> O'er him, whose doom thy virtues grieve, Aerial forms shall sit at eve, an_end the pensive head.
The monk, who had before appeared, returned in the evening to offe_onsolation to Emily, and brought a kind message from the lady abbess, inviting her to the convent. Emily, though she did not accept the offer, returned an answer expressive of her gratitude. The holy conversation of th_riar, whose mild benevolence of manners bore some resemblance to those of St.
Aubert, soothed the violence of her grief, and lifted her heart to the Being, who, extending through all place and all eternity, looks on the events of thi_ittle world as on the shadows of a moment, and beholds equally, and in th_ame instant, the soul that has passed the gates of death, and that, whic_till lingers in the body. 'In the sight of God,' said Emily, 'my dear fathe_ow exists, as truly as he yesterday existed to me; it is to me only that h_s dead; to God and to himself he yet lives!'
The good monk left her more tranquil than she had been since St. Aubert died; and, before she retired to her little cabin for the night, she trusted hersel_o far as to visit the corpse. Silent, and without weeping, she stood by it_ide. The features, placid and serene, told the nature of the last sensations, that had lingered in the now deserted frame. For a moment she turned away, i_orror of the stillness in which death had fixed that countenance, never til_ow seen otherwise than animated; then gazed on it with a mixture of doubt an_wful astonishment. Her reason could scarcely overcome an involuntary an_naccountable expectation of seeing that beloved countenance stil_usceptible. She continued to gaze wildly; took up the cold hand; spoke; stil_azed, and then burst into a transport of grief. La Voisin, hearing her sobs, came into the room to lead her away, but she heard nothing, and only begge_hat he would leave her.
Again alone, she indulged her tears, and, when the gloom of evening obscure_he chamber, and almost veiled from her eyes the object of her distress, sh_till hung over the body; till her spirits, at length, were exhausted, and sh_ecame tranquil. La Voisin again knocked at the door, and entreated that sh_ould come to the common apartment. Before she went, she kissed the lips o_t. Aubert, as she was wont to do when she bade him good night. Again sh_issed them; her heart felt as if it would break, a few tears of agony starte_o her eyes, she looked up to heaven, then at St. Aubert, and left the room.
Retired to her lonely cabin, her melancholy thoughts still hovered round th_ody of her deceased parent; and, when she sunk into a kind of slumber, th_mages of her waking mind still haunted her fancy. She thought she saw he_ather approaching her with a benign countenance; then, smiling mournfully an_ointing upwards, his lips moved, but, instead of words, she heard sweet musi_orne on the distant air, and presently saw his features glow with the mil_apture of a superior being. The strain seemed to swell louder, and she awoke.
The vision was gone, but music yet came to her ear in strains such as angel_ight breathe. She doubted, listened, raised herself in the bed, and agai_istened. It was music, and not an illusion of her imagination. After a solem_teady harmony, it paused; then rose again, in mournful sweetness, and the_ied, in a cadence, that seemed to bear away the listening soul to heaven. Sh_nstantly remembered the music of the preceding night, with the strang_ircumstances, related by La Voisin, and the affecting conversation it had le_o, concerning the state of departed spirits. All that St. Aubert had said, o_hat subject, now pressed upon her heart, and overwhelmed it. What a change i_ few hours! He, who then could only conjecture, was now made acquainted wit_ruth; was himself become one of the departed! As she listened, she wa_hilled with superstitious awe, her tears stopped; and she rose, and went t_he window. All without was obscured in shade; but Emily, turning her eye_rom the massy darkness of the woods, whose waving outline appeared on th_orizon, saw, on the left, that effulgent planet, which the old man ha_ointed out, setting over the woods. She remembered what he had sai_oncerning it, and, the music now coming at intervals on the air, she unclose_he casement to listen to the strains, that soon gradually sunk to a greate_istance, and tried to discover whence they came. The obscurity prevented he_rom distinguishing any object on the green platform below; and the sound_ecame fainter and fainter, till they softened into silence. She listened, bu_hey returned no more. Soon after, she observed the planet trembling betwee_he fringed tops of the woods, and, in the next moment, sink behind them.
Chilled with a melancholy awe, she retired once more to her bed, and, a_ength, forgot for a while her sorrows in sleep.
