The Partisan/XII

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The Partisan by William Gilmore Simms
Chapter XII


"We meet again—we meet again, once more,
 We that were parted—happy that we meet,
 More happy were we not to part again."

Keeping close in cover, Major Singleton and his guide paused at length in the shelter of a gigantic oak, that grew, with a hundred others, along the extreme borders of the park-grounds. The position had been judiciously taken, as it gave them an unobstructed view of the Mansion House, the lawn in front, and a portion of the adjacent garden. They were themselves partial occupants of the finest ornament of the estate—the extensive grove of solemn oaks, with arms branching out on every side, sufficient each of them for the shelter of a troop. They rose, thickly placed all around the dwelling, concentrating in a beautiful defile upon the front, and thus continuing for the distance of a full mile until they gathered in mass upon the main road of the country. In the rear they stretched away singly or in groups, artfully disposed, but without regularity, down to the very verge of the river, over which many of them sloped with all their weight of limbs and luxuriance upon them; their long-drooping beards of white moss hanging down mournfully, and dipping into the river at every pressure of the wind upon the boughs, from which they depended. Under one of these trees, the largest among them, the very patriarch of the collection, the two adventurers paused; Singleton throwing himself upon a cluster of the thick roots which had risen above and now ran along the surface, while his companion, like a true scout, wandered off in other parts of the grove with the hope to obtain intelligence, or at least to watch the movements of the British officers, whose presence had prevented their own approach to the dwelling.

At Singleton gazed around upon the prospect, the whole scenegrew fresh under his eye; and though many years had elapsed since, in the buoyancy and thoughtlessness of boyhood, he had rambled over it, yet gradually old acquaintances grew again familiar to his glance. The tree he knew again under which he had formerly played. The lawn spread freely onward, as of old, over which, in sweet company, he had once gambolled—the little clumps of shrub trees, here and there, still grew, as he had once known them; and his heart grew softened amid its many cares, as his memory brought to him those treasures of the past, which were all his own when nothing of strife was in his fortunes.

What a god is memory, to keep in life—to endow with an unslumbering vitality beyond that of our own nature—its unconscious company—the things that seem only born for its enjoyment—that have no tongues to make themselves felt—and no claim upon it, only as they have ministered, ignorant of their own value, to the tastes and necessities of a superior! How more than dear—how precious are our recollections! How like so many volumes, in which time has written on his passage the history of the affections and the hopes! Their names may be trampled upon in our passion, blotted with our tears, thrown aside in our thoughtlessness, but nothing of their sacred traces may be obliterated. They are with us, for good or for evil, for ever! They last us when the father and the mother of our boyhood are gone. They bring them back as in infancy. We are again at their knee—we prattle at their feet—we see them smile upon, and we know that they love us. How dear is such an assurance! How sweetly, when the world has gone wrong with us, when the lover is a heedless indifferent, when the friend has been tried and found wanting, do they cluster before our eyes as if they knew our desire, and strove to minister to our necessities! True, they call forth our tears, but they take the weight from our hearts. They are never false to us,—better, far better, were we more frequently true to them!

Such were the musings of Singleton, as, reclined along the roots of the old tree, and sheltered by its branches, his eye took in, and his memory revived, the thousand scenes which he had once known of boyish frolic, when life wore, if not a better aspect of hope to his infant mind, at least a far less unpleasant show of its many privations. Not a tree grew before him which he did not remember for some little prank or incident; and a thousand circumstances were linked with the various objects that, once familiar, were still unforgotten. Nothing seemed to have undergone a change—nothing seemed to have been impaired. The touches of time upon the old oak had rather mellowed into a fitting solemnity the aspect of that to which we should scarcely ever look for a different expression.

