You need not fear me. With you and Gwenthlean to teach me, I am equal to every exertion.”

“ May God bless and teach you, my love ;" said Lady Llewellen. “He can alone guide us aright, and support us in trial. To Him be the praise for your return to us; and to Him let us endeavour to commit my blessed, saint-like child, already ripe for heaven.”

“Oh! do not talk so,” said Clare," she will be better soon. Look at the exquisite hue upon her cheeks. They are bright as the freshest of roses."

Lady Llewellen shook her head mourn fully, and covered her face with her hands to hide the gathering tear. But she remembered Gwenthlean, and calling Miriam to watch by Lizzie, begged Clare to accompany her to Colonel Llewellen.

They found Gwenthlean in an agony of tears. Colonel Llewellen had told her all ; imprudently, perhaps, but he had recollected Herbert's injunctions to deliver the papers into the hands of those to whom they were addressed, and he could not forbear doing so. Gwenthlean had listened at first, to his communications, as if she did not understand them. As the truth gradually broke upon her mind, a convulsive sensation deprived her of utterance, and it was long before she could speak. It was vain to try to conceal ber feelingsthey were too overpowering; and shesobbed aloud. Colonel Llewellen tried to comfort her ; told her that Herbert might yet return; that he was better than he had been; that he was kindly tended ; that he declared himself at peace and happy; and that he entreated his friends not to mourn for him. But all he said, only served to increase Gwenthlean's misery.

“Would that I were dead," she said, with a convulsive shudder, as she clasped the packet of letters in her hand.

Recollecting herself, and forgetting that the stranger knew all, she begged him to excuse her emotion, for Herbert and she had been as brother and sister. But Colonel Llewellen did not know that she was now pledged to another, and that even hope of Herbert's final return, brought with it a maddening pang.

The entrance of Lady Llewellen and Clare put a stop to the conversation, for Clare, seeing her sister's agitation, led her gently from the room, leaving her mother to prosecute the subject. After a long conversation, Colonel Llewellen expressed a wish to proced to Mr. Lloyd's, and Lady Llewellen sent for David, the harper, to accompany him. He said he should not leave the neighbourhood for some little time, as he was anxious to follow up an acquaintance 80 strangely begun, and hoped Lady Llewellen would allow him to call, again.

She assured Colonel Llewellen of a welcome and a bed at the parsonage ; and be took his leave, saying, that he trusted he should see the young ladies on the morrow.

Clare could make nothing of Gwenthlean. No sooner were they alone, than she becamo reserved, and turned the subject from Herbert to her aunt, and to Clare's history since they were last together, Clare knew so little of her sister, that she scarcely felt at liberty to probe her deeply, and there were so many engrossing matters for her thoughts, that she could not dwell wholly upon Herbert and Gwenthlean.

The state of the youngest sister, was, in itself, sufficient cause for anxiety and care. She seemed, indeed, as the little girl herself had said, sent to replace her. The anguish of her mother, the deep but subdued grief and melancholy of Gwenthlean, told her that they had small hope of her recovery.

How little had Clare imagined, a few months back, when she sympathized with the ladies Lovel for the loss of their brother, that she might have to mourn a similar loss herself. She had known little of personal affliction ; nothing of death. She had never yet been deprived of a relative or friend. Her hour of trial was approaching, and she asked herself how she could bear it. She looked with astonishment at her newly-found relations. There was no sign of immoderate grief. Her mother suffered in silence, casting her glance from her child to the throne of God, and supplicating for resignation. Gwenthlean moved about like a spirit. Watched over her sister's every breath and every change with enduring love, but did not murmur. Lizzie lay like a fading lily, delicately beautiful. Patient, and with a lamb-like spirit of meekness, she smiled upon her friends, and said she did not suffer. Her young heart had been raised, by early training, and early piety, above the concerns of this world. She believed herself dying, and she was blest in being ready to die. Clare had never either witnessed or imagined anything like this.

« VorigeDoorgaan »