Gambar halaman

now, methinks, sings my funeral dirge. : You will think of me, dear Raymond, should you ever again hear that note."

“Dear girl, you are fanciful; that bird is one of good omen; there is health and cheerfulness in his song." “Not for me, dear Raymond, not for me: I cannot survive the surprise and joy of that night when your arms sheltered me from danger, and conducted me to happiness. I am not thankless, although I have forborne to utter what was in my heart.”—“ Talk not thus, dear Mary, unless you mean to wound me deeply, by reminding me that it was I drew upon you extreme misery." I sat down upon her bed, and took her thin feverish hand between mine. “ Would I could recall the time when we last parted, ---what must you not have suffered during that interval.” “ The loss of you, dear Raymond, was my principal suffering, and rendered me insensible to the scorn and hard-heartedness 1 experienced from many, in my attempts to live honestly. I continued moping and lonely in my wretched apartment, until I had parted with most of my wardrobe, and I was reduced by want to recommence my former horrid trade. Even then, the hopelessness that possessed my heart seemed to numb my feelings, and caused me callously to endure the evils of my fate. One evening excepted, when, no longer able to contend with insult and the inclemency of the weather, I crept sullenly home, half determined to make away with my wretched existence; thinly clad, and my garments wetted through with the rain; neither light, food, nor fire awaited my return; on the table, among other litters, lay an old play book, which had formerly belonged to you; it was without a cover, dog-eared and thumbed, but precious to me, from having being frequently in your hands. I took it up and apostrophised the insensible thing on its shabby condition, as though I expected it to sympathise with me in return; but, while I looked upon the page, my eye caught those sweet lines in All's Well That End's Well, which so well suited to my regrets and wishes; and taking the book close to the window, the twilight served me to read

I am undone ; there is no living, none,
If Bertram be away. It were all one,
That I should love a bright particular star,
And think to wed it, he is so above me :
In his bright radiance and collateral light
Must I be comforted, not in his sphere.
The ambition in my love thus plagues itself,
The hind, that would be mated by the lion,
Must die for love. "Twas pretty, tho' a plague,
To see him every hour; to sit and draw
His arched brows, his hawking eye, his curls,
In our heart's table; heart, too capable
Of every line and trick of his sweet favour !
But now he's gone, and my idolatrous fancy
Must sanctify his relicks.

“Yes," said I, “these pleasures are denied me, like Helena. I am rejected and despised by the only man I love; but not like her shall I be happy with him at last. No! I am a wretched outcast; no hope in this world or the next. I threw myself down despondingly on my unmade bed, and not a single lear relieved my despair. Thus I lay for some minutes, and should doubtless have perpetrated something desperate, when my door was opened by one of my frail companions, who came to share her supper with me, and to partake the shelter of my room. Perceiving my disorder, she prevailed with me to swallow a glass of spirits, which I found wrought so pleasantly upon my temper, as to induce me frequently to have recourse to the same dangerous stimulant; indeed, it necessarily became habitual to me, in proportion as my poverty and wretchedness increased; so that, at last, my only comfort consisted in this resource, and reading the old book I have before-mentioned, not a passage of which but I can repeat by heart: and one of my last requests is, that this book be laid in the coffin with me. It will be found at my lodging, in Hart Court. Another wish of mine, dear Raymond, is, that you would attend my funeral, and wear black for one month. Let me be buried in some country church-yard, under or near a tree; but be sure there is no monument or tombstone to point out my shame and sorrow_let me be dead for ever. I know you will not think these whims of mine a trouble; for, except that you have been brought up a gentleman, and therefore a little spoiled and humoursome, you have a heart as tender as a child's.”

Thus went she on, endeavouring to reconcile me to myself; and with generous delicacy affording me an opportunity of obliging her: but every word she uttered pierced me to the heart. I saw too plainly that my

neglect and ingratitude had broken her heart; and, as she had said, she could not outlive the joy of my returning kindness. The evening of that day she died, gently and calmly as her own temper. With her usual thoughtfulness for others, she had begged me to present two or three of her poor companions with a trifling sum, in return for kindnesses they had shown her; as also to discharge her rent and any small debts she might have contracted in the neighbourhood.-These, with other requests, I religiously performed ; and in their discharge met the retribution my crimes had so long demanded. In the course of my visits to her lodging, and those to whom she had bequeathed legacies, I saw the squalid haunts of those of her trade, in their lowest state, and from what I heard and remarked, found the poor sufferer had much qualified the account she gave me of her sufferings. Now came the conviction of her love, of her despair, and broken-heartedness. I remembered my obligations to her in the hour of my want, when I was despised and forsaken by every other creature; her forbearance, her gentleness, her soothing manner, and the return I made. I dwelt upon these thoughts till madness ensued, and it became necessary to confine me with lunatics, apart from the sun, subject to stripes and contumely: but this was mercy in comparison to returning reason, for then my anguish renewed with unabated rigor. A curse seemed to light upon all belonging to me. Poor Eliza gave birth to a sickly infant, who expired in a few hours; and this loss,


together with what she had suffered on my account during my derangement, was too much for her delicate constitution : she languished for a time, and died soon after my recovery to health. Her father, unable to survive the loss of this darling child, soon followed her; and thus was I left lonely, and shorn of all social ties. But I considered this heavy judgment as due to my crimes, although it had punished the guilty by the deaths of the innocent; and though the gentle wronged one would bave been the first to deprecate such an atonement. I bound myself by a solemn vow never to eat or sleep, on any day, until I had done some good deed for my fellow-creatures, more especially for the abandoned and guilty, for the cast-away prostitute, and reprobate law-breaker-not merely a donation of superfluous gold, but to search in person through prisons and hospitals, among the dwellings of vice and abject poverty, where crime and recklessness take up their abode. The whole of my abilities, my time and my fortune are insufficient to expiate my unfeelingness, and mortify my wilful pride ; but while this spirit exists, no plea of health or indulgence shall abate my fixed resolve in the only sacrifice I can offer to my poor murdered Mary.

Stranger, you have heard the recital of my crimes, and have promised to aid me in their atonement: remember your engagement. May the pleasures of benevolence reward your compassion for the undeserving Raymond.” As he finished these words, he arose, and we descended the hill together, nor did I

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »