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and flinging her arms round the frenzied man, she clung with that cry of horror to his arm, reading the dreadful truth in his haggard gaze. Safety or ruin-which is your will, Juliet ?" And the father's voice faltered, as he strove to cast off the clasping form of his child.
The Trials of Juliet Lee.
"I!-my will!" cried the bewildered girl. "Oh! shew me my duty! Father! my father! I will work for you-toil-you shall not want! we will be happy yet, here, at dear Woodlands;
"Here!" and the father's voice rang shrilly in its scorn. Here, girl!-ay! if you'll give your love to save your home! Will you do it, Juliet? Will you save it and me? Ruin or safety? Girl! mark me! He never threatens twice."
During that tale of misery, the wretched daughter stood drinking in the words of fire, till the torture reached her crushed heart, stilling its pulses; and at the close of that revelation, she fell suddenly and lifelessly at the speaker's feet.
When sense returned, Juliet met the searching glance of her father with a dreamy unconsciousness of past pain; and for an instant her eye wandered round the unremembered room, and rested vacantly even on the distorted features bent over her. But all too soon, too surely, comes the pain of reality to the erewhile numbed heart, when it has bent for the moment beneath its agony. As the searing touch to the opened wound, came the memory of the past hour to the waking senses of the young girl, as she tot-ingly his changing countenance with so rigid an tered from the couch where she had been laid, eye. Edward Lee started at the firm, unfaltering and leaning on her father's arm, strove to frame tone which dissolved the long silence. her failing speech into words. Years of age and anguish seemed to have passed over her head, as she stood there; the pangs of every misery of the past were blended with that broken voice"Father! your poor child! so little loved! so little cared for!" A bitter sob checked each
Well, then, you refuse?" The father stopped short, and laid a heavy hand upon the slender arm clasping his, as preparing with the answer to cast her from him in her helplessness. Your will, most loving daughter! is to give Woodlands to a stranger-your father to a prison?"
"Hold! hold! a moment! I will tell you; there is hope. Hear me, father." And Juliet bent down upon her father's breast, to hide the flush which fear, doubt, and sudden joy called to cheek and brow. Father, I should have died without your love; so lonely, so desolate was life to me, if there had not been another
heart caring for me-loving when I knew it
"Well said, girl! we will trust to a hand that is as empty as my own! This is your offered safety! Ha! why I tell you-." The speaker's voice fell suddenly to a bitter whisper, laden as it were with the soul's deepest hate. "I tell you, curses on him; he robbed me of all-every farthing of the boy's money too; and now— now where's your safety? In him?"
blood had passed from the hearer's heart, as she Every pulse seemed stilled, as if every drop of listened to this last fearful history of misery. Silently the father and child stood gazing in each other's eyes; and by the changing features of the former, it seemed as if he quailed before would have welcomed the bitter rebuke-the that fixed glance of reproachful horror. He wild burst of anguish; but he could not look fearlessly on the marble face turned towards him, mutely and motionless. Something told him that ruin was there indeed; that that revelation had wrought a sterner change than he had pictured to his mind. He was right; even the worker of that dark spell failed to recognize the gentle pleader of the past hour, in the unflinching and resolute Inquisitor, reading search
"You tell me, father, that Ernest is a beggar through your means." She paused, as waiting an answer; but receiving none, she continued hurriedly, and with a voice rising firmly as she proceeded-" Now hear me. sence-hateful to you-have driven you from If I, by my prehome, have forced you on to this, God forgive me! in memory of my bitter and desolate fatean unloved and forsaken child! But if the bent of your own heart has been to fling away life's gifts, and with them the trusted heritage of the orphan, while you were crushing every bright feeling from the heart of your child, leaving it a waste for the growth of poisonous weeds-if this has been the act of the wish, father, and you looked to the sacrifice of that despised child as means of safety at last-may he pardon it; taking away the sin of the purpose, in answer to my prayers, in pity for me, a poor guideless girl! I am ready now to do your will," she continued, struggling with her rising tears.
"With poverty alone as our bane, I would have toiled, struggled, begged for you, so that you should not have felt it; and my reward would have been my trust in that noble heart-my helper in the work. Now the blight of dishonour the degradation of betrayed trust must be wiped out, no matter at what cost of misery; so I am ready to do this. Tell me, father, and say truly, as hopes of hereafter rise before you, will he who-whose I shall bewill he give back that bartered heritage ?-our home?-all that he robbed us of?" The father waved his hand affirmatively. "And you, father! will you, in memory of the sacrificedby whose means you sit again by a stainless hearth, in memory of honour restored-will you promise, that of that heritage Ernest never shall miss the smallest fraction-that he shall never look doubtingly on the faithfulness of my father?"
ness, as those who yield back silently some falsely-claimed boon.
