“If you are sick, or sorrowful, or repentant, send for me.”
“But you will come and see how very happy I am.—Just once?”
“I cannot promise, Helen. Events will determine me,” replied May, in a gentle tone.
“I have a favor to ask, May, which you cannot refuse!” said Helen, with a degree of timidity unusual to her; “will you grant it?”
“I hope so, Helen. What is it?”
“There is a picture in our room—a valuable old painting of the Mater Dolorosa. I always fancied there was a look of my mother, particularly about the eyes, in the countenance. I should like to have it copied by some first-rate artist to hang up in my chamber.”
“Certainly, dear Helen. I would offer you the picture as a keep-sake, only it was highly prized by my father; and there are so many associations connected with it, which makes it very precious to me. Whenever you wish it, let me know, and I will go with it myself to the artist.”
The next day they parted. Helen, arrayed in costly silks, laces, and jewelry, went forth a bride, and pronounced irrevocable vows, which made her the wife of a man, who, highly honorable in a worldly sense, was the professed enemy of the creed she professed.
THE DEATH DREAM.
While the splendid festivities which succeeded Helen’s marriage afforded a topic of conversation for the bon ton of three cities, May was quietly preparing to leave the old house, beneath whose roof she had learned so many lessons of self-denial, patience, and constancy; while she found time, each day, to pay her accustomed visit to old Mabel, who was approaching nearer and nearer her eternal rest. In serving her, May felt richly rewarded by the edification she derived from her simple piety, and the perfect resignation and joyful submission she evinced to the Divine Will. She was frequently astonished at the untaught eloquence of her expressions, and the beautiful humility of her language, when she spoke of the mercy of Almighty God, and lifted up her heart in joyful aspirations and effusions of love, to JESUS and MARY. The sacred and crucified, Humanity of ONE, and the suffering and anguish of the Humanity of the OTHER, seemed to condescend so entirely to her low estate, that the divinity of JESUS, and the measureless love of MARY, His Mother, were folded like a garment around her, and strengthened, and consoled, and brightened her path, as she approached the shadow through which she was to pass. And while May’s inmost heart united its pure emotions in harmony with the mysteries of faith and grace, the words of an old English poet rippled through her mind in sweet accord with them.
“If bliss had lay in art or strength,
None but the wise or strong had gained it;
Where now by faith, all arms are of a length,
One size doth all conditions fit.
A peasant may believe as much
As a great clerk, and reach the highest stature;
Thus dost Thou make proud knowledge bend and crouch,
While grace fills up uneven nature.”