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Title: The Children of the Abbey

Date of first publication: 1880

Author: Regina Maria Roche (1764?-1845)

Date first posted: March 17, 2014

Date last updated: March 17, 2014

Faded Page eBook #20140312

This eBook was produced by: David T. Jones, Pat McCoy & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net





[Pg 1]

“But, gracious Heavens! Who can describe the emotions of her soul, when the original of the picture so fondly sketched, so hastily obliterated, met her eye.” Page 532.

[Pg 2]


THE

CHILDREN OF THE ABBEY.

A TALE.

BY

REGINA MARIA ROCHE.

A matchless pair; With equal virtue formed, and equal grace, The same, distinguished by their sex alone: Hers the mild lustre of the blooming morn, And his the radiance of the risen day.—Thomson.

NEW YORK:
ALBERT COGSWELL, PUBLISHER,
No. 24 Bond Street.
1880


[Pg 3]

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER I.
CHAPTER II.
CHAPTER III.
CHAPTER IV.
CHAPTER V.
CHAPTER VI.
CHAPTER VII.
CHAPTER VIII.
CHAPTER IX.
CHAPTER X.
CHAPTER XI.
CHAPTER XII.
CHAPTER XIII.
CHAPTER XIV.
CHAPTER XV.
CHAPTER XVI.
CHAPTER XVII.
CHAPTER XVIII
CHAPTER XIX.
CHAPTER XX.
CHAPTER XXI.
CHAPTER XXII.
CHAPTER XXIII.
CHAPTER XXIV.
CHAPTER XXV.
CHAPTER XXVI.
CHAPTER XXVII.
CHAPTER XXVIII.
CHAPTER XXIX.
CHAPTER XXX.
CHAPTER XXXI.
CHAPTER XXXII.
CHAPTER XXXIII.
CHAPTER XXXIV.
CHAPTER XXXV.
CHAPTER XXXVI.
CHAPTER XXXVII.
CHAPTER XXXVIII.
CHAPTER XXXIX.
CHAPTER XL.
CHAPTER XLI.
CHAPTER XLII.
CHAPTER XLIII.
CHAPTER XLIV.
CHAPTER XLV.
CHAPTER XLVI.
CHAPTER XLVII.
CHAPTER XLVIII.
CHAPTER XLIX.
CHAPTER L.
CHAPTER LI.
CHAPTER LII.
CHAPTER LIII.
CHAPTER LIV.
CHAPTER LV.
CHAPTER LVI.
CHAPTER LVII.
CHAPTER LVIII.


THE

CHILDREN OF THE ABBEY.


CHAPTER I.

“Yellow sheafs from rich Ceres the cottage had crowned, Green rustles were strewed on the floor; The casements sweet woodbine crept wantonly round, And decked the sod seats at the door.”—Cunningham.

Hail, sweet asylum of my infancy! Content and innocence reside beneath your humble roof, and charity unboastful of the good it renders. Hail, ye venerable trees! my happiest hours of childish gayety were passed beneath your shelter—then, careless as the birds that sung upon your boughs, I laughed the hours away, nor knew of evil.

Here surely I shall be guarded from duplicity; and if not happy, at least in some degree tranquil. Here unmolested may I wait, till the rude storm of sorrow is overblown, and my father’ s arms are again expanded to receive me.

Such were the words of Amanda, as the chaise (which she had hired at a neighboring village on quitting the mail) turned down a little verdant lane, almost darkened by old trees, whose interwoven branches allowed her scarcely a glimpse of her nurse’ s cottage, till she had reached the door.

A number of tender recollections rushing upon her mind, rendered her almost unable to alight; but the nurse and her husband, who had been impatiently watching for the arrival of their fondling, assisted her, and the former, obeying the dictates of nature and affection, half stifled her with caresses; the latter respectfully kissed her hand, and dropped a tear of unutterable joy upon it. Lort, he said, he was surprised, to be sure, at the[Pg 4] alteration a few years had made in her person—why, it seemed to him as if it was only the other day since he had carried her about in his arms, quite a little fairy. Then he begged to know how his tear old captain was, and Mr. Oscar—and whether the latter was not grown a very fine youth. Amanda, smiling through her tears, endeavored to answer his inquiries; but she was so much affected by her feelings, as to be scarcely able to speak; and when, by her desire, he went out to discharge the chaise, and assist the young man (who had travelled with her from London) to bring in her luggage, her head sunk upon her nurse’ s bosom, whose arms encircled her waist. “My dear faithful nurse,” she sobbed, “your poor child is again returned to seek an asylum from you.” “And she is heartily welcome,” replied the good creature, crying herself, “and I have taken care to have everything so nice, and so tidy, and so comfortable, that I warrant you the greatest laty in the land need not disdain your apartments; and here are two little girls, as well as myself, that will always be ready to attend, serve and obey you. This is Ellen, your own foster-sister; and this is Betsey, the little thing I had in the cradle when you went away—and I have besides, though I say it myself that should not say it, two as fine lads as you could wish to see; they are now at work at a farmer’s hard by; but they will be here presently. Thank Cot, we are all happy, though obliged to earn our own bread; but ’tis sweeter for that reason, since labor gives us health to enjoy it, and contentment blesses us all.” Amanda affectionately embraced the two girls, who were the pictures of health and cheerfulness, and was then conducted into a little parlor, which, with a small bedchamber adjoining it, was appropriated to her use. The neatness of the room was truly pleasing; the floor was nicely sanded; the hearth was dressed with “flowers and fennel gay;” and the chimney-piece adorned with a range of broken teacups, “wisely kept for show;” a clock ticked behind the door; and an ebony cupboard displayed a profusion of the showiest ware the country could produce. And now the nurse, on “hospitable thought intent,” hurried from Amanda to prepare her dinner. The chicken, as she said herself, was ready to pop down in a minute; Ellen tied the asparagus; and Betsey laid the cloth; Edwin drew his best cider, and, having brought it in himself, retired to entertain his guest in the kitchen (Amanda’s travelling companion), before whom he had already set some of his most substantial fare.

Dinner, in the opinion of Amanda, was served in a moment; but her heart was too full to eat, though pressed to do so with[Pg 5] the utmost tenderness, a tenderness which, in truth, was the means of overcoming her.

When insulted by malice, or oppressed by cruelty, the heart can assume a stern fortitude foreign to its nature; but this seeming apathy vanishes at the voice of kindness, as the rigid frost of winter melts before the gentle influence of the sun, and tears, gushing tears of gratitude and sensibility, express its yielding feelings. Sacred are such tears; they flow from the sweet source of social affection: the good alone can shed them.

Her nurse’s sons soon returned from their labor; two fine nut-brown youths. They had been the companions of her infant sports, and she spoke to them with the most engaging affability.

Domestic bliss and rural felicity Amanda had always been accustomed to, till within a short period; her attachment to them was still as strong as ever, and had her father been with her, she would have been happy.

It was now about the middle of June, and the whole country was glowing with luxuriant beauty. The cottage was in reality a comfortable, commodious farm-house; it was situated in North Wales, and the romantic scenery surrounding it was highly pleasing to a disposition like Amanda’s, which delighted equally in the sublime and beautiful. The front of the cottage was almost covered with woodbine, intermingled with vines; and the lane already mentioned formed a shady avenue up to the very door; one side overlooked a deep valley, winding amongst hills clad in the liveliest verdure; a clear stream running through it turned a mill in its course, and afforded a salutary coolness to the herds which ruminated on its banks; the other side commanded a view of rich pastures, terminated by a thick grove, whose natural vistas gave a view of cultivated farms, a small irregular village, the spire of its church, and a fine old castle, whose stately turrets rose above the trees surrounding them.

The farm-yard, at the back of the cottage, was stocked with poultry and all the implements of rural industry; the garden was divided from it by a rude paling, interwoven with honeysuckles and wild roses; the part appropriated for vegetables divided from the part sacred to Flora by rows of fruit-trees; a craggy precipice hung over it, covered with purple and yellow flowers, thyme, and other odoriferous herbs, which afforded browsage to three or four goats that skipped about in playful gambols; a silver stream trickled down the precipice, and winding round a plantation of shrubs, fell with a gentle murmur[Pg 6] into the valley. Beneath a projecting fragment of the rock a natural recess was formed, thickly lined with moss, and planted round with a succession of beautiful flowers.

“Here, scattered wild, the lily of the vale Its balmy essence breathes; here cowslips hang The dewy head, and purple violets lurk— With all the lowly children of the shade.”—Thomson.

Of those scenes Amanda had but an imperfect recollection; such a faint idea as we retain of a confused but agreeable dream, which, though we cannot explain, leaves a pleasing impression behind.

Peculiar circumstances had driven her from the shelter of a parent’s arms, to seek security in retirement at this abode of simplicity and peace. Here the perturbation of fear subsided; but the soft melancholy of her soul at times was heightened, when she reflected, that in this very place an unfortunate mother had expired almost at the moment of giving her birth.

Amanda was now about nineteen; a description of her face and person would not do her justice, as it never could convey a full idea of the ineffable sweetness and sensibility of the former, or the striking elegance and beautiful proportion of the latter.

Sorrow had faded her vivid bloom; for the distresses of her father weighed heavy on her heart, and the blossom drooped with the tree which supported it. Her agonized parent witnessing this sudden change, sent her into Wales, as much for health as for security; she was ordered goat’s whey and gentle exercise; but she firmly believed that consolation on her father’s account could alone effect a cure.

Though the rose upon her cheek was pale, and the lustre of her eyes was fled, she was from those circumstances (if less dazzling to the eye) more affecting to the heart. Cold and unfeeling indeed must that one have been, which could see her unmoved; for hers was that interesting face and figure which had power to fix the wandering eye and change the gaze of admiration into the throb of sensibility: nor was her mind inferior to the form that enshrined it.

She now exerted her spirits in gratitude to her humble but benevolent friends. Her arrival had occasioned a little festival at the cottage: the tea things, which were kept more for show than use in the ebony cupboard, were now taken out and carried by her desire to the recess in the garden; whither Mrs. Edwin followed the family with a hot cake, Amanda thought large enough to serve half the principality.

[Pg 7]The scene was delightful, and well calculated to banish all sadness but despair; Amanda was therefore cheered; for she was too much the child of piety ever to have felt its baneful influence. In the midst of her troubles she still looked up with confidence to that Power who has promised never to forsake the righteous.

The harmless jest, the jocund laugh went round, and Amanda enjoyed the innocent gayety; for a benevolent mind will ever derive pleasure from the happiness of others. The declining sun now gave softer beauties to the extensive scenery; the lowing of the cattle was faintly echoed by the neighboring hills; the cheerful carol of the peasant floated on the evening gale, that stole perfumes from the beds of flowers and wafted them around; the busy bees had now completed the delicious labor of the day, and with incessant hummings sought their various hives, while—

“Every copse Deep-tangled, tree irregular, and bush Were prodigal of harmony.”—Thomson.

To complete the concert, a blind harper, who supported himself by summer rambles through the country, strolled into the garden; and after a plentiful repast of bread and cheese, and nut-brown ale, began playing.

The venerable appearance of the musician, the simple melody of his harp, recalled to Amanda’s recollection the tales of other times, in which she had so often delighted: it sent her soul back to the ages of old, to the days of other years, when bards rehearsed the exploits of heroes, and sung the praises of the dead. “While the ghosts of those they sung, came in their rustling winds, and were seen to bend with joy towards the sound of their praise.” To proceed, in the beautiful language of Ossian, “The sound was mournful and low, like the song of the tomb;” such as Fingal heard, when the crowded sighs of his bosom rose; and, “some of my heroes are low,” said the gray-haired King of Morven: “I hear the sound of death on the harp. Ossian, touch the trembling string. Bid the sorrow rise, that their spirits may fly with joy to Morven’s woody hills. He touched the harp before the king: the sound was mournful and low. Bend forwards from your clouds,” he said, “ghosts of my fathers, bend. Lay by the red terror of your course. Receive the falling chief; whether he comes from a distant land, or rises from the rolling sea, let his robe of mist be near; his spear, that is formed of a cloud; place an half-extinguished[Pg 8] meteor by his side, in the form of the hero’s sword. And, oh! let his countenance be lovely, that his friends may delight in his presence. Bend from your clouds,” he said, “ghosts of my fathers, bend.”

The sweet enthusiasm which arose in Amanda’s mind, from her present situation, her careful nurse soon put an end to, by reminding her of the heavy dew then falling. Amanda could have stayed for hours in the garden; but resigning her inclination to her nurse’s, she immediately accompanied her into the house. She soon felt inclined to retire to rest; and, after a slight supper of strawberries and cream (which was all they could prevail on her to touch), she withdrew to her chamber, attended by the nurse and her two daughters, who all thought their services requisite; and it was not without much difficulty Amanda persuaded them to the contrary.

Left to solitude, a tender awe stole upon the mind of Amanda, when she reflected that in this very room her mother had expired. The recollection of her sufferings—the sorrows her father and self had experienced since the period of her death—the distresses they still felt and might yet go through—all raised a sudden agony in her soul, and tears burst forth. She went to the bed, and knelt beside it; “Oh! my mother,” she cried, “if thy departed spirit be permitted to look down upon this world, hear and regard the supplications of thy child, for thy protection amidst the snares which may be spread for her. Yet,” continued she, after a pause, “that Being, who has taken thee to himself, will, if I continue innocent, extend his guardian care: to Him, therefore, to Him be raised the fervent prayer for rendering abortive every scheme of treachery.”

She prayed with all the fervency of devotion; her wandering thoughts were all restrained, and her passions gradually subsided into a calm.

Warmed by a pure and ardent piety, that sacred power which comes with healing on its wings to the afflicted children of humanity, she felt a placid hope spring in her heart, that whispered to it, all would yet be well.

She arose tranquil and animated. The inhabitants of the cottage had retired to repose; and she heard no sound save the ticking of the clock from the outside room. She went to the window, and raising the white calico curtain, looked down the valley; it was illumined by the beams of the moon, which tipped the trees with a shadowy silver, and threw a line of radiance on the clear rivulet. All was still, as if creation slept upon the bosom of serenity. Here, while contemplating the[Pg 9] scene, a sudden flutter at the window startled her; and she saw in a moment after a bird flit across, and perch upon a tree whose boughs shaded the casement; a soft serenade was immediately begun by the sweet and plaintive bird of night.

Amanda at length dropped the curtain, and sought repose; it soon blessed her eyelids, and shed a sweet oblivion over all her cares.

“Sleep on, sweet innocent! And when a soul is found sincerely so, A thousand liveried angels lacquey it, Driving far off all thought of harm or sin.”—Milton.

CHAPTER II.

“Canst thou bear cold and hunger? Can these limbs, Framed for the tender offices of love, Endure the bitter gripes of smarting poverty? When in a bed of straw we shrink together, And the bleak winds shall whistle round our heads, Wilt thou talk to me thus, Thus hush my cares, and shelter me with love?”—Otway.

Fitzalan, the father of Amanda, was the descendant of an ancient Irish family, which had, however, unfortunately attained the summit of its prosperity long before his entrance into life; so that little more than a name, once dignified by illustrious actions, was left to its posterity. The parents of Fitzalan were supported by an employment under government, which enabled them to save a small sum for their son and only child, who at an early period became its sole master, by their dying within a short period of each other. As soon as he had in some degree recovered the shock of such calamities, he laid out his little pittance in the purchase of a commission, as a profession best suiting his inclinations and finances.

The war between America and France had then just commenced; and Fitzalan’s regiment was amongst the first forces sent to the aid of the former. The scenes of war, though dreadfully affecting to a soul of exquisite sensibility, such as he possessed, had not power to damp the ardor of his spirit; for, with the name, he inherited the hardy resolution of his progenitors.

He had once the good fortune to save the life of a British soldier; he was one of a small party, who, by the treachery of their guides, were suddenly surprised in a wood, through[Pg 10] which they were obliged to pass to join another detachment of the army. Their only way in this alarming exigence was to retreat to the fort from whence they had but lately issued: encompassed as they were by the enemy, this was not achieved without the greatest difficulty. Just as they had reached it, Fitzalan saw far behind them, a poor soldier, who had been wounded at the first onset, just overtaken by two Indians. Yielding to the impulse of compassion in which all idea of self was lost, Fitzalan hastily turned to his assistance, and flinging himself between the pursued and the pursuers, he kept them at bay till the poor creature had reached a place of safety. This action, performed at the imminent hazard of his life, secured him the lasting gratitude of the soldier, whose name was Edwin; the same that now afforded an asylum to his daughter.

Edwin had committed some juvenile indiscretions, which highly incensed his parents; in despair at incurring their resentment, he enlisted with a recruiting party in their neighborhood: but, accustomed all his life to peace and plenty, he did not by any means relish his new situation. His gratitude to Fitzalan was unbounded; he considered him as the preserver of his life; and, on the man’s being dismissed, who had hitherto attended him as a servant, entreated he might be taken in his place. This entreaty Fitzalan complied with; he was pleased with Edwin’s manner; and, having heard the little history of his misfortunes, promised, on their return to Europe, to intercede with his friends for him.

During his stay abroad, Fitzalan was promoted to a captain-lieutenancy; his pay was his only support, which, of necessity, checked the benevolence of a spirit “open as day to melting charity.”

On the regiment’s return to Europe, he obtained Edwin’s discharge, who longed to re-enter upon his former mode of life. He accompanied the penitent himself into Wales, where he was received with the truest rapture.

In grief for his loss, his parents had forgotten all resentment for his errors, which, indeed, had never been very great: they had lost their two remaining children during his absence, and now received him as the sole comfort and hope of their age.

His youthful protector was blest with the warmest gratitude: tears filled his fine eyes, as he beheld the pleasure of his parents, and the contrition of the son; and he departed with that heartfelt pleasure, which ever attends and rewards an action of humanity.

[Pg 11] He now accompanied his regiment into Scotland; they were quartered at a fort in a remote part of that kingdom.

Near the fort was a fine old abbey, belonging to the family of Dunreath; the high hills which nearly encompassed it, were almost all covered with trees, whose dark shades gave an appearance of gloomy solitude to the building.

The present possessor, the Earl of Dunreath, was now far advanced in life; twice had he married, in expectation of a male heir to his large estates, and twice he had been disappointed. His first lady had expired immediately after the birth of a daughter. She had taken under her protection a young female, who, by unexpected vicissitudes in her family, was left destitute of support. On the demise of her patroness, she retired from the Abbey to the house of a kinswoman in its vicinity; the Earl of Dunreath, accustomed to her society, felt his solitude doubly augmented by her absence. He had ever followed the dictates of inclination, and would not disobey them now: ere the term of mourning was expired, he offered her his hand, and was accepted.

The fair orphan, now triumphant mistress of the Abbey, found there was no longer occasion to check her natural propensities. Her soul was vain, unfeeling, and ambitious; and her sudden elevation broke down all the barriers which prudence had hitherto opposed to her passions.

She soon gained an absolute ascendancy over her lord—she knew how to assume the smile of complacency, and the accent of sensibility.

Forgetful of the kindness of her late patroness, she treated the infant she had left with the most cruel neglect; a neglect which was, if possible, increased, on the birth of her own daughter, as she could not bear that Augusta (instead of possessing the whole) should only share the affection and estates of her father. She contrived by degrees to alienate the former from the innocent Malvina; and she trusted, she should find means to deprive her of the latter.

Terrified by violence, and depressed by severity, the child looked dejected and unhappy; and this appearance, Lady Dunreath made the Earl believe, proceeded from sulkiness and natural ill-humor. Her own child, unrestrained in any wish of her heart, was, from her playful gayety, a constant source of amusement to the Earl; her mother had taken care to instruct her in all the little endearments which, when united with infantine sweetness, allure almost imperceptibly the affections.

[Pg 12] Malvina, ere she knew the meaning of sorrow, thus became its prey; but in spite of envy or ill treatment, she grew up with all the graces of mind and form that had distinguished her mother; her air was at once elegant and commanding; her face replete with sweetness; and her fine eyes had a mixture of sensibility and languor in them, which spoke to the feeling soul.

Augusta was also a fine figure; but unpossessed of the winning graces of elegance and modesty which adorned her sister, her form always appeared decorated with the most studied art, and her large eyes had a confident assurance in them, that seemed to expect and demand universal homage.

The warriors of the fort were welcome visitants at the Abbey, which Lady Dunreath contrived to render a scene of almost constant gayety, by keeping up a continual intercourse with all the adjacent families, and entertaining all the strangers who came into its neighborhood.

Lord Dunreath had long been a prey to infirmities, which at this period generally confined him to his room; but though his body was debilitated, his mind retained all its active powers.

The first appearance of the officers at the Abbey was at a ball given by Lady Dunreath, in consequence of their arrival near it; the gothic apartments were decorated, and lighted up with a splendor that at once displayed taste and magnificence; the lights, the music, the brilliancy, and unusual gayety of the company, all gave to the spirits of Malvina an agreeable flutter they had never before experienced; and a brighter bloom than usual stole over her lovely cheek.

The young co-heiresses were extremely admired by the military heroes. Malvina, as the eldest, opened the ball with the colonel; her form had attracted the eyes of Fitzalan, and vainly he attempted to withdraw them, till the lively conversation of Augusta, who honored him with her hand, forced him to restrain his glances, and pay her the sprightly attentions so generally expected—when he came to turn Malvina, he involuntarily detained her hand for a moment: she blushed, and the timid beam that stole from her half-averted eyes, agitated his whole soul.

Partners were changed in the course of the evening, and he seized the first opportunity that offered for engaging her; the softness of her voice, the simplicity yet elegance of her language, now captivated his heart, as much as her form had charmed his eyes.

Never had he before seen an object he thought half so[Pg 13] lovely or engaging; with her he could not support that lively strain of conversation he had done with her sister. Where the heart is much interested, it will not admit of trifling.

Fitzalan was now in the meridian of manhood; his stature was above the common size, and elegance and dignity were conspicuous in it; his features were regularly handsome, and the fairness of his forehead proved what his complexion had been, till change of climate and hardship had embrowned it; the expression of his countenance was somewhat plaintive: his eyes had a sweetness in them that spoke a soul of the tenderest feelings; and the smile that played around his mouth, would have adorned a face of female beauty.

When the dance with Lady Malvina was over, Lady Augusta took care for the remainder of the evening to engross all his attention. She thought him by far the handsomest man in the room, and gave him no opportunity of avoiding her; gallantry obliged him to return her assiduities, and he was by his brother officers set down in the list of her adorers. This mistake he encouraged: he could bear raillery on an indifferent subject; and joined in the mirth, which the idea of his laying siege to the young heiress occasioned.

He deluded himself with no false hopes relative to the real object of his passion; he knew the obstacles between them were insuperable; but his heart was too proud to complain of fate; he shook off all appearance of melancholy, and seemed more animated than ever.

His visits at the Abbey became constant; Lady Augusta took them to herself, and encouraged his attentions: as her mother rendered her perfect mistress of her own actions, she had generally a levee of redcoats every morning in her dressing-room. Lady Malvina seldom appeared; she was at those times almost always employed in reading to her father; when that was not the case, her own favorite avocations often detained her in her room; or else she wandered out, about the romantic rocks on the sea-shore; she delighted in solitary rambles, and loved to visit the old peasants, who told her tales of her departed mother’s goodness, drawing tears of sorrow from her eyes, at the irreparable loss she had sustained by her death.

Fitzalan went one morning as usual to the Abbey to pay his customary visit; as he went through the gallery which led to Lady Augusta’s dressing-room, his eyes were caught by two beautiful portraits of the Earl’s daughters; an artist, by his express desire, had come to the Abbey to draw them; they were but just finished, and that morning placed in the gallery.

[Pg 14] Lady Augusta appeared negligently reclined upon a sofa, in a verdant alcove; the flowing drapery of the loose robe in which she was habited, set off her fine figure; little Cupids were seen fanning aside her dark-brown hair, and strewing roses on her pillow.

Lady Malvina was represented in the simple attire of a peasant girl, leaning on a little grassy hillock, whose foot was washed by a clear stream, while her flocks browsed around, and her dog rested beneath the shade of an old tree, that waved its branches over her head, and seemed sheltering her from the beams of a meridian sun.

“Beautiful portrait!” cried Fitzalan, “sweet resemblance of a seraphic form!”

He heard a soft sigh behind him; he started, turned, and perceived Lady Malvina; in the utmost confusion he faltered out his admiration of the pictures; and not knowing what he did, fixed his eyes on Lady Augusta’s, exclaiming, “How beautiful!” “’Tis very handsome indeed,” said Malvina, with a more pensive voice than usual, and led the way to her sister’s drawing-room.

Lady Augusta was spangling some ribbon; but at Fitzalan’s entrance she threw it aside, and asked him if he had been admiring her picture?—“Yes,” he said, “’twas that alone had prevented his before paying his homage to the original.” He proceeded in a strain of compliments, which had more gallantry than sincerity in them. In the course of their trifling he snatched a knot of the spangled ribbon, and pinning it next his heart, declared it should remain there as a talisman against all future impressions.

He stole a glance at Lady Malvina; she held a book in her hand; but her eyes were turned towards him, and a deadly paleness overspread her countenance.

Fitzalan’s spirits vanished; he started up, and declared he must be gone immediately. The dejection of Lady Malvina dwelt upon his heart; it flattered his fondness, but pained its sensibility. He left the fort in the evening, immediately after he had retired from the mess; he strolled to the sea-side, and rambled a considerable way among the rocks. The scene was wild and solemn; the shadows of evening were beginning to descend; the waves stole with low murmurs upon the shore, and a soft breeze gently agitated the marine plants that grew amongst the crevices of the rocks; already were the sea-fowl, with harsh and melancholy cries, flocking to their nests, some lightly skimming over the water, while others were seen, like[Pg 15] dark clouds arising from the long heath on the neighboring hills. Fitzalan pursued his way in deep and melancholy meditation, from which a plaintive Scotch air, sung by the melting voice of harmony itself, roused him. He looked towards the spot from whence the sound proceeded, and beheld Lady Malvina standing on a low rock, a projection of it affording her support. Nothing could be more picturesque than her appearance: she looked like one of the beautiful forms which Ossian so often describes: her white dress fluttered in the wind, and her dark hair hung dishevelled around her. Fitzalan moved softly, and stopped behind her; she wept as she sung, and wiped away her tears as she ceased singing; she sighed heavily. “Ah! my mother,” she exclaimed, “why was Malvina left behind you?”—“To bless and improve mankind,” cried Fitzalan. She screamed, and would have fallen, had he not caught her in his arms; he prevailed on her to sit down upon the rock, and allow him to support her till her agitation had subsided. “And why,” cried he, “should Lady Malvina give way to melancholy, blest as she is with all that can render life desirable? Why seek its indulgence, by rambling about those dreary rocks; fit haunts alone, he might have added, for wretchedness and me? Can I help wondering at your dejection (he continued), when to all appearance (at least) I see you possessed of everything requisite to constitute felicity?”

“Appearances are often deceitful,” said Malvina, forgetting in that moment the caution she had hitherto inviolably observed, of never hinting at the ill treatment she received from the Countess of Dunreath and her daughter. “Appearances are often deceitful,” she said, “as I, alas! too fatally experience. The glare, the ostentation of wealth, a soul of sensibility would willingly resign for privacy and plainness if they were to be attended with real friendship and sympathy.”

“And how few,” cried Fitzalan, turning his expressive eyes upon her face, “can know Lady Malvina without feeling friendship for her virtues, and sympathy for her sorrows!” As he spoke, he pressed her hand against his heart, and she felt the knot of ribbon he had snatched from her sister: she instantly withdrew her hand, and darting a haughty glance at him, “Captain Fitzalan,” said she, “you were going, I believe, to Lady Augusta; let me not detain you.”

Fitzalan’s passions were no longer under the dominion of reason; he tore the ribbon from his breast and flung it into the sea. “Going to Lady Augusta!” he exclaimed, “and is her lovely sister then really deceived? Ah! Lady Malvina, I now[Pg 16] gaze on the dear attraction that drew me to the Abbey. The feelings of a real, a hopeless passion could ill support raillery or observation: I hid my passion within the recesses of my heart, and gladly allowed my visits to be placed to the account of an object truly indifferent, that I might have opportunities of seeing an object I adored.” Malvina blushed and trembled: “Fitzalan,” cried she after a pause, “I detest deceit.”

“I abhor it too, Lady Malvina,” said he; “but why should I now endeavor to prove my sincerity, when I know it is so immaterial? Excuse me for what I have already uttered, and believe that though susceptible, I am not aspiring.” He then presented his hand to Malvina; she descended from her seat, and they walked towards the Abbey. Lady Malvina’s pace was slow, and her blushes, had Fitzalan looked at her, would have expressed more pleasure than resentment: she seemed to expect a still further declaration; but Fitzalan was too confused to speak; nor indeed was it his intention again to indulge himself on the dangerous subject. They proceeded in silence; at the Abbey gate they stopped, and he wished her good-night. “Shall we not soon see you at the Abbey?” exclaimed Lady Malvina in a flurried voice, which seemed to say she thought his adieu rather a hasty one. “No, my lovely friend,” cried Fitzalan, pausing, while he looked upon her with the most impassioned tenderness,—“in future I shall confine myself chiefly to the fort.” “Do you dread an invasion?” asked she, smiling, while a stolen glance of her eyes gave peculiar meaning to her words. “I long dreaded that,” cried he in the same strain, “and my fears were well founded; but I must now muster all my powers to dislodge the enemy.” He kissed her hand, and precipitately retired.

Lady Malvina repaired to her chamber, in such a tumult of pleasure as she had never before experienced. She admired Fitzalan from the first evening she beheld him; though his attentions were directed to her sister, the language of his eyes, to her, contradicted any attachment these attentions might have intimated; his gentleness and sensibility seemed congenial to her own. Hitherto she had been the slave of tyranny and caprice; and now, for the first time, experienced that soothing tenderness her wounded feelings had so long sighed for. She was agitated and delighted; she overlooked every obstacle to her wishes; and waited impatiently a further explanation of Fitzalan’s sentiments.

Far different were his feelings from hers: to know he was beloved, could scarcely yield him pleasure, when he reflected[Pg 17] on his hopeless situation, which forbad his availing himself of any advantage that knowledge might have afforded. Of a union indeed he did not dare to think, since its consequences, he knew, must be destruction; for rigid and austere as the Earl was represented, he could not flatter himself he would ever pardon such a step; and the means of supporting Lady Malvina, in any degree of comfort, he did not possess himself. He determined, as much as possible, to avoid her presence, and regretted continually having yielded to the impulse of his heart and revealed his love, since he believed it had augmented hers.

By degrees he discontinued his visits at the Abbey; but he often met Lady Malvina at parties in the neighborhood: caution, however, always sealed his lips, and every appearance of particularity was avoided. The time now approached for the departure of the regiment from Scotland, and Lady Malvina, instead of the explanation she so fondly expected, so ardently desired, saw Fitzalan studious to avoid her.

The disappointment this conduct gave rise to, was too much for the tender and romantic heart of Malvina to bear without secretly repining. Society grew irksome; she became more than ever attached to solitary rambles, which gave opportunities of indulging her sorrows without restraint: sorrows, pride often reproached her for experiencing.

It was within a week of the change of garrison, when Malvina repaired one evening to the rock where Fitzalan had disclosed his tenderness; a similarity of feeling had led him thither; he saw his danger, but he had no power to retreat; he sat down by Malvina, and they conversed for some time on indifferent subjects; at last, after a pause of a minute, Malvina exclaimed, “You go then, Fitzalan, never, never, I suppose, to return here again!” “’Tis probable I may not indeed,” said he. “Then we shall never meet again,” cried she, while a trickling tear stole down her lovely cheek, which, tinged as it was with the flush of agitation, looked now like a half-blown rose moistened with the dews of early morning.

“Yes, my lovely friend,” said he, “we shall meet again—we shall meet in a better place; in that heaven,” continued he, sighing, and laying his cold, trembling hand upon hers, “which will recompense all our sufferings.” “You are melancholy to-night, Fitzalan,” cried Lady Malvina, in a voice scarcely articulate.

“Oh! can you wonder at it?” exclaimed he, overcome by her emotion, and forgetting in a moment all his resolutions[Pg 18]—“Oh! can you wonder at my melancholy, when I know not but that this is the last time I shall see the only woman I ever loved—when I know, that in bidding her adieu I resign all the pleasure, the happiness of my life.”

Malvina could no longer restrain her feelings; she sunk upon his shoulder and wept. “Good heavens!” cried Fitzalan, almost trembling beneath the lovely burden he supported—“What a cruel situation is mine! But, Malvina, I will not, cannot plunge you in destruction. Led by necessity, as well as choice, to embrace the profession of a soldier, I have no income but what is derived from that profession; though my own distresses I could bear with fortitude, yours would totally unman me; nor would my honor be less injured than my peace, were you involved in difficulties on my account. Our separation is therefore, alas! inevitable.”

“Oh! no,” exclaimed Malvina, “the difficulties you have mentioned will vanish. My father’s affections were early alienated from me; and my fate is of little consequence to him—nay, I have reason to believe he will be glad of an excuse for leaving his large possessions to Augusta; and oh! how little shall I envy her those possessions, if the happy destiny I now look forward to is mine.” As she spoke, her mild eyes rested on the face of Fitzalan, who clasped her to his bosom in a sudden transport of tenderness. “But though my father is partial to Augusta,” she continued, “I am sure he will not be unnatural to me; and though he may withhold affluence, he will, I am confident, allow me a competence; nay, Lady Dunreath, I believe, in pleasure at my removal from the Abbey, would, if he hesitated in that respect, become my intercessor.”

The energy with which Malvina spoke convinced Fitzalan of the strength of her affection. An ecstasy never before felt pervaded his soul at the idea of being so beloved; vainly did prudence whisper, that Malvina might be deluding herself with false hopes, the suggestions of love triumphed over every consideration; and again folding the fair being he held in his arms to his heart, he softly asked, would she, at all events, unite her destiny with his.

Lady Malvina, who firmly believed what she had said to him would really happen, and who deemed a separation from him the greatest misfortune which could possibly befall her, blushed, and faltering yielded a willing consent.

The means of accomplishing their wishes now occupied their thoughts. Fitzalan’s imagination was too fertile not soon to suggest a scheme which had a probability of success; he[Pg 19] resolved to intrust the chaplain of the regiment with the affair, and request his attendance the ensuing night in the chapel of the Abbey, where Lady Malvina promised to meet them with her maid, on whose secrecy she thought she could rely.

It was settled that Fitzalan should pay a visit the next morning at the Abbey, and give Malvina a certain sign, if he succeeded with the chaplain.

The increasing darkness at length reminded them of the lateness of the hour. Fitzalan conducted Malvina to the Abbey gate, where they separated, each involved in a tumult of hopes, fears, and wishes.

The next morning Lady Malvina brought her work into her sister’s dressing-room; at last Fitzalan entered; he was attacked by Augusta for his long absence, which he excused by pleading regimental business. After trifling some time with her, he prevailed on her to sit down to the harpsichord; and then glancing to Malvina, he gave her the promised signal.

Her conscious eyes were instantly bent to the ground; a crimson glow was suddenly succeeded by a deadly paleness; her head sunk upon her bosom; and her agitation must have excited suspicions had it been perceived; but Fitzalan purposely bent over her sister, and thus gave her an opportunity of retiring unnoticed from the room. As soon as she had regained a little composure, she called her maid, and, after receiving many promises of secrecy, unfolded to her the whole affair. It was long past the midnight hour ere Malvina would attempt repairing to the chapel; when she at last rose for that purpose she trembled universally; a kind of horror chilled her heart; she began to fear she was about doing wrong, and hesitated; but when she reflected on the noble generosity of Fitzalan, and that she herself had precipitated him into the measure they were about taking, her hesitation was over; and leaning on her maid, she stole through the winding galleries, and lightly descending the stairs, entered the long hall, which terminated in a dark arched passage, that opened into the chapel.

This was a wild and gloomy structure, retaining everywhere vestiges of that monkish superstition which had erected it; beneath were the vaults which contained the ancestors of the Earl of Dunreath, whose deeds and titles were enumerated on gothic monuments; their dust-covered banners waving around in sullen dignity to the rude gale, which found admittance through the broken windows.

The light, which the maid held, produced deep shadows, that heightened the solemnity of the place.

[Pg 20] “They are not here,” said Malvina, casting her fearful eyes around. She went to the door, which opened into a thick wood; but here she only heard the breeze rustling amongst the trees; she turned from it, and sinking upon the steps of the altar, gave way to an agony of tears and lamentations. A low murmur reached her ear; she started up; the chapel door was gently pushed open, and Fitzalan entered with the chaplain; they had been watching in the wood for the appearance of light. Malvina was supported to the altar, and a few minutes made her the wife of Fitzalan.

She had not the courage, till within a day or two previous to the regiment’s departure from Scotland, to acquaint the Earl with her marriage; the Countess already knew it, through the means of Malvina’s woman, who was a creature of her own. Lady Dunreath exulted at the prospect of Malvina’s ruin; it at once gratified the malevolence of her soul, and the avaricious desire she had of increasing her own daughter’s fortune; she had, besides, another reason to rejoice at it; this was, the attachment Lady Augusta had formed for Fitzalan, which, her mother feared, would have precipitated her into a step as imprudent as her sister’s, had she not been beforehand with her.

This fear the impetuous passions of Lady Augusta naturally excited. She really loved Fitzalan; a degree of frantic rage possessed her at his marriage; she cursed her sister in the bitterness of her heart, and joined with Lady Dunreath in working up the Earl’s naturally austere and violent passions into such a paroxysm of fury and resentment, that he at last solemnly refused forgiveness to Malvina, and bid her never more appear in his presence.

She now began to tread the thorny path of life; and though her guide was tender and affectionate, nothing could allay her anguish for having involved him in difficulties, which his noble spirit could ill brook or struggle against. The first year of their union she had a son, who was called after her father, Oscar Dunreath; the four years that succeeded his birth were passed in wretchedness that baffles description. At the expiration of this period their debts were so increased, Fitzalan was compelled to sell out on half-pay. Lady Malvina now expected an addition to her family; her situation, she hoped, would move her father’s heart, and resolved to essay everything, which afforded the smallest prospect of obtaining comfort for her husband and his babes; she prevailed on him, therefore, to carry her to Scotland.

They lodged at a peasant’s in the neighborhood of the[Pg 21] Abbey; he informed them the Earl’s infirmities were daily increasing; and that Lady Dunreath had just celebrated her daughter’s marriage with the Marquis of Roseline. This nobleman had passionately admired Lady Malvina; an admiration the Countess always wished transferred to her daughter. On the marriage of Malvina he went abroad; his passion was conquered ere he returned to Scotland, and he disdained not the overtures made for his alliance from the Abbey. His favorite propensities, avarice and pride, were indeed gratified by the possession of the Earl of Dunreath’s sole heiress.

The day after her arrival Lady Malvina sent little Oscar, with the old peasant, to the Abbey; Oscar was a perfect cherubim—

“The bloom of opening flowers, unsullied beauty, Softness and sweetest innocence he wore, And looked like nature in the world’s first spring.”

Lady Malvina gave him a letter for the Earl, in which, after pathetically describing her situation, she besought him to let the uplifted hands of innocence plead her cause. The peasant watched till the hour came for Lady Dunreath to go out in her carriage, as was her daily custom: he then desired to be conducted to the Earl, and was accordingly ushered into his presence: he found him alone, and briefly informed him of his errand. The Earl frowned and looked agitated; but did not by any means express that displeasure which the peasant had expected; feeling for himself, indeed, had lately softened his heart; he was unhappy; his wife and daughter had attained the completion of their wishes, and no longer paid him the attention his age required. He refused, however, to accept the letter: little Oscar, who had been gazing on him from the moment he entered the apartment, now ran forward; gently stroking his hand, he smiled in his face, and exclaimed, “Ah! do pray take poor mamma’s letter.” The Earl involuntarily took it; as he read, the muscles of his face began to work, and a tear dropped from him. “Poor mamma cries too,” said Oscar, upon whose hand the tear fell. “Why did your mamma send you to me?” said the Earl. “Because she said,” cried. Oscar, “that you were my grandpapa—and she bids me love you, and teaches me every day to pray for you.” “Heaven bless you, my lovely prattler!” exclaimed the Earl, with sudden emotion, patting his head as he spoke. At this moment Lady Dunreath rushed into the apartment: one of her favorites had followed her, to relate the scene that was going forward[Pg 22] within it: and she had returned, with all possible expedition, to counteract any dangerous impression that might be made upon the Earl’s mind. Rage inflamed her countenance: the Earl knew the violence of her temper; he was unequal to contention, and hastily motioned for the peasant to retire with the child. The account of his reception excited the most flattering hopes in the bosom of his mother: she counted the tedious hours, in expectation of a kind summons to the Abbey; but no such summons came. The next morning the child was sent to it; but the porter refused him admittance, by the express command of the Earl, he said. Frightened at his rudeness, the child returned weeping to his mother, whose blasted expectations wrung her heart with agony, and tears and lamentations broke from her. The evening was far advanced, when suddenly her features brightened: “I will go,” cried she, starting up—“I will again try to melt his obduracy. Oh! with what lowliness should a child bend before an offended parent! Oh! with what fortitude, what patience, should a wife, a mother, try to overcome difficulties which she is conscious of having precipitated the objects of her tenderest affections into!”

The night was dark and tempestuous; she would not suffer Fitzalan to attend her; but proceeded to the Abbey, leaning on the peasant’s arm. She would not be repulsed at the door, but forced her way into the hall: here Lady Dunreath met her, and with mingled pride and cruelty, refused her access to her father, declaring it was by his desire she did so. “Let me see him but for a moment,” said the lovely suppliant, clasping her white and emaciated hands together—“by all that is tender in humanity, I beseech you to grant my request.”

“Turn this frantic woman from the Abbey,” said the implacable Lady Dunreath, trembling with passion—“at your peril suffer her to continue here. The peace of your lord is too precious to be disturbed by her exclamations.”

The imperious order was instantly obeyed, though, as Cordelia says, “it was a night when one would not have turned an enemy’s dog from the door.” The rain poured in torrents; the sea roared with awful violence; and the wind roared through the wood, as if it would tear up the trees by their roots. The peasant charitably flung his plaid over Malvina: she moved mechanically along; her senses appeared quite stupefied. Fitzalan watched for her at the door: she rushed into his extended arms, and fainted; it was long ere she showed any symptoms of returning life. Fitzalan wept over her in the anguish and distraction of his soul; and scarcely could he forbear execra[Pg 23]ting the being who had so grievously afflicted her gentle spirit: by degrees she revived; and, as she pressed him feebly to her breast, exclaimed, “The final stroke is given—I have been turned from my father’s door.”

The cottage in which they lodged afforded but few of the necessaries, and none of the comforts of life; such, at least, as they had been accustomed to. In Malvina’s present situation, Fitzalan dreaded the loss of her life, should they continue in their present abode; but whither could he take her wanderer, as he was upon the face of the earth? At length the faithful Edwin occurred to his recollection: his house, he was confident, would afford them a comfortable asylum, where Lady Malvina would experience all that tenderness and care her situation demanded.

He immediately set about procuring a conveyance, and the following morning Malvina bid a last adieu to Scotland.

Lady Dunreath, in the mean time, suffered torture: after she had seen Malvina turned from the Abbey, she returned to her apartment: it was furnished with the most luxurious elegance, yet could she not rest within it. Conscience already told her, if Malvina died, she must consider herself her murderer; her pale and woe-worn image seemed still before her; a cold terror oppressed her heart, which the horrors of the night augmented; the tempest shook the battlements of the Abbey; and the winds, which howled through the galleries, seemed like the last moans of some wandering spirit of the pile, bewailing the fate of one of its fairest daughters. To cruelty and ingratitude Lady Dunreath had added deceit: her lord was yielding to the solicitations of his child, when she counteracted his intentions by a tale of falsehood. The visions of the night were also dreadful; Malvina appeared expiring before her, and the late Lady Dunreath, by her bedside, reproaching her barbarity. “Oh cruel!” the ghastly figure seemed to say, “is it you, whom I fostered in my bosom, that have done this deed—driven forth my child, a forlorn and wretched wanderer?”

Oh, conscience, how awful are thy terrors! thou art the vicegerent of Heaven, and dost anticipate its vengeance, ere the final hour of retribution arrives. Guilt may be triumphant, but never, never can be happy: it finds no shield against thy stings and arrows. The heart thou smitest bleeds in every pore, and sighs amidst gayety and splendor.

The unfortunate travellers were welcomed with the truest hospitality by the grateful Edwin; he had married, soon after his return from America, a young girl, to whom, from his ear[Pg 24]liest youth, he was attached. His parents died soon after his union, and the whole of their little patrimony devolved to him. Soothed and attended with the utmost tenderness and respect, Fitzalan hoped Lady Malvina would here regain her health and peace: he intended, after her recovery, to endeavor to be put on full pay; and trusted he should prevail on her to continue at the farm.

At length the hour came, in which she gave a daughter to his arms. From the beginning of her illness the people about her were alarmed; too soon was it proved their alarms were well founded: she lived after the birth of her infant but a few minutes, and died embracing her husband, and blessing his children.

Fitzalan’s feelings cannot well be described: they were at first too much for reason, and he continued some time in perfect stupefaction. When he regained his sensibility, his grief was not outrageous; it was that deep, still sorrow, which fastens on the heart, and cannot vent itself in tears or lamentations: he sat with calmness by the bed, where the beautiful remains of Malvina lay; he gazed without shrinking on her pale face, which death, as if in pity to his feelings, had not disfigured; he kissed her cold lips, continually exclaiming, “Oh! had we never met, she might still have been living.” His language was something like that of a poet of her own country:—

“Wee, modest crimson-tipped flower, I met thee in a luckless hour.”

It was when he saw them about removing her that all the tempest of his grief broke forth. Oh! how impossible to describe the anguish of the poor widower’s heart, when he returned from seeing his Malvina laid in her last receptacle: he shut himself up in the room where she had expired, and ordered no one to approach him; he threw himself upon the bed; he laid his cheek upon her pillow, he grasped it to his bosom, he wetted it with tears, because she had breathed upon it. Oh, how still, how dreary, how desolate, did all appear around him! “And shall this desolation never more be enlightened,” he exclaimed, “by the soft music of Malvina’s voice? Shall these eyes never more be cheered by beholding her angelic face?” Exhausted by his feelings, he sunk into a slumber: he dreamt of Malvina, and thought she lay beside him: he awoke with sudden ecstasy, and under the strong impression of the dream, stretched out his arms to enfold her. Alas! all was empty void: he started up—he groaned in the bitterness of his [Pg 25]soul he traversed the room with a distracted pace—he sat him down in a little window, from whence he could view the spire of the church (now glistening in the moonbeams) by which she was interred. “Deep, still, and profound,” cried he, “is now the sleep of my Malvina—the voice of love cannot awake her from it; nor does she now dream of her midnight mourner.”

The cold breeze of night blew upon his forehead, but he heeded it not; his whole soul was full of Malvina, whom torturing fancy presented to his view, in the habiliments of the grave. “And is this emaciated form, this pale face,” he exclaimed, as if he had really seen her, “all that remain of elegance and beauty, once unequalled!”

A native sense of religion alone checked the transports of his grief; that sweet, that sacred power, which pours balm upon the wounds of sorrow, and saves its children from despair; that power whispered to his heart, a patient submission to the will of heaven was the surest means he could attain of again rejoining his Malvina.

She was interred in the village church-yard: at the head of her grave a stone was placed, on which was rudely cut,

MALVINA FITZALAN,
ALIKE LOVELY AND UNFORTUNATE.

Fitzalan would not permit her empty title to be on it: “She is buried,” he said, “as the wife of a wretched soldier, not as the daughter of a wealthy peer.”

She had requested her infant might be called after her own mother; her request was sacred to Fitzalan, and it was baptized by the united names of Amanda Malvina. Mrs. Edwin was then nursing her first girl; but she sent it out, and took the infant of Fitzalan in its place to her bosom.

The money, which Fitzalan had procured by disposing of his commission, was now nearly exhausted; but his mind was too enervated to allow him to think of any project for future support. Lady Malvina was deceased two months, when a nobleman came into the neighborhood, with whom Fitzalan had once been intimately acquainted: the acquaintance was now renewed; and Fitzalan’s appearance, with the little history of his misfortunes, so much affected and interested his friend, that, without solicitation, he procured him a company in a regiment, then stationed in England. Thus did Fitzalan again enter into[Pg 26] active life; but his spirits were broken, and his constitution injured. Four years he continued in the army; when, pining to have his children (all that now remained of a woman he adored) under his own care, he obtained, through the interest of his friend, leave to sell out. Oscar was then eight, and Amanda four; the delighted father, as he held them to his heart, wept over them tears of mingled pain and pleasure.

He had seen in Devonshire, where he was quartered for some time, a little romantic solitude, quite adapted to his taste and finances; he proposed for it, and soon became its proprietor. Hither he carried his children, much against the inclinations of the Edwins, who loved them as their own: two excellent schools in the neighborhood gave them the usual advantages of genteel education; but as they were only day scholars, the improvement, or rather forming of their morals, was the pleasing task of their father. To his assiduous care too they were indebted for the rapid progress they made in their studies, and for the graceful simplicity of their manners: they rewarded his care, and grew up as amiable and lovely as his fondest wishes could desire. As Oscar advanced in life, his father began to experience new cares; for he had not the power of putting him in the way of making any provision for himself. A military life was what Oscar appeared anxious for: he had early conceived a predilection for it, from hearing his father speak of the services he had seen; but though he possessed quite the spirit of a hero, he had the truest tenderness, the most engaging softness of disposition; his temper was, indeed, at once mild, artless, and affectionate. He was about eighteen, when the proprietor of the estate, on which his father held his farm, died, and his heir, a colonel in the army, immediately came down from London to take formal possession: he soon became acquainted with Fitzalan, who, in the course of conversation, one day expressed the anxiety he suffered on his son’s account. The Colonel said he was a fine youth, and it was a pity he was not provided for. He left Devonshire, however, shortly after this, without appearing in the least interested about him.

Fitzalan’s heart was oppressed with anxiety; he could not purchase for his son, without depriving himself of support. With the nobleman who had formerly served him so essentially, he had kept up no intercourse, since he quitted the army; but he frequently heard of him, and was told he had become quite a man of the world, which was an implication of his having lost all feeling: an application to him, therefore, he feared, would[Pg 27] be unavailing, and he felt too proud to subject himself to a repulse.

From this disquietude he was unexpectedly relieved by a letter from the Earl of Cherbury, his yet kind friend, informing him he had procured an ensigncy for Oscar, in Colonel Belgrave’s regiment, which he considered a very fortunate circumstance, as the colonel, he was confident, from personally knowing the young gentleman, would render him every service in his power. The Earl chided Fitzalan for never having kept up a correspondence with him, assured him he had never forgotten the friendship of their earlier years; and that he had gladly seized the first opportunity which offered, of serving him in the person of his son; which opportunity he was indebted to Colonel Belgrave for.

Fitzalan’s soul was filled with gratitude and rapture; he immediately wrote to the Earl, and the Colonel, in terms expressive of his feelings. Colonel Belgrave received his thanks as if he had really deserved them; but this was not by any means the case: he was a man devoid of sensibility, and had never once thought of serving Fitzalan or his son; his mentioning them was merely accidental.

In a large company, of which the Earl of Cherbury was one, the discourse happened to turn on the Dunreath family, and by degrees led to Fitzalan, who was severally blamed and pitied for his connection with it; the subject was, in the opinion of Colonel Belgrave, so apropos, he could not forbear describing his present situation, and inquietude about his son, who, he said he fancied, must, like a second Cincinnatus, take the plough-share instead of the sword.

Lord Cherbury lost no part of his discourse; though immersed in politics, and other intricate concerns, he yet retained, and was ready to obey, the dictates of humanity, particularly when they did not interfere with his own interests; he therefore directly conceived the design of serving his old friend.

Oscar soon quitted Devonshire after his appointment, and brought a letter from his father to the Colonel, in which he was strongly recommended to his protection, as one unskilled in the ways of men.

And now all Fitzalan’s care devolved upon Amanda; and most amply did she recompense it. To the improvement of her genius, the cultivation of her talents, the promotion of her father’s happiness, seemed her first incentive; without him no amusement was enjoyed, without him no study entered upon; he was her friend, guardian, and protector; and no language[Pg 28] can express, no heart (except a paternal one) conceive, the rapture he felt, at seeing a creature grow under

his forming hand. —————So fair That what seemed fair in all the world, seemed now Mean, or in her contained.

Some years had elapsed since Oscar’s departure, ere Colonel Belgrave returned into their neighborhood; he came soon after his nuptials had been celebrated in Ireland, with a lady of that country, whom Oscar’s letters described as possessing every mental and personal charm which could please or captivate the heart. Colonel Belgrave came unaccompanied by his fair bride. Fitzalan, who believed him his benefactor, and consequently regarded him as a friend (still thinking it was through his means Lord Cherbury had served him), immediately waited upon him, and invited him to his house. The invitation, after some time, was accepted; but had he imagined what an attraction the house contained, he would not have long hesitated about entering it: he was a man, indeed, of the most depraved principles; and an object he admired, no tie or situation, however sacred, could guard from his pursuit.

Amanda was too much a child, when he was last in the country, to attract his observation; he had, therefore, no idea that the blossom he then so carelessly overlooked, had since expanded into such beauty. How great, then, was his rapture and surprise, when Fitzalan led into the room where he had received him, a tall, elegantly-formed girl, whose rosy cheeks were dimpled with the softest smile of complacence, and whose fine blue eyes beamed with modesty and gratitude upon him! He instantly marked her for his prey; and blessed his lucky stars which had inspired Fitzalan with the idea of his being his benefactor, since that would give him an easier access to the house than he could otherwise have hoped for.

From this time he became almost an inmate of it, except when he chose to contrive little parties at his own for Amanda. He took every opportunity that offered, without observation, to try to ingratiate himself in her favor: those opportunities the unsuspecting temper of Fitzalan allowed to be frequent—he would as soon have trusted Amanda to the care of Belgrave, as to that of her brother; and never, therefore, prevented her walking out with him, when he desired it, or receiving him in the morning, while he himself was absent about the affairs of his farm—delighted to think the conversation or talents of his daughter (for Amanda frequently sung and played for the[Pg 29] Colonel) could contribute to the amusement of his friend. Amanda innocently increased his flame, by the attention she paid which she considered but a just tribute of gratitude for his services: she delighted in talking to him of her dear Oscar, and often mentioned his lady; but was surprised to find he always waived the latter subject.

Belgrave could not long restrain the impetuosity of his passions: the situation of Fitzalan (which he knew to be a distressed one) would, he fancied, forward his designs on his daughter; and what those designs were, he, by degrees, in a retired walk one day, unfolded to Amanda. At first she did not perfectly understand him; but when, with increased audacity, he explained himself more fully, horror, indignation, and surprise took possession of her breast; and, yielding to their feelings, she turned and fled to the house, as if from a monster. Belgrave was provoked and mortified; the softness of her manners had tempted him to believe he was not indifferent to her, and that she would prove an easy conquest.

Poor Amanda would not appear in the presence of her father, till she had, in some degree, regained composure, as she feared the smallest intimation of the affair might occasion fatal consequences. As she sat with him, a letter was brought her; she could not think Belgrave would have the effrontery to write, and opened it, supposing it came from some acquaintance in the neighborhood. How great was the shock she sustained, on finding it from him! Having thrown off the mask, he determined no longer to assume any disguise. Her paleness and confusion alarmed her father, and he instantly demanded the cause of her agitation. She found longer concealment was impossible; and, throwing herself at her father’s feet, besought him, as she put the letter into his hands, to restrain his passion. When he perused it, he raised her up, and commanded her, as she valued his love or happiness, to inform him of every particular relative to the insult she had received. She obeyed, though terrified to behold her father trembling with emotion. When she concluded, he tenderly embraced her; and, bidding her confine herself to the house, rose, and took down his hat. It was easy to guess whither he was going; her terror increased; and, in a voice scarcely articulate, she besought him not to risk his safety. He commanded her silence, with a sternness never before assumed. His manner awed her; but, when she saw him leaving the room, her feelings could no longer be controlled—she rushed after him, and flinging her arms round his neck, fainted on it. In this situation the unhappy father was com[Pg 30]pelled to leave her to the care of a maid, lest her pathetic remonstrances should delay the vengeance he resolved to take on a wretch who had meditated a deed of such atrocity against his peace; but Belgrave was not to be found.

Scarcely, however, had Fitzalan returned to his half-distracted daughter ere a letter was brought him from the wretch, in which he made the most degrading proposals; and bade Fitzalan beware how he answered them, as his situation had put him entirely into his power. This was a fatal truth: Fitzalan had been tempted to make a large addition to his farm, from an idea of turning the little money he possessed to advantage: but he was more ignorant of agriculture than he had imagined; and this ignorance, joined to his own integrity of heart, rendered him the dupe of some designing wretches in his neighborhood: his whole stock dwindled away in unprofitable experiments, and he was now considerably in arrears with Belgrave. The ungenerous advantage he strove to take of his situation, increased, if possible, his indignation; and again he sought him, but still without success.

Belgrave soon found no temptation of prosperity would prevail on the father or daughter to accede to his wishes; he therefore resolved to try whether the pressure of adversity would render them more complying, and left the country, having first ordered his steward to proceed directly against Fitzalan.

The consequence of this order was an immediate execution on his effects; and, but for the assistance of a good-natured farmer, he would have been arrested. By his means, and under favor of night, he and Amanda set out for London; they arrived there in safety, and retired to obscure lodgings. In this hour of distress, Fitzalan conquered all false pride, and wrote to Lord Cherbury, entreating him to procure some employment which would relieve his present distressing situation. He cautiously concealed everything relative to Belgrave—he could not bear that it should be known that he had ever been degraded by his infamous proposals. Oscar’s safety, too, he knew depended on his secrecy; as he was well convinced no idea of danger, or elevation of rank, would secure the wretch from his fury, who had meditated so great an injury against his sister.

He had the mortification of having the letter he sent to Lord Cherbury returned, as his lordship was then absent from town; nor was he expected for some months, having gone on an excursion of pleasure to France. Some of these months had lingered away in all the horrors of anxiety and distress, when Fitzalan formed the resolution of sending Amanda into[Pg 31] Wales, whose health had considerably suffered, from the complicated uneasiness and terror she experienced on her own and her father’s account.

Belgrave had traced the fugitives; and though Fitzalan was guarded against all the stratagems he used to have him arrested, he found means to have letters conveyed to Amanda, full of base solicitations and insolent declarations, that the rigor he treated her father with was quite against his feelings, and should instantly be withdrawn, if she acceded to the proposals he made for her.

But though Fitzalan had determined to send Amanda into Wales, with whom could he trust his heart’s best treasure? At last the son of the worthy farmer who had assisted him in his journey to London, occurred to his remembrance; he came often to town, and always called on Fitzalan. The young man, the moment it was proposed, expressed the greatest readiness to attend Miss Fitzalan. As every precaution was necessary, her father made her take the name of Dunford, and travel in the mail-coach, for the greater security. He divided the contents of his purse with her; and recommending this lovely and most beloved child to the protection of heaven, saw her depart, with mingled pain and pleasure; promising to give her the earliest intelligence of Lord Cherbury’s arrival in town, which, he supposed, would fix his future destiny. Previous to her departure, he wrote to the Edwins, informing them of her intended visit, and also her change of name for the present. This latter circumstance, which was not satisfactorily accounted for, excited their warmest curiosity; and not thinking it proper to ask Amanda to gratify it, they, to use their own words, sifted her companion, who hesitated not to inform them of the indignities she had suffered from Colonel Belgrave, which were well known about his neighborhood.


[Pg 32]

CHAPTER III.

“——Thy grave shall with fresh flowers be dressed, And the green turf lie lightly on thy breast; There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow, There the first roses of the year shall blow.”—Pope.

A gentle noise in her chamber roused Amanda from a light, refreshing slumber, and she beheld her nurse standing by her bedside with a bowl of goat’s whey. Amanda took the salubrious draught with a smile, and instantly starting up, was dressed in a few minutes. She felt more composed than she had done for some time past; the transition from a narrow dark street to a fine open country, would have excited a lively transport in her mind, but for the idea of her father still remaining in the gloomy situation she had quitted.

On going out, she found the family all busily employed; Edwin and his sons were mowing in a meadow near the house, the nurse was churning, Ellen washing the milk-pails by the stream in the valley, and Betsey turning a cake for her breakfast. The tea-table was laid by a window, through which a woodbine crept, diffusing a delightful fragrance; the bees feasted on its sweetness, and the gaudy butterflies fluttered around it; the refulgent sun gladdened the face of nature; the morning breeze tempered its heat, and bore upon its dewy wings the sweets of opening flowers; birds carolled their matins almost on every spray; and scattered peasants, busied in their various labors, enlivened the extensive prospect.

Amanda was delighted with all she saw, and wrote to her father that his presence was only wanting to complete her pleasure. The young man who had attended her, on receiving her letter, set out for the village, from whence he was to return in a stage-coach to London.

The morning was passed by Amanda in arranging her little affairs, walking about the cottage, and conversing with the nurse relative to past times and present avocations. When the hour for dinner came, by her desire it was carried out into the recess in the garden, where the balmy air, the lovely scene which surrounded her, rendered it doubly delicious.

In the evening she asked Ellen to take a walk with her, to which she joyfully consented. “And pray, Miss,” said Ellen,[Pg 33] after she had smartened herself up with a clean white apron, her Sunday cap, and a hat loaded with poppy-colored ribbons, smiling as she spoke, at the pretty image her glass reflected, “where shall we go?” “To the church-yard,” replied Amanda. “Oh, Lord, Miss won’t that be rather a dismal place to go to?” “Indulge me, my dear Ellen,” said Amanda, “in showing me the way thither; there is one spot in it my heart wants to visit.”

The church-yard lay at the entrance of the little village; the church was a small structure, whose gothic appearance proclaimed its ancient date; it was rendered more venerable by the lofty elms and yews which surrounded it, apparently coeval with itself, and which cast dark shades upon the spots where the “rude forefathers of the hamlet slept,” which,

“With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture decked, Implored the passing tribute of a sigh.“

And it was a tribute Amanda paid, as she proceeded to the grave of Lady Malvina; which Ellen pointed out; it was over grown with grass, and the flag, which bore her name, green from time and damp. Amanda involuntarily sunk on her knees, and kissed the hallowed earth; her eyes caught the melancholy inscription. “Sweet spirit,” she said, “heaven now rewards your sufferings. Oh, my mother! if departed spirits are ever allowed to review this world, with love ineffable you may now be regarding your child. Oh, if she is doomed to tread a path as thorny as the one you trod, may the same sweetness and patience that distinguished you, support her through it! with the same pious awe, the same meek submission, may she bow to the designations of her Creator!”

The affecting apostrophe drew tears from the tender-hearted Ellen, who besought her not to continue longer in such a dismal place. Amanda now arose weeping—her spirits were entirely overcome; the busy objects of day had amused her mind, and prevented it from meditating on its sorrow; but, in the calm solitude of the evening, they gradually revived in her remembrance. Her father’s ill-health, she feared, would increase for want of her tender attentions; and when she thought of his distress, his confinement, his dejection, she felt agony at their separation.

Her melancholy was noticed at the cottage. Ellen informed the nurse of the dismal walk they had taken, which at once accounted for it; and the good woman exerted herself to enliven her dear child, but Amanda, though she faintly smiled,[Pg 34] was not to be cheered, and soon retired to bed—pale, languid, and unhappy.

Returning light, in some degree, dispelled her melancholy; she felt, however, for the first time, that her hours would hang heavy on her hands, deprived as she was of those delightful resources which had hitherto diversified them. To pass her time in listless inaction, or idle saunters about the house, was insupportable; and besides, she found her presence in the morning was a restraint on her humble friends, who did not deem it good manners to work before her; and to them, who, like the bees, were obliged to lay up their wintry hoard in summer, the loss of time was irreparable.

In the distraction of her father’s affairs, she had lost her books, implements for drawing, and musical instruments; and in the cottage she could only find a Bible, a family prayer-book, and a torn volume of old ballads.

“Tear heart, now I think on’t,” said the nurse, “you may go to the library at Tudor Hall, where there are books enough to keep you a-going, if you lived to the age of Methusalem himself; and very pretty reading to be sure amongst them, or our Parson Howel would not have been going there as often as he did to study, till he got a library of his own. The family are all away; and as the door is open every fine day to air the room, you will not be noticed by nopoty going into it; though, for that matter, poor old Mrs. Abergwilly would make you welcome enough, if you promised to take none of the books away with you. But as I know you to be a little bashful or so, I will, if you choose, step over and ask her leave for you to go.” “It you please,” said Amanda; “I should not like to go without it.” “Well, I sha’n’t be long,” continued the nurse, “and Ellen shall show you the way to-day; it will be a pretty pit of a walk for you to take every morning.”

The nurse was as good as her word; she returned soon, with Mrs. Abergwilly’s permission for Amanda to read in the library whenever she pleased. In consequence of this, she immediately proceeded to the Hall, whose white turrets were seen from the cottage: it was a large and antique building, embosomed in a grove; the library was on the ground-floor, and entered by a spacious folding-door. As soon as she had reached it, Ellen left her, and returned to the cottage; and Amanda began with pleasure to examine the apartment, whose elegance and simplicity struck her with immediate admiration.

On one side was a row of large windows, arched quite in the[Pg 35] gothic style; opposite to them were corresponding arches, in whose recesses the bookcases were placed; round these arches were festoons of laurel, elegantly executed in stucco-work; and above them medallions of some of the most celebrated poets: the chimney-piece, of the finest Italian marble, was beautifully inlaid and ornamented; the paintings on the ceiling were all highly finished, and of the allegorical kind; and it was difficult to determine whether the taste that designed, or the hand that executed them, merited most praise; upon marble pedestals stood a celestial and terrestrial globe, and one recess was entirely hung with maps. It was a room, from its situation and appearance, peculiarly adopted for study and contemplation; all around was solitude and silence, save the rustling of the trees, whose dark foliage cast a solemn shade upon the windows.

Opposite the entrance was another folding-door, which being a little opened, Amanda could not resist the desire she felt of seeing what was beyond it. She entered a large vaulted apartment, whose airy lightness formed a pleasing contrast to the gloomy one she had left. The manner in which it was fitted up, and the musical instruments, declared this to be a music-room. It was hung with pale green damask, spotted with silver, and bordered with festoons of roses, intermingled with light silver sprays; the seats corresponded to the hangings; the tables were of fine inlaid wood; and superb lustres were suspended from the ceiling, which represented, in a masterly style, scenes from some of the pastoral poets; the orchestra, about the centre of the room, was enclosed with a light balustrading of white marble, elevated by a few steps.

The windows of this room commanded a pleasing prospect of a deep romantic dale; the hills through which it wound, displaying a beautiful diversity of woody scenery, interspersed with green pastures and barren points of rocks: a fine fall of water fell from one of the highest of the hills, which, broken by intervening roots and branches of trees, ran a hundred different ways, sparkling in the sunbeams as they emerged from the shade.

Amanda stood long at a window, enjoying this delightful prospect, and admiring the taste which had chosen this room for amusement; thus at once gratifying the eye and ear. On looking over the instruments, she saw a pianoforte unlocked; she gently raised the lid, and touching the keys, found them in tolerable order. Amanda adored music; her genius for it was great, and had received every advantage her father could[Pg 36] possibly give it; in cultivating it he had laid up a fund of delight for himself, for “his soul was a stream that flowed at pleasant sounds.”

Amanda could not resist the present opportunity of gratifying her favorite inclination. “Harmony and I,” cried she, “have long been strangers to each other.” She sat down and played a little tender air: those her father loved, recurred to her recollection, and she played a few of them with even more than usual elegance. “Ah, dear and valued object,” she mournfully sighed, “why are you not here to share, my pleasure?” She wiped away a starting tear of tender remembrance, and began a simple air—

Ah gentle Hope, shall I no more Thy cheerful influence share? Oh must I still thy loss deplore, And be the slave of care?
The gloom which now obscures my days At thy approach would fly, And glowing fancy would display A bright unclouded sky.
Night’s dreary shadows fleet away Before the orient beam So sorrow melts before thy sway, Thou nymph of cheerful mien.
Ah! seek again my lonely breast, Dislodge each painful fear; Be once again my heavenly guest, And stay each falling tear.

Amanda saw a number of music-books lying about; she examined a few, and found they contained compositions of some of the most eminent masters. They tempted her to continue a little longer at the instrument: when she rose from it, she returned to the library, and began looking over the books, which she found were a collection of the best that past or present times had produced. She soon selected one for perusal, and seated herself in the recess of a window, that she might enjoy the cool breeze, which sighed amongst the trees. Here, delighted with her employment, she forgot the progress of time; nor thought of moving, till Ellen appeared with a request from the nurse, for her immediate return, as her dinner was ready, and she was uneasy at her fasting so long. Amanda did not hesitate to comply with the request; but she resolved henceforth to be a constant visitor to the hall, which contained such pleasing sources of amusement: she also settled in her[Pg 37] own mind often to ramble amidst its shades, which were perfectly adapted to her taste. These resolutions she put in practice; and a week passed in this manner, during which she heard from her father, who informed her, that, suspecting the woman with whom he lodged to be in Colonel Belgrave’s interest, he proposed changing his abode; he desired her therefore not to write till she heard from him again, and added, “Lord Cherbury was daily expected.”


CHAPTER IV.

“Mine eyes were half closed in sleep. Soft music came to mine ear; it was like the rising breeze, that whirls at first, the thistle’s beard, that flies, dark shadowy over the grass.”—Ossian.

Amanda went every morning to the hall, where she alternately played and read: in the evening she again returned to it: but instead of staying in the library, generally took a book from thence, and read at the foot of some old moss-covered tree, delighted to hear its branches gently rustling over her head, and myriads of summer flies buzzing in the sunny ray, from which she was sheltered. When she could no longer see to read, she deposited her book in the place she had taken it from, and rambled to the deepest recesses of the grove: this was the time she loved to saunter carelessly along, while all the jarring passions that obtruding care excited were hushed to peace by the solemnity and silence of the hour, and the soul felt at once composed and elevated: this was the time she loved to think on days departed, and sketch those scenes of felicity which, she trusted, the days to come would realize. Sometimes she gave way to all the enthusiasm of a young and romantic fancy, and pictured to herself the time when the shades she wandered beneath were

——the haunts of meditation, The scenes, where ancient bards the inspiring breath Ecstatic felt, and, from this world retired, Conversed with angels, and immortal forms, On gracious errands bent; to save the fall Of Virtue struggling on the brink of Vice.—Thomson.

Her health gradually grew better, as the tranquillity of her[Pg 38] mind increased: a faint blush again began to tinge her cheek, and her lovely eyes beamed a placid lustre, through their long silken lashes.

She returned one evening from her usual ramble, with one of those unaccountable depressions on her spirits to which, in a greater or lesser degree, almost every one is subject. When she retired to bed, her sleeping thoughts took the tincture of her waking ones, and images of the most affecting nature arose in her mind: she went through the whole story of her mother’s sufferings, and suddenly dreamt she beheld her expiring under the greatest torture; and that while she wept her fate the clouds opened, and discovered her adorned with seraphic beauty, bending with a benignant look towards her child, as if to assure her of her present happiness. From this dream Amanda was roused by the softest, sweetest strains of music she had ever heard: she started with amazement; she opened her eyes, and saw a light around her, far exceeding that of twilight. Her dream had made a deep impression on her, and a solemn awe diffused itself over her mind; she trembled universally; but soon did the emotion of awe give way to that of surprise, when she heard on the outside of the window the following lines from Cowley, sung in a manly and exquisitely melodious voice, the music which awoke her being only a symphony to them:—

Awake, awake, my lyre, And tell thy silent master’s humble tale In sounds that may prevail; Sounds that gentle thoughts inspire. Though so exalted she, And I so lowly be, Tell her such different notes make all thy harmony.
Hark, how the strings awake, And though the moving hand approach not near Themselves with awful fear, A kind of numerous trembling make. Now all thy forces try, Now all thy charms apply, Revenge upon her ear the conquest of her eye.
Weak lyre, thy virtue sure Is useless here, since thou art only found To cure, but not to wound, And she to wound, but not to cure. Too weak, too, wilt thou prove My passion to remove. Physic to other ills, thou’rt nourishment to love.
[Pg 39] Sleep, sleep again, my lyre, For thou canst never tell my humble tale, In sounds that will prevail, Nor gentle thoughts in her inspire. All thy vain mirth lay by, Bid thy strings silent lie, Sleep, sleep again, my lyre, and let thy master die.

Ere the voice ceased, Amanda had quite shaken off the effects of her dream; and when all again was silent, she drew back the curtain, and saw it was the moon, then at the full, which, beaming through the calico window-curtains, cast such a light around her. The remainder of the night was passed in ruminating on this strange incident; it was evident the serenade was addressed to her; but she had not seen any one since her arrival in the neighborhood from whom she could have expected such a compliment, or, indeed, believed capable of paying it; that the person who paid it was one of no mean accomplishments, from his performance, she could not doubt. She resolved to conceal the incident, but to make such inquiries the next morning as might possibly lead to a discovery. From the answers those inquiries received, the clergyman was the only person whom, with any degree of probability, she could fix on. She had never seen him, and was at a loss to conceive how he knew anything of her, till it occurred he might have seen her going to Tudor Hall, or rambling about it.

From the moment this idea arose, Amanda deemed it imprudent to go to the hall; yet, so great was the pleasure she experienced there, she could not think of relinquishing it without the greatest reluctance. She at last considered, if she had a companion, it would remove any appearance of impropriety. Ellen was generally employed at knitting; Amanda therefore saw, that going to the hall could not interfere with her employment, and accordingly asked her attendance thither, which the other joyfully agreed to.

“While you look over the books,” said Ellen, as they entered the library, “I will just step away about a little business.” “I beg you may not be long absent,” cried Amanda. Ellen assured her that she would not, and flew off directly. She had in truth seen, in an enclosure near the hall, Tim Chip, the carpenter, at work, who was the rural Adonis of these shades. He had long selected Ellen for the fair nymph of his affection, which distinction excited not a little jealousy among the village girls, and considerably increased the vanity of Ellen, who triumphed in a conquest that at once gratified her love, and exalted her above her companions.

[Pg 40] Amanda entered the music-room. The melodious strains she had heard the preceding night dwelt upon her memory, and she sat down to the piano and attempted them; her ear soon informed her the attempt was successful; and her voice (as the words were familiar to her) then accompanied the instrument—“Heavenly sounds!” exclaimed some one behind her, as she concluded singing. Amanda started in terror and confusion from the chair, and beheld a tall and elegant young man standing by it. “Good heaven!” cried she, blushing and hastily moving to the door, scarcely knowing what she said, “where can Ellen be?” “And do you think,” said the stranger, springing forward and intercepting her passage, “I shall let you escape in this manner? No; really, my charming girl, I should be the most insensible of beings if I did not avail myself of the happy opportunity chance afforded of entreating leave to be introduced to you.” As he spoke, he gently seized her hand and carried it to his lips. “Be assured, sir,” said Amanda, “the chance, as you call it, which brought us together, is to me most unpleasant, as I fear it has exposed me to greater freedom than I have been accustomed to.” “And is it possible,” said he, “you really feel an emotion of anger? Well, I will relinquish my lovely captive if she condescendingly promises to continue here a few minutes longer, and grants me permission to attend her home.” “I insist on being immediately released,” exclaimed Amanda. “I obey,” cried he, softly pressing her hand, and then resigning it—“you are free; would to Heaven I could say the same!”

Amanda hurried to the grove, but in her confusion took the wrong path, and vainly cast her eyes around in search of Ellen. The stranger followed, and his eyes wandered with hers in every direction they took. “And why,” cried he, “so unpropitious to my wish of introduction?—a wish it was impossible not to feel from the moment you were seen.” Amanda made no reply, but still hurried on, and her fatigue and agitation were soon too much for her present weak state of health, and, quite overpowered, she was at last compelled to stop, and lean against a tree for support. Exercise had diffused its softest bloom over her cheek; her hair fluttered in the breeze that played around her, and her eyes, with the beautiful embarrassment of modesty, were bent to the ground to avoid the stranger’s ardent gaze. He watched her with looks of the most impassioned admiration, and softly exclaimed, as if the involuntary exclamation of rapture, “Good heavens, what an angel! Fatigue has made you ill,” he said; “and ’tis your haste to avoid me has[Pg 41] occasioned this disorder. Could you look into my heart, you would then find there was no reason to fly me; the emotions that lovely face excites in a soul of sensibility could never be inimical to your safety.”

At this moment Amanda perceived Ellen leaping over a style; she had at last left Mr. Chip, after promising to meet him in the evening at the cottage, where the blind harper was to attend to give them a dance. She ran forward, but, on seeing the stranger, started back in the utmost amazement. “Bless me!” said Amanda, “I thought you would never come.” “You go, then,” said the stranger, “and give me no hope of a second interview. Oh say,” taking her hand, “will you not allow me to wait upon you?” “It is utterly impossible,” replied Amanda, “and I shall be quite distressed if longer detained.” “See, then,” said he, opening a gate which led from the grove into the road, “how like a courteous knight I release you from painful captivity. But think not, thou beautiful though cruel fair one,” he continued gayly, “I shall resign my hopes of yet conquering thy obduracy.”

“Oh, Lord!” cried Ellen, as they quitted the grove, “how did you meet with Lord Mortimer?” “Lord Mortimer?” repeated Amanda, “Yes, himself, inteed,” said Ellen; “and I think in all my porn days I was never more surprised than when I saw him with you, looking so soft and so sweet upon you; to be sure he is a beautiful man, and besides that, the young Lort of Tudor Hall.” Amanda’s spirits were greatly flurried when she heard he was the master of the mansion, where he had found her seated with as much composure as if possessor of it.

As they were entering the cottage, Ellen, twitching Amanda’s sleeve, cried, “Look! look!” Amanda, hastily turning round, perceived Lord Mortimer, who had slowly followed them half way down the lane. On being observed, he smiled, and kissing his hand, retired.

Nurse was quite delighted at her child being seen by Lord Mortimer (which Ellen informed her of): her beauty, she was convinced, had excited his warmest admiration; and admiration might lead (she did not doubt) to something more important. Amanda’s heart fluttered with an agreeable sensation, as Ellen described to her mother the tender looks with which Lord Mortimer regarded her. She was at first inclined to believe, that in his lordship she had found the person whose melody so agreeably disturbed her slumbers; but a minute’s reflection convinced her this belief must be erroneous: it was[Pg 42] evident (or she would have heard of it) that Lord Mortimer had only arrived that day at Tudor Hall: and even had he seen her before, upon consideration she thought it improbable that he should have taken the trouble of coming in such a manner to a person in a station, to all appearance, so infinitely beneath his own. Yes, it was plain, chance alone had led him to the apartment where she sat; and the commonplace gallantry fashionable men are accustomed to, had dictated the language he addressed to her. She half sighed, as she settled the matter thus in her mind, and again fixed on the curate as her serenader. Well, she was determined, if ever he came in her way, and dropped a hint of an attachment, she would immediately crush any hope she might have the vanity to entertain!


CHAPTER V.

“The blossoms opening to the day, The dews of heaven refined, Could nought of purity display To emulate his mind.”—Goldsmith.

After tea Amanda asked little Betsey to accompany her in a walk; for Ellen (dressed in all her rural finery) had gone earlier in the evening to the dance. But Amanda did not begin her walk with her usual alacrity: her bonnet was so heavy, and then it made her look so ill, that she could not go out till she had made some alterations in it; still it would not do; a hat was tried on; she liked it better, and at last set out; but not as usual did she pause, whenever a new or lovely feature in the landscape struck her view, to express her admiration: she was often indeed so absorbed in thought, as to start when Betsey addressed her, which was often the case: for little Betsey delighted to have Miss Amanda to trace figures for her in the clouds, and assist her in gathering wild flowers. Scarcely knowing which way they went, Amanda rambled to the village; and feeling herself fatigued, turned into the church-yard to rest upon one of the raised flags.

The graves were ornamented with garlands of cut paper, interwoven with flowers: tributes of love from the village maids to the memory of their departed friends.

As Amanda rested herself, she twined a garland of the wild flowers she had gathered with Betsey, and hung it over the[Pg 43] grave of Lady Malvina: her fine eyes raised to heaven, as if invoking at that moment the spirit of her mother, to regard the vernal offering of her child; while her white hands were folded on her heart, and she softly exclaimed, “Alas, is this the only tribute for me to pay!”

A low murmur, as if from voices near, startled her at the instant; she turned with quickness, and saw Lord Mortimer, with a young clergyman, half hid by some trees, attentively observing her. Blushing and confused, she drew her hat over her face, and catching Betsey’s hand, hastened to the cottage.

Lord Mortimer had wandered about the skirts of the cottage, in hopes of meeting her in the evening; on seeing the direction she had taken from it, he followed her, and just as she entered the church-yard, unexpectedly met the curate. His company, at a moment so propitious for joining Amanda, he could well have dispensed with; for he was more anxious than he chose to acknowledge to himself, to become acquainted with her.

Lord Mortimer was now in the glowing prime of life: his person was strikingly elegant, and his manners insinuatingly pleasing; seducing sweetness dwelt in his smile, and, as he pleased, his expressive eyes could sparkle with intelligence, or beam with sensibility; and to the eloquence of his language, the harmony of his voice imparted a charm that seldom failed of being irresistible; his soul was naturally the seat of every virtue; but an elevated rank, and splendid fortune, had placed him in a situation somewhat inimical to their interests, for he had not always strength to resist the strong temptations which surrounded him; but though he sometimes wandered from the boundaries of virtue, he had never yet entered upon the confines of vice—never really injured innocence, or done a deed which could wound the bosom of a friend: his heart was alive to every noble propensity of nature; compassion was one of its strongest feelings, and never did his hand refuse obedience to the generous impulse. Among the various accomplishments he possessed, was an exquisite taste for music, which, with every other talent, had been cultivated to the highest degree of possible perfection; his spending many years abroad had given him every requisite advantage for improving it. The soft, melodious voice of Amanda would of itself almost have made a conquest of his heart; but aided by the charms of her face and person, altogether were irresistible.

He had come into Wales on purpose to pay a visit to an old friend in the Isle of Anglesey: he did not mean to stop at Tudor Hall; but within a few miles of it the phaeton, in which[Pg 44] he travelled (from the fineness of the weather), was overturned, and he severely hurt. He procured a hired carriage, and proceeded to the hall, to put himself into the hands of the good old housekeeper, Mrs. Abergwilly; who, possessing as great a stock of medical knowledge as Lady Bountiful herself, he believed would cure his bruises with as much, or rather more expedition, than any country surgeon whatever. He gave strict orders that his being at the hall should not be mentioned, as he did not choose, the few days he hoped and believed he should continue there, to be disturbed by visits which he knew would be paid if an intimation of his being there was received. From an apartment adjoining the music-room he had discovered Amanda. Though scarcely able to move, at the first sound of her voice he stole to the door, which being a little open, gave him an opportunity of seeing her perfectly; and nothing but his situation prevented his immediately appearing before her, and expressing the admiration she had inspired him with. As soon as she departed he sent for the housekeeper, to inquire who the beautiful stranger was. Mrs. Abergwilly only knew she was a young lady lately come from London, to lodge at David Edwin’s cottage, whose wife had entreated permission for her to read in the library, which, she added, she had given, seeing that his lordship read in his dressing-room; but, if he pleased, she would send Miss Dunford word not to come again—“By no means,” his lordship said. Amanda therefore continued her visits as usual, little thinking with what critical regard and fond admiration she was observed. Lord Mortimer daily grew better; but the purpose for which he had come into Wales seemed utterly forgotten; he had a tincture of romance in his disposition, and availed himself of his recovery to gratify it, by taking a lute and serenading his lovely cottage girl. He could no longer restrain his impatience to be known to her; and the next day, stealing from his retirement, surprised her as already related.

As he could not, without an utter violation of good manners, shake off Howel, he contented himself with following Amanda into the church-yard, where, shaded by trees, he and his companion stood watching her unnoticed, till an involuntary exclamation of rapture from his lordship discovered their situation. When she departed, he read the inscription on the tombstone; but, from the difference of names, this gave no insight into any connection between her and the person it mentioned. Howel could give no information of either; he was but a young man, lately appointed to the parsonage, and had never seen Amanda till that evening.

[Pg 45] Lord Mortimer was solicitous, even to a degree of anxiety, to learn the real situation of Amanda. As Howel, in his pastoral function, had free access to the houses of his parishioners, it occurred to him that he would be an excellent person to discover it; he therefore, as if from curiosity alone, expressed his wish of knowing who she was, and requested Howel, if convenient, to follow her directly to Edwin’s cottage (where, he said, by chance, he heard she lodged), and endeavor to find out from the good people everything about her. This request Howel readily complied with; the face, the figure, the melancholy, and, above all, the employment of Amanda, had interested his sensibility and excited his curiosity.

He arrived soon after her at the cottage, and found her laughing at her nurse, who was telling her she was certain she should see her a great lady. Amanda rose to retire at his entrance; but he, perceiving her intention, declared if he disturbed her, he would immediately depart; she accordingly reseated herself, secretly pleased at doing so, as she thought, either from some look or word of the curate’s, she might discover if he really was the person who had serenaded her; from this idea she showed no aversion to enter into conversation with him.

The whole family, nurse excepted, had followed Ellen to the dance; and that good woman thought she could do no less, for the honor of Howel’s visit, than prepare a little comfortable supper for him. The benevolence of his disposition, and innocent gayety of his temper, had rendered him a great favorite amongst his rustic neighbors, whom he frequently amused with simple ballads and pleasant tales. Amanda and he were left tete-à-tete while the nurse was busied in preparing her entertainment; and she was soon as much pleased with the elegance and simplicity of his manners, as he was with the innocence and sweetness of hers. The objects about them naturally led to rural subjects, and from them to what might almost be termed a dissertation on poetry: this was a theme peculiarly agreeable to Howel, who wooed the pensive muse beneath the sylvan shade; nor was it less so to Amanda—she was a zealous worshipper of the muses, though diffidence made her conceal her invocations to them. She was led to point out the beauties of her favorite authors, and the soft sensibility of her voice raised a kind of tender enthusiasm in Howel’s soul; he gazed and listened, as if his eye could never be satisfied with seeing, or his ear with hearing. At his particular request, Amanda recited the pathetic description of the curate and his lovely daughter from the “Deserted Village"—a tear stole down her cheek as[Pg 46] she proceeded. Howel softly laid his hand on hers, and exclaimed, “Good heavens, what an angel!”

“Come, come,” said Amanda, smiling at the energy with which he spoke, “you, at least, should have nothing to do with flattery.”

“Flattery!” repeated he, emphatically; “Oh heavens! did you but know my sincerity——”

“Well, well,” cried she, wishing to change the subject, “utter no expression in future which shall make me doubt it.”

“To flatter you,” said he, “would be impossible, since the highest eulogium must be inadequate to your merits.”

“Again!” said Amanda.

“Believe me,” he replied, “flattery is a meanness I abhor; the expressions you denominate as such proceed from emotions I should contemn myself for want of sensibility if I did not experience.”

The nurse’s duck and green peas were now set upon the table, but in vain did she press Howel to eat; his eyes were too well feasted to allow him to attend to his palate. Finding her entreaties ineffectual in one respect, she tried them in another, and begged he would sing a favorite old ballad; this he at first hesitated to do, till Amanda (from a secret motive of her own) joined in the entreaty; and the moment she heard his voice, she was convinced he was not the person who had been at the outside of her window. After his complaisance to her, she could not refuse him one song. The melodious sounds sunk into his heart; he seemed fascinated to the spot, nor thought of moving till the nurse gave him a hint for that purpose, being afraid of Amanda sitting up too late.

He sighed as he entered his humble dwelling; it was perhaps the first sigh he had ever heaved for the narrowness of his fortune. “Yet,” cried he, casting his eyes around, “in this abode, low and humble as it is, a soul like Amanda’s might enjoy felicity.”

The purpose for which Lord Mortimer sent him to the cottage, and Lord Mortimer himself, were forgotten. His lordship had engaged Howel to sup with him after the performance of his embassy, and impatiently awaited his arrival: he felt displeased, as the hours wore away without bringing him; and, unable at last to restrain the impetuosity of his feelings, proceeded to the parsonage; which he entered a few minutes after Howel. He asked, with no great complacency, the reason he had not fulfilled his engagement. Absorbed in one idea, Howel felt confused, agitated, and unable to frame any excuse; he[Pg 47] therefore simply said, what in reality was true, “that he had utterly forgotten it.”

“I suppose, then,” exclaimed Lord Mortimer, in a ruffled voice, “you have been very agreeably entertained?”

“Delightfully,” said Howel.

Lord Mortimer grew more displeased, but his anger was now levelled against himself as well as Howel. He repented and regretted the folly which had thrown Howel in the way of such temptation, and had perhaps raised a rival to himself.

“Well,” cried he, after a few hasty paces about the room, “and pray, what do you know about Miss Dunford?”

“About her!” repeated Howel, as if starting from a reverie; “why—nothing.”

“Nothing!” re-echoed his lordship.

“No,” replied Howel, “except that she is an angel.”

Lord Mortimer was now thoroughly convinced all was over with the poor parson; and resolved, in consequence of this conviction, to lose no time himself. He could not depart without inquiring how the evening had been spent, and envied Howel the happy minutes he had so eloquently described.


CHAPTER VI.

“———— Hither turn Thy graceful footsteps; hither, gentle maid, Incline thy polished forehead. Let thy eyes Effuse the mildness of their azure dawn; And may the fanning breezes waft aside Thy radiant locks, disclosing, as it bends With airy softness from the marble neck, The cheek fair-blooming, and the rosy lip, Where winning smiles, and pleasure sweet as love With sanctity and wisdom, tempering blend Their soft allurements.”—Akenside.

While Amanda was at breakfast the next morning, Betsey brought a letter to her; expecting to hear from her father, she eagerly opened it, and, to her great surprise, perused the following lines:—

TO MISS DUNFORD.

Lord Mortimer begs leave to assure Miss Dunford he shall remain dissatisfied with himself till he has an opportunity of personally apologizing for his intrusion yesterday. If the sweetness of her disposition fulfils the [Pg 48]promise her face has given of it, he flatters himself his pardon will speedily be accorded: yet never shall he think himself entirely forgiven, if her visits to the library are discontinued. Happy and honored shall Lord Mortimer consider himself, if Tudor Hall contains anything which can amuse or merit the attention of Miss Dunford.

July 17th.

“From Lord Mortimer!” said Amanda, with involuntary emotion. “Well, this really has astonished me.” “Oh Lort, my tear!” cried the nurse in rapture.

Amanda waved her hand to silence her, as the servant stood in the outside room. She called Betsey: “Tell the servant,” said she——

“Lort!” cried the nurse softly, and twitching her sleeve, “write his lortship a little pit of a note, just to let him see what a pretty scribe you are.”

Amanda could not refrain smiling; but disengaging herself from the good woman, she arose, and going to the servant, desired him to tell his lord, she thanked him for his polite attention; but that in future it would not be in her power to go to the library. When she returned to the room, the nurse bitterly lamented her not writing. “Great matters,” she said, “had often arisen from small beginnings.” She could not conceive why his lortship should be treated in such a manner: it was not the way she had ever served her Edwin. Lort, she remembered if she got but the scrawl of a pen from him, she used to sit up to answer it. Amanda tried to persuade her it was neither necessary or proper for her to write. An hour passed in arguments between them, when two servants came from Tudor Hall to the cottage with a small bookcase, which they sent in to Amanda, and their lord’s compliments, that in a few minutes he would have the honor of paying his respects to her.

Amanda felt agitated by this message; but it was the agitation of involuntary pleasure. Her room was always perfectly neat, yet did the nurse and her two daughters now busy themselves with trying, if possible, to put it into nicer order: the garden was ransacked for the choicest flowers to ornament it; nor would they depart till they saw Lord Mortimer approaching. Amanda, who had opened the bookcase, then snatched up a book, to avoid the appearance of sitting in expectation of his coming.

He entered with an air at once easy and respectful, and taking her hand, besought forgiveness for his intrusion the preceding day. Amanda blushed, and faltered out something of the[Pg 49] confusion she had experienced from being so surprised; he reseated her, and drawing a chair close to hers, said he had taken the liberty of sending her a few books to amuse her, till she again condescended to visit the library, which he entreated her to do; promising that, if she pleased, both it and the music-room should be sacred to her alone. She thanked him for his politeness; but declared she must be excused from going. Lord Mortimer regarded her with a degree of tender admiration; an admiration heightened by the contrast he drew in his mind between her and the generality of fashionable women he had seen, whom he often secretly censured for sacrificing too largely at the shrine of art and fashion. The pale and varied blush which mantled the cheek of Amanda at once announced itself to be an involuntary suffusion; and her dress was only remarkable for its simplicity; she wore a plain robe of dimity, and an abbey cap of thin muslin, that shaded, without concealing, her face, and gave to it the soft expression of a Madonna; her beautiful hair fell in long ringlets down her back, and curled upon her forehead.

“Good heaven!” cried Mortimer, “how has your idea dwelt upon my mind since last night: if in the morning I was charmed, in the evening I was enraptured. Your looks, your attitude, were then beyond all that imagination could conceive of loveliness and grace; you appeared as a being on another world mourning over a kindred spirit. I felt

“Awe-struck, and as I passed, I worshipped.”

Confused by the energy of his words, and the ardent glances he directed towards her, Amanda, scarcely knowing what she did, turned over the leaves of the book she still held in her hand; in doing so, she saw written on the title-page, the Earl of Cherbury. “Cherbury?” repeated she, in astonishment.

“Do you know him?” asked Lord Mortimer.

“Not personally; but I revere, I esteem him; he is one of the best, the truest friends, my father ever had.”

“Oh, how happy,” exclaimed Lord Mortimer, “would his son be, were he capable of inspiring you with such sentiments as you avow for him.”

“His son!” repeated Amanda, in a tone of surprise, and looking at Lord Mortimer.

“Yes,” replied he. “Is it then possible,” he continued, “that you are really ignorant of his being my father?”

Surprise kept her silent a few minutes; for her father had[Pg 50] never given her any account of the earl’s family, till about the period he thought of applying to him; and her mind was so distracted at that time on his own account, that she scarcely understood a word he uttered. In the country she had never heard Lord Cherbury mentioned; for Tudor Hall belonged not to him, but to Lord Mortimer, to whom an uncle had bequeathed it.

