Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

now.

young girl's suffering heart needed gentle lessons, “M. Van Amberg," said she iu broken voice, affectionate advice ; and, instead of these, she was “ orders you to remain in your room. I am to take the bearer of a sentence whose severity must aggra- him the key. You are to see no one. The hour vate the evil--she was compelled to deny her sick is come, and he expects me." child the remedies that might have saved her. “A prisoner!" cried Christine ; " a prisoner

“ You love him very dearly then," said she at alone, all day! Death rather than that!" last, fixing a long, melancholy look on her daugh- “He will have it so," repeated Annunciata, ter's countenance.

mournfully; “I must obey. He will have it so.' “Oh, mother!" exclaimed Christine, “I love And she approached the door, casting upon Chris hiin with all my soul! My life is passed in expect- tine a look of such ineffable love and grief, that the ing, seeing, remembering him! I could never young girl, fascinated by the gaze, let her depart make you comprehend how entirely my heart is his. without opposition. The key turned in the lock, Often I dream of dying for him, not to save his life, and Annunciata, supporting herself by the banister, that were too easy and natural, but uselessly, at his slowly descended. She found M. Van Amberg command.”

alone in the parlor. “ Hush! Christine, hush! you frighten me,” You have been a long time up stairs," said he. cried Annunciata, placing both hands upon her " Have you convinced yourself that your daughter daughter's mouth. By a quick movement Christine saw the student Herbert this morning ?” disengaged herself from her mother's arms.

“She did,” murmured Annunciata. “Ah!” she exclaimed, “you know not what it “ You have told her my orders?'' is to love as I do! My father could never let him- " I have done so. self be loved thus !"

“Where is the key?". She gave it him. “ Be silent, my child ! be silent !" repeated An- “Now to dinner," said M. Van Amberg, walknunciata energetically. “Oh, my daughter! how ing into the dining-room. Annunciata endeavored to instil into your heart thoughts of peace and duty! to follow him, but her strength failed her, and she Almighty Father! bless my weak words, that they sank upon a chair. may touch her soul! Christine, hear me !"

M. Van Amberg sat down alone to his dinner. Annunciata took her daughter's hands, and com- A prisoner !” repeated Christine in her solipelled her to stand before her. “My child," she tude; "apart from all! shut up! Yon meadow said, “ you know nothing of life; you walk at ran- was too wide a range; the house too spacious a dom, and are about to wander from the right path. prison. I must have a narrower cell, with more All young hearts have been troubled as yours is visible walls—a straiter captivity! They deprive

The noble ones have struggled and tri- me of the little air I breathed-the scanty liberty umphed; the others have fallen! Life is no easy I found means to enjoy !" and pleasant passage; its trials are many and pain- She opened the window to its full extent; leaned ful—its struggles severe ; believe me, for us women upon the sill, and looked at the sky. It was very there is no true happiness without the bounds of dark; heavy clouds hid the stars; no light fell upon duty. And when happiness is not our destiny, the earth ; different shades of obscurity alone marked many great things still remain to us. Honor, the the outlines of objects. The willows, so beautiful esteem of others, are not mere empty words. Hear when Herbert and the sun were there, were now a me, beloved child! That God, whom from your black and motionless mass; dead silence. reigned infancy I have taught you to love, do you not fear around. In view of nature thus lifeless and lightoffending him? Seek him, and you will find better less, hopes of happiness could hardly enter the consolation than I can offer. Christine, we love in heart. Christine was in a fever ; she felt oppressed God those from whom we are severed on earth. and crushed by unkindly influences, by the indifHe, who in his infinite wisdom imposed so many ference of friends, by a tyrant's will, even by the fetters on the heart of women, foresaw the sacrifices cold and mournful night. The young girl's heart they would entail, and surely he has kept treasures beat quickly and rebelliously. of love for hearts that break in obedience to duty." “ Be it so !” she exclaimed aloud ; “let them

