Bracelet by Caroline Lee Hentz
We were all seated in a piazza, one beautiful summer's
night. The moonbeams quivered through the interlacing vines
that crept fantastically over the latticework that surrounded
it. My grandmother sat in an arm-chair in the centre of the
group, her arms quietly folded across her lap, her hair white
and silvery as the moonbeams that lingered on its parted folds.
She was the handsomest old lady I ever saw, my revered
grandmother, and in the spring of her years had been a reigning
belle. To me she was still beautiful, in the gentle quietude
of life's evening shades, the dignity of chastened passions,
waiting hopes, and sustaining religious faith. I was her favourite
grandchild, and the place near her feet, the arm laid across
her lap, the uplifted eye fixed steadfastly on her face, constant
as the recurrence of the still night hour, told a story of love
and devotion on my part, which defied all competition. As I
sat this night, leaning on her lap, I held her hand in mine,
and the thought that, a few more years, that hand must be cold
in the grave, incapable of answering the glowing pressure of
mine, made me draw a deep inspiration, and I almost imagined
her complexion assumed an ashen hue, prophetical of death.
The weather was warm, and she wore a large loose wrapper,
with flowing sleeves, left unconfined at the wrist. As I moved
her hand, the folds of the sleeve fell back, and something pure
and bright glittered in the moonlight. She made a movement
to draw down the sleeve, but the eager curiosity of childhood
was not to be eluded. I caught her wrist, and baring it to
the gaze of all, exclaimed—
"Only think—grandmother has got on a bracelet—a pearl
bracelet! Who would think of her indulging in such finery?
Here are two sweet pearl lilies set together in a golden clasp,
with golden leaves below them. Why, grandmother, you must
be setting up for a bride!"
"It was a bridal gift," replied she, sliding the bracelet on
her shrunken arm; "a bridal gift, made long ago. It was a
foolish thought, child. I was looking over a casket, where I
have deposited the choicest treasures of my youth, and I
clasped it on my wrist, to see how my arm had fallen from its
fair proportions. My mind became so lost in thinking of the
story of this gem, I forgot to restore it to the place where it
has so long lain, slumbering with the hoarded memories of
"A story!" we all eagerly exclaimed,—"please tell it—you
promised us one to-night."
"Ah! children, it is no fairy tale, about bright genii, and
enchanted palaces, and ladies so beautiful that they bewitch
every one who comes within the magic reach of their charms.
It is a true tale, and has some sad passages in it."
"Grandmother," said I, in a dignified manner, "I hope
you don't think me so silly as not to like anything because it
is true. I have got over the Arabian Nights long ago, and I
would rather hear something to make me feel sorry than glad—I
always do feel sad when the moon shines on me, but I
can't tell the reason why."
"Hush! Mina, and let grandmother tell her story—you
always talk so much," said little Mitty, who sat on the other
side of her venerable relative.
The old lady patted with one hand the golden head of the
chider, but the arm clasped by the magic bracelet was still imprisoned
by my fingers, and as she proceeded in its history,
my grasp tightened and tightened from the intenseness of my
interest, till she was compelled to beg me to release her.
"Yes," said she, in a musing tone, "there is a story depending
on this, which I remember as vividly as if the events
were of yesterday. I may forget what happened an hour ago,
but the records of my youth are written in lines that grow
deeper as time flows over them."
She looked up steadily for a few moments, appearing to my
imagination like an inspired sibyl, then began as follows:
"When I was a young girl, I had no brothers or sisters, as
you have, but was an only, I might say a lonely child, for my
father was dead and my mother an invalid. When I returned
from school, I obtained permission to invite a sweet young
cousin of mine, whose name was Eglantine, to be my companion.
