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life is an unsullied page of brightest virtue, yes, this is to be blessed ! proves my freedom from guilt to all here; and I thank you, Mary, with a heart overflowing with gratitude and affection, for this invaluable proof of friendship."
The old gray-headed servants met us at the door, sorrow imprinted on every face. My poor Augusta had a faint smile for each, but she was too much exhausted to speak; and we bore her to the cheerful apartment she had always occupied in other and happier days. I cannot tell you, my beloved, how much the sight of this chamber agitated me, by recalling to memory the blooming creature, full of life and hope, whom I had so often, and so lately, beheld in it; and thus forcing me to contrast that bright vision with the pale and fragile being before me, on whose brow the characters of death are but too plainly traced. There she eyes wandered
lay reclined on the sofa, her long lids closed, and large drops stealing from beneath them down her still beautiful face. When she had gained some degree of composure, and found herself again alone with me, her all over the room, fixing, with a tender interest, on every object; and she said,
“ It is strange, dear friend, that, on looking around me here, I could almost fancy that all that has occurred within the last few months has been a fearful dream, every thing appears so exactly as in former happy times. Ah, there is nothing changed but me!”
She wept on my bosom for a few minutes ; but hearing the step of her mother, she endeavoured to subdue her emotions, although I observed that the watchful eye of affection had quickly discovered them.
“ Mother!” said Augusta, “ let me see good Dr. Wilmington early to-morrow, and
receive the sacrament from his hands. I wish
that you, and my father too, should share this consolation with me; and you also, dear friend,” she added, turning to me. “I feel so tranquil, so happy, now that I am in my home,"— and she embraced her mother, “that I long to render thanks to the Almighty, who has listened to my prayers, and vouchsafed this blessing."
She expressed a hope that her father would enable her to bequeath a provision of five thousand pounds to Miss Montressor, and pay a yearly allowance to the nurse of Lord Annandale's son, as an incentive to her to take care
of the child.
“ Poor Caroline Montressor!" said she ;“ it
is so painful to be wholly dependent on her aunt" (for Augusta knows not that Mrs. Wickenham is no more), “and it is dangerous to be poor, when the principles are not deeply
fixed. Let this donation, dearest mother, be notified to her, as a last proof of my regard.”
I am sure that if Augusta desired them to bestow half their fortune on any one, these adoring parents would instantly consent to her desire; for their only source of comfort seems to exist in a compliance with her wishes. You shall hear from me again to-morrow, my beloved ; until then, adieu.
Augusta has had a tranquil night, and appears more composed. She desired that all the old servants might be permitted to be present when she received the sacrament. Her wish was obeyed; and a more touching sight it would be impossible to imagine than that of this angelic creature, reduced almost to a breathing shadow, reclined on the sofa, with her father, mother, and myself, bending over her, and all the gray-headed domestics kneel. ing around.
“ Before I receive the sacred elements you are about to administer to me, Dr. Wilmington," said she, “ I wish, in the presence of all these mortal witnesses, and in the presence of that merciful God, to whom the secrets of all hearts are known, to declare, with the lips of a dying woman, my perfect innocence of the crime of which I am accused; and my deep and heartfelt contrition for having, by a want of prudence and decorum, lent a semblance of probability to the charge. I avow the error of my conduct, in having too much disregarded worldly opinion ; and ask pardon of Almighty God, for having furnished cause for scandal, and led those who have condemned
me to form erroneous conclusions."
There was not a dry eye in the room ; even that of the venerable pastor was dimmed with