these two sisters were different in personal appearance and character. Nature seems to have presided in a special manner over the moulding of Aloysia's exquisite frame. The symmetry of her person, hand and foot of charming delicacy, azure eye and rosy cheek, garlanded with nature's golden tresses, and the sweet expression of innocence in her features, would suggest her at once as a model for one of Raphael's Madonnas. Her disposition, too, comported with the beauty of her person. She loved retirement, and read only books of the noblest sentiment. The poets were familiar to her; she copied and committed to memory the passages of exquisite beauty. There was one feature in her character which bore a marked influence on her future destinies: it was her love for her sister. We do not believe at all times in the genuineness of brotherly or sisterly love. Perhaps familiarity has deadened its keenness. Like the appreciation of the sunlight which rushes with thrilling force on the victim of blindness, separation or misfortune may rouse the dormant affection and prove its nobility and its power; but in our experience manifest fraternal charity is one of those things even the wise man knew to be rare under the sun. Where we have been privileged to look in behind the veil of the family circle, we are more convinced than ever that fraternal affection an all the boasted nobility of sisterly love dwindle down to a series of petty quarrels and jealousies as painful as they are unchristian and unbecoming. The reserve, or rather the hypocrisy of politeness, put on before strangers, is no criterion of the inward domestic life. Some one has said of ladies, "A point yielded or a pardon begged in public means so many hair-pullings behind the scenes." But this is too sweeping; there are noble, glorious exceptions in families where religion reigns, where fraternal charity finds a congenial soil; for it blooms in the fragrance of the other virtues, and is the first characteristic of a pious family. The world around are told to look for this as a sign by which they are to recognize the disciples of Him who loved so much. Aloysia, in a true, genuine feeling of love, was bound in adamantine chains to her sister. Time and fortune, that shatter all human institutions and prove human feelings, consolidated the union of their hearts and their destinies. A stranger on stronger proof of the influence of sisterly affection could not be adduced; it dragged the beautiful, blushing Aloysia from the sphere of girlhood, to follow in the track of hypocrisy and of bloodshed so desperately trodden by her brave sister. Our tale opens when the two girls had finished their education and were living in luxury and enjoyment. The days and hours passed merrily by. They would read in the shade, play and sing on the harp, would paint or work at wool, and in the afternoon, when the burning sun had left the world to the shade of evening, they would drive out in a magnificent attelage to the fashionable rendezvous of Paris. Dream too bright to last! On the horizon is gathering the dark cloud that will dim the sunlight of their bliss, and cause them, in the dark and trying hour of trouble, to look back with the sigh of regret over the brilliant hours of youthful enjoyment. Chapter VI. A Secret Revealed. I thought to pass away before, and yet alive I am; And in the fields all round I hear the bleating of the lamb. How sadly, I remember, rose the morning of the year! To die before the snow-drop came, and now the violet's here. Oh! sweet is the new violet that comes beneath the skies And sweeter is the young lamb's voice to me that cannot rise; And sweet is all the land about, and all the flowers that blow; And sweeter far is death than life to me that long to go. -- Tennyson. It was a bright, cheerful morning in June. The sinking, feeble Madeleine had requested her domestics to carry her to the conservatory, that she might gaze again on the flowers that were soon to blossom on her grave. Death had lingered in his approach. The gay, the ambitious, and healthy he had taken all too soon; but for Madeleine, WHO LONGED TO GO, he tarried. Her little violets had already given their first fragrant kiss to breezes that passed with no mournful cadence through the cypresses of the lonely cemetery. Crumbling in her hand a faded rose, she breathed the thought so beautifully versified in after-times by the immortal bard of Erin: So soon may I follow When friendships decay, And from love's shining circle The gems drop away. When true hearts lie withered And fond ones are flown, Oh! who would inhabit This bleak world alone? The sentiment was prophetic: other flowers of affection will be withered by the vicissitudes of destiny; fond ones will flee, leaving the world a wilderness for her last hours! It often happens in the course of life that we are driven by some inexplicable fatality to suffer those very afflictions we dread the most. We are told of persons