We were affluent, she was poor; and when my mother
proposed to make our house her home, she accepted the offer
with gratitude and joy. She was an interesting creature, of
a peculiar temperament and exquisite sensibility. She was
subject to fits of wonderful buoyancy, and equal despondency;
sometimes she would warble all day, gay and untiring as the
bird perched on yonder spray, then a soft melancholy would
sit brooding on her brow, as if she feared some impending
misfortune. This was probably owing to the peculiar circumstances
of her infancy, for she was born during her mother's
widowhood, and nursed by a mother's tears. A poetical friend
had given her the name of Eglantine, and well did her beauty,
sweetness, delicacy, and fragility justify the name. In our
girlhood we grew together, like the friends of the Midsummer's
Night, almost inseparable in body, and never divided in
heart, by those little jealousies which sometimes interpose their
barriers to young maidens' friendships. But I see little Mitty
has fallen asleep already. My story is too grave for the light
ears of childhood. I shall be obliged, too, to say something
about love, and even you, Mina, are entirely too young to
know anything of its influence."
"Oh! but I do know something, grandmother," exclaimed
I, impulsively; "that is, I have read—I have thought"—I
stammered and stopped, unable to express my own vague
"You may not be too young to sympathize, but certainly
too young to feel," said my grandmother, mildly; "but,
ardent and sympathizing as your nature is, it will be hard for
you to carry back your mind to the time when all the warm
passions and hopes of youth were glowing in my bosom. It
is enough to say that there was one who came and rivalled
Eglantine in my affections, one to whom I was betrothed, and
to whom I was to be shortly wedded. It was on such an eve
as this, so clear and bright, that he gave me the pledge of our
betrothal, this bracelet of pearl, and clasped it on an arm which
then filled the golden circlet. Perhaps you wonder that the
first token of love should not have been a ring; but Ronald
did not like to follow the track of other men, and even in
trifles marked out for himself a peculiar and independent
course. That night, when I retired to my chamber, I found
Eglantine seated at the open window, apparently absorbed in
the contemplation of the starry heavens. She sat in a loose
undress, her hair of pale gold hung unbound over her shoulders,
and her head, being slightly thrown back, allowed the
moonlight to flood her whole face with its unearthly radiance.
"'You look very beautiful and romantic, dear Eglantine,' said
I, softly approaching her, and throwing my arms round her
neck; 'but come down from the stars a little while, my sweet
cousin, and share in my earthborn emotions.' My heart was
too full of happiness, my spirits too excited, not to overflow
in unreserved confidence in her bosom. She wept as I poured
into her ears all my hopes, my recent vows, and future schemes
of felicity. It was her usual manner of expressing deep sympathy,
and I loved her the better for her tears. 'All I wonder
at and blame in Ronald is,' and I spoke this in true sincerity,
'that he does not love you better than me. Never,
till this evening, was I sure of his preference.'
"Eglantine withdrew herself from my arms, and turned her
face to the shadow of the wall. There was something inexplicable
in her manner that chilled, and even alarmed me. A
thought, too painful to be admitted, darted for a moment to
my mind. Could she be jealous of Ronald's love for me?
Was my happiness to be built on the ruin of hers? No! it
could not be. She probably feared my affections might become
alienated from her in consequence of my new attachment.
Such a fear was natural, and I hastened to remove it
by the warmest professions, mingled with covert reproaches for
her doubts and misgivings.
"I had a young waiting-maid, who, next to Eglantine,
was the especial object of my regard. She was the daughter
of a gentlewoman, who, from a series of misfortunes, was reduced
to penury, to which was added the helplessness of disease.
To relieve her mother from the pressure of immediate
want, the young Alice offered herself as a candidate for a state
of servitude, and I eagerly availed myself of the opportunity
of securing the personal attendance of one so refined in manner
and so winning in appearance. Alice now came forward,
as was her custom, to assist me in preparing for my nightly
rest. She was about to unclasp the bracelet from my wrist,
but I drew back my arm. 'No, no, Alice,' said I, 'this is
an amulet. Sweet dreams will come to my pillow, beckoned
by its fairy power. I cannot sleep without it. See how beautifully
the lilies gleam in the moonlight that gilds my couch.'
