Clinton see too glaringly his power over you. There is scarcely a man in the world who can be trusted with unlimited power. We are ungrateful creatures, my sweet sister, and you do not know us half as well as we know each other. You ought to love Clinton, for he merits it, but be mistress of yourself. Do not love him too well for his peace and your own." Alas! poor Henry—how little have I heeded your brotherly admonitions? But when did passion ever listen to the counsels of reason—when will it? When the cygnet's down proves a barrier to the tempest's breath. We were married. I became the inmate of a home, fashioned after the model of my own taste. Everything was arranged with a view to my happiness. The curtains and decorations of the house were all of the softest green, for the repose of my still feeble eyes. Oh! thou benefactor of my life—friend, lover, husband, would that I could go back to the hour when we plighted our wedded vows, and live over the past, convinced, though too late, how deeply I have wronged thee—confiding implicitly in thy love and truth, we might live together the life of angels! And we were happy for a while. We withdrew as much as possible from the gay world. He saw that I loved retirement, and he consulted my feelings as far as was consistent with the duties of his profession. I might have been convinced by this of the injustice of my suspicions. I might have known that he loved me better than all the world beside. During the day he was but seldom with me, as his practice was extensive, and often called him to a distance from home, but the evening was mine, and it seemed my peculiar province, for I shrunk from the full blaze of sunlight. The brightness was too intense, but when the moon was gliding over the firmament, in her sweet, approachable loveliness, and the soft glitter of the stars was around, I could lift my undazzled eyes, and marvel at the wonderful works of God. Clinton was a devout astronomer—he taught me the name of every planet that burned—of every star known to science. He was rich in the wisdom of ancient days, and his lips distilled instruction as naturally and constantly as the girl in the fairy tale dropped the gems of the Orient. I have made mention of a female friend—she was the daughter of a deceased friend of my father, and, as such,  came under his especial guardianship. Since my marriage she had remained with him, to cheer his loneliness, but her health becoming very delicate, he sent her to be my guest, that she might receive medical aid from my husband. She was not a decided invalid, but her mother had died of a consumption, and it was feared she had a hereditary tendency to that disease. Alice was a pale, delicate-looking girl, with sometimes a hectic flush on her cheek, a frail, drooping form, and extremely pensive cast of countenance. The dread of this constitutional malady hung over her like a death-cloud, and aggravated symptoms slight in themselves. Though there was nothing very attractive in the appearance of this poor girl, she was calculated to excite pity and sympathy, and surely she had every claim to mine. I did pity her, and sought, by every attention and kindness, to enliven her despondency, and rouse her to hope and vivacity. But I soon found that my father had encroached sadly on my domestic happiness by giving this charge to my husband. Air, exercise, and gentle recreation, were the remedies prescribed by the physician, and it was his duty to promote these by every means in his power. She often accompanied him on horseback in his rides, a pleasure from which I was completely debarred, for, in my blindness, I was incapacitated, and the timidity which originated from my situation remained after the cause was removed. It was some time before I was willing to acknowledge to myself the pain which this arrangement gave me. I felt as if my dearest privileges were invaded. I had been so accustomed, from infancy, to be the sole object of every attention, these daily offices bestowed upon another, though dictated by kindness and humanity, were intolerable to me. Had I seen the congregated world around her, offering every homage, it would not have given me one envious pang—but Clinton, my husband, he was more precious to me than ten thousand worlds. She leaned too exclusively on his guardian care. I tried to subdue my feelings—I tried to assume an appearance of indifference. My manners gradually became cold and constrained, and instead of greeting my husband with the joyous smile of welcome, on his return, I would avert from his the eyes which had received from him their living rays. Frank and unsuspicious himself, he did not seem to divine the cause of my altered demeanour. When he asked me why I was so silent, or so sad, I pleaded indisposition, lassitude—anything but the truth. I blamed him for his want of penetration, for I felt as if my soul were  bare, and that the eye of affection could read the tidings revealed by my changing cheek and troubled brow. In justice to myself, let me say, that Alice, by her manner, justified my emotions.

