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Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1836], Philothea (Otis, Broaders & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf046].
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There await me till I die; prepare
A mansion for me, as again with me
To dwell; for in thy tomb will I be laid,
In the same cedar, by thy side composed:
For e'en in death I will not be disjoined.

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It soon became evident that a great change had
taken place in Philothea's health. Some attributed it
to the atmosphere of Athens, still infected with the
plague; others supposed it had its origin in the death
of Paralus. The widowed one, far from cherishing her
grief, made a strong effort to be cheerful; but her
gentle smile, like moonlight in a painting, retained its
sweetness when the life was gone. There was something
in this perfect stillness of resignation more affecting
than the utmost agony of sorrow. She complained
of no illness, but grew thinner and thinner, like a cloud
gradually floating away, and retaining its transparent
beauty to the last. Eudora lavished the most affectionate
attentions upon her friend, conscious that she
was merely strewing flowers in her pathway to the

A few weeks after their return to Athens, she said,
“Dearest Eudora, do you remember the story of the
nymph Erato, who implored the assistance of Arcas,
when the swelling torrent threatened to carry away
the tree over which she presided, and on whose preservation
her life depended?”

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“I remember it well,” replied Eudora: “Dione
told it to me when I was quite a child; and I could
never after see a tree torn by the lightning, or carried
away by the flood, or felled by the woodman, without
a shrinking and shivering feeling, lest some gentle,
fair-haired Dryad had perished with it.”

Philothea answered, “Thus was I affected, when
my grandfather first read to me Hesiod's account of
the Muses:

`Far round, the dusky earth
Brings with their hymning voices; and beneath
Their many-rustling feet a pleasant sound
Ariseth, as they take their onward way
To their own father's presence.'

“I never after could hear the quivering of summer
leaves, or the busy hum of insects, without thinking it
was the echoed voices of those

`Thrice three sacred maids, whose minds are knit
In harmony; whose only thought is song.'

“There is a deep and hidden reason why the heart
loves to invest every hill, and stream, and tree, with a
mysterious principle of life. All earthly forms are but
the clothing of some divine ideal; and this truth we
feel, though we know it not. But when I spoke of
Arcus and the Wood Nymph, I was thinking that Paralus
had been the tree, on whose existence my own
depended; and that now he was removed, I should not
long remain.”

Eudora burst into a passionate flood of tears. “Oh,
dearest Philothea, do not speak thus,” she said. “I
shall indeed be left alone in the world. Who will
guide me, who will protect me, who will love me, when
you are gone?”

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Her friend endeavored to calm these agitated feelings,
by every soothing art her kindness could suggest.

“I would rather suffer much in silence, than to give
you unnecessary pain,” she replied, affectionately:
“but I ought not to conceal from you that I am about
to follow my beloved husband. In a short time, I shall
not have sufficient strength to impart all I have to say.
You will find my clothing and jewels done up in
parcels, bearing the names of those for whom they are
intended. My dowry returns to Chrysippus, who gave
it; but Pericles has kindly given permission that everything
else should be disposed of according to my own
wishes. Several of my grandfather's manuscripts,
and a copy of Herodotus, which I transcribed while I
was in Ionia, are my farewell gifts to him. When the
silver tripod, which Paralus gained as a prize for the
best tragedy exhibited during the Dionysia, is returned
to his father's house, let them be placed within it.
The statue of Persephone, (that ominous bridal gift,)
and the ivory lyre bestowed by Aspasia, are placed in
his trust for the youthful Pericles; together with all
the books and garments that belonged to his departed
brother. In token of gratitude for the parental care of
Clinias and his wife, I have bestowed on them the
rich tripod received from Heliodora. In addition to
the trifling memorials I have already sent to Melissa,
and her artless little Zoila, you will find others prepared
for you to deliver, when restored to your peaceful
home in Elis. To my faithful Mibra I have given
all the garments and household goods suited to her
condition. My grandfather's books have been divided,
as he requested, between Plato and Philæmon; the
silver harp and the ivory tablet are likewise designed

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for them. Everything else belongs to you, dearest
Eudora. Among many tokens of my affection, you
will not value least the ivory cup lined with silver,
which Philæmon gave me when he departed from
Athens. The clasp, representing the Naiades binding
Eros in garlands, will, I trust, be worn at your marriage
with Philæmon.”

With tearful eyes, Eudora answered, “Oh, Philothea!
in the days of my pride and gayety, I little knew
what a treasure I threw from me, when I lost Philæ
mon's love. Had it not been for my own perverse
folly, I should at this moment be his happy, honored
wife. The hope of his forgiveness is now the only
gleam of sunshine in a world of gloom; but I hardly
dare to cherish it.”

