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western extremity stood a massive building of hewn stone, two stories high. The moon's light shone slant. ingly upon its front, and displayed two antique figures in robes and peri. wigs—this was the Tholsel-round which they turned into Nicholas-street, lying in the shadow of the night, for the moonbeams shining from the east could not find their way into it, and the dim and flickering oil-lamp shed but a faint and partial light around.
“Now mistress," said Regan, "you're in Nicholas.street. There is the church, and farther on is Kennedy-court. What house are you seeking ?”
The woman hesitated for a moment. She seemed to be struggling with some feelings that ultimately got the better of her. At length she said, with some embarrassment
“I will not trespass on you any farther. I can now find the house I want. I am very thankful for your kindness I wish I could show my gratitude as fully as I feel it."
She held forth in her hand a silver coin. The old watchman shook his head, and said
“ No, no, mistress. I can afford to do a good turn for nothing; besides
that drunken young scapegrace paid me well enough already on your account. I have a wife myself, and daughters too, for that matter ; and for their sakes I can help a friendless woman, and so good night, and God protect you. I must hurry back to be on my beat to sing out all's well' when the inspector goes his rounds."
Then the watchman retraced his steps, and was soon out of sight round the corner of the Tholsel. The woman passed on rapidly a few paces, then she stopped at a doorway on the left side of the street. A projecting oil-lamp burned muddily over the heavy stone pediment, and gave her light enough to to see a massive brass-knocker. She lifted it hurriedly, and knocked with a trembling hand. The sound reverberated through the still air, and smote upon her heart with a sudden shock. A thousand memories were evoked by that sound. Hopes, fears, doubts, agonies crowded upon her ; they were too much for a frame weakened by illness, and nerves shaken by the events of the evening; and, ere her summons was answered, she sank down unconscious in the snow that lay upon the steps.
, THE TOT SET RIGHT.
When she who had wandered through the midnight snows and sunk on the cold door steps, opened her eyes, and became once again conscious, she was as one waking from a long dream. Years,occupied by that dream, vanished, and she gazed around on familiar objects. The room and its quaint orderly furniture were those of her childhood. There was the curtained window at which she had stood by day, the bright cheery hearth at which she had sat by night. The chimney-glass in its antique frame, with the peacock's feathers at each side. The old clock ticked upon the mantelpiece. The green parrot swung upon his hoop in the gilded cage. And, kneeling beside her, one chafed her temples, and kissed her cold hands, with all the gentle kindness which it is the blessed gift of woman alone to minister. And there, too, bent over her, one whose cyes were full of awe and wonder, of unutterable love and tenderness, of joy and sorrow, hope and doubt, strangely blended.
“Are you my own dear Mary, alive
and in the flesh ? or are you her blessed spirit come to summon me to my last dread account ? Speak, in the name of God's own mother, I adjure you."
« Laurence, dear Laurence, I am your own sister Mary. God has spared me life to come back and throw myself upon your love."
The man smote his breast with his open palms, and heaved a mighty sigh: 'twas the heaving of a beart that cast off for ever a load that was dragging it down to the grave.
“Then I am no murderer! O Lord, I thank thee;” and flinging himself down on his knees beside the couch, he kissed her poor, pale forehead and her cold lips again and again, and wept and laughed by turns, while that gentle sister clasped his head in her wasted hands, and soothed him, and blest him, and wept with him ; till at last the other woman, fearing that the excitement would injure both, rose up, and with quiet, yet firm restraint, drew the man away.
“Dear husband, you must compose him of abusing your confidence and yourself, for her sake as well as for hospitality; of clandestinely seducing your own. See how weak and faint she your sister's affections; of making a is, you will surely injure her. Come," base and ungrateful return for your and she led him to a chair apart, and bounty. What bounty, save the mothen returned as quietly as before to the ney that he earned by his own honest suffering one, and busied herself again toil!--oh! brother, brother ! you know in tending her, saying little, but doing not the man you so accused." all things needful. And the man look The woman raised her head from ed on the while wonderingly and mus. where it had been resting, and a ingly, yet not daring to speak, keep- flush spread over her pallid face. It ing closed the flood-gates of his feel might have been anger, it might ings lest they should break out again, have been but pride; whatever was and overwhelm him. And, after a its cause, it soon passed away. That little time, they were all more com- meek soul had been too severely posed and tranquil, and Mary spoke schooled by the world's trials, too for a time in a low voice with Mrs. deeply taught by God's chastisements, Kennedy, and then she arose and to cherish the one or the other emotasted, in thankfulness, of the food that tion; and so she laid her head once was set before her, and drank of the again lovingly upon her brother's breast. old Spanish wine, which her father had "I did all that you say, Mary, nor loved, and would give to her, as a do I now seek to justify it altogether ; child, on festive occasions. And then but when you judge my conduct, do they sat by the fireside, that long-se- not forget how sorely I was tried vered, long-estranged brother and sis. tried in all that was dearest to my ter, her hand in his hand, her head heart, my affections, my religion, my upon bis breast. And the quiet, gentle pride, my name." wife, she had stolen noiselessly away The woman shook her head mournout of the room, leaving the two toge- fully, but made no reply. It might ther, while they poured out their hearts be that she knew how her brother had in mutual explanations.