Brighter than ever gleamed out the white turrets of Woodlands, on the morning following that scene of fearful reckoning between father and child. Brighter were the hues of the flowers, opening to the warming beam; brighter was the glistening of the diamond dew, hanging from every leaf of the countless shrubs, clinging and climbing up the old walls till they brushed the window panes of the sleeping-rooms, and twined along the projecting roof. At least, brighter than ever seemed all nature without, as if in contrast to the winter gloom within, to the young girl kneeling by the opened lattice, with flushed cheek and heavy eyes, to catch that sweet morning breath, and strive to cool the fever which a night of weeping watchfulness had brought. The watch which had been kept was over the frail weak will, lest, in its bitter trial, it turn, when trampled on, like the poor worm, and forget it is crushed down, that house and honour may be raised from ruin. And so the night had passed, and the morning found Juliet
prayer-prayer that needs a mighty faith indeed; such as that which asks of heaven that all our brightest hopes and picturings of joy may be denied us.
From early childhood, no mother's voice had rung on the young girl's ear in daily greeting. She knew there was no kiss of love for her-a kind of silent blessing on the work of the opening day; and yet when, amidst her prayer, a light knock at the chamber door told of the existence of some one privileged to break into that retirement there was a struggle to calm the excited spirit, and collect some little of cheerfulness, before admitting the visitor. Could she have met a glance laden with anything but what she dreaded most-pity-she could have preserved that bitter deceit of calmness; but eyes swollen with weeping met her own; a trembling aged hand drew the young form into a close and passionate embrace; and the mingled gteetings-" My child!" "Nurse! my good nurse!"-were all to break the heavy silence.
The excitement of the past scene had sufficiently sobered him to enable him to pursue the opened course with advantage. "Where is this boy then? No time like the present, if he must know of this," he said, hurriedly passing by the weeping girl, with the intention of summoning his ward to that scene of tears and sorrow; and as suddenly returning, at the sound of those broken sobs, to snatch away the hands clasping the convulsed features, and watch for the calming of that wild tempest of misery, with the deep oath of fierce impatience bursting from his lips. The memory of that past hour's events-the sudden consciousness of poverty and disgrace-was the best ally that came to the rescue of the father's plan of cruelty. One would not have fancied that the hands suddenly stretched out in acquiescence were flinging away life's bright hopes and picturings in that momentary act. But it was so. 66 One would not dream that the young head, bending so low that the action could not be misunderstood-so low, that the blinding tears fell unnoticed-was bending too in last farewell to the little of joy
A blessing is on you for it, my heart's darling!" sobbed the old servant, when the hot tears had burst forth again, and Juliet lay, as in childhood, clasped, as if for safety, in that faithful embrace. Ay! surely has sorrow been great at Woodlands since thou wert fain to seek a mother's love in thy old nurse! spurned thee-”
May he who
Nay! he is my father, nurse! Do not curse!" said the young girl, struggling suddenly to free herself from the grasp of the aged woman, and collect back her scattered resolves of firmness and resignation.
"Has he not brought you to ruin ?"
That I may lead us both back to safety; nurse; and save a house for him, and you, and all I love." The rushing tears choked the last words. "You had two children, nurse-me, and poor Ernest. I go, but he will be all I was
which fate had accorded her. And yet, even to you. Nay, do not weep, poor nurse! I thus Juliet Lee parted with her late-born happi- thought to make you happier. Promise me,
There was no answer to her appeal. The senses of the profligate parent seemed spellbound in a fearful admiration, mingled with awe, for the impassioned being, reading that lesson to his heart. Seating himself at the table, with-in out reply, he traced on paper a few lines, and, with an unsteady hand, placed it in those of his daughter. It was a sad and strange thing, to look upon that young, wronged girl, bending over that written promise, given by a father with all the forethought and incredulity of one who had passed through every scene of a treacherous world. It was sadder to see the glance of satisfaction pass away beneath the shadow of utter and hopeless misery, sweeping across that young face, and hear the farewell to peace, spoken in those few words-" I am ready now. No other feeling than that of selfish joy was in the heart of Edward Lee, as he saw the fear of poverty and disgrace flung down, to rise no more, by the self-sacrifice of his child.
The Trials of Juliet Lee.
you will hear him patiently, even if he scorns me; for he cannot read my heart as you can, dear nurse; and perhaps, perhaps in time, you and he, and all here, may be very happy, though you may weep for me now."