“I thought, indeed, my lord,” said Amanda, as soon as she recovered her voice, “that your lordship’s title was familiar to me; though why, from the hurry and perplexity in which particular circumstances involved me, I could not tell.”

“Oh, suffer,” cried Lord Mortimer, with one of his most insinuating smiles, “the friendship which our parents feel to be continued to their children; let this,” taking her soft hand, and pressing his lips to it, “be the pledge of amity between us.” He now inquired when the intimacy between her father and his had commenced, and where the former was. But from those inquiries Amanda shrunk. She reflected, that, without her father’s permission, she had no right to answer them; and that, in a situation like his and hers, too much caution could not be observed. Besides, both pride and delicacy made her solicitous at present to conceal her father’s real situation from Lord Mortimer: she could not bear to think it should be known his sole dependence was on Lord Cherbury, uncertain as it was, whether that nobleman would ever answer his expectations. She repented having ever dropped a hint of the intimacy subsisting between them, which surprise alone had made her do, and tried to waive the subject. In this design Lord Mortimer assisted her; for he had too much penetration not instantly to perceive it confused and distressed her. He requested permission to renew his visit, but Amanda, though well inclined to grant his request, yielded to prudence instead of inclination, and begged he would excuse her; the seeming disparity (she could not help saying) in their situations, would render it very imprudent in her to receive such visits; she blushed, half sighed, and bent her eyes to the ground as she spoke. Lord Mortimer continued to entreat, but she was steady in refusing; he would not depart, however, till he had obtained permission to attend her in the evening to a part of Tudor Grove which she had never yet seen, and he described as particularly beautiful. He wanted to call for her at the appointed hour, but she would not suffer this, and he was compelled to be contented with leave to meet her near the cottage when it came.

[Pg 51] With a beating heart she kept her appointment, and found his lordship not many yards distant from the cottage, impatiently waiting her approach. A brighter bloom than usual glowed upon her cheek as she listened to his ardent expressions of admiration; yet not to such expressions, which would soon have sated an ear of delicacy like Amanda’s, did Lord Mortimer confine himself; he conversed on various subjects; and the eloquence of his language, the liveliness of his imagination, and the justness of his remarks, equally amused and interested his fair companion. There was, indeed, in the disposition and manners of Lord Mortimer that happy mixture of animation and softness which at once amuses the fancy and attracts the heart; and never had Amanda experienced such minutes as she now passed with him, so delightful in their progress, so rapid in their course. On entering the walk he had mentioned to her, she saw he had not exaggerated its beauties. After passing through many long and shaded alleys, they came to a smooth green lawn, about which the trees rose in the form of an amphitheatre, and their dark, luxuriant, and checkered shades proclaimed that amongst them

“The rude axe, with heaved stroke, Was never heard, the nymphs to daunt, Or fright them from their hallowed haunt.”—Milton

The lawn gently sloped to a winding stream, so clear as perfectly to reflect the beautiful scenery of heaven, now glowing with the gold and purple of the setting sun; from the opposite bank of the stream rose a stupendous mountain, diversified with little verdant hills and dales, and skirted with a wild shrubbery, whose blossoms perfumed the air with the most balmy fragrance. Lord Mortimer prevailed on Amanda to sit down upon a rustic bench, beneath the spreading branches of an oak, enwreathed with ivy; here they had not sat long, ere the silence, which reigned around, was suddenly interrupted by strains, at once low, solemn, and melodious, that seemed to creep along the water, till they had reached the place where they sat; and then, as if a Naiad of the stream had left her rushy couch to do them homage, they swelled by degrees into full melody, which the mountain echoes alternately revived and heightened. It appeared like enchantment to Amanda; and her eyes, turned to Lord Mortimer, seemed to say, it was to his magic it was owing. After enjoying her surprise some minutes, he acknowledged the music proceeded from two servants of his, who played on the clarinet and French horn,[Pg 52] and were stationed in a dell of the opposite mountain. Notwithstanding all her former thoughts to the contrary, Amanda now conceived a strong suspicion that Lord Mortimer was really the person who had serenaded her; that she conceived pleasure from the idea, is scarcely necessary to say; she had reason soon to find she was not mistaken. Lord Mortimer solicited her for the Lady’s song in Comus, saying the present situation was peculiarly adapted to it; on her hesitating, he told her she had no plea to offer for not complying, as he himself had heard her enchanting powers in it. Amanda started, and eagerly inquired when or by what means. It was too late for his lordship to recede; and he not only confessed his concealment near the music-room, but his visit to her window. A soft confusion, intermingled with pleasure, pervaded the soul of Amanda at this confession: and it was some time ere she was sufficiently composed to comply with Lord Mortimer’s solicitations for her to sing; she at last allowed him to lead her to the centre of a little rustic bridge thrown over the stream, from whence her voice could be sufficiently distinguished for the music to keep time to it, as Lord Mortimer had directed. Her plaintive and harmonious invocation, answered by the low breathing of the clarinet, which appeared like the softest echo of the mountain, had the finest effect imaginable, and “took the imprisoned soul, and wrapped it in Elysium.”

Lord Mortimer, for the first time in his life, found himself at a loss to express what he felt: he conducted her back to the seat, where, to her astonishment, she beheld fruits, ices, and creams, laid out, as if by the hand of magic, for no mortal appeared near the spot. Dusky twilight now warned her to return home; but Lord Mortimer would not suffer her to depart till she had partaken of this collation.

He was not by any means satisfied with the idea of only beholding her for an hour or two of an evening; and when they came near the cottage, desired to know whether it was to chance alone he was in future to be indebted for seeing her. Again he entreated permission to visit her sometimes of a morning, promising he would never disturb her avocations, but would be satisfied merely to sit and read to her, whenever she chose to work, and felt herself inclined for that amusement: Amanda’s refusals grew fainter; and at last she said, on the above-mentioned conditions, he might sometimes come. That he availed himself of this permission, is scarcely necessary to say; and from this time few hours passed without their seeing each other.

[Pg 53] The cold reserve of Amanda by degrees wore away; from her knowledge of his family she considered him as more than a new or common acquaintance. The emotions she felt for him, she thought sanctioned by that knowledge, and the gratitude she felt for Lord Cherbury for his former conduct to her father, which claimed, she thought, her respect and esteem for so near and valuable a connection of his; the worth, too, she could not avoid acknowledging to herself, of Lord Mortimer, would, of itself alone, have authorized them. Her heart felt he was one of the most amiable, most pleasing of men; she could scarcely disguise, in any degree, the lively pleasure she experienced in his society; nay, she scarcely thought it necessary to disguise it, for it resulted as much from innocence as sensibility, and was placed to the account of friendship. But Lord Mortimer was too penetrating not soon to perceive he might ascribe it to a softer impulse; with the most delicate attention, the most tender regard, he daily, nay, hourly, insinuated himself into her heart, and secured for himself an interest in it, ere she was aware, which the efforts of subsequent resolution could not overcome. He was the companion of her rambles, the alleviator of her griefs; the care which so often saddened her brow always vanished at his presence, and in conversing with him she forgot every cause of sorrow.

He once or twice delicately hinted at those circumstances which at his first visit she had mentioned, as sufficiently distressing to bewilder her recollection. Amanda, with blushes, always shrunk from the subject, sickening at the idea of his knowing that her father depended on his for future support. If he ever addressed her seriously on the subject of the regard he professed for her (which, from his attentions, she could not help sometimes flattering herself would be the case), then, indeed, there would be no longer room for concealment; but, except such a circumstance took place, she could not bring herself to make any humiliating discovery.

Tudor Grove was the favorite scene of their rambles; sometimes she allowed him to lead her to the music-room; but as these visits were not frequent, a lute was brought from it to the cottage, and in the recess in the garden she often sung and played for the enraptured Mortimer; there, too, he frequently read for her, always selecting some elegant and pathetic piece of poetry, to which the harmony of his voice gave additional charms; a voice, which sunk into the heart of Amanda, and interested her sensibility even more than the subject he perused.

Often straying to the valley’s verge, as they contemplated[Pg 54] the lovely prospect around, only bounded by distant and stupendous mountains, Lord Mortimer, in strains of eloquence would describe the beautiful scenes and extensive landscapes beyond them; and, whenever Amanda expressed a wish (as she sometimes would from thoughtless innocence) of viewing them, he would softly sigh, and wish he was to be her guide to them; as to point out beauties to a refined and cultivated mind like hers, would be to him the greatest pleasure he could possibly experience. Seated sometimes on the brow of a shrubby hill, as they viewed the scattered hamlets beneath, he would expatiate on the pleasure he conceived there must be in passing a tranquil life with one lovely and beloved object: his insidious eyes, turned towards Amanda, at these minutes, seemed to say, she was the being who could realize all the ideas he entertained of such a life; and when he asked her opinion of his sentiments, her disordered blushes, and faltering accents, too plainly betrayed her conscious feelings. Every delicacy which Tudor Hall contained, was daily sent to the cottage, notwithstanding Amanda’s prohibition to the contrary; and sometimes Lord Mortimer was permitted to dine with her in the recess. Three weeks spent in this familiar manner, endeared and attached them to each other more than months would have done, passed in situations liable to interruption.


CHAPTER VII.

“—————— She alone Heard, felt, and seen, possesses every thought, Fills every sense, and pants in every vein. Books are but formal dulness, tedious friends, And sad amid the social band he sits, Lonely and unattentive. From his tongue The unfinished period falls, while, bore away On swelling thoughts his wafted spirit flies To the vain bosom of his distant fair.”—Thomson.

Howel was no stranger to the manner in which hours rolled away at the cottage; he hovered round it, and seized every interval of Lord Mortimer’s absence to present himself before Amanda; his emotions betrayed his feelings, and Amanda effected reserve towards him, in hopes of suppressing his passion; a passion, she now began to think, when hopeless, must be dreadful.

[Pg 55] Howel was a prey to melancholy; but not for himself alone did he mourn; fears for the safety and happiness of Amanda added to his dejection; he dreaded that Lord Mortimer, perhaps, like too many of the fashionable men, might make no scruple of availing himself of any advantage which could be derived from a predilection in his favor.

He knew him, it is true, to be amiable; but in opposition to that, he knew him to be volatile, and sometimes wild, and trembled for the unsuspecting credulity of Amanda. “Though lost to me,” exclaimed the unhappy young man, “oh never, sweetest Amanda, mayest thou be lost to thyself!”

He had received many proofs of esteem and friendship from Lord Mortimer; he therefore studied how he might admonish without offending, and save Amanda without injuring himself. It at last occurred to him that the pulpit would be the surest way of effecting his wishes, where the subject, addressed to all, might particularly strike one for whom it was intended, without appearing as if designed for that purpose; and timely convince him, if, indeed, he meditated any injurious design against Amanda, of its flagrance.

On the following Sunday, as he expected, Lord Mortimer and Amanda attended service; his lordship’s pew was opposite the one she sat in, and we fear his eyes too often wondered in that direction.

The youthful monitor at last ascended the pulpit; his text was from Jeremiah, and to the following effect:—

“She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks; among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies.”

After a slight introduction, in which he regretted that the declension of moral principles demanded such an exhortation as he was about to give, he commenced his subject; he described a young female, adorned with beauty and innocence, walking forward in the path of integrity, which a virtuous education had early marked for her to take, and rejoicing as she went with all around her; when, in the midst of happiness, unexpected calamity suddenly surprised and precipitated her from prosperity into the deepest distress: he described the benefits she derived in this trying period from early implanted virtue and religion; taught by them (he proceeded) the lovely mourner turns not to the world for consolation—no, she looks up to her Creator for comfort, whose supporting aid is so particularly promised to afflicted worth. Cheered by them, she is[Pg 56] able to exert her little talents of genius and taste, and draw upon industry for her future support; her active virtues, he thinks the best proof of submission she can give to the will of Heaven; and in the laudable exertions she finds a conscious peace, which the mere possession of fortune could never bestow. While thus employed, a son of perfidy sees and marks her for his prey, because she is at once lovely and helpless: her unsuspecting credulity lays her open to his arts, and his blandishments by degrees allure her heart. The snare which he has spread at last involves her; with the inconstancy of libertinism he soon deserts her; and again is she plunged into distress. But mark the difference of her first and second fall: conscience no longer lends its opposing aid to stem her sorrow, despair instead of hope arises; without one friend to soothe the pangs of death, one pitying soul to whisper peace to her departing spirit; insulted, too, perhaps, by some unfeeling being, whom want of similar temptations alone, perhaps, saved from similar imprudences, she sinks an early victim to wretchedness.

Howel paused; the fulness of his heart mounted to his eyes, which involuntarily turned and rested upon Amanda. Interested by his simple and pathetic eloquence, she had risen, and leaned over the pew, her head resting on her hand, and her eyes fastened on his face. Lord Mortimer had also risen, and alternately gazed upon Howel and Amanda, particularly watching the latter, to see how the subject would affect her. He at last saw the tears trickling down her cheeks: the distresses of her own situation, and the stratagems of Belgrave, made her, in some respect, perceive a resemblance between herself and the picture Howel had drawn. Lord Mortimer was unutterably affected by her tears, a faint sickness seized him, he sunk upon the seat, and covered his face with his handkerchief, to hide his emotion; but by the time service was over it was pretty well dissipated: Amanda returned home, and his lordship waited for Howel’s coming out of church. “What the devil, Howel,” said he, “did you mean by giving us such an exhortation? Have you discovered any affair going on between any of your rustic neighbors?” The parson colored, but remained silent; Lord Mortimer rallied him a little more, and then departed; but his gayety was only assumed.

On his first acquaintance with Amanda, in consequence of what he heard from Mrs. Abergwilly, and observed himself, he had been tempted to think she was involved in mystery: and what, but impropriety, he thought, could occasion mystery. To[Pg 57] see so young, so lovely, so elegant a creature an inmate of a sequestered cottage, associating with people (in manners at least) so infinitely beneath her; to see her trembling and blushing, if a word was dropped that seemed tending to inquire into her motives for retirement; all these circumstances, I say, considered, naturally excited a suspicion injurious to her in the mind of Lord Mortimer; and he was tempted to think some deviation from prudence had, by depriving her of the favor of her friends, made her retire to obscurity; and that she would not dislike an opportunity of emerging from it, he could not help thinking. In consequence of these ideas, he could not think himself very culpable in encouraging the wishes her loveliness gave rise to; besides, he had some reason to suspect she desired to inspire him with these wishes; for Mrs. Abergwilly told him she had informed Mrs. Edwin of his arrival; an information he could not doubt her having immediately communicated to Amanda; therefore her continuing to come to the hall seemed as if she wished to throw herself in his way. Mrs. Edwin had indeed been told of his arrival, but concealed it from Amanda, that she should not be disappointed of going to the hall, which she knew, if once informed of it, she would not go to.

’Tis true, Lord Mortimer saw Amanda wore (at least) the semblance of innocence: but this could not remove his suspicions, so often had he seen it assumed to hide the artful stratagems of a depraved heart.

Ah! why will the lovely female, adorned with all that heaven and earth can bestow to render her amiable, overleap the modesty of nature, and by levity and boldness lose all pretensions to the esteem which would otherwise be an involuntary tribute.

Nor is it herself alone she injures; she hurts each child of purity, helps to point the sting of ridicule, and weave the web of art.

We shun the blazing sun, but court his tempered beams; the rose, which glares upon the day, is never so much sought as the bud enwrapt in the foliage; and, to use the expression of a late much-admired author, “The retiring graces have ever been reckoned the most beautiful.”

He had never heard the earl mention a person of the name of Dunford; and he knew not, or rather suspected, little credit was to be given to her assertion of an intimacy between them, particularly as he saw her, whenever the subject was mentioned, shrinking from it in the greatest confusion.

[Pg 58] Her reserve he imputed to pretence; and flattering himself it would soon wear off, determined for the present at least to humor her affectation.

With such ideas, such sentiments, had Lord Mortimer’s first visits to Amanda commenced: but they experienced an immediate change as the decreasing reserve of her manners gave him greater and more frequent opportunities of discovering her mental perfections; the strength of her understanding, the justness of her remarks, the liveliness of her fancy, above all, the purity which mingled in every sentiment, and the modesty which accompanied every word, filled him with delight and amazement; his doubts gradually lessened, and at last vanished, and with them every design, which they alone had ever given rise to. Esteem was now united to love, and real respect to admiration: in her society he only was happy, and thought not, or rather would not suffer himself to think, on the consequences of such an attachment. It might be said, he was entranced in pleasure, from which Howel completely roused him, and made him seriously ask his heart, what were his intentions relative to Amanda. Of such views as he perceived Howel suspected him of harboring, his conscience entirely acquitted him; yet so great were the obstacles he knew in the way of an union between him and Amanda, that he almost regretted (as every one does, who acts against their better judgment,) that he had not fled at the first intimation of his danger. So truly formidable indeed did these obstacles appear, that he at times resolved to break with Amanda, if he could fix upon any plan for doing so, without injuring his honor, after the great attention he had paid her.

Ere he came to any final determination, however, he resolved to try and discover her real situation: if he even left her, it would be a satisfaction to his heart to know whether his friendship could be serviceable: and if an opposite measure was his plan, it could never be put in execution without the desired information. He accordingly wrote to his sister, Lady Araminta Dormer, who was then in the country with Lord Cherbury, requesting she would inquire from his father whether he knew a person of the name of Dunford; and if he did, what his situation and family were. Lord Mortimer begged her ladyship not to mention the inquiries being dictated by him, and promised at some future period to explain the reason of them. He still continued his assiduities to Amanda, and at the expected time received an answer to his letter; but how was he shocked and alarmed, when informed, Lord Cherbury never[Pg 59] knew a person of the name of Dunford! His doubts began to revive; but before he yielded entirely to them, he resolved to go to Amanda, and inquire from her, in the most explicit terms, how, and at what time, her father and the Earl had become acquainted; determined, if she answered him without embarrassment, to mention to his sister whatever circumstances she related, lest a forgetfulness of them alone had made the Earl deny his knowledge of Dunford. Just as he was quitting the grove with this intent, he espied Edwin and his wife coming down a cross-road from the village, where they had been with poultry and vegetables. It instantly occurred to him that these people, in the simplicity of their hearts, might unfold the real situation of Amanda, and save him the painful necessity of making inquiries, which she, perhaps, would not answer, without his real motives for making them were assigned, which was what he could not think of doing.

Instead, therefore, of proceeding, he stopped till they came up to him, and then with the most engaging affability addressed them, inquiring whether they had been successful in the disposal of their goods. They answered bowing and curtseying, and he then insisted that, as they appeared tired, they should repair to the hall, and rest themselves. This was too great an honor to be refused; and they followed their noble conductor, who hastened forward to order refreshment into a parlor for them. The nurse, who in her own way was a cunning woman, instantly suspected, from the great and uncommon attention of Lord Mortimer, that he wanted to inquire into the situation of Amanda. As soon as she saw him at some distance, “David,” cried she, “as sure as eggs are eggs,” (unpinning her white apron, and smoothing it nicely down as she spoke,) “this young lort wants to have our company, that he may find out something apout Miss Amanda. Ah, pless her pretty face, I thought how it would be; but we must be as cunning as foxes, and not tell too much nor too little, because if we told too much it would offend her, and she would ask us how we got all our intelligence, and would not think us over and above genteel, when she heard we had sifted Jemmy Hawthorn for it, when he came down from London with her. All we must do is just to drop some hints, as it were, of her situation, and then his lortship, to be sure, will make his advantage of them, and ask her everything apout herself, and then she will tell him of her own accord: so, David, mind what you say, I charge you.” “Ay, ay,” cried David, “leave me alone; I’ll warrant you you’ll always find an old soldier ’cute enough for anypoty.”

[Pg 60] When they reached the hall, they were shown into a parlor, where Lord Mortimer was expecting them: with difficulty he made them sit down at the table, where meat and wine were laid out for them. After they had partaken of them, Lord Mortimer began with asking Edwin some questions about his farm (for he was a tenant on the Tudor estate), and whether there was anything wanting to render it more comfortable. “No,” Edwin replied, with a low bow, thanking his honorable lordship for his inquiry. Lord Mortimer spoke of his family. “Ay, Cot pless the poor things,” Edwin said, “they were, to be sure, a fine thriving set of children.” Still Lord Mortimer had not touched on the subject nearest his heart. He felt embarrassed and agitated. At last, with as much composure as he could assume, he asked how long they imagined Miss Dunford would stay with them. Now was the nurse’s time to speak. She had hitherto sat simpering and bowing. “That depended on circumstances,” she said. “Poor tear young laty, though their little cottage was so obscure, and so unlike anything she had before been accustomed to, she made herself quite happy with it.” “Her father must miss her society very much,” exclaimed Lord Mortimer. “Tear heart, to be sure he does,” cried nurse. “Well, strange things happen every tay; but still I never thought what did happen would have happened, to make the poor old gentleman and his daughter part.” “What happened?” exclaimed Lord Mortimer, starting and suddenly stopping in the middle of the room, for hitherto he had been walking backwards and forwards. “’Twas not her business,” the nurse replied, “by no manner of means, to be speaking about the affairs of her petters; put for all that she could not help saying, because, she thought it a pity his lortship, who was so good and so affable, should remain in ignorance of everything; that Miss Amanda was not what she appeared to be; no, if the truth was told, not the person she passed for at all; but, Lort, she would never forgive me,” cried the nurse, “if your lortship told her it was from me your lortship heard this. Poor tear thing, she is very unwilling to have her situation known, though she is not the first poty who has met with a pad man; and shame and sorrow be upon him who tistrest herself and her father.”

Lord Mortimer had heard enough: every doubt, every suspicion was realized; and he was equally unable and unwilling to inquire further. It was plain Amanda was unworthy of his esteem; and to inquire into the circumstances which occasioned that unworthiness, would only have tortured him.[Pg 61] He rung the bell abruptly, and ordering Mrs. Abergwilly to attend the Edwins, withdrew immediately to another room. Now there was an opportunity for Lord Mortimer to break with Amanda, without the smallest imputation on his honor. Did it give him pleasure? No: it filled him with sorrow, disappointment, and anguish: the softness of her manners, even more than the beauty of her person, had fascinated his soul, and made him determine, if he found her worthy (of which indeed he had then but little doubt) to cease not, till every obstacle which could impede their union should be overcome. He was inspired with indignation at the idea of the snare he imagined she had spread for him; thinking her modesty all a pretext to draw him into making honorable proposals. As she sunk in his esteem, her charms lessened in his fancy; and he thought it would be a proper punishment for her, and a noble triumph over himself, if he conquered, or at least resisted his passion, and forsook her entirely. Full of this idea, and influenced by resentment for her supposed deceit, he resolved, without longer delay, to fulfil the purpose which had brought him into Wales, namely, visiting his friend; but how frail is resolution and resentment when opposed to tenderness! Without suffering himself to believe there was the least abatement of either in his mind, he forbid the carriage, in a few minutes after he had ordered it, merely, he persuaded himself, for the purpose of yet more severely mortifying Amanda: as his continuing a little longer in the neighborhood, without noticing her, might, perhaps, convince her, she was not quite so fascinating as she believed herself to be. From the time his residence at Tudor Hall was known, he had received constant invitations from the surrounding families, which, on Amanda’s account, he uniformly declined. This he resolved should no longer be the case: some, were yet unanswered, and these he meant to accept, as means indeed of keeping him steady in his resolution of not seeing her, and banishing her in some degree from his thoughts. But he could not have fixed on worse methods than these for effecting either of his purposes: the society he now mixed among was so different from that he had lately been accustomed to, that he was continually employed in drawing comparisons between them. He grew restless; his unhappiness increased; and he at last felt, that if he desired to experience any comfort, he must no longer absent himself from Amanda; and also that, if she refused to accede to the only proposals now in his power to make her, he would be miserable; so essential did he deem her society to his happiness; so much was he attached from[Pg 62] the softness and sweetness of her manners. At the time he finally determined to see her again, he was in a large party at a Welsh baronet’s where he had dined; and on the rack of impatience to put his determination in practice, he retired early, and took the road to the cottage.

Poor Amanda, during this time, was a prey to disquietude: the first day of Lord Mortimer’s absence, she felt a little uneasiness, but strove to dissipate it, by thinking business had detained him. The next morning she remained entirely at home, every moment expecting to behold him; but this expectation was totally destroyed, when from the outside room she heard one of the nurse’s sons tell of all the company he had met going to Sir Lewis ap Shenkin’s, and amongst the rest Lord Mortimer, whose servants had told him, the day before their lord dined at Mr. Jones’s, where there was a deal of company, and a grand ball in the evening. Amanda’s heart almost died within her at these words; pleasure then, not business, had prevented Lord Mortimer from coming to her; these amusements which he had so often declared were tasteless to him, from the superior delight he experienced in her society. Either he was insincere in such expressions, or had now grown indifferent. She condemned herself for ever having permitted his visits, or received his assiduities; she reproached him for ever having paid those assiduities, knowing, as he must, the insincerity or inconstancy of his nature. In spite of wounded pride, tears of sorrow and disappointment burst from her; and her only consolation was, that no one observed her. Her hours passed heavily away; she could not attend to anything; and in the evening walked out to indulge, in a lonely ramble, the dejection of her heart: she turned from Tudor Hall, and took (without knowing it indeed) the very road which led to the house where Lord Mortimer had dined. With slow and pensive steps she pursued her way, regardless of all around her, till an approaching footstep made her raise her eyes, and she beheld, with equal surprise and confusion, the very object who was then employing her thoughts. Obeying the impulse of pride, she hastily turned away; till, recollecting that her precipitately avoiding him would at once betray her sentiments, she paused to listen to his passionate inquiries after her health; having answered them with involuntary coldness, she again moved on; but her progress was soon stopped by Lord Mortimer; snatching her hand, he insisted on knowing why she appeared so desirous to avoid him. Amanda made no reply to this, but desired he would let her go. “Never,” he exclaimed,[Pg 63] “till you wear another face to me. Oh! did you know the pain I have suffered since last we met, you would from pity, I am sure, treat me with less coldness.” Amanda’s heart throbbed with sudden pleasure; but she soon silenced its emotion, by reflecting that a declaration of uneasiness, at the very time he was entering into gayety, had something too inconsistent in it to merit credit. Hurt by supposing he wanted to impose on her, she made yet more violent efforts to disengage her hand; but Lord Mortimer held it too firmly for her to be successful; he saw she was offended, and it gave him flattering ideas of the estimation in which he stood with her, since to resent his neglect was the most convincing proof he could receive of the value she set upon his attention. Without hurting her feelings by a hint, that he believed the alteration in her manner occasioned his absence, in indirect terms he apologized for it, saying what indeed was partly true, that a letter lately received had so ruffled his mind he was quite unfit for her society, and had therefore availed himself of those hours of chagrin and uneasiness to accept invitations, which at some time or other he must have done, to avoid giving offence; and by acting as he had done, he reserved the precious moments of returning tranquillity for her he adored. Ah! how readily do we receive any apology, do we admit of any excuse, that comes from a beloved object! Amanda felt as if a weight was suddenly removed from her heart; her eyes were no longer bent to the earth, her cheek no longer pale; and a smile, the smile of innocence and love, enlivened all her features. She seemed suddenly to forget her hand was detained by Lord Mortimer, for no longer did she attempt to free it; she suffered him gently to draw it within his, and lead her to the favorite haunt in Tudor Grove.

Pleased, yet blushing and confused, she heard Lord Mortimer, with more energy than he had ever yet expressed himself with, declare the pain he suffered the days he saw her not. From his ardent, his passionate expressions, what could the innocent Amanda infer, but that he intended, by uniting his destiny to hers, to secure to himself a society he so highly valued; what could she infer, but that he meant immediately to speak in explicit terms? The idea was too pleasing to be received in tranquillity, and her whole soul felt agitated. While they pursued their way through Tudor Grove, the sky, which had been lowering the whole day, became suddenly more darkened, and by its increasing gloom foretold an approaching storm. Lord Mortimer no longer opposed Amanda’s returning home; but[Pg 64] scarcely had they turned for that purpose, ere the vivid lightning flashed across their path, and the thunder awfully reverberated amongst the hills. The hall was much nearer than the cottage, and Lord Mortimer, throwing his arm round Amanda’s waist, hurried her to it; but ere they reached the library, whose door was the first they came to, the rain began pouring with violence. Lord Mortimer snatched off Amanda’s wet hat and cloak; the rest of her clothes were quite dry; and immediately ordered tea and coffee, as she refused any other refreshments: he dismissed the attendants, that he might, without observation or restraint, enjoy her society. As she presided at the tea-table, his eyes, with the fondest rapture, were fastened on her face, which never had appeared more lovely; exercise had heightened the pale tint of her cheek, over which her glossy hair curled in beautiful disorder; the unusual glow gave a greater radiance to her eyes, whose soft confusion denoted the pleasure she experienced from the attention of Lord Mortimer. He restrained not, he could not restrain, the feelings of his soul. “Oh, what happiness!” he exclaimed. “No wonder I found all society tasteless, after having experienced yours. Where could I find such softness, yet such sensibility; such sweetness, yet such animation; such beauty, yet such apparent unconsciousness of it? Oh, my Amanda, smoothly must that life glide on, whose destiny you shall share!”

Amanda endeavored to check these transports, yet secretly they filled her with delight, for she considered them as the sincere effusions of honorable love. Present happiness, however, could not render her forgetful of propriety: by the time tea was over, the evening began to clear, and she protested she must depart. Lord Mortimer protested against this for some time longer, and at last brought her to the window, to convince her there was still a slight rain falling. He promised to see her home as soon as it was over, and entreated, in the mean time, she would gratify him with a song. Amanda did not refuse; but the raptures he expressed, while she sung, she thought too violent, and rose from the piano when she had concluded, in spite of his entreaties to the contrary. She insisted on getting her hat and cloak, which had been sent to Mrs. Abergwilly to dry: Lord Mortimer at last reluctantly went out to obey her.

Amanda walked to the window: the prospect from it was lovely; the evening was now perfectly serene; a few light clouds alone floated in the sky, their lucid skirts tinged with purple rays from the declining sun; the trees wore a brighter[Pg 65] green, and the dewdrop that had heightened their verdure, yet glittered on their sprays; across a distant valley was extended a beautiful rainbow, the sacred record of Heaven’s covenant with man. All nature appeared revived and animated; the birds now warbled their closing lays, and the bleating of the cattle was heard from the neighboring hills. “Oh! how sweet, how lovely is the dewy landscape!” exclaimed Amanda, with that delight which scenes of calm and vernal nature never fail of raising in minds of piety and tenderness.

“’Tis lovely, indeed!” repeated Lord Mortimer, who returned at the moment, assuring her the things would be sent in directly. “I admire the prospect,” continued he, “because you gaze upon it with me; were you absent, like every other charm, it would lose its beauty, and become tasteless to me. Tell me,” cried he, gently encircling her waist, “why this hurry, why this wish to leave me? Do you expect elsewhere to meet with a being who will value your society more highly than I do? Do you expect to meet with a heart more fondly, more firmly attached to you than mine? Oh, my Amanda, if you do, how mistaken are such expectations!”

Amanda blushed, and averted her head, unable to speak.

“Ah, why,” continued he, pursuing her averted eyes with his, “should we create uneasiness to ourselves, by again separating?”

Amanda looked up at these words with involuntary surprise in her countenance. Lord Mortimer understood it: he saw she had hitherto deluded herself with thinking his intentions towards her very different from what they really were; to suffer her longer to deceive herself would, he thought, be cruelty. Straining her to his beating heart, he imprinted a kiss on her tremulous lips, and softly told her, that the life, which without her would lose half its charms, should be devoted to her service; and that his fortune, like his heart, should be in her possession. Trembling while she struggled to free herself from his arms, Amanda demanded what he meant: her manner somewhat surprised and confused him; but recollecting this was the moment for explanation, he, though with half-averted eyes, declared his hopes—his wishes and intentions. Surprise—horror—and indignation, for a few minutes overpowered Amanda; but suddenly recovering her scattered senses, with a strength greater than she had ever before felt, she burst from him, and attempted to rush from the room. Lord Mortimer caught hold of her. “Whither are you going, Amanda?” exclaimed he, affrighted by her manner.

[Pg 66] “From the basest of men,” cried she, struggling to disengage herself.

He shut the door, and forced her back to a chair: he was shocked—amazed—and confounded by her looks: no art could have assumed such a semblance of sorrow as she now wore; no feelings but those of the most delicate nature, have expressed such emotion as she now betrayed: the enlivening bloom of her cheeks was fled, and succeeded by a deadly paleness; and her soft eyes, robbed of their lustre, were bent to the ground with the deepest expression of woe. Lord Mortimer began to think he had mistaken, if not her character, her disposition; and the idea of having insulted either purity or penitence, was like a dagger to his heart. “Oh, my love!” he exclaimed, laying his hand on her trembling one, “what do you mean by departing so abruptly?”

“My meaning, my lord,” cried she, rising and shaking his hand from hers, “is now as obvious as your own—I seek, forever, to quit a man who, under the appearance of delicate attention, meditated so base a scheme against me. My credulity may have yielded you amusement, but it has afforded you no triumph: the tenderness which I know you think, which I shall not deny your having inspired me with, as it was excited by imaginary virtues, so it vanished with the illusion which gave it birth; what then was innocent, would now be guilty. Oh, heavens!” continued Amanda, clasping her hands together in a sudden agony of tears, “is it me, the helpless child of sorrow, Lord Mortimer sought as a victim to illicit love! Is it the son of Lord Cherbury destined such a blow against the unfortunate Fitzalan?”

Lord Mortimer started. “Fitzalan!” repeated he. “Oh! Amanda, why did you conceal your real name? And what am I to infer from your having done so?”

“What you please, my lord,” cried she. “The opinion of a person I despise can be of little consequence to me, yet,” continued she, as if suddenly recollecting herself, “that you have no plea for extenuating your conduct, know that my name was concealed by the desire of my father, who, involved in unexpected distress, wished me to adopt another, till his affairs were settled.”

“This concealment has undone me,” exclaimed Lord Mortimer: “it has led me into an error, I shall never cease repenting. Oh! Amanda, deign to listen to the circumstances which occasioned this error; and you will then, I am sure, think me at least less culpable than I now appear to be; you will then, perhaps, allow me to make some atonement.”

[Pg 67] “No, my lord,” cried Amanda, “willingly I will not allow myself to be deceived: for without deceit, I am convinced you could mention no circumstance which could possibly palliate your conduct, or what you so gently term an error. Had I, my lord, by art or coquetry, sought to attract your notice, your crime would have been palliated; but when you pursued, I retired; and the knowledge of your being Lord Cherbury’s son first induced me to receive your visits. I suffered their continuance, because I thought you amiable: sad mistake! Oh! cruel, ungenerous Mortimer, how have you abused my unsuspecting confidence!”

As she ended these words, she moved towards the door. Awed by her manner, confounded by her reproaches, tortured by remorse and half offended at her refusing to hear his vindication, he no longer attempted to prevent her quitting the apartment; he followed her, however, from it. “What do you mean, my lord,” asked she, “by coming after me?”

“I mean to see you safely home,” replied he, in a tone of proud sullenness.

“And is it Lord Mortimer,” cried she, looking steadfastly in his face, “pretends to see me safe?”

He stamped, struck his hand violently against his forehead, and exclaimed, “I see—I see—I am despicable in your eyes; but, Amanda, I cannot endure your reproaches. Pause for a few minutes, and you will find I am not so deserving of them as you imagine.”

She made no reply, but quickened her pace: within a few yards of the cottage Lord Mortimer caught her, with a distracted air. “Amanda,” said he, “I cannot bear to part with you in this manner: you think me the veriest villain on earth; you will drive me from your heart; I shall become abhorrent to you.”

“Most assuredly, my lord,” replied she, in a solemn voice.

“Cannot compunction then extenuate my error?”

“’Tis not compunction, ’tis regret you feel, for finding your designs unsuccessful.”

“No: by all that is sacred, ’tis remorse for ever having meditated such an injury. Yet I again repeat, if you listen to me, you will find I am not so culpable as you believe. Oh! let me beseech you to do so; let me hope that my life may be devoted to you alone, and that I may thus have opportunities of apologizing for my conduct. Oh! dearest Amanda,” kneeling before her, “drive me not from you in the hour of penitence.”

[Pg 68] “You plead in vain, my lord,” cried she, breaking from him.

He started in an agony from the ground, and again seized her. “Is it thus,” he exclaimed, “with such unfeeling coldness I am abandoned by Amanda? I will leave you, if you only say I am not detested by you; if you only say the remembrance of the sweet hours we have spent together will not become hateful to you.”

He was pale and trembled; and a tear wet his cheek. Amanda’s began to flow: she averted her head, to hide her emotion; but he had perceived it. “You weep, my Amanda,” said he, “and you feel the influence of pity!”

“No, no,” cried she, in a voice scarcely articulate: “I will acknowledge,” continued she, “I believe you possessed of sensibility; and an anticipation of the painful feelings it will excite on the reflection of your conduct to me, now stops my further reproaches. Ah! my lord, timely profit by mental correction, nor ever again encourage a passion which virtue cannot sanction or reason justify.”

“Thus spoke the angel; And the grave rebuke, severe in youthful beauty Added grace invincible.”

Amanda darted from Lord Mortimer; and entering the cottage, hastily closed the door. Her looks terrified the nurse, who was the only one of the family up, and who, by means of one of her sons, had discovered that Amanda had taken refuge from the thunder-storm in Tudor Hall.

Amanda had neither hat nor cloak on; her face was pale as death; her hair, blown by the wind, and wet from the rain, hung dishevelled about her; and to the inquiries of her nurse she could only answer by sobs and tears. “Lack a tay,” said the nurse, “what ails my sweet chilt?”

Relieved by tears, Amanda told her nurse she was not very well, and that she had been reflecting on the great impropriety there was in receiving Lord Mortimer’s visits, whom she begged her nurse, if he came again, not to admit.

The nurse shook her head, and said she supposed there had been some quarrel between them; but if Lord Mortimer had done anything to vex her tear chilt, she would make him pay for it. Amanda charged her never to address him on such a subject; and having made her promise not to admit him, she retired to her chamber faint, weary, and distressed. The indignity offered her by Colonel Belgrave had insulted her purity[Pg 69] and offended her pride, but he had not wounded the softer feelings of her soul; it was Mortimer alone had power to work them up to agony.

The charm which had soothed her sorrows was fled; and while she glowed with keen resentment, she wept from disappointed tenderness. “Alas! my father,” she cried, “is this the secure retreat you fondly thought you had discovered for me! Sad mistake! Less had I to dread from the audacious front of vice, than the insidious form of virtue: delicacy shrinking from one, immediately announced the danger; but innocence inspired confidence in the other; and credulity, instead of suspicion, occupied the mind. Am I doomed to be the victim of deception—and, except thy honest tender heart, my father, find every other fraught with deceit and treachery to me? Alas! if in the early season of youth, perpetual perfidy makes us relinquish candor and hope, what charms can the world retain? The soul sickening, recoils within itself, and no longer startles at dissolution. Belgrave aimed at my peace—but Mortimer alone had power to pierce ‘the vital vulnerable heart.’ Oh, Mortimer! from you alone the blow is severe—you, who, in divine language I may say were my guide, my companion, and my familiar friend.”

Lord Mortimer was now a prey to all the pangs which an ingenuous mind, oppressed with a consciousness of error, must ever feel: the most implacable vengeance could not devise a greater punishment for him, than his own thoughts inflicted; the empire of inordinate passion was overthrown, and honor and reason regained their full and natural ascendancy over them. When he reflected on the uniform appearance of innocence Amanda had always worn, he wondered at his weakness in ever having doubted its reality—at his audacity, in ever having insulted it; when he reflected on her melancholy, he shuddered as if having aggravated it. “Your sorrows, as well as purity, my Amanda,” he cried, “should have rendered you a sacred object to me.”

A ray of consolation darted into his mind at the idea of prevailing on her to listen to the circumstances which had led him into a conduct so unworthy of her and himself; such an explanation, he trusted, would regain her love and confidence, and make her accept, what he meant immediately to offer—his hand: for pride and ambition could raise no obstacles to oppose this design of reparation; his happiness depended on its being accepted. Amanda was dearer to him than life, and hope could sketch no prospect, in which she was not the foremost object.[Pg 70] Impetuous in his passions, the lapse of the hours was insupportably tedious; and the idea of waiting till the morning to declare his penitence, his intention, and again implore her forgiveness, filled him with agony; he went up to the cottage, and laid his hand upon the latch; he hesitated; even from the rustics he wished to conceal his shame and confusion. All within and without the cottage was still; the moonbeams seemed to sleep upon the thatch, and the trees were unagitated by a breeze.

“Happy rustics!” exclaimed Lord Mortimer. “Children of content and undeviating integrity, sleep presses sweetly on your eyelids. My Amanda too rests, for she is innocent.”

He descended to the valley, and saw a light from her window: he advanced within a few yards of it, and saw her plainly walk about with an agitated air—her handkerchief raised to her eyes, as if she wept. His feelings rose almost to frenzy at this sight, and he execrated himself for being the occasion of her tears. The village clock struck one: good heavens! how many hours must intervene ere he could kneel before the lovely mourner, implore her soft voice to accord his pardon, and (as he flattered himself would be the case), in the fulness of reconciliation, press her to his throbbing heart, as the sweet partner of his future days. The light was at last extinguished; but he could not rest, and continued to wander about like a perturbed spirit till the day began to dawn, and he saw some early peasants coming to their labors.


CHAPTER VIII.

“Oh let me now, into a richer soil, Transplant thee safe, where vernal suns and showers Diffuse their warmest, largest influence; And of my garden be the pride and joy.”—Thomson.

The moment he thought he could see Amanda, Mortimer hastened to the cottage; the nurse, as she had promised, would not reproach him, though she strongly suspected his having done something to offend her child; that her sullen air declared her dissatisfaction. “Miss Fitzalan was too ill,” she said, “to see company;” (for Lord Mortimer had inquired for Amanda by her real name, detesting the one of Dunford, to which, in a[Pg 71] great degree, he imputed his unfortunate conduct to her.) The nurse spoke truth in saying Amanda was ill; her agitation was too much for her frame, and in the morning she felt so feverish she could not rise; she had not spirits, indeed, to attempt it. Sunk to the lowest ebb of dejection, she felt solitude alone congenial to her feelings. Hitherto the morning had been impatiently expected; for, with Mortimer, she enjoyed its

“Cool, its fragrant, and its silent hour.”

But no Mortimer was now desired. In the evening he made another attempt; and finding Ellen alone, sent in a supplicatory message by her to Amanda. She was just risen, and Mrs. Edwin was making tea for her; a flush of indignation overspread her pale face, on receiving his message. “Tell him,” said she, “I am astonished at his request, and never will grant it. Let him seek elsewhere a heart more like his own, and trouble my repose no more.”

He heard her words, and in a fit of passion and disappointment flew out of the house. Howel entered soon after, and heard from Ellen an account of the quarrel; a secret hope sprung in his heart at this intelligence, and he desired Ellen to meet him in about half an hour in the valley, thinking by that time he could dictate some message to send by her to Amanda.

As the parson had never paid Miss Fitzalan any of those attentions which strike a vulgar eye, and had often laughed and familiarly chatted with Ellen, she took it into her head he was an admirer of hers; and if being the object of Chip’s admiration excited the envy of her neighbors, how much would that increase when the parson’s predilection was known? She set about adorning herself for her appointment; and while thus employed the honest, faithful Chip entered, attired in his holiday clothes, to escort her to a little dance. Ellen bridled up at the first intimation of it; and, delighted with the message Amanda had sent to Lord Mortimer, which in her opinion was extremely eloquent, she resolved now to imitate it.

“Timothy,” said she, drawing back her head, “your request is the most improperest that can be conceived, and it is by no means convenient for me to adhere to it. I tell you, Tim,” cried she, waving the corner of her white apron, for white handkerchief she had not, “I wonder at your presumptioness in making it; cease your flattering expressions of love, look out amongst the inferiority for a heart more like your own, and trouble my pleasure no more.”

Chip paused a moment, as if wanting to comprehend her[Pg 72] meaning. “The short and the long of it then, Nell,” said he, “is that you and I are to have nothing more to say to each other.”

“True,” cried his coquettish mistress.

“Well, well, Nell,” said he, half crying, “the time may come when you will repent having served a true-hearted lad in this manner.” So saying, he ran from the house.

Ellen surveyed herself with great admiration, and expected nothing less than an immediate offer of the parson’s hand. She found him punctual to his appointment, and after walking some time about the valley, they sat down together upon a little bank. “Ellen,” said he, taking her hand, “do you think there is any hope for me?”

“Nay, now intead, Mr. Howel,” cried she, with affected coyness, “that is such a strange question.”

“But the quarrel, perhaps,” said he, “may be made up.”

“No, I assure you,” replied she, with quickness, “it was entirely on your account it ever took place.”

“Is it possible!” exclaimed he, pleasure sparkling in his eyes; “then I may re-urge my passion.”

“Ah, tear now, Mr. Howel, you are so very pressing.”

“Do you think,” said he, “she is too ill to see me?”

“Who too ill?”

“Why, Miss Fitzalan.” (For, the moment Ellen knew Lord Mortimer was acquainted with Amanda’s name, she thought there was no longer reason for concealing it from any one, and had informed Howel of it.)

“Miss Fitzalan!” repeated she, staring and changing color.

“Yes, Ellen, the dear, lovely Miss Fitzalan, whom I adore more than language can express, or imagination conceive.”

Adieu to Ellen’s airy hopes: her chagrin could not be concealed; and tears burst from her. The curate tenderly inquired the cause of her emotion; though vain, she was not artful, and could not disguise it. “Why, really, you made such speeches, I thought—and then you looked so. But it is no matter: I pelieve all men are teceitful.”

From her tears and disjointed sentences, he began to suspect something, and his gentle mind was hurt at the idea of giving her pain; anxious, however, to receive his doom from Amanda, he again asked, if she thought he could see her.

Ellen answered him snappishly, she could not tell; and hurried to the cottage, where a flood of tears soon relieved her distress. To be dressed so charmingly, and for no purpose,[Pg 73] was a pity: she therefore resolved on going to the dance, consoling herself with the old saying of having more than one string to her bow; and that if Chip was not as genteel, he was quite as personable a man as the curate. Walking down the lane, she met a little boy, who gave her a letter from Chip; full of the idea of its containing some overtures for a reconciliation, she hastily broke it open, and read to the following effect:—

Ellen:—After your cruelty, I could not bear to stay in the village, as I never could work another stroke with a light heart; and every tree and meadow would remind me of the love my dear girl once bore her poor Chip. So, before this comes to hand, I shall be on my way to enter one of the King’s ships, and Heaven knows whether we shall ever meet again; but this I know, I shall always love Ellen, though she was so cruel to her own faithful

Tim Chip.

Thus did the vanity of Ellen receive a speedy punishment. Her distress for some days was unabated; but at last yielded to the mild arguments of Amanda, and the hopes she inspired of seeing the wandering hero again.

Howel at last obtained an interview, and ventured to plead his passion. Amanda thanked him for his regard, but declared her inability of returning it as he wished; assuring him, however, at the same time, of her sincere friendship.

“This then shall suffice,” said he. “Neither sorrow nor disappointment are new to me; and when they oppress me, I will turn to the idea of my angel friend, and forget, for some moments at least, my heavy burden.”

Lord Mortimer made several attempts for again seeing Amanda, but without success, he then wrote, but his letters were not successful. In despair at finding neither letters nor messages received by Amanda, he at last, by stratagem, effected an interview. Meeting one of the young Edwins returning from the post-town with a letter, he inquired, and heard it was for Miss Fitzalan; a little persuasion prevailed on the young man to relinquish it, and Lord Mortimer flew directly to the cottage. “Now,” cried he, “the inexorable girl must appear, if she wishes to receive her letter.”

The nurse informed Amanda of it; but she, suspecting it to be a scheme, refused to appear. “By Heaven, I do not deceive her!” exclaimed Lord Mortimer; “nor will I give the letter into any hands but hers.” “This, my lord,” said Amanda, coming from her chamber, “is really cruel; but give me the letter,” impatiently stretching out her hand for it. “Another condition remains to be complied with,” cried he, seizing her soft hand, which she, however, instantly withdrew; “you must[Pg 74] read it, Miss Fitzalan, in my presence.” “Good Heavens, how you torment me!” she exclaimed. “Do you comply then?” “Yes,” she replied, and received the letter from him. The pity and compunction of his lordship increased as he gazed on her pale face, while her eyes eagerly ran over the contents of the letter, which were as follows:—

TO MISS FITZALAN.

To be able to communicate pleasure to my Amanda, rewards me for tedious months of wretchedness. Dry up your tears, sweet child of early sorrow, for the source of grief exists no longer; Lord Cherbury has been kind beyond my warmest expectations, and has given me the ineffable delight, as far as pecuniary matters can do, of rendering the future days of Amanda happy. In my next I shall be more explicit; at present I have not a moment I can call my own, which must excuse this laconic letter. The faithful Edwins will rejoice in the renewed fortune of their dear Amanda’s affectionate father.

Jermyn Street.

Augustus Fitzalan.

The emotions of Amanda were irrepressible: the letter dropped from her trembling hands, and her streaming eyes were raised to heaven. “Oh bless him!” she exclaimed. “Gracious Heaven, bless the benefactor of my father for this good deed! May sorrow or misfortune never come across his path.”

“And who, may I ask,” said Lord Mortimer, “merits so sweet a prayer from Amanda?”

“See,” cried she, presenting him the letter, as if happy at the moment to have such a proof of the truth of what she had alleged to him.

Lord Mortimer was affected by the letter: his eyes filled with tears, and he turned aside to hide his emotion; recovering himself, he again approached her. “And while you so sweetly pray for the felicity of the father,” said he, “are you resolved on dooming the son to despair? If sincere penitence can extenuate error, and merit mercy, I deserve to be forgiven.”

Amanda rose, as if with an intention of retiring, but Lord Mortimer caught her hand. “Think not,” cried he, “I will lose the present opportunity, which I have so long desired, and with such difficulty obtained, of entering into a vindication of my conduct: however it may be received by you, it is a justice I owe my own character to make: for as I never wilfully injured innocence, so I cannot bear to be considered as its violator. Amidst the wildness, the extravagance of youth, which with compunction I acknowledge being too often led into, my heart[Pg 75] still acquitted me of ever committing an act which could entail upon me the pangs of conscience. Sacred to me has virtue ever been, how lowly soever in situation.”

The idea of his being able to vindicate himself scarcely afforded less pleasure to Amanda than it did to Lord Mortimer. She suffered him to reseat her, while he related the circumstances which had led him astray in his opinion of her. Oh! how fervent was the rapture that pervaded Amanda’s heart, when, as she listened to him, she found he was still the amiable, the generous, the noble character her fancy had first conceived him to be. Tears of pleasure, exquisite as those she had lately shed, again fell from her; for oh! what delight is there in knowing that an object we cannot help loving we may still esteem. “Thus,” continued Lord Mortimer, “have I accounted for my error: an error which, except on account of your displeasure, I know not whether I should regret, as it has convinced me, more forcibly than any other circumstance could have done, of the perfections of your mind, and has, besides, removed from mine prejudices which causelessly I did not entertain against your sex. Was every woman in a similar situation to act like you,

——Such numbers would not in vain, Of broken vows and faithless men complain.

To call you mine is the height of my wishes; on your decision I rest for happiness. Oh! my Amanda, let it be a favorable decision, and suffer me to write to Mr. Fitzalan, and request him to bestow on me the greatest treasure one being could possibly receive from another—a woman lovely and educated as you have been.”

When he mentioned appealing to her father, Amanda could no longer doubt the sincerity of his intentions. Her own heart pleaded as powerfully as his solicitations did for pardoning him; and if she did not absolutely extend her hand, she at least suffered it to be taken without any reluctance. ““I am forgiven, then,” said Lord Mortimer, pressing her to his bosom. “Oh, my Amanda, years of tender attention can never make up for this goodness!”

When his transports were a little abated, he insisted on writing immediately to Fitzalan. As he sealed the letter, he told Amanda he had requested an expeditious answer. The happiness of the youthful pair was communicated to the honest rustics, whom Lord Mortimer liberally rewarded for their fidelity to his Amanda, and whom she readily excused for their[Pg 76] ambiguous expressions to him, knowing they proceeded from simplicity of heart, and a wish of serving her, yet without injuring themselves, by betraying the manner in which they had procured their intelligence of her situation.

The day after the reconciliation, Lord Mortimer told Amanda he was compelled, for a short time, to leave her; with that reluctance, he hoped, he said, she could readily conceive; but the visit, which he had come into Wales for the purpose of paying, had been so long deferred, his friend was growing impatient, and threatened to come to Tudor Hall to see what detained him there. To prevent such a measure, which he knew would be a total interruption to the happiness he enjoyed in her society, Lord Mortimer added he meant to pass a few days with him, hoping by the time he returned there would be a letter from Mr. Fitzalan, which would authorize his immediate preparations for their nuptials. Amanda wished, but could not totally hide, the uneasiness she felt at the prospect of a separation; the idea, however, of his speedy return, rendered it but transient, and he departed in a few hours after he had mentioned his intention.

Amanda had never before experienced such happiness as she now enjoyed. She now saw herself on the point of being elevated to a situation, by a man, too, whom she adored, which would give her ample opportunities of serving the clearest connections of her heart, and of gratifying the benevolence of her disposition, and the elegance of her taste. Oh, how delightful to think she should be able to soothe the declining period of her father’s life, by providing for him all the requisite indulgences of age! oh, how delightful to think she should be accessory to her dear Oscar’s promotion! how rapturous to imagine at her approach the drooping children of misery would brighten with pleasing presages of relief, which she should amply realize! Such were Amanda’s anticipations of what she termed the blessings of an affluent fortune; felicity, in her opinion, was to be diffused to be enjoyed. Of Lord Cherbury’s sanction to the attachment of his son, she entertained not a doubt; her birth was little inferior to his, and fortune was entirely out of the question—for a liberal mind, she thought, could never look to that, when on one side was already possessed more than sufficient for even the luxuries of life. Such were the ideas of the innocent and romantic Amanda—ideas which made her seem to tread on air, and which she entertained till subsequent experience convinced her of their fallacy.


[Pg 77]

CHAPTER IX.

“Alas! the story melts away my soul! That best of fathers, how shall I discharge The gratitude and duty which I owe him? —By laying up his counsels in your heart.”—Cato.

Amanda was sitting in the recess in the garden, the fourth evening of Lord Mortimer’s absence, when suddenly she heard the rattling of a carriage. Her heart bounded, and she flew into the house; at the very moment a chaise stopped at the door, from which, to her inexpressible amazement, her father descended.

Transfixed to the spot, it was many minutes ere she had power to bid him welcome, or return the fond caresses he bestowed upon her. “I am come, Amanda,” said he, eagerly interrupting the joyful speeches of the Edwins, “to take you away with me; and one hour is all I can give you to prepare yourself.” “Good Heaven!” said Amanda, starting, “to take me away immediately?” “Immediately,” he repeated. “And as I know you are attached to this good girl,” turning to Ellen, “I shall be happy, if her parents permit, to procure her attendance for you.”

The Edwins, who would have followed themselves, or allowed any of their family to follow Fitzalan and his daughter round the world, gladly consented to her going; and the girl, exclusive of her attachment to Amanda, which was very great, having pined ever since her lover’s departure, rejoiced at the idea of a change of scene.

Not so Amanda: it made her suffer agony; to be torn from Lord Mortimer in the hour of reconciliation and explanation, was more than she could support with fortitude. Her father, perhaps, had not received his letter; it was but justice then to him and Lord Mortimer to reveal her situation. She left her trunk half-packed, and went out for that purpose; but as she stood before him with quivering lips and half-averted eyes, at a loss to begin, he took her hand, and softly exclaimed: “My love, let us for the present waive every subject; the moments are precious; hasten to put on your habit, or we shall be too late at the stage where I propose resting to-night.” Amanda turned in silence to her chamber to comply with his desire;[Pg 78] tears ran down her cheeks, and for the first time she conceived the idea of being hurried away to avoid Lord Mortimer; but why, she could not think—honor as well as tenderness, she thought, demanded her acquainting him with the cause of her precipitate journey; but, when she took up a pen for that purpose, her hand was unsteady, and she was so much disturbed by the nurse and her daughters, who ran backwards and forwards in all the bustle of preparation, that she could not write: her father prevented a second effort, for he was continually coming to her chamber-door urging her to be quick, and thus prevented her delivering any message to the nurse for Lord Mortimer; so great was his eagerness to depart, he would not suffer the horses to be taken from the chaise, or any refreshment to be brought him by the Edwins, notwithstanding their pressing entreaties: neither would he answer their interrogatories as to where he was going, saying they should know hereafter. The parting embrace was at last given and received with a heavy heart—Amanda was handed to the carriage—silence prevailed—all the travellers were equally though differently affected; the cottage and the spire of the village church had awakened the most affecting remembrances in the mind of Fitzalan, and tears fell from him to the memory of his unfortunate Malvina; sighs burst from Amanda as she viewed the white turrets of Tudor Hall, and Ellen sobbed on passing the forsaken cottage of poor Chip. From all these affecting and beloved objects the rapidity of the carriage soon conveyed them; but the impressions they left upon their minds were not so easily eradicated. Fitzalan was the first to break the unsocial silence, and it seemed as if he did so for the purpose of rousing the dejection of his daughter: a cross road from the cottage shortly brought them to Conway Ferry, which they were obliged to pass, and here, had Amanda’s mind been at ease, she would have felt truly gratified by viewing the remains of gothic magnificence which Castle Conway exhibited; as it was, she could not behold them unmoved, and, whilst she admired, gave the passing tribute of a sigh to grandeur and decay. They only continued in Conway till a carriage was provided for them, and soon came beneath the stupendous projections of Penmaenmawr; this was a scene as new as awful to Amanda: “Well, Cot in heaven pless their souls,” Ellen said, “what a tefil of a way they should be in if one of them huge stones rolled down upon the carriage.” They stopped not again until they reached Bangor Ferry, where they were to rest for the night. Amanda’s strength and spirits were now[Pg 79] so entirely exhausted, that had not a glass of wine been immediately procured her, she would have fainted from weakness; this a little revived her, and the tears she shed relieved in some degree the oppression of her heart; her father left her and Ellen together, while he went to give directions about the journey of the ensuing day.

Amanda went to the window and threw up the sash; the air from the mountains she thought refreshed her; the darkness of the hour was opposed by a bright moon, which cast a trembling radiance upon the water, and by its partial gleams exhibited a beautiful scene of light and shade, that had Amanda been in another frame of mind she would infinitely have admired; the scene too was almost as still as it was lovely, for no voice was heard except a low murmur from voices below stairs: while she stood here in a deep reverie, the paddling of oars suddenly roused her, and she beheld a boat on the opposite shore, which in a few minutes gained the one where she was, and she saw coming from it to the inn a large party of gentlemen, whose air and attendants announced them to be men of fashion; they seemed by their discourse to be a convivial party; the light was too dim to allow their faces to be discerned, but in the figure of one Amanda thought she perceived a strong resemblance to Lord Mortimer; her heart throbbed, she leaned forward to endeavor to distinguish more plainly, and at the moment heard his well-known voice ordering his groom to have the horses ready at twelve o’clock, as he would take the advantage of such fine weather to set off at that hour for Tudor Hall; the party were then ushered into a room contiguous to the one occupied by Amanda, while the bustling of the waiters, and the clattering of knives, forks, and plates, announced the preparations for a late dinner. Oh! what were now the agitations of Amanda, to think that in one moment she could inform Lord Mortimer of her situation; but the transport the idea gave was relinquished almost as soon as felt, as such a measure she thought might perhaps for ever disoblige her father. In this tumult of doubt and perplexity he found her; and by his conduct convinced her that he not only knew of Lord Mortimer’s being in the house, but wished her to avoid him; for he instantly led her from the window, and, shutting it down, darted, for the first time in his life, a severe frown at her; a dagger in the breast of Amanda could scarcely have given her more pain—a cold horror ran through her veins, and she was oppressed by as many fears as if she had been conscious of offending him. The supper he had ordered was[Pg 80] a little retarded by the late dinner of his gay neighbors; he would have had it in another room had another been disengaged; vainly did his timid companions try to eat—Amanda was sick, and Ellen frightened, though she knew not why; the waiter was dismissed, and the most unsocial silence prevailed.

Unbounded gayety reigned in the next apartment, from which every sound could plainly be distinguished. Dinner over, the exhilarating juice went round, and bumper toasts were called. Lord Mortimer at last was asked for a fair nymph. “I will give you,” exclaimed he, in a voice which denoted his being uncommonly elevated, “an Angel!”—Amanda’s heart beat violently and her cheeks glowed. “A name for this celestial beauty!” demanded one of the party: “Amanda,” cried his lordship. “Oh, faith, Mortimer, that won’t do;” said another of his companions; “this angel shall not pass without the rest of her name.” “Miss Fitzalan, then,” exclaimed his lordship. “Oh! oh!” cried a new voice, with a loud laugh, after clue honor had been paid to the toast, “I being to unravel a mystery; upon my soul I could not conceive till this instant what had kept you so long at the hall; for I had seen the maiden part of the household, and knew the metal there not very attractive; but this Amanda, I suppose, is the rosy daughter of some poor curate in its vicinity, who for”—“Beware!” interrupted Lord Mortimer in an agitated voice, “of what you say; give me no reason to repent having introduced a name so valued into this company—the situation of Miss Fitzalan is not exactly what you suppose: but let this suffice for you to know—it is such as secures her from every species of impertinence and were it even less protected, her own elegance and propriety would elevate her above receiving any.” The face of Fitzalan, during this conversation, was crimsoned over, and he again darted a frown at the trembling Amanda, which almost petrified her, he told her that she and Ellen must retire immediately to rest, as they had a long journey before them the ensuing day, which would require their rising early. Amanda, for the first time in her life, wished to be relieved from his presence, and gladly rose to obey him; he attended her himself to the room prepared for her, which was directly over that where the gentlemen sat; to think of rest was impossible; the severity of her father’s looks, and her precipitate journey—she knew not whither—but evidently for the purpose of avoiding Lord Mortimer, filled the thoughts of Amanda with confusion and distress: Ellen essayed artless consolation: “What the tefil do you think,” said she, “if I was to go down to give his lortship an intimation of your[Pg 81] peing here; you could easily contrive to see him in the garden, or else we could pring him up here, and if the captain surprised us, we could pop him in a moment behind the curtain.” Amanda motioned her to silence, unwilling to lose the smallest sound of Lord Mortimer’s voice, and determined, anxious as she was to see him, never to act in opposition to her father. At length the horses were led from the stable, and the convivial party descended to them. Amanda softly raised the window, and saw Lord Mortimer eagerly vault upon the saddle; he gave a hasty adieu to the friends, and galloped off; they mounted at the same time, but took a contrary direction. Amanda leaned out till she could no longer hear the clattering of the horses’ hoofs; her heart sunk as the sound died upon her ear; she wept as she retired from the window; the idea of Mortimer’s disappointment aggravated her grief; she no longer opposed Ellen’s efforts to undress her; exhausted by fatigue, sleep soon closed her eyes, and fancy again transported her to Tudor Hall and Mortimer.

By the first dawn of day a knock at her chamber-door roused her from this pleasing illusion, and she heard her father desiring her to rise immediately. Drowsy as she was, she instantly obeyed the summons, and awaking Ellen, they were ready to attend him in a few minutes; a boat was already prepared, and on gaining the opposite side they found a carriage in waiting. Day was now just dawning; a gray mist enveloped the mountains, and cast a shade of obscurity upon all the inferior objects; at length the atmosphere began to brighten—the lucid clouds in the cast were tinged with golden radiance, and the sun in beautiful and refulgent majesty arose, gladdening the face of nature with its potent beams; the trees, the shrubs, seemed waving their dewy heads in sign of grateful homage, while their winged inhabitants, as they soared in the air, poured forth the softest notes of melody. Amanda, in spite of sadness, beheld the charming scene with admiration; and Fitzalan contemplated it with delight. “All nature,” he exclaimed, “points out to man the gratitude due to the Divine dispenser of good; hardened must that heart be against the feelings of sensibility, which the harmony and fragrance of this early hour awakens not to a perfect sense of it!” Amanda assented to his remark more by a smile than words, for she was ill able to speak. They stopped not till they reached Gwintey, where they breakfasted, and then proceeded, without resting again, to Holyhead, which place Fitzalan announced as they entered it. And now, Amanda first conceived the idea of being brought to another kingdom, which her father soon confirmed her in—for, as soon as they alighted, he[Pg 82] inquired when a packet would sail, and heard with evident pleasure about six in the afternoon. He directly desired three passages to be engaged; and, having ordered an early dinner, dismissed Ellen into another room; and seating himself by Amanda, he took her hand, and with a tender voice thus addressed her: “To give pain to your gentle heart has inflicted torture on mine; but honor compelled me to the conduct which I have adopted, and which, I trust and believe, Amanda will excuse when she knows my motive for it, which in due order she shall hear.

“On Lord Cherbury’s arrival in town, I was immediately informed of it, according to the promise of his domestics, and directly sent him my letter; scarcely had he read it, ere, with all the ardor of true friendship, he came and brought me to his house, where we might securely reflect on what was to be done. His lordship soon formed a plan that at once inspired me with gratitude and pleasure, as it promised me competence without depriving me of independence—this was to accept the agency of a considerable estate in the north of Ireland, which he possessed in right of his wife, the late Countess of Cherbury, who was an Irish heiress. He proposed my residing in the mansion house, offering to advance a sum sufficient to answer all demands and exigencies; and striving to lighten the obligations he conferred upon me, by declaring he had long been seeking a man of well-known probity, as his last agent had gone off considerably in arrears to him. I accepted his generous offer, and soon freed myself from the power of Belgrave. I now felt a tranquillity I was long a stranger to, and was busied in preparing to come down to you, when Lord Mortimer’s letter, like a clap of thunder, broke the happy calm I enjoyed. Gracious heaven! I shuddered to think, that at the very period Lord Cherbury was building up my fortunes, the hopes he entertained for this darling son were in a way of being destroyed, through means of a connection of mine; he had hinted to me his having already settled upon a splendid alliance for Lord Mortimer, which he also hinted his heart was set on: this the infatuated young man had himself some knowledge of; for in his rash letter he entreated my secrecy relative to his proposal for you till beyond the reach of mortals to separate you: no doubt he would never have asked my consent, had he thought he could have procured you without it; he took me, I suppose, for some needy and ambitious creature, who would, though at the expense of integrity, grasp an opportunity of elevating a child to rank and fortune; but never was an erring mortal more mis[Pg 83]taken, though dearer to me than the air I breath—though the lovely child of my lost Malvina—though a cherubim, whose innocent endearments often raised in me, as Prospero says—

An undergoing stomach—to bear up Against what should ensue.

I would rather see you breathless at my feet, than, by conscious and apparent meanness, deserve and incur the malevolence of calumny. I committed the letter to the flames, and requested Lord Cherbury’s final commands; being desirous to commence my journey without longer delay, as your delicate state of health, I said, made me anxious to have you immediately under my own care; he complied with my request, and I travelled post, resolved to separate you and Lord Mortimer—even if prepared for the altar: nor was I alone actuated to this by gratitude to Lord Cherbury, or consideration for my own honor—no, with these, a regard for your peace equally influenced me—a soul of sensibility and refinement like yours could never, I know, be happy if treated with repulsive coldness by the family of her husband; particularly if her conscience told her she merited that coldness by entering it clandestinely. Could I bear to think that of you—so lovely in person—so amiable in manners—so illustrious in descent—should be called an artful and necessitous contriver? an imputation, which, most undoubtedly, your union with Lord Mortimer would have incurred. No, to the God who gave you to my care, I hold myself responsible, as far as in my power, for preserving your peace—to the mother, whose last words implored my tenderness for her offspring, I hold myself accountable—to me she still exists—I think her ever near—and ere I act, always reflect whether such an action would meet her approbation. Such is the respect virtue excites—it lives when the frail texture of mortality is dissolved. Your attachment, when repelled by reason and fortitude, will soon vanish; as for Lord Mortimer, removed from the flame which warmed his heart, he will soon forget it ever played around it—should he, however, be daring enough to persevere, he will find my resolution unalterable. Honor is the only hereditary possession that ever came to me uninjured; to preserve it in the same state has been ever my unremitted study—it irradiated the gloomy morning of care, and I trust it will gild the setting hours of existence.”

Amanda’s emotions deprived her of speech or acting—she sat a pale statue, listening to her father’s firm and rapid language, which announced the abolition of her hopes; ignorant[Pg 84] of her inability to speak, he felt hurt at her silence; and rising abruptly, walked about the room with a disordered air. “I see—I see,” cried he at last, looking mournfully upon her, “I am destined to be unhappy; the little treasure which remained from the wreck of felicity, I had hoped (vain hope!) would have comforted and consoled me for what then was lost.” “O! my father!” exclaimed Amanda, suddenly starting and sighing deeply, “how you pierce my heart!” His pale, emaciated looks seemed to declare him sinking beneath a burden of care; she started up, and flung herself into his arms. “Dearest, best of fathers!” she exclaimed, in a voice broken by sobs, “what is all the world to me in comparison of you? Shall I put Lord Mortimer, so lately a stranger, in competition with your happiness? Oh no! I will henceforth try to regulate every impulse of my heart according to your wishes.” Fitzalan burst into tears—the enthusiasm of virtue warmed them both—hallowed are her raptures, and amply do they recompense the pain attendant on her sacrifices.

Dinner was brought in, to which they sat down in their usual social manner; and Amanda, happy in her father’s smiles, felt a ray of returning cheerfulness. The evening was delightfully serene when they went on board, and the vessel, with a gentle motion, glided over the glittering waves; sickness soon compelled Amanda and Ellen to retire from the deck; yet without a sigh, the former could not relinquish the prospect of the Welsh mountains. By the dawn of next morning the vessel entered the bay of Dublin, and Fitzalan shortly after brought Amanda from the cabin to contemplate a scene which far surpassed all her ideas of sublimity and beauty, a scene which the rising sun soon heightened to the most glowing radiance; they landed at the Marine Hotel, where they breakfasted, and then proceeded in a carriage to a hotel in Capel street, where they proposed staying a few days for the purpose of enjoying Oscar’s company, whose regiment was quartered in Dublin, and making some requisite purchases for their journey to the north. As the carriage drove down Capel street, Amanda saw a young officer standing at the corner of Mary’s Abbey, whose air very much resembled Oscar’s ; her heart palpitated; she looked out and perceived the resemblance was a just one, for it was Oscar himself—the carriage passed too swiftly for him to recognize her face; but he was astonished to see a fair hand waving to him; he walked down the street, and reached the hotel just as they were entering it.


[Pg 85]

CHAPTER X.

“And whence, unhappy youth, he cried, The sorrow of thy breast?”—Goldsmith.

The raptures of this meeting surpassed description: to Oscar they were heightened by surprise; he was unfortunately that day on guard at the Bank—therefore could only pay them a few short and stolen visits; but the next morning, the moment he was relieved, he came to them. Fitzalan had given Amanda money to purchase whatever she deemed necessary for her convenience and amusement, and Oscar attended her to the most celebrated shops to make her purchases: having supplied herself with a pretty fashionable assortment for her wardrobe, she procured a small collection of books, sufficient, however, from their excellence, to form a little library in themselves, and every requisite for drawing; nor did she forget the little wants and vanities of Ellen; they returned about dinner time to the hotel, where they found their father, who had been transacting business for Lord Cherbury in different parts of the town. We may now suppose him in the possession of happiness, blessed as he was in the society of his children, and the certainty of a competence; but, alas! happiness has almost ever an attendant drawback, and he now experienced one of the most corroding kind from the alteration he witnessed in his son. Oscar was improved in his person, but his eyes no longer beamed with animation, and the rose upon his cheek was pale; his cheerfulness no longer appeared spontaneous, but constrained, as if assumed for the purpose of veiling deep and heartfelt sorrow.

Fitzalan, with all the anxiety and tenderness of a parent, delicately expressed his wish of learning the source of his uneasiness, that by so doing he might be better qualified to alleviate it, hinting at the same time, in indirect terms, that if occasioned by any of the imprudences which youth is sometimes inadvertently led into, he would readily excuse them, from a certainty that he who repented never would again commit them. Oscar started from the remotest hint of divulging his uneasiness: he begged his father, however, to believe (since he had unfortunately perceived it) that it was not derived from imprudence: he pretended to say it was but a slight chagrin,[Pg 86] which would soon wear away of itself if not renewed by inquiries. Fitzalan, however, was too much affected by the subject to drop it as readily as Oscar wished. After regarding him for a few minutes with an attention as mournful as fixed, while they sat round the table after dinner, he suddenly exclaimed, “Alas! my dear boy, I fear things are worse within than you will allow.” “Now, indeed, Oscar” cried Amanda, sweetly smiling on him, anxious to relieve him from the embarrassment these words had involved him in, and to dissipate the deep gloom of her father’s brow, “though never in the wars, I fancy you are not quite heart whole.” He answered her with affected gayety, but, as if wishing to change the discourse, suddenly spoke of Colonel Belgrave, who, at present, he said, was absent of the regiment; occupied by his own feelings, he observed not the glow which mantled the cheeks of his father and sister at that name.

“You know Mrs. Belgrave,” said Amanda, endeavoring to regain her composure. “Know her!” repeated he, with an involuntary sigh, “oh, yes!” Then, after the pause of a few minutes, turning to his father, “I believe I have already informed you, sir,” he said, “that she is the daughter of your brave old friend, General Honeywood, who, I assure you, paid me no little attention on your account; his house is quite the temple of hospitality, and she the little presiding goddess.” “She is happy, I hope,” said Amanda. “Oh, surely,” replied Oscar, little thinking of the secret motive his sister had for asking such a question, “she possesses what the world thinks necessary to constitute felicity.”

Fitzalan had accounted to his son for leaving Devonshire, by saying the air had disagreed with Amanda; he told him of the friendship of Lord Cherbury, from which he said he trusted shortly to be able to have him promoted. “Be assured, my dear Oscar,” he cried, “most willingly would I relinquish many of the comforts of life to attain the ability of hastening your advancement, or adding to your happiness.” “My happiness!” Oscar mournfully repeated; tears filled his eyes; he could no longer restrain them; and starting up, hurried to a window. Amanda followed, unutterably affected at his emotion: “Oscar, my dear Oscar,” said she as she flung her arms round his neck, “you distress me beyond example.” He sat down, and leaning his head on her bosom, as she stood before him, his tears fell through her handkerchief. “Oh, heavens!” exclaimed Fitzalan, clasping his hands together, “what a sight is this! Oh! my children, from your felicity alone could I ever derive[Pg 87] any; if the hope I entertained of that felicity is disappointed, the heart which cherished it must soon be silent.” He arose and went to them: “yet,” continued he, “amidst the anguish of this moment, I feel a ray of pleasure at perceiving an affection so strong and tender between you; it will be a mutual consolation and support when the feeble help and protection I can give is finally removed; oh! then, my Oscar,” he proceeded, while he folded their united hands in his, “become the soothing friend and guardian of this dear, this amiable, this too lovely girl—let her not too severely feel—too bitterly mourn—the loss of an unhappy father!”

Amanda’s tears began to stream, and Oscar’s for a few minutes were increased. “Excuse me,” at last he said, making an effort to exert himself, to his father, “and be assured, to the utmost of my ability, I will ever obey your wishes, and fulfil your expectations; I am ashamed of the weakness I have betrayed—I will yield to it no more—forget therefore your having seen it, or at least remember it with pain, as I solemnly assure you, no effort on my part shall be untried to conquer it entirely; and now let the short time we have to continue together be devoted to cheerfulness.”

Soon after this he mentioned Parker’s performance in Marlborough Green, and proposed, as it was now the hour, taking Amanda there; the proposal was not objected to, and Ellen, who they knew would particularly delight in such an amusement, was committed to the care of Oscar’s servant, a smart young soldier, who escorted her with much gallantry; the Green was extremely crowded, particularly with officers, whose wandering glances were soon attracted to Amanda, as one of the most elegant girls present. Oscar was soon surrounded by them, and compelled, not only to gratify their curiosity by discovering who she was, but their gallantry by introducing them to her. Their compliments soon diverted her attention from the exhibition, and Ellen, who sat behind her on a bench, afforded innocent mirth by her remarks. “Pless her soul and poty too,” she said, “it was the most comical and wonderfulest sight she had ever seen in her porn days.” A string of redcoats would have attended Amanda to the hotel had not Oscar prevented it.

The next day was devoted to visiting the public buildings, the park, and a few of the most beautiful places in its vicinage. On the ensuing morn Fitzalan and Amanda continued their journey to the north, where Oscar assured them he expected leave to visit them the following summer, after the reviews[Pg 88] were over: as he helped his sister in the carriage she put a pocket-book into his hand (given by her father for that purpose), which contained something to replenish his purse.

Ere we attend the travellers, or rather while they are journeying along, we shall endeavor to account for the dejection of Oscar.


CHAPTER XI.

“From the loud camp retired and noisy court, In honorable ease and rural sport; The remnant of his days he safely passed, Nor found they lagged too slow nor flew too fast. He made his wish with his estate comply, Joyful to live, yet not afraid to die: One child he had—a daughter chaste and fair, His age’s comfort, and his fortune’s heir.”—Prior.

Oscar’s regiment, on his first joining it in Ireland, was quartered in Enniskillen, the corps was agreeable, and the inhabitants of the town hospitable and polite. He felt all the delight of a young and enterprising mind, at entering, what appeared to him, the road to glory and pleasure, many of his idle mornings were spent in rambling about the country, sometimes accompanied by a party of officers, and sometimes alone.

In one of his solitary excursions along the beautiful banks of Lough Erne, with a light fusee on his shoulder, as the woods, that almost descended to the very edge of the water, abounded in game; after proceeding a few miles he felt quite exhausted by the heat, which, as it was now the middle of summer, was intense; at a little distance he perceived an orchard, whose glowing apples promised a delightful repast; knowing that the fruit in many of the neighboring places was kept for sale, he resolved on trying if any was to be purchased here, and accordingly opened a small gate, and ascended through a grass-grown path in the orchard, to a very plain white cottage, which stood upon a gentle sloping lawn, surrounded by a rude paling, he knocked against the door with his fusee, and immediately a little rosy girl appeared; “tell me, my pretty lass,” cried he, “whether I can purchase any of the fine apples I see here.” “Anan!” exclaimed the girl with a foolish stare. Oscar glancing at that moment into the passage, saw, from a half-opened door, nearly opposite to the one at which he stood, a[Pg 89] beautiful fair face peeping out; he involuntarily started, and pushing aside the girl, made a step into the passage; the room door directly opened, and an elderly woman, of a genteel figure and pleasing countenance, appeared. “Good Heaven!” cried Oscar, taking off his hat, and retreating, “I fear I have been guilty of the highest impertinence; the only apology I can offer for it is by saying it was not intentional. I am quite a stranger here, and having been informed most of the orchards hereabouts contained fruits for sale, I intruded under that idea.” “Your mistake, sir,” she replied with a benevolent smile, “is too trifling to require an apology; nor shall it be attended with any disappointment to you.”

She then politely showed him into the parlor, where, with equal pleasure and admiration, he contemplated the fair being of whom before he had but a transient glance: she appeared to be scarcely seventeen, and was, both as to face and figure, what a painter would have chosen to copy for the portrait of a little playful Hebe; though below even the middle size, she was formed with the nicest symmetry; her skin was of a dazzling fairness, and so transparent, that the veins were clearly discernible; the softest blush of nature shaded her beautifully-rounded cheeks; her mouth was small and pouting, and whenever she smiled a thousand graces sported round it; her eyes were full and of a heavenly blue, soft, yet animated, giving, like the expression of her whole countenance, at once an idea of innocence, spirit, and sensibility; her hair, of the palest and most glossy brown, hung carelessly about her, and, though dressed in a loose morning-gown of muslin, she possessed an air of fashion and even consequence; the easy manner in which she bore the looks of Oscar, proclaimed her at once not unaccustomed to admiration, nor displeased with that she now received; for that Oscar admired her could not but be visible, and he sometimes fancied he saw an arch smile playing over her features, at the involuntary glances he directed towards her.

A fine basket of apples, and some delicious cider, was brought to Oscar, and he found his entertainer as hospitable in deposition as she was pleasing in conversation.

The beautiful interior of the cottage by no means corresponded with the plainness of the exterior; the furniture was elegantly neat, and the room ornamented with a variety of fine prints and landscapes; a large folding glass door opened from it into a pleasure-garden.

Adela, so was the charming young stranger called, chatted in the most lively and familiar terms, and at last running over[Pg 90] to the basket, tossed the apples all about the table, and picking out the finest presented them to Oscar. It is scarcely necessary to say he received them with emotion: but how transient is all sublunary bliss! A cuckoo-clock, over Oscar’s head, by striking three, reminded him that he had passed near two hours in the cottage. “Oh, Heavens!” cried he, starting, “I have made a most unconscionable intrusion; you see, my dear ladies,” bowing respectfully to both, “the consequence of being too polite and too fascinating.” He repeated his thanks in the most animated manner, and snatching up his hat, departed, yet not without casting

“One longing, lingering look behind.”

The sound of footsteps after him in the lawn made him turn, and he perceived the ladies had followed him thither. He stopped again to speak to them, and extolled the lovely prospect they had from that eminence of the lake and its scattered islands. “I presume,” said Adela, handling the fusee on which he leaned, “you were trying your success to-day in fowling?” “Yes; but, as you may perceive, I have been unsuccessful.” “Then, I assure you,” said she, with an arch smile, “there is choice game to be found in our woods.” “Delicious game, indeed!” cried he, interpreting the archness of her look, and animated by it to touch her hand, “but only tantalizing to a keen sportsman, who sees it elevated above his reach.” “Come, come,” exclaimed the old lady, with a sudden gravity, “we are detaining the gentleman.” She took her fair companion by the arm, and hastily turned to the cottage. Oscar gazed after them a moment, then, with a half-smothered sigh, descended to the road. He could not help thinking this incident of the morning very like the novel adventures he had sometimes read to his sister Amanda as she sat at work; and, to complete the resemblance, thought he, I must fall in love with the little heroine. Ah! Oscar, beware of such imprudence! guard your heart with all your care against tender impressions, till fortune has been more propitious to you! Thus would my father speak, mused Oscar, and set his own misfortunes in terrible array before me, were he now present: well, I must endeavor to act as if he were here to exhort me. Heigh ho! proceeded he, shouldering his fusee, glory for some time to come must be my mistress!

The next morning the fusee was again taken down, and he sallied out, carefully avoiding the officers, lest any of them should offer to accompany him; for he felt a strange reluctance[Pg 91] to their participating in either the smiles of Adela or the apples of the old lady. Upon his arrival at the orchard, finding the gate open, he advanced a few steps up the path, and had a glimpse of the cottage, but no object was visible. Oscar was too modest to attempt entering it uninvited; he therefore turned back, yet often cast a look behind him; no one, however, was to be seen. He now began to feel the heat oppressive, and himself fatigued with his walk, and sat down upon a moss-covered stone, on the margin of the lake, at a little distance from the cottage, beneath the spreading branches of a hawthorn; his hat and fusee were laid at his feet, and a cool breeze from the water refreshed him; upon its smooth surface a number of boats and small sail-vessels were now gliding about in various directions, and enlivened the enchanting prospect which was spread upon the bosom of the lake; from contemplating it he was suddenly roused by the warble of a female voice; he started, turned, and beheld Adela just by him. “Bless me!” cried she, “who would have thought of seeing you here; why, you look quite fatigued, and, I believe, want apples to-day as much as you did yesterday?” Then, sitting down on the seat he had resigned, she tossed off her bonnet, declaring it was insupportably warm, and began rummaging a small work-bag she held on her arm. Oscar snatching the bonnet from the ground, Adela flung apples into it, observing it would make an excellent basket. He sat down at her feet, and never, perhaps, felt such a variety of emotions as at the present moment: his cheeks glowed with a brighter color, and his eyes were raised to hers with the most ardent admiration; yet not to them alone could he confine the expression of his feelings; they broke in half-formed sentences from his lips, which Adela heard with the most perfect composure, desiring him either to eat or pocket his apples quickly, as she wanted her bonnet, being in a great hurry to return to the cottage, from which she had made a kind of stolen march. The apples were instantly committed to his pocket, and he was permitted to tie on the bonnet. A depraved man might have misinterpreted the gayety of Adela, or at least endeavored to take advantage of it; but the sacred impression of virtue, which nature and education had stamped upon the heart of Oscar, was indelibly fixed, and he neither suspected, nor, for worlds, would have attempted injuring, the innocence of Adela: he beheld her (in what indeed was a true light) as a little playful nymph, whose actions were the offspring of innocence.

“I assure you,” exclaimed she, rising, “I am very loath to[Pg 92] quit this pleasant seat; but, if I make a much longer delay, I shall find the lady of the cottage in anxious expectation.” “May I advance?” said Oscar, as he pushed open the gate for her. “If you do,” replied she, “the least that will be said from seeing us together, is, that we were in search of each other the whole of the morning.” “Well,” cried Oscar, laughing at this careless speech, “and if they do say so, it would not be doing me injustice.” “Adieu, adieu,” said she, waving her hand, “not another word for a kingdom.”

What a compound of beauty and giddiness it is! thought Oscar, watching her till she entered the cottage. As he returned from the sweet spot he met some laborers, from whom he inquired concerning its owner, and learned she was a respectable widow lady of the name of Marlowe.

On Oscar’s return from Enniskillen, he heard from the officers that General Honeywood, an old veteran, who had a fine estate about fourteen miles from the town, was that morning to pay his compliments to them, and that cards had been left for a grand fête and ball, which he annually gave on the 1st of July, to commemorate one of the glorious victories of King William. Every person of any fashion in and about the neighborhood was on such occasions sure of an invitation; and the officers were pleased with theirs, as they had for some time wished for an opportunity of seeing the general’s daughter, who was very much admired.

The general, like a true veteran, retained an enthusiastic attachment for the profession of arms, to which not only the morning, but the meridian of his life had been devoted, and which he had not quitted till compelled by a debilitated constitution. Seated in his paternal mansion he began to experience the want of a faithful companion, who would heighten the enjoyments of the tranquil hour, and soothe the infirmities of age: this want was soon supplied by his union with a young lady in the neighborhood, whose only dowry was innocence and beauty. From the great disparity of their ages it was concluded she had married for convenience; but the tenor of her conduct changed this opinion, by proving the general possessed her tenderest affections: a happier couple were not known; but this happiness was terminated as suddenly as fatally by her death, which happened two years after the birth of her daughter; all the general’s love was then centred in her child. Many of the ladies in the neighborhood, induced by the well-known felicity his lady had enjoyed, or by the largeness of his fortune, made attempts to engage him again in matrimonial toils; but[Pg 93] he fought shy of them all, solemnly declaring, he would never bring a stepmother over his dear girl. In her infancy, she was his plaything, and as she grew up his comfort; caressed, flattered, adored from her childhood, she scarcely knew the meaning of harshness and contradiction; a naturally sweet disposition, and the superintending care of an excellent woman, prevented any pernicious effect from such excessive indulgence as she received; to disguise or duplicity she was a perfect stranger; her own feelings were never concealed, and others she supposed equally sincere in revealing theirs: true, the open avowal of her regard or contempt often incurred the imputation of imprudence; but had she even heard it she would have only laughed at it—for the general declared whatever she said was right, and her own heart assured her of the innocence of her intentions. As she grew up the house again became the seat of gayety; the general, though very infirm, felt his convivial spirit revive; he delighted in the society of his friends, and could still

“Shoulder his crutch, and show how fields were won!”

Oscar, actuated by an impulse, which if he could, he, at least, did not strive to account for, continued daily to parade before the orchard, but without again seeing Adela.

At length the day for General Honeywood’s entertainment arrived, and the officers, accompanied by a large party, set off early for Woodlawn, the name of the general’s seat. It was situated on the borders of the lake, where they found barges waiting to convey them to a small island, which was the scene of the morning’s amusement: the breakfast was laid out amidst the ruins of an ancient building, which, from the venerable remains of its gothic elegance, was most probably, in the days of religious enthusiasm, the seat of sacred piety: the old trees in groups formed a thick canopy overhead, and the ivy that crept along the walls filled up many of the niches where the windows had formerly been; those that still remained open, by descending to the ground, afforded a most enchanting prospect of the lake; the long succession of arches, which composed the body of the chapel, were in many places covered with creeping moss, and scattered over with wall-flowers, blue hair-bells, and other spontaneous productions of nature; while between them were placed seats and breakfast-tables, ornamented in a fanciful manner.

The officers experienced a most agreeable surprise on entering; but how inferior were their feelings to the sensations which Oscar felt, when, introduced with the party by the[Pg 94] general to his daughter, he beheld in Miss Honeywood the lovely Adela! She seemed to enjoy his surprise, and Mrs. Marlowe, from the opposite side of the table, beckoned him to her with an arch look; he flew round, and she made room for him by herself: “Well, my friend,” cried she, “do you think you shall find the general’s fruit as tempting as mine?” “Ah!” exclaimed Oscar, half sighing, half smiling, “Hesperian fruit, I fear, which I can never hope to obtain.” Adela’s attention, during breakfast, was too much engrossed by the company to allow her to notice Oscar more than by a few hasty words and smiles. There being no dancing till the evening, the company, after breakfast, dispersed according to their various inclinations.

The island was diversified with little acclivities, and scattered over with wild shrubs, which embalmed the air; temporary arbors of laurel, intermingled with lilies, were erected and laid out with fruits, ices, and other refreshments; upon the edge of the water a marquee was pitched for the regimental band, which Colonel Belgrave had politely complimented the general with: a flag was hoisted on it, and upon a low eminence a few small field-pieces were mounted: attendants were everywhere dispersed, dressed in white streamers, ornamented with a profusion of orange-colored ribbons; the boatmen were dressed in the same livery; and the barges, in which several of the party were to visit the other islands, made a picturesque appearance with their gay streamers fluttering in the breeze; the music, now softly dying away upon the water, now gradually swelling on the breeze, and echoed back by the neighboring hills, added to the pleasures of the scene.

Oscar followed the footsteps of Adela; but at the very moment in which he saw her disengaged from a large party, the general hallooed to him from a shady bank on which he sat; Oscar could not refuse the summons; and, as he approached, the general, extending his hand, gave him a cordial squeeze, and welcomed him as the son of a brave man he had once intimately known. “I recollected the name of Fitzalan,” said he, “the moment I heard it mentioned; and had the happiness of learning from Colonel Belgrave I was not mistaken in believing you to be the son of my old friend.” He now made several inquiries concerning Fitzalan, and the affectionate manner in which he mentioned him was truly pleasing to Oscar. “He had once,” he said, “saved his life at the imminent danger of his own, and it was an obligation, while that life remained, he could not forget.”

[Pg 95] Like Don Guzman in Gil Blas, the general delighted in fighting over his battles, and now proceeded to enumerate many incidents which happened during the American war, when he and Fitzalan served in the same regiment. Oscar could well have dispensed with such an enumeration; but the general, who had no idea that he was not as much delighted in listening as he was in speaking, still went on. Adela had been watching them some time; her patience at length, like Oscar’s, being exhausted, she ran forward and told her father “he must not detain him another minute, for they were going upon the lake; and you know, papa,” cried she, “against we come back, you can have all your battles arranged in proper form, though, by the bye, I don’t think it is the business of an old soldier to intimidate a young one with such dreadful tales of iron wars.” The general called her saucy baggage, kissed her with rapture, and saw her trip off with his young friend, who seized the favorable opportunity to engage her for the first set in the evening. About four the company assembled in the Abbey to dinner; the band played during the repast, the toasts were proclaimed by sound of trumpet, and answered by an immediate discharge from the Mount. At six the ladies returned to Woodlawn to change their dresses for the ball, and now

“Awful beauty put on all its charms.”

Tea and coffee were served in the respective rooms, and by eleven the ballroom was completely crowded with company, at once brilliant and lively, particularly the gentlemen, who were not a little elevated by the general’s potent libations to the glorious memory of him whose victory they were celebrating.

Adela, adorned in a style superior to what Oscar had yet seen, appeared more lovely than he had even at first thought her; her dress, which was of thin muslin, spangled, was so contrived as to give a kind of aerial lightness to her figure. Oscar reminded her of the promise of the morning, at the very moment the colonel approached for the purpose of engaging her. She instantly informed him of her engagement to Mr. Fitzalan. “Mr. Fitzalan!” repeated the colonel, with the haughty air of a man who thought he had reason to be offended: “he has been rather precipitate, indeed; but, though we may envy, who shall wonder at his anxiety to engage Miss Honeywood?”

Dancing now commenced, and the elegant figure of Adela never appeared to greater advantage; the transported general watched every movement, and, “incomparable, by Jove!—what[Pg 96] a sweet angel she is!” were expressions of admiration which involuntarily broke from him in the pride and fondness of his heart. Oscar, too, whose figure was remarkably fine, shared his admiration, and he declared to Colonel Belgrave, he did not think the world could produce such another couple. This assertion was by no means pleasing to the Colonel; he possessed as much vanity, perhaps, as ever fell to the share of a young belle conscious of perfections, and detested the idea of having any competitor (at least such a powerful one as Oscar) in the good graces of the ladies. Adela, having concluded the dance, complained of fatigue, and retired to an alcove, whither Oscar followed her. The window commanded a view of the lake, the little island, and the ruined Abbey; the moon in full splendor cast her silvery light over all those objects, giving a softness to the landscape, even more pleasing than the glowing charms it had derived from the radiancy of day. Adela in dancing had dropped the bandeau from her hair; Oscar took it up, and still retained it. Adela now stretched forth her hand to take it. “Allow me,” cried he, gently taking her hand, “to keep it; to-morrow you would cast it away as a trifle, but I would treasure it as a relic of inestimable value; let me have some memento of the charming hours I have passed to-day.” “Oh, a truce,” said Adela, “with such expressions (who did not, however, oppose his putting her bandeau in his bosom); they are quite commonplace, and have already been repeated to hundreds, and will again, I make no doubt.” “This is your opinion?” “Yes, really.” “Oh, would to Heaven,” exclaimed Oscar, “I durst convince you how mistaken a one it is.” Adela, laughing, assured him that would be a difficult matter. Oscar grew pensive. “I think,” cried he, “if oppressed by misfortune, I should of all places on earth like a seclusion in the old Abbey.” “Why, really,” said Adela, “it is tolerably calculated for a hermitage; and if you take a solitary whim, I beg I may be apprised of it in time, as I should receive peculiar pleasure in preparing your mossy couch and frugal fare.” “The reason for my liking it,” replied he, “would be the prospect I should have from it of Woodlawn.” “And does Woodlawn,” asked Adela, “contain such particular charms, as to render a view of it so very delightful?”

