The Shaker Girl by Caroline Lee Hentz

It was on a Sunday morning, when Roland Gray entered the village of ——. Though his mind was intent on the object of his journey, he could not but admire the singular neatness and uniformity of the houses, the velvet smoothness of the grass on the wayside, and the even surface of the street, from which every pebble seemed to have been removed. An air of perfect tranquillity reigned over the whole—not a being was seen moving abroad, not a human face beaming through the windows; yet far as the eye could reach, it roamed over a vast, cultivated plain, covered with all the animated hues of vegetation, giving evidence that the spirit of life was there, or had been recently active. "Surely," thought Roland, "I have entered one of those cities, described in the Arabian Nights, where some magician has suddenly converted the inhabitants into stone. I will dismount and explore some of these buildings—perchance I shall find some man, who is only half marble, who can explain this enchantment of silence." He had scarcely dismounted, and fastened his horse to a part of the snow-white railing which guarded every avenue to the dwellings, when he saw a most singular figure emerging from one, and approaching the spot where he stood. It was a boy of about twelve years old, clad in the ancient costume of our forefathers—with large breeches, fastened at the knees with square shining buckles—a coat, whose skirts were of surprising breadth, and a low-crowned hat, whose enormous brim shaded his round and ruddy visage. Roland could not forbear smiling at this extraordinary figure, but habitual politeness checked his mirth. He inquired the name of the village, and found to his surprise he was in the midst of one of those Shaker  establishments, of whose existence, and of whose singular doctrines, he was well aware, but which, his own home being remote, he had never had an opportunity of witnessing. Delighted with the circumstance, for the love of novelty and excitement was predominant in his character, he determined to avail himself of it to its fullest extent. An old man, dressed in the same obsolete fashion, came up the path and accosted him:

"Are you a traveller," said he, "and seeking refreshments? If so, I am sorry you have chosen this day, but nevertheless we never refuse to perform the rites of hospitality."

Roland confessed he had no claims upon their hospitality, having partaken of a hearty breakfast two hours before in a town not far distant, and he wondered within himself why they had not mentioned the vicinity of this interesting establishment; forgetting that to those who live within the reach of any object of curiosity, it loses its interest. It is said there are some, who live where the echo of Niagara's eternal thunders are ringing in their ears, who have never gazed upon its foam. "If you come to witness our manner of worship, young man," said the elder, "and come in a sober, godly spirit, I give you welcome. The world's people often visit us, some, I am sorry to say, to scoff and to jest; but you have an honest, comely countenance, and I trust are led by better motives."

Roland was no hypocrite, but the good Shaker opened for him so fair a door of excuse for his intrusion, he was unwilling to deny that he was moved by a laudable desire to behold their peculiar form of worship. Pleased by the sunny openness of his countenance, the elder led the way to the house set apart for the service of the Most High, exhorting him at the same time to renounce the pomps and vanities of the world, and unite with them in that oneness of spirit, which distinguished their society from the children of mankind. No lofty spire marked out the temple of the Lord, nor did its form differ from that of a common dwelling-place. They entered a spacious hall, the floor of which presented such a dazzling expanse of white, the foot of the traveller hesitated before pressing its polished surface. The walls were of the same shining whiteness, chilling the eye by their cold uniformity—and benches arranged with the most exact precision on each side of the building, marked the boundaries of either sex Roland seated himself at some distance from the prescribed  limits, and waited with proper solemnity the entrance of the worshippers. He observed that the men invariably entered at one door, the women at another, and that they had as little intercourse as if they belonged to different worlds. The men were all clothed in the ancient costume we have just described, and the women were dressed in garments as peculiar and unbecoming. A shirt of the purest white, short gown of the same texture, a 'kerchief folded in stiff unbending plaits, a mob cap of linen fastened close around the face, from which every tress of hair was combed carefully back, constituted their chill and ghost-like attire. As one by one these pallid figures glided in, and took their appointed seat, Roland felt as if he were gazing on the phantasmagoria of a dream, so pale and unearthly did they seem. The countenances of the males were generally suffused with a ruddy glow, but cold and colourless as marble were the cheeks of that sex he had been wont to see adorned with the roses of beauty and health. They arose and arranged themselves in a triangular form, while several of the aged stood in the centre, commencing the worship by a hymn of praise. Their voices were harsh and broken, but the devotion of their manner sanctified the strains, and Roland felt not, as he feared he should, a disposition for mirth. But when they gradually formed into a procession, marching two and two in a regular line, all joining in the wild and dissonant notes, then warming as they continued, changing the solemn march into the liveliest dance, clapping their hands simultaneously and shouting till the cold white walls resounded with the strange hosannas; all the while, those hueless, passionless faces gleaming by him, so still and ghastly mid their shroud-like garments, his brain began to reel, and he almost imagined himself attending the orgies of the dead, of resuscitated bodies, with the motions of life, but without the living soul. Still, over the whole group there was a pervading solemnity and devotion, an apparent abandonment of the whole world—an anticipation of the loneliness and lifelessness of the tomb, that redeemed it from ridicule, and inspired emotions kindred to awe. This awe, however, soon melted away in pity at such delusion, and this sensation became at length converted into admiration for an object, at first unnoticed in the general uniformity of the scene, but which grew upon his eye, like the outline of the landscape through the morning mist. There was one young girl moving in this throng of worshippers, whose superior bearing could not long elude the stranger's  scrutiny. Her age might be fourteen or fifteen, perhaps younger; it was difficult to decide through the muffling folds of a dress which levelled every distinction of form and comeliness. As she passed and repassed him, in the evolutions of their dance, he caught occasional glimpses of a face, which, though pale, betrayed the flitting colour through the transparent skin; and once or twice the soft, thoughtful gray eyes were turned towards him, with a wistful and earnest expression, as if claiming sympathy and kindness from some congenial being. Fixing his gaze upon the spot where he first beheld her, he watched her returning figure with an intensity that at last became visible to the object of it, for the pale rose of her cheek grew deeper and deeper, and her beautiful gray eyes were bent upon the floor. Roland leaned from the window near which he was seated, to see if it was actually the same world he had inhabited that morning, so strangely were his senses affected by the shrill music, growing louder and louder, the shuffling, gliding motions, increasing in velocity, and this sweet apparition so unexpectedly mingling in such an incongruous scene. The breath of summer redolent with a thousand perfumes stole over his brow—the blue sky was arching over his head; never had creation seemed more lovely or glowing; yet the worshippers within deemed they were offering an acceptable sacrifice on the altar of God, the sacrifice of those social affections, which find such beautiful emblems in the works of nature. Roland became so lost in these reflections, he hardly noticed the closing of the exercise, or heard the monotonous tones of one of the elders, who was exhorting in the peculiar dialect of his sect. When the services were concluded, he left the hall, still watching the motions of the gray-eyed damsel, in the bold resolution of accosting her, and discovering if she were a willing devotee. As she walked along with a light step, in spite of her clumsy high-heeled shoes, by the side of an ancient dame, Roland, unconscious of the extreme audacity of the act, and hardly knowing himself in what manner to address her, crossed her path, and was in the very act of apologizing for the intrusion, when his arm was seized with a sturdy grasp, and he saw the old Shaker who had introduced him into the assembly, standing by his side. "Young man," said he, in a stern voice—"do you come here, a wolf in sheep's clothing, in the very midst of the flock? what is your business with this child, whom our rules forbid you to address?" Roland felt at first very indignant, but a  moment's reflection convinced him he had erred, and transgressed their rigid rules. He felt too that he had placed himself in rather a ridiculous situation, and he stood before the rebuking elder with a blush of ingenuous shame, that completely disarmed his wrath. "You are young, very young," said the old man—"and I forgive you—you have been brought up in the midst of the vanities of the world, and I pity you; yet my heart cleaves to you, young man, and when you become weary of those vanities, as you shortly will, come to us, and you will find that peace which the world can neither give nor take away."

