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"He knew everything; he was in India as chaplain to the garrison at
“Humph! Well, I can decide upon nothing yet; I must go home and think the matter over."
“But will Mrs. Morton know of the confession I have made? Will she be told that I am a worthless woman?” asked poor Helen, timidly.
The Archdeacon looked even graver than before; and she, whose observation nothing escaped, saw the darkening cloud, and hastened to avert the danger.
“Oh, sir,” she exclaimed, while her hands were clasped in entreaty, “you do not know what
wife has been to me! It was the constant sight of her goodness and purity that first fully awakened me to a sense of my own guilt. The tongues of preachers had failed to rouse me; and the knowledge that the world would condemn me had vanished from my thoughts; but her charity did not and could not fail; and it was the light of hope that I might one day be more worthy of her friendship, that has led me to-day through the deep valley of humiliation. It is in your power to shut out that light from the future of my life, but it will remain a bright star in my memory for ever.”
“I am glad to think she was so useful,” said the Archdeacon, the wings of whose imagination were too heavy to rise on the light winds that were sufficient for the support of Helen's less ponderous pinions.
“And if you could but guess,” continued the grateful woman (who, now that the floodgates were opened, found it a welcome relief to pour forth her confidences in a torrent) — "if you could but imagine how lonely I have felt! how I have longed for some one to feel for me! Do not think me very wicked for having
sometimes thought of him — of Philip -- of my early love; and when I saw those darling little children, thoughts of a blessed home, and of a happiness which never could be mine, came over me, and almost broke my
"But you never spoke of those things to Mrs. Morton?”
“Never! How could you think it possible? How could you imagine concealment in one so true in all her dealings? How could you deem me capable of such an act? No; it is not from me that your pure wife shall learn what some men are, and what they make of women. But when you reveal to her how fallen is the creature she has honoured with her friendship, bid her remember that never has her hand been sullied by my touch, or the home of her children contaminated by my presence!”
The Archdeacon was now deeply moved. trasted the happiness of his own home with the desolation of that humbled fellow-being; and feeling how deep and how sincere was her contrition, he laid his hand upon her head, and pronounced her absolution.
“Poor girl! poor woman!” were his solemn words; “it is not for man to be more hard than the Almighty, who has said in his mercy that He would not 'break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax.' In his name, therefore, I say unto you, that 'your sins are forgiven, and that you may go in peace.
And Helen was not driven from the refuge to which, like a wounded bird blown o'er the deep, she had flown in search of rest. During three more (and they were not unhappy) years she remained a teacher; for the kindly support of the Archdeacon and his wife
never failed her. That the latter knew her secret she was made well aware of by many a gentle pressure of the hand, and by many a sympathising word thrown in in season.
The past, however, of the penitent woman's life was as a sealed book between her and the true-hearted Creole; but the latter noticed that her touch was no longer shrunk from, and that of all her many children, it was not on little Davie's cheeks alone that the grateful Helen pressed her warm and loving kisses.
“Virtutem primam esse puto compescere linguam:
It may be remembered by those readers who have taken an interest in the details of Helen's early career that she had still a brother, a boy who was yet a small child when she left her father's house. On the occasion of the Doctor's decease, his remaining children met together, and then the one who had so long been a stranger to them was received by that
brother kindly and lovingly; for he was hardly old enough to comprehend the full measure of the disgrace she had brought upon their house, and was moreover more drawn to the unreserved and warm-hearted sister, of whom he had seen and known so little, than to the matterof-fact and undemonstrative wife of the now prosperous attorney.
Roger Langton had been (what is called) articled to a merchant in Liverpool, and, as some of his brotherclerks, with the taste for original wit characteristic of their class, were wont chaffingly to remark,
"an uncommon nice article he was.” Unfortunately, the boy was able to obtain in the great commercial city some of that baneful thing called “credit;" and being (like his unhappy sister) but ill-provided with a store of good principles wherewith to enable him to resist the assaults of temptation, he speedily found himself advancing towards that “Slough of Despond” called Debt.
Some little time elapsed ere he was engulfed in the abyss; and just over his shoes and shivering in the mud of that dirty slime was the thoughtless boy, when looking round him for relief and succour, he penned his first request for money to his sister Helen. It was but the loan of a few pounds, but he blushed as he scribbled down the words; and after he had dispatched his letter, well nigh wished that it had not gone.
In due time the answer with its flimsy enclosure arrived; and in his delight at receiving it, Roger forgot his scruples and his regrets. On the next occasion, when creditors pressed him for the payment of their “small accounts,” he was more bold, for he was up to his knees in mire then, and could not afford to waste time in hesitation. The appeal that he made for assistance was an urgent one; the letter, too, was full of regrets and promises of amendment; but the amount of the sum required startled his sister.
She had no fears as regarded the providing for her own future necessities, nor was money in itself a thing of value to her: for that root of evil (which is said to be the deepest-growing and most noxious of all) had no place in the soil where so many dangerous weeds as well as precious flowers had grown and flourished. But she did shudder at the perils that lay so thickly in her young brother's path, knowing (for she had bought her experience wholesale) how strong is the force of habit, and how vain is the attempt to restrain the headlong pace,' when once the wild passions of youth have broken from the restraining curb. She trembled, too, for the results that follow from the lowering effect on the character of a long-borne burthen