While he yet mused, mingling in his mind the waters of those sweet and bitter thoughts which make up the life-tide of the wide ocean of memory, the dusk of evening came on, soft in its solemnity, and unoppressive even in its gloom, under the sweet sky and unmolested zephyr, casting its pleasant shadows along the edges of the grove. The moon, at the same time rising stealthily among the tree-tops in the east, was seeking to pale her ineffectual fires while yet some traces of the sun were still bright in waving lines and fragments upon the opposite horizon. Along the river, which kept up a murmur upon the low banks, the breeze skimmed playfully and fresh; and what with its pleasant chidings, the hum of the tree-tops bending beneath its embrace, and the still more certain appreciation by his memory of the genius of the place, the feeling of Singleton's bosom grew heightened in its tone of melancholy, and a more passionate phase of thought broke forth in his half-muttered soliloquy:—

"How I remember as I look; it is not only the woods and the grounds—the river and the spot—but the very skies are here; and that very wind, and the murmuring voices of the trees, are all the same. Nothing—nothing changed. All as of old, but the one—all but she—she, the laughing child, the confiding playmate; and not as now, the capricious woman—the imperious heart, scorning where once she soothed, denying where she was once so happy to bestow. Such is her change—a change which the speechless nature itself rebukes. She recks not now, as of old, whether her word carries with it the sting or the sweet. It is not now in her thought to ask whether pain or pleasure follows the thoughtless slight or the scornful pleasantry. The victim suffers, but she recks not of his grief. Yet is she not an insensible—not proud, not scornful.Let me do her justice in this. Let me not wrong her but to think it. What but love, kindness, and all affection is her tendance upon poor Emily. To her, is she not all meekness, all love, all forbearance? To my uncle, too, no daughter could be more dutiful, more affectionate, more solicitously watchful. To all—to all but me! To me, only, the proud, the capricious, the indifferent. And yet, none love her as I do; I must love on in spite of pride, and scorn, and indifference—I cannot choose but love her."

It is evident that Major Singleton is by no means sure of his ground, as a lover. His doubts are, perhaps, natural enough, and, up to a certain period, must be shared by all who love. His musings, as we may conjecture, had for their object his fair cousin, the beautiful Kate Walton—according to his account, a most capricious damsel in some respects, though well enough, it would appear, in others. We shall see for ourselves as we proceed. Meanwhile, the return of Humphries from his scouting expedition arrests our farther speculations upon this topic, along with the soliloquy of our companion, whose thoughts were now turned into another channel, as he demanded from his lieutenant an account of his discoveries.

"And what of the Britons, Humphries? are they yet in saddle, and when may we hope to approach the dwelling? I have not been used to skulk like a beaten hound around the house of my mother's brother, not daring to come forward; and I am free to confess, the necessity makes me melancholy."

"Very apt to do so, major, but you have to bear it a little longer. The horses of the officers have been brought up into the court, and the boy is in waiting, but the riders have not made their appearance. I suppose they stop for a last swig at the colonel's Madeira. He keeps a prime stock on hand, they say, though I've never had the good fortune to taste any of it."

"You shall do so to-night, Humphries, and grow wiser, unless your British major's potations exceed a southern gentleman's capacity to meet them. But you knew my uncle long before coming down from Santee with him."

"To be sure I did, sir. I used to see him frequently in the village; but since the fall of Charleston he has kept close to the plantation. They say be goes nowhere now, except it be down towards Caneacre and Horse Savannah, and along the Stono, where he has acquaintance. I 'spose he has reason enough to lie close, for he has too much wealth not to be an object, and the tories keep a sharp look-out on him. Let him be suspected, and they'd have a pretty drive at the old plate, and the negroes would soon be in the Charleston market, and then off to the West Indies. Major Proctor is watchful too, and visits the squire quite too frequently not to have some object."

"Said you not that my cousin Kate was the object? Object enough, I should think, for a hungry adventurer, sent out to make his fortune in alliance with the very blood he seeks to shed. Kate would be a pleasant acquisition for a younger son."

