صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

her countenance was more cheerful than formerly, and that her reserve seemed, at last, to have entirely disappeared. She im mediately sought an opportunity of being alone with Emily, and entered into conversation with her on the subject of her own situation and feelings.

"You can scarcely imagine, my beloved Emily," said she, "how happy I am at this moment. Joy has so long been a stranger to this poor heart, that I feel as if I were in a delightful dream, and sometimes fear I shall lose all my happiness on awaking, You will, I am sure, sympathize with me, when I tell you that my dear father seems at last to have come to himself,' and to a sense of his duty. He has discovered the true character of the wicked woman who has so long governed and held him in thrall. He has solemnly sworn to dismiss her, and she is to leave the house as soon as he has made arrangements for her future provision in a distant province. It was my earnest wish to remain at home during the intervening time, as the influence which it has pleased Heaven to give me over my father's mind might have contributed to confirm his good resolutions; and, besides, I feared that Ma dame Gerard's malice might be wreaked on my dear, helpless, unoffending mother. My uncle, however, would not hear of my re maining under the same roof with her; and, as my confessor also thought it more consistent with propriety that I should re turn to school, I have reluctantly yielded, on their promising to keep a watchful eye over my poor mamma's comfort."

Emily expressed her sincere pleasure at this intelligence, and Rose resumed,

"I scarcely need tell you, my dear friend, that I have been very miserable, so much so, indeed, that I had, at one time, almost resolved to take the veil in a convent, that I might be enabled to devote myself entirely to a life of prayer for my unhappy family. The only consideration that withheld me, was the helpless situation of my beloved mother and sister. But now, I look forward to the sweet hope of devoting myself to the comfort of the dear invalid, and the education of my darling Claire. And, my kind friend, I have preferred my request about you to good Monsieur de Beauvais, and he has consented to converse with you the first day he is at leisure. Oh! what happiness, my beloved Emily! it is almost too much for your poor Rose !"

Emily smiled at the fallacy of her expectations on the latter subject, but did not wish to damp the ardor of her joy. The bell now summoned them back to the house, but as they were enter ing, they met Madame d'Elfort, who, passing her arm round Emily's waist, drew her again into the garden.

"Ma petite fille," said she affectionately, "I have long observed with pleasure the intimacy between you and Rose de Liancourt, and cannot refrain from congratulating you on having secured

such a friend. Rose is, indeed, a most superior girl,-one among a thousand. I have found it quite a privilege to be entrusted with the education of so pious, so single-hearted, and heavenly-minded a being. Her sister, who was also my pupil, was a saint,-almost an angel upon earth; and Rose is little less. Marie was early transplanted to the garden of paradise, and I cannot but fear that our sweet Rose will not be long an earthly flower. She lives but for her family, and would have devoted herself to a cloister, that she might pray for them continually, had not her confessor persuaded her that her mother's and sister's happiness, and perhaps her father's conversion, would be better secured by her remaining with them. Monsieur de Beauvais has frequently told me, that he never had under his charge a young person so eminently conscientious, so pure in heart and soul, and, at the same time, so thoroughly humble, so fervently devoted to God. Indeed, so uncommon and intense is her piety, that he does not hesitate in avowing his firm belief, that she is intended by God for some great and meritorious work, some singular and exalted destiny."

Emily's tears silently bore witness to the interest and emotion with which she heard these praises of her friend. Madame d'Elfort's being summoned away prevented the necessity of a reply; but she mentally exclaimed, as she retraced her steps to the house," Dear, dear Rose! may the Sun of Righteousness' arise on your soul, and the Holy Spirit 'guide you into all truth,' and that, indeed, will be a glorious and a blessed destiny!"

CHAPTER XXVII.

A CHANGE OF RESIDENCE.

In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.-PROV. iii. 6.

THE next fortnight was a time of separation and mourning, in Madame d'Elfort's establishment. Miss Maxwell and one of her sisters, Anna Lushington, and two of the Misses Danvers, left the school not to return, and Emma and Louisa Selwyn were also unexpectedly summoned home, in consequence of their mother's illness. Rose de Liancourt was on the eve of her departure; and the arrival of Mr. Howard, with his two younger daughters, at was the signal for Emily, Caroline, and Lydia's also bid

S

ding farewell to the circle of which they had so long formed a part. Caroline wept with overpowering emotion, on embracing her father and sisters, and Lydia was almost wild with joy, though her transports were mixed with many tears, at the recollection of her departed mother. But the greatest anxiety was excited, in the minds of both his daughters and niece, by the evident altera tion which had taken place in the appearance of Mr. Howard. He was pale, thin, and weak, and seemed not to have recovered his spirits. They trusted, however, that, when he had rested from the fatigue of travelling, he would look more like himself. They had a long conversation with him, in which he informed them that his wife had, during her short illness, requested to see their friend Mr. Morton, and that his visits and ministrations had been a source of great comfort to her, in her dying moments.

Lydia clasped her hands, and raised her eyes to heaven, with unutterable thankfulness, and Emily's heart swelled with grateful joy, while Caroline hung down her head, and continued to weep in silence.

Mr. Howard resolved to remain a few days at S, and then to take his daughters and niece to Paris, where he would place Henrietta and Julia at school, and afterwards make a small tour with Emily, Caroline, and Lydia. It was but too evident that his health was declining; but much benefit was anticipated from this proposed excursion.