At this moment they were summoned to call a new dance—a summons, perhaps, not agreeable to either, as it interrupted an interesting tete-à-tete. The colonel engaged Adela for the next set; and though Oscar had no longer an inclination to dance, to avoid particularity he stood up, and with a young[Pg 97] lady who was esteemed extremely handsome. Adela, as if fatigued, no longer moved with animation, and suddenly interrupted the colonel in a gallant speech he was making to her, to inquire, if he thought Miss O’Neal (Oscar’s partner) pretty—so very pretty as she was generally thought? The colonel was too keen not to discover at once the motive which suggested this inquiry. “Why, faith,” cried he after examining Miss O’Neal some minutes through an opera glass, “the girl has charms, but so totally eclipsed,” looking languishingly at Adela, “in my eyes, that I cannot do them the justice they may perhaps merit: Fitzalan, however, by the homage he pays her, seems as if he would make up for the deficiency of every other person.” Adela turned pale, and took the first opportunity of demanding her bandeau from Oscar; he, smilingly, refused it, declaring it was a trophy of the happiness he had enjoyed that day, and that the general should have informed her a soldier never relinquished such a glorious memento. “Resign mine,” replied Adela, “and procure one from Miss O’Neal.”—“No!” cried he, “I would not pay her charms and my own sincerity so bad a compliment, as to ask what I should not in the least degree value.” Adela’s spirits revived, and she repeated her request no more.

The dancing continued after supper, with little intermission, till seven, when the company repaired to the saloon to breakfast, after which they dispersed. The general particularly and affectionately bid Oscar farewell, and charged him to consider Woodlawn as his head-quarters. “Be assured,” said the good-natured old man, “the son of my brave, worthy, and long-respected friend, will ever be valuable to my heart and welcome to my home; and would to heaven, in the calm evening of life, your father and I had pitched our tents nearer each other.”

From this period Oscar became almost an inmate of his house, and the general shortly grew so attached to him, that he felt unhappy if deprived of his society; the attentions he received from Oscar were such as an affectionate son would pay a tender father; he supported his venerable friend whenever he attempted to walk, attended him in all the excursions he made about his domain, read to him when he wanted to be lulled to sleep, and listened, without betraying any symptoms of fatigue, to his long and often truly tiresome stories of former battles and campaigns; in paying these attentions Oscar obeyed the dictates of gratitude and esteem, and also gratified a benevolent disposition, happy in being able

“To rock the cradle of declining age.“

[Pg 98] But his time was not so entirely engrossed by the general as to prevent his having many hours to devote to Adela; with her he alternately conversed, read, and sung, rambled with her through romantic paths, or rode along the beautiful borders of Lough Erne; was almost her constant escort to all the parties she went to in the neighborhood, and frequently accompanied her to the hovels of wretchedness, where the woes which extorted the soft tear of commiseration he saw amply relieved by her generous hand; admiring her as he did before, how impossible was it for Oscar, in these dangerous tete-à-tetes, to resist the progress of a tender passion—a passion, however, confined (as far at least as silence could confine it) to his own heart. The confidence which he thought the general reposed in him, by allowing such an intercourse with his daughter, was too sacred in his estimation to be abused; but though his honor resisted, his health yielded to his feelings.

Adela, from delighting in company, suddenly took a pensive turn; she declined the constant society she had hitherto kept up, and seemed in a solitary ramble with Oscar to enjoy more pleasure than the gayest party appeared to afford her; the favorite spot they visited almost every evening was a path on the margin of the lake, at the foot of a woody mountain; here often seated, they viewed the sun sinking behind the opposite hills; and while they enjoyed the benignancy of his departing beams, beheld him tinge the trembling waves with gold and purple; the low whistle of the ploughman returning to his humble cottage, the plaintive carol of birds from the adjacent grove, and the low bleating of cattle from pastures which swelled above the water, all these, by giving the softest and most pleasing charms of nature to the hour, contrived to touch, yet more sensibly, hearts already prepossessed in favor of each other. Adela would sometimes sing a little simple air, and carelessly leaning on the arm of Oscar, appear to enjoy perfect felicity. Not so poor Oscar: the feelings of his soul at these moments trembled on his lips, and to repress them was agony.

An incident soon occurred which endeared him yet more to the general. Driving one day in a low phaeton along a road cut over a mountain, the horses, frightened by a sudden firing from the lake, began rearing in the most frightful manner; the carriage stood near a tremendous precipice, and the servants, appalled by terror, had not power to move. Oscar saw that nothing but an effort of desperate resolution could keep them from destruction; he leaped out, and, rushing before the horses, seized their heads, at the eminent hazard of being tumbled[Pg 99] down the precipice, on whose very verge he stood; the servants, a little relieved from their terror, hastened to his assistance; the traces were cut, and the poor general, whose infirmities had weakened his spirits, conveyed home in almost a state of insensibility. Adela, perceiving him from her dressing-room window, flew down, and learning his danger, fell upon his neck in an agony of mingled joy and terror; her caresses soon revived him, and as he returned them, his eyes eagerly sought his deliverer. Oscar stood near, with mingled tenderness and anxiety in his looks; the general took his hand, and whilst he pressed it along with Adela’s to his bosom, tears fell on them. “You are both my children!” he exclaimed; “the children of my love, and from your felicity I must derive mine.” This expression Oscar conceived to be a mere effusion of gratitude, little thinking what a project relative to him had entered the general’s head, who had first, however, consulted and learned from his daughter it would be agreeable to her. This generous, some will say romantic, old man, felt for Oscar the most unbounded love and gratitude, and as the best proof of both, he resolved to bestow on this young soldier his rich and lovely heiress, who had acknowledged to her father her predilection for him. He knew his birth to be noble, his disposition amiable, and his spirit brave; besides, by this union he should secure the society of Adela. He wished her married, yet dreaded, whenever that event took place, he should be deprived of her; but Oscar, he supposed, bound to him by gratitude, would, unlike others, accede to his wishes of residing at Woodlawn during his lifetime. His project he resolved on communicating to Colonel Belgrave, whom, on Oscar’s account, he regarded, as Oscar had said (what indeed he believed), that he was partly indebted to him for his commission.

What a thunder-stroke was this to Belgrave, who arrived at Woodlawn the morning after the resolution was finally settled, and was asked to accompany the general, about a little business, to the summer-house in the garden. Poor Oscar trembled; he felt a presentiment he should be the subject of discourse, and had no doubt but the general meant to complain to Colonel Belgrave, as a person who had some authority over him, about his great particularity to Miss Honeywood.

Rage, envy, and surprise, kept the colonel silent some minutes after the general had ended speaking; dissimulation then came to his aid, and he attempted, though in faltering accents, to express his admiration of such generosity; yet to bestow such a treasure, so inestimable, on such a man, when so many[Pg 100] of equal rank and fortune sighed for its possession; upon a man, too, or rather a boy, from whose age it might be expected his affections would be variable. “Let me tell you, colonel,” said the general, hastily interrupting him, and striking his stick upon the ground, as he rose to return to the house, “there can be little danger of his affections changing when such a girl as Adela is his wife; so touch no more upon that subject, I entreat you; but you must break the affair to the young fellow, for I should be in such a confounded flurry I should set all in confusion, and beat an alarm at the first onset.”

The gloom and embarrassment which appeared in the countenance of the colonel, filled Oscar with alarms; he imagined them excited by friendship for him. After what the general had said, he sighed to hear particulars, and longed, for the first time, to quit Woodlawn. The colonel was indeed in a state of torture; he had long meditated the conquest of Adela, whose fortune and beauty rendered her a truly desirable object; to resign her without one effort of circumventing Oscar was not to be thought of. To blast his promised joys, even if it did not lead to the accomplishment of his own wishes, he felt would give him some comfort, and he resolved to leave no means untried for doing so.

They set off early in the morning for Enniskillen, and Belgrave sent his servant on before them, that there might be no restraint on the conversation he found Oscar inclined to begin.


CHAPTER XII.

“Sincerity! Thou first of virtues, let no mortal leave Thy onward path, although the earth should gape, And from the gulf of hell destruction cry To take dissimulation’s winding way.”—Douglas.

“Well, colonel,” said Oscar, “I fancy I was not mistaken in thinking the general wanted to speak with you concerning me; I am convinced you will not conceal any particulars of a conversation it may be so essential to my honor to hear.” “Why, faith,” cried the colonel, delighted to commence his operations, “he was making a kind of complaint about you; he acknowledges you a brave lad, yet, hang him, he has not generosity enough to reward that bravery with his daughter, or any[Pg 101] of his treasure.” “Heaven is my witness!” exclaimed the unsuspicious Oscar, “I never aspired to either; I always knew my passion for his daughter as hopeless as fervent, and my esteem for him as disinterested as sincere; I would have sooner died than abused the confidence he reposed in me, by revealing my attachment; I see, however, in future, I must be an exile to Woodlawn.” “Not so, neither,” replied the colonel; “only avoid such particularity to the girl; I believe in my soul she has more pride than susceptibility in her nature; in your next visit, therefore, which, for that purpose, I would have you soon make, declare, in a cavalier manner, your affections being engaged previous to your coming to Ireland; this declaration will set all to rights with the general; he will no longer dread you on his daughter’s account; you will be as welcome as ever to Woodlawn, and enjoy, during your continuance in the country, the society you have hitherto been accustomed to.” “No,” said Oscar, “I cannot assert so great a falsehood.” “How ridiculous!” replied the colonel; “for heaven’s sake, my dear boy, drop such romantic notions; I should be the last man in the world to desire you to invent a falsehood which could injure any one; but no priest in Christendom would blame you for this.” “And suppose I venture it, what will it do but bind faster round my heart chains already too galling, and destroy in the end all remains of peace.”

“Faith, Fitzalan,” said the colonel, “by the time you have had a few more love affairs with some of the pretty girls of this kingdom, you will talk no more in this way; consider, and be not too scrupulous, how disagreeable it will be to resign the general’s friendship, and the pleasing society you enjoyed at Woodlawn; besides, it will appear strange to those who knew your former intimacy: in honor, too, you are bound to do as I desire you, for should the girl have been imprudent enough to conceive an attachment for you, this will certainly remove it; for pride would not allow its continuance after hearing of a favorite rival; and the general will be essentially served.” “My dear colonel,” said Oscar, his eyes suddenly sparkling, “do you think she has been imprudent enough to conceive a partiality for me?” “I am sure,” said the colonel, “that is a question I cannot possibly answer; but, to give my opinion, I think, from her gay, unembarrassed manner, she has not.” “I suppose not, indeed,” cried Oscar, mournfully sighing; “why then should I be guilty of a falsehood for a person who is already indifferent to me?” “I have told you my reason,” replied the colonel, coldly; “do as you please.” They were[Pg 102] now both silent, but the conversation was soon renewed, and many arguments passed on both sides. Oscar’s heart secretly favored the colonel’s plan, as it promised the indulgence of Adela’s society; to be an exile from Woodlawn was insupportable to his thoughts; reason yielded to the vehemence of passion, and he at last fell into the snare the perfidious Belgrave had spread, thus, by a deviation from truth, forfeiting the blessings a bounteous Providence had prepared for him.

Oh! never let the child of integrity be seduced from the plain and undeviating path of sincerity: oh! never let him hope by illicit means to attain a real pleasure; the hope of obtaining any good through such means will, like a meteor of the night, allure but to deceive.

Soon after his fatal promise to the colonel, a self-devoted victim, he accompanied him to Woodlawn; on their arrival, Miss Honeywood was in the garden, and Oscar, trembling, went to seek her; he found her sitting in a flower-woven arbor—

“Herself the fairest flower.“

Never had she looked more lovely; the natural bloom of her cheeks was heightened by the heat, and glowed beneath the careless curls that fell over them; and her eyes, the moment she beheld Oscar, beamed with the softest tenderness, the most bewitching sensibility. “My dear, dear Fitzalan!” cried she, throwing aside the book she had been reading, and extending her hand, “I am glad to see you; I hope you are come to take up your residence for some time at Woodlawn.” “You hope!” repeated Oscar, mournfully. “I do, indeed! but, bless me, what is the matter? You look so pale and thin, you look but the shadow of yourself, or rather like a despairing shepherd, ready to hang himself on the first willow tree he meets.” “I am indeed unhappy!” cried Oscar; “nor will you wonder at my being so when I acknowledge I at this present time feel a passion which I must believe hopeless.” “Hopeless! well, now, I insist on being your confidant, and then,” smiling somewhat archly, “I shall see what reason you have to despair,” “Agreed,” exclaimed Oscar; “and now to my story:” then pausing a minute, he started up. “No,” continued he, “I find it impossible to tell it——; let this dear, this estimable object,” drawing a miniature of his sister from his bosom, “speak for me, and declare whether he who loves such a being can ever lose that love, or help being wretched at knowing it is without hope.”

Adela snatched if hastily from him, and by a sudden start[Pg 103] betrayed her surprise; words indeed are inadequate to express her heart-rending emotions as she contemplated the beautiful countenance of her imaginary rival: and was Oscar, then—that Oscar whom she adored—whose happiness she had hoped to constitute—whose fortune she delighted to think she should advance—really attached to another; alas! too true, he was—of the attachment she held a convincing proof in her hand; she examined it again and again, and in its mild beauties thought she beheld a striking proof of the superiority over the charms she herself possessed; the roses forsook her cheeks, a mist overspread her eyes, and with a shivering horror she dropped it from her hand. Oscar had quitted the arbor to conceal his agonies. “Well,” said he, now returning with forced calmness, “is it not worthy of inspiring the passion I feel?” Unable to answer him, she could only point to the place where it lay, and hastened to the house. “Sweet image!” cried Oscar, taking it from the ground, “what an unworthy purpose have I made you answer!—alas! all is now over—Adela—my Adela!—is lost forever!—lost—ah, heavens! had I ever hopes of possessing her?—oh, no! to such happiness never did I dare to look forward.”

Adela, on reaching the parlor which opened into the garden, found her father there. “Ah! you little baggage, do I not deserve a kiss for not disturbing your tete-à-tete? Where is that young rogue, Fitzalan?” “I beg, I entreat, sir,” said Adela, whose tears could no longer be restrained, “you will never mention him again to me; too much has already been said about him.” “Nay, pr’ythee, my little girl,” exclaimed the general, regarding her with surprise, “cease thy sighs and tears, and tell me what’s the matter.” “I am hurt,” replied she, in a voice scarcely articulate, “that so much has been said about Mr. Fitzalan, whom I can never regard in any other light than that of a common acquaintance.” The colonel, who had purposely lingered about the wood, now entered. Adela started, and precipitately retreated through another door. “Faith, my dear colonel,” said the general, “I am glad you are come; the boy and girl have had a little skirmish; but, like other love quarrels, I suppose it will soon be made up—so let me know how the lad bore the announcement of his good fortune.” “It fills a rational mind with regret,” exclaimed the colonel, seating himself gravely, and inwardly rejoicing at the success of his stratagem, “to find such a fatality prevalent among mankind as makes them reject a proffered good, and sigh for that which is unattainable; like wayward children, neglecting their sports to[Pg 104] pursue a rainbow, and weeping as the airy pageant mocks their grasp.” “Very true, indeed,” said the general; “very excellent, upon my word; I doubt if the chaplain of a regiment ever delivered such a pretty piece of morality; but, dear colonel,” laying his hand on his knee, “what did the boy say?” “I am sorry, sir,” he replied, “that what I have just said is so applicable to him. He acknowledged the lady’s merit, extolled her generosity—but pleaded a prior attachment against accepting your offer, which even one more exalted would not tempt him to forego, though he knows not whether he will ever succeed in it.” “The devil he did!” exclaimed the general, as soon as rage and surprise would allow him to speak. “The little impertinent puppy! the ungrateful young dog! a prior attachment!—reject my girl—my Adela—who has had such suitors already; so, I suppose I shall have the whole affair blazed about the country; I shall hear from every quarter how my daughter was refused; and by whom?—why, by a little ensign, whose whole fortune lies in his sword-knot. A fine game I have played, truly; but if the jackanapes opens his lips about the matter, may powder be my poison if I do not trim his jacket for him!” “Dear general,” said the colonel, “you may depend on his honor; but even supposing he did mention the affair, surely you should know it would not be in his power to injure Miss Honeywood—amiable—accomplished—in short, possessed, as she is, of every perfection. I know men, at least one man of consequence, both from birth and fortune, who has long sighed for her, and who would, if he received the least encouragement, openly avow his sentiments.” “Well,” cried the general, still panting for breath, “we will talk about him at some future time; for I am resolved on soon having my little girl married, and to her own liking, too.”

Oscar and Adela did not appear till dinner time; both had been endeavoring to regain composure; but poor Oscar had been far less successful than Adela in the attempt; not that she loved less, for indeed her passion for him was of the tenderest nature, and she flattered herself with having inspired one equally ardent in his breast. Sanctioned by her father, she thought it would constitute the felicity of their lives, and looked forward with a generous delight to the period when she should render her beloved Fitzalan prosperous and independent. The disappointment she experienced, as the first she had ever met, sat heavy on her heart, and the gay visions of youth were in one moment clouded by melancholy; but her pride was as great as sensibility, and as its powerful impulse, pervaded her mind.[Pg 105] She resolved to afford Oscar no triumph by letting him witness her dejection; she therefore wiped away all traces of tears from her eyes, checked the vain sigh that struggled at her heart, and dressed herself with as much attention as ever. Her heavy eyes, her colorless cheeks, however, denoted her feelings; she tried, as she sat at table, to appear cheerful, but in vain; and, on the removal of the cloth, immediately retired, as no ladies were present.

The general was a stranger to dissimulation, and as he no longer felt, he no longer treated Oscar with his usual kindness. When pale, trembling, and disordered, he appeared before him, he received him with a stern frown, and an air scarcely complaisant. This increased the agitation of Oscar: every feeling of his soul was in commotion; he was no longer the life of their company; their happiness and mirth formed a striking contrast to his misery and dejection; he felt a forlorn wretch—a mere child of sorrow and dependence; scalding tears dropped from him as he bent over his plate; he could have cursed himself for such weakness: fortunately it was unnoticed. In losing the general’s attention, he seemed to lose that of his guests; his situation grew too irksome to be borne; he rose, unregarded, and a secret impulse led him to the drawing-room. Here Adela, oppressed by the dejection of her spirits, had flung! herself upon a couch, and gradually sunk into a slumber: Oscar stepped lightly forward, and gazed on her with a tenderness as exquisite as a mother would have felt in viewing her sleeping babe; her cheek, which rested on her fair hand, was tinged with a blush, by the reflection of a crimson curtain through which the sun darted, and the traces of a tear were yet discernible upon it. “Never!” cried Oscar, with folded hands; as he hung over the interesting figure, “never may any tear, except that of soft sensibility for the woes of others, bedew the cheek of Adela—perfect as her goodness be her felicity—may every blessing she now enjoys be rendered permanent by that Power who smiles benignly upon innocence like hers! Oh! Adela, he who now prays for your felicity never will lose your idea, he will cherish it in his heart, to ameliorate his sorrows, and, from the dreary path which may be appointed for him to tread, sometimes look back to happier scenes!” Adela began to stir; she murmured out some inarticulate words, and, suddenly rising from the couch, beheld the motionless form of Fitzalan: haughtily regarding him, she asked the meaning of such an intrusion. “I did not mean indeed to intrude,” said he; “but when I came and found you, can you wonder at my[Pg 106] being fascinated to the spot?” The plaintive tone of his voice sunk deep into Adela’s heart; she sighed heavily, and turning away seated herself in a window. Oscar followed; he forgot the character he had assumed in the morning, and gently seizing her hand, pressed it to his bosom: at this critical minute, when mutual sympathy appeared on the point of triumphing over duplicity, the door opened, and Colonel Belgrave appeared; from the instant of Oscar’s departure, he had been on thorns to follow him, fearful of the consequences of a tete-à-tete, which was attended by the rest of the gentlemen.

Oscar was determined on not staying another night at Woodlawn, and declared his intention by asking Colonel Belgrave if he had any commands for Enniskillen, whither he meant to return immediately. “Why, hang it, boy,” cried the general, in a rough grumbling voice, “since you have stayed so long, you may as well stay the night; the clouds look heavy over the lake, and threaten a storm.” “No, sir,” said Oscar, coloring, and speaking in the agitation of his heart, “the raging of a tempest would not make me stay.” Adela sighed, but pride prevented her speaking. Fitzalan approached her: “Miss Honeywood,” said he—he stopped—his voice was quite stifled. Adela, equally unable to speak, could only encourage him to proceed by a cold glance. “Lest I should not,” resumed he, “have the happiness of again visiting Woodlawn, I cannot neglect this opportunity of assuring you that the attention, the obligations I have received in it, never can be forgotten by me; and that the severest pang my heart could possibly experience would result from thinking I lost any part of the friendship you and the general honored me with.” Adela bent her head, and Oscar, seeing that she either would not, or could not speak, bowed to the general, and hurried from the room; the tears he had painfully suppressed gushed forth, and at the bottom of the stairs he leaned against the banisters for support; while he cast his eyes around, as if bidding a melancholy farewell to the scene of former happiness, a hasty footstep advanced, he started, and was precipitately retreating, when the voice of the butler stopped him; this was an old veteran, much attached to Oscar, and his usual attendant in all his fowling and fishing parties. As he waited at tea, he heard Oscar’s declaration of departing with surprise, and followed him for the purpose of expressing that and his concern. “Why, Lord now, Mr. Fitzalan,” cried he, “what do you mean by leaving us so oddly? But if you are so positive about going to Enniskillen to-night, let me order Standard to be prepared for you.” Oscar[Pg 107] for some time had had the command of the stables; but knowing as he did that he had lost the general’s favor, he could no longer think of taking those liberties which kindness had once invited him to: he wrung the hand of his humble friend, and snatching his hat from the hall table, darted out of the house: he ran till he came to the mountain path, on the margin of the lake. “Never,” cried he, distractedly striking his breast, “shall I see her here again! oh, never, never, my beloved Adela! shall your unfortunate Fitzalan wander with you through those enchanting scenes: oh, how transient was this gleam of felicity!”

Exhausted by the violence of his feelings, he fell into a kind of torpid state against the side of the mountain; the shadows of night were thickened by a coming storm; a cool blast howled amongst the hills, and agitated the gloomy waters of the lake; the rain, accompanied by sleet, began to fall, but the tempest raged unregarded around the child of sorrow, the wanderer of the night. Adela alone,

“Heard, felt, or seen,”

pervaded every thought. Some fishermen approaching to secure their boats, drove him from this situation, and he flew to the woods which screened one side of the house: by the time he reached it the storm had abated, and the moon, with a watery lustre, breaking through the clouds, rendered, by her feeble rays, the surrounding and beloved scenes just visible.

Adela’s chamber looked into the wood, and the light from it riveted Oscar to a spot exactly opposite the window. “My Adela,” he exclaimed, extending his arms as if she could have heard and flown into them; then dejectedly dropping them, “she thinks not on such a forlorn wretch as me; oh, what comfort to lay my poor distracted head for one moment on her soft bosom, and hear her sweet voice speak pity to my tortured heart!” Sinking with weakness from the conflicts of his mind, he sought an old roofless root-house in the centre of the wood, where he and Adela had often sat. “Well,” said he, as he flung himself upon the damp ground, “many a brave fellow has had a worse bed; but God particularly protects the unsheltered head of the soldier and the afflicted.” The twittering of the birds roused him from an uneasy slumber, or rather lethargy, into which he had fallen; and starting up he hastened to the road, fearful, as day was beginning to dawn, of being seen by any of General Honeywood’s workmen. It was late ere he arrived at Enniskillen, and before he gained his room[Pg 108] he was met by some of the officers, who viewed him with evident astonishment; his regimentals were quite spoiled; his fine hair, from which the rain had washed all the powder, hung dishevelled about his shoulders; the feather of his hat was broken, and the disorder of his countenance was not less suspicious than that of his dress; to their inquiries he stammered out something of a fall, and extricated himself with difficulty from them.

In an obscure village, fifteen miles from Enniskillen, a detachment of the regiment lay; the officer who commanded it disliked his situation extremely; but company being irksome to Oscar, it was just such a one as he desired, and he obtained leave to relieve him: the agitation of his mind, aided by the effects of the storm he had been exposed to, was too much for his constitution: immediately on arriving at his new quarters he was seized with a violent fever; an officer was obliged to be sent to do duty in his place, and it was long ere any symptoms appeared which could flatter those who attended him with hopes of his recovery; when able to sit up he was ordered to return to Enniskillen, where he could be immediately under the care of the regimental surgeon.

Oscar’s servant accompanied him in the carriage, and as it drove slowly along he was agreeably surprised by a view of Mrs. Marlowe’s orchard; he could not resist the wish of seeing her, and making inquiries relative to the inhabitants of Woodlawn; for with Mrs. Marlowe, I should previously say, he had not only formed an intimacy, but a sincere friendship. She was a woman of the most pleasing manners, and to her superintending care Adela was indebted for many of the graces she possessed, and at her cottage passed many delightful hours with Oscar.

The evening was far advanced when Oscar reached the orchard, and leaning on his servant, slowly walked up the hill: had a spectre appeared before the old lady, she could not have seemed more shocked than she now did, at the unexpected and emaciated appearance of her young friend. With all the tenderness of a fond mother, she pressed his cold hands between her own, and seated him by the cheerful fire which blazed on her hearth, then procured him refreshments that, joined to her conversation, a little revived his spirits; yet, at this moment the recollection of the first interview he ever had with her, recurred with pain to his heart. “Our friends at Woodlawn, I hope,” cried he—he paused—but his eye expressed the inquiry his tongue was unable to make. “They are well and happy,” re[Pg 109]plied Mrs. Marlowe; “and you know, I suppose, of all that has lately happened there?” “No, I know nothing; I am as one awoke from the slumbers of the grave.” “Ere I inform you, then,” cried Mrs. Marlowe, “let me, my noble Oscar, express my approbation, my admiration of your conduct, of that disinterested nature which preferred the preservation of constancy to the splendid independency offered to your acceptance.” “What splendid independency did I refuse?” asked Oscar, wildly staring at her. “That which the general offered.” “The general!” “Yes, and appointed Colonel Belgrave to declare his intentions.” “Oh Heavens!” exclaimed Oscar, starting from his chair; “did the general indeed form such intentions, and has Belgrave then deceived me? He told me my attentions to Miss Honeywood were noticed and disliked! he filled my soul with unutterable anguish, and persuaded me to a false-hood which has plunged me into despair!” “He is a monster!” cried Mrs. Marlowe, “and you are a victim to his treachery.” “Oh no! I will fly to the general, and open my whole soul to him; at his feet I will declare the false ideas of honor which misled me; I shall obtain his forgiveness, and Adela will yet be mine.” “Alas! my child,” cried Mrs. Marlowe, stopping him as he was hurrying from the room, “it is now too late; Adela can never be yours; she is married, and married unto Belgrave.” Oscar staggered back a few paces, uttered a deep groan, and fell senseless at her feet. Mrs. Marlowe’s cries brought in his servant, as well as her own, to his assistance; he was laid upon a bed, but it was long ere he showed any signs of recovery; at length, opening his heavy eyes, he sighed deeply, and exclaimed, “she is lost to me forever!”

The servants were dismissed, and the tender-hearted Mrs. Marlowe knelt beside him. “Oh! my friend,” said she, “my heart sympathizes in your sorrow; but it is from your own fortitude, more than my sympathy, you must now derive resources of support.” “Oh, horrible! to know the cup of happiness was at my lips, and that it was my own hand dashed it from me.” “Such, alas!” said Mrs. Marlowe, sighing, as if touched at the moment with a similar pang of self-regret, “is the way-wardness of mortals; too often do they deprive themselves of the blessings of a bounteous Providence by their own folly and imprudence—oh! my friend, born as you were with a noble ingenuity of soul, never let that soul again be sullied by the smallest deviation from sincerity.” “Do not aggravate my sufferings,” said Oscar, “by dwelling on my error.” “No, I[Pg 110] would sooner die than be guilty of such barbarity; but admonition never sinks so deeply on the heart as in the hour of trial. Young, amiable as you are, life teems, I doubt not, with various blessings to you—blessings which you will know how to value properly, for early disappointment is the nurse of wisdom.” “Alas!” exclaimed he, “what blessings?” “These, at least,” cried Mrs. Marlowe, “are in your own power—the peace, the happiness, which ever proceeds from a mind conscious of having discharged the incumbent duties of life, and patiently submitted to its trials.” “But do you think I will calmly submit to his baseness?” said Oscar, interrupting her. “No; Belgrave shall never triumph over me with impunity!” He started from the bed, and, rushing into the outer room, snatched his sword from the table on which he had flung it at his entrance. Mrs. Marlowe caught his arm. “Rash young man!” exclaimed she, “whither would you go—is it to scatter ruin and desolation around you? Suppose your vengeance was gratified, would that restore your happiness? Think you that Adela, the child of virtue and propriety, would ever notice the murderer of her husband, how unworthy, soever, that husband might be? Or that the old general, who so fondly planned your felicity, would forgive, if he could survive, the evils of his house, occasioned by you?” The sword dropped from the hand of the trembling Oscar. “I have been blameable,” cried he, “in allowing myself to be transported to such an effort of revenge; I forgot everything but that; and as to my own life, deprived of Adela, it appears so gloomy as to be scarcely worth preserving.”

Mrs. Marlowe seized this moment of yielding softness to advise and reason with him; her tears mingled with his, as she listened to his relation of Belgrave’s perfidy; tears augmented by reflecting that Adela, the darling of her care and affections, was also a victim to it. She convinced Oscar, however, that it would be prudent to confine the fatal secret to their own breasts; the agitation of his mind was too much for the weak state of his health; the fever returned, and he felt unable to quit the cottage; Mrs. Marlowe prepared a bed for him, trusting he would soon be able to remove, but she was disappointed; it was long ere Oscar could quit the bed of sickness; she watched over him with maternal tenderness, while he, like a blasted flower, seemed hastening to decay.

The general was stung to the soul by the rejection of his offer, which he thought would have inspired the soul of Oscar with rapture and gratitude; never had his pride been so se[Pg 111]verely wounded—never before had he felt humbled in his own eyes: his mortifying reflections the colonel soon found means to remove, by the most delicate flattery, and the most assiduous attention, assuring the general that his conduct merited not the censure, but the applause of the world. The sophistry which can reconcile us to ourselves is truly pleasing; the colonel gradually became a favorite, and when he insinuated his attachment for Adela, was assured he should have all the general’s interest with her. He was now more anxious than ever to have her advantageously settled; there was something so humiliating in the idea of her being rejected, that it drove him at times almost to madness: the colonel possessed all the advantages of fortune; but these weighed little in his favor with the general (whose notions we have already proved very disinterested), and much less with his daughter; on the first overture about him she requested the subject might be entirely dropped; the mention of love was extremely painful to her. Wounded by her disappointment in the severest manner, her heart required time to heal it; her feelings delicacy confined to her own bosom; but her languid eyes, and faded cheeks, denoted their poignancy. She avoided company, and was perpetually wandering through the romantic and solitary paths which she and Oscar had trod together; here more than ever she thought of him, and feared she had treated her poor companion unkindly; she saw him oppressed with sadness, and yet she had driven him from her by the repulsive coldness of her manner—a manner, too, which, from its being so suddenly assumed, could not fail of conveying an idea of her disappointment; this hurt her delicacy as much as her tenderness, and she would have given worlds, had she possessed them, to recall the time when she could have afforded consolation to Oscar, and convinced him that solely as a friend she regarded him. The colonel was not discouraged by her coldness; he was in the habit of conquering difficulties, and doubted not that he should overcome any she threw in his way; he sometimes, as if by chance, contrived to meet her in her rambles; his conversation was always amusing, and confined within the limits she had prescribed; but his eyes, by the tenderest expression, declared the pain he suffered from this proscription, and secretly pleased Adela, as it convinced her of the implicit deference he paid to her will.

Some weeks had elapsed since Oscar’s voluntary exile from Woodlawn, and sanguine as were the colonel’s hopes, he found without a stratagem they would not be realized, at least as[Pg 112] soon as he expected: fertile in invention, he was not long in concerting one. He followed Adela one morning into the garden, and found her reading in the arbor; she laid aside the book at his entrance, and they chatted for some time on indifferent subjects. The colonel’s servant at last appeared with a large packet of letters, which he presented to his master, who, with a hesitating air, was about putting them into his pocket, when Adela prevented him:—"Make no ceremony, colonel,” said she, “with me; I shall resume my book till you have perused your letters.” The colonel bowed for her permission and began; her attention was soon drawn from her book by the sudden emotion he betrayed; he started, and exclaimed, “Oh heavens! what a wretch!” then, as if suddenly recollecting his situation, looked at Adela, appeared confused, stammered out a few inarticulate words, and resumed his letter; when finished, he seemed to put it into his pocket, but in reality dropped it at his feet for the basest purpose. He ran over the remainder of the letters, and rising, entreated Adela to excuse his leaving her so abruptly, to answer some of them. Soon after his departure, Adela perceived an open letter lying at her feet; she immediately took it up with an intention of returning to the house with it, when the sight of her own name, in capital letters, and in the well-known hand of Fitzalan, struck her sight; she threw the letter on the table; an universal tremor seized her; she would have given any consideration to know why she was mentioned in a correspondence between Belgrave and Fitzalan: her eye involuntarily glanced at the letter; she saw some words in it which excited still more strongly her curiosity; it could no longer be repressed; she snatched it up, and read as follows:—

TO COLONEL BELGRAVE.

You accuse me of insensibility to, what you call the matchless charms of Adela, an accusation I acknowledge I merit; but why, because I have been too susceptible to those of another, which in the fond estimation of a lover (at least), appear infinitely superior. The general’s offer was certainly a most generous and flattering one, and has gratified every feeling of my soul, by giving me an opportunity of sacrificing, at the shrine of love, ambition and self-interest; my disinterested conduct has confirmed me in the affections of my dear girl, whose vanity I cannot help thinking a little elevated by the triumph I have told her she obtained over Adela; but this is excusable indeed when we consider the object I relinquished for her. Would to heaven the general was propitious to your wishes; it would yield me much happiness to see you, my first and best friend, in possession of a treasure you have long sighed for. I shall, no doubt, receive a long lecture [Pg 113]from you for letting the affair relative to Adela be made known, but faith, I could not resist telling my charmer. Heaven grant discretion may seal her lips; if not, I suppose I shall be summoned to formidable combat with the old general. Adieu! and believe me,

Dear colonel, ever yours,
Oscar Fitzalan.

“Wretch!” cried the agitated Adela, dropping the letter (which it is scarcely necessary to say was an infamous forgery) in an agony of grief and indignation, “is this the base return we meet for our wishes to raise you to prosperity? Oh! cruel Fitzalan, is it Adela—who thought you so amiable, and who never thoroughly valued wealth, till she believed it had given her the power of conducing to your felicity—whom you hold up as an object of ridicule for unfeeling vanity to triumph over?” Wounded pride and tenderness raised a whirl of contending passions in her breast; she sunk upon the bench, her head rested on her hand, and sighs and tears burst from her. She now resolved to inform Fitzalan she knew the baseness of his conduct, and sting his heart with keen reproaches: now resolved to pass it over in silent contempt. While thus fluctuating, the colonel softly advanced and stood before her: in the tumult of her mind she had quite forgot the probability of his returning, and involuntarily screamed and started at his appearance. By her confusion, she doubted not but he would suspect her of having perused the fatal letter. Oppressed by the idea, her head sunk on her bosom, and her face was covered with blushes. “What a careless fellow I am!” said the colonel, taking up the letter, which he then pretended to perceive; he glanced at Adela. “Curse it!” continued he, “I would rather have had all the letters read than this one.” He suspects me, thought Adela; her blushes faded, and she fell back on her seat, unable to support the oppressive idea of having acted against the rules of propriety. Belgrave flew to support her: “Loveliest of women!” he exclaimed, and with all the softness he could assume, “what means this agitation?” “I have been suddenly affected,” answered Adela, a little recovering, and, rising, she motioned to return to the house. “Thus,” answered the colonel, “you always fly me; but go, Miss Honeywood; I have no right, no attraction, indeed, to detain you: yet, be assured,” and he summoned a tear to his aid, while he pressed her hand to his bosom, “a heart more truly devoted to you than mine you can never meet; but I see the subject is painful, and again I resume the rigid silence you have imposed on me; go, then, most lovely and beloved, and since I dare not aspire[Pg 114] to a higher, allow me, at least, the title of your friend.” “Most willingly,” said Adela, penetrated by his gentleness. She was now tolerably recovered, and he prevailed on her to walk instead of returning to the house; she felt soothed by his attention; his insidious tongue dropped manna; he gradually stole her thoughts from painful recollections; the implicit respect he paid her will flattered her wounded pride, and her gratitude was excited by knowing he resented the disrespectful mention of her name in Fitzalan’s letter; in short, she felt esteem and respect for him—contempt and resentment for Oscar. The colonel was too penetrating not to discover her sentiments, and too artful not to take advantage of them. Had Adela, indeed, obeyed the real feelings of her heart, she would have declared against marrying; but pride urged her to a step which would prove to Fitzalan his conduct had not affected her. The general rejoiced at obtaining her consent, and received a promise that for some time she should not be separated from him. The most splendid preparations were made for the nuptials; but though Adela’s resentment remained unabated, she soon began to wish she had not been so precipitate in obeying it; an involuntary repugnance rose in her mind against the connection she was about forming, and honor alone kept her from declining it forever: her beloved friend, Mrs. Marlowe, supported her throughout the trying occasion, and, in an inauspicious hour, Adela gave her hand to the perfidious Belgrave.

About a fortnight after her nuptials, she heard from some of the officers of Oscar’s illness; she blushed at his name. “Faith,” cried one of them, “Mrs. Marlowe is a charming woman; it is well he got into such snug quarters: I really believe elsewhere he would have given up the ghost.” “Poor fellow,” said Adela, sighing heavily, yet without being sensible of it. Belgrave rose, he caught her eye, a dark frown lowered on his brow, and he looked as if he would pierce into the recesses of her heart: she shuddered, and for the first time, felt the tyranny she had imposed upon herself. As Mrs. Marlowe chose to be silent on the subject, she resolved not to mention it to her; but she sent every day to invite her to Woodlawn, expecting by this to hear something of Oscar; but she was disappointed. At the end of a fortnight, Mrs. Marlowe made her appearance; she looked pale and thin. Adela gently reproved her for her long absence, trusting this would oblige her to allege the reason of it; but no such thing. Mrs. Marlowe began to converse on indifferent subjects; Adela suddenly grew peevish, and sullenly sat at her work.

[Pg 115] In a few days after Mrs. Marlowe’s visit, Adela, one evening immediately after dinner, ordered the carriage to the cottage; by this time she supposed Oscar had left it, and flattered herself, in the course of conversation, she should learn whether he was perfectly recovered ere he departed. Proposing to surprise her friend, she stole by a winding path to the cottage, and softly opened the parlor door; but what were her feelings, when she perceived Oscar sitting at the fireside with Mrs. Marlowe, engaged in a deep conversation! She stopped, unable to advance. Mrs. Marlowe embraced and led her forward. The emotions of Oscar were not inferior to Adela’s. He attempted to rise, but could not. A glance from the expressive eyes of Mrs. Marlowe, which seemed to conjure him not to yield to a weakness which would betray his real sentiments to Adela, somewhat reanimated him. He rose, and tremblingly approached her. “Allow me, madam,” cried he, “to——" The sentence died unfinished on his lips; he had not power to offer congratulations on an event which had probably destroyed the happiness of Adela, as well as his own. “Oh! a truce with compliments,” said Mrs. Marlowe, forcing herself to assume a cheerful air; “prithee, good folks, let us be seated, and enjoy, this cold evening, the comforts of a good fire.” She forced the trembling, the almost fainting, Adela to take some wine, and by degrees the flutter of her spirits and Oscar’s abated, but the sadness of their countenances, the anguish of their souls, increased. The cold formality, the distant reserve they both assumed, filled each with sorrow and regret. So pale, so emaciated, so woe-begone did Fitzalan appear, so much the son of sorrow and despair, that had he half murdered Adela, she could not at that moment have felt for him any other sentiments than those of pity and compassion. Mrs. Marlowe, in a laughing way, told her of the troubles she had had with him: “for which, I assure you,” said she, “he rewards me badly; for the moment he was enlarged from the nursery, he either forgot or neglected all the rules I had laid down for him. Pray do join your commands to mine, and charge him to take more care of himself.” “I would, most willingly,” cried Adela, “if I thought they would influence him to do so.” “Influence!” repeated Oscar, emphatically; “oh, heavens!” then starting up, he hurried to the window, as if to hide and to indulge his melancholy. The scene he viewed from it was dreary and desolate. It was now the latter end of autumn; the evening was cold, a savage blast howled from the hills, and the sky was darkened by a coming storm. Mrs.[Pg 116] Marlowe roused him from his deep reverie. “I am sure,” said she, “the prospect you view from the window can have no great attractions at present.” “And yet,” cried he, “there is something sadly pleasing in it: the leafless trees, the fading flowers of autumn, excite in my bosom a kind of mournful sympathy; they are emblems to me of him whose tenderest hopes have been disappointed; but, unlike him, they, after a short period, shall again flourish with primeval beauty.” “Nonsense,” exclaimed Mrs. Marlowe; “your illness has affected your spirits; but this gloom will vanish long before my orchard reassumes its smiling appearance, and haply attracts another smart redcoat to visit an old woman.” “Oh! with what an enthusiasm of tenderness,” cried Oscar, “shall I ever remember the dear, though dangerous, moment I first entered this cottage!” “Now, no flattery, Oscar,” said Mrs. Marlowe; “I know your fickle sex too well to believe I have made a lasting impression; why, the very first fine old woman you meet at your ensuing quarters, will, I dare say, have similar praise bestowed on her.” “No,” replied he, with a languid smile; “I can assure you, solemnly, the impression which has been made on my heart will never be effaced.” He stole a look at Adela; her head sunk upon her bosom, and her heart began to beat violently. Mrs. Marlowe wished to change the subject entirely; she felt the truest compassion for the unhappy young couple, and had fervently desired their union; but since irrevocably separated, she wished to check any intimation of a mutual attachment, which now could answer no purpose but that of increasing their misery. She rung for tea, and endeavored by her conversation to enliven the tea-table; the effort however, was not seconded. “You have often,” cried she, addressing Adela, as they again drew their chairs round the fire, “desired to hear the exact particulars of my life; unconquerable feelings of regret hitherto prevented my acquiescing in your desire; but, as nothing better now offers for passing away the hours, I will, if you please, relate them.” “You will oblige me by so doing,” cried Adela; “my curiosity, you know, has been long excited.”


[Pg 117]

CHAPTER XIII.

“But mine the sorrow, mine the fault, And well my life shall pay; I’ll seek the solitude he sought, And stretch me where he lay.”—Goldsmith.

To begin, then, as they say in a novel, without further preface, I was the only child of a country curate, in the southern part of England, who, like his wife, was of a good, but reduced family. Contented dispositions and an agreeable neighborhood, ready on every occasion to oblige them, rendered them, in their humble situations, completely happy. I was the idol of both their hearts; every one told my mother I should grow up a beauty, and she, poor simple woman, believed the flattering tale. Naturally ambitious, and somewhat romantic, she expected nothing less than my attaining, by my charms, an elevated situation; to fit me to it, therefore, according to her idea, she gave me all the showy, instead of solid, advantages of education. My father being a meek, or rather an indolent man, submitted entirely to her direction; thus, without knowing the grammatical part of my own language, I was taught to gabble bad French by myself; and, instead of mending or making my clothes, to flourish upon catgut and embroider satin. I was taught dancing by a man who kept a cheap school for that purpose in the village; music I could not aspire to, my mother’s finances being insufficient to purchase an instrument; she was therefore obliged to content herself with my knowing the vocal part of that delightful science, and instructed me in singing a few old-fashioned airs, with a thousand graces, in her opinion at least.

To make me excel by my dress, as well as my accomplishments, all the misses of the village, the remains of her finery were cut and altered into every form which art or ingenuity could suggest; and, Heaven forgive me, but my chief inducement in going to church on a Sunday was to exhibit my flounced silk petticoat and painted chip hat.

When I attained my sixteenth year, my mother thought me, and supposed every one else must do the same, the most perfect creature in the world. I was lively, thoughtless, vain, and ambitious to an extravagant degree; yet, truly innocent in my[Pg 118] disposition, and often, forgetting the appearance I had been taught to assume, indulged the natural gayety of my heart, and in a game of hide-and-go-seek, amongst the haycocks in a meadow, by moonlight, enjoyed perfect felicity.

Once a week, accompanied by my mother, I attended the dancing-master’s school, to practise country dances. One evening we had just concluded a set, and were resting ourselves, when an elegant youth, in a fashionable riding dress, entered the room. His appearance at once excited admiration and surprise; never shall I forget the palpitation of my heart at his approach; every girl experienced the same, every cheek was flushed, and every eye sparkled with hope and expectation. He walked round the room, with an easy, unembarrassed air, as if to take a survey of the company; he stopped by a very pretty girl, the miller’s daughter—good heavens! what were my agonies! My mother, too, who sat beside me, turned pale, and would actually, I believe, have fainted, had he taken any farther notice of her; fortunately he did not, but advanced. My eyes caught his; he again paused, looked surprised and pleased, and, after a moment, passed in seeming consideration, bowed with the utmost elegance, and requested the honor of my hand for the ensuing dance. My politeness had hitherto only been in theory; I arose, dropped him a profound curtsey, assured him the honor would be all on my side, and I was happy to grant his request. He smiled, I thought, a little archly, and coughed to avoid laughing; I blushed, and felt embarrassed; but he led me to the head of the room to call a dance, and my triumph over my companions so exhilarated my spirits, that I immediately lost all confusion.

I had been engaged to a young farmer, and he was enraged, not only at my breaking my engagement without his permission, but at the superior graces of my partner, who threatened to be a formidable rival to him. “By jingo!” said Clod, coming up to me in a surly manner, “I think, Miss Fanny, you have not used me quite genteelly; I don’t see why this here fine spark should take the lead of us all.” “Creature!” cried I, with an ineffable look of contempt, which he could not bear, and retired grumbling. My partner could no longer refrain from laughing; the simplicity of my manners, notwithstanding the airs I endeavored to assume, highly delighted him. “No wonder,” cried he, “the poor swain should be mortified at losing the hand of his charming Fanny.”

The dancing over, we rejoined my mother, who was on[Pg 119] thorns to begin a conversation with the stranger, that she might let him know we were not to be ranked with the present company. “I am sure, sir,” said she, “a gentleman of your elegant appearance must feel rather awkward in the present party; it is so with us, as, indeed, it must be with every person of fashion; but, in an obscure little village like this, we must not be too nice in our society, except, like a hermit, we could do without any.” The stranger assented to whatever she said, and accepted an invitation to sup with us; my mother instantly sent an intimation of her will to my father, to have, not the fatted calf, indeed, but the fatted duck prepared; and he and the maid used such expedition, that, by the time we returned, a neat, comfortable supper was ready to lay on the table. Mr. Marlowe, the stranger’s name, as he informed me, was all animation and affability: it is unnecessary to say, that my mother, father, and myself, were all complaisance, delight, and attention. On departing, he asked, and obtained, permission, of course, to renew his visit the next day; and my mother immediately set him down as her future son-in-law.

As everything is speedily communicated in such a small village as we resided in, we learned on the preceding evening he had stopped at the inn, and, hearing music, had inquired from whence it proceeded, and had gone out of curiosity to the dance. We also learned that his attendants reported him to be heir to a large fortune; this report, vain as I was, was almost enough of itself to engage my heart; judge, then, whether it was not an easy conquest to a person, who, besides the above-mentioned attraction, possessed those of a graceful figure and cultivated mind. He visited continually at our cottage; and I, uncultivated as I was, daily strengthened myself in his affections. In conversing with him, I forgot the precepts of vanity and affectation, and obeyed the dictates of nature and sensibility. He soon declared the motives of his visits to me—"to have immediately demanded my hand" he said, “would have gratified the tenderest wish of his soul; but, in his present situation, that was impossible—left, at an early age, destitute and distressed, by the death of his parents, an old whimsical uncle, married to a woman equally capricious, had adopted him as heir to their large possessions—he found it difficult,” he said, “to submit to their ill-humor, and was confident, if he took any step against their inclinations, he should forever forfeit their favor; therefore, if my parents would allow a reciprocal promise to pass between us, binding each to each, the moment he became master of expected for[Pg 120]tune, or obtained an independence, he would make me a partaker of it.” They consented, and he enjoined us to the strictest secrecy, saying, one of his attendants was placed about him as a kind of spy. He had hitherto deceived him with respect to us, declaring my father was an intimate friend, and that his uncle knew he intended visiting him. But my unfortunate vanity betrayed the secret it was so material for me to keep. I was bound indeed not to reveal it. One morning a young girl who had been an intimate acquaintance of mine till I knew Marlowe, came to see me, “Why, Fanny,” cried she, “you have given us all up for Mr. Marlowe; take care, my dear, he makes you amends for the loss of your other friends.” “I shall take your advice,” said I, with a smile and a conceited toss of my head. “Faith, for my part,” continued she, “I think you were very foolish not to secure a good settlement for yourself with Clod.” “With Clod!” repeated I, with the utmost haughtiness. “Lord, child, you forget who I am!” “Who are you?” exclaimed she, provoked at my insolence; “oh, yes, to be sure, I forget that you are the daughter of a poor country curate, with more pride in your head than money in your purse.” “Neither do I forget,” said I, “that your ignorance is equal to your impertinence; if I am the daughter of a poor country curate, I am the affianced wife of a rich man, and as much elevated by expectation, as spirit, above you.”

Our conversation was repeated throughout the village, and reached the ears of Marlowe’s attendant, who instantly developed the real motive which detained him so long in the village. He wrote to his uncle an account of the whole affair; the consequence of this was a letter to poor Marlowe, full of the bitterest reproaches, charging him, without delay, to return home. This was like a thunder-stroke to us all; but there was no alternative between obeying, or forfeiting his uncle’s favor. “I fear, my dear Fanny,” cried he, as he folded me to his bosom, a little before his departure, “it will be long ere we shall meet again; nay, I also fear I shall be obliged to promise not to write; if both these fears are realized, impute not either absence or silence to a want of the tenderest affection for you.” He went, and with him all my happiness! My mother, shortly after his departure, was attacked by a nervous fever, which terminated her days; my father, naturally of weak spirits and delicate constitution, was so shocked by the sudden death of his beloved and faithful companion, that he sunk beneath his grief. The horrors of my mind I cannot describe; I seemed to stand alone in the world, without one friendly hand to prevent[Pg 121] my sinking into the grave, which contained the dearest objects of my love. I did not know where Marlowe lived, and, even if I had, durst not venture an application, which might be the means of ruining him. The esteem of my neighbors I had forfeited by my conceit; they paid no attention but what common humanity dictated, merely to prevent my perishing; and that they made me sensibly feel. In this distress, I received an invitation from a school-fellow of mine, who had married a rich farmer about forty miles from our village, to take up my residence with her till I was sufficiently recovered to fix on some plan for subsistence. I gladly accepted the offer, and after paying a farewell visit to the grave of my regretted parents, I set off in the cheapest conveyance I could find to her habitation, with all my worldly treasure packed in a portmanteau.

With my friend I trusted I should enjoy a calm and happy asylum till Marlowe was able to fulfil his promise, and allow me to reward her kindness; but this idea she soon put to flight, by informing me, as my health returned, I must think of some method for supporting myself. I started, as at the utter annihilation of all my hopes; for, vain and ignorant of the world, I imagined Marlowe would never think of me if once disgraced by servitude. I told her I understood little of anything except fancy work. She was particularly glad, she said, to hear I knew that, as it would, in all probability, gain me admittance to the service of a rich old lady in the neighborhood, who had long been seeking for a person who could read agreeably and do fancy works, with which she delighted to ornament her house. She was a little whimsical, to be sure, she added, but well-timed flattery might turn those whims to advantage; and, if I regarded my reputation, I should not reject so respectable a protection. There was no alternative; I inquired more particularly about her, but how great was my emotion, when I learned she was the aunt of Marlowe. My heart throbbed with exquisite delight at the idea of being in the same house with him; besides, the service of his aunt would not, I flattered myself, degrade me as much in his eyes as that of another person’s ; it was necessary, however, my name should be concealed, and I requested my friend to comply with my wish in that respect. She rallied me about my pride, which she supposed had suggested the request, but promised to comply with it; she had no doubt but her recommendation would be sufficient to procure me immediate admittance, and, accordingly, taking some of my work with me, I proceeded to the habitation of Marlowe. It was an antique mansion, surrounded with neat-clipped hedges,[Pg 122] level lawns, and formal plantations. Two statues, cast in the same mould, and resembling nothing either in heaven, earth, or sea, stood grinning horribly upon the pillars of a massy gate, as if to guard the entrance from impertinent intrusion. On knocking, an old porter appeared. I gave him my message, but he, like the statues, seemed stationary, and would not, I believe, have stirred from his situation to deliver an embassy from the king. He called, however, to a domestic, who, happening to be a little deaf, was full half an hour before he heard him; at last, I was ushered up stairs into an apartment, from the heat of which one might have conjectured it was under the torrid zone. Though in the middle of July, a heavy hot fire burned in the grate; a thick carpet, representing birds, beasts, and flowers, was spread on the floor, and the windows, closely screwed down, were heavy with woodwork, and darkened with dust. The master and mistress of the mansion, like Darby and Joan, sat in arm-chairs on each side of the fire; three dogs, and as many cats, slumbered at their feet. He was leaning on a spider-table, poring over a voluminous book, and she was stitching a counterpane. Sickness and ill-nature were visible in each countenance. “So!” said she, raising a huge pair of spectacles at my entrance, and examining me from head to foot, “you are come from Mrs. Wilson’s ; why, bless me, child, you are quite too young for any business; pray, what is your name, and where do you come from?” I was prepared for these questions, and told her the truth, only concealing my real name, and the place of my nativity. “Well, let me see those works of yours,” cried she. I produced them, and the spectacles were again drawn down. “Why, they are neat enough, to be sure,” said she, “but the design is bad—very bad, indeed: there is taste, there is execution!” directing me to some pictures, in heavy gilt frames, hung round the room. I told her, with sincerity, “I had never seen anything like them.” “To be sure, child,” exclaimed she, pleased at what she considered admiration in me, “it is running a great risk to take you; but if you think you can conform to the regulations of my house, I will, from compassion, and as you are recommended by Mrs. Wilson, venture to engage you; but, remember, I must have no gad-about, no fly-flapper, no chatterer, in my family. You must be decent in your dress and carriage, discreet in your words, industrious at your work, and satisfied with the indulgence of going to church on a Sunday.” I saw I was about entering upon a painful servitude; but the idea of its being sweetened by the sympathy of Marlowe a little reconciled me to it.

[Pg 123] On promising all she desired, everything was settled for my admission into her family, and she took care I should perform the promises I made her. I shall not recapitulate the various trials I underwent from her austerity and peevishness; suffice it to say, my patience, as well as taste, underwent a perfect martyrdom. I was continually seated at a frame, working pictures of her own invention, which were everything that was hideous in nature. I was never allowed to go out, except on a Sunday to church, or on a chance evening when it was too dark to distinguish colors.

Marlowe was absent on my entering the family, nor durst I ask when he was expected. My health and spirits gradually declined from my close confinement. When allowed, as I have before said, of a chance time to go out, instead of enjoying the fresh air, I have sat down to weep over scenes of former happiness. I dined constantly with the old housekeeper. She informed me, one day, that Mr. Marlowe, her master’s young heir, who had been absent some time on a visit, was expected home on the ensuing day. Fortunately, the good dame was too busily employed to notice my agitation. I retired as soon as possible from the table, in a state of indescribable pleasure. Never shall I forget my emotions, when I heard the trampling of his horse’s feet, and saw him enter the house! Vainly I endeavored to resume my work; my hands trembled, and I sunk back on my chair, to indulge the delightful idea of an interview with him, which I believed to be inevitable. My severe task-mistress soon awakened me from me delightful dream; she came to tell me: “I must confine myself to my own and the housekeeper’s room, which, to a virtuous, discreet maiden, such as I appeared to be, she supposed would be no hardship, while her nephew, who was a young, perhaps rather a wild young man, remained in the house: when he again left it, which would soon be the case, I should regain my liberty.” My heart sunk within me at her words, but, when the first shock was over; I consoled myself by thinking I should be able to elude her vigilance. I was, however, mistaken; she and the housekeeper were perfect Arguses. To be in the same house with Marlowe, yet without his knowing it, drove me almost distracted.

I at last thought of an expedient, which, I hoped, would effect the discovery I wanted. I had just finished a piece of work, which my mistress was delighted with. It was an enormous flower-basket, mounted on the back of a cat, which held beneath its paw a trembling mouse. The raptures the old lady[Pg 124] expressed at seeing her own design so ably executed encouraged me to ask permission to embroider a picture of my own designing, for which I had the silks lying by me. She complied, and I set about it with alacrity. I copied my face and figure as exactly as I could, and, in mourning drapery and a pensive attitude, placed the little image by a rustic grave, in the church-yard of my native village, at the head of which, half embowered in trees, appeared the lovely cottage of my departed parents. These well-known objects, I thought, would revive, if indeed she was absent from it, the idea of poor Fanny in the mind of Marlowe. I presented the picture to my mistress, who was pleased with the present, and promised to have it framed. The next day while I sat at dinner, the door suddenly opened, and Marlowe entered the room. I thought I should have fainted. My companion dropped her knife and fork with great precipitation, and Marlowe told her he was very ill, and wanted a cordial from her. She rose with a dissatisfied air, to comply with his request. He, taking this opportunity of approaching a little nearer, darted a glance of pity and tenderness, and softly whispered—"To-night, at eleven o’clock, meet me in the front parlor.”

You may conceive how tardily the hours passed till the appointed time came, when, stealing to the parlor, I found Marlowe expecting me. He folded me to his heart, and his tears mingled with mine, as I related my melancholy tale. “You are now, my Fanny!” he cried, “entirely mine; deprived of the protection of your tender parents I shall endeavor to fulfil the sacred trust they reposed in my honor, by securing mine to you, as far as lies in my power. I was not mistaken,” continued he, “in the idea I had formed of the treatment I should receive from my flinty-hearted relations on leaving you. Had I not promised to drop all correspondence with you, I must have relinquished all hopes of their favor. Bitter, indeed,” cried he, while a tear started in his eye, “is the bread of dependence. Ill could my soul submit to the indignities I received; but I consoled myself throughout them, by the idea of future happiness with my Fanny. Had I known her situation (which, indeed, it was impossible I should, as my uncle’s spy attended me wherever I went), no dictate of prudence would have prevented my flying to her aid!” “Thank Heaven, then, you were ignorant of it,” said I. “My aunt,” he proceeded, “showed me your work, lavishing the highest encomiums on it. I glanced my eye carelessly upon it, but, in a moment, how was that careless eye attracted by the well known objects presented[Pg 125] to it! this, I said to my heart, can only be Fanny’s work. I tried to discover from my aunt whether my conjectures were wrong, but without success. When I retired to dress, I asked my servant if there had been any addition to the family during my absence; he said a young woman was hired to do fine works, but she never appeared among the servants.”

Marlowe proceeded to say, “he could not bear I should longer continue in servitude, and that without delay he was resolved to unite his fate to mine.” I opposed this resolution a little; but soon, too self-interested, I fear, acquiesced in it. It was agreed I should inform his aunt my health would no longer permit my continuing in her family, and that I should retire to a village six miles off, where Marlowe undertook to bring a young clergyman, a particular friend of his, to perform the ceremony. Our plan, as settled, was carried into execution, and I became the wife of Marlowe. I was now, you will suppose, elevated to the pinnacle of happiness; I was so, indeed, but my own folly precipitated me from it. The secrecy I was compelled to observe mortified me exceedingly, as I panted to emerge from the invidious cloud which had so long concealed my beauty and accomplishments from a world that I was confident, if seen, would pay them the homage they merited. The people with whom I lodged had been obliged by Marlowe, and, therefore, from interest and gratitude, obeyed the injunction he gave them, of keeping my residence at their house a secret; they believed, or affected to believe, I was an orphan committed to his care, whom his uncle would be displeased to know he had taken under his protection. Three or four times a week I received stolen visits from Marlowe, when, one day (after a month had elapsed in this manner) standing at the parlor window, I saw Mrs. Wilson walking down the village. I started back, but too late to escape her observation; she immediately bolted into the room with all the eagerness of curiosity. I bore her first interrogatories tolerably well, but when she upbraided me for leaving the excellent service she had procured for me, for duplicity in saying I was going to another, and for my indiscretion in respect to Marlowe, I lost all command of my temper, and, remembering the inhumanity with which she had forced me into servitude, I resolved to mortify her completely, by assuming all the airs I had heretofore so ridiculously aspired to. Lolling in my chair, with an air of the most careless indifference, I bid her no longer petrify me with her discourse. This raised all the violence of rage, and she plainly told me, “from my conduct with Marlowe, I was un[Pg 126]worthy her notice.” “Therefore,” cried I, forgetting every dictate of prudence, “his wife will neither desire nor receive it in future.” “His wife!” she repeated, with a look of scorn and incredulity. I produced the certificate of my marriage; thus, from an impulse of vanity and resentment, putting myself in the power of a woman, a stranger to every liberal feeling, and whose mind was inflamed with envy towards me. The hint I forced myself at parting to give her, to keep the affair secret, only determined her more strongly to reveal it. The day after her visit, Marlowe entered my apartment—pale, agitated, and breathless, he sunk into a chair. A pang, like conscious guilt, smote my heart, and I trembled as I approached him. He repulsed me when I attempted to touch his hand. “Cruel, inconsiderate woman!” he said, “to what dreadful lengths has your vanity hurried you; it has drawn destruction upon your own head as well as mine!” Shame and remorse tied my tongue; had I spoken, indeed, I could not have vindicated myself, and I turned aside and wept. Marlowe, mild, tender, and adoring, could not long retain resentment; he started from his chair, and clasped me to his bosom. “Oh, Fanny!” he cried, “though you have ruined me, you are still dear as ever to me.”

This tenderness affected me even more than reproaches, and tears and sighs declared my penitence. His expectations relative to his uncle were finally destroyed, on being informed of our marriage, which Mrs. Wilson lost no time in telling him. He burned his will, and immediately made another in favor of a distant relation. On hearing this intelligence, I was almost distracted; I flung myself at my husband’s feet, implored his pardon, yet declared I could never forgive myself. He grew more composed upon the increase of my agitation, as if purposely to soothe my spirits, assuring me, that, though his uncle’s favor was lost, he had other friends on whom he greatly depended. We set off for London, and found his dependence was not ill-placed; for, soon after his arrival, he obtained a place of considerable emolument in one of the public offices. My husband delighted in gratifying me, though I was often both extravagant and whimsical, and almost ever on the wing for admiration and amusement. I was reckoned a pretty woman, and received with rapture the nonsense and adulation addressed to me. I became acquainted with a young widow, who concealed a depraved heart under a specious appearance of innocence and virtue, and by aiding the vices of others, procured the means of gratifying her own; yet so secret were all her transactions,[Pg 127] that calumny had not yet attacked her, and her house was the rendezvous of the most fashionable people. My husband, who did not dislike her manner, encouraged our intimacy, and at her parties I was noticed by a young nobleman, then at the head of the ton. He declared I was one of the most charming objects he had ever beheld, and, for such a declaration, I thought him the most polite I had ever known. As Lord T. condescended to wear my chains, I must certainly, I thought, become quite the rage. My transports, however, were a little checked by the grave remonstrances of my husband, who assured me Lord T. was a famous, or rather an infamous libertine; and that, if I did not avoid his lordship’s particular attentions, he must insist on my relinquishing the widow’s society. This I thought cruel, but I saw him resolute, and promised to act as he desired—a promise I never adhered to, except when he was present. I was now in a situation to promise an increase of family, and Marlowe wished me to nurse the child. The tenderness of my heart seconding his wish, I resolved on obeying it; but when the widow heard my intention she laughed at it, and said it was absolutely ridiculous, for the sake of a squalling brat, to give up all the pleasures of life; besides, it would be much better taken care of in some of the villages about London. I denied this; still, however, she dwelt on the sacrifices I must make, the amusements I must give up, and at last completely conquered my resolution. I pretended to Marlowe my health was too delicate to allow me to bear such a fatigue and he immediately sacrificed his own inclinations to mine. I have often wondered at the kind of infatuation with which he complied with all my desires. My little girl, almost as soon as born, was sent from me; but, on being able to go out again, I received a considerable shock, from hearing my noble admirer was gone to the Continent, owing to a trifling derangement in his affairs. The vain pursuits of pleasure and dissipation were still continued. Three years passed in this manner, during which I had a son, and my little girl was brought home. I have since often felt astonished at the cold indifference with which I regarded my Marlowe, and our lovely babe, on whom he doted with all the enthusiasm of tenderness. Alas! vanity had then absorbed my heart, and deadened every feeling of nature and sensibility; it is the parent of self-love and apathy, and degrades those who harbor it below humanity.

Lord T. now returned from the Continent; he swore my idea had never been absent from his mind, and that I was more charming than ever; while I thought him, if possible, more[Pg 128] polite and engaging. Again my husband remonstrated. Sometimes I seemed to regard these remonstrances, sometimes protested I would not submit to such unnecessary control. I knew, indeed, that my intentions were innocent, and I believed I might safely indulge my vanity, without endangering either my reputation or peace. About this time Marlowe received a summons to attend a dying friend four miles from London. Our little girl was then in a slight fever, which had alarmed her father, and confined me most unwillingly, I must confess, to the house. Marlowe, on the point of departing, pressed me to his breast: “My heart, my beloved Fanny!” said he, “feels unusually heavy. I trust the feeling is no presentiment of approaching ill. Oh! my Fanny! on you and my babe, I rest for happiness—take care of our little cherub, and above all (his meek eye encountering mine), take care of yourself, that, with my accustomed rapture, I may, on my return, receive you to my arms.” There was something so solemn, and so tender, in this address, that my heart melted, and my tears mingled with those which trickled down his pale checks. For two days I attended my child assiduously, when the widow made her appearance. She assured me I should injure myself by such close confinement, and that my cheeks were already faded by it. She mentioned a delightful masquerade which was to be given that night, and for which Lord T. had presented her with tickets for me and herself; but she declared, except I would accompany her, she would not go. I had often wished to go to a masquerade; I now, however, declined this opportunity of gratifying my inclination, but so faintly, as to prompt a renewal of her solicitations, to which I at last yielded; and, committing my babe to the care of a servant, set off with the widow to a warehouse to choose dresses. Lord T. dined with us, and we were all in the highest spirits imaginable: about twelve we went in his chariot to the Haymarket, and I was absolutely intoxicated with his flattery, and the dazzling objects around me. At five we quitted this scene of gayety. The widow took a chair; I would have followed her example, but my Lord absolutely lifted me into his chariot, and there began talking in a strain which provoked my contempt, and excited my apprehensions. I expressed my displeasure in tears, which checked his boldness, and convinced him he had some difficulties yet to overcome ere he completed his designs. He made his apologies with so much humility, that I was soon appeased, and prevailed on to accept them. We arrived at the widow’s house in as much harmony as we left it; the flags were wet, and Lord T. insisted on carrying me into[Pg 129] the house. At the door I observed a man muffled up, but as no one noticed him, I thought no more about it. We sat down to supper in high spirits, and chatted for a considerable time about our past amusements. His lordship said: “After a little sleep we should recruit ourselves by a pleasant jaunt to Richmond, where he had a charming villa.” We agreed to his proposal, and retired to rest. About noon we arose; and, while I was dressing myself for the projected excursion, a letter was brought in to me. “Good Lord! Halcot!” exclaimed I, turning to the widow, “if Marlowe is returned, what will become of me?” “Oh! read, my dear creature!” cried she impatiently, “and then we can think of excuses.” “I have the letter here,” continued Mrs. Marlowe, laying her hand to her breast, and drawing it forth after a short pause, “I laid it to my heart to guard it against future folly.”

THE LETTER.

The presages of my heart were but too true—we parted never to meet again. Oh! Fanny, beloved of my soul, how are you lost to yourself and Marlowe! The independence, splendor, riches, which I gave up for your sake, were mean sacrifices, in my estimation, to the felicity I fondly expected to have enjoyed with you through life. Your beauty charmed my mind, but it was your simplicity captivated my heart. I took, as I thought, the perfect child of innocence and sincerity to my bosom; resolved, from duty, as well as from inclination, to shelter you in that bosom, to the utmost of my power, from every adverse storm. Whenever you were indisposed, what agonies did I endure! yet, what I then dreaded, could I have possibly foreseen, would have been comparative happiness to my present misery; for, oh! my Fanny, far preferable would it have been to behold you in the arms of death than infamy.

I returned immediately after witnessing the last pangs of my friend—oppressed with the awful scene of death, yet cheering my spirits by an anticipation of the consolation I should receive from my Fanny’s sympathy. Good God! what was my horror, when I found my little babe, instead of being restored to health by a mother’s care, nearly expiring through her neglect! The angel lay gasping on her bed, deserted by the mercenary wretch to whose care she was consigned. I inquired, and the fatal truth rushed upon my soul; yet, when the first tumult of passion had subsided, I felt that, without yet stronger proofs, I could not abandon you. Alas! too soon did I receive those proofs. I traced you, Fanny, through your giddy round, till I saw you borne in the arms of the vile Lord T. into the house of his vile paramour. You will wonder, perhaps, I did not tear you from his grasp. Could such a procedure have restored you to me, with all your unsullied innocence, I should not have hesitated; but that was impossible, and my eyes then gazed upon Fanny for the last time. I returned to my motherless babe, and, I am not ashamed to say, I wept over it with all the agonies of a fond and betrayed heart.

Ere I bid an irrevocable adieu, I would, if possible, endeavor to convince you that conscience cannot always be stifled—that illicit love is constantly attended by remorse and disappointment; for, when familiarity, or disease,[Pg 130] has diminished the charms which excited it, the frail fetters of admiration are broken by him who looks only to an exterior for delight; if, indeed, your conscience should not be awakened till this hour of desertion comes, when it does arrive, you may, perhaps, think of Marlowe. Yes, Fanny, when your cheeks are faded by care, when your wit is enfeebled by despondency, you may think of him whose tenderness would have outlived both time and change, and supported you, without abatement, through every stage of life.

To stop short in the career of vice is, they say, the noblest effort of virtue. May such an effort be yours; and may you yet give joy to the angels of heaven, who, we are taught to believe, rejoice over them that truly repent! That want should strew no thorns in the path of penitence, all that I could take from my babe I have assigned to you. Oh! my dear culprit, remember the precepts of your early youth—of those who, sleeping in the dust, are spared the bitter tear of anguish, such as I now shed—and, ere too late, expiate your errors. In the solitude to which I am hastening, I shall continually pray for you; and when my child raises its spotless hands to Heaven, it shall implore its mercy for erring mortals; yet, think not it shall ever hear your story. Oh! never shall the blush of shame, for the frailties of one so dear, tinge its ingenuous countenance. May the sincerity of your repentance restore that peace and brightness to your life, which, at present, I think you must have forfeited, and support you with fortitude through its closing period! As a friend, once dear, you will ever exist in the memory of

Marlowe.

As I concluded the letter, my spirits, which had been gradually receding, entirely forsook me, and I fell senseless on the floor. Mrs. Halcot and Lord T. took his opportunity of gratifying their curiosity by perusing the letter, and when I recovered, I found myself supported between them. “You see, my dear angel,” cried Lord T., “your cruel husband has entirely abandoned you; but grieve not, for in my arms you shall find a kinder asylum than he ever afforded you.” “True,” said Mrs. Halcot; “for my part, I think she has reason to rejoice at his desertion.”

I shall not attempt to repeat all I had said to them in the height of my distraction. Suffice it to say, I reproached them both as the authors of my shame and misery; and, while I spurned Lord T. indignantly from my feet, accused Mrs. Halcot of possessing neither delicacy nor feeling. Alas! accusation or reproach could not lighten the weight on my heart—I felt a dreadful consciousness of having occasioned my own misery. I seemed as if awaking from a disordered dream, which had confused my senses; and the more clearly my perception of what was right returned, the more bitterly I lamented my deviation from it. To be reinstated in the esteem and affection of my husband was all of felicity I could desire to possess. Full of the idea of being able to effect a reconciliation, I started[Pg 131] up; but, ere I reached the door, sunk into an agony of tears: recollecting that ere this he was probably far distant from me. My base companions tried to assuage my grief, and make me in reality the wretch poor Marlowe supposed me to be. I heard them in silent contempt, unable to move, till a servant informed me a gentleman below stairs desired to see me. The idea of a relenting husband instantly occurred, and I flew down; but how great was my disappointment only to see a particular friend of his! Our meeting was painful in the extreme. I asked him if he knew anything of Marlowe, and he solemnly assured me he did not. When my confusion and distress had a little subsided, he informed me that in the morning he had received a letter from him, with an account of our separation, and the fatal cause of it. The letter contained a deed of settlement on me of a small paternal estate, and a bill of fifty pounds, which Marlowe requested his friend to present himself to me. He also added my clothes were sent to his house, as our lodgings had been discharged. I did not find it difficult to convince this gentleman of my innocence, and, putting myself under his protection, was immediately conveyed to lodgings in a retired part of the town. Here he consoled me with assurances of using every effort to discover the residence of my husband. All, alas! proved unsuccessful; and my health gradually declined. As time wore away, my hope yet left still undiminished my desire of seeing him. Change of air was at last deemed requisite to preserve my existence, and I went to Bristol. I had the good fortune to lodge in the house with an elderly Irish lady, whose sweet and benevolent manner soon gained my warmest esteem, and tempted me to divulge my melancholy tale, where so certain of obtaining pity. She had also suffered severely from the pressure of sorrow; but hers, as it proceeded not from imprudence, but the common vicissitudes of life, was borne without that degree of anguish mine occasioned. As the period approached for her return to her native country, I felt the deepest regret at the prospect of our separation, which she, however, removed, by asking me to reside entirely with her. Eight years had elapsed since the loss of my husband, and no latent hope of his return remained in my heart sufficiently strong to tempt me to forego the advantages of such society. Ere I departed, however, I wrote to several of his friends, informing them of the step I intended taking, and, if any tidings of Marlowe occurred, where I was to be found. Five years I passed with my valuable friend in retirement, and had the pleasure of[Pg 132] thinking I contributed to the ease of her last moments. This cottage, with a few acres adjoining it, and four hundred pounds, was all her wealth, and to me she bequeathed it, having no relations whose wants gave them any claim upon her.

The events I have just related will, I hope, strengthen the moral so many wish to impress upon the minds of youth, namely—that, without a strict adherence to propriety, there can be no permanent pleasure; and that it is the actions of early life must give to old age either happiness and comfort, or sorrow and remorse. Had I attended to the admonitions of wisdom and experience, I should have checked my wanderings from prudence, and preserved my happiness from being sacrificed at the shrine of vanity; then, instead of being a solitary in the world, I might have had my little fireside enlivened by the partner of my heart, and, perhaps, my children’s children sporting around; but suffering is the proper tax we pay for folly; the frailty of human nature, the prevalence of example, the allurements of the world, are mentioned by many as extenuations for misconduct. Though virtue, say they, is willing, she is often too weak to resist the wishes they excite. Mistaken idea! and blessed is that virtue which, opposing, ends them. With every temptation we have the means of escape; and woe be to us if we neglect those means, or hesitate to disentangle ourselves from the snare which vice or folly may have spread around us. Sorrow and disappointment are incident to mortality, and when not occasioned by any conscious imprudence, should be considered as temporary trials from Heaven to improve and correct us, and therefore cheerfully be borne. A sigh stole from Oscar as she spoke, and a tear trickled down the soft cheek of Adela. “I have,” continued Mrs. Marlowe, “given you, like an old woman, a tedious tale; but that tediousness, with every other imperfection I have acknowledged, I rest upon your friendship and candor to excuse.”


[Pg 133]

CHAPTER XIV.

“Denied her sight, he often crept Beneath the hawthorn’s shade; To mark the spot in which she wept— In which she wept and prayed.”—Mallet.

The night was waning fast, and Adela rose to depart as her friend concluded her story; yet it required an effort of resolution to retire. Mrs. Marlowe, however, was too well convinced of the expediency and propriety of this to press her longer stay, though the eyes of Oscar, suddenly turned to her, seemed to entreat she would do so. The night was dark and wet, which prevented Mrs. Marlowe from accompanying Adela to the carriage. Not so Oscar; he took the umbrella from the servant, who held it for his mistress, and bid him hasten on to have the carriage-door opened. “Oscar,” cried Mrs. Marlowe, extremely unwilling to allow even this short tete-à-tete, “Mrs. Belgrave will dispense with your gallantry, for you are really too great an invalid to venture out such a night as this.” Adela attempted to dissuade him from it, but her voice was so low and faltering as scarcely to be articulate. Oscar gently seized her hand, and pulled it under his arm; he felt it tremble as he did so. The touch became contagious; an universal tremor affected his frame, and never, perhaps, had he and Adela experienced a moment of greater unhappiness. Adela at last found herself obliged to speak, conscious that her silence must appear particular, and said, she feared he would be injured by his attentions to her. More fatally injured than he already was, he might have replied, he could not be; but he checked the words ready to burst from his lips, and only answered that he would be unfit for a soldier, if he could not endure the inclemency of the wintry blast. The light from the globes of the carriage gave him a view of her pale lovely cheeks, and he saw she was weeping. Confused at the idea of betraying her distress, she averted her head, and hastily ascended the steps; yet, for a moment, her trembling hand rested upon Oscar’s, as if, in this manner, she would have given the adieu she had not the power of pronouncing. Lost in agony, he remained, like a statue, on the spot where she had left him, till roused by the friendly voice of Mrs. Marlowe, who, alarmed at his long[Pg 134] absence, came to seek him. Soothed by her kind solicitude, he directly returned with her to the house, where his indignation against the perfidious Belgrave again broke forth. He execrated him, not only as the destroyer of his peace, but a peace infinitely more precious than his own—that of the charming Adela.

Mrs. Marlowe essayed every art of consolation, and, by sympathy and mildness, at last subdued the violence of his feelings; she acknowledged the loss he sustained in being deprived of Adela; but, since irrevocable, both virtue and reason required him to struggle against his grief, and conceal it. By their sacred dictates, she entreated him to avoid seeing Adela. He felt she was right in the entreaty, and solemnly promised to comply with it; her friendship was balm to his wounded heart, and her society the only pleasure he was capable of enjoying. Whenever he could absent himself from quarters he retired to her, and frequently spent three or four days at a time in her cottage. By discontinuing his visits in the gay neighborhood of Woodlawn, he avoided all opportunities of seeing Adela, yet often, on a clear frosty night, has he stole from the fireside of Mrs. Marlowe to the beloved and beautiful haunts about the lake, where he and Adela passed so many happy hours together. Here he indulged in all the luxury of woe; and such are the pleasures of virtuous melancholy, that Oscar would not have resigned them for any of the commonplace enjoyments of life.

Often did he wander to the grove from whence he had a view of Adela’s chamber, and if a lucky chance gave him a glimpse of her, as she passed through it, a sudden ecstasy would pervade his bosom; he would pray for her felicity, and return to Mrs. Marlowe, as if his heart was lightened of an oppressive weight. That tender friend flattered herself, from youth and the natural gayety of his disposition, his attachment, no longer fed by hope, would gradually decline; but she was mistaken—the bloom of his youth was faded, and his gayety converted into deep despondency. Had he never been undeceived with regard to the general and Adela, pride, no doubt, would quickly have lessened the poignancy of his feelings; but when he reflected on the generous intentions of the one, on the sincere affection of the other, and the supreme happiness he might have enjoyed, he lost all fortitude. Thus, by perpetually brooding over the blessings once within his reach, losing all relish for those which were yet attainable, his sorrow, instead of being ameliorated, was increased by time. The horror and indigna[Pg 135]tion with which he beheld Belgrave, after the first knowledge of his baseness, could scarcely be restrained. Though painful, he was pleased the effort had proved a successful one, as, exclusive of his sacred promise to Mrs. Marlowe, delicacy on Adela’s account induced him to bear his wrongs in silence. He could not, however, be so great a hypocrite as to profess any longer esteem or respect for the colonel, and when they met, it was with cold politeness on both sides.

The unfortunate Adela pined in secret. Her interview with Oscar had destroyed the small remainder of her peace. His pale and emaciated figure haunted her imagination; in vain, by dwelling on his unkind letter, did she endeavor to lessen her tenderness. She felt the emotion of pity stronger than that of resentment, and that the friendship of Oscar would have been sweeter to her soul than the love or attention of any other object. By obeying the impulse of passion, she feared she had doomed herself to wretchedness. Belgrave was a man whom, upon mature deliberation, she never could have chosen. The softness of his manners gradually vanished when the purpose for which they had been assumed was completed. Unfeeling and depraved, the virtues of Adela could excite no esteem in his bosom, and the love (if it can merit that appellation) which he felt for her, quickly subsided after their marriage; but as the general retained the greatest part of his fortune in his own power, he continued tolerably guarded in his conduct. A slave, however, to the most violent passions, he was often unable to control them; and, forgetful of all prudential motives, delighted at those times in mortifying Adela by sly sarcasms on her attachment for Oscar. Though deeply wounded, she never complained; she had partly forged her chains, and resolved to bear them without repining. Tranquil in appearance, the poor general, who was not penetrating, thought his darling perfectly happy. Such, however, was not the opinion of those who visited at Woodlawn. The rose of health no longer spread its beautiful tints on the cheek of Adela, nor were her eyes irradiated by vivacity.

The colonel never went to Enniskillen except about military business, but he made frequent excursions to the metropolis and other parts of the kingdom in pursuit of pleasure. Adela felt relieved by his absence; and the general, satisfied at his not attempting to take her along with him, never murmured at it. The period now arrived for the departure of the regiment. Adela had not seen Oscar since the interview at Mrs. Marlowe’s. She declined going to the reviews which pre[Pg 136]ceded the change of garrison, and sincerely hoped no chance would again throw him in her way. Oscar sickened at the idea of quitting the country without seeing her. He knew she was not to accompany the colonel. The officers were going to pay a farewell visit to Woodlawn, and he could not resist being of the party. They were shown into the drawing-room, where Adela and the general sat. She was startled at the appearance of Oscar, but though a blush tinged her pale face, she soon recovered her composure, and entered into conversation. The general pressed them to stay to dinner, but they had many visits to pay and begged to be excused. “My dear Fitzalan,” said the general, who had long dropped his displeasure, “I wish you happiness and success, and hope I shall soon hear of your being at the head of a company; remember, I say soon—for I am an old veteran, and should be sorry to drop into the trench till I had heard of the good fortune of my friends. Your father was a brave fellow, and, in the speedy advancement of his son, should receive a reward for his past services.” Oscar pressed the general’s hand to his breast. He cast his tearful eyes on Adela; she sighed, and bent hers to the ground. “Be assured, sir,” he cried, “no gratitude can be more fervent than that your goodness has inspired me with; no wishes can be more sincere than mine for the happiness of the inhabitants of Woodlawn.” “Ineffectual wishes,” softly exclaimed Adela; “happiness, from one of its inhabitants at least, has, I fear, fled forever.”

The general’s wishes for the success of Oscar may be considered as mere words of course, since not enforced by more substantial proofs of regard; but, in reality, soon after his daughter’s marriage, in his usual blunt manner, he had mentioned to the colonel his giving a thousand or two to help the promotion of Oscar. Belgrave, who could not bear that the man whom he had injured should have a chance of obtaining equal rank with himself, opposed this truly generous design, by saying, “Oscar was taken under the patronage of Lord Cherbury, and that the general’s bounty might therefore, at some future period, be better applied in serving a person without his interest.” To this the general assented, declaring that he never yet met with a brave soldier or his offspring in distress without feeling and answering the claim they had upon his heart.

Oscar obtained a ready promise from Mrs. Marlowe of corresponding with him. He blushed and faltered as he besought her sometimes to acquaint him with the health of their friends[Pg 137] at Woodlawn. Change of scene produced no alteration in him. Still pining with regret, and languid from ill-health, his father and sister found him. The comforts of sympathy could not be his, as the anguish which preyed on his heart he considered of too sacred a nature to divulge. He hoarded up his grief, like a miser hoarding up his treasure, fearful that the eye of suspicion should glance at it, as he pressed his lovely sister to his heart. Had he imagined she was the object of Colonel Belgrave’s licentious passion, the bounds he had hitherto prescribed to his resentment would in a moment have been overturned, and he would, had it been necessary, have pursued the monster round the world, to avenge the injury he had meditated, as well as the one he had committed.

We shall now bid adieu to Oscar for the present, and, drawing on our boots of seven leagues, step after Fitzalan and Amanda.


CHAPTER XV.

“Confessed from yonder slow extinguished clouds, All ether softening, sober evening takes Her wonted station in the middle air; A thousand shadows at her back.”—Thomson.

Castle Carberry, to which our travellers were going, was a large gothic pile, erected in the rude and distant period when strength more than elegance was deemed necessary in a building. The depredations of war, as well as time, were discernible on its exterior; some of its lofty battlements were broken, and others mouldering to decay, while about its ancient towers

“The rank grass waved its head, And the moss whistled to the wind.”

It stood upon a rocky eminence overhanging the sea, and commanding a delightful prospect of the opposite coast of Scotland; about it were yet to be traced irregular fortifications, a moat, and remains of a drawbridge, with a well, long since dry, which had been dug in the rock to supply the inhabitants in time of siege with water. On one side rose a stupendous hill, covered to the very summit with trees, and scattered over with relics of druidical antiquity; before it stretched an exten[Pg 138]sive and gently swelling lawn, sheltered on each side with groves of intermingled shade, and refreshed by a clear and meandering rivulet, that took its rise from the adjoining hill, and murmured over a bed of pebbles.

After a pleasant journey, on the evening of the fourth day, our travellers arrived at their destined habitation. An old man and woman, who had the care of it, were apprised of their coming, and on the first approach of the carriage, opened the massy door, and waited to receive them: they reached it when the sober gray of twilight had clad every object. Amanda viewed the dark and stupendous edifice, whose gloom was now heightened by the shadows of evening, with venerable awe. The solitude, the silence which reigned around, the melancholy murmur of the waves as they dashed against the foot of the rocks, all heightened the sadness of her mind; yet it was not quite an unpleasing sadness, for with it was now mingled a degree of that enthusiasm which plaintive and romantic spirits are so peculiarly subject to feel in viewing the venerable grandeur of an ancient fabric renowned in history. As she entered a spacious hall, curiously wainscoted with oak, ornamented with coats of arms, spears, lances, and old armor, she could not avoid casting a retrospective eye to former times, when, perhaps, in this very hall, bards sung the exploits of those heroes, whose useless arms now hung upon the walls. She wished, in the romance of the moment, some gray bard near her, to tell the deeds of other times—of kings renowned in our land—of chiefs we behold no more. In the niches in the hall were figures of chieftains, large as life, and rudely carved in oak. Their frowning countenances struck a sudden panic upon the heart of Ellen. “Cot pless their souls,” she said, “what the tefil did they do there, except to frighten the people from going into the house.”

They were shown into a large parlor, furnished in an old-fashioned manner, and found a comfortable supper prepared for them. Oppressed with fatigue, soon after they had partaken of it, they retired to rest. The next morning, immediately after breakfast, Amanda, attended by the old woman and Ellen, ranged over the castle. Its interior was quite as gothic as its exterior; the stairs were winding, the galleries intricate, the apartments numerous, and mostly hung with old tapestry, representing Irish battles, in which the chiefs of Castle Carberry were particularly distinguished. Their portraits, with those of their ladies, occupied a long gallery, whose arched windows cast a dim religious light upon them. This was termi[Pg 139]nated by a small apartment in the centre of one of the towers that flanked the building. The room was an octagon, and thus commanded a sea and land prospect, uniting at once the sublime and beautiful in it. The furniture was not only modern but elegant, and excited the particular attention and inquiries of Amanda. The old woman informed her this had been the dressing-room of the late Countess of Cherbury, both before and after her marriage: “one of the sweetest, kindest ladies,” continued she, “I ever knew; the castle has been quite deserted since she died—alack-a-day! I thought my poor heart would have broke when I heard of her death. Ah! I remember the night I heard the Banshee crying so pitifully.” “And pray what is that?” interrupted Amanda. “Why, a little woman, no higher than a yard, who wears a blue petticoat, a red cloak, and a handkerchief round her head; and when the head of any family, especially a great family, is to die, she is always heard, by some of the old followers, bemoaning herself.” “Lort save us!” cried Ellen, “I hope his lortship, the earl, won’t take it into his head to die while we are here, for I’d as lief see one of the fairies of Penmaenmawr, as such a little old witch.” “Well, proceed,” said Amanda. “So, as I was saying, I heard her crying dismally one night in a corner of the house. So, says I to my husband, Johnaten, says I, I am sure we shall hear something about my good lord or lady. And sure enough we did the next day, and ever since we have seen none of the family.” “Did you ever see the young lord?” asked Amanda, with involuntary precipitation. “See him! aye, that I did, when he was about eight years old; there is his picture (pointing to one which hung over the chimney); my lady had it done by a fine English painter, and brought it over with her. It is the moral of what he then was.” The eager eyes of Amanda were instantly turned to it, and she traced, or at least imagined she did so, a resemblance still between it and him. The painter seemed as if he had had the description of Pity in his mind when he drew the picture; for Lord Mortimer was portrayed, as she is represented in the beautiful allegory, sheltering a trembling dove in his bosom from a ferocious hawk. Oh! Mortimer! thought Amanda, thy feeling nature is here ably delineated! The distressed, or the helpless, to the utmost of your power, you would save from the gripe of cruelty and oppression. Her father had desired her to choose pleasant apartments for her own immediate use, and she accordingly fixed on this and the room adjoining it, which had been Lady Cherbury’s chamber. Her things[Pg 140] were brought hither, and her books, works, and implements for drawing, deposited in rich inlaid cabinets. Pleased with the arrangements she had made, she brought her father, as soon as he was at leisure, to view them. He was happy to find her spirits somewhat cheerful and composed, and declared in future he would call this Amanda’s Tower. Accompanied by him, she ascended to the battlements of the castle, and was delighted with the extensive and variegated prospect she beheld from them. A spacious edifice, at some distance, embowered in a grove of venerable oaks, attracted her admiration. Her father told her that was Ulster Lodge, a seat belonging to the Marquis of Roslin, who was an Irish as well as a Scotch Peer, and had very extensive possessions in Ireland. Fitzalan added, he had been inquiring of the old man about the neighborhood, and learned from him that, at the expiration of every three or four years, the Marquis usually came over to Ulster Lodge, but had never yet been accompanied by the Marchioness, or Lady Euphrasia Sutherland, who was his only child.

The domestic economy of Castle Carberry was soon settled. A young man and woman were hired, as Johnaten and his wife, Kate, were considered little more than supernumeraries. Ellen was appointed to attend Amanda, and do whatever plain work was required. Fitzalan felt a pleasing serenity diffused over his mind, from the idea of being in some degree independent, and in the way of making some provision for his children. The first shock of a separation from Lord Mortimer being over, the cheerfulness of Amanda gradually returned, the visions of hope again revived in her mind, and she indulged a secret pleasure at living in the house he had once occupied. She considered her father as particularly connected with his family, and doubted not, from this circumstance, she should sometimes hear of him. She judged of his constancy by her own, and believed he would not readily forget her. She acknowledged her father’s motives for separating them were equally just and delicate; but firmly believed, if Lord Mortimer (as she flattered herself he would) confessed a partiality in her favor to his father, that, influenced by tenderness for his son, friendship for her father, and the knowledge of her descent, he would immediately give up every idea of another connection, and sanction theirs with his approbation. No obstacle appeared to such an union but want of fortune, and that want she could never suppose would be considered as one by the liberal-minded Lord Cherbury, who had himself an income sufficient to gratify even luxurious wishes. Her time was[Pg 141] agreeably diversified by the sources of amusements she drew from herself. Her father, whose supreme felicity consisted in contributing to her pleasure, purchased a delightful harp for her in Dublin, which arrived a few days after them, at Castle Carberry, and with its dulcet lays she often charmed, not only his spirit, but her own, from every mortal care. She loved to rise early, and catch the first beams of the sun, as she wandered over the dewy lawn, where the lowing cattle cropped the flowery herbage, and the milkmaid sung her plaintive ditty.

With her father she took long walks about the adjacent country. He had visited every scene before, and now pointed out whatever was worthy her attention: the spots where the heroes of former ages had fallen, where the mighty stones of their fame were raised, that the children of the North might hereafter know the places where their fathers fought; that the hunter, as he leaned upon a mossy tomb, might say, here fought the heroes of other years, and their fame shall last forever!

Amanda, too, often rambled by herself, particularly among the rocks, where were several natural grottos, strewed with shells and seaweeds. Here, of a mild day, she loved to read, and listen to the low murmurs of the tide. The opposite Scottish hills, among which her mother first drew breath, often attracted and fixed her attention, frequently drawing tears from her eyes, by awaking in her mind the recollection of that mother’s sufferings.

On a morning, when she sat at work in her apartment, Ellen, who was considered more as a friend than a servant, sometimes sat with her; the conversation not unfrequently turned on nurse Edwin’s cottage, from which Ellen, with an arch simplicity, would advert to Tudor Hall, thence naturally to Lord Mortimer, and conclude with poor Chip, exclaiming: “What a pity true love should ever be crossed!”


[Pg 142]

CHAPTER XVI.

“Some take him for a tool That knaves do work with, called a fool; Fools are known by looking wise, As men find woodcocks by their eyes.”—Hudibras.

The solitude of Castle Carberry was interrupted in less than a fortnight by visits and invitations from the neighboring families. The first they accepted was to dinner at Mr. Kilcorban’s. He was a man of large fortune, which, in the opinion of many, compensated for the want of polished manners, and a cultivated mind; but others, of a more liberal way of thinking, could not possibly excuse those deficiencies, which were more apparent from his pretending to every excellence; and more intolerable from his deeming himself authorized, by his wealth and consequence, to say and do almost whatever he pleased. His lady was, like himself, a compound of ignorance, pride, and vanity. Their offspring was numerous, and the three who were sufficiently old to make their appearance, were considered, by their parents and themselves, as the very models of elegance and perfection. The young heir had been sent to the University; but, permitted to be his own master, he had profited little by his residence there. Enough, however, perhaps he thought for a man of fortune, who wanted not professional knowledge. His face was coarse, his person inelegant, and his taste in adorning himself preposterously ridiculous. Fashion, Hoyle, and the looking-glass, were his chief studies, and, by his family and self, he was considered quite the thing.

