Three Scenes in the Life of A Belle

by Caroline Lee Hentz

There was a rushing to and fro in the chamber of Ellen Loring, a tread of hurrying feet, a mingled hum of voices, an opening and shutting of doors, as if some event of overwhelming importance agitated the feelings, and moved the frames of every individual in the house. A stranger, in the apartment below, might have imagined an individual was dying, and that all were gathering round to offer the appliances of love and sympathy. But Ellen Loring, the object of all this commotion, was in all the bloom and beauty of health. She sat in a low chair and in front of a large mirror, half-arrayed in the habiliments of the ball-room, her head glowing with flowers, and streaming with ringlets, her feet encased in silk cobweb and white satin, her face flushed with excitement, her waist compressed into the smallest possible compass, while the strongest fingers the household could supply, were drawing together the last reluctant hook and eye, which fastened the rich and airy mixture of satin blonde, that fell in redundant folds round her slender person. "I am afraid, Ellen, your dress is rather too tight," said Mrs. Loring, who was superintending the process with a keen and experienced eye; "you had better not wear it, it may give you a consumption." "Ridiculous!" exclaimed Ellen, "it feels perfectly loose and comfortable; I am sure it fits delightfully. Look, Agnes," addressing a weary-looking girl who had been standing more than half an hour over her, arranging her hair in the most fashionable style. "Look, Agnes, is it not beautiful?"

"Very beautiful," answered Agnes; "but I think it would look much better if it were not so very low, and the night is so cold, I am sure you will suffer without something thrown  over your shoulders. These pearl beads are very ornamental, but they will not give warmth," lifting them up as she spoke, from a neck that "rivalled their whiteness." Ellen burst into a scornful laugh, and declared she would rather catch her death-cold, than look so old-fashioned and old-womanish. Mrs. Loring here interposed, and insisted that Ellen should wear a shawl into the ball-room, and to be sure to put it around her when she was not dancing, "for you must remember," added she, "the dreadful cough you had last winter; when you caught cold, I was really apprehensive of a consumption."

"I do think, mother, you must be haunted by the ghost of consumption. Everything you say begins and ends with consumptionI am not afraid of the ghost, or the reality, while such roses as these bloom on my cheeks, and such elastic limbs as these bear me through the dance."

Mrs. Loring looked with admiring fondness on her daughter, as she danced gayly before the looking-glass, called her a "wild, thoughtless thing," and thought it would be indeed a pity to muffle such a beautiful neck in a clumsy 'kerchief. The carriage was announced, and Agnes was despatched in a hundred directions for the embroidered handkerchief, the scented gloves, and all the et ceteras, which crowd on the memory at the last moment. Agnes followed the retreating form of Ellen with a long and wistful gaze, then turned with a sigh to collect the scattered articles of finery that strewed the room. "Happy Ellen!" said she to herself, "happy, beautiful Ellen! favoured by nature and fortune. Every desire of her heart is gratified. She moves but to be admired, flattered, and caressed. While I, a poor, dependent relative, am compelled to administer to her vanity and wait upon her caprices—oh! if I were only rich and beautiful like Ellen! I would willingly walk over burning ploughshares to obtain the happiness that is in store for her to-night."

While the repining Agnes followed Ellen, in imagination, to scenes which appeared to her fancy like the dazzling pictures described in the Arabian Nights, let us enter the ball-room and follow the footsteps of her, whose favoured lot led her through the enchanted land. The hall was brilliantly lighted, the music was of the most animating kind, airy forms floated on the gaze, most elaborately and elegantly adorned, and in the midst of these Ellen shone transcendent. For a while, her enjoyment realized even the dreams of Agnes. Conscious  of being admired, she glided through the dance, gracefully holding her flowing drapery, smiling, blushing, coquetting and flirting. Compliments were breathed continually into her ears. She was compared to the sylphs, the graces, the muses, the houris, and even to the angels that inhabit the celestial city. Yes; this daughter of fashion, this devotee of pleasure, this vain and thoughtless being, who lived without God in the world, was told by flattering lips, that she resembled those pure and glorified spirits which surround the throne of the Most High, and sing the everlasting song of Moses and the Lamb—and she believed it. Perhaps some may assert that the daughters of fashion are not always forgetful of their God, for they are often heard to call upon his great and holy name, in a moment of sudden astonishment or passion, and were a saint to witness their uplifted eyes and clasped hands, he might deem them wrapt in an ecstasy of devotion.