He shook hands with Roland after he had spoken, who acknowledged his offence, thanked him for his counsel and kindness, and, mounting his horse, left him with a sentiment of unfeigned respect; so true it is, that sincerity of faith gives dignity to the professor of many a creed revolting to human reason. Roland looked back upon the beautiful village, and wondered at what he had just witnessed. He felt a strong disposition to linger, that he might discover something more of the peculiarities of this singular and isolated people. Had he known their incorruptible honesty, their unwearied industry, their trusting hospitality, their kindness and charity—had he seen the pale sisterhood extending their cherishing cares to the children of orphanage and want, he would have been convinced that warm streams of living tenderness were flowing beneath the cold forms of their austere religion.

Roland Gray was very young, and had seen but little of the world. He had led the secluded life of a student, and, but lately freed from collegiate restraints, he had been trying his wings, preparatory to a bolder flight across the Atlantic. He was now on the way to his sister, who, with himself, was placed under the guardianship of the excellent Mr. Worthington, for they were orphans, left with an independent fortune, but singularly destitute of kindred, being the last of their race. An invalid gentleman, one of his father's early friends, was about to travel in foreign climes to try the benefit of a milder atmosphere, and he urged Roland to be his companion. Such a proposal was accepted with gratitude, and Roland, with buoyant spirits, returned to his sister, to bid her farewell, before launching on the "deep blue sea." Lucy Gray was older than her brother, and from childhood had exercised over him the influence with which a few additional years, joined to a strength of mind far beyond her years, invested her. He was the object  no less of her love than her pride. She looked upon him as the last representative of a family, honoured among the most honourable, and destined to transmit to posterity his ancestral name, with unblemished and still more exalted lustre. She resolved he should ennoble himself by marriage, and would have scorned, as degrading, the thought that love might make the youth a rebel to her will. She believed the affections entirely under the control of the reason, and looked upon the passions as vassals to be dragged at its chariot wheels. Lucy was not loved by her friends, but she was respected and esteemed for the firmness of her principles, and the strength of her mind. But Roland loved as much as he revered her. His heart was a fountain of warm and generous affections, and it flowed out towards her, his only sister, in the fulness of a current, that found no other legitimate channel. Accustomed to yield his rash and ardent impulses to the direction of her cooler judgment, he looked up to her as the mentor of his follies, rather than as the companion of his youthful amusements, and now, after an absence of several months, partly from pleasure and partly from business, he looked forward to meeting her with something of the feelings of a son, blended with the affection of a brother. His arrival at Mr. Worthington's was hailed with a burst of joy, for Roland had a face of sunshine and a voice of melody, that shed light and music wherever he went. In relating his adventures, he failed not to give due interest to his interview with the Shakers, and laughed over the Quixotism that exposed him to so stern a rebuke. The pretty little Shakeress did not lose any of her attractions in his romantic description, and he dwelt upon her dovelike eyes, melting beneath the snows of her antiquated cap, her sweet, appealing countenance and spiritual air, till Mr. Worthington's childless heart warmed within him, and Lucy listened with apprehensive pride lest her brother's excited imagination should convert this obscure unknown into a heroine of romance. It was but a transient alarm, for she knew that the waves of the Atlantic would soon roll between them, and Roland, surrounded by all the glorious associations of an elder world, would cast aside every light and ignoble fancy, and fit himself for the high station in society she felt he was born to fill.