Enlightened by the sentiment in my own bosom, I could not but mark that the hectic flush always became brighter when Clinton approached, that her glance, kindling as it moved, followed his steps with a kind of idolatry. Then she hung upon his words with an attention so flattering. Was she reading, reclining on the sofa, apparently languid and uninterested, the moment he spoke she would close her book, or lean forward, as if fearful of losing the faintest sound of that voice, which was the music of my life. I could have borne this for a day, a week, a month—but to be doomed to endure it for an indefinite term, perhaps for life, it was unendurable. A hundred times I was on the point of going to my father, and, telling him the secret of my unhappiness, entreat him to recall my too encroaching guest, but shame and pride restrained me. Chilled and wounded by my coldness, my husband gradually learned to copy it, and no longer sought the smiles and caresses my foolish, too exciting heart, deemed he no longer valued. Oh! blissful days of early confidence and love! were ye for ever flown? Was no beam of tenderness permitted to penetrate the cold frost-work of ceremony deepening between us? It is in vain to cherish love with the memory of what has been. It must be fed with daily living offerings, or the vestal fire will wax dim and perish—then fearful is the penalty that ensues. The doom denounced upon the virgins of the temple, when they suffered the holy flame to become extinct, was less terrible. Alice, when the mildness of the weather allowed, almost made her home in the garden. She must have felt that I shrunk from her society, and I knew she could not love the wife of Clinton. She carried her books and pencil there—she watched the opening blossoms, and gathered the sweetest, to make her offering at the shrine she loved. My husband was evidently pleased with these attentions, flowing, as he thought, from a gentle and grateful heart, and his glance and voice grew softer when he turned to address the invalid.

Once during the absence of Alice I went into her chamber for a book I had lent her, which contained a passage I wished to recall. I took up several others, which lay upon the table. There was one which belonged to my husband, and in it was a piece of folded paper, embalmed with flowers, like some holy  relic. It was not sealed—it was open—it was a medical prescription, written by Clinton, thus tenderly, romantically preserved. On another half-torn sheet were some broken lines, breathing passion and despair. They were in the handwriting of Alice, and apparently original, without address or signature, but it was easy for my excited imagination to supply them. Poor victim of passion—by the side of this record of all my fears was the composing draught, prepared to check the consumptive cough—the elixir to sustain the failing principles of vitality. How is it that we dare to kindle an unhallowed flame, even on the ashes of decaying mortality? I left the chamber, and retired to my own. I knew not in what manner to act. I endeavoured to reflect on what I ought to do. Alice and myself could not live long under the same roof, yet how could I bid her depart, or betray her to my husband? I could not believe such feelings could be excited in her without sufficient encouragement. I laid myself down on the bed, and wished I might never rise again. I closed my eyes, and prayed that the dark fillet of night might rest on them again and forevermore. My cheeks burned as with consuming fire, but it was in my heart. When Clinton returned, not finding me in the drawing-room, he sought me in my own chamber. He seemed really alarmed at my situation. He forgot all his former constraint, and hung over me with a tenderness and anxiety that might have proved to me how dear I was. He sat by me, holding my burning hand, and uttering every endearing expression affection could suggest. Melted by his caresses, I yearned to unbosom to him my whole heart—my pride, my jealousy was subdued. I endeavoured to speak, but the words died on my tongue. Confused images flitted across my brain—then came a dreary blank. For weeks I lay on that bed of sickness, unconscious of everything around me. My recovery was for a long time doubtful—but when I at last opened my languid eyes, they rested on the face of my husband, who had kept his unwearied vigils by my pillow, and still he held my feeble hand in his, as if he had never unloosed his clasp. He looked pale and wan, but a ray of divine joy flashed from his eye as he met my glance of recognition.

Humbled and chastened by this visitation from heaven, renovated by the warm and gracious influences exerted for my restoration, animated by new-born hope, I rose from my sick-bed. The vulture had unloosened its fangs, and the dove once  more returned to its nest. I could even pity the misguided girl who had caused me so much unhappiness. I treated her with a kindness, of late very unwonted—but she evidently shunned my companionship, and in proportion as my spirits rose from the weight that had crushed them to the dust, hers became depressed and fitful. Let me hurry on—I linger too long on feelings. Few events have marked my brief history, yet some have left traces that all the waves of time can never wash out.

