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"Indeed we have," said she, a look of suffering crossing her face, as she thought of their unclouded happiness.
"It will not be so long before we meet again."
""A few months, perhaps" said Amabel, in a stifled voice, "like your mother"
"No, don't wish that, Amy. You would not wish it to have no mother." "You will pray" She could say no more, but struggled for calm
"Yes," he answered, "I trust you to it, and to mamma for comfort. And Charlie-I shall not rob him any longer. I only borrowed you for a little while," he added, smiling. "In a little while we shall meet. Years and months seem alike now. I am sorry to cause you so much grief, my Amy, but it is all as it should be, and we have been very happy."
Amy listened, her eyes intently fixed on him, unable to repress her agitation, except by silence. After some little time, he spoke again. "My love to Charlie—and Laura-and Charlotte, my brother and sisters. How kindly they have made me one of them! I need not ask Charlotte to take care of Bustle, and your father will ride Deloraine. My love to him, and earnest thanks, for you above all, Amy. And dear mamma! I must look now to meeting her in a brighter world; but tell her how I have felt all her kindness since I first came in my strangeness and grief. How kind she was! how she helped me and led me, and made me know what a mother was. Amy, it will not hurt you to hear it was your likeness to her that first taught me to love you. I have been so very happy, I don't understand it.'
'He was again silent, as in contemplation, and Amabel's overcoming emotion had been calmed and chastened down again, now that it was no longer herself that was spoken of. Both were still, and he seemed to sleep a little. When next he spoke it was to ask if she could repeat their old favourite lines in Sintram. They came to her lips, and she repeated them in a low steady voice.
When death is coming near,
Then raise thy hands and pray
'Seest thou the castern dawn?
Oh! lift thy drooping head,
Thou, who in gloom and dread
Hast lain so long.
'Death comes to set thee free,
Oh! meet him cheerily,
As thy true friend ;
And all thy fears shall cease,
"In cternal peace," repeated Guy; "I did not think it would have been so soon. I can't think where the battle has been. I never thought my life could be so bright. It was a foolish longing, when first I was ill, for the cool waves of Redclyffe bay and that shipwreck excitement, if I was to die. This is far better. Read me a psalm, Amy, 'Out of the deep.'
There was something in his perfect happiness that would not let her
grieve, though a dull heavy sense of consternation was growing on her. So it went on through the night-not a long, nor a dreary one-but more like a dream. He dozed and woke, said a few tranquil words, and listened to some prayer, psalm, or verse; then slept again, apparently without suffering, except when he tried to take the cordials, and this he did with such increasing difficulty, that she hardly knew how to bear to cause him so much pain, though it was the last lingering hope. He strove to swallow them, each time with the mechanical "thank you," so affecting when thus spoken; but at last it came to, "It is of no use; I cannot."
Then she knew all hope was gone, and sat still, watching him. The darkness lessened, and twilight came. He slept, but his breath grew short and unequal and as she wiped the moisture on his brow, she knew it was the death-damp.
Morning light came on-the church bell rang out matins-the white hills were tipped with rosy light. His pulse was almost gone-his hand was cold. At last he opened his eyes. "Amy!" he said, as if bewildered, or in pain.
"I don't see."
'At that moment the sun was rising, and the light streamed in at the open window and over the bed; but it was "another dawn than ours" that he beheld, as his most beautiful of all smiles beamed over his face, and he said, "Glory in the Highest!-peace-good will"-A struggle for breath gave an instant's look of pain; then he whispered so that she could but just hear "The last prayer." She read the Commendatory Prayer. She knew not the exact moment, but even as she said, "Amen," she perceived it was over. The soul was with Him, with whom dwell the spirits of just men made perfect; and there lay the earthly part with the smile on the face. She closed the dark fringed eyelids-saw him look more beautiful than in sleep, then, laying her face down on the bed, she knelt on. took no heed of time, no heed of aught that was earthly. How long she knelt she never knew, but she was roused by Anne's voice in a frightened sob-" My lady, my lady-come away! Oh! Miss Amabel, you should not be here."
'She lifted her head, and Anne afterwards told Mary Ross "she should never forget how my lady looked. It was not grief: it was as if she had been a little way with her husband, and was just called back."
