Even the low-country infidel was silenced by the solemnity of this story; and soon after the company dispersed, everyone panting to be the first to circulate the intelligence of Glenfern’s death.
But soon—oh, how soon! “dies in human hearts the thought of death!” Even the paltry detail which death creates serves to detach out minds from the cause itself. So it was with the family of Glenfern. Their light did not “shine inward;” and after the first burst of sorrow their ideas fastened with avidity on all the paraphernalia of affliction. Mr. Douglas, indeed, found much to do and to direct to be done. The elder ladies began to calculate how many yards of broad hemming would be required, and to form a muster-roll of the company; with this improvement, that it was to be ten times as numerous as the one that had assembled at the christening; while the young ones busied their imaginations as to the effect of new mournings—a luxury to them hitherto unknown. Mrs. Douglas and Mary were differently affected. Religion and reflection had taught the former the enviable lesson of possessing her soul in patience under every trial; and while she inwardly mourned the fate of the poor old man who had been thus suddenly snatched from the only world that ever had engaged his thoughts, her outward aspect was calm and serene. The impression made upon Mary’s feelings was of a more powerful nature. She had witnessed suffering, and watched by sick-beds; but death, and death in so terrific a form, was new to her. She had been standing by her grandfather’s chair—her head was bent to his—her hand rested upon his, when, by a momentary convulsion, she beheld the last dread change—the living man transformed into the lifeless corpse. The countenance but now fraught with life and human thoughts, in the twinkling of an eye was covered with the shades of death! It was in vain that Mary prayed and reasoned and strove against the feelings that had been thus powerfully excited. One object alone possessed her imagination—the image of her grandfather dying—dead; his grim features, his ghastly visage, his convulsive grasp, were ever present, by day and by night. Her nervous system had received a shock too powerful for all the strength of her understanding to contend with. Mrs. Douglas sought by every means to soothe her feelings and divert her attention; and flattered herself that a short time would allay the perturbation of her youthful emotions.
Five hundred persons, horse and foot, high and low, male and female, graced the obsequies of the Laird of Glenfern. Benenck was there in his new wig, and the autumnal leaves dropped on the coffin as it was borne slowly along the vale!
“It is no diminution, but a recommendation of human nature, that, in some instances, passion gets the better of reason, and all that we can think is impotent against half what we feel.”—Spectator.