It was Sunday—it was the first time I had attended church since my illness. My husband accompanied me, while Alice, as usual, remained at home. The preacher was eloquent—the music sweet and solemn—the aspirations of faith warm and kindling. I had never before felt such a glow of gratitude and trust; and while my mind was in this state of devout abstraction, Clinton whispered to me that he was obliged to withdraw a short time, to visit a patient who was dangerously sick—"but I will return," said he, "to accompany you home." My thoughts were brought back to earth by this interruption, and wandered from the evangelical eloquence of the pulpit. The services were unusually long, and my head began to ache from the effort of listening. I experienced the lingering effects of sickness, and feeling that dimness of sight come over me, which was a never-failing symptom of a malady of the brain, I left the church, and returned home, without waiting for the coming of my husband. When I crossed the threshold, my spirit was free from a shadow of suspicion. I had been in an exalted mood—I felt as if I had been sitting under the outspread wings of the cherubim, and had brought away with me some faint reflection of the celestial glory. I was conscious of being in a high state of nervous excitement. The reaction produced by the unexpected scene that presented itself, was, in consequence, more terrible. There, on a sofa, half supported in the arms of my husband, whose hand she was grasping with a kind of convulsive energy, her hair unbound and wet, and exhaling the odorous essence with which it had been just bathed, sat Alice, and the words that passed her lips, as I entered, at first unperceived by them, were these—"Never, never—she hates me—she must ever hate me." I stood transfixed—the expression of my countenance must have been awful, for they looked as if confronted by an avenging spirit. Alice actually shrieked, and her pale features writhed, as the scroll when the scorching blaze comes near it.  My resolution was instantaneous. I waited not for explanations—the scene to my mind admitted none. The sudden withdrawal of my husband from church, upon the pretence of an errand of duty, the singular agitation of Alice—all that I saw and heard, filled me with the most maddening emotions—all the ties of wedded love seemed broken and withered, at once, like the withes that bound the awakening giant. "Clinton," exclaimed I, "you have deceived me—but it is for the last time." Before he could reply, or arrest my motions, I was gone. The carriage was still at the door. "Drive me to my father's, directly," was all I could utter, and it was done.

Swiftly the carriage rolled on—I thought I heard my name borne after me on the wind, but I looked not behind. I felt strong in the conviction of my wrongs. It would have been weakness to have wept. My scorn of such duplicity lifted me above mere sorrow. It was in the gloom of twilight when I reached my father's door. I rushed into the drawing-room, and found myself in the arms of my brother. "Cecilia, my sister! what brings you here?" He was alarmed at my sudden entrance, and through the dusky shade he could discover the wild flashing of my eyes, the disorder of my whole appearance. The presence of human sympathy softened the sternness of my despair. Tears gushed violently forth. I tried to explain to him my wretchedness and its cause, but could only exclaim, "Clinton, Alice, cruel, deliberate deceivers!" Henry bit his lip, and ground his teeth till their ivory was tinged with blood, but he made no comments. He spoke then with his usual calmness, and urged me to retire to my chamber, and compose myself before my father's return. He almost carried me there in his arms, soothing and comforting me. He called for an attendant, again whispered the duty and necessity of self-control, then left me, promising a speedy return. I watched for the footsteps of Henry, but hour after hour passed away, and he returned not. I asked the servants where he had gone? They knew not. I asked myself, and something told me, in an awful voice—"Gone to avenge thee." The moment this idea flashed into my mind, I felt as if I were a murderess. I would convince myself of the truth. I knew my brother's chamber—thither I ran, and drawing back the bed curtains, looked for the silver mounted pistols that always hung over the bed's head. They were gone—and a coat dashed hastily on the counterpane, a pocket-book fallen on the carpet, all denoted a hurried departure on some fatal errand. The agony I had  previously suffered was light to what pierced me now. To follow him was my only impulse. I rushed out of the house—it was a late hour in the evening—there was no moon in the sky, and I felt the dampness of the falling dew, as I flew, with uncovered head, like an unblessed spirit, through the darkness. My brain began to be thronged with wild images. It seemed to me, legions of dark forms were impeding my steps. "Oh! let me pass," cried I, "it is my husband and brother I have slain. Let me pass," continued I, shrieking, for an arm of flesh and blood was thrown around me, and held me struggling. "Gracious heavens, it is the voice of my Cecilia!" It was my father that spoke. I remember that I recognised him, and that was all. My cries were changed to cries of madness. I was borne back raving. The malady that had so recently brought me to the door of the grave, had renewed its attack with increased malignancy. My brain had been too much weakened to bear the tension of its agony. For long months I was confined within my chamber walls, sometimes tossing in delirious anguish, at others lying in marble unconsciousness, an image of the death they prayed might soon release me from my sufferings. They prayed that I might die, rather than be doomed to a living death. But I lived—lived to know the ruin I had wrought.

