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whole sympathy to Lady Anne, who might have been supposed insensible, but for the visible trembling of her whole frame. It shook with
agony, yet not a sound proceeded from her lips, not a tear relieved her burning eyes, as she gazed at the livid face and the venerable white hair of the mother whose kind heart she had broken.
My dear young friend,” whispered Lady Edith, taking with mournful kindness a hand that seemed cold as death itself, “ I have a message of comfort from your mother. Those lips can speak no more, but the last words they uttered were for you. • She being dead yet speaketh.' Her last request was, that during the first shock of this event, and in this very room, her body being present, though her soul be departed, you would hear her message as a voice from the
itself.” Lady Anne solemnly bent her head, placed her trembling hand on that of her deceased mother, kissed her cold cheek, and unable to raise her eyes said, in a low suppressed whisper,—“Tell me all. Tell me the worst at once.” A momentary convulsion passed over her face, and she added, If it were my death-warrant I deserve no better."
The strong grief of Lady Anne became soothed while she gazed on the benevolent countenance of Lady Edith, and listened to the tones eloquent with sympathy and sorrow in which she added,
“ Your mother when I came here could scarcely articulate, but she desired me to give you her most heartfelt love and forgiveness.
“My mother! my dear kind mamma!” exclaimed
Lady Anne, in tones that seemed more gasped than spoken, “Nature tells me now the truth. Yes! I broke your heart. Oh, when I think of the prayers and tears I cost you ! Father Eustace made me delirious with vanity, promising that I should be canonized as a saint when disowning the first and dearest of all earthly duties.”
“I was awakened at midnight on Tuesday," said Lady Edith, in a low suppressed voice, and evidently anxious not to aggravate the bewildering grief of her young listener; "a messenger had come from Eaglescairn, as your mother had been struck with palsy, and wished to see me instantly. I hurried here, and found that but a glimmering of life remained. Lady Stratharden had already exacted a solemn promise—almost an oath—from Lady Eaglescairn, that no Roman Catholic should enter this room until she were carried out of it; and yet you see, for the honour of that Church, they have decorated the room with Popish emblems, and give out that your mother died a papist. She left me the entire care of her remains, but Lady Eaglescairn has a right, of course, to adorn any room in her house as she pleases, therefore no one can interfere. Since your mother's death I have scarcely left her room night or day. It is the more to be lamented, therefore, that I was not here to soften the blow, when you so suddenly arrived, and were plunged at once into this most dismal scene.”
Lady Edith became mournfully silent, while the heart of the sufferer relieved itself by many low
incoherent lamentations, till at length the burst of grief exhausted itself; and again kissing the forehead of her venerated parent, Lady Anne silently looked at Lady Edith entreating that she would now proceed.
Your mother made an effort which astonished even the doctors to speak the message distir.ctly, which in dying it was Lady Strathardeo's last wish that her child should receive."
Lady Anne solemnly closed her eyes, and said with melancholy fervour, “I trust it tells me something I may yet do, to mark my repentance.”
While Lady Edith paused a moment to recollect. accurately the words she had to repeat, Lady Anne's colour changed from white to red, and from red to white, and she heaved a suffocating sigh, when Lady Edith began in accents of tender commiseration,—“Your mother's message, Lady Anne, was this: "Tell my child, the last tie I had to life, that for her sake I would willingly die, and that I cannot but hope my sudden death now is ordained to do her more good than my life could have done. Tell her to look on my face before the coffin is closed, and to imagine she hears me ask that for one year-one short year
of the many yet to come, she will withdraw herself entirely from the influence of Father Eustace, and of all who think or act with him. Tell Anne I could die in peace, not only resigned but happy, if she will give that year to calm, deliberate reading and reflection. She has been worked up to an unnatural delirium by the flatteries and by the
terrors presented to her youny mind. Designing fortune-hunters such as Father Eustace are at work, with an almost magical influence, to rob my child of her inheritance, of her liberty, of her friends and of her conscience, as they have already robbed my Anne of her mother. Let her for a year, then, stand aloof from the possession of Father Eustace and his tribe, giving herself up to sober reflection, to rational society, and to fervent prayer."
When Lady Edith paused, her young auditor still continued to gaze earnestly as if she hoped to hear more from her kind monitress, who then added in a tone of solemn awe, 5. Your mother's voice now failed entirely, but she held out her feeble hand to me. Her eyes were turned upwards, evidently in most earnest prayer, and before many minutes had elapsed, she expired. No struggle took place, and only by finding her hand grow cold in my own, did I discover that she was dead.
Your name was the last word on her dying lips."
Again Lady Anne clasped her hands over her face, but it was only for a moment, and then she slowly turned from gazing at the countenance of her dead mother, saying to Lady Edith, with deep emotion,-“ All shall be as she desired. There shall not be one moment's hesitation or a single reserve. Lady Edith, my mother reverenced and loved you, as all must who ever knew
Will you then receive her child as a funeral legacy into your own house? From this day let me not only
obey the wishes she did express, but also those she would have spoken had they seemed possible. Will you give the kind shelter of your roof to an almost heart-broken orphan, and adopt a spoiled child as your own?”
Lady Anne threw herself into the extended arms of Lady Edith, and burst into a passion of tears. Long and almost frantically the young girl wept, but they were tears of nature and feeling that did her good, while Lady Edith from time to time whispered to the afflicted sufferer words of deep sympathy and of judicious consolation.
“I must not, cannot, will not be consoled," said Lady Anne, next day, though her tears had already become those of less hopeless anguish, and her thoughts seemed less verging to despair. “My whole existence must now be centered in one feeling of the deepest compunction, yet I cling to a friend like you, who will not break the bruised
My dear Lady Anne," said Lady Edith, kindly, “ there is at Rome an appointed official called the Devil's Advocate,' whose business it is, when a saint is about to be canonized, to show any cause he can, why the honoured individual does not merit so supernatural a distinction. You need not, however, exercise that office against yourself, or exaggerate your own fault. I believe it was your sincere desire to serve God, which first led you into the snare of those who set aside the whole domestic constitution as appointed by God for our good. It is evident that in every