After an absence of four years Roland Gray appeared once  more in the family circle of Mr. Worthington. His hair had assumed a darker shade, and his cheek a darker glow, but the same sunshiny spirit lighted up his brow and animated his lips; it was Roland Gray still, only the bloom of boyhood was lost in the sunniness of manhood. Lucy's handsome, but severe countenance was so irradiated with joy, it was almost dazzling from the effect of contrast: and as she sat by his side, and gazed in his face, she felt that all her affections and her hopes were so completely centered in him, they could be separated only with the breaking of her heart. Happy as Roland was in being reunited to his sister, his attention was not so engrossed as to forget the kindly greetings due to the other members of Mr. Worthington's household.

"I have an adopted daughter to introduce you to," said Mr. Worthington, drawing forward a young girl who, on the entrance of Roland, had retreated behind a stand of geraniums, and busied herself in picking off the faded leaves. Roland had become too familiar with beauty in foreign climes, to be surprised into admiration of a face however fair, but there was a sweetness, a modesty and simplicity diffused over the young face before him, that interested his feelings and disarmed his judgment. He could scarcely tell the colour of her eyes, for they were downcast, but there was something in the play of her features, that implied she sympathized in the pleasure his coming had excited. "Roland," continued Mr. Worthington, evidently delighted with the reception he had given his favourite, "this is my daughter Grace, whom Providence has kindly given to cheer a widowed and childless heart. You know I look upon you almost as my son, so you will find in her, I trust, another sister to love." Roland held out his hand with great alacrity to seal this new compact, but the pretty Grace drew back with an embarrassment he was unwilling to increase, seeing it was entirely unaffected; and there was something in Lucy's glance that told him she resented the idea of such a partnership in his affections. He could not but marvel where good old Mr. Worthington had found such a fairy gift, but believing the mystery would be explained in due time, he promised himself no slight gratification in studying a character, concealed under such a veil of bashfulness and reserve. The twilight hour found the brother and sister walking together towards their accustomed seat under the sycamore boughs, the scene of many of Lucy's former counsels, and Roland's high resolves. She wanted to be alone  with him—to guard him against a thousand dangers and snares, visible only to her proud and jealous eye. "Oh! Roland," said she, taking his hand and looking earnestly in his face—"do you return unchanged?—may I still, as wont, presume to counsel, to direct, and to sustain?" "Unchanged in everything as regards my affection for you, my dear sister," replied he—"be still my mentor and my guide, for I fear, with all the worldly wisdom I have acquired, I am often the same impulsive being you have so long tried in vain to bring under the square and compass of reason and right. Now, I feel at this moment an irresistible impulse to know who is this pretty God-send of Mr. Worthington's; did she drop down from the skies, or did she come on the wings of the wind?"

"I am glad you have opened the subject, Roland, for I brought you here to warn you of that girl's influence. Do not laugh, for, knowing you so well, I feel bound to prevent any imposition on your open, generous nature. I do not know who she is, probably some poor child of shame and desertion, whom Mr. Worthington discovered and educated, for it is but a year since he brought her from school, and introduced her as his adopted daughter. He made a long visit to his relatives, since you left us, and found her, I believe, in the family of his brother, in a dependent and perhaps menial situation. Charmed by her beauty and beguiled by her arts, the good man conceived the romantic design of educating her as his own, and now he is felicitating himself with another project, that of securing for this nameless foundling the heart and the fortune of Roland Gray." Roland had heard too much about gentle blood and honourable parentage, and been too much under the influence of his aristocratic sister, not to shrink from the supposition of such an union, but he protested against the word arts, which Lucy had used in reference to Grace, for she looked the most artless of human beings; and he accused her of injustice towards Mr. Worthington, who in his singleness of heart was incapable of making a project of any kind. "You must not think it strange," said Lucy, "that I, a woman should not be blinded by the beauty of one of my own sex, and I know I am superior to the weakness of envy. With an insight into character which has never deceived me, I know that girl to be vain, selfish, and calculating. Mr. Worthington may claim her as his daughter, but he shall never impose her on me, by the name of sister." Those who have witnessed the empire an elder sister of commanding mind and manners is  capable of obtaining over a younger brother's judgment, will not be surprised that Roland learned to look upon Grace with distrustful eyes, though he could not believe in the duplicity Lucy ascribed to her character, and he invariably treated her with that consideration due to the situation she held in Mr. Worthington's family. It was impossible, however, to be domesticated with her, to be seated at the same table, parties in the same amusements, near each other in the evening circle, and the moonlight walks, notwithstanding the unsleeping vigilance of Lucy, not to feel the reality of her loveliness, her simplicity and truth. There was something about her that haunted him like a dream, and whenever she turned her eyes towards him, he experienced a sudden thrill of recollection, as if he had seen that fair face before. In the evening Mr. Worthington often challenged Lucy to a game of chess, for though not a skilful performer, he was extravagantly fond of the game, and Lucy had no rival in the art. She now regretted this accomplishment, as it threw her brother more immediately into companionship with Grace, whose conversation, when unrestrained, was perfectly bewitching, from a mixture of bright intelligence, quick sensibility, and profound ignorance of the vices and customs of the world. It was evident she felt oppressed by Lucy's scrutinizing gaze, for when she was conscious of its withdrawal, her spirits rebounded with an unobtrusive gayety, that harmonized admirably with the life and vivacity of Roland's disposition.

