Изображения страниц
[ocr errors]

to heaven in the full, harmonious chorus, as it swelled onward, doubling and redoubling, and rolling upward in a full burst of rapturous devotion ! Then all was hushed again. Once more the low sound of the bell smote the air, and announced the elevation of the Host. The invalid seemed entranced in prayer. Her book had fallen beside her, her hands were clasped,-her eyes closed, her soul retired within its secret chambers. Then a more triumphant peal of bells arose. The tears gushed from her closed and swollen lids; her cheek was flushed; she opened her dark eyes, and

1 fixed them with an expression of deep adoration and penitence upon an image of the Saviour on the cross, which hung at the foot of her bed, and her lips again moved in prayer. Her countenance expressed the deepest resignation. She seemed to ask only that she might die in peace, and go to the bosom of her Redeemer.

The mother was kneeling by the window, with her face concealed in the folds of the curtain. She arose, and, going to the bedside of her child, threw her arms around her and burst into tears.

“My dear mother, I shall not live long; I feel it here. This piercing pain,-at times it seizes me, and I can not-can not breathe.”

'My child, you will be better soon."

“Yes, mother, I shall be better soon.

All tears, and pain, and sorrow will be over. The hymn of adoration and entreaty I have just heard, I shall never hear again on earth. Next Sunday, mother, kneel again by that window as to-day. I shall not be here, upon this bed of pain and sickness; but when you hear the solemn hymn of worship, and the beseeching tones that wing the spirit up to God, think, mother, that I am there, with my sweet sister who has gone before us,-kneeling at our Saviour's feet, and happy,–0, how happy!”

The afflicted mother made no reply,—her heart was too full to speak.

"You remember, mother, how calmly Amie died. She was so young and beautiful! I always pray that I may die as she did. I do not fear death, as I did before she was taken from us. But, 0,—this pain,—this cruel pain !-it seems to draw my mind back from heaven. When it leaves me, I shall die in peace.”

“My poor child! God's holy will be done!”

The invalid soon sank into a quiet slumber. The excitement was over, and exhausted nature sought relief in sleep.

The persons between whom this scene passed were a widow and her sick daughter, from the neighborhood of Tours. They had left the banks


of the Loire to consult the more experienced physicians of the metropolis, and had been directed to the Maison de santé at Auteuil for the benefit of the pure air. But all in vain. The health of the uncomplaining patient grew worse and worse, and it soon became evident that the closing scene was drawing near.

Of this Jacqueline herself seemed conscious; and toward evening she expressed a wish to receive the last sacraments of the church. A priest was sent for; and ere long the tinkling of a little bell in the street announced his approach. He bore in his hand a silver chalice containing the consecrated Host, and a small vessel filled with the holy oil of the extreme unction hung from his neck. Before him walked a boy carrying a little bell, whose sound announced the passing of these symbols of the Catholic faith. In the rear, a few of the villagers, bearing lighted wax tapers, formed a short and melancholy procession. They soon entered the sick-chamber, and the glimmer of the tapers mingled with the red light of the setting sun that shot his farewell rays through the open window. The vessel of oil and the silver chalice were placed upon the table in front of a crucifix that hung upon the wall, and all present, excepting the priest, threw themselves upon their knees. The priest


[ocr errors]

then approached the bed of the dying girl, and said, in a slow and solemn tone,

The King of kings and Lord of lords has passed thy threshold. Is thy spirit ready to receive him?"

“It is, father.”
“Hast thou confessed thy sins ?”
“Holy father, no."

“Confess thyself, then, that thy sins may be forgiven, and thy name recorded in the book of life."

And, turning to the kneeling crowd around, he waved his hand for them to retire, and was left alone with the sick girl. He seated himself beside her pillow, and the subdued whisper of the confession mingled with the murmur of the evening air, which lifted the heavy folds of the curtains, and stole in upon the holy scene. Poor Jacqueline had few sins to confess,-a secret thought or two toward the pleasures and delights of the world, a wish to live, unuttered, but which, to the eye of her self-accusing spirit, seemed to resist the wise providence of God ;—no more. The confession of a meek and lowly heart is soon made. The door was again opened; the attendants entered, and knelt around the bed, and the priest proceeded,

And now prepare thyself to receive with contrite heart the body of our blessed Lord and Re

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

deemer. Dost thou believe that our Lord Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary?”,

“I believe.” And all present joined in the solemn response, — “I believe.”

"Dost thou believe that the Father is God, that the Son is God, and that the Holy Spirit is God, three persons and one God ?”

“I believe.”

“Dost thou believe that the Son is seated on the right hand of the Majesty on high, whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead ?”

“I believe."

“Dost thou believe that by the holy sacraments of the church thy sins are forgiven thee, and that thus thou art made worthy of eternal life ?” “I believe.”

‘Dost thou pardon, with all thy heart, all who have offended thee in thought, word, or deed ?”

“I pardon them.

“And dost thou ask pardon of God and thy neighbor for all offences thou hast committed against them, either in thought, word, or deed ?”

“I do!”

“Then repeat after me,-0 Lord Jesus, I am not worthy, nor do I merit, that thy divine majesty

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »