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a time, she said, that she was glad her child would not now be altogether without protection; but she felt that she should not have strength to tell her story to the friend who was commissioned to see her;-how then could she hope to be able to interest its relatives in its favour? “ And what,” addressing herself to it, 6 what then will become of thee, O thou dearest of all earthly treasures, when death shall have deprived thee, as he soon must, of a mother's love and a father's blessing ?” The child smiled and laughed aloud, while its agonized parent sobbed convulsively. I now drew near to the bed, when, turning her eye, she gazed upon me with great earnestness and attention.
“ I cannot but think,” said she," that I have seen that countenance before, in my native country.” She paused.
“ I have been," I replied, “ in Brussels repeatedly, which I understand to have been the place of your former abode. I was there before the battle of Quatre Bras, and again upon my return from it."
“Oh,” she exclaimed, “ you are then a soldier; I have ever loved the soldier, and there is one of them whom I have loved beyond all
other human beings. Ah! he has my heart with him in his grave.”
“ I am, indeed, a soldier,” I rejoined,," and it is my hope that I may yet give comfort to a soldier's widow and her child. I well know the family with whom you are connected by marriage; so well, indeed, that I am persuaded I can effect a perfect reconciliation between you, and ensure you a sincere interchange of affections, if time be only granted."
Her eye lighted up for a moment, and she took my hand in acknowledgment of my sympathy, and said, “ It is too late, very kind sir, much too late for this, for I know and feel that death is rapidly approaching; but I think that I could meet him with courage and with firmness, and even with cheerfulness, if I could assure myself that my infant would be loved and cherished. All the remainder of my sad life will be given to prayer for him, that it may please the Great Eternal to raise up friends to him after I am gone: but for him, I would not wish to live; yes, I am content to die ! To this kind and good father, she added, (pointing to my reverend companion,) I have given all my papers, and left all directions in respect of my
own family; for they also, since the time of my marriage, have been separated by a multitude of misfortunes the one from the other, and have been scattered over different parts of the country to seek for that on which they may make their subsistence, the consequence of the losses which they have sustained. If my dear husband had lived, we could have done much for ourselves and something for them; but the wise Providence which directs all things here, has thought fit to subject me to these heavy trials, and I humbly submit myself to his mercy, for it is my hope that I have not received in vain the instructions of this good father, and I rest in the assurance that whom the Lord loves he chastises. I feel, indeed, that my resignation to the will of the Eternal is not so full and entire as it ought to be; but alas ! I am a poor, weak mortal; - and I am a mother, and I cannot gaze upon my dear fatherless infant, and not desire with earnestness to be permitted to remain here with him. Oh! I would that
my thoughts at this hour could be more expressly given to the things which are connected with eternity than they are: but the great God who made me, and knows of what we are made, is good and merciful; and he, by the entreaties of the Holy Virgin, will forgive the wanderings of a poor young mother; one, who, on the point of being parted from her first and only child, knows not to what earthly care she must leave it."
Here again she pressed her child in an embrace which none could witness without emotion. Beside her knelt the man of God: he had long been absorbed in silent prayer, but now again he spake to her the word of consolation, and reminded her of the sure promises of the Almighty. — “ Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive, and let thy widows trust in me, saith the Lord !'- At length, harassed as my mind had now for some time been by the scene before me, and with such keen anguish at my heart, I, also, bent my knee beside her and said,
Lady, believe me in what I am about to declare; believe me, for indeed you may; as a soldier even, I would not deceive you, and still more as a Christian, I would not, at a moment like this, trifle with your feelings. Hear me, then, while I solemnly call heaven to witness that, whether you may be permitted to remain
longer with us, or be shortly removed from this present state of mortality, yourself while living, and your child after you are gone, shall find in me a protector and a friend !"
As I emphatically spoke this, she raised herself in her bed, clasped her extended hands, and fixed her eyes, through the window, on the heavens; and I continued :
“Whether assisted or not by others connected to you by ties of blood, I swear that in the event of your dissolution, that infant shall not be forsaken nor neglected. If nursed not by a kinder hand, he shall be so by mine; and if educated not by the care of its own kindred, he shall have all the instruction which I can give him, and I will afterwards take care to secure to him the same station of life as that which I now hold. He shall never, be assured, want for kindness nor affection; and what I now declare to you, I here solemnly pledge myself, by all that is sacred in the word of man, shall be done by myself or by others !”
While I spoke, she still gazed with vacancy on the sky, her eyes fixed, and her lips in motion : at length, when I had finished, she uttered with a deep heart-rending tone of voice,