'She rose-looked at his face again—saw Arnaud was at hand—let Anne lead her into the next room, and shut the door.'-Pp. 207-210.
Here a commonplace writer would have stopped. It was hazardous indeed to attempt to reengage our attention, and keep up our interest after the loss of the bright and beautiful Guy, and to lead us through half a volume more to the failure of Guy's line, in a girl being born of Amabel, and the accomplishment of Philip's ambitious schemes in the undisturbed possession of Redclyffe, and his marriage with Laura. Miss Yonge has not shrunk from the attempt, and it is far too little to say that she has not failed. The conclusion of the story is much the most beautiful portion of it, and the gradual working out of the character of Amy, one of her very highest and best achievements. The end too of the story, so fresh, so unconventional, so truly and deeply natural, and therefore so religious, it is difficult to praise adequately, and impossible to make a reader
understand apart from the book itself. For here, as we observed was her way; Miss Yonge works by delicate and imperceptible touches, the effect of which is very great, but which hardly admit of description. The sustained dignity, the quiet, steady elaboration of her design, are altogether uncommon.
After the death of Guy, Amy calmly orders everything that has to be done; she goes in her bridal dress to the funeral (a hint from Undine which has been exquisitely made use of by Miss Yonge), she consoles Philip, and goes quietly home to her father's without shedding a tear. She is calm and composed, but for a long time sleepless; and at last her gentle nature breaks down, and she gradually recovers her tone. All through the winter she labours to soften matters in her home, and to make them feel more kindly towards Philip, whose conduct about Laura has been discovered, and who is the subject, on her account and on Guy's, of general indignation. Her little girl is born at last, and Philip becomes the possessor of Redclyffe. He, meanwhile, is deeply and sincerely penitent; and his remorse, added to the feeble state of his health from repeated attacks of fever, well-nigh breaks him down. She hears of his being very ill, and persuades Charles to go with her to nurse him. As Philip's nurse, she first sees Guy's Redclyffe, she goes calmly through his cherished scenes, looks at his sea, stands upon his cliffs, floats in his boat, gazes on his picture, and, breaking into a flood of tears, plays on the piano he had bought for her, and which she never saw before. The intense feeling of these passages, the entire unselfishness, the still, profound, yet thoroughly self-controlled pathos of Amy's character, are perfectly indescribable. The sweet austerity of the lesson reminds us of the verses of Laodamia,' or of some grave, severe, yet lovely picture of Fra Angelico, or Blake, or Flaxman.
And so it continues to the end. With unwavering flight Miss Yonge pursues her object; and not by what is called strong writing, nor spasmodic style, not by thrilling scenes or violent emotions, but with a serene and almost stern composure, she delineates the gradual purification of Philip's character, the elevation of Charles from cynical selfishness to earnest and warm-hearted self-denial, the very slow and almost imperceptible recovery of Amy's cheerfulness, with a lasting tinge of sweet yet unrepining melancholy, that increases, if possible, the interest she excites. All this is shown, not in words, but by inference, to be the effect of Guy's beautiful example; so that he pervades the whole story almost more than in his life, and to the very last page of it is made to be a living influence. One for papa and one for mamma,' are said to be Amy's first words each morning as she kisses her child; and the thought of him is
never absent from her, while with her large fortune she goes back into her father's house, and resumes all her gentle, useful ways, though not her gaiety. This is her last conversation with her brother Charles after the marriage of Laura and Philip, at which she attends :
'As soon as Amabel was alone in the carriage with Charles, she leant back, and gave way to a flood of tears.
"Amy, has it been too much?"
"No," she said, recovering herself; " but I am so glad! It was his chief desire. Now everything he wished is fulfilled."
"And you are free of your great charge. He has been a considerable care to you, but now he is safe on Laura's hands, and well and satisfactory; so you have no care but your daughter, and we settle into our home life." Amabel smiled.
"Amy, I do wish I was sure you are happy."
"Yes, dear Charlie, indeed I am. You are all so very kind to me, and it is a blessing, indeed, that my own dear home can open to take in me and baby. You know he liked giving me back to you.'
"And it is happiness, not only thinking it ought to be? Don't let me teaze you, Amy, don't answer if you had rather not."
