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CHRONICLES OF A COUNTRY TOWN.

I AGNES OAKLAND was the daughter of a respectable tradesman at St. Bennett's, a town in Cornwall; but, though she was an only child, her father found it impossible to make any pecuniary provision for her future support: sickness, losses in business, and competition in the line in which he was engaged, kept him throughout his life a poor and brokenspirited man. All that he could do for his darling he did: he gave her a good education, that she might be enabled to support herself as a governess; but scarcely had it been completed, when, before a situation could be procured for her, the poor man was called on to lay down the heavy burden of his earthly cares, and to pass to that world where care shall be no more.

Poor Agnes was now alone, for she had lost her mother while an infant, and yet she did not feel entirely desolate—there still existed for her a hope, and even in her first agony of grief the voice of one whom she had known from childhood whispered gently words of sympathy and kindness, which brought comfort in their every tone. Henry Selby was also an orphan : he had been educated for the Church by a distant relative, who died almost suddenly before Henry's college duties could be completed ; and the selfish heirs refused to carry out the rich and good man's well-known intentions. Without money and without friends, Henry Selby gladly accepted the situation of third master in the grammar school of his native town, at a salary of eighty pounds a year. On this income the young man would not have ventured to offer marriage to Agnes had her father lived ; but now-what could he do ? Portionless, friendless, houseless, whither could poor Agnes turn, but to him ? It were needless to repeat a lover's reasoning, suffice it to say they were married. They took a pretty little cottage a short distance out of the town ; one little girl was born to them ; and for four years they enjoyed all the happiness possible to people situated as they were. They were careful, self-denying, industrious; but eighty pounds a year will not keep the most deserving from enduring many of the harassing cares of poverty. Cares are they which never can be forgotten, which follow us wherever we go, walk with us, dream with us, whisper when we talk, stare at us when we laugh, and tug at our heart strings when we weep. Henry Selby did not endure them very long ; sickness came upon him—not a sharp sickness which must be met by active measures, but a slow, consuming, blighting sense of depression. He did not seek relief from medicine-a doctor's bill must be, if possible, avoided ; already he owed seven pounds for indispensable aid for his wife and child, and how should he ever be able to pay that? School duties, too, could not be neglected ; for where, if be lost his situation, could his loved ones find a home? So he struggled on, hoping that when the vacation came he should find a cure in the rest which it would bring. Agnes saw that her husband was far from well, but there really did not seem to be any alarming symptoms, and she hoped that he would soon recover.

One day, as he returned from the school, where some unusual exciteSept.-VOL. XCIX. NO. CCCXCIII.

The benign eyes were lowered, the hand actually trembled, but no angry flush as before, no sudden movement checked my inquiries.

“I am Cinxica.”

The voice was low and melodious, but what of that? It was the soft and gentle sigh with which the words were uttered that told me that the Hadji, my good genius, was—a woman!

Now, her disguise dropped, my fair genius was, indeed, shy and startled to find herself confessed.

Recovering herself, she explained that her strange companion had been kind to her family before her birth, that her father was now in Spain, had left this poor being to her good offices ; that a sudden desire on the part of this companion to flee to this lonely spot, with only the fiend-like dog as a protector, had induced Cinxica to accompany her friend, notwithstanding the objections of her relatives ; and that the Hadji dress had been adopted to avoid molestation, as it is well known to be a kind of safe conduct.

6 And you submit to this banishment ?"

“ No one has such claims upon me as Ayesha,” replied Cinxica, in a low voice.

“I thought her superhuman,” replied I; "and you a good spirit sent by Allah."

Cinxica looked grave.
“ I do not bow to Allah, but to your God," said she. .
" And Ayesha ?”

“ She worships no god—but Allah sometimes. To none for the most part does she bow,” said she, sadly.

“ What was the wild tale she told me ?”

“ One generally believed to be true. She is descended from the wicked Zoraiba. Sometimes, she thinks herself her actual daughter, but that is impossible.”

“How long has she been mad—for so I suppose she is ?”

“She is mad, and has been so some months. She dreads pursuit, and is furious if she sees a stranger. When the fit is on her she tells the tale you heard, then springs upon her victim. I had great difficulty in keeping her from killing you the moment you began to recover, and only by strong opiates succeeded.”

“ Has she ever committed a crime ?”
“ Ask me not,” said Cinxica, turning pale.