The young ladies were supposed to be very accomplished, because they had instructors in almost every branch of education; but, in reality, they understood little more than the names of what they were attempted to be taught. Nature had not been lavish of her gifts. Of this, however, they were conscious, and patched, powdered, and painted in the very extremity of the mode. Their mornings were generally spent in rolling about in a coach and six with their mamma, collecting news and paying visits; their evenings were constantly devoted to company, without which they declared they could not exist. They sometimes affected languor and sentiment, talked of friendship, and professed for numbers, the most sincere; yet,[Pg 143] to the very girls they pretended to regard, delighted in exhibiting their finery, if certain they could not purchase the same, and would feel mortified by seeing it.

Mr. Kilcorban had indulged his family in a trip to Bath one autumn, and, in so doing, had afforded a never-failing subject for conversation; upon every occasion this delightful excursion was mentioned—the novelties they saw, the admiration they excited, the elegant intimacies they formed, the amazing sum they expended, were all described and exaggerated.

Lady Greystock, an ancient widow, was at present on a visit to them. She had known Fitzalan in his youth, and now, with pleasure, renewed her intimacy with him; and the account she gave of his family and connections, prepossessed the neighborhood in his favor. She was a shrewd, sensible woman; the dignity of her person commanded respect, but the sarcastic expression of her countenance prevented her conciliating esteem.

An old chariot belonging to the Earl of Cherbury, which had been for years unemployed in the coach-house, was brought forth, for the purpose of conveying Fitzalan and his daughter on their visits. After a good deal of rubbing and washing, it was found tolerably decent, and they proceeded in it to Mr. Kilcorban’s, which was about two miles from Castle Carberry. A numerous party was already assembled. While Amanda was paying her compliments to Mrs. Kilcorban and Lady Greystock, a general whisper relative to her took place among the younger part of the company, who had formed themselves into a group quite distant from the rest. One gentleman swore, “she was a devilish fine girl!” He was seconded in the remark by another, who extolled her complexion. “You are a simpleton,” cried a young lady, who was reckoned a great wit; “I would engage for half a crown to get as fine a color in Dublin.” Her companions laughed, and declared she only spoke truth in saying so. Mr. Bryan Kilcorban, who leaned on her chair, said, “A bill should be brought into the house to tax such complexions; for kill me,” continued he, “the ladies are so irresistible from nature, it is quite unconscionable to call in art as an auxiliary.” He then stalked over to Amanda, who sat by Lady Greystock; lolling over her chair, he declared, “he thought the tedious hours would never elapse till again blessed with her presence.” “Of her,” he said, “it was sufficient to have but one glimpse to make him pant for the second.” A summons to dinner relieved her from this nonsense. Luxury and ostentation were conspicuous in the fare and decorations of the table, and[Pg 144] Amanda never felt any hours so tedious as those she passed at it. When the ladies returned to the drawing-room, the Miss Kilcorbans, and their companions, began to examine and admire her dress. “What a pretty pattern this gown is worked in!” said one. “What a sweet, becoming cap this is,” cried a second. “Well, certainly the English milliners have a great deal of taste, my dear,” said Miss Kilcorban, whispering to Amanda. “I have a monstrous favor to ask of you,” drawing her at the same instant to the window. “I am sure,” said Amanda, “any in my power to grant I shall with pleasure.” “Oh! really, then, it is in your power. It is only to refuse the pattern of your cap to any girls who may ask you for it, and to give it me and my sister. You cannot conceive how we dote on being the first in the fashion, one is so stared at, and so envied. I detest anything when it becomes common. You cannot think how we are teased every summer, when we return from Dublin, for fashions; but we always make it a point to refuse. I must tell you a delightful trick I played a friend of mine. She received a large present of the most beautiful muslins from India, which she laid by till I returned from town, supposing I would let her see my things, as I always told her I was extremely fond of her. Well, I lent her a gown, which was quite old-fashioned, but assured her it was the very newest mode. She accordingly had her beautiful muslins cut in imitation of it, and so spoiled them from making any other habit. Well, we met at an assize ball, where all the elegant people of the county were assembled, and, I declare, I never saw so ridiculous a figure as she made. When she found herself unlike every one in the room, I really thought she would have fainted, and that my poor sister and I should have expired with laughing. Poor thing! the tears absolutely trickled down her cheeks. Do not you think it was a charming trick?” “Very much so,” said Amanda; “I think it gave a striking specimen of your humor.” “Well, my dear,” exclaimed Miss Kilcorban, without minding the marked emphasis of Amanda’s last words, “if you allow us, my sister and I will call on you to-morrow to look over your things.” “It would be giving yourselves a great deal of unnecessary trouble,” replied Amanda, coolly, who did not by any means relish this forward proposal; “my things can boast of little but simplicity, and I am always my own milliner.” “Really! well, I protest you have a great deal of taste; my maid, who is very handy, would, I think, be able to make up things in pretty much the same style, if you were obliging enough to give her patterns. If you do, perhaps you will add[Pg 145] to the favor, and allow us to say they are the newest Bath fashions. Was you ever at Bath?” “No.” “Oh! then I assure you, you have a monstrous pleasure to come; it is the sweetest place on earth—quite a paradise! I declare I thought I should have died with grief at leaving it. Papa has been inexorable ever since to our entreaties for a second trip. He says the first cost too much money. Indeed, it was an enormous sum; only think how much.” “I am the worst person in the world,” said Amanda, “for guessing,” sick of her impertinent volubility, and moving from the window. The evening was fine, and the grounds about the house beautiful; she therefore proposed a walk. At this proposal, the young ladies, who had hitherto been in deep confab, looked at each other, and remained silent for some minutes. Miss Kilcorban, then, who had no notion of gratifying the inclination of her guest, by the sacrifice of her own, said, “it blew a little, and that her hair would be ruined, and the Marchelle powder blown from it by such a walk.” Another young lady, looking down at her white satin slippers, vowed “she would not venture into the grass for worlds.” A third declared, “when once dressed, she could not bear to be tumbled.” Amanda had too much politeness to repeat her wish, and it was, therefore, unanimously agreed upon among the fair coterie, that they should continue in the drawing-room, to be in statu quo for the reappearance of the beaux.

Lady Greystock now beckoned to our heroine to take a seat by her. She gladly obeyed. “Well, my dear,” said her ladyship, “I hope you have had enough of these country misses—those would-be misses of the ton.” Amanda smiled assentingly. “Heaven defend me, or any one I like,” continued her ladyship, “from their clack! The confusion of Babel was, I really believe, inferior to that their tongues create, yet some people have the absurdity to reckon these girls accomplished. Poor Mrs. Kilcorban torments one with the perfections of her daughters; against they are disposed of, which she imagines will be very soon, she has a new brood of graces training up to bring out. Mercy on me! what a set of hoydens. I would lay my life, at this very instant they are galloping about the nursery like a parcel of wild colts, tearing or tormenting an unfortunate French governess, who was formerly fille de chambre to a woman of quality, and does not understand even the grammatical part of her own language.” “Mrs. Kilcorban’s opinion of her children,” said Amanda, “is natural, considering the partiality of a parent.” “Yes; but not more bearable on that[Pg 146] account,” replied her ladyship; “and I should endeavor to open her eyes to her folly, if I thought her acquaintances would forgive my depriving them of such a fund of amusement.”

Mr. Brian Kilcorban, with some gentlemen, now entered the room, and advanced to Amanda. “So,” said he, “you have got by the dowager; hang me, but I would let my beard grow, if all women resembled her in their dispositions.” “By the way of appearing sagacious, I suppose,” said her ladyship, who was extremely quick, and had caught the last words. “Alas! poor youth, no embellishments on the exterior would ever be able to make us believe the tenement within well furnished.” Her ladyship was now summoned to a whist-table, and Miss Kilcorban immediately took her vacant seat. “My dear creature!” said she, “are you not bored to death? Lady Greystock is a queer piece, I can assure you. I suppose she was asking some favor from you, such as to work her an apron or handkerchief. She is noted everywhere for requesting such little jobs, as she calls them; indeed, we should never put up with the trouble she gives us, but that she is vastly rich, and papa’s relation, and has no one so nearly connected with her as we are.” “All very good reasons for your complaisance,” replied Amanda; “but should you not be more careful in concealing them?” “Oh, Lord! no; every one knows them as well as we do ourselves. She was here last summer, and took a fancy to the pattern of an apron of mine; and made me the reasonable request of working one like it for her. All this she pretended was to prevent my being idle. Well, I said I would, and wrote up to the Moravian House in Dublin, where I had got mine, for one exactly like it. In due time I received and presented it to the dowager, certain that, in return I should receive a few of her diamond pins, which she had often heard me admire. They are the prettiest I ever saw, and quite unfit for her, but she had the cruelty to disappoint me.” “Upon my faith!” cried Mrs. Kilcorban, who had taken a chair at the other side of Amanda, and listened with evident pleasure to her daughter’s voluble speech, “Lady Greystock is an odd being; I never met with any one like her in all my travels through England, Ireland, and Wales; but she is a great orator, and possesses the gift of the gab in a wonderful degree.”

"Ah, indeed,” thought Amanda; “and you and your fair daughters resemble her in that respect.” After tea, she was prevailed on to sit down to commerce; but she soon grew as tired of the party as of the game, and lost on purpose to be released. She had hoped for a little more chat with Lady[Pg 147] Greystock; but her ladyship was passionately fond of cards, and at all times would have preferred the pleasures of a card-table to the eloquence of a Cicero. Kilcorban, on finding her disengaged, tormented her with many absurd compliments. A challenge to a brag-table at length relieved her from his nonsense, and she loitered about the card-tables till they broke up for supper.

Amanda always expressed to her father her sentiments of any company she had been in; and those she now delivered, on quitting the party, perfectly coincided with his. He laughed at the account which the Kilcorbans had given of Lady Greystock, to whom he knew they paid the most extravagant flattery, in hopes of obtaining some of her large fortune.


CHAPTER XVII.

“Remote from man, with God they passed their days, Prayer all their business, all their pleasure praise.”—Parnell.

The following evening they were engaged to spend at a farmer’s. The invitation was given with such humility, yet pressed with such warmth, that they could not avoid accepting it, and accordingly, soon after dinner, walked to the house, which was about a mile from Castle Carberry. It was a low thatched building—every appendage to it bespoke neatness and comfort. It was situated in a beautiful meadow, enclosed from the road by a hawthorn hedge, and on the opposite side lay an extensive common, on which stood the stupendous and venerable ruins of an abbey, called St. Catherine’s. They appeared a melancholy monument of the power of time over strength and grandeur; and while they attracted the observation of the curious, excited a sigh in the bosom of sensibility.

The farmer’s family consisted of three daughters and two sons, who were now dressed in their best array. They had assembled a number of their neighbors, among whom was a little fat priest, called Father O’Gallaghan—considered the life of every party—and a blind piper. The room was small, and crowded with furniture as well as company. It was only divided from the kitchen by a short passage, and the steam of hot cakes, and the smoke of a turf fire, which issued thence, soon rendered[Pg 148] it distressingly warm. Amanda got as near the window as possible, but still could not procure sufficient air; and as everything for tea was not quite ready, asked one of the Miss O’Flannaghans if she would accompany her to St. Catherine’s. She answered in the affirmative. The priest, who had been smirking at her ever since her entrance, now shook his fat sides, and said he wished he could get her initiated there; “for it would do my soul good,” cried he, “to confess such a pretty little creature as you are. Though faith, I believe I should find you like Paddy McDenough, who used to come to confession every Easter, though the devil a thing the poor man had to confess about at all at all. So, says I to him, Paddy, my jewel, says I, I believe I must make a saint of you, and lay you on the altar.” “Oh! honey, father!” cried he, “not yet awhile, till I get a new suit of clothes on, which I shall by next Michaelmas.” Amanda left them all laughing at this story, and her father engaged in conversation with some farmers, who were desiring his interest with Lord Cherbury, for new leases on moderate terms.

Amanda had about a quarter of a mile to walk across the common; the ground was marshy and uneven, and numerous stumps of trees denoted its having once been a noble forest, of which no memorial but these stumps, and a few tall trees immediately near the abbey, remained, that stretched their venerable arms around it, as if to shade that ruin whose progress they had witnessed, and which Amanda found well worthy of inspection. She was equally astonished at its elegance and extent; with sacred awe traversing the spacious cloisters, the former walks of holy meditation, she pursued her way through winding passages, where vestiges of cells were yet discernible, over whose mouldering arches the grass waved in rank luxuriance, and the creeping ivy spread its gloomy foliage, and viewed with reverence the graves of those who had once inhabited them; they surrounded that of the founder’s, which was distinguished by a cross, and Miss O’Flannaghan related the traditions that were current concerning him. He was a holy monk who had the care of a pious lady’s conscience; she, on her death-bed, had a remarkable dream, or vision, in which she thought an angel appeared, and charged her to bequeath her wealth to her confessor, who would, no doubt, make a much better use of it than those she designed it for. She obeyed the sacred injunction, and the good man immediately laid the foundation of this abbey, which he called after his benefactress, and to which he, and the community he belonged to, removed. The chapel was roofless,[Pg 149] but still retained many relics of superstitious piety, which had escaped, in a tolerable degree, both time and weather. Saints and martyrs were curiously cut over the places where the altars and cisterns for holy water had once stood, to which Amanda passed through a long succession of elegant arches, among which were a number of tombstones, with curious devices, and unintelligible inscriptions. Half hid by grass and weeds, on a flag, which she perceived must have been lately placed there, she saw some faded flowers strewn, and looking at her companion, saw a tear dropping from her on them. She gently asked the cause of it, and heard a favorite brother was interred there. The girl moved from the spot, but Amanda, detained by an irrepressible emotion, stayed a minute longer to contemplate the awful scene. All was silent, sad, and solitary; the grass-grown aisles looked long untrodden by human foot, the green and mouldering walls appeared ready to crumble into atoms, and the wind, which howled through their crevices, sounded to the ear of fancy as sighs of sorrow for the desolation of the place. Full of moralizing melancholy, the young, the lovely Amanda, hung over the grave of her companion’s youthful brother; and taking up the withered flower, wet with the tear of sisterly affection, dropped another on it, and cried, “Oh! how fit an emblem is this of life! how illustrative of these words—

‘Man comes forth as a flower in the field, and is soon cut down.’“

Miss O’Flannaghan now led her through some more windings, when, suddenly emerging from them, she found herself, to her great surprise, in a large garden, entirely encompassed by the ruins, and in the centre of it stood a long low building, which her companion informed her was a convent; a folding door at the side opened into the chapel, which they entered, and found a nun praying.

Amanda drew back, fearful of disturbing her; but Miss O’Flannaghan accosted her without ceremony, and the nun returned the salutation with the most cordial good-humor. She was fifty, as Amanda afterwards heard, for she never could, from her appearance, have conceived her to be so much. Her skin was fair, and perfectly free from wrinkle; the bloom and down upon her cheeks as bright and as soft as that upon a peach; though her accent at one proclaimed her country, it was not unharmonious; and the cheerful obligingness of her manner amply compensated the want of elegance. She wore the religious habit of the house, which was a loose flannel dress,[Pg 150] bound round her waist by a girdle, from which hung her beads and a cross; a veil of the same stuff descended to the ground, and a mob cap, and forehead cloth, quite concealed her hair.[A] Miss O’Flannaghan presented Amanda to her as a stranger, who wished to see everything curious in the chapel. “Ah! my honey,” cried she, “I am sorry she has come at a time when she will see us all in the dismals, for you know we are in mourning for our prioress (the altar was hung in black): but, my dear (turning to Amanda), do you mean to come here next Sunday? for if you do, you will find us all bright again.” Upon Amanda’s answering in the negative, she continued, “Faith, and I am sorry for that, for I have taken a great fancy to you, and when I like a person, I always wish them as great a chance of happiness as I have myself.” Amanda, smiling, said, she believed none could desire a greater, and the nun obligingly proceeded to show her all the relics and finery of the chapel; among the former was a head belonging to one of the eleven thousand virgin martyrs, and the latter, a chest full of rich silks, which pious ladies had given for the purpose of dressing the altar. Pulling a drawer from under it, she displayed a quantity of artificial flowers, which she said were made by the sisters and their scholars. Amanda wished to make a recompense for the trouble she had given, and finding they were to be sold, purchased a number, and having given some to Miss O’Flannaghan, whom she observed viewing them with a wishful eye, she left the rest with the nun, promising to call for them the next day. “Ay, do,” said she, “and you may be sure of a sincere welcome. You will see a set of happy poor creatures, and none happier than myself. I entered the convent at ten; I took the vows at fifteen, and from that time to the present, which is a long stretch, I have passed a contented life, thanks be to our blessed lady!” raising her sparkling eyes to heaven. They ascended a few steps to the place where the community sat. It was divided from the body of the chapel by a slight railing. Here stood the organ. The nun sighed as she looked at it. “Poor sister Agatha,” cried she, “we shall never get such another organist. She was always fit indeed for the heavenly choir. Oh! my dear,” turning to Amanda, “had you known her, you would have loved her. She was our late prioress, and elected to that office at twenty-nine, which is reckoned an early age for it, on account of the cleverness it requires. She had held it but two years when she died, and we never were so comfortable as during her time, [Pg 151]she managed so well. The mourning in the chapel, as I have already told you, will be over for her next Sunday; but that which is in our hearts will not be so speedily removed.” Miss O’Flannaghan now reminded Amanda it was time to return, to which, with secret reluctance, she consented. The nun pressed her to stay to tea; but, on hearing of her engagement, only reminded her of the promised visit. In their walk back, her companion informed Amanda that the society consisted of twelve nuns. Their little fortunes, though sunk in one common fund, were insufficient to supply their necessities, which compelled them to keep a day-school, in which the neighboring children were instructed in reading, writing, plain-work, embroidery, and artificial flowers. She also added, that the nuns were allowed to go out, but few availed themselves of that liberty, and that, except in fasting, they were strangers to the austerities practised in foreign convents.

[A] The Abbey and the Nun, which the Author has attempted to describe, were such as she really saw, but in a different part of Ireland from that which she has mentioned.

For such a society Amanda thought nothing could be better adapted than their present situation. Sheltered by the ruins, like the living entombed among the dead, their wishes, like their views, were bounded by the mouldering walls, as no object appeared beyond them which could tempt their wandering from their usual limits. The dreary common, which met their view, could not be more bleak and inhospitable than the world in general would have proved to these children of poverty and nature.

Father O’Gallaghan met the ladies at the door, and, familiarly taking Amanda’s hand, said, “Why, you have stayed long enough to be made a nun of. Here,” said he, “the cakes are buttered, the tea made, and we are all waiting for you. Ah! you little rogue,” smirking in her face, “by the head of St. Patrick, those twinklers of yours were not given for the good of your soul. Here you are come to play pell-mell among the hearts of the honest Irish lads. Ah, the devil a doubt but you will have mischief enough to answer for by and by, and then I suppose you will be coming to me to confess and absolve you; but remember, my little honey, if you do, I must be paid beforehand.” Amanda disengaged her hand, and entered the parlor, where the company, by a display of pocket-handkerchiefs on their laps, seemed prepared to make a downright meal of the good things before them. The Miss O’Flannaghans, from the toils of the tea-table, at last grew as red as the ribbon with which they were profusely ornamented. The table at length removed, the chairs arranged, and benches placed in the passage for the old folks, the signal for a dance was given by the piper’s playing[Pg 152] an Irish jig. The farmer’s eldest son, habited in his sky-blue coat, his hair combed sleek on his forehead, and his complexion as bright as a full-blown poppy, advanced to our heroine, and begged, with much modesty, and many bows, she would do him the favor to stand up with him. She hesitated a little, when Father O’Gallaghan, giving her a tap, or rather slap, on the shoulder, made her start suddenly from her seat. He laughed heartily at this, declaring he liked to see a girl alive and merry. As he could not join in the dance, he consoled himself with being master of the ceremonies, and insisted on Amanda’s dancing and leading off the priest in his boots. She felt little inclined to comply; but she was one of those who can sacrifice their own inclination to that of others. Being directed in the figure by the priest, she went down the dance, but the floor being an earthen one, by the time she had concluded it, she begged they would excuse her sitting the remainder of the evening, she felt so extremely fatigued. She and Fitzalan would gladly have declined staying supper, but this they found impossible, without either greatly mortifying, or absolutely offending their hospitable entertainers.

The table was covered with a profusion of good country fare, and none seemed to enjoy it more truly than the priest. In the intervals of eating, his jests flew about in every direction. The scope he gave to his vivacity exhilarated the rest, so that, like Falstaff, he was not only witty himself, but a promoter of wit in others. “Pray, father,” said a young man to him, “what do you give in return for all the good cheer you get?” “My blessing, to be sure,” replied he. “What better could I give?” “Ay, so you may think, but that is not the case with us all, I promise you. It is so pithy, I must tell you a story about that same thing called a priest’s blessing. A poor man went one day to a priest, who had the name of being very rich and very charitable; but as all we hear is not gospel, so the poor man doubted a little the truth of the latter report, and resolved on trying him. ‘Father,’ says he, ‘I have met with great losses. My cabin was burned, my pigs stolen, and my cow fell into a ditch and broke her neck; so I am come to ask your reverence, for the love of heaven, to lend me a crown.’ ‘A crown!’ repeated the angry and astonished priest. ‘O! you rogue, where do you think I could get money to lend, except, like yourself, I had pilfered and stolen?’ ‘O! that is neither here nor there,’ replied the man. ‘You know I cleared the score on my conscience with you long ago, so tell me, father, if you will lend me half a crown?’ ‘No, nor a shilling.’ ‘Well, a farthing, then;[Pg 153] anything from such a good man as you.’ ‘No,’ said the priest, ‘not a mite.’ ‘Mayn’t I have your blessing?’ then asked the man. ‘Oh! that you shall, and welcome,’ replied he, smiling. ‘Why, then, father,’ returned the other, ‘I would refuse it if you forced it upon me; for, do you see, had it been worth one farthing, you would have refused it to me.’”

“You have put me in mind of a very curious story,” exclaimed another young man, as this one concluded his. “A young knight went into a chapel in Spain one morning, where he observed a monk standing in a supplicating attitude, with a box in his hand. He asked him what this was for, and learned, to collect money for praying the souls of fifty Christians out of purgatory, whom the Moors had murdered. The knight threw a piece of money into the box, and the monk, after repeating a short prayer, exclaimed, ‘There is one soul redeemed.’ The knight threw in a second, and the priest, after the same ceremony, cried, ‘There is another free.’ Thus they both went on, one giving, and the other praying, till, by the monk’s account, all the souls were free. ‘Are you sure of this?’ inquired the knight. ‘Ay,’ replied the priest, ‘they are all assembled together at the gate of heaven, which St. Peter gladly opened for them, and they are now joyfully seated in Paradise.’ ‘From whence they cannot be removed, I suppose,’ said the knight. ‘Removed!’ repeated the astonished priest. ‘No, the world itself might be easier moved.’ ‘Then, if you please, holy father, return me my ducats; they have accomplished the purpose for which they were given, and, as I am only a poor cavalier, without a chance of being as happily situated, at least for some years, as the souls we have mutually contributed to release, I stand in great need of them.’”

Fitzalan was surprised at the freedom with which they treated the priest; but he laughed as merrily as the rest at their stories, for he knew that, though they sometimes allowed themselves a little latitude, they neither wished nor attempted to shake off his power.

Fitzalan and Amanda withdrew as early as possible from the party, which, if it wanted every other charm, had that of novelty, at least to them. The next morning Amanda repaired to the convent, and inquired for Sister Mary, the good-natured nun she had seen the preceding evening. She immediately made her appearance, and was delighted at seeing Amanda. She conducted her to the school-room, where the rest of the nuns and the pupils were assembled; and Amanda was delighted with the content and regularity which appeared in the society,[Pg 154] as well as the obliging eagerness they showed to gratify her curiosity. They led her through the house, which contained a number of apartments, every nun having one to herself, furnished with a bed, chair, table, and crucifix, and then to the parlor, where their new prioress sat. She was a woman far advanced in life. Had a painter wanted to personify benevolence, he might have chosen her for a model—so soft, so benignant was her countenance. Sorrow, as well as time, had marked it deeply; but the mild expression of her eyes announced the most perfect resignation to that sorrow. She received Amanda with the truest politeness and most friendly warmth; and Amanda felt impressed with real reverence for her, whilst she acknowledged in her mind there could not be a happier situation for her than her present. She thought it a pity the world had been deprived of a woman who would have proved such an ornament to it. Sister Mary disappeared, but returned in a few minutes with cake and currant-wine, which she forced Amanda to take. The good sister was enchanted with her young visitor, and having no idea of concealing her feelings, she openly expressed her admiration. “Dear mother,” said she, addressing the prioress, “is she not a lovely creature? What pretty eyes she has got, and what sweet little hands! Oh, if our blessed lady would but touch her heart, and make her become one of us, I should be so happy.” The prioress smiled; she was not so great an enthusiast as Sister Mary. “It would be a pity,” said she, “so sweet a flower should be hid amidst the ruins of St. Catherine’s.”

Amanda made an addition to the flowers; she was thanked by the nuns, and entreated to favor them often with a visit. Just as she reached Castle Carberry, she saw the Kilcorbans’ carriage stop at it, from which Lady Greystock and the young ladies alighted. They both spoke at once, and so extremely fast that Amanda scarcely understood what they said. They declared a thousand impertinent visitors had prevented their coming the preceding morning and looking at the things she had obligingly promised to show them. Amanda recollected no such promise, but would not contradict them, and permitted their taking what patterns they liked. Lady Greystock smiled sarcastically at her young kinswomen, and expressed a wish to see the castle. Amanda led her through it. Her ladyship was particularly pleased with the dressing-room. Here the young ladies, with rude and eager curiosity, examined everything; but her ladyship, who was full as curious as themselves, could not condemn freedoms she took herself. Observing a petticoat[Pg 155] in a tambour-frame, she admired the pattern; and hearing it was designed by Amanda, extolled her fine taste, and declared she should of all things like to have one worked in the same. This hint was too plain to pass unnoticed. Amanda wished to oblige, particularly any one advanced in life, and told her ladyship she would work one for her. Lady Greystock smiled most graciously at this, and pressing her hand, declared she was a charming girl. The Miss Kilcorbans winked slyly, and, taking her hand in turn, assured her they had conceived a most ardent friendship for her, and hoped she would often favor them with her company. Amanda answered those insincere professions with cool civility, and the visitors departed.


CHAPTER XVIII

“Oh! fields, oh! woods, when, when, shall I be made The happy tenant of your shade!”—Cowley.

Solitude to Amanda was a luxury, as it afforded her opportunities of indulging the ideas on which her heart delighted to dwell; she yet believed she should see Lord Mortimer, and that Lord Cherbury’s sanctioning their attachment would remove the delicate scruples of her father. From soothing his passing hours, beguiling her own with the accomplishments she possessed, and indulging the tender suggestions of hope, a pleasure arose she thought ill exchanged for the trifling gayety of the parties she was frequently invited to; she was never at a loss for amusement within Castle Carberry, or about its domain; the garden became the object of her peculiar care; its situation was romantic, and long neglect had added to its natural wildness. Amanda in many places discovered vestiges of taste, and wished to restore all to primeval beauty. The fruit-trees were matted together, the alleys grass-grown, and the flowers choked with weeds; on one side lay a small wilderness, which surrounded a gothic temple, and on the other green slopes with masses of naked rock projecting through them; a flight of rugged steps, cut in the living rock, led to a cave on the summit of one of the highest, a cross rudely carved upon the wall, and the remains of a matted couch, denoted this having formerly been a hermitage; it overhung the sea, and all[Pg 156] about it were tremendous crags, against which the waves beat with violence. Over a low-arched door was a smooth stone, with the following lines engraved upon it:—

“The pilgrim oft At dead of night, amid his orisons hears Aghast the voice of time—disparting towers Tumbling all precipitate down, dashed Rattling around, loud thundering to the moon.”—Dyer.

Under Amanda’s superintending care, the garden soon lost its rude appearance, a new couch was procured for the hermitage, which she ornamented with shells and sea-weeds, rendering it a most delightful recess; the trees were pruned, the alleys cleared of opposing brambles, and over the wall of the gothic temple she hung the flowers she had purchased at St. Catherine’s, in fanciful wreaths.

She often ascended the devious path of the mountain, which stretched beyond Castle Carberry, and beheld the waves glittering in the sunbeams, from which its foliage sheltered her. But no visionary pleasures, no delightful rambles, no domestic avocations made her forgetful to the calls of benevolence; she visited the haunts of poverty, and relieved its necessities to the utmost of her power; the wretchedness so often conspicuous among many of the lower rank, filled her not only with compassion, but surprise, as she had imagined that liberty and a fruitful soil were generally attended with comfort and prosperity. Her father, to whom she communicated this idea, informed her that the indigence of the peasants proceeded in a great degree from the emigration of their land-lords. “Their wealth,” said he, “is spent in foreign lands, instead of enriching those from whence it was drawn; policy should sometimes induce them to visit their estates; the revenue of half a year spent on them would necessarily benefit the poor wretches whose labors have contributed to raise it; and by exciting their gratitude, add inclination to industry, and consequently augment their profits.

“The clouds which are formed by mists and exhalations, return to the places from whence they were drawn in fertilizing showers and refreshing dews, and almost every plant enriches the soil from which it sprung. Nature, indeed, in all her works, is a glorious precedent to man; but while enslaved by dissipation, he cannot follow her example, and what exquisite sources of enjoyment does he lose—to enlighten the toils of labor, to cheer the child of poverty, to raise the drooping head[Pg 157] of merit—oh! how superior to the revels of dissipation, or the ostentation of wealth.

“Real happiness is forsaken for a gaudy phantom called pleasure; she is seldom grasped but for a moment—yet in that moment has power to fix envenomed stings within the breast. The heart which delights in domestic joys, which rises in pious gratitude to heaven, which melts at human woe, can alone experience true pleasure. The fortitude with which the peasants bear their sufferings should cure discontent of its murmurs; they support adversity without complaining, and those who possess a pile of turf against the severity of the winter, a small strip of ground planted with cabbage and potatoes, a cow, a pig, and some poultry, think themselves completely happy, though one wretched hovel shelters all alike.”

Oh! how rapturous! thought Amanda—the idea of Lord Mortimer’s feeling recurring to her mind—to change such scenes; to see the clay-built hovel vanish, and a dwelling of neatness and convenience rise in its stead; to wander, continued she, with him whose soul is fraught with sensibility, and view the projects of benevolence realized by the hand of charity; see the faded cheek of misery regain the glow of health,

“The desert blossom as the rose,”

and content and cheerfulness sport beneath its shades.

From such an ecstatic reverie as this, Amanda was roused one morning by the entrance of the Kilcorbans and Lady Greystock into the dressing-room where she was working. “Oh! my dear!” cried the eldest of the young ladies, “we have such enchanting news to tell you. Only think, who is coming down here immediately—your uncle and aunt and cousin. An express came this morning from Dublin, where they now are, to the steward at Ulster Lodge, to have everything prepared against next week for them.” “I declare,” said Miss Alicia, “I shall quite envy you the delightful amusement you will have with them.” Amanda blushed, and felt a little confused. “You will have no reason, then, I fancy,” replied she, “for I really do not know them.” “Oh, Lord!” exclaimed Mrs. Kilcorban, “well, that is very comical, not to know your own relations; but perhaps they always lived in Scotland, and you were afraid to cross the sea to pay them a visit.” “If that was the only fear she had,” said Lady Greystock, with a satirical smile, “she could easily have surmounted it: besides, would it not have held good with respect to one place as well as another?” “Well, I never thought of that,”[Pg 158] cried Mrs. Kilcorban: “but pray, miss, may I ask the reason why you do not know them by letter?” “It can be of very little consequence to you, madam,” replied Amanda, coolly, “to hear it.” “They say Lady Euphrasia Sutherland is very accomplished,” exclaimed Miss Kilcorban; “so a correspondence with her would have been delightful. I dare say you write sweetly yourself; so if ever you leave Castle Carberry, I beg you will favor me with letters, for of all things, I doat on a sentimental correspondence.” “No wonder,” said Lady Greystock, “you are so particularly well qualified to support one.” “But, my dear!” resumed Miss Kilcorban, “we are to give the most enchanting ball that ever was given in this world! Papa says we shall have full liberty to do as we please respecting it.” “It will be a troublesome affair, I am afraid,” said Mrs. Kilcorban. “We are to have confectioners and French cooks from Dublin,” continued her daughter, without minding this interruption. “Everything is to be quite in style and prepared against the third night of the marquis and marchioness’s arrival; so, my dear, you and your papa will hold yourselves in readiness for our summons.” Amanda bowed. “My sister and I are to have dancing dresses from town, but I will not give you an idea of the manner in which we have ordered them to be made. I assure you, you will be absolutely surprised and charmed when you see them. All the elegant men in the country will be at our entertainment. I dare say you will be vastly busy preparing for it.” “Nature,” said Lady Greystock, “has been too bounteous to Miss Fitzalan, to render such preparations necessary.” “Oh, Lord!” cried the young ladies, with a toss of their heads, “Miss Fitzalan is not such a fool, I suppose, as to wish to appear unlike every one else in her dress, but,” rising with their mamma, and saluting her much more formally than they had done at their entrance, “she is the best judge of that.”

Fitzalan had never seen the marchioness since his marriage, nor did he ever again wish to behold her. The inhumanity with which she had treated her lovely sister—the malice with which she had augmented her father’s resentment against the poor sufferer, had so strongly prepossessed his mind with ideas of the selfishness and implacability of hers, as to excite sentiments of distaste and aversion for her. He considered her as the usurper of his children’s rights—as accessory to the death of his adored Malvina, and consequently the author of the agonies he endured—agonies which time, aided by religion, could scarcely conquer.


[Pg 159]

CHAPTER XIX.

“Oh love, how are thy precious, sweetest minutes Thus ever crossed, thus vexed with disappointments; Now pride, now fickleness, fantastic quarrels, And sullen coldness give us pain by turns.”—Rowe.

At the expected time, the marquis and his family arrived with great splendor at Ulster Lodge, which was immediately crowded with visitors of the first consequence in the county, among whom were the Kilcorbans, whose affluent fortune gave them great respectability. Mr. Kilcorban wished, indeed, to be first in paying his compliments to the marquis, who had a borough in his disposal he was desirous of being returned for. Disappointed the last time he set up as one of the candidates for the county, this was his only chance of entering that house he had long been ambitious for a seat in. He knew, indeed, his oratorical powers were not very great—often saying, he had not the gift of the gab like many of the honorable gentlemen; but then he could stamp and stare, and look up to the gods and goddesses[B] for their approbation, with the best of them; and, besides, his being a member of parliament would increase his consequence, at least in the country.

[B] Ladies were admitted to the gallery of the Irish House of Commons.

The female part of his family went from Ulster Lodge to Castle Carberry, which they entered with a more consequential air than ever, as if they derived new consequence from the visit they had been paying. Instead of flying up to Amanda, as usual, the young ladies swam into the room, with what they imagined, a most bewitching elegance, and, making a sliding curtsey, flung themselves upon a sofa, exactly opposite a glass, and alternately viewed themselves, and pursued their remarks on Lady Euphrasia’s dress. “Well, certainly, Alicia,” said Miss Kilcorban, “I will have a morning gown made in imitation of her ladyship’s : that frill of fine lace about the neck is the most becoming thing in nature; and the pale blue lining sweetly adapted for a delicate complexion.” “I think, Charlotte,” cried Miss Alicia, “I will have my tambour muslin in the same style, but lined with pink to set off the work.”

“This aunt of yours, my dear,” exclaimed Mrs. Kilcor[Pg 160]ban, “is really a personable-looking woman enough, and her daughter a pretty little sort of body.”

“Oh! they are charming creatures,” cried both the young ladies; “so elegant, so irresistibly genteel.”

“Your ideas and mine, then,” said Lady Greystock, “differ widely about elegance and irresistibility, if you ascribe either to the ladies in question. Mr. Kilcorban,” continued she, turning to Amanda, “feared, I believe, my Lord Marquis would fly across the sea in a few hours; and that he might catch him ere he took wing, never ceased tormenting us, from the time breakfast was over till we entered the carriage, to make haste, though he might have known it was quite too early for fine folks to be visible.

“Well, we posted off to Ulster Lodge, as if life and death depended on our dispatch. Mr. Kilcorban was ushered into the marquis’s study, and we into an empty room, to amuse ourselves, if we pleased, with portraits of the marquis’s ancestors; whilst bells in all quarters were tingling—maids and footmen running up and down stairs—and cats, dogs, monkeys, and parrots, which I found composed part of the travelling retinue, were scratching, barking, chattering, and screaming, in a room contiguous to the one we occupied. At length a fine, perfumed jessamy made his appearance, and saying the ladies were ready to have the honor of receiving us, skipped up stairs like a harlequin. The marchioness advanced about two steps from her couch to receive us, and Lady Euphrasia half rose from her seat, and after contemplating us for a minute, as if to know whether we were to be considered as human creatures or not, sunk back into her former attitude of elegant languor, and continued her conversation with a young nobleman who had accompanied them from England.”

“Well, I hope you will allow he is a divine creature,” exclaimed Miss Kilcorban, in an accent of rapture. “Oh! what eyes he has,” cried her sister; “what an harmonious voice! I really never beheld any one so exquisitely handsome!”

“Lord Mortimer, indeed,” said Lady Greystock—Amanda started, blushed, turned pale, panted as if for breath, and stared as if in amazement. “Bless me, Miss Fitzalan,” asked her ladyship, “are you ill?” “No, madam,” replied Amanda, in a trembling voice; “’tis only—’tis only a little palpitation of the heart I am subject to. I have interrupted your ladyship; pray proceed.” “Well,” continued Lady Greystock, “I was saying that Lord Mortimer was one of the most elegant and engaging young men I had ever beheld. His expressive eyes[Pg 161] seemed to reprove the folly of his fair companion; and her neglect made him doubly assiduous, which to me was a most convincing proof of a noble mind.”

How did the heart of Amanda swell with pleasure at this warm eulogium on Lord Mortimer! The tear of delight, of refined affection, sprung to her eye, and could scarcely be prevented falling.

“Lord, madam,” cried Miss Kilcorban, whose pride was mortified at Amanda’s hearing of the cool reception they had met with, “I can’t conceive the reason you ascribe such rudeness and conceit to Lady Euphrasia; ’tis really quite a misconstruction of the etiquette necessary to be observed by people of rank.”

“I am glad, my dear,” replied Lady Greystock, “you are now beginning to profit by the many lessons I have given you on humility.”

“I assure you, Miss,” said Mrs. Kilcorban, “I did not forget to tell the marchioness she had a niece in the neighborhood. I thought, indeed, she seemed a little shy on the subject; so I suppose there has been a difference in the families, particularly as you don’t visit her; but, at our ball, perhaps, everything may be settled.” Amanda made no reply to this speech, and the ladies departed.

Her bosom, as may well be supposed, was agitated with the most violent perturbations on hearing of Lord Mortimer’s being in the neighborhood. The pleasure she felt at the first intelligence gradually subsided on reflecting he was an inmate, probably a friend, of those relations who had contributed to the destruction of her mother; and who, from the character she had heard of them, it was not uncharitable to think, would feel no great regret, if her children experienced a destiny equally severe. Might they not infuse some prejudices against her into his bosom; to know she was the child of the unfortunate Malvina, would be enough to provoke their enmity; or, if they were silent, might not Lady Euphrasia, adorned with every advantage of rank and fortune, have won, or at least soon win, his affections?

Yet scarcely did these ideas obtrude, ere she reproached herself for them as injurious to Lord Mortimer, from whose noble nature she thought she might believe his constancy never would be shaken, except she herself gave him reason to relinquish it.

She now cheered her desponding spirits, by recalling the ideas she had long indulged with delight, as her residence was[Pg 162] still a secret to the Edwins, whose letters to their daughter were, by Fitzalan’s orders, constantly directed to a distant town from whence hers, in return, were sent. She concluded chance had informed Lord Mortimer of it, and flattered herself, that to avoid the suspicion which a solitary journey to Ireland might create in the mind of Lord Cherbury, he had availed himself of the Marquis’s party, and come to try whether she was unchanged, and her father would sanction their attachment, ere he avowed it to the earl.

Whilst fluctuating between hope and fear, Ellen, all pale and breathless, ran into the room, exclaiming, “He is come! he is come! Lord Mortimer is come!”

“Oh, heavens!” sighed Amanda, sinking back in her chair and dropping her trembling hands before her. Ellen, alarmed, blamed herself for her precipitation, and, flying to a cabinet snatched a bottle of lavender water from it, which she plentifully sprinkled over her, and then assisted her to a window. “I was so flurried,” cried the good-natured girl, as she saw her mistress recovering, “I did not know what I was about. Heaven knows, the sight of poor Chip himself could not have given me more pleasure. I was crossing the hall when I saw his lortship alighting; and to be sure, if one of the old warriors had stepped out of his niche—and the tefil take them all, I say, for they grin so horribly they frighten me out of my wits if I go through the hall of a dark evening—so if one of them old fellows, as I was saying, had jumped out, I could not have peen more startled, and pack I ran into the little parlor, and there I heard his lortship inquiring for my master; and to be sure the sound of his voice did my heart good, for he is an old friend, as one may say. So as soon as he went into the study, I stole up stairs; and one may guess what he and my master are talking about, I think.”

The emotion of Amanda increased. She trembled so she could not stand. She felt as if her destiny, her future happiness, depended on this minute. In vain she endeavored to regain composure. Her spirits were wound up to the highest pitch of expectation, and the agitations inseparable from such a state were not to be repressed.

She continued near an hour in this situation, when the voice of Mortimer struck her ear. She started up, and, standing in the centre of the room, saw him walking down the lawn with her father, who left him when he had reached the gate, where his servants and horses were. The chill of disappointment pervaded the heart of Amanda, and a shower of tears fell from[Pg 163] her. Ellen, who had remained in the room, was almost as much disappointed as her mistress. She muttered something about the inconstancy of men. They were all, for her part, she believed, alike; all like Mr. Chip—captious on every occasion. The dinner-bell now summoned Amanda. She dried her eyes, and tied on a little straw hat to conceal their redness. With much confusion she appeared before her father. His penetrating eye was instantly struck with her agitation and pallid looks, and he conjectured she knew of the visit he had received. On receiving that visit, he wondered not at the strength of her attachment. The noble and ingenuous air of Lord Mortimer had immediately prepossessed Fitzalan in his favor. He saw him adorned with all those perfections which are calculated to make a strong and permanent impression on a heart of sensibility, and he gave a sigh to the cruel necessity which compelled him to separate two beings of such congenial loveliness; but as that necessity neither was or could be overcome, he rejoiced that Lord Mortimer, instead of visiting him on account of his daughter, had merely come on affairs relative to the castle, and had inquired for her with a coolness which seemed to declare his love totally subdued. Not the smallest hint relative to the letter in which he had proposed for her dropped from him, and Fitzalan concluded his affections were transferred to some object more the favorite of fortune than his portionless Amanda.

This object, he was inclined to believe, was Lady Euphrasia Sutherland, from what Lord Cherbury had said concerning the splendid alliance he had in view for his son, and from Lord Mortimer’s accompanying the Roslin family to Ireland.

He felt he had not fortitude to mention those conjectures to Amanda. He rather wished she should imbibe them from her own observation; and pride, he then trusted, would come to her aid, and stimulate her to overcome her attachment. Dinner passed in silence. When the servant was withdrawn, he resolved to relieve the anxiety which her looks informed him pressed upon her heart, by mentioning the visit of Lord Mortimer. He came, he told her, merely to see the state the castle was in, and thus proceeded: “Lord Mortimer is, indeed, an elegant and sensible young man, and will do honor to the house from which he is descended. He had long wished, he told me, to visit this estate, which was endeared to him by the remembrance of his juvenile days, but particularly by its being the place of his mother’s nativity, and her favorite residence; and the opportunity of travelling with an agreeable party, had determined him no longer to defer gratifying this wish.

[Pg 164]

“He mentioned his mother in terms of the truest respect and tenderness; and his softened voice, his tearful eye, proclaimed his heart the mansion of sensibility. His virtues, like his praises, will do honor to her memory. He had been told the castle was in a very ruinous state, and was agreeably surprised to find it in as good order as could be expected from its ancient date. He desired to see the garden, which had been laid out under the direction of his mother. He expected not to have found a vestige of her taste remaining, and was consequently charmed to find himself mistaken. Every spot appeared to remind him of some happy hour, especially the gothic temple. ‘How many happy minutes have I passed in this place,’ said his lordship, after a silence for some time, ‘with the best of women.’—Upon my word, Amanda,” continued Fitzalan, “you have ornamented it in a very fanciful manner. I really thought his lordship would have stolen some of your lilies or roses, he examined them so accurately.” Amanda blushed, and her father still perceiving expectation in her eyes, thus went on: “His lordship looked at some of the adjacent grounds; and as he has mentioned what improvements he thought necessary to be made in them, I fancy he will not repeat his visit, or stay much longer in the kingdom.”

In a few minutes after this conversation Fitzalan repaired to his library, and Amanda to the garden. She hastened to the temple. Never had she before thought it so picturesque, or such an addition to the landscape. The silence of Lord Mortimer on entering it, she did not, like her father, believe proceeded altogether from retracing scenes of former happiness with his mother. “No,” said she, “in this spot he also, perhaps, thought of Amanda.”

True, he had mentioned her with indifference to her father, but that might (and she would flatter herself it did) proceed from resentment, excited by her precipitate flight from Wales, at a period when his received addresses gave him a right to information about all her actions, and by her total neglect of him since. Their first interview, she trusted, would effect a reconciliation, by producing an explanation. Her father then, she flattered herself, tender as he was, depending on her for happiness, and prepossessed in Lord Mortimer’s favor, would no longer oppose their attachment, but allow Lord Cherbury to be informed of it, who she doubted not, would, in this as well as every other instance, prove himself truly feeling and disinterested.

Thus did Amanda, by encouraging ideas agreeable to her[Pg 165] wishes, try to soften the disappointment she had experienced in the morning. Fitzalan, on meeting his daughter at tea, was not surprised to hear she had been in the gothic temple, but he was to see her wear so cheerful an appearance. He was no stranger to the human heart, and he was convinced some flattering illusion could alone have enabled her to shake off the sadness with which, but an hour before, she had been oppressed. The sooner such an illusion was removed, the better; and to allow her to see Lord Mortimer, he imagined would be the most effectual measure for such a purpose.

The more he reflected on that young nobleman’s manner, and what he himself had heard from Lord Cherbury, the more he was convinced Lady Euphrasia Sutherland was not only the object destined for Lord Mortimer, but the one who now possessed his affections; and believed his visit to Castle Carberry had been purposely made, to announce the alteration of his sentiments by the coldness of his conduct, and check any hopes which his appearance in the neighborhood might have created.

He had hesitated about Amanda’s accepting the invitation to the Kilcorban’s ball; but he now determined she should go, impressed with the idea of her being there convinced of the change in Lord Mortimer’s sentiments—a conviction he deemed necessary to produce one in her own.

Amanda impatiently longed for this night, which she believed would realize either her hopes or fears.


CHAPTER XX.

“A crimson blush her beauteous face o’erspread, Varying her cheeks by turns with white and red; The driving colors, never at a stay, Run here and there, and flush and fade away; Delightful change! thus Indian ivory shows, With which the bordering paint of purple glows, Or lilies damasked by the neighboring rose.”—Dryden.

The wished-for night at length arrived, and Amanda arrayed herself for it with a fluttering heart. The reflection of her mirror did not depress her spirits; hope had increased the brilliancy of her eyes, and given an additional glow to her complexion. Ellen, who delighted in the charms of her dear young lady, declared many of the Irish ladies would have[Pg 166] reason to envy her that night; and Fitzalan when he entered the parlor was struck with her surpassing loveliness. He gazed on her with a rapture that brought tears into his eyes, and felt a secret pride at the idea of the marchioness beholding this sweet descendant of her neglected sister—

“Into such beauty spread and blown so fair, Though poverty’s cold wind, and crushing rain, Beat keen and heavy on her tender years.”

“No,” said he to himself, “the titled Euphrasia, if she equals, cannot at least surpass my Amanda—meekness and innocence dwell upon the brow of my child; but the haughty marchioness will teach pride to lower upon Lady Euphrasia.”

Amanda, on reaching Grangeville, found the avenue full of carriages. The lights dispersed through the house gave it quite the appearance of an illumination. It seemed, indeed, the mansion of gayety and splendor. Her knees trembled as she ascended the stairs. She wished for time to compose herself, but the door opened, her name was announced, and Mrs. Kilcorban came forward to receive her. The room, though spacious, was extremely crowded. It was decorated in a fanciful manner with festoons of flowers, intermingled with variegated lamps. Immediately over the entrance was the orchestra, and opposite to it sat the marchioness and her party. The heart of Amanda beat, if possible, with increased quickness on the approach of Mrs. Kilcorban, and her voice was lost in her emotions. Recollecting, however, that the scrutinizing eyes of Lord Mortimer, and her imperious relations, were now on her, she almost immediately recovered composure, and with her usual elegance walked up the room. Most of the company were strangers to her, and she heard a general buzz of “Who is she?” accompanied with expressions of admiration from the gentlemen, among whom were the officers of a garrison town near Grangeville. Confused by the notice she attracted, she hastened to the first seat she found vacant, which was near the marchioness.

Universal, indeed, was the admiration she had excited among the male part of the company, by her beauty, unaffected graces, and simplicity of dress.

She wore a robe of plain white lutestring, and a crape turban, ornamented with a plume of drooping feathers. She had no appearance of finery, except a chain of pearls about her bosom, from which hung her mother’s picture, and a light wreath of embroidered laurel, intermingled with silver blossoms,[Pg 167] round her petticoat. Her hair, in its own native and glossy hue, floated on her shoulders, and partly shaded a cheek where the purity of the lily was tinted with the softest bloom of the rose. On gaining a seat, her confusion subsided. She looked up, and the first eyes she met were those of Lord Mortimer (who leaned on Lady Euphrasia Sutherland’s chair), fastened on her face with a scrutinizing earnestness, as if he wished to penetrate the recesses of her heart, and discover whether he yet retained a place in it. She blushed, and looking from him, perceived she was an object of critical attention to the marchioness and Lady Euphrasia. There was a malignant expression in their countenances, which absolutely shocked her; and she felt a sensation of horror at beholding the former, who had so largely contributed to the sorrows of her mother. “Can it be possible,” said Lady Euphrasia, replying to a young and elegant officer who stood by her, in a tone of affectation, and with an impertinent sneer, “that you think her handsome?” “Handsome,” exclaimed he with warmth, as if involuntarily repeating her ladyship’s word, “I think her bewitchingly irresistible. They told me I was coming to the land of saints; but,” glancing his sparkling eyes around, and fixing them on Amanda; “I find it is the land of goddesses.”

The marchioness haughtily frowned—Lady Euphrasia smiled satirically, tossed her head, and played with her fan. The propensities to envy and ill-nature, which the marchioness had shown in her youth, were not less visible in age. As they were then excited on her own account, so were they now on her daughter’s. To engross praise and admiration for her, she wished beauty blasted, and merit extirpated; nor did she ever fail, when in her power, to depreciate one, and cast an invidious cloud of calumny over the other. She beheld Amanda with envy and hatred. Notwithstanding her partiality to her daughter, she could not avoid seeing her vast inferiority, in point of personal charms, to her young relation. True, Lady Euphrasia possessed a fortune, which would always insure her attention; but it was that unimpassioned and studied attention selfishness dictates, the mere tribute of flattery. How different from the spontaneous attention which Amanda excited, who, though portionless and untitled, was beheld with admiration, followed with praise, and courted with assiduity!

Lady Euphrasia’s mind was the counterpart of her mother’s ; but in figure she resembled her father. Her stature was low, her features contracted, and though of the same age as Amanda, their harsh expression made her appear much older.[Pg 168] Though blessed with the abundant gifts of fortune, she was unhappy, if, from any one’s manner, she conceived that they thought nature had not been quite so liberal to her. In the domestic circle, constant flattery kept her in good-humor; but when out, she was frequently chagrined at seeing women, infinitely below her in rank and fortune, more noticed than herself.

At the ball she supposed she should have appeared as little less, at least, than a demi-goddess. Art and fashion were exhausted in adorning her, and she entered the room with all the insolence of conscious rank and affectation of beauty. As she walked she appeared scarcely able to support her delicate frame, and her languishing eyes were half closed. She could, however, see there was a number of pretty women present, and felt disconcerted. The respect, however, which she was paid, a little revived her; and having contrived to detain Lord Mortimer by her chair and Sir Charles Bingley, the young officer already mentioned, who was colonel of a regiment quartered in an adjacent town, she soon felt her spirits uncommonly exhilarated by the attentions of two of the most elegant men in the room; and like a proud sultana in the midst of her slaves, was enjoying the compliments she extorted from them by her prefatory speeches, when the door opened, and Amanda, like an angel of light, appeared to dissolve the mists of vanity and self-importance. Lord Mortimer was silent, but his speaking eyes confessed his feelings. Sir Charles Bingley, who had no secret motive to conceal his, openly avowed his admiration, to which Lady Euphrasia replied as has been already mentioned.

All the rapture Sir Charles expressed Lord Mortimer felt. His soul seemed on the wing to fly to Amanda—to utter its feelings—to discover hers and chide her for her conduct. This first emotion of tenderness, however, quickly subsided, on recollecting what that conduct had been—how cruelly, how ungratefully she had used him. Fled in the very moment of hope and expectation, leaving him a prey to distrust, anxiety, and regret, he dreaded some fatal mystery—some improper attachment (experience had rendered him suspicious), which neither she nor her father could avow; for never did he imagine that the scrupulous delicacy of Fitzalan alone had effected their separation. He still adored Amanda; he neither could nor desired to drive her from his thoughts, except well assured she was unworthy of being harbored in them, and felt unutterable impatience to have her mysterious conduct explained. From Tudor Hall he had repaired to London, restless and unhappy.[Pg 169] Soon after his arrival there, the marquis proposed his accompanying him to Ireland. This he declined, having reason to think Lord Cherbury meditated an alliance for him with his family. The earl expressed regret at his refusal. He said he wished he would join the marquis’s party, as he wanted his opinion relative to the state of Castle Carberry, where a man of integrity then resided, who would have any alterations or repairs he might think necessary executed in the most eligible manner. He mentioned the name of Fitzalan. Lord Mortimer was surprised and agitated. He concealed his emotions, however, and with apparent carelessness, asked a few questions about him, and found that he was indeed the father of Amanda. She was not mentioned, nor did he dare to inquire concerning her; but he immediately declared that since his father wished it so much, he would accompany the marquis. This was extremely pleasing to that nobleman, and he and Lord Cherbury had in reality agreed upon a union between him and Lady Euphrasia, and meant soon openly to avow their intention. Lord Mortimer suspected, and Lady Euphrasia was already apprised of it; and from vanity, was pleased at the idea of being connected with a man so universally admired. Love was out of the question, for she had not sufficient sensibility to experience it.

He, cautious of creating hopes which he never meant to realize, treated her only with the attention which common politeness demanded, and on every occasion seemed to prefer the marchioness’s conversation to hers, intending by this conduct to crush the projected scheme in embryo, and spare himself the mortification of openly rejecting it. Had his heart even been disengaged, Lady Euphrasia could never have been his choice. If Amanda in reality proved as amiable as he had once reason to believe her, he considered himself bound, by every tie of honor as well as love, to fulfil the engagement he had entered into with her. He resolved, however, to resist every plea of tenderness in her favor, except he was thoroughly convinced she still deserved it. He went to Castle Carberry purposely to make a display of indifference, and prevent any ideas being entertained of his having followed her to Ireland. He deemed himself justifiable in touching her sensibility (if, indeed, she possessed any for him) by an appearance of coldness and inattention; but determined, after a little retaliation of this kind on her, for the pain she had made him endure, to come to an explanation, and be guided by its result relative to his conduct in future to her.

[Pg 170]

The character of a perfect stranger was the one he was to support throughout the evening; but her loveliness, and the gallantry of Sir Charles Bingley, tempted him a thousand times to break through the restraint he had imposed on himself.

The marchioness and Lady Euphrasia were not the only persons displeased by the charms of Amanda. The Miss Kilcorbans saw, with evident mortification, the admiration she excited, which they had flattered themselves with chiefly engrossing; their disappointment was doubly severe, after the pain, trouble, and expense they had undergone in ornamenting their persons; after the suggestions of their vanity, and the flattering encomiums of their mamma, who presided herself at their toilet, every moment exclaiming, “Well, well, heaven help the men to-night, girls!”

They fluttered across the room to Amanda, sweeping at least two yards of painted tiffany after them; assured her they were extremely glad to see her, but were afraid she was unwell, as she never looked so ill. Amanda assured them she was conscious of no indisposition, and the harmony of her features remained undisturbed. Miss Kilcorban, in a half whisper, declared the marchioness had never smiled since she had entered the room, and feared her mamma had committed a great mistake in inviting them together. The rudeness of this speech shocked Amanda. An indignant swell heaved her bosom, and she was about replying to it as it deserved, when Miss Alicia stopped her by protesting she believed Lord Mortimer dying for Lady Euphrasia. Amanda involuntarily raised her eyes at this speech; but, instead of Lord Mortimer, beheld Sir Charles Bingley, who was standing behind the young ladies. “Am I pardonable,” cried he, smiling, “for disturbing so charming a trio? but a soldier is taught never to neglect a good opportunity: and one so propitious as the present for the wish of my heart might not again offer.” The Miss Kilcorbans bridled up at this speech; plied their fans and smiled most graciously on him, certainly concluding he meant to engage one or other for the first set. Passing gently between them, he bowed gracefully to Amanda, and requested the honor of her hand. She gave an assenting smile, and he seated himself beside her till the dancing commenced. The sisters cast a malignant glance over them, and swam off with a contemptuous indifference.

Lady Euphrasia had expected Sir Charles and Lord Mortimer would have been competitors for her hand, and was infinitely provoked by the desertion of the former to her lovely cousin. He was a fashionable and animated young man, whom[Pg 171] she had often honored with her notice in England, and wished to enlist in the train of her supposed adorers. Lord Mortimer could scarcely restore her good-humor by engaging her. Almost immediately after him, young Kilcorban advanced for the same purpose, and Lord Mortimer sincerely regretted he had been beforehand with him. The little fop was quite chagrined at finding her ladyship engaged; but entreated the next set he might have the supreme honor and ecstatic felicity of her hand. This, with the most impertinent affectation, she promised, if able to endure the fatigue of another dance.

Amanda was next couple to Lady Euphrasia, and endeavored therefore to calm her spirits, which the rudeness of Miss Kilcorban had discomposed, and attend to the lively conversation of Sir Charles, who was extremely pleasing and entertaining. Lord Mortimer watched them with jealous attention. His wandering glances were soon noticed by Lady Euphrasia, and her frowns and sarcastic speeches evinced her displeasure at them. He tried to recollect himself, and act as politeness required. She, not satisfied with fixing his attention, endeavored to attract Sir Charles’s. She spoke to him across Amanda; but all her efforts were here ineffectual. He spoke and laughed with her ladyship, but his eyes could not be withdrawn from the angelic countenance of his partner. Amanda’s hand trembled as, in turning, she presented it to Lord Mortimer; but, though he extended his, he did not touch it. There was a slight in this which pierced Amanda’s heart. She sighed, unconscious of doing so herself. Not so Sir Charles. He asked her, smiling, to where, or whom, that sigh was wafted. This made Amanda recall her wandering thoughts. She assumed an air of sprightliness, and went down the dance with much animation. When finished, Sir Charles led her to a seat near the one Lady Euphrasia and Lord Mortimer occupied. She saw the eyes of his lordship often directed towards her, and her heart fluttered at the pleasing probability of being asked to dance by him. Sir Charles regretted that the old-fashioned custom of not changing partners was over, and declared he could not leave her till she had promised him her hand for the third set. This she could not refuse, and he left her with reluctance, as the gentlemen were again standing up, to seek a partner. At the same moment Lord Mortimer quitted Lady Euphrasia. Oh! how the bosom of Amanda throbbed when she saw him approach and look at her. He paused. A faintishness came over her. He cast another glance on her, and passed on. Her eye followed him, and she saw him take out Miss Kilcorban.[Pg 172] This, indeed, was a disappointment. Propriety, she thought, demanded his dancing the first set with Lady Euphrasia, but, if not totally indifferent, surely he would not have neglected engaging her for the second. “Yes,” said she to herself, “he has totally forgotten me. Lady Euphrasia is now the object, and he only pays attention to those who can contribute to her amusement.” Several gentlemen endeavored to prevail on her to dance, but she pleaded fatigue, and sat solitary on a window, apparently regarding the gay assembly, but in reality too much engrossed by painful thoughts to do so. The woods, silvered by the beams of the moon, recalled the venerable shades of Tudor Hall to memory, where she had so often rambled by the same pale beams, and heard vows of unchangeable regard—vows registered in her heart, yet now without the hope of having them fulfilled. The dancing over, the company repaired to another room for refreshments. Amanda, absorbed in thought, heeded not their almost total desertion, till young Kilcorban, capering up to her, declared she looked as lonesome as a hermit in his cell, and, laughing in her face, turned off with a careless impertinence. He had not noticed her before that night. He was indeed one of those little fluttering insects who bask in the rays of fortune, and court alone her favorites. Elated by an acquaintance with the marchioness and Lady Euphrasia, he particularly neglected Amanda, not only from deeming them more worthy of his attention, but from perceiving he could take no steps more certain of gaining their favor. His words made Amanda sensible of the singularity of her situation. She arose immediately, and went to the other room. Every seat was already occupied. Near the door sat Lady Euphrasia and the Miss Kilcorbans. Lord Mortimer leaned on the back of her ladyship’s chair, and young Kilcorban occupied one by her side, which he never attempted offering to Amanda. She stood, therefore, most unpleasantly by the door, and was exceedingly confused at hearing a great many, in a whispering way, remarking the strangeness of her not being noticed by so near a relation as the Marchioness of Roslin. A general titter at her situation prevailed among Lady Euphrasia’s party, Lord Mortimer excepted. “Upon my word,” said young Kilcorban, looking at Amanda, “some ladies study attitudes which would be as well let alone.” “For the study of propriety,” replied her ladyship, who appeared to have unbended from her haughtiness, “she would do admirably for the figure of Hope.” “If she had but an anchor to recline on,” rejoined he. “Yes,” answered her ladyship, “with her floating locks and die-away[Pg 173] glances.” “Or else, Patience on a monument,” cried he. “Only she has no grief to smile at,” returned Lady Euphrasia. “Pardon me there,” said he; “she has the grief—not, indeed, that I believe she would smile at it—of being totally eclipsed by your ladyship.” “Or, what do you think,” cried Lord Mortimer, whose eyes sparkled with indignation during this dialogue, “of likening her to Wisdom, pitying the follies of human kind, and smiling to see the shafts of malice recoiling from the bosom of innocence and modesty, with contempt, on those who levelled them at it?”

Amanda heard not these words, which were delivered in rather a low voice. Her heart swelled with indignation at the impertinence directed to her, and she would have quitted the room but that the passage was too much crowded for her to pass. Sir Charles Bingley, occupied in attending the young lady with whom he had danced, observed not Amanda till the moment. He instantly flew to her. “Alone—and standing!” said he; “why did I not see you before?—you look fatigued.” She was pale with emotion. “Kilcorban,” continued he, “I must suppose you did not see Miss Fitzalan, or your seat would not have been kept.” Then catching him by the arm, he raised him nimbly from his chair, and directly carried it to Amanda; and having procured her refreshments, seated himself at her feet, exclaiming, “this is my throne, let kings come bow to it.” Her lovely and unaffected graces had excited Sir Charles’s admiration; but it was the neglect with which he saw her treated, diffused such a soothing tenderness through his manner as he now displayed. It hurt his sensibility, and had she even been plain in her appearance, would have rendered her the peculiar object of his attention. He detested the marchioness and her daughter for their rancorous envy, as much as he despised the Kilcorbans for their mean insolence. The marchioness told him a long tale of the shocking conduct of Amanda’s parents, whose ill qualities she declared her looks announced her to possess, and endeavored to depreciate her in his favor; but that was impossible.

“Lord!” said Lady Euphrasia, rising as she spoke, “let me pass; this scene is sickening.” Lord Mortimer remained behind her. He loitered about the room, and his looks were often directed towards Amanda. Her hopes began to revive. The lustre rekindled in her eyes, and a soft blush again stole over her cheek. Though engaged to Sir Charles, she felt she should be pleased to have Lord Mortimer make an overture for her hand. The company were now returning to the ball-room,[Pg 174] and Sir Charles took her hand to lead her after them. At that moment Lord Mortimer approached. Amanda paused as if to adjust some part of her dress. He passed on to a very beautiful girl, whom he immediately engaged, and led from the room. She followed them with her eyes, and continued without moving, till the fervent pressure Sir Charles gave her hand, restored her to recollection.

When the set with him was finished, she would have left the house directly, had her servant been there; but after putting up the horses, he had returned to Castle Carberry, and she did not expect him till a very late hour. She declared her resolution of dancing no more, and Sir Charles having avowed the same, they repaired to the card-room, as the least crowded place they could find. Lady Greystock was playing at the table, with the marquis and marchioness. She beckoned Amanda to her, and having had no opportunity of speaking before, expressed her pleasure at then seeing her. The marquis examined her through his spectacles. The marchioness frowned, and declared, “she would take care in future, to avoid parties subject to such disagreeable intruders.” This speech was too pointed not to be remarked. Amanda wished to appear undisturbed, but her emotions grew too powerful to be suppressed, and she was obliged to move hastily from the table. Sir Charles followed her. “Cursed malignity,” cried he, endeavoring to screen her from observation, while tears trickled down her cheeks; “but, my dear Miss Fitzalan, was your beauty and merit less conspicuous, you would have escaped it; ’tis the vice of little minds to hate that excellence they cannot reach.” “It is cruel, it is shocking,” said Amanda, “to suffer enmity to outlive the object who excited it, and to hate the offspring on account of the parent—the original of this picture,” and she looked at her mother’s, “merited not such conduct.” Sir Charles gazed on it;—it was wet with the tears of Amanda. He wiped them off, and pressing the handkerchief to his lips, put it in his bosom.

At this instant Lord Mortimer appeared. He had, indeed, been for some time an unnoticed observer of the progress of this tete-à-tete. As soon as he perceived he had attracted their regard, he quitted the room.

“His lordship is like a troubled spirit to-night, wandering to and fro,” said Sir Charles; “I really believe everything is not right between him and Lady Euphrasia.” “Something, then,” cried Amanda, “is in agitation between him and her ladyship?” “So says the world,” replied Sir Charles, “but I do not always[Pg 175] give implicit credit to its reports. I have known Lord Mortimer this long time; and from my knowledge of him, should never have supposed Lady Euphrasia Sutherland a woman capable of pleasing him; nay, to give my real opinion, I think him quite uninterested about her ladyship. I will not say so much as to all the other females present. I really imagined several times to-night, from his glances to you, he was on the point of requesting an introduction, which would not have pleased me perfectly. Mortimer possesses more graces than those which merely meet the eye, and is a rival I should by no means like to have.”

Amanda, confused by this discourse, endeavored to change it, and at last succeeded. They conversed pleasantly together on different subjects, till they went to supper, when Sir Charles still continued his attention. Lord Mortimer was, or at least appeared to be, entirely engrossed with Lady Euphrasia, who from time to time tittered with the Miss Kilcorbans, and looked satirically at Amanda. On quitting the supper-room, she found her servant in the hall, and immediately desired him to have the carriage drawn up. Sir Charles, who held her hand, requested her to stay a little longer, yet acknowledged it was self alone which dictated the request, as he knew she would not promote her own pleasure by complying with it. As he handed her into the carriage, he told her he should soon follow her example in retiring, as the scene, so lately delightful, in losing her, would lose all its charms. He entreated, and obtained permission, to wait on her the next morning.

How different was now the appearance of Amanda, to what it had been at her departure from Castle Carberry! Pale, trembling, and languid, her father received her into his arms—for, till she returned, he could not think of going to rest—and instantly guessed the cause of her dejection. His heart mourned for the pangs inflicted on his child’s. When she beheld him gazing on her with mingled woe and tenderness, she tried to recruit her spirits; and after relating a few particulars of the ball, answered the minute inquiries he made relative to the conduct of the marchioness and Lady Euphrasia. He appeared unutterably affected on hearing it. “Merciful power,” exclaimed he, “what dispositions! But you are too lovely, too like your mother, my Amanda, in every perfection, to escape their malice. Oh! may it never injure you as it did her. May that Providence, whose protection I daily implore for the sweet child of my love, the source of earthly comfort, render every wish, every scheme which may be formed against her, abortive; and oh! may it yet bless me with the sight of her happiness.”

[Pg 176]

Amanda retired to her chamber, inexpressibly affected by the language of her father. “Yes,” cried she, her heart swelling with pity and gratitude to him, “my sorrow in future shall be concealed, to avoid exciting his. The pain inflicted by thy inconstancy, Mortimer, shall be hid within the recesses of my heart, and never shall the peace of my father be disturbed by knowing the loss of mine.”

The gray dawn was now beginning to advance, but Amanda had no inclination for repose. As she stood at the window, she heard the solemn stillness of the scene frequently interrupted by the distant noise of carriages, carrying home the weary sons and daughters of dissipation. “But a few hours ago,” said she, “and how gay, how animated was my soul; how dull, how cheerless now! Oh! Mortimer, but a few hours ago, and I believed myself the beloved of thine heart, but the flattering illusion is now over, and I no longer shall hope, or thou deceive.” She changed her clothes, and, flinging herself on the bed, from mere fatigue, at length sunk into a slumber.


CHAPTER XXI.

“Love reigns a very tyrant in my heart, Attended on his throne by all his guard Of furious wishes, fears, and nice suspicions.”—Otway.

The next morning brought Sir Charles Bingley to Castle Carberry. Fitzalan was out, but Amanda received him in her dressing-room. He told her, with evident concern, he was on the point of setting off for the metropolis, to embark from thence immediately for England, having received letters that morning, which recalled him there. He regretted that their intimacy, or rather friendship, as with insinuating softness he entreated permission to call it, was interrupted at its very commencement—declared it gave him more pain than she could imagine, or he express—and that his return to Ireland would be expedited, for the purpose of renewing it, and requested he might be flattered with an assurance of not being totally forgotten during his absence. Amanda answered him as if she supposed mere politeness had dictated the request. Her father, she said, she was sure, would be happy to see him, if he returned again to their neighborhood. At his entrance, he[Pg 177] said he could stay but a few minutes, yet he remained about two hours, and when he arose to depart, declared he had reason to think the castle an enchanted one. He found it difficult to get from it; “yet, unlike the knights of old,” continued he, “I wish not to break the spell which detained me in it.”

Day after day elapsed, and no Lord Mortimer appeared. Amanda, indeed, heard frequently of him, and always as the admirer of Lady Euphrasia. Frequently, too, she heard about the family at Ulster Lodge, their superb entertainments, and those given in the neighborhood to them. The Kilcorbans seemed to have given her up entirely. Lady Greystock was the only one of the family who continued to pay her any attention. She called once or twice at Castle Carberry to see whether her apron was finished, and tell all the news she had picked up, to Amanda. The resolution which Amanda had formed of concealing her melancholy from her father, she supported tolerably well, but she only indulged it more freely in solitude. The idea of Lord Mortimer’s union with Lady Euphrasia haunted her imagination and embittered every moment. “Yes,” she would exclaim (as she wandered through the garden, which had been converted from a rude wilderness into a scene of beauty by her superintending care), “I have planted flowers, but another shall enjoy their sweets. I have planted roses for Mortimer to strew in the path of Lady Euphrasia;—I have adorned the landscape, and she shall enjoy its beauty!”

About three weeks after the ball, as she sat at work one morning in the dressing-room, beguiling her thoughts with a little plaintive song, she heard the door softly open behind her: she supposed it to be Ellen; but not finding any one advance, turned round and perceived not Ellen indeed, but Lord Mortimer himself. She started from her chair:—the work dropped from her hands, and she had neither power to speak or move.

“I fear I have surprised and alarmed you,” said Lord Mortimer. “I ask pardon for my intrusion, but I was informed I should find Mr. Fitzalan here.”

“He is in the study, I believe, my lord,” replied Amanda, coolly, and with restored composure. “I will go and inform him your lordship wishes to see him.”

“No,” exclaimed he, “I will not suffer you to have so much trouble: my business is not so urgent as to require my seeing him immediately.” He reseated Amanda, and drew a chair near her.

She pretended to be busy with her work, whilst the eyes of[Pg 178] Lord Mortimer were cast round the room, as if viewing well-known objects, which at once pleased and pained his sensibility, by awakening the memory of past delightful days. “This room,” said he, softly sighing, “I well remember; it was the favorite retirement of one of the most amiable of women.”

“So I have heard,” replied Amanda, “the virtues of Lady Cherbury are remembered with the truest gratitude by many in the vicinity of the castle.”

“I think,” cried Lord Mortimer, gazing upon Amanda with the softest tenderness, “the apartment is still occupied by a kindred spirit.”

Amanda’s eyes were instantly bent on the ground, and a gentle sigh heaved her bosom; but it was rather the sigh of regret than pleasure; with such an accent as this Lord Mortimer was wont to address her at Tudor Hall, but she had now reason to think it only assumed, for the purpose of discovering whether she yet retained any sensibility for him. Had he not treated her with the most pointed neglect? was he not the declared admirer of Lady Euphrasia? had he not confessed, on entering the room, he came to seek not her, but her father? These ideas rushing through her mind, determined her to continue no longer with him; delicacy, as well as pride, urged her to this, for she feared, if she longer listened to his insinuating language, it might lead her to betray the feelings of her heart; she therefore arose, and said she would acquaint her father his lordship waited for him.

“Cold, insensible Amanda,” cried he, snatching her hand, to prevent her departing, “is it thus you leave me? when we parted in Wales, I could not have believed we should ever have had such a meeting as this.”

“Perhaps not, my lord,” replied she, somewhat haughtily, “but we have both thought more prudently since that period.”

“Then why,” said he, “did not prudence teach you to shun a conduct which could create suspicion?”

“Suspicion, my lord!” repeated Amanda, with a kind of horror in her look.

“Pardon me,” cried he, “the word is disagreeable; but, Miss Fitzalan, when you reflect on the manner in which you have acted to me;—your precipitate, your clandestine departure, at the very period when a mutual acknowledgment of reciprocal feelings should have been attended with the most explicit candor on both sides, you cannot wonder at unpleasant conjectures and tormenting doubts obtruding on my mind.”

[Pg 179]

“Is it possible, my lord,” said Amanda, “you never conceived the reason of my departure? Is it possible reflection never pointed it out?”

“Never, I solemnly assure you; nor shall I be happy till I know it.” He paused, as if for a reply; but Amanda, agitated by his words, had not power to speak. Whilst he stood silent, trembling, and apparently embarrassed, she heard her father’s voice, as he ascended the stairs. This instantly restored hers. “I must go, my lord,” cried she, starting, and struggling to withdraw her hand. “Promise then to meet me,” he said, “this evening at St. Catherine’s, by seven, or I will not let you go. My soul will be in tortures till I have your actions explained.” “I do promise,” said Amanda. Lord Mortimer released her, and she retired into her chamber just time enough to avoid her father.

Again her hopes began to revive. Again she believed she was not mistaken in supposing Lord Mortimer had come into Ireland on her account. His being mentioned as the admirer of Lady Euphrasia, she supposed owing to his being a resident in the house with her. About herself, had he been indifferent, he never could have betrayed such emotions. His looks, as well as language, expressed the feelings of a heart tenderly attached and truly distressed. Lest any circumstance had happened, which would prevent a renewal of that attachment, she felt as much impatience as he manifested, to give the desired explanation of her conduct.

His lordship was scarcely gone, ere Lady Greystock made her appearance. Amanda supposed, as usual, she only came to pay a flying visit: how great then was her mortification and surprise, when her ladyship told her she was come to spend the day quite in the family way with her, as the ladies of Grangeville were so busy preparing for a splendid entertainment they were to be at the ensuing day, that they had excluded all visitors, and rendered the house quite disagreeable.

Amanda endeavored to appear pleased, but to converse she found almost impossible, her thoughts were so engrossed by an absent object. Happily her ladyship was so very loquacious herself, as at all times to require a listener more than a speaker. She was, therefore, well satisfied with the taciturnity of her fair companion. Amanda tried to derive some comfort from the hope that her ladyship would depart early in the evening, to which she flattered herself she would be induced by the idea of a comfortable whist party at home. But six o’clock struck, and she manifested no inclination to move. Amanda was in agony.[Pg 180] Her cheek was flushed with agitation. She rose and walked to the window, to conceal her emotion, whilst her father and Lady Greystock were conversing. The former at last said, he had some letters to write, and begged her ladyship to excuse his absence for a few minutes. This she most graciously promised to do, and pulling out her knitting, requested Amanda to read to her till tea-time. Amanda took up a book, but was so confused, she scarcely knew what, or how she read.

“Softly, softly, my dear child,” at last exclaimed her ladyship, whose attention could by no means keep pace with the rapid manner in which she read. “I protest you post on with as much expedition as my Lady Blerner’s poneys on the circular.” Amanda blushed, and began to read slowly; but when the clock struck seven her feelings could be no longer repressed. "Good Heaven!” cried she, letting the book drop from her hand, and starting from her chair, “this is too much.” “Bless me! my dear!” said Lady Greystock, staring at her, “what is the matter?” “Only a slight headache, madam,” answered Amanda, continuing to walk about the room.

Her busy fancy represented Lord Mortimer, now impatiently waiting for her—thinking in every sound which echoed among the desolate ruins of St. Catherine’s he heard her footsteps; his soul melting with tenderness at the idea of a perfect reconciliation, which an unsatisfied doubt only retarded. What would he infer from her not keeping an appointment so ardently desired, so solemnly promised, but that she was unable to remove that doubt to his satisfaction. Perhaps he would not credit the reason she could assign for breaking her engagement. Perhaps piqued at her doing so, he would not afford her an opportunity of accounting for it, or the apparent mystery of her late conduct. To retain his doubts would be to lose his tenderness, and, at last, perhaps, expel her from his heart. She thought of sending Ellen to acquaint him with the occasion of her detention at home; but this idea existed but for a moment. An appointment she concealed from her father she could not bear to divulge to any other person; it would be a breach of duty and delicacy, she thought. “No,” said she to herself, “I will not, from the thoughtlessness and impetuosity which lead so many of my sex astray, overstep the bounds of propriety, and to reinstate myself in the esteem of one person lose that of others; and, above all, that of my own heart. If Lord Mortimer refuses to hear my justification, he will act neither agreeably to candor or justice, and pride must aid in repelling my regret.” “You look strangely, indeed, my dear,” said Lady Greystock,[Pg 181] who was attentively watching her, whilst those ideas were rising in her mind. Amanda recollected the remarks which might be made on her behavior; and apologizing for the manner in which she had acted, took her seat with some degree of composure. Fitzalan soon after entered the room, and tea was made; when over, Lady Greystock declared they were a snug party for three-handed whist. Amanda would gladly have excused herself from being of the party, but politeness made her conceal her reluctance; but extreme dejection was noticed both by Fitzalan and her ladyship. The latter imputed it to regret, at not being permitted by her father to accept an invitation she had received for a ball the ensuing evening.

“Don’t fret about it, my dear creature,” said she, laying down her cards, to administer the consolation she supposed Amanda required; “’tis not by frequenting balls and public places a girl always stands the best chance of being provided for; I, for my part, have been married three times, yet never made a conquest of any one of my husbands in a public place. No, it was the privacy of my life partly obtained for me so many proofs of good fortune.” Fitzalan and Amanda laughed. “I shall never be dissatisfied with staying at home,” said the latter, “though without either expecting or desiring to have my retirement recompensed as your ladyship’s was.” “One prize will satisfy you then,” said Fitzalan. “Ah!” cried Lady Greystock, “it is Lady Euphrasia Sutherland will obtain the capital one. I don’t know where such another young man as Lord Mortimer is to be found.” “Then your ladyship supposes,” said Fitzalan, “there is some truth in the reports circulated, relative to him and Lady Euphrasia.” “I assure you there is,” said she; “and I think the connection will be a very eligible one. Their births, their fortunes, are equal.” But ah, thought Amanda, how unlike their dispositions. “I dare say,” proceeded her ladyship, “Lady Euphrasia will have changed her title before this time next year.”

Fitzalan glanced at Amanda: her face was deadly pale, and she put him and Lady Greystock out in the game by the errors she committed. At last the carriage from Grangeville arrived, and broke up a party Amanda could not much longer have supported. Her father perceived the painful efforts she made to conceal her distress. He pitied her from his soul, and, pretending to think she was only indisposed, entreated her to retire to her chamber. Amanda gladly complied with this entreaty, and began to meditate on what Lady Greystock had said. Was there not a probability of its being true? Might[Pg 182] not the indifference Lord Mortimer had manifested on his first arrival in the neighborhood have really originated from a change of affections? Might not the tenderness he displayed in the morning have been concerted with the hope of its inducing her to gratify his curiosity, by relating the reason of her journey from Wales, or please his vanity by tempting her to give some proof of attachment? But she soon receded from this idea. Lady Greystock was not infallible in her judgment. Reports of approaching nuptials, Amanda knew, had often been raised without any foundation for them. The present report, relative to Lord Mortimer and Lady Euphrasia, might be one of that nature. She could not believe him so egregiously vain, or so deliberately base, as to counterfeit tenderness merely for the purpose of having his curiosity or vanity gratified. She felt, however, truly unhappy, and could derive no consolation but from the hope that her suspense, at least, would soon be terminated.

She passed a restless night; nor was her morning more composed. She could not settle to any of her usual avocations. Every step she heard, she started in expectation of instantly seeing Lord Mortimer; but he did not appear. After dinner she walked out alone, and took the road to St. Catherine’s. When she reached the ruins, she felt fatigued, and sat down upon a flag in the chapel to rest herself. “Here,” said she, pensively leaning her head upon her hand, “Mortimer waited for me; perhaps with tender impatience. Here, too, he perhaps accused me of neglect or deceit.” She heard a rustling behind her, and turning, perceived Sister Mary.

“You are welcome, my dear soul,” cried the good-natured nun, running forward, and sitting down by her; “but why did you not come in to see us?” continued she, affectionately kissing her. Amanda said, “such was her intention, but feeling a little indisposed, she had remained in the air, in hopes of growing better.” “Oh, Jesu!” cried the sister, “you do indeed look ill, I must go and get you a cordial from our prioress, who is quite a doctress, I assure you.”

Amanda caught her gown as she was running away, and assured her she was better.

“Well, then,” said she, resuming her seat, “I must tell you of an odd thing which happened here last night. I came out to walk about the ruins between the lights—that is, as one may say, when it is neither dark or light. As the air was cold, I wrapped my veil about me, and had just turned the cloisters, when I heard a quick foot pacing after me. Well, I, supposing[Pg 183] it to be one of the sisters, walked slowly, that she might easily overtake me. But you may guess my surprise when I was overtaken, not by one of them indeed, but by one of the finest and most beautiful young men I ever beheld. Lord, how he did start when he saw me, just for all the world as if I was a ghost; he looked quite wild, and flew off muttering something to himself. Well, I thought all this strange, and was making all the haste I could to the convent, when he appeared again coming from under that broken arch; and he bowed and smiled so sweetly, and held his hat in his hand so respectfully, whilst he begged my pardon for the alarm he had given me; and then he blushed and strove to hide his confusion with his handkerchief, while he asked me if I had seen here a young lady about the ruins that evening, as a particular friend had informed him she would be there, and desired him to escort her home. ‘Why, my dear sir,’ says I, ‘I have been about this place the whole evening, and there has neither been man, woman, nor child, but you and myself; so the young lady changed her mind, and took another ramble.’ ‘So I suppose,’ said he, and he looked so pale, and so melancholy, I could not help thinking it was a sweetheart he had been seeking; so by way of giving him a bit of comfort, ‘Sir,’ says I, ‘if you will leave any marks of the young lady you were seeking with me, I will watch here myself a little longer for her; and if she comes I will tell her how uneasy you were at not finding her, and be sure to dispatch her after you.’ ‘No, he thanked me,’ he said, ‘but it was of very little consequence his not meeting her, or indeed whether he ever met her again,’ and went away.” “Did he?” said Amanda. “Bless me!” exclaimed the nun, “you are worse, instead of better.”

Amanda acknowledged she was, and rising, requested she would excuse her not paying her compliments that evening at the nunnery.

Sister Mary pressed her to drink tea with the prioress, or at least take some of her excellent cordial; but Amanda refused both requests, and the affectionate nun saw her depart with reluctance.

Scarcely had she regained the road, ere a coach and six, preceded and followed by a number of attendants, approached with such quickness that she was obliged to step aside to avoid it. Looking in at the window as it passed, she saw Lord Mortimer and Lady Euphrasia seated in it, opposite to each other; she saw they both perceived her, and that Lady Euphrasia laughed, and put her head forward to stare impertinently at her. Amanda was mortified that they had seen her:[Pg 184] there was something at that moment humiliating in the contrast between their situation and hers—she, dejected and solitary, they adorned and attended with all the advantages of fortune. But in the estimation of a liberal mind, cried she, the want of such advantage can never lessen me—such a mind as I flatter myself Lord Mortimer possesses. Ah! if he thinks as I do, he would prefer a lonely ramble in the desolate spot I have just quitted, to all the parade and magnificence he is about witnessing. The night passed heavily away. The idea of Lord Mortimer’s devoting all his attention to Lady Euphrasia, could not be driven from her mind.

The next morning, the first object she saw, on going to the window, was a large frigate lying at anchor near the castle. Ellen entered her chamber, and sighing heavily, as she always did, indeed, at the sight of a ship, said, “she wished it contained her wandering sailor.” Amanda indulged a hope that Lord Mortimer would appear in the course of the day, but she was disappointed. She retired, after tea, in the evening to her dressing-room, and seated in the window, enjoyed a calm and beautiful scene. Not a cloud concealed the bright azure of the firmament; the moon spread a line of silvery radiance over the waves, that stole with a melancholy murmur upon the shore; and the silence which reigned around was only interrupted by the faint noise of the mariners on board the frigate, and their evening drum. At last Amanda heard the paddling of oars, and perceived a large boat coming from the ship, rowed by sailors in white shirts and trousers, their voices keeping time to their oars. The appearance they made was picturesque, and Amanda watched them till the boat disappeared among the rocks. The supper-bell soon after summoned her from the window; but scarcely had she retired to her chamber for the night, ere Ellen, smiling, trembling, and apparently overcome with joy, appeared.

“I have seen him,” cried she, hastily; “oh, madam, I have seen poor Chip himself, and he is as kind and as true-hearted as ever. I went this evening to the village to see old Norah, to whom you sent the linen, for she is a pleasing kind of poty, and does not laugh like the rest at one for their Welsh tongue; so when I was returning home, and at a goot tistance from her cabin, I saw a great number of men coming towards me, all dressed in white. To pe sure, as I heerd a great teal apout the white poys, I thought these were nothing else, and I did so quake and tremble, for there was neither hole, or bush, or tree on the spot, that would have sheltered one of the little tiny[Pg 185] fairies of Penmaenmawr. Well, they came on, shouting and laughing, and merrier than I thought such rogues ought to be; and the moment they espied me, they gathered round me, and began pulling me about; so I gave a great scream, and tirectly a voice (Lort, how my heart jumped at it) cried out, ‘that is Ellen;’ and to pe sure poor Chip soon had me in his arms; and then I heard they were sailors from the frigate, come to get fresh provisions at the village; so I turned pack with them, and they had a great bowl of whiskey punch, and a whole sight of cakes, and Chip told me all his adventures; and he was so glad when he heard I lived with you, pecause he said you were a sweet, mild young laty, and he was sure you would sometimes remind me of him; and he hopes soon to get his tischarge, and then—” “You are to be married,” said Amanda, interpreting the blushes and hesitation of Ellen. “Yes, matam, and I assure you Chip is not altered for the worse py a seafaring life. His voice, inteed, is a little of the roughest, but he told me that was owing to his learning the poatswain’s whistle. Poor fellow, he sails to-morrow night. The ship is on the Irish station, and they are to coast it to Dublin.”

“Happy Ellen!” said Amanda, as she retired from her chamber, “thy perturbations and disquietudes are over; assured of the affection of thy village swain, peace and cheerfulness will resume their empire in thy breast.”

The next evening at twilight, Amanda went down to the beach with her father to see the fishermen drawing their seines on shore, on which their hopes, and the comfort of their families, depended. Whilst Fitzalan conversed with them, Amanda seated herself on a low rock to observe their motions. In the murmur of the waves there was a gentle melancholy, in unison with her present feelings. From a pensive meditation, which had gradually rendered her inattentive to the scene before her, she was suddenly roused by voices behind her. She started from her seat, for in one of them she imagined she distinguished the accent of Lord Mortimer. Nor was she mistaken. He was descending a winding path near her, accompanied by a naval officer. To pass without seeing her was impossible; and as he approached her, he stopped, apparently hesitating whether or not he should address her. In a few minutes his hesitation ended, with waving his handkerchief, as if to bid her adieu, whilst he proceeded to a small boat which had been for some time lying in a creek among the rocks, and which, on receiving him and his companion, immediately rowed to the frigate. Amanda trembled. Her heart beat violently. Ellen had in[Pg 186]formed her the frigate was to sail that night; and what could induce Lord Mortimer to visit it at such an hour, except an intention of departing in it.

Uncertainty is dreadful. She grew sick with anxiety before her father returned to the castle. On entering it, she immediately repaired to her chamber, and calling Ellen hastily, demanded if Chip’s intelligence was true?

“Alas! yes,” said Ellen, weeping violently; “and I know the reason you inquire. You saw Lord Mortimer going to the ship. I saw him myself, as I stood on the beech talking to Chip, who was one of the sailors that came in the boat for his lortship and the captain; and to be sure the sight left my eyes when I saw my lort departing, pecause I knew he was going away in anger at the treatment he supposed he received from you.”

“From me?” exclaimed Amanda.

“Oh! you will never forgive me for acting so padly as I have done by you,” sobbed Ellen; “put inteed the sight of poor Chip drove everything from my memory put himself. Last night, as I was going to Norah’s, I overtook Lort Mortimer on the road, who was walking quite sorrowfully, as I may say, py himself; so to pe sure I thought I could do no less in good manners than drop him a curtsey as I passed; so up he came to me directly: ‘And, my good girl, how are you?’ said he; and he smiled so sweetly, and looked so handsome; and then he took my hand, and to pe sure his hand was as soft as any velvet. ‘And pray, Ellen,’ said he, ‘is Miss Fitzalan at home, and disengaged?’ I told him you was, and Cot knows, my Lort, said I, and melancholy enough, too. I left her in the tressing-room window, looking out at the waves, and listening to the winds. ‘Well, hasten home,’ cried he, ‘and tell her she will oblige me greatly py meeting me immediately at the rocks peyond the castle.’ I promised him I would, and he put, nay, inteed, forced five guineas into my hand, and turned off another road, charging me not to forget; put as I was so near Norah’s, I thought I might just step in to see how she did, and when I left her, I met poor Chip, and Lort knows I am afraid he would have made me forget my own tear father and mother.”

“Oh, Ellen!” cried Amanda, “how could you serve me so?” “Oh, tear!” said Ellen, redoubling her tears, “I am certainly one of the most unfortunate girls in the world; put, Lort, now, Miss Amanda, why should you be so sorrowful; for certain my lort loves you too well to pe always angry. There is poor Chip now, though he thought I loved Parson Howel, he never forgot me.”

[Pg 187] Ellen’s efforts at consolation were not successful, and Amanda dismissed her, that, unnoticed and unrestrained, she might indulge the tears which flowed at the idea of a long, a lasting separation, perhaps, from Lord Mortimer. Offended, justly offended, as she supposed, with her, the probability was she would be banished from his thoughts, or, if remembered, at least without esteem or tenderness: thus might his heart soon be qualified for making another choice. She walked to the window, and saw the ship already under weigh. She saw the white sails fluttering in the breeze, and heard the shouts of the mariners. “Oh, Mortimer!” cried she, “is it thus we part? is it thus the expectations you raised in my heart are disappointed? You go hence, and deem Amanda unworthy a farewell. You gaze, perhaps, at this moment on Castle Carberry, without breathing one sigh for its inhabitants. Ah, had you loved sincerely, never would the impulse of resentment have conquered the emotion of tenderness. No, Mortimer, you deceived me, and perhaps yourself, in saying I was dear to you. Had I been so, never could you have acted in this manner.” Her eyes followed the course of the vessel, till it appeared like a speck in the horizon. “He is gone,” said she, weeping afresh, and withdrawing herself from the window; “he is gone, and if ever I meet him again, it will probably be as the husband of Lady Euphrasia.”


CHAPTER XXII.

“Think’s t thou I’ll make a life of jealousy, To follow still the changes of the moon With fresh surmises? No; to be once in doubt Is to be resolved. But yet I’ll see before I doubt: when I doubt, prove, And on the proof there is no more but this— Away at once with love or jealousy.”—Shakspeare.

Lord Mortimer had, in reality, departed with sentiments very unfavorable to Amanda. He had waited impatiently at St. Catherine’s, in the fond expectation of having all his doubts removed by a candid explanation of the motives which caused her precipitate journey from Wales. His soul sighed for a reconciliation: his tenderness was redoubled by being so long restrained. The idea of folding his beloved Amanda to his bosom, and hearing that she deserved all the tenderness and[Pg 188] sensibility which glowed in that bosom for her, gave him the highest pleasure; but when the appointed hour passed, and no Amanda appeared, language cannot express his disappointment. Almost distracted by it, he ventured to inquire concerning her from Sister Mary; and, long after the friendly nun had retired to the convent, continued to wander about the ruins, till the shadows of night had enveloped every object from his view. “She fears to come, then,” exclaimed he, quitting the desolate spot, oppressed with the keenest anguish; “she fears to come, because she cannot satisfy my doubts. I witnessed her agitation, her embarrassment, this morning, when I hinted at them. The mystery which separated us will not be explained, and it is in vain to think we shall ever meet, as I once flattered myself we should.”