"Thank you, Charlie, it is happiness. It must be, when I remember how very happy he used to be, and there can be nothing to spoil it. When I see how all the duties of his station worry and perplex Philip, I am glad he was spared from it, and had all his freshness and brightness his whole life. It beams out on me more now, and it was such perfect happiness while I had him here, and it is such a pleasure and honour to be called by his name; besides, there is baby. Oh! Charlie, I must be happy-I am; do believe it! Indeed, you know I have you and mamma and all too. And, Charlie, I think he made you all precious to me over again by the way he loved you all, and sent me back to you especially. Yes, Charlie, you must not fancy I grieve. I am very happy, for he is, and all I have is made bright and precious by him."
"Yes," said he looking at her, as the colour had come into her face, and she looked perfectly lovely with eager, sincere happiness; one of her husband's sweetest looks reflected on her face; altogether, such a picture of youth, joy, and love, as had not been displayed by the bride that morning. Amy, I don't believe anything could make you long unhappy!
"Nothing but my own fault. she whispered almost to herself.
Nothing else can part me from him,”
"Yes; no one else had such a power of making happy," said Charles, thoughtfully. "Amy, I really don't know whether even you owe as much to your husband as I do. You were good for something before, but when I look back on what I was when first he came, I know that his leading, unconscious as it was, brought out the stifled good in me. What a wretch
I should have been; what a misery to myself and to you all by this time; and now, I verily believe, that since he let in the sunlight from heaven on me, I am better off than if I had as many legs as other people."
"Yes. Nobody else lives in such an atmosphere of petting, and has so little to plague them. Nobody else has such a 'mamma,' to say nothing of silly little Amy, or Charlotte, or Miss Morville. And as to being of no use, which I used to pine about-why, when the member for Moorworth governs the country, I mean to govern him."
"I am sure you are of wonderful use to every one," said Amabel;
"neither Philip nor papa could get on without you to do their writing for them. Besides, I want you to help me when baby grows older."
"Is that the laudable result of that great book on education I saw you reading the other day?" said Charles. Why don't you borrow a few hints from Mrs. Henley?'
'Amy's clear, playful laugh was just what it used to be.
"It is all settled, then, that you go on with us? Not that I ever thought you were going to do anything so absurd as to set up for yourself, you silly little woman; but it seems to be considered right to come to a formal settlement about such a grand personage as my Lady Morville."
"Yes; it was better to come to an understanding," said Amabel. "It was better that papa should make up his mind to see that I can't turn into a young lady again. You see, Charlotte will go out with him and be the Miss Edmonstone for company, and he is so proud of her liveliness and— how pretty she is growing-so that will keep him from being vexed. So now you see I can go on my own way, attend to baby, and take Laura's business about the school, and keep out of the way of company, so that it is very nice and comfortable. It is the very thing that Guy wished!"— Pp. 363-365.
We do not mean to say that every one will acquiesce in the conclusion of the book, nor that some portions of it are not open fairly to criticism and question. There is a prejudice. against stories, from the Bride of Lammermoor downwards, which do not award the largest measure of earthly happiness to the best and highest characters. It is a feeling in which perhaps most persons are tempted to indulge, and which seems to have for its foundation a righteous longing after the fitting and the just. But it is in truth a weakness, which a consideration of God's ordinary dealings would suffice to correct, and a sincere faith would prevent altogether. Sir Walter Scott, in his Preface to his last edition of Ivanhoe, has expressed himself on this subject in language, which while it conveys our own judgment, does so with a force and beauty peculiarly his own.
author,' says he,' may observe that he thinks a character of a highly virtuous and lofty stamp degraded rather than exalted, by an attempt to reward virtue with temporal prosperity. Such is not the recompense which Providence has deemed worthy of suffering merit, and it is a dangerous and fatal doc'trine to teach young persons, the most common readers of romance, that rectitude of conduct and of principle are either 'naturally allied with, or adequately rewarded by, the gratifi'cation of our passions or the attainment of our wishes.' 'A glance,' he concludes, on the great picture of life will show, that the duties of self-denial and the sacrifice of passion to principle are seldom thus remunerated, and that the internal consciousness of their high-minded discharge of duty produces on their own reflections a more adequate recompense, in the form of that peace which the world cannot give or take 'away.'