felt all these things, though she could " Yes; dear Mary, from the hour not admit that they should have tried when I snatched my band from you, him so severely. as you supplicated me upon your knees, “Bear with me for a little while. and I passed out through that door, dear sister," he continued, " while for with reproaches on my lips and bitter- once I lay bare before you my heart ness in my heart, I have known no and my motives. Even should it pain peace. Ere one week had passed, I you, still you will not deny me the opsought for you at his lodgings, every- portunity of pleading my own cause. where, but you were not to be found; When I sball have done this, my lips you were both gone, nobody knew shall be closed on the subject for ever. whither.”
Condemn me then as you will. God “ We left the country the day after knows you cannot condemn me as much that bitter parting. Why should we as my own conscience does. stay where we were outcasts and beg. “Of all his children, you and I
alone were left to our dear father. "I sought for you everywhere ; I ad. How he loved you, you know well ; vertised in the papers here and in but he loved you not more dearly than England. I made inquiries through I did, when on his death-bed he commy correspondents abroad, but in vain; mended you to my care. I watched no answer, no clue, and yet you must over you, Mary, more as a father have seen them, Mary. Was this well would do than a brother. You were done, sister?--you were not used to the light of my home, and the pride have an unrelenting spirit.”
of my heart, and I sought for no other “ Yes; I did see what you put in the companion while I had you, no other papers copied into a foreign journal; mistress for my house. And so passed and oh! dear Laurence, God knows on many a happy year till you were a how my heart yearned towards you; full grown woman; and then came the but he would not suffer me to reply. shadow over our bright life.”
The wounds you had inflicted on his The merchant paused as if half pride and honour were still rankling. afraid to proceed ; at length he took You had called him, he told me, a bep courage and resumed. gar and an adventurer. You accused “One morning I received from a
Bourdeaux correspondent a letter requesting my good offices in favour of a French Protestant who had been forced to leave his native land. I remember, as if it were but yesterday, the bearer of that letter.' Twas Joseph Le Maistre. I pitied him ; for I hated in my heart all persecution for conscience sake. My house was opened to him; I procured him tuitions as a teacher of languages, and I suffered him to make you perfect in the knowledge of his native tongue. Oh! Mary, my own sister! was it honour. able, was it generous, that he should creep in between our hearts, that he should rob me of your love that he should estrange your heart from its duty, and your soul from the religion of your fathers. And yet all this he did, Mary; and I suspected nothing of it, till one and the same day I learned that you were a Protestant, and the wife of Le Maistre."
“All this my husband did, Lau. rence ; yet was he neither ungenerous nor dishonourable. If there be cause for blame, and I do not deny it, let that blame rest where it should, upon me. My love for my dear husband I bave never for a moment repented; in my changed faith, I humbly rejoice. I do not, and I never did, justify my marriage without your knowledge; he would have had it otherwise, but I overruled him ; for I knew your quick temper and your strong attachment to your faith, and I feared that you would prevent our union. Dearly have we paid the penalty, when you sent me forth fortuneless upon the world; I know you had the right legally to do so, for my portion was made subject to my marrying with your consent.”
“And every farthing of that portion I placed to your credit, and will account to you honestly for it and all its fruits."
- Oh! brother, this is indeed being more than justitis generous, generous and good as my own dear brother was wont to be in our young days. This will enable us all to be independent, will save us from the sharp pang and degradation of poverty-him and my child."
Kennedy started involuntarily. Up to this moment he had not thought of the existence of Joseph Le Maistre; somehow he had concluded that he was dead.
“He, your husband ! Did he not die before you left St. Domingo ? His name was not amongst those in the registry of the Santiago.”