This thought seemed to strike at all his hopes. The distress and disorder of his mind was depicted on his countenance, and escaped not the observation and raillery of the marchioness and Lady Euphrasia; but their raillery was in vain, and unanswered by him; he was absorbed in a train of pensive reflections, which they had neither power to remove or disturb.

Most unwillingly he accompanied them the ensuing day to a splendid entertainment given purposely for them in the neighborhood. The unexpected sight of Amanda, as she stood on a little elevated bank, to avoid the carriage, caused a sudden emotion of surprise and delight in his bosom. The utmost powers of eloquence could not have pleaded her cause so successfully as her own appearance at that minute did. The languor of her face, its mild and seraphic expression, her pensive attitude, and the timid modesty with which she seemed shrinking from observation, all touched the sensibility of Lord Mortimer, awakened his softest feelings, revived his hopes, and made him resolve to seek another opportunity of demanding an explanation from her. The sudden color which flushed his cheeks, and the sparkling of his eyes, as he looked from the carriage, attracted the notice of his companions. They smiled maliciously at each other, and Lady Euphrasia declared, “She supposed the girl was stationed there to try and attract admiration, which, perhaps, her silly old father had told her she merited—or else to meet with adventures.” Lord Mortimer drew in his head, and the contrast between her ladyship and the fair being he had been looking at, never struck him so forcibly as at that moment, and lessened one as much as it elevated the other in his estimation.

He wandered near the castle the next evening, in hopes of[Pg 189] meeting Amanda. His disappointment was diminished by seeing Ellen, who he was confident, would be faithful to the message intrusted to her. With this confidence he hastened to the rocks, every moment expecting the appearance of Amanda. Her image, as it appeared to him the preceding day, dwelt upon his imagination, and he forcibly felt how essential to his peace was a reconciliation with her. An hour elapsed, and his tenderness again began to give way to resentment. It was not Ellen, but Amanda he doubted. He traversed the beach in an agony of impatience and anxiety; a feverish heat pervaded his frame, and he trembled with agitation. At length he heard the distant sound of the supper-bell at Ulster Lodge, which never rang till a late hour. All hopes of seeing Amanda were now given up, and every intention of meeting her at a future period relinquished. She avoided him designedly, it was evident. He would have cursed himself for betraying such anxiety about her, and his wounded pride revolted from the idea of seeking another interview. “No! Amanda!” he exclaimed, as he passed the castle, “you can no longer have any claim upon me. Mysterious appearances in the most candid mind will raise suspicions. In giving you an opportunity for accounting for such appearances, I did all that candor, tenderness, sensibility, and honor could dictate; and, instead of again making efforts to converse with you, I must now make others, which, I trust, will be more successful, entirely to forget you.”

The next morning he accompanied the marquis in his barge to the frigate, where he was agreeably surprised to find in the commander an old friend of his, Captain Somerville, who returned to Ulster Lodge with his visitors, and there, in a half jesting, half serious manner, asked Lord Mortimer to accompany him on his intended cruise. This his lordship instantly promised he would, with pleasure. He was completely tired of the Roslin family, and was, besides, glad of an opportunity of convincing Amanda he was not quite so fascinated to her as she perhaps believed, by his quitting the neighborhood ere their departure. As he descended to the boat, the sight of Amanda shook his resolution. She seemed destined to cross his path, merely to give him disquietude. An ardent wish sprung in his heart to address her, but it was instantly suppressed, by reflecting how premeditately she had avoided him; pride, therefore, prompted him to pass her in silence; yet, as the boat receded from the shore, his eyes were riveted to the spot on which she stood, and when he could no longer see her white gown fluttering in the wind, he gave a sigh to the remem[Pg 190]brance of the happy days he had passed with her at Tudor Hall; and another to the idea, that such hours would never more be enjoyed by him.

The family at Ulster Lodge were both mortified and disappointed by his departure, though he, perceiving their displeasure, had endeavored to lessen it, by promising to wait their arrival in Dublin, and return with them to England. His departure seemed a tacit intimation that he was not as much attached to Lady Euphrasia as they wished him to be. A suspicion of this nature had, indeed, for some time pervaded their minds, and also that his affections were elsewhere disposed of: they had reason to believe that the person who possessed them dwelt in the vicinity of the lodge, from the great alteration which took place in his manner, immediately after his arrival at it. In hopes of discovering who this was, they watched him critically at all the parties he frequented with them, but soon found it was not the present, but the absent objects had the power of exciting emotions in him. At the name of Amanda Fitzalan or her father they observed him color, and frequently saw him contemplate Castle Carberry, as if it contained a being infinitely dear to him; to Amanda, therefore, they feared he was attached, and supposed the attachment commenced at the Kilcorbans’ ball, where they had noticed his impassioned glances at this hated, because too lovely relation. The most unbounded rage took possession of their souls; they regretted ever having come to Ireland, where they supposed Lord Mortimer had first seen Amanda, as Lord Cherbury had mentioned the children of Fitzalan being strangers to him or his family. They knew the passions of Lord Cherbury were impetuous, and that ambition was the leading principle of his soul. Anxious for an alliance between his family and theirs, they knew he would ill brook any obstacle which should be thrown in the way of its completion, and therefore resolved, if Lord Mortimer, at their next meeting, appeared averse to the wishes of his father, to acquaint the earl with the occasion of his son’s disinclination, and represent Fitzalan and his daughter as aiding and abetting each other, in an insidious scheme to entangle the affections of Lord Mortimer, and draw him into a marriage; a scheme which, to a man of the world (as they knew Lord Cherbury to be), would appear so very probable as to gain implicit credit. This they knew would convert the esteem he felt for Fitzalan into hatred and contempt; his favor would consequently be withdrawn, and the father and child again sunk into indigent obscurity. To think that Amanda, by dire necessity, should be reduced to servitude;[Pg 191] to think the elegance of her form should be disguised by the garb of poverty, and the charms of her face faded by misery, were ideas so grateful, so ecstatic to their hearts, that to have them realized, they felt they could with pleasure relinquish the attentions of Lord Mortimer, to have a pretext for injuring Fitzalan with his father: though not quite assured their suspicions were well founded, they would never have hesitated communicating them as such to Lord Cherbury; but for their own satisfaction they wished to know what reason they had to entertain them. Lady Greystock was the only person they observed on a footing of intimacy with Amanda, and through her means flattered themselves they might make the desired discovery. They therefore began to unbend from their haughtiness, and make overtures for an intimacy with her; overtures which she received with delight, and in their present attention forgot their past neglect, which had given her such disgust. As they became intimate with her, they were much amused by a shrewd manner she possessed of telling stories, and placing the foibles and imperfections of their visitors in the most conspicuous and ludicrous light; particularly of such visitors as were not agreeable to them. With the foibles of human nature she was well acquainted, also with the art of turning those foibles to her own advantage. She perceived the egregious vanity of the marchioness and Lady Euphrasia, and by administering large portions of what Sterne styles the delicious essence of the soul, to them, soon became an immense favorite. After an injunction of secrecy, the marchioness communicated her fears relative to Lord Mortimer and Amanda, which, she pretended, regard for one and pity for the other, had excited; as an attachment either of an honorable or dishonorable nature, she knew Lord Cherbury would never pardon. To know, therefore, how far matters had proceeded between them, would be some satisfaction, and might, perhaps, be the means of preventing the ill consequences she dreaded. Lady Greystock was not to be imposed on; she perceived it was not pity for Amanda, but envy and jealousy, which had excited the fears of the marchioness. If Lord Mortimer was attached to Amanda, from his sentiments and manner, she was convinced it was an attachment of the purest nature. She carefully concealed her thoughts, however, affected to enter into all the alarms of the marchioness, and, as she saw she was expected to do, promised all in her power should be done for discovering what attachment subsisted between his lordship and Miss Fitzalan. For this purpose she began to grow constant in her visits at Castle Carberry, often[Pg 192] spending whole days in the most familiar manner with Amanda, and endeavoring, by various methods, to beguile her of the secrets of her heart. Sometimes she rallied her on her melancholy; sometimes expressed pity for it in strains of the most soothing tenderness; would frequently relate little fictitious and embellished anecdotes of her own youth, in which she said she had suffered the most exquisite misery, from an unfortunate entanglement; would then advert to Lord Mortimer; express her wonder at his precipitate departure, and her admiration of his virtues, declaring if ever Lady Euphrasia gained his heart, which she much doubted, she must be considered as one of the most fortunate of women.

Delicacy sealed the lips of Amanda and guarded her secret. She believed her passion to be hopeless, and felt that to be offered consolation on such a subject, would, to her feelings, be truly humiliating. But though she could command her words, she could not her feelings, and they were visibly expressed in her countenance. She blushed whenever Lord Mortimer was mentioned; looked shocked if a union between him and Lady Euphrasia was hinted at; and smiled if a probability was suggested of its never taking place. Lady Greystock, at last, relinquished her attempts at betraying Amanda into a confession of her sentiments; indeed, she thought such a confession not very requisite, as her countenance pretty clearly developed what they were; and she deemed herself authorized to inform the marchioness that she was sure something had passed between Lord Mortimer and Amanda, though what she could not discover, from the circumspection of the latter. The marchioness was enraged, and more determined than ever on involving Amanda in destruction, if Lord Mortimer hesitated a moment in obeying the wishes of his father, by uniting himself to Lady Euphrasia.


[Pg 193]


CHAPTER XXIII.

“And to be plain, ’tis not your person My stomach’s set so sharp and fierce on: But ’tis your better part, your riches. That my enamored heart bewitches.”—Hudibras.

A month after the departure of Lord Mortimer the Roslin family left Ulster Lodge. Amanda sighed, as she saw them pass, at the idea of the approaching meeting, which might, perhaps, soon be followed by an event that would render her fond remembrance of Lord Mortimer improper. Many of the families about the castle were already gone to town for the winter. Those who remained in the country till after Christmas, among whom were the Kilcorbans, had so entirely neglected Amanda, from the time the marchioness arrived in the neighborhood, that they could not think of renewing their visits, confident as they were, from the proper dignity of her and Fitzalan’s manner, that they would be unwelcome.

The weather was now often too severe to permit Amanda to take her usual rambles; and the solitude of the castle was heightened by her own melancholy ideas, as well as by the dreariness of the season. No more the magic hand of hope sketched scenes of flattering brightness, to dissipate the gloominess of the present ones. The prospects of Amanda’s heart were as dreary, as desolate, as those she viewed from the windows of the castle. Her usual avocations no longer yielded delight. Every idea, every occupation, was embittered by the reflection of being lessened in the estimation of Lord Mortimer. Her health declined with her peace, and again Fitzalan had the anguish of seeing sorrow nipping his lovely blossom. The rose forsook her cheek, and her form assumed a fragile delicacy, which threatened the demolition of his earthly happiness. He was not ignorant of the cause of her dejection, but he would not shock her feelings by hinting it. Every effort which tenderness could suggest, he essayed to cheer her, but without any durable effect; for though she smiled when he expressed a wish to see her cheerful, it was a smile transient as the gleamings of a wintry sun, and which only rendered the succeeding gloom more conspicuous.

At this period of distress, Lady Greystock, who continued[Pg 194] her visits at the castle, made a proposal, which Fitzalan eagerly embraced. This was to take Amanda with her to London, whither she was obliged to go directly, about a lawsuit carrying on between her and the nephew of her late husband.

Change of scene, Fitzalan trusted, would remove from Amanda’s mind the dejection which oppressed it, and consequently aid the restoration of her health. Of Lord Mortimer’s renewing his addresses, he had not the slightest apprehension, as he neglected the opportunities he might have had in the country for such a purpose. Fitzalan, it may be remembered knew not that his lordship had ever deviated from his indifference, and he believed it occasioned by a transfer of his affections to Lady Euphrasia. He was also ignorant of the great intimacy between the Roslin family and Lady Greystock, and consequently of the probability there was, from such an intimacy, of Amanda’s being often in the way of Lord Mortimer. If she met him, he was confident it would be as the husband or favored lover of Lady Euphrasia; and, in either of these characters, he was certain, from the rectitude and purity of her principles, she would be more than ever impressed with the necessity of conquering her attachment; whilst the pain attending such a conviction would be lessened, and probably soon removed by surrounding objects, and the gay scenes she must engage in from being the companion of Lady Greystock, who had a numerous and elegant acquaintance in London.

Her ladyship appeared to him, as she did to many others, a pleasing, rational woman—one to whose care his heart’s best treasure might safely be consigned. He was induced to accept her protection for his Amanda, not only on account of her present but future welfare. His own health was extremely delicate. He deemed his life very precarious, and flattered himself Lady Greystock, by having his beloved girl under her care, would grow so attached to her, as to prove a friend if he should be snatched away ere his newly-obtained independence enabled him to make a provision for her. In indulging this hope, his heart could not reproach him for anything mean or selfish. Her ladyship had frequently assured him all her relations were very distant ones, and in affluent circumstances, so that if his Amanda received any proof of kindness from her, she could neither injure nor encroach on the rights of others.

This, however, was not the case, though carefully concealed from him, as well as many others, by her ladyship. Her education had either given birth to, or strengthened, the artful propensities of her disposition. She had been one of the[Pg 195] numerous offspring of a gentleman in the southern part of Ireland, whose wife, a complete housewife, knowing his inability of giving his daughters fortunes, determined to bring them up so as to save one for their future husbands.

At the age of nineteen, Miss Bridget, by her reputation for domestic cleverness, attracted the notice of a man of easy independence in the neighborhood, who, being a perfect Nimrod, wanted somebody to manage those concerns at home, which he neglected for the field and kennel; and in obtaining Miss Bridget, he procured this valuable acquisition. His love of sport, with his life, was fatally terminated the second year of his marriage, by his attempting to leap a five-bar gate. A good jointure devolved to his widow, and the office of consoling her to the rector of the parish, a little fat elderly man, who might have sat very well for the picture of Boniface. So successful were his arguments, that he not only expelled sorrow from her heart, but introduced himself into it, and had the felicity of receiving her hand as soon as her weeds were laid aside. Four years they lived in uninterrupted peace, but too free an enjoyment of the good things of this life undermined the constitution of the rector. He was ordered to Bath, where his mortal career was shortly terminated, and his whole fortune was left to his wife.

In the house where she lodged was an ancient baronet, who had never been married. His fortune was considerable, but his manner so strange and whimsical, that he appeared incapable of enjoying the advantages it would have afforded to others. Notwithstanding his oddities, he was compassionate; and as the fair relict was unaccompanied by a friend, he waited on her for the purpose of offering consolation, and any service in his power. This attention instantly inspired her with an idea of trying to make him feel tenderer sentiments than those of pity for her. His title and fortune were so attractive, that neither his capricious disposition, nor the disparity of their ages, he being sixty, and she only eight-and-twenty, could prevent her ardently desiring a connection between them. Her efforts to effect this were long unsuccessful; but perseverance will almost work miracles. Her constant good-humor, and unremitted solicitude about him, who was in general an invalid, at last made an impression on his flinty heart, and in a fit of sudden gratitude he offered her his hand, which was eagerly accepted.

The presumptive heir to the baronet’s large possessions was the son and only child of a deceased sister. At the period[Pg 196] this unexpected alliance took place, he was about twenty, pleasing in his person, and engaging in his manner, and tenderly beloved by his uncle. This love, Lady Greystock saw, if it continued, would frustrate her wish of possessing the baronet’s whole property. Various schemes fluctuated in her mind relative to the manner in which she should lay the foundation for Rushbrook’s ruin. Ere she could determine on one, chance discovered a secret which completely aided her intentions.

In the neighborhood of the baronet’s country residence, Rushbrook had formed an attachment for the daughter of a man against whom his uncle entertained the most inveterate enmity. A union with this girl, she was well convinced, would ruin him. She therefore gave him to understand she knew of his attachment, and sincerely pitied his situation, encouraging his love by the most flattering eulogiums on his adored Emily; declared her regret that hearts so congenial should be separated; and at last intimated that if they wished to unite, she was convinced she would soon be able to obtain Sir Geoffry’s forgiveness for such a step. Her artful insinuations hurried the unsuspicious pair into the snare she had spread for them. The consequence of this was what she expected.

Sir Geoffry’s rage was unappeasable, and he solemnly vowed never more to behold his nephew. Lady Greystock wished to preserve, if possible, appearances to the world, and prevailed on him to give her five hundred pounds for Rushbrook, to which she added five of her own, and presented the notes to him, with an assurance of pleading his cause whenever she found a favorable opportunity for doing so.

He purchased an ensigncy in a regiment on the point of embarking for America, where he felt he would rather encounter distress than among those who had known him in affluence.

Her ladyship now redoubled her attention to Sir Geoffry, and at last prepossessed him so strongly with the idea of her affection for him, that he made a will, bequeathing her his whole fortune, which she flattered herself with soon enjoying. But the constitution of Sir Geoffry was stronger than she imagined, and policy obliged her to adhere to a conduct which had gained his favor, as she knew the least alteration of it would, to his capricious temper, be sufficient to make him crush all her hopes.

Fifteen years passed in this manner, when a friend of Rushbrook’s advised him no longer to be deluded by the promises Lady Greystock still continued to make, of interceding in his favor, but to write himself to his uncle for forgiveness, which[Pg 197] the duty he owed his family, and the distress of his situation, should prompt him to immediately. Rushbrook accordingly wrote a most pathetic letter, and his friend, as he had promised, delivered it himself to the baronet. The contents of the letter, and the remonstrance of his visitor, produced a great change in the sentiments of the baronet. Tenderness for a nephew he had adopted as his heir from his infancy began to revive, and he seriously reflected, that by leaving his fortune to Lady Greystock, he should enrich a family unconnected with him, whilst the last branch of his own was left to obscurity and wretchedness. Pride recoiled from such an idea, and he told the gentleman he would consider about a reconciliation with his nephew.

The conversation between them, which Lady Greystock had contrived to overhear, filled her with dismay; but this was increased almost to distraction, when an attorney being sent for, she repaired again to her hiding-place, and heard a new will dictated entirely in Rushbrook’s favor.

Sir Geoffry was soon prevailed on to see his nephew, but Mrs. Rushbrook and the children were not suffered to appear before him. They were, however, supplied with everything requisite for making a genteel appearance, and accompanying the regiment (again ordered abroad) with comfort.

Soon after their departure, Sir Geoffry sunk into a sudden state of insensibility, from which no hopes of his ever recovering could be entertained. The situation was propitious to the designs of Lady Greystock; none but creatures of her own were admitted to his chamber. An attorney was sent for, who had often transacted business for her, relative to her affairs in Ireland; and a good bribe easily prevailed on him to draw up a will she dictated, similar to that before made in her favor. The baronet was raised in her arms, whilst the attorney guided his almost lifeless hand in signing it; and two clerks set their names as witnesses. Sir Geoffry expired almost immediately after this scheme was executed.

Rushbrook’s friend, who had been appointed to act for him, if this event took place whilst he was abroad, now appeared. A will found in Sir Geoffry’s cabinet was read, by which it appeared Mr. Rushbrook was his sole heir. The exultation of the peruser, however, was of short continuance; her ladyship’s attorney appeared, and declared the will was rendered null by one of later date, which he had drawn up in Sir Geoffry’s last moments, by his express desire. Consternation and surprise pervaded the mind of Rushbrook’s friend; he saw the will was too well attested for him to dispute it, yet he suspected foul[Pg 198] play, and lost no time in communicating his suspicion to Rushbrook.

Her ladyship settled her affairs most expeditiously and returned with delight to her native country, after a very long absence from it. Most of her near relations were dead, but she had many distant ones, who, prompted by the knowledge of her large fortune, eagerly reminded her of their affinity, and vied with each other in paying her attention. This was extremely pleasing to her ladyship, who was fond of pleasure at other people’s expense. For herself she had laid down rules of the most rigid economy, which she strictly adhered to. From the many invitations she received she was seldom a resident in her own house; she judged of others by herself, and ascribed the attentions she received to their real source, self-interest, which she laughed secretly to think she should disappoint.

She was remarkable (as Miss Kilcorban informed Amanda) for asking young people to do little matters for her, such as making her millinery, working ruffles, aprons, and handkerchiefs.

The tranquillity she enjoyed for two years after Sir Geoffry’s death was a little interrupted by his nephew’s arrival from America, and commencing a suit directly against her by the advice of his friends and some eminent lawyers, on the supposition that the will by which she inherited had been made when his uncle was in a state of imbecility.

Lady Greystock, however, received but a trifling shock from this; she knew he had no money to carry on such an affair, and that his advocates would lose their zeal in his cause, when convinced of the state of his finances. On being obliged to go to London to attend the suit, it immediately occurred that Amanda would be a most pleasing companion to take along with her, as she would not only enliven the hours she must sometimes pass at home, but do a number of little things in the way of dress, which would save a great deal of expense.

Amanda, on the first proposal of accompanying her, warmly opposed it; she felt unutterable reluctance to leave her father, and assured him she would, by exerting herself, prove that a change of scene was not requisite for restoring her cheerfulness. Fitzalan knew her sincerity in making this promise, but he also knew her inability of performing it; his happiness, he declared, depended on her complying with this request: he even said his own health would probably be established by it, as during her absence he would partake of the amusements of the country, which he had hitherto declined on her account. This asser[Pg 199]tion prevailed on her to consent, and immediate preparations were made for her journey, as the invitation had not been given till within a few days of her ladyship’s intended departure. As she went by Holyhead, Fitzalan determined on sending Ellen to her parents till Amanda returned from England, which determination pleased Ellen exceedingly, as she longed to see her family, and tell them particulars of Chip. As the hour approached for quitting her father, the regret and reluctance of Amanda increased; nor were his feelings less oppressive, though better concealed: but when the moment of parting came, they could no longer be suppressed; he held her with a trembling grasp to his heart, as if life would forsake it. On her departure, the gloom on his mind seemed like a presentiment of evil; he repented forcing her from him, and scarcely could he refrain from saying they must not part.

Lady Greystock, who in every scene and every situation preserved her composure, hinted to him the injury he was doing his daughter by such emotions; and mentioned how short their separation would be, and what benefit would accrue to Amanda from it.

This last consideration recalled to his mind instantly composed him, and he handed them to her ladyship’s chariot, which was followed by a hired chaise containing her woman and Ellen; he then sighed her a last adieu, returned to his solitary habitation to pray, and in spite of all his efforts, weep for his darling child.

Amanda’s tears streamed down her pale cheek, and never did she experience a pang of such sorrow as that she felt, when, the chaise descending a hill, she caught the last glimpse of Castle Carberry.

She perceived, however, that her ladyship had no relish for a gloomy companion, and therefore endeavored to recover her spirits, and enter into conversation.

Lady Greystock had a number of friends in that part of Ireland, and therefore never stopped at an inn.

“I always, my dear,” said she to Amanda, “make use of the friendship professed for me, and thus endeavor to render the great road of life delightful.”

They arrived the third day in Sackville Street, where her ladyship had a house, and two days after embarked for England. They slept the first night they landed at Holyhead, and the next morning pursued their journey.


[Pg 200]

CHAPTER XXIV.

“A song, a flower, a name, at once restore Those long-connected scenes when first they moved The attention————.”—Akenside.

The dejection of Amanda gradually declined, as the idea of seeing Lord Mortimer again revived. It revived not, however, without hopes, fears, and agitations. Sometimes she imagined she should find him devoted to Lady Euphrasia; then again believed his honor and sincerity would not allow him to give her up so suddenly, and that this apparent indifference proceeded from resentment, which would vanish if an opportunity once offered (and she trusted there would) for explaining her conduct. She endeavored to calm the emotions these ideas gave rise to, by reflecting that a short time now would most probably terminate her suspense.

They stopped for the night, about five o’clock, at an inn about a mile from Tudor Hall. After dinner, Amanda informed Lady Greystock she wished to accompany Ellen to her parents. To this her ladyship made no objection, on finding she did not want the carriage. She charged her, however, not to forget the hour of tea, by which time she would be refreshed by a nap, and ready to engage her at a game of picquet.

They set out unattended, as Ellen refused the ostler’s offer of carrying her portmanteau, saying she would send for it the next day. This she did by Amanda’s desire, who wished, unobserved, to pursue a walk, in which she promised herself a melancholy indulgence, from reviewing the well-known scenes endeared by tender recollections.

A mournful, yet not undelightful, sensation attends the contemplation of scenes where we once enjoyed felicity—departed joys are ever remembered with an enthusiasm of tenderness which soothes the sorrow we experience for their loss.

Such were the present feelings of Amanda; while Ellen, undisturbed by regrets for the past, pointed out, with pleasure, the dwellings of her intimates and friends. Yet when she came to Chip’s deserted cottage, she stopped, and a tear stole from her eye, accompanied at the same time by a smile, which seemed to say, “though thou art now lonely and cheerless, the period is approaching when comfort and gayety shall resume their sta[Pg 201]tions within thee; when the blaze of thy fire and thy taper shall not only diffuse cheerfulness within, but without, and give a ray to the desolate or benighted traveller, to guide him to thy hospitable shelter!”

Amanda, leaning on Ellen’s arm, proceeded slowly in her walk. The evening was delightful. The blue vault of heaven was spangled with stars, and the air, without being severely cold, was clear and refreshing. Their road, on one side, was skirted with the high woods of Tudor Hall. Amanda gazed on them with emotion; but when she came to the gate which Lord Mortimer had opened for her departure at their first interview, the softness of her heart, could no longer be resisted: she stopped, leaned pensively upon it, and wept. The evergreens, with which the woods abounded, prevented their wearing a desolate appearance. She wished to have pierced into their most sequestered gloom, but she had no time to indulge this wish; nor did she, indeed believe her companion, who was tinctured with superstitious fears, would have accompanied her. “When the glow of vegetation again revives,” said she to herself; “when the blossoms and the flowers again spread their spangled foliage to the sun, and every shade resounds with harmony, where, alas! will Amanda be?—far distant, in all probability, from these delightful scenes, perhaps neglected and forgotten by their master!”

The awful murmurs of the wind rustling through the trees, joined to the solemn sound of a neighboring waterfall, began to excite fears in Ellen’s breast. She laid her trembling hand on Amanda, and besought her, for the love of Cot, to hasten to the cottage. The road still wound round the wood; and lights from a small village, which lay on its borders, cast various shadows upon the trees; whilst the hum of distant voices floated upon the gale, and fancy pictured joyous groups of rustics assembling round their fires, to enjoy refreshment after the labors of the day.

“Peaceful people,” said Amanda, “when the wants of nature are satisfied, no care or trouble obtrudes upon your minds. Tired, but not exhausted with the toils of the day, with preparing the bosom of the earth for the ethereal mildness of the spring, you seek and enjoy a calm repose.”

In the lane which led to her nurse’s cottage, Amanda paused for a moment. Down this lane Lord Mortimer had once pursued her. She looked towards the mansion of Tudor Hall. She endeavored to discern the library, but all was dark and dismal, except the wing, which Ellen informed her was[Pg 202] occupied by the domestics. Through the window of Edwin’s cottage, they saw all the family seated round a blazing fire, chatting and laughing. The transport of Ellen’s heart overcame every idea of caution. She hastily unlatched the door, and flung herself into her parents’ arms. Their surprise and joy was unbounded, and Amanda was received and welcomed with as much tenderness as their child, without ever asking the reason of her sudden appearance. The first question was, “Would she not stay with them?” and her answer filled them with regret and disappointment. Perceiving them about procuring her refreshments, “she declared she had not a minute to stay. The time allotted for her walk was already exceeded, and she feared Lady Greystock would be offended at being left so long at an inn by herself.” She therefore hastily presented some little presents she had brought for the family, and was bidding them farewell, when poor Ellen, who, from so long residing with her young lady, almost adored her, suddenly flung herself into her arms, and clinging round her neck, as if to prevent a separation, which, till the moment of its arrival, she thought she could have supported, exclaimed:—

“Oh, my tear young laty, we are going to part, and my heart sinks within me at the idea. Even Chip himself, if he was here, could not console me. I know you are not happy, and that increases my sorrow. Your sweet cheek is pale, and I have often seen you cry when you thought no poty was minding you. If you who are so goot are not happy, how can a peing like me hope to be so? Oh, may I soon pe plest with seeing you return the mistress of Tudor Hall, married to the sweetest, handsomest of noblemen, who, I know, in my soul, loves you, as well inteed he may, for where would he see the fellow of my young laty? Then Chip and I will be so happy, for I am sure you and my lort will shelter our humble cottage.”

Amanda pressed the affectionate girl to her breast, and mingled tears with hers, while she softly whispered to her not to hint at such an event; “but be assured, my dearest Ellen,” continued she, “that I shall ever rejoice at your felicity, which, to the utmost of my power, I would promote, and hope soon to hear of your union with Chip.”

“Alack-a-tay!” said her nurse; “are you going away, when I thought you come to stay among us? and then, perhaps, my lort would have come, and then there would have peen such a happy meeting. Why, I verily thought he would have gone distracted when he found you, as one may say, run away; and to pe sure I did pity him, and should have made no[Pg 203] scruple to tell him where you were, had I known it myself, which he suspected, for he offered me a sight of money if I would discover. Then there is Parson Howel; why he has peen like unto nothing put a ghost since you went away; and he does so sigh, and he comes almost every tay to ask me apout you, and whether I think or know Lord Mortimer is with you. He will pe in such grief to think you were here without his seeing you.”

“Well,” said Amanda, endeavoring to appear cheerful, “we may all yet have a happy meeting.”

She then repeated her farewell, and, leaning on the arm of old Edwin, returned to the inn, where she again bid him adieu; and hastening to her ladyship, found her just awaking from a comfortable slumber. They drank tea, and, after playing for about an hour at picquet, retired to rest. Amanda, who enjoyed but little repose, rose early in the morning, and, finding her ladyship not quite ready, went down to the court to walk about till she was; where, to her great surprise, the first object she perceived was Howel, leaning pensively against a gate opposite the house. He flew over, and, catching her hand, exclaimed, “You are surprised, but, I trust, not displeased. I could not resist such an opportunity of seeing you once more, after all I have suffered from your precipitate journey, and the probability of never more beholding you. I have been watching here, in expectation of this happiness, since the first dawn of day.”

“I am sorry,” said Amanda, gravely, “your time was so ill employed.”

“How coldly you speak,” cried he. “Ah! could you read my heart, you would see so little presumption in it, that you would, I am confident, pity, though you could not relieve, its feelings. Every spot you loved to frequent, I have haunted since your departure. Your mother’s grave has often been the scene of pensive meditation. Nor has it wanted its vernal offering; the loveliest flowers of my garden I have wove into wreaths, and hung them over it, in fond remembrance of her angel daughter.”

The plaintive sound of Howel’s voice, the dejection of his countenance, excited the softest feelings of sensibility in Amanda’s bosom. But she grew confused by the tenderness of his expression, and, saying she was happy to see him, tried to disengage her hand, that she might retire.

“Surely,” exclaimed he, still detaining it a few moments, “you might grant me without reluctance—you, who are going[Pg 204] to enjoy every happiness and pleasure, going to meet the favored——"

Amanda anticipated the name he was about uttering, and her confusion redoubled. She attempted again, yet in vain, to withdraw her hand, and turned to see whether any one was observing them. How great was her mortification, on perceiving Lady Greystock leaning from a window, exactly over their heads! She smiled significantly at Amanda, on being seen; and, the carriage being ready, said, “She would attend her below stairs.” Howel now relinquished Amanda’s hand. He saw she looked displeased; and expressed such sorrow, accompanied with such submissive apologies for offending her, that she could not avoid according him her pardon. He handed both her and Lady Greystock into the carriage, and looked a melancholy adieu as it drove off.

“Upon my word, a pretty smart young fellow!” said Lady Greystock. “Though impatient this long time to set out, I could not think of interrupting the interesting tete-à-tete I saw between you and him. I suppose you have been a resident in this part of the country before, from your seeming to know this tender swain so well.”

Amanda wished to avoid acknowledging this. If known, she feared it would lead to a discovery, or at least excite a suspicion of her intimacy with Lord Mortimer, which she was desirous of concealing, while in this uncertainty concerning him.

“Your ladyship has heard, I believe,” replied she, “that Ellen’s mother nursed me?” “Yes, my dear,” answered her ladyship, with some smartness; “but if your acquaintance even commenced with this youth in infancy, I fancy it has been renewed since that period.”

Amanda blushed deeply, and, to hide her confusion, pretended to be looking at the prospect from the window. Lady Greystock’s eyes pursued hers. Tudor Hall was conspicuous from the road, and Amanda involuntarily sighed as she viewed it.

“That is a fine domain,” said Lady Greystock; “I presume you have visited it, and know its owner?”

Amanda could not assert a falsehood, neither could she evade the inquiries of Lady Greystock; and therefore not only confessed its being the estate of Lord Mortimer, but her own residence near it the preceding summer. Her ladyship immediately conjectured it was then the attachment between her and Lord Mortimer had commenced; and the blushes, the hesitation, and the unwillingness of Amanda, in owning her[Pg 205] visit to Wales, all confirmed this conjecture. She tried, however, to insinuate herself into her full confidence, by warm expressions of esteem, and by hinting, that from the disposition of Lord Mortimer, she could not believe he ever did, or ever would, think seriously of Lady Euphrasia; this, she hoped, would either induce or betray Amanda to open her whole heart; but she was disappointed. She flattered herself, however, with thinking she had discovered enough to satisfy the marchioness, if she, as Lady Greystock feared she would, expressed any disapprobation at seeing Amanda her companion. She intended saying, that Fitzalan had absolutely forced her under her protection.

They arrived late in the evening of the third day at Pall Mall, where her ladyship’s agent had previously taken lodgings for them.

Lady Greystock, though immersed in business against the approaching trial, neglected no means of amusement; and, the day after her arrival, sent a card of inquiry to the Roslin family, as the most eligible mode of informing them of it. The next morning, as she expected, she received a visit from them. Amanda was sitting in the window when the carriage drove up to the door. She instantly arose, and left the room, determined neither to expose herself to their impertinence, or appear solicitous for their notice, by staying in their company uninvited. Lady Greystock soon informed them of Amanda’s having accompanied her to London; and they, as she expected, expressed both surprise and displeasure at it. As she had settled in her own mind, she, therefore, told them, “that Fitzalan had urged her to take his daughter under her care, with entreaties she could not resist. Entreaties,” she added, with a significant look, “she believed he had good reason for making.” She then related all she suspected, or rather had discovered, relative to the attachment between Lord Mortimer and Amanda having commenced the preceding summer in Wales.

The marchioness and Lady Euphrasia instantly concluded she was sent to London for the purpose of having it completed by a marriage. This, however, they determined to prevent. The marchioness felt the most inveterate hatred against her; and also, that, to prevent her being advantageously settled, even if that settlement threatened not to interfere with the one she had projected for her daughter, she could undertake almost any project. Though she abhorred the idea of noticing her, yet she was tempted now to do so, from the idea that it would[Pg 206] better enable her to watch her actions. This idea she communicated in a hasty whisper to Lady Euphrasia, who, approving it, she told Lady Greystock, “as Miss Fitzalan was her guest, she would, on that account, permit her to be introduced to them.” Amanda was accordingly sent for. On entering the room, Lady Greystock took her hand, and presented her to the marchioness and Lady Euphrasia. The former, half rising, with a coldness she could not conquer, said, “Whenever Lady Greystock honored her with a visit, she should be happy to see Miss Fitzalan along with her.” The latter only noticed her by a slight bow; and when Amanda drew a chair near the sofa on which she sat, or rather reclined, she continued staring in her face, and alternately humming an Italian air, and caressing a little dog she had brought with her. The unembarrassed elegance of Amanda’s air and manner surprised and mortified them, as they expected to have seen her covered with confusion, at an introduction so unexpected. To their haughty souls, nothing was more delightful than the awe and deference which vulgar and illiberal minds are so apt to pay to rank and fortune. They were provoked to see, in Amanda, conscious dignity, instead of trembling diffidence. As she sat by Lady Euphrasia, the marchioness could not help secretly confessing she was a dangerous rival to her daughter; for never did her lovely features and ingenuous countenance appear to such advantage, as when contrasted to Lady Euphrasia’s. The Marchioness withdrew soon after her entrance, unable longer to restrain the malignant passions which envy had excited.

Both she and Lady Euphrasia were convinced that to communicate their suspicions at present to Lord Cherbury about her and his son, would not answer the end proposed, for it could be of little consequence, they reflected, to withdraw the esteem of the father, if that of the son continued, who, independent in his notions, and certain of the fortunes of his ancestors, might not hesitate to gratify himself. The point, therefore, was, by some deep-laid scheme, to ruin Amanda in the estimation of Lord Mortimer; and if in the power of mortals to contrive and execute such a scheme, they gave themselves credit for being able to effect it.

The blow at her fond hopes, they resolved, should be followed by one against the peace of Fitzalan, on whom they knew, whenever they pleased, they could draw the resentment of Lord Cherbury. Thus should they completely triumph over the lovely Amanda—plunge two beings they detested into poverty and wretchedness—destroy expectations which inter[Pg 207]fered with their own, and secure an alliance with a man they had long wished united to their family.

From the unaltered indifference of Lord Mortimer to Lady Euphrasia, they were convinced of his predilection for another, flattering themselves that nothing but a prior attachment could have rendered him insensible to the attractions of her ladyship. To render the object of this attachment contemptible in his sight, they believed would produce the transfer of affections they so long desired. The haughty soul of Lady Euphrasia would never have permitted her to think of accepting Lord Mortimer after his neglect of her, but by the opportunity she should have by such an acceptance of triumphing over Amanda. From this idea, she entered warmly into all her mother’s plans.

Lord Cherbury had never yet spoken explicitly to his son concerning the union he had projected for him. He often, indeed, dropped hints about it, which he always found either neglected, or purposely misunderstood; and from these circumstances was pretty sensible of the disinclination Lord Mortimer felt to his wishes. He knew he entertained high notions of the independence which a rational mind has a right to maintain, and that in an affair of such consequence, as Mortimer frequently said he considered a matrimonial connection to be, he would neither be controlled by the opinion of others or merely allured by the advantages of fortune.

To avoid a disagreeable argument with a son he not only loved, but respected, he sought rather, by indirect means, to involve him in an entanglement with the Roslin family, than come to an open explanation with him. For this purpose he contrived parties as often as possible with them in public; where, by Lord Mortimer’s being seen with Lady Euphrasia, reports might be raised of an intended alliance between them—reports which he himself propagated among some particular friends, with a desire of having them circulated, but an injunction of secrecy as to their author. These reports would, he trusted, on reaching Lord Mortimer, lead to a discussion of the affair; and then, he meant to say, as Lord Mortimer had partly contributed to raise them himself by his attendance on Lady Euphrasia, he could not possibly, with honor, recede from realizing them; yet often did his lordship fear his scheme would prove abortive—for he well knew the cool judgment and keen penetration of his son. This fear always inspired him with horror, for he had a motive for desiring the union which he durst not avow.

Lord Mortimer quickly indeed discerned what his father’s [Pg 208] views were in promoting his attendance on Lady Euphrasia. He therefore avoided her society whenever it was possible to do so without absolute rudeness, and contradicted the reports he almost continually heard of an intended alliance between them in the most solemn manner. He had always disliked her, but latterly that dislike was converted into hatred, from the malevolence of her conduct towards Amanda; and he felt that, even were his heart free, he never could devote it to her—or give his hand where it must be unaccompanied with esteem. He wished to avoid a disagreeable conversation with Lord Cherbury, and flattered himself his unaltered indifference to her ladyship would at length convince his lordship of the impossibility of accomplishing his projected scheme; and that consequently it would be dropped ere openly avowed, and he saved the painful necessity of absolutely rejecting a proposal of his father’s.

In the evening Lady Greystock and Amanda received cards for dinner the next day at the Marquis of Roslin’s. Amanda made no objection to this invitation. Her father had often declared, if the marchioness made an overture for an intimacy with his children, he would not reject it, as he always deemed family quarrels highly prejudicial to both parties, with regard to the opinion of the world. Besides, had she objected to it, she should either have been a restraint on Lady Greystock, or left to total solitude; and the idea also stole upon her mind that she should lose a chance of seeing Lord Mortimer, whom she supposed a frequent guest of the marquis’s. Her heart fluttered at the idea of soon beholding him, and the bright glow of animation which overspread her countenance in consequence of this idea attracted the observation of Lady Greystock, who congratulated her on the alteration that was already visible in her looks; and inferred from thence that she was so well recovered of her fatigue as to be able to contrive a little trimming for her against the next day. This Amanda cheerfully undertook, and having a quick execution as well as an elegant taste, soon made progress in it which delighted her ladyship, who, to divert her while she worked, related some of the many entertaining anecdotes with which her memory was stored.

Though Amanda submitted her beautiful hair to the hands of a friseur, she departed not from the elegant simplicity always conspicuous in her dress. Her little ornaments were all arranged with taste, and an anxious wish of appearing to advantage. So lovely, indeed, did she appear to Lady Greystock, that her ladyship began seriously to fear she should not[Pg 209] be forgiven by the marchioness or Lady Euphrasia, for having introduced such an object to their parties.

About six they reached Portman Square, and found a large party assembled in the drawing-room. After the first compliments were over and Amanda introduced to the marquis—not, indeed, as a near relation, but an utter stranger—a gentleman stepped up to the marchioness, and addressing her in a low voice, was immediately presented by her to Amanda, as the Earl of Cherbury.

“My dear young lady,” said he, “allow me to express the pleasure I feel at seeing the daughter of my worthy friend, Mr. Fitzalan. Allow me also to increase that pleasure,” continued he, taking her hand, and leading her to a very lovely girl who sat at some distance, “by presenting Miss Fitzalan to Lady Araminta Dormer, and desiring their friendship for each other.”

Surprised, confused, yet delighted by notice so little expected, the heart of Amanda heaved with emotion; her cheeks mantled with blushes, and the tear of sensibility trembled in her eye. She was not, however, so embarrassed as to be incapable of expressing her acknowledgments to his lordship for his attention, and also to assure him she had early been taught, and sensibly felt, the claims he had upon her gratitude and respect. He bowed, as if to prevent a further mention of obligations, and left her seated by his daughter, who had expressed her pleasure at being introduced to her, not in the supercilious style of Lady Euphrasia, but in the sweet accents of affability and tenderness.

The conduct of Lord Cherbury had drawn all eyes upon Amanda; and the marchioness and Lady Euphrasia regarded her with peculiar malignancy. The idea, however, that they could, whenever they pleased, deprive her of his notice, a little lessened the jealousy and mortification it had excited.

“Pray, who is this little creature,” exclaimed Miss Malcolm (who was a relation of the Marquis’s, and, from being extremely ugly, extremely rich, and extremely ill-natured, was an immense favorite of Lady Euphrasia’s ), “that puts one in mind of a country miss, on her first appearance at a country assembly, blushing and trembling at every eye she meets?”

“Some kind of a far-off relation of my mother’s,” replied Lady Euphrasia, “whom that old dowager, Lady Greystock, picked up in the wilds of Ireland, and has absolutely forced upon our notice; though I assure you, from compassion, we should have taken the poor creature long ago under our protection, but for the shocking conduct of her family to the mar[Pg 210]chioness, and the symptoms she has already betrayed of following their example. It is really ridiculous sending her to London. I dare say her silly old father has exhausted all his ways and means in trying to render her decent, comforting himself, no doubt, with the hope of her entrapping some young fool of quality, who may supply his wants as well as hers.”

“Ay, I suppose all the stock in the farm was sold to dress her out,” cried young Freelove, a little, trifling fop, who leaned on the back of her ladyship’s chair. He was a ward of Lord Cherbury, and his fortune considerable; but nature had not been quite as bounteous to him as the blind goddess. Both his mind and person were effeminate to a degree of insignificance. All he aimed at was—being a man of fashion. His manners, like his dress, were therefore regulated by it, and he never attempted to approve of anything, or any creature, till assured they were quite the ton. He had danced attendance for some time on Lady Euphrasia, and she encouraged his assiduities in hopes of effecting a change in Lord Mortimer’s manner. But had his lordship even been a passionate lover, poor Freelove was not calculated to inspire him with jealousy. “I declare,” continued he, surveying Amanda through an opera-glass which dangled from his button-hole, “if her father has nothing to support him but the hope of her making a conquest of importance, he will be in a sad way, for, ’pon my soul, I can see nothing the girl has to recommend her, except novelty; and that, you know, is a charm which will lessen every day. All she can possibly expect, is an establishment for a few months with some tasteless being who may like the simplicity of her country look.”

“And more than she merits,” exclaimed Miss Malcolm; “I have no patience with such creatures forcing themselves into society quite above them.”

“I assure you,” said Lady Euphrasia, “you would be astonished at her vanity and conceit, if you knew her. She considers herself a first-rate beauty, though positively any one may see she is quite the reverse, and pretends to the greatest gentleness and simplicity. Then she has made some strange kind of people (to be sure they must be) believe she is accomplished; though, I dare say, if she can read tolerably, and scrawl out a decent letter, ’tis the utmost she can do.”

“We will quiz her after dinner about her accomplishments,” said Freelove, “and have a little fun with her.”

“Ay, do,” cried Miss Malcolm. “We will ask her to play and sing,” said her ladyship; “for I assure you she pretends[Pg 211] to excel in both; though, from her father’s poverty, I am certain she can know little of either. I shall enjoy her confusion of all things, when her ignorance is detected.”

Whilst this conversation was passing, Amanda, in conversing with Lady Araminta, experienced the purest pleasure. Her ladyship was the “softened image" of Lord Mortimer. Her voice was modulated to the same harmony as his, and Amanda gazed and listened with rapture. On her confusion abating, her eye had wandered round the room in quest of his lordship, but he was not in it. At every stir, near the door, her heart fluttered at the idea of seeing him; nor was this idea relinquished till summoned to dinner. She fortunately procured a seat next Lady Araminta, which prevented her thinking the time spent at dinner tedious. In the evening the rooms were crowded with company, but Lord Mortimer appeared not among the brilliant assembly. Yet the pang of disappointment was softened to Amanda by his absence, intimating that he was not anxious for the society of Lady Euphrasia. True, business, or a prior engagement, might have prevented his coming; but she, as is natural, fixed on the idea most flattering to herself.

Lady Euphrasia, in pursuance of the plan laid against Amanda, led the way to the music-room, attended by a large party; as Freelove had intimated to some of the beaux and belles, her ladyship and he were going to quiz an ignorant Irish country girl. Lady Euphrasia sat down to the harpsichord, that she might have a better pretext for asking Amanda to play. Freelove seated himself by the latter, and began a conversation which, he thought, would effectually embarrass her; but it had quite a contrary effect, rendering him so extremely ridiculous as to excite a universal laugh at his expense.

Amanda soon perceived his intention in addressing her; and, also, that Lady Euphrasia and Miss Malcolm were privy to it, having caught the significant looks which passed among them. Though tremblingly alive to every feeling of modesty, she had too much sense, and real nobleness of soul, to allow the illiberal sallies of impertinence to divest her of composure.

“Have you seen any of the curiosities of London, my dear?” exclaimed Freelove, lolling back in his chair, and contemplating the lustre of his buckles, unconscious of the ridicule he excited.

“I think I have,” said Amanda, somewhat archly, and glancing at him, “quite an original in its kind.” Her look, as well as the emphasis on her words, excited another laugh at his expense, which threw him into a momentary confusion.

“I think,” said he, as he recovered from it, “the Monu[Pg 212]ment and the Tower would be prodigious fine sights to you, and I make it a particular request that I may be included in your party whenever you visit them, particularly the last place.”

“And why,” replied Amanda, “should I take the trouble of visiting wild beasts, when every day I may see animals equally strange, and not half so mischievous?”

Freelove, insensible as he was, could not mistake the meaning of Amanda’s words, and he left her with a mortified air, being, to use his own phrase, “completely done up.”

Lady Euphrasia, now rising from the harpsichord, requested Amanda to take her place at it, saying, with an ironical air, "her performance (which indeed was shocking) would make hers appear to amazing advantage.”

Diffident of her own abilities, Amanda begged to be excused. But when Miss Malcolm, with an earnestness even oppressive, joined her entreaties to Lady Euphrasia’s she could no longer refuse.

“I suppose,” said her ladyship, following her to the instrument, "these songs,” presenting her some trifling ones, “will answer you better than the Italian music before you?”

Amanda made no reply, but turned over the leaves of the book to a lesson much more difficult than that Lady Euphrasia had played. Her touch at first was tremulous and weak, but she was too susceptible of the powers of harmony not soon to be inspired by it; and gradually her style became so masterly and elegant, as to excite universal admiration, except in the bosoms of those who had hoped to place her in a ludicrous situation. Their invidious scheme, instead of depressing, had only served to render excellence conspicuous; and that mortification they destined for another, fell upon themselves. When the lesson was concluded, some gentlemen who either were, or pretended to be, musical connoisseurs, entreated her to sing. She chose a plaintive Italian air, and the exquisite taste and sweetness with which she sung, equally astonished and delighted. Nor was admiration confined to the accomplishments she displayed. The soft expression of her countenance, which seemed accordant to the harmonious sounds that issued from her lips, was viewed with pleasure, and praised with energy; and she rose from the harpsichord covered with blushes from the applause which stole around her. The gentlemen gathered around Lady Euphrasia, to inquire who the beautiful stranger was, and she gave them pretty much the same account she had already done to Miss Malcolm.

The rage and disappointment of that young lady, and her[Pg 213] ladyship, could scarcely be concealed. “I declare, I never knew anything so monstrously absurd,” exclaimed Lady Euphrasia, “as to let a girl in her situation learn such things, except, indeed, it was to qualify her for a governess, or an opera singer.”

“Ay, I suppose,” said Miss Malcolm, “we shall soon hear her quavering away at one of the theatres; for no person of fashion would really intrust her children to so confident a creature.”

The fair object of their disquietude gladly accompanied Lady Araminta into another room. Several gentlemen followed, and crowded about her chair, offering that adulation which they were accustomed to find acceptable at the shrine of beauty. To Amanda, however, it was irksome, not only from its absurd extravagance, but as it interrupted her conversation with Lady Araminta. The marchioness, however, who critically watched her motions, soon relieved her from the troublesome assiduities of the beaux, by placing them at card-tables. Not, indeed, from any good-natured motive, but she could not bear that Amanda should have so much attention paid her, and flattered herself she would be vexed by losing it.

In the course of conversation, Lady Araminta mentioned Ireland. She had a faint remembrance of Castle Carberry, she said, and had been half tempted to accompany the marquis and his family in their late excursion. Her brother, she added, had almost made her promise to visit the castle with him the ensuing summer. “You have seen Lord Mortimer, to be sure?” continued her ladyship.

“Yes, madam,” faltered Amanda, while her face was overspread with a crimson hue. Her ladyship was too penetrating not to perceive her confusion, and it gave rise to a conjecture of something more than a slight acquaintance being between his lordship and Amanda. The melancholy he had betrayed on his return from Ireland had excited the raillery of her ladyship, till convinced, by the discomposure he showed whenever she attempted to inquire into the occasion of it, that it proceeded from a source truly interesting to his feelings. She knew of the alliance her father had projected for him with the Roslin family—a project she never approved of, for Lady Euphrasia was truly disagreeable to her; and a soul like Mortimer’s, tender, liberal, and sincere, she knew could never experience the smallest degree of happiness with a being so uncongenial in every respect as was Lady Euphrasia to him. She loved her brother with the truest tenderness, and secretly believed he was attached in Ireland. She wished to gain his confidence, yet would not solicit it, because she knew she had it not in her[Pg 214] power essentially to serve him. Her arguments, she was convinced, would have little weight with Lord Cherbury, who had often expressed to her his anxiety for a connection with the Roslin family. With the loveliness of Amanda’s person, with the elegance of her manner, she was immediately charmed. As she conversed with her, esteem was added to admiration, and she believed that Mortimer would not have omitted mentioning to her the beautiful daughter of his father’s agent, had he not feared betraying too much emotion at her name. She appeared to Lady Araminta just the kind of woman he would adore; just the being that would answer all the ideas of perfection (romantic ideas she had called them) which he had declared necessary to captivate his heart. Lady Araminta already felt for her unspeakable tenderness. In the softness of her looks, in the sweetness of her voice, there were resistless charms; and she felt, that if oppressed by sorrow, Amanda Fitzalan, above all other beings, was the one she would select to give her consolation. The confusion she betrayed at the mention of Mortimer, made her ladyship suspect she was the cause of his dejection. She involuntarily fastened her eyes upon her face, as if to penetrate the recesses of her heart, yet with a tenderness which seemed to say she would pity the secret she might then discover.

Lord Cherbury, at this moment of embarrassment to Amanda, approached. He said, “He had just been making a request, and an apology to Lady Greystock, and was now come to repeat them to her. The former was, to meet the marquis’s family at his house the next day at dinner; and the latter was, to excuse so unceremonious an invitation, which he had been induced to make on Lady Araminta’s account, who was obliged to leave town the day after the next, and had, therefore, no time for the usual etiquette of visiting.”

Amanda bowed. This invitation was more pleasing than one of more form would have been. It seemed to indicate friendship, and a desire to have the intimacy between her and his daughter cultivated. It gave her also a hope of seeing Lord Mortimer. All these suggestions inspired her with uncommon animation, and she entered into a lively conversation with Lord Cherbury, who had infinite vivacity in his look and manner. Lady Araminta observed the attention he paid her with pleasure. A prepossession in her favor, she trusted, might produce pleasing consequences.

Lady Greystock at length rose to depart. Amanda received an affectionate adieu from Lady Araminta; and Lord Cherbury attended the ladies to their carriage. On driving off, Lady Greystock observed, what a charming polite man his lordship[Pg 215] was; and, in short, threw out such hints, and entered into such a warm eulogium on his merits, that Amanda began to think he would not find it very difficult to prevail on her ladyship to enter once more the temple of Hymen.

Amanda retired to her chamber in a state of greater happiness than for a long period before she had experienced; but it was a happiness which rather agitated than soothed the feelings, particularly hers, which were so susceptible of every impression, that

“They turned at the touch of joy or woe, And turning trembled too.”

Her present happiness was the offspring of hope, and therefore peculiarly liable to disappointment; a hope derived from the attention of Lord Cherbury, and the tenderness of Lady Araminta, that the fond wishes of her heart might yet be realized; wishes, again believed from hearing of Lord Mortimer’s dejection, which his sister had touched upon, and from his absenting himself from the marquis’s, which were not uncongenial to those he himself entertained. She sat down to acquaint her father with the particulars of the day she had passed: for her chief consolation in her absence from him, was, in the idea of writing and hearing constantly. Her writing finished, she sat by the fire, meditating on the interview she expected would take place on the ensuing day, till the hoarse voice of the watchmen, proclaiming past three o’clock, roused her from her reverie. She smiled at the abstraction of her thoughts, and retired to bed to dream of felicity.

So calm were her slumbers—so delightful her dreams—that Sol had long shot his timorous ray into her chamber ere she awoke. Her spirits still continued serene and animated. On descending to the drawing-room, she found Lady Greystock just entering it. After breakfast, they went out in her ladyship’s carriage to different parts of the town. All was new to Amanda, who, during her former residence in it, had been entirely confined to lodgings in a retired street. She wondered at, and was amused by, the crowds continually passing and repassing. About four they returned to dress. Amanda began the labors of the toilet with a beating heart; nor were its quick pulsations decreased on entering Lady Greystock’s carriage, which in a few minutes conveyed her to Lord Cherbury’s house in St. James’s Square. She followed her ladyship with tottering steps; and the first object she saw on entering the drawing-room was Mortimer standing near the door.


[Pg 216]

CHAPTER XXV.

“Begone my cares; I give you to the winds.”—Rowe.

In the drawing-room were already assembled the marquis, marchioness, Lady Euphrasia, Miss Malcolm, and Freelove. Lady Araminta perceived in the hesitating voice of Amanda the emotions which agitated her, and which were not diminished when Lord Cherbury, taking her trembling hand, said—

“Mortimer, I presume you have already seen Miss Fitzalan in Ireland?”

“I have, my lord,” replied Mortimer, bowing, and at the same time approaching to pay his compliments.

Every eye in the room, except Lord Cherbury’s and Freelove’s, was now turned upon his lordship and Amanda, and thought, in the expressive countenances of both, enough could be read to confirm their suspicions of a mutual attachment subsisting between them.

Amanda, when seated, endeavored to recover from her confusion. Miss Malcolm, to prevent Lord Mortimer’s taking a seat by her, which she thought she perceived him inclined to do, beckoned him to her, and contrived to engage him in trifling chat, till they were summoned to dinner. On receiving his hand, which he could not avoid offering, to lead her to the parlor, she cast a look of exultation at Amanda. Lady Araminta, perceiving all the gentlemen engaged, good-humoredly put her arm within Amanda’s, and said she would be her chaperon on the present occasion. Lord Mortimer quitted Miss Malcolm the moment he had procured her a seat, though she desired him to take one between her and Lady Euphrasia, and, passing to the other side, placed himself by Amanda. This action pleased her as much as it mortified them. It embarrassed her, however, a little; but perceiving the scrutinizing earnestness with which the marchioness and Lady Euphrasia regarded her, she exerted her spirits, and was soon able to join in the general conversation which Lord Mortimer promoted.

The unexpected arrival of Amanda in London astonished, and, notwithstanding his resentment, delighted him. His sister, when they were alone in the morning, had mentioned her with all the fervency of praise. Her plaudits gave to him a sensa[Pg 217]tion of satisfied pride, which convinced him he was not less than ever interested about Amanda. Since his return from Ireland, he had been distracted by incertitude and anxiety about her. The innocence, the purity, the tenderness she had displayed, were perpetually recurring to his memory. It was impossible, he thought, they could be feigned, and he began to think the apparent mystery of her conduct she could have satisfactorily explained—that designedly she had not avoided him—and that, but for the impetuosity of his own passions, which had induced his precipitate departure, he might, ere this, have had all his doubts removed. Tortured with incessant regret for this departure, he would have returned immediately to Ireland, but at this period found it impossible to do so, without exciting inquiries from Lord Cherbury, which, at present, he did not choose to answer. He had planned an excursion thither the ensuing summer with Lady Araminta, determined no longer to endure his suspense. He now almost believed the peculiar interposition of Providence had brought Amanda to town, thus affording him another opportunity of having his anxiety relieved, and the chief obstacle, perhaps to his, and he flattered himself also, to her happiness, removed; for, if assured her precipitate journey from Wales was occasioned by no motive she need blush to avow, he felt he should be better enabled to combat the difficulties he was convinced his father would throw in the way of their union. Notwithstanding Lady Araminta’s endeavors to gain his implicit confidence, he resolved to withhold it from her, lest she should incur even the temporary displeasure of Lord Cherbury, by the warm interest he knew she would take in his affairs, if once informed of them.

Amanda looked thinner and paler than when he had seen her in Ireland—yet, if possible, more interesting from these circumstances; and, from the soft glance she had involuntarily directed towards him at her entrance, he was tempted to think he had, in some degree, contributed to rob her lovely cheek of its bloom; and this idea rendered her dearer than ever to him. Scarcely could he restrain the rapture he felt on seeing her within the necessary bounds; scarcely could he believe the scene which had given rise to his happiness real. His heart, at the moment melting with tenderness, sighed for the period of explanation, which he trusted, which he hoped, would also be the period of reconciliation.

The gentlemen joined the ladies about teatime, and as no additional company was expected, Lady Euphrasia proposed a party to the Pantheon. This was at once agreed to. Amanda[Pg 218] was delighted at the proposal, as it not only promised to gratify her curiosity, but to give Lord Mortimer an opportunity of addressing her, as she saw he wished, but vainly attempted, at home. The marquis and Lord Cherbury declined going. Lady Greystock, who had not ordered her carriage till a much later hour, accepted a place in the marchioness’s.

Neither Lady Euphrasia nor Miss Malcolm could bear the idea of Lord Mortimer and Amanda going in the same carriage, as the presence of Lady Araminta, they were convinced, would not prevent their using an opportunity so propitious for conversing as they wished. Lady Euphrasia, therefore, with sudden eagerness, declared she and Miss Malcolm would resign their seats in the marchioness’s carriage to Miss Fitzalan and Freelove for the pleasure of accompanying Lady Araminta in hers. The marchioness, who conjectured her daughter’s motive for this new arrangement, seconded it, to the secret regret of Amanda, and the visible chagrin of Lord Mortimer. Amanda, however, consoled herself for this disappointment, by reflecting on the pleasure she should enjoy in a few minutes, when freed from the disagreeable observation of the marchioness and Lady Euphrasia; her reflections were not in the least interrupted by any conversation being addressed to her. The marchioness and Lady Greystock chatted together, and Freelove amused himself humming a song, as if for the purpose of mortifying Amanda by his inattention. When the carriage stopped, he assisted the former ladies out; but as if forgetting such a being existed as Amanda, he went on with them. She was descending the steps when Lord Mortimer pressed forward, and snatching her hand, softly exclaimed: “We have met again, and neither envy nor malice shall again separate us.” A beautiful glow overspread the countenance of Amanda: her hand trembled in his, and she felt, in that moment, recompensed for her former disappointment, and elevated above the little insolence of Freelove. Lord Mortimer handed her to his sister, who was waiting to receive her, and they proceeded to the room. Lady Euphrasia entered it with a temper unfitted for enjoyment. She was convinced the whole soul of Mortimer was devoted to Amanda, and she trembled from the violent and malignant feelings that conviction excited. From the moment he entered the carriage till he quitted it he had remained silent, notwithstanding all her efforts and Miss Malcolm’s to force him into conversation. He left them as soon as they reached the Pantheon to watch the marchioness’s carriage, which followed theirs, and on rejoining Amanda he attached himself en[Pg 219]tirely to her, without any longer appearing anxious to conceal his predilection for her. He had, indeed, forgotten the necessity there was for concealing it; all his feelings, all his ideas, were engrossed by ecstasy and tenderness. The novelty, the brilliancy of the scene, excited surprise and pleasure in Amanda, and he was delighted with the animated description she gave of the effect it produced upon her mind. In her he found united, exalted sense, lively fancy, and an uncorrupted taste: he forgot that the eyes of jealousy and malevolence were on them; he forgot every object but herself.

But, alas! poor Amanda was doomed to disappointment this evening. Lady Greystock, according to a hint she had received, after a few rounds, stepped up to her, and declared she must accompany her to a seat, as she was convinced her health was yet too weak to bear much fatigue. Amanda assured her she was not in the least fatigued, and that she would prefer walking; besides, she had half-promised Lord Mortimer to dance with him. This Lady Greystock absolutely declared she would not consent to, though Lady Araminta, on whose arm Amanda leaned, pleaded for her friend, assuring her ladyship “she would take care Miss Fitzalan should not injure herself.”

“Ah, you young people,” said Lady Greystock, “are so carried away with spirits, you never reflect on consequences; but I declare, as she is intrusted to my care, I could not answer it to my conscience to let her run into any kind of danger.”

Lady Araminta remonstrated with her ladyship, and Amanda would have joined, but that she feared her real motive for doing so would have been discovered. She perceived the party were detained from proceeding on her account, and immediately offered her arm to Lady Greystock, and accompanied her and the marchioness to a seat. Lady Euphrasia, catching hold of Lady Araminta’s arm, hurried her, at the same instant, into the crowd; and Miss Malcolm, as if by chance, laid her hand on Lord Mortimer, and thus compelled him to attend her party. She saw him, however, in the course of the round, prepared to fly off; but when they had completed it, to her inexpressible joy, the situation of Amanda made him relinquish his intention, as to converse with her was utterly impossible; for the marchioness had placed her between Lady Greystock and herself, and, under the pretence of frequently addressing her ladyship, was continually leaning across Amanda, so as to exclude her almost from observation, thus rendering her[Pg 220] situation, exclusive of the regret at being separated from Lord Mortimer and Lady Araminta, highly disagreeable. The marchioness enjoyed a malicious joy in the uneasiness she saw she gave Amanda. She deemed it but a slight retaliation for the uneasiness she had given Lady Euphrasia—a trifling punishment for the admiration she had excited.

Amanda, indeed, whilst surveying the scene around her with wonder and delight, had herself been an object of critical attention and inquiry. She was followed, universally admired, and allowed to be the finest girl that had appeared for a long season.

Relieved of her presence, Lady Euphrasia’s spirits began to revive, and her good-humor to return. She laughed maliciously with Miss Malcolm at the disappointment of Lord Mortimer and Amanda. After a few rounds, Sir Charles Bingley, in company with another gentleman, passed them. He was, to use Miss Malcolm’s own phrase, “an immense favorite with her,” and she had long meditated and attempted the conquest of his heart. The attention which politeness obliged him to show, and the compliments she sometimes compelled him to pay, she flattered herself, were intimations of the success of her scheme. Lady Euphrasia, notwithstanding her intentions relative to Lord Mortimer, and her professed friendship for Miss Malcolm, felt an ardent desire to have Sir Charles enrolled in the list of her admirers, and both ladies determined he should not again pass without noticing them. They accordingly watched his approach, and when they again met addressed him in a manner that, to a man at all interested about either, would have been truly flattering. As this, however, was not the young baronet’s case, after paying his compliments in a general way to the whole party, he was making his parting bow, when his companion, pulling him by the sleeve, bid him observe a beautiful girl sitting opposite to them. They had stopped near the marchioness’s seat, and it was to Amanda Sir Charles’s eyes were directed.

“Gracious heaven!” cried he, starting, while his cheek was suffused with a glow of pleasure; “can this be possible? Can this in reality,” advancing to her seat, “be Miss Fitzalan? This surely,” continued he, “is a meeting as fortunate as unexpected. But for it, I should have been posting back to Ireland in a day or two.”

Amanda blushed deeply at his thus publicly declaring her power of regulating his actions. Her confusion restored that recollection his joyful surprise had deprived him of, and he[Pg 221] addressed the marchioness and Lady Greystock. The former haughtily bowed, without speaking; and the latter, laughing significantly, said, “she really imagined ecstasy on Miss Fitzalan’s account had made him forget any one else was present.” The situation of Amanda was tantalizing in an extreme degree to Sir Charles. It precluded all conversation, and frequently hid her from his view, as the marchioness and Lady Greystock still continued their pretended whispers. Sir Charles had some knowledge of the marchioness’s disposition, and quickly perceived the motive of her present conduct.

“Your ladyship is kind,” said he, “in trying to hide Miss Fitzalan, as no doubt you are conscious ’tis not a slight heartache she would give to some of the belles present this evening. But why,” continued he, turning to Amanda, “do you prefer sitting to walking?”

Amanda made no answer; but a glance from her expressive eyes to the ladies informed him of the reason.

Lady Euphrasia and Miss Malcolm, provoked at the abrupt departure of Sir Charles, had hurried on; but scarcely had they proceeded a few yards ere envy and curiosity induced them to turn back. Lady Araminta perceived their chagrin, and secretly enjoyed it. Sir Charles, who had been looking impatiently for their approach, the moment he perceived them, entreated Amanda to join them.

“Let me,” cried he, presenting his hand, “be your knight on the present occasion, and deliver you from what may be called absolute captivity.”

She hesitated not to accept his offer. The continual buzz in the room, with the passing and repassing of the company, had made her head giddy. She deemed no apology requisite to her companions; and, quitting her seat, hastened forward to Lady Araminta, who had stopped for her. A crowd at that moment, intervening between them, retarded her progress. Sir Charles, pressing her hand with fervor, availed himself of this opportunity to express his pleasure at their unexpected meeting.

“Ah! how little,” cried he, “did I imagine there was such happiness in store for me this evening.”

“Sir Charles,” said Amanda, endeavoring, though in vain, to withdraw her hand, “you have learned the art of flattering since your return to England.”

“I wish,” cried he, “I had learned the art of expressing, as I wish, the sentiments I feel.”

Lord Mortimer, who had made way through the crowd for[Pg 222] the ladies, at this instant appeared. He seemed to recoil at the situation of Amanda, whose hand was yet detained in Sir Charles’s, while the soft glow and confusion of her face gave at least a suspicion of the language she was listening to.

On rejoining the party she hoped again to have been joined by Lord Mortimer; but, even if inclined for this, Sir Charles totally prevented him. His lordship deserted them, yet almost continually contrived to intercept the party, and his eyes were always turned on Amanda and Sir Charles. He was really displeased with her. He thought she might as well have left her seat before as after Sir Charles’s appearance, and he resolved to watch her closely. She was asked to dance by Sir Charles, and several other gentlemen, but refused, and Lady Araminta, on her account, followed her example. Lady Euphrasia and Miss Malcolm either were too much discomposed, or not asked by gentlemen they liked, to join the festive group.

Amanda, from being disappointed, soon grew languid, and endeavored to check, with more than usual seriousness, the ardent expressions of Sir Charles, who repeatedly declared, “he had hurried over the affairs which brought him to England entirely on her account, as he thought every day an age until they again met.”

She was rejoiced when Lady Araminta proposed returning home. Lady Euphrasia and Miss Malcolm had no longer a desire to accompany her ladyship, as they believed Lord Mortimer already gone, and she and Amanda therefore returned alone. Sir Charles was invited to supper, an invitation he joyfully accepted, and promised to follow her ladyship as soon as he had apprised the party he came with of his intention.

Lady Araminta and Amanda arrived some time before the rest of the party. Her ladyship said, “that her leaving town was to attend the nuptials of a particular friend,” and was expressing her hopes, that on her return, she should often be favored with the company of Amanda, when the door suddenly opened and Lord Mortimer entered. He looked pleased and surprised, and taking a seat on the sofa between them, exclaimed, as he regarded them with unutterable tenderness, “surely one moment like this is worth whole hours such as we have lately spent. May I,” looking at Amanda, “say that chance is now as propitious to me as it was some time ago to Sir Charles Bingley? Tell me,” continued he, “were you not agreeably surprised to-night?”

“By the Pantheon, undoubtedly, my lord.”

“And by Sir Charles Bingley?”

[Pg 223]

“No. He is too slight an acquaintance either to give pleasure by his presence or pain by his absence.”

This was just what Lord Mortimer wanted to hear. The looks of Amanda, and, above all, the manner in which she had received the attentions of Sir Charles, evinced her sincerity. The shadow of jealousy removed, Lord Mortimer recovered all his animation. Never does the mind feel so light, so truly happy, as when a painful doubt is banished from it.

“Miss Fitzalan,” said Lady Araminta, recurring to what Amanda had just said, “can see few beings, like herself, capable of exciting immediate esteem. For my own part, I cannot persuade myself that she is an acquaintance of but two days, I feel such an interest in her welfare, such a sisterly regard.” She paused, and looked expressively on her brother and Amanda. His fine eyes beamed the liveliest pleasure.

“Oh, my sister,” cried he, “encourage that sisterly affection. Who so worthy of possessing it as Miss Fitzalan? and who but Amanda,” continued he, passing his arm round her waist, and softly whispering to her, “shall have a right to claim it?”

The stopping of the carriages now announced the return of the party, and terminated a scene, which, if much longer protracted, might, by increasing their agitation, have produced a full discovery of their feelings. The ladies were attended by Sir Charles and Freelove. The marquis and Lord Cherbury had been out, but returned about this time; and soon after supper the company departed—Lady Araminta tenderly bidding Amanda farewell.

The cares which had so long pressed upon the heart of Amanda, and disturbed its peace, were now vanished. The whisper of Lord Mortimer had assured her that she was not only the object of his tenderest affection, but most serious attention. The regard of Lady Araminta flattered her pride, as it implied a tacit approbation of her brother’s choice.

The next morning, immediately after breakfast, Lady Greystock went out to her lawyer, and Amanda was sitting at work in the dressing-room, when Sir Charles Bingley was announced. He now expressed, if possible, more pleasure at seeing her than he had done the preceding night; congratulated himself at finding her alone, and repeatedly declared, from their first interview, her image had never been absent from his mind. The particularity and ardor of his expressions Amanda wished, and endeavored, to repress. She had not the ridiculous and unfeeling vanity to be delighted with an attachment she could not return; besides his attentions were unpleasing, as she believed[Pg 224] they gave uneasiness to Lord Mortimer. She therefore answered him with cold and studied caution, which, to his impetuous feelings, was insupportable. Half resenting, half rallying it, he snatched her hand, in spite of her efforts to prevent him, and was declaring he could not bear it, when the door opened and Lord Mortimer appeared. Had Amanda been encouraging the regard of Sir Charles, she could not have betrayed more confusion. Lord Mortimer retreated a few steps, in evident embarrassment; then bowing coolly, again advanced and took a seat. Sir Charles started up, with a look which seemed to say he had been most unpleasantly interrupted, and walked about the room. Amanda was the first who broke silence. She asked, in a hesitating voice, “Whether Lady Araminta was yet gone?” “No,” his lordship gravely replied; “but in a few minutes she proposed setting out, and he meant to accompany her part of the way.” “So, till her ladyship was ready,” cried Sir Charles, with quickness, “that no time might be lost, you come to Miss Fitzalan?”

Lord Mortimer made no reply. He frowned, and rising directly, slightly saluted Amanda, and retired.

Convinced, as she was, that Lord Mortimer had made the visit for the purpose of speaking more explicitly than he had yet done, she could not entirely conceal her chagrin, or regard Sir Charles without some displeasure. It had not, however, the effect of making him shorten his visit. He continued with her till Lady Greystock’s return, to whom he proposed a party that evening for the opera, and obtained permission to wait upon her ladyship at tea, with tickets, notwithstanding Amanda declared her disinclination to going. She wished to avoid the public, as well as private, attentions of Sir Charles; but both she found impossible to do. The impression which the charms of her mind and form had made on him was of too ardent, too permanent a nature, to be erased by her coldness. Generous and exalted in his notions, affluent and independent in his fortune, he neither required any addition of wealth, nor was under any control which could prevent his following his inclinations. His heart was bent on a union with Amanda. Though hurt by her indifference, he would not allow himself to be discouraged by it. Time and perseverance, he trusted and believed, would conquer it. Unaccustomed to disappointment, he could not, in an affair which so materially concerned his happiness, bear the idea of proving unsuccessful. Had Amanda’s heart been disengaged, he would probably have succeeded as he wished; for he was calculated to please, to inspire admiration and esteem;[Pg 225] and Amanda felt a real friendship for him, and sincerely grieved that his ardent regard could not be reduced to as temperate a medium as hers.

Lady Greystock had a numerous and brilliant acquaintance in London, amongst whom she was continually engaged. Sir Charles was well known to them, and therefore almost constantly attended Amanda wherever she went. His unremitted and particular attention excited universal observation; and he was publicly declared the professed admirer of Lady Greystock’s beautiful companion. The appellation was generally bestowed on her by the gentlemen; as many of Lady Greystock’s female intimates declared, from the appearance of the girl, as well as her distressed situation, they wondered Sir Charles Bingley could ever think about her, for her ladyship had represented her as a person in the most indigent circumstances, on which account she had taken her under her protection. All that envy, hatred, and malice could suggest against her, Miss Malcolm said. The marchioness and Lady Euphrasia, judging of her by themselves, supposed that as she was not sure of Lord Mortimer she would accept of Sir Charles; and though this measure would remove all apprehensions relative to Lord Mortimer, yet the idea of the wealth and consequence she would derive from it, almost distracted them. Thus does envy sting the bosoms which harbor it.

Lord Mortimer again resumed his reserve. He was frequently in company with Amanda, but never even attempted to pay her any attention; yet his eyes, which she often caught riveted on her, though the moment she perceived them they were withdrawn, seemed to say that the alteration in his manner was not produced by any diminution of tenderness. He was, indeed, determined to regulate his conduct by hers to Sir Charles. Though pained and irritated by his assiduities, he had too much pride to declare a prior claim to her regard—a woman who could waver between two objects, he deemed unworthy of either. He therefore resolved to leave Amanda free to act, and put her constancy to a kind of test. Yet, notwithstanding all his pride, we believe, if not pretty well convinced that this test would have proved a source of triumph to himself, he never would have submitted to it. The period for Lady Araminta’s return was now arrived, and Amanda was anxiously expecting her, when she heard from Lady Euphrasia that her ladyship had been ill in the country, and would not therefore leave it for some time. This was a severe disappointment to Amanda, who had hoped, by her ladyship’s means, to have seen less of Sir Charles and more of Lord Mortimer.


[Pg 226]

CHAPTER XXVI.

“And why should such, within herself, she cried, Lock the lost wealth, a thousand want beside.”—Parnell.

Amanda was sitting alone in the drawing-room one morning, when a gentleman was shown into it, to wait for Lady Greystock. The stranger was about the middle period of life; his dress announced him a military man, and his threadbare coat seemed to declare that whatever laurels he had gathered, they were barren ones. His form and face were interesting; infirmity appeared to press upon one, and sorrow had deeply marked the other, yet without despoiling it of a certain expression which indicated the hilarity nature had once stamped upon it. His temples were sunk, and his cheek faded to a sickly hue. Amanda felt immediate respect and sensibility for the interesting figure before her. The feelings of her soul, the early lessons of her youth, had taught her to reverence distress; and never, perhaps, did she think it so peculiarly affecting, as when in a military garb.

The day was uncommonly severe, and the stranger shivered with the cold.

“I declare, young lady,” cried he, as he took the chair which Amanda had placed for him by the fire, “I think I should not tremble more before an enemy, than I do before this day. I don’t know but what it is as essential for a subaltern officer to stand cold as well as fire.”

Amanda smiled, and resumed her work. She was busily employed making a trimming of artificial flowers for Lady Greystock, to present to a young lady, from whose family she had received some obligations. This was a cheap mode of returning them, as Amanda’s materials were used.

“Your employment is an entertaining one,” said the stranger, “and your roses literally without thorns; such, no doubt, as you expect to gather in your path through life.”

“No,” replied Amanda, “I have no such expectation.”

“And yet,” said he, “how few at your time of life, particularly if possessed of your advantages, could make such a declaration.”

“Whoever had reflection undoubtedly would,” replied Amanda.

[Pg 227] “That I allow,” cried he; “but how few do we find with reflection?—from the young it is banished, as the rigid tyrant that would forbid the enjoyment of the pleasures they pant after;—and from the old it is too often expelled, as an enemy to that forgetfulness which can alone insure their tranquillity.”

“But in both, I trust,” said Amanda, “you will allow there are exceptions.”

“Perhaps there are; yet often, when conscience has no reason to dread, sensibility has cause to fear reflection, which not only revives the recollection of happy hours, but inspires such a regret for their loss, as almost unfits the soul for any exertions; ’tis indeed beautifully described in these lines—

“Still importunate and vain, To former joys recurring ever And turning all the past to pain.”

Amanda attentively watched him, and thought what he said appeared particularly applicable to himself, as his countenance assumed a more dejected expression. He revived, however, in a few moments.

“I have, my dear young lady,” continued he, smiling, “beguiled you most soberly, as Lady Grace says, into conversation. I have, however, given you an opportunity of amusing your fancy by drawing a comparison between an old veteran and a young soldier; but though you may allow him more animation, I trust you will not do me so much injustice as to allow him more taste: while he merely extolled the lustre of your eyes, I should admire the mildness which tempered that lustre; while he praised the glow of your cheek, I should adore that sensibility which had power, in a moment, to augment or diminish it.”

At this instant Lady Greystock entered the room—she entered it with the swell of importance, and a haughty expression of contempt in her features.

The stranger rose from his chair, and his paleness increased.

“So, Mr. Rushbrook,” at last drawled out her ladyship. “So, sir: but pray be seated,” waving her hand at the same time.

Amanda now retired: she had lingered a few moments in the room, under the pretence of putting her work out of her ladyship’s way, to discover who the stranger was.

Rushbrook had been represented to her as artful, treacherous, and contemptible. His appearance was almost a sufficient refutation of those charges, and she began to think they never[Pg 228] would have been laid against him by any other being than Lady Greystock, from a desire of depreciating her adversary. In her ladyship she had seen much to dislike since she resided with her; she saw that the temper, like the person, is often allowed to be in dishabille at home.

She felt even warmly interested about Rushbrook; she had heard of his large family; and, from his appearance, she conjectured they must be in distress. There was a kind of humorous sadness in his manner which affected her even more than a settled melancholy perhaps would have done, as it implied the efforts of a noble heart to repel sorrow; and if there cannot be a more noble, neither, surely, can there be a more affecting sight, than that of a good and brave man struggling with adversity.

As she leaned pensively against the window, reflecting on the various inequalities of fortune, yet still believing they were designed by a wise Providence, like hill and valley, mutually to benefit each other, she saw Rushbrook cross the street; his walk was the slow and lingering walk of dejection and disappointment. He raised his hand to his eyes, Amanda supposed to wipe away his tears, and her own fell at the supposition. The severity of the day had increased; a heavy shower of snow was falling, against which poor Rushbrook had no shelter but his threadbare coat. Amanda was unutterably affected; and when he disappeared from her sight, she fell into a sentimental soliloquy, something in the style of Yorick.

“Was I mistress,” exclaimed she, as she beheld the splendid carriages passing and repassing,——"was I mistress of one of those carriages, an old soldier like Rushbrook should not be exposed to the inclemency of a wintry sky; neither should his coat be threadbare, or his heart oppressed with anguish! If I saw a tear upon his cheek I would say it had no business there, for comfort was about revisiting him.” As she spoke, the idea of Lord Mortimer occurred. Her tears were suspended, and her cheek began to glow.

“Yes, poor Rushbrook!” she exclaimed, “perhaps the period is not far distant when a bounteous Providence, through the hands of Amanda, may relieve thy wants; when Mortimer himself may be her assistant in the office of benevolence!”

Lady Greystock’s woman now appeared, to desire she would come down to her lady. She immediately obeyed the summons, with a secret hope of hearing something of the conference. Her ladyship received her with an exulting laugh.

“I have good news to tell you, my dear,” exclaimed she;[Pg 229] “that poor wretch, Rushbrook, has lost the friend who was to have supported him in the lawsuit; and the lawyers, finding the sheet-anchor gone, have steered off, and left him to shift for himself. The miserable creature and his family must certainly starve. Only think of his assurance. He came to say, indeed, he would now be satisfied with a compromise.” “Well, madam?” said Amanda.

“Well, madam,” repeated her ladyship, mimicking her manner; “I told him I must be a fool indeed, if ever I consented to such a thing, after his effrontery in attempting to litigate the will of his much-abused uncle, my dear, good Sir Geoffry. No, no; I bid him proceed in the suit, as all my lawyers were prepared; and, after so much trouble on both sides, it would be a pity the thing came to nothing.” “As your ladyship, however, knows his extreme distress, no doubt you will relieve it.” “Why, pray,” said her ladyship, smartly, “do you think he has any claim upon me?” “Yes,” replied Amanda, “if not upon your justice, at least upon your humanity.” “So you would advise me to fling away my money upon him?” “Yes,” replied Amanda, smiling, “I would. And, as your ladyship likes the expression, have you fling it away profusely.” “Well, well,” answered she, “when you arrive at my age, you will know the real value of wealth.” “I trust madam,” said Amanda, with spirit, “I know its real value already. We only estimate it differently.”

“And pray,” asked her ladyship, with a sneer, “how may you estimate it?”

“As the means, madam, of dispensing happiness around us. Of giving shelter to the houseless child of want, and joy to the afflicted heart; as a sacred deposit intrusted to us by an Almighty Power for those purposes, which, if so applied, will nourish placid and delightful reflections, that, like soothing friends, will crowd around us in the bed of sickness or death, alleviating the pains of one, and the terrors of the other.”

“Upon my word,” exclaimed Lady Greystock, “a fine flowery speech, and well calculated for a sentimental novel or a moral treatise for the improvement of youth. But I advise you, my dear, in future, to keep your queer and romantic notions to yourself, or else it will be suspected you have made romances your study; for you have just spoken as one of their heroines would have done.”

Amanda made no reply; yet as she beheld her ladyship seated in an easy-chair, by a blazing fire, with a large bowl of rich soup before her, which she took every morning, she could[Pg 230] not forbear secretly exclaiming: “Hard-hearted woman! engrossed by your own gratifications, no ray of compassion can soften your nature for the misfortunes of others. Sheltered yourself from the tempests, you see it falling, without pity, on the head of wretchedness; and while you feast on luxuries, think without emotion of those who want even common necessaries.”

In the evening they went to a large party at the marchioness’s, but though the scene was gay and brilliant, it could not remove the pensiveness of Amanda’s spirits. The emaciated form of Rushbrook, returning to his desolate family, dwelt upon her mind. A little, she thought, as she surveyed the magnificence of the apartments, and the splendor of the company which crowded them, a little from this parade of vanity and wealth, would give relief to many a child of indigence. Never had the truth of the following lines so forcibly struck her imagination:—

“Ah, little think the gay, licentious crowd Whom pleasure, power, and affluence surround; They who their thoughtless hours in giddy mirth And wanton, often cruel, riot waste; Ah, little think they, while they dance along, How many feel, this very moment, death, And all the sad variety of pain. How many drink the cup Of baleful grief, or eat the bitter bread Of misery, sore pierced by wintry winds? How many shrink into the sordid hut Of cheerless poverty?”

From such reflections as these she was disturbed by the entrance of Sir Charles Bingley. As usual, he took his station by her, and in a few minutes after him Lord Mortimer appeared. A party for vingt-un was formed, in which Amanda joined, from a wish of avoiding the assiduities of Sir Charles; but he took care to secure a seat next hers, and Lord Mortimer sat opposite to them.

“Bingley,” said a gentleman, after they had been some time at the table, “you are certainly the most changeable fellow in the world. About three weeks ago you were hurrying everything for a journey to Ireland, as if life and death depended on your expedition, and here I still find you loitering about the town.”

“I deny the imputation of changeableness,” replied the baronet; “all my actions are regulated,” and he glanced at Amanda, “by one source, one object.”

[Pg 231] Amanda blushed, and caught, at that moment, a penetrating look from Lord Mortimer. Her situation was extremely disagreeable. She dreaded his attentions would be imputed to encouragement from her; she had often tried to suppress them, and she resolved her next efforts should be more resolute.

Sir Charles reached Pall Mall the next morning just as Lady Greystock was stepping into her chariot, to acquaint her lawyer of Rushbrook’s visit. She informed him that Miss Fitzalan was in the drawing-room, and he flew up to her.

“You find,” said he, “by what you heard last night, that my conduct has excited some surprise. I assure you my friends think I must absolutely be deranged, to relinquish so suddenly a journey I appeared so anxious to take. Suffer me,” continued he, taking her hand, “to assign the true reason for this apparent change.” “Sir Charles,” replied Amanda, “’tis time to terminate this trifling.”

“Oh, let it then be terminated,” said he, with eagerness, “by your consenting to my happiness, by your accepting a hand, tendered to you with the most ardent affections of my heart.”

With equal delicacy and tenderness, he then urged her acceptance of proposals which were as disinterested as the most romantic generosity could desire them to be.

Amanda felt really concerned that he had made them; the grateful sensibility of her nature was hurt at the idea of giving him pain. “Believe me, Sir Charles,” said she, “I am truly sensible of the honor of your addresses; but I should deem myself unworthy of the favorable opinion which excited them, if I delayed a moment assuring you that friendship was the only return in my power to make for them.”

The impetuous passions of Sir Charles were now all in commotion. He started from his chair and traversed the apartment in breathless agitation. “I will not, Miss Fitzalan,” said he, resuming his seat again, “believe you inflexible. I will not believe that you can think I shall so easily resign an idea which I have so long cherished with rapture.”

“Surely, Sir Charles,” somewhat alarmed, “you cannot accuse me of having encouraged that idea?”

“Oh, no,” sighed he passionately, “to me you were always uniformly cold.” “And from whence then proceeded such an idea?”

“From the natural propensity we all have to deceive ourselves, and to believe that whatever we wish will be accomplished. Ah! Miss Fitzalan, deprive me not of so sweet a belief. I will not at present urge you to any material step to[Pg 232] which you are averse; I will only entreat for permission to hope that time, perseverance, unremitted attention, may make some impression on you, and at last produce a change in my favor.”

“Never, Sir Charles, will I give rise to a hope which I think cannot be realized. A little reflection will convince you you should not be displeased at my being so explicit. We are, at this moment, both perhaps, too much discomposed to render a longer conference desirable. Pardon me, therefore, if I now terminate it, and, be assured, I shall never lose a grateful remembrance of the honor you intended me, or forget the friendship I professed for Sir Charles Bingley.”

She then withdrew, without any obstruction from him. Regret and disappointment seemed to have suspended his faculties; but it was a momentary suspension, and on recovering them he quitted the house.

His pride, at first, urged him to give up Amanda forever; but his tenderness soon opposed this resolution. He had, as he himself acknowledged, a propensity to believe, that whatever he wished was easy to accomplish; this propensity proceeded from the easiness with which his inclinations had hitherto been gratified. Flattering himself that the coldness of Amanda proceeded more from natural reserve than particular indifference to him, he still hoped she might be induced to favor him. She was so superior, in his opinion, to every woman he had seen, so truly calculated to render him happy, that, as the violence of offended pride abated, he resolved, without another effort, not to give her up. Without knowing it, he had rambled to St. James’s Square, and having heard of the friendship subsisting between Lord Cherbury and Fitzalan, he deemed his lordship a proper person to apply to on the present occasion, thinking, that if he interested himself in his favor, he might yet be successful. He accordingly repaired to his house, and was shown into an apartment where the earl and Lord Mortimer were sitting together. After paying the usual compliments, “I am come, my lord,” said he, somewhat abruptly, “to entreat your interest in an affair which materially concerns my happiness, and trust your lordship will excuse my entreaty, when I inform you it relates to Miss Fitzalan.”

The earl, with much politeness, assured him, “He should feel happy in an opportunity of serving him,” and said, “he did him but justice in supposing him particularly interested about Miss Fitzalan, not only as the daughter of his old friend, but from her own great merit.”

Sir Charles then acquainted him with the proposals he had[Pg 233] just made her, and her absolute rejection of them; and expressed his hope that Lord Cherbury would try to influence her in his favor.

“’Tis very extraordinary, indeed,” cried his lordship, “that Miss Fitzalan should decline such an honorable, such an advantageous proposal. Are you sure, Sir Charles, there is no prior attachment in the case?”

“I never heard of one, my lord, and I believe none exists.” Lord Mortimer’s countenance lowered at this, but, happily, its gloom was unperceived.

“I will write to-day,” said the earl, “to Mr. Fitzalan, and mention your proposal to him in the terms it deserves. Except authorized by him, you must, Sir Charles, excuse my personal interference in the affair. I have no doubt, indeed, but he will approve of your addresses, and you may then depend on my seconding them with all my interest.”

This promise satisfied Sir Charles, and he soon after withdrew. Lord Mortimer was now pretty well convinced of the state of Amanda’s heart. Under this conviction, he delayed not many minutes, after Sir Charles’s departure, going to Pall Mall; and having particularly inquired whether Lady Greystock was out, and being answered in the affirmative, he ascended to the drawing-room, to which Amanda had again returned.


CHAPTER XXVII.

“Go bid the needle its dear north forsake, To which with trembling reverence it does bend: Go bid the stones a journey upward make: Go bid the ambitious flame no more ascend; And when these false to their old motions prove, Then will I cease thee, thee alone to love.”—Cowley.

In an emotion of surprise at so unexpected a visit, the book she was reading dropped from Amanda, and she arose in visible agitation.

“I fear,” said his lordship, “I have intruded somewhat abruptly upon you; but my apology for doing so must be my ardent wish of using an opportunity so propitious for a mutual eclaircissement—an opportunity I might, perhaps, vainly seek again.”

He took her trembling hand, led her to the sofa, and placed[Pg 234] himself by her. As a means of leading to the desired eclaircissement, he related the agonies he had suffered at returning to Tudor Hall, and finding her gone—gone in a manner so inexplicable, that the more he reflected on it the more wretched he grew. He described the hopes and fears which alternately fluctuated in his mind during his continuance in Ireland, and which often drove him into a state nearly bordering on distraction. He mentioned the resolution, though painful in the extreme, which he had adopted on the first appearance of Sir Charles Bingley’s particularity; and finally concluded by assuring her, notwithstanding all his incertitude and anxiety, his tenderness had never known diminution.

Encouraged by this assurance, Amanda, with restored composure, informed him of the reason of her precipitate journey from Wales, and the incidents which prevented her meeting him in Ireland, as he had expected. Though delicacy forbade her dwelling, like Lord Mortimer, on the wretchedness occasioned by their separation, and mutual misapprehensions of each other, she could not avoid touching upon it sufficiently, indeed, to convince him she had been a sympathizing participator in all the uneasiness he had suffered.

Restored to the confidence of Mortimer, Amanda appeared dearer to his soul than ever. Pleasure beamed from his eyes as he pressed her to his bosom, and exclaimed, “I may again call you my own Amanda; again sketch scenes of felicity, and call upon you to realize them.” Yet, in the midst of this transport, a sudden gloom clouded his countenance; and after gazing on her some minutes, with pensive tenderness, he fervently exclaimed, “Would to Heaven, in this hour of perfect reconciliation, I could say that all obstacles to our future happiness were removed.” Amanda involuntarily shuddered, and continued silent.

“That my father will throw difficulties in the way of our union, I cannot deny my apprehension of,” said Lord Mortimer; “though truly noble and generous in his nature, he is sometimes, like the rest of mankind, influenced by interested motives. He has long, from such motives, set his heart on a connection with the Marquis of Roslin’s family. Though fully determined in my intentions, I have hitherto forborne an explicit declaration of them to him, trusting that some propitious chance would yet second my wishes, and save me the painful necessity of disturbing the harmony which has ever subsisted between us.”

“Oh! my lord!” said Amanda, turning pale, and shrinking from him, “let me not be the unfortunate cause of disturb[Pg 235]ing that harmony. Comply with the wishes of Lord Cherbury, marry Lady Euphrasia, and let me be forgotten.”

