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The Election -
Robert at Washington .
THE last hour of Ernest Maltravers had approached. The last day of mercy, of forbearance, and of hope to the wicked one, had dawned. The last sun of the scoffer, the libertine, and the duelist, had arisen, had passed its meridian, and was now shedding its last rays upon the sick bed of one young in years, but old in depravity and guilt. As the mellow light of a mild summer sun-set entered the partly-closed shutters of the room, the dying man opened his eyes in consciousness to behold the sorrow around him. The mother, once a stately and proud beauty, now broken down with grief and horror, sat near his pillow; her memory running back to the period when she clasped in her arms her eldest born, to the hours and days and years she had watched over, and protected, and comforted, and spoiled, her brave, her beautiful boy: then the hours of wretchedness his wayward course had caused; the sleepless, watchful nights, produced by his dissipation, would flit before her memory, in all their appalling distinctness and vividness of wretchedness. Perhaps, a thought of her own neglect, of her own maternal guilt, would press itself into the proud, fond woman's heart; but the pang was too intense to allow it a moment’s shelter. “How could I have done otherwise than indulge my brave, my beautiful; especially since he was taken away, the father of my children?” were her half-formed thoughts. At the other side of the sufferer's pillow, stood al slight but fair form, with the same broad, beautiful brow, the same large hazel eye, the same proud, haughty bearing, that the sufferer once exhibited, softened by a woman’s tenderness and a sister’s sorrow. Others are near, but as the dying man's eyes, in their consciousness, slowly took in the group, there was one wanting.— “Mother, Mary, where’s Olivia?” was faintly murmured. “Ernest,” said the sister, “she is not here. Could you expect it?” “No, no: I flung her off—I deceived her. I could not expect it; and yet, love like hers—But it cannot be; wretch that I am, I have flung away hope and happiness, and am sinking, fast, fast, where I shall receive—” “Hush! hush, my son! God is all merciful!’ *
“Mother, flatter me no longer. It would be a stain on the character of the All-Merciful, not to punish such a wretch as I. Oh! for one more year, or month, or even day of life!” He sank back fainting on his pillow.
The wish—it would be sacrilege to call it prayer—the wish ascended to the throne of Heaven: no beam of divine forbearance illumined its passage heavenward; no angel of mercy wasted it to the altar of God on his wings; no blaze of divine love kindled it into an acceptable sacrifice there: but, on the dread book of the record of Heaven, an unseen hand blotted the name of Ernest Maltravers from the page of existence, and wrote beneath the record of his crimes, Finished —finished—cut off? *
A confused noise was heard in the ante-chamber, where the silent domestics were assembled, waiting, but not in sorrow, the termination of their master's existence. A young, but faded peasant girl, with the remains of village beauty lingering in her wasted form, struggled for admittance.—“I will see him: they tell me he is dying—dying without one word to the Lucy that he once swore he only loved Let me see him but
once! one moment only!” .