My father was a man of majestic person, and time had scarcely touched his raven locks. His hair was now profusely silvered, and there were lines on his brow which age never furrowed. It was long before I learned all that had transpired during this fearful chasm in my existence, but gradually the truth was revealed. All that I was at first told, was, that my husband and brother lived—then, when it was supposed I had sufficient strength to bear the agitation, this letter from my husband was given me.

"Cecilia, how shall I address you? I will not reproach you, for you have had too bitter a lesson. I would fain have seen you before my departure, but you decline the interview, and perhaps it is well. Should I live to return—Oh! Cecilia, what wretchedness have you brought upon us all! If your alienated heart does not turn from any memento of me, you will read these lines, and I know you will believe them. I have been, as it were, to the very threshold of the presence-chamber of the King of Kings, and am just emerging from the shadows of approaching death. This is the first effort of my feeble hand. Most rash and misjudging woman, what have  you done? How madly have I doted on you, how blindly have I worshipped! yet all the devotion of my life, my truth, love and integrity, weighed nothing in the balance with one moment's mystery. I leave my vindication to Alice. She will not deceive you. She will tell you that never did the heart of man throb with a more undivided passion for another than mine for you. She will tell you—but what avails it? You have cast me from you, unvalued and untrusted. Your poor, unhappy brother! his avenging hand sought my life—the life of him who he believed had betrayed his sister's happiness, the wretch almost unworthy of a brave man's resentment. In wresting the weapon from his frenzied grasp, I received an almost deadly wound. His wrath was slaked in my blood. He believes me innocent. He has been to me more than a brother. He will accompany me to another clime, whither I am going, to try the effect of more genial air on my shattered frame. Would to God we could have met before we parted—perhaps for ever. Your father says you have been ill, that you fear the effect of the meeting on both. You have been ill—my ever adored, still tenderly beloved Cecilia, I write not to reproach you. Bitter is the penalty paid for one moment of passion. Had I ever swerved in my affection for you, even in thought, I should deserve all I have suffered. I recall your sadness, your coldness, and averted looks. I now know the cause, and mourn over it. Why did you not confide in me? We might yet have been happy—but the will of God be done. The vessel waits that is to bear us to a transatlantic clime—farewell. Should I return, bearing with me some portion of my former vigour, should your confidence in my love be restored, then, perchance, through the mercy of heaven, two chastened and humble hearts may once more be united on earth. If I am never permitted to revisit my native soil, if I die in a foreign land, know, that, faithful to you to my latest hour, my last thought, prayer, and sigh, will be yours."