One evening, as Lucy was absorbed in the crisis of the game, Grace was busily plying her needle, making some garments for a poor woman, whose house and wardrobe were completely consumed by fire, the previous night; all the ladies in the neighbourhood were contributing their part towards relieving her wants, and a very pretty little girl, with a basket half-filled with her mother's offerings, was waiting till Grace had put the last stitches into a cap, whose fashion seemed to fix the particular attention of Roland. The child, who was a petted favourite in the family, caught up the cap the moment it was completed, and drawing it over the soft brown locks of Grace, laughingly fastened the linen bands. Roland uttered so sudden an exclamation, it made Lucy start from her seat, upsetting bishop, knight, and royalty itself. The mystery was revealed, the pretty little Shakeress stood before him. The close linen border, under which every lock of hair was concealed, transformed at once the fashionable and elegant young lady into  the simple and humble Shaker girl. A scene, which the lapse of years and the crowding events of a transatlantic tour had effaced from his memory, returned vividly to his recollection. He wondered he had not recognised her earlier, but the hue of the soft gray eye was darkened, and its light more warm and shifting, her complexion had a richer colouring, and shadows of bright hair relieved the fairness of a brow where intelligence and sensibility now sat enthroned. Then her figure—now revealed in all the graces of womanhood, was it the same he had seen muffled in the stiff starched shirt and 'kerchief, moving on high-heeled shoes with large shining buckles? Grace blushed deeply beneath his riveted gaze, and hastily snatching the cap from her head, folded it with the other garments she had made into the basket, and bade the little girl hasten to her mother. "What is the meaning of all this bustle?" said Lucy, looking at Grace with so much asperity it made her involuntarily draw closer to Mr. Worthington. "It means," said Roland, delighted and excited by the discovery he had made, and forgetting his sister's daily cautions—"it means that I have found my pretty Shakeress at last. Ah! Mr. Worthington, why did not you tell me that your adopted daughter and my fair unknown were one?" Mr. Worthington laughed, and taking the hand of Grace drew her upon his knee. "Because the world is full of prejudice, and I did not like to expose my girl to its influence. I always wanted to tell you, but Grace insisted I should allow you to find it out yourself, for she told me about the bold youth, who almost stared her out of her devotion and her wits. Nay, Grace, I owe him a thousand thanks, for had he not warmed my old heart by a description of your loveliness, I never should have gone so far out of my journey to visit your village, begged you of the good people for my own, nor would I now have such a sweet blossom to shed fragrance over my declining years."

"And how," exclaimed Roland with irresistible curiosity, "how came she amongst them?" Before Mr. Worthington could reply, Grace clasped her hands earnestly together, and cried, "I was a stranger, and they took me in; I was an orphan and they clothed me, sheltered and—" Previously much agitated, Grace here entirely lost her self-command, and leaning her head on the shoulder of Mr. Worthington, she wept audibly. Lucy actually trembled and turned pale. She saw that her empire was tottering from its foundation. Accustomed  to interpret every change of her brother's countenance, she read with terror the intense expression with which his eyes were fixed on Grace. She was willing he should marry from ambition, but not for love. She had never for a moment admitted the idea that another should supplant her in his affections—a jealousy far more dark and vindictive than that excited by love, the jealousy of power, took possession of her soul, mingled with a bitter hatred towards the innocent cause of these emotions. Through life she had bowed the will of others to her own, and as long as no opposition roused the strength of her passions, she maintained a character of integrity and virtue, that bid defiance to scandal and reproach. She did not know herself the evil of which she was capable, but now the lion was unchained in her bosom, and chafed and wrestled for its prey. Too politic to attempt checking too suddenly the tide of feeling, yet too angry to hide her own chagrin, she left the room, and meditated in what manner she could best arrest the evil she dreaded. She failed not, however, to breathe a warning whisper into her brother's ear as she passed out. Here Mr. Worthington entreated Grace to tell Roland all she knew of herself, assuring her, in his simplicity, that no one, next to himself, felt so deep an interest in her, as he did. Roland felt no disposition to contradict this assertion, and joined his own entreaties so earnestly to Mr. Worthington's, Grace hesitated not to relate her simple history. It could be comprised in a few words. She told of her sad and almost desolate childhood, of her dwelling in a little cottage deep in the woods, remote from neighbours or friends; of a dark and cruel man she called father—here Grace's voice grew low and husky—of a pale, sick, and dying mother, who was found by a good Shaker, on the bed of death, and who committed her orphan child to the care of the kind Samaritan. The man who had deserted her mother, in the extremity of her wants, never appeared to claim his child. She was cherished in the bosom of that benevolent society, where Roland first beheld her, grateful for their kindness, though yearning after freedom and the fellowship of youth, till Mr. Worthington came, and offered her the love and guardianship of a father, if she would occupy a daughter's place in his heart and home. Her father's name was Goldman, which she had willingly resigned for that of Worthington, for the memory she had of him, was like a dark and terrible dream—fearful to remember. The dread that he might  appear some day to claim her, often made her shudder in the midst of her happiness; but as so many years had passed away, it was more natural to suppose he had expiated his cruelty with his life.

Had Mr. Worthington conceived the project that Lucy had suggested, and been aware at the same time of Roland's family pride, it is not probable he would have induced her to reveal to him the sad events of her childhood; and had Grace been the artful being described, she would never have told with such straightforward simplicity and deep sensibility of her father's brutality and vices, nor expressed the startling fear, that he might still assert the forfeited rights of nature, and tear her from the arms of her benefactor. Such thoughts as these filled the breast of Roland, as Grace continued her affecting recital, where truth was attested by her blushes and her tears. She unclasped from her neck a golden chain, from which a miniature was suspended, the sole relic of her mother. The chain was beautifully wrought, and indicated that however abject was the condition to which the owner had been reduced, she had once been accustomed to the decorations of wealth. The miniature was that of a gentleman in the prime of life, with a dark, but interesting countenance, and dignified bearing. Grace knew not whether it was her father's picture, for she had but a faint recollection of his features, and the Shaker who discovered it around her mother's neck, after she was speechless in death, could give her no information.

