In this part of the country, where the slander had not reached, he sought a retreat—and he found a still more grateful asylum in the daily solicitudes of the best of wives.
“An enemy hath done this,” I have heard him say—and at such times my mother would speak to him so soothingly of forgiveness, and long-suffering, and the bearing of injuries with patience; would heal all his wounds with so gentle a touch;—I have seen the old man weep like a child.
The gloom that beset his mind, at times betrayed him into skepticism—he has doubted if there be a Providence! I have heard him say, “God has built a brave world, but methinks he has left his creatures to bustle in it how they may.”
At such times he could not endure to hear my mother talk in a religious strain. He would say, “Woman, have done—you confound, you perplex me, when you talk of these matters, and for one day at least unfit me for the business of life.”
I have seen her look at him—O GOD, Maria! such a look! it plainly spake that she was willing to have shared her precious hope with the partner of her earthly cares—but she found a repulse—
Deprived of such a wife, think you, the old man could long have endured his existence? or what consolation would his wretched daughter have had to offer him, but silent and imbecile tears?
My sweet cousin, you will think me tedious—and I am so—but it does me good to talk these matters over. And do not you be alarmed for me—my sorrows are subsiding into a deep and sweet resignation. I shall soon be sufficiently composed, I know it, to participate in my friend’s happiness.
Let me call her, while yet I may, my own Maria Leslie! Methinks, I shall not like you by any other name. Beaumont! Maria Beaumont! it hath a strange sound with it—I shall never be reconciled to this name—but do not you fear—Maria Leslie shall plead with me for Maria Beaumont.
now, my sweet Friend,
God love you, and your
I find in my collection several letters, written soon after the date of the preceding, and addressed all of them to Maria Beaumont.—I am tempted to make some short extracts from these—my tale will suffer interruption by them—but I was willing to preserve whatever memorials I could of Elinor Clare.
“——I have been strolling out for half an hour in the fields; and my mind has been occupied by thoughts which Maria has a right to participate. I have been bringing my mother to my recollection. My heart ached with the remembrance of infirmities, that made her closing years of life so sore a trial to her.
“I was concerned to think that our family differences have been one source of disquiet to her. I am sensible that this last we are apt to exaggerate after a person’s death—and surely, in the main, there was considerable harmony among the members of our little family—still I was concerned to think that we ever gave her gentle spirit disquiet.