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remained locked in hers. On this, her tears would sometimes fall, but
these she strove to restrain.

To the others around her, she spoke gratefully, and with feminine
softness; but her whole heart seemed to be with George.

Doctor Pormont, to do him justice, was unremitting in his exertions, and
hardly took rest.

All his professional skill was called to her aid; but from the second day,
he saw it was in vain.

The strength of the invalid failed her more and more.

Doctor Pormont at length called Sir Henry on one side, and informed him
that he entertained no doubt of a fatal result; and recommended his at
once procuring such religious consolation as might be in his power.

No Protestant clergyman was near at hand, even had Delmé thought it
adviseable to procure one.

But he was well aware, that however Acme might have sympathised with
George, her earlier religious impressions would now in all probability
be revived.

A Catholic priest was sent for, and arrived quickly. He was habited in
the brown garb of his order, his waist girt with a knotted cord. He bore
in his hand the sainted pyx, and commenced to shrive the dying girl.

It was the soft hour of sunset, and the prospect in rear of the mansion,
presented a wide sea of rich coloured splendour.

Over the window, had been placed a sheet, in order to exclude the light
from the invalid's chamber. The priest knelt by her bedside; and folding
his hands together, began to pray.

The rays of the setting sun, fitfully flickered on the sheet, over whose
surface, light shadows swiftly played, ever and anon glancing on the shorn
head of the kneeling friar.

His intelligent face was expressive of firm belief.

His eye turned reverentially to heaven, as in deep and sonorous accents,
he implored forgiveness for the sufferer, for the sins committed during
her mortal coil.

Acmé sat up in her bed. On her countenance, calm devotion seemed to usurp
the place of earthly affections, and earthly passions.

The soul was preparing for its upward flight. Delmé led away the sorrowing
husband, and the minister of Christ was left alone, to hear the contrite
outpourings of a weak departing sinner.

The priest left the chamber, but spoke not, either to the physician, or
the expecting brothers. His impassioned glance belonged to another and a
higher world.

He made one low obeisance - his robes swept the passage quickly - and the
Franciscan friar sought his lonely cell to reflect on death.

The brothers re-entered. They found Acmé in the attitude in which they had
left her - her features wearing an expression at once radiant and resigned.

But - as her eye met George's - as she saw the havoc grief had already
made - the feelings of the woman resumed the mastery.

She extended her arms - she brought his lip to hers - as if she would have
made _that_ its resting place for ever.

Alas! an inward pang told her to be brief. She drew away her face,
crimsoned with her passion's flush - tremblingly grasped his hand - -and,
with voice choked by emotion, gave her last farewell.

"Giorgio, my dearest! my own! I shall soon join my parents. I feel
this - and my mother's words, as she met me by the olive tree, ring
in my ear.

"She told me I should die thus; but she told me, too, that I should kill
the one dearest to me on earth. Thank God! this cannot be - for I know my
life to be ebbing fast.

"Dearest I do not mourn for me too much. You may find another Acmé - as
true. But, oh! sometimes - yes! even when your hearts cling fondly
together, as ours were wont to do - think of your own Acmé - who loved you
first - and only - and does it now! oh! how well! Giorgio! dear! dearest!
adieu! My feet are _so, so_ cold - and ice seems" -

A change shadowed the face, as from some corporeal pang.

She tried to raise an ebony cross hung round her neck.

In the effort, her features became convulsed - and George heard a low
gurgling in the throat, as from suffocation.

Ah! that awful precursor of "the first dark hour of nothingness."

George Delmé sprang to his feet, and was supporting her head, when the
physician grasped his arm.

"Stop! stop! you are preventing" - -

The lower lip quivered - and drooped - slightly! very slightly!

The head fell back.

One long deep drawn sigh shook the exhausted frame.

The face seemed to become fixed.

Doctor Pormont extended his hand, and silently closed those dark
fringed lids.

The cold finger, with its harsh touch, once more brought consciousness.

Once more the lid trembled! there was an upward glance that looked

Another short sigh! Another!

Lustreless and glaring was that once bright eye!

Again the physician extended his hand.

"Assuredly, gentlemen! vitality hath departed!"

A deep - solemn - awful silence - which not a breath disturbed - came over
that chamber of death.