who trembled for a lifetime at the horrid anticipation of being one day mad; it was the shadow of the judgement that was creeping on them, which cast them finally amongst the victims of the lunatic asylum. The suicide is the prophet of his own doom; the presentiment of death by drowning has but too often ended in a watery grave. Perhaps where the fibres of the heart are weakest, the strain brought on them by excited fancy snaps them in the misfortune that is dreaded; or perhaps some unseen spirit, charged with the decree of our individual sorrow, casts the dark shadow of his wing over our thoughts, and communicates the gloomy foreboding of a presentiment. They dying mother had one of these heart-tearing presentiments, so frequent and so mysterious in the history of human suffering. She was guilty of a species of maternal idolatry; centered in her child Louis Marie as rays gathered up into a focus, were all her hopes, her aspirations, her ideas of the future. If she could be assured she would live to see her son leading the armies of the empire, ruling in the cabinets of state or worshipped in the circles of the great and learned, Heaven itself could not build up a greater joy in the limited horizon of her hopes; but an awful conviction crept over her that some misfortune would tear from her the object of her love like the fruit torn from the stem, like the young branch from the oak. In dreams she saw him struggling in the torrent which bore him away, or dragged to the hills at the feet of a wild horse. More than once she saw him on board a Government vessel, sailing with the hapless children of guilt to the convict settlements of southern seas--not as a felon, but an angel of light amongst the condemned.' Whilst Madeleine was sitting in the conservatory, musing over the gloomy anticipations her dreams had cast over her thoughts, Louis Marie came towards her. A beam of joy lit up her hectic cheek; she impressed a kiss on the forehead of her darling son, and playfully reproved him for the dreams that gave her so much trouble. "Mother," we fancy we hear Louis reply, "you would not surely give much credence to the imaginary evils of a dream. You know nothing can happen to us except by the arrangement of God; not even a hair can fall to the ground without his permission. I remember in college I was very much delighted with a thesis one of the fathers gave us on the Providence of God; it was so strange and so consoling to think that great Being who created so many millions of worlds, and keeps them flying around him with immense velocity, could occupy himself with us human beings, who are no more than insects moving on this world, which is but a speck in the immensity of the universe. But I know how it is--our souls are immortal, and hence we must soar higher than the countless worlds, were they ten times as great. Our blessed Lord, by coming amongst us and dying to save those souls, showed us that he thought more of us than of the bird of the air or the lily of the field, clothed in such charming magnificence. Is it unreasonable that, since he has given to each star a course, to each lily and each bird a time and a clime, he should also determine for us the course we should follow for his greater glory? And what, mother, if some unseen, invisible destiny should really call me away; if it were for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, would you not rejoice? Madeleine paused for a moment before venturing a reply. She trembled; a struggle between affection and duty passed within. Pleased with the rich flow of virtuous sentiment that made her still more proud of her child, she had caught the end of a golden thread and wished to unravel it further, but feared it would be snapped by some unpleasant discovery. Full of excitement, and her eyes filled with a penetrating, enquiring gaze upon Louis, she answered: "Louis, I should be false to the lessons I have endeavored to teach you in these last fleeting hours of my ill-spent life, were I not to rejoice in any destiny that would wrap up your future career in the glory of God; but I fear the enthusiasm of your young heart will misguide you. I know, from the serious tone of your voice and look in asking that question, you have been feeling your way to make some crushing disclosure. I saw you crying in the garden this afternoon, and for some time past I have noticed a cloud of anxiety hanging over you. I had determined the first moment we were alone to know the cause of this trouble; and I now conjure you, by the affection and duty which you owe me as your mother, to let me share in your anxieties and in your councils." Louis had really come to broach the terrible secret to his mother, but he had not yet courage; he struggled manfully to suppress internal motions that might at any moment, like sullen rivers, overflow and betray their existence in a flood of tears. Fearing to venture suddenly on the subject that was fullest in his heart, he