Here was mystery and romance, innocence, beauty, and youth; and Roland felt as if he would gladly twine them together, and bind them around his heart, as all "he guessed of heaven." But while his imagination was weaving the garland and revelling in its fragrance, the vision of

"A sister's jealous care,

A cruel sister she,"

rose before him, and the wreath faded and the blossoms fell. With a stinging sensation of shame, he admitted the conviction, that he feared his sister. He had long worn her fetters unconsciously, but now, when for the first time they galled and restrained him, his pride and his heart rebelled against the hand that bound him in thraldom. Grace retired that night, with a thousand bright hopes hovering round her pillow. Roland then was her first benefactor. It was he, who had awakened the interest of Mr. Worthington, and directed him  to her retreat. He, the handsome and noble-looking youth, whose dark piercing eyes had kindled in her such yearnings after the world from which she was excluded, and who for four years had been the morning and evening star on the horizon of her memory. She knew something of this before, but she had never realized it so fully as now; for he had himself confirmed it, by words, which, though simple in themselves, were unutterably eloquent, accompanied by such looks—she blushed even in the darkness, as she caught herself involuntarily repeating, "and have I found my pretty Shakeress at last?" For two or three days, Roland avoided being alone with Lucy, but to his surprise, she did not seem to desire an opportunity to renew her warnings. On the contrary, she was more kind and affectionate towards Grace than she had ever been before, who, in the confidingness of innocence, relied on her unwonted testimonies of favour, as the harbingers of her dearest wishes. "Grace," said Lucy—they were alone and secure of interruption, for Mr. Worthington and Roland were both absent on business—"Grace, are you willing to tell me of what you are now thinking?" Grace started—she had fallen into an unconscious revery, and her work lay idly in her lap; her cheeks glowed painfully, but with that habitual reverence for truth which always distinguished her, she answered, "I was thinking of Roland." Unprepared for such perfect ingenuousness, Lucy hesitated a moment, and conscience upbraided her for the part she was about to act, but again fixing her keen eye on a countenance as transparent as crystal, she continued: "Has Roland ever told you that he loved you?" Grace crimsoned still more deeply from wounded modesty and shame, while she answered in a low voice, "Never!" "Then," said the inquisitor, drawing a relieving breath, "Grace, your task is easy, and I rejoice that he has made it so; you must not think of Roland, you must not love him, for he never can be to you anything more than he now is." Grace turned deadly pale, but she did not speak, and Lucy went on—"My brother was my father's only son, and is sole heir of a name long conspicuous for its honours. Our parents died when we were both young; but I, as the elder, became the guardian and guide. To me, on his death-bed, my father committed my young brother, charging me with the solemnity of that awful hour, to guard his honour from stain, and his name from degradation. My father was a proud and haughty man, and he has transmitted to his children a  portion of his own spirit. Grace, you have told me all the circumstances of your life; you know there is mystery, but you may not know in your extreme simplicity, that there may be disgrace in your birth. The golden chain that wreathes your neck, shows that your mother was not born to poverty. Why then did she flee from her friends, to bury herself in solitude with the dark and cruel man you called father; and why are you an alien from your kindred? You ought to know these truths, which the mistaken kindness of your friends conceals from you, and I reveal them to you, that you may not encourage hopes that never can be realized; to convince you, you can never be the wife of Roland. For myself, hear me, Grace, to the end—if Roland could forget himself so far as to think of such an union, I would forever disown him as a brother, and load with maledictions the being who had brought such misery on us both." All the strong passions at work in Lucy's bosom, sent their baleful lustre to her eyes, and poor Grace shrunk from their beams as if they were withering her very heart. Brought up in the midst of that gentle and subdued sisterhood, in whose uniform existence the passions seemed cradled into unbroken slumber, she had almost forgotten their existence. The terrible dreams of her childhood were brought back to her. The curses of her father again rung in her ears—the helpless cries of her mother. She clasped her hands despairingly over her eyes—she knew she had been poor and wretched; but benevolence and charity had administered to her wants, and the very remembrance of poverty had faded from her mind; but disgrace—that there was a disgrace attached to her that made it sinful in her to love Roland Gray, that debarred her from an union with the honourable and good—that was the thought that crushed her, that chilled her blood, and turned her cheeks to marble and her lips to ashes. Lucy paused, and attempted to soothe the agony she had excited. Cold herself to the softer emotions, she had no faith in the eternity of love. Grace, like a child robbed of its plaything, now wept and refused to be comforted, but she would soon smile animated by some new-born hope. Thus Lucy tried to reason, while she held her chill grasp on the heart of Grace, and bound her still more closely to her will. "Promise me," said she, "that you will not reveal to any one the conversation of this morning—Mr. Worthington has deceived you, and you would not meanly appeal to the compassion of Roland—promise this, and you shall find in me  a friend who will never forsake you in weal or woe. Deny it, and you will create an enemy whose power can make you tremble." Grace, with all her woman's pride rising to her relief, at the idea of appealing to the compassion of Roland, gave the desired promise, and still more—she voluntarily declared she would rather die than think of Roland, after what Lucy had just uttered. Lucy, satisfied with her promise, for she knew her truth, embraced her with commendations which fell heedlessly on poor Grace's paralyzed ears—she withdrew to her chamber, "for her whole head was pained and her whole heart sick;" and when Mr. Worthington and Roland returned, Grace was said to be unable, from indisposition, to join the circle, where she was wont to preside an angel of light and joy. The sympathy and sorrow excited by so common an event, reconciled Lucy more than anything else, to her selfishness and cruelty. But was she happy in the success of her operations! She had planted thorns in the bosom of another—but were there none rankling in her own! Could she, a daughter of this land of republicanism, shelter herself under the cold shadow of family pride, from the reproaches of her own conscience? Ah! no! the heart is its own avenger, and for every drop of sorrow wilfully wrung from the eyes of another, shall be doomed to give only tears of blood.

Roland wondered at the change that had come over Grace, and sought by every means to ascertain the cause, but she seemed wrapped in a cloud of impenetrable reserve. She avoided him, but in so quiet a manner, it appeared to him more the result of sudden indifference or aversion, than unexplained resentment. The sunshine of her smile was gone, and an expression of calm apathy settled on her brow, where the alternations of feeling had lately flitted, like the lights and shadows of a moonlight landscape. Roland sometimes had a painful suspicion of his sister, but she had always been so open in all her actions, so undisguised in her least amiable traits, that notwithstanding all the prejudice she had manifested towards Grace, he believed her incapable of any mean or dark designings. Mr. Worthington was anxious and alarmed. He was sure some incipient and insidious disease was the cause of her pale and dispirited appearance. He was constantly feeling her pulse, and inquiring her symptoms, and insisting upon calling in a physician, till poor Grace, really glad to shelter herself from observation, under the pretext held out, acknowledged herself ill, and passively submitted to a course of  medicine, which reduced her soon to a state of real debility and suffering. They applied blisters to her forehead to still its hot throbbings; they drew blood from her veins to reduce her feverish pulse, and Lucy sat by her bedside and administered to her unweariedly, and discussed the nature of her malady, and talked of its different stages; while all the time she knew it was herself who had coldly and deliberately dried up the fountain of hope and joy, and love, which had sent such roses to her cheek and sunbeams to her eye. She sometimes trembled in the darkness of night, at the possibility that Grace might die, under the regimen of this imaginary disease; and then a voice whispered in hollow murmurs, in her ears, "Thou shalt sleep no more, for thou hast murdered sleep." But in day's broad light a witness to Roland's abstraction, anxiety and gloom, she steeled her conscience, in reflecting on the necessity of the act. Let not Grace be condemned, as too weak and yielding, as too blind an instrument in the hands of another. Her education had been peculiar, and her natural disposition was extremely sensitive and timid. The first years of her life had been passed in terror and sorrow—terror for her father's cruelty, and sorrow for her mother's woe. Everything around her was tumultuous and fearful, and she learned to shudder at the awful manifestations of evil passions, before she knew them by name. Transplanted to a scene, where everything breathed of peace and silence, where industry, neatness, and order were heaven's first laws, where the voice of dissension was unheard, and the storms of passion unfelt, her spirit had been so hushed and subdued, her sensibilities so repressed, and her energies held down, she moved along her daily path a piece of beautiful and exquisite mechanism, but whose most powerful springs had never been touched. It is true she loved the kind and gentle Shakers, but it was with a tranquil feeling of gratitude and trust. The visit of Roland Gray acted as an electrical communication between her and the world to which he belonged. It seemed to her it must be inhabited by angels; and when Mr. Worthington came and induced her benefactor to resign her to his care, she welcomed the change as into the garden of Eden. In the seclusion of a school, her timidity still induced her to shrink within herself; in the companionship of Lucy, she felt awe-struck and abashed; but Roland came, and then she realized the paradise of her imagination. Everything around her was music and beauty and love—flowers sprang up in the waste places, water gushed  from the rock, and melody filled the air. To be forbidden to think of him, to be commanded to wrench him from her heart, to be made to think of herself as a low and disgraced being—Grace would have shuddered at the idea of impiety, but when she laid her head on her pillow, willing to be thought sick, rather than wretched, she certainly wished to die. But the strength of youth, though prostrated, rebounded from the pressure. She was not doomed to the curse of a granted prayer. The Providence that had so long watched over her destiny, still kept its unseen but slumbering vigils. Grace remembered her old friends, the Shakers, and yearned once more for their still and passionless existence. She prayed Mr. Worthington to take her there so earnestly, he did not hesitate to grant her request, believing the journey would invigorate her constitution and change of scene animate her mind. She spoke not of remaining, and the wish was so natural and grateful, it could not excite surprise or censure.

"You see," said Lucy to her brother, the night before Grace's departure, "the influence of early habits. Perhaps all this time Grace has been pining after the Shakers. She has been suffering from a kind of calenture, and when she sees their green plain, and quiet village, she will be happy." "Impossible!" cried Roland, completely thrown off his guard by Lucy's sudden insinuation. "She is strange and unaccountable, but I never will believe anything so preposterous. She, that sweet, lovely, spiritual creature, to be immured again in their cold walls, and to wish it, and pine after it! By heavens! Lucy, if I could believe such a thing, I would go this moment and prevent the immolation. I will not deceive you; I do not care any longer for pride and empty sounding names, and birth and parentage. It is ridiculous to think of such things in this republican country. Grace is equal to the highest; for she claims her birthright from the Almighty himself, and carries on her brow the signet of heaven." "Stop, Roland, for heaven's sake, and hear me." "I will not stop," continued Roland, a spirit of determination flashing from his eyes she had never seen in them before; "shall I sacrifice my happiness to a shadow, a bubble? No! I have hesitated too long; I love Grace; I love her with all my heart and soul, and I will go this moment and tell her so." He laid his hand upon the latch, but Lucy sprang forward like lightning, and seized it in her own. "One moment, Roland, only one moment; I, your only sister, ask it." Roland saw she was very  pale, and he felt her hand tremble as it grasped him. She was indeed his only sister, whom he had so much loved, and he felt he had met her prejudices with too much impetuosity; they might yield, perhaps, to softer measures. "What is it you would say, Lucy? You asked for one moment, and I have given you more." "Only promise to wait till her return; that is all I ask; I spoke in jest; you knew she would not remain; Mr. Worthington will never leave her. Promise me this, dear Roland, and I will not oppose my pride to your happiness." Lucy knew that she was uttering a falsehood, for she herself had confirmed Grace in her resolution to remain; but she had begun to weave the tangled web of deceit, and she wound herself deeper and deeper in its folds. All she wanted now was to gain time, and she then felt she should be safe. Roland promised, for delay was not sacrifice, and he was surprised and grateful for Lucy's concession.

