Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/209

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183
E. OAKES SMITH.

of Paradise to glide upon their hinges and shut the utterer out for ever.”

Hugo ground his teeth firmly, and said in a voice terrible, it was so firm and loud—

“Speak, child I would know it.”

Then Mary prayed, saying, “Oh, my God! let the knowledge fade out from my soul, that I may never be guilty of this great sin.”

“Speak,” said her father, turning pale with a great rage.

The clear face of the child was turned to that of the dark man, and a fair smile was on her lips as she answered,

“God has heard my prayer, dear father—I know it not.”

“Thou liest,” answered the fierce man, and he struck the child with his heavy palm.

Mary threw her arms around the neck of her father, pale and trembling, whereat a sudden pang of remorse filled him with shame and grief; but when he saw how still she lay in his arms, he grew fearful, and raised her up and looked into her face. She lay without breath or motion, and although he sprinkled water in her face from the brook, and called her passionately back to life, she did not lift up the fringes of her lids.




THE ANGEL AND THE MAIDEN.

After this scene upon the mountain, the stranger no longer wore that appearance of extreme sadness, which before had created a painful interest in his behalf: he no longer seemed weighed by those deep and mysterious thoughts, that shadow forth the unseen world, and leave us without the sympathy which alone makes this life cheerful; now a fair serenity diffused itself in his mien, and his face wore a placid and benign candour most lovely to behold. There was a joyful upwardness in his look, and a genial outwardness in his eyes, as if they rested lovingly upon God’s creatures, and no longer were content with selfish introversion.