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my misery, and kept repeating in my ears—" Are you frightened, Miss Ermina ? Do you think the puppets will run away with you?-No fear of that, I assure you."
Never did any thing appear so long, so dreadfully long, as that frightful puppet-show. I verily believe that I never knew what misery was till that night. It was never, I think, till then, in that apparently unpropitious scene, that all I had learned in my happy childhood seemed really to begin to work within me for my good. The show was at length concluded, it was past midnight; and Caratoon drove me almost to agony by pretending that he did not know where the steps were, although he had himself seen them stowed away very carefully.
It was nearly one o'clock when I got to our chamber again, and what with shame and terror, I could not sleep till dawn of day, and when I did sleep, my imagination was full of terrors, and I again beheld before me all the serpents and horrible forms which had been represented at the nantch.
I at length, however, fell into a heavy sleep, in which even these horrors had disappeared, when I was suddenly awakened by Almeria, who said, “ Ermina, your uncle is below. Make haste, and get dressed.”
“My uncle !" I exclaimed. “What, returned so soon ?"
“Yes,” she replied, “he was not obliged to go so far as he first proposed."
“Is he very angry ?" I asked. “ Angry!” she repeated, “what for ?" “ For what we did last night," I answered. 66 Why, what does he know of that?" she answered -" For the world's sake don't speak of it to him, or to my father and mother, but get up and get dressed."
“ Is any thing the matter," I asked, “ that my uncle should come so early ?"
“No, nothing, not much,” she said, “only Anna is worse, and she wants to see you."
“Worse!” I said, “my Anna worse !" and I burst into an agony of grief. “Tell me, Almeria-tell me, is she dying ?"
“ Dying !" repeated Almeria, “no, I hope not: come, don't frighten yourself.”
“Oh, my Anna! my sweet Anna! my own Anna !” I
exclaimed, and fell back on the bed, and for some moments lost my recollection.
They were obliged to call my uncle to me before I could be brought to myself; but when I recovered my recollection, and had had leisure to observe his countenance, I plainly saw that I had the worst to apprehend.
My clothes were, however, at length put on, and I was put into the coach with my uncle, who had not one word of comfort to give me ; for indeed he seemed by no means pleased with me, and once, indeed, asked me, “How I could have thought of leaving my friend, when she required my most tender care.”
I could make no reply-I was self-condemned and miserable. And I was then made to feel that penury, with all its attendant inconveniences, was by no means the greatest evil to which human nature is subject. But what sufferings are intolerable excepting those which are mingled with feelings of remorse ?
Ermina terrified and distressed at the danger of her faithful Friend
Anna's delirium and death-Its effects on little Minny and those who witnessed it-Conclusion.
OH! with what anguish and terror did I ascend the stairs, to go to my Anna's room, when I entered the house at Garden Reach. The first person I met in the saloon above-stairs was Mrs. Palmerston, who, being at that time in Calcutta, had, as I afterward found, been in the habit of constantly attending on Anna during my absence. I had been accustomed to consider Mrs. Palmerston as a frivolous character; but when I then saw her drowned in tears, how did I love and respect her. She took my hand when she met me, and then turned again with me to Anna's room; indeed, I then wanted some one to encourage me.
Anna was in the dressing-room, where we had so often sat together. They had brought the sofa "on which she lay into the middle of the room, and the physician was sitting by it, holding his patient's hand : seyeral female servants were in other parts of the room.
Mrs. Palmerston drew me gently forward, for I be.. came more and more terrified as I looked on this solemn scene; yet, prepared as I was for the worst, when I beheld my Anna pale as death, and lying without motion on her back, I believed she was already dead.
“Oh, my Anna!” I cried, and was pressing forward to kiss her sweet pale face. “Oh, my Anna-will you never open your eyes again !--never speak to me more!" But Mrs. Palmerston held me back. “Don't disturb her,” she said, “ we think that she is asleep.”
My uncle had entered the room, and stood by the physician. He looked sternly sorrowful, and seemed anxious not to display his feelings.