Alice seemed as if she could never weary in admiring the
beauty of the ornament. She turned my arm to shift the rays,
and catch the delicate colouring of the pearls, and looped up
the sleeve of my night-dress in a fantastic manner, to display
it fully to her gaze. Once or twice I thought I saw the eyes
of Eglantine fastened upon it with a sad, wistful expression,
and the same exquisitely painful thought again darted to my
mind. I struggled against its admission, as degrading both to
myself and her, and at last fell asleep, with my arm thrown
on the outside of the bed, and the bracelet shining out in the
pure night-beams. Alice slept in a little bed by the side of
mine, for I could not bear that a creature so young and delicate,
and so gentle bred, should share the apartments devoted
to the servants, and be exposed to their rude companionship.
She generally awoke me with her light touch or gentle voice,
but when I awoke the next morning, I saw Alice still sleeping,
with a flushed cheek and an attitude that betokened excitement
and unrest. Eglantine sat at her window, reading,
dressed with her usual care by her own graceful fingers. In
the school of early poverty she had learned the glorious lesson
of independence, a lesson which, in my more luxurious life,
I had never acquired. 'Alice must be ill,' said I, rising, and
approaching her bedside; 'she looks feverish, and her brows
are knit, as if her dreams were fearful.' I bent down over
her, and laid my hand upon her shoulder, to rouse her from
her uneasy slumbers, when I started—for the precious bracelet
was gone. Eglantine laid down her book at my sudden exclamation,
and Alice, wakening, looked round her with a bewildered
expression. 'My bracelet!' repeated I—'it is gone.'
I flew to my couch; it was not there. I looked upon the carpet,
in the vain hope that the clasp had unloosed, and that it had
fallen during the night. 'Alice,' cried I, 'rise this moment,
and help me to find my bracelet. You must know where it is.
It never could have vanished without aid.' I fixed my eyes
steadfastly on her face, which turned as hueless as marble.
She trembled in every limb, and sunk down again on the side
of the bed.
"'You do not think I have taken it, Miss Laura?" said
she, gasping for breath.
"'I do not know what to think,' I answered, in a raised
tone; 'but it is very mysterious, and your whole appearance
and manner is very strange this morning, Alice. You must
have been up in the night, or you would not have slept so unusually
"'Do not be hasty, Laura,' said Eglantine, in a sweet,
soothing voice; 'it may yet be found. Perhaps it is clinging
to your dress, concealed in its folds. Let me assist you in
searching.' She unfolded the sheets, turned up the edges of
the carpet, examined every corner where it might have been
tossed, but all in vain. In the mean while Alice remained like
one stupefied, following our movements with a pale, terrified
countenance, without offering to participate in the search.
"'There is no use in looking longer, Eglantine,' said I,
bitterly. 'I suspect Alice might assist us effectually to discover
it, if she would. Nay, I will not say suspect—I believe—I
dare to say, I know—for conscious guilt is written in
glaring characters on her countenance.'
"'Do not make any rash accusations, Laura,' cried Eglantine;
'I acknowledge appearances are much against her, but
I cannot think Alice capable of such ingratitude, duplicity,
"Alice here burst into a passionate fit of weeping, and declared,
with wringing hands and choking sobs, that she would
sooner die than commit so base and wicked a deed.
"'Oh! Miss Eglantine,' she exclaimed, 'didn't you take
it in sport? It seems as if I saw you in a dream going up to
Miss Laura, while she was asleep, and take it from her wrist,
softly, and then vanish away. Oh! Miss Eglantine, the more
I think of it the more I am sure I saw you,—all in sport, I
know,—but please return it, or it will be death to me.'
"The blood seemed to boil up in the cheeks of Eglantine,
so sudden and intense was the glow that mantled them.
