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Elma’s Mission
by [?]

“EVER, evermore!” repeated a young man, bending with a smile over the fair face that rested on his breast.

“Yes! evermore!” softly breathed the smiling lips upon which he gazed, and. evermore shone from the melting, heavenly eyes.

“And you believe all these bright fancies you have been telling me of, darling?” asked the young man.

“Ah! yes–they are truth to me; they dwell in my heart of hearts–they belong to the deepest and sweetest mysteries of my being. I gaze out through the glory upon life, and I see no coldness, no darkness–everything is coloured with bright radiance from the eternal world. It is happiness that gives me this beautiful view. I have known that the world was filled, with love, but I have never so clearly seen it before. And sure I am that if I were to die now, this same splendour of love would still be poured through my soul; for it is myself, and I cannot lose it. If you were next week in Europe, far from me, would not your inner world be illumined with love and hope?”

“It certainly would!

“And can you doubt the durability, the truth and reality of this inner-life? Can this clay instrument be of any moment farther than it serves to develop life, in this, our first school?–we should not confound the earthly dwelling with the free man who makes it his temporary home. Ah! Horace, I feel, I am, sure, you will some day enjoy all these ennobling thoughts with me, and then existence will also be to you sublime.”

An expression of radiant hope flitted over the young man’s face, and he kissed the soft lips and eyes of his betrothed, while he murmured, “I would suffer the loss of all happiness on earth, I would bear every stroke the Almighty might inflict, if I could believe as you do, of a life beyond this. I am no unbeliever, you know. I read my Bible daily, but beyond this world everything to me is misty and dark. I shudder at the ghastliness of the grave, and would forget that I cannot always clasp your warm heart to my own. You were surely sent to be my good angel, to teach me all that is gentlest and best in my nature, and this holy love must last evermore. I have always smiled at the idea of love, at first sight, but when I first saw your face, Elma, none ever was so welcome; yet if you had not proved all that your face and manner promised, I should not have fallen in love. I half-believe matches are made in Heaven–ours will be Heaven-made, if any are. You think human beings are made for each other, as the saying is, do you not?”

“Yes! returned Elma, smiling, “I hope we are made to be partners in this world, and a better one, but how can I know it? When my happy womanhood first dawned, I had wild, sweet dreams that here on earth I and many others would surely meet the true half that belonged to us–one with whom every thought would find a response. I have met many whose views are like mine, and yet whose natures are so different that we could not see each other’s souls; perhaps if they had loved me, I could have seen more clearly–but my rebellious heart went forth to meet you, although I tried so long to turn away–although I trembled to think the religion of our natures was so unlike.”

“I once thought, love, that I should never win you–it was your pale lips and the mournful intensity of your look, when we met after a long absence, that gave me new hope; and I have often wondered, Elma, why you gave so unhesitating an assent, when you had for months at a time avoided me at every opportunity.”