On the following morning, she was visited by a sister of the convent, wh_ame, with kind offices and a second invitation from the lady abbess; an_mily, though she could not forsake the cottage, while the remains of he_ather were in it, consented, however painful such a visit must be, in th_resent state of her spirits, to pay her respects to the abbess, in th_vening.
About an hour before sun-set, La Voisin shewed her the way through the wood_o the convent, which stood in a small bay of the Mediterranean, crowned by _oody amphitheatre; and Emily, had she been less unhappy, would have admire_he extensive sea view, that appeared from the green slope, in front of th_difice, and the rich shores, hung with woods and pastures, that extended o_ither hand. But her thoughts were now occupied by one sad idea, and th_eatures of nature were to her colourless and without form. The bell fo_espers struck, as she passed the ancient gate of the convent, and seemed th_unereal note for St. Aubert. Little incidents affect a mind, enervated b_orrow; Emily struggled against the sickening faintness, that came over her, and was led into the presence of the abbess, who received her with an air o_aternal tenderness; an air of such gentle solicitude and consideration, a_ouched her with an instantaneous gratitude; her eyes were filled with tears, and the words she would have spoken faltered on her lips. The abbess led he_o a seat, and sat down beside her, still holding her hand and regarding he_n silence, as Emily dried her tears and attempted to speak. 'Be composed, m_aughter,' said the abbess in a soothing voice, 'do not speak yet; I know al_ou would say. Your spirits must be soothed. We are going to prayers;—will yo_ttend our evening service? It is comfortable, my child, to look up in ou_fflictions to a father, who sees and pities us, and who chastens in hi_ercy.'
Emily's tears flowed again, but a thousand sweet emotions mingled with them.
The abbess suffered her to weep without interruption, and watched over he_ith a look of benignity, that might have characterized the countenance of _uardian angel. Emily, when she became tranquil, was encouraged to spea_ithout reserve, and to mention the motive, that made her unwilling to qui_he cottage, which the abbess did not oppose even by a hint; but praised th_ilial piety of her conduct, and added a hope, that she would pass a few day_t the convent, before she returned to La Vallee. 'You must allow yourself _ittle time to recover from your first shock, my daughter, before yo_ncounter a second; I will not affect to conceal from you how much I know you_eart must suffer, on returning to the scene of your former happiness. Here, you will have all, that quiet and sympathy and religion can give, to restor_our spirits. But come,' added she, observing the tears swell in Emily's eyes,
'we will go to the chapel.'
Emily followed to the parlour, where the nuns were assembled, to whom th_bbess committed her, saying, 'This is a daughter, for whom I have muc_steem; be sisters to her.'
They passed on in a train to the chapel, where the solemn devotion, with whic_he service was performed, elevated her mind, and brought to it the comfort_f faith and resignation.
Twilight came on, before the abbess's kindness would suffer Emily to depart, when she left the convent, with a heart much lighter than she had entered it, and was reconducted by La Voisin through the woods, the pensive gloom of whic_as in unison with the temper of her mind; and she pursued the little wil_ath, in musing silence, till her guide suddenly stopped, looked round, an_hen struck out of the path into the high grass, saying he had mistaken th_oad. He now walked on quickly, and Emily, proceeding with difficulty over th_bscured and uneven ground, was left at some distance, till her voice arreste_im, who seemed unwilling to stop, and still hurried on. 'If you are in doub_bout the way,' said Emily, 'had we not better enquire it at the chatea_onder, between the trees?'
'No,' replied La Voisin, 'there is no occasion. When we reach that brook, ma'amselle, (you see the light upon the water there, beyond the woods) when w_each that brook, we shall be at home presently. I don't know how I happene_o mistake the path; I seldom come this way after sun-set.'
'It is solitary enough,' said Emily, 'but you have no banditti here.' 'No, ma'amselle—no banditti.'
'what are you afraid of then, my good friend? you are not superstitious?' 'No, not superstitious; but, to tell you the truth, lady, nobody likes to go nea_hat chateau, after dusk.' 'By whom is it inhabited,' said Emily, 'that it i_o formidable?' 'Why, ma'amselle, it is scarcely inhabited, for our lord th_arquis, and the lord of all these find woods, too, is dead. He had not onc_een in it, for these many years, and his people, who have the care of it, live in a cottage close by.' Emily now understood this to be the chateau, which La Voisin had formerly pointed out, as having belonged to the Marqui_illeroi, on the mention of which her father had appeared so much affected.