Ellen, in the midst of almost universal homage, began to feel dissatisfied and weary. There was one who had been in the train of her admirers, himself the star of fashion, who was evidently offering incense at a new shrine. A fair young stranger, who seemed a novice in the splendid scene, drew him from her side, and from that moment the adulation of others ceased to charm. She danced more gayly, she laughed more loudly, to conceal the mortification and envy that was spreading through her heart; but the triumph, the joy was over. She began to feel a thousand inconveniences, of whose existence she seemed previously unconscious. Her feet ached from the lightness of her slippers, her respiration was difficult from the tightness of her dress; she was glad when the hour of her departure arrived. Warm from the exercise of the dance, and panting from fatigue, she stood a few moments on the pavement, waiting for some obstructions to be removed in the way of the carriage. The ground was covered with a sheet of snow, which had fallen during the evening, and made a chill bed for her feet, so ill defended from the inclement season. The night air blew damp and cold on her neck and shoulders, for her cloak was thrown loosely around her, that her beauty might not be entirely veiled, till the gaze of admiration was withdrawn.

Agnes sat by the lonely fireside, waiting for the return of Ellen. For a while she kept up a cheerful blaze, and as she heard the gust sweep by the windows, it reminded her that Ellen would probably come in shivering with cold and reproach  her, if she did not find a glowing hearth to welcome her. She applied fresh fuel, till, lulled by the monotonous sound of the wind, she fell asleep in her chair, nor waked till the voice of Ellen roused her from her slumbers. A few dull embers were all that was left of the fire, the candle gleamed faintly beneath a long, gloomy wick—everything looked cold and comfortless. It was long before poor Agnes could recall the cheering warmth. In the mean time, Ellen poured upon her a torrent of reproaches, and tossing her cloak on a chair, declared she would never go to another ball as long as she lived—she had been tired to death, chilled to death, and now to be vexed to death, by such a stupid, selfish creature as Agnes. It was too much for human nature to endure. Agnes bore it all in silence, for she ate the bread of dependence, and dared not express the bitter feelings that rose to her lips. But she no longer said in her heart "happy, beautiful Ellen;" she wished her admirers could see her as she then did, and be disenchanted.

"Take off this horrid dress," cried Ellen, pulling the roses from her hair, now uncurled by the damp, and hanging in long straight tresses over her face. What a contrast did she now present to the brilliant figure which had left the chamber a few hours before! Her cheeks were pale, her eyes heavy, her limbs relaxed, her buoyant spirits gone. The terrible misfortune of not having reigned an unrivalled belle, completely overwhelmed her! He, whose admiration she most prized, had devoted himself to another, and she hated the fair, unconscious stranger, who had attracted him from his allegiance. The costly dress which the mantuamaker had sat up all night to complete, was thrown aside as a worthless rag; her flowers were scattered on the floor; every article of her dress bore witness to her ill-humour.

"I cannot get warm," said she; "I believe I have caught my death-cold;" and throwing her still shivering limbs on the bed, she told Agnes to bury her in blankets, and then let her sleep. Can we suppose that guardian angels hovered over the couch, and watched the slumbers of this youthful beauty? There was no hallowed spot in her chamber, where she was accustomed to kneel in penitence, gratitude, and adoration, before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Perhaps, when a mere child, she had been taught to repeat the Lord's Prayer at her nurse's knee, but never had her heart ascended unto Him, who created her for his glory, and breathed into her  frame a portion of his own immortal Spirit. She had been educated solely for the circles of fashion, to glitter and be admired—to dance, to sing, to dress, to talk, and that was all. She knew that she must one day die, and when the bell tolled, and the long funeral darkened the way, she was reluctantly reminded of her own mortality. But she banished the dreadful and mysterious thought, as one with which youth, beauty, and health had nothing to do, and as suited only to the infirmities of age, and the agonies of disease. As for the judgment beyond the grave, that scene of indescribable grandeur, when every created being must stand before the presence of uncreated glory, "to give an account of the deeds done in the body," she deemed it shocking and sacrilegious to think of a subject so awful; and, to do her justice, she never heard it mentioned except from the pulpit (for there are fashionable churches, and Ellen was the belle of the church as well as of the ball-room). Thus living in practical atheism, labouring to bring every thought and feeling in subjection to the bondage of fashion, endeavouring to annihilate the great principle of immortality struggling within her, Ellen Loring was as much the slave of vice as the votary of pleasure. Like the king of Babylon, who took the golden vessels from the temple of the Lord, and desecrated them at his unhallowed banquet, she had robbed her soul, that temple of the living God, of its sacred treasures, and appropriated them to the revelries of life. But the hour was approaching, when the invisible angel of conscience was to write on the walls of memory those mystic characters which a greater than Daniel alone can interpret.