There was something of bitterness in the tone of the speaker on this subject, which told somewhat of the strength of those suspicions in his mind, to which, without intending so much, Humphries, in a previous remark, had actually given the direction. The latter saw this, and with a deliberate tact, not so much the work of his education as of a natural delicacy, careful not to startle the nice jealousies of Singleton, he hastened to remove the impression which unwittingly he had made. Without laying any stress upon what he said, and with an expression of countenance the most indifferent, he proceeded to reply as follows to the remark of his companion:—

"Why, major, it would be a pleasant windfall to Proctor could he get Miss Walton; but there's a mighty small chance of that, if folks say true. He goes there often enough, that's certain, but he doesn't see her half the time. She keeps her chamber, or takes herself off in the carriage, when she hears of his coming; and his chance is slim even to meet with her, let 'lone to get her."

There was a tremulous lightness in Singleton's tone as he spoke to this in oblique language—

"And yet Proctor has attractions, has he not? I have somewhere heard so—a fine person, good features, even handsome. He is young, too."

"Few better-looking men, sir, and making due allowance for an enemy, a clever sort of fellow enough. A good officer, too, that knows what he's about, and quite a polite, fair-spoken gentleman."

"Indeed! attractions quite enough, it would seem, to persuade any young lady into civility. And yet, you say—"

"Hist, major! 'Talk of the ——' Ask pardon, sir; but drop behind this bush. Here comes the lady herself with your sister, I believe, though I can't say at this distance. They've been walking through the oaks, and, as you see, Proctor keeps the house."

The two sank into cover as the young ladies came through the grove, bending their way towards the very spot where Singleton had been reclining. The place was a favourite with all, and the ramble in this quarter was quite a regular custom of the afternoon with the fair heiress of Colonel Walton in particular. As she approached they saw the lofty carriage, the graceful height, and the symmetrical person of our heroine—her movement bespeaking for her that degree of consideration which few ever looked upon her and withheld. Her dress was white and simple, rather more in the fashion of the present than of that time, when a lady's body was hooped in like a ship's, by successive layers of cordage and timber; and when her headgear rose into a pyramid, tower upon tower, a massy and Babel-like structure, well stuccoed, to keep its place, by the pastes and pomatums of the day. With her dress, the nicest stickler for the proper simplicities of good taste would have found no cause of complaint. Setting off her figure to advantage, it did not unpleasantly confine it; and, as for her soft brown hair, it was free to wanton in the winds, save where a strip of velvet restrained it around her brows. Yet this simplicity indicated no improper indifference on the part of the lady to her personal appearance. On the contrary, it was the art which concealed itself—the felicitous taste, and the just estimate of a mind capable of conceiving proper standards of fitness—that achieved so much in the inexpressive yet attractive simplicity of her costume. She knew that the elevated and intellectual forehead needed no mountainous height of hair for its proper effect. She compelled hers, accordingly—simply parting it in front—to play capriciously behind; and, "heedful of beauty, the same woman still,"[1] the tresses that streamed so luxuriantly about her neck, terminated in a hundred sylph-like locks, exceedingly natural to behold, but which may have cost her some half-hour's industrious application daily at the toilet. Her eye was dark and richlybrilliant in its expression, though we may look into its depths vainly for that evidence of caprice, and wanton love of its exercise, which Singleton had rather insisted upon as her characteristic. Her face was finely formed, delicately clear and white, slightly pale, but marked still with an appearance of perfect health, which preserved that just medium the eye of taste loves to rest upon, in which the rose rises not into the brilliant glow of mere vulgar health, and is yet sufficiently present to keep the cheek from falling into the opposite extreme, the autumnal sickness of aspect, which, wanting in the rose, it is so very apt to assume.