'Ah! it is a desolate place now,' continued La Voisin, 'and such a grand, fin_lace, as I remember it!' Emily enquired what had occasioned this lamentabl_hange; but the old man was silent, and Emily, whose interest was awakened b_he fear he had expressed, and above all by a recollection of her father'_gitation, repeated the question, and added, 'If you are neither afraid of th_nhabitants, my good friend, nor are superstitious, how happens it, that yo_read to pass near that chateau in the dark?'
'Perhaps, then, I am a little superstitious, ma'amselle; and, if you knew wha_ do, you might be so too. Strange things have happened there. Monsieur, you_ood father, appeared to have known the late Marchioness.' 'Pray inform m_hat did happen?' said Emily, with much emotion.
'Alas! ma'amselle,' answered La Voisin, 'enquire no further; it is not for m_o lay open the domestic secrets of my lord.'—Emily, surprised by the ol_an's words, and his manner of delivering them, forbore to repeat he_uestion; a nearer interest, the remembrance of St. Aubert, occupied he_houghts, and she was led to recollect the music she heard on the precedin_ight, which she mentioned to La Voisin. 'You was not alone, ma'amselle, i_his,' he replied, 'I heard it too; but I have so often heard it, at the sam_our, that I was scarcely surprised.'
'You doubtless believe this music to have some connection with the chateau,'
said Emily suddenly, 'and are, therefore, superstitious.' 'It may be so, ma'amselle, but there are other circumstances, belonging to that chateau, which I remember, and sadly too.' A heavy sigh followed: but Emily's delicac_estrained the curiosity these words revived, and she enquired no further.
On reaching the cottage, all the violence of her grief returned; it seemed a_f she had escaped its heavy pressure only while she was removed from th_bject of it. She passed immediately to the chamber, where the remains of he_ather were laid, and yielded to all the anguish of hopeless grief. La Voisin, at length, persuaded her to leave the room, and she returned to her own, where, exhausted by the sufferings of the day, she soon fell into deep sleep, and awoke considerably refreshed.
When the dreadful hour arrived, in which the remains of St. Aubert were to b_aken from her for ever, she went alone to the chamber to look upon hi_ountenance yet once again, and La Voisin, who had waited patiently belo_tairs, till her despair should subside, with the respect due to grief, forbore to interrupt the indulgence of it, till surprise, at the length of he_tay, and then apprehension overcame his delicacy, and he went to lead he_rom the chamber. Having tapped gently at the door, without receiving a_nswer, he listened attentively, but all was still; no sigh, no sob of anguis_as heard. Yet more alarmed by this silence, he opened the door, and foun_mily lying senseless across the foot of the bed, near which stood the coffin.
His calls procured assistance, and she was carried to her room, where prope_pplications, at length, restored her.
During her state of insensibility, La Voisin had given directions for th_offin to be closed, and he succeeded in persuading Emily to forbea_evisiting the chamber. She, indeed, felt herself unequal to this, and als_erceived the necessity of sparing her spirits, and recollecting fortitud_ufficient to bear her through the approaching scene. St. Aubert had given _articular injunction, that his remains should be interred in the church o_he convent of St. Clair, and, in mentioning the north chancel, near th_ncient tomb of the Villerois, had pointed out the exact spot, where he wishe_o be laid. The superior had granted this place for the interment, an_hither, therefore, the sad procession now moved, which was met, at the gates, by the venerable priest, followed by a train of friars. Every person, wh_eard the solemn chant of the anthem, and the peal of the organ, that struc_p, when the body entered the church, and saw also the feeble steps, and th_ssumed tranquillity of Emily, gave her involuntary tears. She shed none, bu_alked, her face partly shaded by a thin black veil, between two persons, wh_upported her, preceded by the abbess, and followed by nuns, whose plaintiv_oices mellowed the swelling harmony of the dirge. When the procession came t_he grave the music ceased. Emily drew the veil entirely over her face, and, in a momentary pause, between the anthem and the rest of the service, her sob_ere distinctly audible. The holy father began the service, and Emily agai_ommanded her feelings, till the coffin was let down, and she heard the eart_attle on its lid. Then, as she shuddered, a groan burst from her heart, an_he leaned for support on the person who stood next to her. In a few moment_he recovered; and, when she heard those affecting and sublime words: 'Hi_ody is buried in peace, and his soul returns to Him that gave it,' he_nguish softened into tears.
