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Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1824], Hobomok (Cummings, Hilliard & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf041].
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Oh, in that word—that fatal word—howe'er
We promise—hope—believe—there breathes despair.

The interim between Brown's sentence and his departure,
seemed like “a hideous dream.” In vain Mary
tried to recognize its certainty enough to prepare the
letter which he was to convey. It was not until the
day before the dreaded event, that the solicitations of
her mother prevailed on her to commence the task;
and when she did, the pen remained uplifted, and the
stainless sheet lay for a long time before her, while
she pressed her hand upon her brow in a bewilderment
of misery. She wrote “Deare Grandfather,”—
but could proceed no further. The name of that
fond, doting relation was encircled with painful
thoughts. By him she had been reared with more
than tenderness, like some fair and slender blossom in
his gardens. There she had been the little idol of

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the brilliant circle. There too, she had first seen
Charles Brown, and mingled with him in the graceful
evolutions of the dance, while her young heart in vain
strove to be proof against the intoxicating witchery of
light and motion. And there, as she gazed on his
lofty forehead, stamped with the proud, deep impress
of intellect, and watched the changeful lustre of his
dark, eloquent eyes, that alternately beamed with
high or tender thoughts, she too became covetous of
mental riches, and worshipped at the shrine of genius.
Amid this fairy dream, the stern voice of duty was
heard commanding her to depart from her country
and her kindred, and to go to a land of strangers. It
recks not how many sighs and tears it cost, the sacrifice
was made; and Heaven in reward gave to her
solitude the only being that could enliven its dreariness.

What was she now? A lily weighed down by the
pitiless pelting of the storm; a violet shedding its
soft, rich perfume on bleakness and desolation; a
plant which had been fostered and cherished with
mild sunshine and gentle dews, removed at once from
the hot-house to the desert, and left to unfold its delicate
leaves beneath the darkness of the lowering
storm. And of the two, for whom she had cheerfully
endured this change, one was already within sight of
the mansions of the blest—and the other was soon to
be like a bright and departed vision. 'Twas bitterness,
all bitterness, and she bowed down her head and

“It must not be thus,” said she, as she thoughtfully
walked across the room. The painful sacrifice was
made with serenity; and none shall say, that I at last
shrunk from the trial—” and with steadier nerve, she
wrote as follows:

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“Deare Grandfather,

“I againe take up my penn to write upon the same
paper you gave me when I left you, and tolde me
thereupon to write my thoughts in the deserte. Alas,
what few I have, are sad ones. I remember you once
saide that Shakspeare would have beene the same
greate poet if he had been nurtured in a Puritan wildernesse.
But indeed it is harde for incense to rise
in a colde, heavy atmosphere, or for the buds of fancie
to put forth, where the heartes of men are as harde
and sterile as their unploughed soile. You will wonder
to hear me complain, who have heretofore beene
so proud of my cheerfulnesse. Alas, howe often is
pride the cause of things whereunto we give a better
name. Perhaps I have trusted too muche to my owne
strengthe in this matter, and Heaven is nowe pleased
to send a more bitter dispensation, wherewithal to
convince me of my weakness. I woulde tell you
more, venerable parente, but Mr. Brown will conveye
this to your hande, and he will saye much, that I cannot
finde hearte or roome for. The settlement of this
Western Worlde seemeth to goe on fast now that soe
many men of greate wisdome and antient blood are
employed therein. They saye much concerning our
holie church being the Babylone of olde, and that
vials of fierce wrath are readie to be poured out upon
her. If the prophecies of these mistaken men are to
be fulfilled, God grante I be not on earthe to witnesse
it. My dear mother is wasting awaye, though I hope
she will long live to comforte me. She hath often
spoken of you lately. A fewe dayes agone, she said
she shoulde die happier if her grey-haired father
coulde shed a tear upon her grave. I well know that
when that daye does come, we shall both shed many
bitter tears. I must leave some space in this paper
for her feeble hande to fill. The Lord have you in

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His holie keeping till your dutifull grandchilde is
againe blessed with the sighte of your countenance.

“With all love and reverence,

“Your Affectionate and Dutifull Childe,
Mary Conant.

“Deare and Venerable Sire,

“I knowe nott wherewithal to address you, for my
hearte is full, and my hande trembleth with weaknesse.
My kinde Mary is mistaken in thinking I shall
long sojourne upon Earthe. I see the grave opening
before me, but I feel that I cannot descend thereunto
till I have humbly on my knees asked the forgiveness
of my offended father. He who hath made man's
hearte to suffer, alone knoweth the wretchedness of
mine when I have thought of your solitary old age.
Pardon, I beseech you, my youthfull follie and disobedience,
and doe not take offence if I write that the
husbande for whose sake I have suffered much, hath
been through life a kinde and tender helpe-meete; for
I knowe it will comforte you to think upon this, when
I am dead and gone. I would saye much more, but
though my soule is strong in affection for you, my
body is weake. God Almighty bless you, is the
prayer of

“Your loving Daughtere,
Mary Conant.