Philothea kissed her affectionately, and said, “Believe
me, you will yet be united. Of this, there is an
impression on my mind too strong to admit of doubt.
If at times you are tempted to despond, remember
these words were uttered by your friend, when she
drew near the confines of another world: you will be
united to Philæmon.”

As she spoke, Mibra, who was occupied in the next
apartment, sneezed aloud. The sound was at Eudora's
right hand, and she received the auspicious omen
with a sudden thrill of joy.

Philothea observed her emotion with a gentle smile,
and added: “When we were at Elis, I wrote an
epistle to Philæmon, in which I spoke of you as my
heart dictated; and Artaphernes found opportunity to
send it directly into Persia.”

The maiden blushed deeply and painfully, as she replied
“Nay, my dearest friend—you know that I
must appear contemptible in his eyes; and I would

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not have insulted him with the offer of a heart which
he has reason to believe is so capricious and ungrateful.”

“Trust me, I said nothing whereby your modesty
might be wounded,” answered Philothea: “I wrote as
I was moved; and I felt strong assurance that my
words would waken a response in Philæmon's heart.
But there is one subject, on which my mind is filled
with foreboding. I hope you will leave Athens as
soon as it is safe to return to Elis.”

“Do you then fear that I would again dance over a
pit, because it was artfully covered with garlands?”
said Eudora. “Believe me, I have been tried with
too many sorrows, and too long been bowed under a
load of shame, to be again endangered by such treacherous

Philothea looked upon her affectionately, as she replied:
“You are good and pure; but you have ever
been like a loving and graceful vine, ready to cling to
its nearest support.”

“'Tis you have made me so,” rejoined Eudora,
kissing her pale cheek: “To you I have always applied
for advice and instruction; and when you gave
it, I felt confident and happy, as if led by the gods.”

“Then so much the more need that I should caution
the weakness I have produced,” responded Philothea.
“Should Aspasia gain access to you, when I
am gone, she will try to convince you that happiness
consists not in the duties we perform, but in the distinction
we acquire; that my hopes of Elysium are all
founded on fable; that my beloved Paralus has returned
to the elements of which he was composed;
that he nourishes the plants, and forms some of the
innumerable particles of the atmosphere. I have seen

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him in my dreams, as distinctly, as I ever saw him;
and I believe the same power that enabled me to see
him when these poor eyes were veiled in slumber,
will restore him to my vision when they are closed in
eternal sleep. Aspasia will tell you I have been a
beautiful but idle dreamer all my life. If you listen
to her syren tongue, the secret, guiding voice will be
heard no more. She will make evil appear good, and
good evil, until your soul will walk in perpetual twilight,
unable to perceive the real size and character of any

“Never,” exclaimed Eudora. “Never could she
induce me to believe you an idle dreamer. Moreover,
she will never again have opportunity to exert influence
over me. The conversation I heard between her
and Alcibiades is too well impressed upon my memory;
and while that remains unforgotten, I shall shun them
both, as I would shun a pestilence.”

Philothea answered: “I do indeed believe that no
blandishments will now make you a willing victim.
But I have a secret dread of the character and power
of Alcibiades. It is his boast that he never relinquishes
a pursuit. I have often heard Pericles speak
of his childish obstinacy and perseverance. He was
one day playing at dice with other boys, when a loaded
wagon came near. In a commanding tone, he ordered
the driver to stop; and finding his injunctions disregarded,
he laid down before the horses' feet, and told
him to go on if he dared. The same character remains
with him now. He will incur any hazard for the triumph
of his own will. From his youth, he has been a
popular idol; a circumstance which has doubtless increased
the requirements of his passions, without

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diminishing the stubbornness of his temper. Mibra tells
me he has already inquired of her concerning your
present residence and future intentions. Obstacles will
only increase his eagerness and multiply his artifices.

I have asked Clinias, whose dwelling is so closely
connected with our own, to supply the place of your
distant guardian, while you remain in Athens. In
Pericles you might likewise trust, if he were not so
fatally under the influence of Aspasia. Men think so
lightly of these matters, I sometimes fear they might
both regard the persecutions of Alcibiades too trivial
for their interference. For these reasons I wish you
to return to Elis as soon as possible when I am

Eudora's countenance kindled with indignation, as
she listened to what Mibra had told. In broken and
contrite tones, she answered; “Philothea, whatever
trials I may suffer, my former folly deserves them all.
But rest assured, whenever it pleases the gods to remove
your counsel and protection, I will not abide in
Athens a single hour after it is possible to leave with

“I find consolation in that assurance,” replied Philothea;
“and I have strong belief that a divine shield
will guard you from impending evil. And now I will
go to my couch; for I am weary, and would fain be
lulled with music.”

