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so with many, for the accidents of time teach different lessons, all equally necessary and wholesome perhaps to different hearts ; but before human nature has been sorely afflicted, tried, or deceived, its temper is open to kindness and to joy ; and attracted by the sympathies of a common nature, why may not those who are strangers to-day be friends to-morrow ? Nor does the deepest affliction always close up the fountains of love in the human soul. The saddest turn often in sudden restora. tion to the gay and joyful ; like light streaming in upon a prisoner through the bars of his dungeon, is the smile on faces not yet bedim. ed by grief, to the man of many miseries ; and he who hugs his sorrow close to his soul, will often at once lay down that rueful burthen to which he has long clung with infatuated despair, at the sight of youth, beauty, and innocence, rejoicing before him in untamed, fearless, and triumphant bliss. There are often, also, sudden revelations of sympathy made between human beings by a word, a tone, a look, or a smile; truth is then conveyed suddenly and easily into their spirits, and from that moment they rest assured of each others affection and each others worth, as much as if they had been mutually known for years. If there were not these strong and prevailing tendencies in our nature, the paths of life would be barren indeed ; as the friendships that spring up over them, would in general be sown by the hand of interest or self-love. But nature follows other processes ; and love and friendship, at first sight, often spring up as necessarily as flowers expand from bud into blossom, in the course of a few sunny and dewy hours of one vernal morning.
The young English stranger felt this when the hour of his departure was come, and when the mother and daughter accompanied him down the vale, in the dusk of the evening, on his way from Glen-Creran, never more to return. Little was said as they walked along, and they who, a few hours before, had not known of each others existence, were now about to say, farewell, with sighs—almost with tears. At length the stranger paused, and said, “ Never will I forget this day--this glen, and those from whom I now part. I will remember them all when my soul is sad, which it must be as long as I live. Take the blessing of a wounded heart. Ladies, farewell !” and his eyes, dim with emotion at that moment, met those of that beautiful maiden turned
upon him with a heavenly expression of pity, and at last even stained with irrepressible tears. A black scowl was in the heavens, and darkened the green mount on which they stood; a long dreary sigh of wind came rustling down the vale, and there was a low muttering of distant thunder.
This will be a night of storm,” said the lady, looking kindly towards the stranger. " It is not Highland hospitality to let a guest depart at dark, and in tempest; you must return with us to our house ;' and a huge thunderous cloud, that overshadowed half the vale, was an argument not to be resisted ;--so the party returned together; and just as they reached the house, the long loud rattle was heard along the hills, and the river, swollen on a sudden by the deluging rain, roared along the swinging woods, till the whole valley was in a tumult. It was a true Highland night; and the old house rocked like a ship at sea.
But the walls of the mansion (which had once been a sort of castle)
were thick and massy, and the evening passed happily along within, while the thunder, and the woods, and the torrents, and the blasts, were all raging without, in one united and most dismal howl.
These ladies had not passed all their lives in a highland glen, and they conversed with their guest about foreign countries which they had all vi. sited. The harp was touched, and the wild gaelic airs sounded still more wildly among the fitful pauses of the storm. She who played and sung, was no sorceress inhabiting an enchanted castle ; but she was a young, graceful, and beautiful girl of nineteen, innocent as beauti. ful, and therefore a more powerful sorceress than any that ever wound the invisible lines of her spell round a Knight of Romance. At the conclusion of one air,--a Chieftain's Lament, the mother heaved a deep sigh; and in the silence that ensued, the artless girl said to the stranger, who was standing beside her, entranced by the willing strain, “ My poor dead brother used to love that air; I ought not to have sung it.” But that mood passed away ; and before to rest, the stranger said gaily, “ Your wandering guest's name is Ashton.”“ We are Stewarts,” was the repiy; and in an hour the house was buried in sleep.
The stranger alone was wakeful. Not for several years had he been so happy as during this day and evening; and the image of that lovely girl beside her harp, sweetly singing, while the wild night was roaring in the glen, could not leave his thoughts. Even when, towards morning, he fell asleep, she was in his dreams ; and then it seemed as if they had long been friends—as if they were betrothed, and had fixed their marriageday. From these visions he awoke, and heard the sound of the mountain torrent roaring itself to rest, and the tree swinging less fiercely in the weakened blast. He then recollected where he was his real condition returned upon him—and that sweet maiden was then to him only a phantom once seen, and to smile upon him no more. He rose at sunrise, and, from the window, contemplated the gradual dying away of the storm--the subsiding of the torrent that became visibly less and less every minute--the calm that slowly settled on the woods—the white mists rolling up the mountain's side till at last, a beautiful calm, serene, and sunny day took possession of the sky, and Glen-Creran lay below in smiling and joyful beauty, a wild paradise, where the world might be forgotten, and human life pass away like a dream.
