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THE ONLY SON.

THE STRANGE CLAIMANT; OR,…

A LESSON FOR ALL.

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A LESSON FOR ALL. --+- BISHOP HALL said, for every bad there might be a irorse, and when a man breaks his leg let him be jhankfui it is not his neck." Into what insignificance i misfortune we bewailed as unendurable suddenly links when compared with the crushing calamity ;hat desolates the home of a friend The hill-fire, rhose far-shining signal light warns an army of the approach of a foe, fades into a mere rush candle when :ontrasted with the angry jets of liquid flame leaping Irom the heart of Vesuvius, and threatening incal- mlable destruction. Beauty is heightened or eclipsed —size magnified or diminished—colour changed— lound altered—the sense of pain or pleasure intensified )r deadened by contrast. We were once forcibly struck by the philosophy of i friend who had disciplined herself, whenever she was assailed by a crowd of tantalising vexations, or ippressive troubles, to compare her trials with the leverer affliction of some greater mourner, and to ejaculate, mentally, it might be worse!" With hat reflection came a sense of thankfulness that she iad been spared a superlative evil; patience and ;heerfulness ensued, and she was preserved from fall- ng into the common, egotistical error of believing ¡hat the cross allotted to herself was heavier than ,bat borne by any other shoulders. This friend was asked in what manner she first :ontracted the above-mentioned consoling habit; in inswer, she related the following anecdote Her early youth was rich in promised jojs and iresent blessings; but to this hope-blossoming calm succeeded a sudden whirlwind of trials—the loss of fortune—the treachery of trusted friends—the death- menacing illness of the nearest and dearest—her own tailing health, combined with the absolute necessity )f daily encountering severest soil. She had been struggling with this accumulation of sorrows for a jouple of years or more. She was weary of her cease- less exertions—dispirited—full of repining—fearful of the future—thankless for the past—and fully con- vinced that her fate in life was the hardest ever apportioned to mortal. She had become a total stranger to that happy philosophy which ———* bids the heart whose sun is low to borrow A smile upon the credit of a golden morrow." At this period she was sojourning in a western city, GO which her duties summoned her. There she con- stantly visited a charming family, at whose fireside peace and content seemed to have raised indestruc- tible altars. But our friend says the sphere of joyous serenity, by which that home was pervaded, made her more impatient when she contrasted her own restless, wandering, unsatisfactory life with the calm existence of that dwelling's inhabitants. The lovely children of the hostess became much attached to this frequent guest. They flew to meet her like a flock of pigeons, whenever she came, hung around her with a fondness that soothed her aching heart, and prattled about her continually in her Absence. Several times, while she was talking to these beloved little ones, she noticed, half hidden by an open door, a figure that seemed to be watching her. If she moved, to obtain a nearer view, the form in- variably disappeared. Day after day her curiosity was excited by this mysterious presence. Politeness dosed her lips, for it was hardly possible that the mother and children should not be aware of what she was so conscious. Indeed, several times, when she bad related some hair-breadth escape encountered in her travels, a low sound, like a murmur of sympathy or a suppressed groan, came from the direction of the concealed shape. At length curiosity conquered our friend's sense of uourtesy, and one day she turned to her hostess and Mid, "You know I am lamentably superstitious, and at this very moment mv imagination is almost worked up into believing that there is some unearthly visitant near as. Do not think me very rude, though I fear I am but, pray, do tell me who that is yonder. I can just see the waving of a white dress, and I have wondered over and over again to whom it be- longed. The words were hardly spoken when an exclama- tion of pain struck upon her ear, and the slender form of a young girl, covering her face with her hands, was distinctly seen hurrying away. A dead silence ensued. The mother looked deeply distressed-the children turned to her, but did not speak. Poor Ellen! at last she exclaimed, what a pity you have noticed her! She took so much pleasure in listening to you and watching you J M JPen ^ho is she ? Is she one of the family ?" xes; my husband's daughter by his first mar- riage—a young girl of sixteen. She—she is an and the speaker hesitated, and added in a tone of pity, an invalid—sorely afflicted." "But will she not come into the room and be in- troduced, if she cares to see me ? I would like to know her—do ask her to come." "No—she cannot—she would rather not—it would not be possible to induce her," replied the lady, with an embarrassed air. An instant afterwards she turned the conversation. At our friend's next visit, and the next, and the next, there was no dress floating to and fro behind that door, no sound which betrayed an unseen listener. But this unknown Ellen was constantly present to her imagination. Why did she appear no more? What, was the mystery attached to her? Why could she not be seen ? Tormented by these interrogatories of a curious spirit, the visitor ventured to ask her hostess how Ellen was. About the Kame," she replied, gravely; she is not likely to be any better." Ia her disease hopeless, then ? CI Yes—perfectly so;" and she conversed on other subjects. A few days afterward, the ball door chanced to be open when our friend called, and she entered the house without ringing or knocking. As she mppaftrtd,, a young girl fled along the entry and rapidly mounted the stair. Surely