« AnteriorContinuar »
pression wore off, and I hoped for better things. I would willingly have discharged Mrs. Philipson, but how could I, with an infant in my arms, my husband's comfort to study, and the fang-like chains of custom clinging to me? Two weeks elapsed in apparent acquiescence to my wishes. My whole soul was absorbed in Frederick, or perhaps I should have noticed the under-current that was hurrying Polly to destruction. To see his intelligent smile awakening like young creation, to kiss his rounded limbs as they came flushed like the heart of a white rose from the morning bath, to feel his dimpled hand on my cheek, or press the little velvet luxury in my own, to dress him with maternal pride in robes wrought by the hand of friendship, to sing him lullabies conjured up from the breathings of love, and to whisper to my own heart a thousand and thousand times, “he is an angel”—was not this occupation enough for a young mother ? I was surprised one morning not to hear the usual movements in the house below, and on descending, found the shutters unopened, no fire in the kitchen, and the outer door unlocked. I repaired in some trepidation to the kitchen chamber. It was untenanted. Astonished and agitated, I ran to acquaint Edward, and we proceeded to examine the premises. Polly's reasons for departing were told in language as strong as words, by a bundle of her plain clothes directed to me. With what a crash comes the first breach of confidence on the affections, as the circle of agitation is more violent when a stone is thrown on a smooth lake, than on the wilder ocean | I had loved Polly like a younger sister. She came to me when my cup of happiness was full, and I was glad to see her taste her daily draught with me. She had looked at me with a trustingness that seemed to say, “you are my oracle!” She had confided to me her childish sorrows, and was a willing hearer when Italked of Edward. I had administered to her in sickness, and when my head ached, if every other step was heavy, hers was light and careful.
I looked round her chamber. There was the little glass hung against the wall, before which she had so often combed her parted hair, and which had recently reflected the first awakened glance of vanity. She had forgotten her Bible, Edward's gift. It was lying on the pine dressing-table, with her pocket-handkerchief folded over it, as if it had been her intention to take it, but it was forgotten l I glanced at Edward, and sinking on her bed, burst into violent and bitter tears. Edward comforted me with a husband's better love, but though a neighbour sent us breakfast and assistance, and we were at length seated at table, I could not speak; my voice was choked, and large drops fell from my eyes on Fred's silky hair, as he lay sleeping on my lap.
My dear mother hastened to me as soon as Edward sent her, intelligence of my misfortune. She insisted on my returning with her, and passing the remainder of the season; and as Edward was deeply engaged in business,
he urged it too. In making the necessary arH
rangements for my removal, I perceived that several articles of my dress were missing, together with some silver, and my miniature. The sorrowful conviction burst upon me, that Polly, instigated by that human fiend, had robbed me. Several months elapsed, and all inquiries for the poor child were unavailing. How gladly would I have taken her back to my protection, and showed her the “better part,” for she was young in sin. On entering the court-house one day, Edward understood that the suit in which he was engaged would not be brought up immediately, and having some pressing business, he commenced writing. Quite absorbed, he knew not what was occupying the bar, until he heard a lawyer before him exclaim, “By heavens ! it looks like Packard's wife.” Edward started, and saw a miniature passing from hand to hand among the gentlemen. He rose to join them, and it came to him in turn. It was my likeness. I may write, for the sake of my narrative, what Edward said in his enthusiasm, for my age of vanity, if I ever possessed any, has departed. A brilliant eye, a rose-tinged cheek, and an airy form, speak only to me now of the Great Architect who made them, and who has beauty for us in reversion that will be as the fine gold to dross. “Clarissa,” said my husband, “think what must have been my sensations at that moment, when the low jests of some of my brethren, and the unsubdued admiration of others, ignorant of my connexion with the picture, fell on my ear. I gave one long glance at their lineaments to assure me of their identity. There were your dark flashing eyes looking a sweet defiance on that heartless crowd; there were your ruby lips softening those eyes with smiles; there were these very curls, nature's handiwork, falling over the polished brow; there was this white hand, pledged to me in truth and innocence, and those slight fingers, with their one golden circlet, holding back the clustering locks, and glancing among their