« PreviousContinue »
In a few days, Richard Everly was able to be removed from prison, and the benevolent Mr Gray had him conveyed to his own residence in the outskirts of the city. Here, under the kind, assiduous attention of his host and Mrs Gray, he rallied fast, and strength came back to the weary, worn-out frame.
Like her husband, Mrs Gray was a quiet, gentle being, on whose countenance there rested a melancholy shadow, wbich impressed an observer with the idea, that it was the reflection of a long, deep sorrow—sorrow which time had mellowed, but not removed, and which had lingered with a settled sadness over her life.
It was singular to see a pair so akin in character and appearance, actuated by the same generous promptings, and bearing a common burden of time-hallowed grief. They lived almost entirely alone, shunned society, and seemed to be quite content with each other's presence. They, indeed, lived for each other; walked hand in hand along their quiet, shady path of life; and their ultimate earthly desire was, to die together, when death knocked, by permission from on high, at their cottage door.
Yet quiet and retired as they lived, theirs was not a useless existence. Providence had blessed them with wealth, and much of it they spent in relieving the wants of their poorer brethren. In that mighty city, on the borders of which they dwelt, were to be found poverty and wretchedness in every form; a large portion produced by sinful indulgence, but much too surrounding honest industry and toil, folding its cold iron fingers around struggling hearts, which strove with awful earnestness to preserve their integrity, amid sore temptation and pinching want. To seek out and relieve such suffering ones, was Mr Gray's delight; and as he watched the brightening eye, the returning hope, the kindling smile, or listened to the heart-felt words of gratitude, he experienced the deepest juys which the human heart can know. Long and triumphantly had he tested the truth of the Divine words,
66 It is more blessed to give than to receive." Throughout the city, there were objects of his bounty, ready to bless him at the sound of his name; and every night did earnest petitions rise from family hearths to the throne on high, that the best blessings of heaven's treasury might rest for ever on his head.
Such was the man who had found Richard Everly in his extremity, and taken him from the grasp of bis ruthless enemy. He learned the sad story from the doctor; and, on the one hand, it roused his gentle spirit to indignation, while, on the other, it melted him into pity. He lost no time, as we have seen, in procuriug his release, and bringing him to his own peaceful home.
It required no ordinary tenderness and delicacy to treat a sufferer such as Richard. The injustice of which he had been made the victim, and the terrible bereavement to which that injustice led, could not but produce an anguish in his heart, which common consolations would but aggravate. It required tact and judgment to deal with a woe and a grief like his ; and many, however well intentioned, would, instead of soothing, only have lacerated his heart more deeply.
But Mr and Mrs Gray knew better than to speak lightly and hopefully of the dense cloud that overshadowed him. They knew, or guessed how utterly dark it must prove, and uttered no such meaningless phrases, as too often fall upon bereaved ears. They rather strove, by unceasing kindness and quiet actions, to lead his mind from brooding over its misery, and interest him in other matters. Mr Gray read to him for many hours every day, and sought to engage him in intellectual conversation, not without considerable success; for Richard had a well-stored mind, and possessed a cultivated taste.
We must, however, approach nearer, and look into the young man's bosom, to know the thoughts and feelings which found a
It was a terrible theatre of conflicting elements-of gratitude, grief, and the desire for vengeance. Not one degree had the burning thirst for revenge cooled down; he cherished it with as fierce an ardour, and panted to be strong and active, that he might pursue his appointed course. In one respect, this desire raging within him, was blessful in its operation, since it served to counteract and lessen the pangs of grief; and then the other feeling of gratitude came in to preserve in his heart its human qualities, to prevent his passions from obliterating his softer emotions, to keep him from becoming altogether a being given up to the pursuit of a dark fate, and in no wise worthily related to the world in which he dwelt, and the race of which he was a member.
Three grand emotions, then, held sway in his bosom. There was grief, subdued and somewhat deadened by rage; and the rage was, to some extent, counteracted by gratitude. He sought not now to live solely for vengeance; his better nature would not be satisfied with this, and he yearned to be able to benefit his benefactors. love, which had nearly expired altogether, found yet something to hold by; and inasmuch as the centre was small, its strength was
tie greater. He looked upon Mr and Mrs Gray with a feeling
almost of idolatry, and would gladly spend all the energy he could spare from his other life-work, in their behalf.
His new friends, however, were strangers to these peculiar feelings of his. Instinctively he concealed the purpose of his heart, knowing that if his host were aware of it, he would endeavour to reason him out of it; and nothing agonized him so much as the idea of foregoing his vengeance. He had cherished it, and hugged it in his breast, till he came to look upon it as a sacred duty-a pledge given to the dead, which it would be a heinous sin to break. Poor suffering one! he did not remember that the purpose he cherished was denounced by Him, who hath written in His own book, " Ven. geance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
One day, as he lay on his couch, with Mr Gray sitting in a chair by its side, the two gentlemen got into a kind of conversation, which was seldom indulged. It was introduced by Richard making allusion to his irreparable loss.
“ Your trials are indeed heavy, heavy," said Mr Gray, taking his band, and pressing it affectionately. Somehow or other, Richard's fiercer thoughts left him when the gentle voice of his host fell on his ear, and when he looked up at the mild, sorrowful eyes.
