Dr. Bryant had nursed the last patient into convalescence: still he lingered, and at the close of St. ——’s day, announced his intention of remaining until the difficulties with Mexico were either amicably arranged, or war declared. Mary and Florence he often met, for he was a constant visitor at Mr. Hamilton’s. His manner toward them was very different; with Mary he ever assumed the light bantering tone of brotherly freedom; with Florence he was always grave and earnest. Their conversation was generally upon literary topics, of which she was fond. Many were their discussions for and against their favorite authors and philosophers. In these arguments Mary seldom took part, though fully qualified to do so. Occasionally her cousin asked her opinion on various topics; at such times she gave them clearly, yet modestly, and with a gentle dignity peculiar to herself. The earnest attention with which Frank listened to her views, and his happy smile, when they coincided with his own, somewhat puzzled Mary; yet she welcomed his repartees with the same bright smile, and allowed distrust and jealousy no room in her heart.
swore that love of souls
Alone had drawn him to the church; yet strewed
The path that led to hell with tempting flowers,
And in the ear of sinners, as they took
The way of death, he whispered peace.”
How wearily pass the hours to the anxious watcher beside the couch of pain. To her, it seems as though the current of time had forgotten to run on and join the mighty past, and that its swift waters were gathering glassily around her. With unmitigated care, Florence had attended the bedside of her suffering parent; occasionally slumbering on his pillow, but more frequently watching through the long nights, and often stealing to the casement, to look out upon surrounding gloom, and wonder if the light of day would ever fall again on earth. Ah! in the midnight hour, when all nature is hushed when universal darkness reigns, when the “still small voice” will no longer be silenced, then we are wont to commune with our own hearts. All barriers melt away, and the saddened past, the troubled present, and the shadowy future rise successively before us, and refuse to be put by. In vain we tightly close the aching lids; strange lurid lights flare around us, and mysterious forms glide to and fro.
To the guilty, how fearful must the season of darkness prove, when, unable longer to escape from themselves, they yield to the pangs of remorse, and toss in unutterable anguish!
“By night, an atheist half believes a God.”
And thousands, who in the sunny light of day rush madly on to ruin, pause, shudderingly, in the midnight hour, and look yearningly toward the narrow path where Virtue’s lamp, flashing into the deepest recesses of surrounding gloom, dispels all shadow; and, in imagination, view the Christian peacefully descending the hill of life, fearlessly crossing the “valley of the shadow of death,” and resting at last on that blest shore, where night and darkness are unknown, “swallowed up in endless day.”