The abbess led her from the church into her own parlour, and ther_dministered all the consolations, that religion and gentle sympathy can give.
Emily struggled against the pressure of grief; but the abbess, observing he_ttentively, ordered a bed to be prepared, and recommended her to retire t_epose. She also kindly claimed her promise to remain a few days at th_onvent; and Emily, who had no wish to return to the cottage, the scene of al_er sufferings, had leisure, now that no immediate care pressed upon he_ttention, to feel the indisposition, which disabled her from immediatel_ravelling.
Meanwhile, the maternal kindness of the abbess, and the gentle attentions o_he nuns did all, that was possible, towards soothing her spirits an_estoring her health. But the latter was too deeply wounded, through th_edium of her mind, to be quickly revived. She lingered for some weeks at th_onvent, under the influence of a slow fever, wishing to return home, ye_nable to go thither; often even reluctant to leave the spot where he_ather's relics were deposited, and sometimes soothing herself with th_onsideration, that, if she died here, her remains would repose beside thos_f St. Aubert. In the meanwhile, she sent letters to Madame Cheron and to th_ld housekeeper, informing them of the sad event, that had taken place, and o_er own situation. From her aunt she received an answer, abounding more i_ommon-place condolement, than in traits of real sorrow, which assured her, that a servant should be sent to conduct her to La Vallee, for that her ow_ime was so much occupied by company, that she had no leisure to undertake s_ong a journey. However Emily might prefer La Vallee to Tholouse, she coul_ot be insensible to the indecorous and unkind conduct of her aunt, i_uffering her to return thither, where she had no longer a relation to consol_nd protect her; a conduct, which was the more culpable, since St. Aubert ha_ppointed Madame Cheron the guardian of his orphan daughter.
Madame Cheron's servant made the attendance of the good La Voisin unnecessary; and Emily, who felt sensibly her obligations to him, for all his kin_ttention to her late father, as well as to herself, was glad to spare him _ong, and what, at his time of life, must have been a troublesome journey.
During her stay at the convent, the peace and sanctity that reigned within, the tranquil beauty of the scenery without, and the delicate attentions of th_bbess and the nuns, were circumstances so soothing to her mind, that the_lmost tempted her to leave a world, where she had lost her dearest friends, and devote herself to the cloister, in a spot, rendered sacred to her b_ontaining the tomb of St. Aubert. The pensive enthusiasm, too, so natural t_er temper, had spread a beautiful illusion over the sanctified retirement o_ nun, that almost hid from her view the selfishness of its security. But th_ouches, which a melancholy fancy, slightly tinctured with superstition, gav_o the monastic scene, began to fade, as her spirits revived, and brought onc_ore to her heart an image, which had only transiently been banished thence.
By this she was silently awakened to hope and comfort and sweet affections; visions of happiness gleamed faintly at a distance, and, though she knew the_o be illusions, she could not resolve to shut them out for ever. It was th_emembrance of Valancourt, of his taste, his genius, and of the countenanc_hich glowed with both, that, perhaps, alone determined her to return to th_orld. The grandeur and sublimity of the scenes, amidst which they had firs_et, had fascinated her fancy, and had imperceptibly contributed to rende_alancourt more interesting by seeming to communicate to him somewhat of thei_wn character. The esteem, too, which St. Aubert had repeatedly expressed fo_im, sanctioned this kindness; but, though his countenance and manner ha_ontinually expressed his admiration of her, he had not otherwise declared it; and even the hope of seeing him again was so distant, that she was scarcel_onscious of it, still less that it influenced her conduct on this occasion.
It was several days after the arrival of Madame Cheron's servant before Emil_as sufficiently recovered to undertake the journey to La Vallee. On th_vening preceding her departure, she went to the cottage to take leave of L_oisin and his family, and to make them a return for their kindness. The ol_an she found sitting on a bench at his door, between his daughter, and hi_on-in-law, who was just returned from his daily labour, and who was playin_pon a pipe, that, in tone, resembled an oboe. A flask of wine stood besid_he old man, and, before him, a small table with fruit and bread, round whic_tood several of his grandsons, fine rosy children, who were taking thei_upper, as their mother distributed it. On the edge of the little green, tha_pread before the cottage, were cattle and a few sheep reposing under th_rees. The landscape was touched with the mellow light of the evening sun, whose long slanting beams played through a vista of the woods, and lighted u_he distant turrets of the chateau. She paused a moment, before she emerge_rom the shade, to gaze upon the happy group before her—on the complacency an_ase of healthy age, depictured on the countenance of La Voisin; the materna_enderness of Agnes, as she looked upon her children, and the innocency o_nfantine pleasures, reflected in their smiles. Emily looked again at th_enerable old man, and at the cottage; the memory of her father rose with ful_orce upon her mind, and she hastily stepped forward, afraid to trust hersel_ith a longer pause. She took an affectionate and affecting leave of La Voisi_nd his family; he seemed to love her as his daughter, and shed tears; Emil_hed many. She avoided going into the cottage, since she knew it would reviv_motions, such as she could not now endure.
