Page:Aunt Phillis's Cabin.djvu/244

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bear to approach the coffin that contains her remains. Where is her beauty—and her grace and talent? Ah! young ladies," he continued, "did she rightly use those talents?"

"It is hardly a fair question to ask now," said Mr. Weston. "Let us tread lightly o'er the ashes of the dead."

"Let the living learn a lesson from the dead," said the clergyman, sternly. "You are leading, it may be, a heartless life of pleasure, but, young ladies, forget not this grave. She could not escape it, nor will you. Pause from your balls, and your theatres, and your gay doings, and ask, what is the end of it all. Trifle not with the inestimable gift of life. Be not dead while you live. Anticipate not the great destroyer. Hear the appeal of one who was once the idol of every heart; she speaks to you from the grave, 'Even as I am, shalt thou be!'"

He turned from them, and wandered over the ground. Mr. Weston led the way to the carriage, and Ellen and Alice thought, that if a lesson of life was to be learned in the gay ball of the night before, a still more necessary one was found in the cemetery which they were now leaving, as the shadows of the evening were on the simple monument and the sculptured slab, and their silent tenants slept on, undisturbed by the gambols of thoughtless children, or the conversation of the many who came to visit their abode.


The next morning, Bacchus brought no letter for Mr. Weston, but one for each lady; for Ellen from her aunt, for Alice from Arthur, and Cousin Janet's handwriting was easily recognized on the outside of Mrs. Weston's. Hardly had the girls arisen from the table to take theirs' to their rooms for a quiet perusal, when an exclamation from Mrs. Weston, detained them.

"Is anything the matter at home, Anna?" said Mr. Weston, "Is Cousin Janet—?"