“Go, sin no more!
Thy penance o’er,
A new and better life begin!
God maketh thee forever free
From the dominion of thy sin!
Go, sin no more! He will
The peace that filled thy
And pardon thine iniquity.”-Longfellow.
“I am glad you came alone,
brother,” cried Helen, when, after the supper
was over, they all drew around the blazing hearth.
Louis turned abruptly towards her, and as the strong
firelight fell full upon his face, she was shocked
even more than at first, with his altered appearance.
The bloom, the brightness, the joyousness of youth
were gone, leaving in their stead, paleness, and dimness,
and gloom. He looked several years older than
when he left home, but his was not the maturity of
the flower, but its premature wilting. There was
a worm in the calyx, preying on the vitality of the
blossom, and withering up its beauty.
Yes! Louis had been feeding on
the husks of dissipation, though in his father’s
house there was food enough and to spare. He had
been selling his immortal birth-right for that which
man has in common with the brutes that perish, and
the reptiles that crawl in the dust. Slowly,
reluctantly at first, had he stepped into the downward
path, looking back with agonies of remorse to the
smooth, green, flowery plains he had left behind,
striving to return, but driven forward by the gravitating
power of sin. The passionate resolutions he formed
from day to day of amendment, were broken, like the
light twigs that grow by the mountain wayside.
He had looked upon the wine when it
was red, and found in its dregs the sting of the adder.
He had participated in the maddening excitement of
the gaming-table, from which remorse and horror pursued
him with scorpion lash. He had entered the “chambers
of death”-though avenging demons
guarded its threshold. Poor, tempted Louis! poor,
fallen Louis! In how short a space has the whiteness
of thy innocence been sullied, the glory of thy promise
been obscured! But the flame fed by oxygen soon
wastes away by its own intensity, and ardent passions
once kindled, burn with self-consuming rapidity.
We have not followed Louis in his
wild and reckless course since he left his father’s
mansion. It was too painful to witness the degeneracy
of our early favorite. But the whole history
of the past was written on his haggard brow and pallid
cheek. It need not be recorded here. He had
thought himself a life-long alien from the home he
had disgraced, for never could he encounter his father’s
indignant frown, or call up the blush of shame on
Helen’s spotless cheek.
But one of those mighty drawings of
the spirit-stronger than chains of triple
steel-that thirst of the heart for pure
domestic joy, which the foaming goblet can never quench-that
immortal longing which rises up from the lowest abysses
of sin, that yearning for pardon which stirred the
bosom of the Hebrew prodigal, constrained the transgressing
Louis to burst asunder the bonds of iniquity, and
return to his father’s house.
“I am glad you have come alone,
brother,” repeated Helen, repressing the sigh
that quivered on her lips.
“Who did you expect would be
my companion?” asked Louis, putting back the
long, neglected locks, that fell darkly over his temples.
“I feared Bryant Clinton would
return with you,” replied Helen, regretting
the next moment that she had uttered a name which seemed
to have the effect of galvanism on Mittie-who
started spasmodically, and lifted the screen before
her face. No one had asked for Clinton, yet all
had been thinking of him more or less.
“I have not seen him for several
weeks,” he replied, “he had business that
called him in another direction, but he will probably
be here soon.”
Again Mittie gave a spasmodic start,
and held the screen closer to her face. Helen
sighed, and looked anxiously towards her mother.
The announcement excited very contradictory emotions.
“Do you mean to imply that he
is coming again as the guest of your parents, as the
inmate of this home?” asked Mr. Gleason, sternly.
“Yes, sir,” replied Louis,
a red streak flashing across his face. “How
could it be otherwise?”
“But it shall be otherwise,”
exclaimed Mr. Gleason, rising abruptly from his chair,
and speaking with a vehemence so unwonted that it
inspired awe. “That young man shall never
again, with my consent, sit down at my board, or sleep
under my roof. I believe him a false, unprincipled,
dangerous companion-whom my doors shall
never more be opened to receive. Had it not been
for him, that pale, stone-like, petrified girl, might
have been brilliant and blooming, yet. Had it
not been for him, I should not have the anguish, the
humiliation, the shame of seeing my son, my only son,
the darling of his dead mother’s heart, the
pride and hope of mine, a blighted being, shorn of
the brightness of youth, and the glory of advancing
manhood. Talk not to me of bringing the destroyer
here. This fireside shall never more be darkened
by his presence.”