It seemed as if the insects had ceased their hum - that twilight had
suddenly turned to night - that an odour, as of clay, was floating around
them, and impregnating the very atmosphere.

George took the guitar, whose chords were never more to be woke to harmony
by that loved hand, and dashed it to the ground.

Ere Delmé could clasp him, he had staggered to the bedside - and fallen
over Acmé's still form.

And did her frame thrill with rapture? did she bound to his caress? did
her lip falter from her grateful emotion? - did she bury his cheek in her
raven tresses?

No, no! still - still - still were all these! still as death!

Chapter IV.


"Woe unto us, not her; for she sleeps well."

* * * * *

"The Niobe of nations! there she stands,
Childless and crownless, in her voiceless woe;
An empty urn within her wither'd hands,
Whose holy dust was scatter'd long ago.
The Scipios' tomb contains no ashes now;
The very sepulchres lie tenantless
Of their heroic dwellers; dost thou flow,
Old Tiber! through a marble wilderness?
Rise, with thy yellow waves, and mantle her distress."

Undertakers! not one word shall henceforth pass our lips in your

An useful and meritorious tribe are you!

What! though sleek and rosy cheeked, you seem to have little in common
with the wreck of our hopes?

What! if our ears be shocked by profane jests on the weight of your
burden, as you bear away from the accustomed mansion, what _was_ its
light and its load star - but what _is_ - pent up in your dark, narrow
tenement, but -

"A heap,
To make men tremble, that never weep."

What! if our swimming eye - as we follow those dear - dear remains to their
last lone resting place - glance on the heartless myrmidons, who salute the
passer by with nods of recognition, and smiles of indifference?

What! if, returning homewards - choked with bitter recollections, which
rise fantastic, quick, and ill-defined - the very ghosts of departed
scenes and years - what if we start as we then perceive you - lightsome of
heart, and glib of speech - clustered and smirking, on that roof of
nodding plumes - neath which, one short hour since - lay what was dearest
to us on earth?

Let us not heed these things! for - light as is the task to traders in
death's dark trappings; painful and soul-subduing are those withering
details to the grieving and heart-struck mourner!

We left George lying half insensible by the side of his dead wife.

Sir Henry and Thompson carried him to the apartment of the former, and
while Thompson hung over his master, attempting to restore
consciousness - Delmé had a short conference with Doctor Pormont as to
their ulterior proceedings.

Doctor Pormont - as might be expected - enjoined the greatest promptitude,
and recommended that poor Acmé's remains, should be consigned to the
burial place of the hamlet.

George's objections to this, however, as soon as he was well enough to
comprehend what was going forward, seemed quite insurmountable; and after
Sir Henry had sought the place by moonlight, and found it wild and open,
with goats browsing on the unpicturesque graves, and with nothing to mark
the sanctity of the spot, save a glaring painted picture of the Virgin,
his own prejudices became enlisted, and he consented to proceed to Rome.

After this decision was made, he found it utterly impossible, to procure
a separate conveyance for the corpse; and was equally unsuccessful in his
attempt to procure that - which from being a common want, he had been
disposed to consider of every day attainment - a coffin.

While his brother made what arrangements he best might, poor George
returned to the chamber of death, and gazed long and fixedly - with the
despair of the widower - on those hushed familiar features.

Her hair was now turned back, and was bound with white ribbon, and
festooned with some of the very water lilies that Acmé had admired. A
snow-white wreath bound her brow. It was formed of the white convolvulus.
We have said the features were familiar; but oh! how different! The yellow
waxen hue - the heavy stiffened lid - how they affected George Delmé, who
had never looked on death before!

First he would gaze with stupid awe - then turn to the window, and attempt
to repress his sobs - return again - and refuse to credit his bereavement.
Surely the hand moved? No! of its free will shall it never move more! The
eye! was there not a slight convulsion in that long dark lash?

No! over it may crawl the busy fly, and creep the destructive worm,
without let, and without hindrance!

No finger shall be raised in its behalf - that lid shall remain closed
and passive!

The insect and the reptile shall extend their wanderings over the
smooth cheek, and revel on the lips, whose red once rivalled that of
the Indian shell.

Moveless! moveless shall all be!

The long - long night wore on.

An Italian sunrise was gilding the heavens.