And he was gone—gone—sick, wounded, perhaps dying, he was gone to another land, and the blood that was drained from him on my soul. My father forbade him to see me—he was too feeble to bear the shock of beholding me in the condition I then was. My real situation was concealed from him. The only means of making the prohibition effectual, was to word it as proceeding from myself. Thus, he believed me cold and  selfish to the last. My father talked to me of better days, of the hope of my husband's speedy restoration, and of our future reunion. I could only listen and weep. I dared not murmur. I felt too deeply the justice of the judgment the Almighty had passed against me. I had one ordeal yet to pass—an interview with Alice. She also was under my father's roof, confined by increasing debility to her own apartment. As soon as my strength allowed, I made it a religious duty to visit the poor invalid. I was shocked to see the ravages of her malady. Her eye of glassy brightness turned on me with such a look of woe and remorse, it cut me to the heart. I took the pale thin hand she extended towards me, and burst into tears. Yes! I saw it but too clearly. Here was another victim. The steps of the destroyer were fearfully accelerated. She had had a profuse hemorrhage from the lungs, and her voice was so weak and husky, it was with difficulty I could understand her. She drew me down near to her pillow, and, placing my hand on her heart, said, in a careful whisper—"Remorse, Cecilia, it is here. It is this which gives the sting to death." She then drew from beneath her pillow a paper that she had written for me, which she begged me to read when I was alone. I did read it. It was the transcript of a warm, romantic heart, erring and misguided, yet even in its aberrations discovering an innate love for virtue and truth. Her whole soul was bared before me—all her love, imprudence, and remorse. She described my husband as an angel of light and purity, soaring high above the clouds of passion that gathered darkly around herself. She spoke of that scene, followed by such irremediable woe. "Even now," continued Alice, "wasting as I am on the bed of death, with the shadows of earthly feeling dimly floating round me, knowing that I shall soon turn to cold, impassive clay, the memory of that hour presses with scorching weight on my brain. I must have been mad. Surely I had not the control of my reason. I had taken the previous night an unusual quantity of opium, which, instead of composing me to sleep, had excited my nerves, and strung them as with fire. Your husband came in only a short time before your sudden entrance, evidently on some errand; and though he kindly paused to speak to me, his looks expressed haste to depart. Just as he was about to leave the room, I was attacked with one of those spasms you have sometimes witnessed. He came to my relief—he administered every restorative. I know not all I uttered, but when I recovered I  remember many wild expressions that escaped my lips. It seemed to me that I was going to die, and while his arms thus kindly supported me, I felt as if it would be joy to die. With this conviction, was it so black a crime to breathe forth the love that had so long pervaded my frail and lonely existence? Cecilia, he recoiled from me with horror. He proclaimed his inviolable love and devotion for you—his glance was stern and upbraiding. Then seeing me sinking in despair, the kindness of his nature triumphed, and he sought to calm my overwrought and troubled spirit. He expressed the affection of a brother, the pity of a friend, the admonitions of a Christian. "Above all," said he, "make a friend of Cecilia. She will always cherish you with a sister's love." "Never!" I exclaimed, "she hates me, she must ever hate me." The vision of an injured wife arrested my unhallowed accents. You know the dreadful tragedy that followed. Never since that hour have I had one moment's calm. Conscience, with her thousand scorpions, lashes me—whether sleeping or waking there is no rest. 'There is no peace,' saith my God, 'to the wicked,' Yet mine was not deliberate guilt. Had I only wrecked my own happiness!—but the wide desolation, the irretrievable ruin! I shudder, I weep, I lift my feeble hands to that Power whose laws I have transgressed, and pray for pardon. To you, whose home of love I have laid waste, dare I turn my fading eyes, and hope for forgiveness? To him whom I have driven from his native land, shorn of the brightness of his manhood—Oh! sinful dust and ashes"——here the unhappy writer broke off—the blank was stained with tears. Probably in that broken sentence the embers of passion flashed out their last fires, through the "dust and ashes" of withering mortality. Poor Alice! may'st thou be forgiven by a merciful Creator as freely as thou art by me. Gentle be thy passage through the valley of the shadow of death, to that country where no storms desolate the heart, where passion and penitence are unknown. As for me—why and for what do I live? For hope or despair? I pray for tidings from the beloved exiles, yet dread to receive them. If the night gale sweeps with hasty gust against the window, I tremble lest they be exposed to the stormy deep. When I gaze on the moon and stars, I ask myself if they are lighting the wanderers on their homeward way, and sometimes gather hope from their heavenly brightness.

The manuscript of Cecilia here abruptly closes. It has  fallen to the lot of one who afterwards became the devoted friend of Clinton, to relate the sequel of their melancholy history.