“ He was not in the Santiago. He had sailed a week before in a vessel bound for Barbadoes, where he had friends on whose aid he relied. There we were to meet him when the Santiago touched on her voyage to Europe. I will not relate to you the terrors of that dreadful night, when our ship went down so suddenly that the sleepers were awakened to rush on deck and find their graves in the sea; nor how, as I sank with the vessel in the seething waters that sucked us downwards, with my arms round my child, I thought of you, brother, and prayed God to forgive us both."
The merchant groaned; he called to mind the picture that his distempered fancy drew of that awful scene, and how different it was from the reality. The woman continued :
"Some friendly hand threw mea rope. I seized it, and was drawn, with my child, into a small boat. There were but two men in it. All that dreadful night we drifted about; and when the light of the morning broke, they discovered a ship not a mile distant. One of the men took my shawl, and raising it up on an oar, signalled the vessel. After some time she perceived us, and in half-an-hour more we were on board, and in safety. We were landed at St. Lucia, and I contrived from that to make my way to Barbadoes, and found my husband. There we remained many years, and at last we have sought my native city; for I had a strong belief that God would not will that we should be thus estranged for ever. And I said I would seek you once again, and humble myself before you, my own dear brother.”
“Nay, dear sister, not so ; you shall not humble yourself to me, for I, too, have erred; but you shall lie in my heart as closely as you did before. When you left me, Mary, my house was lonely, and I sought one to solace me in my sorrow, and such a one I found in my dear wife, your old playmate, Hester. She will be to you as a sister, and you shall share our home you and your little one.
" Laurence, there is one whom you do not name. I share no home and no heart in which he also is not a sharer. Whither he goes, I go. His people shall be my people, as his God is my God.”
The woman paused, and looked anxiously at her brother for a reply ; but no reply came. His brow grew
dark. The evil spirit was upon him that spirit of anger against the husband of his sister, which years of suffering had not subdued. He rose hastily from his seat, and paced the room with rapid steps. Oh! poor, frail, human nature_ the slave of sin and passion! with all the light that shines upon you from above, still loving the darkness; with the voice of God speaking to you everywhere and in everything, still closing your ear as the deaf adder; with countless unseen pitying angels around you, ever striving to bear you in their hands, and raise you heavenward, still grovelling in the dust. There, in that man's heart, was then going on one of those mysterious spiritual battles which, from the first hour of the first man's fall till the last hour of the last man's life, have been, and shall be, waged - the good and the evil striving for the mastery, as Michael and the Devil contended for the body of Moses. And the battle is fierce, and the fortune of the fight shifts and wavers, but at last 'tis over, and the evil angels are masters of the human battle-field for a season, and en ter in, and possess it.
Kennedy stopped short before her.
“ I wronged you, and I am ready to make all reparation, sister, in my power to you. Him I never wronged, but he has sorely wronged me. Let us be as we are, strangers for ever. I swore that it should be so. Shall I break my solemn oath ?”
Mary Le Maistre rose from her seat, pale as death, yet composed as one who had taken a fixed resolve.
os Laurence Kennedy, for the last time, farewell! Your hasty and violent temper I knew well, and I did not cease to love you, even when that temper wrought me sorrow and suffering; but I did not know till now that you had so unforgiving a spirit. To-night I left my husband without his knowledge, while he slept after a heavy day of toil, and alone in this cold winter's night, I sought your house - with what hopes it is idle now to say. Well, well, these hopes have failed me. I will return to my husband, and we will pray that you may never plead in vain for that forgiveness which you refused to another."
She moved towards the door, but Kennedy stepped between it and her.
“ Mary, Mary, for the love of God do not leave me !"
“* The love of God! What do you
know of the love of God, or how do you dare to appeal to it? God loves the vilest soul that sins against him, and pardons him. That love is not in you, Laurence Kennedy. If a man say I love God, and hateth bis brother, he is a liar.'”
The words fell upon the ear of Kennedy with a terrible and solemn force, and pierced his heart as it were with a sword. The memory of that scene years ago, when last they stood togegether in that very room, even as they did now, face to face, came vividly before him; and the words which she had then spoken sounded again as distinctly in his ears as they did that dayan awful denunciation and appeal to God against him. Once more the lifebattle is renewed in his soul, and the word of God, quick and sharp as a two-edged sword, drives back the evil angels till they have but one strong. hold left.
“My oath--my solemn oath !" cried the man, perplexed and in agony. “If I had not taken that oath "
“ Think you, Laurence Kennedy, that you can plead that oath against Christ's command to love your brother, when you and that brother shall stand, at the last day, before his judgment-seat ? Look round and answer me that question.”
