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Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 [1839], The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 2 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v2].
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CHAPTER XVI. A Crisis. Making love.

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Georgiana was punctual in the observance of
all her religious duties, and constant in her attendance
at the chapel, and I never failed to accompany
her there whenever I was at liberty. But
the oftener I went there, the more I disliked the
place. At first, it was hallowed, in my estimation,
by her presence, but as the religious meetings
which she attended engrossed so much of her time,
I began to fear that they would estrange her from
me altogether. I hated them heartily, and my
aversion increased, because I was obliged to keep
it within my own bosom; I was afraid to discover
it either by words or actions, for fear of offending

One evening I was startled by seeing my cousin
at a prayer meeting; he sat directly in front of
Georgiana, where she could not but observe him,
and he joined in all the exercises with seeming devotion.
I could not but regard him with feelings
of disgust, for I knew his sole purpose was to attract
the attention of Georgiana. Ever after, he
was sure to make his appearance whenever she was
present at a meeting.

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My cousin was handsome in his person, and
pleasing in his manners, when he wished to please,
at least so people said, but to me he appeared the
impersonation of all that was vile and hideous.
The object of his pretended sanctity could not be
mistaken, and I was dreadfully alarmed, lest he
should succeed in gaining the affections of Georgiana
by his hypocrisy. It is true, I had good
cause for believing she loved me, but she had
never told me so, nor plighted her faith to me; if
she had, I could never have felt a jealous pang.
But it was one of the peculiarities of the faith she
professed, that it was sinful for christians to be
yoked together with unbelievers, and her pastor
had publicly announced that he would in no case
unite such together in the everlasting bonds. And
knowing the purity of her mind, her devotedness
to the faith she professed, and her strong sense of
duty, I could not hope that, for my sake, she
would do violence to her conscience. I would
gladly, for her sake, have joined myself to any
society, or made a profession of any religious belief,
but I could not for a moment entertain the
thought of practising deceit towards her; and as
to any actual change taking place in my feelings,
I did not regard it within the reach of possibility.

One Sunday evening she was prevented by the

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rain from going to meeting. I found her sitting
in the parlor with the bible open before her. Her
uncle was in his private office, where he usually
spent his Sabbath evenings; and the state of the
weather precluded the possibility of visiters; I
exulted in the hope of spending an evening uninterruptedly
with her.

The weather was cold — it was March — and
the fire burned bright and cheerful in the grate,
and the mellow light from a Sevres shade imparted
a rich and softened hue to every thing around.
The walls were hung with the loveliest creations
of the art of all arts, and angelic faces and limbs
of matchless beauty seemed gazing and reaching
from frames of burnished gold, like cherubim
peering through a halo of glory. Georgiana
herself was a picture of living beauty, showing
forth more of grace and loveliness than any of
the fair faces which seemed to look down upon
her as if enamored of her charms.

I sat down by the little table on which her bible
was placed, and was greeted by her with a
smile and a blush.

“O! Mr. Franco,” she said, after a short
pause, “do you know what high and holy
pleasure we are capable of receiving from this
blessed book?”

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“I know,” I replied, “that it is capable of
giving high and holy pleasure, or Miss De Lancey
would not choose it so often for a companion;
and I am willing to believe that the fault is in me,
and not in the book, that I do not receive pleasure
from reading it.”

“And do you not, indeed?” said she earnestly,
and looking up into my face with her full blue
eyes. “And yet why should I wonder that you
do not; once it gave no pleasure to me.”

“I do not wonder,” I said, “that those who
profess to make the bible the rule of their conduct
should, from a sense of duty, diligently
search in it for the principles by which they think
their lives should be governed; but I am compelled,
in honest candor, to acknowledge, I cannot
understand how the bible can impart the delight
of which you and others speak.”

“Now, it is strange,” said Georgiana, “very
strange; but when you came in, I was striving
to look into my own heart, to examine if it were
not for some cause other than love for the truth
itself, which led me to consult this precious book
so often. Indeed, I have often wished that the
truths which it contains were embodied in a homelier
and sterner form, that the sincerity of my
love might be more surely tried.”

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“Perhaps,” I said, “Miss De Lancey, if you
were to read to me some of those enticing passages,
I too might be affected by them; for I am
not willing to acknowledge myself incapable of
receiving pleasure from that which pleases you.”

“Then I should read to you every page in the
bible,” she said, at the same time letting the
leaves slip through her delicate fingers.

“But are there not some portions which have
left a deeper impression on your heart than

`There are; but I cannot read them aloud. I
love to pause over them, and close my eyes, and,
sustained by faith, follow whither they may lead me.
To kneel beside the sufferer in Gethsemane; to
go with Mary, before the day dawns, and look
down into his tomb; or to hover with those bright
and honored spirits on the verge of the sky, who
sang peace and good will to man at His first appearing.
But, there are beauties which must
strike the dullest apprehension; I will not do you
wrong by believing you to be a stranger to them.
Here is one, or rather a constellation of them, so
bright and dazzling, that they can never appear
familiar to me, although I have read them a thousand
times. Shall I read it?”