Annunciata rapidly wiped the tears inundating have their way! They may render me unhappy; her fine countenance ; then clasping Christine's I will not complain. They sanctify my love by

persecution. Happy, I should perhaps have been “On your knees, my child ! on our knees both ashamed to love so much. But they rob me of air of us before the Christ I gave you! 'T is nearly and liberty; I suffer ; I weep. Ah! I feel proud dark, and yet we still discern Him-his arms seem- that my heart still throbs with joy in the midst of ing to open for us. Bless and save and console my so many evils. My sufferings will hallow my love, child, oh merciful God! Appease her heart; make will compel the respect of those who, scoffed and it humble and obedient!"

slighted it. Herbert! dear Herbert! where are you Her prayer at an end, she rose, and throwing her at this moment? Do you joyfully anticipate toarms round Christine, who had passively allowed morrow's dawn; are you busy with your boat, preherself to be placed on her knees and lifted up again, paring it for its early cruise ? Or do you sleep, she embraced her tenderly, pressed her to her heart, dreaming of the old willows in the meadow, hear. and bathed her hair with tears. My daughter,' ing the waters murmur through their branches, and she murmured between her kisses,“ my daughter, the voice of Christine promising her return? But speak to me. Utter one word that I may take with no; it cannot be ; our hearts are too united for their me as a hope! My child, will you not speak to feelings thus to differ! You are sad, my love, and

you know not why; I am sad with knowledge of “Mother, I love Herbert!" was Christine's reply. Our misfortune'i is the sole difference separation

Annunciata looked despairingly at her child, at can establish between us. When shall we meet the crucifix upon the wall, at the darkening sky again, Herbert? Alas! I know not, but meet we seen through the open window. The dinner-bell assuredly shall. If God lets me live, he will let me rang. Madame Van Amberg made a strong effort love you." o collect and express her ideas.

Christine shut the window and threw herself on

arm

your mother?

her bed without undressing. It was cold; she Again, none but Gothon disturbed her solitude. wrapped herself in her mantle, and gradually her During another long day, Christine, alternately head sank upon her breast. Her hands, at first desponding and excited, walked, wept, lamented, pressed against each other, opened and fell by her and prayed. Night came again. Nothing broke sides. She dropped asleep, like an infant, in the the silence; the lights in the red house were extinmidst of her tears.

guished one after the other. Profound darkness The first sun-rays, feeble though they were, covered the earth. Christine remained at her winawoke Christine, who sprang hastily from her dow, insensible to cold. Suddenly she started; couch. “Herbert waits for me!" she exclaimed. she heard her name pronounced in low tones at the At her age memory is better for joy than for sor- foot of the wall. She listened. row. For her the dawn of day was still a rendez- “ Christine, my daughter !" repeated the voice. vous of love. The next moment she awoke to the “ Mother!" exclaimed Christine, “you out in consciousness of her captivity. She went to the this dreadful weather! I conjure you to go in !" window, leaned out as on the previous evening, and “I have been two days in bed, my child; I have looked mournfully around. In a corner of the been unwell ; to-night I am better; I felt it imposheavens was a glow of light, intercepted by billows sible to remain longer without seeing you, who are of cloud. The pale foliage of the willows shivered my life, my strength, my health! Oh! you were in the breeze, which ruffled the leaves without right not to leave me; it would have killed me. bonding the branches; the long, fine grass of the How are you, dear Christine? Have you all you meadow was seen through a vale of fog, as yet require ? How do you live, deprived of my caundispelled by the sun. The sounds of awakening resses ?" nature had not yet begun, when a white sail stood “Dearest mother, for heaven's sake, go in! The out upon the surface of the stream, gliding lightly night is damp and cold; it will be your death!". along like the open wing of a graceful bird. It Your voice warms me; it is far from you that passed to and fro in front of the meadow; was I feel chill and faint. Dearest child, my heart sends Iowered before the trees, and then again displayed, you a thousand kisses.” bending the boat's gunwale to the water's surface, “I receive them on my knees, mother, my arms hovering continually around a point of the bank, as extended towards you. But, when shall I see you though confined within the circle of an invisible again?" fascination. At long intervals the wind brought a “When you submit, and promise to obey; when faint and scarce perceptible sound, like the last you no longer seek him you are forbidden to see, notes of a song; then the little bark again manau- and whom you must forget. My daughter, it is vred, and its sail flapped in the air. The pale tints your duty." of dawn gave way to the warmer sunbeams; pas- “Oh mother, I thought your heart could better sengers appeared upon the bank; trading boats understand what it never felt. I thought you reascended the river; the windows of the red brick spected the true sentiments of the soul, and that house opened as if to inhale the morning air. The your lips knew not how to utter the word 'forget.' boat lowered its sail, and floated slowly away at the If I forgot, I should be a mere silly child, capriwill of the current. Christine looked after it and cious, unruly, unworthy your tenderness. If 'my wept.

