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Well might I exclaim in rapturous ecstasy, “I wonder at the mercy which brought me here!"

Wandering on through the infinite maze of glory, and chanting lauds of praise in fulness of bliss, I beheld innumerable throngs of shining ones in the vast empyrean ; while bands of radiant spirits passed and repassed, smiling upon me, the saved and newly arrived, with sweet, benign, rejoicing smiles.

Beloved beings, (whose memories are hallowed, and whose vacant places may never more be filled on earth,) and many friends and acquaintances had gone before on that road, from which there is no return. Many, whose loss I had deplored ; many, who had passed away unheeded from the mortal scene, and were quickly forgotten. With sensations of extatic happiness-happiness and gratitude inexpressible-I began to search for those I loved. And what a meeting was ours! What greetings—never, never to part more! We, who had sorrowed so deeply, and parted in anguish-we, who had last looked on each other's dear faces beside the bed of death, now re-united for ever!

And how glorious and triumphant swelled the pæans of joy at each fresh recognition! But when with exceeding glad surprise I encountered some, of whose preparation and readiness for their final summons I had privately harboured serious doubts and misgivings, their loving happy smiles alone responded to my transparent thought—" I wonder to see you here, and you, and you." The portal of heaven faded, the road leading to it became indistinct, and the myriad stars glittered over head, as I awoke from this midsummer night's dream, when the solemn midnight chimes ushered in the holy Baptist's day.

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, saith the LORD:" methought the beautiful vision was sent to impress these gracious words on my soul, and to whisper a message of comfort; for although the light from heaven be sometimes obscured and darkened for a season, yet is the upward road to be found of all who seek it,-walking by faith, and not by sight.

C. A. M. W.

*

THE FLOWER BASKET.

CHAPTER IV.

MARY IN PRISON.

MARY was carried into prison half fainting. She soon came to herself; and after weeping, sobbing, wringing her hand, and praying, at last sank down upon her bed of straw, completely exhausted by grief and terror. At length soft slumbers closed her weary eyelids.

It was already night when she awoke; all around her was dark, and she could not distinguish anything. She knew not for some time where she was; the history of the ring appeared to her as a mere dream, and she thought at first she was in her own bed, and experienced for a moment her usual lightness of heart ; but-then she felt the chains on her hands, the rattling of which sounded fearful in her ears. Terrified, she started up from her straw bed.

“Oh, what else can I do, merciful God,” cried she, sinking down upon her knees, “than raise these feitered hands to Thee! Oh, look down into this prison-house, and see me on my knees; Thou knowest I am innocent! Thou art the Protector of innocence-protect me! Have mercy upon me—have mercy upon my poor old father! Give him at least peace of mind, and rather let me doubly suffer!"

The thought of her father caused a fresh stream of tears to flow, grief and sorrow choking her words, she wept and sobbed bitterly. At this moment the moon (which had been obscured by heavy thunder-clouds) peeped through the little iron rails of her dungeon, and shadowed forth the grating on the ground.

Mary could distinctly see, by the reflection of the clear light, the four walls of her narrow prison, the red brick of which they were built, the lime and mortar lying between the red stones, the little slab which was constructed in the wall, to serve instead of a table, the earthen mug and plate standing on the slab, and the straw, which served for her couch. As the gloom of the dark clouds dispersed, Mary became somewhat lighter in heart. The moon appeared to her like an old friend.

“ Hast thou come, fair moon, to look after thy little friend ? Ah! when thou usedst to shine into my room, through the dark grape-vine leaves round my window, thy beams were far more beautiful and bright than now, through this thick black grating. Dost thou also mourn with me? Alas! I certainly never thought I should look out upon thee from a prison! What is my father doing now? Perhaps awake, weeping and sighing, like his child. Oh, that I could see him, if only for a moment! Thou pale watcher, perhaps at this moment thou art gleaming also into his dungeon! Oh, that thou couldst speak,—ihat thou couldst tell him how his Mary is weeping and lamenting for him! But how foolishly my distress of mind makes me talk. Forgive me, O God, these idle words. Thou watchest over my imprisoned father ; Thou seest both him and me; Thou lookest into both our hearts; no walls or iron gratings can shut out Thy Almighty aid. Give him, I beseech Thee, peace and consolation, for our Lord Jesus Christ's sake!”

Mary observed with astonishment that a delicious scent filled the prison-room. She had formed in the morning a little bouquet of a half-opened rose-bud, and other fowers that were left after the flower-basket was filled, and placed them in her bosom. These flowers now gave this sweet odour.

Are you here, too, dear flowers ?” said she, looking at the bouquet; "and must you share with me imprisonment, innocent as you are ? What have you done to deserve it? Yet this is my consolation, that I have as little merited it as you."

She took the nosegay from her dress, and contemplating it by the glimmer of the moon, said, “Ah! when this morning I gathered this rose-bud out of my garden, and the forget-me-nots from the neighbouring brook, who would have thought that by the evening I should be lying in a dungeon ? As I wreathed the garland of flowers round the basket, who would have thought that I should have been bound by chains ere the day closed ? So transient is all on earth! No man knows how suddenly things may change with him, and to what sad events his most innocent occupations may lead ; truly, he has indeed good cause to commend himself to the protection of God every morning."

She wept afresh; her tears dropped upon the rose-buds and forget-me-nots, and from the light of the moon glittered like dew.

“He Who forgets not the flowers, and waters them with rain and dew," said she, “ will also not forget me. Yes, merciful God! pour Thy consolation into my heart, and that of my father, as Thou fillest the chalice of the thirsty flower with the pure dew of heaven!"