"'I thought you innocent, Alice,' said she, 'but I see,
with pain, that you are an unprincipled girl. How dare you
attempt to impose on me the burthen of your crime? How
dare you think of sheltering yourself under the shadow of my
"The vague suspicions which the assertion of Alice had
excited, vanished before the outraged looks and language of
the usually gentle Eglantine. Alice must have been the transgressor,
and in proportion to the affection and confidence I had
reposed in her, and the transcendent value of the gift, was my
indignation at the offence, and the strength of my resolution
to banish her from me.
"'Restore it,' said I, 'and leave me. Do it quietly and
immediately, and I will inflict no other punishment than your
own reflections, for having abused so much love and trust.'
"'Search me, if you please, Miss Laura, and all that belongs
to me,' replied Alice, in a firmer tone, 'but I cannot
give back what I have never taken. I would not, for fifty
thousand worlds, take what was not mine, and least of all from
you, who have been so kind and good. I am willing to go,
for I would rather beg my bread from door to door, than live
upon the bounty of one who thinks me capable of such guilt:'
with a composure that strangely contrasted with her late violent
agitation, she arranged her dress, and was walking towards
the door, when Eglantine arrested her—
"'Alice, Alice, you must be mad to persist in this course.
Confess the whole, return the bracelet, and Laura may yet
forgive you. Think of your sick mother. How can you go
to her in shame and disgrace?'
"At the mention of her mother, Alice wept afresh, and
putting her hand to her head, exclaimed—
"'I feel very, very sick. Perhaps we shall die together,
and then God will take pity on us. The great God knows I
am innocent of this crime.'
"Grandmother," interrupted I, unable to keep silence any
longer, "tell me if she was not innocent. I know she must
have been. Who could have taken it?"
"Do you think Eglantine more likely to have stolen it from
her cousin, who was to her, as it were, another soul and
"Oh! no," I replied, "but I shall feel unhappy till I discover
the thief. Please, grandmother, go on. Did Alice
really go away?"
"Yes, my child," answered my grandmother, in a faltering
voice, "she went, though my relenting heart pleaded for her
to linger. Her extreme youth and helplessness, her previous
simplicity and truthfulness, and her solemn asseverations of
innocence, all staggered my belief in her guilt. It was a mystery
which grew darker as I attempted to penetrate it. If
Alice were innocent, who could be guilty—Eglantine? Such
thought was sacrilege to her pure and elevated character,
her tried affection for me, her self-respect, dignity, and truth.
Alice returned to her mother, in spite of our permission for
her to remain till the subject could be more fully investigated.
"When the door closed upon her retreating form, I sat
down by the side of Eglantine, and wept. The fear that I
had unjustly accused the innocent, the possibility, nay, the
probability that she was guilty, the loss of the first pledge of
plighted love, indefinite terrors for the future, a dim shade of
superstition brooding over the whole, all conspired to make me
gloomy and desponding. We were all unhappy. Ronald tried
to laugh at my sadness, and promised me 'gems from the
mine, and pearls from the ocean,' to indemnify me for my loss,
yet I watched every change of his expressive countenance, and
knew he thought deeply and painfully on the subject. The
strange suspicion which had risen in my mind the preceding
night, with regard to Eglantine's feelings towards him, revived
when I saw them together, and I wondered I had not observed
before the fluctuations of her complexion, and the agitation of
her manner whenever he addressed her. He had always treated
her with the kindness of a brother—that kindness now made
me unhappy. I was becoming suspicious, jealous, and self-distrustful,
with a settled conviction that some strange barrier
existed to my union with Ronald, a destiny too bright and too
beautiful to be realized in this world of dreams and shadows.
My mother was firm in her belief of the guilt of Alice, who
had never been a favourite of hers. Perhaps I lavished upon
her too many indulgences, which displeased my mother's soberer
judgment. She forbade all intercourse with her, all
mention of her name, but she was ever present to my imagination;
sometimes the shameless ingrate and accomplished deceiver,
at others the eloquent pleader of her outraged innocence.
