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Wieland or the Transformation

Chapter 4
Six years of uninterrupted happiness had rolled away, since my brother's marriage. The
sound of war had been heard, but it was at such a distance as to enhance our enjoyment
by affording objects of comparison. The Indians were repulsed on the one side, and
Canada was conquered on the other. Revolutions and battles, however calamitous to
those who occupied the scene, contributed in some sort to our happiness, by agitating our
minds with curiosity, and furnishing causes of patriotic exultation. Four children, three of
whom were of an age to compensate, by their personal and mental progress, the cares of
which they had been, at a more helpless age, the objects, exercised my brother's
tenderness. The fourth was a charming babe that promised to display the image of her
mother, and enjoyed perfect health. To these were added a sweet girl fourteen years old,
who was loved by all of us, with an affection more than parental.
Her mother's story was a mournful one. She had come hither from England when this
child was an infant, alone, without friends, and without money. She appeared to have
embarked in a hasty and clandestine manner. She passed three years of solitude and
anguish under my aunt's protection, and died a martyr to woe; the source of which she
could, by no importunities, be prevailed upon to unfold. Her education and manners
bespoke her to be of no mean birth. Her last moments were rendered serene, by the
assurances she received from my aunt, that her daughter should experience the same
protection that had been extended to herself.
On my brother's marriage, it was agreed that she should make a part of his family. I
cannot do justice to the attractions of this girl. Perhaps the tenderness she excited might
partly originate in her personal resemblance to her mother, whose character and
misfortunes were still fresh in our remembrance. She was habitually pensive, and this
circumstance tended to remind the spectator of her friendless condition; and yet that
epithet was surely misapplied in this case. This being was cherished by those with whom
she now resided, with unspeakable fondness. Every exertion was made to enlarge and
improve her mind. Her safety was the object of a solicitude that almost exceeded the
bounds of discretion. Our affection indeed could scarcely transcend her merits. She never
met my eye, or occurred to my reflections, without exciting a kind of enthusiasm. Her
softness, her intelligence, her equanimity, never shall I see surpassed. I have often shed
tears of pleasure at her approach, and pressed her to my bosom in an agony of fondness.
While every day was adding to the charms of her person, and the stores of her mind, there
occurred an event which threatened to deprive us of her. An officer of some rank, who
had been disabled by a wound at Quebec, had employed himself, since the ratification of
peace, in travelling through the colonies. He remained a considerable period at
Philadelphia, but was at last preparing for his departure. No one had been more
frequently honoured with his visits than Mrs. Baynton, a worthy lady with whom our
family were intimate. He went to her house with a view to perform a farewell visit, and
 
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