I nodded my wish, and she read the eighteenth

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Psalm. She commenced in a low and tender,
but distinct tone; but as she proceeded, she elevated
her voice, her eyes beamed with emotion,
her nostrils seemed to dilate, and her cheek and
lips assumed a deadly paleness. I was awe
struck, and when she paused, I cast down my
eyes and was silent; feeling as one may be supposed
to feel who has heard the blast from the
trumpet of an angel.

After a short pause, she turned over the leaves
of the bible, and read from the story of Esther;
her soft and tender voice, apparently adding
richness and beauty to the passages which she

“Is there not an account somewhere in the bible,”
I asked, “of the sons of God having taken
wives from among the children of men?”

“Yes,” she said; “and the consequence was,
these children were giants in sin, monsters in iniquity,
whose misdeeds brought ruin upon the

“And is there no account of the sons of men
taking wives from among the daughters of

“I have never read of it,” she replied.

“I wish there was,” I replied.


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“That I might hope”—I could say no more.

“Hope what?” said Georgiana, in a trembling
voice, and with her eyes cast down.

“But I cannot hope—no, there is no hope for
me.” My face burned as I spoke, and my heart
beat violently. I fell upon my knees, and hiding
my face in my hands, I said, or at least tried to
say, for I am not sure I did say these words,
“My dear Miss De Lancey, forgive me; I cannot
help it; I love you better than my own
life. I cannot tell you how long and how well I
have loved. But with my whole soul I love you,
and must forever, while my soul endures.”

Georgiana sobbed aloud, and while with one
hand she wiped the tears from her eyes, I took
the other and pressed it to my lips. She withdrew
it gently, and, emboldened by her silence, I
sat down by her side. I had unburdened my
heart of a heavy load, and I felt more at my ease.
Georgiana at length broke silence; her eyes
were swollen, and she looked very serious.

“It is many weary long years,” she said, “or
at least they have seemed many to me, since I
wept for the loss of my parents; and since then,
I have never known what it was to lean upon
one who loved me, or to feel that there was one
in the world whose happiness depended upon mine.

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My uncle has been very kind to me, too kind; he
has gratified me in all my wishes. But I felt it
was not love which caused his kindness. He
never restrained my inclinations; and I have an
indistinct recollection that my father used to chide
me. My uncle has kissed me often, but he never
shed a tear over me; but I remember, as distinctly
as though it were but yesterday, of feeling my
mother's warm tears drop upon my cheek, when
she has bent over me to kiss me. O! it is a desolate
world where there is none to love you.”

Georgiana did not speak these few words without
frequent sobbings, which so touched my heart,
that when I attempted to speak, my utterance
was choked with tears. I could not articulate a

“It is I,” said Georgiana, “who must ask forgiveness
of you, Mr. Franco. I have done wrong
in allowing so close an intimacy to spring up between
us; I should have taken up my cross, and
denied myself the pleasure I have received in
your society. Were my feelings different in one
respect; or, were yours different from what I
fear they are, perhaps I might not turn away
my ear when you tell me you love me; but now
I must.”

“My dear, dear love,” I said, “my whole

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existence is yours; there is no division in my affections.
I love you with all the strength and fulness
of my soul; and but to hear you say you
love me in return, I would do or endure more
than I may seem capable of; but I could not,
even for your sake, profess a feeling to which I
am a stranger, or put on the sanctity of a hypocrite.”

“I did not wrong you by believing you could;
and for my sake, I would not have you strive after
that grace which can only be obtained for the sake
of Him, through whose intercession it can be
given. How often have I prayed that you might
receive it for His sake who died for you.”

The heavy footsteps of Mr. Marisett in the
hall, warned us of his approach. Georgiana
wiped the tears from her eyes, and I seated myself
opposite to her, and looked as indifferent as
I could. She opened her bible, and commenced
reading again, as her uncle opened the parlor

“Upon my word, Georgy,” he said, “you are
entertaining Mr. Franco in sober earnestness. I
hope he is satisfied with your manner of amusing

“He has made no complaint,” replied Georgiana.

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“I dare say not,” said her uncle; “you have
given him no opportunity, I'll be bound.”

“She has given me no cause,” I said.

“Well done,” said Mr. Marisett, pleasantly.

Georgiana looked steadily on the page of her
bible, while I looked earnestly at the fire. The
color of our thoughts was undoubtedly of the
same hue.

Mr. Marisett would at times apply himself, with
a wonderful degree of intensity, to any subject
which required his attention, until he gained the
result after which he sought; and then, like a
spring which had been stretched to its utmost
tension, and suddenly let go, his thoughts seemed
to bound up and vacillate from side to side, for
half an hour or more, before his mind would settle
to its usual calmness. He had probably just risen
from some laborious mental effort, when he entered
the parlor, for he was unusually lively and
playful; and that prevented him from observing
the unusually grave demeanor of his niece. He
kissed her affectionately; and after listening to
two or three of his playful sallies, I retired to my

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Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 [1839], The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 2 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v2].
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