the step was not that of one enfeebled by a hopeless illness ? The form was very fragile, but did not lack a certain elastic grace. The face was partially covered by a white bandage, leaving only the eyes and brow visible—a pair of frightened blue eyes and a low brow over which the brown hair was carefully smoothed. Was this Ellen ? The guest told her hostess of the accidental meeting, and, taking courage, urged her to confide the nature of Ellen's affliction to one who already felt an inde- scribable interest in the youthful recluse. With no little reluctance the lady complied. Owing to the death of Ellen's mother, the child was intrusted to a wet nurse. This unprincipled woman artfully concealed from the father and the physician that she was a victim to scrofula. The infant was a lovely, healthy little girl, of fine promise; but the milk by which she was nourished diseased, poisoned her blood. Its effects culminated when she reached her fourteenth year. Just at the age when a young maideH begins to value her personal appearance, the venom imbibed in infancy developed itself in a cancer in the nose, an affection of the throat which impared her speech, and a disease of the eyes which threatened blindness. Her sufferings were intense beyond descrip- tion. She was forced to submit to the most torturing medical treatment, and after a time the disease was in a measure checked. Her sight was restored, her throat better; but the palate had been completely destroyed, and her voice had a guttural discordant sound; her nose was partly eaten away; and the disfigurement of her whole countenance so shocking, that she was hardly recognisable. It might well make the beholder think, with a shudder, of the story of Acco (of classic memory), who went mad when she viewed her own hideousness in a looking-elass, and almost fear that the same fate might befall Ellen. She lived in total seclusion; she fled from strangers, and had a mortal horror of any eye resting upon her and if she went into the street, she was so closely veiled that she could scarcely breathe. She heard her young sisters describing enjoyments which she could never share. She saw them grow in beauty, while her lamentable detormity increased. She was mQrbidly sensitive to her own condition, and keenly felt the irremediable blight that had fallen upon her whole existence. The constant prattling of the children about their favourite guest had awakened Ellen's interest, and she so earnestly longed to see her, that, at last, with their connivance, she had stolen from her retirement, and concealed herself behind a door of the drawing- room, to hear and see unpereeived. After listening to this piteous story, our friend warmly entreated that she might be allowed to make Ellen's acquaintance—might behold and converse with her. The poor sufferer was with difficulty per- suaded to grant this request, but at length she was led into the room by her tender and devoted step- mother, who placed Ellen's hand in that of the stranger. Oh! what a terrible revealing of the possible miseries to which humanity may be exposed, was this young girl's history to that stranger I Ellen's mercurial temperament heightened her afflic- tion. She had quick sensibilities, ardent enthusiasm, a strong desire to love and be loved-to mingle wifh her fellow beings, to shine, to enjoy—and yet life's commonest gifts to humanity were all denied her! Still she was not wholly miserable. The seeds of piety, early inseminated in her mind, sprung up and bore fruit which nourished her spirit, and pre- vented the mental starvation of utter despair. And one happiness at last was granted her—one unhoped*for friendship became hers. She quickly formed a strong, an almost idolising, attachment to the stranger, whose visits to the house were hence- forth especially her own. When Ellerr and her new friend were compelled to part, the wretched girl threw herself into that' friend's arms, sobbing violently, and caught the hand lifted to dry her tears, ■ and placed upon it a ring of gold, with a heart in the centre, saying, Oh look at it often. Think of me often! often! often I" It was strange to hear that harsh, hollow voice tremulous with emotion, and uttering such touching words strange to see the dim, restless eyes so full of love and tears. Think of her often! Who could have forgotten her ? The whole life of the being on whose hand that ring had been placed, was chanared by her inter- course with this stricken girl. As she gazed upon I the simple token, she said to herself again and again, Ellen! Ellen! what are my sorrows contrasted with yours ? What are my sufferings, sacrifices, j privations, compared to the dreary blank of your joyless existence ? I will never dare to repine or rebel again When I think of Ellen, I will always remember how much worse my trials might have been." I' Ellen's devotion to her friend strengthened even until the hour of her death, which took place some years later. They corresponded faithfully, and in her letters Ellen poured out her full heart. After the lapse of a few years, they met once more. The storms had blown over the head of one-time bad soothed seme of her sorrows, success had rewarded her exertions, many a wound bad healed, and many a broken link of friendship had been re-united—but' the unmitigated gloom that surroundpd Ellen was impervious to a single ray of joy. She grew feebler and feebler-her sufferings and her disfigurement increased, until the one joyful hour when her Master bade her fling off the poor, mangled earthly garment t of her soul, and stand before his presence, robed in the eternal loveliness of her pain-purified spirit. Her memory was greenly preserved in the heart of her friend. The thought of Ellen blunted the sting of many an arrow, lifted the weight from many a burden, and taught her, with each now trouble, to reftect-u It might be worse!"

LADIES' COLUMN.II

AN IMPORTED HEN.

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