malady is without remedy, I am a steadfast woman, Twice during that day Gothon opened the door suffering and self-sacrificing. Good God! How of the young girl's chamber, and brought her a fru- is it you do not understand that?" gal meal. Twice did Gothon depart without utter- “ I understand," murmured Annunciata, but in ing a word. The whole day passed in silence and so low a tone, that she was sure her daughter could solitude. Christine knew not how to get rid of the not hear her. weary hours. She knelt before the crucifix, her “Mother,” resumed Christine, “ go to my father! alabaster rosary in her hand, her head raised to- summon up that courage which fails you when you wards the cross, and prayed. But her prayer was alone are concerned ; speak boldly to him, tell him for Herbert, to see him again ; she never dreamed what I have told you ; demand my liberty, my hap of praying to forget him. Then she took down the piness.” guitar, passed round her neck the faded blue riband, “I!" exclaimed Annunciata in terror, “ I brave tied on it at Seville, and which her mother would M. Van Amberg, and oppose his will!”. never allow to be changed. She struck a few chords “Not oppose, but supplicate! compel his heart of the songs she best loved; but her voice was to understand what mine experiences.; force him to choked, and her tears flowed more abundantly when see and hear and feel that my life may cease, but she tried to sing. She collected the little sprays of not my love. Who can do it if you cannot? I am willow, and placed them in a book to dry and pre- a captive. My sisters know not love, my uncle serve them. But the day was very long; and the William has never known it. It needs a woman's poor child fluttered in her prison like a caged bird, voice to express a woman's feelings.” with an anguish that each moment increased. Her “Christine, you know not what you ask. The head burned, her bosom throbbed. At last night effort is above my strength."

Seated near the open window, the cold “I ask a proof of my mother's love; I am sure calmed her a little. They brought her no light, she will give it me.” and time passed more slowly than ever. She went “I shall die in so doing. M. Van Amberg can to bed, but, deprived of her accustomed exercise, kill me by a word.” tormented by a thousand anxieties, she could not Christine started and trembled. sleep; she got up, walked about in the darkness, then, dearest mother. Forgive my egotism; I and again lay down; slumber still avoided her. thought only of myself. If my father has such terThis time her eyes, red with tears and watchful- rible power, avoid his anger. I will wait, and enness, beheld the sunrise without illusion; she did treat none but God." not for a moment forget her captivity, but looked There was a brief pause. “ Christine," said mournfully out at the little sail which, faithful to Madame Van Amberg, " since I am your only its rendezvous, came each morning with the sun. hope, your sole reliance, and you have called me to

[ocr errors]

« Do not go

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

b

your aid, I will speak to him. Our fate is in the character. Your daughter requires a protector, and hands of heaven.''

a judicious guide. Herbert has neither family, for Annunciata interrupted herself by a cry of ter-tune, nor position. He shall never be the husband ror; a hand rudely grasped her arm; M. Van Am- of a woman who bears the name of Mademoiselle berg, without uttering a word, dragged her to the Van Amberg !” house door, compelled her to enter, took out the “ Sir!” cried Annunciata, clasping her hands key, and made her pass before him into the parlor. and breathless with emotion, “ sir! the best guidA lamp burned dimly upon the table, its oil nearly ance for a woman's life is a union with the man she exhausted ; at times it emitted a bright flash, and loves! It is her best safeguard ; it strengthens her then suddenly became nearly extinguished. The against the cares of the world. I entreat you, corners of the room were in darkness, the doors Karl!” exclaimed Madame Van Amberg, falling and windows closed, perfect silence reigned; the upon her knees," have compassion on my daughonly object on which a strong light fell, was the ter ! Do not render duty a torture: do not exact countenance of M. Van Amberg. It was calm, from her too much courage! We are weak creacold, motionless. His great height, the piercing tures; we have need both of love and virtue. Place look of his pale gray eyes, the austere regularity her not in the terrible necessity of choosing between of his features, combined to give him the aspect of them. Pity, Karl, pity!" an implacable judge.