Not so the companion beside her. Pale and shadowy, the young girl, younger than herself, who hung upon her arm, was one of the doomed victims of consumption—that subtle death that sleeps with us, and smiles with us—insidiously winds about us to lay waste, and looks most lovely when most determined to destroy. She was small and naturally slight of person, but the artful disease under which she suffered had made her more so; and her wasted form, the evident fatigue of her movement, not to speak of the pain and difficulty of her breathing, were all so many proofs that the tenure of her life was insecure, and her term brief. Yet few were ever more ready for the final trial than the young lady before us. The heart of Emily Singleton was as pure as her eyes were gentle. Her affections were true, and her thoughts had been long since turned only to heaven. Her own condition had never been concealed from her, nor was she disposed to shrink from its consideration. Doomed to a brief existence, she wasted not the hours in painful repinings at a fate so stern; but still regarding it as inevitable, she prepared as calmly as possible to encounter it. Fortunately, she had no strong passions aroused and concentrated, binding her to the earth. Love—that quick, angry, and eating fever of the mind—had never touched the heart that, gentle from the first, had been restrained from the indulgence of such a feeling by the due consciousness of that destiny which could not admit of its realization. Her mood had grown loftier, sublimer, in due proportion with the check which this consciousness had maintained upon her sensibilities. She had become spiritualized in mind, even as she had grown attenuated in person; and with no murmurings, andbut few regrets, her thoughts were now only busied with those heavenward contemplations which take the pang from death, and disarm parting of many of its privations. Singleton looked forth from his cover upon the form of his sister, while the tears gathered big drops into his eyes.

"So pure, so early doomed! Oh, my sweet sister!—and when that comes, then, indeed, am I alone. Poor Emily!"

Thus muttering to himself, as they came near, he was about to emerge into sight and address them, when, at the instant, Humphries caught his wrist, and whispered:—

"Stir not—move not. Proctor approaches, with Colonel Walton and another. Our hope is in lying close."

The ladies turned to meet the gentlemen. The two British officers seemed already acquainted with them, since they now advanced without any introduction. Proctor, with the ease of a well bred gentleman, placed himself beside the fair heiress of the alace, to whom he tendered his arm; while his companion, Captain Dickson of the Guards, made a similar tender to Emily. The latter quietly took the arm of Dickson, releasing that of her cousin at the same moment. But Kate seemed not disposed to avail herself of her example. Civilly declining Proctor's offer, with great composure she placed her arm within that of her father, and the walk was continued. None of this had escaped the notice of Major Singleton, whose place of concealment was close beside the path; and, without taking too many liberties with his confidence, we may say that his feelings were those of pleasure as he witnessed this proceeding of his cousin.

"I take no aid from mine enemy, Major Proctor," said the fair heiress, half apologetically, and half playfully,—"certainly never when I can do without it. You will excuse me, therefore; but I should regard your uniform as having received its unnaturally deep red from the veins of my countrymen."

"So much a rebel as that, Miss Walton! It is well for us that the same spirit does not prevail among your warriors. What would have been our chances of success had such been the case?"

"You think your conquest then complete, Major Proctor—you think that our people will always sleep under oppression, andreturn you thanks for blows, and homage for chastisement. Believe so—it is quite as well. But you have seen the beginning only. Reserve your triumph for the end."

"Do the ladies of Carolina all entertain this spirit, Miss Walton? Will none of them take the aid of the gallant knight that claims service at their hands? or is it, as I believe, that she stands alone in this rebel attitude, an exception to her countrywomen?"

"Nay; I cannot now answer you this question. We see few of my countrywomen or countrymen now, thanks to our enemies; and I have learned to forbear asking what they need or desire. It is enough for me that when I desire the arm of a good knight, I can have him at need without resorting to that of an enemy!"

"Indeed!" replied the other, with some show of curiosity—"indeed, you are fortunate; but your reference is now to your father?"

"My father? Oh, no! although, as now, I not unfrequently claim his aid in preference to that of my foe."

"Why your foe, Miss Walton? Have we not brought you peace? There is no strife now in Carolina."

"Peace, indeed! the peace of fear, that is kept from action by chains and the dread of punishment! Call you that peace! It is a peace that is false and cannot last. You will see."

"Be it as you say. Still we are no enemies—we who serve your monarch as our own, and simply enforce those laws which we are all bound in common to obey."

"No monarch of mine, if you please. I care not a straw for him, and don't understand, and never could, the pretensions of your kings and princes, your divine rights, and your established and immutable systems of human government, humanity itself being mutable, hourly undergoing change, and hourly in advance of government."