The old servant had seated herself, and buried her face in her hands, while she listened to the hurried pleading of the unloved child; and the low sobs, bursting faintly forth at first, deepened to a bitter cry of wailing misery, in which were mingled a few broken sentences, telling the cause of that sudden grief. Broken as they were, they struck loudly on the listener's ear.
"Who is gone? who is driven from you?" cried Juliet, as she knelt before the weeper, with the stilled pulses of constrained fear. can bear more, more misery, if it is to come;' and the words failed on her quivering lips "Who is gone?"
"Him-my other child." And the hands were suddenly withdrawn from the speaker's face, to stretch forth a hitherto concealed note, that its contents might tell the tale, when speech failed. "Take it his last words-darling: I couldn't break your heart to give it you; and you so full of grief, and now he's gone-gone
ward's shattered fortunes, and gather them in hoarding till the time when he may remember he has a home, and wish for rest from his wanderings. We glance before us, and think to picture ourselves, our deeds and very thoughts, in after years; and we dream, alas-even as I am now dreaming-that change must come to all else than us; and that to us to-morrow will be as to-day!' I wake, Juliet, to a truer picturing a home deserted by us both-one seeking a safer shelter; the other, forgetfulness in danger, and haply finding it in the reddened grave of some foreign battle-ground."
The pictured lot of both had been fulfilled, before the leaves, in their fall, swept their sad dirge round the deserted threshold of Woodland "Hall. Juliet had been led to the sacrifice, beneath the roof of one whose name was spoken with shame and scorn; beside whose hearth had never stood one above the world's censure, till came the young bride, the barter for a father's honour, to plight a perjured vow; to cast her fate into the dark waters of infamy and disgrace, rolling round the home of a gambler-husband.
He, for whom the sacrifice was made, and made amid scorning-Ernest Graham-was a wanderer in those lands where strife and warfare made a meet home for the tossed and troubled spirit: the drawn sword his only wand of oblivion, and the camp and its perils his resting place and agents of existence.
"Poor nurse! poor nurse!" murmured the stricken girl, as-with one hand clasped to the streaming eyes of the old servant, the other holding to her dimmed sight the tidings of bitterness-she strove to read it, as if it were a tale of grief, in which her own must have no part; Eight years had passed away since the desoas if she had not now the right to sorrow at its lation of solitude and lifelessness had fallen on hearing, as had the old, deserted nurse. Almost the old Hall of Woodlands. Almost buried in silently were those written words whispered the creeping foliage, had now become the turover, in the clear, calm voice of one who reads reted mansion: weed and wild-wood clustered unknowingly and unmoved, alike of stranger-round the casements, where never now might be tears and joys-seen the face or form of a living being. The ruined waste told that life had no part now in that scene. Its owner had been gathered to the tomb of his fathers. There were none who cared to tear away the robe of mouldering ruin from the court and hall.
In a home, hidden like Woodlands, amid deep wood, and far apart from the path of the traveller, there were sounds of occupation, and moving lights streamed through the windows; and the shadows of passing figures told of the presence of domestics, busied in household duties; and yet a gloom, as deep as that flung round the mansion of Woodlands, was over house and lands. If the grass grew not in the court, the tall heavilybarred gates looked more sombre, with their ponderous fastenings, than did those of the deserted Hall, where the weed and thistle filled the interstices of time's making.
“JULIET, I had thought to stand before you, and, gazing in your eyes, read the mystery of the past night; whether I dream, or this is truth-a hearth deserted, an erring parent forsaken, a vow forgotten? I fear the waking, and am gone; while I know not your motive, I dream still on. I have learnt how the temptation worked, Juliet. Adversity is a stern guest; it overshadows home, and you fly from it. It comes at a father's calling, and your heart acquits you of his abandonment. There was a vow forgotten, and abandoned too; though it does not weigh with these, it claimed remembrance. I am pleading now for a forsaken parent and home, not for the faintest memory of the pleader. I have learnt your chosen shelter from coming storms; the refuge would be a safe one, Juliet, if prayers and wishes, even such as these, could purchase safety. In farewell, I do not ask recollection. We have stood together, face to face, until now, and I cannot learn now to dissemble. I do not seek to read the closed book of your heart. I could not look upon a blotted page there, and remember what I read there once. I do not ask why the poor shelter of a proudly true heart was nought to you in your search for safety; I was answered, when I learnt that in your father's losses my own inheritance had a part. There is still a pittance left, sufficient for my plans of foreign rambling; with this I leave Woodlands, while you are sleeping. In his hours of solitude, it may be a light task to your father, to repair his
In a room, handsomely and fully furnished indeed, but wearing the same aspect of gloom as the exterior of the house, sat a lady, resting in one of the deeply-embrasured windows; and, half hidden by the heavy curtain, gazing out expectantly, as it were, into that twilight scene of solitude. Her gaze was only withdrawn to be fixed on a note which lay on her knee; and the only change she suffered herself to make,
said, more gently. "I would fain believe you have sent for me, to shew me that your choice has been blessed, and my prayers answered; that you are happy in this."
