Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/471

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MARY J. WINDLE.

pathies to be called upon to execute the righteous judgments of Heaven, while we are yet in the body! And think you when we must remove some prime tyrant that the instruments of his removal can at all times view their part in his punishment with unshaken nerves? Must they not even at times doubt the inspiration under which they have felt and acted? Must they not occasionally question the origin of that strong impulse which appears the inward answer to prayer for direction under heavenly difficulties, and, in their disturbed apprehensions, confuse even the responses of truth with the strong delusions of Satan? Would that the Lord would harden my heart even as he hardened that of—”

“Stop, sir,” said Alice, again interrupting him ere his softened mood should have passed away, “utter not such a sacrilegious wish. Why are the kindly sympathies which you describe implanted in your bosom, unless it be to prevent your ambition from stifling your humanity? The rather encourage them, and save Charles Stuart. Let your mind dwell upon the many traits of nobleness in his character which might be mentioned with enthusiasm, ay, and with sorrow, too, that they should be thus sacrificed.”

“The Most High, young woman, will have no fainters in spirit in his service—none who turn back from Mount Gilead for fear of the Amalekites. To be brief—it waxes late; to discuss this topic longer is but to distress us both. Charles Stuart must die—the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

As he spoke, he bowed with a determined but respectful reverence, and when he lifted up his head, the expression of his features told Alice that the doom of the king was irrevocably fixed.

“I see there is no hope,” said she, with a deep sigh, as Cromwell spoke these words in a tone of decision which left her no further encouragement, and with a brevity so unusual to him. Nor was his hint to close the interview lost upon her. “No hope!” she repeated, drawing back. “I leave you, then, inexorable man of iron, and may you not thus plead in vain for mercy at the bar of God!”

So saying, she turned and rejoined her husband, who remained in waiting for her: they returned together to Lisle’s house.