"Grace," whispered Lucy, as she embraced and bid her farewell, "you are acting right; you will find peace and happiness in the path you seek. Be assured of my friendship and also my gratitude." Grace was mute, but she gave Lucy a look that might have melted a heart of stone.

"Grace," said Roland, "come back to us soon." He kept his promise to his sister, but his voice trembled, his hand lingered as it pressed hers in parting, and his eyes spoke a language she must have understood, had not her own been blinded with tears. She met a warm reception from the friends of her early days. The kind Susan, who had taken the first charge of her, and acted toward her a mother's part, opened her arms to receive her, and when she saw her faded colour and drooping eyes, she felt as the patriarch did when he took in his weary dove to the ark, for she knew the wanderer brought back no green olive branch of hope and joy. Susan had once known the gayeties of the world, and tasted its pleasures, but her heart had been blighted and her hopes betrayed, and finding all was vanity, to use her own expressive language she had "taken up her cross and followed her Saviour." The seal of silence was placed on the history of her heart, and Grace dreamed not that one of that tranquil tribe had ever known the tumult of human passions. By some mysterious communion, however, between soul and soul, Grace felt an assurance of Susan's sympathy, and clung to her with increased affection. It was long before Mr. Worthington would consent to leave her behind. "Only a few months," pleaded she, "and  then I shall be well and strong again; all I need is quiet." "The child is right," added Susan; "she is weary of the world, and wants rest. She shall dwell in my tabernacle, and share my pillow, and I will nourish and cherish her as my own flesh and blood. She will not be compelled to join our worship, or follow our rites, for we now look upon her as our guest, our daughter in love, but not our sister in the spirit of the Lord." Satisfied with this promise, Mr. Worthington blessed Grace, embraced her, and left her, bidding her be ready to return when the first leaf of autumn fell. She did not sit down and brood over the blighted hopes of her youth. She interested herself in all their neat and regular occupations, assisted them in gathering the leaves of the medicinal plants, in spreading them on pieces of pure white linen to dry; in collecting the garden seeds and shelling them out of their shrunken capsules, with as much readiness and grace as if she had never learned to touch the keys of the piano, or to school her steps by the dancing master's rule. Dressed in the plainest robes the fashions of the world allow, so as not to offend the austerity of their taste, with no other ornament than her shining hair, simply parted on her brow, she looked the incarnation of sweetness and humility; and Susan, seeing her dawning colour, believed she had found peace. "Thus will I live," thought Grace, "till Roland marries, and then if my adopted father claims me, I will try to find happiness in administering to his."

One evening, just as the sun had set, she returned from the garden, her white apron gathered up before her, full of damask rose leaves, while exercise and a bending position had given her cheeks a hue, warm as the twilight's glow, and calling eagerly to Susan, to present her offering for distillation, she crossed the threshold and stood before—Roland Gray. Electrified at the sight, she let go her apron, and the leaves fell in a rosy shower around her. "Grace, dear Grace!" exclaimed Roland, and both hands were clasped in his own. Now she had been called dear Grace, and sweet Grace, and pretty Grace, a thousand times in her life, but never in such a tone, and with such eyes looking down into her heart. It is easy to imagine why Roland came, and how eloquently he proved to Grace that he loved her better than all the world beside, and that he could not, and would not live without her. For a moment a flood of rapture, deep and overwhelming, flowed in upon her heart from the conviction that she was thus beloved; the next, a cold and freezing thought shot through it and turned  the current to ice. Lucy—her threatened curse, her withering enmity, her own promise of never thinking of Roland, and of never revealing what had passed between Lucy and herself—all was remembered, and suddenly withdrawing her hand from his, she turned away and wept, without the power of self-control.

Roland was amazed. She had met his avowal with such a radiant blush and smile—such love and joy had just lighted up her modest eye, and now he witnessed every demonstration of the most passionate grief. "Oh, no!" she cried, "it never can be—I had forgotten it all; but I must not listen to you—oh, no!" and she repeated the interjection in such a plaintive accent, Roland was convinced there was no deception in her woe. In vain he entreated her for an explanation. She could not give any consistent with her promise to Lucy; she could only declare her unworthiness, her poor and perhaps disgraceful origin; and this only called forth a more impassioned assurance of his disinterested love, and his disdain of such scruples. He endeavoured to soothe and caress, till Grace felt her resolution and her truth fast yielding before his influence. If she could see Lucy, and be released from her rash promise, all might yet be well. Perhaps Lucy herself, finding her brother's pride had yielded to his love, would sanction the union. This idea once admitted, changed despair into hope. "Wait," said she, "till I return, and then, if the obstacle I fear no longer exists,"—she paused a moment, and her truth-telling lips constrained her to utter—"I shall be the happiest of human beings." Roland, now believing the obstacle to be Lucy, resolved she should not stand any longer in the way of their happiness, pressed for no further explanation. He had departed unknown to her, for he dreaded her violence. When Mr. Worthington returned alone, he dreaded Grace might sacrifice herself, as Lucy insinuated, and determined to bear her away ere it was too late. Grace poured into Susan's calm but sympathizing ear the story of her love and the obstacles that opposed it. Her single heart was too narrow to contain the fulness of her emotions. Susan applauded her integrity, but trembled at her idolatry. She reminded her of the mutability and uncertainty of all earthly things, and strengthened her in the resolution never to accept the vows of Roland, with the threatened vengeance of Lucy hanging over her love. "Oh, she will relent!" cried Grace; "Roland's sister cannot be such a monster." Had the chastened Susan witnessed her parting  with Roland, she would have read a still more solemn lesson on the sinfulness of earthly affections; but she only saw the consequent sorrow, which she was too gentle to reprove.

