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When Fanny recovered from the heavy swoon she had fallen into, she was seized with violent chills, which were followed by a high fever, and before the physician who was sent for arrived, her mind began to wander, and she had all the symptoms of a severe and dangerous illness.

A deeper gloom hung upon the heart of Mr. Roberts, on the day of his father's funeral, than that which even the most affectionate son feels when he is called upon to consign to the grave the remains of the being, who has been the author of his earthly existence, the patient, the watchful, the ever-forgiving and loving guardian of his childish and youthful days, the priceless companion and friend of his maturer life. Deep and heartfelt as is this sorrow, it is in the order of nature; and the aching heart readily acknowledges the duty of acquiescence. So felt this faithful and affectionate son. He had a far deeper sorrow to endure; he feared that the being whom he had taken to his heart, with the hope and belief that she would take the place of all other earthly affections to him, that she would be the heart of his heart and the life of his life, the joy of all his joys, would be taken from him in the sweet morning and blossoming time of her existence. But had she redeemed the pledge and promise of the beautiful sunny hours of her early days? Had she been faithful to the spirit of her promise of devoted love? Had he! Had he faithfully cherished the heart that had committed itself so trustfully, so fondly to his care?

These last questions came to Roberts' mind with a terrible energy.

“But,” he said to himself, “ she does not love me as I hoped, as I desired to be loved ; she would be happier without me. It is sad, O, terribly sad, to see such a being, so formed for enjoyment, so young, with the cup of happiness before her but just tasted, to see her snatched away so suddenly, to see all her young hopes blighted. I hoped that I alone should be sacrificed; I hoped that when relieved from my presence she might be happy ; but it is I that have killed her.”

Such were the agonizing thoughts that passed and repassed through the mind of the miserable man, as he performed the last duties to his departed parent. When he returned from the dwelling-place of the dead to his own house, a more fearful coldness than he had there felt came upon him as he heard the answer to his inquiry about his wife, from the doctor whom he met at the door. “She is no better ; she is still delirious ; I think her case a very alarming one.'

“O that I could die to save her!” exclaimed Roberts, as he sat down at his lonely fireside. 236

SKETCHES OF MARRIED LIFE.

“O that by any suffering, or sacrifice, I might restore her to life!"

" Let us ask our Father in heaven to make mother well,” said Willy, who had crept into the room, and climbed his father's knees, and put his arms round his neck.

“Let us beg him very hard, dear father, and I am sure he will."

His father folded his boy in his arms, and wept with him; and his soul seemed refreshed and strengthened with hope, as he pressed the little fellow to his aching heart.

CHAPTER XVIII.

“ How is't
That in affliction only we can see
The hand of God, leading the good to good,
And ministering, by man himself, to man?”

HERMAN AND DOROTHEA.

The effort that Fanny had made to surrender up her boy to the care of his father, had accelerated the disease which had been for some time preying upon her nervous system. During her delirium, she was continually repeating her directions to his father about the care of Willy. “Don't," she would cry out, “ let any one frighten my little boy. Willy is a brave boy

When he is sick, he will cry for his mother; then don't be angry with him, but hush him gently ; put your arms around him softly, so; and sing to him very sweetly, so.Then she would sing such wild and plaintive notes, that the heart of poor Roberts was like to break. Sometimes she would exclaim, “ Now I have saved my boy. Now he will be always with his father. Now my husband will pity me.

now.

97

care.

ens.

Now God will forgive me, and take me to his

Have I not bound and laid upon his altar my first-born — my only son ?

Will no angel provide me with a burnt-offering, to take the place of my heart's treasure ? Yet I have not withheld my son

– my only son. Will not God pity me now, and let me die ? Be very still, that I may hear the angel call to me out of the heav

He tells me that God has accepted my sacrifice. Yes ; his father promised to take him. I have saved my son. Don't let Willy say goodby to me; I can't hear good-by from Willy ; but let him hug me close, closer, oh ! closer still, till he stops this pain in my heart.- One of these days, when it will not make him cry to hear her name, tell him pretty stories about his mother, and sing him the little songs she wrote for him ; tell him, once she was merry, so merry, more merry than wise.

You need not tell him how much she loved him; he never will forget it. Willy knows his mother loves him. But his father does not know so well as his boy does about his Fanny; and he is a grown-up man, and my Willy is a little child, and yet he knows more than his father. 0, Willy, Willy, must I let you go ? must I sacrifice this Isaac of my soul ? "

Such heart-rending expressions as these was Roberts doomed to hear, from his suffering wife,

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