One painful scene yet awaited her, for she determined to visit again he_ather's grave; and that she might not be interrupted, or observed in th_ndulgence of her melancholy tenderness, she deferred her visit, till ever_nhabitant of the convent, except the nun who promised to bring her the key o_he church, should be retired to rest. Emily remained in her chamber, till sh_eard the convent bell strike twelve, when the nun came, as she had appointed, with the key of a private door, that opened into the church, and the_escended together the narrow winding stair-case, that led thither. The nu_ffered to accompany Emily to the grave, adding, 'It is melancholy to go alon_t this hour;' but the former, thanking her for the consideration, could no_onsent to have any witness of her sorrow; and the sister, having unlocked th_oor, gave her the lamp. 'You will remember, sister,' said she, 'that in th_ast aisle, which you must pass, is a newly opened grave; hold the light t_he ground, that you may not stumble over the loose earth.' Emily, thankin_er again, took the lamp, and, stepping into the church, sister Mariett_eparted. But Emily paused a moment at the door; a sudden fear came over her, and she returned to the foot of the stair-case, where, as she heard the step_f the nun ascending, and, while she held up the lamp, saw her black vei_aving over the spiral balusters, she was tempted to call her back. While sh_esitated, the veil disappeared, and, in the next moment, ashamed of he_ears, she returned to the church. The cold air of the aisles chilled her, an_heir deep silence and extent, feebly shone upon by the moon-light, tha_treamed through a distant gothic window, would at any other time have awe_er into superstition; now, grief occupied all her attention. She scarcel_eard the whispering echoes of her own steps, or thought of the open grave, till she found herself almost on its brink. A friar of the convent had bee_uried there on the preceding evening, and, as she had sat alone in he_hamber at twilight, she heard, at distance, the monks chanting the requie_or his soul. This brought freshly to her memory the circumstances of he_ather's death; and, as the voices, mingling with a low querulous peal of th_rgan, swelled faintly, gloomy and affecting visions had arisen upon her mind.
Now she remembered them, and, turning aside to avoid the broken ground, thes_ecollections made her pass on with quicker steps to the grave of St. Aubert, when in the moon-light, that fell athwart a remote part of the aisle, sh_hought she saw a shadow gliding between the pillars. She stopped to listen, and, not hearing any footstep, believed that her fancy had deceived her, and, no longer apprehensive of being observed, proceeded. St. Aubert was burie_eneath a plain marble, bearing little more than his name and the date of hi_irth and death, near the foot of the stately monument of the Villerois. Emil_emained at his grave, till a chime, that called the monks to early prayers, warned her to retire; then, she wept over it a last farewel, and force_erself from the spot. After this hour of melancholy indulgence, she wa_efreshed by a deeper sleep, than she had experienced for a long time, and, o_wakening, her mind was more tranquil and resigned, than it had been since St.
But, when the moment of her departure from the convent arrived, all her grie_eturned; the memory of the dead, and the kindness of the living attached he_o the place; and for the sacred spot, where her father's remains wer_nterred, she seemed to feel all those tender affections which we conceive fo_ome. The abbess repeated many kind assurances of regard at their parting, an_ressed her to return, if ever she should find her condition elsewher_npleasant; many of the nuns also expressed unaffected regret at he_eparture, and Emily left the convent with many tears, and followed by sincer_ishes for her happiness.
She had travelled several leagues, before the scenes of the country, throug_hich she passed, had power to rouse her for a moment from the dee_elancholy, into which she was sunk, and, when they did, it was only to remin_er, that, on her last view of them, St. Aubert was at her side, and to cal_p to her remembrance the remarks he had delivered on similar scenery. Thus, without any particular occurrence, passed the day in languor and dejection.
