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blood were the price of the cherished immunity. Enough if in after years, mid happier scenes, a lingering regret, some stray chord of the heart's tones vibrating to the name of Cecilia, should remind him of her that was gone, and waken in his bosom the earnest though not to be gratified wish, that the absent one were there to share the felicity she had died to secure!
“ Kind friend, adieu! Seek not to discover my humble abode, my secret home: the search were vain. Should urgent need assail, be assured I shall seek you again, but it is much more likely I bid you for ever farewell.”
Tears, shall I confess it, followed the perusal of this so unmistakeable evidence of lofty energy and deep despair. I felt wholly at a loss : “ And yet," broke in Cornelius,," it must be done; Cecilia's resource is her needle; this will serve to discover her.”
Vainly, however, had he recourse to those
who gave out work in the city; and it was only after long search that Cornelius and his sister ascertained, at a remote establishment, that an aged woman was in the habit of seeking employment for an individual wholly unknown. It was not, indeed, the first time, as it should not be the last, that the widows and orphans of decayed gentry sought by secret industry to eke out their flagging resources.
Even as they spoke, a decrepit woman came slowly in, and with tremulous accents, for she was very old, requested the arrears, as her mistress was not in circumstances to undertake any more work. The proprietor instantly assented, humanely adding, that he hoped her mistress was not ill.
“ No, not exactly ill, blessed be God; but the little brother is dying of the sickness :" adverting to the fever which just then was decimating the population.
Joy, tempered by exquisite sorrow, now animated the heart of Cornelius; he trusted his task was about to be crowned with success.
Turning to the woman, he told her he wished to see her mistress; but the creature, faithful to her trust, repelled his advances, and prepared to depart.
“ Listen,” said Cornelius : “ do I look like one who would injure your precious mistress? But I had forgotten a weightier spell.” Uncounted gold now rolled into the withered hand; and as the chink fell on her palsied ear, the aged crone mumbled out, —“Ah, I do not think you would hurt my young mistress."
They would have taken her into the carriage, but the poor soul would have failed to recognise her way; she could only show it, and that by going on foot. They followed her devious steps, till at length they reached a spot in the “ Liberties.” A court, paddled into mud, lay before a ruined
dwelling. The paling had long disappeared, but a stunted poplar still withstood the sickly influences of the place. A tottering stair gave difficult access. Cornelius and his sister ascended to the topmost landing. Here the old woman paused, and, after some hesitation, knocked; the door was forthwith opened, and she went in.
“ For the sake of the Mother of God, sweet mistress, blame me not. Did not my child that is gone carry you at her breast? Would I do wrong by you—you alone of all the world ?” These words were uttered as if in reply to an exclamation which anguish alone could have extorted.
“ Alas! what have you done, thus to expose me to the gaze of a pitiless world ?” Then, as if checking itself, that thrilling voice again uttered — “ Thou, poor old faithful Teresa, forgive my impatience ; dry up thy tears. Oh,
gracious heaven, I know not what I say! Hark, he calls ! Dearest little brother, I come, I come.”
Cornelius breathed short and quick; his heart-strings were wrung. He stood irresolute; but his sister, with a woman's quick instincts, penetrated at once into the dreary abode. That tearful eye, that face so full of sympathy, spoke volumes of comfort to the suffering Cecilia.
“Oh! if he only do not die,” she exclaimed; while tear-drops, that would not be stayed, burst through her long white fingers.
The young women conferred in low but earnest tones ; peace and confidence were at length restored to their bosoms.
The dear child, wrapped in one of Cornelia's shawls, was conveyed to the carriage. Cecilia took her place beside him; and soon they arrived at a dwelling replete with every luxury - strange contrast to the rude shelter they had for ever left.