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LESSON LX.

THE BEREAVED SISTER.

1. In the spring of 1824, I contracted an acquaintance in one of the cities of the south, with a gentleman who had removed from England to this country with two small children, the one a boy of ten years, the other a girl of nine years of age. These children were the most lovely beings I ever Their extreme beauty, their deep and artless affection, and their frequent bursts of childish and innocent mirth, made them as dear to me as if I had been the companion of their infancy.

saw.

2. They were happy in themselves, happy in each other, and in the whole world of life and nature around them. I had known the family but a few months, when my friend was compelled to make a sudden and unexpected voyage to South America. His feelings were imbittered by the thought of leaving his motherless children behind him; and as I was on the point of embarking for Liverpool, I promised to take them to their friends and relations.

3. My departure was delayed two weeks. During that period, I lived under the same roof with the little ones that had been consigned to my charge. For a few days they were pensive, and made frequent inquiries for their absent father; but their sorrows were easily assuaged, and regret for his absence changed into pleasant anticipation of his return. The ordinary sorrows of childhood are but dews upon the eagle's plumage, which vanish at the moment the proud bird springs upward into the air to woo the beautiful flashes of the morning.

4. The day of our departure at last arrived, and we set sail on a quiet afternoon of summer. The distant hills bent their pale blue tops to the waters, and as the great sun, like the image of his Creator, sunk down in the west, successive

a Liverpool; a city in England, next to London in size.

shadows of gold, and crimson, and purple, came floating over the waves, like barks from a fairy land.

5. My young companions gazed on those scenes steadily and silently, and when the last tints of the dim shore were melting into shadow, they took each other's hand, and a few natural tears gushed forth as an adieu to the land they had loved. Soon after sunset, I persuaded my little friends to let me lead them to the cabin, and then returned again to look out upon the ocean.

6. In about half an hour, as I was standing musingly apart, I felt my hand gently pressed, and on turning around, saw that the girl had stolen alone to my side. In a few moments, the evening star began to twinkle from the edging of a violet cloud. At first, it gleamed faintly and at intervals, but anon it came brightly out, and shone like a holy thing upon the brow of the evening.

7. The girl at my side gazed upon it, and hailed it with a tone which told that a thought of rapture was at her heart. She inquired, with simplicity and eagerness, whether, in the fair land to which we were going, that same bright star would be visible; and seemed to regard it as another friend, that was to be with her in her long and lonely journey.

8. The first week of our voyage was unattended by any important incident. The sea was, at times, wild and stormy, but again it would sink to repose, and spread itself out in beauty to the verge of the horizon. On the eighth day the boy arose pale and dejected, and complained of indisposition. On the following morning he was confined by a fever to his bed, and much doubt was expressed as to his fate, by the physician of the vessel.

9. I can never forget the look of agony, the look of utter woe, that appeared upon the face of the little girl, when the conviction of her brother's danger came slowly home upon her thoughts. She wept not; she complained not; but hour after hour she sat by the bed of the young sufferer, an image of

a Venus, or Hes'pe-rus, which is another name for the same star.

grief and beautiful affection. The boy became daily more feeble and emaciated.

10. He could not return the long and burning caresses of his sister; and at last a faint heaving of his breast, and the eloquence of his half closed eye, and a flush, at intervals, upon his wasted cheek, like the first violet tint of a morning cloud, were all that told he had not yet passed "the dark day of nothingness."

11. The twelfth evening of our absence from land was the most beautiful I had ever known, and I persuaded the girl to go for a short time upon deck, that her own fevered brow might be fanned by the twilight breeze. The sun had gone down in glory, and the traces of his blood-red setting were still visible upon the western waters.

12. Slowly, but brilliantly, the many stars were gathering themselves together above, and another sky swelled out in softened beauty beneath, and the foam upon the crest of the waves was lighted up like wreaths of snow. There was music in every wave, and its wild, sweet tones came floating down from the fluttering pennon above us, like the sound of a gentle wind amid a cypressa grove.

