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kept up some faint observance of the once popular rites of May. These, indeed, had been promoted by its present pastor; who was a lover of old customs, and one of those simple Christians that think their mission fulfilled by promoting joy on earth and good-will among mankind. Under his auspices the May-pole stood from year to year in the centre of the village green; on May-day it was decorated with garlands and streamers; and a queen or lady of the May was appointed, as in former times, to preşide at the sports, and distribute the prizes and rewards. The picturesque situation of the village, and the fancifulness of its rustic fetes, would often attract the notice of casual visitors. Among these, on one May-day was a young officer, whose regiment had been recently quartered in the neighbourhood. He was charmed with the native taste that pervaded this village pageant; but, above all, with the dawning loveliness of the queen of May. It was the village favourite, who was crowned with flowers, and blushing and smiling in all the beautiful confusion of girlish diffidence and delight. The artlessness of rural habits enabled him readily to make her acquaintance; he gradually won his way into her inti. macy; and paid his court to her in that unthinking way in which young officers are too apt to trifle with rustic simplicity.
There was nothing in his advances to startle or alarm. He never even talked of love: but there are modes of making it more eloquent than language, and which convey it subtilely and irresistibly into the heart. The beam of the eye, the tone of the voice, the thousand tendernesses which emanate from every word, and look, and action-these form the true eloquence of love, and can almost be felt and understood, but never described. Can we wonder that they should readily win a heart, young, guileless, and susceptible? As to her, she loved almost unconsciously; she scarcely enquired what was the growing passion that was absorbing every thought and feeling, or what were to be its consequences. She, indeed, looked not to the future. When present, his looks and words occupied her whole attention; when absent, she thought
but of what had passed at their recent interview. She would wander with him through the green lanes and rural scenes of the vicinity. He taught her to see new beauties in nature; he talked in the language of polite and cultivated life, and breathed into her ear the witcheries of romance and poetry.
Perhaps there could not have been a passion, between the sexes, more púre than this innocent girl's. The gallant figure of her youthful admirer, and the splendour of his military attire, might at first have charmed her eye; but it was not these that had captivated her heart. Her attachment had something in it of idolatry. She looked up to him as to a being of a superior order. She felt in his society the enthusiasm of a mind naturally delicate and poetical, and now first awakened to a keen perception of the beautiful and grand. Of the sordid distinctions of rank and fortune, she thought nothing; it was the difference of intellect, of demeanour, of manners, from those of the rustic society to which she had been accustomed, that elevated him in her opinion. She would listen to him with charmed ear and downcast look of mute delight, and her cheek would mantle with enthusiasm: or if ever she ventured a shy glance of timid admiration, it was as quickly withdrawn, and she would sigh and blush at the idea of her comparative unworthiness:
Her lover was equally impassioned; but his passion was mingled with feelings of a coarser nature. He had begun the connexion in 'levity; for he had often heard his brother officers boast of their village conquests, and thought some triumph of the kind necessary to his reputation as a man of spirit. But he was too full of youthful fervour. His heart had not yet been rendered sufficiently cold and selfish by a wandering and a dissipated life: it caught fire from the very flame it sought to kindle; and before he was aware of the nature of his situation, he became really in love.
What was he to do? There were the old obstacles which so incessantly occur in these heedless attachments. His rank in life the prejudices of titled connections his dependence upon a proud and unyielding father-all
forbade him to think of matrimony :--but when he looked-down upon this innocent being, so tender and confid-, ing, there was a purity in her manners, a blamelessness in her life, and a beseeching modesty in her looks, that awed down every licentious feeling. In vain did le try to fortify himself by a thousand heartless examples of men of fashion; and to chill the glow of generous sentiment, with that cold derisive levity with which he had heard them talk of female virtue; whenever he came into her presence, she was still surrounded by that mysterious, but impressive charm of virgin purity, in whose hallowed sphere no guilty thought can live.
The sudden arrival of orders for the regiment to repair to the continent completed the confusion of his mind. He remained for a short time in a state of the most painful irresolution; he hesitated to communicate the tidings, until the day of marching was at hand; when he gave her the intelligence in the course of an evening ramble.