“Amanda,” cried his lordship, “accuse not yourself of being the cause of any disagreement between us. Had I never seen you, with respect to Lady Euphrasia, I should have felt the same inability to comply with his wishes. To me her person is not more unpleasing than her mind. I have long been convinced that wealth alone was insufficient to bestow felicity, and have ever considered the man who could sacrifice his feelings at the shrine of interest or ambition, degraded below the standard of humanity; that to marry, merely from selfish considerations, was one of the most culpable, most contemptible actions which could be committed. To enter into such a union, I want the propensities which can alone ever occasion it, namely, a violent passion for the enjoyments only attainable through the medium of wealth. Left at an early age uncontrolled master of my own actions, I drank freely of the cup of pleasure, but found it soon pall upon my taste. It was, indeed, unmixed with any of those refined ingredients which can only please the intellectual appetite, and might properly be termed the cup of false instead of real pleasure. Thinking, therefore, as I do, that a union without love is abhorrent to probity and sensibility, and that the dissipated pleasures of life are not only prejudicial but tiresome, I naturally wish to secure to myself domestic happiness; but never could it be experienced except united to a woman whom my reason thoroughly approved, who should at once possess my unbounded confidence and tenderest affection. Who should be, not only the promoter of my joys, but the assuager of my cares. In you I have found such a woman, such a being, as I candidly confess, some time ago, I thought it impossible to meet with. To you I am bound by a sentiment even stronger than love—by honor—and with real gratitude acknowledge my obligations in being permitted to atone, in some degree, for my errors relative to you. But I will not allow my Amanda to suppose these errors proceeded from any settled depravity of soul. Allowed to be, as I have before said, my own master at an early period, from the natural thoughtlessness of youth, I was led into scenes which the judgment of riper years has since severely condemned. Here, too, often I met with women whose manners, instead of checking, gave a latitude to freedom; women, too, who, from their situations in life, had every advantage that could be requisite for improving and refining their minds. From conversing with them I gradually imbibed a prejudice against the whole sex, and under that[Pg 236] prejudice first beheld you, and feared either to doubt or to believe the reality of the innocence you appeared to possess.

“Convinced at length, most fully, most happily convinced of its reality, my prejudices no longer remained; they vanished like mists before the sun—or rather like the illusions of falsehood before the influence of truth. Were those, my dear Amanda, of your sex, who, like you, had the resistless power of pleasing, to use the faculties assigned them by a bounteous Providence in the cause of virtue, they would soon check the dissipation of the times.

“’Tis impossible to express the power a beautiful form has over the human mind; that power might be exerted for nobler purposes. Purity speaking from love-inspiring lips would, like the voice of Adam’s heavenly guest, so sweetly breathe upon the ear as insensibly to influence the heart; the libertine it corrected would, if not utterly hardened, reform; no longer would he glory in his vices, but touched and abashed, instead of destroying, worship female virtue.

“But I wander from the purpose of my soul. Convinced as I am of the dissimilarity between my father’s inclinations and mine, I think it better to give no intimation of my present intentions, which, if permitted by you, I am unalterably determined on fulfilling, as I should consider it as highly insulting to him to incur his prohibition, and then act in defiance of it, though my heart would glory in avowing its choice. The peculiar circumstances I have just mentioned will, I trust, induce my Amanda to excuse a temporary concealment of it, till beyond the power of mortals to separate us—a private and immediate union, the exigency of situation, and the security of felicity demands. I shall feel a trembling apprehension till I call you mine; life is too short to permit the waste of time in idle scruples and unmeaning ceremonies. The eye of suspicion has long rested upon us, and would, I am convinced, effect a premature discovery, if we took not some measure to prevent it.

“Deem me not too precipitate, my Amanda,” passing his arm gently round her waist, “if I ask you to-morrow night, for the last sweet proof of confidence you can give me, by putting yourself under my protection. A journey to Scotland is unavoidable—in the arrangements I shall make for it, all that is due to delicacy I shall consider.”

“Mention it no more, my lord,” said Amanda, in a faltering accent; “no longer delude your imagination or mine with the hopes of being united.”

Hitherto she had believed the approbation of Lord Cher[Pg 237]bury to the wishes of his son would be obtained, the moment he was convinced how essential their gratification was to his felicity. She judged of him by her father, who, she was convinced, if situations were reversed, would bestow her on Mortimer without hesitation. These ideas so nourished her attachment, that, like the vital parts of existence, it at length became painfully, almost fatally, susceptible of every shock. Her dream of happiness was over the moment she heard Lord Cherbury’s consent was not to be asked, from a fear of its being refused. ’Twas misery to be separated from Lord Mortimer, but it was guilt and misery to marry him clandestinely, after the solemn injunction her father had given her against such a step. The shock of disappointment could not be borne with composure; it pressed like a cold dead weight upon her heart. She trembled, and, unable to support herself, sunk against the shoulder of Lord Mortimer, while a shower of tears proclaimed her agony. Alarmed by her emotion, Lord Mortimer hastily demanded its source, and the reason of the words which had just escaped her.

“Because, my lord,” replied she, “I cannot consent to a clandestine measure, nor bear you should incur the displeasure of Lord Cherbury on my account. Though Lady Euphrasia Sutherland is not agreeable, there are many women who, with equal rank and fortune, possess the perfections suited to your taste. Seek for one of these—choose from among them a happy daughter of prosperity, and let Amanda, untitled, unportioned, and unpleasing to your father, return to an obscurity which owes its comfort to his fostering bounty.” “Does this advice,” asked Lord Mortimer, “proceed from Amanda’s heart?” “No,” replied she, hesitatingly, and smiling through her tears, “not from her heart, but from a better counsellor, her reason.”

“And shall I not obey the dictates of reason,” replied he, “in uniting my destiny to yours? Reason directs us to seek happiness through virtuous means; and what means are so adapted for that purpose, as a union with a beloved and amiable woman? No, Amanda; no titled daughter of prosperity, to use your own words, shall ever attract my affections from you. ‘Imagination cannot form a shape, besides your own, to like of;’ a shape which even if despoiled of its graces, would enshrine a mind so transcendently lovely, as to secure my admiration. In choosing you as the partner of my future days, I do not infringe the moral obligation which exists between father and son; for as, on one hand, it does not require weak indulgence; so, on the other, it does not demand implicit[Pg 238] obedience, if reason and happiness must be sacrificed by it. Nothing would have tempted me to propose a private union but the hope of escaping many disagreeable circumstances by it. If you persist, however, in rejecting it, I shall openly avow my intentions, for a long continuance of anxiety and suspense I cannot support.”

“Do you think, then,” said Amanda, “I would enter your family amidst confusion and altercation? No, my lord, rashly or clandestinely I never will consent to enter it.”

“Is this the happiness I promised myself would crown our reconciliation?” exclaimed Lord Mortimer, rising hastily and traversing the apartment. “Is an obstinate adherence to rigid punctilio the only proof of regard I shall receive from Amanda? Will she make no trifling sacrifice to the man who adores her, and whom she professes to esteem?”

“Any sacrifice, my lord, compatible with virtue and filial duty, most willingly would I make; but beyond these limits I must not, cannot, will not step. Cold, joyless, and unworthy of your acceptance would be the hand you would receive if given against my conviction of what was right. Oh, never may the hour arrive in which I should blush to see my father; in which I should be accused of injuring the honor intrusted to my charge, and feel oppressed with the consciousness of having planted thorns in the breast that depended on me for happiness.”

“Do not be too inflexible, my Amanda,” cried Lord Mortimer, resuming his seat, “nor suffer too great a degree of refinement to involve you in wretchedness; felicity is seldom attained without some pain; a little resolution on your side would overcome any difficulties that lay between us and it; when the act was past, my father would naturally lose his resentment, from perceiving its inefficacy, and family concord would speedily be restored. Araminta adores you; with rapture would she receive her dear and lovely sister to her bosom; your father, happy in your happiness, would be convinced his notions heretofore were too scrupulous, and that in complying with my wishes you had neither violated your own delicacy nor tarnished his honor.”

“Ah, my lord, your arguments have not the effect you desire. I cannot be deluded by them, to view things in the light you wish. To unite myself clandestinely to you would be to fly in the face of parental authority; to be proposed to Lord Cherbury, when almost certain of a refusal, would not only subject me to insult, but dissolve the friendship which has hitherto subsisted between his lordship and my father. Situ[Pg 239]ated as we are, our only expedient is to separate; ’tis absurd to think longer of a connection against which there are such obstacles; the task of trying to forget will be easier to you, my lord, than you now perhaps imagine; the scenes you must be engaged in are well calculated to expunge painful remembrances; in the retirement my destiny has doomed me to my efforts will not be wanting to render me equally successful.”

The tears trickled down Amanda’s pale cheeks as she spoke; she believed that they must part, and the belief was attended with a pang of unutterable anguish: pleased and pained by her sensibility, Lord Mortimer bent forward and looked into her face.

“Are these tears,” said he, “to enforce me to the only expedient you say remains? Ah, my Amanda,” clasping her to his breast, “the task of forgetting you could never be accomplished—could never be attempted; life would be tasteless if not spent with you; never will I relinquish the delightful hope of a union yet taking place. A sudden thought,” resumed he, after pausing a few minutes, “has just occurred. I have an aunt, the only remaining sister of Lord Cherbury, a generous, tender, exalted woman; I have ever been her particular favorite; my Amanda, I know, is the very kind of being she would select, if the choice devolved on her, for my wife: she is now in the country; I will write immediately, inform her of our situation, and entreat her to come up to town to use her influence with my father in our favor. Her fortune is large, from the bequest of a rich relation; and from the generosity of her disposition I have no doubt she would render the loss of Lady Euphrasia’s fortune very immaterial to her brother. This is the only scheme I can possibly devise for the completion of our happiness, according to your notions, and I hope it meets your approbation.”

It appeared indeed, a feasible one to Amanda; and as it could not possibly excite any ideas unfavorable to her father’s integrity, she gave her consent to its being tried.

Her heart felt relieved of an oppressive load, as the hope revived that it might be accomplished. Lord Mortimer wiped away her tears; and the cloud which hung over them both being dispersed, they talked with pleasure of future days. Lord Mortimer described the various schemes he had planned for their mode of life. Amanda smiled at the easiness with which he contrived them, and secretly wished he might find it as easy to realize as to project.

“Though the retired path of life,” said he, “might be more agreeable to us than the frequented and public one, we must[Pg 240] make some little sacrifice of inclination to the community to which we belong. On an elevated station and affluent fortune there are claims from subordinate ranks which cannot be avoided without injuring them. Neither should I wish to hide the beautiful gem I shall possess in obscurity; but, after a winter of what I call moderate dissipation, we will hasten to the sequestered shades of Tudor Hall.” He dwelt with pleasure on the calm and rational joys they should experience there; nor could forbear hinting at the period when new tendernesses, new sympathies, would be awakened in their souls; when little prattling beings should frolic before them, and literally strew roses in their paths. He expressed his wish of having Fitzalan a constant resident with them: and was proceeding to mention some alterations he intended at Tudor Hall, when the return of Lady Greystock’s carriage effectually disturbed him. Lord Mortimer, however, had time to assure Amanda, ere she entered the room, that he had no doubt but everything would be soon settled according to their wishes, and that he would take every opportunity her ladyship’s absence gave him of visiting her.

“So, so,” said Lady Greystock, coming into the room, “this has been Miss Fitzalan’s levee-day. Why, I declare, my dear, now that I know of the agreeable tete-à-tetes you can enjoy, I shall feel no uneasiness at leaving you to yourself.”

Amanda blushed deeply; and Lord Mortimer thought in this speech he perceived a degree of irony which seemed to say all was not right in the speaker’s heart towards Amanda, and on this account felt more anxious than ever to have her under his own protection. Animated by the idea that this would soon be the case, he told her ladyship, smiling, “she should be obliged to him or any other person who could relieve her mind from uneasiness,” and departed. This had been a busy and interesting day to Amanda, and the variety of emotions it had given rise to produced a languor in her mind and frame she could not shake off.

Her expectations were not as sanguine as Lord Mortimer’s. Once severely disappointed, she dreaded again to give too great a latitude to hope. Happiness was in view, but she doubted much whether it would ever be within her reach; yet the pain of suspense she endeavored to alleviate by reflecting that every event was under the direction of a superior Being, who knew best what would constitute the felicity of His creatures.

Lady Greystock learned from her maid the length of Lord Mortimer’s visit, and she was convinced from that circumstance[Pg 241] as well as from the look and absent manner of Amanda, that something material had happened in the course of it. In the evening they were engaged to a party, and ere they separated after dinner to dress for it, a plain-looking woman was shown into the room, whom Amanda instantly recollected to be the person at whose house she and her father had lodged on quitting Devonshire to secrete themselves from Colonel Belgrave. This woman had been bribed to serve him, and had forced several letters upon Amanda, who, therefore, naturally abhorred the sight of a person that had joined in so infamous a plot against her; and to her exclamation of surprise and pleasure only returned a cool bow, and directly left the room. She was vexed at seeing this woman. The conduct of Colonel Belgrave had hitherto been concealed, from motives of pride and delicacy; and to Lady Greystock, of all other beings, she wished it not revealed. Her only hope of its not being so was that this woman, on her own account, would not mention it, as she must be conscious that her efforts to serve him were not undiscovered.

Mrs. Jennings had been housekeeper to Lady Greystock during her residence in England, and so successfully ingratiated herself into her favor that, though dismissed from her service, she yet retained it. Lady Greystock was surprised to see she and Amanda knew each other, and inquired minutely how the acquaintance had commenced. The manner in which she mentioned Amanda convinced Mrs. Jennings she was not high in her estimation, and from this conviction she thought she might safely assert any falsehood she pleased against her. As she knew enough of her lady’s disposition to be assured she never would contradict an assertion to the prejudice of a person she disliked by what she designed saying, she trusted anything Amanda might say against her would appear malicious, and that she should also be revenged for the disdainful air with which she had regarded her.

She told her ladyship, “that near a year back Miss Fitzalan had been a lodger of hers, as also an old officer, she called her father; but had she known what kind of people they were, she never would have admitted them into her house. Miss was followed by such a set of gallants, she really thought the reputation of her house would have been ruined. Among them was a Colonel Belgrave, a sad rake, who, she believed, was the favorite. She was determined on making them decamp, when suddenly Miss went off, nobody knew where, but it might easily be guessed. She did not travel alone, for the colonel disappeared at the same time.”

[Pg 242] The character of Fitzalan, and the uniform propriety of Amanda’s conduct, forbade Lady Greystock’s giving implicit credit to what Mrs. Jennings said. She perceived in it the exaggerations of malice and falsehood, occasioned, she supposed by disappointed avarice, or offended pride. She resolved, however, to relate all she heard to the marchioness, without betraying the smallest doubt of its veracity.

It may appear strange that Lady Greystock, after taking Amanda, unsolicited, under her protection, should, without any cause for enmity, seek to injure her—but Lady Greystock was a woman devoid of principle. From selfish motives she had taken Amanda, and from selfish motives she was ready to sacrifice her. Her ladyship had enjoyed so much happiness in her matrimonial connections, that she had no objection again to enter the lists of Hymen, and Lord Cherbury was the object at which her present wishes pointed. The marchioness had hinted, in pretty plain terms, that if she counteracted Lord Mortimer’s intentions respecting Amanda, she would forward hers relative to Lord Cherbury.

She thought what Mrs. Jennings had alleged would effectually forward their plans, as she knew, if called upon, she would support it. The next morning she went to Portman Square, to communicate her important intelligence to the marchioness and Lady Euphrasia.

Joy and exultation sat upon their features at receiving this interesting communication, which opened so charming a prospect of separating Lord Mortimer from Amanda, by giving them the power of injuring her character. This joy and exultation they deemed requisite for some time to conceal. They considered their measures would be more successful for being gradually brought about, and, therefore, resolved rather to undermine, than directly strike at the peace of Amanda.

Like Lady Greystock, they disbelieved Mrs. Jenning’s tale; but, like her ladyship, confined this disbelief to their own bosoms. In the manner, the appearance of Amanda, there was an innocence, a mildness, that denoted something holy dwelt within her breast, and forbade the entrance of any impure or wayward passion; besides, from a gentleman who had resided in Devonshire, they learned the distress Fitzalan was reduced to, by Belgrave’s revenge for the virtue of his daughter. This gentleman was now, however, on the continent, and they had no fear of their allegations against Amanda being contradicted, or their schemes against her being overthrown.

After some consultation, it was agreed, as a means of expe[Pg 243]diting their plot, that Lady Greystock and Amanda should immediately remove to the marchioness’s house. By this change of abode, too, Lord Mortimer would be prevented taking any material step relative to Amanda, till the period arrived, when his own inclination would, most probably, render any further trouble on that account unnecessary.

Lady Greystock, on her return to Pall Mall, after a warm eulogium on the friendship of the marchioness, mentioned the invitation she had given them to her house, which she declared she could not refuse, as it was made with an ardent desire of enjoying more of their society than she had hitherto done, during their short stay in London. She also told Amanda, that both the marchioness and Lady Euphrasia had expressed a tender regard for her, and a wish of proving to the world, that any coolness which existed between their families was removed, by her becoming their guest.

This projected removal was extremely disagreeable to Amanda, as it not only terminated the morning interviews which were to take place between her and Lord Mortimer, during the absence of Lady Greystock with her lawyers, but threatened to impose a restraint upon her looks, as well as actions, being confident, from the views and suspicions of Lady Euphrasia, she should be continually watched with the closest circumspection. Her part, however, was acquiescence. The lodgings were discharged, and the next morning they took up their residence under the Marquis of Roslin’s roof, to the infinite surprise and mortification of Lord Mortimer, who, like Amanda, anticipated the disagreeable consequences which would result from it.

The altered manners of the marchioness and Lady Euphrasia surprised Amanda. They received her not merely with politeness, but affection; recapitulated all Lady Greystock had already said concerning their regard; bade her consider herself entirely at home in their house, and appointed a maid solely to attend her.

Notwithstanding their former cool, even contemptuous conduct, Amanda, the child of innocence and simplicity, could not believe the alteration in their manners feigned; she rather believed that her own patience and humility had at length conciliated their regard. The idea pleased her, and like every other, which she supposed could give her father satisfaction, it was instantly communicated to him.

She found herself most agreeably mistaken relative to the restraint she had feared. She was perfect mistress of her own[Pg 244] time and actions; and when she saw Lord Mortimer no lowering looks nor studied interference, as heretofore, from the marchioness or Lady Euphrasia, prevented their frequently conversing together. The marchioness made her several elegant presents, and Lady Euphrasia frequently dropped the formal appellation of Miss Fitzalan for the more familiar one of Amanda.

Sir Charles Bingley, agreeable to his resolution of not relinquishing Amanda without another effort for her favor, still persisted in his attentions, and visited constantly at the marquis’s.

Amanda had been about a fortnight in Portman Square, when she went one night with the marchioness, Lady Euphrasia, Miss Malcolm, and Lady Greystock to the Pantheon. Lord Mortimer had told her, that if he could possibly leave a particular party he was engaged to, he would be there. She, therefore, on that account, wished to keep herself disengaged; but immediately on her entrance she was joined by Sir Charles Bingley, and she found she must either dance with him as he requested, or consent to listen to his usual conversation; and she chose the first, as being least particular. The dancing over, Sir Charles was conducting her to get some refreshments, when a gentleman, hastily stepping forward, saluted him by his name. Amanda started at the sound of his voice; she raised her eyes, and with equal horror and surprise beheld Colonel Belgrave.

She turned pale, trembled, and involuntarily exclaimed, “Gracious Heaven!” Her soul recoiled at his sight, as if an evil genius had suddenly darted into her path to blast her hopes of happiness. Sickening with emotion, her head grew giddy, and she caught Sir Charles’s arm to prevent her falling.

Alarmed by her paleness and agitation, he hastily demanded the cause of her disorder, willing to believe, notwithstanding what he had seen, that it did not proceed from the sight of Colonel Belgrave. “O take me, take me from this room!” was all, in faltering accents, Amanda could pronounce, still leaning on him for support. Colonel Belgrave inquired tenderly what he could do to serve her, and at the same time attempted to take her hand. She shrunk from his touch with a look expressive of horror, and again besought Sir Charles to take her from the room, and procure her a conveyance home. Her agitation now became contagious. It was visible to Sir Charles that it proceeded from seeing Colonel Belgrave, and he trembled as he supported her.

[Pg 245] Belgrave offered his services in assisting to support her from the room, but she motioned with her hand to repulse him.

At the door they met Lord Mortimer entering. Terrified by the situation of Amanda, all caution, all reserve forsook him, and his rapid and impassioned inquiries betrayed the tender interest she had in his heart. Unable to answer them herself, Sir Charles replied for her, saying, “She had been taken extremely ill after dancing,” and added, “he would resign her to his lordship’s protection while he went to procure her a chair.”

Lord Mortimer received the lovely trembler in his arms. He softly called her his Amanda, the beloved of his soul, and she began to revive. His presence was at once a relief and comfort to her, and his language soothed the perturbations of her mind; but as she raised her head from his shoulder, she beheld Colonel Belgrave standing near them. His invidious eyes fastened on her. She averted her head, and, saying the air would do her good, Lord Mortimer led her forward, and took this opportunity of expressing his wishes for the period when he should be at liberty to watch over her with guardian care, soothe every weakness and soften every care.

In a few minutes Sir Charles returned, and told her he had procured a chair. She thanked him with grateful sweetness for his attention, and requested Lord Mortimer to acquaint the ladies with the reason of her abrupt departure. His lordship wished himself to have attended her to Portman Square, but she thought it would appear too particular, and would not suffer him. She retired to her room immediately on her return, and endeavored, though unsuccessfully, to compose her spirits.

The distress she suffered from Belgrave’s conduct had left an impression on her mind which could not be erased. The terror his presence inspired was too powerful for reason to conquer, and raised the most gloomy presages in her mind. She believed him capable of any villany. His looks had declared a continuance of illicit love. She trembled at the idea of his stratagems being renewed. Her apprehensions were doubly painful from the necessity of concealment, lest those dearer to her than existence should be involved in danger on her account. To Heaven she looked up for protection, and the terrors of her heart were somewhat lessened, conscious that Heaven could render the aims of Belgrave against her peace as abortive as those against her innocence had been.

Sir Charles Bingley parted from Lord Mortimer immediately after Amanda’s departure, and returned arm in arm with[Pg 246] Belgrave to the room. “Belgrave,” said he abruptly, after musing some minutes, “you know Miss Fitzalan?”

Belgrave answered not hastily. He appeared as if deliberating on the reply he should give. At last, “I do know Miss Fitzalan,” cried he; “her father was my tenant in Devonshire; she is one of the loveliest girls I ever knew.” “Lovely, indeed,” said Sir Charles, with a deep and involuntary sigh; “but it is somewhat extraordinary to me that, instead of noticing you as a friend or acquaintance, she should look alarmed and agitated, as if she had seen an enemy.” “My dear Bingley,” exclaimed Belgrave, “surely at this time of day you cannot be a stranger to the unaccountable caprices of the female mind.” “’Tis very extraordinary to me, I own,” resumed Sir Charles, “that Miss Fitzalan should behave as she did to you. Were you and her family ever very intimate?”

An invidious smile lurked on Belgrave’s countenance at this question.

“Belgrave,” exclaimed Sir Charles, passionately, “your manner appears so mysterious that it distracts me. If friendship will not induce you to account for it, my intentions relative to Miss Fitzalan will compel me to insist on your doing so.” “Come, come, Bingley,” replied the colonel, “this is not a country for extorting confession. However, seriously, you might depend on my honor, exclusive of my friendship, to conceal nothing from you in which you were materially interested.” So saying, he snatched away his arm, rushed into the crowd, and instantly disappeared.

This assurance, however, could not calm the disquietude of Sir Charles. His soul was tortured with impatience and anxiety for an explanation of the mystery, which the agitation of Amanda, and the evasive answers of Belgrave had betrayed. He sought the latter through the room till convinced of his departure, and resolved the next morning to entreat him to deal candidly with him.

Agreeably to this resolution, he was preparing, after breakfast, for his visit, when a letter was brought him which contained the following lines:—

“If Sir Charles Bingley has the least regard for his honor or tranquillity, he will immediately relinquish his intentions relative to Miss Fitzalan. This caution comes from a sincere friend—from a person whom delicacy, not want of veracity, urges to this secret mode of giving it.”

Sir Charles perused and re-perused the letter, as if doubting the evidence of his eyes. He at last flung it from him, and[Pg 247] clasping his hands together exclaimed: “This is indeed a horrible explanation.” He took up the detested paper. Again he examined the characters, and recognized the writing of Colonel Belgrave. He hastily snatched up his hat, and with the paper in his hand, flew directly to his house. The colonel was alone.

“Belgrave,” said Sir Charles, in almost breathless agitation, “are you the author of this letter?” presenting it to him.

Belgrave took it, read it, but continued silent.

“Oh! Belgrave!” exclaimed Sir Charles, in a voice trembling with agony, “pity and relieve my suspense.” “I am the author of it,” replied Belgrave, with solemnity; “Miss Fitzalan and I were once tenderly attached. I trust I am no deliberate libertine; but, when a lovely, seducing girl was thrown purposely in my way——” “Oh, stop,” said Sir Charles, “to me any extenuation of your conduct is unnecessary; ’tis sufficient to know that Miss Fitzalan and I are forever separated.” His emotion overpowered him. He leaned on a table, and covered his face with a handkerchief.

“The shock I have received,” said he, “almost unmans me. Amanda was, alas! I must say is, dear, inexpressibly dear to my soul. I thought her the most lovely, the most estimable of women; and the anguish I now feel, is more on her account than my own. I cannot bear the idea of the contempt which may fall upon her. Oh, Belgrave, ’tis melancholy to behold a human being, so endowed by nature as she is, insensible or unworthy of her blessings. Amanda,” he continued, after a pause, “never encouraged me; I therefore cannot accuse her of intending deceit.”

“She never encouraged you,” replied Belgrave, “because she was ambitious of a higher title. Amanda, beneath a specious appearance of innocence, conceals a light disposition and a designing heart. She aspires to Mortimer’s hand, and may probably succeed, for his language and attentions to her last night were those of a tender lover.”

“I shall return immediately to Ireland,” said Sir Charles, “and endeavor to forget I have ever seen her. She has made me indeed experience all the fervency of love, and bitterness of disappointment. What I felt for her, I think I shall never again feel for any woman.

“——I’ll lock up all the gates of love, And on my eyelids shall conjecture hang, To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm, And never more shall it be gracious.”

[Pg 248] Sir Charles Bingley and Colonel Belgrave, in early life, had contracted a friendship for each other which time had strengthened in one, but reduced to a mere shadow in the other. On meeting the colonel unexpectedly in town, Sir Charles had informed him of his intentions relative to Amanda. His heart throbbed at the mention of her name. He had long endeavored to discover her. Pride, love, and revenge, were all concerned in the accomplishment of his designs, which disappointment had only stimulated. He was one of those determined characters which never relinquish a purpose, “though heaven and earth that purpose crossed.” The confidence Sir Charles reposed in him, joined to his warm and unsuspicious temper, convinced him he would be credulous enough to believe any imputation he should cast on Amanda. He therefore lost no time in contriving this execrable scheme, without the smallest compunction, for destroying the reputation of an innocent girl, or injuring the happiness of an amiable man.

Removed from the protection of her father, he believed his destined victim could not escape the snare he should spread for her; and as a means of expediting his success, under the appearance of feeling, urged Sir Charles’s return to Ireland.

The easy credit which Sir Charles gave to the vile allegations of Belgrave, cannot be wondered at, when his long intimacy and total ignorance of his real character are considered. He knew Belgrave to be a gay man, but he never imagined him to be a hardened libertine. Besides, he never could have supposed any man would have been so audacious, or sufficiently base, as to make such an assertion as Belgrave had done against Amanda, without truth for his support.

The errors of his friend, though the source of unspeakable anguish to him, were more pitied than condemned, as he rather believed they proceeded from the impetuosity of passion, than the deliberation of design, and that they were long since sincerely repented of.

Amanda could not be forgotten; the hold she had on his heart could not easily be shaken off; and like the recording angel, he was often tempted to drop a tear over her faults, and obliterate them forever from his memory. This, however, was considered the mere suggestion of weakness, and he ordered immediate preparations to be made for his return to Ireland.


[Pg 249]

CHAPTER XXVIII.

“Oh how this tyrant doubt torments my breast! My thoughts, like birds, who frighted from their rest, Around the place where all was hushed before, Flutter, and hardly settle any more.”—Otway.

Lord Mortimer, distressed by the indisposition of Amanda, hastened, at an earlier hour than usual (for his morning visits), to Portman Square, and was ushered into Lady Euphrasia’s dressing-room, where she and Miss Malcolm, who had continued with her the preceding night, were sitting tete-à-tete at breakfast. His lordship was a welcome visitor, but it was soon obvious on whose account he had made his appearance, for scarcely were the usual compliments over, ere he inquired about Miss Fitzalan.

Lady Euphrasia said she was still unwell, and had not yet left her apartment. “She has not recovered her surprise of last night,” exclaimed Miss Malcolm, with a malicious smile. “What surprise?” asked his lordship. “Dear me,” replied Miss Malcolm, “was not your lordship present at the time she met Colonel Belgrave?” “No,” said Lord Mortimer, changing color, “I was not present. But what has Colonel Belgrave to say to Miss Fitzalan?” asked he, in an agitated voice. “That is a question your lordship must put to the young lady herself,” answered Miss Malcolm. “Now, I declare,” cried Lady Euphrasia, addressing her friend, “’tis very probable her illness did not proceed from seeing Colonel Belgrave—you know she never mentioned being acquainted with him, though her father was his tenant in Devonshire.”

Lord Mortimer grew more disturbed, and rose abruptly.

Lady Euphrasia mentioned their intention of going that evening to the play, and invited him to be of the party. He accepted her invitation, and retired.

His visible distress was a source of infinite mirth to the young ladies, which they indulged the moment he quitted the room. The circumstance relative to Belgrave, the marchioness had informed them of, as she and Lady Greystock were near Amanda when she met him.

Lord Mortimer was unhappy. The mind which has once harbored suspicion will, from the most trivial circumstance, be[Pg 250] tempted again to give admission to the unpleasing guest—nor was it a trivial circumstance which discomposed the too susceptible heart of Mortimer. The sudden illness of Amanda, her extraordinary agitation, her eagerness to quit the room, the close, though silent attendance of Belgrave—all these, I say, when recalled to recollection, gave an air of probability to Miss Malcolm’s insinuation, that her disorder was occasioned by seeing him. From residing more constantly in England than Sir Charles Bingley had done, he had had more opportunities of learning Belgrave’s real character, which he knew to be that of a professed libertine. It was strange, he thought, that when Amanda informed him she once resided in Devonshire, she should conceal her father being the colonel’s tenant. He began to think her reluctance to a clandestine and immediate marriage might have proceeded from some secret attachment, and not from the strict adherence to filial duty, which had exalted her so much in his opinion.

Yet the idea was scarcely formed, ere he endeavored to suppress it. He started, as if from an uneasy dream, and wondered how he could have conceived this, or any other idea, injurious to Amanda. He felt a degree of remorse at having allowed her, for a moment, to be lessened in his opinion—her tenderness, her purity, he said to himself, could not be feigned; no, she was a treasure greater than he deserved to possess; nor would he, like a wayward son of error, fling away the happiness he had so long desired to obtain.

The calm this resolution produced was but transient. Doubts had been raised, and doubt could not be banished; he was inclined to think them unjust, yet had not power to dispel them. Vainly he applied to the ideas which had heretofore been such consolatory resources of comfort to him—namely, that his father would consent to his union with Amanda, through the interference of his aunt, and the felicity he should enjoy in that union. An unusual heaviness clung to his heart, which, like a gloomy sky, cast a shade of sadness over every prospect. Thoughtful and pensive he reached home, just as Sir Charles Bingley was entering the door, who informed him he had just received a note from Lord Cherbury, desiring his immediate presence.

Lord Mortimer attended him to the earl, who acquainted him, that he had received a letter from Mr. Fitzalan, in which he expressed a warm sense of the honor Sir Charles did his family, by addressing Miss Fitzalan; and that to have her united to a character so truly estimable, would give him the[Pg 251] truest happiness, from the conviction that hers would be secured by such a union. “He has written to his daughter expressing his sentiments,” continued Lord Cherbury. “I have therefore no doubt, Sir Charles, but that everything will succeed as you wish.” “I am sorry, my lord,” cried Sir Charles, with an agitated voice, and a cheek flushed with emotion, “that I ever troubled your lordship in this affair, as I have now, and forever, relinquished all ideas of a union with Miss Fitzalan.” "The resolution is really somewhat extraordinary and sudden,” replied the earl, “after the conversation which so lately passed between us.” “Adopted, however, my lord, from a thorough conviction that happiness could never be attained in a union with that young lady.” Sir Charles’s tenderness for Amanda was still undiminished; he wished to preserve her from censure, and thus proceeded: “Your lordship must allow I could have little chance of happiness in allying myself to a woman who has resolutely and uniformly treated me with indifference. Passion blinded my reason when I addressed your lordship relative to Miss Fitzalan; but its mists are now dispersed, and sober reflection obliges me to relinquish a scheme, whose accomplishment could not possibly give me satisfaction.” “You are certainly the best judge of your own actions, Sir Charles,” replied the earl. “My acting in the affair proceeded from a wish to serve you, as well as from my friendship for Captain Fitzalan. I must suppose your conduct will never disparage your own honor, or cast a slight upon Miss Fitzalan.” “That, my lord, you may be assured of,” said Sir Charles, with some warmth; “my actions and their motives have hitherto, and will ever, I trust, bear the strictest investigation. I cannot retire without thanking your lordship for the interest you took in my favor. Had things succeeded as I then hoped and expected, I cannot deny but I should have been much happier than I am at present.” He then bowed and retired.

Lord Mortimer had listened with astonishment to Sir Charles’s relinquishment of Amanda. Like his father, he thought it a sudden and extraordinary resolution. He was before jealous of Amanda’s love; he was now jealous of her honor. The agitation of Sir Charles seemed to imply even a cause more powerful than her coldness for resigning her. He recollected that the baronet and the colonel were intimate friends. Distracted by apprehensions, he rushed out of the house, and overtook Sir Charles ere he had quitted the square.

“Why, Bingley,” cried he, with affected gayety, “I thought you too valiant a knight to be easily overcome by despair; and[Pg 252] that without first trying every effort to win her favor, you never would give up a fair lady you had set your heart on.” “I leave such efforts for your lordship,” replied Sir Charles, “or those who have equal patience.” “But seriously, Bingley, I think this sudden resignation of Miss Fitzalan somewhat strange. Why, last night I could have sworn you were as much attached to her as ever. From Lord Cherbury’s friendship for Captain Fitzalan, I think her, in some degree, under his protection and mine. And as the particularity of your attention attracted observation, I think your abruptly withdrawing them requires explanation.” “As Lord Cherbury was the person I applied to relative to Miss Fitzalan,” exclaimed Sir Charles, “and as he was satisfied with the motive I assigned for my conduct, be assured, my lord, I shall never give another to you.” “Your words,” retorted Lord Mortimer, with warmth, “imply that there was another motive for your conduct than the one you avowed. What horrid inference may not be drawn from such an insinuation? Oh! Sir Charles! reputation is a fragile flower, which the slightest breath may injure.” “My lord, if Miss Fitzalan’s reputation is never injured but by my means, it will ever continue unsullied.”

“I cannot, indeed,” resumed Lord Mortimer, “style myself her guardian, but I consider myself her friend: and from the feelings of friendship, shall ever evince my interest in her welfare, and resent any conduct which can possibly render her an object of censure to any being.” “Allow me to ask your lordship one question,” cried Sir Charles, “and promise, on your honor, to answer it.” “I do promise,” said Lord Mortimer. “Then, my lord, did you ever really wish I should succeeded with Miss Fitzalan?”

Lord Mortimer colored. “You expect, Sir Charles, I shall answer you on my honor? Then, really, I never did.” “Your passions and mine,” continued Sir Charles, “are impetuous. We had better check them in time, lest they lead us to lengths we may hereafter repent of. Of Miss Fitzalan’s fame, be assured, no man can be more tenacious than I should. I love her with the truest ardor. Her acceptance of my proposals would have given me felicity. My suddenly withdrawing them can never injure her, when I declare my motive for so doing was her indifference. Lord Cherbury is satisfied with the reason I have assigned for resigning her. He is conscious that no man of sensibility could experience happiness with a woman in whose heart he had no interest. This, I suppose, your lordship will also allow.” “Certainly,” replied Lord Mortimer.[Pg 253] “Then, it strikes me, my lord, that it is your conduct, not mine, which has a tendency to injure Miss Fitzalan. That it is your words, not mine, which convey an insinuation against her. You really appear as if conscious some other cause existed, which would have made me relinquish her, without the one I have already assigned for doing so.”

Lord Mortimer was instantly convicted of the justice of what Sir Charles said. He began to fear his warmth would really prove prejudicial to Amanda, betray the doubts that had obtruded on his mind, and communicate them to those who might not be equally influenced by tenderness and delicacy to conceal them.

“You are right, Sir Charles,” said he, “in what you have said; passion, like a bad advocate, hurts the cause in which it is engaged. From my knowledge of your character, I should have been convinced your honor would have prevented any improper conduct. You are going to Ireland. Permit me, Sir Charles, to offer you my best wishes for your future happiness.”

Sir Charles took Lord Mortimer’s extended hand. He respected and esteemed his lordship, and a mutual interchange of good wishes took place between them, as this was the last interview they expected for a long time.

The indisposition of Amanda was more of the mental than the bodily kind, and on the first intimation of a party to the play she agreed to join it, in hopes the amusement would remove her dejection. Her father’s letter, relative to Sir Charles Bingley, had given her some uneasiness; but as he left her free to act, she contented herself with using the negative he allowed her, by a solemn resolution of never acting contrary to his inclinations, and answered his letter to this purpose.

Lord Mortimer and Freelove attended the ladies in the evening to the play. His lordship found an opportunity of tenderly inquiring after Amanda’s health. When they were seated in the house he perceived a lady in another box to whom he wished to speak, and accordingly left his party. This lady offered him a seat by herself, which he accepted. She was a stranger to Amanda, young and extremely beautiful. Amanda, however, had none of that foolish weakness which could make her dread a rival in every new face, or feel uneasiness at Lord Mortimer’s attention to any woman but herself. Assured that his affections for her were founded on the basis of esteem, and that she should retain them while worthy of[Pg 254] esteem, she could, without being discomposed by the agreeable conversation he appeared to be enjoying, fix her attention on the stage; so entirely, indeed, that she observed not from time to time, the glances Lord Mortimer directed towards her. Not so his fair companion. She noticed the wanderings of his eyes, and her own involuntarily pursued their course. She was speaking at the moment, but suddenly stopped, and Lord Mortimer saw her change color. He turned pale himself, and in a faltering voice, asked her, “if she knew the lady she had been long looking at?” “Know her?” replied she; “oh, heavens! but too well.”

Lord Mortimer trembled universally, and was compelled to have recourse to his handkerchief to hide his emotion.

It was by Adela, the lovely and neglected wife of Belgrave, he was sitting. She had been a short time in London, and her acquaintance with Lord Mortimer commenced at a ball, where she had danced with him. He was not one of those kind of men who, when in love, had neither eyes nor ears but for the object of that love. He could see perfections in other women besides his Amanda, and was particularly pleased with Mrs. Belgrave. He instantly perceived that she knew Amanda; also, that that knowledge was attended with pain. The well-known profligacy of her husband intruded on his memory, and he shuddered at the dreadful thoughts which arose in his mind.

Curiosity had directed the eyes of Adela to Amanda, but admiration, and an idea of having somewhere seen her face, riveted them upon her; at last the picture Oscar Fitzalan had shown occurred to her recollection, and she was immediately convinced it was no other than the original of that picture she now saw. Shocked at the sight of a person who, as she thought had stepped (though innocently) between her and felicity, and distressed by the emotions which past scenes, thus recalled, gave rise to, she entreated Lord Mortimer to conduct her from the box, that she might return home.

He complied with her request, but stopped in the lobby, and entreated her to tell him “where she had known the lady she had so attentively regarded.” Adela blushed, and would, if possible, have evaded the question; but the earnestness of his lordship’s manner compelled her to answer it. She said “she had no personal knowledge of the lady, but recollected her face, from having seen her picture with a gentleman.” “And who was the gentleman?” asked Lord Mortimer, with a forced smile and a faltering voice. “That,” replied Adela,[Pg 255] with involuntary quickness, “I will not tell.” “I should apologize, indeed,” cried Lord Mortimer, recollecting himself, “for a curiosity which may appear impertinent.” He led her to a chair, and deliberated whether he should not follow her example in quitting the house.

Miss Malcolm had first made him uneasy: uneasiness introduced doubts which Sir Charles Bingley had increased, and Mrs. Belgrave almost confirmed. He dreaded a horrid confirmation of his fears; the picture, like Othello’s handkerchief, was a source of unspeakable anguish. The agitation that Mrs. Belgrave had betrayed on mentioning it, joined to her concealment of the gentleman she had seen it with, tempted him to believe he was no other than her husband.

Yet, that he might not be accused of yielding rashly to jealousy, he resolved to confine his suspicions, like his pangs, to his own bosom, except assured they were well founded. A little time he supposed, would determine the opinion he should form of Amanda. If he found she encouraged Belgrave, he resolved to leave her without any explanation; if, on the contrary, he saw that she avoided him, he meant to mention the circumstance of the picture to her, yet so as not to hurt her feelings, and be regulated by her answer relative to his future conduct. He returned, at last, to the box, and procured a seat behind her. He had not occupied it long ere Colonel Belgrave (who, from a retired part of the house where he sat with some female friends, had observed Amanda) entered the next box, and made his way to the pillar against which she leaned. He endeavored to catch her eyes, but the noise he made on entering put her on her guard, and she instantly averted her face. Her embarrassment was visible to her party, and they all, Lord Mortimer excepted, enjoyed it. Scarcely could he refrain from chastising the audacity of Belgrave’s looks, who continued to gaze on Amanda, though he could not see her face. Nothing but the discovery which such a step would produce could have prevented his lordship, in his irritable state of mind, from chastising what he deemed the height of insolence.

At last the hour came for relieving Amanda from a situation extremely painful to her. As Lord Mortimer sat next the marchioness, he was compelled to offer her his hand. Freelove led Lady Euphrasia; Lady Greystock and Miss Malcolm followed her, and Amanda was the last who quitted the box. A crowd in the lobby impeded their progress. Amanda was close behind the marchioness, when Belgrave forced his way to her,[Pg 256] and attempted to take her hand at the very moment Lord Mortimer turned to look at her, who heard him say, “Dear, though unkind, Amanda, why this cruel change in your conduct?”

The eyes of Mortimer flashed fire. “Miss Fitzalan,” said he, in a voice trembling through passion, “if you will accept my arm, I will make way for you, or at least secure you from impertinence.” Amanda, though trembling and confounded by his looks, hesitated not to accept his offer. Belgrave knew his words alluded to him. At present, however, he resolved not to resent them, convinced, that if he did, his views on Amanda would be defeated. From that moment her beauty was not more powerful in stimulating his designs than his desire of revenge on Lord Mortimer. He saw he was fondly attached to Amanda, and he believed his proud heart would feel no event so afflictive as that which should deprive him of her.

Lord Mortimer handed Amanda in silence to the carriage; he was pressed to return to supper, but refused. The ladies found the marquis and Lord Cherbury together. Amanda retired to her chamber immediately after supper; the presence of Belgrave had increased the dejection which she hoped the amusements of the theatre would have dissipated; she now indeed longed for the period when she should be entitled to the protection of Lord Mortimer; when she should no longer dread the audacity or stratagems of Belgrave. Lord Cherbury, on her retiring, expressed his regret at her coldness to Sir Charles Bingley, by which she had lost a most honorable and advantageous attachment.

This was an opportunity not to be neglected by the marchioness, for commencing her operations against Fitzalan. A glance to Lady Greystock was the signal to begin.

“To those,” said Lady Greystock, “who are ignorant of Miss Fitzalan’s real motives for refusing Sir Charles, it must appear, no doubt, extraordinary; but ambitious people are not easily satisfied; indeed, I cannot blame her so much for entertaining aspiring notions as those who instilled them into her mind.”

Lord Cherbury stared, and requested an explanation of her words.

“Why, I declare, my lord,” cried she, “I do not know but that it will be more friendly to explain than conceal my meaning. When once informed of the young lady’s views, your lordship may be able to convince her of that fallacy, and prevail on her not to lose another good opportunity of settling herself in consequence of them; in short, my lord, Miss Fitzalan,[Pg 257] prompted by her father, has cast her eyes on Lord Mortimer. Presuming on your friendship, he thought a union between them might easily be accomplished. I do not believe Lord Mortimer, at first, gave any encouragement to their designs; but when the girl was continually thrown in his way, it was impossible not to notice her at last. I really expressed a thorough disapprobation to her coming to London, knowing their motives for desiring the excursion, but her father never ceased persecuting me till I consented to take her under my protection.” “Upon my word,” cried the marquis, who was not of the ladies’ privy council, though if he had it is probable he would not have objected to their schemes, “Captain Fitzalan must have had some such motive as this Lady Greystock has mentioned for sending his daughter to London, or else he would not have been so ridiculous as to put himself at the expense of fitting her out for company she has no right to enter.” “I never thought,” exclaimed Lord Cherbury, whose mind was irritated to the most violent degree of resentment against his injured friend, “that Captain Fitzalan could have acted with such duplicity. He knew the views I entertained for my son, and there is a mean treachery in his attempting to counteract them.” “Nay, my lord,” said Lady Greystock, “you are a father yourself, and must make allowances for the anxiety of a parent to establish a child.” “No, madam,” he replied; “I can make no allowance for a deviation from integrity, or for a sacrifice of honor and gratitude at the shrine of interest. The subject has discomposed me, and I must beg to be excused for abruptly retiring; nothing, indeed, I believe, can wound one so severely as deceit, where one reposed implicit confidence.”

The ladies were enraptured at the success of their scheme. The passion of Lord Cherbury could scarcely be smothered in their presence. On the head of Fitzalan they knew it would burst with full violence. They did not mention Belgrave; relative to him they resolved to affect profound ignorance.

The passions of Lord Cherbury were impetuous. He had, as I have already hinted, secret motives for desiring a connection between his family and the marquis’s ; and the idea of that desire being defeated drove him almost to distraction. He knew his son’s passions, though not so easily irritated as his own were, when once irritated, equally violent. To remonstrate with him concerning Miss Fitzalan, he believed, would be unavailing; he therefore resolved, if possible, to have her removed out of his way ere he apprised him of the discovery[Pg 258] he had made of his attachment. He entertained not a doubt of Lady Greystock’s veracity; from his general knowledge of mankind, he believed self the predominant consideration in every breast. His feelings were too violent not to seek an immediate vent, and ere he went to bed, he wrote a bitter and reproachful letter to Fitzalan, which concluded with an entreaty, or rather a command, to send without delay for his daughter. A dreadful stroke this for poor Fitzalan.

“After all his wanderings round this world of care And all his griefs,”

He hoped he had at last found a spot where his latter days might close in tranquillity.

The innocent Amanda was received the next morning with smiles by those who were preparing a plot for her destruction.

Whilst at breakfast, a servant informed Lady Greystock a young woman wanted to speak to her. “Who is she?” asked her ladyship; “did she not send up her name?” “No, my lady; but she said she had particular business with your ladyship.”

The marchioness directed she might be shown up; and a girl about seventeen was accordingly ushered into the room. Her figure was delicate, and her face interesting not only from its innocence, but the strong expression of melancholy diffused over it. She appeared trembling with confusion and timidity, and the poverty of her apparel implied the source of her dejection.

“So, child,” said Lady Greystock, after surveying her from head to foot, “I am told you have business with me.” “Yes, madam,” replied she, in an accent so low as scarcely to be heard; “my father, Captain Rushbrook, desired me to deliver a letter to your ladyship.”

She presented it, and endeavored to screen herself from the scrutinizing and contemptuous glances of Lady Euphrasia by pulling her hat over her face.

“I wonder, child,” said Lady Greystock, as she opened the letter, “what your father can write to me about. I don’t suppose it can be about the affair he mentioned the other day. Why, really,” continued she, after she had perused it, “I believe he takes me for a fool. I am astonished, after his insolent conduct, how he can possibly have the assurance to make application to me for relief. No, no, child, he neglected the opportunity he had of securing me his friend. ’Twould really be a sin to give him the power of bringing up his family in idleness.[Pg 259] No, no, child, he must learn you and the other little dainty misses he has, to do something for yourselves.”

The poor girl blushed; a tear trembled in her eye; she tried to suppress it, but it forced its way, and dropped into her bosom. Amanda, inexpressibly shocked, could support the scene no longer. She retired precipitately, and descended to the parlor. Sympathy, as well as compassion, made her feel for this daughter of affliction, for she herself knew what it was to feel the “insolence of prosperity, the proud man’s scorn, and all those ills which patient merit of the unworthy takes.”

In a few minutes Miss Rushbrook quitted the drawing-room, and stopped in the hall to wipe away her tears. Amanda had been watching for her, and now appeared. She started, and was hurrying away, when Amanda caught her hand, and leading her softly into the parlor, endeavored, with angelic sweetness, to calm her emotion. Surprised at this unexpected attention, and overcome by her feelings, the poor girl sunk on her chair, and dropping her head on Amanda’s bosom, wet it with a shower of tears, as she exclaimed: “Alas! my unfortunate parents, how can I return to behold your misery? The grave is the only refuge for you and your wretched children!” “You must not encourage such desponding thoughts,” said Amanda. “Providence, all bounteous and all powerful, is able in a short time to change the gloomiest scene into one of brightness. Tell me,” she continued, after a pause, “where do you reside?” “At Kensington.” “Kensington!” repeated Amanda. “Surely, in your present situation, you are unable to take such a walk.” “I must attempt it, however,” replied Miss Rushbrook.

Amanda walked from her to the window, revolving a scheme which had just darted into her mind, “If you know any house,” said she, “where you could stay for a short time, I would call on you in a carriage, and leave you at home.”

This offer was truly pleasing to the poor weak trembling girl, but she modestly declined it, from the fear of giving trouble. Amanda besought her not to waste time in such unnecessary scruples, but to give her the desired information. She accordingly informed her there was a haberdasher’s in Bond Street, mentioning the name, where she could stay till called for.

This point settled, Amanda, fearful of being surprised, conducted her softly to the hall-door, and immediately returned to the drawing-room, where she found Lady Euphrasia just beginning Rushbrook’s letter, for her mother’s amusement. Its style evidently denoted the painful conflicts there were between pride and distress, ere the former could be sufficiently[Pg 260] subdued, to allow an application for relief to the person who occasioned the latter. The sight of a tender and beloved wife, languishing in the arms of sickness, and surrounded by a family, under the pressure of the severest want, had forced him to a step, which, on his own account, no necessity could have compelled him to take. He and his family, he said, had drank of the cup of misery to the very dregs. He waived the claims of justice; he only asserted those of humanity, in his present application to her ladyship; and these, he flattered himself, she would allow. He had sent a young petitioner in his behalf, whose tearful eye, whose faded cheek, were sad evidences of the misery he described.

The marchioness declared she was astonished at his insolence in making such an application, and Lady Euphrasia protested the letter was the most ridiculous stuff she had ever read.

Amanda, in this, as well as in many other instances, differed from her ladyship; but her opinion, like a little project she had in view about the Rushbrooks, was carefully concealed.

Out of the allowance her father made her for clothes and other expenses about ten guineas remained, which she had intended laying out in the purchase of some ornaments for her appearance at a ball, to be given in the course of the ensuing week by the Duchess of B——, and, for which, at the time of invitation, Lord Mortimer had engaged her for his partner. To give up going to this ball, to consecrate to charity the money devoted to vanity, was her project; and most fortunate did she deem the application of Rushbrook, ere her purchase was made, and she consequently prevented from giving her mite. Her soul revolted from the inhumanity of the marchioness, her daughter, and Lady Greystock. Exempt from the calamities of want themselves, they forgot the pity due to those calamities in others. If this coldness, this obduracy, she cried, within herself, is the effect of prosperity; if thus it closes the avenues of benevolence and compassion, oh! never may the dangerous visitor approach me—for ill should I think the glow of compassion and sensibility exchanged for all its gaudy pleasures.

The ladies had mentioned their intention of going to an auction, where, to use Lady Euphrasia’s phrase, “they expected to see all the world.” Amanda excused herself from being of the party, saying, “she wanted to make some purchases in the city.” Her excuse was readily admitted, and when they retired to their respective toilets, she sent for a coach, and being prepared against it come, immediately stepped into it, and was[Pg 261] driven to Bond Street, where she found Miss Rushbrook, with trembling anxiety, waiting her arrival.

On their way to Kensington, the tenderness of Amanda at once conciliated the affection, and gained the entire confidence of her young companion. She related the little history of her parents’ sorrows. Her father, on returning from America, with his wife and six children, had been advised by Mr. Heathfield, the friend who had effected a reconciliation between him and his uncle, to commence a suit against Lady Greystock, on the presumption that the will, by which she enjoyed Sir Geoffry’s fortune, was illegally executed. He offered him his purse to carry on the suit, and his house for an habitation. Rushbrook gratefully and gladly accepted both offers, and having disposed of his commission, to discharge some present demands against him, he and his family took up their residence under Mr. Heathfield’s hospitable roof. In the midst of the felicity enjoyed beneath it, in the midst of the hopes their own sanguine tempers, and the flattering suggestions of the lawyers had excited, a violent fever carried off their benevolent friend, ere a will was executed, in which he had promised largely to consider Rushbrook. His heir, narrow and illiberal, had long feared that his interest would be hurt by the affection he entertained for Rushbrook; and, as if in revenge for the pain this fear had given, the moment he had the power he showed his malignant disposition, sold all the furniture of the house at Kensington, and as a great favor told Rushbrook, he might continue in it till the expiration of the half year, when it was to be given up to the landlord. The lawyers understanding the state of his finances, soon informed him he could no longer expect their assistance. Thus, almost in one moment, did all his pleasing prospects vanish, and,

“Like the baseless fabric of a vision, Left not a rack behind.”

As a duty he owed his family, he tried whether Lady Greystock would make a compromise between justice and avarice, and afford him some means of support. Her insolence and inhumanity shocked him to the soul; and as he left her presence, he resolved never to enter it again, or to apply to her. This last resolution, however, only continued till the distresses of the family grew so great as to threaten their existence, particularly that of his wife, who, overpowered by grief, had sunk into a languishing illness, which every day increased for want of proper assistance.

[Pg 262] In hopes of procuring her some, he was tempted again to apply to Lady Greystock. The youth and innocence of his daughter would, he thought, if anything could do it, soften her flinty heart. Besides, he believed that pleasure, at finding his pretensions to the fortune entirely withdrawn, would influence her to administer from it to his wants.

“We have,” said Miss Rushbrook, as she concluded her simple narration, “tried, and been disappointed in our last resource. What will become of us, I know not; we have long been strangers to the comforts, but even the necessaries of life we cannot now procure.” “Comfort,” cried Amanda, “often arrives when least expected. To despair, is to doubt the goodness of a Being who has promised to protect all his creatures.”

The carriage had now reached Kensington, and within a few yards of Rushbrook’s habitation. Amanda stopped it. She took Miss Rushbrook’s hand, and as she slipped a ten-pound note into it, exclaimed: “I trust the period is not far distant, when the friendship we have conceived for each other may be cultivated under more fortunate auspices.”

Miss Rushbrook opened the folded paper. She started, and “the hectic of a moment flushed her cheek.” “Oh! madam!” she cried, “your goodness—" tears impeded her further utterance.

“Do not distress me,” said Amanda, again taking her hand, “by mentioning such a trifle; was my ability equal to my inclination, I should blush to offer it to your acceptance. As it is, consider it as but the foretaste of the bounty which heaven has, I doubt not, in store for you.”

She then desired the door to be opened, and told her companion she would no longer detain her. Miss Rushbrook affectionately kissed her hand, and exclaimed, “You look like an angel, and your goodness is correspondent to your looks. I will not, madam, refuse your bounty. I accept it with gratitude, for those dearer to me than myself. But ah! may I not indulge a hope of seeing you again. You are so kind, so gentle, madam, that every care is lulled into forgetfulness whilst conversing with you.”

“I shall certainly see you again as soon as possible,” replied Amanda.

Miss Rushbrook then quitted the carriage, which Amanda ordered back to town, and bid the coachman drive as fast as possible. They had not proceeded far, when the traces suddenly gave way, and the man was obliged to dismount, and[Pg 263] procure assistance from a public-house on the road, in repairing them. This occasioned a delay, which greatly distressed Amanda. She wished to get home before the ladies, lest, if this was not the case, her long absence should make Lady Greystock, who was remarkably inquisitive, inquire the reason of it; and to tell her she had a strong objection, convinced, as she was, that her ladyship’s knowing she relieved objects so extremely disagreeable to her, would occasion a quarrel between them, which would either render a longer residence together impossible or highly disagreeable. And to leave London at the present crisis, when everything relative to Lord Mortimer was drawing to a conclusion, was not to be thought of without the greatest pain.

At length the coachman remounted his box, and the velocity with which he drove, flattered her with the hope of reaching home as soon as she wished. Tranquillized by this hope, she again indulged her imagination with ideas of the comfort her little bounty had probably given Rushbrook and his dejected family. So sweet to her soul was the secret approbation which crowned her charity; so preferable to any pleasure she could have experienced at a ball, that even the disappointment she believed Lord Mortimer would feel from her declining it, was overlooked in the satisfaction she felt from the action she had performed. She was convinced he would inquire her reason for not going, which she determined at present to conceal. It would appear like ostentation, she thought, to say that the money requisite for her appearance at the ball was expended in charity, and perhaps excite his generosity in a manner which delicacy at present forbade her allowing.

She asked the footman who handed her from the carriage whether the ladies were returned; and on being answered in the affirmative, inquired the hour, and learned it was just dinner time. Flurried by this intelligence she hastened to her chamber, followed by the maid appointed to attend her, who said Lady Greystock had inquired for her as soon as she came home. Amanda dressed herself with unusual expedition, and repaired to the drawing-room, where, in addition to the family party, she found Lord Mortimer, Freelove, Miss Malcolm, and some other ladies and gentlemen assembled.

“Bless me, child,” said Lady Greystock the moment she entered the room, “where have you been the whole day?” “I declare, Miss Fitzalan,” exclaimed Lady Euphrasia, “I believe you stole a march somewhere upon us this morning.” “Well,” cried Miss Malcolm, laughing, “your ladyship must[Pg 264] know that people generally have some important reason for stolen marches which they do not choose to divulge.”

Amanda treated this malicious insinuation with the silent contempt it merited; and on Lady Greystock’s again asking her where she had been, said, in a low hesitating voice, “in the city.”

“In the city!” repeated Lord Mortimer.

This sudden exclamation startled her. She looked at him, and perceived him regarding her with the most scrutinizing earnestness. She blushed deeply, as if detected in a falsehood, and immediately bent her eyes to the ground.

The conversation now changed, but it was sometime ere Amanda’s confusion subsided.

Lord Mortimer, indeed, had a reason for his exclamation she little thought of. He had met the marchioness and her companions, by appointment, at the auction, but soon grew weary of his situation, which the presence of Amanda could alone have rendered tolerable. He pleaded business as an excuse for withdrawing, and hurrying home, ordered his phaeton, and proceeded towards Kensington. As he passed the coach in which Amanda sat, at the time the traces were mending, he carelessly looked into it, and directly recognized her. Lady Euphrasia had informed him she excused herself from their party on account of some business in the city. He never heard of her having any acquaintance in or about Kensington, and was at once alarmed and surprised by discovering her. He drove to some distance from the carriage, and as soon as it began to move, pursued it with equal velocity till it reached town, and then giving his phaeton in charge to the servant, followed it on foot, till he saw Amanda alight from it at the Marquis of Roslin’s. Amanda had escaped seeing his lordship by a profound meditation in which she was engaged at the moment, as she pensively leaned against the side of the coach. Lord Mortimer walked back with increased disorder to meet his phaeton. As he approached it, he saw Colonel Belgrave by it, on horseback, admiring the horses, which were remarkably fine, and asking to whom they belonged. His acquaintance with the colonel had hitherto never exceeded more than a passing bow. Now prompted by an irresistible impulse, he saluted him familiarly; inquired “whether he had had a pleasant ride that morning, and how far he had been.” “No farther than Kensington,” replied the colonel.

This answer was confirmation strong to all the fears of Lord Mortimer. He turned pale, dropped the reins which he[Pg 265] had taken, with an intention of remounting, and, without even noticing the colonel, flew from the place, and arrived at home almost in a state of distraction. He was engaged to dine at the Marquis’s, but in the first violence of his feelings, resolved on sending an apology. Ere the servant, however, summoned for that purpose had entered his apartment, he changed his resolution. “I will go,” said he: “though appearances are against her, she may, perhaps,” (and he tried to derive some comfort from the idea,) “be able satisfactorily to account for her being at Kensington.”

Tortured by conflicting passions, alternately hoping and doubting, he arrived at Portman Square.

Lady Greystock and Lady Euphrasia dwelt with wonder on the length of Amanda’s morning excursion. When she entered the room, he thought she appeared embarrassed; and that, on Lady Greystock’s addressing her, this embarrassment increased. But when she said she had been in the city, her duplicity, as he termed it, appeared so monstrous to him, that he could not forbear an involuntary repetition of her words. So great, indeed, was the indignation it excited in his breast, that he could scarcely forbear reproaching her as the destroyer of his and her own felicity. Her blush appeared to him, not the ingenuous coloring of innocence, but the glow of shame and guilt. It was evident to him that she had seen Belgrave that morning; that he was the occasion of all the mystery which had appeared in her conduct, and that it was the knowledge of the improper influence he had over her heart which made Sir Charles Bingley so suddenly resign her.

“Gracious Heaven!” said he to himself, “who, that looked upon Amanda, could ever suppose duplicity harbored in her breast? Yet that too surely it is, I have every reason to suppose. Yet a little longer I will bear a torturing state of suspense, nor reveal my doubts till thoroughly convinced they are well founded.”

He sat opposite to her at dinner, and his eyes were directed towards her with that tender sadness which we feel on viewing a beloved object we know ourselves on the point of losing forever.

His melancholy was quickly perceived by the penetrating marchioness and Lady Euphrasia. They saw, with delight, that the poison of suspicion, infused into his mind, was already beginning to operate. They anticipated the success of all their schemes. Their spirits grew uncommonly elevated; and Lady Euphrasia determined, whenever she had the power, to[Pg 266] revenge, on the susceptible nature of Mortimer, all the uneasiness he had made her suffer, and to add, as far as malice could add to it, to the misery about to be the lot of Amanda.

The dejection of Lord Mortimer was also observed by Amanda. It excited her fears and affected her sensibility. She dreaded that his aunt had refused complying with his request relative to her interference with his father, or that the earl had been urging him to an immediate union with Lady Euphrasia. Perhaps he now wavered between love and duty. The thought struck a cold damp upon her heart. Yet no, cried she, it cannot be; if inclined to change, Lord Mortimer would at once have informed me.

In the evening there was a large addition to the party; but Lord Mortimer sat pensively apart from the company. Amanda, by chance, procured a seat next his. His paleness alarmed her, and she could not forbear hinting her fears that he was ill.

“I am ill, indeed,” sighed he, heavily. He looked at her as he spoke, and beheld her regarding him with the most exquisite tenderness. But the period was past for receiving delight from such an appearance of affection: an affection, he had reason to believe was never more than feigned for him; and, also, from his emotions when with her, that he should never cease regretting the deception. His passions, exhausted by their own violence, had sunk into a calm, and sadness was the predominant feeling of his soul. Though he so bitterly lamented, he could not, at the moment, have reproached her perfidy. He gazed on her with mournful tenderness, and to the involuntary expression of regret, which dropped from her on hearing he was ill, only replied, by saying, “Ah! Amanda, the man that really excites your tenderness must be happy.”

Amanda, unconscious that any sinister meaning lurked beneath these words, considered them as an acknowledgment of the happiness he himself experienced from being convinced of her regard, and her heart swelled with pleasure at the idea.

Any further conversation between them was interrupted by Miss Malcolm, who, in a laughing manner, seated herself by Lord Mortimer, to rally him, as she said, into good spirits.


[Pg 267]

CHAPTER XXIX.

“But yet I say, If imputation and strong circumstances, Which lead directly to the door of truth, Will give you satisfaction, you may have it.”—Shakspeare.

From that evening, to the day destined for the ball, nothing material happened. On the morning of that day, as Amanda was sitting in the drawing-room with the ladies, Lord Mortimer entered. Lady Euphrasia could talk of nothing else but the approaching entertainment, which, she said, was expected to be the most brilliant thing that had been given that winter.

“I hope your ladyship,” said Amanda, who had not yet declared her intention of staying at home, “will be able to-morrow to give me a good description of it.” “Why, I suppose,” cried Lady Euphrasia, “you do not intend going without being able to see and hear yourself?” “Certainly,” replied Amanda, “I should not, but I do not intend going.” “Not going to the ball to-night?” exclaimed Lady Euphrasia. “Bless me child,” said Lady Greystock, “what whim has entered your head to prevent your going?” “Dear Lady Greystock,” said Lady Euphrasia, in a tone of unusual good-humor, internally delighted at Amanda’s resolution, “don’t tease Miss Fitzalan with questions.” “And you really do not go?” exclaimed Lord Mortimer, in an accent expressive of surprise and disappointment. “I really do not, my lord.” “I declare,” said the marchioness, even more delighted than her daughter at Amanda’s resolution, as it favored a scheme she had long been projecting, “I wish Euphrasia was as indifferent about amusement as Miss Fitzalan: here she has been complaining of indisposition the whole morning, yet I cannot prevail on her to give up the ball.”

Lady Euphrasia, who never felt in better health and spirits, would have contradicted the marchioness, had not an expressive glance assured her there was an important motive for this assertion.

“May we not hope, Miss Fitzalan,” said Lord Mortimer, “that a resolution so suddenly adopted as yours may be as[Pg 268] suddenly changed?” “No, indeed, my lord, nor is it so suddenly formed as you seem to suppose.”

Lord Mortimer shuddered as he endeavored to account for it in his own mind; his agony became almost insupportable; he arose and walked to the window where she sat.

“Amanda,” said he, in a low voice, “I fear you forget your engagement to me.”

Amanda, supposing this alluded to her engagement for the ball, replied, “she had not forgotten it.” “For your inability or disinclination to fulfil it, then,” said he, “will you not account?” “Most willingly, my lord.” “When?” asked Lord Mortimer, impatiently, for, unable longer to support his torturing suspense, he determined, contrary to his first intention, to come to an immediate explanation relative to Belgrave. “To-morrow, my lord,” replied Amanda, “since you desire it, I will account for not keeping my engagement, and I trust,” a modest blush mantling her cheeks as she spoke, “that your lordship will not disapprove of my reasons for declining it.”

The peculiar earnestness of his words, Lord Mortimer imagined, had conveyed their real meaning to Amanda.

“Till to-morrow, then,” sighed he, heavily, “I must bear disquietude.”

His regret, Amanda supposed, proceeded from disappointment at not having her company at the ball: she was flattered by it, and pleased at the idea of telling him her real motive for not going, certain it would meet his approbation, and open another source of benevolence to poor Rushbrook.

In the evening, at Lady Euphrasia’s particular request, she attended at her toilet, and assisted in ornamenting her ladyship. At ten she saw the party depart, without the smallest regret for not accompanying them: happy in self-approbation, a delightful calm was diffused over her mind: a treacherous calm, indeed, which, lulling her senses into security, made the approaching storm burst with redoubled violence on her head; it was such a calm as Shakspeare beautifully describes:—

“We often see against some storm A silence in the heavens; the rack stand still, The bold winds speechless, and the orb below As hush as death.”

She continued in Lady Euphrasia’s dressing-room, and took up the beautiful and affecting story of Paul and Mary, to amuse herself. Her whole attention was soon engrossed by it; and, with the unfortunate Paul, she was shedding a deluge of tears[Pg 269] over the fate of his lovely Mary, when a sudden noise made her hastily turn her head, and with equal horror and surprise, she beheld Colonel Belgrave coming forward. She started up, and was springing to the door, when, rushing between her and it, he caught her in his arms, and forcing her back to the sofa, rudely stopped her mouth.

“Neither cries or struggles, Amanda,” said he, “will be availing; without the assistance of a friend, you may be convinced, I could not have entered this house, and the same friend will, you may depend on it, take care that our tete-à-tete is not interrupted.”

Amanda shuddered at the idea of treachery; and being convinced, from what he said, she could not expect assistance, endeavored to recover her fainting spirits, and exert all her resolution.

“Your scheme, Colonel Belgrave,” said she, “is equally vile and futile. Though treachery may have brought you hither, you must be convinced that, under the Marquis of Roslin’s roof, who, by relationship, as well as hospitality, is bound to protect me, you dare not, with impunity, offer me any insult. The marquis will be at home immediately; if, therefore, you wish to preserve the semblance of honor, retire without further delay.” “Not to retire so easily,” exclaimed Belgrave, “did I take such pains, or watch so anxiously for this interview. Fear not any insult; but, till I have revealed the purpose of my soul, I will not be forced from you. My love, or rather adoration, has known no abatement by your long concealment; and now that chance has so happily thrown you in my way, I will not neglect using any opportunity it may offer.” “Gracious heaven!” said Amanda, while her eyes flashed with indignation, “how can you have the effrontery to avow your insolent intentions—intentions which long since you must have known would ever prove abortive?” “And why, my Amanda,” said he, again attempting to strain her to his breast, while she shrunk from his grasp, “why should they prove abortive? why should you be obstinate in refusing wealth, happiness, the sincere, the ardent affection of a man, who, in promoting your felicity, would constitute his own? My life, my fortune, would be at your command; my eternal gratitude would be yours for any trifling sacrifice the world might think you made me. Hesitate no longer about raising yourself to affluence, which, to a benevolent spirit like yours, must be so peculiarly pleasing. Hesitate not to secure independence to your father, promotion to your brother; and, be assured, if the connection I[Pg 270] formed in an ill-fated hour, deceived by a specious appearance of perfection, should ever be dissolved, my hand, like my heart, shall be yours.” “Monster!” exclaimed Amanda, beholding him with horror, “your hand, was it at your disposal, like your other offers, I should spurn with contempt. Cease to torment me,” she continued, “lest, in my own defence, I call upon those who have power, as well as inclination, to chastise your insolence. Let this consideration, joined to the certainty that your pursuit must ever prove unavailing, influence your future actions; for, be assured, you are in every respect an object of abhorrence to my soul.”

As she spoke, exerting all her strength, she burst from him, and attempted to gain the door. He flung himself between her and it, his face inflamed with passion, and darting the most malignant glances at her.

Terrified by his looks, Amanda tried to avoid him; and when he caught her again in his arms, she screamed aloud. No one appeared; her terror increased.

“Oh, Belgrave!” cried she, trembling, “if you have one principle of honor, one feeling of humanity remaining, retire. I will pardon and conceal what is past, if you comply with my request.” “I distress you, Amanda,” said he, assuming a softened accent, “and it wounds me to the soul to do so, though you, cruel and inexorable, care not what pain you occasion me. Hear me calmly, and be assured I shall attempt no action which can offend you.”

He led her again to the sofa, and thus continued:—

“Misled by false views, you shun and detest the only man who has had sufficient sincerity to declare openly his intentions; inexperience and credulity have already made you a dupe to artifice. You imagined Sir Charles Bingley was a fervent admirer of yours, when, be assured, in following you he only obeyed the dictates of an egregious vanity, which flattered him with the hope of gaining your regard, and being distinguished by it. Nothing was farther from his thoughts, as he himself confessed to me, than seriously paying his addresses to you; and had you appeared willing, at last, to accept them, be assured he would soon have contrived some scheme to disengage himself from you. The attentions of Lord Mortimer are prompted by a motive much more dangerous than that which instigated Sir Charles. He really admires you, and would have you believe his views are honorable; but beware of his duplicity. He seeks to take advantage of the too great confidence you repose in him. His purpose once accomplished, he would[Pg 271] sacrifice you to Lady Euphrasia; and I know enough of her malevolent disposition to be convinced she would enjoy her triumph over so lovely a victim. Ah, my dear Amanda, even beauty and elegance like yours would not, on the generality of mankind, have power to make them forego the advantages annexed to wealth—on Lord Mortimer, particularly, they would fail of that effect. His ambition and avarice are equal to his father’s ; and though his heart and soul, I am confident, revolt from the mind and person of Lady Euphrasia, he will unite himself to her, for the sake of possessing her fortune, and thus increasing his own power of procuring the gratifications he delights in. As my situation is known, I cannot be accused of deception, and whatever I promise, will be strictly fulfilled. Deliberate therefore no longer, my Amanda, on the course you shall pursue.” “No,” cried she, “I shall, indeed, no longer deliberate about it.”

As she spoke she started from her seat. Belgrave again seized her hand. At this moment a knocking was heard at the hall door, which echoed through the house. Amanda trembled, and Belgrave paused in a speech he had begun. She supposed the marquis had returned. It was improbable he would come to that room; and even if he did, from his distrustful and malignant temper, she knew not whether she should have reason to rejoice at or regret his presence. But how great was her confusion when, instead of his voice, she heard those of the marchioness and her party! In a moment the dreadful consequences which might ensue from her present situation rushed upon her mind. By the forced attentions of the marchioness and Lady Euphrasia, she was not long deceived, and had reason to believe, from the inveterate dislike they bore her, that they would rejoice at an opportunity like the present for traducing her fame; and with horror she saw that appearances, even in the eyes of candor, would be against her. She had positively, and unexpectedly, refused going to the ball. She had expressed delight at the idea of staying at home. Alas! would not all these circumstances be dwelt upon? What ideas might they not excite in Lord Mortimer, who already showed a tendency to jealousy? Half wild at the idea, she clasped her hands together and exclaimed, in a voice trembling with anguish, “Merciful heaven, I am ruined forever!”

“No, no,” cried Belgrave, flinging himself at her feet, “pardon me, Amanda, and I never more will molest you. I see your principles are invincible. I admire, I revere your purity,[Pg 272] and never more will I attempt to injure it. I was on the point of declaring so when that cursed knock came to the door. Compose yourself, and consider what can be done in the present emergency. You will be ruined if I am seen with you. The malicious devils you live with would never believe our united asseverations of your innocence. Conceal me, therefore, if possible, till the family are settled; the person who let me in will then secure my retreat, and I swear solemnly never more to trouble you.”

Amanda hesitated between the confidence her innocence inspired, and the dread of the unpleasant construction malice might put on her situation. She heard the party ascending the stairs. Fear conquered her reluctance to concealment, and she motioned to Belgrave to retire to a closet adjoining the dressing-room. He obeyed the motion, and closed the door softly after him.

Amanda, snatching up her book, endeavored to compose herself; but the effort was ineffectual—she trembled universally—nor was her agitation diminished when, from the outside of the door, Lady Euphrasia called to her to open it. She tottered to it, and almost fainted on finding it locked—with difficulty she opened it, and the whole party, followed by the marquis, entered.

“Upon my word, Miss Fitzalan,” said the marchioness, “you were determined no one should disturb your meditations. I fear we have surprised you; but poor Euphrasia was taken ill at the ball, and we were obliged to return with her.” “Miss Fitzalan has not been much better, I believe,” said Lady Euphrasia, regarding her attentively. “Good Lord, child!” cried Lady Greystock, “what is the matter with you? why, you look as pale as if you had seen a ghost.” “Miss Fitzalan is fond of solitude,” exclaimed the marquis, preventing her replying to Lady Greystock. “When I returned home about an hour ago, I sent to request her company in the parlor, which honor, I assure you, I was refused.”

The message, indeed, had been sent, but never delivered to Amanda.

“I assure you, my lord,” said she, “I heard of no such request.” “And pray, child, how have you been employed all this time?” asked Lady Greystock. “In reading, madam,” faltered out Amanda, while her death-like paleness was succeeded by a deep blush. “You are certainly ill,” said Lord Mortimer, who sat beside her, in a voice expressive of regret at the conviction. “You have been indulging melancholy[Pg 273] ideas, I fear,” continued he softly, and taking her hand, “for surely—surely to-night you are uncommonly affected.”

Amanda attempted to speak. The contending emotions of her mind prevented her utterance, and the tears trickled silently down her cheeks. Lord Mortimer saw she wished to avoid notice, yet scarcely could he forbear requesting some assistance for her.

Lady Euphrasia now complained of a violent headache. The marchioness wanted to ring for remedies. This Lady Euphrasia opposed; at last, as if suddenly recollecting it, she said, “in the closet there was a bottle of eau-de-luce, which she was certain would be of service to her.”

At the mention of the closet, the blood ran cold through the veins of Amanda; but when she saw Lady Euphrasia rise to enter it, had death, in its most frightful form, stared her in the face, she could not have betrayed more horror. She looked towards it with a countenance as expressive of wild affright as Macbeth’s, when viewing the chair on which the spectre of the murdered Banquo sat. Lord Mortimer observing the disorder of her looks, began to tremble. He grasped her hand with a convulsive motion, and exclaimed:

“Amanda, what means this agitation?”

A loud scream from Lady Euphrasia broke upon their ears, and she rushed from the closet, followed by Belgrave.

"Gracious Heaven!” exclaimed Lord Mortimer, dropping Amanda’s hand, and rising precipitately.

Amanda looked around—she beheld every eye fastened on her with amazement and contempt. The shock was too much for her to support. A confused idea started into her mind that a deep-laid plot had been concerted to ruin her; she faintly exclaimed, “I am betrayed,” and sunk back upon the sofa.

Lord Mortimer started at her exclamation. “Oh Heavens!” cried he, as he looked towards her; unable to support the scene that would ensue in consequence of this discovery, he struck his forehead in agony, and rushed out of the room. In the hall he was stopped by Mrs. Jane, the maid appointed by the marchioness to attend Amanda.

“Alack-a-day, my lord,” said she, in a whimpering voice, "something dreadful, I am afraid, has happened above stairs. Oh dear! what people suffer sometimes by their good nature. I am sure, if I thought any harm would come of granting Miss Fitzalan’s request, she might have begged and prayed long enough, before I would have obliged her.” “Did she desire you to bring Colonel Belgrave to this house?” asked Lord Morti[Pg 274]mer. “Oh, to be sure she did, my lord, or how should I ever have thought of such a thing? She has been begging and praying long enough for me to contrive some way of bringing him here; and she told me a piteous story, which would have softened a stone, of his being a sweetheart of hers before he was married.” “Merciful powers!” cried Lord Mortimer, clasping his hands together, “how have I been deceived.”

He was hurrying away, when Mrs. Jane caught his coat. “I shall lose my place,” said she, sobbing, “that I shall, most certainly; for my lord and lady never will forgive my bringing any one in such a way into the house. I am sure, I thought no great harm in it, and did it quite from good nature; for, indeed, how could one resist the poor, dear young lady; she cried, and said she only wanted to bid farewell to her dear Belgrave.”

Lord Mortimer could hear no more. He shook her from him, and hurried from the house.

Amanda’s faculties suffered but a momentary suspension; as she opened her eyes, her composure and fortitude returned.

“I am convinced,” said she, rising and advancing to the marquis, “it will shock your lordship to hear, that it is the treachery of some person under your roof has involved me in my present embarrassing situation. For my own justification, ’tis necessary to acknowledge that I have long been the object of a pursuit from Colonel Belgrave, as degrading to his character as insulting to mine. When he broke so unexpectedly upon me to-night, he declared, even with effrontery declared, he had a friend in this house who gave him access to it. As your guest, my lord, I may expect your lordship’s protection; also that an immediate inquiry be made for the abettor in this scheme against me, and a full discovery of it extorted—that should the affair be mentioned, it may be explained, and my fame cleared of every imputation.” “That, madam,” said the marquis, with a malicious sneer, “would not be quite so easy a matter as you may perhaps suppose. Neither the world nor I am so credulous as you imagine. Your story, madam, by no means hangs well together. There is no person in my house would have dared to commit the act you accuse them of, as they must know the consequence of it would be immediate dismission from my service. Had not Colonel Belgrave been voluntarily admitted, he never would have been concealed;—no, madam, you would have rejoiced at the opportunity our presence gave you of punishing his temerity. Innocence is bold; ’tis guilt alone is timorous.”

[Pg 275]

The truth of part of his speech struck forcibly on Amanda; but how could she explain her conduct?—how declare it was her dread of the marchioness and Lady Euphrasia’s malice which had made her consent to conceal him.

“Oh, I see,” said she, in the agony of her soul—"I see I am the dupe of complicated artifice.” “I never in my life,” cried the marchioness, “met with such assurance—to desire the marquis to be her champion.” “As she was intrusted to my care, however,” exclaimed Lady Greystock, “I think it necessary to inquire into the affair. Pray, sir,” turning to the colonel, “by what means did you come here?”

The colonel, with undiminished assurance, had hitherto stood near the fatal closet leaning on a chair.

“That, madam,” replied he, “I must be excused revealing. Let me, however, assure your ladyship ’tis not on my own account I affect concealment.” Here he glanced at Amanda. “Those parts of my conduct, however, which I choose to conceal, I shall always be ready to defend.” “Sir,” cried the marquis haughtily, “no explanation or defence of your conduct is here required; I have neither right nor inclination to interfere in Miss Fitzalan’s concerns.”

The colonel bowed to the circle, and was retiring, when Amanda flew to him and caught his arm. “Surely, surely,” said she, almost gasping for breath, “you cannot be so inhuman as to retire without explaining this whole affair. Oh, Belgrave, leave me not a prey to slander. By all your hopes of mercy and forgiveness hereafter, I conjure you to clear my fame.”

“My dear creature,” said he, in a low voice, yet low enough to be heard by the whole party, “anything I could say would be unavailing. You find they are determined not to see things in the light we wish them viewed. Compose yourself, I beseech you, and be assured, while I exist, you never shall want comfort or affluence.”

He gently disengaged himself as he spoke, and quitted the room, leaving her riveted to the floor in amazement at his insolence and perfidy.

“I am sure,” said Lady Greystock, “I shall regret all my life the hour in which I took her under my protection; though, indeed, from what I heard soon after my arrival in London, I should have dispatched her back to her father, but I felt a foolish pity for her. I was in hopes, indeed, the society I had introduced her to would have produced a reformation, and that I might be the means of saving a young creature from entire[Pg 276] destruction.” “From what I have already suffered by her family, nothing should have tempted me to take her under my roof,” exclaimed the marchioness. “Was she my relation,” cried the marquis, “I should long since have come to a determination about her; as yours, madam,” turning to the marchioness, “I shall not attempt forming one; I deem it, however, absolutely necessary to remove Lady Euphrasia Sutherland from the house till the young lady chooses to quit it. I shall therefore order the carriage to be ready at an early hour for the villa.”

“I shall certainly accompany your lordship,” cried the marchioness, “for I cannot endure her sight; and though she deserves it, it shall not be said that we turned her from the house.” “The only measure she should pursue,” exclaimed Lady Greystock, “is to set off as soon as possible for Ireland; when she returns to obscurity the affair may die away.” “It may, however,” said Amanda, “be yet revived to cover with confusion its contrivers. To Heaven I leave the vindication of my innocence. Its justice is sure, though sometimes slow, and the hour of retribution often arrives when least expected. Much as I have suffered—much as I may still suffer, I think my own situation preferable to theirs who have set their snares around me. The injurer must ever feel greater pangs than the injured—the pangs of guilt and remorse. I shall return to my obscurity, happy in the consciousness that it is not a shelter from shame, but a refuge from cruelty I seek. But can I be surprised at meeting cruelty from those who have long since waived the ties of kindred?—from those,” and she glanced at Lady Greystock, “who have set aside the claims of justice and humanity?”

The marchioness trembled with rage at this speech, and as Amanda retired from the room, exclaimed, “intolerable assurance.”

Amanda repaired immediately to her chamber. She tottered as she walked, and the housekeeper and Mrs. Jane, who, with some other servants, had assembled out of curiosity near the door, followed her thither.

The emotions she had so painfully suppressed now burst forth with violence. She fell into an agony of tears and sobs which impeded her breathing. The housekeeper and Jane loosened her clothes and supported her to the bed. In a short time she was sufficiently recovered to be able to speak, and requested they would engage a carriage for her against the next day, at an early hour, that she might commence her[Pg 277] journey to Ireland. This they promised, and at her desire retired.

Success, but not happiness, had crowned the marchioness’s scheme. She triumphed in the disgrace she had drawn upon Amanda, but feared that disgrace was only temporary. She had entangled her in a snare, but she dreaded not having secured her in it. She distrusted those who had assisted her designs—for the guilty will ever suspect each other. They might betray her, or Colonel Belgrave might repent; but such evils, if they did ever arrive, were probably far distant. In the interim, all she desired to accomplish might be effected. Long had she been meditating on some plan which should ruin Amanda forever—not only in the opinion of Lord Mortimer, but in the estimation of the world. With the profligacy of Colonel Belgrave she was well acquainted, and inclined from it to believe that he would readily join in any scheme which could give him a chance of possessing Amanda. On discovering her residence, he had ordered his valet, who was a trusty agent in all his villanies, to endeavor to gain access to the house, that he might discover whether there was a chance of introducing him there. The valet obeyed his orders, and soon attached himself to Mrs. Jane, whom the marchioness had placed about Amanda, from knowing she was capable of any deceitful part. She was introduced to Belgrave, and a handsome present secured her in his interest.

She communicated to the marchioness the particulars of their interview. From that period they had been seeking to bring about such a scene as was at last acted; for the conduct of Amanda had hitherto defeated their intentions. Her staying from the ball at last gave the wished-for opportunity.

Lady Euphrasia was apprised of the whole plot, and the hint of her indisposition was given in the morning, that no suspicion might be entertained in the evening, when mentioned as a plea for returning home earlier than was intended.

Colonel Belgrave was introduced into the closet by Mrs. Jane, through a door that opened from the lobby; and whilst Amanda sat pensively reading, he stole out, and secured the other door, as already mentioned.

When Lady Euphrasia declared she was too ill to continue at the ball, Lord Mortimer offered to attend her home. Had he not done so, the marchioness intended to have asked him.

The marquis was persuaded that Amanda was an artful and dangerous rival to his daughter, and he hated her from that consideration. The laws of hospitality obliged him to treat her[Pg 278] with politeness, but he gladly seized the first opportunity that offered for expressing his dislike.

Lady Greystock saw through the plot, but she professed her belief of Amanda’s guilt, which was all the marchioness required.

The marquis left the ladies together, while he went to give orders about his early journey. Soon after his departure a loud knocking was heard, which announced a visitor; and from the lateness of the hour, they conjectured, and were right in doing so, that it must be Lord Mortimer.

After traversing several streets, in an agony no language could describe, he returned to Portman Square. His fancy presented Amanda to his view, overwhelmed with shame, and sinking beneath the keen reproaches levelled at her. In the idea of her sufferings, all resentment for the supposed perfidy was forgotten. Human nature was liable to err, and the noblest efforts that nature could make, was to pardon such errors. To speak comfort to this fallen angel, he felt would relieve the weight which pressed upon his own breast. Pale and disordered he entered the room, and found the ladies apparently much affected.

“My dear lord,” said the marchioness, “I am glad you are come back. As a friend of the family, you may perhaps honor us with your advice on the present occasion.” “Indeed,” exclaimed Lady Greystock, “I suppose his lordship is at as great a loss to know what can be done as we are. Was the colonel in a situation to make any reparation—but a married man, only think, how horrible!” “Execrable monster!” cried Lord Mortimer, starting from his seat, and traversing the room, “it were a deed of kindness to mankind to extirpate him from the earth: but say,” continued he, and his voice faltered as he spoke, “where is the unfortunate——,” he could not pronounce the name of Amanda. “In her own room,” replied the marchioness. “I assure you, she behaved with not a little insolence, on Lady Greystock advising her to return home. For my part, I shall let her act as she pleases.”

She then proceeded to mention the marquis’s resolution of leaving the house till she had quitted it, and that he insisted on their accompanying him.

“To return to her father is certainly the only eligible plan she can pursue,” said Lord Mortimer; “but allow me,” continued he, “to request that your ladyship will not impute to insolence any expression which dropped from her. Pity her wounded feelings, and soften her sorrows.” “I declare,” cried Lady Euphrasia, “I thought I should have fainted from the pity I felt for her.” “You pitied her, then,” said Lord [Pg 279]Mortimer, sitting down by her ladyship, “you pitied and soothed her afflictions?” “Yes, indeed,” replied she.

If ever Lady Euphrasia appeared pleasing in the eyes of Lord Mortimer, it was at this moment, when he was credulous enough to believe she had shed the tear of pity over his lost Amanda. He took her hand. “Ah! my dear Lady Euphrasia,” said he, in an accent of melting softness, “perhaps even now she needs consolation. A gentle female friend would be a comfort to her wounded heart.”

Lady Euphrasia immediately took the hint, and said she would go to her.

He led her to the door. “You are going,” cried he, “to perform the office of an angel—to console the afflicted. Ah! well does it become the young and gentle of your sex to pity such misfortunes.”

Her ladyship retired, but not indeed to the chamber of the forlorn Amanda. In her own she vented the rage of her soul in something little short of execrations against Lord Mortimer, for the affection she saw he still retained for Amanda.

On her ladyship’s retiring, Lady Greystock mentioned every particular she had heard from Mrs. Jennings, and bitterly lamented her having ever taken Amanda under her protection. The subject was too painful to be long endured by Lord Mortimer. He had heard of the early hour fixed for their journey, and saying he would no longer keep the ladies from repose, precipitately retired. He gave his man directions to watch their motions, and inform him when they left town.

Exhausted by the violence of her emotions, a temporary forgetfulness stole over the senses of Amanda, on her being left to solitude. In this state she continued till roused by a bustle in the house. She started, listened, and heard the sound of a carriage. Supposing it to be the one she had ordered for her departure, she sprang from the bed, and, going to the window, saw, instead of one for her, the marquis’s, into which he was handing the ladies. As soon as it drove from the door, she rang the bell, and the housekeeper immediately appeared, as Mrs. Jane had attended the marchioness to the villa. Amanda inquired “whether a carriage, as she directed, had been engaged for her.”

The housekeeper replied, “the hour in which she spoke was too late for such a purpose, but she had now sent about one.”

Amanda endeavored to exert herself, and was packing up her clothes, when a maid entered the chamber, and said, “Lord Mortimer was below, and wished to speak to her.”

[Pg 280]

Tumultuous joy pervaded the mind of Amanda. She had believed it probable she should not see him again before her departure for Ireland, from whence she had determined writing to him the particulars of the affair. His visit seemed to announce he thought not unfavorably of her. She supposed he came to assure her that his opinion of her integrity was unshaken—"and I shall yet triumph,” cried she, in the transport of the idea, “over malice and treachery.”

She sprung past the maid; her feet scarce touched the ground, and in a moment she found herself in the arms of Lord Mortimer, which involuntarily opened to receive her, for, trembling weak, and disordered, she would else, on seeing him, have sunk to the floor. He supported her to a sofa. In a little time she raised her head from his shoulder, and exclaimed, “Oh! you are come! I know you are come, to comfort me.” “Would to Heaven,” he answered, “I were capable of either giving or receiving comfort. The period, however, I trust, may yet arrive when we shall both at least be more composed. To mitigate your sorrows would lessen my own; for never, oh, never! can my heart forget the love and esteem it once bore Amanda.” “Once bore her!” repeated Amanda. “Once bore her, Lord Mortimer! do you say? Then you wish to imply they no longer exist?”

The tone of anguish in which she spoke, pierced the heart of Lord Mortimer. Unable to speak, he arose, and walked to the window, to hide his emotion. His words, his silence, all conveyed a fatal truth to Amanda. She saw a dreadful and eternal separation effected between her and Lord Mortimer. She beheld herself deprived of reputation, loaded with calumny, and no longer an object of love, but of detestation and contempt. Her anguish was almost too great to bear, yet the pride of injured innocence made her wish to conceal it; and, as Lord Mortimer stood at the window, she determined to try and leave the room without his knowledge, but ere she gained the door her head grew giddy, her strength failed, she staggered, faintly screamed on finding herself falling, and sunk upon the floor.

Lord Mortimer wildly called for assistance. He raised and carried her back to the sofa; he strained her to his bosom, kissed her pale lips, and wept over her.

“I have wounded your gentle soul, my Amanda,” cried he, “but I have tortured my own by doing so. Ah! still dearest of women, did the world compassionate your errors as I compassionate them, neither contempt nor calumny would ever be your portion. How pale she looks!” said he, raising his head[Pg 281] to gaze upon her face; “how like a lovely flower untimely faded! Yet were it happiness for her never to revive; a soul like hers, originally noble, must be wretched under the pressure of scorn. Execrable Belgrave! the fairest work of Heaven is destroyed by you. Oh! my Amanda, my distress is surely severe—though anguish rives my heart for your loss, I must conceal it—the sad luxury of grief will be denied me, for the world would smile if I could say I now lamented you.”

Such were the effusions of sorrow which broke from Lord Mortimer over the insensible Amanda. The housekeeper, who had been listening all this time, now appeared, as if in obedience to his call, and offered her assistance in recovering Amanda. Heavy sighs at length gave hopes of her restoration. Lord Mortimer, unable to support her pathetic lamentations, determined to depart ere she was perfectly sensible.

“Miss Fitzalan,” said he to the housekeeper, “will wish, I am convinced, to quit this house immediately. I shall take upon myself to procure her a carriage, also a proper attendant, for her journey, which, I flatter myself, she will be able to commence in a few hours. Be kind, be gentle to her, my good woman, and depend on my eternal gratitude. When she is recovered, deliver her this letter.”

The housekeeper promised to observe his injunctions, and he departed.

To Ireland, with Amanda, he intended sending an old female servant, who had formerly been an attendant of his mother’s, and his own man. He was shocked at the conduct of the marchioness and Lady Greystock, and thought them guilty of the highest inhumanity in thus deserting Amanda. The letter he had put into the housekeeper’s hands excited her curiosity so strongly that she was tempted to gratify it. Amanda was not in a situation to perceive what she did, the letter could easily be sealed again, and, in short, without longer hesitation, she opened it. How great was her amazement, on finding it contained a bank-note for five hundred pounds. The words were as follows:—

Consider me, Amanda, in the light of a brother; as such accept my services; to serve you, in any manner, will be a source of consolation, which, I flatter myself, you will be happy to allow me. ’Tis necessary you should return immediately to your father; hesitate not, then, about using the enclosed. Your complying with my request will prove that you yet retain a friendship for

Mortimer.

“What a sum,” cried the housekeeper, as she examined the[Pg 282] note; “what a nice little independency would this, in addition to what I have already saved, be for an honest woman! What a pity it is such a creature as it is designed for should possess it!” The housekeeper, like her lady, was fertile in invention: to be sure there was some danger in her present scheme, but for such a prize it was worth her while to run some risk. Could she but get Amanda off ere the carriage from Lord Mortimer arrived, she believed all would succeed as she could wish. Amanda, ignorant as she was of Lord Mortimer’s intentions, would not, consequently, be influenced by them, to oppose anything she could do. Full of this idea, she ran out, and calling a footman, high in her favor, desired him immediately to procure a travelling chaise for Miss Fitzalan. She then returned to Amanda, who was just beginning to move.