"Why, this is to be a rebel; but we shall not dispute, Miss Walton. It is well for us, as I have said before, that such are not the sentiments of your warriors; else, stimulated, as they must have been, by the pleadings of lips like yours, they must have been invincible. It will not indicate too much simplicity, if I marvel that their utterance hitherto has availed so little in bringing yourmen into the field. We have not easily found our foes in a country in which, indeed, it is our chief desire to find friends only."

"It follows from this, Major Proctor, that there is only so much more safety for his majesty's more loyal subjects."

"You are incorrigible, Miss Walton."

"No, sir; only too indulgent—too like my countrymen—dreading the combat which I yet see is a necessity."

"If so, why has there been so little opposition?"

"Perhaps, sir, you will not always ask the question."

"You still have hopes, then, of the rebel cause."

"My country's cause, Major Proctor, if you please. I still have hopes; and I trust that his majesty's arms may not long have to regret the continuance of a warfare so little stimulating to their enterprise, and so little calculated to yield them honour."

The British colonel bowed at the equivocal sentiment, and after a pause of a few moments the lady proceeded—

"And yet, Major Proctor, not to speak too freely of matters of which my sex can know so little, I must say, knowing as I do the spirit of some among my countrymen—I must say, it has greatly surprised me that your conquests should have been usually so easy."

"That need not surprise you, Miss Walton; you remember that ours are British soldiers"—and with a smile and bow, the British major made his self-complacent, but only half serious answer.

"By which I am to understand, on the authority of one of the parties, its own invincibility. It is with your corps, I believe, that the sentiment runs—though they do not—'we never retreat, we die.' Unquestionable authority, surely; and it may be that such is the case. Few persons think more highly of British valour than the Carolinians. Father, you, I know, think extravagantly of it; and cousin Robert, too: I have heard you both speak in terms which fully sustain you, Major Proctor, in what might be called the self-complaisance which just now assigned the cause of your success."

Colouring somewhat, and with a grave tone of voice that was not his wont, Proctor replied—

"There is truth in what I have told you, Miss Walton; the British soldier fights with a perfect faith in his invincibility, and thisfaith enables him to realize it. The first lesson of the good officer is to prepare the minds of his men with this confidence, not only in their own valour, but in their own good fortune."

"And yet, Major Proctor, I am not so sure that the brave young men I have known, such as cousin Robert—the major, for he, too, is a major, father—so Emily says—I am not so sure that they will fight the less against you on that account. Robert I know too well to believe that he has any fears, though he thinks as highly of British valour as anybody else."

"Who is this Robert, Miss Walton, of whom you appear to think so highly?"

There was something of pique in the manner and language of Proctor as he made the inquiry, and with a singular change in her own manner, in which she took her loftiest attitude and looked her sternest expression, Katharine Walton replied—

"A relative, sir, a near relative; Robert Singleton—Major Robert Singleton, I should say—a gentleman in the commission of Governor Rutledge."

"Ha! a major, too, and in the rebel army!" said the other. "Well, Miss Walton, I may have the honour, and hope some day to have the pleasure, to meet with your cousin."

The manner of the speaker was respectful, but there was a slight something of sarcasm—so Katharine thought—in his tones, and her reply was immediate.

"We need say nothing of the pleasure to either party from the meeting, Major Proctor; but if you do meet with him, knowing Robert as I do, you will most probably, if you have time, be taught to remember this conversation."

Proctor bit his lip. He could not misunderstand the occult meaning of her reply, but he said nothing; and Colonel Walton, who had striven to check the conversation at moments when he became conscious of its tenor, now gladly engaged his guest on other and more legitimate topics. He had been abstracted during much of the time occupied by his daughter and Proctor in their rather piquant dialogue; but even in the more spirited portions of it, nothing was said by the maiden that was not a familiar sentiment in the mouths of those Carolinian ladies, who were proud to sharewith their countrymen in the opprobrious epithet of rebel, conferred on them in no stinted terms by their invaders.

