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the dim light of a shaded candle scarcely reached the bed, when Mary, after some uneasy sighs and restless movements, suddenly started up, drew her hands across her brow, and looked around her as if bewildered.
"Where am I? Where is Alfred? Am I still in this weary world!" When seeing her faithful nurse at the bed side, she screamed, and covered her eyes with her hand.
"You here! go away! go away!" she exclaimed, in extreme agitation; then seeming gradually to recover her recollection, she asked again for Alfred.
"He is in his little bed, asleep, my darling," said Mrs. Parshalls; "lie down like a good girl now, and you shall see him in the morning."
"Asleep, is he? Are you sure he is only asleep? Oh, mother, I was so afraid- but I have been in a dream Oh! is it all a
dream?" she asked almost gasping.
"You have been asleep a long time," said the good woman with the utmost tenderness; "but you are ill, my dear Mary, and you
must try to be very quiet. Alfred is quite well."
Mary gazed intently at the old woman, as if in deep thought, and then began searching in her bosom as if for something lost.
"I am undressed. Who undressed me? You? Where is it? Where is the the " she asked in the wildest tone.
"Here, Mary," said Mrs. Parshalls, approaching the bed-side with a mournful air; "this is the box, and I took it from your bosom. You don't want it again,
"Give it me! give it me! do you know what
"Hush, hush, my dear, do not be so vio
"But do - tell me! did you know you open it? Ah! you do! you know what is in it, and you have told Henry! Say! tell me! you have told him, haven't you? You went right to him and told him what a poor creature his wife was an opium-eater."
"Mary, my dear daughter," said the kind soul, sobbing ready to break her heart, "you
don't know your old mother! You see me a poor rough homely old woman, and you think I'm all through alike. I never told Henry, nor I never shall tell any living soul. But oh! my darling, how can you
But she could not finish, for Mary, struck at once with shame and remorse, burst into tears, and threw her white arms round poor Aunty's bony neck, and kissed again and again the withered bosom.
"Oh, mother! true mother! I see all now! you have been my guardian angel! I remember all that has happened! And you have not told Henry! but I will tell him myself! He shall know all my weakness, my wickedness. He little thinks that the six opium pills that Doctor left for me before my baby was born were the beginning of all our misery! I never tasted it before, mother! but the relief- the delight - which followed the use of those fatal doses were my ruin! I have paid dearly for all since! But now-after this awful day you will let me live with you, won't you, mother? You will take care of me, you will
watch me, for fear dear, dear mother, you shall be always my guardian angel!”
Mrs. Parshalls tried in vain to check the gush of Mary's awakened sensibilities. She told her she must look higher than to a poor worm of the dust for guardianship. She tried, by every love-taught art, to quiet the agitated spirits of her charge, and at last had the satisfaction of seeing her fall into a sweet sleep, clasping to the last those poor, wornout, shapeless hands which she had often looked on with such contempt and aversion.
Mary's new life dates from this awful crisis. Every day has improved her; and though the vehemence of her gratitude to her husband's mother faded with the unnatural excitement which attended its birth, the sentiment remains in undiminished force, and is exhibited in a thousand tender cares and dutiful offices. And as such feelings are happily contagious, we need not marvel that Henry's character seems to have undergone some sympathetic change, and to partake something of the warmth which appears so lovely in his young wife.
As for father Parshalls, I fear he is too old to learn. The last time I saw his "old woman," she was on the top of the hill again, and by way of adding to her height, already passing that of women, she had turned the dish-kettle upside down and was standing on it, a skeleton statue scantily draperied looking round the landscape with a searching glance.
"I do wonder," she said, "what has become of that heifer critter! If my old man comes home afore I find her, I shall get an awful talkin' to!"
Talk of the Venus!
The statue that enchants the world is not half so respectable as Aunty Parshalls standing on her dish-kettle!