It was the afternoon of a mild summer's day, a lovely, smiling, joyous summer day, when two female figures were seen slowly walking along a shaded path, that led from a neat white cottage towards a neighbouring grove. One was beautiful, and both were young, but the beautiful one was so pale and languid, so fragile and fading, it was impossible to behold her without the deepest commiseration. She moved listlessly on, leaning on the arm of her less fair, but healthier companion, apparently insensible of the sweet and glowing scenery around her. The birds sung in melodious concert, from every green bough, but their music could not gladden her ear; the air played softly through her heavy locks, but awaked no elastic spring in her once bounding spirits. It was the late blooming  Ellen Loring, who, according to the advice of her physician, was inhaling the country air, to see if it could not impart an invigorating influence. She had never recovered from the deadly chill occasioned by her exposure, the night of the ball, when she stood with her thin slippers and uncovered neck in the snow and the blast, in all the "madness of superfluous health." It was said she had caught a "dreadful cold," which the warm season would undoubtedly relieve, and when the summer came, and her cough continued with unabated violence, and her flesh and her strength wasted, she was sent into the country, assured that a change of air and daily exercise would infallibly restore her. The fearful word consumption, which in the days of Ellen's health was so often on the mother's lips, was never mentioned now; and whenever friends inquired after Ellen, she always told them, "she had caught a bad cold, which hung on a long time, but that she was so young, and had so fine a constitution, she did not apprehend any danger." Ellen was very unwilling to follow the prescriptions of her medical friend. She left the city with great reluctance, dreading the loneliness of a country life. Agnes accompanied her, on whom was imposed the difficult task of amusing and cheering the invalid, and of beguiling her of every sense of her danger. "Be sure," said Mrs. Loring, when she gave her parting injunctions to Agnes, "that you do not suffer her to be alone: there is nothing so disadvantageous to a sick person as to brood over their own thoughts. It always occasions low spirits. I have put up a large supply of novels, and when she is tired of reading herself, you must read to her, or sing to her, or amuse her in every possible manner. If she should be very ill, you must send for me immediately, but I have no doubt that in a few weeks she will be as well as ever."

Poor Agnes sometimes was tempted to sink under the weary burden of her cares. She wondered she had ever thought it a task to array her for the ball-room, or to wait her return at the midnight-hour. But she no longer envied her, for Ellen pale and faded, and dejected, was a very different object from Ellen triumphant in beauty and bloom. The kind lady with whom they boarded, had had a rustic seat constructed under the trees, in the above-mentioned grove, for the accommodation of the invalid. As they now approached it, they found it already occupied by a gentleman, who was so intently reading he did not seem aware of their vicinity. They were about to retire, when lifting his eyes, he rose, and with a benignant  countenance, requested them to be seated. Ellen was exhausted from the exercise of her walk; and, as the stranger was past the meridian of life, she did not hesitate to accept his offer, at the same time thanking him for his courtesy. His mild, yet serious eyes, rested on her face, with a look of extreme commiseration, as with a deep sigh of fatigue she leaned on the shoulder of Agnes, while the hectic flush flitting over her cheek, betrayed the feverish current that was flowing in her veins.

"You seem an invalid, my dear young lady," said he, so kindly and respectfully, it was impossible to be offended with the freedom of the address; "I trust you find there is a balm in Gilead, a heavenly Physician near."

Ellen gave him a glance of unspeakable astonishment, and coldly answered, "I have a severe cold, sir—nothing more."

The dry, continuous cough that succeeded, was a fearful commentary upon her words. The stranger seemed one not easily repulsed, and one, too, who had conceived a sudden and irrepressible interest in his young companions. Agnes, in arranging Ellen's scarf, dropped a book from her hand, which he stooped to raise, and as his eye glanced on the title, the gravity of his countenance deepened. It was one of ——'s last works, in which that master of glowing language and impassioned images, has thrown his most powerful spell around the senses of the reader, and dazzled and bewildered his perceptions of right and wrong.

