112 THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
I write thereof, look in upon my heart, bright portraits—traced with a skill which no mortal pencil shall achieve—faces on which the earth hath long lain—and others from whom the wide spaces of the world have separated me, for many a weary year—and, heavier far ! some to whom unkindness hath made me, too long, a stranger.. There they rise, and stand, one by one, beneath the merry snare,—each with the heightened beauty on her cheek, which is the transient gift of the sacred bough!
Oh ! M------! how very fair is thine image in the eye of
memory! and how has thy going away changed all things for me ! The bright and the beautiful lie still about,—still bright and beautiful even to me,—but in another manner than when thou wert here! All things are tinged with thy loss. All fair things have a look, and all sweet sounds a tone, of mourning, since thou leftest me. How long it seems !—as if ages, instead of years, of the grave had grown between us !—as if, indeed, I had known thee in some former, and far removed, state of being ! I do not love to think of thee as dead— I strive to think of thee rather as of one whom I have left behind, in the quiet valley of our youth and our love—from whom I have wandered forth, and lost my way amid the mazes of the world. But where is the clue that should lead me back to thee ? There may have been fairer (sweeter never!) things than thou in this fair world ; but my heart could never be made to believe, or understand it. Had I known thee only in that world, I might not so have marked thy beauty :—but thou wert with me, when the world left me. In the flood of the sunshine, when a thousand birds are about us, we go upon our way, with a sense that there is melody around,—but singling, perhaps, no one note, to take home to the heart, and make a worship of. But the one bird that sings to us, in the dim and silent night,—oh ! none, but they on whom the night has fallen, can know how dear its song becomes ; filling with its music all the deserted mansions of the lonely soul ! But the bird is dead—the song is hushed—and the houses of my spirit are empty, and silent, and desolate !
And thou !— whom the grave hath not hidden, nor far distance removed ! from whom 1 parted, as if it were but yesterday ; and yet, of whom I have already learned to think, as of one separated