“’A little nonsense now and
Is relished by the wisest men.’”
As Mary made no reply, he turned around and regarded her earnestly, Her hat had fallen back from the face, which rested on his black cloak. Every vestige of mirth fled from his countenance as they gazed on the sleeping girl. The feverish flush had left the cheek, now perfectly wan; the dark brown hair clung on the pure, beautiful brow, and beneath the closed eyes were dark circles, traced by mental suffering. The expression of the face was perfectly calm, yet a wearied look, as though longing to be at rest, lingered there. So motionless she lay, that Frank hastily placed his hand on hers to feel if warmth and vitality remained. Slowly and faint came the pulsations, and, as he watched her deathlike slumber, his cheek grew pale, a look of unutterable anguish settled on his noble brow, and the finely cut lips were tightly compressed, as with some acute though hidden pain. Florence slowly returned to Mr. and Mrs. Carlton—no smile passed her lips the remainder of the day; she seemed now, for the first time, to realize her cousin’s danger, and naught could divert her mind from this new grief.
Dr. Bryant bent his head upon his breast, and murmured in saddened tones: “Oh, Mary! Mary! how gladly would I give all I possess on earth to see you strong and well again.”
“And therefore my heart is heavy
With a sense of unquiet pain,
For but Heaven can tell if the parted
Shall meet in the earth again.
“With Him be the time and the season
Of our meeting again with thee:
Whether here, on these earthly borders,
Or the shore of the world to be.”
One day our party had traveled further than on any previous occasion: long and tedious was the ride, still they pushed on, hoping to reach some stream ere the tents were pitched for the night, as an abundant supply of pure fresh water was essential to the comfort of their camp. In the metaphorical strain of a certain writer—“Phoebus drove his steeds to be foddered in their western stables.” Slowly twilight fell upon the earth, and, one by one, the lamps of heaven were lit. The wagon in which Dr. Bryant and Mary rode was rather in the rear of the party, as the riders pressed anxiously forward. The cool night-wind blew fresh upon the fevered brow of the invalid, and gently lifted and bore back the clustering curls.
“I am very much afraid you will take cold:” and Dr. Bryant wrapped his coat carefully about her.
“Thank you:” and she sank back in its heavy folds, and looked up to the brilliant firmament, where the stars glittered, like diamonds on a ground of black velvet, in the clear, frosty air.
“Orion has culminated; and how splendidly it glows to-night, I think I never saw it so brilliant.”