“Be warned, Helen! I have a will, too, and shall not cease to admonish you—to warn you—to pray for you, until life ceases.”
“Pshaw! you are a fanatic. Good night, my dear.”
When May awoke the next morning at her usual hour, she discovered, to her great surprise, that Helen was up and dressed; but how occupied she could not conceive, until rising, she saw her sitting beside her open trunk, with a lighted candle on a chair near her, looking over various ornaments and articles of dress which it contained. With a small hand-glass she tried the effect of jet and pearls in her ears; of black velvet, or satin rosettes, in her soft wavy brown hair; of white crape and illusion on her throat and wrists—glancing all the time with an expression of pleased triumph at the reflection on her faultlessly beautiful face.
“Thank God, I am not beautiful,” thought May, without a dash of envy. “I might—yes, I am so weak—I might worship myself instead of God.” But she said nothing, and performed her morning devotions, and made her meditations as usual; then dressed quickly and neatly, and asked Helen if she was ready to go down.
“I declare, May, you are a perfect little mouse. I did not know you were up. Yes; I am ready now. I had quite forgotten that it was my morning to make breakfast,” she replied, returning the things to the trunk without the least possible hurry.
“If you have any thing else to do, dear Helen; I mean—if—you have not said your prayers yet, I will go down and get things in train for you,” said May, timidly.
“Thank you, May, but I keep my own conscience. I have no time for my prayers now—after breakfast will do,” she replied, carelessly.
“Dear Helen, consider—”
“Dear May, I won’t consider,” she interrupted her, “for I am in such a ferment of delight, what with the idea of company, and having a harp once more, I am really half wild, and could not pray for the life of me—at least, as people ought to pray. Oh, what different times we shall have! Really, May, I have an idea that I shall have our old savage dancing the Tarantula before to-morrow night,” she exclaimed, almost shrieking with laughter.
“Helen,” began May, but checked herself, and burst into tears, which she endeavored to conceal—such tears as angels shed over the derelictions of the souls they are appointed to guard. Helen did not observe them; giddy and selfish, she derived amusement from that which was luring her soul further away from God; and, while May wept over her peril, she thought only of the transient and fleeting enjoyments of the present. Gayly humming the Tarantula, she ran down to the kitchen, where she got breakfast, or, rather claimed the reputation of getting it, by assisting May, who was really the practical cause of its being made at all tolerably.