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long desired to visit. It was a burning day in June, not a breath of air stirring, and the heat so great, that even in our twenty minutes passage across, I was almost overpowered with faintness, and truly thankful to find myself upon the long wooden pier at Ryde, crowded as it was with faces, some of them too familiar to be passed without the exchange of a hasty greeting. A carriage was soon ready for us, and as we drove through the still green lanes and watched the bright sun sinking lower and lower till it dipped below the golden waves, we rejoiced in deep silent thankfulness at the verdure and beauty of the fair world around.
Yet a strange feeling, less of joy than of sadness crept over me, as I leaned back in the carriage and thought how vain must ever be the attempt to find peace-true peace, in any earthly scene, however pure and calm. Not that I had indulged so wild a dream, but I had longed, perhaps too passionately, to find myself once more amidst scenes that had formerly been familiar to me, and now that the wish, so long indulged, was realized, my heart sickened for a moment with the painful consciousness, that although all around was as lovely as before, the sunny joy of youth, the buoyant freshness of mind that had delighted in it once was now gone for ever. It was but for a moment, however, that I indulged such feelings; there was a change within me, deeper far than the loss of youth's gay spirits could ever have effected, and I bowed my head in silent gratitude to Him Who had made my sorrow the nurse of holier and humbler thoughts.
That evening we spent in viewing the spot which was to be our summer home, and lovely indeed it was, and undisturbed by any sound, save the deep murmuring ocean, which washed up to the foot of our little lawn, and the voices of happy birds in the thick shrubberies and more distant copse. My brother still kept our curiosity upon the stretch, as to the church and daily prayers, which he had promised should not be wanting to complete our happiness. In arranging our plans for the following morning, we cunningly inquired at what hour the service began, and whether we should have far to walk ?
hoping thereby to elicit some satisfactory information, but we gained nothing beyond a playful command to be dressed betimes; and ready, with Prayer Books in our hands to accompany him at seven o'clock. I was ready and waiting before the clock struck seven, and when my brother and sister came down, we set off on our way to church, along, as it seemed to me, the most tangled and unfrequented paths that could be discovered. My sister and I exchanged glances, but we said nothing, knowing that the mystery must be speedily unravelled, and at last, when we stood on the smooth greensward at the top of the cliff, Frank, giving an arm to each, told us that there was indeed no daily service in the parish church of Kingsleigh, but, that within ten minutes' walk of the cottage he had chosen for our dwelling, there stood the ruins of a chapel, once annexed to an Abbey which had been dismantled either at the Reformation or in the Great Rebellion. He and his friend Langton had found it out first when they were living at Kingsleigh, and had read prayers there daily, and "sometimes," said my brother, we collected quite a little congregation there on the summer mornings. When first I recollected the circumstance I was afraid to mention it to you, lest the years which have intervened since that time should have made it quite a ruin, or thrown it open to the public eye, but when I came down," added he, "I found everything almost as we had left it, perhaps a somewhat thicker tapestry of ivy upon the broken windows and roofless towers, but the old chapel looked even more solemn in its gray and mouldering beauty than when I last saw it." Even the pavement of the chancel was uninjured, as if time itself had spared the stones beneath which slept the dust of so many saints of old, and the steps marking the spot where the altar once stood, were still remaining, although broken and imperfect. "Here," said he, "we can say our daily prayers together; the place has lost nothing of its sacredness, though it is so long since any regular priest officiated within its walls, and perhaps in the absence of any living congregation we shall be led to realize more fully that holy Communion of saints which our Church bids us believe in and pray for."
As he spoke, we descended a narrow pathway on the side of the cliff, and presently found ourselves in what had once been an open space, although now much overgrown by tangled weeds and brushwood. The cliff, which rose on one side high above our heads, sheltering the spot on which we stood from the north-westerly breezes, was clothed with a tangled undergrowth of roses and wild honeysuckle. The east window of the ruined chapel looked across the sea, and through its broken shafts and fretted tracery the sunlight poured in a flood of radiance while the gentle morning breeze lifted the long wreaths. of ivy and honeysuckle, and, as they waved to and fro filled the holy place with a dewy fragrance, which we, in our silent hearts, wished might be accepted in heaven in lieu of that incense of prayer which no longer ascended from the desecrated spot. It was not a time for words, and while my sister and myself knelt on the pavement of the chancel, my brother ascended the altar-steps and turning towards the east, chanted in low solemn tones the beautiful Office for Morning Prayer. The half repining thoughts which had been busy at my heart for many melancholy days, seemed suddenly, as I knelt, to pass away, and the memory of the dead there sleeping, who had loved and sorrowed once like me, and now were each gathered to their rest, filled my heart with an ineffable sensation of joy and peace. After the blessing had been pronounced, we still continued kneeling in silent prayer, and in the breathless hush that followed I fancied I heard a light rustling step and the swing of a closing door at no great distance, but I saw nothing when I rose, nor had either of my companions noticed the sound.
