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Before this, he has gone through all the transmigrations of
4 Indur,' and the final metempsychosis, gave him to the world a
Celestial. Yes, child, a Celestial. I fancy him at this instant;
with two long plaits of hair trailing behind him, as, with all the
sublime complacency of Celestials, he stalks majestically along,
picking tea leaves. Confound your guardian. Mention his
name to me again, at the peril of having your board raised."

" George, what is the matter with you V asked his wife,
smiling, as she handed him the lemonade he had desired.

" This prating young woman is, as usual, trying to discourse
of — Alice, this is just right. Thank you, my dear." He
drained the glass, and handed it back. Beulah stood, so that
the light shone full on her face. He looked at her a moment,
and exclaimed :

" Come here, child. What ails you ? Why, bless my soul,
Beulah, what is the matter ? I never saw the blood in your
face before ; and your great solemn eyes seem to be dancing a
jig. What ails you, child ?" He grasped her hands eagerly.

" Nothing ails me ; I am well "

41 1 know better 1 Has Charon gone mad and bit you ? Ohol
by all the dead gods of Greece, Guy has come home. 'Where ii
he ? Where is he V 9



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BEULAH. 505

He sprang up, nearly knocking his wife down, and looked
around the room. Dr. Hartwell emerged from the music-room
and advanced to meet him.

" Oh, Guy ! You heathen I you Philistine ! you prodigal V*
He bounded over a chair, and locked his arms round the tall
form, while his grey head dropped on his friend's shoulder.
Beulah stole out quickly, and in the solitude of her own room,
fell on her knees, and returned thanks to the God who hears and
answers prayer.



CHAPTER XLI.

It was a sparkling August morning — one of those rare days,
when all nature seems jubilant. The waters of the bay glit-
tered like a sheet of molten silver ; the soft southern breeze
sang through the tree-tops, and the cloudless sky wore that
deep shade of pure blue, which is nowhere so beautiful as in our
sunny South. Clad in a dress of spotless white, with her luxu-
riant hair braided, and twined with white flowers, Beulah stood
beside her wiudow, looking out into the street below. Her
hands were clasped tightly over her heart, and on one slender
linger blazed a costly diamond, the seal of her betrothal. She
was very pale ; now and then her lips quivered, and her lashes
were wet with tears. Yet this was her marriage day. She had
just risen from her knees, and her countenance told of a
troubled heart. She loved her guardiau above everything else;
knew that, separated from him, life would be a dreary blank to
her ; yet, much as she loved him, she could not divest herself of
a species of fear, of dread. The thought of being his wife
filled her with vague apprehension. He had hastened the mar-
riage ; the old place had been thoroughly repaired and rcfnr

22



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606 BfiULAH.

nfched, and this morning she would go home a wife. She
clasped her hands over her eyes ; the future looked fearful.
She knew the passionate, exacting nature of the man with
whose destiny she was about to link her own, and she shrank
back, as the image of Oreola rose before her. The door opened,
and Mrs. Asbury entered, accompanied by Dr. Hartwell. The
orphan looked up, and leaned heavily against the window. Mrs.
Asbury broke the silence.

"They are waiting for you, my dear. The minister came
, some moments ago. The clock has struck ten."

She hauded her a pair of gloves from the table, and stood in
the door, waiting for her. Beulah drew them on, and then, with
a long breath, glanced at Dr. Hartwell. He looked restless, and
she thought sterner, than she had seen him since his return.
He was very pale and his lips were compressed firmly.

"You look frightened, Beulah. You tremble," said he,
drawing her arm through his, and fixing his eyes searchingly on
her face.

44 Yes. Ob, yes. I believe I am frightened," she answered,
with a constrained smile.

She saw his brow darken, and his cheek flush, but he said no
more, and led her down to the parlor, where the members of tho
family were assembled. Claudia and Eugene were also present.
The minister met them in the centre of the room ; and there, in
the solemn hush, a few questions were answered, a plain band
of gold encircled her finger, and the deep tones of the clergy-
man pronounced her Guy HartwelPs wife. Eugene took her
in his arms and kissed her tenderly, whispering :

41 God bless you, dear sister and friend 1 I sincerely hope that
your married life will prove happier than mine."

Their congratulations wearied her, and she was glad when the
carriage came to bear her away. Bidding adieu to her friends,
she was handed into the carriage, and Dr. Hartwell took the
seat beside her. The ride was short ^ neither spoke, and when
the door was opened, and she entered the well- remembered



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BEULAH. 507

house, she would gladly have retreated to the greenhouse, and
sought solitude to collect her thoughts ; but a hand caught hers,
aud she soon found herself seated on a sofa in the study. She
felt that a pair of eyes were riveted on her face, and suddenly
the blood surged into her white cheeks. Her hand lay clasped
in his, and her head drooped lower, to avoid his searching gaze.

" Oh, Beulah ! my wife I why are you afraid of me?"