It was the Sabbath-day, and Glen-Creran, that a few hours ago had been as loud as the sea, was now not only hushed in the breathing re. pose of nature, but all rural labour was at rest ; and it might almost have been said, that the motionless clouds, the deep blue vault, the fragrant air, and the still earth, were all united together in one sweet spirit of devotion. No shepherd shouted on the mountain—no reapers were in the half-shorn fields
and the fisherman's net was hung up to dry in the sunshine. When the party met again in the parlour, whose wide window opening down to the floor let in the pure fragrance of the roses and honeysuckles, and made the room a portion, as it were, of the rich wooded scenery, there was blended with the warmth and kind. liness of the morning salutation, a solemn expression belonging to the hallowed day, and to the religious state of feeling which it inspired. The subdued and almost melancholy air of the matron was now more
touching and impressive, as she was dressed in darker widow's weeds for the House of God; and the sweet countenance of Mary Stewart, which, the night before, had beamed with almost a wild gladness, was now breathed over by a pensive piety, so truly beautiful at all times on a woman's features. The kirk was some miles distant; but they were prepared to walk to it; and Edward Ashton, without speaking on the subject at all, accompanied them on their way to divine service.
To an Englishman who had never before seen a Highland Sabbath, the scene was most delightful, as the opening of every little glen brought upon him some new interesting groupe journeying tranquilly towards Appin Kirk. Families were coming down together into the wider strath, from their green nests among the solitude ; and friendly greetings were interchanging on all sides, in that wild tongue which, to his ear, seemed so well suited to a land of mountains. The many coloured Highland tartan mixed with the pure white of dresses from the Lowlands, and that mingling of different costumes in the same groupe, gave intimation of the friendly intercourse now subsisting constantly between the dwellers of hill and of plain. No haughty equipages came sweeping by. Almost all the assembling congregation were on foot here and there an old man on a rough mounted poney—there perhaps man and wife on a stronger steed and there a cart with an invalid, or the weak or aged, with a due accompaniment of children. The distinction of ranks was still visible, but it was softened down by one pervading spirit of humble Christianity. So trooped they along to the house
of God the clear tinkle of the bell was heard the seats were filled and the whole vale echoed to the voice of psalms. Divine service was at this time performed in the English language, and the kirk was decently silent in sincere and unostentatious devotion.
During service the Englishman chanced to fix his eyes on a small marble monumental slab in the wall above the seat, and he read these words,Sacred to the memory of Charles Stewart, late captain in the forty-second regiment, who died at Vienna 3d August 17- A mortal sickness instantly struck his heart, and in that agony, which was indeed almost a swoon of the soul, he wished that he were dead, or buried in solitude many thousand miles away from the place where he now
He fixed his eyes upon the countenances first of the motherand then of her daughter, and a resemblance which he had not dis. covered before, now grew upon him stronger and stronger, to one in his grave, and whom he once would have sacrificed his own life to reanimate. He was sitting in the house of God with the mother and sister of the man whose blood he had shed! The place the name the day of the month, left no possibility of doubt. And now many other corroborative circumstances came upon him in that ghastly fit. He remembered the daughter saying after that lament sung to the harp, “ I ought not to have sung it;- for my poor dead brother used to delight in that air.” The murderer of that poor dead brother had come wandering to a solitary mansion among the mountains, impelled by some evil spirit, and was now sitting below his monument along with her who had given him birth. But every one was intent on the service of God and his white face, white as a shcet, was observed by none. By degrees he felt the blood circulating again from his stricken hearthe began to breathe more freely, and had just strength to stand up when the congregation rose to prayer. He saw glimmering and unsteady—beside him the meek placid countenances of the widow and her daughter—and turned away his eyes from them, to fix them again on that inscription to which they were drawn by a hideous spell. He heard not the closing benediction—but was relieved in some degree by the fresh air that whispered through the trees, as he found himself walking by the side of his almost unseen companions through the church-yard. " I fear, sir, you are ill,” said Mary Stewart, in a sweet and hurried tone of voice and no other answer was given but a long and deep groan, that sounded as if it rose up in pangs from the bottom of a broken heart.
They walked along together in sorrow, fear, and astonishment at this sudden change in the looks of their new friend, whose eyes, when they ventured to look towards either of them, were wild and ghastly, and every glance accompanied with a deeper and bitterer sigh." For the love of God let us if possible retire from the crowd and lead me to some retired piace, that I may utter a few words, and then hide myself for ever from your faces.”