Silently and reverently we walked round the lonely spot, and it seemed strange and unaccountable that while the nave and such other parts of the chapel as were still standing were overgrown with grass and nettles, and many a rank unwholesome weed; the marble pavement of the chancel, though broken and weather-stained, was perfectly free from any such rank growth, while round the arches and broken windows ivy and roses twined as if some loving hand had guided them. As I looked out
of one of the side-windows in the thick wall of the chancel, wondering at the massive strength which had for so many years withstood the rough breezes of the southern seas, my eye was caught by a few Latin words traced in red chalk upon the stone window-sill. I called my brother to look, and as he repeated them in English, "LORD, remember the souls of Thy glorious Saints here buried," our hearts responded to the prayer, and we were glad to think that some wanderer, like ourselves, had in all probability recently visited the spot, and thus recorded his pious recollection of the holy dead.
It was late in the day ere we returned to our home, and from that time forward the hours of matins and evensong found us daily with our brother, and dear spiritual friend, in that sacred place. Once or twice, two or three of the village children watched us at a distance, but no other signs of human existence ever disturbed the silent solemnity of our devotions, or broke in upon the low hollow murmur of the distant sea, chanting a mysterious undersong of gratitude and praise.
The ruined church became my favourite retreat at all hours of the day, and while my brother and sister took long rambles together in the beautiful neighbourhood of Kingsleigh, I spent hours with my book or work under the shadow of its dear venerable walls. One very sultry day my companions determined to take their walk after, instead of before our evening prayers, leaving me in our old sanctuary to read or muse till the waning daylight warned me home. It was just the hour for meditation, and my book soon dropped unnoticed from my hand, nor did I wake from my reverie till my brother and sister looking in as they returned from their walk, hurried me home with many exclamations at my carelessness in sitting so long on the damp grass. In my haste I forgot my book-a small Latin edition of S. Thomas à Kempis, and when we returned to early prayer on the following morning, I found, to my infinite annoyance, that it had disappeared. I knew of no one besides ourselves who ever visited those ruins, and could only conjecture that it had been picked up by some chance visitant, and was lost to me for ever. It was just possible that one of the
children who occasionally peeped in upon us might have seen the book lying on the stones, and carried it home with them, and in this hope I was turning my steps towards the little cluster of cottages at the top of the cliff, when I met two or three children descending the steep path, and stopped to make my inquiries of them. They listened, with the peculiarly blank countenances country children often exhibit on any similar occasion, and I was turning hopelessly away when one little rosy-cheeked girl, who, while I spoke, had seemed more intent on examining my dress than answering my questions, exclaimed, "If the lady left her book in the old churchyard," (so they always called the ruins,) "I daresay the foreign young lady has taken it home with her. I saw her going down the cliff after the moon was up." What foreign young lady ?" I asked with some curiosity. "She that lives up yonder," answered a bluff looking boy, with his finger in his mouth. After some further inquiries on my part, I learned that a young girl, a foreigner, had for more than a year past occupied one. of the more distant cottages. She lived alone; once or twice only, the children said, a man with long beard and moustache, whom they supposed to be her brother, had visited her, and they had talked much and earnestly in some strange foreign language, and after he left the young lady had seemed for a long time very sad. They saw little of her in the village unless any one were sick or in trouble, and then the foreign lady, they said, was sure to find it out, and do something to help them, though the children thought she was very poor, for, wonderfully clever as she was in preparing nice dishes at little cost for those who were sick and needed nourishment, they believed she had scarcely any food cooked for herself, and no one ever entered her cottage or gave her the least assistance in her domestic duties.
My curiosity was not a little excited by this strange history, and although I expected to find that one-half of it at least was simple exaggeration, I was not sorry that the loss of my book supplied me with an excuse for a visit, which might lead to further acquaintance. I was proceeding towards the cottage when I beheld her slowly