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-How beautiful is death, when earn'd by virtue!
What pity is it
WHEN Louisa's tears had a little subsided, and pensive calmness had again taken possession of her bosom, Mrs. Rivers, to divert her thoughts from a recollection of past ills, addressed her in the following manner : My dear Louisa, excuse my calling you so, friendship deals not in compliment, I will inform you how I came to take up my residence in this desolate uninhabited spot. You, I trust, have many happy hours to come; my misfortunes are beyond the reach of fate! here have I passed these last fifteen years, and here do I mean to finish my weary pilgrimage!” — A half-smothered sigh now heaved the bosom of the gentle narrator, on recounting events still painful, though long past; while the soft radiance of Louisa's eye, gave the tribute of a. commiserating tear to sorrows which for a while
suspended the recollection of her own. A pause of a few moments ensued, which was interrupted by Mrs. Rivers desiring Mary to set a glass of water before her; this done, that lady recounted her story as follows:
“My father was the only son of a gentleman of small fortune, who had a place in one of the public offices, which brought him about four hundred pounds a year. By living up to the full of what he possessed, he had it only in his power to procure a pair of colors for his son; who, however, did not remain in that state long; for bravely distinguishing himself, and officers of higher rank having lost their lives in the service of their country, he soon obtained a company. The regiment being much disabled, was ordered home, where, after remaining two years, he closed his only parent's eyes, his mother expiring in giving him birth. Being left without friends or relatives, he wished sincerely to be recalled to Flanders; which, in a little time, happened. Soon after his arrival in that country, he married the daughter of an officer lately dead, who had two thousand pounds in the British funds. I was born in about a year after this marriage; and the year following, my father was again ordered to England, to the great joy of my mother: in short, not to tire you, we returned home, and passed five years of inexpressible
your heart with evils that may never happen, but with your usual serenity expel the gloom your tears have spread on my spirits.'
“ Alas !--my mother's forebodings were too true! When my father, after embracing, parted with her in the morning, she remained in a state almost of insensibility, until the entrance of a soldier shook her from her reverie: he informed her, with respect, and as much tenderness as his time would allow, that his captain had received a wound; that fearful of alarming her in that state, he had sent this message in some measure to prepare her for the shock.
They have killed him, then!' said she, with a look that spoke her inward horror. No, Madam, he is not dead; his lamenting soldiers are now bearing him home. Scarcely had he pronounced it, ere they entered with my father in their arins, who had received a musket shot in his breast. My unhappy mother remained rivetted to the spot, her eyes raised to heaven, and lost in agony unutterable. My father, holding out his hand, said, -- My dear Emily, why will you think so deeply? I have only paid the debt every man owes to God and his country! I am spared to breathe my last sigh in thy arms, to bless thee and our little one before I quit this for a happier state! Had I expired without the satisfaction of bidding thee adieu, grief had then been more just.'-Alas!' returned my mother, 'why do you attempt to speak comfort to a wretch bereaved of every hope?' 'Again, let me intreat you,' said he, 'not to waste the little time allotted me in unavailing sorrow : would you deprive our dear child of the only support and guardian of her youth? for now, Emily, you are her all.'—The entrance of the surgeon prevented his saying more; who, after desiring my mother's absence, examined the wound, which he pronounced mortal. My father calmly answered, 'I feel not for myself; I knew it was fatal, the moment I received it; but for that amiable woman who has just left us, let me intreat your tenderest care; persuade her to return to England as soon as possible. Alas! she has no one here to speak comfort in her affliction; to you, Sir, I apply, having proof of your humanity by the attention you paid a slight wound I received the first engagement I ever was in. Let me intreat you to wear this ring (taking one of value from his finger) as a memorial of my friendship. The surgeon received the ring, and promised to fulfil his request. My mother now entered, silent and sad; the surgeon offered to withdraw. “Do not go,' said my father, 'I feel a little faint; Emily, give me your hand; for heaven's sake take comfort !' Nature almost exhausted, he fainted-my mother, imagining him dead, cast her despairing eyes first on him, then to heaven, and fell senseless by his side; the surgeon was obliged to call assistance, as both remained deprived of sense and motion, My father first revived; and my unhappy mother, by the use of drops, was soon restored to the painful scene before her.
Now, my dear Emily', said this affectionate husband, let me conjure you no longer to detain, by your violent emotion, my soul in this painful tenement, but kneel and join with me in intreating protection for you, and pardon for my offences from that Power whose mercy I doubt not.' She dropped on her trembling knees; my father seemed to pray for about a quarter of an hour, then feebly pressing my mother's hand, faintly, pronounced -- Almighty God, protect her! bowed his head upon her breast, and expired.”