I looked at her earnestly, and she blushed. I have already said she was beautiful and very young-her English prettily mixed with Spanish and Maltese, exhibiting evidently a cultivated tone of thought and expression. Is it wonderful that I should draw her hand closely within mine, and upon seeing the blush that said so much, I should kiss it vehemently?

When my friend arrived in March, he found me just married, perfectly happy with my lovely and gifted Cinxica, and one of our first rides together was to visit Ayesha in her home near the now doublyinteresting ruins of Macluba.

CHRONICLES OF A COUNTRY TOWN.

I AGNES OAKLAND was the daughter of a respectable tradesman at St. Bennett's, a town in Cornwall; but, though she was an only child, her father found it impossible to make any pecuniary provision for her future support: sickness, losses in business, and competition in the line in which he was engaged, kept him throughout his life a poor and brokenspirited man. All that he could do for his darling he did: he gave her a good education, that she might be enabled to support herself as a governess; but scarcely had it been completed, when, before a situation could be procured for her, the poor man was called on to lay down the heavy burden of his earthly cares, and to pass to that world where care shall be no more.

Poor Agnes was now alone, for she had lost her mother while an infant, and yet she did not feel entirely desolate—there still existed for her a hope, and even in her first agony of grief the voice of one whom she had known from childhood whispered gently words of sympathy and kindness, which brought comfort in their every tone. Henry Selby was also an orphan : he had been educated for the Church by a distant relative, who died almost suddenly before Henry's college duties could be completed; and the selfish heirs refused to carry out the rich and good man's well-known intentions. Without money and without friends, Henry Selby gladly accepted the situation of third master in the grammar school of his native town, at a salary of eighty pounds a year. On this income the young man would not have ventured to offer marriage to Agnes had her father lived ; but now-what could he do ? Portionless, friendless, houseless, whither could poor Agnes turn, but to him ? It were needless to repeat a lover's reasoning, suffice it to say—they were married. They took a pretty little cottage a short distance out of the town ; one little girl was born to them ; and for four years they enjoyed all the happiness possible to people situated as they were. They were careful, self-denying, industrious; but eighty pounds a year will not keep the most deserving from enduring many of the harassing cares of poverty. Cares are they which never can be forgotten, which follow us wherever we go, walk with us, dream with us, whisper when we talk, stare at us when we laugh, and tug at our heart strings when we weep. Henry Selby did not endure them very long ; sickness came upon him-not a sharp sickness which must be met by active measures, but a slow, con. suming, blighting sense of depression. He did not seek relief from medicine-a doctor's bill must be, if possible, avoided ; already he owed seven pounds for indispensable aid for his wife and child, and how should he ever be able to pay that? School duties, too, could not be neglected; for where, if he lost his situation, could his loved ones find a home? So he struggled on, hoping that when the vacation came he should find a cure in the rest which it would bring. Agnes saw that her husband was far from well, but there really did not seem to be any alarming symptoms, and she hoped that he would soon recover.

One day, as he returned from the school, where some unusual exciteSept.-VOL. XCIX. NO. CCCXCIII.

ment had agitated him beyond his wont, Agnes was waiting for him, with her child, at their little garden-gate. Her first exclamation was one of pleasure.

“Dear Henry,” she said, "you are looking so well! What a brilliant colour you have on your cheek! Why really,” she continued, laughingly, .6 little Nelly's newly-blown China-rose, of which she is so proud, would look pale beside it !"

Little Nelly was now about three or four years old, and a more perfect picture of childish beauty has seldom been seen. There she stood, stretching her round dimpled arms up to her father, and pursing up her pretty cherry lips to be kissed.

" Kiss me, dear, good papa,” she said. “Kiss your own little Nelly !" But the kiss was scarcely given before, catching her mother's words, she darted away with joyous laughter, exclaiming, “Papa's cheeks like my beautiful rose! I will go and see.”

“ And I will go and see whether Jane has your tea ready, dear Henry," said his wife ; " already I fancy you are growing pale."

"God bless you both," he said, “my darlings ?and turned into the little parlour, where his easy-chair was drawn to its accustomed place, just where he could see the setting sun fling its rosy light on the wood-clothed hills on the other side of the valley.

