ページの画像
PDF
ePub

exclaimed ; and immediately a voice, as if in mock. ery, repeated : Elvira! Oh Elvira ! the same cry appearing to pass along over the summits of the woods; till at last it seemed to die away in broken notes, which sounded to me like a laugh. I was at once terrified and provoked at this mockery, as I thought it, and shrieking again, and more vebemently; Oh Elvira! come Elvira! the same results followed as before ; if possible, adding more and more to my terror, and rendering me afraid to speak again; for never having heard an echo, or, as I remembered, even having heard that such a thing existed in nature, I hardly knew what to attribute the voice to, especially as it had not an earthly cadence; a flash of lightning and another clap of thunder ensued, followed by the reverberations of the echo, on which I sunk down on the green sward, unconscious of my dangerous position under the tree, and leaning my face upon my knees, I became almost insensible for some minutes from very alarm ; for the clouds were gathering over the dell, casting a shade of gloom upon every object. Presently, however, I became more calm, and ventured to look before me; and perhaps a lovelier scene never presented itself to a human eye than that which was spread before mine, as I sate under that plane tree, with my face toward the bottom of the valley. It was not a rude woody scene, but that of a green valley, where the fine velvet turf was sprinkled with many beautiful shrubs, through the bottom of the dell; in its whole length ran a stream of pure water, crossed some feet below me, by a little wooden bridge, which I must have passed early in the day, though I had not been conscious of it, and the heights above this dell were

crowned with woods, leaving only one opening to a more distant landscape, at the very bottom of the dingle, where appeared over a sweep of forest trees, one remarkable object, at the distance perhaps as a bird would fly of about two miles, and what was that object but the green hill and the church thereon, so often visited by me, in company

with

my Lucelle Barnavelt! All around me was under the shadow of clouds, but the sun shone bright on that hill and that ancient tower, and brought these objects more distinctly to my eye, by reason of the all-surrounding shade. It was unconsciously that I first fixed my eye on that hill, nor was I aware whither those objects had led my fancy till long, I know not how long, after I bad first beheld them. Years, in the mean time, had rolled back, and all that had passed since the death of my beloved little mamma, had seemed to have been annihilated, and by a process into the nature of which I did not then inquire, the things which had been present with me whilst I was yet under the guardian care of my lovely one, came fresh as the flowers of spring into my young mind. Again I thought that I saw before me the delicate figure, and sweet composed face of my Lucelle, and something struck me to the heart, because I felt that I had been led away to forget her, for many months past.

• Oh mamma ! mamma! I said, my own sweet young mamma! Can I be forgiven for forgetting my mamma? Oh those happy days when I was with my mamma! if she had lived, I should not have been what I am now ; she taught me to love my Bible and to serve my God. Oh that hill! that church! she used to tell me that that hill would stand there to

6

remind me of our many pleasant airings and happy conversations, when she should be no longer with me, and that it would speak to me of the glorious bill of Zion (of which it was indeed but a poor imperfect figure) where redeemed spirits dwell in everlasting light: that hill of Zion, I thought, where my lovely little mamma now is, and where her Saviour smiles upon her, just as the sun shines on that fair tower. Oh Miss Lucelle ! dear Miss Lucelle, I added, for I spoke my thoughts aloud, weeping at the same time most violently, till from very weariness and weakness I could weep no longer; and then I sate still again, looking at the hill, and many thoughts passed through my mind. I first thought how I had been drawn away to flatter and follow the Miss Sockets, because they seemed to be great people, and then I thought how they had left me, and then this verse came into my head, viz. “ Love not the world neither the things that are in the world : if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John ji. 15. This was one of the verses which my dear Miss Barnevelt had carefully taught me ; and though I bad not thought of it for months, yet it returned to me in the moment of need: the Miss Sockets are the world to me, I thought, and they have passed away, and left me alone ; and if I had not my God, I should have no one to save me from the beasts with horns, and the lightning, and all the dangers of this place. But although God has always been so good to me, I do not deserve his goodness—though I have been so well taught, I am worse than any body else-can I be forgiven? Yes, I shall be forgiven; yes, I am forgiven, because my Saviour died for me. Thus were thoughts like these --thoughts in which were comprised more truth than many of the wisest men of the earth have ever seen --put into my infant mind; put in, I say, for they sprang not from my own breast-and I was led to pray, kneeling upon the grass, that now as I had no friend who taught me any thing about God, that it would please him to teach me himself, and to keep me from being proud, and fond of the world ; and so to lead me on, till I was brought to where my own Lucelle rejoiced in his presence. And when I had prayed, I sate down again under the tree on the sloping bank, and being very weary, I was insensibly hushed to sleep by the murmur of the breeze among the groves, the hum of bees, and the soft low ripple of the brook.

My sleep was long, and in my dreams I fancied that I saw my Lucelle in all the bloom of immortal beauty. As she had been the last person I had hought of, before I had fallen asleep, it was not miraculous that I dreamed of her, yet the impression made by those thoughts and those dreams was never effaced. Although I am far from saying that I did not, after that period, give many evidences, during childhood, of the folly and corruption of my nature, yielding to temptations full as often as any others of my schoolfellows, still I believe that the hours which I spent under that plane-tree in the Valley of the Echo, have in some degree extended their influence through my whole life. But in the afternoon, after, as I before said, I had enjoyed the oblivion of several hours, I was gently awakened by Elvira, who had stooped down and kissed me as I lay, whispering in my ear, · Annie, dear! thank God we have found you-you have frightened us terribly.' I opened my eyes, and sitting up, looked round, wondering where I was.

* Elvira seeing me look wild and frightened, spoke kindly to me again, on which I turned myself round and wept upon her bosom, receiving in return the kindest assurances of ber joy in having found me again.

"Elvira,' I said, 'forgive me for my rudeness this morning, and let me be your friend again.'

• She answered me only by putting her arms round my neck, and weeping with me; for it seems that all my kind friends had feared lest I should have fallen into some pool, of which there were several in the park. But before Elvira could inform me of these circumstances, my two aunts, the teachers, all my school-fellows, and the Miss Sockets, were come up to the place where I lay. The former had, it seems, met the Miss Sockets in the park, returning after their dinner at Mr. Richards's, to the party with whom they had come ; nor was it till they met, that it was understood that I was missing. On discovering this, two or three ran one way and two or three another, till at length they had all met in the Glen of the Echo, though they had come by different ways, having gathered up different fragments and portions of my apparel in different places; one having found my gloves, another a shoe-string, and a third a ribbon. Elvira was the happy person who spied me under the plane-tree, and such an uproar there was, when they met under the little knoll, as had probably never disturbed that quiet valley, since the tallest oak upon the hills had been an

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« 前へ次へ »