“Come, come,” cried she, going to her, and roughly shaking her shoulder, “have done with those tragedy airs, and prepare yourself against the carriage you ordered, comes: it will be at the door in a few minutes.”

Amanda looked round the room. “Is Lord Mortimer gone, then?” said she. “Lord, to be sure he is,” cried the housekeeper; “he left you on the floor, and, as he went out, he said you should never have another opportunity of deceiving him.”

A sudden frenzy seemed to seize Amanda; she wrung her hands, called upon Lord Mortimer in the impassioned language of despair, and flung herself on the ground, exclaiming, “This last stroke is more than I can bear.”

The housekeeper grew alarmed, lest her agitation should retard her departure; she raised her forcibly from the ground, and said, “she must compose herself to begin her journey, which was unavoidable, as the marchioness had given absolute orders to have her sent from the house early in the morning.”

“Accursed house!” said Amanda, whose reason was restored by the strenuous remonstrances of the housekeeper: “Oh, that I had never entered it!” She then told her companion, “if she would assist her, as she was almost too weak to do anything for herself, she would be ready against the carriage came.” The housekeeper and maid accordingly attended her to her chamber; the former brought her drops, and the latter assisted in putting on her habit, and packing up her clothes. Amanda having secured her trunks, desired they might be sent, by the first opportunity, to Castle Carberry; she had left a great many clothes there, so took nothing at present with her but a small quantity of linen. She had but a few guineas in her purse; her watch, however, was valuable; and if she had money enough to[Pg 283] carry her to Dublin, she knew there she might procure a sufficient sum on it to carry her home.

At last the carriage came; with a trembling frame, and half-broken heart, Amanda entered it. She saw Nicholas, the footman, who had procured it, ready mounted to attend her. She told him it was unnecessary to do so; but he declared he could not think of letting so young a lady travel unprotected. She was pleased at his attention: she had shuddered at the idea of her forlorn situation, and now dropped a tear of sweet sensibility at finding she was not utterly deserted by every human being. The carriage took the road to Parkgate, as Amanda chose to embark from thence, the journey being so much nearer to it than to Holyhead, It was now about eight o’clock; after travelling four hours, the chaise stopped at a small house on the roadside, which appeared to be a common ale-house. Amanda was unwilling to enter it; but the horses were here to be changed; and she was shown into a dirty parlor, where, almost sinking with weakness, she ordered tea to be immediately brought in. She was much astonished, as she sat at the tea-table, to see Nicholas enter the room with a familiar air, and seat himself by her. She stared at him at first, supposing him intoxicated; but perceiving no signs of this in his countenance, began to fear that the insults she had received at the marquis’s made him think himself authorized to treat her with this insolence. She arose abruptly, and, summoning all her resolution to her aid, desired him to retire, adding, “If his attendance was requisite she would ring for him.”

Nicholas also quitted his seat, and following her, caught her in his arms, exclaiming, “Bless us, how hoity toity you are grown.”

Amanda shrieked, and stamped on the floor in an agony of terror and indignation.

“Why, now really,” said he, “after what happened at home, I think you need not be so coy with me.” “Oh, save me, Heaven, from this wretch!” was all the affrighted Amanda could articulate.

The door opened. A waiter appeared, and told Nicholas he was wanted without. Nicholas released Amanda, and ran directly from the room. Amanda sunk upon a chair, and her head turned giddy at the idea of the dangers with which she was surrounded. She saw herself in the power of a wretch—perhaps wretches, for the house seemed a proper place for scenes of villany—without the means of delivering herself. She walked to the window. A confused idea of getting through[Pg 284] it, and running from the house, darted into her mind, but she turned from it in agony at seeing a number of countrymen drinking before it. She now could only raise her feeble hands to heaven to supplicate its protection.

She passed some minutes in this manner, when the lock turned and made her shudder, but it was the landlady alone who entered. She came, she said, with Nicholas’s respectful duty, and she was sorry he was obliged to go back to town without seeing her safe to her journey’s end.

“Is he really gone?” asked Amanda, with all the eagerness of joy. “Yes,” the woman said; “a person had followed him from London on purpose to bring him back.” “Is the carriage ready?” cried Amanda. She was informed it was. “Let me fly, then.” The landlady impeded her progress to tell her the bill was not yet settled. Amanda pulled out her purse, and besought her not to detain her. This the woman had no desire to do. Things were therefore settled without delay between them, and Amanda was driven with as much expedition as she could desire from the terrifying mansion. The chaise had proceeded about two miles, when, in the middle of a solitary road, or rather lane, by the side of a wood, it suddenly stopped. Amanda, alarmed at every incident, hastily looked out, and inquired what was the matter; but how impossible to describe her terror when she beheld Colonel Belgrave, and Nicholas standing by him! She shrunk back, and entreated the postilion to drive on; but he heeded not her entreaty. Nicholas opened the door, and Belgrave sprang into the carriage. Amanda attempted to burst open the door at the opposite side; but he caught her to his bosom, and the horses set off at full speed. Colonel Belgrave’s valet had been secreted by Mrs. Jane the preceding night in the house, that he might be able to give his master intelligence of all that passed within it, in consequence of his being discovered in the closet. On hearing the family were gone to the Marquis’s villa, Belgrave believed he could easily prevail on the domestics to deliver up Amanda to him. Elated with this hope, he reached the house, attended by his valet, just after she had quitted it. The housekeeper hesitated to inform him of the road she had taken till she had procured what she knew would be the consequence of her hesitation—a large bribe. Horses were then immediately procured, and Belgrave and his servant set off in pursuit of Amanda. The sight of a travelling chaise at the little inn already mentioned, prompted their inquiries; and on finding the chaise waited for Amanda, the colonel retired to a private room, sent for[Pg 285] Nicholas, and secured him in his interest. It was settled they should repair to the wood, by which the postilion was bribed to pass, and from thence proceed to a country-house of the colonel’s. Their scheme accomplished, Nicholas, happy in the service he had done, or rather the reward he had obtained for that service, again turned his face towards London.

The carriage and attendants Lord Mortimer procured for Amanda arrived even earlier than the housekeeper had expected, and she blessed her lucky stars for the precipitancy with which she had hurried off Amanda. They were followed by his lordship himself, whose wretched heart could not support the idea of letting Amanda depart without once more beholding her. Great was his dismay, his astonishment, when the housekeeper informed him she was gone.

“Gone!” he repeated, changing color.

The housekeeper said that, without her knowledge, Miss Fitzalan had a chaise hired, and the moment it came to the door stepped into it, notwithstanding she was told his lordship meant to provide everything proper for her journey himself. “But she said, my lord,” cried the housekeeper, “she wanted none of your care, and that she could never get fast enough from a house, or from people, where and by whom she had been so ill treated.”

Lord Mortimer asked if she had any attendant, and whether she took the letter.

The housekeeper answered both these questions in the affirmative. “Truly, my lord,” she continued, “I believe your lordship said something in that letter which pleased her, for she smiled on opening it, and said, ‘Well, well, this is something like comfort.’” “And was she really so mean?” he was on the point of asking, but he timely checked a question which was springing from a heart that sickened at finding the object of its tenderest affections unworthy in every respect of possessing them. Every idea of this kind soon gave way to anxiety on her account. His heart misgave him at her undertaking so long a journey under the protection of a common servant; and, unable to endure his apprehensions, he determined instantly to pursue and see her safe himself to the destined port.

The woman, who had hitherto sat in the chaise, was ordered to return home. He entered it with eagerness, and promised liberally to reward the postilions if they used expedition. They had changed horses but once when Lord Mortimer saw Nicholas approaching, whom, at the first glance, he knew. He[Pg 286] stopped the carriage, and called out, “Where have you left Miss Fitzalan?” “Faith, my lord,” cried Nicholas, instantly stopping and taking off his hat, “in very good company. I left her with Colonel Belgrave, who was waiting, by appointment, on the road for her.” “Oh! horrible infatuation!” said Lord Mortimer, “that nothing can snatch her from the arms of infamy.”

The postilion desired to know whether he should return to London.

Lord Mortimer hesitated, and at last desired him to go on according to his first directions. He resolved to proceed to Parkgate and discover whether Amanda had returned to Ireland. They had not proceeded far when they overtook a travelling chaise. As Lord Mortimer passed, he looked into it, and beheld Amanda reclined on the bosom of Belgrave. He trembled universally, closed his eyes, and sighed out the name of the perfidious Amanda. When they had got some way before the other chaise, he desired the postilion to strike off into another road, which, by a circuit of a few miles, would bring them back to London. Amanda, it was evident, had put herself under the protection of Belgrave, and to know whether she went to Ireland was now of little consequence to him, as he supposed her unreclaimable. But how impossible to describe his distress and confusion when almost the first object he beheld, on alighting in St. James’s Square, was his aunt, Lady Martha Dormer, who, in compliance with his urgent request, had hastened to London. Had a spectre crossed his sight he could not have been more shocked.

“Well, my dear Frederick,” said her ladyship, “you see I lost no time in obeying your wishes. I have flown hither, I may indeed say, on the wings of love. But where is this little divinity of thine? I long to have a peep at her goddess-ship.”

Lord Mortimer, inexpressibly shocked, turned to the window.

“I shall see, to be sure,” cried her ladyship, “quite a little paragon. Positively, Frederick, I will be introduced this very evening.” “My dear aunt, my dear Lady Martha,” said Lord Mortimer, impatiently, “for Heaven’s sake spare me!” “But tell me,” she continued, “when I shall commence this attack upon your father’s heart?” “Never! never!” sighed Mortimer, half distracted. “What! you suppose he will prove inflexible? But I do not despair of convincing you to the contrary. Tell me, Frederick, when the little charmer is to be seen?” “Oh, God!” cried Mortimer, striking his forehead, “she is lost,” said he, “she is lost forever!”

[Pg 287]

Lady Martha was alarmed. She now, for the first time, noticed the wild and pallid looks of her nephew. “Gracious Heaven!” she exclaimed, “what is the matter?”

The dreadful explanation Lord Mortimer now found himself under a necessity of giving. The shame of acknowledging he was so deceived, the agony he suffered from that deception, joined to the excessive agitation and fatigue he had suffered the preceding night, and the present day, so powerfully assailed him at this moment, that his senses suddenly gave way, and he actually fainted on the floor.

What a sight for the tender Lady Martha! She saw something dreadful had happened, and what this was Lord Mortimer, as soon as recovered, informed her.

He then retired to his chamber. He could neither converse nor bear to be conversed with. His fondest hopes were blasted, nor could he forego the sad indulgence of mourning over them in solitude. He felt almost convinced that the hold Amanda had on his affections could not be withdrawn; he had considered her as scarcely less than his wife, and had she been really such, her present conduct could not have given him more anguish. Had she been snatched from him by the hand of death; had she been wedded to a worthy character, he could have summoned fortitude to his aid; but to find her the prey of a villain, was a stroke too horrible to bear, at least for a long period, with patience.


CHAPTER XXX.

“And let a maid thy pity share, *  *  *  *  Who seeks for rest, but finds despair Companion of her way.”—Goldsmith.

Amanda had fainted soon after Colonel Belgrave entered the carriage, and she was reclining on his bosom in a state of insensibility when Lord Mortimer passed. In this situation she continued till they had gained a solitary road, when the carriage stopped, and water, procured from an adjacent cottage, being sprinkled on her face, she recovered; but either by arguments or actions she was now unable to oppose Belgrave. She felt a weakness through her whole frame, which she be[Pg 288]lieved the forerunner of death, and a languor on her mind that almost deprived it of the perception of misery.

The refreshments offered to her she could only refuse by a motion of her hand; and in this manner they proceeded till about nine o’clock at night, when they entered an extensive wood, in the very centre of which stood Colonel Belgrave’s mansion. He carried Amanda himself into it, and laid her upon a sofa in a large parlor. Some female domestics appeared with drops and cordials, to try and recover her from the almost lifeless state in which she lay. One of them presented a letter to the colonel, which excited no little perturbation in his mind. It came express to inform him that his uncle, whose estate and title he was heir to, lay at the point of death, and that his presence was immediately required.

The colonel was not so absolutely engrossed by love as to be incapable of attending to his interest. An addition of fortune was extremely agreeable, as his affairs were somewhat deranged; and, as Amanda was not in a situation at present to comply with any overtures he should make, his resolution was immediately formed to set off without delay, and against his return he trusted Amanda would be not only recovered, but willing to accede to his wishes.

He dismissed the woman who had brought her a little to herself, and taking her hand informed her of the painful necessity he was under of departing for a short time. He also mentioned his hopes, that on his return he should have no obstacle thrown in the way of his happiness by her. “You must be sensible, my dear Amanda,” said he, with coolness, “that your reputation is as much gone as if you had complied with my wishes; since it is sacrificed, why not enjoy the advantages that may, that will certainly attend the reality of that sacrifice?” “Monster!” cried Amanda, “your arts may have destroyed my fame, but my innocence bids defiance to your power.” “Conquer your obstinacy, Amanda,” replied he, “against I return, or I shall not promise but what I may be at last irritated. As you will have no occasion for money here, you must excuse me, my dear creature, if I take your purse into my own keeping. My domestics may be faithful, when they have no inducement to the contrary; but no bribery, no corruption, you know.” He then very deliberately took Amanda’s purse and watch from her pocket, and deposited them in his own. He had already given directions to his servants concerning their treatment of Amanda, and now ordered them to carry her to a chamber, and make her take some refreshment.

[Pg 289] “Reflect, Amanda,” said he, ere she retired, “on your present situation, and timely estimate the advantages I offer to your acceptance; wealth, pleasure, the attentions of a man who adores you, are not to be despised. Upon my soul it grieves me to leave you, but the joys of meeting will, I trust, pay the pangs of absence.”

As he spoke, he attempted to embrace her, but she faintly shrieked, and shrunk from his grasp. He looked provoked; but as he had no time to lose, he reserved a declaration of his anger for another opportunity, and directly set off for his uncle’s.

Amanda was supported to a chamber, and lay down in her clothes on a bed. They offered her bread and wine, but she was too sick to touch any. To remonstrate with the insolent looking creatures who surrounded her she knew would be unavailing, and she turned her face on the pillow to stifle her sobs, as she believed they would exult in her distress. Death she thought approaching, and the idea of being separated from the dear objects who would have soothed its last pangs, was dreadful. Her father in agony, and Oscar, her beloved brother, bewailing her with tears of sorrow, were the images fancy presented to her view.

“Dear objects of my love,” she softly exclaimed, “Amanda shall no more behold you, but her last sigh will be breathed for you. Ah! why, why,” she cried, “did I suffer myself to be separated from my father?”

A young woman leaned over Amanda, and surveyed her with the most malignant scrutiny. She was daughter to Belgrave’s steward, and neither she nor her father possessed sufficient virtue to make them reject the offers Belgrave made them on her account. His attachment to her was violent, but transient, and in the height of it he made her mistress of the mansion she now occupied, which character she maintained with tyrannic sway over the rest of the domestics. Belgrave was really ignorant of the violence of her temper, and had no idea she would dare dispute his inclinations, or disobey his orders. He believed she would be subservient to both, and from this belief, gave Amanda particularly into her charge.

But scarcely had he departed, ere she swore, “that let the consequence be what it would, the vile wretch he had brought into the house to insult her should never remain in it. She shall tramp,” cried she, “though I follow her myself when he returns; for such a little hussey shall never triumph over me.”

The servants, ignorant and timorous, did not attempt to oppose her.

[Pg 290] “Come, madam,” said she, suddenly seizing Amanda’s arm, and pulling her from the pillow, “have done with these languishing airs, and march.” “What do you mean?” cried Amanda, trembling at her inflamed countenance. “Why, I mean you shall quit this house directly; and I wonder Colonel Belgrave could have the assurance to bring such a creature as you into it.” “You mistake, indeed,” said Amanda; “treachery, not inclination, brought me into it, and I am not what you suppose. If, as you say, you will allow me to depart, I shall ever regard you as my friend; and in every prayer I offer up to Heaven for myself, you shall be remembered.” “Oh, dear! but you shall not impose upon me so easily. Come,” continued she, turning to a maid, “and help me to conduct this fine lady to the hall door.” “Gracious Heaven!” said Amanda, who by this time was taken, or rather dragged from the bed, “what are you about doing with me? Though I rejoice to quit the house, yet surely, surely,” she cried, and her soul recoiled at the idea, “without a guide at this hour of the night, you will not turn me from it.”

She then mentioned Colonel Belgrave’s having deprived her of her purse and watch, and besought the woman in the most pathetic terms, to supply her with a small sum, which she solemnly assured her should be returned as soon as she reached her friends; and ended with saying, she should depart with gratitude and joy if she complied with her request, and allowed some one to guide her to a place where she might procure a carriage.

“Such madams as you,” replied the imperious woman, “are never at a loss for means of procuring money, or a place to go to. I see through your art well enough; you want me to pity you, that I may let you stay till your colonel returns. But who would be fool then, I wonder? The tables, I warrant, would soon be turned upon me. No, no; out you go this moment.” So saying, she rudely seized Amanda, and assisted by another woman, hurried her down stairs, and out of the house directly: they carried her to an intricate part of wood, and then ran back, leaving the helpless mourner leaning against a tree.

Amanda looked around her. Dark and awful were the shades of the wood. No light appeared but what came from a few wandering stars, which only served to render darkness visible. “Have mercy upon me, Heaven!” groaned Amanda, as she felt herself sinking to the earth. The cold acted as a kind of restorative, and almost immediately revived her. She rested her head against a little bank, and as she thus reclined, tender sadness pervaded her soul the idea of her father’s [Pg 291] sorrow when he heard of her fate. “When he hears,” cried she, “that I was driven from the house, as unworthy of pity or protection from any being, that his Amanda, whom he cherished in his bosom, as the darling of his age, was denied the pity he would have shown the greatest wretch that crawls upon the earth, and that she perished without shelter, it will break his heart entirely. Poor Oscar, too—alas! I shall be a source of wretchedness to both. Will Lord Mortimer lament when he hears of my fate? Alas! I cannot believe that he will. He that could leave me in the arms of insensibility, and so readily believe ill of me, must have a heart steeled against compassion for my sufferings. But my unhappy father and brother will never doubt my innocence, and by them I shall be tenderly and truly mourned.”

The idea of their sufferings at last recalled her wandering thoughts, and pity for those sufferings made her endeavor to support her own, that she might be able to make some efforts for preserving a life so precious to them. Besides, as she reflected, she could not but attribute her expulsion from the house of infamy to the immediate interposition of Providence in her favor: and whilst her heart swelled with gratitude at the idea, her fortitude gradually returned. She arose, but the vigor of her nerves was not equal to the ardor of her intentions. She walked on, and as she proceeded, the gloom grew more profound, the paths were intricate, and her progress was often impeded by the roots of trees, and the branches that grew about them. After wandering about a considerable time, she at last began to think that, instead of gaining the skirts, she had penetrated into the very centre of the wood, and that to quit it till morning would be impossible. Yielding to this idea, or rather to her excessive weariness, she was seeking for a place to sit down on, when a faint light glimmered before her. She instantly darted through the path from whence it gleamed, and found herself at the extremity of the wood, and that the light proceeded from a small hamlet contiguous to it. Thither she walked, as fast as her trembling limbs would carry her. A profound stillness reigned around, only interrupted by the hoarse and hollow barking of some distant dogs, which, in such an hour, had something particularly solemn in it. The stillness, and sudden disappearance of lights from various windows, convinced Amanda that every cottage was closed for the night; “and were they open,” said she, “I perhaps should be denied access to any, deprived as I am of the means of rewarding kindness.” She shuddered at the idea of pass[Pg 292]ing a night unsheltered. “It is now, indeed,” said she, “I really know what it is to feel for the houseless children of want.” She moved softly along. The echo of her own steps alarmed her. She had neatly reached the end of the hamlet when, before a neat cottage, divided from the others by a clump of old trees, she saw a venerable man, who might well have passed for an ancient hermit. His gray locks thinly shaded his forehead; an expression of deep and pensive thought was visible in his countenance; his arms were folded on his breast, and his eyes were raised with a tender melancholy to heaven, as if that heaven he contemplated was now the abode of some kindred and lamented spirit. Surely such a being, thought she, will pity me. She approached him—stood close to him, yet was unnoticed. Thrice she attempted to speak, and thrice her heart failed her. At last she summoned all her courage to her aid, and faintly articulated, “Pity——,” she could add no more, but fainted at his feet. The stranger’s mind was fraught with all the benevolence his countenance depictured. The transient glance he had caught of Amanda interested every tender feeling. He called to his servant, an elderly woman, his only companion in the cottage, to assist him in conveying her in. This woman’s heart was as tender as her master’s, and the youth, the beauty, and forlorn situation of Amanda, equally excited their wonder and pity. It was many minutes ere she opened her eyes, and when she did, her senses were quite bewildered. “And my father! alas! my father, I shall never more behold him,” was all she could articulate.

She was supported to a small chamber; the old woman undressed her, put her to bed, and sat up with her the remainder of the night. Amanda often started; she raved continually of Belgrave, the author of her woes, and betrayed the strongest horror. “The wound he had inflicted on her heart,” she said, “the hand of death could only heal.” She mentioned the cruelty of the marchioness, called upon her father to save her from destruction, and reproached Mortimer for aiding to overwhelm her in disgrace. She continued in this situation three days, during which the old man and his faithful servant watched her with unremitted attention. A neighboring apothecary was summoned to her aid, and a girl from one of the cottages procured to sit up with her at night. The old man frequently knelt by the bedside, watching with anxiety for a favorable symptom. Her incoherent expressions pierced him to the heart: he felt, from mournful sympathy, for the father she so pathetically mentioned, and invoked Heaven to restore her to him.

[Pg 293] The afternoon of the third day, Amanda, after a long slumber, awoke, perfectly restored to her senses; it was many minutes, however, after her awaking, ere she recollected all the circumstances that had caused her present situation. She at last opened the curtain, and perceived the old woman, whom we shall hereafter call Eleanor, seated by the bedside.

“I fear,” said she, with a languid smile, “I have been the occasion of a great deal of trouble.” “No, no,” replied the kind Eleanor, delighted to hear her speak so calmly, and drawing back a little of the curtain at the same time to observe her looks.

Amanda inquired how long she had been ill. Eleanor informed her, and added, “Heaven, my dear child, was kind to you, in throwing you in my master’s way, who delights in befriending the helpless.” “Heaven will reward him,” exclaimed Amanda.

The chamber was gloomy; she requested one of the shutters might be opened. Eleanor complied with her desire, and a ray of the declining sun darting through the casement, cheered her pensive heart. She perfectly remembered the venerable figure she had beheld on the threshold of the cottage, and was impatient to express her gratitude to him. The next day, she trusted, would give her an opportunity of doing so, as she then resolved, if possible, to rise. The wish of her soul was to be with her father ere he could receive any intimation of what had happened. She resolved to communicate to her benevolent host the incidents which had placed her in such a situation; and she flattered herself, on hearing them, he would accommodate her with the means of returning to Ireland: if unable (unwilling she could not think she should find him) to do this, she then intended writing to her father. This measure, however, she fervently trusted, she should have no occasion to take, as she well knew the shock such a letter would give him.

Contrary to the inclination of Eleanor, she rose the next day, and, as soon as she was dressed, sent to request Mr. Howel’s company. Eleanor had informed her of her master’s name. The chamber was on a ground floor: before the windows were a row of neat white cottages, and behind them rose a range of lofty hills, covered to the very summit with trees, now just bursting into verdure. Before the cottage ran a clear murmuring rivulet, at which some young girls were washing clothes, whilst others spread them upon hedges, and all beguiled their labor with singing, chatting, and laughing together.

[Pg 294]

“Ah! happy creatures!” cried Amanda, “screened by your native hills, you know nothing of the vices or miseries of the great world; no snares lurk beneath the flowery paths you tread, to wring your hearts with anguish, and nip the early blossoms of your youth.”

The old man appeared, and interrupted her meditations. When he beheld the pale face of Amanda, beaming with angelic sweetness; when he saw her emaciated hand extended towards him, while her soft voice uttered her grateful acknowledgments, his emotions could not be suppressed: he pressed her hand between his: tears rolled down the furrows of his face, and he exclaimed, “I thank the Almighty for reviving this sweet flower.”

A deep sob from Amanda proved how much he had affected her feelings.

He was alarmed, and hastily endeavored to compose his own, out of regard to hers.

When a little composed, with grateful sweetness she continued to thank him for his kindness. “Pity,” said she, “is a sweet emotion to excite; yet from you, without esteem, it would be humiliating; and esteem I cannot flatter myself with obtaining, till I have accounted for being a wretched wanderer.” She then gave a brief account of her father and the events of her life.

“Ah! my dear,” cried the old man, as she finished her narrative, “you have reason, indeed, to regret your knowledge of Belgrave; but the sorrow he has occasioned you, I believe and trust, will be but transient. That which he has given me will be lasting as my life. You look astonished. Alas! but for him, I might now have been blessed with a daughter as lovely and as amiable as Fitzalan’s. I see you are too delicate to express the curiosity my words have inspired, but I shall not hesitate to gratify it. My relation will draw the tear of pity from your eye; but the sorrows of others often reconcile us to our own.”


[Pg 295]

CHAPTER XXXI.

“And oft as ease and health retire, To breezy lawn or forest-deep, The friend shall view yon whitening spire, And ’mid the varied landscape weep; But thou who own’s t that earthy bed, Ah! what will every dirge avail?” Collins’s Ode on Thomson.

Many years are now elapsed since I took up my residence in this sequestered hamlet. I retired to it in distaste with a world whose vices had robbed me of the dearest treasure of my heart. Two children cheered my solitude, and in training them up to virtue, I lost the remembrance of half my cares. My son, when qualified, was sent to Oxford, as a friend had promised to provide for him in the church; but my daughter was destined to retirement, not only from the narrowness of my income, but from a thorough conviction it was best calculated to insure her felicity. Juliana was the child of innocence and content. She knew of no greater happiness than that of promoting mine, of no pleasures but what the hamlet could afford, and was one of the gayest, as well as the loveliest, of its daughters. One fatal evening I suffered her to go, with some of her young companions, to a rustic ball, given by the parents of Belgrave to their tenants, on coming down to Woodhouse, from which they had been long absent. The graces of my child immediately attracted the notice of their son. Though young in years, he was already a professed libertine. The conduct of his father had set him an example of dissipation which the volatility of his own disposition too readily inclined him to follow. His heart immediately conceived the basest schemes against Juliana, which the obscurity of her situation prompted him to think might readily be accomplished. From this period he took every opportunity of throwing himself in her way. My suspicions, or rather my fears, were soon excited; for I knew not then the real depravity of Belgrave; but I knew that an attachment between him and my daughter would prove a source of uneasiness to both, from the disparity fortune had placed between them. My task in convincing Juliana of the impropriety of encouraging such an attachment was not a difficult one. But, alas! I saw the conviction was attended with a pang of anguish, which pierced me to the soul.

[Pg 296]

Belgrave, from the assumed softness and delicacy of his manners, had made an impression on her heart which was not to be erased. Every effort, however, which prudence could suggest, she resolved to make, and, in compliance with my wishes, avoided Belgrave. This conduct soon convinced him it would be a difficult matter to lull my caution, or betray her innocence. And finding all his attempts to see, or convey a letter to her, ineffectual, he departed with his parents from Woodhouse.

Juliana heard of his departure with a forced smile; but a starting tear, and a colorless cheek, too clearly denoted to me the state of her mind. I shall not attempt to describe my sufferings on witnessing hers. With my pity was mixed a degree of veneration for that virtue which, in so young a mind, could make such exertions against a passion disapproved of by a parent. The evening of his departure, no longer under any restraint, she walked out alone, and instinctively, perhaps, took the road to Woodhouse. She wandered to its deepest glooms, and there gave way to emotions which, from her efforts to suppress them, were become almost too painful to support. The gloom of the wood was heightened by the shades of evening, and a solemn stillness reigned around, well calculated to inspire pensive tenderness. She sighed the name of Belgrave in tremulous accents, and lamented their ever having met. A sudden rustling among the trees startled her, and the next moment she beheld him at her feet, exclaiming, “We have met, my Juliana, never more to part.”

Surprise and confusion so overpowered her senses, as to render her for some time unable to attend to his raptures. When she grew composed, he told her he was returned to make her honorably his, but to effect this intention, a journey from the hamlet was requisite. She turned pale at these words, and declared she never would consent to a clandestine measure. This declaration did not discourage Belgrave; he knew the interest he had in her heart, and this knowledge gave an energy to his arguments, which gradually undermined the resolution of Juliana. Already, he said, she had made a sufficient sacrifice to filial duty; surely something was now due to love like his, which, on her account, would cheerfully submit to innumerable difficulties. As he was under age, a journey to Scotland was unavoidable, he said, and he would have made me his confidant on the occasion, but that he feared my scrupulous delicacy would have opposed his intentions, as contrary to parental authority. He promised Juliana to bring her back to the ham[Pg 297]let immediately after the ceremony; in short, the plausibility of his arguments, the tenderness of his persuasions, at last produced the effect he wished, and he received a promise from her to put herself under his protection that very night.

But oh! how impossible to describe my agonies the ensuing morning when, instead of my child, I found a letter in her room informing me of her elopement; they were such as a fond parent, trembling for the fame and happiness of his child, may conceive. My senses must have sunk beneath them had they long continued; but Belgrave, according to his promise, hastened back my child; and as I sat solitary and pensive in the apartment she so often had enlivened, I suddenly beheld her at my feet, supported by Belgrave, as his wife. So great a transition from despair to comfort was almost too powerful for me to support. I asked my heart was its present happiness real; I knelt, I received my child in my arms: in those feeble arms I seemed to raise her with my heart to Heaven in pious gratitude for her returning unsullied. Yet, when my first transports were abated, I could not help regretting her ever having consented to a clandestine union. I entreated Belgrave to write, in the most submissive terms, to his father. He promised to comply with my entreaty, yet hinted his fears that his compliance would be unattended with the success I hoped. He requested, if this should be the case, I would allow his wife to reside in the cottage till he was of age. Oh, how pleasing a request to my heart! a month passed away in happiness, only allayed by not hearing from his father. At the expiration of that time he declared he must depart, having received orders to join his regiment, but promised to return as soon as possible; he also promised to write, but a fortnight elapsed and no letter arrived.

Juliana and I grew alarmed, but it was an alarm that only proceeded from fears of his being ill. We were sitting one morning at breakfast, when the stopping of a carriage drew us from the table.

“He is come!” said Juliana, “he is come!” and she flew to open the door; when, instead of her expected Belgrave, she beheld his father, whose dark and haughty visage proclaimed that he came on no charitable intent. Alas! the occasion of his visit was too soon explained; he came to have the ties which bound his son to Juliana broken. My child, on hearing this, with firmness declared, that she was convinced any scheme his cruelty might devise to separate them, the integrity, as well as the tenderness of his son, would render abortive.

[Pg 298] “Be not too confident of that, young lady,” cried he, smiling maliciously. He then proceeded to inform her that Belgrave, so beloved, and in whose integrity she so much confided, had himself authorized his intentions, being determined to avail himself of non-age, to have the marriage broke.

Juliana could hear no more; she sunk fainting on the bosom of her wretched father. Oh, what a situation was mine, when, as I clasped her wildly to my heart and called upon her to revive, that heart whispered me it was cruelty to wish she should! Alas! too soon she did, to a keen perception of misery. The marriage was dissolved, and health and happiness fled from her together; yet, from compassion to me, I saw she struggled to support the burden of existence. Every remedy which had a chance of prolonging it, I administered. But, alas! sorrow was rooted in her heart, and it was only its removal, which was impossible, that could have effected her recovery. Oh! how often have I stolen from my bed to the door of her apartment, trembling, lest I should hear the last groan escape her lips! How often have I then heard her deep convulsive sobs, and reproached myself for selfishness at the moment for wishing the continuance of her being, which was only wishing the continuance of her misery! Yes, I have then said, I resign her, my Creator, unto thee. I resign her from a certainty, that only with thee she can enjoy felicity. But, alas! in a moment frail nature has triumphed over such a resignation, and, prostrate on the ground, I have implored heaven, either to spare the child, or take the father along with her.

She saw me unusually depressed one day, and proposed a walk, with a hope that any exertion from her might recruit my spirits. But when I saw my child, in the very bloom of life, unable to sustain her feeble frame; when I felt her leaning on my almost nerveless arm for support, oh! how intolerable was the anguish that rived my heart!—in vain, by soft endearments, she strove to mitigate it. I averted my face and wept. She motioned to go towards Woodhouse; we had got within sight of the wood, when she complained of fatigue, and sat down. She had not been many minutes in this situation, when she beheld, coming from the wood, Belgrave, and a young girl whom she knew to be the steward’s daughter. The familiar manner in which they appeared conversing, left little room to doubt of the footing on which they were. The hectic glow of Juliana’s complexion gave place to a deadly paleness. She arose and returned to the cottage with me in silence, from whence, in less than a week, she was borne to her grave.

[Pg 299]

Eight years, continued he, after a pause of some minutes, have elapsed since her death, yet is her worth, her beauty, and her sufferings still fresh in the remembrance of the inhabitants of the hamlet. In mine, oh! Miss Fitzalan! how painfully, how pleasingly, do they still exist! No noisome weed is allowed to intermingle in the high grass which has overgrown her grave, at the head of which some kind hand has planted a rose-tree, whose roses blossom, bloom, and die upon the sacred spot. My child is gone before me to that earthly bed, to which I hoped she would have smoothed my passage. Every spot in and about the cottage continually recall her to my view. The ornaments of this little room were all the work of that hand, long since mouldered into dust. In that bed—he stopped, he groaned, and tears burst from him—in that bed, resumed he (in a few minutes, though with a broken voice), she breathed her last sigh; in that spot I knelt and received the last pressure of her clay-cold lips! Of a calm night, when all is hushed to repose, I love to contemplate that heaven, to which I have given an angel—an angel to whom, I hope, shortly to be reunited; without such a hope, surely of all men breathing, I should be the most wretched! Oh! how cruel is it then, in those, who, by raising doubts of an hereafter, attempt to destroy such a hope! Ye sons of error, hide the impious doubts within your hearts; nor with wanton barbarity endeavor to deprive the miserable of their last comfort. When this world presents nothing but a dreary prospect, how cheering to the afflicted to reflect on that future one, where all will be bright and happy! When we mourn over the lost friends of our tenderest affections, oh! how consolatory to think we shall be reunited to them again! How often has this thought suspended my tears and stopped my sighs! Inspired by it with sudden joy, often have I risen from the cold bed where Juliana lies, and exclaimed: “Oh death! where is thy sting! Oh grave! where is thy victory!” both lost in the certainty of again beholding my child.

Amanda shed tears of soft compassion for the fate of Juliana, and the sorrows of her father, and felt, if possible, her gratitude to Heaven increased, for preserving her from the snares of such a monster of deceit and barbarity as Belgrave.

Howel relieved the anxiety she labored under about the means of returning home, by assuring her he would not only supply her with a sum sufficient for that purpose, but see her to Parkgate himself.

His name struck Amanda—it recalled to remembrance her[Pg 300] Welsh friend. She inquired, and heard that the young and tender curate was indeed the son of her benefactor. “The softness of Henry’s disposition,” said his father, “particularly qualifies him for the sacred function, which prevents his having occasion to mingle in the concerns of the great world. He writes me word that he is the simple shepherd of a simple flock.”

One day was all Amanda would devote to the purpose of recruiting her strength. Nothing could prevail on her longer to defer her journey. A chaise was accordingly procured, into which, at the first dawn of day, she and Howel stepped, followed by the blessings of the affectionate Eleanor, who, from her own wardrobe, had supplied Amanda with a few necessaries to take along with her. The church-yard lay about a quarter of a mile from the hamlet. It was only divided from the road by a low and broken wall. Old trees shaded the grass-grown grave, and gave a kind of solemn gloominess to the place.

“See,” said Howel, suddenly taking Amanda’s hand, and letting down the glass, “see the bed where Juliana reposes.”

The grave was distinguished by the rose-tree at its head. The morning breeze gently agitated the high and luxuriant grass which covered it. Amanda gazed on it with inexpressible sadness, but the emotions it excited in her breast she endeavored to check, in pity to the wretched father, who exclaimed, while tears trickled down his pale and furrowed cheeks, “There lies my treasure.”

She tried to divert him from his sorrows by talking of his son. She described his little residence, which he had never seen. Thus, by recalling to his recollection the blessings he yet possessed, checking his anguish for those he had lost.

The weakness of Amanda would not allow them to travel expeditiously. They slept one night on the road, and the next day, to her great joy, arrived at Parkgate, as she had all along dreaded a pursuit from Belgrave. A packet was to sail about four o’clock in the afternoon. She partook of a slight repast with her benevolent friend, who attended her to the boat, and with starting tears gave and received an adieu. She promised to write as soon as she reached home, and assured him his kindness would never be obliterated from her heart. He watched her till she entered the ship, then returned to the inn, and immediately set off for the hamlet, with a mind somewhat cheered by the consciousness of having served a fellow-creature.


[Pg 301]

CHAPTER XXXII.

“The breezy call of incense-breathing morn; The swallow twittering from its straw built shed; The cock’s shrill clarion, or the echoing horn, No more shall rouse him from his lowly bed.”—Gray.

The weakness which Amanda felt in consequence of her late illness, and the excessive sickness she always suffered at sea, made her retire to bed immediately on entering the packet, where she continued till the evening of the second day, when, about five o’clock, she was landed at the marine hotel. She directly requested the waiter to procure her a messenger to go into town, which being done, she sent to engage a place in the northern mail-coach, that went within a few miles of Castle Carberry. If a place could not be procured, she ordered a chaise might be hired, that would immediately set out with her, as the nights were moonlight; but to her great joy the man speedily returned and informed her he had secured a seat in the coach, which she thought a much safer mode of travelling for her than in a hired carriage without any attendant. She took some slight refreshment, and then proceeded to the mail hotel, from whence, at eleven o’clock, she set out in company with an old gentleman, who very composedly put on a large woollen nightcap, buttoned up his great coat, and fell into a profound sleep. He was, perhaps, just such a kind of companion as Amanda desired, as he neither teased her with insipid conversation or impertinent questions, but left her undisturbed to indulge her meditations during the journey. The second evening, about eight o’clock, she arrived at the nearest town to Castle Carberry, for which she directly procured a chaise and set off. Her spirits were painfully agitated. She dreaded the shock her father would receive from hearing of her sufferings, which it would be impossible to conceal from him. She trembled at what they would both feel on the approaching interview. Sometimes she feared he had already heard of her distress, and a gloomy presage rose in her mind of the anguish she should find him in on that account. Yet again, when she reflected on the fortitude he had hitherto displayed in his trials, under the present, she trusted, he would not lose it; and that he would not only support himself, but her, and[Pg 302] bind up those wounds in her heart which perfidy, cruelty, and ingratitude had made. And oh! thought she to herself, when I find myself again in his arms, no temptation shall allure me from them—allure me into a world where my peace and fame have already suffered such a wreck. Thus alternately fluctuating between hope and fear, Amanda pursued the road to Castle Carberry; but the latter sensation was predominant in her mind.

The uncommon gloominess of the evening added to her dejection—the dark and lowering clouds threatened a violent storm—already a shower of sleet and rain was falling, and everything looked cold and cheerless. Amanda thought the cabins infinitely more wretched than when she had first seen them. Many of their miserable inhabitants were now gathering their little flocks together, and driving them under shelter from the coming storm. The laborers were seen hastening to their respective homes, whilst the ploughboy, with a low and melancholy whistle, drove his slow and wearied team along. The sea looked rough and black, and as Amanda drew nearer to it, she heard it breaking with fury against the rocks. She felt herself extremely ill. She had left the hamlet ere her fever was subdued, and fatigue, joined to want of rest, now brought it back with all its former violence. She longed for rest and quiet, and trusted and believed these would conquer her malady.

The chaise stopped at the entrance of the lawn, as she wished to have her father prepared for her arrival by one of the servants. On alighting from it, it returned to town, and she struck into the grove, and by a winding path reached the castle. Her limbs trembled, and she knocked with an unsteady hand at the door. The sound was awfully reverberated through the building. Some minutes elapsed and no being appeared, neither could she perceive a ray of light from any of the windows. The wind blew the rain directly in her face, and her weakness increased, so that she could scarcely stand. She recollected a small door at the back of the castle, which led to the apartments appropriated to the domestics. She walked feebly to this, to try and gain admittance, and found it open. She proceeded through a long dark passage, on each side of which were small rooms, till she came to the kitchen. Here she found the old woman sitting (to whom the care of the castle was usually consigned), before a large turf fire. On hearing a footstep, she looked behind, and when she saw Amanda, started, screamed, and betrayed symptoms of the utmost terror.

“Are you frightened at seeing me, my good Kate!” cried[Pg 303] Amanda. “Oh, holy Virgin!” replied Kate, crossing her breast, “one could not help being frightened, to have a body steal unawares upon them.”

“My father is well, I hope?” said Amanda.

“Alack-a-day,” cried Kate, “the poor dear captain has gone through a sea of troubles since you went away.” “Is he ill?” exclaimed Amanda. “Ill, ay, and the Lord knows he has reason enough to be ill. But, my dear jewel, do you know nothing at all of what has happened at the castle since you went away?” “No, nothing in the world.” “Heaven help you, then,” said Kate; “but, my dear soul, sit down upon this little stool, and warm yourself before the fire, for you look pale and cold, and I will tell you all about it. You must know, about three weeks ago, my Johnaten brought the captain a letter from the post-office; he knew by the mark it was a letter from England, and so, when he comes into the kitchen to me, ‘Katie,’ says he, ‘the captain has got something now to cheer his spirits, for he has heard from miss, I am sure.’ So, to be sure, I said I was glad of it, for, you must know, my dear, he was low in spirits, and peaking, as one may say, for a few days before. Well, it was always my custom, when he got a letter from England, to go to him as soon as I thought he had read it, and ask about you; so I put on a clean apron, and up I goes to the parlor, and I opened the door, and walked in. Well, sir, says I, I hope there is good news from miss?”

“The captain was sitting with the letter open before him on a table; he had a handkerchief to his eyes, but when I spoke he took it down, and I saw his face, which generally looked so pale, now quite flushed.

“‘This letter, my good Kate,’ says he, ‘is not from my daughter, but I am glad you are come, for I wanted to speak to you. I am going to leave the castle, and I want you to look over all the things, and see they are in the same state as when I came to it. I shall then settle with the servants I hired, and discharge them.’ I was struck all of a heap. The Lord forbid you should be going to leave us, sir, says I.”

“The captain got up—he walked to the window—he sighed heavily, and I saw a tear upon his cheek. He spoke to me again, and begged I would do as he had desired me. So, with a heavy heart, I went and told my Johnaten the sad tidings, who was as sorry as myself, for he loved the captain dearly, not only from his being so mild a gentleman, but because he was a soldier, as he himself had been in his youth—and a soldier has always a love for one of his cloth. And Johnaten[Pg 304] had often said he knew the captain in America, and that he was a brave officer and a real gentleman.

“Well, the captain came out to us, and said he was to be Lord Cherbury’s agent no longer. And being a good penman, he settled all his own accounts and the servants in the course of the day, and discharged them, giving them both characters, which I warrant will soon get them good places again. Well, he said he must set off for England the next day. So everything was got ready; but in the middle of the night he was seized with spasms in his stomach. He thought himself dying, and at last rung the bell; and as good luck would have it, my Johnaten heard it, and went up to him directly. Had he been without relief much longer, I think he would have died. Johnaten called me up. I had a choice bottle of old brandy lying by me, so I soon blew up a fire, and heating a cup of it, gave it to him directly. He grew a little easier, but was too bad in the morning to think of going on his journey, which grieved him sadly. He got up, however, and wrote a large packet, which he sent by Johnaten to the post-office; packed up some things in a trunk, and put his seal upon his desk. He said he would not stay in the castle on any account, so he went out as soon as Johnaten came back from the post-office, leaning upon his arm, and got a little lodging at Thady Byrne’s cabin.” “Merciful heaven!” exclaimed the agonized and almost fainting Amanda, “support and strengthen me in this trying hour! enable me to comfort my unfortunate father: preserve me from sinking, that I may endeavor to assist him.” Tears accompanied this fervent ejaculation, and her voice was lost in sobs.

“Alack-a-day,” said the good-natured Kate, “now don’t take it so sadly to heart, my jewel; all is not lost that is in danger, and there is as good fish in the sea as ever were caught; and what though this is a stormy night, to-morrow may be a fine day. Why, the very first sight of you will do the captain good. Come, cheer up; I will give you some nice hot potatoes for your supper, for you see the pot is just boiling, and some fresh-churned buttermilk; and by the time you have eaten it, Johnaten perhaps may come back—he is gone to town to get some beef for our Sunday dinner—and then I will go with you to Thady’s myself.”

“No, no,” cried Amanda, “every minute I now stay from my father seems an age. Too long has he been neglected—too long without a friend to soothe or attend him. Oh grant, gracious Heaven! grant,” raising her clasped hands, “that I may not have returned too late to be of use to him!”

[Pg 305]

Kate pressed her to stay for Johnaten’s return; but the agony of suspense she endured till she saw her father, made her regardless of walking alone, though the hour was late, dark, and tempestuous. Kate, finding her entreaties vain, attended her to the door, and assured her, if Johnaten returned soon, she would go over herself to the cabin, and see if she could do anything for her. Amanda pressed her hand, but was unable to speak. Ill, weak, and dispirited, she had flattered herself, on returning to her father, she would receive relief, support, and consolation; instead of which, heart-broken as she was, she now found she must give, or at least attempt giving them herself. She had before experienced distress, but the actual pressure of poverty she had never yet felt. Heretofore she had always a comfortable asylum to repair to, but now she not only found herself deprived of that, but of all means of procuring one, or even the necessaries of life. But if she mourned for herself, how much more severely did she mourn for her adored father! Could she have procured him comfort, could she in any degree have alleviated his situation, the horrors of her own would have been lessened; but of this she had not the slightest means or prospect. Her father, she knew, possessed the agency too short a time to be enabled to save any money, particularly as he was indebted to Lord Cherbury ere he obtained it. She knew of no being to whom she could apply in his behalf. Lord Cherbury was the only person on whom he depended in his former misfortunes for relief. His friendship, it was evident, by depriving her father of the agency, was totally lost; and to the disconsolate Amanda no way appeared of escaping “want, worldly want, that hungry meagre fiend, who was already close at their heels, and followed them in view.”

The violence of the storm had increased, but it was slight in comparison of that which agitated the bosom of Amanda. The waves dashed with a dreadful noise against the rocks, and the angry spirit of the waters roared. The rain fell heavily, and soon soaked through the thin clothing of Amanda. She had about half a mile to walk, through a rugged road, bounded on one side by rocks, and on the other by wild and dreary fields. She knew the people with whom her father lodged; they were of the lowest order, and on her first arrival at Castle Carberry, in extreme distress, from which she had relieved them. She recollected their cabin was more decent than many others she had seen, yet still a most miserable dwelling. Wretched as it was, she was glad when she reached it, for the violence of the storm, and the loneliness of the road, had terrified her. The[Pg 306] cabin was but a few yards from the beach. There were two windows in front. On one side a pile of turf, and on the other a shed for the pigs, in which they now lay grunting. The shutters were fastened on the windows, to prevent their being shaken by the wind; but through the crevices Amanda saw a light, which convinced her the inhabitants were not yet retired to repose. She feared her suddenly appearing before her father, in his present weak state, might have a dangerous effect upon him, and she stood before the cabin, considering how she should have her arrival broke to him. She at last tapped gently at the door, and then retreated a few steps from it, shivering with the wet and cold. In the beautiful language of Solomon, she might have said, “Her head was filled with dew, and her locks with the drops of the night.” As she expected, the door was almost instantly opened. A boy appeared, whom she knew to be the son of the poor people. She held up her handkerchief, and beckoned him to her. He hesitated, as if afraid to advance, till she called him softly by his name. This assured him. He approached, and expressed astonishment at finding she was the person who called him. She inquired for her father, and heard he was ill, and then asleep. She desired the boy to enter the cabin before her, and caution his parents against making any noise that might disturb him. He obeyed her, and she followed him.

She found the father of the family blowing a turf fire, to hasten the boiling of a large pot of potatoes. Three ragged children were sitting before it, watching impatiently for their supper. Their mother was spinning, and their old grandmother making bread. The place was small and crowded. Half the family slept below, and the other half upon a loft, to which they ascended by a ladder, and upon which a number of fowls were now familiarly roosting, cackling at every noise made below. Fitzalan’s room was divided from the rest of the cabin by a thin partition of wood plastered with pictures of saints and crosses.

“Save you kindly, madam,” said the mistress of the mansion to Amanda, on entering it.

Byrne got up, and, with many scrapes, offered her his little stool before the fire. She thanked him, and accepted it. His wife, notwithstanding the obligations she lay under to her, seemed to think as much respect was not due to her as when mistress of the castle, and therefore never left her seat, or quitted her spinning, on her entrance.

“My poor father is very ill,” said Amanda. “Why, indeed, the captain has had a bad time of it,” answered Mrs.[Pg 307] Byrne, jogging her wheel. “To be sure he has suffered some little change; but your great folks, as well as your simple folks, must look to that in this world; and I don’t know why they should not, for they are not better than the others, I believe.”

“Arrah, Norah, now,” said Byrne, “I wonder you are not shy of speaking so to the poor young lady.”

Amanda’s heart was surcharged with grief—she felt suffocating. She arose, unlatched the door, and the keen, cold air a little revived her. Tears burst forth, she indulged them freely, and they lightened the load on her heart. She asked for a glass of water. A glass was not readily to be procured. Byrne told her she had better take a noggin of buttermilk. This she refused, and he brought her one of water.

She now conquered the reluctance she felt to speak to the uncouth Mrs. Byrne, and consulted her on the best method of mentioning her arrival to her father. Mrs. Byrne said he had been in bed some time, but his sleep was often interrupted, and she would now step into the chamber, and try if he was awake. She accordingly did so, but returned in a moment, and said he still slept.

Amanda wished to see him in his present situation, to judge how far his illness had affected him: she stepped softly into the room. It was small and low, lighted by a glimmering rush-light, and a declining fire. The furniture was poor and scanty; in one corner stood a wooden bedstead, without curtains or any shade, and on this, under miserable bedclothes, lay poor Fitzalan. Amanda shuddered, as she looked round this chamber of wretchedness. “Oh! my father,” she cried to herself, "is this the only refuge you could find?” She went to the bed, she leaned over it, and beheld his face. It was deadly pale and emaciated; he moaned in his sleep, as if his mind was dreadfully oppressed. Suddenly he began to move; he sighed, “Amanda, my dearest child, shall I never more behold you?”

Amanda was obliged to hasten from the room, to give vent to her emotions. She sobbed, she wrung her hands, and in the bitterness of her soul exclaimed, “Alas! alas! I have returned too late to save him.”

They soon after heard him stir. She requested Mrs. Byrne to go in, and cautiously inform him she was come. She complied, and in a moment Amanda heard him say, “Thank Heaven! my darling is returned.” “You may now go in, miss,” said Mrs. Byrne, coming from the room. Amanda went in. Her father was raised in the bed; his arms were extended to receive her. She threw herself into them. Language was[Pg 308] denied them both, but tears, even more expressive than words, evinced their feelings. Fitzalan first recovered his voice. “My prayer,” said he, “is granted. Heaven has restored my child to smooth the pillow of sickness, and soothe the last moments of existence.” “Oh, my father!” cried Amanda, “have pity on me, and mention not those moments. Exert yourself for your child; who in this wide world has she but thee to comfort, support and befriend her?” “Indeed,” said he, “for your sake I wish they may be far distant.” He held her at a little distance from him; he surveyed her face, her form, her altered complexion. Her fallen features appeared to shock him. He clasped her again to his bosom, “The world, my child, I fear,” cried he, “has used thee most unkindly.” “Oh, most cruelly,” sobbed Amanda. “Then, my girl, let the reflection of that world, where innocence and virtue will meet a proper reward, console you. Here they are often permitted to be tried; but as gold is tried and purified by fire, so are they by adversity. ‘Those whom God loves, He chastises.’ Let this idea give you patience and fortitude under every trial. Never forego your dependence on Him, though calamity should pursue you to the very brink of the grave; but be comforted by the assurance He has given, that those who meekly bear the cross He lays upon them, shall be rewarded; that He will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and swallow up death in victory. Though a soldier from my youth, and accustomed to all the licentiousness of camps, I never forgot my Creator; and I now find the benefit of not having done so. Now, when my friends desert, the world frowns upon me, when sickness and sorrow have overwhelmed me, religion stands me in good stead; consoles me for what I lost, and softens the remembrance of the past, by presenting prospects of future brightness.”

So spoke Fitzalan the pious sentiments of his soul, and they calmed the agitations of Amanda. He found her clothes were wet, and insisted on her changing them directly. In the bundle the good Eleanor gave her, was a change of linen, and a cotton wrapper, which she now put on, in a small closet, or rather shed adjoining her father’s room. A good fire was made up, a better light brought in, and some bread and wine from a small cupboard in the room, which contained Fitzalan’s things, set before her, of which he made her immediately partake. He took a glass of wine himself from her, and tried to cheer her spirits. “He had been daily expecting her arrival,” he said, “and had had a pallet and bedclothes kept airing for her. He[Pg 309] hoped she would not be dissatisfied with sleeping in the closet.” “Ah! my father,” she cried, “can you ask your daughter such a question?” She expressed her fears of injuring him, by having disturbed his repose. “No,” he said, “it was a delightful interruption. It was a relief from pain and anxiety.”

Lord Cherbury, he informed her, had written him a letter, which pierced him to the soul. “He accused me,” said he, “of endeavoring to promote a marriage between you and Lord Mortimer; of treacherously trying to counteract his views, and take advantage of his unsuspecting friendship. I was shocked at these accusations. But how excruciating would my anguish have been had I really deserved them. I soon determined upon the conduct I should adopt, which was to deny the justice of his charges, and resign his agency—for any further dealings with a man who could think me capable of meanness or duplicity, was not to be thought of. My accounts were always in a state to allow me to resign at a moment’s warning. It was my intention to go to England, put them into Lord Cherbury’s hands, and take my Amanda from a place where she might meet with indignities as little merited by her as those her father had received were by him. A sudden and dreadful disorder, which I am convinced the agitation of my mind brought on, prevented my executing this intention. I wrote, however, to his lordship, acquainting him with my resignation of his agency, and transmitting my accounts and arrears. I sent a letter to you at the same time, with a small remittance for your immediate return, and then retired from the castle; for I felt a longer continuance in it would degrade me to the character of a mean dependant, and intimate a hope of being reinstated in my former station; which, should Lord Cherbury now offer, I should reject, for ignoble must be the mind which could accept of favors from those who doubted its integrity. Against such conduct my feelings revolt. Poverty, to me, is more welcome than independence, when purchased with the loss of esteem.”

Amanda perceived her father knew nothing of her sufferings, but supposed her return occasioned by his letter. She therefore resolved, if possible, not to undeceive him, at least till his health was better. The night was far advanced, and her father, who saw her ill, and almost sinking with fatigue, requested her to retire to rest. She accordingly did. Her bed was made up in the little closet. Mrs. Byrne assisted her to undress, and brought her a bowl of whey, which, she trusted, with a comfortable sleep, would carry off her feverish symp[Pg 310]toms, and enable her to be her father’s nurse. Her rest, however, was far from being comfortable. It was broken by horrid dreams, in which she beheld the pale and emaciated figure of her father suffering the most exquisite tortures; and when she started from these dreams, she heard his deep moans, which were like daggers going through her heart. She arose once or twice, supposing him in pain, but when she went to his bed she found him asleep, and was convinced, from that circumstance, his pain was more of the mental than the bodily kind. She felt extremely ill. Her bones were sore from the violent motion of the carriage, and she fancied rest would do her good: but when, towards morning, she was inclined to take some, she was completely prevented by the noise the children made on rising. Fearful of neglecting her father, she arose soon after herself, but was scarcely able to put on her clothes from excessive weakness. She found him in bed, but awake. He welcomed her with a languid smile, and extending his hand, which was reduced to mere skin and bone, said, “that joy was a greater enemy to repose than grief, and had broken his earlier than usual that morning.” He made her sit down by him. He gazed on her with unutterable tenderness. “In Divine language,” cried he, “I may say—‘Let me see thy countenance; let me hear thy voice, but sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely and my soul has pleasure in gazing on it.’” The kettle was already boiling. He had procured a few necessaries for himself, such as tea-things and glasses. Amanda placed the tea-table by the bed-side, and gave him his breakfast. Whilst receiving it from her, his eyes were raised to Heaven, as if in thankful gratitude for the inestimable blessing he still possessed in such a child. After breakfast, he said he would rise, and Amanda retired into the garden till he was dressed, if that could deserve the appellation, which was only a slip of ground planted with cabbages and potatoes, and enclosed with loose stones and blackberry bushes. The spring was already advanced. The day was fine. The light and fleecy clouds were gradually dispersing, and the sky, almost as far as the eye could reach, was of a clear blue. The dusky green of the blackberry bushes was enlivened by the pale purple of their blossoms. Tufts of primroses grew beneath their shelter. The fields, which rose with a gentle swell above the garden, were covered with a vivid green, spangled with daisies, buttercups, and wild honeysuckles, and the birds, as they fluttered from spray to spray, with notes of gladness hailed the genial season.

[Pg 311] But neither the season nor its charms could now, as heretofore, delight Amanda. She felt forlorn and disconsolate; deprived of the comforts of life, and no longer interested in the objects about her, she sat down upon a stone at the end of the garden, and she thought the fresh breeze from the sea cooled the feverish heat of her blood. “Alas!” she said to herself, “at this season last year, how different was my situation from the present!” Though not in affluence, neither was she then in absolute distress; and she had besides the comfortable hope of having her father’s difficulties removed. Like Burns’ mountain daisy, she had then cheerfully glinted forth amidst the storm, because, she thought that storm would be soon overblown; but now, she saw herself on the point of being finally crushed beneath the rude pressure of poverty.

She recollected the words which had escaped her when she last saw Tudor Hall, and she thought they were dictated by something like a prophetic spirit. She had then said, as she leaned upon a little gate which looked into the domain: “When these woods again glow with vegetation; when every shade resounds with harmony, and the flowers and the blossoms spread their foliage to the sun, ah! where will Amanda be! far distant, in all probability, from these delightful shades; perhaps deserted and forgotten by their master.”

She was indeed far distant from them; deserted, and if not forgotten, at least only remembered with contempt by their master—remembered with contempt by Lord Mortimer. It was an idea of intolerable anguish. His name was no more repeated as a charm to soothe her grief; his idea increased her misery.

She continued indulging her melancholy meditations, till informed by one of the children the captain was ready to receive her. She hastened in, and found him in an old high-backed chair, and the ravages of care and sickness were now more visible to her than they had been the night before. He was reduced to a mere skeleton. “The original brightness of his form" was quite gone, and he seemed already on the very brink of the grave. The agony of Amanda’s feelings was expressed on her countenance—he perceived and guessed its source. He endeavored to compose and comfort her. She mentioned a physician; he tried to dissuade her from the idea of bringing one, but she besought him in compassion to her to consent, and overcome by her earnestness, he at last promised the ensuing day she should do as she wished.

It was now Sunday, and he desired the service of the day[Pg 312] to be read. A small Bible lay on the table before him, and Amanda complied with his desire.

In the first lesson were these words: “Leave thy fatherless children to me, and I will be their father.” The tears gushed from Fitzalan; he laid his hand, which appeared convulsed with agitation, on the book. “Oh! what words of comfort!” cried he, “are these; what transport do they convey to the heart of a parent burdened with anxiety! Yes, merciful Power, I will, with grateful joy, commit my children to thy care, for thou art the friend who will never forsake them.” He desired Amanda to proceed; her voice was weak and broken, and the tears, in spite of her efforts to restrain them, stole down her cheeks.

When she had concluded, her father drew her towards him, and inquired into all that had passed during her stay in London. She related to him, without reserve, the various incidents she had met with previous to her going to the marchioness’s ; acknowledged the hopes and fears she experienced on Lord Mortimer’s account, and the argument he had made use of to induce her to a clandestine union, with her positive refusal to such a step.

A beam of pleasure illumined the pallid face of Fitzalan. “You acted,” said he, “as I expected; and I glory in my child, and feel more indignation than ever against Lord Cherbury for his mean suspicions.” Amanda was convinced those suspicions had been infused into his mind by those who had struck at her peace and fame. This idea, however, as well as their injuries to her, she meant if possible to conceal. When her father, therefore, desired her to proceed in her narrative, her voice began to falter, her mind became disturbed, and her countenance betrayed her agitation. The remembrance of the dreadful scenes she had gone through at the marchioness’s made her involuntarily shudder, and she wished to conceal them forever from her father, but found it impossible to evade his minute and earnest inquiries.

“Gracious Heaven!” said he, on hearing them, “what complicated cruelty and deceit; inhuman monsters! to have no pity on one so young, so innocent, so helpless. The hand of sorrow has indeed pressed heavy on thee, my child; but, after the marchioness’s former conduct, I cannot be surprised at any action of hers.”

He gave her a note to discharge her debt to Howel, and begged she would immediately write and return his grateful acknowledgments for his benevolence. She feared he inconvenienced himself by parting with the note; but he assured her[Pg 313] he could spare it extremely well, as he had been an economist, and had still sufficient money to support them a few months longer in their present situation.

Amanda now inquired when he had heard from her brother. She said he had not answered her last letter, and that his silence had made her very uneasy.

“Alas! poor Oscar!” exclaimed Fitzalan, “he has not been exempt from his portion of distress.”

He took a letter, as he spoke, from his pocket-book, and presented it to Amanda. She opened it with a trembling hand, and read as follows:—

My dear Father,—Particular circumstances prevented my answering your last letter as soon as I could have wished; and, indeed, the intelligence I have to communicate makes me almost averse to write at all. As my situation, however, must sooner or later be known to you, I think it better to inform you of it myself, as I can, at the same time, reconcile you, I trust, in some degree to it, by assuring you I bear it patiently, and that it has not been caused by any action which can degrade my character as a man or a soldier. I have long, indeed, had a powerful enemy to cope with, and, it will no doubt surprise you to hear, that that enemy is Colonel Belgrave. An interference in the cause of humanity provoked his insolence and malignity. Neither his words nor looks were bearable, and I was irritated by them to send him a challenge. Had I reflected, the probable consequences of such a step must have occurred and prevented my taking it; but passion blinded my reason, and in yielding to its dictates do I hold myself alone culpable throughout the whole affair. I gave him the opportunity his malicious heart had long desired, of working my ruin. I was, by his order, put under an immediate arrest. A court-martial was held, and I was broke for disrespect to a superior officer; but it was imagined by the whole corps I should have been restored. I, however, knew too much of Belgrave’s disposition to believe this would be the case; but never shall he triumph in the distress he has caused by witnessing it. I have already settled on the course I shall pursue, and ere this letter reaches you I shall have quitted my native kingdom. Forgive me, my dear sir, for not consulting you relative to my conduct. But I feared, if I did, your tenderness would interfere to prevent it, or lead you to distress yourself on my account; and to think that you and my dear sister were deprived of the smallest comfort, by my means, would be a source of intolerable anguish to me. Blessed as I am with youth, health, and fortitude, I have no doubt but I shall make my way through the rugged path of life extremely well. A parting visit I avoided, from the certainty of its being painful to us both. I shall write as soon as I reach my place of destination. I rejoice to hear Amanda is so happily situated with Lady Greystock: may your suffering and her merit be rewarded as they deserve! Suffer not, I entreat, too tender an anxiety for my interest to disturb your repose. I again repeat I have no doubt but what I shall do well. That Providence, in which I trust, will, I humbly hope, support me through every difficulty, and again unite me to the friends so valuable to my heart. Farewell, my dear father, and, be assured, with unabated respect and gratitude, I subjoin myself your affectionate son,

Oscar Fitzalan.

[Pg 314] This letter was a cruel shock to Amanda. She hoped to have procured her brother’s company, and that her father’s melancholy and her own would have been alleviated by it. Sensible of the difficulties Oscar must undergo, without friends or fortune, the tears stole down her cheeks, and she almost dreaded she could no more behold him.

Her father besought her to spare him the misery of seeing those tears. He leaned upon her for comfort and support, he said, and bid her not disappoint him. She hastily wiped away her tears; and though she could not conquer, tried to suppress her anguish.

Johnaten and Kate called, in the course of the day, to know if they could be of any service to Fitzalan. Amanda engaged Johnaten to go to town the next morning for a physician, and gave Kate the key of a wardrobe where she had left some things, which she desired her to pack up and send to the cabin in the evening. Mrs. Byrne gave them one of her fowls for dinner, and Fitzalan assumed an appearance of cheerfulness, and the evening wore away somewhat better than the preceding part of the day had done.

Johnaten was punctual in obeying Amanda’s commands, and brought a physician the next morning to the cabin. Fitzalan appeared much worse, and Amanda rejoiced that she had been resolute in procuring him advice.

She withdrew from the room soon after the physician had entered it, and waited without in trembling anxiety for his appearance. When he came out she asked, with a faltering voice, his opinion, and besought him not to deceive her from pity to her feelings.

He shook his head, and assured her he would not deviate from truth for the world. The captain was indeed in a ticklish situation, he said, but the medicines he had ordered, and sea bathing, he doubted not, would set all to rights; it was fortunate, he added, she delayed no longer sending for him; mentioned twenty miraculous cures he had performed; admired the immense fine prospect before the door, and wished her good-morning, with what he thought quite a degagee and irresistible air.

She was willing to believe his assurance of her father’s recovery; as the drowning wretch will grasp at every straw, she eagerly embraced the shadow of comfort, and in the recovery of her father, looked forward to consolation for all her sorrows. She struggled against her own illness, that no assidu[Pg 315]ous attention might be wanting to him; and would have sat up with him at night, had he not positively insisted on her going to bed.

The medicines he was ordered he received from her hands, but with a look which seemed to express his conviction of their inefficacy. All, however, she wished him to do, he did, and often raised his eyes to Heaven, as if to implore it to reward her care, and yet a little longer spare him to this beloved child, whose happiness so much depended on the prolongation of his existence.

Four days passed heavily away, and the assurances of the physician, who was punctual in his attendance, lost their effect upon Amanda. Her father was considerably altered for the worse, and unable to rise, except for a few minutes in the evening, to have his bed made. He complained of no pain or sickness, but seemed sinking beneath an easy and gradual decay. It was only at intervals he could converse with his daughter. His conversation was then calculated to strengthen her fortitude and resignation, and prepare her for an approaching melancholy event. Whenever she received a hint of it, her agony was inexpressible; but pity for her feelings could not prevent her father from using every opportunity that occurred for laying down rules and precepts which might be serviceable to her when without a guide or protector. Sometimes he adverted to the past, but this was only done to make her more cautious in the future.

He charged her to avoid any further intimacy with Lord Mortimer, as an essential measure for the restoration of her peace, the preservation of her fame, and the removal of Lord Cherbury’s unjust suspicions, “who will find at last,” continued he, “how much he wronged me and may, perhaps, feel compunction when beyond his power to make reparation.”

To all he desired, Amanda promised a religious observance; she thought it unnecessary in him, indeed, to desire her to avoid Lord Mortimer, convinced as she was that he had utterly abandoned her; but the grief this desertion occasioned, she believed she should soon overcome was her father once restored to health, for then she would have no time for useless regrets or retrospections, but be obliged to pass every hour in active exertions for his support and comfort.

A week passed away in this manner at the cabin—a week of wretchedness to Amanda, who perceived her father growing weaker and weaker. She assisted him, as usual, to rise one evening for a few minutes; when dressed, he complained of an[Pg 316] oppression in his breathing, and desired to be supported to the air. Amanda with difficulty led him to the window, which she opened, and seated him by it, then knelt before him, and putting her arms round his waist, fastened her eyes with anxious tenderness upon his face.

The evening was serenely fine; the sun was setting in all its glory, and the sea, illumined by its parting beams, looked like a sheet of burnished silver.

“What a lovely scene!” cried Fitzalan faintly; “with what majesty does the sun retire from the world! the calmness which attends its departure is such, I think, as must attend the exit of a good man.” He paused for a few minutes, then raising his eyes to heaven, exclaimed—“Merciful Power! had it pleased thee, I could have wished yet a little longer to have been spared to this young creature; but thy will, not mine, be done! Confiding in thy mercy, I leave her with some degree of fortitude.”

Amanda’s tears began to flow as he spoke. He raised his hand, on which they fell, and, kissing them off, exclaimed—“Precious drops! My Amanda, weep not too bitterly for me—like a weary traveller, think that rest must now be acceptable to me.”

She interrupted him, and conjured him to change the discourse. He shook his head mournfully, pressed her hands between his, and said:—

“Yet a little longer, my child, bear with it;” then bade her assure her brother, whenever they met, which he trusted and believed would be soon, he had his father’s blessing,—“the only legacy,” he cried, “I can leave him, but one, I am confident, he merits, and will value. To you, my girl, I have no doubt he will prove a friend and guardian. You may both, perhaps, be amply recompensed for all your sorrows. Providence is just in all its dealings, and may yet render the lovely offspring of my Malvina truly happy.”

He appeared exhausted by speaking, and Amanda assisted him to lie down, entreating him, at the same time, to take some drops. He consented, and while she was pouring them out at a little table, her back to the bed, she heard a deep groan. The bottle dropped from her hand, she sprang to the bed, and perceived her father lying senseless on the pillow. She imagined he had fainted, and screamed out for assistance. The woman of the cabin, her husband, and mother, all rushed into the room. He was raised up, his temples and hands chafed, and every remedy within the house applied for his recovery,[Pg 317] but in vain—his spirit had forsaken its tenement of clay forever.

Amanda, when convinced of this, wrung her hands together; then, suddenly opening them, she clasped the lifeless body to her breast, and sunk fainting beside it.


CHAPTER XXXIII.

She remained a considerable time in a state of insensibility, and, when recovered, she found herself in a bed laid upon the floor in a corner of the outside room. Her senses were at first confused—she felt as if waking from a disagreeable dream, but in a few minutes a perfect recollection of what had passed returned. She saw some one sitting by the bed—she raised herself a little, and perceived Sister Mary. “This is, indeed, a charitable visit,” cried she, extending her hand, and speaking in a low broken voice. The good-natured nun jumped from her seat on hearing her speak, and embraced her most tenderly. Her caresses affected Amanda inexpressibly—she dropped her head upon her breast, and wept with a vehemence which relieved the oppression of her heart.

Sister Mary said she had never heard of her return to the country, till Mrs. Byrne came to St. Catherine’s for a few sprigs of rosemary to strew over the poor captain. She had returned with her then to the cabin, to try if she could be of any service, and to invite her, in the name of the prioress and the whole sisterhood, to the convent.

Amanda thanked her for her kind invitation, which, she said, she must decline accepting for a few days, till she had performed all her duties, which, in a voice half stifled by sobs, she added, “the grave would soon terminate.” She was sorry, she said, that they had undressed her, and requested Sister Mary to assist her in putting on her clothes. The sister tried to dissuade her from this, but soon found she was determined to spend the remainder of the night in her father’s apartment. She accordingly dressed her—for Amanda’s trembling hands refused their accustomed office—and made her take a glass of wine and water, ere she suffered her to move towards the door. Amanda was astonished, as she approached it, to hear a violent noise, like the mingled sounds of laughing and[Pg 318] singing. Her soul recoiled at the tumult, and she asked Sister Mary, with a countenance of terror, “what it meant?” She replied, “it was only some friends and neighbors doing honor to the captain.” Amanda hastily opened the door, anxious to terminate the suspense these words occasioned, but, how great was her horror, when she perceived a set of the meanest rustics assembled round the bed, with every appearance of inebriety, laughing, shouting, and smoking. What a savage scene for a child, whose heart was bursting with grief! She shrieked with horror, and, flinging herself into the arms of Sister Mary, conjured her to have the room cleared.

Sister Mary, from being accustomed to such scenes, felt neither horror nor disgust: she complied, however, with the request of Amanda, and besought them to depart, saying: “that Miss Fitzalan was a stranger to their customs, and besides, poor thing, quite beside herself with grief.” They began to grumble at the proposal of removing; they had made preparations for spending a merry night, and Mrs. Byrne said, “if she had thought things would have turned out in this way, the captain might have found some other place to die in—for the least one could have, after his giving them so much trouble, was a little enjoyment with one’s neighbors at the latter end.” Johnaten and Kate, who were among the party, joined their entreaties to Sister Mary’s, and she, to tempt them to compliance, said, “that in all probability they would soon have another and a better opportunity for making merry than the present.” They at length retired, and Sister Mary and Amanda were left alone in the chamber of death. The dim light which remained cast a glimmering shade upon the face of Fitzalan, that added to its ghastliness. Amanda now indulged in all the luxury of grief, and found in Sister Mary a truly sympathetic friend, for the good nun was famed throughout the little circle of her acquaintance for weeping with those that wept, and rejoicing with those that rejoiced. She obtained a promise from Amanda of accompanying her to St. Catherine’s as soon as her father was interred; and in return for this she gave an assurance of continuing with her till the last melancholy offices were over, and also that, with the assistance of Johnaten, she would see everything proper provided. This was some comfort to Amanda, who felt herself at present unequal to any exertion; yet, notwithstanding her fatigue and illness, she persevered in her resolution of sitting up with her father every night, dreading that, if she retired to bed, a scene of riot would again ensue, which, in her opinion, was sacrilege to the dead. She went to bed every morning and[Pg 319] was nursed with the most tender attention by Sister Mary, who also insisted on being her companion at night. This, however, was but a mere matter of form, for the good sister was totally unable to keep her eyes open, and slept as comfortably upon the earthen floor, with her gown made into a pillow for her head, as if laid upon down: then was poor Amanda left to her own reflections, and the melancholy contemplation of her beloved father’s remains. The evening of the fourth day after his decease was fixed upon for his interment; with streaming eyes and a breaking heart, Amanda beheld him put into the coffin, and in that moment felt as if he had again died before her. A small procession attended, consisting of the people of the house, Johnaten and Kate, and a few respectable farmers, to whom Fitzalan had endeared himself during his short abode at Castle Carberry; the men had scarfs and hat-bands, and the women hoods.

Johnaten, who had been a soldier in his youth, resolved to pay him some military honors, and placed his hat and sword upon the coffin. Amanda, by the most painful efforts, supported the preparations for his removal; but when she saw the coffin actually raised to be taken out, she could no longer restrain her feelings; she shrieked in the agony of her soul, a sickness, almost deadly, seized her and she fell fainting upon Sister Mary’s bosom.


CHAPTER XXXIV.

“Oh, let me unlade my breast, Pour out the fulness of my soul before you, Show every tender, every grateful thought, This wondrous goodness stirs. But ’tis impossible, And utterance all is vile; since I can only Swear you reign here, but never tell how much.”—Rowe.

Sister Mary recovered her with difficulty, but found it impossible to remove her from the cabin till she was more composed. In about two hours its inhabitants returned, and the car having arrived which she had ordered to convey Amanda to St. Catherine’s, she was placed upon it in a state scarcely animate, and, supported by Sister Mary, was conveyed to that peaceful asylum. On arriving at it she was carried immediately into the prioress’s apartment, who received and welcomed her[Pg 320] with the most tender affection and sensibility—a tenderness which roused Amanda from the stupefaction into which she appeared sinking, and made her weep violently. She felt relieved from doing so, and, as some return for the kindness she received, endeavored to appear benefited by it. She therefore declined going to bed, but lay down upon a little matted couch in the prioress’s room. The tea-table was close by it. As she refused any other refreshment, she obtained this by a promise of eating something with it. None of the sisterhood—Sister Mary excepted—were admitted; and Amanda felt this delicate attention and respect to her sorrows with gratitude. She arrived on the eve of their patron saint at the convent, which was always celebrated with solemnity. After tea, therefore, the prioress and Sister Mary were compelled to repair to the chapel; but she removed the reluctance they felt to leave her alone by complaining of being drowsy. A pillow being laid under her head by Sister Mary, soon after they quitted her she fell into a profound slumber, in which she continued till awoke by distant music, so soft, so clear, so harmonious, that the delightful sensations it gave her she could only compare to those which she imagined a distressed and pensive soul would feel when, springing from the shackles of mortality, it first heard the heavenly sounds that welcomed it to the realms of bliss. The chapel from which those celestial sounds proceeded was at the extremity of the house, so that they sometimes swelled upon her ear, sometimes faintly sunk upon it. The pauses in the organ, which was finely played, were filled up by the sweet, though less powerful strains of the sisterhood, who sung a hymn in honor of their saint.

“No one was here exempt, No voice but well could join melodious part.”

’Tis a foretaste of heaven, thought Amanda. She heard a deep sigh behind her. She turned her head hastily, and perceived a figure standing near, which bore a strong resemblance to Lord Mortimer. She was alarmed. She could not believe it was him. The light which the small and heavy-arched window admitted was imperfect, and she rose from the couch to be better assured it was or was not him. A second glance convinced her. She might have believed her eyes at first. Trembling and astonished, she sunk upon a seat, exclaiming, “Gracious heaven! what can have brought Lord Mortimer hither?”

He made no reply, but, kneeling before her, took her hands in his, pressed them to his forehead and lips, and laid his head upon them.

[Pg 321] “Why,” cried Amanda, unutterably affected by the emotions he betrayed, “why, my lord, are you come hither?” “To try,” he replied, in a voice scarcely articulate, “whether Miss Fitzalan will yet consider me as her friend.” “That, my lord,” said she, “depends upon circumstances; but while your lordship remains in your present position, what they are I cannot explain.”

Lord Mortimer instantly rose and seated himself beside her. “Now, tell me,” said he, “what those circumstances are.” “The first, my lord, is to exculpate my father in the opinion of Lord Cherbury, and, by declaring the commencement and progress of our acquaintance, eradicate from his lordship’s mind the injurious suspicions he entertained against him. This, perhaps, you will say is useless, considering those suspicions can no longer wound him; but, my lord, I deem it an incumbent duty on me to remove from his memory the obloquy on my account cast on it.” “I promise you most solemnly,” said Lord Mortimer, “you shall be obeyed. This is a debt of justice, which I had resolved to pay ere I received your injunction for doing so. It is but lately I heard of the unjust charges made against him, nor do I know now what fiend gave rise to them.” “The same, perhaps,” cried Amanda, “who spread such complicated snares for my destruction, and involved me in every horror but that which proceeds from conscious guilt. Oh, my lord! the second circumstance I allude to is, if you should hear my name treated with scorn and contempt by those few—those very few—whom I had reason to esteem, and to believe esteemed me, that you would kindly interpose in my justification, and say I merited not the aspersions cast upon me. Believe me innocent, and you will easily persuade others I am so. You shake your head, as much as to say you cannot think me so, after the proofs you have seen to the contrary. Ah, my lord! the proofs were contrived by malice and treachery, to ruin me in the estimation of my friends, and by perfidy, to force me into a crime, of which I already bear the appearance and the stigma. Surely, in this solemn hour, which has seen my beloved father consigned to his kindred earth, when, with a mind harassed by sorrow, and a body worn out with fatigue, I feel as if standing on the verge of the grave, I should be the most abandoned of wretches, if I could assert my innocence without the consciousness of really possessing it. No, my lord; by such a falsehood I should be not only wicked, but foolish, in depriving myself of that happiness hereafter which will so fully recompense my present miseries.” “Oh, Amanda!”[Pg 322] cried Lord Mortimer, who had been walking backward and forward in an agitated manner while she spoke, “you would almost convince me against the evidence of my own senses.” “Almost,” she repeated. “Then I see, my lord, you are determined to disbelieve me. But why, since so prejudiced against me, have you come hither? Was it merely to be assured of my wretchedness? to hear me say that I stand alone in the world, without one being interested about my welfare; that my present asylum is bestowed by charity; and that, if my life be prolonged, it must be spent in struggling against constitution, sorrow, and ill-fame, to procure a subsistence?” “No, no,” exclaimed Lord Mortimer, flinging himself at her feet; “never shall you suffer such misery. Were you even the being I was tempted to think you some time ago, never would Mortimer suffer the woman his heart doated on to feel such calamity. I do not, I cannot believe you would deceive me. There is an irresistible eloquence in your words that convinces me you have been the victim of treachery, and I its dupe. I cannot give you a more convincing proof of my confidence in you, than by again renewing my entreaties to have one fame, one fate, one fortune ours.”

The resolution which Amanda had forced to support her through the painful scene she guessed would ensue the moment she saw Lord Mortimer, now vanished, and she burst into a flood of tears. She saw his conduct in the most generous, the most exalted light. Notwithstanding appearances were so much against her, he was willing to rely solely on her own asseveration of innocence, and to run every risk on her account, that by a union he might shelter her from the distress of her present situation. But while her sensibility was affected by his expressions, her pride was alarmed lest he should impute her ardent desire of vindicating herself to the expectation of having his addresses renewed. In broken accents she endeavored to remove such an idea, if it had arisen, and to convince him that all further intimacy between them must now be terminated. Lord Mortimer ascribed the latter part of her speech to the resentment she felt against him for ever entertaining doubts of her worth. She desired him to rise, but he refused till he was forgiven. “My forgiveness is yours indeed, my lord,” she said, “though your suspicions wounded me to the soul. I can scarcely wonder at your entertaining them, when I reflect on the different situations in which I was found, which, if your lordship can spare a little longer time, or deem it worth devoting to such a purpose, as well as I am able I will account for being[Pg 323] involved in.” Lord Mortimer declared his ardent desire to hear those particulars, which nothing but a fear of fatiguing or agitating her could have prevented his before expressing. He then seated himself by her, and taking her cold and emaciated hand in his, listened to her little narrative.

She briefly informed him of her father’s residing in Devonshire after the death of her mother, of the manner in which they became acquainted with Colonel Belgrave, of his having ingratiated himself into their friendship, by pretending to be Oscar’s friend, and then plunging them in distress, when he found they not only resisted but resented his villanous designs. She related the artful manner in which Lady Greystock had drawn her from her father’s protection, and the cold and insolent reception she met from the marchioness and her daughter, when introduced by the above-mentioned lady, the enmity the marchioness bore her father, the sudden alteration in her behavior, the invitation to her house so unexpected and unnecessary, all tended to inspire a belief that she was concerned in contriving Colonel Belgrave’s admittance to the house, and had also given Lord Cherbury reason to suspect the integrity of her father.

Lord Mortimer here interrupted Amanda, to mention the conversation which passed between him and Mrs. Jane in the hall.

She raised her hands and eyes to heaven with astonishment at such wickedness, and said, “Though she always suspected the girl’s integrity, from a certain sycophant air, she never imagined she could be capable of such baseness.”

Lord Mortimer again interrupted her, to mention what Lady Greystock had told him concerning Mrs. Jennings, as also what the housekeeper had said of the note he gave her for Amanda.

“Good God!” said Amanda, “when I hear of all the enemies I had, I almost wonder I escaped so well.” She then resumed her narrative, accounted for the dislike Mrs. Jennings had to her, and explained the way in which she was entrapped into Colonel Belgrave’s power, the almost miraculous manner in which she was freed from his house, the friendship she received from Howel, and the situation in which she arrived at Castle Carberry, and found her father. The closing scene she could not describe, for sighs and sobs impeded her utterance. Lord Mortimer gently folded her to his breast. He called her his dear, his unfortunate, his lovely girl, more precious than ever to his heart, and declared he never again would quit her till[Pg 324] she had given him a right to espouse her quarrels, and secure her from the machinations of her enemies. Her warm tears wet his cheek as she exclaimed, “that could never be.”

“My promise is already past,” cried she. “That which was given to the living shall not be forfeited to the dead; and this, my lord, by design, is the last time we must ever meet.” “What promise?” exclaimed Lord Mortimer. “Surely no one could be so inhuman as to extort a promise from you to give me up?” “It was not inhumanity extorted it,” replied Amanda, “but honor, rectitude, and discretion; without forfeiting those never can I violate it. There is but one event could make me acquiesce in your wishes, that is, having a fortune adequate to yours to bring you, because then Lord Cherbury could ascribe no selfish motive to my conduct; but as such an event is utterly improbable, I might almost say impossible, it is certain we shall never be united. Any further intercourse between us, you must therefore be convinced, would injure me. Disturb not, therefore, my lord, my retirement; but ere you depart, allow me to assure you you have lightened the weight on my heart by crediting what I have said. Should I not recover from the illness which now preys upon me, it will cheer my departing spirit to know you think me innocent; and, if I live, it will support me through many difficulties, and often, perhaps, after the toils of a busy day, shall I comfort myself by reflecting that those I esteem, if they think of me, it is with their wonted regard.”

Lord Mortimer was affected by the manner in which she spoke, his eyes began to glisten, and he was again declaring he would not suffer her to sacrifice happiness at the shrine of a too scrupulous and romantic generosity, when the door opened, and the prioress and Sister Mary (who had been detained in the chapel by a long discourse from the priest) entered, bearing lights.

Lord Mortimer started in much confusion, retreated to one of the windows, and drew out his handkerchief to conceal the emotions Amanda had excited. She was unable to speak to the prioress and Sister Mary, who stared round them, and then at each other, not certain whether they should advance or retreat. Lord Mortimer in a few moments recovered his composure, and advancing to the prioress, apologized for his intrusion into her apartment; but said he had the honor of being a friend of Miss Fitzalan’s, and could not resist his wish of inquiring in person after her health as soon as he arrived in the country.

[Pg 325] The prioress, who had once seen a good deal of the polite world, received his address with ease and complaisance. Sister Mary went over to Amanda, and found her weak, trembling, and weeping. She expressed the utmost concern at seeing her in such a situation, and immediately procured her a glass of wine, which she insisted on her taking. The lights now gave Lord Mortimer an opportunity of contemplating the depredations which grief and sickness had made upon her. Her pale and sallow complexion, her heavy and sunken eyes, struck him with horror. He could not conceal his feelings. “Gracious Heaven!” cried he, going to the couch, and taking her hand, “I fear you are very ill.”

She looked mournfully in his face without speaking; but this look was sufficient to assure him he was not mistaken. The efforts she had made to converse with him, and the yet greater efforts she made to banish him forever from her, quite exhausted her; after the various miseries she had gone through, how soothing to her soul would have been the attentions of Lord Mortimer, how pleasing, how delightful, the asylum she should have found in his arms! But no temptation, no distress, she resolved, should ever make her disobey the injunction of her adored father.

“She is very bad indeed,” said Sister Mary, “and we must get her to bed as soon as possible.” “She requires rest and repose indeed,” said Lord Mortimer; “but tell me, my dear Miss Fitzalan (taking her hand), if I have those good ladies’ permission for calling here to-morrow, will you, if able to rise, see me?” “I cannot, indeed,” said Amanda; “I have already declared this must be our last interview, and I shall not retract from what I have said.” “Then,” exclaimed Lord Mortimer, regardless, or rather forgetful, of those who heard him, from the agitation and warmth of his feelings, “I shall, in one respect at least, accuse you of dissimulation, that of feigning a regard for me you never felt.” “Such an accusation is now of little consequence,” replied Amanda; “perhaps you had better think it just.” “Cruel, inexorable girl, to refuse seeing me, to wish to have the anxiety which now preys upon my heart prolonged!”

“Young man,” said the prioress, in an accent of displeasure, seeing the tears streaming down Amanda’s cheeks, “respect her sorrows.”

“Respect them, madam,” repeated he; “Oh! Heaven, I respect, I venerate them; but will you, my dear lady, when Miss Fitzalan is able, prevail on her to communicate the par[Pg 326]ticulars of our acquaintance; and will you then become my advocate, and persuade her to receive my visits?” “Impossible sir,” said the prioress, “I shall never attempt to desire a larger share of confidence from Miss Fitzalan than she desires to bestow upon me. From my knowledge of her I am convinced her conduct will be always guided by discretion; she has greatly obliged me by choosing this humble retreat for her residence; she has put herself under my protection, and I shall endeavor to fulfil that sacred trust by securing her from any molestation.” “Well, madam,” said Lord Mortimer, “I flatter myself Miss Fitzalan will do me justice in declaring my visits proceeded from wishes, which, though she may disappoint, she cannot disapprove. I shall no longer intrude upon your time or hers, but will still hope I shall find you both less inflexible.”

He took up his hat, he approached the door; but when he glanced at Amanda, he could not depart without speaking to her, and again went to the couch.

He entreated her to compose and exert herself; he desired her forgiveness for any warmth he had betrayed, and he whispered to her that all his earthly happiness depended on her restoration to health, and her becoming his. He insisted on her now giving him her hand as a pledge of amity between them. She complied; but when presuming on this he again asked her consent to repeat his visits, he found her inexorable as ever, and retired, if not with a displeased, a disappointed countenance. Sister Mary attended him from the apartment. At the door of the convent he requested her to walk a few paces from it with him, saying he wanted to speak to her. She consented, and remembering he was the person who frightened her one evening amongst the ruins, determined now, if she had a good opportunity, to ask what had then brought him thither?

Lord Mortimer knew the poverty of the convent, and feared Amanda might want many things, or its inhabitants be distressed to procure them for her; he therefore pulled out a purse and presenting it to Sister Mary, requested she would apply it for Miss Fitzalan’s use, without mentioning anything about it to her. Sister Mary shook the purse. “Oh! Jesu Maria,” exclaimed she, “how heavy it is!”

Lord Mortimer was retiring, when, catching hold of him, she cried, “Stay, stay, I have a word or two to say to you. I wonder how much there is in this purse?”

Lord Mortimer smiled, “If not enough for the present emergencies,” said he, “it shall soon be replenished.”

[Pg 327] Sister Mary sat down on a tombstone, and very deliberately counted the money into her lap. “Oh! mercy,” said she, “I never saw so many guineas together before in all my life!”

Again Lord Mortimer smiled, and was retiring; but again stopping him, she returned the gold into the purse, and declared, “she neither would nor durst keep it.”

Lord Mortimer was provoked at this declaration, and, without replying to it, walked on. She ran nimbly after him, and dropping the purse at his feet, was out of sight in a moment. When she returned to the prioress’s apartment, she related the incident, and took much merit to herself for acting so prudently. The prioress commended her very much, and poor Amanda, with a faint voice, said, “she had acted quite right.”

A little room inside the prioress’s chamber was prepared for Amanda, into which she was now conveyed, and the good-natured Sister Mary brought her own bed, and laid it beside hers.


CHAPTER XXXV.

“With dirges due, and sad array, Slow through the church-way path I saw him borne.”

It will now be necessary to account for the sudden appearance of Lord Mortimer at the convent. Our reader may recollect that we left him in London, in the deepest affliction for the supposed perfidy of Amanda—an affliction which knew no diminution from time; neither the tenderness of his aunt, Lady Martha Dormer, nor the kind consideration his father showed for him, who, for the present, ceased to importune him about Lady Euphrasia, could have any lenient effect upon him—he pined in thought, and felt a distaste to all society. He at last began to think, that though Amanda had been unhappily led astray, she might, ere this, have repented of her error, and forsaken Colonel Belgrave. To know whether she had done so, or whether she could be prevailed upon to give him up, he believed, would be an alleviation of his sorrows. No sooner had he persuaded himself of this, than he determined on going to Ireland, without delay, to visit Captain Fitzalan, and, if she was not returned to his protection, advise with him about some method of restoring her to it.

He told Lord Cherbury he thought an excursion into[Pg 328] Wales would be of service to him. His lordship agreed in thinking it might, and, secretly delighted that all danger relative to Amanda was over, gladly concurred in whatever could please his son, flattering himself that, on his return to London, he would no lodger raise any objections to an alliance with the fair Scotch heiress.

Lord Mortimer travelled with as much expedition to Holyhead as if certain that perfect happiness, not a small alleviation of misery, would be the recompense of his journey. He concealed from his aunt the real motives which actuated him to it, blushing, even to himself, at the weakness which he still felt relative to Amanda. When he crossed the water he again set off post, attended on horseback only by his own man. Within one mile of Castle Carberry he met the little mournful procession approaching, which was attending poor Fitzalan to his last home. The carriage stopped to let them pass, and in the last of the group he perceived Johnaten, who, at the same moment, recognized him. Johnaten, with much surprise in his countenance, stepped up to the carriage, and, after bowing, and humbly hoping his lordship was well, with a melancholy shake of his head informed him whose remains he was following.

“Captain Fitzalan dead!” repeated Lord Mortimer, with a face as pale as death, and a faltering voice, while his heart sunk within him at the idea that his father was, in some degree, accessory to the fatal event; for, just before he left London, Lord Cherbury had informed him of the letter he wrote to Fitzalan, and this, he believed, joined to his own immediate family misfortunes, had precipitated him from the world. “Captain Fitzalan dead!” he exclaimed. “Yes, and please you, my lord,” said Johnaten, wiping away a tear, “and he has not left a better or a braver man behind him. Poor gentleman, the world pressed hard upon him.” “Had he no tender friend about him?” asked Lord Mortimer. “Were neither of his children with him?” “Oh! yes my lord, poor Miss Amanda.” “She was with him!” said Lord Mortimer, in an eager accent. “Yes, my lord, she returned here about ten days ago, but so sadly altered, I think she won’t stay long behind him. Poor thing, she is going fast, indeed, and the more’s the pity, for she is a sweet creature.”

Lord Mortimer was inexpressibly shocked. He wished to hide his emotions, and waved his hand to Johnaten to depart; but Johnaten either did not, or would not, understand the motion, and he was obliged, in broken accents, to say, “he would no longer detain him.”

[Pg 329] The return of Amanda was to him a conviction that she had seen her error in its true light. He pictured to himself the affecting scene which must have ensued between a dying father and a penitent daughter, so loved, so valued, as was Amanda; her situation, when she received his forgiveness and benediction; he represented her to himself as at once bewailing the loss of her father, and her offences, endeavoring, by prayers, by tears, by sighs, to obliterate them in the sight of Heaven, and render herself fit to receive its awful fiat.

He heard she was dying; his soul recoiled at the idea of seeing her shrouded in her native clay, and yet he could not help believing this the only peaceful asylum she could find, to be freed from the shafts of contempt and malice of the world. He trembled lest he should not behold the lovely penitent while she was capable of observing him; to receive a last adieu, though dreadful, would yet, he thought, lighten the horrors of an eternal separation, and perhaps, too, it would be some comfort to her departing spirit to know from him he had pardoned her; and conscious, surely, he thought to himself, she must be of needing pardon from him, whom she had so long imposed on by a specious pretext of virtue. He had heard from Lord Cherbury that Captain Fitzalan had quitted the castle; he knew not, therefore, at present, where to find Amanda, nor did he choose to make any inquiries till he again saw Johnaten.