She slept that night in a town on the skirts of Languedoc, and, on th_ollowing morning, entered Gascony.
Towards the close of this day, Emily came within view of the plains in th_eighbourhood of La Vallee, and the well-known objects of former times bega_o press upon her notice, and with them recollections, that awakened all he_enderness and grief. Often, while she looked through her tears upon the wil_randeur of the Pyrenees, now varied with the rich lights and shadows o_vening, she remembered, that, when last she saw them, her father partook wit_er of the pleasure they inspired. Suddenly some scene, which he ha_articularly pointed out to her, would present itself, and the sick languor o_espair would steal upon her heart. 'There!' she would exclaim, 'there are th_ery cliffs, there the wood of pines, which he looked at with such delight, a_e passed this road together for the last time. There, too, under the crag o_hat mountain, is the cottage, peeping from among the cedars, which he bade m_emember, and copy with my pencil. O my father, shall I never see you more!'
As she drew near the chateau, these melancholy memorials of past time_ultiplied. At length, the chateau itself appeared, amid the glowing beauty o_t. Aubert's favourite landscape. This was an object, which called fo_ortitude, not for tears; Emily dried hers, and prepared to meet with calmnes_he trying moment of her return to that home, where there was no longer _arent to welcome her. 'Yes,' said she, 'let me not forget the lessons he ha_aught me! How often he has pointed out the necessity of resisting eve_irtuous sorrow; how often we have admired together the greatness of a mind, that can at once suffer and reason! O my father! if you are permitted to loo_own upon your child, it will please you to see, that she remembers, an_ndeavours to practise, the precepts you have given her.'
A turn on the road now allowed a nearer view of the chateau, the chimneys, tipped with light, rising from behind St. Aubert's favourite oaks, whos_oliage partly concealed the lower part of the building. Emily could no_uppress a heavy sigh. 'This, too, was his favourite hour,' said she, as sh_azed upon the long evening shadows, stretched athwart the landscape. 'Ho_eep the repose, how lovely the scene! lovely and tranquil as in former days!'
Again she resisted the pressure of sorrow, till her ear caught the gay melod_f the dance, which she had so often listened to, as she walked with St.
Aubert, on the margin of the Garonne, when all her fortitude forsook her, an_he continued to weep, till the carriage stopped at the little gate, tha_pened upon what was now her own territory. She raised her eyes on the sudde_topping of the carriage, and saw her father's old housekeeper coming to ope_he gate. Manchon also came running, and barking before her; and when hi_oung mistress alighted, fawned, and played round her, gasping with joy.
'Dear ma'amselle!' said Theresa, and paused, and looked as if she would hav_ffered something of condolement to Emily, whose tears now prevented reply.
The dog still fawned and ran round her, and then flew towards the carriage, with a short quick bark. 'Ah, ma'amselle!—my poor master!' said Theresa, whos_eelings were more awakened than her delicacy, 'Manchon's gone to look fo_im.' Emily sobbed aloud; and, on looking towards the carriage, which stil_tood with the door open, saw the animal spring into it, and instantly lea_ut, and then with his nose on the ground run round the horses.
'Don't cry so, ma'amselle,' said Theresa, 'it breaks my heart to see you.' Th_og now came running to Emily, then returned to the carriage, and then bac_gain to her, whining and discontented. 'Poor rogue!' said Theresa, 'thou has_ost thy master, thou mayst well cry! But come, my dear young lady, b_omforted. What shall I get to refresh you?' Emily gave her hand to the ol_ervant, and tried to restrain her grief, while she made some kind enquirie_oncerning her health. But she still lingered in the walk which led to th_hateau, for within was no person to meet her with the kiss of affection; he_wn heart no longer palpitated with impatient joy to meet again the well-know_mile, and she dreaded to see objects, which would recall the full remembranc_f her former happiness. She moved slowly towards the door, paused, went on, and paused again. How silent, how forsaken, how forlorn did the chatea_ppear! Trembling to enter it, yet blaming herself for delaying what she coul_ot avoid, she, at length, passed into the hall; crossed it with a hurrie_tep, as if afraid to look round, and opened the door of that room, which sh_as wont to call her own. The gloom of evening gave solemnity to its silen_nd deserted air. The chairs, the tables, every article of furniture, s_amiliar to her in happier times, spoke eloquently to her heart. She seate_erself, without immediately observing it, in a window, which opened upon th_arden, and where St. Aubert had often sat with her, watching the sun retir_rom the rich and extensive prospect, that appeared beyond the groves.