Meanwhile Major Singleton, in his cover, to whose ears portions of the dialogue had come, was no little gladdened by what he heard, and could not forbear muttering to himself—

"Now, bless the girl! she is a jewel of a thousand."

But the dark was now rapidly settling down upon the spot, and the dews, beginning to fall, warned Kate of her duty to her invalid cousin. Withdrawing her arm from her father, she approached Emily, and reminded her of the propriety of returning to the dwelling. Her feeble lips parted in a murmured reply, all gentleness aud dependence—

"Yes, Kate, you are right. I have been wishing it, for I am rather tired. Do fix this handkerchief, cousin, higher and close about my neck—there, that will do."

She still retained Dickson's arm, while she passed one of her hands through that of her cousin. In this manner, followed by Colonel Walton and Major Proctor at a little distance, the three moved away and returned to the dwelling.

Glad of his release from the close imprisonment of his bush, Singleton now came forward with Humphries, who, after a brief interval, stole along by the inner fence, in the close shadow of the trees, and with cautious movement reached a position which enabled him to see when the British officers took their departure. His delay to return, though not long protracted—for the guests only waited to see the ladies safely seated and to make their adieus—was, however, an age to his companion. Singleton was impatient to present himself to his fair cousin, whose dialogue with Proctor had given him all the gratification which a lover must always feel, who hears from the lips of her whom he loves, not only those sentiments which his own sense approves, but the general language of regard for himself, even so slight and passing as that which had fallen from his cousin in reference to him. She had spoken in a tone and manner which was common, indeed, to the better informed, the more elevated and refined of the Carolina ladies at that period; when, as full of patriotic daring as the men, they warmed and stimulated their adventurous courage, and undertook missions ofperil and privation, which are now on record in honourable evidence of their fearlessness, sensibility, and love of country. It was not long after this when the trusty lieutenant returned to his superior, giving him the pleasing intelligence of the departure of Proctor and his companion. Waiting for no messenger, Singleton at once hurried to the dwelling of his uncle, and, leaving Humphries in the hall, he was hurrying forward when, in the passage-way leading to the upper apartments, the first person he met was Kate herself.

"Why Robert, cousin Robert, is it you!"

The heart of the youth had been so much warmed towards her by what he had heard in the previous dialogue, that his manner and language had in them much more of passionate warmth than was altogether customary even with him.

"Dear, dear Kate, how I rejoice to see you!"

"Bless me, cousin, how affectionate you have become all at once! There's no end to you—there—have done with your squeezing. Hold my hand quietly, as if you had no wish to carry off the fingers, and I will conduct you to Emily."

"And she, Kate!"

He urged the question in an under-tone, and the eyes of his cousin were filled with tears as she replied hastily—

"Is nigher heaven every day—but come."

As they walked to an inner apartment, he told her of his previous concealment, and the partial use he had made of his ears while her chat with Proctor had been going on.

"And you heard—what?"

"Not much, Kate; only that you have not deserted your country yet, when so many are traitors to her."

The light was not sufficient to enable him to see it, but there was a rich flush upon the cheek of his companion as he repeated some portions of the conversation he had heard, which would have made him better satisfied that her supposed caprice was not so very permanent in its nature.

In a few moments they were in the apartment, where, extended upon a sofa, lay the slight and shadowy person of Emily Singleton. Her brother was beside her in an instant, and she was wrapped in his arms.

"Emily—my dear, dear sister!" he exclaimed, as he pressed his lips warmly upon her cheek.

"Dear Robert, you are come! I am glad, but there now, dear Robert—there!—Release me now."

Shu breathed more freely, freed from his embrace, and he then gazed upon her with a painful sort of pleasure—her look was so clear, so dazzling, so spiritual, so unnaturally life-like.

"Sit by me," she said. He drew a low bench, and while he took his seat upon it, Katharine left the room. Emily put her hand into that of her brother, and looked into his face without speaking for several minutes. His voice, too, was husky when he spoke, so that, when his cousin had returned to the apartment, though all feelings between them had been perfectly understood, but few words had been said.