As soon as the procession was out of sight, he alighted from the carriage, and ordering his man to discharge it, on arriving at Castle Carberry, he took a path across the fields, which brought him to the side of the church-yard where Fitzalan was to be interred.

He reached it just as the coffin was lowering into the earth. A yew-tree, growing by the wall against which he leaned, hid him from observation. He heard many of the rustics mentioning the merits of the deceased in terms of warm, though artless, commendation, and he saw Johnaten receiving the hat and sword (which, as military trophies, he had laid upon the coffin), with a flood of tears.

When the church-yard was cleared, he stepped across the broken wall to the silent mansion of Fitzalan. The scene was wild and dreary, and a lowering evening seemed in unison with the sad objects around. Lord Mortimer was sunk in the deepest despondence. He felt awfully convinced of the instability of human attainments, and the vanity of human pursuits, not only from the ceremony he had just witnessed, but his own[Pg 330] situation. The fond hopes of his heart, the gay expectations of his youth, and the hilarity of his soul, were blasted, never, he feared, to revive. Virtue, rank, and fortune, advantages so highly prized by mankind, were unable to give him comfort, to remove the malady of his heart, to administer one oblivious antidote to a mind diseased.

“Peace to thy shade, thou unfortunate soldier,” exclaimed he, after standing some time by the grave with folded arms. “Peace to thy shade—peace which shall reward thee for a life of toil and trouble. Happy should I have deemed myself, had it been my lot to have lightened thy grief, or cheered thy closing hours. But those who were dearer to thee than existence I may yet serve, and thus make the only atonement now in my power for the injustice, I fear, was done thee. Thy Amanda, and thy gallant son, shall be my care, and his path, I trust, it will be in my power to smooth through life.”

A tear fell from Lord Mortimer upon the grave, and he turned mournfully from it towards Castle Carberry. Here Johnaten was arrived before him, and had already a large fire lighted in the dressing-room poor Amanda, on coming to the castle, had chosen for herself. Johnaten fixed on this for Lord Mortimer, as the parlors had been shut up ever since Captain Fitzalan’s departure, and could not be put in any order till the next day; but it was the worst place Lord Mortimer could have entered, as not only itself but everything in it reminded him of Amanda; and the grief it excited at his first entrance was so violent as to alarm not only his man (who was spreading a table with refreshments), but Johnaten, who was assisting him. He soon checked it, however; but when he again looked round the room, and beheld it ornamented with works done by Amanda, he could scarcely prevent another burst of grief as violent as the first.

He now learned Amanda’s residence; and so great was his impatience to see her that, apprehensive the convent would soon be closed, he set off, fatigued as he was, without recruiting himself with any refreshment. He intended to ask for one of the ladies of St. Catherine’s, and entreat her, if Amanda was then in a situation to be seen, to announce his arrival to her; but after rapping repeatedly with a rattan against the door, the only person who appeared to him was a servant girl. From her he learned the ladies were all in the chapel, and that Miss Fitzalan was in the prioress’s apartment. He asked, “Was she too ill to be seen?” The girl replied, “No"—for having only entered the room to leave the kettle in it, at a[Pg 331] time when Amanda was composed, she imagined she was very well. Lord Mortimer then told her his name, and desired her to go up to Miss Fitzalan and inquire whether she would see him. The girl attempted not to move. She was in reality so struck of a heap by hearing that she had been talking to a lord, that she knew not whether she was standing on her head or her heels. Lord Mortimer imputing her silence to disinclination to comply with his request, put a guinea into her hand, and entreated her to be expeditious. This restored her to animation, but ere she reached the room she forgot his title, and being ashamed to deliver a blundering message to Miss Fitzalan, or to appear stupid to Lord Mortimer, she returned to him, pretending she had delivered his message, and that he might go up. She showed him the door, and when he entered he imputed the silence of Amanda, and her not moving, to the effects of her grief. He advanced to the couch, and was not a little shocked on seeing her eyes closed—concluding from this that she had fainted, but her easy respiration soon convinced him that this was a mistake, and he immediately concluded that the girl had deceived him. He leaned over her till she began to stir, and then retreated behind her, lest his presence, on her first awaking, should alarm her.

What took place in the interview between them has already been related. Notwithstanding appearances were so much against her, and no explanation had ensued relative to them, from the moment she asserted her innocence with solemnity he could no longer doubt it; and yielding at once to its conviction, to his love, to his pity for her, he again renewed his overtures for a union. Hearing of the stratagems laid for her destruction, the dangers she had escaped, the distresses she had experienced, made him more anxious than ever for completing it, that by his constant protection he might secure her from similar trials, and by his tenderness and care restore her to health, peace, and happiness. He longed for the period of her triumphing over the perfidious marchioness, and the detestable Lady Euphrasia, by being raised to that station they had so long attempted to prevent her attaining, and thus proving to them that virtue, sooner or later, will counteract the designs of vice. He felt a degree of rapture at the idea of his being no longer obliged to regret the ardent, the unabated affection he felt for her. His transports were somewhat checked when she solemnly declared a union between them impossible, and forbade his seeing her again. He was piqued by the steadiness with which she repeated this resolution, but her present[Pg 332] weak state prevented his betraying any resentment, and he flattered himself he would be able to conquer her obstinacy. He could not now, indeed, despair of any event after the unexpected restoration of Amanda to his esteem, and the revival of those hopes of felicity, which in the certainty of having lost her had faded away. He returned, as Johnaten said, an altered man, to the castle. He no longer experienced horror at entering the dressing-room which displayed so many vestiges of his Amanda’s taste.

He resolved on an immediate union as the surest proof he could give her of his perfect confidence in her sincerity, not allowing himself to suppose she would continue firm in the resolution she had recently avowed to him. He then intended setting off for London, and sparing neither time, trouble nor expense, to obtain from the inferior agents in the plot laid against her, a full avowal of the part they had themselves acted in it, and all they knew relative to those performed by others. This was not designed for his own satisfaction. He wanted no confirmation of what Amanda asserted, as his proposal to marry her immediately demonstrated; it was to cover with confusion those who had meditated her destruction, and add to the horrors they would experience when they found her emerging from obscurity—not as Miss Fitzalan, but as Lady Mortimer. Such proofs of her innocence would also prevent malice from saying he was the dupe of art, and he was convinced, for both their sakes, it was requisite to procure them. He would then avow his marriage, return for his wife, introduce her to his friends, and, if his father kept up any resentment against them longer than he expected, he knew in Lady Martha Dormer’s house, and at Tudor Hall, he would find not only an eligible, but pleasant residence. Those delightful schemes kept him awake half the night, and when he fell asleep it was only to dream of happiness and Amanda.

In the morning, notwithstanding the prohibition he had received to the contrary, he went to inquire how she was, and to try and see her. The girl who had answered his repeated knocks the preceding evening, appeared, and told him Miss Fitzalan was very bad. He began to think that this must be a pretext to avoid seeing him, and to come at the truth was slipping a bribe into her hand, when Sister Mary, who had been watching them from an adjoining room, appeared, and stopped this measure. She repeated what the girl had just said, and, in addition to it, declared that even if Miss Fitzalan was up she would not see him, and that he must come no more to St.[Pg 333] Catherine’s, as both Miss Fitzalan and the prioress would resent such conduct exceedingly; and that, if he wanted to inquire after the health of the former, he might easily send a servant, and it would be much better done than to come frisking over there every moment.

Lord Mortimer was seriously displeased with this unceremonious speech. “So, I suppose,” cried he, “you want to make a real nun of Miss Fitzalan, and to keep her from all conversation.” “And a happy creature she would be were she to become one of us,” replied Sister Mary; “and as to keeping her from conversation, she might have as much as she pleased with any one. Indeed, I believe the poor thing likes you well enough; the more’s her misfortune for doing so.” “I thank you, madam,” cried Lord Mortimer; “I suppose it one of your vows to speak truth; if so, I must acknowledge you keep it religiously.” “I have just heard her,” proceeded Sister Mary, without minding what he had said, “tell the prioress a long story about you and herself, by which I find it was her father’s desire she should have nothing more to say to you, and I dare say the poor gentleman had good reasons for doing so. I beg, my lord, you will come no more here, and, indeed, I think it was a shame for you to give money to the simpleton who answered you. Why, it is enough to turn the girl’s head, and set her mad after one fal-lal or other.”

Lord Mortimer could not depart without an effort to win Sister Mary over to his favor, and engage her to try and persuade Miss Fitzalan to permit his visits, but she was inflexible; he then entreated to know if Amanda was so ill as to be unable to rise. She assured him she was, and, as some little consolation to the distress she perceived this assurance gave him, said he might send when he pleased to inquire after her health, and she would take care to answer the messenger herself.

Lord Mortimer began now to be seriously alarmed lest Captain Fitzalan had prevailed on his daughter to make a solemn renunciation of him. If this was the case, he knew nothing could prevail on her to break her promise. He was half distracted with doubt and anxiety, which were scarcely supportable, when he reflected that they could not for some time be satisfied, since, even if he wrote to her for that purpose, she could not at present be able to answer his letter; again he felt convinced of the instability of earthly happiness, and the close connection there has ever been between pleasure and pain.


[Pg 334]

CHAPTER XXXVI.

“Thy presence only ’tis can make me blest, Heal my unquiet mind, and tune my soul.”—Otway.

The fatigue, distress, and agitation of Amanda could no longer be struggled with; she sunk beneath their violence, and for a week was confined to her bed by the fever which had seized her in England, and ever since lurked in her veins. The whole sisterhood, who took it in turn to attend her, vied with each other in kindness and care to the poor invalid. Their efforts for her recovery were aided by a skilful physician from the next town, who called, without being sent for, at the convent. He said he had known Captain Fitzalan, and that, hearing that Miss Fitzalan was indisposed, he had come in hopes he might be of service to the daughter of a man he so much esteemed. He would accept of no fee, and the prioress, who was a woman of sagacity, suspected, as well as Amanda, that he came by the direction of Lord Mortimer. Nor were they mistaken, for, distracted by apprehensions about her, he had taken this method of lightening his fears, flattering himself, by the excellent advice he had procured, her recovery would be much expedited, and, of course, his suspense at least terminated. The doctor did not withdraw his visits when Amanda was able to rise; he attended her punctually, and often paid her long visits, which were of infinite service to her spirits, as he was a man of much information and cheerfulness. In a few days she was removed from her chamber into a pleasant room below stairs, which opened into the garden, where, leaning on the friendly doctor’s arm, or one of the nuns’, she walked at different times a few minutes each day. Lord Mortimer, on hearing this, thought he might now solicit an interview, and accordingly wrote for that purpose:—

TO MISS FITZALAN.

Lord Mortimer presents his compliments to Miss Fitzalan, flatters himself she will allow him personally to express the sincere happiness her restoration to health has afforded him. He cannot think she will refuse so reasonable a request. He is almost convinced she would not hesitate a moment in granting it, could she form an idea of the misery he has experienced on her account, and the anxiety he feels, and must continue to feel, till some expressions in the last interview are explained.

Castle Carberry, 10th May.

[Pg 335] This letter greatly distressed Amanda. She had hoped the pain of again rejecting his visits and requests would have been spared her. She guessed at the expressions he alluded to in his letter; they were those she had dropped relative to her promise to her father, and from the impetuous and tender feelings of Lord Mortimer she easily conceived the agony he would experience when he found this promise inviolable. She felt more for his distress than her own. Her heart, seasoned in the school of adversity, could bear its sorrows with calmness; but this was not his case, and she paid the tribute of tears to a love so fervent, so faithful, and so hopeless.

She then requested Sister Mary to acquaint his messenger that she received no visits; that, as she was tolerably recovered, she entreated his lordship would not take the trouble of continuing his inquiries about her health, or to send her any more written messages, as she was unable to answer them. The prioress, who was present when she received the letter, commended her exceedingly for the fortitude and discretion she had manifested. Amanda had deemed it necessary to inform her, after the conversation she heard between her and Lord Mortimer, of the terms on which they stood with each other; and the prioress, who doubted whether his lordship was in reality as honorable as he professed himself, thought Amanda on the sure side in declining his visits.

The next morning the doctor called as usual. He told Amanda he had brought her an entertaining book, for no such thing could be procured at St. Catherine’s, and, as she had expressed her regret at this, from the time she had been able to read he had supplied her from his library, which was extensive and well chosen.

He did not present it to her till he was retiring, and then said, with a significant smile, she would find it contained something worthy of her particular attention. Amanda was alone, and immediately opened it. Great was her astonishment when a letter dropped from it into her lap. She snatched it up, and, perceiving the direction in Lord Mortimer’s hand, she hesitated whether she should open a letter conveyed in this manner; but to return it unopened was surely a slight Lord Mortimer merited not, and she broke the seal with a trembling hand and a palpitating heart:—

Unkind Amanda, to compel me to use stratagems in writing to you, and destroy the delightful hopes which had sprung in my soul, at the prospect of being about to receive a reward for my sufferings. Am I ever to be involved in doubts and perplexity on your account? Am I ever to see difficulty succeeded by difficulty, and hope by disappointment?

[Pg 336] You must be sensible of the anxiety I shall feel, until your ambiguous expressions are fully explained, and yet you refuse this explanation! But you have no pity for my feelings. Would it not be more generous in you to permit an interview than to keep me in suspense? To know the worst is some degree of ease; besides, I should then have an opportunity of perhaps convincing you that virtue, unlike vice, has its bounds, and that we may sometimes carry our notions of honor and generosity too far, and sacrifice our real happiness to chimerical ideas of them. Surely I shall not be too presumptuous in saying that, if the regard Amanda once flattered me with is undiminished, she will, by rejecting a union with me, leave me not the only sufferer.

Oh! do not, my dear and too scrupulous girl, think a moment longer of persevering in a resolution so prejudicial to your welfare. Your situation requires particular protection: young, innocent, and beautiful; already the object of licentious pursuits; your nearest relations your greatest enemies; your brother, from his unsettled line of life, unable to be near you. Oh! my Amanda, from such a situation what evils may accrue? Avoid them, by taking refuge in his arms, who will be to you a tender friend and faithful guardian. Before such evils, the obligation for keeping a promise to reject me, fades away, particularly when the motives which led to such a promise are considered. Captain Fitzalan, hurt by the unfortunate letter he received from my father, extended his resentment to his son, and called upon you without reflecting on the consequences of such a measure to give me up. This is the only reason I can conceive for his desiring such a promise, and had I but arrived while he could have listened to my arguments, I am firmly convinced, instead of opposing, he would have sanctioned our union, and given his beloved girl to a man who, in every instance, would study to evince his gratitude for such a gift, and to supply his loss.

Happiness, my dear Amanda, is in long arrears with us. She is now ready to make up for past deficiencies, if it is not our own faults; let us not frighten her from performing her good intentions, but hand in hand receive the lovely and long absent guest to our bosoms.

You will not, cannot, must not, be inflexible; I shall expect, as soon as you read this, a summons to St. Catherine’s to receive the ratification of my hopes. In everything respecting our union I will be guided by you, except delaying it; what we have both suffered already from deceit makes me doubly anxious to secure you mine, lest another vile scheme should be formed to effect our separation.

Oh! Amanda, the faintest prospect of calling you mine gives to my heart a felicity no language can express. Refuse not being mine except you bring me an addition of fortune; already rich in every virtue, I shall, in obtaining you, obtain a treasure which the wealthiest, the proudest, and the vainest of the sons of men may envy me the possession of, and which the good, the sensible, and elegant, must esteem the kindest gift indulgent heaven could bestow on me. Banish all uneasy doubts and scruples, my Amanda, from your mind, nor think a promise, which was demanded without reflecting on the consequences that must attend it, can be binding. The ingenuous soul of your father would have cancelled it in a moment, had those consequences been represented to him; and now, when our own reason convinces us of them, I make no doubt, if departed souls are permitted to view the transactions of this world, his spirit would behold our union with approbation. Yes, my Amanda, I repeat your father’s approving spirit will smile upon an act which gives to his lovely and beloved orphan a faithful friend and steady protector, in her adoring

Mortimer.

Castle Carberry, 11th May.

[Pg 337] This letter deeply affected the sensibility, but could not shake the resolution of Amanda. She would not have answered it, as she considered any correspondence an infringement on the promises she had given her father to decline any further intimacy with him; but from the warmth and agitation displayed in his letter, it was evident to her that, if he did not receive an immediate answer to it, he would come to St. Catherine’s and insist on seeing her; and she felt assured, that she could much better deliver her sentiments upon paper than to him; she accordingly wrote as follows:—

TO LORD MORTIMER.

My Lord,—You cannot change my resolution; surely, when I solemnly declare to you it is unalterable, you will spare me any further importunity on so painful a subject. In vain, my lord, would you, by sophistry, cloaked with tenderness for that purpose, try to influence me. The arguments you have made use of, I am convinced, you never would have adopted, had you not been mistaken in regard to those motives which prompted my father to ask a promise from me of declining any farther connection with you. It was not from resentment, my lord; no, his death was then fast approaching, and he, in charity for all mankind, forgave those who had wounded him by unjust reproach and accusation; it was a proper respect for his own character, and not resentment, which influenced his conduct, as he was convinced if I consented to an alliance with you, Lord Cherbury would be confirmed in all the suspicions he entertained of his having entangled you with me, and consequently load his memory with contempt. Tenderness also for me actuated him; he was acquainted with the proud heart of Lord Cherbury, and knew that if, poor and reduced as I was, I entered his family I should be considered and treated as a mean intruder. So thoroughly am I convinced that he did not err in this idea, that, whenever reason is predominant in my mind, I think, even if a promise did not exist for such a purpose, I should decline your addresses; for, though I could submit with cheerfulness to many inconveniences for your sake, I never could support indignities. We must part, my lord; Providence has appointed different paths for us to pursue in life: yours smooth and flowery, if by useless regrets you do not frustrate the intentions of the benevolent Donor; mine rough and thorny; but both, though so different, will lead to the same goal, where we shall again meet to be no more separated.

Let not your lordship deem me either unkind or ungrateful; my heart disavows the justice of such accusations, and is but too sensible of your tenderness and generosity. Yes, my lord, I will confess that no pangs can be more pungent than those which now rend it, at being obliged to act against its feelings; but the greater the sacrifice the greater the merit of submitting to it, and a ray of self-approbation is perhaps the only sunshine of the soul which will brighten my future days.

Never, my lord, should I enjoy this, if my promise to my father was violated. There is but one circumstance which could set it aside, that is, having a fortune, that even Lord Cherbury might deem equivalent to your own to bring you; for then my father has often said he would approve our union; but this is amongst the improbabilities of this life, and we must endeavor to reconcile ourselves to the destiny which separates us.

I hope your lordship will not attempt to see me again; you must be sen[Pg 338]sible that your visits would be highly injurious to me. Even the holy and solitary asylum which I have found would not protect me from the malice which has already been so busy with my peace and fame. Alas! I now need the utmost vigilance—deprived as I am of those on whom I had claim of protection, it behooves me to exert the utmost circumspection in my conduct; he in whom I expected to have found a guardian, Oscar, my dear unfortunate brother, is gone, I know not whither, persecuted and afflicted by the perfidious monster who has been such a source of misery to me! Oh, my lord, when I think what his sufferings may now be, my heart sinks within me. Oh! had I been the only sufferer I should not have felt so great a degree of agony as I now endure; but I will not despair about my dear Oscar. The Providence which has been so kind to his sister, which so unexpectedly raised her friends at the moment she deemed herself deprived of all earthly comfort, may to him have been equally merciful. I have trespassed a long time upon your lordship’s attention, but I wished to be explicit, to avoid the necessity of any further correspondence between us. You now know my resolves; you also know my feelings; in pity to them spare me any further conflicts. May the tranquil happiness you so truly deserve soon be yours! Do not, my lord, because disappointed in one wish, lose your sense of the many valuable blessings with which you are surrounded, in fulfilling the claims which your friends, your country, have upon you; show how truly you merit those blessings, and banish all useless regrets from your heart. Adieu, my lord!—suffer no uneasiness on my account. If Heaven prolongs my life, I have no doubt but I shall find a little comfortable shelter from the world, where, conscious I have acted according to my principles of right, I shall enjoy the serenity which ever attends self-approbation—a serenity which no changes or chances in this life will, I trust, ever wrest from

Amanda Fitzalan.

St. Catherine’s, May 12th.

She dispatched this by an old man who was employed in the garden at St. Catherine’s ; but her spirits were so much affected by writing it, she was obliged to go up and lie on the bed. She considered herself as having taken a final adieu of Lord Mortimer, and the idea was too painful to be supported with fortitude. Tender and fervent as his attachment was now to her, she believed the hurry and bustle of the world, in which he must be engaged, would soon eradicate it. A transfer of his affections, to one equal to himself in rank and fortune, was a probable event, and of course a total expulsion of her from his memory would follow. A deadly coldness stole upon her heart at the idea of being forgotten by him, and produced a flood of tears. She then began to accuse herself of inconsistency. She had often thought, if Lord Mortimer was restored to happiness, she should feel more tranquil. And now, when the means of effecting this restoration occurred, she trembled and lamented as if it would increase her misery. “I am selfish,” said she to herself, “in desiring the prolongation of an affection which must ever be hopeless. I am weak in regretting the probability of its transfer, as I can never return it.”

[Pg 339] To conquer those feelings, she found she must banish Lord Mortimer from her thoughts. Except she succeeded in some degree in this, she felt she never should be able to exert the fortitude her present situation demanded. She now saw a probability of her existence being prolonged, and the bread of idleness or dependence could never be sweet to Amanda Fitzalan.

She had lain about an hour on the bed, and was about rising and returning to the parlor, when Sister Mary entered the chamber, and delivered her a letter. Ere Amanda looked at the superscription, her agitated heart foretold her whom it came from. She was not mistaken in her conjecture; but as she held it in her hand, she hesitated whether she should open it or not. “Yet,” said she to herself, “it can be no great harm. He cannot, after what I have declared, suppose my resolution to be shaken. He writes to assure me of his perfect acquiescence to it.” Sister Mary left her at the instant her deliberations ended, by opening the letter.

TO MISS FITZALAN.

Inexorable Amanda! but I will spare both you and myself the pain of farther importunity. All I now request is, that for three months longer at least, you will continue at St. Catherine’s ; or that, if you find a much longer residence there unpleasant, you will, on quitting it, leave directions where to be found. Ere half the above-mentioned period be elapsed, I trust I shall be able satisfactorily to account for such a request. I am quitting Castle Carberry immediately. I shall leave it with a degree of tranquillity that would perhaps surprise you, after what has so lately passed, if in this one instance you will oblige your ever faithful

Mortimer.

This laconic letter astonished Amanda. By its style it was evident Lord Mortimer had recovered his cheerfulness—recovered it not from a determination of giving her up, but from a hope of their again meeting, as they could both wish. A sudden transport rushed upon her heart at such an idea, but quickly died away when she reflected it was almost beyond the possibility of things to bring about a pleasing interview between them. She knew Lord Mortimer had a sanguine temper, and though it might mislead him, she resolved it should not mislead her. She could not form the most distant surmise of what he had now in agitation; but whatever it was, she firmly believed it would end in disappointment. To refuse every request of his was painful; but propriety demanded she should not accede to the last, for one step, she wisely considered, from the line of prudence she had marked out for herself to take, might plunge[Pg 340] her in difficulties from which she would find it impossible to extricate herself. With an unsteady hand she returned the following answer:—

TO LORD MORTIMER.

My Lord,—I cannot comply with your request. You may, if you please, repeat inexorable Amanda. I had rather incur the imputation of obstinacy than imprudence, and think it much better to meet your accusation, than deserve my own. How long I may reside at St. Catherine’s is to myself unknown. When I quit it, I certainly will not promise to leave any directions where you may find me.

The obstacles which have rendered our separation necessary, are, I am convinced, beyond your lordship’s power to conquer. Except they were removed, any farther interviews between us would be foolish and imprudent in the extreme. I rejoice to hear you are leaving the castle. I also rejoice, but am not surprised, to hear of your tranquillity. From your good sense I expected you would make exertions against useless regrets, and those exertions I knew would be attended with success; but, as some return for the sincere pleasure I feel for your restoration to tranquillity, seek not to disturb again that of

Amanda Fitzalan.

St. Catherine’s, May 12th.

Scarcely had she sealed this letter when she was called to dinner; but though she obeyed the summons she could not eat. The exertions her writing to Lord Mortimer required, and the agitation his letter had thrown her into, quite exhausted her strength and spirits. The nuns withdrew soon after dinner, and left her alone with the prioress. In a few minutes after their departure, the old gardener returned from Castle Carberry, where he had been delivering her letter. After informing her he had put it safely into his lordship’s hands, he added, with a look which seemed to indicate a fear lest she should be distressed, that he had received neither letter nor message from him, though he waited a long time in expectation of receiving either one or the other; but he supposed, he said, his lordship was in too great a hurry just then to give any answer, as a chaise and four was waiting to carry him to Dublin.

Amanda burst into tears as the man retired from the room. She saw she had written to Lord Mortimer for the last time, and she could not suppress this tribute of regret. She was firmly convinced, indeed, she should behold him no more. The idea of visiting her she was sure, nay, she hoped, he would relinquish, when he found, which she supposed would soon be the case, the schemes or hopes which now buoyed up his spirits impossible to be realized.

The prioress sympathized in her sorrow; though not from her own experience, yet from the experience of others, she[Pg 341] knew how dangerous and bewitching a creature man is, and how difficult it is to remove the chains which he twines around the female heart. To remove those which lay so heavy upon the delicate and susceptible heart of her young friend, without leaving a corrosive wound, was her sincere wish, and by strengthening her resolution, she hoped success would crown their endeavors.

Two hours were elapsed since her messenger’s return from the castle, when Sister Mary entered the room with a large packet, which she put into Amanda’s hands, saying, it was given her by Lord Mortimer’s servant, who rode off the moment he delivered it.

Sister Mary made no scruple of saying, she should like to know what such a weighty packet contained. The prioress chide her in a laughing manner for her curiosity, and drew her into the garden, to give Amanda an opportunity of examining the contents.

She was surprised, on breaking the seal, to perceive a very handsome pocket-book in a blank cover, and found unsealed, a letter to this effect:—

TO MISS FITZALAN.

I have put it out of your power to return this, by departing long ere you receive it. Surely, if you have the laudable pride you profess, you will not hesitate to use the contents of the pocket-book, as the only means of avoiding a weight of obligations from strangers. Though discarded as a lover, surely I may be esteemed as a friend, and with such a title I will be contented till I can lay claim to a tenderer one. You start at this last expression, and I have no doubt you will call me a romantic visionary, for entertaining hopes which you have so positively assured me can never be realized; but ere I resign them, I must have something more powerful than this assurance, my sweet Amanda, to convince me of their fallacy. I was inexpressibly shocked this morning to learn by your letter, that your brother had met with misfortune. My blood boils with indignation against the monster who has, to use your emphatical expression, been such a source of misery to you both. I shall make it my particular care to try and discover the place to which Mr. Fitzalan is gone, and in what situation. By means of the agents, or some of the officers belonging to the regiment, I flatter myself with being able to gain some intelligence of him. I need not add, that, to the utmost extent of my power I will serve him. My success in this affair, as well as in that which concerns a much dearer being, you may be convinced you shall soon hear. Adieu, my Amanda; I cannot say, like Hamlet, “Go, get you to a nunnery;" but I can say, “Stay there, I charge you.” Seriously, I could wish, except you find your present situation very unpleasant and inconvenient, not to change it for a short time. I think, for a temporary abode, you could not find a more eligible one; and, as I shall be all impatience when I return to Ireland to see you, a search after you would be truly insupportable. You have already refused to inform me of[Pg 342] your determination relative to this matter; surely I may venture to request it may be as I wish, when I assure you, that, except I can see you in a manner pleasing to both, I never will force into your presence him, who, let things turn out as they may, must ever continue Your faithful

Mortimer.

“Gracious Heaven!” said Amanda to herself, “what can he mean? What scheme can he have in agitation which will remove the obstacles to our union? He here seems to speak of a certainty of success. Oh, grant, merciful Power!” she continued, raising her meek eyes to heaven, while a rosy blush stole upon her cheeks, “grant that indeed he may be successful. He talks of returning to Ireland; still,” proceeded she, reading over the letter, “of requiring something more powerful than my assurance to convince him of the fallacy of his hopes. Surely, Lord Mortimer would not be so cruel as to raise expectations in my bosom without those in his own were well founded. No, dear Mortimer, I will not call you a romantic visionary, but the most amiable, the most generous of men, who for poor Amanda encounters difficulties and sacrifices every splendid expectation.” She rejoiced at the intention he had declared of seeking out Oscar. She looked forward either to a speedy interview, or speedy intelligence of this beloved brother, as she knew Lord Mortimer would seek him with the persevering spirit of benevolence, and leave no means untried to restore him to her.

She now examined the contents of the pocket-book. It contained a number of small bills, to the amount of two hundred pounds,—a large present, but one so delicately presented, that even her ideas of propriety could scarcely raise a scruple against her accepting it. They did, however, suggest one. Uncertain how matters would yet terminate between her and Lord Mortimer, she was unwilling to receive pecuniary obligations from him. But when she reflected on his noble and feeling heart, she knew she should severely wound it by returning his present; she therefore resolved on keeping it, making a kind of compromise with her feelings about the matter, by determining that, except entitled to receive them, she would never more accept favors of this nature from his lordship. The present one, indeed, was a most seasonable relief, and removed from her heart a load of anxiety which had weighed on it. After paying her father’s funeral expenses, the people with whom he lodged, and the apothecary who had attended him, she found herself mistress of but twenty guineas in the whole world, and more than half of this she considered as already due to the benevolent[Pg 343] sisters of St. Catherine’s, who were ill able to afford any additional expense.

She had resolved to force them to accept, what indeed she deemed a poor return for their kindness to her, and she then intended to retire to some obscure hovel in the neighborhood, as better suited to the state of her finances, and continue there till her health was sufficiently restored to enable her to make exertions for her livelihood. But she shuddered at the idea of leaving St. Catherine’s and residing amongst a set of boors. She felt sensations something similar to those we may suppose a person would feel who was about being committed to a tempestuous ocean without any means of security.

Lord Mortimer had prevented the necessity which had prompted her to think of a removal, and she now resolved to reside, at least for the time he had mentioned, in the convent, during which she supposed her uncertainties relative to him would be over, and that, if it was not her fate to be his, she should, by the perfect re-establishment of her health, be enabled to use her abilities in the manner her situation required. Tears of heartfelt gratitude and sensibility flowed down her cheeks for him who had lightened her mind of the care which had so oppressed it.

She at length recollected the prioress had retired into the garden from complaisance to her, and yet continued in it, waiting no doubt to be summoned back to her. She hastily wiped away her tears, and folding up the precious letter which was bedewed with them, repaired to the garden, resolving not to communicate its contents, as the divulgement of expectations (considering how liable all human ones are to be disappointed) she ever considered a piece of folly.

She found the prioress and Sister Mary seated under a broken and ivy-covered arch. “Jesu! my dear,” said the latter, “I thought you would never come to us. Our good mother has been keeping me here in spite of my teeth, though I told her the sweet cakes I made for tea would be burned by this time, and that, supposing you were reading a letter from Lord Mortimer, there could be no harm in my seeing you.” Amanda relieved the impatient Mary, and she took her seat. The prioress cast her piercing eyes upon her. She perceived she had been weeping, and that joy rather than sorrow caused her tears. She was too delicate to inquire into its source; but she took Amanda’s hand, and gave it a pressure, which seemed to say, “I see, my dear child, you have met with something which pleases you, and my heart sympathizes as much in your happiness as in your grief.”

[Pg 344] Amanda returned the affectionate pressure with one equally tender and a starting tear. They were soon called by Sister Mary to partake of her hot cakes, which she had made indeed in hopes of tempting Amanda to eat after her bad dinner. The whole community were assembled at tea when the doctor entered the parlor. Amanda blushed and looked grave at his first entrance; but he soon rallied her out of her gravity. And when the prioress and the nuns, according to custom, had withdrawn to evening vespers, he said, with a significant smile, “he feared she had not attended as much as he wished she should to the contents of the book he had last brought her.” She saw by his manner he was acquainted with her situation relative to Lord Mortimer, and therefore replied by saying, “that perhaps, if he knew the motives which influenced her conduct, he would not think her wrong in disregarding what he had just mentioned.” She also said, “she detested all kinds of stratagem, and was really displeased with him for practising one upon her.” “In a good cause,” he said, “he should never hesitate using one. Lord Mortimer was the finest young fellow he had ever seen, and had won his favor, and the best wishes of his heart, from the first moment that he beheld him. He made me contrive,” continued the doctor, “a story to gain admission to your ladyship, and when I found him so dreadfully anxious about you, I gave you credit (as I had then no opportunity of judging for myself) for all the virtues and graces he ascribed to you, and which I have since perceived you to possess. You smile, and look as if you would call me a flatterer; seriously, I assure you I am not one. I really think you worthy of Lord Mortimer, and I assure you that is as great a compliment as could be paid any woman. His mind was troubled with grief; he revealed his troubles and perplexities to me, and after hearing them, no good Christian ever prayed more devoutly for another than I prayed for your recovery, that all your sorrows, like a novel, might terminate in marriage.” “You are obliging in your wishes,” said Amanda, smiling. “Faith, I am sincere in them,” exclaimed he, “and do not know when I have been so disconcerted as at things not turning out smoothly between you and his lordship; but I will not despair. In all my troubles, and Heaven has given me my share, I ever looked to the bright side of things, and shall always do so for my friends. I yet expect to see you settled at Castle Carberry, and to be appointed myself physician-general to your ladyship’s household.” The mention of an event yet so uncertain greatly agitated Amanda; she blushed and turned pale alternately, and[Pg 345] convinced her good-natured but loquacious friend, he had touched a chord which could not bear vibration. He hastily changed the discourse, and as soon as he saw her composed, rose to take his leave. Amanda detained him for a minute, to try and prevail on him to take a ten-guinea note; but he was inflexible, and said with some archness, “till the disorder which preyed upon Lord Mortimer’s heart was in some degree alleviated, he would receive no recompense for his visits, which he assured Amanda, from time to time, he would continue to pay her, adding, a certain person had enjoined him now and then to take a peep within the holy walls of St. Catherine’s.”

The next morning Amanda set about a temporary arrangement of her affairs. She presented thirty guineas to the sisterhood, which, with much difficulty, she forced them to accept, though, in reality, it was much required by them. But when she came to speak of paying for a continuance, they positively declared they would agree to no such thing, as she had already so liberally rewarded them for any expense they had incurred on her account. She told them that if they would not agree to be paid for lodging and board, she would certainly leave them, though such a step was contrary to her inclinations; she assured them also she was at present well able to pay.

At last it was settled she should give them at the rate of forty pounds a-year—a salary they thought extremely ample, considering the plain manner in which they lived. She then had all the things which belonged to her father and herself brought to the convent, and had the former, with whatever she did not immediately want, nailed up in a large chest, that on a short notice they might be removed. Her harp and guitar she had, in her distress, proposed sending back to the person in Dublin from whom they were purchased, to sell for her; but she now determined to keep those presents of her beloved father, except again urged by necessity to part with them. She had a variety of materials for painting and working, and proposed employing herself in executing pieces in each way, not only as a means of amusing her time, but as a resource on an evil day; thus wisely making use of the present sunshine, lest another storm should arise which she should not be so well able to struggle against.


[Pg 346]

CHAPTER XXXVII.

“In struggling with misfortunes Lies the proof of virtue,”—Shakspeare.

The turbulence of grief, and the agitation of suspense, gradually lessened in the mind of Amanda, and were succeeded by a soft and pleasing melancholy, which sprang from the consciousness of having always, to the best of her abilities, performed the duties imposed upon her, and supported her misfortunes with placid resignation. She loved to think on her father, for amidst her sighs for his loss were mingled the delightful ideas of having ever been a source of comfort to him, and she believed, if departed spirits were allowed to review this world, his would look down upon her with delight and approbation at beholding her undeviating in the path he had marked out for her to take. The calm derived from such meditations she considered as a recompense for many sorrows; it was such, indeed, as nothing earthly gives, or can destroy, and what the good must experience, though “amidst the wreck of matter and the crush of worlds.”

She tried to prevent her thoughts from wandering to Lord Mortimer, as the surest means of retaining her composure, which fled whenever she reflected on the doubtful balance in which her fate yet hung concerning him.

The solitude of St. Catherine’s was well adapted to her present situation and frame of mind. She was neither teased with impertinent or unmeaning ceremony, but perfect mistress of her own time and actions, read, worked, and walked, as most agreeable to herself. She did not extend her walks beyond the convent, as the scenes around it would awaken remembrances she had not sufficient fortitude to bear; but the space it covered was ample enough to afford her many different and extensive rambles. And of a still evening, when nothing but the lowing of the cattle, or the buzzing of the summer flies, was to be heard, she loved to wander through the solemn and romantic ruins, sometimes accompanied by a nun, but much oftener alone.

A fortnight had elapsed in this manner since Lord Mortimer’s departure, when, one morning, a carriage was heard driving across the common and stopping at the outer gate of[Pg 347] St. Catherine’s. Amanda, who was sitting at work in the parlor with the prioress, started in a universal trepidation at the sound. It may be easily imagined the idea of Lord Mortimer was uppermost in her thoughts. The door opened in a few minutes, and, to her great astonishment, Mrs. Kilcorban and her two daughters made their appearance.

Agitation and surprise prevented Amanda from speaking; she curtseyed, and motioned them to be seated. The young ladies saluted her with an icy civility, and the mother treated her with a rude familiarity, which she thought herself authorized in using to one so reduced in circumstances as Amanda. “Dear me,” cried she, “you can’t think, child, how shocked we have all been to hear of your misfortunes. We only returned to the country yesterday, for we have been in town the whole winter, and to be sure a most delightful winter we have had of it—such balls, such routs, such racketings; but, as I was going to say, as soon as we came home I began, according to my old custom, to inquire after all my neighbors; and to be sure the very first thing I heard of was the poor captain’s death. Don’t cry, my dear, we must all go one time or another; those are things, of course, as the doctor says in his sermon; so, when I heard of your father’s death and your distress, I began to cast about in my brains some plan for helping you; and at last I hit upon one which, says I to the girls, will delight the poor soul, as it will give her an opportunity of earning decent bread for herself. You must know, my dear, the tutoress we brought to town would not come back with us—a dirty trollop, by the bye, and I think her place would be quite the thing for you. You will have the four young girls to learn French and work too, and I will expect you, as you have a good taste, to assist the eldest Miss Kilcorbans in making up their things and dressing. I give twenty guineas a-year. When we have no company, the tutoress always sits at the table, and gets, besides this, the best of treatment in every respect.”

A blush of indignation had gradually conquered Amanda’s paleness during Mrs. Kilcorban’s long and eloquent speech. “Your intentions may be friendly, madam,” cried she, “but I must decline your proposal.” “Bless me, and why must you decline it? perhaps you think yourself not qualified to instruct; indeed, this may be the case, for people often get credit for accomplishments they do not possess. Well, if this is so, I am still content to take you, as you were always a decent behaved young body. Indeed, you cannot expect I should give you twenty guineas a-year. No, no, I must make some abatement[Pg 348] in the salary, if I am forced to get masters to help you in learning the girls.” “Miss Fitzalan, madam,” exclaimed the prioress, who had hitherto continued silent, “never got credit for accomplishments which she did not possess; her modesty has rather obscured than blazoned forth her perfections; she does not, therefore, madam, decline your offer from a consciousness of inability to undertake the office of an instructor, but from a conviction she never could support impertinence and folly; should her situation ever require her to exert her talents for subsistence, I trust she will never experience the mortification of associating with those who are insensible of her worth, or unwilling to pay her the respect she merits.” “Hoity, toity,” cried Mrs. Kilcorban, “what assurance! Why, madam, many a better man’s child would be glad to jump at such an offer.” “Dear madam,” said Miss Kilcorban, “perhaps the young lady has a better settlement in view. We forget Lord Mortimer has been lately at Castle Carberry, and we all know his lordship is a friend to Captain Fitzalan’s daughter.” “Or perhaps,” cried Miss Alicia, in a giggling tone, “she means to be a nun.” “Indeed, I suppose she means to be nothing good,” rejoined Mrs. Kilcorban; “and I suppose it was by some impertinence or other she had a tiff with Lady Greystock. Lord! (looking round the room), only see her music-books—her harp—her guitar—as if she had nothing to do but sing and thrum away the whole day. Well, miss (rising from her chair), you may yet be sorry your friend said so much about you. I did not come merely to offer to take you into my house, but to offer you also a good sum for your harp and guitar, supposing you had no business with such things nowadays; but I dare say you would have refused this offer.” “I certainly should, madam,” said Amanda; “it must be strong necessity which compels me to part with my beloved father’s presents.” “Well, well, child, I wish this pride of thine may not yet be humbled.” So saying, she flounced out of the room, followed by her daughters, who, under an affectation of contempt, evidently showed they were chagrined by the reception they had met.

The prioress indulged herself in a long fit of laughter at the passion into which she had thrown Mrs. Kilcorban; and Amanda, who considered the lady and her daughters as the most insignificant of beings, soon recovered from the discomposure their visit had occasioned. In the course of the evening a letter was delivered her by the servant, who said the messenger who brought it waited for an answer. Amanda, in a universal trepidation, broke the seal; but, instead of Lord[Pg 349] Mortimer’s as she expected, a hand, to her entirely new, struck her view:—

TO MISS FITZALAN.

My dear Creature,—I think I never was so diverted in my life as at the account my mother and sisters gave of the reception they met with from you to-day at St. Catherine’s. I vow to God it was excellent. Nor can I help still wondering at their absurdity, in thinking such a devilish fine girl as you are would sacrifice your time in instructing a parcel of chits, when it can be devoted to so much better a purpose! To be brief, my dear girl, I will take you immediately under my protection, if not your own fault, bring you to Dublin, settle you in elegant lodgings with a handsome allowance, and not only make you, but declare you to be, the grand Sultana of my affection; a situation which, I can assure you, you will not be a little envied enjoying. In your answer to this, I shall expect to hear when I may have the felicity of bringing you from obscurity, to the brilliant scene you were formed to ornament. Adieu, my dear. Believe me your devoted,

B. Kilcorban.

The indignation which filled Amanda’s breast at reading this scrawl cannot be expressed. Her blood seemed to boil in her veins. It was some time ere she could sufficiently compose herself to acquaint the prioress with the cause of her agitation. It was then agreed that the letter should be returned with the following lines written on it:—

The author of this effusion of ignorance and impertinence has already inspired all the contempt he merits. Should he repeat his insolence, something even more mortifying than contempt—chastisement—must ensue.

That a repetition of this kind would be the case, she did not believe. From Kilcorban she had no reason to suspect either the perseverance or designs of Belgrave. One was a libertine from principle, the other she believed from fashion; and that to pique his pride would be a sure method of getting rid of him.

But the calm she had for some time experienced was destined to be interrupted. The next morning brought Father O’Gallaghan, the little fat priest (of whom we have made mention before in our pages), to the convent. He was not the officiating priest; but notwithstanding this, paid many visits to the sisterhood, with whom he was a great favorite; he had been much concerned about Amanda’s illness. She was sitting alone in the parlor, drawing, when he entered it. He seated himself by her, and the expression of his countenance seemed to declare his heart was brimful of something pleasant.

“You won’t be offended now, my dear sowl,” said he, smirking up in her face, “with a body for asking you how you[Pg 350] would like to leave this dismal solitude and have a comfortable home of your own, where you might see your own friends, and have everything warm and cosy about you?” “Why,” said Amanda, “though I do not consider this a dismal solitude, yet, to be sure, I should have no objection to a pleasant settled habitation.” “Ay, I always thought you a sensible young body. Well, and what would you say to the person then who could point out such a habitation? Ay, you little rogue, who could say they had just such a one in their eye for you.” Amanda stared at him with astonishment. She had at first believed him jesting, but now found him serious.

“Ay, faith, my dear creature,” cried he, continuing his discourse with a look of the most perfect satisfaction, “I have an offer to make you, which, I believe, would make many girls jump out of their skins with joy to hear. You remember the O’Flannaghans, I am sure, where you took tea last summer. Well, the eldest of the sons (as honest a lad as ever broke bread) cast a sheep’s eye upon you then. But what with your going from the country, and some other matters, he thought there was no use then in revealing his flame; but now, when you are come plump in his way again, faith he plucked up his courage, and told his father all about it. Old Flannaghan is a good-natured sowl, and is very willing the match should take place. They have everything snug about them. The old man will give everything into your spouse’s hands. The youngest son will live in the house till he gets married, and goes off to a farm of his own. The eldest daughter is married; the second will live with her, and the youngest will be a little handy assistant to you. So you see, you will not be tormented with a large family. There is one little matter which, to be sure, they are a little uneasy about, and that is your being of different persuasions; but says I to them, when this was started, faith, says I, you need not give yourself any trouble about it, for I know the young woman to be a discreet sowl, and I am sure she will make no hesitation about going to chapel instead of church, when she knows, too, it is for her own interest. So, my dear sowl, I hope soon to give you the nuptial benediction, and to be also your spiritual director.”

Amanda had listened to this speech in silent amazement. She now rose, and would have quitted the room without speaking, to evince her contempt, had not an idea darted into her mind that such conduct perhaps might not be construed by the ignorant priest in the manner she wished. She therefore stopped, and turning to him said; “He could not wonder at[Pg 351] her being offended at his pretending to answer so freely for her in matters so important as religion; but to prove how presumptuous he was in everything he said about her, she must assure him his embassy to her was equally fruitless and disagreeable; and that if Mr. O’Flannaghan consulted his own happiness, he would seek to unite himself with a woman brought up in his own sphere of life.” So saying, she quitted the room with a look of dignity which quite confounded the poor priest, who snatched up his hat in a great hurry, and waddled away to the farm, to communicate the ill-success of his visit, which had quite crushed his expectations of wedding presents and pudding feasts, which he had contemplated in idea with delight.

It was some time ere Amanda recovered from the discomposure into which the impertinence of the Kilcorbans and the priest had thrown her. From what she suffered in consequence of it, she was forcibly convinced how ill-qualified she was to struggle with a world where she would be continually liable to such shocks. She had yet a hope of escaping them—a hope of being guarded by the tutelary care of Lord Mortimer, and of being one of the happiest of her sex.


CHAPTER XXXVIII.

“Lo! I am here to answer to your vows, And be the meeting fortunate! I come With joyful tidings; we shall part no more.”—Akenside.

But a shock more severe than those she had lately experienced was yet in store for our hapless heroine. About a fortnight after the visit of the Kilcorbans and the priest, as she was rambling one evening according to custom amongst the solitary ruins of St. Catherine’s, indulging the pensive meditations of her soul, the figure of a man suddenly darted from under a broken arch, and discovered to her view the features of the hated Belgrave. Amanda gave a faint cry, and in unutterable dismay tottered back a few paces against a wall. “Cruel Amanda!” exclaimed Belgrave, while his look seemed to imply he would take advantage of her situation. His look, his voice, operated like a charm to rouse her from the kind of stupefaction into which she had fallen at first sight of him, and as he attempted to lay hold of her she sprang past him, and,[Pg 352] with a swiftness which mocked his speed, flew through the intricate windings of the place till she reached the convent. Her pale and distracted look, as she rushed into the prioress’s apartment, terrified the good old lady, who hastily interrogated her as to the cause of her disorder; but Amanda was unable to speak. The appearance of Belgrave she thought an omen of every ill to her. Her blood ran cold through her veins at his sight, and terror totally subdued her powers. The prioress summoned Sister Mary to her relief; drops and water were administered, and the overloaded heart of the trembling Amanda was relieved by tears. The prioress again asked the cause of her agitation, but perceiving Amanda did not like to speak before Sister Mary, she immediately pretended to think it proceeded from fatigue, and Mary, who was simplicity itself, readily credited the idea. The prioress soon sent her upon some pretext from the room, and then, in the gentlest terms, begged to know what had so cruelly alarmed her young friend. Amanda had already confided to the prioress the events of her life, so that the good lady, on hearing Belgrave now mentioned, no longer wondered at the agitation of Amanda; yet, as her fears she saw were too powerful for her reason, she endeavored to convince her they were unnecessary. She called to her remembrance the singular protection she had already experienced from Heaven, and the protection which, while she was innocent, she would still have a right to expect. She also mentioned the security of her present situation—encompassed by friends whose integrity could not be warped, and whose utmost zeal would be manifested in defeating any stratagems which might be laid against her.

Amanda grew composed as she listened to the prioress. She was cheered by the voice of piety and friendship, and her heart again felt firm and elevated. She acknowledged that after the singular, nay, almost miraculous interpositions of Providence she had experienced in her favor, to give way to terror or despair was sinful, since it showed a distrust of the Power who has promised with guardian care to watch the footsteps of the innocent. It was, however, agreed that Amanda should venture no more from the convent, but confine her rambles to the garden, which was enclosed with a high wall, and had no places of concealment. Five weeks yet remained of the period Lord Mortimer had requested her to stay at St. Catherine’s. Before it was expired she trusted and believed Belgrave would be weary of watching her, and would decamp; if, then, she neither saw nor heard from Lord Mortimer, she resolved to[Pg 353] relinquish all hope concerning him, and immediately think upon some plan which should put her in a way of procuring subsistence.

Her paintings and embroidery still went on. She had executed some elegant pictures in both, which, if obliged to dispose of, she was sure would bring a good price; yet, whenever compelled by reflection to this idea, the tear of tender melancholy would fall upon her lovely cheek—a tear which was ever hastily wiped away, while she endeavored to fortify her mind with pious resignation to whatever should be her future fate.

Three weeks more elapsed without any event to discompose their tranquillity; but as the termination of the destined period approached, the agitation of Amanda, in spite of all her efforts to the contrary, increased. She deemed the awful crisis of her fate at hand, and she trembled at the reflection. She now for the first time avoided solitude. She wanted to fly from herself, and sat constantly with the prioress, who had nothing of the gloomy recluse, save the habit, about her.

They were chatting together one evening after tea when Sister Mary entered the room, bearing a large packet, which she rather tossed than presented to Amanda, exclaiming, “From Lord Mortimer; I wish the troublesome fellow had not come back again; here we shall have him frisking or storming continually, and again plaguing us out of our lives.” “From Lord Mortimer!” exclaimed Amanda, starting from her chair, and clasping the letter between her hands, “Oh, gracious Heaven!” She said no more, but flew from the room to her chamber. She tore open the seal. The envelope contained two letters. The first was directed in a hand unknown to her. Her heart sickened as she dropped it on the ground. The other was the superscription of Lord Mortimer. She opened it with revived spirits, and read a follows:—

TO MISS FITZALAN.

I am returned—returned to tell my Amanda that nothing but the awful fiat of Heaven shall part us more. Yes, my love, a sweet reward for all our difficulties, our trials—let me add, our persevering constancy—is at hand; and one name, one interest, one fate, I trust, will soon be ours.

Tears of joy gushed from Amanda as she exclaimed, “Can this, can this be true? Is Lord Mortimer, so long, so hopelessly beloved, indeed returned to tell me we shall part no more? ’Tis true, ’tis true, and never can my grateful heart sufficiently acknowledge the goodness it experiences; but how[Pg 354] was this event brought about?” She wiped away her tears, and resumed the letter.

Your solemn refusal to unite yourself to me threw me into agonies; but true love, like true courage, will never despair, will never yield to difficulties, without first trying every effort to conquer them. I soon, therefore, roused myself from the heavy weight which oppressed my spirits at your resolution, and ere long conceived a project so feasible, so almost certain of success, that my impatience to realize it cannot be described; yet you may conceive some idea of it from the abrupt manner in which I quitted Castle Carberry, without desiring to bid you adieu; but ere it could be accomplished I plainly saw I had many difficulties to encounter, difficulties which it was absolutely essential to overcome, that I might prove to the world I was not the dupe of love, but the friend, the lover, and the vindicator of real innocence and virtue. From what I have said, you may suppose the difficulties I allude to were such as I expected to encounter in my attempt to unravel the whole of the deep and execrable plot which involved you in a situation so distressing to your feelings, and injurious to your character; and, oh! with what mingled pride and pleasure did I meditate on being your champion, clearing your fame from each dark aspersion, and proving, clearly proving, that your mind was as lovely, as angelic, as your person!

I was happy, on my arrival in London, to find Lady Martha Dormer still at Lord Cherbury’s house. I have already told you that I left town on pretence of a visit to my sister, in Wales. My father, I soon perceived, suspected that had not been the real motive of my departure: but I also perceived he did not desire to reveal his suspicions, as he asked some questions concerning Lady Araminta, which, you may be sure, I answered awkwardly enough, and, had a comic writer been present, he might have taken the hint of a good blundering scene from us both.

The Marquis of Roslin and his family, I learned, continued at his villa. Their absence from town rejoiced me, as it not only exempted me from society I abhorred, but, as it gave me an opportunity of interrogating their household, amongst whom, I was convinced, I should discover the trusty agents the amiable marchioness had made use of in her scheme against you. The morning after my arrival, I accordingly set off to Portman Square. The man who opened the door knew me not, which I considered a lucky circumstance, for, not being able to mention my name to the housekeeper, whom I desired him to send to me, she was not as much on her guard as she would otherwise have been. She started as she entered the parlor, and lifted up her hands and eyes with unfeigned astonishment. Soon, however, recovering herself, she addressed me in the most obsequious manner, and spoke as if she supposed I was come purposely to inquire after her lord and lady, an artful way of trying to terminate her own suspense by learning the nature of my visit. I soon gave her to understand it was not of the most amicable kind to her. I came, I said, to demand either the letter, or an account of the letter, which I had intrusted to her care for Miss Fitzalan, which contained a note of large value, and which, I found, had never been received by that young lady. Her countenance in a moment condemned her—it spoke stronger than a thousand tongues against her. She first grew deadly pale, then fiery red; trembled, faltered, and hung her head, to avoid my eyes. Her looks, I told her, confirmed the suspicions I was forced to entertain of her integrity, yet, shocking as the action was which she had committed, being not only a breach of trust, but humanity, I was willing to come to an easy and private accommodation about it, provided she would truly and fully confess the part she had taken, or knew others to have taken,[Pg 355] in injuring Miss Fitzalan, while she resided in the marquis’s house, by bringing Colonel Belgrave into it. I paused for her reply. She appeared as if considering how she should act. I thought I saw something yielding in her face, and, eager to take advantage of it, I proceeded: “What I have already said I am going again to repeat, that is, if you confess all you know relative to the plot which was contrived, and carried into execution, in this house, against Miss Fitzalan, I will settle everything relative to the letter and its contents in a manner pleasing to you. Her innocence is unquestioned by me; but it is essential to her peace that it should also be so to the rest of her friends, and they who regard her welfare will liberally reward those whose allegations shall justify her.”

Upon this she turned to me, with a countenance of the utmost effrontery, and said she would not tell a lie to please any one. I will not shock you by repeating all she said. She ended, by saying, as to the letter she set me at defiance; true, I had given her one for Miss Fitzalan, but I might remember Miss Fitzalan was in a fit on the ground at the time, and she had called in other servants to her assistance, she said, and in the hurry and bustle which ensued, she knew not what became of it; others might as well be called upon as her. I could no longer command my temper. I told her she was a wretch, and only fit for the diabolical service in which she was employed. The note, which I enclosed in the letter I had given her for you, I had received from my father’s agent in the country: as a post-note I had endorsed it, and taken the number in my pocket-book. I therefore left Portman Square, with a resolution of going to the bank, and, if not already received, stopping payment. I stepped into the first hackney-coach I met, and had the satisfaction of finding it had not been offered at the bank. I suspected she would be glad to exchange it for cash as soon as possible, and therefore left my direction, as well as a request for the detention of any person who should present it.

In consequence of this, a clerk came the following morning to inform me a woman had presented the note at the bank, and was, agreeably to my request, detained till I appeared. I immediately returned with him, and had the satisfaction of seeing the housekeeper caught in the snare. She burst into tears at my appearance, and coming up to me, in a low voice said, "If I would have mercy upon her, she would in return make a full confession of all she knew about the affair I had mentioned to her yesterday.” I told her, though she deserved no mercy, yet, as I had promised on such condition to show her lenity, I would not violate my word. I received the note, sent for a coach, and handing the lady into it, soon conveyed her to Portman Square. She no sooner entered the parlor than she fell on her knees and besought my forgiveness. I bade her rise, and lose no time in revealing all she knew concerning the scheme against you. She then confessed that both she and Mrs. Jane, the attendant who had been placed about your person, were acquainted and concerned in all the contrivances the marchioness had laid against you, who scrupled not in acknowledging to them the inveterate hatred she bore you. Their scruples—for they pretended to have some in abetting her schemes—were overruled, by knowing how much it was in her power to injure them in any future establishment, had they disobliged her, and by her liberal promises of reward, which the housekeeper added she had never kept. But this brief and uncircumstantial account was by no means satisfactory to me. I called for materials for writing, and insisted she should, to the best of her recollection, relate every word or circumstance which had ever passed between her and the marchioness and their other associates relative to you. She hesitated at this. On those terms only I said I would grant her my forgiveness; and by her complying with them, not[Pg 356] only that, but a liberal recompense should be hers. This last promise had the desired effect. She laid open, indeed, a scene of complicated iniquity; related the manner in which Colonel Belgrave was brought into the house by her and Mrs. Jane; how they had stationed themselves in a place of concealment to listen, by which means they knew what passed between you, which she now, in almost the very same words you made use of, repeated to me. As she spoke I wrote it, and made her sign the paper under a paragraph, purporting that it was a true confession of the part she had taken, and knew others to have taken, in attempting to injure Miss Fitzalan.

I now mentioned Mrs. Jane, whose evidence I wished for to corroborate hers. This she assured me I might procure by promising a reward, as Mrs. Jane was much dissatisfied with the marchioness and Lady Euphrasia, neither of whom had recompensed her as she expected for her faithful services to them. She was now at the villa; but the housekeeper added that she would strike out some expedient to bring her to town in the course of the week, and would inform me immediately of her arrival. I told her the affair of the note should be no more mentioned, and gave a bill for fifty pounds, as the reward I had promised, and she eagerly expected. I told her she might promise a similar one in my name to Mrs. Jane, provided she also told truth. I also told her I would take care she should suffer no distress by quitting the marquis’s family, which she lamented would be the consequence of what she had done.

Mrs. Jane did not come to town as soon as I expected. But on receiving a summons to inform me of her arrival, I hastened to the house like an inquisitor-general with my scroll, prepared to take the confession of the fair culprit, which exactly corresponded with the housekeeper’s, and I had the felicity of seeing her subscribe her name to it. I gave her the promised recompense most cheerfully, as I had not half so much trouble in making her tell truth as I had with the housekeeper. Mrs. Jennings, your old landlady, and Lady Greystock’s faithful friend, was the next and last person whose malice I wanted to refute. I made my servant inquire her character in the neighborhood, and learned it was considered a very suspicious one. I went to her one morning in my carriage, well knowing that the appearance of rank and splendor would have greater weight in influencing a being like her to justice than any plea of conscience. She appeared lost in astonishment and confusion at my visit, and I saw waited with trembling expectation to have the reason of it revealed. I kept her not long in suspense; I was the friend, I told her, of a young lady, whose character she had vilely and falsely aspersed. Her conscience, I believed, would whisper to her heart the name of this lady, and send its crimson current to her face at the mention of Miss Fitzalan.

The wretch seemed ready to sink to the earth. I repeated to her all she had said concerning you to Lady Greystock. I told her of the consequences of defamation, and declared she might expect the utmost rigor of the law, except she confessed her assertions were infamous falsehoods, and the motives which instigated her to them. She trembled with terror, and supplicated mercy. I desired her to deserve it by her confession. She then acknowledged she had grossly and cruelly wronged you by what she had said to Lady Greystock, and that she had many opportunities of being convinced, while you resided in her house, that your virtue and innocence were of the purest nature; but that she was provoked to speak maliciously against you from resentment at losing all the rich gifts Colonel Belgrave had promised her if she brought you to comply with his wishes. She related all the stratagems they had mutually concerted for your destruction, and she brought me some letters which I have kept, from him to you, and which she pretended[Pg 357] you had received, lest she should lose the money he always gave when she was successful in delivering one. I bid her beware how she ever attempted to vilify innocence, lest the friends of those at whom she levelled the arrows of defamation should not be as merciful to her as Miss Fitzalan’s had been; and was the tale of the slanderer thus ever to be minutely investigated, the evil might die away by degrees, and many hapless victims escape, who are daily sacrificed to malice, revenge, or envy.

Oh! my Amanda, I cannot express the transports I felt when I found the difficulties, which I dreaded as intervening between me and happiness, thus removed. I felt myself the happiest of men; my heart acknowledged your worth, I was convinced of your love, and in my hands I held the refutation of falsehood, and the confirmation of your innocence.

The period for mentioning my project was now arrived. I desired, the morning after my visit to Mrs. Jennings, to be indulged in a tete-à-tete in Lady Martha’s dressing-room. I believed she half guessed what the subject of it would be; she saw by my countenance there was joyful news at hand. I shall not recapitulate our conversation; suffice it to say, that her excellent feeling heart participated largely in my satisfaction; it did more than participate, it wished to increase it, and ere I could mention my project, she declared my Amanda should henceforth be considered as her adopted daughter, and should from her receive such a fortune as such a title claimed. Yes, my Amanda, the fortune she ever destined for me, she said she should now consecrate to the purpose of procuring me a treasure the most valuable Heaven could bestow;—the richest—the most valuable indeed—a treasure dearer, far dearer to my soul for all the dangers it has encountered. I fell at Lady Martha’s feet in a transport of gratitude, and acknowledged that she had anticipated what I was going to say, as I had been determined to throw myself on her generosity from the time I was convinced of your inflexible resolution, not to unite yourself to me without you brought a fortune.

It was now agreed we should keep Lord Cherbury a little longer ignorant of our intentions. We proposed taking the marchioness and Lady Euphrasia by surprise, and hoped, by so doing, to be able to remove from his eyes the mist which partially had hitherto spread before them, to obscure the defects of the above-mentioned ladies.

He had hinted more than once his wishes for my paying my compliments at the marquis’s villa. I now proposed going thither myself the ensuing day. He looked equally surprised and pleased at this proposal: Lady Martha agreed to accompany me, and his lordship, you may be sure, determined to be one of the party, that he might supply the deficiencies of his son, which he had heretofore found pretty manifest in such society.

We had the happiness to find all the family at home when we reached the villa. The ladies all expressed themselves delighted at my unexpected appearance, and quite charmed by my recovered looks. The marquis, with his usual sang froid, declared himself glad to see me. Ye smiling deceivers, I cried to myself, as I surveyed the marchioness and Lady Euphrasia, your triumph over innocence and beauty will soon be over. After passing half an hour in uninteresting chitchat, I took the opportunity of one of those pauses in conversation, which so frequently happen, to commence my attack. It would be as painful to you as to me to recapitulate all which ensued in consequence of it. Rage, guilt, and confusion, were conspicuous in the marchioness and Lady Euphrasia. The marquis and Lady Greystock looked with astonishment, and my father seemed overwhelmed with surprise and consternation.

I said (addressing the marchioness), I now trusted the resentment her[Pg 358] ladyship had entertained against her unoffending niece was sufficiently appeased by what she had made her suffer, and that she would rather rejoice than regret the opportunity which presented itself of vindicating her fame. I wished, I said, as much as possible, to spare her ladyship’s feelings, and provided she would clear Miss Fitzalan from the obloquy which the transactions in her house cast upon her, I was willing to conceal the share her ladyship had in them.

In a voice of smothered rage, and with a look into which she threw as much contempt as possible, she replied, “She thanked me for the attention I professed myself inclined to pay her feelings; but she fancied I had overlooked all inclination of this kind when I undertook to bribe her servants to asperse her character, that Miss Fitzalan’s might be cleared. She was sorry,” she said, “to find I could be capable of such complicated baseness and weakness. Miss Fitzalan, she perceived, had made me her dupe again; but this was not surprising, as she was the professed pupil of art. Too late I should behold her in her native colors, and find the disgrace, which, by artifice, I now attempted to remove from her character, thrown back upon her, perhaps, to overwhelm me also by its weight.”

“She has infatuated him,” said Lord Cherbury; “she will be the bane of his life, the destruction of my hopes.” “Not Miss Fitzalan,” cried I, assuming as much coolness as possible, though, like the marchioness, I found it a difficult task; “not Miss Fitzalan, but the enemies of Miss Fitzalan deceived me. I own I was the dupe of the scheme contrived against her. Anything so horrid, so monstrous, so execrable, I did not think could have entered into the minds of those who were bound by the united ties of kindred and hospitality to protect her, and I rather believed I owed my misery to the frailty than to the turpitude of human nature.” “You see, my lord,” exclaimed the marchioness, turning to Lord Cherbury, “Lord Mortimer acknowledges his passion for this wretched girl.” “I do,” cried I, “I glory in confessing it. In loving Miss Fitzalan, I love virtue itself. In acknowledging a passion for her, I violate no faith, I break no engagement; my heart ever resisted entering into any which it could not fulfil.” “Unfortunate prepossession,” said Lord Cherbury, sternly. “But why, why, when you believed her guilty, were you so infatuated as to follow her to Ireland? Why not calmly resign her to the infamy she merited?” “I followed her my lord,” I replied, “in hope to withdraw her from her seducer’s arms, and place her in her father’s. I hoped, I trusted, I should be able also to alleviate the bitter destiny of poor Fitzalan. Alas! not in the arms of a gay, successful seducer, but apparently in the arms of death, did I find Amanda. I saw her at the solemn hour which consigned her parent to his grave, and to have doubted her protestations of innocence then would have been almost impious. Gracious Heaven! how impossible to disbelieve her truth at the very moment her gentle spirit seemed about to take its flight to heaven! From that period she has stood acquitted in my mind, and from that period I determined to develop, to the utmost of my power, the machinations which had made me doubt her innocence. My success in their development has been beyond my expectations; but Providence is on the side of suffering virtue, and assists those who stand up in its support.” Contrary to my first intention, my dear Amanda, I have given you a sketch of part of our conversation. For the remainder, it shall suffice to say, that the marchioness persevered in declaring I had bribed her servants to blacken her character, in order to clear Miss Fitzalan’s, an attempt, she repeatedly assured me, I would find unsuccessful.

The marquis talked in high terms of the dignity of his house, and how impossible it was the marchioness should ever have disgraced it by such[Pg 359] actions as I accused her of committing. I answered him in a manner equally warm, that my accusations were too well grounded and supported to dread refutation. That it was not only due to injured innocence, but essential to my own honor, which would soon be materially concerned in whatever related to Miss Fitzalan, to have those accusations made public, if her ladyship refused to contradict the aspersions which might be thrown upon Miss Fitzalan, in consequence of the scene which passed at his lordship’s house.

This the marchioness, with mingled rage and contempt, refused doing, and Lady Euphrasia, after the hint I gave of soon being united to you, left the room in convulsive agitation.

Lord Cherbury, I perceived, suspected foul play, by some speeches which dropped from him, such as, if there had been any misunderstanding between her ladyship and Miss Fitzalan, it was better surely to have it done away, or certainly, if any mistake was proved relative to the affair which happened in her ladyship’s house, it was but justice to the young lady to have it cleared up.

Yet, notwithstanding the interest he felt in the cause of suffering innocence, it was obvious to me that he dreaded a rupture with the marquis’s family, and appeared shocked at the unequivocal declaration I had made of never being allied to it.

Lady Martha Dormer took up the cause. The testimony Lord Mortimer had received, she said, of Miss Fitzalan’s innocence was incontrovertible, and exempted him alike from being stigmatized either as the dupe of art or love. Humanity, she was convinced, exclusive of every warmer feeling, would have influenced him to have undertaken Miss Fitzalan’s cause; it was the cause of innocence and virtue—a cause in which every detester of scandal and treachery should join, since not only the defenceless orphan, but the protected child of rank and prosperity, was vulnerable to their shafts.

I again repeated the evidence of her servants, and the refutation of Mrs. Jennings to her former story. I produced, to strengthen it, the unopened letters of Colonel Belgrave—thus continuing to put proof upon proof of your innocence, as Sancho Panza says, upon the shoulders of demonstration.

The passions of the marchioness rose at last to frantic violence. She persisted in alleging her integrity, and vilifying yours; but with a countenance so legibly impressed with guilt and confusion, that a doubt of her falsehood could not be entertained even by those who wished to doubt it.

The scene of violence we now became witness to was painful to me, and shocking to Lady Martha. I therefore ordered the horses immediately to her ladyship’s chariot, in which, accompanied by me, she had preceded Lord Cherbury’s coach, from the idea that our continuance at the villa might not be quite so long as his lordship’s.

As we expected, his lordship stayed behind, with the hope, I perceived, of being able to calm the perturbations of the marchioness, and lessen the breach between us. He returned the next day to town. I have so long dwelt upon disagreeable scenes, that to go over any others would be dreadful; nor should I hint to you that I had such scenes to encounter, was it not to excuse and account to you for my absence from Castle Carberry. Our difficulties (you see I already unite your interests with mine) began to decrease, and are at last happily overcome. Lady Martha made me write her intentions relative to you, and his lordship was quite satisfied with them. He authorizes me to assure you he longs to receive you into his family, at once a boast and acquisition to it, and he says, he shall consider[Pg 360] himself under obligations to you, if you hasten, as much as possible, the period of becoming one of its members, thus giving him an opportunity of making early amends, by attention to the daughter, for the injustice he did the father.

Lady Martha Dormer’s intentions I have only hinted to you; in the letter, which I have the pleasure of enclosing, she is more explicit concerning them. I have given you this long narrative on paper, that when we meet our conversation may be unembittered by any painful retrospect, and that we may enjoy uninterrupted the bright prospect which now lies before us.

But ere I close my letter, I must inform you that, knowing you could never be selfishly wrapped up in your own enjoyments, I made every possible inquiry relative to your brother, and was at length referred by the agent of his late regiment to an officer in it; with some difficulty I found he had quitted his quarters on leave of absence. I wrote immediately to his family residence, and after waiting long and impatiently for an answer to my letter, I dispatched a special messenger to learn whether he was there or not. The courier returned with a polite note from the officer’s father, informing me his son was gone on an excursion of pleasure with some friends, and that if he knew where to find him, he would have transmitted my letter, which I might depend on being answered the moment he returned. I have no doubt but we shall receive intelligence from him concerning Mr. Fitzalan. It shall then be our business, if his situation is not already pleasing, to change it, or render it as much so as possible to him. Keep up your spirits, therefore, about him, for by the time we arrive in England I expect a letter from his friend, and let me not be any more pained by seeing your countenance clouded with care or anxiety. As a reward for reining in my impatience to see you this evening, be propitious to my request for early admission to-morrow. If charitable, you will allow me to breakfast with you, for I shall take none except with you; and without an express command to the contrary, shall take it for granted I am expected. ’Tis said that contrast heightens pleasure, and I believe the saying—I believe that, without having felt pain in all its acuteness, as I have done, I never should have felt such pleasure as I now enjoy. After so often giving you up, so often lamenting you as lost forever, to think I shall soon call you mine, is a source of transport which words cannot express. Mine, I may say, is the resurrection of happiness, for has it not been revived from the very grave of despair? But I forgot that you have Lady Martha Dormer’s letter still to peruse. I acknowledge that, for old friendship’s sake, I supposed you would give mine the preference; but in all reason it is time I should resign my place to her ladyship. But ere I bid you adieu, I must tell you that Araminta is a sincere participator in our happiness. She arrived from Wales but a few minutes previous to my leaving London, and I would not allow her time, as she wished, to write to you. I almost forgot to tell you that the marquis’s family, amongst whom Lady Greystock is still numbered, instead of returning to town, set out for Brighthelmstone. I have learned, contrary to my and their expectations, that neither the housekeeper nor Mrs. Jane have been dismissed, but both sent to a distant seat of the marquis’s. As we know the marchioness’s revengeful disposition, it is plain she has some secret motive for not gratifying it immediately by their dismission; but what it is can be of little consequence for us to learn, since we are both too well guarded to suffer from any future plot of hers. Like every other which was formed against my dear Amanda, I trust they will ever prove abortive. I was disturbed within a few miles of Castle Carberry by a gentleman passing on horseback, who either strongly resembled, or was Colonel Belgrave. My blood boiled in my veins at his sight. I left the carriage, mounted one of[Pg 361] my servant’s horses, and endeavored to overtake him. He certainly avoided me by taking some cross-road, as his speed could not have outstripped mine. My efforts to discover his habitation were equally unsuccessful. As to your personal security I had no apprehensions, having heard constantly from my good friend the doctor about you; but I dreaded the wretch, if it were really him, might disturb your tranquillity, either by forcing into your presence, or writing. Thank Heaven, from all intrusions or dangers of this kind my Amanda will now be guarded. But again am I trespassing on the time you should devote to Lady Martha’s letter. Adieu, and do not disappoint my hopes of being allowed to visit you early.

Mortimer.

Amanda perused this letter with emotions which can be better conceived than described. She could scarcely have parted with it without a second reading, had not Lady Martha’s demanded her attention. She snatched it hastily from the ground where it hitherto lay neglected, and read to the following purpose:—

That I warmly and sincerely congratulate my dear and amiable Miss Fitzalan on the happy revolution in her affairs, she will readily believe, persuaded as she must be of the deep interest I take in whatever concerns a person on whom the happiness of him whom I have loved from childhood so materially—so entirely, I may say—depends.

Yet do not suppose me, my dear Miss Fitzalan, so selfish as not to be able to rejoice at your happiness on your own account, exclusive of every consideration relative to Lord Mortimer. Long since I was taught by description to esteem and admire you, and even when the hope of being connected with you became extinct, I could not so totally forego that admiration as to feel uninterested about you. Oh I how truly do I rejoice at the revival of the hope I have just mentioned, and at its revival with every prospect of its being speedily realized! I shall consider Lord Mortimer as one of the most fortunate of men in calling you his, and to think I have been able to promote his happiness gives me a satisfaction which never was, nor ever will be, equalled by any circumstance in my life.

Though I cannot give my adopted daughter a fortune by any means equal to that which Lady Euphrasia Sutherland will possess, Lord Cherbury is fully sensible that her perfections will abundantly make up for any deficiency in this respect. Ten thousand pounds, and one thousand a year, is at present to be her portion, and the reversion of the remainder of my fortune is to be secured to her and Lord Mortimer; the final adjustment of all affairs is to take place at my house in the country, whither I propose going immediately, accompanied by Lady Araminta, and where we shall both most impatiently expect your arrival, which, we mutually entreat, may be hastened as much as possible, consistent with your health and convenience. Lord Cherbury has promised to follow us in a few days, so that I suppose he will also be at Thornbury to receive you. Would to Heaven, my dear Miss Fitzalan, injured virtue and innocence may always meet with such champions to vindicate them as Lord Mortimer. Was that the case, we should see many lovely victims of scorn and reproach raising their heads with triumph and satisfaction. But pardon my involuntarily adverting to past scenes, though, at the same time, I think you have reason to rejoice at your trials, which served as so many tests and proofs of the estimable[Pg 362] qualities you possess. Farewell, my dear Miss Fitzalan. I have been brief in my letter, because I know I should not be pardoned by a certain person, if I engrossed too much of your time. I told him I would give you a hint of the impetuosity of his disposition; but he told me, perhaps to prevent this, that you were already acquainted with it. In one instance I shall commend him for displaying it: that is, in hastening you to Thornbury, to the arms of your sincere and affectionate friend,

Martha Dormer.

Amanda’s happiness was now almost as great as it could be in this world; almost I say, for it received alloy from the melancholy consideration that her father, that faithful and affectionate friend who had shared her troubles, could not be a partaker of her joys; but the sigh of unavailing regret which rose in her mind she checked, by reflecting, that happiness all perfect was more than humanity could either support or expect, and with pious gratitude she bent to the Power who had changed the discolored prospect, by which she had been so long surrounded, into one of cheerfulness and beauty.

If her pride was wounded by the hint, though so delicately conveyed, which Lord Mortimer had given of the difficulties he encountered in gaining Lord Cherbury’s approbation, it was instantly relieved by the flattering commendations of Lady Martha Dormer, and to be connected with her and Lady Araminta, she looked upon amongst the most valuable blessings she could enjoy.

To express what she felt for Lord Mortimer would be impossible—language could not do justice to her feelings—she felt love, gratitude, and admiration for him, all in the fullest extent, and all united, and she wept in the fulness of her heart over the joyful assurance of being his. With the two letters in her hand, she repaired to the prioress’s apartment, whom she found alone. The good old lady saw the traces of tears on Amanda’s face, and exclaimed, in a voice which evinced her sympathy in her concerns, “Oh! I fear, my child, something has happened to disturb you!” Amanda presented her the letters, and bid her judge from them whether she had not reason to be agitated. As the prioress read, her sudden and broken exclamations manifested her surprise and pleasure, and frequently were her spectacles removed to wipe from off them the tears of joy by which they were bedewed. When she finished the welcome packet, she turned to Amanda, who had been attentively watching the various turns in her countenance, and gave her a congratulatory embrace. “Lord Mortimer is worthy of you, my child,” said the prioress, “and that is the highest eulogium I can pass on him.” After commenting upon[Pg 363] different parts of the letter, she asked Amanda a little archly, “whether she intended sending an express command to his lordship against coming early in the morning?” Amanda honestly confessed she had no such intention, and expressed her wish to behold him. The prioress said she would have breakfast prepared for them in the garden parlor, and that she would take care they should not be interrupted. She also promised to keep everything secret till matters were arranged for Amanda’s removal from St. Catherine’s.


CHAPTER XXXIX.

“Thus let me hold thee to my heart, And every care resign; And shall we never—never part, Oh! thou my all that’s mine.”—Goldsmith.

Joy is as great an enemy to repose as anxiety. Amanda passed an almost sleepless night, but her thoughts were too agreeably employed to allow her to suffer from want of rest; early as she arose in the morning, she was but a short time in the parlor before Lord Mortimer arrived. He appeared with all the transports of his soul beaming from his eyes, and was received by Amanda with tender and trembling emotion. He caught her to his heart as a treasure restored to him by the immediate hand of Heaven. He pressed her to it with silent ecstasy. Both for a few moments were unable to speak; but the tears which burst from Amanda, and those that stopped on the glowing cheeks of Lord Mortimer, expressed their feelings more forcibly than any language could have done.

Amanda at length found utterance, and began to thank his lordship for all the difficulties he had gone through in vindicating her fame. He hastily stopped those effusions of gratitude, by bidding her ask her heart whether he had not been serving himself as well as her by what he had done.

From the soft confusion into which his transports threw her, Amanda endeavored to recover herself by repairing to the breakfast table, on which the good sisters had spread all the niceties (adapted for a morning repast) which the convent could produce: but her hand was unsteady, she spilt the tea in pouring it out, and committed twenty blunders in helping[Pg 364] Lord Mortimer. He laughed a little archly at her embarrassment, and insisted on doing the honors of the table himself, to which Amanda, with a deep blush, consented; but breakfast was little attended to. Amanda’s hand was detained in Lord Mortimer’s, while his eyes were continually turning towards her, as if to assure his heart that, in the lovely evidence of his happiness, there was no deception; and the tenderness Amanda had no longer reason to restrain beamed from her looks, which also evinced her perfect sensibility of her present felicity—a felicity heightened by her approving conscience testifying she had merited it. The pure, the delightful satisfaction resulting from this reflection gave such radiance to her complexion, that Lord Mortimer repeatedly declared her residence at St. Catherine’s had made her more beautiful than ever. Twelve o’clock struck, and found them still loitering over the breakfast table. “The nuns will think we have made a tolerable feast,” cried Lord Mortimer, smiling, while Amanda rose with precipitation. “I need not,” continued he, following her, “like Sterne, ask nature what has made the meal so delicious; I need only ask my own heart, and it will inform me, love and tenderness.” Amanda blushed, and they went together into the garden. She would have walked before the windows of the convent, but Lord Mortimer forced her gently into a dark, sequestered alley. Here their conversation became more connected than it had been hitherto. The generous intentions of Lady Martha Dormer, and the arrangements she had made for the reception and nuptials of Amanda, were talked over. The marriage was to take place at Thornbury, Lady Martha’s seat; they were to continue there for a month after its solemnization, and from thence to go to an estate of Lord Cherbury’s for the remainder of the summer; a house in one of the squares was to be taken and prepared for their residence in winter, and Lady Martha Dormer had promised, whenever she came to town, which was but seldom, she would make their house her home, provided they would promise to spend every Christmas, and three months at least in summer, with her at Thornbury. Lord Mortimer said he had his choice of any of the earl’s seats, but chose none, from an idea of the Hall being more agreeable to Amanda. She assured him it was, and he proceeded to mention the presents which Lady Martha had prepared for her, also the carriages and retinue he had provided, and expected to find at Thornbury against she reached it, still asking if the arrangements he had made met her approbation.

Amanda was affected even to tears by the solicitude he[Pg 365] showed to please her; and he, perceiving her emotions, changed the discourse to talk about her removal from St. Catherine’s. He entreated her not to delay it longer than was absolutely necessary to adjust matters for it. She promised compliance to this entreaty, acknowledging that she but obeyed her inclinations in doing so, as she longed to be presented to her generous patroness, Lady Martha, and to her amiable and beloved Lady Araminta. Lord Mortimer, delicately considerate about all which concerned her, begged she would speak to the prioress to procure a decent female, who should be a proper attendant for her in her journey. They should travel together in one chaise, and he would follow them in another. Amanda promised she would lose no time in making this request, which, she had no doubt, would be successful.

Lord Mortimer presented her with a very beautiful embroidered purse, containing notes to the amount of five hundred pounds. Amanda blushed deeply, and felt her feelings a little hurt at the idea of being obliged to Lord Mortimer for everything. He pressed her hand, and in a voice of soothing tenderness, told her he should be offended if she did not, from this moment, consider her interest inseparable from his. The notes, he said, of right belonged to her, as they amounted to but the individual sum he had already devoted to her use. He requested she would not curb in the least her generous spirit, but fulfil, to the utmost extent, all the claims which gratitude had upon her. The benevolent sisters of St. Catherine’s were the foremost in the list of those who had conferred obligations upon her, and he desired she would not only reward them liberally at present, but promise them an annual stipend of fifty pounds.

Amanda was truly delighted at this. To be able to contribute to the comfort of those who had so largely promoted hers, was a source of exquisite felicity. Lord Mortimer presented her with his picture, which he had drawn in London for that purpose. It was a striking likeness, and most elegantly set with brilliants, which formed, a cipher upon a plait of hair at the back. This was indeed a precious present to Amanda, and she acknowledged it was such. Lord Mortimer said, that “in return for it he should expect hers at some future time;" but added, smiling, “I shall not heed the shadow till I procure the substance.” He also gave her a very beautiful ring, with an emblematical device, and adorned in the same manner as his picture, which Lady Martha had sent as a pledge of future friendship; and he now informed her, “that her ladyship,[Pg 366] accompanied by Lady Araminta, intended meeting them at Holyhead, that all due honor and attention might be paid to her adopted daughter.”

In the midst of their conversation the dinner-bell rang from the convent. Amanda started, and declared she had not supposed it half so late. The arch smile which this speech occasioned in Lord Mortimer, instantly made her perceive it had been a tacit confession of the pleasure she enjoyed in their tete-à-tete.

She blushed, and telling him she could not stay another moment, was hurrying away. He hastily caught her, and holding both her hands, declared she should not depart, neither would he to his solitary dinner, till she promised he might return to her early in the evening. To this she consented, provided he allowed her to have the prioress and Sister Mary at least at tea. This was a condition Lord Mortimer by no means liked to agree to, and he endeavored to prevail on her to drop it; but finding her inflexible, he said she was a provoking girl, and asked her if she was not afraid that, when he had the power, he would retaliate upon her for all the trials she put his patience to. But since she would have it so, why, it must be so to be sure, he said; but he hoped the good ladies would have too much conscience to sit out the whole evening with them. That was all chance, Amanda said. The bell again rang, and he was forced to depart.

She took the opportunity of being alone with the prioress for a few minutes, to speak to her about procuring a female to attend her in her journey. The prioress said she doubted not but she could procure her an eligible person from the neighboring town, and promised to write there that very evening, to a family who would be able to assist her inquiries.

Both she and Sister Mary were much pleased by being invited to drink tea with Lord Mortimer. He came even earlier than was expected. Poor Amanda was terrified, lest her companions should overhear him repeatedly asking her, whether they would not retire immediately after tea. Though not overheard, the prioress had too much sagacity not to know her departure was desired; she, therefore, under pretence of business, retired and took Mary along with her.

Amanda and Lord Mortimer went into the garden. He thanked her for not losing time in speaking to the prioress about her servant, and said that he hoped, at the end of the week at farthest, she would be ready to begin her journey. Amanda readily promised to use all possible dispatch. They[Pg 367] passed some delightful hours in rambling about the garden, and talking over their felicity.

The prioress’s expectation was answered relative to a servant. In the course of two days she produced one in every respect agreeable to Amanda, and things were now in such forwardness for her departure, that she expected it would take place as soon as Lord Mortimer had mentioned. His time was passed almost continually at St. Catherine’s, never leaving it except at dinner-time, when he went to Castle Carberry. His residence there was soon known, and visitors and invitations without number came to the castle, but he found means of avoiding them.

Amanda, laughing, would often tell him he retarded the preparations for her journey by being always with her; this, he said, was only a pretext to drive him away, for that he rather forwarded them by letting her lose no time.

Lord Mortimer, on coming to Amanda one evening as usual, appeared uncommonly discomposed, his face was flushed, and his whole manner betrayed agitation. He scarcely noticed Amanda; but seating himself, placed his arm upon a table, and leaned his head dejectedly upon it. Amanda was inexpressibly shocked—her heart panted with apprehension of ill; but she felt too timid to make any inquiry. He suddenly knit his brows, and muttered between his teeth, “Curse on the wretch!”

Amanda could no longer keep silence. “What wretch,” she exclaimed, “or what is the meaning of this disorder?” “First tell me, Amanda,” said he, looking very steadfastly at her, “have you seen any stranger here lately?” “Good Heaven!” replied she, “what can you mean by such a question? But I solemnly assure you I have not.” “Enough,” said he, “such an assurance restores me to quiet; but, my dear Amanda,” coming over to her, and taking her hands in his, “since you have perceived my agitation, I must account to you for it. I have just seen Belgrave; he was but a few yards from me on the Common when I saw him; but the mean despicable wretch, loaded as he is with conscious guilt, durst not face me. He got out of my way by leaping over the hedge which divides the Common from a lane with many intricate windings. I endeavored, but without success, to discover the one he had retreated through.” “I see,” said Amanda, pale and trembling, “he is destined to make me wretched. I had hoped indeed that Lord Mortimer would no more have suffered his quiet to be interrupted by him; it implies such a doubt,” said she, weeping,[Pg 368] “as shocks my soul! If suspicion is thus continually to be revived, we had better separate at once, for misery must be the consequence of a union without mutual confidence.” “Gracious Heaven!” said Lord Mortimer, “how unfortunate I am to give you pain. You mistake entirely, indeed, my dearest Amanda, the cause of my uneasiness. I swear by all that is sacred, no doubt, no suspicion of your worth, has arisen in my mind. No man can think more highly of a woman than I do of you; but I was disturbed lest the wretch should have forced himself into your presence, and lest you, through apprehension for me, concealed it from me.”

This explanation calmed the perturbation of Amanda. As an atonement for the uneasiness he had given her, she wanted Lord Mortimer to promise he would not endeavor to discover Belgrave. This promise he avoided giving, and Amanda was afraid of pressing it, lest the spark of jealousy, which she was convinced existed in the disposition of Lord Mortimer, should be blown into a flame. That Belgrave would studiously avoid him she trusted, and she resolved that if the things that she had deemed it necessary to order from the neighboring town were not finished, to wait no longer for them, as she longed now more than ever to quit a place she thought dangerous to Lord Mortimer. The ensuing morning, instead of seeing his lordship at breakfast, a note was brought to her couched in these words:

TO MISS FITZALAN.

I am unavoidably prevented from waiting on my dear Amanda this morning, but in the course of the day she may depend on either seeing or hearing from me again. She can have no excuse now on my account about not hastening the preparations for her journey, and when we meet, if I find that her time has not been employed for this purpose, she may expect a severe chiding from her faithful

Mortimer.

This note filled Amanda with the most alarming disquiet. It was evident to her that he was gone in pursuit of Belgrave. She ran into the hall to inquire of the messenger about his master, but he was gone. She then hastened to the prioress and communicated her apprehensions to her.

The prioress endeavored to calm them, by assuring her she might be convinced that Belgrave had taken too many precautions to be discovered.

Amanda’s breakfast, however, remained untouched, and her things unpacked, and she continued the whole morning the picture of anxiety, impatiently expecting the promised[Pg 369] visit or letter. Neither came, and she resolved to send, after dinner, the old gardener to Castle Carberry to inquire about Lord Mortimer. While she was speaking to him for that purpose, the maid followed her into the garden, and told her there was a messenger in the parlor from Lord Mortimer. She flew thither, but what words can express her surprise when the supposed messenger, raising a large hat, which shadowed his face, and removing a handkerchief, which he had hitherto held up to it, discovered to her view the features of Lord Cherbury? She could only exclaim, “Gracious Heaven! has anything happened to Lord Mortimer?” ere she sunk into a chair in breathless agitation.


CHAPTER XL.

“My heavy heart The prophetess of woe, foretells some ill At hand.”

Lord Cherbury hastened to support and calm her agitation, by assuring her Lord Mortimer was in perfect safety. Recovering a little by this assertion, she asked him “how he was assured of this?” He answered, “because he had seen him, though without being perceived by him, about an hour ago.” Amanda, restored to her faculties by being assured he was uninjured, began to reflect on the suddenness of Lord Cherbury’s visit. She would have flattered herself he came to introduce her to his family himself, had not his looks almost forbid such an idea. They were gloomy and disordered; his eyes were fastened on her, yet he appeared unwilling to speak.

Amanda felt herself in too awkward and embarrassing a situation to break the unpleasant silence. At last Lord Cherbury suddenly exclaimed, “Lord Mortimer does not, nor must not, know of my being here.” “Must not!” repeated Amanda, in inconceivable astonishment.

“Gracious Heaven!” said Lord Cherbury, starting from the chair on which he had thrown himself opposite her, “how shall I begin, how shall I tell her! Oh! Miss Fitzalan,” he continued, approaching her, “I have much to say, and you have much to hear which will shock you. I believed I could better in an interview have informed you of particulars, but I find I[Pg 370] was mistaken. I will write to you.” “My lord,” cried Amanda, rising, all pale and trembling, “tell me now; to leave me in suspense, after receiving such dreadful hints, would be cruelty. Oh! surely, if Lord Mortimer be safe—if Lady Martha Dormer—if Lady Araminta is well—I can have nothing so very shocking to hear.” “Alas!” replied he, mournfully shaking his head, “you are mistaken. Be satisfied, however, that the friends you have mentioned are all well. I have said I would write to you. Can you meet me this evening amongst the ruins?” Amanda gave an assenting bow. “I shall then,” pursued he, “have a letter ready to deliver you. In the mean time, I must inform you no person in the world knows of my visit here but yourself, and of all beings Lord Mortimer is the last I should wish to know it. Remember, then, Miss Fitzalan,” taking her hand, which he grasped with violence, as if to impress his words upon her heart, “remember that upon your secrecy everything most estimable in life, even life itself, perhaps, depends.”

With these dreadful and mysterious words he departed, leaving Amanda a picture of horror and surprise. It was many minutes ere she moved from the attitude in which he left her, and when she did, it was only to walk in a disordered manner about the room, repeating his dreadful words. He was come, perhaps, to part her and Lord Mortimer, and yet, after consenting to their union, surely Lord Cherbury could not be guilty of such treachery and deceit. Yet, if this was not the case, why conceal his coming to Ireland from Lord Mortimer? Why let it be known only to her? And what could be the secrets of dreadful import he had to communicate?

From these self-interrogations, in which her reason was almost bewildered, the entrance of the prioress drew her.

She started at seeing the pale and distracted looks of Amanda, and asked, “if she had heard any bad tidings of Lord Mortimer?”

Amanda sighed heavily at this question, and said, “No.” The secrecy she had been enjoined to she durst not violate, by mentioning the mysterious visit to her friend. Unable, however, to converse on any other subject, she resolved to retire to her chamber. She placed her illness and agitation to the account of Lord Mortimer, and said a little rest was absolutely necessary for her, and begged, if his lordship came in the course of the evening, he might be told she was too ill to see him.

The prioress pressed her to stay for tea. She refused, and,[Pg 371] as she retired from the room, desired nothing might be said of the person who had just seen her to Lord Mortimer, saying, with a faint smile, “she would not make him vain by letting him know of her anxiety about him.” She retired to her chamber, and endeavored to control her perturbations, that she might be the better enabled to support what she had so much reason to apprehend. Neither the prioress nor the nuns, in obedience to her injunctions, intruded upon her, and at the appointed hour she softly opened the chamber door, and, every place being clear, stole softly from the convent.

She found Lord Cherbury waiting for her amidst the solitary ruins. He had a letter in his hand, which he presented to her the moment she appeared.

“In this letter, Miss Fitzalan,” said he, “I have opened to you my whole heart. I have disburdened it of secrets which have long oppressed it. I have intrusted my honor to your care. From what I have said, that its contents are of a sacred nature, you may believe, should they be considered in any other light by you, the consequence may, nay, must be fatal.” He said this with a sternness that made Amanda shrink. “Meditate well on the contents of that letter, Miss Fitzalan,” continued he, with a voice of deep solemnity, “for it is a letter which will fix your destiny and mine. Even should the request contained in it be refused, let me be the first acquainted with the refusal. Then indeed I shall urge you no more to secrecy, for what will follow, in consequence of such a refusal, must divulge all.” “Oh! tell me, tell me,” said Amanda, catching hold of his arm, “tell me what is the request or what it is I am to fear. Oh! tell me all at once, and rid me of the torturing suspense I endure.” “I cannot,” he cried, “indeed, I cannot. To-morrow night I shall expect your answer here at the same hour.”

At this moment Lord Mortimer’s voice calling upon Amanda was heard. Lord Cherbury dropped her hand, which he had taken, and instantly retired amongst the windings of the pile, from whence Lord Mortimer soon appeared, giving Amanda only time to hide the fatal letter.

“Good Heavens!” exclaimed he, “what could have brought you hither, and who was the person