Page images

it, and told her the sinfulness and folly of regretting what was inevitable and ur.changeable.

The tender love of her parents was hers, and oh! how precious, how soothing, was the balm of that holy love to her heart.

She prayed night and morning that she might not survive the loss of these her only friends.

She looked upon Teresa with admiration amounting to idolatry. Teresa had soon discovered the shrinking sensitiveness of poor Maria's nature, and with unwearied kindness, had endeavoured to draw forth her real powers. Till this period Maria had been looked on as almost wanting in intelligence ; now she was indebted to Teresa for proving to her parents and cousin that her mind was no common one; she became of more consequence to them, her opinion was oftener consulted, more deference was paid to her observations, and she was happier than she had ever before felt.

All the family still believed Teresa to have been unhappily seduced and deserted ; but they

saw that whatever might have been her errors, they had been sufficiently punished in the anguish she had experienced on the loss of her infant; they believed that she was a sincere penitent, they witnessed her angelic deportment, they contemplated the heavenly calm of her countenance, and they absolved and loved her. They understood not the creed which teaches us to shut our hearts and avert our eyes from the frail sinner, and to shun contact with her, as though contamination were in her touch or speech. They drew their system of action from a sublime code, where all breathes of mercy,

, and love, and pardon to the penitent;-and as they hoped for mercy, they were merciful.

They did not countenance hardened guilt-on the contrary treated it with due severity ; but their arms were ever extended towards the returning sinner, whose heart was broken and contrite.

Theirs was the right creed the most blessed, the only true!

Enrico had at first looked on Teresa as a

being of a superior nature, and had treated her as such, but when she was thrown into affliction for the death of her child, she had become more dependent on her kind friends for support and comfort, and at this interesting period Enrico had first learned to love her. The sweetness and gratitude with which she received his little attentions in procuring her everything he thought would please her, charmed and subdued him. Soon he saw no object but Teresa; for minutes together he would gaze unobserved on the beauty of her countenance,

the unruffled serenity of her brow, the deep expression of her holy eyes, the angelic sweetness of her rare smile. He loved to listen to her voice as she read to them sometimes of an evening, and the gentle tenderness of her manner towards his poor cousin filled him with gratitude and delight.

Enrico had always been a great favourite amongst all the young damsels in his neighbour hood, and many black, blue, hazel and grey eyes grew more pensive as they noted his terrible insouciance; but Enrico had never thought of love, and his time had hitherto been too fully occupied in farming concerns and manly sports, to allow him leisure for such fond fancies. But now his whole character was altered, and his whole soul engrossed by Teresa.

One evening, which succeeded an unusually warm day, considering the lateness of the season, Teresa, Maria, and Enrico, sat under a porch which overshadowed the entrance to the house, and enjoyed the freshness and balmy softness of the air.

The porch was covered with jessamine, and ever and anon the light breeze swept a shower of its fragrant blossoms over the young people. A vine, which overspread the front of the farmhouse extended its branches, heavily laden with fruit, across the porch, and many a rich, tempting cluster of golden grapes hung invitingly down around its frame work. The orchard in front of the house was filled with fruit trees, and some of them were yet unstripped of their treasures, and glowed with yellow apples and downy plums.

The sky was chequered with fleecy clouds of all shapes and sizes, and Teresa was watching their progress, and marking the brilliant hues imparted to them by the approach of sunset ; her fanciful imagination traced lofty palaces, and glittering lakes, and rugged mountains, and strange faces in their changing shapes, and as she gazed, her thoughts penetrated beyond Heaven's arched portal, and fixed themselves on scenes of more than mortal beauty, scenes where the imagination grows bewildered, and we feel our own incompetency to conceive the joy reserved for us.

At length some slight sound recalled her to earth, and she turned towards Enrico to comment on the gorgeous appearance of the sky, for Enrico was an unsophisticated lover of nature ; but when her eyes encountered his, which were not withdrawn from the contact, the colour mounted to her pure temples, and a pang shot through her heart, her glance drooped to the ground, and for some moments she mused painfully, that look of Enrico's,

« PreviousContinue »