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BY THE AUTHOR OF
99 66 MOLLY BAWN,"
FAITH AND UNFAITH.
"A heap of dust alone remains of thee:
'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be !"-POPE.
IN an upper chamber, through the closed blinds of which the sun is vainly striving to enter, Reginald Branscombe, fifth Earl of Sartoris, lies dead. The sheet is reverently drawn across the motionless limbs; the once restless, now quiet, face is hidden; all around is wrapt in solemn unutterable silence,the silence that belongs to death alone!
A sense of oppressive calm is upon everything,-a feeling of loneliness, vague and shadowy. The clock has ticked its last an hour ago, and now stands useless in its place. The world without moves on unheeding; the world within knows time no more! Death reigns triumphant! Life sinks into insignificance !
Once, a little flickering golden ray, born of the hot sun outside, flashes in through some unknown chink, and casts itself gleefully upon the fair white linen of the bed. It trembles vivaciously now here, now there, in uncontrollable joyousness, as though seeking in its gayety to mock the grandeur of the King of Terrors! At least so it seems to the sole watcher in the lonely chamber, as with an impatient sigh he raises his head, and, going over to the window, draws the curtains still closer to shut out the obnoxious light; after which he comes back to where he has been standing, gazing down upon, and thinking of, the dead.
He is an old man, tall and gaunt, with kind but passionate eyes, and a mouth expressive of impatience. His hands