Page:Aunt Phillis's Cabin.djvu/101

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SOUTHERN LIFE AS IT IS

tors. The forms, the courtesies of life had no claims upon her now—she was enduring her first sorrow; the foundation of youth's slight fabric of happiness was yielding beneath her touch. The dread "nevermore," that Edgar Poe could not drive from his heart and sight, was oppressing her. She sought him before whom her young heart had bowed, not the less devotedly and humbly that it was silently and secretly. It was to be a bitter parting, not as when she watched to the last Arthur Weston, who was dear to her as ever was brother to a sister, for they had the promise and hope of meeting again; but now there was no tear in her eye, no trembling in her frame, and no hope in her heart. From the utmost depth of her soul arose the prophetic voice, "Thou shalt see him no more."

"Alice," said Walter, taking her hand between both of his, and gazing at her face, as pale and sad as his own, "it is your mother's wish that from this time we should be strangers to each other, even loving as we do; that our paths on earth should separate, never to meet again. Is it your wish too?"

"We must part; you know it, Walter," said Alice, musingly, looking out upon, but not seeing the calm river, and the stars that gazed upon its waves, and all the solemn beauty with which night had invested herself.

"But you love me, Alice; and will you see me go from you forever, without hope? Will you yourself speak the word that sends me forth a wanderer upon the earth?" said Walter.

"What can I do?" said Alice.

"Choose, Alice, your own destiny, and fix mine."

"Walter, I cannot leave my mother; I would die a thousand times rather than bring such sorrow upon her who has known so much. My uncle, too—my more than father—oh! Walter, I have sinned, and I suffer."

"You are wise, Alice; you have chosen well; you cling to mother, and home, and friends; I have none of these

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