With tears she again thought of her father. “Good man," said she; “ when I look on this bouquet, how much that you have taught me about flowers comes to my remembrance! Thorns may indeed be around me; but, like the rose, beauteous buds will spring forth, and brighten my onward paih. He who would gather the expanding buds before they are fully formed, would only destroy them. God, as it were, gently unfolds by degrees these purple-coloured leaves, and breathes into their inmost recesses a delicious perfume. He will also remove my sorrow, and unveil the blessing which He intends shall spring out of this affliction.

“These forget-me-nots remind me of their CREATOR. Yes, my heavenly Father, I will not forget Thee; for Thou ever watchest

They are blue, these tender flowers,- blue as the heavens ; may heaven be my consolation in all earthly sorrows!

“Here I have a fragrant lupin, with its tender white and red leaves. As this frail plant would creep along the ground, were it not to climb up the prop which supports it, where it joyfully blows, hovering over the earth as with butterfly wings ; so will I hold fast on Thee, O God, and soar above the sorrows and frailties of human life.

“This mignonette is, however, pre-eminent, for it fills the dun

over me.

geon with exquisite perfume. Mild, gentle little weed, thou gladdenest with thy sweet scent whoever plucks thee; thee will I also resemble, and be good to those who have torn me from my garden, and thrown me in this prison, although I never did them harm!

“ Here is a little branch of evergreen, which remains even in winter fresh, and retains the beautiful green tints of hope in the roughest season of the year. I also will not give up hope in the time of sorrow. God, who can sustain this plant fresh and green in the midst of winter storms, its ice and snow, He will also sustain me amidst the storms of life.

“Here are a couple of laurel leaves. These bring to my mind the immortal crown of laurels, with which all who patiently and boldly endure suffering here, will be crowned in heaven. Oh! I seem to see it now, this evergreen wreath of victory! Ye flowers of earth, ye are but like joys, transient and fading; but there above, a bliss, a glory awaits us, after our short sorrows here, which is eternal and imperishable.”

A dark cloud at this moment suddenly obscured the moon. Mary no longer saw her flowers, and a horrible darkness encompassed the dungeon. Her heart again became overpowered with fear; but the cloud soon passed over, and the moon shone bright and clear as before.

“So may innocence be obscured,” said she; “but in the end she will shine pure and beautiful. Thus wilt Thou, my God, allow my innocence to triumph, over which a heavy cloud of evil suspicion and false accusation now rests."

Mary laid herself down again on her pallet of straw, and fell into a sweet and calm sleep. A pleasing dream cheered her soft slumbers. She thought she was wandering by moonlight in a strange garden, that stood in the middle of a rugged wilderness, full of dark fir-trees, and it appeared to be indescribably charming and agreeable. Never had she seen the moon so clear and bright; all the flowers in the garden seemed to bloom fairer, lovelier, from her soft beams; she also saw her father in this exquisitely beautiful spot. The moon illuminated his venerable and smiling countenance. Hastening to him, she wept on his neck, and the tears were still moist on her cheeks as she awoke.

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CHAPTER V.

MARY ON HER TRIAL.

Mary was scarcely awake, when a constable came into the prison, and conducted her to the court of justice. She shuddered with horror as she entered the dark and solemn looking place, with its old-fashioned windows. The magistrate who was to be the judge on this occasion was seated in a large arm-chair, covered with red cloth; and the pleaders, with pen in hand, at a writingtable. The judge put many questions to Mary, all of which she answered with strict adherence to truth. Weeping and sobbing, she protested her innocence; but the judge said: - You cannot deceive me, and make me believe that which is impossible. No person entered the room but yourself; nobody but yourself has the ring. Acknowledge it, therefore !"

Mary reiterated, with tears, “I cannot say more; I know nothing of the ring. I have it not, nor did I see it."

“But it has been seen in your hands !” continued the judge; what do you say to that ?" That were impossible !" said Mary.

The judge rang a bell, and Jettchen came in. Jettchen had been so enraged about the dress, and was so anxious to win the family's favour from Mary, that she had said to the people in the castle, “That wicked little flower-girl has the ring. As I saw her coming down the stairs, I noticed a ring in her hand, and when she saw me, she was quite frightened, and shoved it into her pocket. I thought it looked suspicious, yet I would not be overhasty; and so I did not say anyihing about it. Perhaps, thought I, they have given her the ring, as well as other things. "If she has stolen it, however, there will soon be a noise about it, and then it will be time enough for me to speak. I am truly glad that I have not been into the Countess's room to-day. Such bad-disposed persons as that hypocritical Mary might easily bring other people into a scrape.”

Jettchen had been examined, and now she was to confirm her evidence before the judge. As she entered the court, and he warned her before God to speak the truth, her heart beat not a little, and her knees trembled under her ; but the wicked girl listened not to the admonition of the judge, nor to the loud voice of conscience. She thought, “ If I acknowledge now that I gave false evidence, I shall be sent away, or imprisoned.” She stood, therefore, firm to the falsehood, and said boldly to Mary's face, “ You have the ring : I saw you with it !”

Mary was startled by this lie, but she did not revile or abuse her; she only wept, and could scarcely utter the words, “ It is not true; you did not see me have the ring. How can you tell so dreadful an untruth, and make me, who have never done you any harm, so unhappy!”

Jettchen, however, evidently saw the advantage she had over Mary, and her hatred and jealousy towards the poor child became stronger than ever ; she reiterated the falsehood, repeating all the circumstances in detail, and was then dismissed from court.

“ You are convicted,” said the judge to Mary; “ your guilt is clearly proved. The young Countess's maid saw the ring in your hand; say, then, what you have done with it.”

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