Acmé was never to see a sunrise more; and even this reflection - trite as
it may seem, occurring to one, who had watched through the night, by the
side of the dead - even this reflection, convulsed again the haggard
features of the mourner.

Delmé had made the requisite arrangements during the night, for their
early departure.

Just previous to the carriage being announced, he led George out of the
room; whilst the physician, aided by the women, took such precautions as
the heat of the climate rendered necessary.

Linen cloths, steeped in a solution of chlorate of lime, were closely
wound round the body - a rude couch was placed in the inside of the
carriage, which was supported by the two seats - and the carriage itself
was darkened.

These preparations concluded - and having parted with Doctor
Pormont - -whose attentions, in spite of his freezing manner, had been very
great - the brothers commenced their painful task.

George knelt at the head of the corpse - ejaculated one short fervent
prayer - and then, assisted by his brother, bore it in his arms to
the vehicle.

The Italian peasants, with rare delicacy, witnessed the scene from the
windows of the inn, but did not intrude their presence.

The body was placed crosswise in the carriage. George sat next the
corpse. Delmé sat opposite, regarding his brother with anxious eye.

Most distressing was that silent journey! It made an impression on Sir
Henry's mind, that no after events could ever efface; and yet it had
already been his lot, to witness many scenes of horror, and ride over
fields of blood.

We have said it was a silent journey. George's despair was too deep
for words.

The first motion of the carriage affected the position of the corpse.
George put one arm round it, and kept it immoveable. Sometimes, his
scalding tears would fall on that cold face, whose outline yet preserved
its beautiful roundness.

It appeared to Sir Henry, that he had never seen life and death, so
closely and painfully contrasted. There sat his brother, in the full
energies of manhood and despair; his features convulsed - his frame
quivering - his sobs frequent - his pulse quick and disturbed.

There lay extended his mistress - cold - colourless - silent - unimpassioned.
There was life in the breeze that played on her raven tresses - grim death
was enthroned on the face those tresses swept.

Not that decay's finger had yet really assailed it; but one of the
peculiar properties of the preservative used by Doctor Pormont, is its
pervading sepulchral odour.

They reached Rome; and the consummation of their task drew nigh.

Pass we over the husband's last earthly farewell. Pass we over that
subduing scene, in which Henry assisted George to sever long ringlets, and
rob the cold finger, of affection's dearest pledge.

Alas! these might be retained as the legacy of love.

They were useless as love's memento. Memory, the faithful mirror, forbade
the relic gatherer ever to forget!

Would you know where Acmé reposes?

A beautiful burial ground looks towards Rome. It is on a gentle declivity
leaning to the south-east, and situated between Mount Aventine and the
Monte Testaccio.

Its avenue is lined with high bushes of marsh roses; and the cemetery
itself, is divided into three rude and impressive terraces.

_There_ sleeps - in a modest nook, surmounted by the wall-flower, and by
creeping ivy, and by many-coloured shrubs, and by one simple yellow
flower, of very peculiar and rare fragrance; a type, as the author of
these pages deemed, of the wonderful etherialised genius of the
man - _there_ sleeps, as posterity will judge him, the first of the poets
of the age we live in - Percy Bysshe Shelley! There too, moulders that
wonderful boy author - John Keats.

Who can pass his grave, and read that bitter inscription, dictated on his
deathbed, by the heart-broken enthusiast, without the liveliest emotion?

"Here lies one, whose name was writ in water.
February 4th, 1821."

The ancient wall of Rome, crowns the ridge of the slope we have described.
Above it, stands the pyramid of Caius Cæstius, constructed some twenty
centuries since.

Immediately beneath it, in a line with a round tower buried with ivy, and
near the vault of our beautiful countrywoman, Miss Bathurst, who was
thrown from her horse and drowned in the Tiber, may be seen a sarcophagus
of rough granite, surmounted by a black marble slab.

Luxuriant with wild flowers, and studded even in the winter season, with
daisies and violets, the sides of the tomb are now almost concealed. Over
the slab, one rose tree gracefully droops.

When seen in the dew of the morning, when the cups of the roses are full,
and crystal drops, distilling from leaves and flowers, are slowly
trickling on the dark stone, you might think that inanimate nature was
weeping for the doom of beauty.

Only one word is engraved on that slab. Should you visit Rome, and read
it, recollect this story.

