Page images
PDF
EPUB

She was

experienced as she talked of her love for him, and the unhappiness that love had caused her, had taken off his attention from her wild and extraordinary appearance. But now, he examined her with scrutinizing attention, and every evidence seemed to prove the truth of her own statement respecting the murder. beyond doubt disturbed in her intellect, but still collected enough to be aware of what she was saying, and the truth of her statement became each moment more apparent to Sedley.

His horror was so great that he knew not at first how to act. There is something awful and irreconcileable to the feelings, in the thought, that a person, from whom we had parted a few hours back, in all the strength of health and flush of life, in unimpaired spirits and thoughtless gaiety, should be suddenly stricken down by death. What then must have been Sedley's feelings when he recurred to the night before, and thought of Major Bently, as partaking of trivial amusements, and joining in the merry

[blocks in formation]

laugh and innocent jest, and compared him then with what he was now, a mangled corpse, murdered in sleep, sent to that awful bar where scarcely the righteous can be saved, with all his errors unabsolved, and his soul unprepared for the sudden summons. Could it be, that the cheerful voice which had so lately greeted him was hushed for ever, the clear blue eye quenched in death, and the elastic frame stretched in stiff, cold lifelessness !

As these thoughts passed through Sedley's brain, he involuntarily shrank from the guilty creature near him, and a feeling of loathing for her unnatural crime evinced itself in his eyes.

Jessey saw the movement and the look, and throwing herself on her knees before him, she exclaimed, “ Do not hate me Sedley, for pity's sake do not look thus at me; but, oh! have coinpassion on me, and soothe my distracted soul. My crime was horrible, most horrible, but I was mad when I committed the deed, and therefore not responsible for

" The despair in her looks, and the thrilling tone

of her voice, together with the memory of former innocent and happy days, softened Sedley's feelings, and with returning gentleness he turned to the hapless Jessy, and, raising her from the ground, attempted to lead her thoughts to repentance-repentance which never comes too late for the purposes of pardon, and which could alone bring her overwrought feelings into a sane state. Taking her hands in his, he spoke softly and earnestly to her, and forbore reproaching her with her guilt, but rather strove to lead her thoughts to hopes of mercy-Oh! the boundless, boundless mercy of a Saviour! he even prayed for her, and implored her offended Creator to look down in compassion on her, and touch her heart, so that, though she should die an ignominious death in this world, yet even that death might be calm and easy to bear, through the supporting conviction of pardon and reception into everlasting happiness. Yes, he even dared to promise her happiness and salvation, for he remembered the thief on the croes. He wept over her, the companion and friend

2

of his youth-the once light-hearted, interesting girl—the being who had loved himr much-the poor, misguided, erring mortal !

And Jessy wept too, and as he prayed, a hope bright as heaven's light, and coming into her soul as a direct answer to his petition, warmed her cold heart, and fell like healing balm on her dis. tracted brain. God is merciful in proportion to the necessity for mercy, and quickly and plentifully did the streams of grace and love descend upon her, and soothe and cheer her worn feelings!

As Sedley continued with zeal and energy to talk of pardon and hope, her heart was melted within her; and, for the first time in her life, she felt the full and precious value of a Saviour's atoning blood.

She threw herself on her knees once more, and stretching out one arm towards Heaven, whilst with the other she leaned on Sedley, she cried, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbeliei.”

For some moments there was a pause-Sedley scarce breathed, so intense was his anxiety for her, so‘ardent his expectation of an answer to this cry of a penitent sinner.

By degrees, a great and marvellous change came over the whole countenance of the guilty, but no longer hardened Jessy. The knit brow unfolded itself, and was again smooth as in early youth; the flush of hope and excitement crimsoned her pallid cheeks, the wildness and despair which had shone in her eyes vanished, giving place to a kindling joy and peace, which not even the large and frequent tear-drops could din ; her lips were parted in expectation, and as the assurance of pardon fell upon her heart, a smile of more than mortal beauty played around her mouth.

It was a beautiful sight, and a strange one ; the upright and just man trembled with anxiety and agitation, and the guilty criminal looked up to heaven with 'faith and joy. At length Jessy broke the solemn silence, and said, “Sedley, you have been the instrument, under heaven, of leading me to the throne of grace, and now,

« PreviousContinue »