"Suffer me to ask you, young lady," said he, laying down the book, with a sigh, "if you find in these pages instruction, consolation, or support? anything that as a rational being you ought to seek, as a moral one to approve, as an immortal one to desire?"

Ellen was roused to a portion of her former animation, by this attack upon her favourite author; and, in language warm as his from whom she drew her inspiration, she defended his sentiments and exalted his genius—she spoke of his godlike mind, when the stranger entreated her to forbear, in words of supplication, but in accents of command.

"Draw not a similitude," said he, "between a holy God, and a being who has perverted the noblest powers that God has given. Bear with me a little while, and I will show you what is truly godlike, a book as far transcending the productions  of him you so much admire, as the rays of the sun excel in glory the wan light of a taper."

Then, taking from his bosom the volume which had excited the curiosity of Ellen, on account of its apparent fascination, and seating himself by her side, he unfolded its sacred pages. She caught a glimpse of the golden letters on the binding, and drew back with a feeling of superstitious dread. It seemed to her, that he was about to read her death-warrant, and she involuntarily put out her hand, with a repulsive motion. Without appearing to regard it, he looked upon her with sweet and solemn countenance, while he repeated this passage, from a bard who had drank of the waters of a holier fountain than Grecian poets ever knew:

"This book, this holy book, on every line

Marked with the seal of high divinity,

On every leaf bedewed with drops of love

Divine, and with the eternal heraldry

And signature of God Almighty stamped

From first to last; this ray of sacred light,

This lamp, from off the everlasting throne,

Mercy took down, and in the night of time,

Stood, casting on the dark her gracious bow;

And evermore, beseeching men, with tears

And earnest sighs, to read, believe, and live."

Ellen listened with indescribable awe. There was a power and sensibility in his accent, a depth of expression in his occasional upturned glance, that impressed and affected her as she had never been before.

"Forgive me," said he, "if, as a stranger, I seem intrusive; but I look upon every son and daughter of Adam, with the tenderness of a brother, and upon whom the Almighty has laid his chastening hand, with feelings of peculiar interest. If I were wandering through a barren wilderness, and found a fountain of living water, and suffered my fellow-pilgrim to slake his thirst at the noisome pool by the wayside, without calling him to drink of the pure stream, would he not have reason to upbraid me for my selfishness? Oh! doubly selfish then should I be, if, after tasting the waters of everlasting life, for ever flowing from this blessed Book, I should not seek to draw you from the polluted sources in which you vainly endeavour to quench the thirst of an immortal spirit. Dear young fellow-traveller to eternity, suffer me to lend you a guiding hand."

Ellen Loring, who had been famed in the circles of fashion for her ready wit and brilliant repartee, found no words in which to reply to this affectionate and solemn appeal. She turned aside her head, to hide the tears which she could no longer repress from flowing down her cheeks. As the polished, but darkened Athenians, when Paul, standing on Mars Hill, explained to them "that unknown God, whom they ignorantly worshipped," trembled before an eloquence they could not comprehend, she was oppressed by a power she could not define. Agnes, who began to be alarmed at the consequences of this agitation, and who saw in perspective Mrs. Loring's displeasure and reproaches, here whispered Ellen it was time to return, and Ellen, glad to be released from an influence to which she was constrained to bow, obeyed the signal. Their new friend rose also; "I cannot but believe," said he, "that this meeting is providential. It seems to me that heaven directed my steps hither, that I might lead you to those green pastures and still waters where the Shepherd of Israel gathers his flock. You are both young, but there is one of you whose cheek is pale, and whose saddened glance tells a touching history of the vanity of all earthly things. Take this blessed volume, and substitute it for the one you now hold, and believe me you will find in it an inexhaustible supply of entertainment and delight, a perennial spring of light, and love, and joy. You will find it an unerring guide in life, and a torch to illumine the dark valley of the shadow of death. Farewell—the blessing of Israel's God be yours!"

