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A Dream.

(Concluded from issue #11.)

Gradually the scene faded from before his view, and in its stead the youth saw before him the interior of his own dwelling. Although he felt assured of this, every thing to his view seemed changed.  Again he turned towards the spirit, and the voice within him answered as before:

“Behold in this how sophistry and pride, with deceptive cant, do blind thy immortal vision. How year by year their pernicious influence hath dried up one by one the life springs of thy soul. Behold the spirit they have given thee for thy household god.”

The finger of the spirit pointed towards the hearth, where crouched a figure clad in sombre black, its head enveloped in its mantle. Yet as he looked again, it seemed as though it had an inner form, young, beautiful, and clothed in rich attire. In its hand it held a goblet filled with a thick and turbid liquid through which the youth perceived at bottom innumerable gems of dazzling brightness. Again the spirit spoke within him:

“With thy immortal vision thou hast seen through the outer covering of error the brilliant truths which lie concealed within. Before, thou wast content to know that all without was foul and repulsive to thy eye.”

It was Sabbath still: the youth felt it was, but not the Sabbath of the dwelling they had left. No holy, quiet, or sweet communings with the “Lord of hosts” marked in this his home the day of rest. There sat his sister, with embroidery in her hands. She whom he loved with more than a brother’s tenderness, was wasting the precious hours with an idle mimicry of nature on the seventh day. The door opened, and his brother stood within the room. He looked dusty, heated, and fatigued, as though he had completed a more than ordinary task on that, God’s holy day.

Acquaintances now came in, who laughed and joked together, and spoke of bigotry and superstition, and enlightenment of the age, at which the figure on the hearth arose, and smiling hideously through its dusky robe, shook itself as though with hearty glee.

Suddenly the apartment became shrouded in the dim obscurity of dusky night. As the eyes of the youth became accustomed to the change, he perceived that with the light had passed away the figures of all those he had seen before him. Strange too—the room had changed. An indefinable feeling of awe and dread as of impending danger crept slowly over him with an icy chill. Cold drops of perspiration started on his forehead, and his trembling frame clung for support to the garments of the spirit. He turned and gazed upon its features in mute appeal: but they were fixed in stony rigidity, and the voice within was silent.

Gradually the spirit led him to a bed which stood in an alcove in the shadow of the room. An irresistible attraction drew his gaze upon the form that rested there, and in its wan and pallid features he beheld his sister.

His sister—but oh! how changed! Her eyes surrounded by a deep blue, livid circle; her attenuated arm thrown carelessly over the coverlets; her cheek bones almost protruding from the fevered, parched-up skin; her heaving breath, which came in gasps at intervals, as if already struggling with grim death for mastery, told a bitter tale of long  and dreadful suffering.

Other members of the family were there, their eyes inflamed with weeping, their faces haggard with incessant watching by the sick girl’s couch. But worse than all, there sat at his sister’s head, so near that its mantle touched her cheek, the dark and repulsive figure he had seen before. Smiling, too—horribly, as if in hideous mockery of these sufferings.

It seemed as though the figure’s breath was oppressive to the dying girl, for when it moved away, as it did at times, she seemed relieved; and when it again returned, she shuddered as though with inward pain. The figure seemed to know this, and glory in its power; for as it witnessed each successive spasm it laughed a merry peal.

The youth strove to crush the figure in his strong embrace, but the spirit held him firmly in its clasp.

Softly! for they gather round the bed. A deep wail of long-pent-up grief fell upon the stillness of the chamber. In that unearthly wail spoke out the agony of a heart that saw its idol blighted with the curse of mortal error. Oh! awful trial! To see its fatal influence extending unto death, and know that beyond the grave no hope there is of change.

Softly! the lips of the dying girl move in faint responses to the solemn “Shemang;” the ghastly hue of death o’erspreads her features, and with a gentle shudder her soul has passed away into eternity.

But even unto the spirit’s dissolution the hideous figure kept its watch.

Again a murky darkness has enveloped all. Nought is visible save the spirit, glorious in its own refulgent light.

“Spirit of another world,” at length the youth sobbed out, “tell me that this is but a shadow of what may be only! Assure me that the immortal vision thou hast given me through this night may still exist, that I may use it for the rescue of those I love!”

“It resteth with thyself,” returned the spirit: “the figure I have shown thee as thy household god is Skepticism. In me thou beholdest Faith. If from what thou hast this night seen thy awakened virtue resisteth the evil counsels of sin and error, my essence will be always with thee.”

“Good spirit !” and the youth fell down upon the ground before it—“I am not what I was. I will place thy image in my heart, and Hope and Charity shall guard it well within. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh! tell me that the past may be a blank!”

“Let Hope and Faith be bright within thee, and the record of  the past shall be obscured.”

As the spirit ceased to speak, the youth awoke.

‘Twas morning! The glorious orb of day illumined with its rays the eastern sky. Winter had just put off her dreary mantle, and Spring, bright, happy, glorious Spring, was budding forth, cheering all nature with her radiant smiles.

The youth bounded from his couch, and on his knees poured out in prayer the fullness of his heart. Tears of deep contrition stole gently down his cheeks.

A newer spring-time of the heart had opened too within that chamber.

L. B.

New York, November, 1846.