partly evaded his mother's energetic appeal, and made such a reply as would elicit from her quick perception the declaration that trembled on his lips. "If war were declared with our frontier foes, and our beloved King commanded the youth of the country to gird on the sword for our national defence, you, mother, would help me to buckle on mine?" "Yes, Louis, I would give you proudly to the cause of France," continued Madeleine, feigning a patriotism she scarcely felt. "But, thanks be to God, I am not called on now to claim an honor that is at best a sacrifice and a calamity." "But, mother, the war is declared, and I am to be a soldier in a sacred cause." "How!" cried Madeleine excitedly. "Are the followers of the Black Prince again attacking us? The Turks seeking revenge for the defeat of Lepanto? or Christian Spain still intoxicated with its own dream of ambition? Whence come the sound of arms, Louis, to fire thy young ambition? If I judge rightly, thy disposition leads thee more to the cloister than to the battle-field." "'Tis so," replied Louis, who had adroitly brought the conversation to the subject that occupied his thoughts, and to the announcement that would ring with such thrill on his mother's ears. "And I am going to join a religious community immediately, to become a soldier in the great war of right against wrong--of this world against the next. To this war the trumpet-calls of grace have summoned me, and I come to ask the mother who would give me to the cause of my country to do the same for Almighty God." A step was heard outside. Louis glided into the garden, and Madeleine was again found by her husband buried in tears. Chapter VII. Tears on Earth, Joy in Heaven. Madeleine, with all the keenness of her maternal heart, had caught the dift of Louis' mind, and felt the disclosure before it was made. A rough, rude remark from Cassier, and he left her to the silence and reflection she then vehemently desired. Reflection, in bringing before her a beautiful but sad picture, crumbled before her mental vision the castles that her affection and her hopes had built on the shadowy basis of Louis' future temporal glory. She felt, however, from the inspiration of faith a feeling of spiritual joy that he was called to the higher destiny of a favorite of Heaven. Had the fire of divine love glowed more fervently in her heart, she would feel the joy of ecstasy, such as consoled the death-bled of the mothers of the saints when the revelation of the sanctity of their children was the last crown of earthly joy. Anticipating the privilege the fond maternal heart would fain claim even in the kingdom free from all care, Madeleine often found herself contemplating her son fighting the brave fight, winning crown upon crown, and virtue flinging around him a shield more impenetrable than the fabulous Aegis of pagan mythology. In the flippant boastings of Christian mothers there are many who pretend they have the fire of faith and divine love like the brave Machabean woman; but when the sore hour of real separation comes, the soft, loving heart bends and weeps. Nature, corrupt nature, resists the arrangements of God, and nature triumphs in the maternal tie. The spirit of Madeleine had made the sacrifice of her son, but the rude hand of nature swept the fibres of her heart and tore them asunder. Night has gathered around the house of Cassier. Sleep has brought the silence of the tomb on the inmates. One alone is awake; gentle sobs tell of a heart struggling with its own desires, but a faint ray of moonlight shows him seeking strength on his knees before a crucifix. Guide him, ye angels, in the sublime destiny to which Heaven calls! Treasure up those tears of affection; they are pearls for a crown in eternity! A long, farewell look at the old homestead, and Louis has fled. In the night, when all were asleep, he stole down-stairs and into the silent street. The moon brightened the tears of his farewell; only his guardian angel saw to register for his eternal crown, the inward struggle in which he had trampled on every tie of affection and pleasure. Disappearing in the narrow streets, he disappears also from the pages of our narrative until, in the extraordinary vicissitudes of time, he makes his appearance again in a scene both touching and edifying. The morning dawn revealed the broken circle, the vacant chair in the family. Cassier was confused. Whilst others wept he moved about in deep thought. Stoic in his feelings and hardened in sympathies, he still felt all the tender anxieties of an affectionate parent. There are moments in the career of even the greatest sinners when sleeping conscience is roused to remorse. The shock the old man received in the loss of his amiable child opened his eyes to the unhappy state of his own soul; every act of ridicule he cast on the religious tendencies of Louis became arrows of memory to sting him with regret.
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