Having indulged her tears for some time, she became more composed; and, whe_heresa, after seeing the baggage deposited in her lady's room, agai_ppeared, she had so far recovered her spirits, as to be able to converse wit_er.
'I have made up the green bed for you, ma'amselle,' said Theresa, as she se_he coffee upon the table. 'I thought you would like it better than your ow_ow; but I little thought this day month, that you would come back alone.
A-well-a-day! the news almost broke my heart, when it did come. Who would hav_elieved, that my poor master, when he went from home, would never retur_gain!' Emily hid her face with her handkerchief, and waved her hand.
'Do taste the coffee,' said Theresa. 'My dear young lady, be comforted—we mus_ll die. My dear master is a saint above.' Emily took the handkerchief fro_er face, and raised her eyes full of tears towards heaven; soon after sh_ried them, and, in a calm, but tremulous voice, began to enquire concernin_ome of her late father's pensioners.
'Alas-a-day!' said Theresa, as she poured out the coffee, and handed it to he_istress, 'all that could come, have been here every day to enquire after yo_nd my master.' She then proceeded to tell, that some were dead whom they ha_eft well; and others, who were ill, had recovered. 'And see, ma'amselle,'
added Theresa, 'there is old Mary coming up the garden now; she has looke_very day these three years as if she would die, yet she is alive still. Sh_as seen the chaise at the door, and knows you are come home.'
The sight of this poor old woman would have been too much for Emily, and sh_egged Theresa would go and tell her, that she was too ill to see any perso_hat night. 'To-morrow I shall be better, perhaps; but give her this token o_y remembrance.'
Emily sat for some time, given up to sorrow. Not an object, on which her ey_lanced, but awakened some remembrance, that led immediately to the subject o_er grief. Her favourite plants, which St. Aubert had taught her to nurse; th_ittle drawings, that adorned the room, which his taste had instructed her t_xecute; the books, that he had selected for her use, and which they had rea_ogether; her musical instruments, whose sounds he loved so well, and which h_ometimes awakened himself—every object gave new force to sorrow. At length, she roused herself from this melancholy indulgence, and, summoning all he_esolution, stepped forward to go into those forlorn rooms, which, though sh_readed to enter, she knew would yet more powerfully affect her, if sh_elayed to visit them.
Having passed through the green-house, her courage for a moment forsook her, when she opened the door of the library; and, perhaps, the shade, whic_vening and the foliage of the trees near the windows threw across the room, heightened the solemnity of her feelings on entering that apartment, wher_very thing spoke of her father. There was an arm chair, in which he used t_it; she shrunk when she observed it, for she had so often seen him seate_here, and the idea of him rose so distinctly to her mind, that she almos_ancied she saw him before her. But she checked the illusions of a distempere_magination, though she could not subdue a certain degree of awe, which no_ingled with her emotions. She walked slowly to the chair, and seated hersel_n it; there was a reading-desk before it, on which lay a book open, as it ha_een left by her father. It was some moments before she recovered courag_nough to examine it; and, when she looked at the open page, she immediatel_ecollected, that St. Aubert, on the evening before his departure from th_hateau, had read to her some passages from this his favourite author. Th_ircumstance now affected her extremely; she looked at the page, wept, an_ooked again. To her the book appeared sacred and invaluable, and she woul_ot have moved it, or closed the page, which he had left open, for th_reasures of the Indies. Still she sat before the desk, and could not resolv_o quit it, though the increasing gloom, and the profound silence of th_partment, revived a degree of painful awe. Her thoughts dwelt on the probabl_tate of departed spirits, and she remembered the affecting conversation, which had passed between St. Aubert and La Voisin, on the night preceding hi_eath.
As she mused she saw the door slowly open, and a rustling sound in a remot_art of the room startled her. Through the dusk she thought she perceive_omething move. The subject she had been considering, and the present tone o_er spirits, which made her imagination respond to every impression of he_enses, gave her a sudden terror of something supernatural. She sat for _oment motionless, and then, her dissipated reason returning, 'What should _ear?' said she. 'If the spirits of those we love ever return to us, it is i_indness.'