The idea of parting had never before occurred to her. It broke in at once upon her dream of felicity; she looked upon it as a sudden and insurmountable evil, and wept with the guileless simplicity of a child. He drew her to his bosom, and kissed the tears from her soft cheek; nor did he meet with a repulse; for there are moments of mingled sorrow and tenderness, which hallow the caresses of affection. He was naturally impetuous; and the sight of beauty, apparently yielding in his arms; the confidence of his power over her; and the dread of losing her for ever; all conspired to overwhelm his better feelings he ventured to propose that she should leave her home, and be the companion of his fortunes.
He was quite a novice in seduction, and blushed and faltered at his own baseness; but so innocent of mind was his intended victim, that she was at first at a loss to comprehend his meaning; and why she should leave her native village, and the humble roof of her parents? When at last the nature of his proposal flashed upon her pure mind, the effect was withering. She did not weep she did not break forth into reproach-she said not a word but she shrunk back aghast as from a viper; gave him a
look of anguish that pierced to his very soul; and clasping her hands in agony, fled, as if for refuge, to her father's cottage.
The officer retired, confounded, humiliated, and repentant. It is uncertain what might have been the result of the conflict of his feelings, had not his thoughts been diverted by the bustle of departure. New scenes, new pleasures, and new companions, soon dissipated his selfreproach, and stifled his tenderness; yet, amidst the stir of camps, the revelries of garrisons, the array of armies, and even the din of battles, his thoughts would sometimes steal back to the scene of rural quiet and village simplicity--the white cottage—the footpath along the silver brook and up the hawthorn hedge, and the little village maid loitering along it, leaning on his arm, and listening to him with eyes beaming with unconscious affection.
The shock which the poor girl had received, in the destruction of all her ideal world, had indeed been cruel. Faintings and hysterics, had at first shaken her tender frame, and were succeeded by a settled and pining melan. choly. She had beheld from her window the march of the departing troops. She had seen her faithless lover borne off, as if in triumph, amidst the sound of drum and trumpet, and the pomp of arms. Sbe strained a last aching gaze after him, as the morning sun glittered about his figure, and his plume waved in the breeze: he passed away like a bright vision from her sight and left her all in darkness.
It would be trite to dwell on the particulars of her after-story. It was like other tales of love melancholy. She avoided society, and wandered out alone in the walks she had most frequented with her lover.
She sought, like the stricken deer, to weep in silence and loneliness, and brood over the barbed sorrow that rankled in her soul. Sometimes she would be seen late of an evening sitting in the porch of the village church; and the milk maids, returning from the fields, would now and then overhear her, singing some plaintive ditty in the hawthorn walk. She became fervent in her devotions at church; and as the old people saw her approach, so
wasted away, yet with a hectic bloom, and that hallowed air which melancholy diffuses round the form, they would make way for her, as for a thing spiritual, and, looking after her would shake their heads in gloomy foreboding.
She felt a conviction that she was hastening to the tomb, but looked forward to it as a place of rest.
The silver cord that had bound her to existence was loosed, and there seemed to be no more pleasure under the sun. If ever her gentle bosom had entertained resentment against her lover it was extinguished. She was incapable of angry passions; and in a moment of saddened tenderness, she penned him a farewell letter. It was couched in the simplest language; but touching from its very simplicity. She told him that she was dying, and did not conceal from him that his conduct was the cause. She even depicted the sufferings which she had experienced; but concluded with saying, that she could not die in peace, until she had sent him her forgiveness and her blessing.
By degrees her strength declined, that she could no longer leave the cottage. She could only totter to the window, where, propped up in her chair, it was her enjoyment to sit all day and look out upon the landscape. Still she uttered no complaint, nor imparted to any one the malady that was preying upon her heart.
She never even mentioned her lover's name; but would lay her head on her mother's bosom and weep in silence. poor parents hung, in mute anxiety, over this fading blossom of their hopes, still flattering themselves that it might again revive te freshness, and that the bright unearthly bloom which sometimes flushed her cheek might be the promise of returning health.
In this way she was seated between them one Sunday afternoon; her hands were clasped in their's, the lattice was thrown open, and the soft air that stołe in, brought with it the fragrance of the clustering honeysuckle which her own hands had trained round the window.
Her father had just been reading a chapter in the Bible: it spoke of the vanity of worldly things, and of the joys of heaven: it seemed to have diffused comfort and se