Obrazy na stronie

eously and confidingly hoped against hope, and luxuriated at last in the full fruition of realised felicity.


I had seen some of my younger brothers brought into the parlour by the obsequious, pawky nurse, and heard all the smiling remarks which usually accompany such a gift; but I was more than enraptured now when the pretty sleeping babe was softly put into my arms, and the kind, sweet voice of father bade me kiss my little sister! During the hapless years of infancy, little Marguerette was pretty much like other babies-fretting, and fuming, and crying, teething and sickening, and getting better again; but when at length able to run about, and notice, and talk, it was evident that a superior intelligence had been implanted in the child, and that a marked and peculiar spiritualism characterised all her actions. As for myself, I seemed but to live for her, attentively watching every movement of the body, and hailing with delight every intelligent manifestation of the mind. I was more concerned for her comfort and happiness, than for my own, frequently, nay often, sacrificing personal ease and convenience of every kind, to minister to the wants, real and otherwise, of her I valued more than life itself. These feelings seemed returned on her part by a thousand little attentions, trivial in themselves, and unob servable by others, yet precious and sweet to me, as the early germs of a sister's holy love.

By the time she was able to go to school, I wished I had been even older and stronger than I was, that I might have been the more able to protect and defend her from all danger, imaginary and otherwise. As it was, my martial prowess was not long in being called into requisition, and the only fight in which I was ever engaged was in her defence. It turned out on investigation that no offence had been committed; but I ever afterwards admired the manly bravery and independent spirit displayed by the noble boy who, when charged by me with the imaginary insult, indignantly denied the impeachment, yet boldly added

"You have insulted me by making such a charge. I challenge you to make reparation."

Nothing loth, we did fight, and that bravely, too, and although I was, after a most determined contest, declared the victor, I felt truly ashamed of myself, and refused to wear the proffered laurel. The consequence was, that, so long as I remained at, and after I had left, the parochial school of Glamis, and, indeed, until my sister's removal to Edinburgh some years afterwards, Marguerette had no braver defender, or more ardent admirer, than young Richard Gordon.

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What sweet walks were those along the byepath, through fragrant fields and by the pine-wooded Hunter Hill skirting the little mountain streamlet which sung its low quiet song in peaceful harmony with the wild-wood minstrelsy of the happy birds; and how pure and 'holy our thoughts and imaginings as we seated ourselves on the sunny bank, just midway between our father's farm and the parish school. Poets may sing of the thrilling ecstacies and luxurious emotions of first love as they may, but the holy sweetness and heavenly joy of a sister's love is something very different, and more akin to the love of angels in Paradise, than any sentiment or feeling of which the human mind is susceptible.

Marguerette was now thirteen years of age, and as we took our last walk together on the evening preceding my departure for college, a sympathetic sadness settled heavily on our spirits, and we talked but little by the way until arriving at our usual resting-place to and from school, when I suddenly thus addressed my sister :


"Do you think you will ever die, Marguerette?" question, although strangely abrupt, did not seem to disconcert her, but calmly asking me to gather some of the few remaining anemones, the last remnants of autumnal wildflowers, she seated herself on a little verdant knoll, while I gathered and brought to her the now leaf-closed flowers.

"Brother," she began softly, "I am not startled by your question. I know it proceeds from a vain, yet natural wish,

that I might be always with you-just your little sister Marguerette as I am now. But this cannot be, my brother. You see these sweet anemones, their white star-like leaves closed for the night. How beautiful they were in the morning; and yet no sooner does the sun withdraw his light than they close their leaves in darkness. I feel my course on this earth, brother, will be equally short, with this difference, that though I shut my eyes in death, I shall open them in a happy eternity, for "Though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God."

I looked at the beautiful creature before me, all radiant with healthful bloom, her chestnut ringlets flowing luxuriantly down her silvery neck, and her eyes, of sweet celestial blue, beaming with an intense angelic intelligence; and then, musing on the deeply-touching and solemn tones in which she had just spoken, I wondered whether death would be so cruel as change that lovely countenance, and silence that silvery voice, sending her away to the dark and silent land from whence she would not return.