The low, musical tones caused her heart to thrill strangely ;
she made a great effort, and lifted her head. She saw the
expression of sorrow that clouded his face ; saw his white brow
wrinkle ; and as her eyes fell on the silver threads scattered
through his brown hair, there came an instant revolution of feel-
ing ; fear vanished ; love reigned supreme. She threw her arms
up about his neck, and exclaimed :

" I am not afraid of you now. May God bless my guardian !
my husband V

Reader, marriage is not the end of life; it is but the beginning
of a new course of duties ; but I cannot now follow Beulah.
Henceforth, her history is bound up with another's. To save her
husband from his unbelief, is the labor of future years. She
had learned to suffer, and to bear patiently ; and though her
path looks sunny, and her heart throbs with happy hopes, this
one shadow lurks over her home and dims her joys. Weeks and
months glided swiftly on. Dr. HartwelPs face lost its stern rigi-
dity, and his smile became constantly genial. His wife was hia
idol ; day by day, his love for her seemed more completely to
revolutionize his nature. His cynicism melted insensibly away ;
his lips forgot their iron compression ; now and then, his long-
forgotten laugh rang through the house. Beulah was conscious
of the power she wielded, and trembled lest she failed to employ
it properly. One Sabbath afternoon, she sat in her room, with
her cheek on her hand, absorbed in earnest thought. Her little
Bible lay on her lap, and she was pondering the text she had
heard that morning. Charon came and nestled his huge head
against her. Presently she heard the quick tramp of hoofs and



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608 BEULAH.

whir of wheels ; and soon after, her husband entered and sat
down beside her.

" What are you thinking of V said he, passing his hand over
ber head, carelessly.

" Thinking of my life — of the bygone years of struggle."

" They are past, and can trouble you no more. ' Let the dead
past bury its dead V "

" No, my past can never die. I ponder it often, and it docs
mc good ; strengthens me, by keeping me humble. I was just
thinking of the dreary, desolate days and nights I passed, search-
ing for a true philosophy, and going further astray with every
effort. I was so proud of my intellect ; put so much faith in my
own powers ; it was no wonder I was so benighted."

" Where is your old worship of genius ?" asked her husband,
watching her curiously.

" I have not lost it all. I hope I never shall. Human genius
nas accomplished a vast deal for man's temporal existence. The
physical sciences have been wheeled forward in the march of
mind, and man's earthly path gemmed with all that a merely
sensual nature could desire. Bnt looking aside from these chan-
nels, what has it effected for philosophy, that great burdeu,
which constantly recalls the fabled labors of Sisyphus and the
Danaides ? Since the rising of Bethlehem's star, in the cloudy
sky of polytheism, what has human genius discovered of God,
eternity, destiny? Metaphysicians build gorgeous cloud pa-
laces^ but the soul cannot dwell in their cold, misty atmosphere.
Antiquarians wrangle and write ; Egypt's moldering monuments
are raked from their desert graves, and made the theme of scien-
tific debate ; but has all this learned disputation contributed one
iota to clear the thorny way of strict morality ? Put the Bible
out of sight, and how much will human intellect discover con-
cerning our origin — our ultimate destiny ? In the morning of
time, sages handled these vital questions, and died, not one step
nearer the truth tjiau when they began. Now, our philosophers
struggle, earnestly and honestly, to make plain the same inscruta-



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EEULAH. 509

61c mysteries. Yes, blot out the records of Moses, and we would
grope in starless night ; for notwithstanding the many priceless
blessings it has discovered for man, the torch of science will never
pierce and illumine the recesses over which Almighty God has
hung his veil. Here we see, indeed, as ' through a glass,
darkly.' Yet I believe the day is already dawning, when scien-
tific data will not only cease to be antagonistic to scriptuml
accounts, but will deepen the impress of Divinity on the pages
of holy writ ; when ' the torch shall be taken out of the hand of
the infidel, and set to burn in the temple of the living God :'
when Science and Eeligion shall link hands. I revere the lonely
thinkers to whom the world is indebted for its great inventions.
I honor the tireless laborers who toil in laboratories ; who sweep
midnight skies, in search of new worlds ; who upheave primeval
rocks, hunting for footsteps of Deity ; and I believe that every
scientific fact will ultimately prove but another lamp, planted
along the path which leads to a knowledge of Jehovah ! Ah I
it is indeed peculiarly the duty of Christians, Ho watch, witli
reverence and joy, the unveiling of the august brow of Nature,
by the hand of Science ; and to be ready to call mankind to a
worship ever new V Human thought subserves many useful,
nay, noble ends ; the Creator gave it, as a powerful instrument,
to improve man's temporal condition ; but oh, sir, I speak of
what I know, when I say : alas, for that soul who forsakes the
divine ark, and embarks on the gilded toys of man's invention,
hoping to breast the billows of life, and be anchored safely in the
Harbor of eternal rest ! The heathens, ' having no law, are a
law unto themselves ;' but for such as deliberately reject the
given light, only bitter darkness remains. I know it ; for I, too,
once groped, wailing for help."

" Your religion is full of mystery," said her husband, gravely.

" Yes, of divine mystery. Truly, ' a God comprehended is no
God at all 1' Christianity is clear, as to rules of life and duty.
There is no mystery left about the directions to man ; yet there
is a divine mystery infolding it, which tells of its divine origin,



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510 BBTJLAH.

and promises a fuller revelation when man is fitted to receive it.
If it were not so, we would call it man's invention. You turn
from Revelation, because it contains some things you cannot com-
prehend ; yet you plunge into a deeper darker mystery, when
you embrace the theory of an eternal, self-existing universe, hav-
ing no intelligent creator, yet constantly creating intelligent
beings. Sir, can you understand how matter creates mind ?"

She had laid her Bible on his knee ; her folded hands rested
upon it, and her grey eyes, clear and earnest, looked up reve-
rently into her husband's noble face. His soft hand wandered
over her head, and he seemed pondering her words.

May God aid the wife in her holy work of love



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Online LibraryAugusta Jane EvansBeulah → online text (page 41 of 42)