The silence, which again reigned, made her ashamed of her late fears, and sh_elieved, that her imagination had deluded her, or that she had heard one o_hose unaccountable noises, which sometimes occur in old houses. The sam_ound, however, returned; and, distinguishing something moving towards her, and in the next instant press beside her into the chair, she shrieked; but he_leeting senses were instantly recalled, on perceiving that it was Manchon wh_at by her, and who now licked her hands affectionately.
Perceiving her spirits unequal to the task she had assigned herself o_isiting the deserted rooms of the chateau this night, when she left th_ibrary, she walked into the garden, and down to the terrace, that overhun_he river. The sun was now set; but, under the dark branches of the almon_rees, was seen the saffron glow of the west, spreading beyond the twilight o_iddle air. The bat flitted silently by; and, now and then, the mourning not_f the nightingale was heard. The circumstances of the hour brought to he_ecollection some lines, which she had once heard St. Aubert recite on thi_ery spot, and she had now a melancholy pleasure in repeating them.
Now the bat circles on the breeze of eve, That creeps, in shudd'ring fits, along the wave, And trembles 'mid the woods, and through the cave Whose lonel_ighs the wanderer deceive; For oft, when melancholy charms his mind, H_hinks the Spirit of the rock he hears, Nor listens, but with sweetly- thrilling fears, To the low, mystic murmurs of the wind! Now the bat circles, and the twilight-dew Falls silent round, and, o'er the mountain-cliff, Th_leaming wave, and far-discover'd skiff, Spreads the gray veil of soft, harmonious hue. So falls o'er Grief the dew of pity's tear Dimming her lonel_isions of despair.
Emily, wandering on, came to St. Aubert's favourite plane-tree, where s_ften, at this hour, they had sat beneath the shade together, and with he_ear mother so often had conversed on the subject of a future state. Ho_ften, too, had her father expressed the comfort he derived from believing, that they should meet in another world! Emily, overcome by thes_ecollections, left the plane-tree, and, as she leaned pensively on the wal_f the terrace, she observed a group of peasants dancing gaily on the banks o_he Garonne, which spread in broad expanse below, and reflected the evenin_ight. What a contrast they formed to the desolate, unhappy Emily! They wer_ay and debonnaire, as they were wont to be when she, too, was gay—when St.
Aubert used to listen to their merry music, with a countenance beamin_leasure and benevolence. Emily, having looked for a moment on this sprightl_and, turned away, unable to bear the remembrances it excited; but where, alas! could she turn, and not meet new objects to give acuteness to grief?
As she walked slowly towards the house, she was met by Theresa. 'Dea_a'amselle,' said she, 'I have been seeking you up and down this half hour, and was afraid some accident had happened to you. How can you like to wande_bout so in this night air! Do come into the house. Think what my poor maste_ould have said, if he could see you. I am sure, when my dear lady died, n_entleman could take it more to heart than he did, yet you know he seldom she_ tear.'
'Pray, Theresa, cease,' said Emily, wishing to interrupt this ill- judged, bu_ell-meaning harangue; Theresa's loquacity, however, was not to be silenced s_asily. 'And when you used to grieve so,' she added, 'he often told you ho_rong it was—for that my mistress was happy. And, if she was happy, I am sur_e is so too; for the prayers of the poor, they say, reach heaven.' Durin_his speech, Emily had walked silently into the chateau, and Theresa lighte_er across the hall into the common sitting parlour, where she had laid th_loth, with one solitary knife and fork, for supper. Emily was in the roo_efore she perceived that it was not her own apartment, but she checked th_motion which inclined her to leave it, and seated herself quietly by th_ittle supper table. Her father's hat hung upon the opposite wall; while sh_azed at it, a faintness came over her. Theresa looked at her, and then at th_bject, on which her eyes were settled, and went to remove it; but Emily wave_er hand—'No,' said she, 'let it remain. I am going to my chamber.' 'Nay, ma'amselle, supper is ready.' 'I cannot take it,' replied Emily, 'I will go t_y room, and try to sleep. Tomorrow I shall be better.'
'This is poor doings!' said Theresa. 'Dear lady! do take some food! I hav_ressed a pheasant, and a fine one it is. Old Monsieur Barreaux sent it thi_orning, for I saw him yesterday, and told him you were coming. And I kno_obody that seemed more concerned, when he heard the sad news, then he.'
'Did he?' said Emily, in a tender voice, while she felt her poor heart warme_or a moment by a ray of sympathy.
At length, her spirits were entirely overcome, and she retired to her room.