Mechanically he turned his head in the direction to which she pointed. There stood the man of whom they spoke, as if summoned by some mysterious power to confront him now in the presence of an unseen God, as he should yet do before his visible judge. A slight, small man, on whose delicate face the lines of sorrow were prematurely traced, with a dull, languid eye, from which all the playful light of by. gone days had vanished. There was no pride now in that form, somewhat bent with a habitual stoop; and as Kennedy looked at him, he could have fancied that half-a-century had p: et over that man since last they met. He stood meekly, yet with a manly and composed dignity, just within the doorway, awaiting the advance of his wife's brother. Kennedy stood irresolute and motionless--the battle rages within him—the stronghold of pride and long-cherished anger is sore assailed, but is not yet taken.
“Dear husband,” said his wife, in her quiet yet constraining accents, “ Mr. Le Maistre has come with me from his lodging this wild winter night
to see you. Will you not receive and walked up to the fireplace, where they welcome him- Mary's husband, Lau. were all sitting. rence?"
" Lord save us! who's this at all ? The little girl, who had accompanied Blessed Virgin! it cannot be! Yes, her father, when she heard the name, but it is. Ah, dear Miss Mary-I beg stept softly up and looked into her un- your pardon, Mistress Le Maistre. Is cle's face, with a sweet smile and a it possible ?-alive, alive as sure as two look of childish wonder, and touching and two's four. Mr. Le Maistre, I'm his hand said
proud to see you once again: Ah, sir, " Are you my Uncle Laurence, that you've been at the multiplication table, papa taught me to name in my prayers I see, since you left us ;” and the old night and morning ?"
man gave a low chuckle as he looked The batte is won, the stronghold is at the child. carried, and the evil ones are driven Goggles was a wag in a small way, from it for ever. Out of the mouth but his jeux d'esprit and figures were of the babe has God ordained the always arithmetical. strength that gave the victory, Ken “Ay, and a great addition to their nedy raised the little one in his arms happiness, Goggles,” said his master, and kissed her, and then setting her humouring the old man's foible. gently down, held out his hand to Le "He! he! he! Very true, sir. Maistre
Thank God, there's an end to the long “Come in, brother Le Maistre; come division, at all events.” in and sit down with us. With my - Sit down, old friend; you shall whole heart I make you welcome." share in my joy as you have known my
The women wept silently, but the sorrow. Come, drink the health of child shouted gleefully and clapped her our friends here in a glass of wine, and hands. She was fresher from heaven wish them a happy new year.” than they, and her spiritual sensations As he spoke, the bells of St. Pawere yet akin to those of the angels; trick's Church rang out a jocund peal like them, she rejoiced over the sinner upon the night. The old year had that had repented.
passed away-passed with all its sins After a little time, the door was and its sorrows, all its good and its opened, and a head thrust hesitatingly evil - passed away from Time into into the room.
Eternity - gone to be written up in " What the devil is wrong now?” God's register, against the last day of asked Kennedy impatiently.
accounting, when Time itself shall be He felt half-ashamed that any one no more. And one bright entry will except those around him should witness appear under the head of that old year his emotion.
of 179—, the record of pride subdued, - There's nothing wrong now, sir, of anger overcome by love, of estranged but all's right; and it was not the devil hearts united ; and whatever sins were at all, but a figure that was left out registered in the page of that year in the last entry in your own private against any of those who then sat lovaccount, and so I put it down to your ingly together at its close, I well becredit; and all's right now, and the lieve that the earnest repentance of books balance to a farthing."
that last half-hour will be availing « Come in, Goggles - come in, old with a merciful Judge, and that the fellow; all is right, thank God, in my finger of God's love will set that reaccounts with the whole world. See, pentance and sorrow and suffering here are old friends; won't you wish against the pride and enmity and them a happy new year?”
anger, and so balance that account at Goggles obeyed the summons, and the great day of reckoning.
“ That's all true, Mr. Slingsby, I make no doubt,” said the Professor in his own dry way.
“As true, Mr. Chubble," I replied, “as that your friend Dick Woodenspoon is married, and that he fired at the shoemaker in France."
“ Hem! I thought as much."
“ I don't care a pipestopper," said old Freke, “whether it be true or not. It has put us over an hour pleasantly enough."
“A very good criticism," said Uncle Saul.
“ And one,” I added, “ whose spirit I recommend to all critics, from those of the quarterly reviews to the penny newspapers.”