He placed the book in the hand of Agnes, and turned in a different path. They walked home in silence. Neither expressed to the other the thoughts that filled the bosom of each. Had an angel from heaven come down and met them in the grove, the interview could hardly have had a more solemnizing influence. It was the first time they had ever been individually addressed as immortal beings, the first time they had been personally reminded that they were pilgrims of earth, and doomed to be dwellers of the tomb. The voice of the stranger still rung in their ears, deep and mellow as the sound of the church-going bell. Those warning accents, they could not forget them, for there was an echo in their own hearts, and an answer too, affirming the truth of what he uttered. That night, when Ellen, unusually exhausted, reclined on her restless couch, she suddenly asked Agnes to read her something from that book, so mysteriously given. It was the first time she  had addressed her, since their return, and there was something startling in the sound of her voice, it was so altered. There was humility in the tone, that usually breathed pride or discontent. Agnes sat down, and turned the leaves with a trembling hand.

"What shall I read? where shall I commence?" asked she, fearful and irresolute, in utter ignorance of its hallowed contents.

"Alas! I know not," replied Ellen, then raising herself on her elbow, with a wild and earnest look, "see if you can find where it speaks of that dark valley, of which he told—the dark valley of death."

By one of those unexpected coincidences which sometimes occur, Agnes at that moment opened at the twenty-third Psalm, and the verse containing this sublime allusion met her eye. She read aloud—"Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me—thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."

"Strange," repeated Ellen, and making a motion for her to continue, Agnes read the remainder of that beautiful Psalm, and the two succeeding ones, before she paused. Dark as was their understanding with regard to spiritual things, and deep as was their ignorance, they were yet capable of taking in some faint glimpses of the glory of the Lord, pervading these strains of inspiration. Agnes was a pleasing reader, and her voice, now modulated by new emotions, was peculiarly impressive. Ellen repeated again and again to herself, after Agnes had ceased, "Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty?" She had never thought of God, but as of a Being dreadful in power, avenging in his judgments, and awful in his mystery. She had remembered him only in the whirlwind and the storm, the lightning and the thunder, never in the still small voice. She had thought of death, but it was of the winding sheet and the dark coffin lid, and the lonely grave—her fears had rested there, on the shuddering brink of decaying mortality. Oh! as she lay awake during the long watches of that night, and conscience, aroused from its deadly lethargy, entered the silent chambers of memory and waked the slumbering shadows of the past—how cheerless, how dark was the retrospect! Far as the eye of memory could revert, she could read nothing but vanity, vanity! A wide, wide blank, on which a spectral hand was writing vanity, and something told her, too, that that same hand would ere long write this great  moral of life on her mouldering ashes. She cast her fearful gaze upon the future, but recoiled in shivering dread, from the vast illimitable abyss that darkened before her. No ray of hope illumined the dread immense. The Star of Bethlehem had never yet shed its holy beams on the horoscope of her destiny; not that its beams had ever ceased to shine, since that memorable night when, following its silvery pathway in the heavens, the wise men of the East were guided to the cradle of the infant Redeemer, to offer their adoration at his feet; but her eyes had never looked beyond the clouds of time, and in its high and pure resplendence it had shone in vain for her.

"I will seek him to-morrow, this holy man," said she, as hour after hour she lay gazing, through her curtains, on the starry depths of night, "and ask him to enlighten and direct me."

The morrow came, but Ellen was not able to take her accustomed walk. For several days she was confined from debility to her own room, and had ample leisure to continue the great work of self-examination. As soon as she was permitted to go into the open air, she sought her wonted retreat, and it was with feelings of mingled joy and dread, she recognised the stranger, apparently waiting their approach. This truly good man, though a stranger to them, was well known in the neighbourhood for his deeds of charity and labours of love. His name was M——, and as there was no mystery in his character or life, he may be here introduced to the reader, that the appellation of stranger may no longer be necessary. He greeted them both with even more than his former kindness, and noticed with pain the increased debility of Ellen. He saw, too, from her restless glance, that her soul was disquieted within her.

"Oh, sir," said Ellen, mournfully, "you promised me joy, and you have given me wretchedness."

"My daughter," replied Mr. M——, "before the sick found healing virtue in the waters at Bethesda, an angel came down and troubled the stillness of the pool."