draw back into the shadow of the drapery, fixing her unquiet glance upon the opening door. The visitor waited until the sound of the servant's footstep was heard retreating; and then, with a reluctant slowness, a man passed into the room, and with a strained gaze towards the half-hidden form of its occupant, approached silently, and held out a slightly-trembling hand, in greeting. The power of a small word is great sometimes. That kindly action was unheeded; the soul of the greeted seemed yearning for the unoffered boon of speech; and when it was at last given, in the small, faintly-spoken word, "Juliet," the wild burst of emotion on the part of its hearer startled the speaker from his calm selfcontrol.
was to turn and re-turn the epistle with a trembling hand; repeating some portion of it to herself, musingly, as if for re-assurance. "He will come-oh, he will come!" was the constant exclamation, as she bent out her gaze over wood Happy! my heart is broken, Ernest!" murand glen. Not long had she pursued her watch, mured the unhappy woman, shudderingly. when the sound of coming steps caused her to" Happy! and here! alone! utterly alone? Oh! if the past has taught me to bear this from experience, the past gave me one to teach me patience and hope; and now what have I but a crushed and desolated spirit to guide me on? Ernest!" she continued hurriedly, snatching his hand, and gazing searchingly in his face, "Do not tell me that all my dreams and trials were in vain! You are happy! you can bear to think calmly of all that seemed treachery and falsity once?"
"God bless you for that word. Ernest!" broke from the quivering lips, now buried in the clasped hands, hiding face and brow; "I think my heart would have burst, if you had called me by his name," murmured the unhappy
Ernest Graham still stood before her, waiting for the passing of that burst of frenzied grief.
"You have come to look upon me at last," said Juliet, striving to stifle the sobs that seemed choking her voice; and motioning her visitor to a seat, with forced calmness.
"It is your wish, Juliet, I am here," replied the wanderer. "Is it to note that your lot is brighter, or, even now, darkened ?”
A flush of pride spread over the brow of his hearer, and paled as suddenly.
To hear news of your own welfare, Ernest,' " she answered, firmly and sadly, "To know if you returned to stand by my father's death-bed
as friend or foe."
"I had-I could have nothing to forgive, Juliet," said the young man calmly.
"And you feel that death has taken from you one who has watched over your interest with a parent's eye? who has yielded into your own keeping an unlessened heritage?"
The listener could not trace, by that dimmed light, the clasped hands folded on the speaker's heart, as if to stay its quickened beating. There was not knowledge of the past of mystery, in the tone of chilling coldness answering that eager questioning.
If you would know, Juliet, whether the shelter of my wealth is now strong enough for protection from worldly troubles, be satisfied; I can boast a refuge that even you would not fly from, perhaps." A broken sob burst from the lips of his hearer. "God forgive you this injustice!" she faltered bitterly.
A shade of regret crossed the face of Ernest Graham at that bitter petitioning. "Do not urge me back to the past, Juliet," he
"Rest satisfied, Juliet," sighed the young man; "I am happier than you think; do not let the time be passed in thoughts of me and my heart-griefs. I came beneath this roof as his, not yours, with loathing; and I would fain not meet with any one to call back that feeling."
"Oh! do not fear that, saving the faces of the servants, there will be anything seen to enter here that could tell me my existence is cared for," said the wife, with a bitter sigh.
There fell a heavy silence on those two saddened speakers; during which the heart of each was bending beneath a widely-differing grief. Half rising, and bending forward into the faint light streaming through the window, Juliet was the first to awake from that bitter reverie.
"You do not dream how I have deserved this desertion?" she said suddenly. "Draw back that curtain, and look on me.'
The visitor did so, and, for the first time, bent a full and eager gaze upon the face that had never been absent from his heart's picturings.
Are you answered?" said Juliet, with forced calmness.