"Sit closer, brother—closer," she said to him, fondly, and motioned him to draw the bench beside her. He did so, and in her feeble tones many were the questions which the dying girl addressed to her companion. All the domestic associations of her home on the Santee—the home of her childhood and its pleasures, when she had hopes and dreams of the future, and disease had not yet shown itself upon her system. To these questions his answers were made with difficulty; many things had occurred, since her departure, which would have been too trying for her to hear. She found his replies unsatisfactory, therefore, and she pressed them almost reproachfully—

"And you have told me nothing of old mauma,[2] Robert: is she not well? does she not miss me? did she not wish to come? And Frill, the pointer—the poor dog—I wonder who feeds him now. I wish you could have brought mauma with you, Robert—I should like to have her attend on me, she knows my ways and wishes so much better than anybody else. I should not want her long."

And though she concluded her desire with a reference to her approaching fate, the sigh which followed was inaudible to her brother.

"But you are well attended here, Emily, my dear. Cousin Kate—"

"Is a sister, and all that I could desire, and I am as well attended as I could be anywhere; but it is thus that we repine. I only wished for mauma, as we wish for an old-time prospect which has grown so familiar to our eyes that it seems to form a part of the sight: so indeed, though every thing is beautiful and delightful about 'The Oaks,' I still long to ramble over our old walks among the 'Hills.'"

The brow of Singleton blackened as she thus passingly alluded to the beautiful estate of his fathers; but he said nothing, or evaded, in his answer, the demand,—and she proceeded in her inquiries—

"And the garden, Robert—my garden, you know. Do, when you go back, see that Luke keeps the box trimmed, and the hedge; the morning I left it, it looked very luxuriant. I was too hurried to give him orders, but do you attend to it when you return. He is quite too apt to leave it to itself."

There was much in these simple matters to distress her brother, of which she was fortunately ignorant. How could he say to the dying girl, that her mauma, severely beaten by the tories, had fled into the swamps for shelter?—that her favourite dog, Frill, had been shot down, as he ran, by the same brutal wretches?—that the mansion-house of her parents, her favourite garden, had been devastated by fire, applied by the same cruel hands?—that Luke the gardener, and all the slaves who remained unstolen, had fled for safety into the thick recesses of the Santee?—how could he tell her this? The ruin which had harrowed his own soul almost to madness, would have been instant death to her; and though the tears were with difficulty kept back from his eyes, he replied calmly, and with sufficient evasion successfully to deceive the sufferer.

At this moment Katharine re-entered the apartment, and relieved him by her presence. He rose from the bench, and prepared to attend upon his uncle, who, as yet unapprised of his arrival, remained in his chamber. He bent down, and his lips were pressed once more upon the brow of his sister. She put her hand into his, and looked into his face for several minutes without speaking; and that look—so pure, so bright, so fond—so becoming of heaven, yet sohopeless of earth!—he could bear the gaze no longer; the emotion rose shiveringly in his soul—the tears could be no longer kept from gushing forth, and he hurried from her sight to conceal them.

"Oh, why—why," he said, in a burst of passionate emotion, as he hurried below—"wherefore, great Father of Mercies, wherefore is this doom? Why should the good and the beautiful so early perish—why should they perish at all? Sad, sad, that the creature so made to love and be beloved, should have lived in affliction, and died without having the feelings once exercised or compensated, which have been so sweet and innocent. Even death is beautiful and soft, seen in her eyes, and gathering in words that come from her lips like the dropping of so much music from heaven. My poor, poor Emily!"

Notes

  1. From Orestes, a work by the Greek tradegian Euripides: See, she hath shorn th' extremity of her locks, / Anxious of beauty, the same woman still! (as translated by Robert Potter, 1823). (Wikisource contributor note)
  2. Probably a corruption of mamma, an affection term of endearment which the southern child usually addresses to its negro nurse.