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[291]

A sad message abruptly terminated his visit at Newport, that his sister Mary was near her end. No bereavement before or after ever affected him so deeply as this. Always fragile, with tendencies to consumption which were spread in the family, she had rare charms of nature and person. Charles returned from Europe to find her developed during his absence into beautiful womanhood. To a brother's affection was added a brother's pride in her comeliness. He enjoyed her graces at home, and delighted to be her escort in society. With poignant grief he watched her sure decline. There was never a moment when he would not have gladly given his life for hers. In the spring of 1842 she gave up her studies, on account of ill health. With the beginning of 1843 she had a severe hemorrhage; and in the summer and autumn her increasing weakness and pallor of countenance were evident. In the spring of 1844 she was fading fast. During his own illness, the almost sleepless mother was passing from the bed of one to that of the other. To Dr. Howe he wrote, Sept. 8: ‘I had a dear letter from my sister Mary, in which she tells me she has been obliged to part with her beautiful hair. It touched me to the soul.’ His letter to his brother George, Oct. 15, tells the story of her last days.1

Prescott wrote to him, as a postscript to a note of Aug. 12, 1844:—

Since writing this note, I learn by the papers the melancholy intelligence of your sister's death. Little did I think, when I saw her in the summer, she was so near her end. Most truly do I sympathize with you, dear Sumner, in the loss of so lovely and accomplished a being, and one who stood in such delightful and endearing relations with yourself. Yet her lot, perhaps, cannot be considered as hard. She has passed through the morning

1 Post, p. 321.

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