One day Eglantine came to me, and laid her hand on mine
with a look of unspeakable dismay—
"'I have heard,' said she, 'that Alice is dying. Let us
go to her, Laura, and save her, if it be not too late.'
"What I felt at hearing these words I never can tell,—they
pressed upon me with such a weight of grief—her innocence
seemed as clear to me as noonday—my own unkindness
as cruel as the grave. Quickly as possible we sought the cottage
where her mother dwelt, and a piteous spectacle met our
eyes. There lay Alice, on a little bed, pale, emaciated, and
almost unconscious; her once bright hair dim and matted;
her sweet blue eyes sunk and half closed; her arms laid listlessly
by her side, the breath coming faint and flutteringly
from her parted lips. On another bed lay her poor, heart-broken
mother, unable to relieve the sufferings of her she would
gladly have died to save. Frantic with grief, I threw myself
by the side of Alice, and disturbed the solemn stillness of the
death-hour with my incoherent ravings. I declared her innocence;
I called upon her to live, to live for my sake, and
throwing my arms wildly round her wasted form, struggled to
hold her back from the grave yawning beneath her. It was
in vain to cope with Omnipotence. Alice died, even in the
midst of my agonies, and it was long before I was able to
listen to the story of her illness, as related by her disconsolate
mother. She had returned home sick and feverish, and
sick and feverish she evidently was on her first awakening,
and that wounded spirit, which none can bear, acting on a diseased
frame, accelerated the progress of her fever till it settled
on her brain, producing delirium, and ultimately death. During
all her delirium, she was pleading her cause with an angel's
eloquence, declaring her innocence, and blessing me as her
benefactress and friend."
Here my grandmother paused, and covered her eyes with
her handkerchief. I laid my head on her lap, and the ringlets
of little Mitty's hair were wet with my tears. I felt quite
broken-hearted, and ready to murmur at Providence for placing
me in a world so full of error and woes.
"Did you ever feel happy again, dear grandmother?" asked
I, when I ventured to break the silence,—curiosity was completely
merged in sympathy.
"Yes, Mina, I have had hours of happiness, such as seldom
falls to the lot of woman, but those bright hours were like the
shining of the gold that comes forth purified from the furnace
of fire. The mother of Alice soon followed her to the grave,
and there they sleep, side by side, in the lonely churchyard.
Eglantine soothed and comforted me, and endeavoured to stifle
the self-upbraidings that ever sounded dolefully to my heart.
Alice had been the victim of inexplicable circumstances, and
so far from having been cruel, I had been kind and forbearing,
considering the weight of evidence against her. Thus reasoned
Eglantine, and I tried to believe her, but all my hopes
of joy seemed blighted, for how could I mingle the wreath of
love with the cypress boughs that now darkened my path?
Ronald pressed an immediate union, but I shrunk with superstitious
dread from the proposition, and refused the ring, with
which he now sought to bind my faith. 'No, no,' I cried,
'the pledges of love are not for me—I will never accept another.'
"My mother grew angry at my fatalism. 'You are nursing
phantasies,' said she, 'that are destroying the brightness of
your youth. You are actually making yourself old, ere yet
in your bloom. See, if there are not actually streaks of gray
threading your jetty hair.' I rose and stood before a mirror,
and shaking my hair loose from the confining comb, saw that
her words were true. Here and there a gleam of silver wandered
through those tresses which had always worn that purple
depth of hue peculiar to the raven's plumage. The chill
that penetrated my heart on the death-bed of Alice, had thus
suddenly and prematurely frosted the dark locks of my youth.
My mother became alarmed at my excessive paleness, and proposed
a journey for the restoration of my spirits and health.
Ronald eagerly supported the suggestion, but Eglantine declined
accompanying us. She preferred, she said, being alone.
With books at home, and Nature, in the glory of its summer
garniture, abroad, she could not want sources of enjoyment. I
did not regret her determination, for her presence had become
strangely oppressive to me, and even Ronald's manners had
assumed an embarrassment and constraint towards her very
different from their usual familiarity. The night before our
departure I felt more melancholy than ever. It was just such
a night as the one that witnessed our ill-starred betrothal. The
moon came forth from behind a bed of white clouds, silvering
every flake as it floated back from her beauteous face, and diffusing
on earth the wondrous secret of heavenly communion.
I could not sleep; and as I lay gazing on the solemn tranquillity
of the night heavens, I thought of the time when 'those
heavens should be rolled together as a scroll, and the elements
melt with fervent heat,' and I, still thinking, living, feeling,
in other, grander, everlasting scenes, the invisible dweller of
my bosom's temple assumed such magnitude and majesty in
my eyes, the contemplation became overwhelming and awful.
The sublime sound of the clock striking the midnight hour—and
all who have heard that sound in the dead silence of the
night, can attest that it is sublime—broke in on my deep abstraction.
Eglantine, who had lain wrapped in peaceful slumbers,
here softly drew back the bed-cover, and rising slowly,
walked round with stilly steps to the side where I reclined,
and stood looking fixedly upon me. 'Eglantine!' I exclaimed,
terrified at her attitude and singular appearance. 'Eglantine,
what is the matter?' She answered not, moved not, but remained
standing, immovable, with her eyes fixed and expressionless
as stone. There she stood, in the white moonlight,
in her long, loose night-dress, which hung around her, in her
stillness, like the folds of the winding-sheet, her hair streaming
down her back in long, lifeless tresses, and lighted up on
her brow with a kind of supernatural radiance—and then those
death-resembling eyes! I trembled, and tried to draw the sheet
over my face, to shut out the appalling vision. After a few
moments, which seemed interminable to me, she bent over me,
and taking my right hand, felt of my wrist again and again. Her
fingers were as cold as marble. My very blood seemed to congeal
under her touch. 'It is gone,' murmured she, 'but it
is safe—I have it safe. It fits my wrist as well as hers.' Terrified
as I was at this unexpected apparition, my mind was
clear, and never were my perceptions more vivid. The mystery
of the bracelet was about to be unravelled. Poor Alice's
assertion that she had seen Eglantine standing by my side,
and taking the bracelet from my wrist, came back thundering
in my ears. 'It is gone,' replied Eglantine, in the same low,
deep voice, 'but I know where it is laid; where the bridegroom
or the bride can never find it. Perhaps the moon shines
too brightly on it, and reveals the spot.' Thus saying, she
glided across the floor, with spirit-like tread, and opening the
door, disappeared. In the excess of my excitement I forgot
my fears, and hastily rising, followed her footsteps, determined
to unravel the mystery, if I died in the act. I could catch
the glimpses of her white garments through the shadows of
the winding staircase, and I pursued them with rapid steps,
till I found myself close behind her, by the door which opened
into the garden. There she stood, still as a corpse, and again
the cold dew of superstitious terror gathered on my brow. I
soon saw a fumbling motion about the keyhole, and the door
opening, she again glided onward towards the summer-house,
my favourite retreat, the place where I had received this mysterious
bracelet—the place where Flora had collected all her
wealth of bloom. She put aside the drooping vines, sending
out such a cloud of fragrance on the dewy air, I almost fainted
from their oppression, and stooping down over a white rose-bush,
carefully removed the lower branches, while the rose-leaves
fell in a snowy shower over her naked feet. 'Where is
it?' said she, feeling about in the long grass. 'It isn't in the
spot where I hid it. If she has found it, she may yet be a
bride, and Ronald still her own.' She stooped down lower
over the rose-bush, then rising hastily, I saw, with inexpressible
agitation, the lost bracelet shining in the light that quivered
with ghostlike lustre on her pallid face. With a most unearthly
smile she clasped it on her wrist, and left the arbour,
muttering in a low voice, 'I will not leave it here—lest she
find out where it lies, and win back her bridal gift. I will
keep it next my own heart, and she cannot reach it there.'
Once more I followed the gliding steps of Eglantine, through
the chill silence of night, till we ascended the stairs, and entered
our own chamber. Quietly she laid herself down, as if
she had just risen from her knees in prayer, and I perceived
by her closed lids and gentle breathing, that a natural sleep
was succeeding the inexplicable mysteries of somnambulism."
"She was walking in her sleep, then, grandmother!" I exclaimed,
drawing a long breath. "I thought so all the time;
and poor Alice was really innocent! And what did Eglantine
say the next morning, when she awaked, and found the bracelet
on her arm?"
"She was astonished and bewildered, and knew not what to
think; but when I told her of all the events of the night, the
truth of which the bracelet itself attested, she sunk back like
one stricken with death. So many thoughts crowded upon
her at once in such force, it is no wonder they almost crushed
her with their power. The conviction that her love for Ronald
could no longer be concealed, the remembrance of the accusation
of Alice, which she had so indignantly repelled, the apparent
meanness and turpitude of the art, though performed
without any conscious volition on her part, the belief that
another had been the victim of her involuntary crime, all united
to bow her spirit to the dust. My heart bled at the sight of
her distress, and, every feeling wrought up to unnatural strength
by the exciting scenes I had witnessed, I promised never to
wed Ronald, since the thought of our union had evidently
made her so unhappy. Eglantine contended against this resolution
with all her eloquence, but, alas! she was not destined
long to oppose the claims of friendship to the pleadings of
love. Her constitution was naturally frail, a fragility indicated
by the extreme delicacy and mutability of her complexion, and
the profusion of her pale golden hair. Day by day she faded—night
by night she continued her mysterious rambles to the
spot where she had first deposited the bracelet, till she had
no longer strength to leave her bed, when her soul seemed to
commune with the cherubim and seraphim, which, I doubt
not, in their invisible glory surrounded her nightly couch. As
she drew near the land of shadows, she lost sight of the phantom
of earthly love in aspirations after a heavenly union. She
mourned over her ill-directed sensibilities, her wasted opportunities,
her selfish brooding over forbidden hopes and imaginings.
She gave herself up in penitence and faith to her Redeemer,
in submission to her Father and her God; and her
soul at last passed away as silently and gently as the perfume
from the evening flower into the bosom of eternity."
"Oh! grandmother, what a melancholy story you have
told," cried I, looking at the bracelet more intently than ever,
the vivid feelings of curiosity subdued and chastened by such
sad revealings; "but did not you marry Ronald at last?"
"Yes," replied she, looking upward with mournful earnestness;
"the beloved grandfather, who has so often dandled you
in his arms, in this very spot where we are now seated, whose
head, white with the snows of threescore years and ten, now
reposes on the pillow all the living must press,—who now awaits
me, I trust, in the dwellings of immortality, was that once
youthful Ronald, whose beauty and worth captivated the affections
of the too sensitive Eglantine. Many, many years of
happiness has it been my blessed lot to share with him on
earth. The memories of Alice and Eglantine, softened by
time, were robbed of their bitterness, and only served to endear
us more tenderly to each other. The knowledge we had
gained of the frailty and uncertainty of life, led us to lift our
views to a more enduring state of existence, and love, hallowed
by religion, became a sublime and holy bond, imperishable as
the soul, and lofty as its destinies. I have lived to see my
children's children gather around me, like the olive branches
of scripture, fair and flourishing. I have lived to see the
companion of my youth and age consigned to the darkness of
the grave, and I have nothing more to do on earth but to fold
the mantle of the spirit quietly around me, and wait the
coming of the Son of Man."
I looked up with reverence in my grandmother's face as
she thus concluded the eventful history of the Pearl Bracelet,
and I thought what a solemn and beautiful thing was old age
when the rays of the Sun of Righteousness thus illumed its
hoary hair, and converted it into an emblematic crown of