Then, at her own request, he sat down by her side, and endeavoured to explain to her the grand yet simple truths of Christianity. And beginning with the law and the prophets, he carried her with him to the mount that burned with fire and thick smoke, where the Almighty, descending in shrouded majesty, proclaimed his will to a trembling world, in thunder  and lightning and flame; he led her on with him, through the wilderness, pointing out the smitten rock, the descending manna, the brazen serpent, and all the miraculous manifestations of God's love to his chosen people; then, taking up the lofty strains of prophecy, from the melodious harp of David to the sublimer lyre of Isaiah, he shadowed forth the promised Messiah. In more persuasive accents he dwelt on the fulfilment of those wondrous prophecies. Gently, solemnly he guided her on, from the manger to the cross, unfolding as he went the glorious mysteries of redemption, the depth, the grandeur, the extent, and the exaltation of a Saviour's love. Ellen listened and wept. She felt as if she could have listened for ever. At one moment she was oppressed by the greatness of the theme, at another melted by its tenderness. Those who from infancy have been accustomed to hear these divine truths explained, who from their earliest years have surrounded the household altar, and daily read God's holy word, can have no conception of the overpowering emotions of Ellen and Agnes; neither can they, whose infant glances have taken in the visible glories of creation, comprehend the rapture and amazement of those who, being born blind, are made in after years to see.

From this hour Ellen and Agnes became the willing pupils of Mr. M——, in the most interesting study in the universe; but it is with Ellen the reader is supposed most strongly to sympathize; the feelings of Agnes may be inferred from her going hand in hand with her invalid friend. Ellen lingered in the country till the golden leaves of autumn began to strew the ground, and its chill gales to sigh through the grove. What progress she made during this time in the lore of heaven, under the teachings and prayers of her beloved instructor, may be gathered from another, and the last scene, through which this once glittering belle was destined to pass.

The chamber in which Ellen Loring was first presented to the reader, surrounded by the paraphernalia of the ball-room, was once more lighted—but what a change now met the eye! She, who then sat before the mirror to be arrayed in the adornments of fashion, whose vain eye gazed with unrepressed admiration on her own loveliness, and who laughed to scorn the apprehensions of her fatally indulgent mother, now lay  pale and emaciated on her couch. No roses now bloomed in her damp, unbraided locks, no decorating pearl surrounded her wan neck, no sparkling ray of anticipated triumph flashed from her sunken eye. Pride, vanity, vainglory, strength, beauty—all were fled.

Come hither, ye daughters of pleasure, ye who live alone for the fleeting joys of sense, who give to the world the homage that God requires, and waste in the pursuits of time the energies given for eternity, and look upon a scene through which you must one day pass! There is more eloquence in one dying bed, than Grecian or Roman orator ever uttered.

The dim eyes of Ellen turned towards the door, with a wistful glance. "I fear it will be too late," said she; "mother, if he should not come before I die—"

"Die!" almost shrieked Mrs. Loring; "you are not going to die, Ellen. Do not talk so frightfully. You will be better soon—Agnes, bathe her temples. She is only faint."

"No, mother," answered Ellen, and her voice was surprisingly clear in its tones, "I feel the truth of what I utter, here," laying her wasted hand on her breast, as she spoke. "I did hope that I might live to hear once more the voice of him who taught me the way of salvation, and revealed to my benighted mind the God who created, the Saviour who redeemed me, that I might breathe out to him my parting blessing, and hear his hallowed prayer rise over my dying bed. But oh, my dear mother, it is for your sake, more than mine, I yearn for his presence—I looked to him to comfort you, when I am gone." Mrs. Loring here burst into a violent paroxysm of tears, and wrung her hands in uncontrollable agony.

"Oh! I cannot give thee up," she again and again repeated, "my beautiful Ellen, my good, my beautiful child!"

Mournfully, painfully did these exclamations fall on the chastened ears of the dying Ellen.

"Recall not the image of departed beauty, oh my mother! I made it my idol, and my heavenly Father, in infinite mercy, consumed it with the breath of his mouth. Speak not of goodness—my life has been one long act of sin and ingratitude. I can look back upon nothing but wasted mercies, neglected opportunities, and perverted talents. But blessed be God, since I have been led in penitence and faith to the feet of a crucified Saviour, I dare to believe that my sins are forgiven, and that my trembling spirit will soon find rest in  the bosom of Him, who lived to instruct and died to redeem me."