That word is - "Acmé!"

* * * * *

Sir Henry and his brother remained at Rome nearly a month.

The former, with hopes that the exertion might be useful, in distracting
George from the constant contemplation of his loss, plunged at once into
the sight-seeing of "the eternal city."

Their days were busily passed - in visiting the classic sites of Rome and
its neighbourhood - in wandering through the churches and convents - and
loitering through the long galleries of the Vatican.

Delmé, fearfully looking back on the scenes that had occurred in Malta,
was apprehensive, that George's despair might lead to some violent
outbreak of feeling; and that mind and body might sink simultaneously.

It was not so.

That heavy infliction appeared to bear with it a torpedo-like power. The
first blow, abrupt and stunning, had paralysed. Afterwards, it seemed to
carry with it a benumbing faculty, which repressed external display. We
say _seemed_; for there were not wanting indications, even to Sir Henry's
partial eye, that the wound had sunk very deep,

The mourner _might_ sink, although he did not writhe.

In the mornings, George, followed by Thompson, would find his way to
the Protestant burial ground; and weep over the spot where his wife
lay interred.

During the day, he was Sir Henry's constant and gentle companion; giving
vent to no passionate display, and uttering few unavailing complaints. Yet
it was now, that a symptom of disease first showed itself, which Delmé
could not account for.

George would suddenly lean back, and complain of a spasm on the left side
of the chest. This would occasionally, but rarely, affect the circulation.
George's sleep too, was disturbed, and he frequently had to rise from his
bed, and pace the apartment; but this last circumstance, perhaps, was the
mere result of anxiety of mind.

Sir Henry, without informing George, consulted a medical gentleman, who
was well known to him, and who happened to be at Rome at the time,
regarding these novel symptoms.

He was reassured by being informed, that these pains were probably of a
neuralgic character, and not at all likely to proceed from any organic

George Delmé's mind was perfectly clear and collected; with the
exception, that he would occasionally allude to his loss, in connection
with some scene or subject of interest before them; and in a tone, and
with language, that, appeared to his brother eccentric, but
inexpressibly touching.

For instance, they were at Tivoli, and in the Syren's grotto, looking up
to the foaming fall, which dashes down a rude cleft, formed of
fantastically shaped rocks.

Immediately below this, the waters make a semicircular bend.

On their surface, a mimic rainbow was depicted in vivid colours.

"Not for me!" burst forth the mourner, "not for me! does the arc of
promise wear those radiant hues. Prismatic rays once gilded my existence.
With Acmé they are for ever fled. But look! how the stream dashes on! Thus
have the waters of bitterness passed over my soul!"

In the gallery of the Vatican, too, the very statues seemed to speak to
him of his loss.

"I like not," would he exclaim, "that disdainful Apollo. Thus cold,
callous, and triumphing in the work of destruction, must be the angel of
death, who winged the shaft at my bright Acmé.

"May the launching of his arrow, have been but the signal, for her
translation to a sphere, more pure than this.

"Let us believe her the habitant of some bright planet, such as she
pointed out to us in the Bay of Naples - a seraph with a golden lyre - and
shrouded in a white cymar! No, no!" would he continue, turning his
footsteps towards the adjacent room, where the suffering pangs of
Apollo's high priest are painfully told in marble, "let let me rather
contemplate the Laocoon! His agony seems to sympathise with mine - but was
his fate as hard? _He_ saw his sons dying before him; could a son, or
sons, be as the wife of one's bosom? The serpent twines around him, too,
awaking exquisite corporeal pangs, but would it not have been luxury to
have died with my Acmé?

"Can the body suffer as the mind?"

At night, reposing from the fatigues of the day, might the brothers
frequently be seen at the fountain of Trevi; George listlessly swinging
on the chains near it, and steadfastly watching the water, as it gurgled
over the fantastic devices beneath - while his mind wandered back to
Malta, and to Acmé.

Sir Henry's conduct during this trying period was most exemplary. Like the
mother, who lavishes her tenderest endearments on her sickliest child,
did he now endeavour to support his brother in his afflictions.

As the bleak night wind came on, he would arouse George from his
reverie - would make him lean his tall form on his - would wrap closely
the folds of his cloak around him - would speak _so_ softly - and soothe
_so_ tenderly.