A groan of anguish, bursting from the lips of the strong man, was the reply, as he stood looking upon the fearful wreck which eight years of the spirit's misery had wrought. The marbled forehead was crossed by bands of the glossy hair, now prematurely silvered; and the long grey tresses fell round a face wasted by grief, and ghastly in its whiteness; while the glazed and distended eyes, and sharpened features, told that suffering and disease were working hand in hand.
"I am an unmeet subject for his pride now," said the unhappy wife, with a sad smile; " and but a burden in his home and on his thoughts. So we each look trustfully and hopefully for the doctor's fiat that all this is over.' A weight of ice seemed laid on the hearer's heart, checking the power of reply to that revelation of misery; "It is for the best-a blessing, Ernest, for me! Think of it thus," she continued gently, as she watched that shade of agony on his face. my own heart the fiat has gone forth; when I heard it I felt that, even to leave this wretchedness, I could not die happily without your face once more before me; your pity, your trust in me restored. I have had little of the world's
Stanzas to the Memory of Rosa.
vanities, to tempt my forgetfulness of the Mighty |
guardian, for the repayment of a betrayed heritage-the price of life and love's sacrifice. But one word" Farewell"—was traced at the conclusion; but it told to the reader's heart, that
all was over;" and that another gentle spirit had been added to the number of those whose "God bless you, Juliet! Loved, still loved, paths through life-strewn with few flowers, still cherished," faltered Ernest Graham, bend-lighted by few smiles-lead them earliest in ing over the thin hand clasped in his own, while spirit towards a brighter home, where the bloshot tears fell upon it, as earnest of that deathless som is fadeless, and tears are not. constancy. "To pray for you, to bless you, in forgetfulness of all but this misery, is all now left me."
"I would say more," said Juliet, while her STANZAS TO THE MEMORY OF ROSA. eyes were lighted by a wild excitement. "I would lead you to bless the remembrance of the past; I would-no, no-it may not be; not now-not in life. I durst not see you before me, and hear what might draw down my soul from its home there. And if not thus, I could not bear it, as I am; my heart would burst in the telling. Now-even now-leave me, Ernest," she faltered faintly, sinking back in the chair, and stretching forth her hands, in farewell. "There has been one bright hour on earth for me; I am content now to pass away, forsaken by all else. Leave me now-I cannot bear to see your tears; it seems like sorrow, when there is so much joy here, Ernest. What is before us both?" she continued, with fervency. "To part for awhile amid tears, that we may meet again in peace! Oh, let us so part! let us pray for such parting and when it comes, give thanks! Ernest! you will not look upon Juliet again; but you will be told the secret that has lain upon her heart, when all is over; and then, when it is told, let your past love come back again! let it cling round the memory of the dead! it it will! And think-think that that certainty has been her one hope on earth, her only blessing.' She had risen as she spoke; and, with her arms outstretched, her wasted form half veiled in the dim twilight, she seemed like some passing spirit, pouring its parting warning on mortal ear. With that last burst of human passion, she bent over the hand clasping her own, as in momentary prayer; then starting from its touch, passed into the shade, and from the room; and in that noiseless act, she was shut out for ever from the sight of Ernest Graham.
A few weeks from that time saw, in one of the most remote villages in southern France, the arrival of a single dispatch from England. That it brought the bitterness of grief to the receiver, none, who marked the trembling hand and quivering features, doubted. But among the simplehearted peasantry, there were few who had the gift of affording seasonable consolation, even had they dared offer it to the English stranger. Alone, with the sole witness of his desolation in his own crushed heart, Ernest Graham unfolded to his gaze the secret which had lain so long hidden in the soul once linked with his own. The talisman, so long guarded, lay before him, in the enclosed promise of the dishonoured
Elle était de ce monde, où les plus belles choses
Et Rose, elle a vecu ce que vivent les roses,
And art thou dead, beautiful child?
When the bright summer's voice shall call,
That once was dear to childhood's dream;
And oh! when, with more thrilling tone,
Thy musing mother bids her child rejoice As once she did, in summer hours long flown, Wilt thou not answer to the voice?
No, never more, on earth, poor Rose,
Shall the summer's voice call for thee;
Thou hast been like a dream, that brings
To gaze, as I have gazed on thee,
With promise dawning on thy brow;
I could not see thee nothing now.
For, blighted though the heart, and seared,
By many an hour thy smiles beguiled.
For, oh! when the stern world hath frowned
When life has proved a lingering pain,
And friendship but a name for wile,
Like childhood's laugh and childhood's smile?
Yes, I may mourn for thee, lost flower,
Nipp'd in the bud that promised bright,
Thine eyes should shed their beams of light.