"You leave to-morrow, my brother," she resumed, "but I feel we shall meet again ere I depart hence and be no more as to this world. But look not sad; I am just going home a very short time before, to welcome you the more gladly when you come. We shall never part again, brother, then; for there is no sorrow nor death where I am going, but all is happiness and everlasting life."

The session at College passed away, and, although anxious to return home, I had to attend some private classes preparatory to my entering the Divinity Hall. My private studies had brought me to the beginning of June, at which time, while preparing to proceed homewards, I received a letter from my father intimating that, as Marguerette had been rather unwell for some weeks previously, he had determined on removing her for a short time to Portobello for a change of air, and requesting me to meet them on the arrival of the morning coach in Princes Street on the following day. I had often

mused, in my lonely lodging-house in the meadows, on the last conversation between Marguerette and myself, and had long ago prepared my mind for the worst; and now a strange presentiment took possession of my mind that her end was. indeed approaching, and that I should soon call her by the endearing name of sister no more.

I need not say how anxiously I awaited next day the arrival of the coach from the North, and how rapturously I embraced my beloved sister, without, however, making any particular enquiries after the state of her health, fearful to anticipate the awful truth. Whether it was from being flushed and healthfullooking on account of her journey, or from my own innate unwillingness to believe she was otherwise than when we last parted, I was altogether deceived by the freshness of her looks and the full, cheerful, silvery ring of her musical voice; and, as we proceeded in an open carriage on our way through the beautiful streets of Edinburgh, she pointed out and talked of all the interesting objects which everywhere met our view--the luxuriant gardens and lofty castle on our right, with the towering antique buildings of the old town bristling away on the ridge of the hill, till lost to view in the precincts of Holyrood; the long range of Princes Street buildings, with their splendid, gaily decorated shops, and busy throng of idlers, on our left-together with the palatial-like terraces of Waterloo Place, with the renowned Calton Hill, adorned with monuments to the brave, the learned, and the wise, and the lofty, perpendicular ridges of Salisbury Crags, and the green verdant summit of Arthur's Seat; the palace of the unfortunate Stuarts nestling at our feet. Then, again, when we came in view of the beautiful bay, with its bright golden sands and silvery waves hemmed in on either side by verdurous, sunny hills, with the great heaving ocean beyond carrying on its troubled bosom the fisherman's tiny boat and the merchant's gallant ship, its huge rolling billows breaking into white feathery spray, with a never-ceasing moan, she stood up in the carriage and clapped her little hands in a perfect ecstacy of rapturous joy.

The next day we walked together on the beautiful sands opposite Portobello, listening to the soft music of the rippling waves, blended with the loud gushing song of the restless skylark far, far overhead in the golden sky. We had walked a considerable distance, when I unfolded the portable seat I had brought with me for her convenience, and, seating ourselves together, I ventured to ask whether she felt better by the change.

"That implies, dear brother," she said, "that I had been ill. But I really feel no pain; just a curious, strange, mysterious wasting away, my mind sympathising with and partaking of the feeling-with this difference, that my soul seems ever blending with some other spiritual thing more pure, more holy than itself."

Then, abruptly turning her face, and fixing her long-lashed spiritual eyes on mine, she gaily said—

Do you know any change in me since we last met, dear brother?"

"The only change I know, my dear sister, is that you are lovelier and dearer to me than ever."

"That I doubt not, brother; but there may be a worm at the root of the gourd, and it may perish in a night. These sweet, soft winds, which sweep with their honied lips the bosom of the sea, white-cresting bright the idle wavelets as they gently break on the tawny sands, bracing and invigorating to my flushed and feverish cheeks, come fresh and fragrant from the hills of Paradise."


My dear Marguerette, you already speak the language of heaven."

"Yes; and feel, even now, a foretaste of its pleasures. As we sit on the sands of this beautiful bay, do you not exhale the odour and hear the solemn sound of the distant sea? So do I exhale the perfumes of the celestial fields, and listen to the hymning songs of the River of God. But the cold night breezes are coming on, dear brother; wrap this plaid around my shoulders, and let us go."

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