“Madame,” cried M. Van Amberg, and this time You would speak with me, madame,” said he his frame was agitated by a slight nervous trembling, to Annunciata, “ I am here, speak!"

“ Madame, you are very bold to speak to me thus ! On entering the parlor, Annunciata let herself You! you! to dare to hold such language to me! fall into a chair. Her clothes streamed with water; Silence! and teach your daughter not to hesitate her hair, heavy with rain, fell upon her shoulders, in her choice between good and evil. Do that, inher extreme paleness gave her the appearance of a stead of weeping uselessly at my feet.” corpse rather than of a living creature. Terror Yes, it is bold of me, sir, thus to address you ; obliterated memory even of what had just occurred, but I have found courage in suffering. I am illher mind was confused, she felt only that she suf- in pain--my life is worthless, save as a sacrifice fered horribly. Her husband's voice and words let my child take it, I will speak for her! Her fate restored the chain of her ideas; the poor woman is in your hands, do not crush her by a cruel decithought of her child, made a violent effort, rallied sion! An absolute judge and master should be her strength, and rose to her feet.

guarded in word and deed, for a reckoning will be “ Now then,” she murmured, “ since it must be asked of him! Be merciful to my child !"

M. Van Amberg approached his wife, took her M. Van Amberg waited in silence, his arms arm, placed his other hand on her mouth, and crossed upon his breast, his eyes fixed upon his said :wife ; he stood like a statue, assisting neither by “ Silence! I command you ; no such scenes in word nor gesture the poor creature who trembled my house, no noise and whimpering. Your daughbefore him. Annunciata looked long at him before ters sleep within a few yards of you, do not disturb speaking ; she hoped that at sight of her tears and their repose. Your servants are above, do not sufferings, M. Van Amberg would remember he awaken them. Silence! You had no business to had loved her. She threw her whole soul into her speak; I was wrong to listen to you. Never dare eyes, but not a muscle of her husband's countenance again to discuss my orders ; it is I whom your chilmoved. He waited for her to break silence. dren must obey, I whom you must obey yourself.

“I need your indulgence,” she at last said ; "it Retire to your apartment, and to-morrow let me costs me a fearful effort to address you. In general find you what you yesterday were. I do but answer; I am unaccustomed to speak first, M. Van Amberg had regained his usual calmness. and I am afraid. I dread your anger; have com- He walked slowly from the room. passion on a trembling woman, who would fain be “Oh, my daughter !” exclaimed Annunciata, silent, and who must speak. Christine's happiness despairingly, “nothing have I been able to do for is in your hands. The poor child implores me to you! Merciful Father! what will become of me, soften your rigor.

Did I refuse, not a placed between him and her, both inflexible in their creature upon earth would intercede for her. This resolves !" is why I venture to petition you, sir."

The lamp which feebly illuminated this scene of M. Van Amberg continued silent. Annunciata sorrow, now suddenly went out and left the unwiped the tears from her cheeks, and resumed with happy mother in profound darkness. The rain beat more courage.

against the windows-the wind howled—the house “ The poor child is much to be pitied ; she has clock struck four. inherited the faults you blame in me.

Christine had seen M. Van Amberg seize Ansir, I have labored hard to check them in the bud. nunciata's arm, and lead her away with him; afterI have striven, exhorted, punished, have spared nei- wards she had distinguished, through the slight ther advice nor prayers, but all in vain. "God has partitions of the house, a faint echo as of mingled not been pleased to spare me this new grief. Her sobs, entreaties, and reproaches. She understood nature is unchangeable : she is to blame, but she that her fate was deciding—that her poor mother is also much to be pitied. Christine loves with all had devoted herself for her, and was face to face her soul. Women die of such love as hers, and with the stern ruler whose look alone she usually when they do not die, they suffer frightfully. For dared not brave. Christine passed the night in terpity's sake, sir, let her marry him she loves!” rible anxiety, abandoning herself alternately to dis

Annunciata covered her face with her hands, and couragement and to joyful hopes. At her age it is awaited in an agony of anxiety her husband's reply. not easy to despair." Fear, however, predominated

“ Your daughter,” said M. Van Amberg, is over every other emotion, and she would have given still a child; she has inherited, as you say, a char- years of existence to learn what had passed. But acter that needs restraint. I will not yield to the the day went by like the previous one. She saw first caprice that traverses her silly head. Herbert none but Gothon. Her she ventured to question, is only two-and-twenty; we know nothing of his but the old servant had orders not to answer.

