Page:Marietta, or the Two Students.djvu/53

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'Twas a glorious night, and a most living beauty, was shining upon the earth, which smiling back its thanks, languidly resigned itself to rest. The world and all that the inquisitive eye could gaze upon was beautiful, and bathed in a flood of moonlight, still retained something of its primal brightness.

"All heaven and earth were still—though not in sleep.
But breathless as we grow when feeling most.
And silent as we stand in thought too deep."

It was ten o'clock, and Marietta and Ada are seated by a window, as we have seen them once before. They are drinking in the mild loveliness of the evening, and its tranquilizing stillness stirs up a delicious rapture in their hearts.

"Ada," said the former, "let us walk abroad and enjoy the beauty of the night. I am now quite well, and can incur no risk by the proceeding. It will do me good."

"With pleasure, Marietta. I was about to make the same proposal; for who can be so stupid as to sleep on such a night."

They were soon ready, and arm in arm sallied forth, taking their way instinctively towards the cemetery. Marietta was silent and thoughtful, and her companion observed that she frequently turned her eyes gratefully to heaven, and that her lips moved as if in prayer.

Stopping frequently to admire the star-gemmed canopy over their beads, considerable time elapsed before they reached the church-yard. Marietta could not repress an involuntary shudder when her eye fell upon the numerous marble slabs. and mounds which marked the last resting place of a human being.

And the sight revived most vividly the late dark passage in her life—her burial and strange resurrection. The gate was open and they entered. Reading the inscriptions as they passed onward, they reached the middle of the yard.

"What sound is that?" said Marietta, in a suppressed and slightly tremulous voice, bending forward in the attitude of listening.

"I heard nothing, let us listen."

"Do you not now, Ada?" continued Marietta in a whisper.

"Yes, I think I can," replied her companion turning pale.

"Now I hear it distinctly," and again she listened.

"What can it be?'

"It resembles the sound produced by throwing up the earth with a spade; and hark!" Marietta added, Ada nervously clinging close to her friend, "I think it must be the body snatchers. They are opening a grave not far from us."

"What shall we do, give the alarm?"

"No, we are not certain that the supposition is correct. Let us make certain of it first. We will proceed softly in the direction from whence the sounds proceed."

"Would it be prudent, Ada?" said Marietta, looking enquiringly at the young girl by her side, whose alarm had entirely subsided, and whose boldness seemed to increase momentarily.

"Certainly! No one will harm us. If they should discover our approach, they would be more frightened than we should be.'

With cautious tread the young ladies advanced in the direction of the sounds, they every moment growing more distinct, and by their peculiarity proving that they were right in their conjectures. Suddenly they ceased, and they paused in the hope of hearing them renewed, but in vain.

"Let us move a little this way," said Ada, leading her friend with a gentle force in the direction pointed out.—"They cannot be far from here, and we shall be likely to see before coming too suddenly upon them."

Again they advanced until Marietta declared in a whisper that she would go no farther.

"Let us reach that large grave-stone, just before us, and wait until we hear them recommence operations." They had now arrived at the place designated