Avillion; or, The Happy Isles - A Fireside Fancy

Avillion; or, The Happy Isles - A Fireside Fancy

by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

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Chapter I

We sat together on the deck, Lilias and I, listening to the boom of the wide Atlantic, and looking into each other's eyes. A thriftless occupation, but infinitely sweet. We had not grown tired of it yet, though we had been married three weeks; our love was not even a shadow the less. It seemed impossible for us to date its beginning; Heaven grant we may never know its end!

We had been wedded three weeks. Three weeks! Could it be, then, that only one little month had passed since that day—the day of days!—when—But I will tell all concerning it. I will chronicle its every hour, whether of suffering or joy; for now both are alike written goldenly on this happy heart of mine.

I had been ill for a long time—indeed, from my youth up I have rarely known the blessing of continuous health. But though this circumstance gave a languor and a half-melancholy dreaminess to my whole character, I think, too, it made me more humble, more loving, more thankful for all the love which was showered upon me. And when my long illness came, this blessing increased tenfold. I heard people compassionate "poor Wilfred Mayer," and say how hard it was that a young man should have the strength and glory of his youth brought thus low. I did not feel it so; I knew that there was power, aye, and beauty, in my soul; and I cared not for the feeble body. Besides, I lived in such an atmosphere of love. There was my father; my bold, frank-hearted brother, younger than I, yet assuming all the tender protection of eldership; Hester, the most loving of sisters; and one, dearer than any sister—Lilias Hay.

But the day—that day! In the morning I, feeble always, seemed feebler than ordinary. I lay back in my arm-chair, listening to the soft pattering of the April rain upon the window-sill, without any connected thought, except a fear that the weather might keep Lilias Hay in-doors: and I did not like to miss seeing her, even for a day. I heard the sound of an opening door; but it was only the physician—accompanied by a second, whom I had not seen before. I was disappointed, and paid little heed to either, until I noticed that they drew my sister aside, and spoke earnestly. While she listened, Hester turned pale, looked at me, and began to weep. Her tears seemed to fall on my heart like ice-drops, piercing me with a shuddering dread. I felt, I knew, that that smooth-tongued stranger had, with his calm, stolid lips, pronounced my death-doom.

And I must die! The Shadow, hovering near me so long that I had ceased to regard it, was then close at hand—its very breath was upon me! I MUST DIE!

Hester came to my side with the second physician. I looked fixedly upon him, my doomer. I believe I said some words which betrayed my thoughts; for he answered, with a bland, cheerful smile, "that I must not imagine anything so serious; a voyage, perhaps a summer in Madeira, would soon—"

I turned away; I would hear no more of the smiling lie. Thank God, it was not breathed by Hester's lips! No; she only wept, and kissed me once or twice softly.

"In a week he must go!" I heard the physician whisper. Then I knew there was no hope. They went away, and left me alone.

I tried to think of peace, of religion; I tried to say, "Thy will be done;" but the strong writhings of human passion shut out from me even the face of God. To die, to leave all my dear ones, to part from Lilias Hay!—I uttered her name almost with a groan—the thought was horrible. In this fearful moment I knew how madly, how despairingly, I loved her. She knew it, too, though I had never told her so. There was no need. The deep tenderness between us had grown from year to year, until it became a part of our life. I say our life; for we seemed to have but one. Neither said, "I love;" but the daily tide of our existence as it flowed harmoniously on, cried out with its thousand voices, "See, how these two love one another!"

I had hitherto been content that it should be so, knowing well that Lilias would wed no man save me, and that one day the loving friendship between us would be changed for a closer bond. But now I must die—die without having called her wife, without even having taken her once to my heart. O misery! that blessed, long-dreamed-of moment would never come; I must go down into the dark grave; I must lay my head in the dust there, and not on the pure, faithful bosom of my Lilias Hay!

I groaned aloud; I writhed in my anguish. Life and youth were yet strong within me. I could not die. Sometimes I resolved at all hazards to tell Lilias of my love. Perhaps I might draw life from the lips of my betrothed; perhaps a wife's prayers might yet stand between me and the Destroyer. I would risk it! I would ask her to wed me now—at once....

Product Details

BN ID: 2940015960464
Publisher: OGB
Publication date: 01/28/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 217 KB

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