I

Believe me,

66

Her eyes

Another day elapsed. Christine's solitude was She grew visibly weaker, and as death approached, still unbroken, no friendly voice reached her ear, a painful anxiety took possession of her. Resigned, no kind hand lifted the veil shrouding her future. she was not calm. It was ordained her soul should The poor girl was exhausted ; she had not even the suffer and be troubled to the end. The destiny of energy of grief. She wept without complaint, al- one of her daughters disturbed her last moments; most without a murmur. Night came, and she fell she dared not pronounce the name of Christine, she asleep, exhausted by her sorrow. She had scarcely dared not ask compassion for her; a thousand conslept an hour when she was awakened by the open- ficting doubts and fears agitated her poor heart. ing of the door, and Gothon, lamp in hand, ap- She died as she had lived, repressing her tears, proached her bed. “Get up, mademoiselle,” said concealing her thoughts. From time to time she the servant, “ and follow me.

turned to her husband, but his head continued sunk Christine dressed herself as in a dream, and has- upon his hand ; not one look of encouragement tily followed Gothon, who conducted her to her could she obtain. At last came the spasm that was mother's room, opened the door, and drew back to to break this frail existence. “ Adieu ! Adieu !” let her pass. A sad spectacle met the young girl's she murmured in unintelligible accents. eyes. Annunciata, pale and almost inanimate, lay no longer obeyed her, and none could tell whom in the agonies of death. Her presentiment had not they sought. William approached his brother, and deceived her; suffering and agitation had snapped placed his hand upon his shoulder. " Karl!” he the slender strings that bound her to the earth. whispered in tones audible but to him he addressed, The light of the lamp fell full upon her features, “she is dying! Have you nothing to say to a poor whose gentle beauty pain was impotent to deface. creature who has so long lived with you and sufResignation and courage were upon her counte- fered by you? Living, you loved her not ; do not nance, over which came a gleam of joy when Chris- let her die thus ! Fear you not, Karl, lest this tine appeared. Wilhelmina and Maria knelt and woman, oppressed and slighted by you, should exwept at the foot of their mother's bed. William pire with a leaven of resentment in her heart? stood a little apart, holding a prayer-book, but his Crave her pardon before she departs." eyes had left the page to look at Annunciata, and For an instant all was silent. M. Van Amberg two large tears trembled on their lids. M. Van stirred not. Annunciata, her head thrown back, Amberg, seated beside his wife's pillow, had his seemed to have already ceased to exist. On a sudface shaded by his hand, so that none could see its den she moved, raised herself with difficulty, leaned expression.

over towards M. Van Amberg, and groped for his With a piercing cry, Christine rushed to Madame hand as though she had been blind. When she Van Amberg, who received her in her arms. found it, she bowed her face upon it, kissed it “ Mother!" she cried, her cheek against Annunci- twice, and expired in that last kiss. ata's, “it is I who have killed you! For love of “On your knees !” cried William, " on your me you have exceeded your strength.”

knees; she is in heaven! let us implore her inter“No, my beloved child, no,” replied Annunciata, cession !" And all knelt down. kissing her daughter between each word, “ I die of Of all the prayers addressed to God by man duran old and incurable malady. But I die happy, ing his life of trial, not one is more solemn than since I once more clasp you in my arms."

that which escapes the desolate heart, when a be" And they did not let me nurse you !" cried loved soul flies from earth to heaven, to stand, for Christine, indignantly raising her head; “ they con- the first time, in the presence of its Creator. cealed your illness! They let me weep for other M. Van Amberg rose from his knees. sorrows than yours, my mother!”