Mr. Gleason paused, but from his eye,
fixed steadfastly on Louis, the long sleeping lightning
darted. Mittie, who had sprung from her chair
while her father was speaking, stood with white cheeks
and parted lips, and eyes from which fire seemed to
coruscate, gazing first at him, and then at her brother.
“Father,” cried Louis,
“you wrong him. My sins and transgressions
are my own. Mountain high as they are, they shall
not crush another. Mine is the sorrow and guilt,
and mine be the penalty. I do not extenuate my
own offences, but I will not criminate others.
I beseech you, sir, to recall what you have just uttered,
for how can I close those doors upon a friend, which
have so lately been opened for him with ungrudging
Mittie’s countenance lighted
up with an indescribable expression. She caught
her brother’s hand, and pressing it in both hers,
“Nobly said, Louis. He
who can hear an absent friend defamed, without defending
him, is worthy of everlasting scorn.”
But Helen, terrified at the outburst
of her father’s anger, and overwhelmed with
grief for her brother’s humiliation, bowed her
head and wept in silence.
Mr. Gleason turned his eyes, where
the lightning still gleamed, from Louis to Mittie,
as if trying to read her inscrutable countenance.
“Tell me, Mittie,” he
cried, “the whole length and breadth of the
interest you have in this young man. I have suffered
you to elude this subject too long. I have borne
with your proud and sullen reserve too long.
I have been weak and irresolute in times past, but
thoroughly aroused to a sense of my authority and
responsibility as a father, as well as my duty as
a man, I command you to tell me all that has passed
between you and Bryant Clinton. Has he proffered
you marriage? Has he exchanged with you the vows
of betrothal? Have you gone so far without my
knowledge or approval?”
“I cannot answer such questions,
sir,” she haughtily replied, the hot blood rushing
into her face and filling her forehead veins with purple.
“You have no right to ask them in this presence.
There are some subjects too sacred for investigation,
and this is one. There are limits even to a father’s
authority, and I protest against its encroachments.”
Those who are slow to arouse to anger
are slow to be appeased. The flame that is long
in kindling generally burns with long enduring heat.
Mr. Gleason had borne, with unexampled patience, Mittie’s
strange and wayward temper. For the sake of family
peace he had sacrificed his own self-respect, which
required deference and obedience in a child. But
having once broken the spell which had chained his
tongue, and meeting a resisting will, his own grew
stronger and more determined.
“Do you dare thus to reply to
me, your father?” cried he; “you
will find there are limits to a father’s indulgence,
too. Trifle not with my anger, but give me the
answer I require.”
“Never, sir, never,” cried
she, with a mien as undaunted as Charlotte Corday’s,
that “angel of assassination,” when arraigned
before the tribunal of justice.
“Did you never hear of a discarded
child?” said he, his voice sinking almost to
a whisper, it was so choked with passion.
“And do you not fear such a doom?”
“My husband,” exclaimed
Mrs. Gleason, laying her hand imploringly on his shoulder,
“be calm. Seek not by violence to break
the stubborn will which kindness cannot bend.
Let not our fireside be a scene of domestic contention,
which we shall blush to recall. Leave her to the
dark and sullen secrecy she prefers to our tenderness
and sympathy. And, one thing I beseech you, my
husband, suspend your judgment of the character of
Clinton till Louis is able to explain all that is doubtful
and mysterious. He is weary now, and needs rest
instead of excitement.”
There was magic in the touch of that
gentle hand, in the tones of that persuasive voice.
The father’s stern brow relaxed, and a cloud
of the deepest sadness extinguished the fiery anger
of his glance. The cloud condensed and melted
away in tears. Helen saw them, though he turned
away, and shaded his face with his hand, and putting
her arms round him, she kissed the hand which hung
loosely at his side. This act, so tender and
respectful, touched him to the heart’s core.
“My child, my darling, my own
sweet Helen,” he cried, pressing her fondly
to his bosom. “You have always been gentle,
loving and obedient. You have never wilfully
given me one moment’s sorrow. In the name
of thy beautiful mother I bless thee, and thou shalt
The excitement of his feelings gave
an exalted tone to his voice and words, and as the
benediction stole solemnly into her heart, Helen felt
as if the plumage of the white dove was folded in downy
softness there. In the meantime Mittie had quitted
the room, and Mrs. Gleason drawing near Louis, sat
down by him, and addressed him in a kind, cheering
“These heavy locks must be shorn
to-morrow,” said she, passing her hand over
his long, dark hair. “They sadden your countenance
too much. A night’s sleep, too, will bring
back the color to your face. You are over weary
now. Retire, my son, and banish every emotion
but gratitude for your return. You are safe now,
and all will yet be well.”
“Oh, mother,” he answered,
suffering his head to droop upon her shoulder, then
suddenly lifting it, “I am not worthy to rest
on this sacred pillow. I am not worthy to touch
the hem of your garments, but if the deepest repentance-the
keenest remorse,” he paused, for his voice faltered,
then added, passionately, “oh, mother-
’Not poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drowsy sirups
of the world
Can ever medicine me to the
I once slept beneath this hallowed roof.”
“No, my son-but there
is a remedy more balmy and powerful than all the drugs
of the East, which you can obtain without money and
Louis shook his head mournfully.
“I will give you an anodyne
to-night, prepared by my own hand, and to-morrow-”
“Give me the anodyne, kindest
and best of mothers, but don’t, for Heaven’s
sake, talk of to-morrow.”
But whether man speak or be silent,
Time, the unresting traveler, presses on. Never
but once have its chariot wheels been stayed, when
the sun stood still on the plains of Gibeon, and the
moon hung pale and immovable over the vale of Ajalon.
Sorrow and remorse are great prophets, but Time is
greater still, and they can no more arrest or accelerate
its progress than the breath of a new-born infant can
move the eternal mountains from their base.
Louis slept, thanks to his step-mother’s
anodyne, and the dreaded morrow came, when the broad
light of day must reveal all the inroads the indulgence
of guilty passions had caused. Another revelation
must be made. He knew his father would demand
a full history of his conduct, and it was a relief
to his burdened conscience, that had so long groaned
under the weight of secret transgressions, to cast
itself prostrate at the feet of parental authority
in the dust and ashes of humiliation. But while
he acknowledged and deplored his own vices, he could
not criminate Clinton. He implored his father
to inflict upon him any penalty, however severe, he
knew, he felt it to be just, but not to require of
him to treat his friend with ingratitude and insult.
His stay would not be long. He must return very
soon to Virginia. He had been prevented from
doing so by a fatal and contagious disease that had
been raging in the neighborhood of his home, and when
that subsided, other accidental causes had constantly
interfered with his design. Must the high-spirited
Virginian go back to his native regions with the story
so oft repeated of New England coldness and inhospitality
verified in his own experience?
“Say no more,” said his
father. “I will reflect on all you have
said, and you shall know the result. Now, come
with me to the counting-house, and let me see if you
can put your mathematics to any practical use.
Employment is the greatest safeguard against temptation.”
There was one revelation which Louis
did not make, and that was the amount of his debts.
He dared not do it, though again and again he had
opened his lips to tell it.
“To-morrow I will do it,”
thought he-but before the morrow came he
recollected the words of Miss Thusa, uttered the last
time he had visited her cabin-“If
you should get into trouble and not want to vex those
that are kin, you can come to me, and if you don’t
despise my counsel and assistance perhaps it may do
you good.” This had made but little impression
on him at the time, but it came back to him now “powerfully”
as Miss Thusa would say; and he thought it possible
there was more meant than reached the ear. He
remembered how meaningly, how even commandingly her
gray eye had fixed itself on him as she spoke, and
he believed in the great love which the ancient spinster
bore him. At any rate he knew she would be gratified
by such a proof of confidence on his part, and that
with Spartan integrity she would guard the trust.
It would be a relief to confide in her.
He waited till twilight and then appeared
an unexpected but welcome visitor at the Hermitage,
as Helen called the old gray cottage. The light
in the chimney was dim, and she was hastening to kindle
a more cheering blaze.
“No, Miss Thusa,” said
he, “I love this soft gloom. There’s
no need of a blaze to talk by, you know.”
“But I want to see you, Louis.
It is long since we’ve watched your coming.
Many a time has Helen sat where you are now, and talked
about you till the tears would run down her cheeks,
wondering why you didn’t come, and fearing some
evil had befallen you. I’ve had my misgivings,
too, though I never breathed them to mortal ear, ever
since you went off with that long-haired upstart,
who fumbled so about my wheel, trying to fool me with
his soft nonsense. What has become of him?”
“He is at home, I believe-but
you are too harsh in your judgment, Miss Thusa.
It is strange what prejudiced you so against him.”
cried the spinster, striking her hand against her
heart; “something that God put here, not man.
I’m glad you and he have parted company; and
I’m glad for more sakes than one. I never
loved Mittie, but she’s her mother’s child,
and I don’t like the thought of her being miserable
for life. And now, Louis, what do you want me
to do for you? I can see you are in trouble,
though you don’t want the fire to blaze on your
face. You forget I wear glasses, though they are
not always at home, where they ought to be, on the
bridge of my nose.”
“You told me if I needed counsel
or assistance, to come to you and not trouble my kindred.
I am in distress, Miss Thusa, and it is my own fault.
I’m in debt. I owe money that I cannot raise;
I cannot tax my father again to pay the wages of sin.
Tell me now how you can aid me; you, poor and
lonely, earning only a scanty pittance by the flax
on your distaff, and as ignorant of the world as simple-hearted
Miss Thusa leaned her head forward
on both hands, swaying her body slowly backward and
forward for a few seconds; then taking the poker,
she gave the coals a great flourish, which made the
sparks fly to the top of the chimney.
“I’ll try to help you,”
said she, “but if you have been doing wrong and
been led away by evil companions, he, your father,
ought to know it. Better find it out from yourself
than anybody else.”
“He knows all my misconduct,”
replied Louis, raising his head with an air of pride.
“I would scorn to deceive him. And yet,”
he added, with a conscious blush, “you may accuse
me of deception in this instance. He has not
asked me the sum I owe-and Heaven knows
I could not go and thrust my bills in his face.
I thought perhaps there was some usurer, whom you
had heard of, who could let me have the money.
They are debts of honor, and must be paid.”
“Of honor!” repeated
Miss Thusa, with a tone of ineffable contempt.
“I thought you had more sense, Louis, than to
talk in that nonsensical way. It’s more-it’s
downright wicked. I know what it all means, well
enough. They’re debts you are ashamed of,
that you had no business to make, that you dare not
let your father know of; and yet you call them debts
Louis rose from his seat with a haughty and offended
“I was a fool to come,”
he muttered to himself; “I might have known
better. The Evil Spirit surely prompted me.”
Then walking rapidly to the door, he said-
“I came here for comfort and
advice, Miss Thusa, according to your own bidding,
not to listen to railings that can do no good to you
or to me. I had been to you so often in my boyish
difficulties, and found sympathy and kindness, I thought
I should find it now. I know I do not deserve
it, but I nevertheless expected it from you. But
it is no matter. I may as well brave the worst
Snatching up his hat and pulling it
over his brows, he was about to shoot through the
door, when the long arm of Miss Thusa was interposed
as a barrier against him.
“There is no use in being angry
with an old woman like me,” said she, in a pacifying
tone, just as she would soothe a fretful child.
“I always speak what I think, and it is the
truth, too-Gospel truth, and you know it.
But come, come, sit down like a good boy, and let us
talk it all over. There-I won’t
say another cross word to-night.”
The first smile which had lighted
up the face of Louis since his return, flitted over
his lip, as Miss Thusa pushed him down into the chair
he had quitted, and drew her own close to it.
“Now,” said she, “tell
me how much money you want, and I’ll try to get
it for you. Have faith in me. That can work
After Louis had made an unreserved
communication of the whole, she told him to come the
“I can do nothing now,”
said she, “but who knows what the morrow may
“Who, indeed!” thought
Louis, as he wended his solitary way homeward.
“I know not why it is, but I cannot help having
some reliance on the promises of this singular old
woman. It was my perfect confidence in her truth
and integrity that drew me to her. What her resources
are, I know not; I fear they exist only in her own
imagination; but if she should befriend me in this,
mine extremity, may the holy angels guard and bless
her. Alas! it is mockery for me to invoke them.”
The next day when he returned to her
cabin, he found her spinning with all her accustomed
solemnity. He blushed with shame, as he looked
round on the appearance of poverty that met his eye,
respectable and comfortable poverty, it is true-but
for him to seek assistance of the inmate of such a
dwelling! He must have thought her a sorceress,
to have believed in the existence of such a thing.
He must have been maddened to have admitted such an
“Forgive me, Miss Thusa,”
said he, with the frankness of the boy Louis,
“forgive me for plaguing you with my troubles.
I was not in my right senses yesterday, or I should
not have done it. I have resolved to have no
concealments from my father, and to tell him all.”
Miss Thusa dipped her hand in a pocket
as deep as a well, which she wore at her right side,
and taking out a well-filled and heavy purse, she put
it in the hand of Louis.
“There is something to help
you a little,” said she, without looking him
in the face. “You must take it as a present
from old Miss Thusa, and never say a word about it
to a human being. That is all I ask of you-and
it is not much. Don’t thank me. Don’t
question me. The money was mine, honestly got
and righteously given. One of these days I’ll
tell you where it came from, but I can’t now.”
Louis held the purse with a bewildered
air, his fingers trembling with emotion. Never
before had he felt all the ignominy and all the shame
which he had brought upon himself. A hot, scalding
tide came rushing with the cataract’s speed
through his veins, and spreading with burning hue
over his face.
“No! I cannot, I cannot!”
he exclaimed, dropping the purse, and clenching his
hands on his brow. “I did not mean to beg
of your bounty. I am not so lost as to wrench
from your aged hand, the gold that may purchase comfort
and luxuries for all your remaining years. No,
Miss Thusa, my reason has returned-my sense
of honor, too-I were worse than a robber,
to take advantage of your generous offer.”
cried Miss Thusa, rising from her seat, her tall,
ancestral-looking figure assuming an air of majesty
and command-“listen to me; if you
cast that purse from you, I will never make use of
it as long as I live, which won’t be long.
It will do no good to a human being. What do
I want of money? I had rather live in this little,
old, gray hut than the palace of the Queen of England.
I had rather earn my bread by this wheel, than eat
the food of idleness. Your father gives me fuel
in winter, and his heart is warmed by the fire that
he kindles for me. It does him good. It does
everybody good to befriend another. What do I
want of money? To whom in the wide world should
I give it, but you and Helen? I have as much
and more for her. My heart is drawn powerfully
towards you two children, and it will continue to draw,
while there is life in its fibres or blood in its veins.
Take it, I say-and in the name of your
mother in heaven, go, and sin no more.”
“I take it,” said Louis,
awed into submission and humility by her prophetic
solemnity, “I take it as a loan, which I will
labor day and night to return. What would my
father say, if he knew of this?”
“He will not know it, unless
you break your word,” said Miss Thusa, setting
her wheel in motion, and wetting her fingers in the
gourd. “You may go, now, if you will not
talk of something else. I must go and get some
more flax. I can see all the ribs of my distaff.”
Louis knew that this was an excuse
to escape his thanks, and giving her hand a reverent
and silent pressure, he left the cabin. Heavy
as lead lay the purse in his pocket-heavy
as lead lay the heart in his bosom.
Helen met him at the door, with a radiant countenance.
“Who do you think is come, brother?” she
“Is it Clinton?” said he.
“Oh! no-it is Alice.
A friend of her brother was coming directly here,
and she accompanied him. Come and see her.”
“Thank God! she cannot
see!” exclaimed Louis, as he passed into the
presence of the blind girl.