They walked along a footpath that winded through a coppice-wood, and crossing a plank over a rivulet, in a few moments they were in a little glen, as lonely as if it had been far among the mountains. 66 No houses are in this direction,” said the mother, somewhat agitated and alarmed, she knew not why—and they sat down together on a seat that had been cut out of the turf by the hands of some shepherd, or schoolboy in his hours of play. “ Mary, bring some water from that pool-Mr Ashton looks as if about to faint. My dear sir, are you better now?”-and the beautiful girl bathed his forehead with the cold limpid water, till he felt the sickness depart, and his soul revive.
He rose up from the seat, and looking steadfastly on their countenances, and then lifting his eyes to heaven, he sunk down on his knees before them, and said, “ My name is now Ashton, but it was not al. ways somhateful, horrible, and accursed, must that other name be to your ears—the name of Edward Sitwell.
T'he mother uttered a faint shriek, and her head fell back, while the daughter sat down by her side, and clasped her arms, with loud sobs, round her neck. The stranger remained upon his knees, with his hands clasped, and his eyes fixed upon them who now beheld him not, for many a wild thought was hurrying through their hearts. At length the widow looked towards him with a dim and changeful expression ; and then covering her eyes with both her hands, indistinctly said, “ Fatal-fatal name indeed_has God brought before me, on his bended knees, the man beneath whose sword my dear Charles died ! Oh ! God of mercy, teach me how I should feel in this wild and most sudden trial.” Pray for me-pray for me to God and also intercede for me with your mother when I am far away : for believe me when I say, that I have not had many happy days since that fatal event," and, rising from the ground, the stranger was about to depart. But there was something so irresistibly detaining in the pity that was fast streaming from the eyes of poor Mary Stewart, to whom he had addressed himself, that he stood rivetted to the spot; and he thought too, that the face of the mother began to look with less horror upon him, and seemed clouded with a humane and Christian compassion. He said nothing in his own vindication he uttered a few words in praise of the dead and standing before them, with his pale cheeks, and convulsed sobs, and quivering lips, the sincerity of his sorrow and contrition could not but affect their souls, and bring over their gradually-subsid. ing aversion a deep feeling of sympathy for him who felt so profoundly his own guilt. 56 Go not away from us till we have both forgiven you--yes-receive his mother's forgiveness, and may your soul find rest from remorse, as mine has found rest from grief.”
Three years had elapsed since the death of her son abroad in that duel ; and the soul of this excellent woman had reached the utmost stage of resignation. When, therefore, she recovered from that cold damp feeling
of horror and aversion breathed over her by the presence of one whom, when the tidings of her son's death first came to her, she had thought of almost as a murderer, she began to reflect on a few words he had uttered, and on the profound passion manifest in all his behavi.
In spite of her natural repugnance, she could not help feeling that he might have fallen in that quarrel instead of her beloved sonthat there were no circumstances dishonourable or cruel attending ito—and that, by his own confession the day before, when ignorant into whose house he had wandered, he had for a long time led a life of melancholy and despondence, arising from the remembrance of that event. His mild and gentle manners—his intelligent and cultivated mind—and the unequivocal symptoms of sensibility and humane emotions which his whole looks, conversation, and deportment had exhibited, pleaded for him not in vain ; and when she looked upon him once more in the calmness of exhausted passion, the mother, who through his means had been deprived of an only son, felt that she had wronged him by the violence of her feelings, and that it would be right, generous, forgiving, and pious, to raise him up from that fit of passion, and to look on him as an erring brother, to whom she knew her brave boy had been reconciled on his deathbed, and who had held his hand when he breathed his last. There was something, too, in the sacred influence of the Sabbath-day that at once softened and comforted her heart ; he had walked with her and her daughter to worship God in that little humble kirk, and ought she not now to practise those lessons of perfect forgiveness of all injuries, be they what they might, enjoined by that religion in which it was her blessing to believe ? " Why should I have looked,” thought she, “ with such abhorrence and creeping of the blood on this young man? My boy is in his grave I trust in heaven_God has been merciful unto me--and therefore let me now still my beating heart, and administer comfort, since he needs it so much, to one whom not chance, but Providence, has brought to be my guest.” Such thoughts, when they had once entered her heart, found a permanent abode there-she was restored to a tranquillity wonderful even to herself and taking Edward Ashton by the hand, she told him with a faint smile, that he must not so leave them, and plunge alor e into the dreary solitude of those black mountains, but accompany them back to the house ; and as they had joined together in the public worship of God, so would they that night kneel down together, before go