13. But neither music nor beauty had a spell for the heart of my little friend. I talked to her of the glories of the sky and sea; I pointed to her the star on which she had always loved to look; but her only answer was a sigh; and 1 returned with her to the bedside of her brother. I perceived instantly that he was dying. There was no visible struggle, but the film was creeping over his eye, and the hectic flush of his cheek was fast deepening into purple.

14. I knew not whether, at first, his sister perceived the change in his appearance; she took her seat at his side, pressed his pale lips to her own, and then, as usual, let her melancholy eye rest fixedly upon his countenance. Suddenly his looks brightened for a moment, and he spoke his sister's name. She replied with a passionate caress, and looked up to my face as if to implore encouragement.

a The cypress-tree is a dark colored evergreen, anciently used at funerals.

15. I knew that her hopes were but a mockery. A moment more, and a convulsive quiver passed over the lips of the dying boy; a slight shudder ran through his frame; and all was still. The girl knew, as if intuitively," that her brother was dead. She sat in tearless silence, but I saw that the waters of bitterness were gathering fearfully at their fountain. At last she raised her hands with a sudden effort, and pressing them upon her forehead, wept with the uncontrollable agony of despair.

16. On the next day, the corpse of the dead boy was committed to the waves. The little girl knew that it must be so, but she strove to drive the thought away, as if it had been an unreal and terrible vision. When the appointed hour was at hand, she came and begged me, with a tone that seemed less like a human voice than the low cadence of a disembodied and melancholy spirit, to go and look upon her brother, and see if he was indeed dead.

17. I could not resist her entreaties, but went with her to gaze upon the sleeping dust, to which all the tendrils of her life seemed bound. She paused by the bedside, and I almost deemed that her very existence would pass off in that long, fixed gaze. She moved not; she spoke not; till the form she loved was taken away to be let down into the ocean.

18. Then indeed she arose, and followed her lifeless brother with a calmness that might have been from heaven. The body sunk slowly and solemnly beneath the waves; a few long, bright ringlets streamed out upon the waters, a single white and beautiful glimpse came up through the glancing billows, and all that had once been joy and beauty vanished forever.

b

19. During the short residue of our voyage, the bereaved sister seemed fading away, and beautiful as a cloud in a summer zenith. Her heart had lost its communion with nature, and she would look down into the sea, and murmur incoherently of its cold and solitary depths, and call her brother's name, and then weep herself into calmness.

a Intuitively; without the intervention of argument or consideration. b Zenith; the point directly over head in the heavens.

20. Soon afterward, I left her with her friends. I know not whether she is a blossom of the earth, or whether she has long since gone to be nurtured in a holier realm. But I love the memory of that beautiful and stricken one. Her loveliness, her innocence, and her deep and holy feelings, still come back to me in their glory and quietude, like a rainbow, or a summer cloud, that has showered and passed off forever.

LESSON LXI.

THE BURIAL.

1. Ir was summer. The sun shone proudly down upon the gray mist that rose above the billows; the blushing charms of spring were passed, and the summer glow- of loveliness had succeeded. The woodlands were gay and beautiful; for Nature had clothed them in all her surpassing splendors. The mountain stream now ran, now rippled, now curled with its silver eddies, glad, sparkling in the sunbeam; now smoothly flowed along its ever-varying bed, toward its quiet home" in the world of waters."

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2. The birds warbled as sweetly in their green bowers of bliss, as if sighs and tears were things unknown. There was joy on earth; the twittering swallow, as it darted along in sunshine and shade, heeded not the bitter wailing of affliction and distress; the wild bird, in its noiseless flight, softly as falls the snow-flake, seemed unmindful of woe, as it flashed its wing across the vision, like a thought of a dream during the hushed hours of midnight, and vanished as suddenly.

3. To me the sight of their joyous felicity brought no gladness; the sounds of their mirth fell cold upon the heart; it seemed but bitter mockery, and spoke of days departed. The bright and laughing skies seemed insensible that they were smiling over ruin and decay; that one of hope's fairest,

a "The world of waters;" the ocean.

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