Thus a few minutes passed. At length my lovely Anna moved, and opening her eyes, said, “ Minny,-is Minny come ?" and she looked up at Mrs. Palmerston.
“Here I am, my Anna-my sweet lovely Anna-here I am," I said.
She took no notice of me, but said again, “ Will not Minny come ?”
“I am here, dear Anna,” I said, pressing forward and sobbing.
She again repeated,“ Little Minny-Ah, little Minny! -will she never, never come ?"
I could not bear this. “I am here, Anna dear, I am here," I exclaimed in an agony. “Place yourself in a light where she can see you best," said my uncle.
" She has known no one for some hours," remarked the physician. “She is too far gone; don't attempt to rouse her."
“ What !” I exclaimed, " will she never, never know me again! Oh, my Anna !"
“ Yesterday," said the physician, “she knew us all."
“ And last night, at twelve o'clock, she knew me,” said one of the black women, “and asked for Miss Minny."
"At twelve o'clock last night!" I repeated; and my reader may guess my thoughts. Our attention was then suddenly called to the lovely creature herself, for she began to start, and slight convulsions to agitate her features. I had never before witnessed convulsions, and was inexpressibly terrified. For a few seconds, she seemed to be considerably agitated, and then again closed her eyes and seemed to be sleeping.
“ Surely,” said my uncle, drawing a little from the couch,“ it was very strange that they should have allowed this disorder to gain such ground, without sending for me, or at least for Minny."
“You know, sir," replied the physician,“ how rapidly diseases advance in this country. I had little fear for her till yesterday morning.”
We were at this instant again drawn to the couch, where my beloved Anna seemed to be in a dreadful agony, every limb being convulsed. These convulsions, how. ever, soon ceased, and she seemed to wish to be raised, opened her eyes, and, I thought, looked very like her former self.
Mrs. Palmerston was supporting her. She looked up to her, and knew her. “ You are very kind, ma'am," she said, “ very, very kind, and my uncle too, thank him for all his kindness. When I am gone, you will be kind to poor Minny ; and don't be uneasy about me.I am very happy.. I am going to my Saviour. Yes, my Saviour:", and her countenance changed its expression. A kind of glory, as I fancied, was suddenly shed over it. She looked up, as it were, to the very ceiling, and, joining her hands, “I come, my Saviour, I come,” she exclaimed; then sinking back on her pillow, her eyes closed, and in a few minutes she breathed her last, leay. ing me most completely miserable, and utterly incapable of receiving any thing like comfort.
Thus terminated the earthly career of this most lovely young person; and from that period I felt the sentence of death passed on all earthly possessions and honours : an impression which, by the divine grace, has never worn away, though at some periods I have felt myself less affected with a feeling of this kind than at others.
I have reason, indeed, to think that the death of my lovely Anna was not only blessed to me, but to my uncle and Mrs. Palmerston.
My aunt, who had fled to her house in Calcutta, the moment that she was apprized of her being seriously ill, did not return till after all was over, and never evidenced any sorrow: but my uncle was a sincere mourner, and has often since been heard to say, that his first serious impressions of religion were received by the pillow of my dying friend, and the sweet companion of my childhood.
My aunt did not survive the lovely Anna more than
two years; and after her death, I lived alone with my uncle, and found increasing pleasure and comfort in his society.
I was married early in life, but still lived with my dear uncle, and he seemed to take as much delight in my children as if they had been his own. His death did not take place till an advanced age, and it was then most blessed.
Neither my uncle nor I ever again visited our friends in England, but we frequently heard of and from them, and every year sent them of our abundance.
Many years are now past since my Anna was in glory ; but the recollection of her is now as fresh in my mind as in that sad day when I was first parted from her; and to this moment I cannot recollect my conduct towards her without a degree of anguish which time can never soften.
From my example, my gentle reader, be persuaded not to desire unmixed prosperity, remembering thisthat adversity is the shining time of the Christian, and the period most commonly chosen for the purposes of divine mercy.
“ Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
THE END OF ERMINA.