• Your trials are indeed heavy,” pursued the other; “but you are not alone in the endurance of them. If we could learn the history of those who pass us in the street, we would find that
every one has a sorrow to bear, though yours is, I think, equalled by few. Time, they say, heals most wounds. It may be so, but I know there ara wounds which no time can heal. At the best, it may lessen the bitter smart, but the scar ever remains; and after the lapse of many years, it has still the power to pain. I have long carried about with me a sorrow of this kind; and, if you choose, I will impart it to
may cause you to feel less isolated and desolate, when you know that others have been cast into the furnace of affliction besides yourself."
"Ah! this, then, accounts for the mysterious shadow that I have always seen on your countenance," answered Richard.
"Pray, do tell me of its cause, if the recital may not prove too painful." Mr Gray only siniled a faint smile, and thus began;
Eighteen years ago, my wife and I were the happiest pair that lived in Edinburgh.
We had then been many years married ; and though our union brought us much enjoyment, we denied the blessing of children. But this, too, was at length vouchsafed, and Alice was confined with a daughter. The mother fevered, and for two weeks lay at the point of death. In my inteuse anxiety about my wife, I could pay little attention to the child. I only remember of giving it in charge to the servant, and telling her to take it carefully into the city, to find out a respectable Hurse, and consigo it to her care, putting, at the same time, into
her hand a large sum of money, to be given to the woman, whoever she was, as an inducement to be kind to it. Having hastily despatched the girl on this errand, I returned to my wife's bed-side, and watched there night and day.
“ For a fortnight, the scale between life and death seemed to turn neither way; but, at the end of that time, a favourable change took place, and my heart bounded with joy as the first flush of returning health mantled on her cheek. In two days more, she looked up in my face, and asked about our child. I told her it was a daughter, and that I had sent it to be nursed in the city; but no longer would she permit another to hold the office which was naturally hers. She was strong enough now, she said, to tend it herself, and she longed to clasp to her bosom that unseen being, whose entrance into life had so prostrated her strength, and endangered her existence. I immediately summoned Betsey, and despatched er for the child; but what was our horror, when she returned and told us, that the woman to whom she had given it could not be found! She had left the neighbourhood, and no one could give any information concerning her.
6. This news, incautiously communicated to Alice, induced a relapse, and again did we despair of her life. But Heaven was merciful, and she was finally restored. I now proceeded to the city, along with Betsey, to make inquiries about the infant. The faithful girl was as much affected as any of us, reproaching herself for having consigned it to unworthy hands.
6 We searched for days, but without success; and to this hour, we know not what has become of that child, but her loss has ever cast a pall of grief over our hearts. Her death would not have affected us so, because then we would have known that she had gone pure and innocent to the God and the heaven from whence she came; but it may be, and we shudder to contemplate it, it may be that she has grown up in ignorance and vice, and is, at this moment, numbered among the outcast
of society. This thought is a very crushing one to my spirit. Poor Alice! though she has grieved and mourned as I have done, is more hopeful and trustful, She clings to the idea that our daughter may yet be found, and prove good and worthy. I do not damp her hopes in this respect; þut, alas! I own I cannot share them. For years after the sad occurrence, I visited the homes of the poor, and gazed eagerly into the faces of the children, to see if I might not meet the little blue eyes of my own. But, alas! alas! our
ears have never been gladdened by the faintest whisper of hope. She may be dead, and I fear she is; or, if alive, she may be ranked among the vile."
Yes, reader, you as well as Richard Everly now know the cause of that subdued sadness which we spoke of as resting on the countenance of Mr Gray. It was a heavy trial, sure enough, and all the
more severe because of the suspense which attended it. No more children came to cheer the hearts of the bereaved parents, and replace the little being that had been lost; they had, therefore, ample opportunity to cherish their grief, But amid all their anguish, they did not lose their Christian resignation; they bowed meekly to the will of Providence, and with chastened spirits pursued their silent, useful way through the valley of life.
À VISIT TO NETHERTON.
HAD Richard Everly been left entirely to himself during the period of convalescence, stirred by no thoughts suggested by a balmy experience, and beguiled of no time by the kind attentions of friendship, he would have been burned up by his own fierce spirit, as it brooded over its wrongs, and yearned for revenge. But the judicious care of Mr Gray and his amiable partner diverted his mind in some degree from personal thoughts, infused into it mild emotions, and preserved many of its original qualities of tenderness: for though this youth was very passionate, he possessed other and more gevial characteristics. He was not without compassion, generosity,
high spirit of honour, and a strong sense of gratitude; and, at this time of dark trouble, these were fortunately not permitted to be lost.
It would have been otherwise, far otherwise, had he been alone in his affliction; for then would he have found no respite from his torturing thoughts. Even as it was, the fire burned fiercely enough; and in moments when he was by himself, he had fierce strugglings with his raging heart. He longed to be strong and active, that he might mingle and pour out his wrath-vial. As yet, he had formed no scheme of action; and the inability to do so increased his disquietude, for as long as this was uudone, the fulil. ment of his oath seemed the further off. He could perceive no way by which to injure Sir Edward Rockhart. The baronet was rich, influential, and courted; he was poor, impotent, and despised. How, then, could he lay a torturing hand on his heart, and make it bleed drop by drop, as he so keenly desired? Inactive thought could do nothing to solve this problem; he must wait and watch, and circumstances might, nay, must, conspire to lead him to his purpose.
One day, when he was able to be out, his friends required to go for an hour or two to the city, and Mr Gray brought him an armful of old newspapers, with which to amuse himself till they returned. These did, indeed, beguile the time; and when his host came back, he found him with a Courant in his hand.