The letter once finished, how was it to be delivered
to the young man? Mr. Conant had given commands
which his wife dared not disobey, and seemed
more than ever inclined to keep watch upon Mary's
motions. In this dilemma she resolved to tax the
ready wit of her friend Sally; but when she sought
Mrs. Collier for that purpose, she found her ready
equipped for a journey.

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“What, are you going to Plymouth so soon?” asked
Mary. “I thought you told me you did go not till

“And so I supposed then,” answered Sally; “but
John hath heard that the boat will sail this afternoon,
and he is coming for me shortly. I was just stepping
in, to bid you good-bye.”

“And you are going away from Salem then, for—
always,” said Mary, as the tears came to her eyes.
“What shall I do, when you are gone?”

“You used to tell me to trust in God,” replied her
friend, “and perhaps I did wrong that I did not think
more of such sober talk. I declare, I did not suppose
any thing would have made me so sorry to go back
to Plymouth,” added she, and the ready tears of sympathy
trickled down her cheeks.

“Well, good-bye,” said Mary, as she threw her
arms round her neck in the full tide of girlish affection.
“I shall always love you for your kindness to
me and my good mother. Peradventure when we
are both ancient women, there will be a road cut
through from hence, and I shall come and see you.”

At another time Mary would have mourned bitterly
over the loss of her old associate; but now in the selfishness
of more weighty sorrows, she hardly expended
a thought upon it. Her whole mind was occupied
in devising a method of seeing Brown, free from interruption.
We know that love now usually finds means
to effect his purpose, and it seems he laughed as loudly
at locksmiths in 1629, as he does in these degenerate
days. At the instigation of Mr. Brown, the widow
Willet (whose red cardinal gave such offence to Mr.
Oldham), was induced to request Mary's company
through the night, under pretence of her son's absence.
The lonely woman had frequently asked the
same favor, and it was, of course, granted without

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hesitation. Once arrived within her dwelling, the sorrowful
young couple were left to an undisturbed discourse
upon their present prospects and future plans.
The night passed rapidly away, and the sun rose
brightly on the pale and agitated pair, as if no hearts
were there, to meet his rays with sickening desolation.
Brown rested his arm upon Mary's shoulder, and
pointed to the rising light, as he said,

“It is the signal of separation. The vessel sails at
early sunrise. Would it had never been day.”

“Oh,” replied Mary, “were it not for the hope of
speedy re-union, how gladly would I now lay down
my aching head deep, deep, in the cold earth.”

“Talk not so sadly, Mary,” answered her lover.
“If your mother lives long, I shall again come to
America, at least for a season; and if she dies, you
will soon return to your grandfather, who will make
us both happy.”

“Alas, Charles,” replied she, “it makes me shudder
to think of the wickedness of such devoted love.
I did even wish to night that mother's earthly trials
were all over, and I at liberty to follow you wheresoever
you went, through storms or sunshine. It was
a wicked thought, and I struggled till I overcame it.”

“Be ever thus, my own dear girl,” rejoined the
young man. “I could not love you if you were otherwise.
May the atmosphere of your mind be always
so pure that a passing cloud has power wherewithal
to disturb it.”

For some moments he stood silently clasping her to
his heart. He moved from her, and made a reluctant
motion toward the table where he had placed his
hat—walked across the room again and again—looked
out upon the increasing light, and cursed its swiftness;
at length, a loud, shrill blast came upon the

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morning air; “'Tis the last signal for all to be on
board,” exclaimed he; “and now I must depart.”

She sprung to his embrace, and his arms twined
round her, “and clung as they would cling forever.”
One deep, painful pause, one fervent, long
protracted kiss on that cold brow, and he was gone.

The maiden slowly returned to her father's house,
sick, exhausted, and weary of life. The household
duties were silently and serenely performed; and no
outward token of anguish could be discovered save a
death-like paleness. Two hours elapsed, and yet the
gay pennon of the Queen Elizabeth was seen fluttering
in the air. Mary could not follow the multitude
to the beach, and give the sacredness of her grief to
the vulgar gaze; but she sought a woody, retired hill,
and watched the departure of her lover's vessel, which
with spreading sails, was soon seen wheeling from the
shore. A handkerchief was waving from the quarter
deck; it was a farewell signal, and was speedily answered.
It again waved toward the thicket, and
Mary knew that her last token of love had not passed
unobserved. Her intense and eager gaze was never
turned from the object, until the red-cross flag indistinctly
mingled with the horizon. Mary looked on
the bright, blue expanse of water before her. The
deep furrows, which had so lately marred its beauty,
had all passed away, as suddenly as the tribulations
of boyhood; and as she turned away from that
smooth surface, she, for the first time, realized what
she had as yet shrunk from acknowledging, the cheerless,
utter solitude of the heart.

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Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1824], Hobomok (Cummings, Hilliard & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf041].
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