The leaves of autumn soon fell, and then everything was changed in the destiny of Grace. Mr. Worthington claimed his child, and when Susan resigned her, her last words bid her pray for strength to keep her virtuous resolution.

It would be difficult to describe the passions that struggled for mastery in Lucy's breast, when she learned from her brother the part he had acted. Incapable of concealing them at first, and believing she had lost the affection of Roland, she no longer disguised the bitterness of her heart. She hated Grace still more, since she was conscious she had injured her, and when she, appealing in behalf of Roland's happiness as well as her own, entreated her to free her from her promise, she turned a deaf ear to the prayer, and claimed the fulfilment of her word, renewing the same fearful penalty—"Unless," she added, with a scornful smile, "you can prove your family equal to ours, and that your alliance will bring no disgrace."

Strange paradox of the human heart! Had Lucy taken scorpions into her bosom, she could not have suffered keener pangs than the consciousness of Roland's alienated affection caused her; yet she refused to bend her stubborn pride, and wrapped herself up in the sulliness of self-will, feeling a kind of stern joy that she had made others as wretched as herself.

Grace was standing in a lighted saloon, leaning on the arm of Mr. Worthington, and an unwilling partaker of the gay scene. A tall and majestic-looking man passed the spot where she stood, whose appearance excited her interest and curiosity, for he was evidently a stranger in the throng of fashion and wealth, then gathered together. The suns of warmer climes had darkened his face, and added gloom to features of a fine and noble expression. As Grace lifted her mild gray eyes his somewhat stern countenance relaxed, and turning round he gazed earnestly in her face. Abashed by his scrutiny, she moved into another part of the room; still the tall stranger followed, with his melancholy eyes, pursuing her figure. Roland, never far from the object of his apparently hopeless devotion, now jealous and irritated, drew to her side. "Oh, Roland," said she, suddenly agitated by a new emotion, "there is something in that stranger's face, resembling this!"—and  she drew from her bosom the miniature suspended from the golden chain. There was indeed a resemblance, only the face of the picture was younger, and the sable locks unbleached. The stranger observed the motions of Grace, and pressed forward, while the miniature was still open in her hand. "Pardon me, madam," said he, earnestly, "I must be pardoned—but allow me to look at that picture." Grace with trembling fingers unloosed the chain, and gave it into the stranger's hand. "It was once my mother's," said she, in a faltering voice, "and her name was Grace Goldman." "Was"—said the stranger—"and yet how could it be otherwise?—she was my sister—my only sister—and you"—he became too much agitated to finish the sentence, and entirely forgetting the throng that surrounded them, he clasped Grace to his bosom, as the living representative of his lost and lamented sister. Yes! in Mr. Maitland, the rich merchant, just returned from the East Indies, Grace had found an uncle, which proved her lineage to be such, that even the proud Lucy must acknowledge to be equal to her own. His sister, the mother of Grace, had eloped, when very young, with a handsome but profligate man, and being cast off by her parents, she was soon doomed to eat the bread of poverty, in consequence of her husband's excesses. Her brother, as soon as he learned her situation, offered to support her through life, declaring his intention never to marry, if she would leave her unprincipled husband. But she, in the strength of that passion which hopes all, believes all, and endures all, refused to leave the man she still loved, and whom she still trusted she might reclaim. Her brother, finding her wedded to her fate, left her with a purse of gold and his own miniature as a parting pledge of love, and departed for a foreign land. Forced to fly from the clamours of his creditors, Goldman removed his wife from place to place, till she was far out of the reach of former friends, when, plunging deeper and deeper in the gulf of inebriation, he left her to die, as we have described, of a broken heart. For himself, he died a drunkard's death by the wayside, and was buried by the same humane society that protected his orphan child. This circumstance had been concealed from Grace, nor did she learn it, till her subsequent visit to the Shaker village. Mr. Maitland, who had dwelt long in other lands, accumulating wealth, which his generous heart longed to share with the friends of his early youth, returned to mourn over the graves of his parents, and to seek in vain intelligence of his lost sister, till he saw  in the crowd the lovely form of Grace, such as her ill-fated mother was in the days of her beauty and youth. Lucy could with sincerity offer her congratulations and welcome as a sister the niece of Mr. Maitland, though she had scorned the alliance of the humble Shaker girl. But she felt she was degraded in her eyes, and this was a punishment to her proud spirit, keener than the task-master's lash. Mr. Maitland's gratitude to Mr. Worthington was boundless as it was warm; but he longed to see the kind Samaritans, who had soothed his sister's dying hours and guarded her orphan child.

It was a happy day for Grace, when, as the bride of Roland, she accompanied her husband and her uncle to the home of her early youth. She introduced with pride the noble-looking stranger to all her true and single-hearted friends. "But here," said she, throwing her arms round Susan, "here is my mother and my mother's friend." Mr. Maitland would gladly have lavished wealth upon them, in remuneration for their cares, but they steadfastly refused his gifts, asserting they had only done their duty, and merited no reward. "Do unto others, as we have done towards yours," replied these followers of our Saviour's golden rule. "When you hear us reviled by the world, and our worship scorned, and our rites ridiculed, defend us if you can; and if one of the disciples of our creed should be in need of succour, be unto him as a brother, and we ask no more." "Dear Susan," said Grace, when the parting hour arrived, as she lingered behind to bid her farewell, "am I not the happiest of human beings?" "I bless God that you are happy, my child," answered Susan, laying her hand solemnly on her head—"and long, long may you remain so; but forget not, days of darkness may come, that the bridal garments may be changed for sackcloth, and ashes be scattered over the garlands of love. Remember then, O Grace, there is a refuge from the woes and vanities of the world, where the spirit may wait in peace for its everlasting home." Grace wept, but she smiled through her tears, and, seated once more at Roland's side, she felt as if darkness and sorrow could never be her portion.