Though no beam of pleasure irradiated
her sightless eyes, her bright and heightening color,
the eager yet tremulous tones of her voice assured
him of a joyous welcome. Alice remembered the
thousand acts of kindness by which he had endeared
to her the very helplessness which had called them
forth. His was the hand every ready to guide her,
the arm offered for her support. His were the
cheering accents most welcome to her ears, and his
steps had a music which belonged to no steps but his.
His image, reflected on the retina of the soul, was
beautiful as the dream of imagination, an image on
which time could cast no shadow, being without variableness
“Thank God,” again repeated
Louis to himself, “that she cannot see.
I can read no reproach in those blue and silent orbs.
I can drink in her pure and holy loveliness, till
my spirit grows purer and holier as I gaze. Blessings
on thee for coming, sweet and gentle Alice. As
David charmed the evil spirit in the haunted breast
of Saul, so shall thy divine strains lull to rest
the fiends of remorse that are wrestling and gnawing
in my bosom. The time has been when I dreamed
of being thy guide through life, a lamp to thy blindness,
and a stay and support to thy helpless innocence.
The dream is past-I wake to the dread reality
of my own utter unworthiness.”
These thoughts rose tumultuously in
the breast of the young man, in the moment of greeting,
while the soft hand of the blind girl lingered tremblingly
in his. Without thinking of the influence it might
have on her feelings, he sought her presence as a
balm to his chafed and tortured heart, as a repose
to his worn and weary spirit, as an anodyne to the
agonies of remorse. The grave, sad glance of his
father; the serious, yet tender and pitying look of
his step-mother; and the pensive, melting, sympathizing
eye of Helen, were all daggers to his conscience.
But Alice could not see. No daggers of reproach
were sheathed in those reposing eyes. Oh! how
remorse and shame shrink from being arraigned before
that throne of light where the immortal spirit sits
enthroned-the human eye! If thus conscious
guilt recoils from the gaze of man, weak, fallible,
erring man, how can it stand the consuming fire of
that Eternal Eye, in whose sight the heavens are not
clean, and before which archangels bend, veiling their
brows with their refulgent wings!
It was about a week after the arrival
of Louis and the coming of Alice, that, as the family
were assembled round the evening fireside, a note
was brought to Louis.
“Clinton is come,” cried
he, in an agitated voice, “he waits me at the
“What shall I say to him, father?”
asked he, turning to Mr. Gleason, whose folded arms
gave an air of determination to his person, which
Louis did not like.
“Come with me into the next
room, Louis,” said Mr. Gleason, and Louis followed
with a firm step but a sinking heart.
“I have reflected deeply, deliberately,
prayerfully on this subject, my son, since we last
discussed it, and the result is this: I cannot,
while such dark doubts disturb my mind, I cannot,
consistent with my duty as a father and a Christian,
allow this young man to be domesticated in my family
again. If I wrong him, may God forgive me-but
if I wrong my own household, I fear He never will.”
“I cannot go-I will
not go!” exclaimed Louis, dashing the note on
the floor. “This is the last brimming drop
in the cup of humiliation, bitterer than all the rest.”
“Louis, Louis, have you not
merited humiliation? Have you a right to
murmur at the decree? Have I upbraided you for
the anxious days and sleepless nights you have occasioned
me? For my blasted hopes and embittered joys?
No, Louis. I saw that your own heart condemned
you, and I left you to your God, who is greater than
your own heart and mine!”
“Oh, father!” cried Louis,
melted at once by this pathetic and solemn appeal,
“I know I have no right to claim any thing at
your hands, but I beg, I supplicate-not
for myself-but another!”
“’Tis in vain, Louis.
Urge me no more. On this point I am inflexible.
But, since it is so painful to you, I will go myself
and openly avow the reasons of my conduct.”
“No, sir,” exclaimed Louis,
“not for the world. I will go at once.”
He turned suddenly and quitted the
apartment, and then the house, with a half-formed
resolution of fleeing to the wild woods, and never
Mittie, who was fortunately in her
room above, (fortunately, we say, for her presence
would have been as fuel to flame,) heard the quick
opening and shutting of doors, and the sound of rapid
steps on the flag-stones of the yard.
“Louis, Louis,” she cried,
opening the window and recognizing his figure in the
star-lit night, “whither are you going?”
