Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/109

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LYDIA H. SIGOURNEY.

land, and his friends were counted as enemies. He thought him self strong and healthful, while his feet tottered on the verge of the grave. He said of his son, “he is my brother;” of his daughter, “I know her not.” He even inquired what was his own name. And as I gazed mournfully upon him, one who supported his feeble frame, and ministered to his many wants, said to me, “Let thine heart receive instruction, for thou hast seen an end of all perfection!”

I have seen a beautiful female, treading the first stages of youth, and entering joyfully into the pleasures of life. The glance of her eye was variable and sweet, and on her cheek trembled something like the first blush of the morning. Her lips moved, and there was melody, and when she floated in the dance, her light form, like the aspen, seemed to move with every breeze.

I returned—she was not in the dance. I sought her among her gay companions, but I found her not. Her eye sparkled not there—the music of her voice was silent. She rejoiced on earth no more. I saw a train—sable and slow-paced. Sadly they bore towards an open grave what once was animated and beautiful. As they drew near, they paused, and a voice broke the solemn silence: “Man that is born of a woman, is of few days and full of misery. He cometh up, and is cut down like a flower, he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay.” Then they let down into the deep, dark pit, that maiden whose lips but a few days since were like the half-blown rosebud. I shuddered at the sound of clods falling upon the hollow coffin. Then I heard a voice saying, “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” They covered her with the damp soil, and the uprooted turf of the valley, and turned again to their own homes. But one mourner lingered to cast himself upon the tomb. And as he wept he said, “There is no beauty, nor grace, nor loveliness, but what vanisheth like the morning dew. I have seen an end of all perfection!”

I saw an infant, with a ruddy brow, and a form like polished ivory. Its motions were graceful, and its merry laughter made other hearts glad. Sometimes it wept,—and again it rejoiced,—when none knew why. But whether its cheek dimpled with smiles,