In a few minutes little Nelly returned with her full-blown rose in her hand, and leaning on her father's knee as he sat, held it up to his face. But her look of childish glee changed strangely; the colour which was to match her rose was gone! The eyes were open, but looked not at her—they appeared to be fixed on the door; the mouth, too, was open, but it spoke not. The child did not rise from the posture which she had assumed, but turned her eyes also on the door, with an inquiring and startled gaze. At this instant Mrs. Selby, with her servant, reached the threshold; one look at her child's awe-struck eyes, a glance at her husband, and then followed that wild cry which told that she was a widow, and her child fatherless.

Who can paint the agony of the spirit when it first becomes conscious that the soul of one beloved, perhaps too fondly, has departed! Even where death has come gradually, and its progress has been plainly seen, the trial is hard to be borne at the last ; but when there has been little or no preparation-when the stroke falls suddenly, and the eyes, which we have seen beaming with love and life, are in an instant sightless and glazed, unconscious of all earthly objects, and speaking only of the darkness of death-then how terrible, how inexpressibly awful is the shock !

“ Take her away," said poor Mrs. Selby, pointing to her child ; but the tones in which she spoke were hoarse and strange-so different from her own low, sweet voice that the servant looked at her to see that she had indeed spoken, before, snatching up the screaming child, she ran to the next house to call assistance. When she was gone, Mrs. Selby approached her husband. “ Henry,” she said, “ in mercy speak! Make some sign that you hear me. Oh God! he is dead, he is dead !" she repeated. Then, with trembling hands, she loosed his neckcloth, and endeavoured to give him air ; but there was no hope in her heart, and she kept on repeating, “ He is dead, he is dead!"

People soon came to her assistance. Her nearest neighbour, Mr. Cooch, a dark, cold, stern, but really kind-hearted man, hastened into the room ; he approached the corpse, and, pressing down the eyelids, said, slowly and solemnly, “ The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord !"

The words, with the closing of the eyes she loved so dearly, realised at once to Mrs. Selby the event which before she could scarcely comprehend. Raising her hands with a convulsive effort to her throat, as if to tear away some cord which was strangling her, she fell back senseless into the arms of the pitying neighbours.

If there be indeed a " luxury of woe,” it must rank among those luxuries which the poor and friendless have neither means nor leisure to enjoy. To be up and doing is with them a stern, though perhaps, merciful necessity; they have no time to waste in vain regrets. Mrs. Selby, however, was at first physically incapable of exertion. The night following her loss was spent in a succession of fainting fits, then there were a few hours of forgetfulness procured by opiates, and then her fatherless child was brought to her arms, with the hope that the sight of it might bring her the relief of tears.

“ Mamma, dear mamma!” said the child, throwing its arms around her neck, “ God has taken away papa's own face, and given him a white face instead! Oh! do not look so white too, or perhaps you will be like poor papa.” A gush of tears from her child unlocked the fountain of grief in the widow, and after a period of bitter weeping she arose comparatively calm.

Seated in the chair in which her husband had died, Mrs. Selby endeavoured to arrange her thoughts ; but a dull sense of suffering, a weight of unspeakable woe was all of which her mind was as yet sensible. Presently Mr. Cooch was announced : he was a member of the Methodist society, and partook largely of the peculiarities of that body, which is throughout Cornwall a very numerous and influential one. Among these people may be found many good men and zealous Christians, and now and then, in the more remote districts of Cornwall, may be met with, in rude, unlettered men, instances of wild and fervid eloquence, and of heroic self-devotion, which remind us of the old Covenanters : but the formal and stiff manners of the majority, their measured tones, the almost familiar way in which some of them speak, nevertheless, of divine things, and their habit of mixing up sacred subjects with the common and every-day business of life, make them often seem unpleasant and almost repulsive. After a few kindly-meant words of inquiry, Mr. Cooch asked, somewhat abruptly :

- Have you any friend, Mrs. Selby, to whom it is your duty to write on this occasion, and who might be disposed to render you some assistance ?"

" Oh, no, no!” replied the widow. “I have no friend, no one to care for me or my child. Now he is gone we are utterly desolate.”

Mr. Cooch's reply was in a tone of stern reproof :

“ Hush, hush !" he said; "you forget that there is One who is the friend of all who trust in Him. Your trial is from Him. He has perhaps seen fit to take your idol from you, that you may turn to Him and be saved.” “My child ! my poor child !” exclaimed Mrs. Selby, in a fresh burst

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