Eudora tenderly arranged the pillows, and played a
succession of sweet and plaintive tunes, familiar to
their childhood. Her friend listened with an expression
of tranquil pleasure, slowly keeping time by the
motion of her fingers, until she sunk into a peaceful

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After long and sweet repose, she awoke suddenly,
and looking up with a beaming glance, exclaimed, “I
shall follow him soon!”

Eudora leaned over the couch, to inquire why she
had spoken in such delighted accents.

Philothea answered: “I dreamed that I sat upon a
bank of violets, with Paralus by my side; and he wove
a garland and placed it on my head. Suddenly, golden
sounds seemed floating in the air, melting into each
other with liquid melody. It was such a scene as
Paralus often described, when his soul lived apart from
the body, and only returned at intervals, to bring
strange tidings of its wanderings. I turned to tell him
so; and I saw that we were both clothed in garments
that shone like woven sunbeams. Then voices above
us began to sing:

Come hither, kindred spirits, come!
Hail to the mystic two in one!

Even after I awoke, I seemed to hear the chorus
distinctly. It sounded like the voice of Paralus in his
youth, when we used to sing together, to please my
grandfather, as he sat by the side of that little sheltered
brook, over whose bright waters the trees embrace each
other in silent love. Dearest Eudora, I shall soon follow

The maiden turned away to conceal her tears; for
resignation to this bereavement seemed too hard a
lesson for her suffering heart.

For several weeks, there was no apparent change in
Philothea's health or spirits. The same sad serenity
remained—perpetually exciting the compassion it
never seemed to ask. Each day the children of the

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neighborhood brought their simple offering of flowers,
with which she wove fresh garlands for the tomb of
Paralus. When no longer able to visit the sepulchre
herself, she intrusted them to the youthful Pericles,
who reverently placed them on his brother's urn.

The elder Pericles seemed to find peculiar solace in
the conversation of his widowed daughter. Scarcely
a day passed without an interview between them, and
renewed indications of his affectionate solicitude.

He came one day, attended by his son, on whom his
desolated heart now bestowed a double portion of
paternal love. They remained a long time, in earnest
discourse; and when they departed, the boy was in

Philothea, with feeble steps, followed them to the
portico, and gazed after them, as long as she could see
a fold of their garments. As she turned to lean on
Eudora's arm, she said, “It is the last time I shall
ever see them. It is the last. I have felt a sister's
love for that dear boy. His heart is young and innocent.”

For a few hours after, she continued to talk with
unusual animation, and her eyes beamed with an expression
of inspired earnestness. At her request, Geta
and Mibra were called; and the faithful servants listened
with mournful gratitude to her parting words of
advice and consolation.

At evening twilight, Eudora gave her a bunch of
flowers, sent by the youthful Pericles. She took them
with a smile, and said, “How fragrant is their breath,
and how beautiful their colors! I have heard that the
Persians write their music in colors; and Paralus spoke
the same concerning music in the spirit-world.

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Perchance there was heavenly melody written on this fair
earth in the age of innocence; but mortals have now
forgotten its language.” Perceiving Eudora's thoughtful
countenance, she said: “Is my gentle friend disturbed,
lest infant nymphs closed their brief existence
when these stems were broken?”

“Nay;” replied Eudora: “My heart is sad; but not
for the perished genii of the flowers.”

Philothea understood the import of her words; and
pressing her hand affectionately, said, “Your love has
been as balm to my lonely heart; and let that remembrance
comfort you, when I go hence. Listen in stillness
to the whispered warnings of your attendant
spirit, and he will never leave you. I am weary; and
would fain repose on your affectionate bosom.”

Eudora gently placed her head as she desired; and
carefully supporting the precious burden, she began to
sing, in low and soothing tones.

After some time, the quiet and regular respiration of
the breath announced that the invalid had fallen into
tranquil slumber. Mibra came, to ask if the lamps were
wanted; but receiving a silent signal from Eudora, she
crept noiselessly away.

For more than an hour, there was perfect stillness,
as the shades of evening deepened. All at once, the
room was filled with soft, clear light! Eudora turned
her head quickly, to discover whence it came; but
could perceive no apparent cause for the sudden

With an undefined feeling of awe, she looked in the
countenance of her friend. It was motionless as marble;
but never had she seen anything so beautiful, and
so unearthly.

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As she gazed, doubting whether this could indeed
be death, there was a sound of music in the air—distinct,
yet blended, like the warbling of birds in the

It was the tune Paralus had learned from celestial
harps; and even after the last note floated away, Eudora
seemed to hear the well-remembered words:

Come hither, kindred spirits, come!
Hail to the mystic two in one!

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Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1836], Philothea (Otis, Broaders & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf046].
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