“Leave the room !” said he to his brother and Dearest child,” replied Annunciata gently, daughters, “I would be alone with my wife.” “ this crisis has been very sudden; two hours ago Alone, beside the bed of his dead wife, Karl Van they knew not my danger, and I wished to fulfil my Amberg gazed upon the pale countenance, to which religious duties before seeing you. I wished to think death had restored all the beauty of youth. A tear, only of God. Now I can abandon myself to the left there by human suffering, a tear which none embraces of my children,” and she clasped her other was to follow, glittered upon the clay-cold weeping daughters to her heart. “Dear children," cheek; one arm still hung out of bed, as when it said she, “ God is full of mercy to the dying, and held his hand; the head was in the position in sanctifies a mother's benediction. I bless you, my which it had kissed his fingers. He gazed at her, daughters ; remember and pray for me."

and the icy envelop that bound his heart was at The three young girls bowed their heads upon last broken. “ Annunciata !” he exclaimed, “ Antheir mother's hand, and replied by tears alone to nunciata !” this solemnn farewell.

For fifteen years that name had not passed his “My good brother," resumed Annunciata to lips. Throwing himself on his wife's corpse, he William, “ my good brother, we have long lived clasped her in his arms and kissed her forehead. together, and to me you have ever been a de- " Annunciata !” he cried, “can you not feel this voted friend, indulgent and gentle. I thank you, kiss of peace and love! Annunciata, we have both brother!"

suffered terribly! God did not grant us happiness. William averted his head to conceal his tears, but I loved you from the first day that I saw you, a joya deep sob escaped him, and he turned his vener- ous child in Spain, till this sad moment that I press able face towards Annunciata.

you dead upon my heart. Oh Annunciata, how “Do not thank me, sister,” he said, “I have great have been our sufferings !" done little for you. I loved you, that is certain, but Karl Van Amberg wept. I could not enliven your solitude. My sister, you “Repose in peace, poor woman!” he murmured, will still live for the happiness of us all.”

may you find in heaven the repose denied you Annunciata gently shook her head. Her glance upon earth!” And with trembling hand he closed sought her husband, as if she would fain have ad- Annunciata's eyes. Then he knelt down beside dressed her last words to him. But they expired her. on her lips. She looked at him timidly, sadly, and Almighty God!” he said, “I have been se then closed her eyes, to check the starting tears. I vere. Be thou merciful!"

When at break of day, M. Van Amberg left the in the young girl's heart, as she read what fol chamber of death, his face had resumed its habitual lows : expression : his inflexible soul, for a moment bowed, • Christine, I can write but a few lines; a long had regained its usual level. To Annunciata had letter, difficult to conceal, might never reach you. been given the last word of love, the last tear of Hear me with your heart, and guess what I am unthat heart of adamant. To the eyes of all he reap- able to write. As you know, dearest, my family peared as the stern master and father, the man on intrusted me to your father and gave him all authorwhose brow no sorrow left a trace. His daughters ity over me. He can employ me at his will, and bowed themselves upon his passage, William spoke according to the convenience of his commercial esnot to him, order and regularity returned to the tablishments. Christine, I have just received orders house. Annunciata was buried without pomp or to embark in one of his ships, sailing for Batavia.” procession. She left, to revisit it no more, the mel- A cry escaped Christine's lips, and her eyes, ancholy abode where her suffering soul had worn suffused with tears, devoured the subsequent lines. out its mortal envelop; she ceased to live, as a “ Your father places the immensity of ocean sound ceases to be heard, as a cloud passes, as a between us; he separates us forever. We are to flower fades; nothing stopped or altered because meet no more: Christine, has your heart, since I she went. If any mourned her, they mourned in last saw you, learned to comprehend those words ? silence;