"It was in the spring of the year 18——, I was sitting on the deck, watching the rapid motion of the boat, as it glided over the waves, thinking earnestly of the place of my destination, when I first beheld Cecilia, the wife of Clinton. I was a stranger on board, and gazed around me with that indefinite expression, which marks the stranger to the experienced eye. At length my glance was riveted by the appearance of a lady, leaning on the arm of a gray-haired gentleman, slowly promenading the deck. They passed and repassed me, while I continued to lean over the railing, fearing, by a change of position, to disturb the silent strangers. There was something in the figure of the lady inexpressibly interesting. She wore a mourning-dress, and her eyes were covered with a green shade. Notwithstanding her face was thus partially obscured, the most exquisite beauty of outline and colouring was visible I ever saw in any human countenance. She wore no bonnet or veil, for the sun was verging towards the west, and its rays stole soft and mellow over the golden waters. Fair and meek as the virgin mother's was the brow that rose above the silken screen, defined with beauteous distinctness by dark, divided hair, whose luxuriance was confined by a golden band. At length they seated themselves very near me, and began to converse in a low tone. There was a melancholy sweetness in her accents, and I was sure they were speaking of some sorrowful theme. We were now entering the —— bay, and the boat rocked and laboured as she plunged through the increased volume of the waters. Now, just visible on the glowing horizon, was the topmast of a vessel. On she came, with sails full spread, her canvas swelling in the breeze, her majestic outline softened by the sunset hues. The gentleman pointed out the object to his companion, who lifted the shade from her brow, revealing as she did so, eyes of such melting softness, I wondered I had thought her lovely before. She pressed the arm of the gentleman, and gazed eagerly on the vessel which now bore down 'majestically near.' She rose, she bent forward with earnest gestures, her face kindled, and sparkled like the waters themselves. The ship approached so near we could discern figures on the deck. The boat had diverged from her path to give place to the nobler craft. She was sailing with great rapidity, and the noise of the engine and the  dashing of the waves drowned the sound of the voices near me. I began to feel a strange interest in the vessel on which the eyes of the strangers were so earnestly riveted. Amid the figures that walked her deck, I distinguished one, which was aloof from the others, of a more lofty bearing—a cloak was gathered round him, and from this circumstance, together with his extremely pallid complexion, I judged him to be an invalid. From the rapid motion of both vessels, it was but a glance I obtained, after we were near enough to trace these lineaments. At this moment the lady sprang upon the bench beneath the railing—she stretched forth her arms, with a startling cry. I saw her for an instant, bending far over the edge of the boat. I rose and rushed towards her to warn her of her danger, but a plunging sound in the water, that closed darkly over her sinking form, froze my veins with horror. 'Oh! my God!' exclaimed the father, 'save her! My daughter! Oh, my daughter!' then fell back, almost paralyzed, on the seat. To throw off my coat and plunge in after the ill-fated lady, in whom I had become so painfully interested, was an instantaneous deed. Alas! all my efforts were unavailing. The current was so powerful, I found it in vain to struggle with its force. I relaxed not, however, till my failing strength warned me that I was seeking a grave for myself, without being able to rescue the victim for whom I had willingly periled my life.

"I will not attempt to describe the grief of the half-distracted father. I never left him till he reached his own home. What a scene of agony awaited him there! The husband and brother, so long absent, were returned, yearning to behold once more that beloved being, whose involuntary sin had been so fearfully expiated. It was Clinton whom I had seen on the vessel's deck. As he afterwards told me, the dazzle of the rays on the water, in that direction, had prevented him from distinguishing the features for ever engraven on his heart. The hoarse sound of the waves swallowed her drowning shriek—onward they bore him, and he saw not the fond arms that would have embraced him, even over that watery chasm. I have witnessed many a scene of sorrow, but never saw I one like this. From the peculiar circumstances that brought us together, I became almost identified with this unhappy family. Clinton was the most interesting man I ever saw. He was a confirmed invalid, never having recovered from the effects of his wound. I never saw a smile upon his face, nor could I  ever smile in his presence. He seldom spoke, and never but once did he mention the name of Cecilia. It was one night when he was unusually ill, and I was sitting alone with him in his chamber. He gave me the manuscript for perusal which is here transcribed, an act of confidence he considered due to me, who would have been her saviour. Through the watches of that night he poured into my ear the hoarded agonies of his grief. Never before did I know how deep human sorrow could be, or how holy was that love which clings to the memory of the dead.

"Alice dwelt in 'the dark and narrow house.' She was spared the knowledge of the fatal catastrophe, for she died before her victim. Yes—her victim! Had she guarded against the first inroads of a forbidden passion, there might have been 'beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.' The angel form that lies low, wrapped in the winding-sheet of the waves, might now be moving in the light of loveliness, love, and joy. But who shall dare to arraign the doings of the Almighty?"