And gratefully did George's heart respond to his kindness. He knew that
the sorrow which bowed _him_ to the earth, was also blanching the cheek of
his brother, and he loved him doubly for his solicitude.

Ah! few brothers have thus made sweet the fraternal tie!

Chapter V.

The East Indian.

"Would I not stem
A tide of suffering, rather than forego
Such feelings for the hard and worldly phlegm
Of those whose thoughts are only turn'd below,
Gazing upon the ground, with thoughts that dare not glow?"

From Rome and our care-worn travellers, let us turn to Mrs. Vernon's
drawing-room at Leamington.

An unforeseen event suddenly made a considerable change in the hopes and
prospects of our fair friend Julia.

One warm summer's morning - it was on the very day, that the brothers, with
Acmé, were sailing close to the Calabrian mountains, and the latter was
telling her ghost story, within view of the sweet village of Capo del
Marte - one balmy summer's morning, the Miss Vernons were seated in a room,
furnished like most English drawing-rooms; that is to say, it had tables
for trinkets - a superb mirror - a Broadwood piano - an Erard harp - a
reclining sofa - and a woolly rug, on which slept, dreamt, and snored, a
small Blenheim spaniel.

Julia had a mahogany frame before her, and was thoughtfully working a
beaded purse.

The hue of health had left her cheek. Its complexion was akin to that of
translucent alabaster. The features wore a more fixed and regular aspect,
and their play was less buoyant and quick changing than heretofore.

Deep thought! thus has been thy warfare for ever. First, thou stealest
from the rotund face its joyous dimples; then, dost thou gradually imprint
remorseless furrows on the anxious brow.

A servant entered the room, and bore on a salver a letter addressed to
Miss Vernon.

Its deep black binding - its large coat of arms - bespoke it death's
official messenger.

Julia's cheek blanched as she glanced over its first page.

Her sisters laid down their work, and looked towards her with some

Julia burst into tears.

"Poor uncle Vernon!"

Her sisters seemed surprised at the announcement, but not to participate
in Julia's feelings on the occasion.

One of them took up the letter, which had fallen to the ground, and the
two read its contents.

"How very odd!" said they together, "uncle has left you Hornby, and
Catesfield, and almost all the property!"

"Has he?" replied Julia, "I could not read it all, for however he may
have behaved to mamma, I ever found him good and kind; and had always
hoped, that we might have yet seen him with us once more. Poor old man!
and the letter says a lingering illness - how sad to think that we were
not with him to soothe his pillow, and cheer his death bed!"

"Well!" said one of the sisters reddening, "I must say it was his own
fault. He would not live with his nearest relations, who loved him, and
tried to make his a happy home - but showed his caprice _then_, as he has
_now_. But I will go up stairs, and break it to mamma, and will tell her
you are an heiress."

"An heiress!" replied Julia, with heart-broken tone! "an heiress!" The
tear quivered in her eye; but before the moisture had formed its liquid
bead, to course down her pallid cheek; a thought flashed across her, which
had almost the power to recal it to its cell.

That thought comprised the fervency and timidity - the hopes and fears of
woman's first love. She thought of her last meeting with Sir Henry Delmé:
of the objections which might now be removed.

A new vista of happiness seemed to open before her.

It was but for a moment.

The blush which that thought called up, faded away - the tear trickled
on - her features recovered their serenity - and she turned with a sweet
smile to her sisters.

"My dear - dear sisters! it is long since we have seen my poor uncle.

"Affection's ties may have been somewhat loosened. They cannot - I am
sure - have been dissolved.

"Do not think me selfish enough to retain this generous bequest.

"It may yet be in my power, and it no doubt is, to amend its too partial

"Let us be sisters still - sisters in equality - sisters in love and

Julia Vernon was a very noble girl. She lived to become of age, and she
acted up to this her resolve.

And, now, a few words as to the individual, by whose death the Miss
Vernons acquired such an accession of property.

The Miss Vernons' father had an only and a younger brother, who at an
early age had embarked for the East, in the civil service. He had
acquired great wealth, and, after a residence of twenty-five years in the
Bengal Presidency, had returned to England a confirmed bachelor, and a
wealthy nabob. His brother died, while Mr. Benjamin Vernon was on his
passage home. He arrived in England, and found himself a stranger in his
native land.

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