“To perdition!” was the passionate reply.
“Oh, Louis, speak and tell me truly, is Clinton
“And you are going to bring him here?”
“No, never, never! Now shut the window.
You have heard enough.”
Yes, she had heard enough! The
sash fell from her hand, and a pane of glass, shivered
by the fall, flew partly in shining particles against
her dress, and partly lay scattered on the snowy ground.
A fragment rebounded, and glanced upon her forehead,
making the blood-drops trickle down her cheek.
Wiping them off with her handkerchief, she gazed on
the crimson stain, and remembering her bleeding fingers
when they parted, and Miss Thusa’s legend of
the Maiden’s Bleeding Heart, she involuntarily
put her hand to her own to feel if it were not bleeding,
too. All the strong and passionate love which
had been smouldering there, beneath the ashes of sullen
pride, struggling for vent, heaved the bosom where
it was concealed. And with this love there blazed
a fiercer flame, indignation against her father for
the prohibition that raised a barrier between herself
and Bryant Clinton. One moment she resolved to
rush down stairs and give utterance to the vehement
anger that threatened to suffocate her by repression;
the next, the image of a stern, rebuking father, inflexible
in his will, checked her rash design. Had she
been in his presence and heard the interdiction repeated,
her resentful feelings would have burst forth; but,
daring as she was, there was some restraining influence
over her passions.
Then she reflected that parental prohibitions
were as the gossamer web before the strength of real
love,-that though Clinton was forbidden
to meet her in her father’s house, the world
was wide enough to furnish a trysting-place elsewhere.
Let him but breathe the word, she was ready to fly
with him from zone to zone, believing that even the
frozen regions of Lapland would be converted into
a blooming Paradise by the magic of his love.
But what if he loved her no more, as Helen had asserted?
What if Helen had indeed supplanted her?
“No, no!” cried she, aloud,
shrinking from the dark and evil thoughts that came
gliding into her soul; “no, no, I will not think
of it! It would drive me mad!”
It was past midnight when Louis returned,
and the light still burned in Mittie’s chamber.
The moment she heard his step on the flag-stones, she
sprang to the window and opened it. The cold night
air blew chill on her feverish and burning face, but
she heeded it not.
“Louis,” she said, “wait.
I will come down and open the door.”
“It is not fastened,”
he replied; “it is not likely that I am barred
out also. Go to bed, Mittie-for Heaven’s
sake, go to bed.”
But, throwing off her slippers, she
flew down stairs, the carpet muffling the sound of
her footsteps, and met her brother on the threshold.
“Why will you do this, Mittie?”
cried he, impatiently. “Do go back-I
am cold and weary, and want to go to bed.”
“Only tell me one thing-have you
no message for me?”
“When does he go away?”
“I don’t know. But
one thing I can tell you; if you value your peace
and happiness, let not your heart anchor its hopes
on him. Look upon all that is past as mere gallantry
on his side, and the natural drawing of youth to youth
on yours. Come this way,” drawing her into
the sitting-room, where the dying embers still communicated
warmth to the apartment, and shed a dim, lurid light
on their faces. “Though my head aches as
if red-hot wires were passing through it, I must guard
you at once against this folly. You know so little
of the world, Mittie, you don’t understand the
manners of young men, especially when first released
from college. There is a chivalry about them which
converts every young lady into an angel, and they
address them as such. Their attentions seldom
admit a more serious construction. Besides-but
no matter-I have said enough, I hope, to
rouse the pride of your sex, and to induce you to
banish Clinton from your thoughts. Good-night.”
Though he tried to speak carelessly, he was evidently
“Good-night,” he again
repeated, but Mittie stood motionless as a statue,
looking steadfastly on the glimmering embers.
“Go up stairs,” he cried, taking her cold
hand, and leading her to the door, “you will
be frozen if you stay here much longer.”
“I am frozen already,” she answered, shuddering,
The next morning, when the housemaid
went into her room to kindle a fire, she was startled
by the appearance of a muffled figure seated at the
window, with the head leaning against the casement;
the face was as white as the snow on the landscape.
It was Mittie. She had not laid her head upon
the pillow the whole live-long night.