The day was now fast approaching, when the young people were to separate from the little society in which they had moved for upwards of a year. There is something very sad in the breaking up of even school-associations. A number of young persons are brought together under the same roof; they engage in the same occupations, participate in the same joys and sorrows, enjoy the same privileges, live in the most familiar sisterly intercourse, and sometimes contract the closest and most endearing friendships. A few years roll on, and they are separated; one beloved face disappears after another; and their places are supplied by others, till the whole society assumes a new aspect. The persons who once composed it are scattered on the face of the earth; the links of familiar intercourse are broken asunder; and oh! how seldom do those of friendship endure! It may be said with truth, that many school-intimacies are but the effects of inexperience and misplaced affection, and, therefore, being inexpedient, are better dissolved. Yet it is melancholy to witness the utter indifference, the cold salutation, if not the averted eye, and contemptuous look, between those who once shared the same chamber, perhaps the same bed, and seemed almost to have but one heart.

Emily felt all this, as she looked round on her young _companions; but her heart melted in peculiar sympathy for Helen, who seemed almost overwhelmed by the thought of the heart-soli

tude in which she was soon to be left. She expressed an earnest desire to accompany Emily and Caroline to the Lord's table, the following Sabbath, the last they were to spend at Madame d'Elfort's. She had never yet partaken of that solemn ordinance; and Emily felt it her duty to impress on her mind the necessity of coming to it in humble faith, and with a sincere resolution of de voting herself to God. She found her timid, fearful, and selfabased, but anxiously desirous of coming to Christ alone for salvation, and of living to his glory, by walking in "the narrow way that leadeth unto life." She lent her an excellent little work on the subject, entitled "The Christian Guest," and encouraged her to come to him who has graciously invited the "weary and heavy-laden."

Miss Bradford was to spend that afternoon with some friends, and several of the young ladies expressed the greatest pleasure at this circumstance, as they hoped to enjoy a comfortable hour of serious devotion, with Emily once more as their leader and instructress. Before she began to read prayers, however, Emily spoke a few words of mild reproof to several of the young ladies, whom she knew to have behaved irreverently during the service, since it had been conducted by Miss Bradford, and expressed a hope that they would not again be guilty of so great a sin. Some of them hung down their heads, ashamed of their conduct; Fanny Gordon, and one or two more, exchanged looks of scornful resentment; but the others endeavored to extenuate their fault, by saying that Miss Bradford herself had no religion, and did not set them a good example. Emily, however, entreated them to re member that, even if it were so, her sin would not lessen or ex cuse theirs, and that "every one must give an account of himself to God." They promised to be more attentive in future, and their behavior on the present occasion was certainly most decorous. The greatest seriousness prevailed during the prayers, and when they read a chapter in the manner to which they had before been accustomed, conversing on it as they proceeded, the greater num ber seemed to enter into the subject with deep and lively interest.

Emily then read the Missionary Prayer, for the last time ; for, as Miss Bradford had refused to enter into their missionary plan, it was necessary that their little association should be dissolved. A last collection was made, and the whole amount of their fund, which was indeed but a trifle, comparatively considered, was entrusted to Emily, who the next day transmitted it to Mrs. Somerville, for the benefit of the Church Missionary Society.

It was then agreed that this, their last solemn meeting, should be concluded, as formerly, by singing a hymn, which was chosen by mutual consent. It was one from an old collection, but was considered peculiarly appropriate to their present-circumstances. It began with these words,

Our hearts by love together knit,
Cemented, joined in one,

One hope, one heart, one mind, one voice,
"Tis heaven on earth begun.

And ended with the following lines,

And when Thou mak'st Thy jewels up,
And sett'st Thy starry crown;
When all thy glittering gems shall shine,
Proclaimed by Thee Thine own;
May we, we little band of love,

We sinners, saved by grace,-
From glory into glory changed,

Behold Thee face to face !

"Tis almost done,-'tis almost o'er,-
We're joining those who've gone before?
We soon shall meet on that blest shore,
We soon shall meet to part no more.

Whatever might be the merits of this hymn, considered merely as a poetical composition, its effect on those who now sang it was powerful and striking. At the expression, we little band of love," they all rose simultaneously from their seats, and joining their hands, as by one common impulse, remained thus linked together, till the hymn was finished. Tears of emotion, of affection, and regret, were glittering in almost every eye; and, at the conclusion, they rushed into each other's arms, and wept and sobbed, as they embraced their departing friends.

This burst of feeling was rather disagreeably interrupted, by the sarcastic laugh and insulting mockery of a French girl, Clémentine Vermont, who had been listening to them in the adjoining room, with the intention of turning the Protestant service into ridicule. The little party, therefore, broke up, and retired to the garden. But Mademoiselle Vermont did not long remain un punished. Rose de Liancourt had heard her, and soon accosted her with an indignant rebuke. Clémentine replied with scornful defiance; Rose warmly remonstrated on the shameful impropriety of her conduct, and was answered with violent invectives; till the loudness of the dispute attracted the notice of Madame d'Elfort, who insisted on being made acquainted with its cause. But it would be difficult to describe the indignation and contempt with which she regarded the discomfited Clémentine. After giving her one of those tremendous reprimands which were never forgotten, she sent for Emily, and commanded her to make an humble apology for her conduct; then, with a look and tone that admitted of no reply, she said,

"Go to your room, Mademoiselle, and remain there two days in solitude. I hope your own reflections there will convince you of the truth of what I now tell you, that the person who can, under any pretence whatever, disturb the devotions of others,

« السابقةمتابعة »