Ellen paused, for difficult breathing had often impeded her utterance; but her prayerful eyes, raised to heaven, told the intercourse her soul was holding with One "whom not having seen she loved, but in whom believing, she rejoiced with joy unspeakable and full of glory." At this moment, the door softly opened, and the gentle footsteps of him, whom on earth she most longed to behold, entered the chamber. As she caught a glimpse of that benign, that venerated countenance, she felt a glow of happiness pervading her being, of which she thought her waning life almost incapable. She clasped her feeble hands together, and exclaimed, "Oh! Mr. M——." It was all she could utter, for tears, whose fountains she had thought dried for ever, gushed into her eyes and rolled down her pallid cheeks. Mr. M—— took one of her cold hands in his, and looked upon her, for a time, without speaking.

"My daughter," at length he said, and he did not speak without much emotion, "do you find the hand of God laid heavy upon your soul, or is it gentle, even as a father's hand?"

"Gentle, most gentle," she answered. "Oh! blessed, for ever blessed be the hour that sent you, heaven-directed, to guide the wanderer in the paths of peace! Had it not been for you, I should now be trembling on the verge of a dark eternity, without one ray to illumine the unfathomable abyss. Pray for me once more, my beloved friend, and pray too for my dear mother, that she may be enabled to seek Him in faith, who can make a dying bed 'feel soft as downy pillows are.'"

Ellen clasped her feeble hands together, while Mr. M——, kneeling by her bed-side, in that low, sweet solemn tone, for which he was so remarkable, breathed forth one of those deep and fervent prayers, which are, as it were, wings to the soul, and bear it up to heaven. Mrs. Loring knelt too, by the weeping Agnes, but her spirit, unused to devotion, lingered below, and her eyes wandered from the heavenly countenance of that man of God, to the death-like face of that child, whose beauty had once been her pride. She remembered how short a time since, she had seen that form float in airy grace before the mirror clothed in fair and flowing robes, and how soon she should see it extended in the awful immobility of death, wrapped in the still winding-sheet, that garment whose folds  are never more waved by the breath of life. Then, conscience whispered in her shuddering ear, that, had she acted a mother's part, and disciplined her daughter to prudence and obedience, the blasts of death had not thus blighted her in her early bloom. And it whispered also, that she had no comfort to offer her dying child, in this last conflict of dissolving nature. It was for this world she had lived herself, it was for this world she had taught her to live, but for that untravelled world beyond, she had no guiding hand to extend. It was to a stranger's face the fading eyes of Ellen were directed. It was a stranger's prayers that hallowed her passage to the tomb. The realities of eternity for the first time pressed home, on that vain mother's heart. She felt, too, that she must one day die, and that earth with all its riches and pleasures could yield her no support in that awful moment. That there was something which earth could not impart, which had power to soothe and animate the departing spirit, she knew by the angelic expression of Ellen's upturned eyes, and by the look of unutterable serenity that was diffused over her whole countenance. The voice of Mr. M—— died away on her ear, and an unbroken silence reigned through the apartment. Her stormy grief had been stilled into calmness, during that holy prayer. The eyes of Ellen were now gently closed, and as they rose from their knees they sat down by her side, fearing, even by a deep-drawn breath, to disturb her slumbers. A faint hope began to dawn in the mother's heart, from the placidity and duration of her slumbers.

"I have never known her sleep so calm before," said she, in a low voice, to Mr. M——. Mr. M—— bent forward and laid his hand softly on her marble brow.

"Calm indeed are her slumbers," said he, looking solemnly upward; "she sleeps now, I trust, in the bosom of her Saviour and her God."

Thus died Ellen Loring—just one year from that night when Agnes followed her retreating figure, with such a wistful gaze, as she left her for the ball-room, exclaiming to herself, "Happy, beautiful Ellen!" and Agnes now said within herself, even while she wept over her clay-cold form, "Happy Ellen!" but with far different emotions; for she now followed, with the eye of faith, her ascending spirit to the regions of the blest, and saw her, in imagination, enter those golden gates, which never will be closed against the humble and penitent believer.

A few evenings after, a brilliant party was assembled in one of those halls, where pleasure welcomes its votaries.—"Did you know that Ellen Loring was dead?" observed some one to a beautiful girl, the very counterpart of what Ellen once was. "Dead!" exclaimed the startled beauty, for one moment alarmed into reflection; "I did not think she would have died so soon. I am sorry you told me—it will throw a damp over my spirits the whole evening—poor Ellen!" It was but a moment, and the music breathed forth its joyous strains. She was led in haste to the dance, and Ellen Loring was forgotten.