“Kiss me, Herbert, I would sleep,” she said, so faintly, Herbert alone heard it. Their lips met in one long lingering kiss, and then Mary drooped her head again upon his bosom, and seemed to sleep so gently, so sweetly, her friends held their breath lest they should disturb her. Nearly half an hour passed and still there was no movement. The full soft light of an unclouded moon fell within that silent chamber, and gilded the forms of Mary and Herbert with a silvery halo, that seemed to fall from heaven itself upon them. Mary’s head had fallen slightly forward, and her long luxuriant hair, escaped from its confinement, concealed her features as a veil of shadowy gold. Gently and tenderly Herbert raised her head, so as to rest upon his arm; as he did so her hair fell back and fully exposed her countenance. A faint cry broke from his parched lips, and Ellen started in agony to her feet.
“Hush, hush, my Mary sleeps,” Mrs. Greville said; but Mr. Hamilton gently drew her from the couch and from the room. Her eyes were closed; a smile illumined that sweet face, as in sleep it had so often done, and that soft and shadowy light took from her features all the harsher tale of death. Yes, she did sleep sweetly and calmly, but her pure spirit had departed.
It was long, very long ere Mr. Hamilton’s family recovered the shock of Mary’s death. She had been so long loved, living amongst them from her birth, her virtues and gentleness were so well known and appreciated by every member. She had been by Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton so long considered as their child, by her betrothment with their Herbert, that they sorrowed for her as if indeed she had been bound to them by that tender tie; and her poor mother now indeed felt desolate: her only treasure, her precious, almost idolized Mary, was taken from her, and she was childless, for of Alfred she had long ceased to receive intelligence. She bowed her head, earnestly striving for submission, but it was long, long ere peace returned; soothed she was indeed by the tender kindness of her friends; but what on earth can soothe a bereaved and doting mother? Emmeline, Ellen, Herbert, even Arthur Myrvin, treated her with all the love and reverence of children, but neither could fill the aching void within. On Herbert indeed her spirit rested with more fondness than on any other object, but it was with a foreboding love; she looked on him and trembled. It was a strange and affecting sight, could any one have looked on those two afflicted ones: to hear Herbert speak words of holy comfort to the mother of his Mary, to hear him speak of hope, of resignation, mark the impress of that heavenly virtue on his pale features; his grief was all internal, not a word escaped his lips, not a thought of repining crossed his chastened mind. The extent of that deep anguish was seen alone in his fading form, in his pallid features; but it was known only to the Searcher of all hearts.