if they thought of her, they proclaimed not No, my adored Christine, we must live or die their thoughts; her name was no more heard ; only together! Your poor mother is no more ; your the interior of the little red house was rather more presence is no longer essential to the happiness of silent, and M. Van Amberg's countenance appeared any one. Your family is pitiless and without to all more rigid than before. During the day, affection for you. Your future is gloom and Christine's profound grief obeyed the iron will that unhappiness. Come, then, let us fly together. In weighed on each member of the family. The poor the Helder are numerous ships ; they will bear us child was silent, worked, sat at table, lived on as far from the scene of our sufferings. All is foreif her heart had not been crushed ; but at night, seen and arranged. Christine, my life depends on when she was alone in the little room where her your decision. Forever separated ! * * subscribe mother had so often wept with her, she gave free to that barbarous decree, and I terminate an existcourse to grief; she invoked her mother, spoke toence which henceforward would be all bitterness ! her, extended her arms to her, and would fain have And you, Christine ; will you love another, or live left the earth to be with her in heaven. “ Take without love? Oh! come, I have suffered so much me to you, dear mother!" she would exclaim. without you! I summon you, I await you, Chris“Deprived of you, apart from him, I cannot live! tine! my bride! At midnight on the river bank Since I saw you die, I no longer fear death.” -I will be there! and a world of happiness is

Since the death of Annunciata, Christine was al- before us. Come, dear Christine, come!” lowed her liberty, M. Van Amberg doubtless think- As Christine read, her tears fell fast on Herbert's ing, and with reason, that she would make no use letter. She experienced a moment of agonizing of it during her first grief. Or, perhaps, with his indecision. She loved passionately, but she was wife's corpse scarcely cold, he hesitated to recur to young and innocent, and love had not yet imparted the severity that had caused her so many tears. to her pure soul the audacity that braves all things. Whatever his motive, Christine was free, at least The wise counsels heard in her father's house, to all appearance. The three sisters, in deep uncle William's pious exhortations, the holy prayers mourning, never passed the threshold ; they sat all she had learned from her infancy upwards, reday at work near the low window of the parlor, sounded in her ears; the Christ upon her wooden supped with their uncle and father, then retired to crucifix seemed to look at her; the beads of her bed. During the long hours of their silent work, rosary were still warm with the pressure of her finChristine often thought of her lover. She dared gers. **Oh! my dream! my dream !” she exnot attempt to see him ; she would have expected claimed : “ Herbert who calls his bride! my mother to hear her mother's voice murmur in her ear-claiming her daughter! With him, life and love! “My daughter, it is too soon to be happy! Mourn With her, death and heaven ! * * is And Chrisme yet a little, alone and without consolation." tine sobbed aloud. For an instant she tried calmly

One morning, after a night of tears, Christine fell to contemplate an existence in that melancholy into a tardy slumber, broken by dreams. Now it house, weeping for Herbert, growing old without was her mother, who took her in her arms, and him, without love, within those gloomy walls, where flew with her towards heaven. "I will not let no heart sympathized with hers. The picture was you live,” said Annunciata, “ for life is sorrow. too terrible; she felt that such a future was unenI have prayed of God to let you die young, that you durable. She wept bitterly, kissed her rosary, her may not weep as I have wept !”

prayer book, as if bidding adieu to all that had witThe next instant she beheld herself clothed in nessed the innocence of her early years. Then her white, and crowned with flowers. Herbert was heart beat violently. The fire of her glance dried there, love sparkling in his eyes. " Come, my be- her tears. She looked out at the river, at the white trothed !” he said, " life is joy! My love shall sail which seemed to remind her of her vows of guard you from all evil ; come, we will be happy!” | love; she gave one last sob, as if breaking irrevo

She started up, awakened by a sudden noise in cably the links between her past and future. The her chamber. The window was open, and on the image of her mother was no longer before her. floor lay a pebble with a letter attached. Her first Christine, abandoned to herself, followed the impulse impulse was to fly to the window; a bush stirred of her passionate nature ; she wept, trembled, hesin the direction of the river, but she saw no one. itated, and at last exclaimedShe snatched up the letter, she guessed it was Her- “At midnight, I will be there !” bert's writing. It seems as if one never saw for the Then she wiped her tears, and remained quite first time the writing of him one loves; the heart still for a few moments, to calm her violent agitarecognizes as if the eyes had already seen it. Chris- tion. A vast future unrolled itself before her ; libtine was alone, a beam of the rising sun tinted the erty would be hers; a new world was revealed to summits of the willows, and hope and love revived l her eyes; a new life began for her.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »