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Title: The Mother's Recompense, Volume 2 - A Sequel to Home Influence
Author: Aguilar, Grace, 1816-1847
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Mother's Recompense, Volume 2 - A Sequel to Home Influence" ***


THE MOTHER'S RECOMPENSE;


A SEQUEL TO HOME INFLUENCE.


BY GRACE AGUILAR.



IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOL. II.


LEIPZIG

BERNHARD TAUCHNITZ

1859.



CHAPTER I.


"Who amongst this merry party will become sufficiently sober to assist
me in a work of charity?" was Mrs. Hamilton's address, one afternoon, as
she entered her daughter's room, where Emmeline, her young friends Lady
Florence and Lady Emily Lyle, and even the usually quiet Ellen, were
employing themselves in drawing, embroidery, and such light amusements
as diligently as the merry speech, the harmless joke, and the joyous
laugh of truly innocent enjoyment would permit.

"A case of extreme distress has come before me," she continued, "for
which alms and other relief will not be sufficient; clothing is
principally required. Can any of you consent to put aside these pretty
things for a few days, merely for the sake of obliging me and doing
good? I have set every hand to work, and now for further assistance come
to you. To whom shall I appeal?"

"To me--to me--to me!" every voice exclaimed spontaneously, and they
eagerly crowded round her to know what she required, what case of
distress had occurred, for whom they were to work.

Gratified and pleased at their eagerness, Mrs. Hamilton smilingly
imparted all they wished to know. The simple tale drew from the artless
group many exclamations of pity, combined with the earnest desire to
relieve in whatever way their kind friend would dictate, and their task
was received by all with every demonstration of pleasure.

"You, too, Ellen," said Mrs. Hamilton, smiling; "I thought you once said
you had no time for work."

"Not for ornamental work, aunt! but I hope you have never asked in vain
for my assistance in such a case as this," answered Ellen, blushing as
she spoke.

"No, love; my words did you injustice. But you appear to have found time
for ornamental work also, if this very pretty wreath be yours," said
Mrs. Hamilton, bending over her niece's frame, and praising the delicacy
of her flowers.

"Oh, I have time for any and everything now," exclaimed Ellen, in a tone
of animation, so very unusual, that not only her aunt but her young
companions looked at her with astonishment.

"Ellen, yon are becoming more and more incomprehensible," said Emmeline,
laughing. "If Edward do not come home soon, as I suspect this
extraordinary mood is occasioned by the anticipation of his arrival, I
am afraid your spirits will carry you half way over the Channel to meet
him. Mamma, take my advice, and keep a strict watch over the person of
your niece."

"You know, Ellen, you are as full of fun and mischief as I am, quiet and
demure as we once thought you," said Lady Emily.

"Is she? I am glad of it," said Mrs. Hamilton, playfully. "Do not look
so very much ashamed of your mirth, my dear Ellen, and bend over your
work as if you had been guilty of some extraordinary misdemeanour. You
know how pleased I always am to see you happy, Ellen," she added, in a
lower voice, as she laid her hand sportively on her niece's head, which
was bent down to conceal the confusion Emmeline's words had called
forth.

Some little time longer Mrs. Hamilton remained with the young party,
entering with her usual kindness into all their pleasures and pursuits,
and left them perhaps even happier than she had found them.

Ellen's change of manner had been noticed by the whole party assembled
at Oakwood; and by most of them attributed to the anticipation of the
long-absent Edward's return. That indefinable manner which had formerly
pervaded her whole conduct had disappeared. She no longer seemed to have
something weighing on her mind, which Mrs. Hamilton sometimes fancied to
have been the case. Cheerful, animated, at times even joyous, she
appeared a happier being than she had ever been before; and sincerely
her aunt and uncle, who really loved her as their child, rejoiced in the
change, though they knew not, guessed not the real cause. Ingratiating
herself with all, even the stern Duchess of Rothbury, who, with her now
only unmarried daughter, Lady Lucy, had accepted Mrs Hamilton's pressing
invitation to Oakwood, relaxed in her manner towards her; and Sir George
Wilmot, also a resident guest, declared that if Edward were not proud of
his sister on his return, he would do all in his power to hinder his
promotion.

Mr. Hamilton and his family had employed the greater part of a very
beautiful August in conducting their guests to all the most picturesque
and favourite spots in the vicinity of Oakwood. About a week after the
circumstance we have narrated, St. Eval and Lady Gertrude joined them
in the morning of a proposed excursion, which included the whole party,
with the exception of Mrs. Hamilton and Ellen. The Earl and his sister
had been instantly enlisted as a most agreeable reinforcement; nor was
the young Earl very sorry for an excuse to spend a whole day in enjoying
the beauties of Nature _tête-à-tête_ with his betrothed, who, since the
candid explanation of her agitation on first hearing of Annie's
elopement, for which her knowledge of Lord Alphingham's former marriage
had well accounted, had become if possible dearer than ever; and this
excursion was indeed one of perfect enjoyment to both.

Ellen, for some unaccountable reason, which her young friends could
neither penetrate nor conceive, refused to accompany them, declaring
that most important business kept her at home.

"Edward will not come to-day, so do not expect him," had been Emmeline's
parting words.

The ruralizing party were to dine amid the ruins of Berry Pomeroy, and
were not expected home till dusk, to a substantial tea.

It might have been seven in the evening that Ellen quietly entered the
library, where her aunt was engaged in writing, and stood by her side in
silence, as if fearful of interrupting by addressing her.

"Wait a few minutes, my love, and I shall be ready to attend to you, if
you require my assistance in the arrangement of your work," Mrs.
Hamilton said, alluding to the parcel of baby-linen she perceived in her
niece's hand. Ellen smiled and obeyed. In a few minutes Mrs. Hamilton
laid aside her writing, and looked up, as if expecting her niece would
speak.

"Well, Ellen, what grand difficulty can you not overcome?"

"None, my dear aunt. My task is done; I only want your approval,"
replied Ellen.

"Done!" repeated her aunt, in an accent of astonishment. "My dear Ellen,
it is impossible; I only gave it you a week ago. You must have worked
all night to finish it"

"Indeed I have not," replied Ellen, quickly yet earnestly.

"Then I certainly must examine every little article," said Mrs.
Hamilton, laughing, "or I shall decidedly fancy this extreme rapidity
cannot have been productive of neatness, which last I rather prefer to
the first."

Ellen submitted her work to her scrutiny, without reply, and remained
kneeling on a stool at her aunt's feet, without any apprehension as to
the sentence that would be pronounced.

"Really, Ellen, I shall incline to Emmeline's opinion, and believe some
magic is at work within you," was Mrs. Hamilton's observation, as she
folded up the tiny suit with very evident marks of satisfaction. "How
you have acquired the power of working thus neatly and rapidly, when I
have scarcely ever seen a needle in your hand, I cannot comprehend. I
will appoint you my sempstress-general, in addition to bestowing my
really sincere thanks for the assistance you have afforded me."

Ellen pressed her aunt's hand to her lips in silence, for an emotion
Mrs. Hamilton beheld, but could not understand, choked her voice.

"What is the matter, love? has anything occurred to annoy you to-day?
You look paler and more sad than usual; tell me what it is."

"Do you remember what--what chanced--have you forgotten the event that
took place this very day, this very hour, in this very room, three years
ago?" demanded Ellen, almost inaudibly, and her cheek blanched to the
colour of her robe as she spoke.

"Why recall the painful past at such a moment, my sweet girl? has it not
been redeemed by three years of undeviating rectitude and virtue? I had
hoped the recollection had ere this long ceased to disturb you," replied
Mrs. Hamilton, with much feeling, as she pressed her lips to her niece's
brow.

"It never can, it never will, unless--unless--" Strong and almost
fearful emotion prevented all she had wished to say, and throwing into
Mrs. Hamilton's lap a small calf-skin pocket-book, she flung her arms
round her neck, and burying her face in her bosom, murmured, in a voice
choked with sobs, "The amount of all I took is there--all--all. Oh, take
it, and let me thus feel it as a debt which I have paid."

"Ellen, my own Ellen, be composed," entreated Mrs. Hamilton, alarmed by
the extreme agitation she beheld. "Tell me, love, what are the contents
of this pocket-book? why do you entreat me so earnestly to take it?"

Struggling violently with herself, Ellen tore open the little book, and
placed in her aunt's hand bank notes to the amount of those which had
once been so fatal a temptation.

"They are mine--all mine. I have gained them honestly; indeed, indeed I
have; I have worked for them. It was to gain time for this I refused to
go out with you last winter. I had hoped my long, long task would have
been done before, but it was not. Oh, I thought I should never, never
gain the whole amount, but I have now; and, oh, tell me I have in part
redeemed my sin; tell me I am more worthy of your love, your kindness;
tell me I am again indeed your own happy Ellen."

She would have said more, but no words came at her command, and Mrs.
Hamilton remained silent for a few minutes, in surprise and admiration.

"My Ellen, my own much-loved Ellen!" she exclaimed at length, and tears
of unfeigned emotion mingled with the repeated kisses she imprinted on
her niece's cheek, "this moment has indeed repaid me for all. Little did
I imagine in what manner you were employed, the nature of your tedious
task. How could you contrive to keep it thus secret from me? what time
could you find to work thus laboriously, when not one study or
employment have I seen neglected?"

"I thought at first I never should succeed," replied Ellen, her strong
emotion greatly calmed; "for while Miss Harcourt remained with us, I had
only two hours before prayers in the morning, and sometimes I have
ventured to sit up an hour or two later at night; but not often, for I
feared you would discover me, and be displeased, for I could not, dared
not tell you in what I was employed. The winter before last I earned so
much from embroidery and finer kinds of work, that I thought I should
have obtained the whole a year ago; but I was disappointed, for here I
could only do plain work, at which I earned but little, for I could not
do it so quickly. I had hoped there would have been no occasion to
refuse your wish, that I should accompany you and Emmeline, but I found
the whole amount was still far from completed, and I was compelled to
act as I did."

"And is it possible, my Ellen, you have intrusted your secret to no one;
have demanded no sympathy, no encouragement in this long and painful
task?"

"I could not have accomplished nor did I commence it, without the kind
assistance and advice of Ellis. My dear aunt, I knew, reposed great
confidence in her, and I thought if she did not disapprove of my plan, I
should not be acting so very independently, and that with her assistance
my secret would not be so difficult to keep: she procured me employment.
My name nor my reasons for seeking it were never known to those for whom
I worked."

"And could she approve of a task such as this, my Ellen? Could she
counsel such painful self-denial and tedious labour?"

"She did all she could to dissuade, and at first positively refused to
assist me; but at last yielded to my entreaties, for she saw I never
should be happy till I could look on the past more as a debt
than--than--" She paused, then added--"My own spirit rebelled enough;
that was far more difficult to overcome than other dissuasions."

"And what strong impulse could have urged you to this course of
self-denial, my sweet girl? I know not yet whether I shall not scold you
for this almost needless infliction of pain, and for the deception it
involves towards me," said Mrs. Hamilton, with reproachful tenderness.

"Forgive me, oh, forgive me that!" exclaimed Ellen, clasping the hand
she held. "I have often and often felt I was deceiving you; failing in
that confidence I had promised you should never have again to demand;
but I dared not tell you, for I knew you would have prohibited the
continuance of my task."

"I should indeed, my Ellen; and tell me why you have done this. Was it
indeed because you imagined nothing else could atone for the past?"

"Because I felt--I knew, though I was restored to your favour, your
confidence, my conscience was not at peace, because I had read, '_If the
wicked restore the pledge, give again that which he had robbed, walk in
the statutes of life, without committing iniquity, he shall surely live,
he shall not die_;' and I felt, however I might endeavour to be virtuous
and good, till I had given again that which I had robbed, I dared not
implore the mercy of my God."

It is impossible to do justice by mere description to the plaintive
eloquence, to the mournfully-expressive voice with which these simple
words were said, betraying at once those thoughts and feelings which had
been so long concealed in Ellen's meek and youthful heart, the hidden
spring from which her every action had emanated; Mrs. Hamilton felt its
power, the sentiment was too exalted, too holy for human praise. She
folded her niece to her bosom.

"May the Almighty searcher of hearts accept this sacrifice and bless
you, my dear child. Secretly, unostentatiously, it has been done. Pure
must have been the thoughts which were yours when thus employed, when
such was their origin, and we may hope, indeed, they have been accepted.
Had no self-denial attended the payment of your debt, had you merely
entreated your uncle to repay himself from the fortune you possess, I
would not have accepted it; such a payment would neither have been
acceptable to me, nor to Him whom, I firmly believe, my Ellen sought
more to please. But when every action the last few years has proved to
me, the words you repeated have indeed been the foundation of this
self-conquest, I cannot but humbly, trustingly, think it will be an
accepted offering on high. Nor will I refuse to comply with your
request, my dearest Ellen; I will receive that which you have so
perseveringly and so painfully earned; it shall be employed in
purchasing prayers for us all, from those whom it may relieve. Let not
the recollection of the past again disturb you, my sweet child.
Solicitude and pain you indeed once caused me, but this moment has
redeemed it all. Continue thus undeviatingly to follow the blessed path
you have chosen, and our Ellen is and ever will be deserving of all the
love which those to whom she is so dear can lavish upon her."

For a few minutes there was silence, for the solemnity with which she
spoke had touched a responding chord; but the thoughts of the orphan
arose to heaven, silently petitioning for grace to continue in that
blessed path of which her aunt had spoken, in thankfulness for having
been permitted to conclude her painful task, and thus obtained the
approbation of her more than mother, the relative she so revered and
loved.

"And this, then, was the long task which your numerous avocations during
the day prevented your completing, and you therefore took the time from
that allotted to recreation and amusement--this, which so strongly
emboldened my little Ellen, that even my coldness had no effect, except
to make her miserable. What do you not deserve for thus deceiving me? I
do not think I know any punishment sufficiently severe." Mrs. Hamilton
had recalled all her playfulness, for she wished to banish every trace
of sadness and emotion from the countenance of her niece. Ellen raised
her head to answer her in her own playful tone, when they were both
startled by the declining light of day being suddenly obscured, as if by
the shadow of a figure standing by the open window near them. It was,
however, so dark, that the outlines of the intruder were alone visible,
and they would have been unrecognised by any, save by the eye of
affection.

Ellen sprung suddenly to her feet. "Edward!" burst gladly from her lips,
and in another second a fine manly youth had darted through the open
casement, and the long parted brother and sister were in each other's
arms. For a minute only Ellen was pressed in his embrace, and then
releasing her, he turned towards his aunt, and even as a devoted mother,
a fond and dutiful son, they met, for such had they been in the long
years of separation. Frequently had that high-spirited boy been tempted
to error and to sin, but as a talisman had her letters been. He thought
on the years that were passed, on their last interview, when every word
had graven itself upon his heart, on the devotedness of his orphan
sister, the misery he had once occasioned; he thought on these things,
and stood firm,--the tempter fled. He stood before them erect in
youthful beauty, no inward stain bade him turn from those fond looks or
shrink from the entwining arms of his young sister. And, oh, how blessed
is it thus to meet! to feel that vanished years have not estranged us,
distance has not diminished love, that we are to each other even as we
parted; to feel again the fond kiss, to hear once more the accents of a
voice which to us has been for years so still,--a voice that brings
with it the gush of memory! Past days flit before us; feelings,
thoughts, hopes, we deemed were dead, all rise again, summoned by that
secret witchery, the well-remembered though long silent voice. Let
years, long, lingering, saddening years drag on their chain, let youth
have given place to manhood, manhood to age, still will it be the
same--the voice we once have loved, and deemed to us for ever still--oh,
time, and grief, and blighted hope will be forgotten, and youth, in its
undimmed and joyous beauty, its glow of generous feelings, its bright
anticipations, all, all again be ours.

"Mother; yes, now indeed may I call you mother!" exclaimed Edward, when
the agitation of this sudden meeting had subsided, and he found himself
seated on a sofa between his aunt and sister, clasping the hand of the
former and twining his arm caressingly round the latter. "Now indeed may
I indulge in the joy it is to behold you both again; now may I stand
forth unshrinkingly to meet my uncle's glance, no guilt, or shame, or
fear has cast its mist upon my heart. This was your gift," he drew a
small Bible from his bosom. "I read it, first, because it had been
yours, because it was dear to you, and then came other and holier
thoughts, and I bowed down before the God you worshipped, and implored
His aid to find strength, and He heard me."

Mrs. Hamilton pressed his hand, but spoke not, and after a brief
silence, Edward, changing his tone and his subject, launched at once,
with all his natural liveliness, into a hurried tale of his voyage to
England. An unusually quick passage gave him and all the youngsters the
opportunity they desired, of returning to their various homes quite
unexpectedly. The vessel had only arrived off Plymouth the previous
night, or rather morning, for it was two o'clock; by noon the ship was
dismantled, the crew dismissed, leave of absence being granted to all.
And for the first time in his life, he laughingly declared he fancied
being the captain's favourite very annoying, as his presence and
assistance were requested at a time when his heart was at Oakwood;
however, he was released at last, procured a horse, and galloped away.
His disasters were not, however, over; his horse fell lame, as if,
Edward said, he felt a seaman was not a fit master for him. He was
necessitated to leave the poor animal to the care of a cottager, and
proceed on foot, avoiding the village, for fear of being recognised
before he desired; he exercised his memory by going through the lanes,
and reached Oakwood by a private entrance. Astonished at seeing the
rooms, by the windows of which he passed, deserted, he began to fear the
family were all in London; but the well-known sound of his aunt's voice
drew him to the library, just as he was seeking the main entrance to
have his doubts solved. He stood for a few minutes gazing on the two
beings who, more vividly than any others, had haunted his dreams by
night and visions by day; he had wished to meet them first, and alone,
and his wish was granted.

Wrapped in her happy feelings, it was her brother's arm around her, her
brother's voice she heard, Ellen listened to him in trembling eagerness,
scarcely venturing to breathe, lest that dear voice should be still,
lest the hand she clasped should fade away, and she should wake and find
it but a dream of bliss--Edward could not really have returned; and Mrs.
Hamilton felt emotion so powerfully swelling within, as she gazed once
more on the brave preserver of her husband, the child of her sister, her
very image, that it was with difficulty she could ask those many
questions which affection and interest prompted.

Edward had scarcely, however, finished his tale, before the sound of
many and eager voices, the joyous laugh, and other signs of youthful
hilarity, announced the return of the party from their excursion. Nor
was it long before Emmeline's voice, as usual, sounded in loud laughing
accents for her mother, without whose sympathy no pleasure was complete.

"Do not disturb yourselves yet, my dear children," Mrs. Hamilton said,
as she rose, knowing well how many, many things the long-separated
orphans must have mutually to tell, and penetrating with that ready
sympathy--the offspring of true kindness--their wish for a short time to
remain alone together. "You shall not be summoned to join us till tea is
quite ready, and if you wish it, Edward," she added, with a smile, "you
shall have the pleasure of startling your uncle and cousins as agreeably
as you did us. I will control my desire to proclaim the happy tidings of
your safe return."

She left the brother and sister together, sending Robert with, a lamp,
that they might have the gratification of seeing each other, which the
increasing darkness had as yet entirely prevented; and a gratification
to both it was indeed. Edward had left his sister comparatively well,
but with the traces of her severe illness still remaining vividly
impressed upon her features; but now he saw her radiant in health, in
happiness, and beauty so brilliant, he could hardly recognise that fair
and graceful girl for the ailing, drooping child she had once been. Nor
or was the contrast less striking between the Ellen of the present
meeting and the Ellen of the last; then wretchedness, misery, inward
fever, consumed her outward frame, and left its scorching brand upon her
brow. Remorseful anguish had bowed her down; and now he had returned
when her heart was free and light as the mountain breeze, her
self-inspired penance was completed; and nothing now existed to make her
shrink from the delight of devoting hours to her brother.

"Tell James to go over to the Rectory, with my compliments to Mr.
Howard, and if he be not particularly engaged, I beg he will join us
this evening," said Mrs. Hamilton, a short time after she had left the
library, addressing Martyn, then crossing the hall.

"Have you any particular wish for our worthy rector this evening,
Emmeline?" demanded Mr. Hamilton, gazing, as he spoke, with admiration
and surprise on the countenance of his wife, whose expressive features
vainly strove to conceal internal happiness.

"A most earnest desire," she replied, smiling somewhat archly.

"Indeed, I am curious"--

"I am sorry, dear Arthur, for I am no advocate for curiosity, and cannot
indulge it."

"Ah, papa, there is a gentle hint for you, and a broader one for me,"
exclaimed Emmeline, laughing; while conjectures as to what Mrs.
Hamilton's business with the rector could possibly be, employed the time
merrily till the whole party were assembled.

"You may depend, Emmeline, it is to arrange all the necessary minutiae
for your marriage," said Lord St. Eval, who had been persuaded to remain
at Oakwood that night. "Your mother has selected a husband for you;
and, fearing your opposition, has sent for Mr. Howard that all may be
said and done at once."

"I hope, then, that I am the man," exclaimed Lord Louis, laughing;
"there is no one else whom she can very well have at heart, not that I
see," he added, looking mischievously round him, while some strange and
painful emotions suddenly checked Emmeline's flow of spirits, and
utterly prevented her replying.

A flush of crimson dyed her cheek and brow; nay, her fair neck partook
its hue, and she suddenly turned towards her mother, with a glance that
seemed of entreaty.

"Why, Emmeline, my dear child, you surely cannot believe there is the
least particle of truth in my mischievous son's assertion?" said the
Marchioness of Malvern, pitying, though she wondered at her very evident
distress.

"And is marriage so very disagreeable to you even in thought?" demanded
Lord St. Eval, still provokingly.

"The very idea is dreadful; I love my liberty too well," answered
Emmeline, hastily rallying her energies with an effort, and she ran on
in her usual careless style; but her eye glanced on the tall figure of
young Myrvin, as he stood with Herbert at a distant window, and words
and liveliness again for a moment failed. His arms were folded on his
bosom, and his grey eye rested on her with an expression almost of
despair, for the careless words of Lord Louis had reached his heart--"No
one else she can have."

Lord Louis had forgotten him, or intentionally reminded him that he was
indeed as a cypher in that noble circle; that he might not, dared not
aspire to that fair hand. He gazed on her, and she met his look; and if
that earnest, almost agonized glance betrayed to her young and guileless
bosom that she was beloved, it was not the only secret she that night
discovered.

Mr. Hamilton was too earnestly engaged in conversation with Sir George
Wilmot to notice the painful confusion of his child; and Mrs. Hamilton
was thinking too deeply and happily on Ellen's conduct and Edward's
return, to bestow the attention that it merited, and consequently it
passed without remark.

"Mother, I am sorry to be the first to inform you of such a domestic
misfortune," said Percy, soon after entering the room, apparently much
amused, "but Robert has suddenly lost his wits; either something
extraordinary has happened or is about to happen, or the poor fellow has
become bewitched. You smile, mother; on my honour, I think it no smiling
matter."

"Never mind, Percy; your favourite attendant will, I have no doubt,
recover his senses before the night is over. I am not in the least
anxious," replied his mother, smiling.

"Percy, your mother has clothed herself to-night in impenetrable
mystery, so do not hope to discover anything through her," said Lord St.
Eval, laughing, and the young men continued gaily conversing with Lady
Gertrude and Caroline, till the entrance of Mr. Howard and the
announcement of tea or supper; of both of which, after a day spent in
the country as this had been, the evening meal partook.

"Ellen--where is Ellen?" said several voices, as they seated themselves
round the hospitable board, and observed her place was vacant; and Sir
George Wilmot eagerly joined the inquiry.

"She will join us shortly, Sir George," replied Mrs. Hamilton, and
turning to a servant near her, desired him to let Miss Fortescue know
tea was ready.

"I will go, madam. Stand back, James, let me pass," exclaimed Robert,
hastily, and he bounded out of the apartment with a most extraordinary
failing of his wonted respect.

"There, proof positive; did I not tell you the lad was mad," said Percy,
and, as if in confirmation of his words, almost directly after a loud
and joyful shout sounded from the servants' hall.

Mr. Hamilton looked up inquiringly, and in doing so his eye caught an
object that caused him to start from his seat with an exclamation of
surprise and pleasure; while Percy, leaping over chairs and tables that
stood in his way, unheeding Lord Louis's inquiry, whether Robert had
infected him, shook and shook again the hand of the long-absent
relative, in whom both he and Herbert could only recognise the preserver
of their father. Herbert and his sisters simultaneously left their
seats, and crowded round him. Warmly, affectionately, Edward greeted
them one and all, and rapidly answered the innumerable questions of
Percy; defended his sister from all share in his concealment, of which
Herbert and Emmeline laughingly accused her. The flush of almost painful
bashfulness still lingered on his cheek, as he marked the eyes of all
fixed upon him, strangers as well as friends; but as he turned in the
direction of his aunt, and his eye fell on the venerable figure of his
revered preceptor, who stood aside, enjoying the little scene he beheld,
as the remembrance of the blessed words, the soothing comfort that
impressive voice had spoken in his hour of greatest need, the lessons of
his childhood, his dawning youth, rushed on his mind, control,
hesitation, reserve were all at an end; he broke from the surrounding
and eager group, even from the detaining arm of his sister, sprang
towards him, and clasping both Mr. Howard's hands, his eyes glistened
and his voice quivered, as he exclaimed--

"Mr. Howard, too! one of my first, my best, and kindest friends. Ellen
told me not of this unexpected pleasure; this is joy, indeed."

"A joy to me, too, my dear boy, equally unexpected; we must thank Mrs.
Hamilton for this early meeting. I knew not the pleasure she had
prepared for me," replied Mr. Howard, returning the pressure of Edward's
hand with equal warmth.

"Nor did any one, my good sir. Never will I say again a lady cannot keep
a secret," said the Marquis of Malvern, jestingly. "Mr. Hamilton, as you
do not seem inclined to honour me, without asking, I must entreat a
formal introduction to that gallant nephew of yours, whose name is not
unknown to naval fame, though as yet but one of her junior officers."

"I really beg your pardon, my dear Lord; Edward's sudden appearance has
startled me out of all etiquette. To one and all, then, of my good
friends here, allow me to introduce to their indulgent notice this said
Edward Fortescue, midshipman and gallant officer on board His Majesty's
good ship Prince William; and, in order that all reserve may be at an
end between us, I propose a bumper to the health and prosperity of the
wanderer returned."

"Most excellent, my dear father; one that I will second with all my
heart," exclaimed Percy, eagerly. "For that amphibious animal looks
marvellously like a fish out of water amongst us all: and here we admit
no strangers. Edward, there is a vacant seat reserved for you by my
mother's side, who looks much as if she would choose you for her knight
this evening; and, therefore, though your place in future is amongst the
young ladies, to whom by-and-bye I mean to introduce you by name and
character, we will permit you to sit there to-night. Ellen, my little
coz, where are you? You must be content with looking at your brother,
not sitting by him. I cannot allow such breaches of etiquette; that is
quite impossible."

"I am perfectly satisfied where I am, Percy," replied his cousin,
laughing, as she obeyed the Marchioness of Malvern's request and seated
herself beside her. Every eye was turned on Ellen with an admiration,
which, had not her thoughts been engrossed with her brother, would have
been actually painful to one of her quick feelings. Lady Malvern longed
to hear from her young favourite, in words, the internal delight which
was so evident in every feature, and by her kindly sympathy succeeded in
her wishes. The young sailor's health was celebrated with enthusiasm;
and Edward gracefully, though briefly, returned his thanks, while the
kindness of all around him, the easy friendliness of those who were
strangers, and the joy of feeling himself once more in the midst of
those he loved, soon placed him perfectly at ease.

Ellen looked eagerly round her circle of friends, to mark the impression
made by Edward, and even her fond affection was fully satisfied. Sir
George Wilmot had not spoken, but his eye kindled with animation as in
the gallant young sailor he recalled his own youthful days, while some
other sad remembrances kept him silent, and checked his usual hilarity.
Lord Malvern appeared almost as interested as Mr. Hamilton. Lady
Gertrude's kind glance met hers, and told, by its silent eloquence, how
well she sympathised in Ellen's feelings; and Lord St. Eval too, his
smile spoke volumes, though his natural reserve prevented his addressing
Edward, while the young and lively members of the party seemed to find
abundant amusement in the anecdotes and adventures he narrated. Arthur
Myrvin gazed earnestly at him, and for a time banished his own
distressing thoughts in the endeavour to trace in the fine manly youth
before him some likeness to the handsome, yet violent and mischievous
boy he had first and last seen in the village of Llangwillan.

"I have heard so much of Eward, from my friend Ellen here, that I am
most anxious to cultivate his acquaintance, and trust Castle Malvern
will often be graced by the presence of such a gallant young sailor,"
was the Marchioness of Malvern's kind address, after they had adjourned
to the drawing room, as, leaning on the arm of Ellen, she advanced to
the young man, who, from Percy's lively introduction, was playing the
agreeable to Lady Florence and Lady Emily Lyle, while Lord Louis, who
found something in Edward's countenance that promised a kindred feeling
for fun and frolic, was demanding question after question, which Edward
was answering in a manner calculated to excite the continued merriment
of his companions, till a sign from his aunt called him to her side.

"So I must entreat Admiral Sir George Wilmot to deign to notice my
nephew, it will not be given unasked," she said, approaching the aged
officer, who was sitting a little apart, shading his eyes with his hand,
as if in deep thought. "Sir George, I shall impeach you of high treason
against me, the liege lady of this fortress, that on a night when all is
joy, you, who are generally the gayest, should be sad. What excuse can
you urge in your defence?"

"Is Edward unworthy of the high privilege of being a sailor, Sir
George?" whispered Ellen, archly, "or is your wrath against me, for not
joining your expedition this morning, to be extended to him? will you
not look on him as a brother seaman?"

"Nay, Ellen, I must toil through long years of servitude, I must reap
very many laurels, ere I can deserve that title," said Edward. "The name
of Sir George Wilmot is too well known on the broad seas for me to hope
for more than a word of encouragement from him, or to enable me to look
on him with any other feelings than those of the deepest reverence and
respect."

"Ay, ay, young man, you wish to surprise the old hulk to surrender;
gaily rigged and manned as you are, you think, by a show of homage to
me, to surprise me into paying it to you," said the old man, rousing
himself from his abstraction, and laughing as he spoke. "Do not deny it,
youngster, but I forgive you; for I have been an old fool, Mrs.
Hamilton. I plead guilty, and throw myself on your mercy. You, Mistress
Ellen, you deserve nothing from me, after rejecting every courtly speech
I could think of this morning, to persuade you to crowd sail and steer
out under my guidance instead of remaining safe in harbour. Jokes apart,
if you, young sir, will feel pleasure in the friendship of an old
time-worn servant of his Majesty as I am, I offer you my hand, with all
the warmth and sincerity of our noble profession. For your uncle's sake
as well as your own, my best wishes and my best offices shall be
exercised in tacking on lieutenant to your name."

"And you will do nothing, then, for _my sake_, Sir George, nor for my
aunt's, whose dignity your sadness has offended?" said Ellen, smiling,
as did Mrs. Hamilton.

"Your aunt would forgive my sadness, my dear child, did she know its
cause. I was wrong to encourage it, but I could not look on these bright
features," he laid his hand, which trembled, on Edward's arm, "without
seeing again past times peopled with those who have passed away. Mrs.
Hamilton, I thought again the merry favourite of my old friend, your
father, stood before me, the gay, the thoughtless, lovely Eleanor; she
was like him, in the bloom of youth and freshness, when I last beheld
her; and I thought, as mine eye glanced on this well known uniform,
there was another still of whom he reminded me,--the adopted son of my
affections, the darling of my childless years, Charles, my gallant
warm-hearted Charles! Nearly six years was he with me, when his courage
earned him a lieutenant's berth; he changed his quarters and his
commander, and I saw him no more. Such was he; such--oh, I thought
Eleanor and Charles again were before me, and I longed for the friend of
my early years, to recognise in his grandson the features of his
Eleanor, the voice, the laugh, and figure of his Charles. Forgive me, my
dear children, I have frightened away your mirth, and made myself
gloomy."

There was silence as he ceased, and Sir George was the first to break
it, by addressing Edward with animation, questioning him as to all his
hopes and anticipations with regard to his promotion, which, as his six
years of service were now passed, he allowed to occupy his mind, and in
such conversation all traces of gloom quickly vanished; and Ellen,
interested in their conference, lingered near them in recovered spirits,
till the bell summoned all those who chose to join in the evening
prayer. All attended, except young Myrvin, who had departed. Herbert
felt anxious on his friend's account, for many reasons, which we must
postpone explaining till a future page; suffice it now to say that the
young man's conduct not seeming to be such as his profession demanded, a
degree of scarcely-perceptible, but keenly-felt coldness was displayed
towards him, both by Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Howard. Herbert had this night
remarked that his cheek was pale, his eye almost haggard, and his words
and manner often confused, and he had endeavoured to elicit the cause of
his inward disturbance, but unsuccessfully; the young man, although very
evidently unhappy, appeared to shrink from his confidence, and Herbert,
though grieved, desisted from his friendly office. That night Mr.
Hamilton resigned his place at the reading-desk to the worthy minister,
who, both in public and private worship, knew so well the duties of his
sacred office. He read the chapters of the evening, with a brief but
explanatory commentary on each, and after the usual prayers, broke forth
into a strain of earnest thanksgiving for the safe return of him who,
since he had last addressed his God, surrounded by his family, had been
exposed to the temptations and dangers of the sea, and mercifully
preserved through them all, and permitted to return in joy and peace.
To all, save to the orphans and Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton, his words applied
but to the terrors of the deep, but they well knew where the thoughts of
their minister had wandered; they knew that fervent thanksgiving was
offered up for his preservation from those sins which had been his on
his last return; they knew he blessed his Maker for the promise of
virtue he beheld; His grace had enabled him to overcome temptation, and
return to the home of his boyhood comparatively unstained.

Edward contrasted his present feelings with those which he had
experienced the first night of his last return, and Ellen thought on
that bitter anguish, the public shame which had been hers in that very
hall, that very night three years before, and the young hearts of both
the orphans were filled with warm and deep thanksgiving. The thoughts of
all were composed and tranquillized when Mr. Howard ceased, and in the
little time that intervened between the conclusion of the service and
the family separating to their rooms, no light and frivolous converse
disturbed the solemn but sad impression on the minds of each.

"I cannot part from you for the night, my dear cousin," said Edward,
somewhat archly, though in a low voice, as he approached the spot where
Caroline and St. Eval stood, "without offering you my warmest
congratulations on your future prospects, and without requesting an
introduction from _you_ to him, in whom I am to welcome a new relative.
I have been wishing to do so all the evening, but when I was at liberty
I missed you."

Evidently pleased, Caroline looked up into St. Eval's face, but before
she could speak, the young earl had warmly pressed Edward's hand, and
answered with sincerity and kindness equal to his own. The whole party
very soon afterwards dispersed.

Were it ours to follow our young and still, in appearance, childlike
friend Emmeline Hamilton to her room that night, we should see that the
smiles which had beamed around her lip had passed away, the flush on her
cheek was no longer there, and one or two bright drops might have been
observed slowly falling on her pale cheek, as she sat in deep musing,
ere she retired to her couch. She had dismissed Fanny, alleging that she
did not require her aid, and her long silky hair loosened from its
confinement, hung carelessly in golden waves around her. Tears fell on
her hand; she started, and flung back her tresses, looked fearfully
around her, and passed her hand across her eyes, as if to check
them--but ineffectually; another, and another fell; she leaned her
crossed arms upon the pillow, and her head drooped on them, and she
wept, wept as she had never wept before, and yet she knew not wherefore;
she was sad, how deeply sad, but that young and guileless spirit knew
not why. Child she was still in looks, in playfulness, in glee; a child
she still believed herself, but she was no child--that age of buoyancy
had fled, and Emmeline was, indeed, a woman, a thinking, feeling, ay,
and loving woman.

It might have been nearly a week after Edward's return, when, on
entering the library one morning, Mrs. Hamilton observed her husband,
Mr. Howard, and Edward in earnest conference, the latter appearing
somewhat agitated. She would have retreated, imagining her presence
mistimed, but Edward, the instant he perceived her, sprung forward, and
seizing both her hands, exclaimed, in a voice of entreaty--

"Dearest aunt, will not you use your influence with my uncle, and
prevail on him to take the sum I have saved at different times, from my
prize-money and other things, to replace that which--which was lost
three years ago. To obtain sufficient, I have denied myself all
unnecessary indulgence; it has checked my natural extravagance;
prevented me, when sometimes I have been strongly tempted to play, or
join my messmates in questionable amusements. In saving that, I have
cured myself of many faults; it has taught me economy and control, for
by the time the whole amount was saved, my wishes and evil inclinations
were conquered. I look on it as a debt which I had bound myself to pay.
I anticipated the pleasure of telling my dear sister, she might banish
the past entirely from her mind, for I would not write a word of my
intentions, lest I should fail in them ere I returned. And now my uncle
refuses to grant my request; Mr. Howard will not second me; and--and I
see how it is," he continued, with a return of former violence in his
manner, as he paced the room, and a flush burned on his cheek, "my uncle
will not consent to look on it as a debt; he will not permit me, even as
far as this will do it, to redeem my sister."

"You are quite mistaken, my dear boy," replied Mr. Hamilton, mildly.
"Your sister's own conduct has sufficiently proved to me her repentance
and amendment; her gentle virtues and faultless conduct have quite
redeemed the past, and so has yours. I refuse to take your well-earned
savings, merely because they really are not necessary."

"But if it will give me pleasure, if it will satisfy me. Dearest aunt,
plead for me; you know not the relief it will be," again entreated
Edward, as he paused in his hasty walk, and looked beseechingly in his
aunt's face.

"Nay, dear Edward, do not demand impossibilities," she replied, smiling,
"I cannot plead for you. That money with which you appear so very eager
to part must return to your own purse; your sister's debt is already
paid."

"Paid!" repeated Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Howard, in astonishment, while
Edward stood, as if bewildered. "How, and by whom?"

"By Ellen herself," replied Mrs. Hamilton; and, addressing her husband,
she added, "I should have told you before, but we have been both too
much engaged the last two days to allow any time for private
conversation; and my Ellen had entreated that only you should know her
secret; but she would, I know, have made an exception in Mr. Howard's
favour had I demanded it, for his excellent lessons have in all
probability assisted in making her the character she is; and as for her
brother--why, in charity, he shall know this strange tale," she added,
smiling; and briefly, but with affecting accuracy, she related all that
had passed between her and Ellen on the evening of Edward's return. Mr.
Hamilton and Mr. Howard listened in astonishment, for they knew not the
quiet steadiness, the unwavering firmness of Ellen's private character;
they guessed not the deep remorse which had been her own, nor for how
long it had guided and purified her actions. Edward had concealed his
face in his hands, his arms resting upon the table, for he felt in this
tale of persevering effort and self-denial, in comparison with Ellen's,
as if his had sunk to nothing; the bright lustre of his sister's
character dimmed even to obscurity his own.

"And have you questioned Ellis? do you know in what manner she contrived
so secretly to render her assistance?" demanded Mr. Hamilton, with much
interest.

"I have," replied his wife, "I did so that same night; for even Edward's
unexpected return could not banish his sister from my mind. She told me,
that at first she did all she could to turn Ellen from her purpose; but
when she found her resolution was unalterably fixed by some means to
earn sufficient to repay the cause of so much distress, she entered
warmly into her plan; and, with the active assistance of Robert,
procured her work from the baby-linen warehouses at Plymouth. She first
began with the plainest work, but that succeeded so well, finer was
given to her. In London she worked embroidery, purchasing the materials
from her own pocket-money, and consequently largely increasing her
hoard. Spite of her ill-health, the first winter we spent in London, she
perseveringly continued her irksome task, rising even in the coldest
weather at six, the provident care of Ellis causing her fire to be
lighted almost the earliest in the house. Robert was the messenger
employed to and fro, but no one knew her name or rank; for, devoted as
we well know he is to Ellen, he took the trouble of changing his livery
for plain clothes, whenever Ellis sent him on his mission. Her secret
has, indeed, been well preserved both from us and those who employed
her. Many, very many silent tears Ellis believes have fallen over my
poor Ellen's tedious task; many a struggle to adhere to her resolution,
and not throw it aside in despair; and frequently, she told me, after a
long, solitary evening, she has thrown her arms round Ellis's neck, and
wept from exhaustion, and the misery of hope deferred, for at first it
did appear an endless labour; but she persevered unshrinkingly,
combating her wishes to accompany me wherever Emmeline visited."

"And it was this, then, that caused her determination to remain at home
till next year," observed Mr. Hamilton; "poor child, our harshness was
no sweetener of her task."

"It was not, indeed; the night of Emmeline's introduction, Ellis says,
she wept as if her heart would break, as if she could not keep her
secret any longer; but she struggled with herself, and conquered;
although many times, during my estrangement, she has longed to confess
all, but the fear that I should forbid her continuing her task
restrained her."

"I am very glad she persevered in her secret," said Mr. Howard, warmly;
"it is this quiet steady perseverance in a painful duty that has pleased
me far more than even the action itself, guided as that was by proper
feeling. Extraordinary sacrifices of our own formation are not, in
general, as acceptable to Him for whose sake they are ostentatiously
made, as the quiet steady discharge of our destined duties--the one is
apt to beget pride, the other true humility, but this unshaken
resolution in one so young, had its origin from true repentance, and
aided as it has been by the active fulfilment of every duty,
strengthened as it has, no doubt, been by prayer, I cannot but trust her
heavenly Master will look down with an eye of mercy on His young
servant. Look up, Edward; you, too, have done your duty. Why should your
sister's conduct cause this sudden depression, my young friend?"

"Because," exclaimed he, with an earnestness almost startling, and as
he looked up his eyes glistened with tears, "because all my efforts sink
to nothing beside hers. I deemed myself becoming worthy; that the
conquests over inclination I made would obliterate the past; but what
are my sacrifices compared to hers? Weak, frail, sensitive creature as
she is, thus secretly, laboriously to earn that sum which, because it
required one or two petty sacrifices of inclination, I deemed that I had
so nobly gained. What have been my efforts compared to hers?"

"Almost as great to you, my dear boy, as hers were to her," said Mr.
Hamilton, kindly; "you, too, have done well. Your past errors have
already, in my mind and in that of Mr. Howard and your aunt's, been
obliterated by the pleasure your late conduct has bestowed. She has not
had the temptations to extravagant pleasure which have been yours; to
save this sum you must have resigned much gratification. You have acted
thus excellently, in part, to regain the good opinion of your friends,
and the kind wish of restoring perfect peace to your sister: in the
first, you have fully succeeded; in the second, when your sister knows
what has been the secret purpose of your life for three long years, her
affections will amply repay you. You are deserving of each other, my
dear Edward; and this moment I do not scruple to say, I am proud to feel
myself so nearly related to those who, young as they both are, have so
nobly and perseveringly performed their duty both to God and man."

Young Fortescue raised his uncle's hand, wrung it between both his own,
and impetuously darted from the room.

"That boy would teach me never to despair again, my good friend," said
Mr. Hamilton, addressing the worthy clergyman. "When last he left me I
had learned to hope and yet to fear, for I dreaded his exposure to his
former temptations; and now--glad, indeed, am I to acknowledge myself
vanquished, and to own you were ever in the right."

Mr. Howard smiled.

"And now does my husband regret his having adopted my sister's orphans
as his own?" demanded Mrs. Hamilton, entwining her arm in her husband's,
and looking caressingly in his face.

"No, my dearest wife; once, indeed, when I beheld you in fancy about to
sink beneath the accumulation of misery and anxiety both Edward and
Ellen's conduct occasioned, I did in secret murmur that the will of my
heavenly Father had consigned to us the care of such misguided ones; I
fear I looked on them as the disturbers of family peace and harmony,
when it was the will of my God. I felt indignant and provoked with them,
when I should have bowed submissively to Him. I have been blessed in
them when I deserved it not. You ever trusted, my Emmeline, though far
greater distress was your lot than mine. You never repented of that
kindness which bade your heart bleed for their orphan state, and urged
you to take them to your gentle bosom, and soothe them as your own. I
know that at this moment you have your reward."

Mrs. Hamilton was prevented from replying by the entrance of Edward, who
eagerly inquired for his sister, alleging he had searched every room in
the house and could not find her.

"She has gone with Herbert to the village to take the fruits of her own
work, some baby linen, to the poor woman in whose fate I am so
interested," replied Mrs. Hamilton, and turning to her husband,
added--"Now we really are alone, my dear Arthur, will you give a little
of your time to inform me in what manner I can best lay out, for this
unfortunate being's advantage, the sum my Ellen has placed in my hands?
Do not look at me, Edward, as if to implore me to take yours also, for I
mean to be very positive, and say at once I will not."

"Come with me, my young friend, and we will go and meet Herbert and
Ellen," Mr. Howard said, smiling; "a walk is the best remedy for nerves
fevered as yours are at present, and I should be glad of your company."
And Edward, with eager pleasure, banishing all traces of former
agitation, departed arm in arm with a companion whom he still so revered
and loved, recalling with him reminiscences of his boyhood, and
detailing with animation many incidents of his late trip. This walk,
quiet as it was, was productive, both to Mr. Howard and his pupil, of
extreme pleasure; the former, while he retained all the gravity and
dignity of his holy profession, knew well how to sympathise with youth.
Increased duties in the ministry had caused him to resign the school
which he had kept when we first knew him, to the extreme regret of both
master and pupils. Mr. Howard regarded young people as the tender lambs
of his fold, whom it was his especial charge to train up in the paths of
grace, and guard from all the dangerous and hidden pitfalls of sin;
their parents might neglect, or, ignorant themselves, pursue a mistaken
method, but he was the shepherd placed over the flock, and while
untiringly, zealously, he endeavoured to lead the older members of his
congregation to the only rock of salvation, the younger were the objects
of his especial care. To them all was bright, the world in all its
dangerous, because more pleasurable, labyrinths was before them. He saw,
he knew their perfect ignorance, and he trembled, while he prayed so to
lead them, that the lessons of their minister might check them in the
career of imprudence or of sin.

"Were I one of the fathers of Rome I should say, _benedicite_, my
children," he said, playfully, as Herbert and Ellen, apparently in
serious yet happy conversation approached and joined them, "but as I am
merely a simple minister of a simple faith, I greet you with the
assurance you are blessed in your charitable office."

"And how, my kind friend, could you contrive to discover such was our
employment?" replied Herbert, smiling. "Can my mother have been
betraying us?"

"Oh, she has been a sad traitress this morning, betraying all kinds of
secrets and misdemeanours," said Mr. Howard, laughing, and casting on
Ellen a glance of arch meaning, while Edward could scarcely contain his
impatience to seize his sister's arm and bear her off with him.

"And we, too, have been hearing many tales of you, Mr. Howard," she
said. "We have heard very many blessings on your name in the cottage we
have left, although, alas! events have occurred there of a very painful
nature."

"And why, alas, my dear child?" said Mr. Howard, affectionately. "Do you
deem it so sad a thing to die?"

"It is wrong, I know, to regard it thus, Mr. Howard," replied Ellen;
"but yet, to leave all those we love on earth, to sever the tender cords
of affection binding us unto this world, must be, even to the strongest
and most pious minds, a draught of bitterness."

"Do not, my dear children," said Mr. Howard, "imagine I deem it wrong to
indulge in earthly affections. Far from it; they are given us to sweeten
life, to draw our hearts in thanksgiving to him who gave them, and thus
indulged are pleasing unto Him. And how did you find poor Nanny to-day?"
he added, after a brief pause.

"Suffering very much in body, but in a blessed state of mind," replied
Ellen, "which she greatly attributed to you; for she told me, before my
aunt discovered them and placed them where they now are, before she saw
you, death was a trouble awful in anticipation. She had ever tried to do
her duty in life, to remember her Maker in her youth, and believed that
she had succeeded; but when she knew that she must die, all appeared
changed; the aspect of death was different, when seemingly at a distance
to that which it presented when near at hand. She longed for some
minister of the Lord to pray for her, to comfort her in those moments
when suffering prevented serious thoughts, and it was affecting to hear
her bless that charity which had not only placed her soul under your
guidance, but provided also so many bodily comforts."

"And you have been exercising the duties of the ministry before you have
donned your gown, my dear Herbert," said Mr. Howard, glancing
approvingly on his young friend. "Glad indeed shall I be to hail you as
a young brother in my sacred office; for with you it will be indeed the
service of the heart, and not of interest or compulsion. Would that your
friend Arthur possessed one-half of your earnest zeal, or that you
could inspire him with the same love for his sacred calling which
animates you."

"I know not what to make of Arthur," said Herbert, somewhat sadly, "he
is strangely, unaccountably changed the last few months. When he was
first settled in his curacy, his conduct was such as to excite the
approbation of both my father and yourself; and now, I greatly fear,
that he is alienating both."

"Do not condemn him harshly, without good proof, dear Mr. Howard," said
Ellen, earnestly. "I, too, have noticed that he is changed, though I
scarcely know in what manner; but for his father's sake and for mine, do
not treat him coldly before my uncle at least. He has many faults, but
surely some good qualities."

"I trust he has; but I wish he would not so carefully conceal them, and
suffer his parishioners to have cause to relate so many tales of neglect
and levity in their curate," replied Mr. Howard; "but we will not bring
forward accusations when the accused is not present to defend himself:
and here we are at the Rectory before I had thought we were half way.
Will you come in, my young friends, and share an old man's homely
luncheon?"

Gladly would they have done so, but Ellen had promised to return to
Oakwood in time for that meal, and was compelled to refuse; adding, that
both her brother and cousin might, for the Rectory was so near one of
the entrances to the park, she could easily return alone; but such was
not Mr. Howard's intention. He knew how Edward longed for a few minutes'
private conversation with his sister, and playfully detaining Herbert,
declaring he could not do without one at least, dismissed the orphans on
their walk, bestowing his parting blessing on Ellen with a warmth that
surprised her at the time, but the meaning of which was fully explained
in the interesting conversation that passed between her and her brother
ere they reached the house, and as the expression of approbation in the
minister she loved, filled her young mind with joy, while the mutual
confidence bestowed in that walk added another bright link to the chain
of affection which bound the souls of that brother and sister so fondly
together.



CHAPTER II.


It was the hour when all in general retired to rest, and the inmates of
Oakwood had dispersed for the purpose; but this night thoughts of a
mingled and contending nature occupied Mrs. Hamilton's mind, and
prevented all wish for sleep. Her guests had the last week increased,
and the part of hostess had been kindly and pleasingly performed; but
the whole of that day she had longed to be alone, and gladly, gratefully
she hailed that hour which enabled her to be so. Shading her eyes with
her hand, she gave to her thoughts the dominion they demanded. Maternal
ambition, maternal pride, in that silent hour fell before the stronger,
more absorbing power of maternal love. But a few brief hours, and the
child of her anxious cares, of fervent petitions at the throne of grace,
would be no longer an inmate of her father's house, her place in that
happy home would be a void. On the morrow, ay, the morrow, for the
intervening weeks had fled, her child would be another's. True, but few
miles would separate their homes; true, that he on whom that precious
gift would be bestowed, was in all respects the husband she would have
selected for her Caroline, the husband for whom the involuntary prayer
had arisen; virtue and piety, manliness and sincerity were his, besides
these attributes, which to some mothers would have been far more
brilliant, he was noble, even of exalted rank; but all, all these things
were forgotten in the recollection, that on the morrow she must bid
farewell to her cherished treasure, the link, the precious link of
protection would be severed, and for ever. Thoughts of the past mingled
with the present, and softened yet more that fond mother's feelings.
Pain, bitter pain, Caroline had sometimes cost her, but pleasure,
exquisite in its kind, had mingled with it. No longer would it be hers
to watch with trembling joy the dawning virtues which had flourished
beneath her eye; a link would be broken between them, a slender one
indeed, but still broken,--though Mrs. Hamilton reproached herself for
indulging in such feelings of sadness, when so many blessings promised
to gild the lot of her child. And yet, alas! what mother devoted to her
children as she had been, and still was this noble and gentle woman,
could part from a beloved one even for a brief space, even for
happiness, without one pang, selfish as it might be, selfish as perhaps
it was? for anxiety for the future darkened not the prospects of earthly
bliss, her trust in the character of St. Eval was too confiding; it was
only her fond heart which for a time would be so desolate. Her ear would
linger in vain for the voice it loved; her eye seek in sorrow for the
graceful form, the beauteous features on which it had so loved to gaze.
New ties would supply to Caroline the place of all that she had left;
deep springs of fond emotions, such as she had never felt before, would
open in her heart, and then would she still love, would she still look
to that mother, as in childhood and in youth she had done? Vainly she
struggled to subdue these thoughts, and bring forward in their stead the
visions of happiness, which alone had visited her before. Thronging and
tumultuously they came, and tears stole slowly from those mild eyes,
which for herself so seldom wept; while engrossed in her own
reflections, she heard not the soft and careful opening of her door, she
knew not that the beloved object of those tears had entered her room,
and was kneeling beside her.

"Mother!" murmured Caroline, in a voice tremulous and weak with emotion
equal to her own. Mrs. Hamilton started, and her lip quivered with the
effort she made to smile her greeting. "Mother, my own mother, forgive
my intrusion; I thought not to have found you thus. Oh, deem me not
failing in that deep reverence your goodness, your devotedness, have
taught me to feel for you; if my love would bid me ask you why you weep,
may I not share your sorrow, mother?"

"These are but selfish tears, my own; selfish, for they fall only when I
think that to-morrow bears my Caroline away, and leaves her mother's
heart for a time so lone and sad, that it will not even think of the
happiness I so fondly trust will be hers, in becoming the bride of him
she loves. Forgive me, my own Caroline; I had no right to weep and call
for these dear signs of sympathy at such a time."

Silently and tearfully Caroline clung to her mother, and repeatedly
pressed her hand to her lips.

"And why are you not at rest, my child? you will have but few brief
hours for sleep, scarcely sufficient to recall the truant rose to these
pale cheeks, and the lustre to this suddenly dimmed eye, my Caroline;"
and the mother passed her hand caressingly over her brow, and parted the
luxuriant hair that, loosened from the confining wreath of wild flowers
which had so lately adorned it, hung carelessly around her. She looked
long and wistfully on that young bright face.

"You ask me why I am not at rest; oh, I could not, I felt I could not
part from you, without imploring your forgiveness for all the past;
without feeling that it was indeed pardoned. Never, never before has my
conduct appeared in such true colours: dark, even to blackness, when
contrasted with yours. Your blessing is my own, it will be mine
to-morrow; but, oh, it will not be hallowed to my heart, did I not
confess that I was--that I am unworthy of all your fondness, mother, and
implore you to forgive the pain I have so often and so wantonly
inflicted upon you. Oh, you know not how bitterly, how reproachfully, my
faults and errors rushed back to my mind, as I sat and thought this was
the last night that Caroline Hamilton would sleep beneath this roof;
that to-morrow we parted, and I left you without once acknowledging I
deserved not half your goodness; without one effort to express the
devoted gratitude, the deep, the reverential love, with which my heart
is filled. Mother, dearest, dearest mother! oh, call me but your
blessing, your comfort,--I never have been thus; wilful and disobedient,
I have poisoned many hours which would otherwise have been sweet.
Mother, my own mother, say only you forgive me--say that no lingering
pang I on my account remains."

"Forgive you, my beloved! oh, long, long since have every childish fault
and youthful error been forgiven. Could resentment harbour in my heart
so long? could memory linger on moments of pain, when this last year not
one fault, not one failing of duty or of love has stained your conduct?
Even as my other children have you been my blessing, my comfort; the
dearer, when I thought on the doubts and fears of the past. Pain you may
have once caused me; but, oh, you know not how blessedly one proof of
affection, one hour of devotion in a child can obliterate from a
mother's heart the remembrance of months of pain. Think no more of what
is past, my own; remember only that your mother's blessing, her fervent
prayers will hover round you wherever you may be; that, should sickness
and sorrow at any time be your portion, however distant we may be, your
mother will come to soothe and cheer, your mother's bosom will still be
open to receive you."

Caroline answered not, for her tears fell fast upon the hand she held;
tears not of sorrow but of emotion, blessed in their sadness. She bowed
her head before Mrs. Hamilton, and murmured--

"Bless me, my mother!"

"May the God of infinite love, the Father of unclouded mercies, who hath
been so unchangeably merciful to his servants, look down from His
resplendent throne and bless you, my beloved! May he sanctify and bless
that event, which promises to our darkened eyes so much felicity! May He
guide my child in His own paths, and hearken to her mother's prayer!"

"We will not separate this night to pray each in solitude, my child; let
us read, and address our heavenly Father together, as we were wont to
do, when it was my task to raise your infant thoughts and simple
prayers to Him who heard and answered. I cannot part from you till these
agitated feelings are more composed, and prayer will best enable them to
be so."

Willingly, gladly Caroline lingered, and their private devotions, which
ever attended their retiring to rest, were performed together. Their
blessed influence was mutually felt. He whom they so fervently addressed
looked down upon His good and faithful servants, and poured upon the
mother's soul and on that of her child the calm and tranquillizing dew
of His blessing.

The morning dawned, and common-place as is the expression, yet we must
confess the day was lovely; one of those soft, delicious September days
so well known to all who are acquainted with the climate of Devonshire.
Gaily the sun looked down from his field of stainless azure, and peeped
through the windows of the elegant little room which the taste of her
young bridesmaids had decorated as Caroline's tiring-room for the day,
and his bright rays played on the rich jewels scattered on the toilette,
and decked them with renewed brilliance; and at times his light would
fall full upon the countenance of the young bride, sometimes pensive, at
others, radiant in beaming smiles, as she replied to the kind words of
Lady Gertrude, or in answer to the playful conversation of her younger
bridesmaids, who, full of life, and hope, and innocence, hovered like
fairy spirits round their queen. The tears which had fallen from the
eyes of Emmeline on her sister's neck that morning were dried, yet still
there were some lingering traces of sadness on her fair sweet face,
which she struggled vainly to conceal, but which were regarded as the
sorrow of an affectionate heart thus parting from the sister of its
love.

And Lilla Grahame, too, was there, smiling with, real and heartfelt
pleasure. She had observed the slight cloud on Emmeline's brow, and with
every affectionate art endeavoured to remove it.

The toilette of the bride was completed, save her jewels, which Ellen
had entreated might be her office to arrange, and, smilingly, Lady
Florence resigned her place by Caroline's side.

"For Edward's sake and for mine, dearest Caroline, will you, decked as
you are with jewels so far more precious, yet will you wear this, and
regard it indeed as the offering of the sincerest affection for
yourself, the warmest prayers for your welfare, from those who for so
many years have felt for you as if you were indeed their sister? poor as
is the gift, will you let Edward see it is not rejected?" and Ellen, as
with a flushed cheek and quivering lip she spoke, placed on the arm of
her cousin a bracelet, composed of her own and her brother's hair, and
clasped with chaste yet massive gold. The braid was fine and delicate,
while the striking contrast of the jet black and rich golden hair of
which it was composed, combined with its valuable clasp, rendered it not
an unfit offering on such a day.

"Is it to remind me of all my unkindness towards you, Ellen, in days
past, of my hour of pride?" replied Caroline, in a low voice, as she
threw her arm caressingly round her cousin, and fondly kissed her. "I
will accept your gift, my dear Ellen, and sometimes look upon it thus."

"Nay, do not say so, dearest Caroline, or I shall feel inclined to take
it even now from your arm, and never let you see it more; no, rather
let it be a remembrance of those poor orphans, whose lives _you_ have
not done the least to render happy. Gratefully, affectionately, shall we
ever think of you, dear Caroline, and, oh, may this little offering bid
you sometimes think thus, and thus only of us."

The carriages were rather later than expected, and Lady Gertrude
observing Caroline somewhat pale, though no other sign denoted
agitation, endeavoured, by talking more sportively than usually was her
wont, to while away the time till the important moment arrived.

It came at length, and Caroline, with a faltering step, entered the
carriage, which conveyed her to the old and venerable church,
accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton and Lady Gertrude, who had promised
to remain near her. The fair girls that held the rank of bridesmaids
followed, and three other carriages contained the invited guests to the
wedding. Not a creature was visible to disturb by acclamations the
bridal party on their route, and take from the calm and holy beauty of
the early morning; but that the day was remembered was clearly visible,
for there were garlands of the brightest, fairest flowers, which must,
by their number and variety, have been culled from many gardens of many
villages, festooning the hedges of the green lanes through which they
passed, and many a gay pennon pendant from oak or stately elm fluttered
in the breeze. All was so still and calm, that ere the carriage stopped
at the church porch Caroline had conquered the inward trembling of her
frame, and her heart thrilled not perhaps so anxiously as did both her
parents', when, leaning on the arm of her proud and happy father, she
walked steadily, even with dignity, up the church, where Mr. Howard,
young Myrvin, Lord St. Eval, his parents, Lord Louis, Percy, Herbert,
and Edward there stood, and a faint but expressive smile played round
her lips, in answer to St. Eval's eager yet silent greeting. He could
not speak, his feelings of happiness were too deep, too ecstatic for
words, but she had but to look on his expressive face, and all, all was
said.

There was a moment's solemn pause as they knelt beside the altar, and
then the voice of Mr. Howard sounded, and its ever emphatic tones rung
with even more than its usual solemnity on the ears of all the assembled
relatives and friends, with thrilling power on the bride and bridegroom.
Calmly and clearly Caroline responded; her cheek was pale, but her lip
quivered not, and perhaps, in that impressive service, the agitation of
her mother was deeper than her own. She struggled to retain her
composure, she lifted up her soul in earnest prayer, that the blessing
of her God might indeed hallow the ceremony on which she gazed, and ere
her child arose, and led forward by her young enraptured husband,
approached for her parent's blessing and embrace, she was enabled to
give both without any visible emotion, save that her daughter might have
felt the quick pulsations of her fond heart, as she pressed her in her
arms.

We will not linger on the joyous festivity which pervaded the lordly
halls of Oakwood on this eventful day.

The hour had come when Caroline, the young Countess of St. Eval, bade
farewell to her paternal home. The nearest relatives of the bride and
bridegroom had assembled with them in a small apartment, at Caroline's
request, for a few minutes, till the carriage was announced, for though
resolved not to betray her feelings, she could not bear to part from
those she loved in public. She had changed her dress for a simple yet
elegant travelling costume, and was now listening with respectful
deference but glistening eyes to the fond words of her mother, who,
twining her arm around her, had drawn her a little apart from the
others, as if her farewell could not be spoken aloud; their attention
was so arrested by a remark of Lord Malvern, and his son's reply, that
they turned towards them.

"Do not again let me hear you say our Gertrude never looks animated or
interested," the former said, addressing the Marchioness, somewhat
triumphantly. "She is as happy, perhaps, if possible, even happier than
any of us to-day, and, like a good girl, she shows it. Gertrude, love,
is it your brother's happiness reflected upon you?"

"Let me answer for her, sir," replied St. Eval, eagerly. "You know not
why she has so much reason to look and, I trust, to feel happy. She sees
her own good work, and, noble, virtuous as she is, rejoices in it;
without her, this day would never have dawned for me, Caroline would
never have been mine, and both would have lived in solitary
wretchedness. Yes, dearest Gertrude," he continued, "I feel how much I
owe you, though I say but little. Happy would it be for every man, could
he receive from his sister the comfort, the blessing I have from mine,
and for every woman, were her counsels, like yours, guided by truth
alone."

"The Earl and Countess of St. Eval left Oakwood about two o'clock, for
their estate in Cornwall, Castle Terryn, in an elegant chariot and four
superb greys, leaving a large party of fashionable friends and
relations to lament their early departure." So spoke the fashionable
chronicle in a paragraph on this marriage in high life, which contained
items and descriptions longer and more graphic than we have any
inclination to transcribe.

A select party of the Marquis of Malvern's and Mr. Hamilton's friends
remained to dinner, and, at the request of Percy and Lord Louis, dancing
for the younger guests concluded the evening. The day had dawned in joy,
and no clouds disturbed its close. Fatigued, and her thoughts still
clinging to her child, Mrs. Hamilton was glad to seek the retirement of
her own room. Her thoughts turned on her Caroline, and so fondly did
they linger there, that Emmeline's strange diversity of wild spirits and
sudden but overpowering gloom did not occupy her mind as powerfully as
they would otherwise have done; she did not regard them, save as the
effects of excitement natural to such an eventful day; she guessed not
that of all her household the heart of her Emmeline was the heaviest,
her spirits weighed down by a gloom so desponding, so overwhelming, that
sleep for many hours fled from her eyes. She had powerfully exerted
herself during the day, and now in solitude, darkness, and silence, the
reflux of feeling was too violent for that young and, till lately,
thoughtlessly joyous heart to bear. Her heavy eyes and pallid cheeks
attracted notice indeed the following morning, but they were attributed
to fatigue from the gay vigils of the preceding night, and gladly did
the poor girl herself encourage the delusion, and obey her mother's
playful command to lie down for a few hours, as a punishment for
indulging an overplus of excitement.

Herbert's pleasure, too, the preceding day had been alloyed by anxiety;
and perhaps his solicitude and his sister's sorrow proceeded from one
and the same cause, which our readers will find at length, a few pages
hence, when Arthur Myrvin becomes a prominent object in our history.

Pleasure, in a variety of festive shapes, but innocent in all, was for
the next month the presiding genius of Oakwood and its vicinity. Lord
Malvern's family remained as guests at Oakwood during that time, and
some few college friends of Percy and Herbert, but Mr. Hamilton's other
friends departed for their respective homes the week following the
marriage.

The young Earl and Countess of St. Eval meanwhile resided at their
beautiful retreat of Castle Terryn, which the taste of the young Earl
had rendered in every respect a residence suited to the rank and
feelings of those who claimed it as their own.

Nothing now prevented our young friend Ellen from joining in the
amusements that offered themselves, and she enjoyed them even more than
she had expected, for she was accompanied by her brother, who had
deservedly become an universal favourite, and Mrs. Hamilton had the
pleasure, at length, of seeing not only health but happiness beaming
apparently unclouded on the countenance of her niece.

Mr. Grahame, for the sake of Lilla, who was becoming dearer each day to
both her parents, for her true character for the first time stood
clearly forth, struggled with his gloom, and accompanied her where-over
her wishes led; and her cheerful spirits, her unpretending manners, and
constant and active affection, manifesting itself in a thousand
different ways, to amuse the couch of her now really ailing mother, did
much to palliate the disappointment and misery the conduct of his elder
daughter had occasioned.

Herbert's secret was still inviolably kept; no one suspected that he
loved, much less that he was betrothed. Nearly two years had passed of
that long period which must elapse ere Herbert could hope to make Mary
his wife. They had glided quickly, very quickly by, and so too might the
remainder; but there was a dark, foreboding feeling pressing heavily
upon Herbert's heart as he looked forward, that robbed anticipation of
its charm, and rendered him even more pensive than from his boyhood had
been his wont. To strangers, even to his family, he was still the same;
to his God alone he laid his spirit bare.

Six weeks after the marriage of Caroline, Oakwood and its neighbourhood
was as quiet as it has been when we knew it in former years.

Lord Malvern's family stayed ten days at Castle Terryn, by the pressing
invitation of the young couple, and then returned to their estate in
Dorsetshire, leaving Lady Gertrude, however, for a few weeks' longer
residence with her brother and his wife. The young men returned to
college. Lilla Grahame remained at home till after the Christmas
vacation, when she was once more to reside with Mrs. Douglas for six
months or a year longer, according to the state of her mother's health,
who no longer wished to quit Moorlands; and therefore her husband gladly
consented to her remain there till Mrs. Hamilton paid her annual visit
to London. About this time also, Ellen, accompanied by her brother,
fulfilled her promise of visiting her old friend, Mr. Myrvin, and
delighted him by making his pretty vicarage her residence till near the
middle of November. Edward, with whom the kind old man was as much
pleased as he had been with his sister, also remained at Llangwillan
during that time, with the exception of three or four flying visits to
Oakwood, and latterly to Castle Terryn, where Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton,
with Emmeline, were staying the few last weeks of his and his sister's
visit at the vicarage. Their company was particularly soothing to Mr.
Myrvin at this period; for the letters of his son were causing him
extreme solicitude, revealing intentions, to understand which we must
for a short period retrace our steps, and thus commence another chapter.



CHAPTER III.


Young Myrvin had been, at the period of Caroline's marriage, rather more
than a year as Mr. Howard's curate. At first, as we have seen, the
example of Herbert had done much towards reconciling him to a
profession, which was for many reasons opposed to his feelings. When in
the company of his friend, he had imparted to him his struggles with the
pride and ambition which still lurked within him, spite of all his
endeavours and resolutions to conquer and banish them. While Herbert was
near him all was well; his duty was regularly performed, in a manner
that satisfied his rector, and sufficiently rewarded Mr. Hamilton for
the interest he had taken in his and his father's welfare; but when
Herbert left Oakwood, Arthur's distaste for his occupation returned with
renewed strength, to which newly-dawning emotions added weight. Most
painfully had Arthur, when first intimate with Mr. Hamilton,
endeavoured to guard himself from the danger to his peace, which he
felt existed in the society of beings so amiable and attractive as were
his daughters; but his efforts were vain, as our readers may have
already discovered. There was a nameless, an indescribable charm in the
appearance and manner of Emmeline which he could not resist. It was some
few months ere the whole extent of evil was discovered, not perhaps
entirely till Emmeline returned to London, and Oakwood was desolate,
painfully desolate to the young man, who, when lingering within its
ancient walls, forgot everything around him, save the bright and
beautiful being who was to him its charm. When, however, that fair form
had departed from his sight, he was awakened to the delusive nature of
his hopes, and with the knowledge, exquisite even in its despair, that
he loved Emmeline Hamilton, his profession became more and more
distasteful. Had he followed the paths of ambition, as his inclination
prompted, had he but had the means of seeking some station whence he
might at length have risen to eminence, he cared not what the obstacles,
his union with her might not have been so difficult to overcome, or, at
least, he might not have met her; and did he wish that such had been the
case? no; misery in its most agonizing shape stood before him, and yet
the cause of that misery was the one bright star that appeared to gild
his lot.

A poor curate of a country parish, with no resources but his salary to
increase his scanty means, no power of rendering himself of consequence
in the eyes of the world; and, alas! the fruit of many years' hard
labour from father to son--one-half of which might have rendered him
sufficiently independent to have chosen his own profession--was gone.
Poor as he was, could he ever look forward to possess the hand of
Emmeline? he felt the utter impossibility, and bitterly he knew he loved
but to despair. These contending feelings diverted his thoughts as may
well be supposed, and caused him to be careless in the discharge of his
clerical duties, abrupt and strange in his manner with Mr. Howard; and
unfortunately there was one in the village who was ready to turn the
simplest circumstance to the young curate's disadvantage.

It was not likely the sinful and licentious man who, by Mr. Hamilton's
active exertions, had not only been dispossessed of the living of
Llangwillan, but very nearly of his gown also, would permit these, what
he termed injuries, to pass unavenged. Against the elder Myrvin he felt
his efforts would be unavailing, nor did he feel inclined to try a
second time, when he had once been foiled; but Arthur he believed a
surer mark. A farm of some consequence was to be let on Mr. Hamilton's
estate; it was very easy to settle in it a man lower in rank, but hard,
unrelenting as himself, an unprincipled instrument of his will. The
business was done, and the new neighbour, prepossessing in appearance
and manners, speedily ingratiated himself with all, and even obtained,
by a semblance of hard-working industry, and regular attendance at
public worship, seconded by quiet and unobtrusive conduct, the notice
and regard of his landlord, Mr. Hamilton.

This man had entered his farm about four or five months after Arthur had
been installed as Mr. Howard's curate, and cautiously and yet
successfully he executed the wily requirements of his employer. So
guardedly did he work, that no one could trace to him, who ever spoke
as the friend of their curate, the prejudice which had slowly but surely
penetrated the mind of every man against him, and interpreted his
simplest action in the worst light. There were some rumours afloat of
misdemeanours during his college life; it mattered not whether they were
true or false, they were received and encouraged by the credulous. He
was a Welshman too, full of evil qualities, and clothed with
invulnerable pride, which last idea was unfortunately confirmed by
Myrvin's distaste for his profession, which prevented his entering into
the joys and sorrows of his parishioners, mingling familiarly and kindly
with them as a minister of God should do.

How or when this prejudice began, or what was its origin, not one of the
good folks of the village could have told, for they really did not know;
but still it existed, and Arthur knew it. He felt himself disliked, and
instead of endeavouring to conciliate good-will and remove prejudice,
his mind was in such a fevered state of excitement, that he indulged in
every bitter feeling toward those with whom he had to deal, and shrunk
yet more from the performance of his duty. Instances of careless neglect
were often found, and became magnified in the relation. The young curate
was not always at hand when his presence was principally required; he
never left directions where he might be found. Abuse crept into that
parish, which in the time of his predecessor had been one of the most
orderly in Mr. Hamilton's domains--abuses in the younger inhabitants, at
which old men looked grave, and cited the neglect of their curate as the
cause, though to what abuses young Myrvin had given countenance all
would have found it difficult to tell. That he did not rebuke them it
was true; he did not perhaps observe them, but it was said, and justly,
he must have been strangely blind not to do so.

The villagers understood not that preoccupation of mind which does
indeed render us blind to all things, save to the one intense subject of
thought.

Complaints were made to and heard by the rector, who, faithful to his
trust, visited the parish, made inquiries, heard tales concerning his
curate that startled his charity, and finally spoke severely to Arthur
on his careless and neglectful conduct. It would have been better for
Arthur had pride remained banished during that interview; but,
unfortunately, fired with indignation at anything resembling censure
even from a superior, it returned with full force, and by his haughty
silence with regard to some of the charges brought against him, his
ill-disguised contempt of others, confirmed every evil report concerning
him which Mr. Howard had heard. Mildly he requested that the future
might atone for the past, and that Myrvin would remember the sacred post
he held. The unhappy young man heard him without reply; but when the
rector had departed, he strove to think soberly on the charges brought
against him, and look within himself to know if he deserved them.
Neglect and carelessness--yes, he had given cause for both. Other
accusations of much graver import he dismissed at once, satisfied that
the very thought of such vices had never even for one moment stained his
mind, and as secure in his own integrity and right feeling, as he was
aware of the prejudice against him, he determined--as, alas! how many in
such cases do--not to alter his general conduct, lest it should be said
he tacitly admitted the truth of every report against him. Had he only
been accused of neglect in parochial duties, he might perhaps, if his
troubled spirit had permitted him, have endeavoured to attend more
closely to them; but his pride prevented him from striving to obtain the
good-will of those who seemed only alive to every circumstance tending
to his disadvantage. Would he endeavour to conciliate those whom he well
knew disliked him? no; the very act of so doing would be brought against
him, and sternly he resolved that haughtiness and pride should still
characterise his deportment. What mattered it what people thought or
said, if it was untrue? he cared not; the world was a wilderness to his
excited and irritated fancy, in which there bloomed but one sweet
flower, too pure, too beautiful for him to touch. It was his doom he
thought to grovel on the earth, hers to shine like a star in the sphere
above him.

Not long after Mr. Howard's interview with his curate, Mr. Hamilton's
family and his guests arrived at Oakwood, and Herbert eagerly sought his
friend. He was shocked at the change he perceived in his appearance,
which, though marked, was yet quite indescribable; that Arthur was
unhappy, that his profession was more than ever distasteful to him, he
soon discovered; but the real cause of these feelings he tried in vain
to probe. He saw, with the deepest regret, that all his former
exhortations on the subject, his earnest entreaties that Arthur would
persevere till he brought a willing heart as an offering to his Maker,
all had been without effect; but yet his kind heart could not cast away
his friend, opposite as were their feelings on a subject which to
Herbert was of vital importance. It was strange that a character such
as Herbert Hamilton should have selected Arthur Myrvin for his chosen
friend, yet so it was. It might have been pity, sympathy, which had
first excited this friendship. The indignation he felt at the
unjustifiable treatment Arthur had received while a servitor at college
had excited an interest, which had at first completely blinded him to
his many faults; and when they were discovered, the ardent desire and
hope that he might be of service in removing them from the otherwise
noble character of his friend still preserved and, indeed, heightened
his regard. Though frequently disappointed during his absence, at the
brevity and sometimes even confused style of Arthur's letters, he had
buoyed himself up with the hope that his representations had had their
effect, and he should find him, on his return, reconciled and happy in
the exercise of his duties. Again he urged, with a kindness of manner
that caused Arthur to wring his hand, and then pace the room in
ill-concealed agony, the necessity, now that he had indeed taken orders,
of endeavouring to do his Master's work on earth, of forcing his
rebellious spirit to submission. Arthur listened to him attentively,
sadly; but vainly Herbert strove to instil in him a portion of that
heavenly love which was to him the main-spring of his life. Arthur loved
with an intensity, which utterly prevented his looking up to heaven as
the goal, to reach which all earthly toil was welcome; and still not
even to Herbert did he breathe one syllable of the fire that was
inwardly consuming him. Had he been any one but Herbert Hamilton, the
unhappy young man would have sought and found relief in his confidence;
but not to the brother of the being he loved, oh, not to him--he could
not, dared not.

"Herbert," he would say, in a voice hoarse with contending feelings,
"did I dare betray the secret of this tortured heart, the true cause of
my misery, you would pity, even if you condemned me; but ask it not--ask
it not, it shall never pass my lips; one thing only I beseech you, and I
do so from the regard you have ever seemed to feel for me. However you
may hear my character traduced, my very conduct may confirm every evil
report, yet believe them not; I may be miserable, imprudent, mad, but
never, never believe the name of Arthur Myrvin is stained with vice or
guilt. Herbert, promise me this, and come what may, one friend, at
least, is mine."

Herbert gazed on him with doubt, astonishment, and sorrow, yet an
irresistible impulse urged him to promise all he asked, and Myrvin
looked relieved; but painfully he felt, though he noticed it not to his
friend, that the manner of Mr. Hamilton towards him was changed;
cordiality and kindness had given place to coldness and reserve.

The whirl of a gay and happy London season had produced no change in the
outward appearance and demeanour of Emmeline Hamilton. It had not been
to her the ordeal it had been to her sister. She came forth from the gay
world the same pure, innocent being as she had entered it. Admired she
was by all with whom she was associated, but her smile was not sought
for, her conversation not courted, as had been Caroline's, therefore her
temptations had not been so great, but she was universally beloved.

Her mother sometimes wondered that Emmeline, keenly susceptible as she
was to every other emotion, should still remain so insensible to
anything resembling love. "She is indeed still the same innocent and
darling child," she thought, and rested in pleased and satisfied
security. She little knew, penetrating even as she was, that those young
affections were already unconsciously engaged, that one manly figure,
one melancholy yet expressive face utterly prevented the reception of
any other. Emmeline knew not herself the extent of influence that secret
image had obtained; she guessed not the whole truth until that night
when her marriage had been jestingly alluded to, and then it burst upon
her, stunning her young mind with a sense of scarcely-defined yet most
painful consciousness. Arthur Myrvin had looked to Emmeline's return to
Oakwood with many mingled feelings; she might be perhaps, even as her
sister, a betrothed bride; he might have to witness, perhaps to
officiate at her nuptials; he might see her courted, receiving
attentions from and bestowing smiles on others, not casting one look or
one thought on him, who for her would have gladly died. The idea was
agony, and it was the sufferings occasioned by the anticipation of ideal
misery that had produced the change in face and form which Herbert had
beheld and regretted.

They met, and as if fortune favoured their secret but mutual affection,
alone, the first time since Emmeline had returned from London.
Unaccustomed to control, and at that time quite unconscious she had
anything to conceal, though wondering why every pulse should throb, and
her cheek so flush and pale, her agitation of manner, her expressed and
evidently felt sorrow for the traces of suffering she beheld, sunk as
balm on the sorrowing heart of the young man, and his first three or
four interviews with her were productive of a happiness so exquisite,
that it almost succeeded in banishing his gloom; but short indeed was
that period of relief. Speedily he saw her, as he had expected,
surrounded by gay young men of wealth and station. He felt they looked
down on him; they thought not of him, as a rival he was unworthy, as
incapable of loving a being so exalted; but in the midst of these
wretched thoughts there arose one, that for a brief space was so bright,
so glad, so beautiful, that while it lasted every object partook its
rays. He marked her, he looked, with eyes rendered clear from jealousy,
for some sign, it mattered not how small, to say she preferred the
society of others to his own; ready as he was to look on the darkest
side of things, he felt the hesitating glance, the timid tone with which
she had latterly addressed him, contrary as it was to the mischievous
playfulness which had formerly marked her intercourse with him, was
dearer, oh, how much dearer than the gaiety in which she had indulged
with others. This change in her manner was unremarked by her family.

The eye of love, however, looked on those slight signs in a very
different light. Did she, could she love one so unworthy? The very idea
seemed to make him feel as a new and better man. He covered his eyes
with his hands, lest any outward sign should break that blessed
illusion, and then he started, and returning recollection brought with
it momentary despair. Did she even love him--were even her parents to
consent,--his own,--for his vivid and excited fancy for one minute
imagined what in more sober moments he knew was impossible--yet even
were such difficulties removed, would he, could he take that fair and
fragile creature from a home of luxury and every comfort to poverty?
What had he to support a wife? How could they live, and what hope had
he of increasing in any way his fortune? Was he not exciting her
affections to reduce them, like his own, to despair? And could she,
beautiful and delicate as she was, could she bear the deprivation of his
lot? She would never marry without the consent of her parents, and their
approval would never be his, and even if it were, he had nothing, not
the slightest hope of gaining anything wherewith to support her; and
she, if indeed she loved him, he should see her droop and sink before
his eyes, and that he could not bear; his own misery might be endured,
but not hers. No! He paced the small apartment with reckless and
disordered steps. His own doom was fixed, nothing could now prevent
it--but hers, it might not be too late. He would withdraw from her
sight, he would leave her presence, and for ever; break the spell that
bound him near her. Ere that hasty walk in his narrow room was
completed, his resolution was fixed; he would resign his curacy, and
depart from the dangerous fascinations hovering round him.

Yet still he lingered. If he had been too presumptuous in thinking thus
of Emmeline--if he were indeed nothing to her, why should he inflict
this anguish on himself? Why need he tear himself from her? The night of
Edward's return, while in one sense it caused him misery, by the random
remark of Lord Louis, yet, by the agitation of Emmeline, the pang was
softened, though he was strengthened in his resolve. Four days
afterwards, the very evening of that day when Mr. Howard had alluded to
his neglect of duties, before Herbert and his cousins, he tendered his
resignation, coldly and proudly refusing any explanation, or assigning
any reason for so doing, except that he wished to obtain a situation as
tutor in any nobleman or gentleman's family about to travel. So greatly
had the mind of Mr. Howard been prejudiced against the unhappy young
man, by the false representations of his parishioners, that he rather
rejoiced at Myrvin's determination, having more than once feared, if his
conduct did not alter, he should be himself compelled to dismiss him
from his curacy. But while pleased at being spared a task so adverse to
his benevolent nature, he yet could not refrain from regarding this
strange and apparently sudden resolution as a tacit avowal of many of
those errors with which he was charged.

Feeling thus, it will be no subject of surprise that Mr. Howard accepted
his curate's resignation; but while he did so, he could not refrain from
giving the young man some kind and good advice as to his future life,
which Arthur, aware the rector regarded him through the medium of
prejudice, received not in the same kind spirit as it was offered. He
listened silently indeed, but with an air of pride which checked all Mr.
Howard's really kind intentions in his favour.

The rector, aware that Mr. Hamilton would be annoyed and displeased at
this circumstance, did not inform him of Myrvin's intentions till some
few weeks after Caroline's marriage, not indeed till he felt compelled
by the wish to obtain his approval of a young clergyman who had been his
pupil, and was eager to secure any situation near Mr. Howard, and to
whom therefore the curacy Arthur had resigned would be indeed a most
welcome gift. Mr. Hamilton was even more disturbed, when all was told
him, than Mr. Howard had expected. It seemed as if Arthur had forgotten
every tie of gratitude which Mr. Hamilton's services to his father, even
forgetting those to himself, certainly demanded. His determined
resolution to assign no reason for his proceeding but the one above
mentioned, told against him, and Mr. Hamilton, aware of the many evil
reports flying about concerning the young man, immediately imagined that
he resigned the curacy fearing discovery of misdemeanours which might
end even more seriously.

Herbert, too, was deeply pained that his friend had left him to learn
such important intelligence from the lips of another instead of
imparting it himself. It explained all the apparent contradictions of
Arthur's conduct the last month, but it surprised and grieved him, yet
the mystery caused him both anxiety and sadness, for Myrvin was
evidently determined in no way to solve it. That he was unhappy in no
ordinary degree, was to the eye of friendship very evident, not only in
the frequent wildness of his manner, but in the haggard cheek and
bloodshot eye; and sympathy thus ever kept alive in one so keenly
susceptible of the woes of others as was Herbert Hamilton, sympathy
continually excited, prevented all decrease of interest and regard.
Percy was irritated and annoyed; Myrvin had disappointed him. His
conduct, in return for Mr. Hamilton's kindness, appeared as ungrateful
as unaccountable, and this caused the more fiery temper of the young
heir of Oakwood to ignite and burst forth in a flame in the presence of
Arthur, whose meek forbearance and, he now began to fancy, silent
suffering tamed him after a brief period, and caused him, with his usual
frankness and quick transition of mood, to make him an apology for his
violence. He was touched by the young man's manner, but they continued
not on the same terms of friendly intimacy as formerly.

Mrs. Hamilton's charitable nature, heightened also by Herbert's
unchanging regard, would not permit her to credit the tales that were
abroad concerning him. She regretted his determination, for it appeared
like wilfully casting away the friendship and interest of those who were
likely to do him service. She guessed not the real motive of his
resolve, if she had, she would have honoured even as she now regarded
him with pity; but almost for the first time the penetration of Mrs.
Hamilton was at fault. Emmeline's feelings, even as those of Arthur,
were successfully concealed; from her brother Herbert she had first
heard of Myrvin's intentions. She listened in silence, but her lip
quivered and her cheek grew pale; and when she sought the solitude of
her own room, tears relieved her, and enabled her to act up to her
determination, cost what it might, to be the same playful, merry girl
before her parents as was her wont, not that she meant in any way to
deceive them, but she had learned that she loved Arthur Myrvin, and knew
also that to become his wife, situated as they were, was a thing
impossible.

Had Emmeline really been the romantic girl so generally believed, she
would now have done all in her power to overcome every difficulty, by
regarding poverty as the only criterion of true love; she would have fed
her imagination with visions of herself and Arthur; combating manfully
against evil, so they shared it together; she would have robed poverty
with an imaginary halo, and welcomed it, rejoicing to become his wife,
but such were not her feelings. The careful hand of maternal love had
done its work, and though enthusiasm and romance were generally the
characteristics most clearly visible, yet there was a fund of good and
sober sense within, that few suspected, and of which even her parents
knew not the extent, and that plain sense effectually prevented her ever
becoming the victim of imagination.

Emmeline loved Arthur Myrvin, loved him with an intensity, a fervour,
which only those who possess a similar enthusiastic temperament can
understand. She felt convinced she was not indifferent to him; but agony
as it was to her young heart to part from him, in all probability for
ever, yet she honoured his resolution; she knew, she felt its origin,
and she rejoiced that he went of his own accord, ere their secret
feelings were discovered.

Notwithstanding all her endeavours, her spirits flagged, and at the
conclusion of the Oakwood festivities she appeared so pale and thin,
that Mrs. Hamilton consulted Mr. Maitland. Emmeline had resisted, as
much as she could without failure of duty, all appeal to medical advice,
and it was with trembling she awaited his opinion; when, however, it was
given, she rejoiced that he had been consulted, for had her parents
entertained any suspicions of the real cause, it would have completely
banished them. He said she was merely suffering from the effects of a
lengthened period of excitement, that quiet and regularity of pursuits
would in all probability restore both health and spirits. A smile, faint
and apparently without meaning, played round her lips as her mother
repeated what he had said, and playfully declared she should most
strictly adhere to his advice.

Arthur had shrunk from the task of acquainting his father with his
intentions, for he well knew they would give him pain, and cause him
extreme solicitude, and he postponed doing so till his plans for the
future were determined. He had even requested Ellen and Edward, who were
still his friends, to say but little concerning him during their stay at
Llangwillan; but if they revealed his intentions, he implored them to
use all their influence with his father to reconcile him to this bitter
disappointment of his cherished hopes. He had determined not to return
to Llangwillan, he felt he could not bear to see his parent with the
consciousness that he had acted contrary to his wishes; he would not
therefore do so till he had succeeded in obtaining the situation he so
earnestly desired. But as the period when he should resign his curacy
now rapidly approached, he no longer refrained from writing to his
father, and Ellen proved her regard for both father and son, by
affectionately endeavouring to soothe Mr. Myrvin's disappointment and
solicitude, which were, as his son expected, extreme. She succeeded, at
length, in persuading him, that could he obtain the situation he so much
desired, Arthur would be more likely to advance than in retaining his
present occupation.

The period of Arthur's departure came a few days before Christmas. He
went to bid Mr. Hamilton farewell the very morning on which that
gentleman intended riding over to Exeter to meet Ellen and her brother,
on their return from Llangwillan. To Arthur this interview was indeed a
painful one. From the moment his resolution to depart had been fixed,
that moment the blessed truth had strangely and suddenly burst upon him
that he was beloved; a new spirit appeared to dawn within, and midst
the deep agony it was to feel he was parting for ever from a being he so
dearly loved, there was a glow of approving conscience that nerved him
to its endurance. It was this which had enabled him to conquer his
irritation at Percy's violence, and the grief it was to feel that
Herbert too must doubt him. He esteemed, he loved, was deeply grateful
to Mr. Hamilton, and his evident displeasure was hard to bear; yet even
that he had borne, strengthened by secret yet honourable incentives. But
that morning, his heart throbbing with ill-concealed anguish, for the
following day he would he miles from Oakwood, never, never to behold
Emmeline again, his frame weakened, his blood fevered from the
long-continued mental struggle, the stern address of Mr. Hamilton stung
him to the quick.

Mr. Hamilton was not one of those who could disguise his sentiments. If
interested at all in the fortunes of another, he felt he must speak,
however severe in some cases his words might seem. As the chosen friend
of his son--the victim for a time of oppression and injury--young Myrvin
had excited his interest too powerfully for him entirely to abandon it
even now, and therefore he spoke plainly to him even as he thought.

"You are casting from you," he said, "a friend who was both able and
willing to assist you, apparently without the slightest regret, even
with indifference. As the chosen and dear companion of my valued son,
your interests were mine, and gladly would I have done all in my power
to forward your views, had your conduct been such as I expected and
required, but such it appears has been far from the case. Your
unaccountable resignation of a situation, which, though not one of
great emolument, was yet of value, unhappily confirms every evil report
I have heard. The same unsteady and wavering spirit which urges you to
travel, instead of permitting you to remain contented in the quiet
discharge of sacred duties, may lead you yet more into error, and I warn
you as a friend, govern it in time. You may deem me intrusive in my
remarks, I speak but for your own good, young man; and though your
forgetfulness of the sacred nature of your profession could not fail to
lessen my esteem and regard, yet for your father's sake I would implore
you to remember that your calling involves duties of the most solemn
nature, and renders you a much more responsible being both in the sight
of God and man."

Arthur answered him not. His cheek burned and his heart throbbed, but it
was the father of Emmeline, the benefactor of his father, who spoke, and
he might have spoken more and more severely, but he would have been
unanswered; even to defend his own stainless integrity and innocence he
could not have spoken, the power of speech appeared to have entirely
deserted him. Never could he have been said to hope, but the words he
had heard proved to him that he had lost the esteem and regard of Mr.
Hamilton, and darkened his despair. He fixed his large, dark grey eyes
earnestly on Mr. Hamilton's face, so earnestly, that for some time
afterwards that look was recalled with melancholy feelings; he bent his
head silently yet respectfully, and quitted the room without uttering a
single word.

Struck by his haggard features, and the deeply mournful tone of his
voice, as he bade her farewell and thanked her for all her kindness,
Mrs. Hamilton, whose kindly nature had never permitted her to share her
husband's prejudice against him, invited him, if his time permitted, to
accompany her on her walk to Moorlands, where she had promised Lady
Helen and Lilla to spend the day during her husband's absence. There was
such extreme kindness in her manner, pervading also her words, that
Arthur felt soothed and comforted, though he found it difficult to
converse with her on the indifferent subjects she started, nor could he
answer her concerning his plans for the future, for with a burning cheek
and faltering voice he owned they were not yet determined. He gazed on
her expressive features, which responded to the interest she expressed,
and he longed to confess the whole truth, and implore her pity, her
forgiveness for having dared to love her child; but with a strong effort
he restrained himself, and they parted, in kindness, indeed, but nothing
more.

"Emmeline is gone down to the school," said Mrs. Hamilton, unasked, and
thus betraying how entirely she was free from all suspicions of the
truth, "and she goes from thence to see a poor woman in the outskirts of
the village. You must not leave us without wishing her farewell, or she
will think you have not forgiven all the mischievous jokes she has
played off upon you so continually."

Arthur started, as he looked on her face. Again the wish arose to tell
her all, but it was instantly checked, and bowing with the deepest
reverence, as he pressed in his her offered hand, hastily withdrew.

Should he indeed see Emmeline, and alone? Her mother's voice had bid him
seek her, but the same motives that bade him resign his curacy, caused
him now to feel the better course would be to fly at once from the
fascination of her presence, lest in a moment of excitement he should be
tempted to betray the secret of his love; but while passion struggled
with duty, the flutter of her dress, as Emmeline suddenly emerged from a
green lane, and walked slowly and, he thought, sadly along, caught his
eye, and decided the contest.

"I will be guarded; not a word of love shall pass my lips. I will only
gaze on her sweet face, and listen to the kind tones of her dear voice
again, before we part for ever," he thought, and darting forwards, was
speedily walking by her side. He believed himself firm in his purpose,
strong, unwavering in his resolution; but his heart had been wrung to
its inmost core, his spirit bent beneath its deep, wild agony, and at
that moment temptation was too powerful; he could not, oh, he could not
part from her, leave her to believe as others did. Could he bear that
she, for whose smile he would have toiled day and night, to be regarded
with esteem, to obtain but one glance of approbation, could he bear that
she should think of him as the unworthy being he was represented? No! he
felt he could not, and in one moment of unrestrained and passionate
feeling, his love was told, the treasured secret of his breaking heart
revealed.

Emmeline heard, and every limb of her slight frame trembled, almost
convulsively, with her powerful struggle for composure, with the wish
still to conceal from him the truth that he was to her even as she to
him, dear even as life itself; but the struggle was vain. The anguish
which the sight of his deep wretchedness inflicted on that young and
gentle bosom, which from childhood had ever bled for others' woes, was
too powerful, and led on by an irresistible impulse, she acknowledged
his affections were returned; for she felt did she not speak it, the
extreme agitation she could not hide would at once betray the truth, but
at the same instant she avowed her unhappy love, she told him they must
part and for ever. She conjured him for her sake to adhere to his
resolution, and leave the neighbourhood of Oakwood; she thanked him with
all the deep enthusiasm of her nature, for that regard for her peace
which she felt confident had from the first dictated his resigning his
curacy, and braving the cruel prejudices of all around him, even those
of her own father, rather than betray his secret and her own; rather
than linger near her, to play upon her feelings, and tempt her, in the
intensity of her affection for him, to forget the duty, the gratitude,
the love, she owed her parents.

"Wherefore should I hide from you that the affection, the esteem you
profess and have proved for me are returned with equal force?" continued
this noble-minded and right-feeling girl, as they neared Mrs. Langford's
cottage, where she felt this interview must cease--she could sustain it
no longer. "I would not, I could not thus wound the kind and generous
heart of one, to whose care I feel I could intrust my earthly happiness;
but as it is, situated as we both are, we must submit to the decrees of
Him, who, in infinite wisdom and mercy, would, by this bitter trial,
evince our love for Him, and try us in the ordeal of adversity and
sorrow. He alone can know the extent of that love we bear each other;
and He, if we implore Him, can alone give us sufficient strength to
obtain the conquest of ourselves. We part, Arthur--and if not for ever,
at least till many years have passed. Forget me, Arthur; you have by the
honourable integrity of your conduct wrung from me a secret I had deemed
would have died with me; for I knew and felt, and so too must you, its
utter, utter hopelessness."

Her voice for the first time, faltered; audibly, but with a strong
effort, she rallied, "I do not ask from you an explanation of the
rumours to your discredit, which are flying about this neighbourhood,
for not one of them do I believe; you have some secret enemy, whose evil
machinations will, I trust, one day be clearly proved; perhaps you have
been neglectful, heedless, and I may have been the cause. But let not
this be, dear Arthur, let me not have the misery of feeling that an
ill-fated love for one thus separated from you has rendered reckless
that character which is naturally so good, so bright, and noble. Oh, for
my sake, yield not to despair; shake off this lethargy, and prove to the
whole world that they have wronged you, that the fame of Arthur Myrvin
is as stainless as his name."

Arthur moved not his eyes from her as she thus spoke, every word she
uttered increased the strong devotion he felt towards her; but as the
purity, the nobleness of her character was displayed even clearer than
ever before him, he felt himself unworthy to possess her, and yet that
such a being loved him, avowed her love, acknowledged that to him she
could intrust her earthly happiness without a single doubt, that
knowledge exalted him above himself, soothed that morbid sensitiveness
which had oppressed him, and, ere her sweet voice had ceased to urge him
on to exertion, to trust in Him who had ordained their mutual trial, he
had inwardly resolved to nerve himself to the task, and prove that she
was not deceived in him, that he would deserve her favourable opinion.
He gazed on her as if that look should imprint those fair and childlike
features on the tablet of his memory.

"I will obey you," he said at length, in a voice hoarse with contending
emotions. "We part, and when I return years hence, it may be to see you
the happy wife of one in all respects more suited to you; but then, even
then, although love for me may have passed away, remember it is you,
whose gentle voice has saved a fellow-creature from the sinful
recklessness of despair; you who have pointed out the path which, I call
heaven and earth to witness, I will leave no means untried till it is
trodden. Had you refused to hear me, had you scorned my affections, left
me in displeasure for my presumption, oh, Emmeline, I might indeed have
become that which I am believed; but now you have inspired me with a new
spirit. The recollection that you have not deemed me so utterly
unworthy, will never, never leave me; it shall cling to me, and if evil
assail me, that fond thought shall overcome temptation. The vain
longings for a more stirring profession shall no more torment me, it is
enough _you_ have not despised me; and however irksome may be my future
duties, they shall be performed with a steadiness and zeal which shall
procure me esteem, if it do no more, and reconcile my conscience to my
justly offended Maker. If, in future years, you chance to hear the name
of Arthur Myrvin spoken in terms of respect and love, you will trace
your own work; and oh, Emmeline, may that thought, that good deed, prove
the blessing I would now call down upon your head."

He paused in strong and overpowering emotion, and Emmeline sought in
vain for words to reply; they had reached the entrance to Mrs.
Langford's little garden, and now the hour had come when they must part.
"Farewell, dearest Arthur, may God bless you and give you peace! Leave
me now," she added, after a moment's pause. But Arthur could only fix
his eyes mournfully on her face, as though her last look should never
leave him; then, suddenly, he raised her hand to his quivering lip. One
moment, through blinding tears, he gazed on that dear being he loved so
well; yet another moment, and he was gone.

Emmeline leaned heavily against the little gate, a sickness as of death
for a moment crept over her and paralysed every limb; with a strong
effort she roused herself and entered the cottage, feeling greatly
relieved to find Mrs. Langford was absent. She sunk on a low seat, and
burying her face in her hands, gave way for the first time to a violent
burst of tears; yet she had done her duty, she had acted rightly, and
that thought enabled her to conquer the natural weakness which, for a
short time, completely overpowered her, and when Mrs. Langford returned,
no signs of agitation were evident, except a more than ordinary
paleness, which in her present delicate state of health, was easily
attributable to fatigue.

Now it so happened that Widow Langford possessed a shrewdness and
penetration of character, which we sometimes find in persons of her
class, but which was in her case so combined, from long residence in Mr.
Hamilton's family, with a delicacy and refinement, that she generally
kept her remarks very much more secret than persons in her sphere of
life usually do. It was fortunate for our poor Emmeline that it was so,
for the widow had chanced to be an unseen witness of Arthur's
impassioned farewell. She heard the concluding words of both, marked the
despairing glance of Arthur, the deadly paleness of her dear Miss
Emmeline, and connecting these facts with previous observations, she
immediately imagined the truth; and with that kindness to which we have
alluded, she retreated and lingered at a neighbour's till she thought
her young lady had had sufficient time to recover her composure, instead
of acting as most people would have done, hastened up to her, under the
idea she was about to faint, and by intrusive solicitations, and yet
more intrusive sympathy in such a matter, betrayed that her secret had
been discovered.

Mrs. Langford shrunk from acting thus, although this was not the first
time she had suspected the truth. She knew Emmeline's character well,
and doted on her with all the affection a very warm heart could bestow.
Having been head nurse in Mrs. Hamilton's family from Herbert's birth,
she loved them all as her nurslings, but Emmeline's very delicate health
when a baby, appeared to have rendered her the good woman's especial
favourite.

At the time of Caroline's marriage, Miss Emmeline's future prospects
were, of course, the theme of the servants' hall; some of whom thought
it not at all improbable, that as Miss Hamilton had become a countess,
Miss Emmeline might one day be a marchioness, perhaps even a duchess.
Now Widow Langford thought differently, though she kept her own counsel
and remained silent. Miss Emmeline, she fancied, would be very much
happier in a more humble sphere, and settled down quietly near Oakwood,
than were she to marry some great lord, who would compel her to live
amidst the wear and tear of a gay and fashionable life. Arthur Myrvin
chanced to be a very great favourite of the widow's, and if he could but
get a richer living, and become rather more steady in his character, and
if Miss Emmeline really loved him, as somehow she fancied she did, why
it would not only be a very pretty, but a very happy match, she was
quite sure.

The good widow was, however, very careful not in the least to betray to
her young lady that she had been a witness of their parting; for, after
an expression of pleasure at seeing her there, an exclamation of
surprise and regret at her pale cheeks, she at once branched off into a
variety of indifferent subjects concerning the village, topics in which
she knew Emmeline was interested, and concluded with--

"And so our young curate is, indeed, going to start for Exeter to-night,
in the Totness mail. I am so very sorry, though I do not dare say so to
any of my uncharitable neighbours. I did not think he would go so soon,
poor dear Mr. Myrvin."

"It is not too soon, nurse, when every tongue has learned to speak
against him," replied Emmeline, calmly, though a sudden flush rose to
her cheek. "He must be glad to feel Mr. Howard no longer requires his
services."

"But dear Miss Emmeline, you surely do not believe one word of all the
scandalous reports about him?" said the widow, earnestly.

"I do not wish to do so, nor will I, without more convincing proofs,"
replied Emmeline, steadily. "My father, I fear, is deeply prejudiced,
and that, in one of his charitable and kindly feelings, would tell
against him."

"My master has been imposed on by false tales, my dear young lady; do
not let them do so on you," said the good woman, with an eagerness which
almost surprised her young companion. "I am quite convinced he has some
secret enemy in the parish, I am pretty certain who it is; and I do not
despair one day of exposing all his schemes, and proving Mr. Myrvin is
as well disposed and excellent a young man as any in the parish. I know
who the villain is in this case, and my master shall know it too, one
day." Emmeline struggled to subdue the entreaty that was bursting from
her lips, but entirely she could not, and seizing the widow's hand, she
exclaimed, in a low agitated voice--

"Do so; oh, proclaim the falsehood, the cruelty of these reports, and
I--I mean Arthur--Mr. Myrvin will bless you. It is so cruel, in such
early youth, to have one's character defamed, and he has only that on
which to rest; tell me, promise me you will not forget this
determination."

"To the very best of my ability, Miss Emmeline, I promise you," replied
Mrs. Langford, more and more confirmed in her suspicions. "But do not
excite yourself so much, dear heart. Mr. Maitland said you were to be
kept quite quiet, you know, and you have fatigued yourself so much, you
are trembling like an aspen."

"My weakness must plead my excuse for my folly, dear nurse," answered
Emmeline, striving by a smile to control two or three tears, which,
spite of all resistance, would chase one another down her pale cheek.
"Do not mind me, I shall get well very soon. And how long do you think
it will be before you succeed in your wish?"

"Not for some time, my dear young lady, at present. I have only my
suspicions; I must watch cautiously, ere they can be confirmed. I assure
you, I am as anxious that poor young man's character should be cleared
as you can be."

A faint smile for a moment played round Emmeline's lips, as she pressed
the good woman's hand, and said she was satisfied. A little while longer
she lingered, then rousing herself with a strong effort, she visited, as
she had intended, two or three poor cottages, and forced herself to
listen to and enter with apparent interest on those subjects most
interesting to their inmates. In her solitary walk thence to Moorlands
she strenuously combated with herself, lest her thoughts should adhere
to their loved object, and lifting up her young enthusiastic soul in
fervent faith and love to its Creator, she succeeded at length in
obtaining the composure she desired, and in meeting her mother, at
Moorlands, with a smile and assumed playfulness, which did not fail,
even at Mrs. Hamilton's gentle reproof for her lengthened absence and
over fatigue, to which she attributed the paleness resting on her cheek,
and which even the return of Edward and Ellen to Oakwood, and the many
little pleasures incidental to a reunion, could not chase away.

Three weeks passed quietly on; Oakwood was once more the seat of
domestic enjoyment. The Earl and Countess St. Eval spent the week of
Christmas with them, which greatly heightened every pleasure, and Mr.
and Mrs. Hamilton, instead of seeking in vain for one dear face in the
happy group around them on the eve of Christmas and the New Year, beheld
beside their peaceful hearth another son, beneath whose fond and gentle
influence the character of Caroline, already chastened, was merging into
beautiful maturity, and often as Mrs. Hamilton gazed on that child of
care and sorrow, yet of deep unfailing love, she felt, indeed, in her a
mother's recompense was already given.

Edward's leave of absence was extended to a longer period than usual.
His ship had been dismantled, and now lay untenanted with the other
floating castles of the deep. Her officers and men had been dispersed,
and other stations had not yet been assigned to them. Nor did young
Fortescue intend joining a ship again as midshipman; his buoyant
hopes--the expectations of a busy fancy--told him that perhaps the
epaulette of a lieutenant would glitter on his shoulder. On his first
return home he had talked continually of his examination and his
promotion, but as the time neared for him to accompany his uncle to
London for the purpose, his volubility was checked.

Caroline and her husband returned to Castle Terryn, and scarcely four
weeks after Myrvin's departure, Emmeline received from the hands of Mrs.
Langford an unexpected and most agitating letter. It was from Arthur;
intense mental suffering, in the eyes of her it addressed, breathed
through every line; but that subject, that dear yet forbidden subject,
their avowed and mutual love, was painfully avoided; it had evidently
been a struggle to write thus calmly, impassionately, and Emmeline
blessed him for his care: it merely implored her to use her influence
with St. Eval to obtain his interference with his father on his
(Arthur's) behalf. Lord Malvern he had heard was seeking for a gentleman
to accompany his son Louis as tutor and companion to Germany; there, for
the two following years, to improve his education, and enable him to
obtain a thorough knowledge of the language and literature of the
country. Arthur had applied for the situation, and recognised by the
Marquis as the young clergyman he had so often seen at Oakwood, he
received him with the utmost cordiality and kindness. On being
questioned as to his reasons for resigning his curacy, he frankly owned
that so quiet a life was irksome to him, and a desire to travel had
occasioned the wish to become tutor to any nobleman or gentleman's son
about to do so. He alluded himself to the reports to his prejudice,
avowed with sorrow that neglect of parochial duties was indeed a just
accusation, but from every other, he solemnly assured the Marquis, his
conscience was free. Not one proof of vice or even irregularity of
conduct had been or could be brought against him. He farther informed
Emmeline, that not only the Marquis but the Marchioness and the whole
family appeared much disposed in his favour, particularly Lord Louis,
who declared that if he might not have him for a tutor, he would have no
one else, and not go to Germany or to any school at all. The Marquis had
promised to give him a decided answer as soon as he had consulted Lord
St. Eval on the subject. He knew, Myrvin concluded, that her influence
was great with the Earl, and it was for that reason and that alone he
had ventured to address her.

Emmeline reflected long and deeply on this letter. Had she listened to
the powerful pleadings of her deep affection, she would have shrunk from
thus using her influence, however small, to send him from England,--yet
could she hesitate? had she indeed forgotten herself to follow that only
path of duty she had pointed out to him? Brief indeed were her moments
of indecision. She wrote instantly to St. Eval in Arthur's favour, but
so guardedly and calmly worded her letter, that no suspicion of any
kinder or more interested feeling than that of her peculiarly generous
and warm-hearted nature could have been suspected, either by St. Eval or
her sister. She excused her boldness in writing thus unadvisedly and
secretly, by admitting that she could not bear that an unjust and
unfounded prejudice should so cruelly mar the prospects of so young and,
she believed, injured a fellow-creature. She was well aware that her
father shared this prejudice, and therefore she entreated St. Eval not
to mention her share in the transaction.

Lord St. Eval willingly complied with her wishes. She had been, as we
know, ever his favourite. He loved her perfect artlessness and
playfulness, her very enthusiasm rendered her an object of his regard;
besides which, on this point, his opinion coincided with hers. He felt
assured young Myrvin was unhappy--on what account he knew not--but he
was convinced he did not deserve the aspersions cast upon him; and,
directly after the receipt of Emmeline's earnest letter, he came
unexpectedly to the parish, made inquiries, with the assistance of Mrs.
Langford, and returned to Castle Terryn, perfectly satisfied that it
would certainly be no disadvantage to his brother to be placed under the
care and companionship of Arthur Myrvin. He lost no time in imparting
this opinion to his father; and Emmeline very quickly learned that the
whole affair was arranged. Lord Louis was wild with joy that Arthur
Myrvin, whom he had liked at Oakwood, was to be his tutor, instead of
some prim formidable, dominie, and to this news was superadded the
intelligence that, the second week in February, the Rev. Arthur Myrvin
and his noble pupil quitted England for Hanover, where they intended to
make some stay.

Emmeline heard, and the words "will he not write me one line in farewell
ere he leaves England?" were murmured internally, but were instantly
suppressed, for she knew the very wish was a departure from that line of
stern control she had laid down for herself and him; and that letter,
that dear, that precious letter--precious, for it came from him, though
not one word of love was breathed,--ought not that to be destroyed? Had
she any right now to cherish it, when the aid she sought had been given,
its object gained? Did her parents know she possessed that letter, that
it was dear to her, what would be their verdict? And was she not
deceiving them in thus retaining, thus cherishing a remembrance of him
she had resolved to forget? Emmeline drew forth the precious letter; she
gazed on it long, wistfully, as if in parting from it the pang of
separation with the beloved writer was recalled. She pressed her lips
upon it, and then with stern resolution dropped it into the fire that
blazed upon the hearth; and, with cheek pallid and breath withheld, she
marked the utter annihilation of the first and last memento she
possessed of him she loved.

Mrs. Hamilton's anxiety on Emmeline's account did not decrease. She
still remained pale and thin, and her spirits more uneven, and that
energy which had formerly been such a marked feature in her character
appeared at times entirely to desert her; and Mr. Maitland, discovering
that the extreme quiet and regularity of life which he had formerly
recommended was not quite so beneficial as he had hoped, changed in a
degree his plan, and advised diversity of recreation, and amusements of
rather more exertion than he had at first permitted. Poor Emmeline
struggled to banish thought, that she might repay by cheerfulness the
tenderness of her parents and cousins, but she was new to sorrow; her
first was indeed a bitter trial, the more so because even from her
mother it was as yet concealed. She succeeded for a time in her wishes,
so far as to gratify her mother by an appearance of her usual
enthusiastic pleasure in the anticipation of a grand ball, given by
Admiral Lord N----, at Plymouth, which it was expected the Duke and
Duchess of Clarence would honour with their presence. Ellen anxiously
hoped her brother would return to Oakwood in time to accompany them. He
had passed his examination with the best success, but on the advice of
Sir Edward Manly, they both lingered in town, in the hope that being on
the spot the young officer would not be forgotten in the list of
promotions. He might, Edward gaily wrote, chance to return to Oakwood a
grade higher than he left it.



CHAPTER IV.


"Ellen, I give you joy!" exclaimed Emmeline, entering the room where her
mother and cousin were sitting one afternoon, and speaking with some of
her former cheerfulness. "There is a carriage coming down the avenue,
and though I cannot quite distinguish it, I have second sight sufficient
to fancy it is papa's. Edward declared he would not tell us when he was
coming home, and therefore there is nothing at all improbable in the
idea, that he will fire a broadside on us, as he calls it,
unexpectedly."

"I would willingly stand fire, to see him safe anchored off this
coast," replied Ellen, smiling. "Lord N----'s ball will lose half its
charms if he be not there."

"What! with all your enthusiastic admiration of her Royal Highness, whom
you will have the honour of seeing? For shame, Ellen."

"My enthusiastic admiration; rather yours, my dear Emmeline. Mine is so
quiet that it does not deserve the name of enthusiasm," replied Ellen,
laughing. "Nor could I have imagined you would have honoured me so far
as to give me an attribute in your eyes so precious."

"I am getting old and learning wisdom," answered Emmeline, making an
effort to continue her playfulness, "and therefore admire quietness more
than formerly."

"And therefore you are sometimes so silent and sad, to atone for the
past, my Emmeline," remarked her mother, somewhat sorrowfully.

"Sad, nay, dearest mother, do me not injustice; I cannot be sad, when so
many, many blessings are around me," replied the affectionate girl.
"Silent I may be sometimes, but that is only because I do not feel quite
so strong perhaps as I once did, and it appears an exertion to rattle on
as I used upon trifling subjects."

"I shall not be contented, then, my own Emmeline, till that strength
returns, and I hear you delighted, even as of old, with little things
again."

"And yet you have sometimes smiled at my romance, and bade me think of
self-control, dearest mother. Must I be saucy enough to call you
changeable?" answered Emmeline, smiling, as she looked in her mother's
face.

Mrs. Hamilton was prevented replying by Ellen's delighted exclamation
that it was her uncle's carriage, and Edward was waving a white
handkerchief, as if impatient to reach them, an impatience which was
speedily satisfied by his arrival, bounding into the room, but suddenly
pausing at the door to permit his uncle and another gentleman's
entrance, to which latter he respectfully raised his cap, and then
sprung forward to clasp the extended hands of his cousin and sister.

"Allow me to congratulate you, madam," said Sir Edward Manly, after
returning with easy politeness the courteous greeting of Mrs. Hamilton,
"on the promotion of one of the bravest officers and most noble-minded
youths of the British navy, and introduce all here present to Lieutenant
Fortescue, of his Majesty's frigate the Royal Neptune, whose unconquered
and acknowledged dominion over the seas I have not the very slightest
doubt he will be one of the most eager to preserve."

"Nor can I doubt it, Sir Edward," replied Mrs. Hamilton, smiling, as she
glanced on the flushing cheek of her gallant nephew, adding, as she held
out her hand to him, "God bless you, my dear boy! I do indeed rejoice in
your promotion, for I believe it well deserved."

"You are right, madam, it is well deserved," replied Sir Edward, with an
accent so marked on the last sentence that the attention of all was
arrested. "Hamilton, I have been silent to you on the subject, for I
wished to speak it first before all those who are so deeply interested
in this young man's fate. The lad," he added, striking his hand frankly
on Edward's shoulder, "the lad whose conscience shrunk from receiving
public testimonials of his worth as a sailor, while his private
character was stained, while there was that upon it which, if known, he
believed would effectually prevent his promotion; who, at the risk of
disappointment to his dearest wishes, of disgrace, want of honour,
possessed sufficient courage to confess to his captain that his
log-book, the first years of his seamanship, told a false tale--the lad,
I say, who can so nobly command himself, is well worthy to govern
others. He who has known so well the evil of disobedience will be firm
in the discipline of his men, while he who is so stern to his own faults
will, I doubt not, be charitable to those of others. The sword presented
to him for his brave preservation of the crew of the Syren will never be
stained by dishonour, while he looks upon it and remembers the past, and
even as in those of my own son, shall I henceforward rejoice in using my
best endeavours to promote the fortunes of Edward Fortescue."

The return of Edward, the honours he had received, the perfect happiness
beaming on his bright face, all caused Ellen to look forward to the ball
with greater pleasure than she had ever regarded gaiety of that sort
before; and Mrs. Hamilton would sometimes playfully declare that she and
Emmeline had for a time exchanged characters, although Edward's
never-failing liveliness, his odd tales and joyous laugh, had appeared
partly to rouse the latter's usual spirits, and dissipate slightly her
mother's anxiety.

The festive night arrived, and anticipation itself was not disappointed
in the pleasure it bestowed. All the nobility of the country, for miles
round, had assembled in respect to the royal guests who had honoured
the distinguished commander with their august presence; and Mrs.
Hamilton's natural feelings of pride were indeed gratified that night,
as she glanced on her Caroline, who now appeared in public for the first
time since her marriage, attired in simple elegance, yet with a richness
appropriate to her rank, attracting every eye, even that of their Royal
Highnesses themselves, by the graceful dignity of her tall and
commanding figure, by the quiet repose and polished ease which
characterised her every movement. If Lord St. Eval looked proud of his
young wife, there were few there who would have blamed him. The Lady
Florence Lyle was with her brother, enjoying with unfeigned pleasure, as
did Ellen, and to all appearance Emmeline, the scene before them.

The brilliant uniforms of the army, and the handsome but less striking
ones of the navy, imparted additional gaiety and splendour to the rooms,
forming picturesque groups, when contrasting with the chaste and elegant
costumes of the fairer sex. But on the fascinating scene we may not
linger, nor attempt to describe the happiness which the festivities
occasioned the entire party, nor on the gratification of Lieutenant
Fortescue, when Sir Edward Manly begged the honour of an introduction
for his young friend to his Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence, who,
with his amiable consort, the Princess Adelaide, had honoured Lord
N----with their august presence. Upon one incident alone we must be
permitted to dwell, as affording a great and unexpected pleasure to our
friend Ellen.

Edward and Ellen were for some time perfectly unconscious that they were
objects of the most earnest, penetrating scrutiny of a lady, leaning on
the arm of a young and handsome man in regimentals, near them.

"It must be them; that likeness cannot be that of a stranger," were the
words, uttered in an earnest, persuading tone, addressed by the young
officer to the lady, who might be his mother, which were the first to
attract the attention of the little group, though the speaker appeared
quite unconscious he was overheard. "Let me speak to him, and at least
ask the question."

"No, no, Walter," the lady replied, in a low tone. "Changed as are our
situations now, I could not wish, even if it be them, to intrude upon
their remembrance."

An exclamation of suppressed impatience escaped from the lips of the
young man, but instantly checking it, he said, respectfully and
tenderly--

"Dearest mother, do not say so, if" (the name was lost) "grew up as she
was a child, she would be glad to welcome the friend of her father, the
companion of her childhood."

"But it cannot be, Walter; that beautiful girl is not like my poor
child, though her brother may strangely resemble those we have known."

"Have you not often told me, mother, we never change so much as from
childhood into youth? Ellen was always ill, now she may be well, and
that makes all the difference in the world. I am much mistaken if those
large, mournful eyes can belong to any but"--

He paused abruptly; for convinced that they must be the subject of
conversation, and feeling they were listening to language not meant for
their ears, Edward and Ellen turned towards the speakers, who to the
former appeared perfect strangers, not so to the latter. Feelings,
thoughts of her earliest infancy and childhood, came thronging over her
as a spell, as she gazed on the lady's countenance, which, by its
expression, denoted that sorrow had been her portion; it was changed,
much changed from that which it had been; but the rush of memory on
Ellen's young soul told her that face had been seen before. A night of
horror and subsequent suffering flashed before her eyes, in which that
face had beamed in fondness and in soothing kindness over her; that
voice had spoken accents of love in times when even a mother's words
were harsh and cold.

"Forgive me, sir, but is not your name Fortescue?" inquired the young
man, somewhat hesitatingly, yet frankly, as he met Edward's glance.

"You have the advantage of me, sir," he replied, with equal frankness;
"such is my name, but yours I cannot guess."

"I beg your pardon, but am I speaking to the son of Colonel Fortescue,
who fell in India during a skirmish against the natives, nearly ten
years ago?"

"The same, sir."

"Then it is--it is Mrs. Cameron; I am not, I knew I could not be
mistaken," exclaimed Ellen, in an accent of delight, and bounding
forward, she clasped the lady's eagerly-extended hand in both hers, and
gazing in her face with eyes glistening with starting tears. "And would
you, could you have passed me, without one word to say my friend, the
wife of my father's dearest friend, was so near to me? you who in my
childhood so often soothed and tended my sufferings, dearest Mrs.
Cameron?" and tears of memory and of feeling fell upon the hand she
held, while young Cameron gazed on her with an admiration which utterly
prevented his replying coherently to the questions, the reminiscences of
former years, when they were playmates together in India, which Edward,
discovering by his sister's exclamation who he was, was now pouring in
his ear.

"I did not, could not think I should have been thus affectionately, thus
faithfully remembered, my dear Ellen, after a lapse of so many years,"
replied Mrs. Cameron, visibly affected at her young companion's warmth.
"I could not imagine the memory of a young child, such as you were when
we parted, would have been so acute."

"Then my niece must have been all these years mistaken, and you too did
not understand her, though she fancied you did," said Mrs. Hamilton,
with a smile, advancing to relieve Ellen's agitation, which the
association of her long-lamented father with Mrs. Cameron rendered
almost painful. "I could have told you, from the moment she was placed
under my care, that she never would forget those who had once been kind
to her. I have known you so long, from Ellen's report, that glad am I
indeed to make your acquaintance; you to whom my lamented sister was so
much indebted."

Gratified and soothed by this address, for the sight of Ellen had
awakened many sad associations, she too being now a widow, Mrs. Cameron
rallied her energies, and replied to Mrs. Hamilton, in her naturally
easy and friendly manner. Ellen looked on the black dress she wore, and
turned inquiringly to young Cameron, who answered hurriedly, for he
guessed her thoughts.

"Ask not of my father, he is beside Colonel Fortescue; he shared his
laurels and his grave."

An expression of deep sympathy passed over Ellen's countenance,
rendering her features, to the eager glance of the young man, yet more
attractive.

"You have, I see, much to say and inquire, my dear Ellen," said her
aunt, kindly, as she marked her flushed cheek and eager eye. "Perhaps
Mrs. Cameron will indulge you by retiring with you into one of those
quiet, little refreshment-rooms, where you can talk as much as you
please without remark."

"Can I ask my dear young friend to resign the pleasures of the dance,
and agreeable companionship of the friends I see thronging round her, to
listen to an old woman's tale?" said Mrs. Cameron, smiling.

"I think you are answered," replied Mrs. Hamilton, playfully, as Ellen
passed her arm through that of Mrs. Cameron and looked caressingly and
persuadingly in her face.

Mrs. Cameron's tale was soon told. She had returned to England, for
India had become painful to her, from the many bereavements which had
there unhappily darkened her lot. Captain Cameron had fallen in an
engagement, two or three years after Mrs. Fortescue's departure; and out
of seven apparently healthy children, which had been hers when Ellen
knew her, only three now remained. It was after the death of her eldest
daughter, a promising girl of eighteen, her own health having suffered
so exceedingly from the shock, that her son Walter, fearing for her
life, effected an exchange, and being ordered to return with his
regiment to England--for he now held his father's rank of captain--he
succeeded in persuading his mother to accompany him with his sisters. He
was quartered at Devonport, where it appeared they had been residing
the last eight months, visited, even courted, by most of the military
and naval officers who had known and respected his father; amongst whom
was Lord N--, who had persuaded Mrs. Cameron to so far honour his ball
as there to introduce her daughter Flora, using arguments she could not
resist, and consequently delighting her affectionate children, by once
more appearing in public.

"And this is Walter, the kind Walter, who used ever to take my part,
though he did scold me for always looking so sad," exclaimed Ellen,
after hearing her friend's tale, and answering all her questions
concerning herself, looking up as she spoke on the young man, who had
again joined them, and blushing with timidity at her boldness in thus
speaking to one who had grown into a stranger.

The young man's heart throbbed as he heard himself addressed as Walter
by the beautiful girl beside him; and he found it difficult to summon
sufficient courage to ask her to dance with him; frankly, however, she
consented.

Ellen found pleasure, also, in renewing acquaintance with the timid
Flora, whom she had left a playful child of seven, and who was now
merging into bright and beautiful girlhood; eager to return her kindly
warmth in the delight of finding one of her own age among that
glittering crowd of strangers.

But few more incidents of note occurred that night; dancing continued
with unabated spirit, even after the departure of the royal guests, and
pleasure was the prevailing feeling to the last. The notice of the Duke,
and the benignant spirit of the Duchess, her gentle and kindly manners,
had penetrated many a young and ardent soul, and fixed at once and
unwaveringly the stamp of future loyalty within.

Once introduced to Mrs. Cameron, and aware that she resided so near
them, Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton cultivated her acquaintance; speedily they
became intimate. In Mrs. Fortescue's broken and dying narrative, she had
more than once mentioned them as the friends of her husband, and having
been most kind to herself. Edward had alluded to Captain Cameron's care
of him, and parting advice, when about to embark for England; and Ellen
had frequently spoken of Mrs. Cameron's kindness to her when a child.
All those who had shown kindness to her sister were objects of
attraction to Mrs. Hamilton, and the widow speedily became so attached
to her and her amiable family, that, on Walter being suddenly ordered
out to Ireland (which commands, by the way, the young man obeyed with
very evident reluctance), she gladly consented to rent a small
picturesque cottage between Moorlands and Oakwood, an arrangement which
added much to the young people's enjoyment; while the quiet repose of
her present life, the society of Mrs. Hamilton and her worthy husband,
as also that of Mr. Howard, restored the widow to happiness, which had
not been her portion since her husband's death; and now, for the first
time, Mrs. Hamilton became acquainted with those minute particulars
which she had for the last nine years desired to know, concerning the
early childhood of those orphans then committed to her care. That her
sister had been partial, it was very easy to discover; but the extent of
the evil, and the many little trials Ellen's very infancy had to
encounter, were only subjects of conjecture, for she could not bear to
lead them to speak on any topic that might in the least have reflected
on the memory of their mother.

The intelligence therefore which she now obtained explained all that had
been a matter of mystery and surprise in Ellen's character, and rendered
clearer than ever to Mrs. Hamilton the painful feelings which had in
opening youth actuated her niece's conduct; and often, as she listened
to Mrs. Cameron's account of her infant sufferings and her mother's
harshness and neglect, did Mrs. Hamilton wish such facts had from the
first been known to her; much sorrow, she felt assured, might have been
spared to all. She would perchance have been enabled to have so trained
her and soothed her early-wounded sensibility, that all the wretchedness
of her previous years might have been avoided, but she would not long
allow her mind to dwell on such things. She looked on her niece as
dearer than ever, from the narrative she had heard, and she was thankful
to behold her thus in radiant health and beauty, and, she hoped, in
happiness, although at times there was still a deeper shade of
seriousness than she loved to see imprinted on her brow, and dimming the
lustre of her eye, but it caused her no anxiety. Ellen's character had
never been one of light-hearted glee; it would have been unnatural to
see it now, and she believed that appearance of melancholy to be her
natural disposition, and so too, perhaps, the orphan regarded it
herself.

A very few weeks after Lord N----'s ball, Edward again departed from
Oakwood to join his ship. He parted gaily with his friends, for he knew
his voyage was to be but a short one; and that now the first and most
toilsome step to promotion had been gained, he should have very many
more opportunities of taking a run home and catching a glimpse, he said,
joyously, of the whole crew who were so dear to him, on board that tough
old ship Oakwood; and Ellen, too, could share his gaiety even the night
previous to his departure, for this was not like either their first or
second parting. She had all to hope and but little to fear; for her
trust was too firmly fixed on Him who had guarded that beloved brother
through so many previous dangers and temptations to bid her waver now.
Even Mrs. Hamilton's anxious bosom trembled not as she parted from the
son of her affections, the preserver of her husband; and though Oakwood
felt dull and gloomy on the first departure of the mischief-loving,
mirthful sailor, it was not the gloom of sorrow. February passed, and
Mrs. Hamilton's solicitude with regard to Emmeline still continued.
There were times when, deceived by her daughter's manner, lively and
playful apparently as usual, she permitted herself to feel less anxious;
but the pale cheek, the dulled eye, the air of languor, and sometimes,
though not often, of depression, which pervaded every movement, very
quickly recalled anxiety and apprehension. Mr. Maitland could not
understand her. If for a moment he imagined it was mental suffering, her
manner was such the next time he saw her as entirely to baffle that
fancy, and convince him that the symptoms which caused Mrs. Hamilton's
alarm were, in reality, of no consequence. Determined to use every
effort to deceive him, lest he should betray to her parents the real
cause of her sufferings, Emmeline generally rallied every effort and
rattled on with him, as from a child she had been accustomed, therefore
it was no wonder the worthy surgeon was deceived; and often, very
often, did the poor girl wish she could deceive herself as easily. It
was now nearly three months since she and young Myrvin had so painfully
parted, and her feelings, instead of diminishing in their intensity,
appeared to become more powerful. She had hoped, by studiously employing
herself, by never indulging in one idle hour, to partially efface his
remembrance, but the effort was fruitless. The letters from Lady
Florence and Lady Emily Lyle became subjects of feverish interest, for
in them alone she heard unprejudiced accounts of Arthur, of whose
praises, they declared, the epistles of their brother Louis were always
full; so much so, Lady Emily said, that she certainly should fall in
love with him, for the purpose of making a romantic story. Sadly did
poor Emmeline feel there was but little romance in her feelings; cold
clinging despair had overcome her. She longed for the comfort of her
mother's sympathy, but his character was not yet cleared. Mr. Hamilton
evidently mistrusted the praises so lavishly bestowed on the young man
by Lord Malvern's family; and how could she defend him, if accused of
presumption towards herself? Presumption there had not been; indeed, his
conduct throughout had done him honour. She fancied her mother would be
displeased, might imagine she had encouraged the feeling of romantic
admiration till it became an ideal passion, and made herself miserable.
Perhaps an unknown yet ever-lingering hope existed within, spite of
despair; perhaps aerial visions would mingle in the darkness, and
Emmeline shrunk, unconsciously, from their utter annihilation by the
stern prohibition of her parents. Such was the constant tenour of her
thoughts; but one moment of excited feeling betrayed that which she had
deemed would never pass her lips.

But a very few days had elapsed since Edward's departure from Oakwood
when, one afternoon, Mr. Hamilton entered the usual sitting-room of the
family, apparently much disturbed. Mrs. Hamilton and Ellen were engaged
in work, and Emmeline sat at a small table in the embrasure of one of
the deep gothic windows, silently yet busily employed it seemed in
drawing. She knew her father had gone that morning to the village, and
as usual felt uneasy and feverish, fearing, reasonably or unreasonably,
that on his return she would hear something unpleasant concerning
Arthur; as she this day marked the countenance of her father, her heart
throbbed, and her cheek, which had been flushed by the action of
stooping, paled even unto death.

"What mishap has chanced in the village, that you look so grave, my dear
love?" demanded his wife, playfully.

"I am perplexed in what matter to act, and grieved, deeply grieved, at
the intelligence I have learned; not only that my prejudice is
confirmed, but that the knowledge I have acquired concerning that
unhappy young man places me in a most awkward situation."

"You are not speaking very intelligibly, my dear husband, and therefore
I must guess what you mean; I fear it is young Myrvin of whom you
speak," said Mrs. Hamilton, her playfulness gone.

"They surely have not been again bringing him forward to his discredit?"
observed Ellen, earnestly. "The poor young man is far away; why will
they still endeavour to prejudice you and Mr. Howard against him?"

"I admire your charity, my dear girl, but, I am sorry to say, in this
case it is unworthily bestowed. There are facts now come to light which,
I fear, unpleasant as will be the task, render it my duty to write to
Lord Malvern. Arthur Myrvin is no fit companion for his son."

"His poor, poor father!" murmured Ellen, dropping her work, and looking
sorrowfully, yet inquiringly, in her uncle's face.

"But are they facts, Arthur--are they proved? for that there is unjust
prejudice against him in the village, I am pretty certain."

"They are so far proved, that, by applying them to him, a mystery in the
village is cleared up, and also his violent haste to quit our
neighbourhood. You remember Mary Brookes?"

"That poor girl who died, it was said, of such a rapid decline?
Perfectly well."

"It was not a decline, my dear Emmeline; would that it had been. She was
beautiful, innocent, in conversation and manner far above her station.
There are many to say she loved, and believed, in the fond trust of
devotion, all that the tempter said. She was worthy to be his wife, and
she became his victim. His visits to her old grandmother's cottage I
myself know were frequent. He deserted her, and that wild agony broke
the strings of life which remorse had already loosened; ten days after
Myrvin quitted the village she died, giving birth to an unhappy child of
sin and sorrow. Her grandmother, ever dull in observation and sense, has
been silent, apparently stupefied by the sudden death of her Mary, and
cherishes the poor helpless infant left her by her darling. Suddenly she
has appeared awakened to indignation, and a desire of vengeance on the
destroyer of her child, which I could wish less violent. She implored
me, with almost frantic wildness, to obtain justice from the cruel
villain--accusing him by name, and bringing forward so many proofs,
which the lethargy of grief had before concealed, that I cannot doubt
for one moment who is the father of that poor babe--the cruel, the
heartless destroyer of innocence and life."

"But is there no evidence but hers? I wish there were, for Dame Williams
is so weak and dull, she may easily be imposed upon," observed Mrs.
Hamilton, thoughtfully. "It is indeed a tale of sorrow; one that I could
wish, if it indeed be true, might not be published, for did it reach his
father's ears"--

"It will break his heart, I know it will," interrupted Ellen, with an
uncontrolled burst of feeling. "Oh, do not condemn him without further
proofs," she added, appealingly.

"Every inquiry I have made confirms the old dame's story," replied Mr.
Hamilton, sadly. "We know Myrvin's life in college, before his change of
rank, was one of reckless gaiety. All say he was more often at Dame
Williams's cottage than at any other. Had he been more attentive to his
duties, we might have believed he sought to soothe by religion poor
Mary's sufferings, but we know such was not his wont. Jefferies
corroborates the old dame's tale, bringing forward circumstances he had
witnessed, too forcibly to doubt. And does not his hasty resignation of
a comfortable home, a promising living, evince his guilt more strongly
than every other proof? Why did he refuse to defend his conduct? Was it
not likely such a crime as this upon his conscience would occasion that
restlessness we all perceived, that extreme haste to depart? he would
not stay to see his victim die, or be charged with a child of sin. There
was a mystery in his sudden departure, but there is none now; it is all
too clear."

"_It is false!_" burst with startling almost overwhelming power from the
lips of Emmeline, as she sprung with the strength of agony from her
seat, and stood with the suddenness of a vision, before her parents, a
bright hectic spot burning on either cheek, rendering her usually mild
eyes painfully brilliant. She had sat as if spell-bound, drinking in
every word. She _knew_ the tale was false, but yet each word had fallen
like brands of heated iron on her already scorching brain; that they
should dare to breathe such a tale against him, whose fair fame she knew
was unstained, link his pure name with infamy; and her father, too,
believed it. She did not scream, though there was that within which
longed for such relief. She did not faint, though every limb had lost
its power. A moment's strength and energy alike returned, and she
bounded forward. "It is false!" she again exclaimed, and her parents
started in alarm at her agonized tone; "false as the false villain that
dared stain the fair fame of another with his own base crime. Arthur
Myrvin is not the father of that child; Arthur Myrvin was not the
destroyer of Mary Brookes. Go and ask Nurse Langford: she who hung over
poor Mary's dying bed; who received from her own cold lips the name of
the father of her child; she who was alone near her when she died. Ask
her, and she will tell you the wretch, who has prejudiced all minds
against the good, the pure, the noble; the villain, the cruel
despicable villain, who rested not till his base arts had ruined
the--the--virtuous; that Jefferies, the canting hypocrite, the wretched
miscreant, who has won all hearts because he speaks so fair, he, he
alone is guilty. Put the question to him; let Nurse Langford ask him if
the dying spoke falsely when she named him, and his guilt will be
written on his brow. Arthur Myrvin did visit that cottage; Mary had
confessed a crime, she said not what, and implored his prayers; he
soothed her bodily and mental sufferings, he robbed death of its
terrors, and his only grief at leaving the village was, that she would
miss his aid, for that crime could not be confessed to another; and they
dare to accuse him of sin, he who is as good, as pure, as--" For one
second she paused, choked by inward agony, but ere either her father or
mother could address her, she continued, in an even wilder tone,--"Why
did Arthur Myrvin leave this neighbourhood? why did he go hence so
suddenly--so painfully? because, because he loved me--because he knew
that I returned his love, and he saw the utter hopelessness that
surrounded us, and he went forth to do his duty; he left me to forget
him, to obtain peace in forgetfulness of one I may never see
again--forgetfulness! oh, not till my brain ceases to throb will that be
mine. He thought to leave me with his love unspoken, but the words came,
and that very hour we parted. He loved me, he knew I could not be his,
and it was for this his living was resigned, for this he departed; and
had he cause to blush for this? pure, honourable, as was his love, too
noble, too unselfish to urge aught that could bid Emmeline forget her
duty to her parents for love of him; bearing every calumny, even the
prejudice, the harshness of my father, rather than confess he loved me.
He is innocent of every charge that is brought against him--all, all,
save the purest, the most honourable love for me; and, oh, is that
indeed, indeed a crime?"

She had struggled to the very last to speak calmly, but now sobs, the
more convulsive because the more suppressed, rose choking in her throat,
and rendered the last words almost inaudible. She pressed both hands
against her heart and then her temples, as if to still their painful
throbbings, and speak yet more, but the effort was fruitless, and she
darted wildly, and fled as an arrow from the room.

Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton looked on each other in painful and alarmed
astonishment, and Ellen, deeply affected, rose hastily, as if with the
intention of following her agitated cousin, but her aunt and uncle
entreated her not, alleging Emmeline would sooner recover alone, asking
her at the same time if she had known anything relative to the
confession they had just heard. She answered truly in the negative.
Emmeline had scarcely ever spoken of young Myrvin in her hearing; but as
the truth was now discovered, many little instances rose to the
recollection of both parents to confirm the avowal of their child, and
increase their now painfully awakened solicitude. Her agitation the
night of Edward's return, when Lord St. Eval laughingly threatened her
with marriage, rose to the recollection of both parents; her extreme
excitement and subsequent depression; her visibly failing health since
Arthur's departure, all, all, too sadly confirmed her words, and
bitterly Mrs. Hamilton reproached herself for never having suspected
the truth before, for permitting the young man to be thus intimate at
her house, heedless of what might ensue, forgetful that Emmeline was
indeed no longer a child, that her temperament was one peculiarly liable
to be thus strongly excited.

For a few minutes Mr. Hamilton felt pride and anger struggling fiercely
in his bosom against Arthur, for having dared to love one so far above
him as his child, but very quickly his natural kindliness and charity
resumed their sway. Could he wonder at that, love for one so fond, so
gentle, so clinging, as his Emmeline? Would he not have deemed Arthur
cold and strange, had her charms indeed passed him unnoticed and unfelt;
he remembered the forbearance, the extreme temper the unhappy young man
had ever displayed towards him, and suddenly and unconsciously he felt
he must have done him wrong; he had been prejudiced, misguided. If Nurse
Langford's tale was right, and Jefferies had dared to accuse another of
the crime he had himself committed, might he not in the like manner have
prejudiced the whole neighbourhood against Arthur by false reports? But
while from the words of his child every kindly feeling rose up in the
young man's favour, Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton did not feel the less
painfully that Emmeline had indeed spoken rightly: hopelessness was her
lot. It seemed to both impossible that they could ever consent to behold
her the wife of Myrvin, even if his character were cleared of the
stigmas which had been cast upon it. Could they consent to expose their
fragile child, nursed as she had been in the lap of luxury and comfort,
to all the evils and annoyances of poverty? They had naturally
accustomed themselves to anticipate Emmeline's marrying happily in
their own sphere, and they could not thus suddenly consent to the
annihilation of hopes, which had been fondly cherished in the mind of
each.

Some little time they remained in conversation, and then Mrs. Hamilton
rose to seek the chamber of her suffering child, taking with her indeed
but little comfort, save her husband's earnest assurance that he would
leave no means untried to discover Jefferies' true character, and if
indeed Arthur had been accused unjustly.

It was with a trembling hand Mrs. Hamilton softly opened Emmeline's
door, and with a heart bleeding at the anguish she beheld, and which she
felt too truly she could not mitigate, she entered, and stood for
several minutes by her side unnoticed and unseen.

There are some dispositions in which it is acutely painful to witness
sorrow. Those whom we have ever seen radiant in health, in liveliness,
in joy--so full of buoyancy and hope, they seem as if formed for
sunshine alone, as if they could not live in the darkening clouds of woe
or care; whose pleasures have been pure and innocent as their own bright
beauty; who are as yet unknown to the whispering of inwardly working
sin; full of love and gentleness, and sympathy, ever ready to weep for
others, though for themselves tears are unknown; creatures, whose warm
enthusiastic feelings bind them to every heart capable of generous
emotions; those in whom we see life most beautified, most glad. Oh, it
is so sad to see them weep; to feel that even on them sorrow hath cast
its blight, and paled the cheek, and dimmed the laughing eye, the
speaking smile, and the first grief in such as these is agony indeed:
it is the breaking asunder of every former joy. They shrink from
retrospection, for they cannot bear to feel they are not now as then,
and the future shares to them the blackened shadows of the hopeless
present. As susceptible as they are to pleasure so are they to pain; and
raised far above others in the enjoyment of the one, so is their grief
doubled in comparison with those of more happy, because more even
temperaments. So it was with Emmeline; and her mother felt all this as
she stood beside her, watching with tearful sympathy the first real
grief of her darling child. Emmeline had cast herself on her knees
beside her couch; she had buried her face in her hands, while the sobs
that burst incessantly from her swelling bosom shook her frail figure
convulsively; the blue veins in her throat had swelled as if in
suffocation, and her fair hair, loosened from its confinement by her
agitation, hung wildly around her.

"Emmeline," Mrs. Hamilton said, gently and falteringly, but her child
heard her not, and she twined her arm around her, and tried to draw her
towards her.

"My own darling Emmeline, speak to me; I cannot bear to see you thus.
Look up, love; for my sake calm this excited feeling."

"May I not even weep? Would you deny me that poor comfort?" burst almost
passionately from the lips of Emmeline, for every faculty was bewildered
in that suddenly-excited woe. She looked up; her eyes were bloodshot and
haggard, her cheek flushed, and the veins drawn like cords across her
brow.

"Weep: would your mother forbid you that blessed comfort and relief, my
Emmeline? Could you indeed accuse me of such cruelty?" replied Mrs.
Hamilton, bending over her as she spoke, and removing from those flushed
temples the hair which hung heavy with moisture upon them, and as she
did so Emmeline felt the tears of her mother fall thick and fast on her
own scorching brow. She started from her knees, gazed wildly and
doubtingly upon her, and tottering from exhaustion, would have fallen,
had not Mrs. Hamilton, with a sudden movement, received her in her arms.
For a moment Emmeline struggled as if to break from her embrace, but
then, with a sudden transition of feeling, clasped her arms convulsively
about her mother's neck, and burst into a long and violent but relieving
flood of tears.

"I meant never, never to have revealed my secret," she exclaimed, in a
voice almost inaudible, as her mother, seating her on a couch near them,
pressed her to her heart, and permitted some minutes to pass away in
that silence of sympathy which to the afflicted is so dear. "And now
that it has been wrung from me, I know not what I do or say. Oh, if I
have spoken aught disrespectfully to you or papa just now, I meant it
not, indeed I did not; but they dared to speak false tales, and I could
not sit calmly to hear them," she added, shuddering.

"There was nothing in your words, my own love, to give us pain with
regard to ourselves," said Mrs. Hamilton, in her most soothing tone, as
again and again she pressed her quivering lips to that flushed cheek,
and tried to kiss away the now streaming tears. "Do not let that thought
add to your uneasiness, my own darling."

"And can you forgive me, mother?" and Emmeline buried her face yet more
closely in her mother's bosom.

"Forgive you, Emmeline! is there indeed aught in your acquaintance with
Arthur Myrvin which demands my forgiveness?" replied her mother, in a
tone of anxiety and almost alarm.

"Oh, no, no! but you may believe I have encouraged these weak emotions;
that I have wilfully thought on them till I have made myself thus
miserable; that I have called for his love--given him encouragement:
indeed, indeed I have not. I have struggled hard to obtain
forgetfulness--to think of him no more, to regain happiness, but it
would not come. I feel--I know I can never, never be again the joyous
light-hearted girl that I was once; all feels so changed."

"Do not say so, my own love; this it but the language of despondency,
now too naturally your own; but permit it not to gain too much
ascendency, dearest. Where is my Emmeline's firm, devoted faith in that
merciful Father, who for so many years has gilded her lot with such
unchecked happiness. Darker clouds are now indeed for a time around you,
but His blessing will remove them, love; trust still in Him."

Emmeline's convulsive sobs were somewhat checked; the fond and gentle
tones of sympathy had their effect on one to whom affection never
pleaded in vain.

"And why have you so carefully concealed the cause of the sufferings
that were so clearly visible, my Emmeline?" continued her mother,
tenderly. "Could that fear which you once avowed in a letter to Mary,
have mingled in your affection for me? Could fear, indeed, have kept you
silent? Can your too vivid fancy have bid you imagine I should reproach
you, or refuse my sympathy in this sad trial? Your perseverance in
active employments, your strivings for cheerfulness, all must, indeed,
confirm your assertion, that you have not encouraged weakening emotions.
I believe you, my own, and I believe, too, my Emmeline did not give
young Myrvin encouragement. Look up, love, and tell me that you do not
fear your mother--that you do not deem her harsh."

"Harsh? oh, no, no!" murmured the poor girl, still clinging to her neck,
as if she feared something would part them. "It is I who am capricious,
fanciful, miserable: oh, do not heed my incoherent words. Mother,
dearest mother, oh, let me but feel that you still love me, and I will
teach my heart to be satisfied with that."

"But if indeed I am not harsh, tell me all, my Emmeline--tell me when
you were first aware you loved Arthur Myrvin; all that has passed
between you. I promise you I will not add to your suffering on his
account by reproaches. Confide in the affection of your mother, and this
trial will not be so hard to bear."

Struggling to obtain composure and voice, Emmeline obeyed, and
faithfully repeated every circumstance connected with her and Arthur,
with which our readers are well acquainted; touching lightly, indeed, on
their parting interview, which Mrs. Hamilton easily perceived could not
be recalled even now, though some months had passed, without a renewal
of the distress it had caused. Her recital almost unconsciously exalted
the character of Arthur in the mind of Mrs. Hamilton, which was too
generous and kind to remain untouched by conduct so honourable,
forbearing, and praiseworthy.

"Do not weep any more for the cruel charges against him, my love," she
said, with soothing tenderness, as Emmeline's half-checked tears burst
forth again as she spoke of the agony she in secret endured, when in her
presence his character was traduced. "Your father will now leave no
means untried to discover whether indeed they are true or false.
Insinuations and reports have prejudiced his judgment more than is his
wont. He has gone now to Widow Langford, to hear her tale against
Jefferies, and if this last base charge he has brought against Arthur be
indeed proved against himself, it will be easy to convict him of other
calumnies; for the truth of this once made evident, it is clear that his
base machinations have been the secret engines of the prejudice against
Myrvin, for which no clear foundation has ever yet been discovered. You
will not doubt your father's earnestness in this proceeding, my
Emmeline, and you know him too well to believe he would for one moment
refrain from acknowledging to Mr. Myrvin the injustice he has done him,
if indeed it prove unfounded."

"And if his character be cleared from all stain--if not a whisper taint
his name, and his true excellence be known to all--oh, may we not hope?
mother, mother, you will not be inexorable; you will not, oh, you will
not condemn your child to misery!" exclaimed Emmeline, in a tone of
excitement, strongly contrasting with the hopelessness which had
breathed in every word before; and, bursting from her mother's detaining
hold, she suddenly knelt before her, and clasped her robe in the
wildness of her entreaty. "You will not refuse to make us happy; you
will not withhold your consent, on which alone depends the future
happiness of your Emmeline. You, who have been so good, so kind, so
fond,--oh, you will not sentence me to woe. Mother, oh, speak to me. I
care not how many years I wait: say, only say that, if his character be
cleared of all they have dared to cast upon it, I shall one day he his.
Do not turn from me, mother. Oh, bid me not despond; and yet and yet,
because he is poor, oh, would you, can you condemn me to despair?"

"Emmeline, Emmeline, do not wring my heart by these cruel words,"
replied Mrs. Hamilton, in a tone of such deep distress, that Emmeline's
imploring glance sunk before it, and feeling there was indeed no hope,
her weakened frame shook with the effort to restrain the bursting tears.
"Do not ask me to promise this; do not give me the bitter pain of
speaking that which you feel at this moment will only add to your
unhappiness. You yourself, by the words you have repeated, behold the
utter impossibility of such an union. Why, why then will you impose on
me the painful task of repeating it? Could I consent to part with you to
one who has not even a settled home to give you, whose labours scarcely
earn sufficient to maintain himself? You know not all the evils of such
an union, my sweet girl. You are not fitted to cope with poverty or
care, to bear with that passionate irritability and restlessness which
characterise young Myrvin, even when weightier charges are removed. And
could we feel ourselves justified in exposing you to privations and
sorrows, which our cooler judgment may perceive, though naturally
concealed from the eye of affection? Seldom, very seldom, are those
marriages happy in which such an extreme disparity exists, more
particularly when, as in this case, the superiority is on the side of
the wife. I know this sounds like cold and worldly reasoning, my
Emmeline; I know that this warm, fond heart revolts in agony from every
word, but do not, do not think me cruel, love, and shrink from my
embrace. How can I implore you, for my sake, still to struggle with
these sad feelings, to put every effort into force to conquer this
unhappy love? and yet my duty bids me do so; for, oh, I cannot part with
you for certain poverty and endless care. Speak to me, my own; promise
me that you will try and be contented with your father's exertions to
clear Arthur's character from all aspersions. You will not ask for
more?"

There was a moment's pause. Mrs. Hamilton had betrayed in every word the
real distress she suffered in thus speaking, when the gentle pleading of
her woman's heart would have bade her soothe by any and every means her
afflicted child; Emmeline knew this, and even in that moment she could
not bear to feel her mother grieved, and she had been the cause. Filial
devotion, filial duty, for a few minutes struggled painfully with the
fervid passion which shook her inmost soul; but they conquered, and when
she looked up, her tears were checked, and only the deadly paleness of
the cheek, the quivering of the lip and eye, betrayed the deep emotion
that still prevailed within.

"Be not thus distressed for me, my dear, my too indulgent mother,"
replied Emmeline, in a voice that struggled to be composed and firm,
though bodily weakness defied her efforts. "I meant not to have grieved
you, and yet I have done so. Oh, let not my foolish words give you pain,
you whose love would, I know, seek to spare me every suffering. My brain
feels confused and burning now, and I know not what I say; but it will
pass away soon, and then I will try to be all you can wish. You will
not, I know you will not be so cruel as to bid me wed another, and that
knowledge is enough. Let but his character be cleared, and I promise you
I will use every effort to be content. I knew that it was hopeless. Why,
oh, why did I bid your lips confirm it!" and again were those aching
eyes and brow concealed on Mrs. Hamilton's shoulder, while the
despairing calmness of her voice sounded even more acutely painful to
her mother than the extreme suffering it had expressed before.

"May God in His mercy bless you for this, my darling girl!" escaped
almost involuntarily from Mrs. Hamilton's lips, as the sweet disposition
of her child appeared to shine forth brighter than ever in this complete
surrender of her dearest hopes to the will of her parents. "And oh, that
He may soothe and comfort you will mingle in your mother's prayers. Tell
me but one thing more, my own. Have you never heard from this young man
since you parted?"

"He wrote to me, imploring me to use my influence with St. Eval, to aid
his obtaining the situation of tutor to Lord Louis," answered Emmeline.
"He did not allude to what had passed between us; his letter merely
contained this entreaty, as if he would thus prove to me that his
intention to quit England, and seek for calmness in the steady
performance of active duties, was not mere profession."

"Then your representations were the origin of Eugene's interest in
Arthur?" said Mrs. Hamilton, inquiringly.

Emmeline answered in the affirmative.

"And did you answer his letter?"

"No, mamma; it was enough for me and for him, too, his wishes were
granted. I would not indulge my secret wish to do so. Neither you nor
papa, nor indeed any of my family, knew what had passed between us.
Determined as I was to struggle for the conquest of myself, I did not
imagine in keeping that secret I was acting undutifully; but had I
written to him, or cherished, as my weak fondness bade me do,
his--his--why should I hide it--his precious letter, my conscience would
have added its pangs to the sufferings already mine. While that was free
and light, I could still meet your look and smile, and return your kiss,
however I might feel my heart was breaking; but if I had so deceived
you, so disregarded my duty, as to enter into a correspondence with him,
unknown to you, oh, the comfort of your love would have flown from me
for ever."

"And had my Emmeline indeed sufficient resolution to destroy that
letter?" demanded Mrs. Hamilton, surprise mingling with the admiration
and esteem which, though felt by a mother for a child, might well be
pardoned.

"It was my duty, mother, and I did it," replied Emmeline, with a
simplicity that filled the eyes of her mother with tears. "Could I
indeed forget those principles of integrity which, from my earliest
infancy, you have so carefully instilled?"

Mrs. Hamilton clasped her to her bosom, and imprinted kisses of the
fondest affection on her colourless and burning forehead.

"Well, indeed, are my cares repaid," she exclaimed. "Oh, that my
affection could soothe your sorrows as sweetly as your gentle yet
unwavering adherence to filial love and duty have comforted me. Will
you, for my sake, my own love, continue these painful yet virtuous
efforts at self-conquest, which you commenced merely from a sense of
duty? Will you not glad your mother's heart and let me have the comfort
of beholding you once more my own cheerful, happy Emmeline?"

"I will try," murmured Emmeline, struggling to smile; but oh, it was so
unlike herself, so lustreless and faint, that Mrs. Hamilton hastily
turned away to hide emotion. The dressing-bell at that instant sounded,
and Emmeline looked an entreaty to which her lips appeared unwilling to
give words. Her mother understood it.

"I will not ask you to join us at dinner, love. Do not look so
beseechingly, you will recover this agitation sooner and better alone;
and so much confidence have you compelled me to feel in you," she added,
trying to smile and speak playfully, "that I will not ask you to make an
exertion to which you do not feel equal, even if you wish to be alone
the whole evening. I know my Emmeline's solitary moments will not be
spent in vain repinings."

"You taught me whom to seek for comfort and relief in my childish
sorrows, and I will not, I do not forget that lesson now, mother,"
answered Emmeline, faintly yet expressively. "Let me be alone, indeed, a
few hours, and if I can but conquer this feeling of exhaustion, I will
join you at tea."

Mrs. Hamilton silently embraced and left her, with a heart swelling with
fond emotion, as she thought on the gentle yet decided character of her
child, who from her infancy had scarcely ever caused her pain, still
less anxiety. Now indeed solicitude was hers, for it was evident, alas!
too evident, that Emmeline's affections were unalterably engaged; that
this was not the mere fervour of the moment, a passion that would pass
away with the object, but one that Mrs. Hamilton felt forebodingly would
still continue to exist. Emmeline's was not a disposition to throw off
feelings such as these lightly and easily. Often had her mother inwardly
trembled when she thought of such a sentiment influencing her Emmeline,
and now the dreaded moment had come. How was she to act? She could not
consent to an union such as this would be. Few mothers possessed less
ambition than Mrs. Hamilton, few were so indulgent, so devoted to her
children, but to comply with the poor girl's feverish wishes would be
indeed but folly. Arthur had engaged himself to remain with Lord Louis
Lyle during the period of his residence in Germany, which was at that
time arranged to be three years. The future to young Myrvin must, she
knew, be a blank; years would in all probability elapse ere he could
obtain an advantageous living and means adequate to support a wife and
family; and would it not be greater cruelty to bid Emmeline live on in
lingering and sickening hope, than at once to appeal to her reason, and
entreat her, by the affection she bore her parents, to achieve this
painful conquest of herself, as their consent could not be given. They
felt sad, indeed, thus to add to the suffering of their afflicted child,
yet it was the better way, for had they promised to consent that when he
could support her she should be his own, it might indeed bring relief
for the moment, but it would be but the commencement of a life of
misery; her youth would fade away in that sickening anguish of hope
deferred, more bitter because more lingering than the absolute
infliction of brief though certain suffering. The hearts of both parents
grieved as they thought on all she had endured, and for a brief period
must still endure, but their path of duty once made clear, they swerved
not from it, however it might pain themselves.

Mrs. Hamilton was right. Emmeline's solitary moments were not spent in
vain repinings; she struggled to compose her thoughts, to cast the
burden of her sorrows upon Him, who in love and mercy had ordained them;
and she did so with that pure, that simple, beautiful faith so
peculiarly her own, and a calm at length stole over her wearied spirit
and exhausted frame, soothing her, even to sleep, with the words of
prayer yet lingering on her lips. She awoke, after above an hour's
slumber, composed in mind, but still feverish in body. Prayer had
brought its blessed influence, but that calm was more the quiescence
proceeding from over-excitement than natural feeling; she felt it so,
and dreaded the return of mental agony, as bodily sufferers await the
periodical paroxysms of pain. She resolved not to give way to the
exhaustion she still felt. She rejoined the family at tea, pale indeed,
but perfectly composed, and even faintly smiling on her father, who,
hastily rising as she languidly and unexpectedly entered the room,
carried her tenderly in his arms to a couch, compelled her to lie down,
and bending over her with that soothing fondness which she so much
loved, retained his seat by her side all the evening, though
participating and frequently inducing her to join in the conversation on
various topics, which Mrs. Hamilton and Ellen seemed determined to
maintain. Once during that evening Emmeline had looked up beseechingly
in her father's face, and that touching, silent eloquence told all she
would have said, far more expressively than words.

"Justice shall be done, my Emmeline," he replied, gently drawing her to
him, and speaking in a tone that was heard by her alone. "I have been
harsh, prejudiced, as cruelly unjust as blindly imposed on by a
comparative stranger; but I promise you, all shall be impartially
considered. I have done this unfortunate young man much wrong, for I
should have recollected his father has many enemies, and this may be one
of them, seeking from revenge to injure him. I am grateful to Arthur
Myrvin for his forbearance towards myself, for his truly noble conduct
towards you--right principles alone could have dictated both. Mrs.
Langford has confirmed all you said, and informed me of many little
circumstances which if, on a strict examination, I find are founded on
truth, Jefferies' character and base designs will not be difficult to
fathom. Myrvin's character shall be cleared from suspicion, if it be in
my power, my dear girl; rest as confident on my promise to that effect,
as I do on yours, that, this accomplished, _you will ask no more_."

Emmeline's head rested on his shoulder; he had marked the relief, the
gratitude her sweet face expressed during his first words, but as he
ceased, her eyes were hid upon his bosom, and he could read no more. It
was well for the steadiness of his determination that it was so, for the
wretchedness imprinted on every feature, every line of her countenance,
at his concluding sentence, would have wrung his soul.

Though persuaded by her parents to retire early, Emmeline did not do so
till the usual hour of separation after prayers. To Ellen's
silently-observing eye she appeared to shrink from being alone, and this
thought haunted her so incessantly, that, instead of composing herself
to rest, she softly traversed the short distance which separated their
apartments, and entered her cousin's room.

Emmeline was alone, undressed, a large wrapping robe flung carelessly
over her night attire, but instead of reading, which at that hour, and
in that guise, she generally did, that the word of God might be the last
book on which she looked ere she sought her rest, she was leaning
abstractedly over the fire, seated on a low stool, her hands pressed on
her temples, while the flickering flame cast a red and unnatural glare
on those pale cheeks. Ellen advanced, but her cousin moved not at her
entrance, nor even when she knelt by her side, and twined her arms
around her.

"Will you not go to bed, dearest Emmeline? it is so late, and you have
been so fearfully agitated to-day. Look up and speak to me, my own dear
cousin, or I shall fancy you are hurt with me for permitting so many
hours to pass without coming near you, when I knew you were in
suffering. Oh, you know not how I longed to come, but my aunt said you
had entreated to be left alone. I stood for some minutes by your door,
but all was so still, I thought I should disturb you did I enter. You do
not accuse me of unkindness, Emmeline?"

Housed by her cousin's affectionate words and imploring voice, Emmeline
resisted not her embrace, but clung to her in silence.

"You are ill, you are very ill, dearest, dearest Emmeline; do not sit up
thus; for my sake, for your mother's sake, try if sleep will not ease
this aching head," exclaimed Ellen, much alarmed at the burning heat and
quick throbbing of Emmeline's forehead, as it rested on her shoulder.

"I cannot sleep, Ellen, it is useless to attempt it; I feel as if my
eyes would never close again; as if years had passed over my head since
last night. I thought I could not be more miserable than I was
when--when we parted, and as I have been since; but that was
nothing--nothing to this. I thought I had not indulged in hope, for I
knew that it was vain, but now, now I feel I must have done so, and it
is its utter, utter annihilation that bows me to the earth. Oh, why am I
so changed, I who was once so glad, so free, so full of hope and
happiness, looking forward to days as bright as those that fled; and now
what am I, and what is life? a thing from which all happiness has flown,
but clothed in darker shadows, from its contrast with the past."

"Oh, do not say so, dearest," replied Ellen, affected almost to tears by
the despairing tone in which these words were said. "The blessing, the
comfort of your parents, your brothers, of all who know you as you are,
do not say your life will be without joy; its most cherished flower, its
most precious gem may have passed away, but others will spring up in
time, to fill that yearning void. You, whose presence ever brings with
it such enjoyment to others, oh, you too will be blessed. You cannot
long continue miserable, when you feel the power you have of making so
many of your fellow-creatures happy. You are ill, exhausted now, and
therefore all around you looks so full of gloom and pain, yet when this
shall have passed, you will not reject the comfort that remains. Have
you not an approving conscience to support you, the consciousness that
you have proved your love and gratitude to the parents you so fondly
love? and think you He, who looks with an eye of favour on the faintest
effort of His creatures, made for His sake, and in His spirit, will
permit this strength to pass unaided? No, dearest, He will assist and
strengthen you; He can take even from this bitter trial its sting."

"I know it, I feel it," murmured Emmeline, still clinging to her cousin,
as if she found comfort in her presence and her words. "I know well that
this trial in itself is as nothing compared with those endured at this
very hour by thousands of my fellow-creatures, and knowing this makes me
the more wretched, for if I am thus repining and miserable, how dare I
hope my prayers will be heard?"

"Yet doubt it not, my own Emmeline; our Father in heaven judgeth not as
man judgeth. Man might condemn this appearance of weakness in you now,
but God will not, for he knows the individual strength of His creatures,
and in love and mercy chasteneth accordingly. He knoweth this is a
severe trial for one, young and gentle as you are; and with your heart
lifted up to Him, as I know it is, doubt not that your prayers will be
heard and this pang softened in His own time. I fear my words sound
cold; but oh, would that I could comfort you, dearest," and tears stood
trembling in Ellen's eyes.

"And you do comfort me, Ellen; oh, I do not feel so very wretched with
you near me as I do alone, though even you cannot guess this extent of
suffering; you know not what it is to love, and yet to feel there is no
hope; no--none," she repeated, in a low murmuring tone, as if to
convince herself that there was indeed none, as she had said; and it was
not strange that thus engrossed, she marked not that a slight shudder
passed through her cousin's frame at her last words; that Ellen's cheek
suddenly vied in its deadly paleness with her own; that the tears dried
up, as if frozen in those large, dark eyes, which were fixed upon her
with an expression she would, had she seen it, have found difficult to
understand; that the pale lip quivered for a few minutes, so as entirely
to prevent her speaking as she had intended.

"Go to bed, dearest Emmeline, indeed you must not sit up longer," Ellen
said at length, as she folded her arms fondly round her and kissed her
cheek. "When I was ill, you ever wished to dictate to me," she
continued, playfully, "and I was always good and obedient; will you not
act up to your own principle and obey me now? think of your mother,
dearest, how anxious she will be if you are ill. I will not leave you
till you are asleep."

"No, no, dear Ellen, I will not so abuse your kindness; I will go to
bed. I have been wrong to sit up thus, when I promised mamma to do all I
could to--but, indeed, you must not stay with me, Ellen. I feel so
exhausted, I may perhaps sleep sooner than I expect; but even if I do
not, you must not sit up."

"Never mind, my love, let me see you obedient, and I will perhaps learn
the same lesson," replied Ellen, playfully, though her cheek retained
its suddenly-acquired paleness. Emmeline no longer resisted, and Ellen
quickly had the relief of seeing her in bed, and her eyes closed, as if
in the hope of obtaining sleep; but after a few minutes they again
opened, and seeing Ellen watching her, she said--

"You had better leave me, Ellen, I shall not be able to sleep if I think
you are watching me, and losing your own night's rest. I am not ill, my
dear cousin, I am only miserable, and that will pass away perhaps for a
short time again, as it did this afternoon."

Ellen again kissed her and closed the curtains, obeying her so far as to
retire to her room, but not to bed; she was much too uneasy to do so.
Emmeline had been in very delicate health for some months, and it
appeared to her observant eyes and mind, that now the cause for her
exertion was removed, by the discovery of her long-treasured secret,
that health had really given way, and she was actually ill in body as
well as mind. The burning heat of her forehead and hand, the quick
pulsation of her temples, had alarmed her as predicting fever; and
Ellen, with that quiet resolution and prompt decision, which now
appeared to form such prominent traits in her character, determined on
returning to her cousin's room as soon as she thought she had fallen
asleep, and remain there during the night; that if she were restless,
uneasy, or wakeful, she might, by her presence, be some comfort, and if
these feverish symptoms continued, be in readiness to send for Mr.
Maitland at the first dawn of morning, without alarming her aunt.

"You are not formed for sorrow, my poor Emmeline," she said internally,
as she prepared herself for her night's visit by assuming warmer
clothing. "Oh, that your grief may speedily pass away; I cannot bear to
see one so formed for joy as you are grieved. My own sorrows I can bear
without shrinking, without disclosing by one sign what I am internally
suffering. I have been nerved from my earliest years to trial, and it
would be strange indeed did I not seem as you believe me. _I_ know not
what it is to love. _I_ know not the pang of that utter hopelessness
which bows my poor cousin to the earth. Ah, Emmeline, you know not such
_hopelessness_ as mine, gloomy as are your prospects; you can claim the
sympathy, the affection, the consolation, of all those who are dear to
you; there is no need to hide your love, ill-fated as it is, for it is
_returned_--you are beloved; and I, my heart must bleed in secret, for
no such mitigation attends its loss of peace. I dare not seek for
sympathy, or say I love; but why--why am I encouraging these thoughts?"
and she started as if some one could have heard her scarcely-audible
soliloquy. "It is woman's lot to suffer--man's is to _act_, woman's to
_bear_; and such must be mine, and in silence, for even the sympathy of
my dearest relative I dare not ask. Oh, wherefore do I feel it shame to
love one so good, so superior, so holy? because, because he does not
love me, save with a brother's love; and I know he loves another."

The slight frame of the orphan shook beneath that inward struggle; there
were times, in her hours of solitude, when such thoughts would come,
spite of every effort to expel them, and there was only one way to
obtain that self-control she so much needed, so continually exercised,
till it became a second nature. She became aware her feelings had
obtained undue ascendency, and, sinking on her knees, remained absorbed
in prayer, fervent and heartfelt, truly the outpourings of a contrite
and trusting spirit, confident in the power and mercy to which she
appealed. That anguish passed ere she arose, and every sign of agitation
had left her countenance and voice as she put her resolution into
action, and returned to her cousin.

Emmeline had awoke from her brief and troubled slumbers, more restless
and feverish than when she had first sought her couch; and, suffering as
she was from that nervous and anxious state peculiar to approaching
fever, the poor girl no longer resisted Ellen's evident determination,
and clasping her hand between her own, now burning with fever,
continually thanked her, in broken and feeble accents, for remaining
with her, assuring her she did not feel so ill or as unhappy as she
should have done had she been alone. Anxious as she was, Ellen would not
arouse her aunt, but at the first break of day she softly entered the
housekeeper's room, and succeeded in arousing without alarming her,
informed her of Emmeline's restless state, and implored her to send at
once for Mr. Maitland. Hastily rising, Ellis accompanied Ellen to her
cousin's room, and instantly decided on complying with her request. The
household were already on the alert, and a servant was speedily
despatched; but, relieved as she was on this point, Ellen would not
comply with the good housekeeper's request to repose herself for a few
hours; she had resolved not to relinquish her post by the bedside of the
young sufferer to any save her aunt herself. Ellis desisted, for a word
from her favourite, almost her darling, as Ellen from many circumstances
had become, was to her always sufficient.

Mrs. Hamilton and Mr. Maitland met at Emmeline's door, to the
astonishment and at first alarm of the former--an alarm which subsided
into comparative relief, as she listened to Ellen's hurried tale,
although anxiety to a very high degree remained, and with some reason,
for Ellen's fears were not unfounded. Emmeline's fever rapidly and
painfully increased, and for a week her parents hung over her couch
almost despairing of her recovery; their fond hearts almost breaking, as
they heard her sweet voice, in the wild accent of delirious intervals,
calling aloud on Arthur, and beseeching their consent and blessing to
restore her to health; and scarcely less painful was it in her lucid
hours to see her clasp her mother's hands repeatedly, and murmur, in a
voice almost inarticulate from weakness--

"Do not be anxious or grieved for me, my own dear mamma, I shall soon
get well, and be your happy Emmeline again. I cannot be miserable, when
I have you and papa and Ellen to love me so tenderly," and then, she
would cling to her mother's neck, and kiss her till she would sink to
sleep upon her bosom, as in infancy and childhood she had so often done;
and dearer than ever did that gentle girl become, in these hours of
suffering, to all who had loved her so fondly before; they had deemed it
almost impossible that affection could in any way be increased, and yet
it was so. Strange must be that heart which can behold a being such as
Emmeline cling to it, as if its protection and its love were now all
that bound her to earth, and still remain unmoved and cold. Affection is
ever strengthened by dependence--dependence at least like this; and
there was something peculiarly touching in Emmeline's present state of
mental weakness. Her parents felt, as they gazed on her, that they had
occasioned the anguish which had prostrated her on a bed of sickness;
and yet their child clung to them as if, in the intensity of her
affection for them, and theirs for her, she would strive to forget her
unhappy love, and be once more happy.

Time rolled heavily by, and some few weeks passed, ere Emmeline was
sufficiently convalescent to leave her room, and then her pallid
features and attenuated form were such constant and evident proofs of
that mental as well as bodily fever, that Mrs. Hamilton could not look
on her without pain. She was still inwardly restless and uneasy, though
evidently struggling for cheerfulness, and Mr. Maitland, to whom some
necessary particulars of her tale had been told, gave as his opinion,
that some secret anxiety still rested on her mind, which would be much
better removed; the real cause of that solicitude her parents very
easily penetrated. Mr. Hamilton, fearing the effects of excitement in
her still very delicate state, had refrained from telling her all he had
accomplished in young Myrvin's favour during her sickness, but on
hearing Mr. Maitland's report, her parents both felt assured it was for
that information she pined, and therefore determined on instantly giving
her relief.

It was with the utmost tenderness and caution Mr. Hamilton alluded to
the subject, and seating himself by her couch, playfully asked her if
she would promise him to get well the sooner, if he gratified her by the
pleasing intelligence that Arthur Myrvin's character was cleared, that
his enemy had been discovered, his designs exposed, and himself obliged
to leave the village, and the whole population were now as violently
prejudiced in Arthur's favour, as they had formerly been against him;
provoked also with themselves for their blind folly in receiving and
encouraging the idle reports propagated against him, not one of which
they now perceived were sufficiently well founded to stand before an
impartial statement and accurate examination.

Had her parents doubted what had weighed on Emmeline's mind, the sudden
light beaming in those saddened eyes, the flush kindling on those pale
cheeks, the rapid movement with which she caught her father's hand, and
looked in his face, as if fearful he would deceive her, all these minute
but striking circumstances must have betrayed the truth. In a voice
almost inarticulate from powerful emotion, she implored him to tell her
every particular, and tenderly he complied.

He had followed, he said, her advice, and confronted Nurse Langford with
the unprincipled man who had dared accuse a fellow-creature of a crime
in reality committed by himself, and reckless as he was, he had shrunk
in guilt and shame before her accusation, which was indeed the
accusation of the dying, and avowing himself the real perpetrator of the
sin, offered her a large bribe for secrecy, which, as might be expected,
the widow indignantly refused. It was easy to perceive, his arts had
worked on the old woman, Mary's grandmother, to believe him her friend
and Arthur her foe; the poor old creature's failing intellect assisted
his plans, while the reports he had insidiously circulated against the
unfortunate young man also confirmed his tale. Little aware that the
Widow Langford had been almost a mother to the poor girl his villainy
had ruined, and that she was likely to have heard the truth, being quite
unconscious she had attended her dying moments, he published this
falsehood, without any feeling of remorse or shame, hoping by so doing,
effectually to serve his employers, effect the disgrace of Myrvin, and
completely screen himself. Mrs. Langford now found it was time indeed
for her to come forward and perform her promise to Emmeline by proving
young Myrvin's innocence, but hesitated how to commence. She was
therefore both relieved and pleased at the entrance and inquiries of Mr.
Hamilton, and promised to obey his directions faithfully, only imploring
him to clear Mr. Myrvin's character, and expel Farmer Jefferies from the
village, which, from the time of his settling there, she said, had been
one scene of anarchy and confusion; frankly avowing, in answer to a
question of Mr. Hamilton, that it was for Miss Emmeline's sake she was
so anxious; she was sure she was interested in Mr. Myrvin's fate, and
therefore she had mentioned the unhappy fate of poor Mary Brookes, to
prove to her the young man had attended to his duty. Many other
startling proofs of Jefferies' evil conduct had the good widow, by
silent but watchful attention, been enabled to discover, as also
convincing evidence that the young curate had not been so neglectful or
faulty as he had been reported. All her valuable information she now
imparted to her master, to be used by him in any way his discretion
might point out, promising to be ever ready at the slightest notice to
prove all she had alleged. Mr. Hamilton carefully examined every
circumstance, reflected for a brief period on his mode of action, and
finally, assembling all the principal inhabitants around him, in the
public school-room of the village, laid before them all the important
facts he had collected, and besought their impartial judgment. He owned,
he said, that he too had been prejudiced against Mr. Myrvin, whose
life, while among them, many circumstances had combined to render
unhappy, but that now, he heartily repented his injustice, for he felt
convinced the greater part of what had been alleged against him was
false. Those evil reports he proved had all originated from the
machinations of Jefferies, and he implored them to consider whether they
could still regard the words of one, against whom so much evil had now
been proved, as they had formerly done, or could they really prove that
their young curate had in truth been guilty of the misdemeanours with
which he had been charged.

Mr. Howard, who was present, seconded his words, acknowledging that he
too had been prejudiced, and adding, that he could not feel satisfied
till he had avowed this truth, and asked his young friend's pardon for
the injury he had done him.

Nothing is more sudden and complete than changes in popular feeling. The
shameful act of Jefferies, in casting on the innocent the stigma of
shame and crime which was his own, was quite enough for the honest and
simple villagers. At once they condemned themselves (which perhaps they
might not have been quite so ready to do, had not Mr. Hamilton and their
rector shown them the example), and not only defended and completely
exculpated Myrvin, but in an incredibly short space of time, so many
anecdotes of the young man's performance of his duty were collected,
that had not Mr. Hamilton been aware of the violent nature of popular
feeling, those defects which still remained, though excused by the
recollection of the mental tortures Myrvin had been enduring, would
undoubtedly have departed, as entirely as every darker shade on his
character had done.

Convinced that Arthur's attention to parochial affairs, as well as his
conduct in other matters, had been very opposite to that which had been
reported, neither Mr. Howard nor Mr. Hamilton could feel satisfied till
they had written to him, frankly avowing their injustice, and asking his
pardon and forgetfulness of the past, and assuring him that, if his
conduct continued equally worthy of approbation as it was at the present
time, he should ever find in them sincere and active friends.

Mr. Hamilton felt he had much, very much to say to the young man; but in
what manner to word it he was somewhat perplexed. He could not speak of
his daughter, and yet Myrvin's conduct towards her had created a feeling
of gratitude and admiration which he could not suppress. Many fathers
would have felt indignation only at the young man's presumption, but Mr.
Hamilton was neither so unreasonable nor so completely devoid of
sympathy. It was he himself, he thought, who had acted imprudently in
allowing him to associate so intimately with his daughters, not the
fault of the sufferer. Myrvin had done but his duty indeed, but Mr.
Hamilton knew well there were very few young men who would have acted as
he had done, when conscious that his affection was returned with all the
enthusiasm and devotedness of a disposition such as Emmeline's. How few
but would have played with those feelings, tortured her by persuasions
to forget duty for the sake of love; but Arthur had not done this, and
the father's heart swelled towards him in gratitude and esteem; even
while he knew the hopelessness of his love, he felt for the anguish
which his sympathy told him Arthur must endure. After more deliberation
and thought than he could have believed necessary for such a simple
thing as to write a letter, Mr. Hamilton did achieve his object,
retaining a copy of his epistle, to prove to his child he had been
earnest in his assurances that Arthur's character should be cleared.
Painfully agitated by the tale she had heard, and this unexpected
confidence of her father, Emmeline glanced her eye over the paper, and
read as follows:--


"_To the Rev. Arthur Myrvin, Hanover_.

"MY DEAR MYRVIN.--You will be no doubt astonished at receiving this
letter, brief as I intend it to be, from one with whom you parted in no
very friendly terms, and who has, I grieve to own, given you but little
reason to believe me your friend. When a man has been unjust and
prejudiced, it becomes his peremptory duty, however pride may rebel, to
do all in his power to atone for it by an honourable reparation, both in
word and deed, towards him he may have injured. Such, my young friend,
is at present our relative position, and I am at a loss to know how best
to express my sense of your honourable conduct and my own injustice,
which occasioned a degree of harshness in my manner towards you when we
separated, which, believe me, I now recall both with regret and pain.
Circumstances have transpired in the parish once under your care, which
have convinced not only me, but all those still more violently
prejudiced against you, that your fair fame was tarnished by the secret
machinations and insidious representations of an enemy, and not by the
faulty nature of your conduct; and knowing this, we most earnestly
appeal to the nobleness of your nature for forgetfulness of the past,
and beg you will endeavour henceforward to regard those as your sincere
friends whom you have unhappily had too much reason to believe
otherwise.

"For myself, my dear Myrvin, I do not doubt that you will do this, for
candidly I own, that only now I have learned the true nature of your
character. When I first knew you, I was interested in your welfare, as
the chosen friend of my son, and also for your father's sake, now it is
for your own. The different positions we occupy in life, the wide
distance which circumstances place between us, will, I feel sure,
prevent all misconception on your part as to my meaning, and prevent
your drawing from my friendly words conclusions opposite to what I
intend, therefore I do not hesitate to avow that I not only esteem, but
from my heart I thank you, Myrvin, for your indulgence of those
honourable feelings, that perfect integrity which bade you resign your
curacy and depart from Oakwood. I did you wrong, great wrong; words can
but faintly compensate injury, though words have been the weapon by
which that injury has been inflicted, yet I feel confident you will not
retain displeasure, natural as it was; you will consent once more to
look on and appeal, if you should ever require it, to the father of
Herbert as your willing friend. Believe me, that if it be in my power to
assist you, you will never appeal in vain. Lord Malvern, I rejoice to
find, is your staunch friend, and nothing shall be wanting on my part to
render that friendship as permanent as advantageous. Mrs. Hamilton begs
me to inform you, that in this communication of my feelings, I have
transcribed her own. Injustice indeed she never did you; but
admiration, esteem, and gratitude are inmates of her bosom as sincerely
as they are of my own. Continue, my young friend, this unwavering regard
to the high principles of your nature, this steady adherence to duty,
spite of prejudice and wrong, if indeed they should ever again assail
you, and the respecs of your fellow-creatures will be yours as warmly,
as unfeignedly, as is that of

"Your sincere friend,

"ARTHUR HAMILTON."

No word, no sound broke from the parched lips of Emmeline as she ceased
to read. She returned the paper to her father in that same silence, and
turning from his glance, buried her face in her hands. Mr. Hamilton
guessed at once all that was passing in that young and tortured heart;
he drew her to him, and whispered fondly--

"Speak to me, my Emmeline. You do not think he can mistake my feelings.
He will not doubt all prejudice is removed."

"Oh, no, no," she replied, after a severe struggle for composure; "you
have said enough, dear, dear papa. I could not have expected more."

For a moment she clung to his neck, and covered his cheek with kisses,
then gently withdrawing herself from his arms, quietly but hastily left
the room. For about an hour she might have remained absent, and Mrs.
Hamilton would not disturb her; and when she returned there was no trace
of agitation, pale she was indeed, and her eye had lost its brightness,
but that was too customary now to be deemed the effect of excited
emotion, and no further notice was taken, save that perhaps the manner
of her parents and Ellen towards her that night was even fonder than
usual.

Once again Mr. Hamilton mentioned Arthur Myrvin; to speak of the
pleasing and satisfactory letters both he and Mr. Howard had received
from him. He addressed himself to Ellen, telling her, Arthur had written
in a manner tending to satisfy even her friendly feelings towards him.
Emmeline joined not in the conversation. Her father did not offer to
show her the letter, and she stilled the yearnings of her young and
loving heart. From that hour the name of Arthur Myrvin was never heard
in the halls of Oakwood. There was no appearance of effort in the
avoidance, but still it was not spoken; not even by Percy and Herbert,
nor by Caroline or her husband. Even the letters of Lady Florence and
Lady Emily Lyle ceased to make him their principal object. Emmeline knew
the volatile nature of the latter, and therefore was not surprised that
she had grown tired of the theme; that Lady Florence should so
completely cease all mention of the tutor of her favourite brother was
rather more strange, but she did so perhaps in her letters to Ellen, and
of that Emmeline had not courage to ask. St. Eval would speak of Lord
Louis, expressing hopes that he was becoming more steady; but it so
chanced that, although at such times Emmeline, spite of herself, ever
longed for somewhat more, the magic name that would have bidden every
pulse throb never reached her ears, and her excited spirit would sink
back in despondency and gloom, increased from the momentary excitement
which expectation had vainly called forth.

Astonished indeed had Arthur Myrvin been at the receipt of his letters
from Oakwood and the Rectory. Mr. Howard's was productive of
gratification alone; that of Mr. Hamilton afforded even greater
pleasure, combined with a more than equal measure of pain. He had hoped
Emmeline would have answered his letter. She did not, but he knew her
influence had been exercised in his favour; and agony as it was, he
acknowledged she had acted wisely. There was too much devotedness in
Emmeline's character for Myrvin to encourage one lingering doubt that
his affections were returned; and as he thought on her steady discharge
of filial duty, as he recalled their parting interview, and felt she had
not wavered from the path she had pointed out, his own energies,
notwithstanding that still lingering, still acute suffering, were roused
within him, and he resolved he would obey her. She should see her appeal
had not been made in vain; she should never blush for the man she had
honoured with her love; he would endeavour to deserve her esteem, though
they might never meet again. He felt he had been too much the victim of
an ill-fated passion; he had by neglect in trifles encouraged the
prejudice against him, lost himself active and willing friends; this
should no longer be, and Myrvin devoted himself so perseveringly, so
assiduously to his pupil, allowing himself scarcely any time for
solitary thought, that not the keenest observer would have suspected
there was that upon the young man's heart which was poisoning the
buoyancy of youth, robbing life of its joy, and rendering him old before
his time.

That Mr. Hamilton, the father of his Emmeline, that his feelings should
have thus changed towards him, that he should admire and esteem instead
of condemn, was a matter of truly heartfelt pleasure. Hope would have
shook aloft her elastic wings, and carried him beyond himself, had not
that letter in the same hour dashed to the earth his soaring fancy, and
placed the seal upon his doom. He could not be mistaken; Mr. Hamilton
knew all that had passed between him and Emmeline, and while he
expressed his gratitude for the integrity and forbearance he (Myrvin)
had displayed, he as clearly said their love was hopeless, their union
never could take place.

Myrvin had known this before, then why did his heart sink in even
deeper, darker despondency as he read? why were his efforts at
cheerfulness so painful, so unavailing? He knew not and yet struggled
on, but weeks, ay, months rolled by, and yet that pang remained
unconquered still.

And did Emmeline become again in looks and glee as we have known her?
Was she even to her mother's eye again a child? Strangers, even some of
her father's friends, might still have deemed her so; but alas! a
mother's love strove vainly thus to be deceived. Health returned, and
with it appeared to come her wonted enthusiasm, her animated spirits.
Not once did she give way to depression; hers was not that pining
submission which is more pain to behold than decided opposition, that
resignation which has its foundation in pride, not in humility, as its
possessors suppose. Emmeline's submission was none of these. Her duties
as daughter and sister and friend, as well as those to the neighbouring
poor, were, if possible, more actively and perseveringly performed than
they had even been before. Not one of her former favourite employments
was thrown aside. The complete unselfishness of her nature was more
clearly visible than ever, and was it strange that she became dearer
than ever to those with whom she lived? Her parents felt she was twining
herself more and more around their hearts, and beheld, with
inexpressible anguish, that though her young mind was so strong, her
fragile frame was too weak to support the constant struggle. She never
complained; there was no outward failing of health, but there was a
nameless something hovering round her, which even her doting parents
could not define, but which they felt too forcibly to shake off; and
notwithstanding every effort to expel the idea, that nameless something
brought with it alarm--alarm defined indeed too clearly; but of which
even to each other they could not speak.

Time passed, and Herbert Hamilton, as the period of his ordination was
rapidly approaching, lost many of those painfully foreboding feelings
which for the last three years had so constantly and painfully assailed
him. He felt stronger in health than he had ever remembered to have
done, and the spirit of cheerfulness, and hope, and joy breathing in the
letters of his Mary affected him with the same unalloyed feelings of
anticipated happiness; sensations of holiness, of chastened thanksgiving
pervaded his every thought, the inward struggle appeared passed. There
was a calm upon his young spirit, so soothing and so blessed, that the
future rose before him unsullied by a cloud; anticipation was so bright,
it seemed a foretaste of that glorious heaven, the goal to which he and
his Mary looked--the home they sought together.

Percy had also obtained honourable distinction at Oxford; his active
spirit would not have permitted him to remain quiet in college so long,
had he not determined to see his brother ordained ere he commenced the
grand tour, to which he looked with much zest, as the completion to his
education, and render him, if he turned it to advantage, in all respects
fitted to serve his country nobly in her senate, the point to which he
had looked, from the first hour he was capable of thought, with an
ardour which increased as that long-desired time approached.

The disgraceful expulsion of Cecil Grahame from Cambridge opened afresh
that wound in his father's heart which Annie had first inflicted, but
which the conduct of Lilla had succeeded in soothing sufficiently to bid
her hope it would in time be healed. The ill-directed young man had
squandered away the whole of his mother's fortune, and behaved in a
manner that rendered expulsion inevitable. He chose to join the army,
and, with a painfully foreboding heart, his father procured him a
commission in a regiment bound for Ireland, hoping he would be exposed
to fewer temptations there than did he remain in England.

Lady Helen, as her health continued to decline, felt conscience becoming
more and more upbraiding, its voice would not be stilled. She had known
her duty as a mother; she had seen it beautifully portrayed before her
in Mrs. Hamilton, but she had neglected its performance, and her
chastisement she felt had come. Annie's conduct she had borne, she had
forgiven her, scarcely appearing conscious of the danger her daughter
had escaped; but Cecil was her darling, and his disgrace came upon her
as a thunderbolt, drawing the veil from her eyes, with startling and
bewildering light. She had concealed his childish faults, she had petted
him in every whim, encouraged him in every folly in his youth; to hide
his faults from a severe but not too harsh a judge, she had lowered
herself in the eyes of her husband, and achieved no good. Cecil was
expelled, disgracefully expelled, and the wretched mother, as she
contrasted his college life with that of the young Hamiltons, felt she
had been the cause; she had led him on by the flowery paths of
indulgence to shame and ruin. He came not near her; he joined his
regiment, and left England, without bidding her farewell, and she felt
she should never see him more. From that hour she sunk; disease
increased, and though she still lingered, and months passed, and there
was no change for the worse, yet still both Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton felt
that death was written on her brow, that, however he might loiter on his
way, his destined victim would never again feel the blessedness of
health; and all their efforts were now directed in soothing the
affliction of Grahame, and lead him to console by tenderness the
remaining period of his unhappy wife's existence. They imparted not to
him their fears, but they rested not till their desire was obtained, and
Lady Helen could feel she was not only forgiven but still beloved, and
would be sincerely mourned, both by her husband and Lilla, in whom she
had allowed herself at one time to be so deceived.

Having now brought the affairs of Oakwood, and all intimately connected
with it, to a point, from which no subject of interest took place for
above a year, at that period we resume our narrative.



CHAPTER V.


It was a fine summer morning. The windows of a pretty little
sitting-room were thrown wide open, and the light breeze, loaded with
the perfume of a thousand flowers, played refreshingly on the pale cheek
of our young friend Emmeline, who, reclining on a sofa, looked forth on
beautiful nature with mingled sadness and delight. More than a year had
elapsed since we last beheld her, and she was changed, painfully
changed. She still retained her childish expression of countenance,
which ever made her appear younger than in reality she was, but its
ever-varying light, its beautiful glow were gone; yet she complained
not. The smile ever rested on her lips in the presence of her parents;
her voice was ever joyous, and no sigh, no repining word, betrayed the
breaking heart within. She recognised with a full and grateful heart the
blessings still surrounding her, and struggled long and painfully to be
content; but that fond yearning would not be stilled, that deep love no
effort could dispel. Still there were times when those who had never
known her in former years would have pronounced her well, quite well in
health; and Emmeline would smile when such remarks reached her, and
wonder if her parents were so deceived. Sometimes she thought they were,
for the name of Arthur Myrvin was no longer suppressed before her. She
heard of him, of his devotion to his pupil, of the undeviating integrity
and steadiness which characterised him, and promised fair to lead Lord
Louis in the same bright paths; she had heard of Arthur's devoted care
of his pupil during a long and dangerous illness, that he, under Divine
goodness, had been the instrument of saving the youth's life, and
restoring him to health; and if she permitted no sign to betray the
deep, absorbing interest she felt, if her parents imagined he was
forgotten, they knew not the throbbings of her heart.

She was conversing this morning with Mrs. Cameron, who had learned to
love Emmeline dearly; from being very often at Oakwood, she and her
daughters were looked on by all Mr. Hamilton's children as part of the
family.

"Is not Flora delighted at the idea of again seeing her brother?"
Emmeline asked, in answer to Mrs. Cameron's information that Walter was
returning with his regiment to England, and in a very few weeks would be
once more an inmate of her home. She answered cheerfully in the
affirmative, and Emmeline again inquired--"Was Captain Cameron at all
acquainted with Cecil Grahame? Did he know the cause of his having been
so disgracefully cashiered?"

"Their regiments were quartered in such different parts of Ireland,"
replied Mrs. Cameron, "that I believe they only met on one occasion, and
then Walter was glad to withdraw from the society of the dissolute young
men by whom Lieutenant Grahame was always surrounded. The cause of his
disgrace appears enveloped in mystery. Walter certainly alluded to it,
but so vaguely, that I did not like to ask further particulars. I
dreaded the effect it would have on Mr. Grahame, but little imagined
poor Lady Helen would have sunk beneath it."

"I believe few know how she doted on that boy. It was misguided, but
still it was love that caused her to ruin him as she did in his
childhood. From the hour he was expelled from Cambridge, she never held
up her head; it was so cruelly ungrateful of him to set off for Ireland
without once seeking her; and this last stroke was too much for her to
bear. She still hoped, despite her better judgment, that he would in the
end distinguish himself, and she could not meet the disappointment."

"Did she long survive the intelligence?"

"Scarcely four-and-twenty hours. Mr. Grahame, feeling unable to command
himself, requested mamma and Lilla to impart to her the distressing
information, which they did most tenderly; but their caution was
entirely fruitless. Her constant inquiry was relative to his present
situation, and when she heard that he had not been seen since he was
cashiered, she sunk into a state of insensibility from which she never
recovered."

"And Mr. Grahame?"

"The shock rendered him almost distracted, for it was so sudden. Lady
Helen had become so altered lately, that she was devotedly loved both by
her husband and child; she had been so long ailing, that both Lilla and
her father fondly hoped and believed she would be spared to them still
some years longer, though she might never entirely recover her health.
Mr. Grahame's feelings are stronger than most people imagine, but his
misfortunes have bowed him down even more than I could have believed
possible."

"They appeared so united and happy, that I do not wonder at it,"
observed Mrs. Cameron. "I have seldom seen such devotedness as Lady
Helen received from both her husband and child; she always welcomed
their affectionate attentions as if she felt herself undeserving of
them. I was interested in her, she bore her sufferings so meekly."

"And poor Lilla, how is she?"

"She suffers much, but behaves admirably. Ellen says her self-control is
extraordinary, when we remember she was one of those beings who could
never conceal a single feeling. Her poor father seems to look to her now
as his sole blessing and support; she soothes his sorrow so quietly, so
tenderly, and ever tries to prevent his thoughts dwelling on the stigma
which Cecil's disgraceful conduct has cast upon his name. I trust time
will restore that calm tranquillity which he has enjoyed the last year,
but I must own I fear it. If this moody irritability continue, Lilla
will have much to bear, but she will do her duty, and that will bring
its own reward."

A faint and scarcely audible sigh escaped from Emmeline as she spoke.
Mrs. Cameron, without noticing, asked when she expected her brothers to
return home from London.

"Herbert takes orders next week, and they return together very soon
afterwards. He is, as you will believe, delighted at the near approach
of an event which has been his guiding star since his boyhood. I never
saw him looking so well or so happy, and Percy shares his joy, and we
shall have him near us, I am happy to say, for he will be the minister
of our own dear parish, which, by Mr. Howard's promotion, will be vacant
about the time he will require it. Mr. Howard says he thinks he should
have turned rebel, and refused the presentation of a valuable living,
with the title of archdeacon attached to his name, if any one but
Herbert were to succeed him here; but as he leaves his flock under his
care, he will not refuse the blessings offered him. He does not go very
far from us, if he had I should have been so very sorry, that even my
brother's succeeding him would not have satisfied me."

There was a short pause, which was broken by Emmeline saying--

"Speaking about Mr. Howard and Herbert has made me forget Percy, dear
fellow. You know how he has raved about the grand tour he is going to
make, all the curiosities he is to see and bring home for me, even to
the dome of St. Peter's or the crater of Vesuvius, if I wish to see
them. He has taken my provoking remarks in good part, and sets off with
Caroline and her husband in July. My sister's health has been so
delicate the last three months, that she is advised to go to Geneva. Her
little boy grows such a darling, I shall miss him almost as much as his
mother."

"Do you stay with them at Castle Terryn before they go?"

"I do not think I shall, for at present I seem to dislike the idea of
leaving home. They come to us, I believe, a few weeks hence, in order
that we may be all together, which we could not very well be at St.
Eval's."

"Has Lord St. Eval quite lost all anxiety on his brother's account? The
physicians said they could never have brought him through it, had it not
been for Mr. Myrvin's prudent and unceasing care."

"Yes; every letter from Castle Malvern confirms the report, all anxiety
has been over some weeks now; indeed, before the Marquis reached
Hanover, where he received from his son's own lips an affecting and
animated account of his own imprudence, and Mr. Myrvin's heroic as well
as prudent conduct."

"Was there an accident, then? I thought it was from the fever then
raging in the town."

"Lord Louis had determined, against his tutor's consent, to join a party
of very gay young men, who wished to leave Hanover for a time and make
an excursion to the sea-shore. Mr. Myrvin, who did not quite approve of
some of the young gentlemen who were to join the party, remonstrated,
but in vain. Lord Louis was obstinate, and Mr. Myrvin, finding all his
efforts fruitless, accompanied his pupil, very much to the annoyance of
the whole party, who determined to render his sojourn with them so
distasteful, that he would quickly withdraw himself. Lord Louis, led on
by evil companions, turned against his tutor, who, however, adhered to
his duty unshrinkingly. A sailing match was resolved on, and,
notwithstanding the predictions of Mr. Myrvin, that a violent storm was
coming on and likely to burst over them before half their day's sport
was completed, they set off, taunting him with being afraid of the
water. They declared there was no room for him in their boats, and
pushed off without him. He followed them closely, and fortunate was it
that he did so. The storm burst with fury; the little vessels were most
of them shattered to pieces, and many of the misguided and unfortunate
young men fell victims to their wilful folly. Some, who were good
swimmers, escaped, but Lord Louis had struck his head against a
projecting rock, and, stunned and senseless, must have sunk, had not Mr.
Myrvin been mercifully permitted to bear him to the shore in safety. He
was extremely ill, but in a few weeks recovered sufficiently to return
to Hanover, unconscious, as was Mr. Myrvin, of the virulent fever then
raging there. Already in delicate health, he was almost instantly
attacked by the disease, in its most alarming and contagious form; the
servants fled in terror from the house, only one, his own valet, an
Englishman, remained near him. But Mr. Myrvin never left him; day and
night he attended, soothed, and relieved him. His efforts were, happily,
rewarded: Lord Louis lived and his preceptor escaped all infection. The
Marquis and his son have both written of Mr. Myrvin in the most
gratifying terms; and the Marchioness told mamma she could never in any
way repay the debt of gratitude she owed him."

Mrs. Cameron was much interested in Emmeline's narrative, and asked if
they were not soon to return to England.

"They may have already arrived," replied Emmeline. "Florence wrote me a
fortnight ago she was counting the days till their return. I sent a
letter, apparently from her, this morning to Moorlands for Ellen, as I
am not quite sure whether she will return home this evening or not, and
perhaps that contains the intelligence. His mother and sisters will be
overjoyed to have him once more with them, after the dangers he has
passed."

"Has Mr. Myrvin any family?"

"Only his father, a truly good, kind, old man, the rector of
Llangwillan."

"And are you not desirous to see this admirable young man, this devoted
preceptor, my dear Emmeline?" said Mrs. Cameron, smiling. "Will he not
be an excellent hero of romance?"

Emmeline answered, that as she already knew him, she could not throw
around him the halo of imagination; she was content to admire his
character as it was, without decking him in other charms. Their further
conversation turned upon other and indifferent subjects till Mrs.
Cameron departed.

The death of Lady Helen and the misconduct of her son had cast such deep
gloom over Moorlands, that not only Emmeline, but both Mr. and Mrs.
Hamilton feared Grahame would never arouse himself from the moody apathy
into which he had fallen. He felt disgrace had fallen on his name, a
stain never to be erased; that all men would shun the father of one so
publicly dishonoured. The extent of Cecil's conduct was scarcely known
even to his father; but that he had used dishonest measures at the
gambling table to discharge enormous debts; that he had behaved
insolently to his superior officers; that it required great interest to
prevent a much harsher sentence than had been his punishment--these
facts were known all over England. The previously unsullied name of
Grahame was now synonymous with infamy; and it was even supposed Cecil
would never show his face in England again. Mr. Grahame shrunk in misery
from encountering the glance even of his friends; he felt as if he too
shared the disgrace of his son, he and his young, his beautiful Lilla;
she whom he had anticipated, with so much pleasure, introducing among
his friends, she was doomed to share with him the solitude, which he
declared was the only fit abode of ignominy; and even to her his manner
was wayward and uncertain--at times almost painfully fond, at others
equally stern and harsh. Lilla's character was changed; she struggled to
bear with him, unrepiningly, dutifully, conscious that the eye of her
God was upon her, however her father might appear insensible to her
affection.

Even the society of Mr. Howard and Mr. Hamilton was irksome; their
efforts to rouse and cheer him were unavailing, and they could only hope
time would achieve that for which friendship was inadequate.

Herbert's engagement with Mary Greville still remained untold, but he
looked forward to discovering his long-treasured secret, when he beheld
himself indeed an ordained minister of God; Percy perhaps was in his
confidence, but neither his sisters nor Ellen. Mary's letters were full
of comfort to him; such pure and beautiful affection breathed in every
line, that even the sadness which the few last unconsciously betrayed
did not alarm him. He accounted for it by her reluctance to quit her
beautiful retreat in the Swiss mountains for the confusion and heat of
Paris, where she now resided. A few months previously they had been
visited in their retreat by her father; scarcely more surprised were
they at his appearance than at his manner, which was kinder and more
indulgent than Mary had ever remembered it. For a short time Mrs.
Greville indulged hopes, that their long separation had effected a
change in her husband, and that they should at length be happy together.

He did not know much about Alfred, he said, except that he was well, and
travelling with some friends in different parts of the Continent.

Mrs. Greville tried to be satisfied, and her cheering hopes did not
desert her even when her husband expressed a wish that she would reside
with him at Paris. The wish rather confirmed them, as it evinced that he
was no longer indifferent to her own and his child's society. With
joyful alacrity she consented, but in vain endeavoured to banish from
Mary's mind the foreboding fears that appeared to have filled it, from
the hour it was settled they were to leave Monte Rosa. In vain her
mother affectionately represented how much nearer she would be to
Herbert; nothing could remove, though she strove to conquer, this
seemingly uncalled-for and indefinable despondency.

"I confess my weakness," she wrote to her betrothed, "but I had so often
pictured remaining at Monte Rosa till you came for me, as you had
promised, so often pictured to myself the delight of showing to you my
favourite haunts, ere we left them together for still dearer England,
that I cannot bear to find these visions dispelled without pain. I know
you will tell me I ought to be thankful for this great and happy change
in my father, and bear every privation for the chance of binding him to
us for ever. Do not reprove me, dear Herbert, but there is that about my
father that bids me tremble still, and whispers the calm is not lasting;
in vain I strive against it, but a voice tells me, in thus leaving Monte
Rosa, peace lingers in its beautiful shades, and woe's dark shadow
stands threatening before me."

Herbert longed to go to her, and thus disperse all these foreboding
fears, but that pleasure the near approach of his ordination prevented;
but fondly he looked forward with unalloyed hope in a few months to seek
his Mary, and at once banish all indefinable sorrow by making her his
own. Not a doubt entered his mind of Mr. Greville's consent, when he
should in person demand it, and he was eager to do so while this
strangely indulgent humour continued.

The first few months of her residence in Paris were fraught with
happiness for Mrs. Greville. Her husband's manner did not change. They
mingled in society, and the admiration Mary's quiet beauty excited
afforded the greatest pleasure to her mother, and even appeared to
inspire her father with some pride. To the poor girl herself it was
irksome and painful; but she tried to convince herself these feelings
were wrong, and checked them even in her letters to Herbert.

Ellen returned from Moorlands, where she had been staying with Lilla,
whose affection for her continued unabated; for she found in her society
and sympathy much comfort since her mother's death. There was little
change visible in Ellen. Her health was established, her pensive beauty
unimpaired. Still was she the meek, unassuming, gentle girl she had long
been; still to the eye of strangers somewhat cold and indifferent. Her
inward self was becoming every year more strengthened; she was resolved
to use every effort to _suffer_, without the slightest portion of
bitterness impregnating her sentiments towards her fellow-creatures, or
the world in general. Her lot she _knew_ was to _bear_; her duty she
_felt_ was to _conceal_.

Ellen, on her return home, gave her cousin the letter which Emmeline had
mentioned as having forwarded to her that morning. It was fraught with
interest, and the anxious eye of Mrs. Hamilton moved not from her
daughter's countenance as she read. Still was it so calm that even she
was puzzled; and again the thought, "Is it for him" she is thus
drooping, fading like a flower before me? is it, indeed, the struggle
between love and duty which has made her thus? crossed her mind, as it
had often, very often done before, and brought with it renewed
perplexity.

Lady Florence had written in the highest spirits, announcing the return
of her father, Lord Louis, and his tutor; that her brother was looking
quite well and strong, and was the same dear, merry, mischievous boy as
ever; delighted to be in England, abusing all the Germans, and
professing and displaying the most extreme fondness for Mr. Myrvin.

"He speaks of Mr. Myrvin in terms that bring tears to my eyes, tears of
which, my dear Ellen, I am not at all ashamed. The only drawback to the
life of a soldier, which my brother has now positively resolved on, in
spite of all our persuasions, exists, he says, in the consequent
separation from Mr. Myrvin, and he almost wishes to go to Cambridge, to
chain him to his side; but for Mr. Myrvin's sake, I am glad this will
not be. He is looking ill, very ill, quite different to the Arthur
Myrvin we knew at Oakwood; a change has come over him which I cannot
describe, and even to myself can scarcely define. He is much more
polished in his manner, but it is tinged with such deep melancholy, or
intense thought, I really do not know which it is, that he appears many
years older than when he left England. My father has at length prevailed
on him to resign all idea of again seeking the arduous charge of tutor,
but, with that honest pride which I so much admire and esteem, he has
refused all papa's offers of advancement, only consenting to accept the
living on Eugene's estate, when Louis shall require his services no
longer. I trust the healthy air of Cornwall and the quiet of his parish
will restore him to health, for the care which preserved that of Louis
has, I fear, ruined his own. He goes to London to-morrow to see
Herbert; the society of your cousins cannot fail to do him good. Louis
joins the army in a few months, and then Mr. Myrvin will take possession
of his living; but you will in all probability see them before, as Lord
and Lady St. Eval have sent a pressing invitation for them to come down
to Castle Terryn, and as soon as Mr. Myrvin returns from London, Louis
intends doing so. I want to hear Herbert's opinion of his friend, as my
dismal fancies concerning him may, after all, be only a woman's fancy,
yet looking ill he decidedly is."

So wrote Lady Florence, and very soon Herbert and Percy's letters home
confirmed all she had said. Either the air of Germany had not been
congenial, or some other cause had so changed his outward appearance and
tinged his manner, that Herbert could not look on him without pain; but
the restless irritation, the haughty indifference which had been his
before he left Oakwood, no longer existed. There was a quiet dignity
about him that prevented all intrusive sympathy, a mild, steady lustre
in his dark grey eye, which so clearly said conscience was at peace,
that Herbert instinctively felt the bonds of friendship stronger than
they had ever been before; he was no longer anxious, for he felt assured
the errors of Arthur's former life were conquered, and he wrote to his
father concerning his friend with all his native eloquence.

Emmeline made no observation; her young soul was absorbed in an intense
feeling of thanksgiving, that her prayers had been heard. Strength had
been granted him, and he had done his duty; he was esteemed, beloved;
his character was pure and bright; and if the gulf between them
remained impassable, should she murmur, when _all_ for which she had
prayed had been vouchsafed her? But a sterner call of obedience appeared
about to hover over her, from which her young spirit shrunk back
appalled.

Herbert's anxious wishes were accomplished; there was no longer any
barrier to his earnest prayers to become a servant of his God, and of
service to his fellow-creatures. The six years in which he had laboured
unceasingly, untiringly, to prepare himself for the life which from his
boyhood he had chosen, now appeared but as a passing dream, and as he
knelt before the venerable bishop, his feelings became almost
overpowering. Tears rose in his eyes, and he drooped his head upon his
hands to conceal them. He felt this was no common life on which he
entered, no mere profession, in which he would be at liberty to think
and act as he pleased. Herbert felt that he had vowed himself to do the
work of God; that in it was comprised the good of his fellow-creatures.
The stern conquest of his own rebellious will; that his _actions_, not
his language only, should uphold the glory of his Maker.

The return of Percy and Herbert brought pleasure to Oakwood, and a week
or two afterwards Lord and Lady St. Eval, with their little boy,
arrived, imparting additional happiness. Emmeline was surprised at
seeing them, for she thought Lord Louis and his preceptor were expected
at Castle Terryn. Lord St. Eval often spoke of his brother, and alluded
to Myrvin, and even hinted his thanks to Emmeline for her exertions in
the latter's favour, when the Marquis was hesitating whether or not to
intrust him with the charge of his son; but on such matters he never
spoke openly, yet not so guardedly as to betray to Emmeline he was
acquainted with her secret.

Mr. Hamilton had many private conversations both with the young Earl and
his son Herbert, but what the subject was which so engrossed him only
Mrs. Hamilton knew.

The return of Edward, too, from a short cruise gave additional spirit to
Oakwood. The young sailor had rapidly run through the grades of
lieutenant, and now stood the first on the line; his character both as a
sailor and a man was confirmed. He was as deservedly respected by his
messmates as beloved by his family, and to Ellen he was indeed dear. The
most perfect confidence existed between this affectionate brother and
sister, except on one point, and on that even to Edward she could not
speak; but he had not one thought, one feeling which he concealed from
her, he sought no other friend. Scarcely could Mrs. Cameron and her son
Walter recognise in this amiable young man the headstrong, fiery,
overbearing lad they had known in India.

The little party at Oakwood had all either walked or ridden out, and
Mrs. Hamilton alone remained at home. She stood by the side of Emmeline,
who was asleep, peacefully and sweetly; a smile bright and beautiful as
of other days, played round her lips. The mother reflected on the words
of Mr. Maitland, who had assured her, the remedy he proposed would be
successful. "Make her happy, remove this weighty load which weighs upon
her heart, and she will live to be the blessing she has ever been to all
who love her."

Tears of mingled feeling rose to the eyes of Mrs. Hamilton as she
watched her child. Emmeline's lips moved. "Arthur, dear Arthur," she
murmured, a faint flush rising to her cheek, and the smile heightened in
its brilliancy; a few minutes, and her eyes unclosed; a shade of
disappointment passed over her features, a faint sigh struggled to
escape, but it was checked, for she met her mother's fond glance, and
smiled.

"Why are you not gone out, dearest mother, this lovely evening? why stay
with such a dull companion as I am? Percy and Edward could offer so many
more attractions, and I am sure it is not with their good-will you are
here."

"Would my Emmeline refuse me the sweet pleasure of watching her, tending
her? believe me, dearest, without you at my side, the park and this
lovely evening would lose half their attractions."

"Do not say so, my own mother. I am not ill, only lazy, and that you
were not wont to encourage; my eyes would close, spite of all my
efforts. But why should you have the uninteresting task of watching my
slumbers?"

"Because, dearest, I will not abandon my office, till it is claimed as
the right of another. It will soon be, my Emmeline; but do not send me
from your side, till then."

"The right of another, dearest mother? whose right will it ever be but
yours? who can ever be to me the tender nurse that you have been?"

"One who will vow to love, protect, and cherish you; one who loves you,
my own Emmeline, and longs to claim you as his own, and restore, by his
affection, the health and spirits you have lost; one who has the consent
and blessing of your father and myself, and waits but for yours."

Emmeline started from her recumbent posture.

"Oh, send me not from you, mother, my own mother! Do not, oh, do not
compel me to marry!" she exclaimed, in a tone of agony. "The affection
of a husband restore my health! oh, no, no, it would break my heart at
once, and you would send me from you but to die. Mother, oh, let me stay
with you. Do not let my father command my obedience; in everything else
I will obey but in this." She hid her face in Mrs. Hamilton's bosom, and
wept bitterly.

"We will command nothing that can make you miserable, my own," replied
her mother, soothingly. "But you will love him, my Emmeline, you will
love him as he loves you; his fond affection cannot fail to make you
happy. You will learn to know him--to value his noble virtues, his
honourable principles. As his wife, new pleasures, new duties will be
around you. Health will return, and I shall see my Emmeline once more as
she was--my own happy child."

"And has it indeed gone so far that both you and my father have
consented, and I must disobey and displease my parents, or be miserable
for life?"

"My child," said Mrs. Hamilton, so solemnly, that Emmeline involuntarily
checked her tears, "my child, you shall never marry the husband we have
chosen for you, unless you can love and be happy with him: sacredly and
irrevocably I promise this. You shall not sacrifice yourself for a
doubtful duty. If, when you have seen and known him, your wishes still
are contrary to ours, we will not demand your obedience. If you still
prefer your mother's home, never, never shall you go from me. Be
comforted, my Emmeline,--do not weep thus. Will you not trust me? If
you cannot love, you shall not marry."

"But, my father--oh, mamma, will he too promise me this?"

"Yes, love; doubt him not," and a smile so cheering, so happy, was round
Mrs. Hamilton's lips as she spoke, that Emmeline unconsciously felt
relieved. "We only wish our Emmeline's consent to an introduction to
this estimable young man, who has so long and so faithfully loved her,
and if still she is inexorable we must submit. Could I send you from me
without your free consent? Could I part from you except for happiness?"

Emmeline threw her arms round her mother's neck. In vain she struggled
to ask who was the young man of whom her mother spoke. Why should she
inquire, when she felt that he never, never could be anything to her?
Bitterly, painfully she struggled to dismiss the thought hastily from
her mind, and gladly hailed the entrance of the nurse with her little
nephew as a relief. Her mother joined her in caressing and playing with
him, and ere he was dismissed the scattered parties had returned, and
there was no opportunity for farther confidential converse.

It was a happy, merry party at Oakwood, but the presence of Lilla
Grahame was wanting to make it complete. Ellen was constantly with her,
for she would not permit the lively proceedings of home to interfere
with the call of friendship; and in this task of kindness she was
constantly joined by Edward, who would frequently leave gayer amusements
to offer Lilla his company on her walk, and his intelligent
conversation, his many amusing anecdotes, frequently drew a smile from
his young listener, and, combined with Ellen's presence and more quiet
sympathy, raised her spirits, and encouraged her in her painful task of
bearing with, if she could not soothe, her father's still irritable
temperament. Moorlands was to be sold; for Mr. Grahame had resolved on
burying himself and his child in some retired cottage, where his very
existence might be forgotten. In vain Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton combated
this resolution, and entreated him at least to settle near them; gloomy,
almost morose, he still spoke of Wales as the only place where he was
not known, where his name might not be associated with disgrace. Lilla
was just of an age to feel the parting with the kind friends of her
childhood as a most painful trial, but she determined to reconcile
herself to her father's will whatever it might be.

Captain Cameron too was an agreeable addition to the society of Oakwood;
high-spirited, and naturally joyous, Percy liked him as a kindred
spirit; and reserved, though intelligent, Herbert found many points of
his character assimilate with his. Mrs. Cameron's station in life had
been somewhat raised since her return to England. Sir Hector Cameron,
her husband's elder brother, childless and widowed, found his morose and
somewhat miserly disposition softened, and his wish to know his
brother's family became too powerful to be resisted. He had seen Walter
in Ireland, and admired the young man ere he knew who he was; a farther
acquaintance, ere he discovered himself as his uncle, heightened these
good impressions, and Walter, to his utter astonishment, found himself
suddenly the heir to a rich baronetcy, and his mother and sisters
comfortably provided for. He rejoiced at his good fortune, but not at
the baronetcy itself; not for the many pleasures which, as Sir Hector's
heir, now stood temptingly before him, but because he might now indeed
encourage an affection, which he had once believed was as hopeless as it
was intense.

There is but one person whom we knew in a former page whose fate we have
omitted to mention; it may be well to do so here, ere we proceed
regularly with our narrative. The high-minded, unselfish, truth-loving
Lady Gertrude Lyle had at length, to the great joy of her parents,
consented to reward long years of silent devotion, by bestowing her hand
on the Marquis of Alford. They were married, and need we say that they
were happy? Lady Gertrude's love to her husband increased with each
passing year, and he, as time passed on, missed nothing of that bright
example of goodness, of piety, and virtue, which had led him to deserve
her love.

"Emmeline, dearest, put on your prettiest dress to-night, and confine
those flowing curls with some tasteful wreath," said Mr. Hamilton,
playfully addressing his daughter, about a week after the conversation
with her mother. The dressing-bell had sounded, and the various inmates
of Oakwood were obeying its summons as he spoke, and Caroline laughingly
asked her father how long he had taken such an interest in dress. "Does
your ladyship think I never do?" he replied, with mock gravity.

"Do you remember when my dear father's own hand wreathed a sprig of
scarlet geranium in my hair, some ten years ago, when I was a vain and
wilful girl?" replied the young Countess, without heeding his question,
and looking up with fond affection in his face. "Ah, papa, no flower,
even when formed of gems, ever gave me so much pleasure as that."

"Not even when placed within these glossy curls by St. Eval's hand? Are
you not jealous, Eugene?"

"Not in the least, my dear sir," replied the Earl, laughing. "I have
heard of that flower, and the good effects it produced."

"You have heard of it, have you? I should have fancied my Caroline had
long ere this forgotten it."

Lady St. Eval smiled reproachfully as she quitted the room, and Mr.
Hamilton, turning to Emmeline, took her hand fondly, and said, "Why does
my Emmeline look so grave? Does she not approve of her father taking an
interest in her dress? But it is not for me I wish you to look pretty
to-night, I will confess; for another, Emmeline, one whom I expect you
will, for my sake, do all in your power to please, and--and love. Do not
start, my child, the task will not be very difficult." He kissed her
cheek with a cheerful smile, and left her, motionless and pale, every
feature expressive of passive endurance, her hands clasped tightly on
her heart. Emmeline sat before her mirror, and permitted Fanny to
arrange her beautiful hair as she would; to her it mattered not. The
words of her father alone rung in her ears. That night sealed her fate.
Fanny spoke, for she was alarmed at her young lady's manner, but
Emmeline answered as if she had heard her not, and the business of the
toilette passed in silence. Yet so well had it been performed, so fair
and lovely did that gentle girl look, as she entered the drawing-room,
that every eye was fixed on her in admiration. The graceful folds of an
Indian muslin dress enveloped her slight form, and a wreath of lilies
of the valley, twined with the smallest pink rose-buds, confined her
luxuriant hair; a scarcely perceptible blush was on her cheeks, and her
eyes, continually wandering round the room, as if in search for some
unseen object, shone with unusual brilliancy. Her father whispered, as
he found himself near her--

"I do not expect my friend will arrive till late, my little Emmy, but
look as pretty then as you do now, and I shall be satisfied."

She was relieved, but intelligence met her ear, ere dinner was
concluded, that rendered it a fearful struggle to retain her composure.
Mrs. Cameron's family, Mr. Howard, and one or two others, she knew were
coming in the evening, but that Lord St. Eval expected his brother Louis
to arrive at Oakwood by eight or nine o'clock that same evening, was
indeed information startling in the extreme. Would he not be accompanied
by his preceptor? Would she not see him, from whom she had so long been
parted? see him, to whom her heart was given, and in his presence be
introduced to the husband of her parents' choice?

Mrs. Hamilton watched her with extreme uneasiness, and when dinner was
over, whispered, as it seemed, an earnest entreaty in her husband's ear.
He shook his head in sportive refusal; she still appeared anxious, but
acquiesced. The hours passed on. Emmeline for a few minutes had retired,
for the happiness, the gaiety around her, pressed with over-powering
heaviness on her heart; she had turned from it almost unconsciously.
"Why, oh, why did I not confess to mamma that I could not wed another,
because I still loved Arthur? why was I so foolish as to fear to confess
the truth, we should not then have met? Why have I been so weak to hide
these miserable feelings even from my mother? how can I expect her
sympathy, when she knows them not?"

So she thought, but it was now too late. The affectionate caresses, the
kind voice of her cousin Ellen roused her; controlling herself, she took
Ellen's arm, and together they entered the drawing-room. She saw no
strangers, all were familiar to her eye, and rallying her spirits, she
entered into conversation with St. Eval, who hastened up to her as she
entered. Ellen joined the dancers.

"I wonder why we all seem so gay and happy to-night," said St. Eval.
"Look at Captain Cameron and our pretty demure cousin Ellen, Emmeline; I
never saw such devotion in my life. Take my word for it, that will be a
match one of these days, and a very pretty one. Cameron is a good
fellow, and if ever any one were smitten, he is."

"But Ellen's admiration of his character is rather too open and freely
expressed for him to hope his affection, if he do love, is returned. No,
Eugene, Captain Cameron may be attracted, I grant you, but I do not
fancy he will be Ellen's choice."

"Do you know any whom you think will?"

"What a question," she said, smiling, "to tempt me to betray my cousin's
secrets, if she had any, but candidly I must admit that as yet I know
none. It is a strange fancy, but I often think Ellen will be an old
maid."

"Why, is she so precise, so prim, so opinionated, so crabbed? For shame,
Emmeline, even to hint such a thing."

"Nay, St. Eval, the shame is rather yours, for daring to associate such
terms with a single woman. To go through life alone, without sympathy,
without any call for natural affections, always appears at first sight
rather melancholy than otherwise; but why should dislike and prejudice
be added to them? I cannot think that a woman's remaining unmarried is
any proof of her being unamiable."

"Indeed, I am not so unjust," said the Earl, smiling; "when old maids
conduct themselves properly, I esteem them quite as much and more than
some married women. But still Ellen shall not be an old maid; she is too
pretty and too good, and would bless any man who may be happy enough to
gain her affections and esteem. But you, Emmeline, you, surely, will not
be an old maid, though you are so warm in their defence."

"My lot is not in my own hands--do not speak of that, Eugene," she said,
with a quivering lip; and hastily turning from his gaze, she added, "as
you seem to know everybody's concerns in the room, what are Mrs. Cameron
and Florence talking so intently about?"

"On the old subject: my madcap brother Louis and his sage tutor. By the
bye, Emmy, I have never asked what you think of Myrvin's conduct in this
affair; did he not behave admirably?"

"He did but his duty," replied Emmeline, firmly. "He acted but as every
man of generous feelings would have done; it was his duty, for he had
pledged himself to the care of his pupil, and could he have left him in
his sickness? The dictates of common humanity, the social duties of life
would have prevented him."

"What a pity Florence does not hear you, such calm reasoning would
destroy all the glow of romance which she has thrown around these
incidents. But indeed you do not give Myrvin his due, every man does not
perform his duty."

"Every man _ought_, and when he does not, he is wrong; as when he does,
he is right."

"But this is contrary to your own principle, Emmeline. What has become
of the enthusiasm which once bade you condemn all such cold judgments,
such scanty praise? Once upon a time, you would have looked on such
conduct very differently."

Emmeline turned away, but St. Eval saw her eyes were swimming in tears.
He continued, sportively--

"Be assured, I will tell Myrvin as soon as I see him."

"I beg you will not, my lord," Emmeline said, struggling to retain her
calmness; but failing, she added, entreatingly, "dearest Eugene, if you
have any regard for me, do not repeat my words; let them pass with the
subject, it has engrossed us quite enough."

St. Eval shook his head in playful reproof. They sat apart from the
dancers, and feeling neither her words nor any subsequent agitation
could be remarked, she placed her trembling hand in St. Eval's, and
said, almost inarticulately--

"Eugene, tell me, does Arthur--Mr. Myrvin accompany Lord Louis to-night?
Do not deceive me."

"He does," he replied instantly, "and what detains them I cannot
understand. But fear nothing, dearest Emmeline, I know all; you may
trust me, fear nothing. And now your promise--the quadrille is formed,
they only wait for us."

"I know all, fear nothing," Emmeline internally repeated, her whole
frame trembling with agitation, as kindly and encouragingly St. Eval
led her to the place assigned them. She forced herself to think only on
the dance, on the amusing anecdotes he was telling her, on the light
laugh, the ready jest that were sparkling around her. Her natural grace
in dancing forsook her not, nor did she refuse her sister's request,
when the quadrille was finished, that she would take out her harp. She
seated herself at the instrument and commenced.

Music had not lost its charm, rapt in the exquisite air she was playing,
it seemed to soothe her agitated feelings, and bid her forget her usual
timidity. All were silent, for the air was so sweet, so plaintive, not a
voice could have disturbed it; it changed to a quicker, more animated
strain, and at that instant Emmeline beheld Edward and Ellen hastily
rise to greet a young man, who noiselessly yet eagerly came forward to
meet them: it was Lord Louis. Emmeline started, a strong effort alone
enabled her to command herself sufficiently to continue playing, but her
fingers now moved mechanically; every pulse throbbed so violently, and
to her ear so loudly, that she no longer heard the notes she played. All
was a mist before her eyes, and the animated plaudits that greeted her
as she ceased, rung in her ears as unmeaning, unintelligible sounds.
Lord Louis hastily advanced to lead her from the harp, and to tell her
how very glad he was to see her again, though even his usually careless
eye lost its mirthful expression, as he marked the alteration in his
favourite companion. Emmeline tried to smile and answer him in his own
strain, but her smile was sickly and faint, and her voice trembled
audibly as she spoke. She looked round, fearing, yet longing to see
another, but Lord Louis was alone. His preceptor was not near him, but
Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton, St. Eval and Herbert had also left the room. Some
little time passed in animated conversation, still Myrvin did not
appear.

"You are wanted in the library, dearest Emmeline," said the young
Countess St. Eval.

"Come with me, Emmeline: foolish girl, 'fear nothing,'" said the Earl,
joyously.

"Smile, gentle one," he whispered, as she turned her beseeching glance
towards him, "do not greet the husband your parents have selected for
you with a countenance such as this; nay, fear nothing," he repeated, as
her steps faltered, and every limb trembled at his words. Again he
smiled as he had once before during that evening, and for the first time
a gleam of sudden light darted across the bewildered mind of the
agitated girl, but so dazzling were the rays, so overpowering the
brilliancy, from the contrast with the deep gloom which had been there
before, that she could not believe it real; she deemed it some wild
freak of fancy, that sportive fancy which had so long deserted her. St.
Eval hurried on, supporting rather than leading his companion. They
reached the library, and Emmeline's agitation increased almost to
fainting; she leaned more heavily on St. Eval's arm; though her heart
beat almost audibly, and her cheek vied in its paleness with a marble
statue near her, not a word betrayed her emotion. There were many lights
within the library, a group was gathered round the centre table, but to
Emmeline all was indistinct, not one amongst them could she recognise.
Her father hastened towards her, he took her trembling hand in his, and
led her gently forward.

"Look up, my beloved," he said, tenderly, "we have sent for you to
ratify the consent your mother and I have given, given on condition,
that if yours be withheld, ours also is void. But will the long years of
silent love and uncomplaining suffering for your sake, plead in vain to
one so gentle as yourself? Look up, my Emmeline, and tell me, if the
fond affection, the tender cares of him whom we have chosen, will not
indeed prove the best restorative we can bestow?"

She did look up, and the quick gushing flow of blood dyed her pallid
cheek with crimson, and lit up her soft eyes with their wonted lustre.
There was one tall, manly form beside her, gazing on her with such
devoted love, that she saw not how pale were those expressive features,
what a deep impress of long suffering was on that high and noble brow.
She heard naught but that deep rich voice pronounce her name, and call
her "his own, own Emmeline," for she had sunk in his extended arms, she
had hidden her face upon his shoulder and wept.

"Are we forgiven, Emmeline, dearest?" said Mrs. Hamilton, fondly, after
a long pause, which many mingled feelings had occasioned. Her child
withdrew for a moment from the arms of her betrothed, and flung herself
upon her neck. "Your father bound me by a promise not to reveal his
secret, and I kept it well till this evening; for did you not deserve
some punishment, my child, for believing even for a single moment your
parents would have rewarded your unwavering discharge of a most painful
duty, your unhesitating submission to our will, by forcing you to bestow
your hand upon another, when your heart was already engaged? No, my own
Emmeline, we could not have been so cruel. Take her, my dear Arthur;
freely, fearlessly I consign her happiness to your charge, for indeed
you have well deserved her."

We need not lift the veil from the brief interview which the
consideration of Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton afforded to the lovers, it is
enough that they were happy, happy in the consciousness not of present
joy alone, but of duty unshrinkingly performed, of pain endured with
unrepining fortitude; unalloyed in its purity indeed was their
happiness, for it was the recompense of virtue.

When the tidings of what had passed were made known, there were few who
did not feel as if some individual joy had been imparted. The universal
sympathy occasioned by the happiness of a being so generally beloved as
Emmeline shed new animation over the little party. And Ellen, the gentle
affectionate Ellen, did not she rejoice? She did, unfeignedly,
sincerely, but there was a pang of bitterness mingled with it which she
vainly struggled to subdue.

"Can you consent to live in the humble vicarage of my estate, Emmeline?"
whispered the young Earl in her ear, as she relinquished the arm of
Arthur, whom Edward, Percy, and Ellen were eagerly surrounding. "You
have often admired it. Will it serve you for a home, think you? if not,
name what alterations you will like, and they shall be done, even as if
Aladdin's wonderful genii had performed it."

"Dearest Eugene," said Emmeline, "I feel it is to you, to your generous
pleadings in Arthur's favour, I greatly owe this happiness. Will you not
let me thank you for that, instead of asking more?"

"No, little fairy, I will do no such thing, for I only spoke the truth,
and that, Emmeline, 'was but my _duty_,' and demands no thanks or praise
whatever; and as I have selected my friend Myrvin to supply the place of
my late vicar, who was promoted last week to a better living, to see
everything prepared for his comfort, and that of his wife, is also
mine."

"Nay, spare me, dear St. Eval; I will plead guilty of not giving Arthur
his due, if you will promise me not always to torment me with duty. I
was unjust and unkind."

"No, dearest Emmy, you were neither unjust nor unkind; you only said one
thing and meant another, and as _I_ know _why_ you did so, I forgive
you."

Mrs. Cameron's family and the other guests having departed, and only Mr.
Hamilton's own circle lingering in the drawing-room, some surprise was
occasioned to all except Mrs. Hamilton and Percy, by Mr. Hamilton
suddenly laying his hand gently on Herbert's shoulder, and saying
earnestly, though somewhat playfully--

"One surprise and one cause for congratulation we might, I think, deem
sufficient for _one_ evening, but I intend being the happy messenger of
another event, which may chance to be even more surprising, and
certainly not less joyful. I beg you will all offer Mrs. Hamilton and
myself your warmest congratulations, for the same day that gives us a
new son will, I trust, bestow on us an other daughter. This quiet young
man intends taking unto himself a wife; and as it may be some little
time ere we can bring her home from France, the best thing we can do is
to anticipate two marriages in one day."

"Herbert, my true English bred and English feeling cousin, marry a
French woman, by my good sword, you shall not," said Edward, laughing,
when the universal surprise and joy which this information had excited
had somewhat subsided. The eager question who was Herbert's choice, was
asked by Caroline and Emmeline together.

"Fear nothing, Master Lieutenant," St. Eval said, ere Herbert could
reply; "my wits, though a landsman, are not quite so blunt as yours, and
I guess better than you do. Is it possible no one here can tell? has my
demure brother Herbert's secret never been suspected? Caroline, what has
become of your penetration; and Emmeline, your romance? Ellen, cannot
you guess?"

"Yes," she replied, instantly, though as she spoke a sudden crimson rose
to her cheek, which, though unnoticed, had been, while Mr. Hamilton
spoke, pale as death.

"May you, may you be happy, dearest Herbert," she added, calmly, as she
extended her hand to him; "few are so fitted to make you so, few can so
truly sympathise in your feelings as Mary Greville."

"You are right, you are right, Ellen," said Lady Emily Lyle, as Herbert
warmly pressed his cousin's hand, and thanked her in that low thrilling
voice so peculiarly his own; and then, with a countenance radiant with
animated joy, turned towards the little group, and thanking them for the
joy with which his Mary's name was universally greeted, turned to Edward
and asked, with a smile, if Mary were not sufficiently English to
content him.

"Quite, quite; I would even go over to France for the sake of bringing
her to England in my gallant Gem," replied the young sailor. "She is
the best wife you could have chosen, Herbert, for you were ever
alongside, even in your boyish days; and it would have been a sin and
shame for you to have married any one else. Percy, why do not you follow
such an excellent example?"

"I--because a bachelor's life has not yet lost its charms for me,
Edward! I like my own ease, my own pleasure best, and wish to be free a
short time longer," replied the young man, stretching himself on a sofa,
with a comic air of _nonchalance_ and affectation; then starting up, he
added, theatrically, "I am going to be a senator, a senator; and how in
the world can I think of matrimony but as a state of felicity unsuited
to such a hard-working fellow as I am, or rather mean to be."

"I commend you for the correction in your speech, Percy," said his
mother, smiling. "_Mean to be_ and _am_, are two very different things."

"But in me may chance so to amalgamate as to become the same. Mother,
who would believe you could be so severe? But I forgive you; one of
these days you will regret your injustice: that smile says I wish I may.
Well, we shall see. And now, lords and ladies, to bed, to bed. I have
swallowed such large draughts of surprise to-night, I can bear no more.
A kind good night to all. Myrvin," he called out from the hall, "if you
are as early to-morrow as you were at Oxford, we will be off to
Trevilion and inspect your new vicarage before breakfast, and back by
night."

"Not to-morrow, Arthur," entreated Emmeline, in a low voice, as he
followed her from the room.

"Not to-morrow, dearest," he replied, tenderly, as he drew her to his
bosom, and bade God bless her.

The other members of the family also separated, Ellen one of the last,
for Lady Emily at first detained her in some trifling converse, and Mrs.
Hamilton was telling her of something she wished her niece to do for her
the next morning. Ellen was standing in the shade as her aunt spoke; all
had left the room except Edward and themselves, and humming a lively
air, the former was departing, when, turning round to wish his sister
good night, the light flashed full upon her face, and there was
something in its expression, in its almost unearthly paleness, that made
him suddenly start and cease his song.

"Merciful heaven! Ellen, what is the matter? You look like a ghost."

"Do not be silly, Edward, there is nothing the matter. I am quite well,
only warm," she replied, struggling to smile, but her voice was so
choked, her smile so unnatural, that not only her brother but her aunt
was alarmed.

"You are deceiving us, my dear girl, you are not well. Are you in pain,
dearest?" she said, hastening towards her.

Ellen had borne up well when unnoticed; but the voice of kindness, the
fond caress her aunt bestowed completely overpowered her, and, sinking
on a chair, she burst into tears.

"It is nothing, indeed it is nothing, my dear aunt," she said, with a
strong effort checking the bursting sob. "I have felt the heat very
oppressive all the evening, it is only that which makes me so foolish."

"I hope it is only the heat, my Ellen," replied Mrs. Hamilton, fondly,
suspicion flashing across her mind, not indeed of the truth, but
something near akin to it. For a few minutes Ellen leaned her head
silently against her aunt, who continued bending over her, then
returning her affectionate kiss, shook hands with her brother, assured
him she was quite well, and quietly left the room.

"Now, then, I know indeed my fate," Ellen murmured internally, as her
aching head rested on a sleepless pillow, and her clasped hands were
pressed against her heart to stop its suffocating throbs. "Why am I thus
overwhelmed, as if I had ever hoped, as if this were unexpected? Have I
not known it, have I not felt that she would ever be his choice? that I
was mad enough to love one, who from his boyhood loved another. Why has
it fallen on me as a shock for which I was utterly unprepared? What has
become of my many resolutions? Why should the task be more difficult now
than it has been? I feel as if life were irksome to me, as if all I
loved were turned to that bitterness of spirit against which I have
striven, as if I could dash from my poor cousin's lips the cup of
unexpected happiness she has only this evening tasted. Oh, merciful
Father! forsake me not now, let me not feel thus, only fill my heart
with love and charity, take from me this bitterness and envy. It is Thou
that dispenseth this bitter cup. Father, I recognise Thy hand, and would
indeed resign myself to Thee. Oh, enable me to do so; teach me to love
Thee alone, to do Thy work, to subdue myself, and in thankfulness
receive the many blessings still around me; let me but see _them_ happy.
Oh, my Father, let Thy choicest blessings be his lot, and for me" it was
a bitter struggle, but ere the night had passed that young spirit had
conquered, had uttered fervently, trustingly, heartfully,--"for me, oh,
my Father, let Thy will be done." And Ellen joined the breakfast-table
the following morning calm and cheerful; there was no trace of internal
suffering, no sign to betray even to her aunt all that she endured. She
entered cheerfully into all Emmeline's happiness, accompanied her and
Arthur, with Lord and Lady St. Eval, to Trevilion, and entered into
every suggested plan, as if indeed no other thoughts engrossed her.
Arthur and Emmeline found in her an active and affectionate friend, and
the respect and love with which she felt herself regarded seemed to
soothe, while it urged her on to increased exertion. Mrs. Hamilton
watched her anxiously; she had at first fancied Arthur was the object of
her niece's regard, but this idea was not strengthened, and though she
felt assured such was not the real cause of Ellen's agitation that
eventful evening, she could not, and did not guess the truth.

The revealing a long-treasured secret, the laying bare feelings of the
heart, which have so long been concealed, even to our dearest friends,
does not always produce happiness; there is a blank within us, a
yearning after something we know not what, and the spirit loses for a
time its elasticity. It may be that the treasured secret has been so
long enshrined in our innermost souls, we have felt it so long as only
our own, that when we betray it to others, it is as if we parted from a
friend; it is no longer our own, we can no longer hold sweet communion
with it, for the voice of the world hath also reached it, and though at
first its revealing is joy, it is followed by a sorrow. So Herbert felt,
when the excitement of congratulation, of the warm sympathy of his
friends had given place to solicitude and thought. Mary had been so
long the shrine of his secret, fondest thoughts, he had so long indulged
in delicious fancies, known to few others save himself, that now they
had been intruded on even by the voice of gratulation, they would no
longer throng around. It was strange that on this night, when his choice
had been so warmly approved of by all his friends, when words of such
heartfelt kindness had been lavished in his ear, that the same dull
foreboding of future evil, of suffering, of death, pressed heavily on
him, as in earlier years it had been so wont to do. He struggled against
it; he would not listen to its voice, but it would have sway. Donned it
was not indeed, but from its mystery more saddening. Herbert wrestled
with himself in fervent prayer; that night was to him almost as
sleepless as it was to his cousin Ellen, but the cause of her weary
watching was, alas! too well defined. The bright sun, the joyous voices
of his brother and cousin beneath his window, roused Herbert from these
thoughts, and ere the day had passed, he had partly recovered the usual
tenor of his mind, though its buoyancy was still subdued, and its secret
temperament somewhat sad, but to his family he seemed as usual.



CHAPTER VI.


Some weeks passed, and Emmeline's health was rapidly returning; her
spirits were more like those of her girlhood, subdued indeed by past
suffering, but only so far subdued as to render her, if possible, still
dearer to all those who loved her; and she, too, beheld with delight the
colour returning to her Arthur's cheek, his step regaining its
elasticity; and there was a manly dignity about him now which, when she
first loved, she had not seen, but which she felt rendered him still
dearer, for she could look up to him for support, she could feel
dependence on his stronger and more decisive character.

Each week confirmed Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton in the wisdom of their
decision, by revealing more clearly Myrvin's character. He was more
devoted to the duties of his clerical profession; pride, haughtiness,
that dislike to mingle with his parishioners, had all departed, and as
they observed how warmly and delightedly their Emmeline entered into his
many plans for doing good, for increasing the happiness of the villagers
under his spiritual charge, they felt that her domestic virtues, her
gentle disposition, were far more suited to the wife of a clergyman,
than to that life of bustling gaiety which might perhaps, under other
circumstances, have been her portion.

"Are there not responsibilities attached to a clergyman's wife?" she
once asked her mother. "I feel as if so much depended upon _me_ to
render him respected and beloved, that I sometimes fear I may fail in my
duty, and, through ignorance, not intentional, perhaps bring discredit
on his name. Dearest mother, how can I prevent this?"

"These fears are natural to one of your character, my Emmeline, but they
will quickly pass away. You would be more likely to fail in the duties
of fashionable life, than in those which you will soon have to fulfil.
Occupation which, had you been more fashionably educated, must have been
irksome, will to you remain the pleasures they have ever been,
heightened and encouraged by the sympathy of your husband. A wife to be
truly happy and virtuous, must entirely forget _self_; a truth which the
partner of a country clergyman should ever remember, as his family is
larger, more constant in their calls upon her attention and sympathy,
and sometimes her exertions are less productive of satisfaction and
pleasure, than those of many other stations in life. Her own demeanour
should be alike gentle, unassuming, persuasive, yet dignified, so that
her actions may assist and uphold her husband's doctrines more than her
language. You have but to follow the principles of Christianity and the
dictates of your own heart, my Emmeline, and your duty will be done,
almost unconsciously to yourself."

The only drawback to Emmeline's happiness was, that Lord and Lady St.
Eval were obliged to leave England ere her marriage could be solemnized,
the health of the latter prohibiting further delay. They did not expect
to be absent much more than a twelvemonth, and the Earl, laughingly,
told Emmeline, if she would defer her wedding till then, he would
promise to be present; to that, however, none of the parties concerned
seemed inclined to consent, and St. Eval owned he would much rather, on
his return, see her comfortably settled at the Vicarage, where
preparations were rapidly advancing. Percy, however, promised to defer
his intended tour till his favourite sister should be Myrvin's bride,
and Edward, on leaving to join his ship, declared, if wind and tide were
not very contrary, he, too, would take a run down and dance at her
wedding.

A short time after the departure of the Earl and Countess, and Edward,
Ellen received from the hand of her cousin Herbert a letter, which for
the moment caused her some emotion. She felt his eyes were fixed upon
her with a peculiar expression, and shrinking from them, she was
hastening to her own room to answer the letter there, when Herbert
called after her--

"Do not run away from me, Nelly; whatever be your answer, I am to be the
bearer."

Returning instantly, she asked, with cheek suddenly paled and lip
compressed, "Are you then aware of the contents of this letter, Herbert;
are you in Captain Cameron's confidence?"

"To both demands I am happy enough to answer, yes, Ellen," he replied,
smiling archly. "Captain Cameron has made me his father confessor, and
in return, I have promised to use all my influence in his favour, to
tell you what his letter may perhaps have but incoherently expressed:
that he loves you, Ellen, devotedly, faithfully; that he feels life
without you, however brilliant in appearance, will be a blank. I
promised him I would play the lover well, and indeed, my dear cousin,
his affection and esteem for you do not admit a single doubt."

"I am sorry for it," said Ellen, calmly, "very sorry, as it is not in my
power to return those feelings, and consequently I am compelled to give
him pain. I am grateful, very grateful for the high opinion, the kind
feelings, his letter expresses towards me. I shall never cease to
respect and value him as a friend, but more I cannot give."

"Nay, Ellen, take time to consider of his offer; do not refuse him at
once thus decidedly. You say you respect him. I know you admire his
conduct, both as a son and brother, and as a man. What objections are
there so great as to call for this decided and instant refusal?"

"Simply because, as a husband, I can never love him."

"Never is a long day, Ellen. You surely have not so much romance in your
composition as to refuse a young man possessing every virtue which can
make a woman happy, merely because he does not excite any very violent
passion? Do you not know there are some dispositions which never love to
the full extent of the word, and yet are perhaps happier in the marriage
state than those who do? Now you may be one of these, Ellen."

"It may be so," she said, still calmly, though a deep flush stained her
cheek. Herbert had spoken playfully, but there was that in his words
which, to a heart seared as was hers, was productive of intense
suffering.

"It may be so perhaps; I shall never meet one to love, as I believe a
husband ought to be loved, yet that would not satisfy my conscience for
accepting Walter. I trust I am not romantic, Herbert, but I will say,
that the vow to love, honour, and obey, to think only of him, demands
something more than the mere cold esteem which some may deem sufficient
for happiness. Walter _is_ an estimable young man, one who will make any
woman happy, and deeply indeed I regret that he has chosen one who can
only return his warm devoted affection with the comparatively chilling
sentiments of friendship and esteem. I would not do his kind heart so
much wrong as to accept him."

"But take time, Ellen, give him some hope. You can urge no objections
against him, and his family are dear to you. He has told me that from
his childhood he loved you, that your remembrance never left him, and
when again he met you, his fanciful visions became a beautiful and
palpable reality; give him, at least, some time for hope. It is
impossible, with a heart disengaged as yours, to associate intimately
with him and not love him."

"A heart disengaged as mine! how know you that, Herbert?" said his
cousin, with a smile, which would have deceived the most penetrating
eye. "Are you not presuming too far in your inspection of my heart,
seeking in rather a roundabout way, to obtain my entire confidence?"

"No, dearest Ellen, I speak and feel in this business but as Edward
would, were he in my place; your happiness is as dear to me as it is to
him. We have for very many years been to each other as a brother and
sister, and, believe me, in urging your acceptance of this good young
man, I seek but your welfare alone."

"I believe you, my dear cousin," replied Ellen, frankly holding out her
hand, which Herbert warmly pressed. "But indeed, in this instance, you
are deceived. An union with Walter Cameron would not form my happiness,
worthy as he is,--suitable as the world would deem such a match in all
respects; and sorry as I am to inflict pain and disappointment on the
companion of my childhood, as also, I fear, on his kind mother, I cannot
be his wife."

"And if your affections be already engaged, far be it from me to urge
you farther; but"--

"I said not that they were, Herbert," interrupted Ellen, steadily
fixing, as she spoke, her large eyes unshrinkingly on her cousin's face.
Herbert felt fairly puzzled, he could not read her heart; he would have
asked her confidence, he would have promised to do all in his power to
forward her happiness, but there was something around her that, while it
called forth his almost unconscious respect, entirely checked all
farther question. He did not fancy that she loved another, and yet why
this determined rejection of a young man whom he knew she esteemed.

"I am only grieving you by continuing the subject," he said; "and
therefore grant me your forgiveness, dearest Ellen, and your final
answer to Cameron, and it shall be resumed no more."

"I have nothing to forgive, Herbert," replied Ellen, somewhat
mournfully.

She sat a few minutes longer, in saddened thought, gazing on the open
letter, and then quitted the room and sought her own. She softly closed
the door, secured it, and then sinking on a low seat beside her couch,
buried her pale face in her hands, and for a few minutes remained
overwhelmed by that intensity of secret and tearless suffering. It was
called forth afresh by this interview with her cousin: to hear his lips
plead thus eloquently the cause of another; to hear him say that perhaps
she was one of those who would never love to its full extent. When her
young heart felt bursting beneath the load of deep affection pressing
there, one sweet alone mingled in that cup of bitterness, Herbert
guessed not, suspected not the truth. She had succeeded well in
concealing the anguish called forth by unrequited love, and she would
struggle on.

"Never, never shall it be known that I have given this rebellious heart
to one who seeks it not. No, no, that tale shall live and die with me;
no one shall know how low I have fallen. Poor Walter! he will think I
cannot feel for his unreturned affection, when I know too well its pang;
and why should I not be happy with him, why live on in lingering
wretchedness, when, perhaps as a wife, new duties might rouse me from
this lethargy? Away from Herbert I might forget--be reconciled; but
swear to love Walter when I have no love to give--return his affection
by indifference--oh, no, no, I will not be so guilty."

Ellen again hid her eyes in her hands, and thought long and painfully.
Pride urged her to accept young Cameron, but every better feeling
revolted from it. She started from that posture of despondency, and,
with a bursting heart, answered Walter's eloquent appeal. Kindness
breathed in every line she wrote--regard for his welfare--esteem for his
character; but she calmly yet decidedly rejected his addresses. She was
grieved, she said, most deeply grieved that anything in her manner
towards him had encouraged his hopes. She had acted but as she felt,
looking on the companion of her early childhood, the son of her father's
and her own kind friend, as a brother and a friend, in which light she
hoped he would ever permit her to regard him. Hope found no
resting-place in her letter, but it breathed such true and gentle
sympathy and kindness, that Walter could not but feel soothed, even in
the midst of disappointment. Ellen paused ere she sealed her letter; she
could not bear to act, even in this matter, without confiding in her
aunt; that Captain Cameron had proposed and been rejected, she felt
assured, report would soon convey to her ears. Why not then seek her
herself? The task of writing had calmed her heart. Taking, therefore,
Walter's letter and her own, she repaired to her aunt's dressing-room,
and fortunately found her alone. Mrs. Hamilton looked earnestly at her
as she entered, but she made no observation till, in compliance with
Ellen's request, she perused the letters offered to her.

"Have you reflected sufficiently on your decision, my Ellen?" she said,
after thanking her for the confidence she reposed in her. "Have you
thought well on the estimable character of this young man? Far be it
from me to urge or persuade you in such an important matter as marriage,
but you have not, I trust, answered this letter on the impulse of the
moment?"

"No, aunt, I have not indeed. Herbert has been most earnestly pleading
Captain Cameron's cause, and I have thought on all he has said, and the
little I can bring forward to combat it, but still I have refused him,
because as a husband I can never love him. I honour all his good
qualities. I cannot remember one fault or failing in his character,
which might render a wife unhappy. I grieve for his disappointment, but
I should not think I was doing either him or myself justice, to accept
him merely on these considerations. Herbert, I know, considers me
romantic, and perhaps unkind towards his friend; but painful as such an
idea is, I cannot act otherwise than I have done."

"Do not let that idea, then, continue to give you pain, my dear girl;
your manner towards Walter has never expressed more than kindness and
friendly regard. If I had seen anything like encouragement to him on
your part, do you not think I should have called you to account long
ago?" she added, with a smile, as Ellen, much relieved, kissed her in
silence. "Our young folks have, I know sometimes in sport, allied your
name with his, but I have generally checked them. Walter I certainly did
fancy admired you, but I did not imagine the feeling so decided as it
has proved. I will not blame your decision, though perhaps it may not be
a very wise one. Marriage is too serious a thing to be entered upon
lightly, and if you cannot love Walter as a husband, why you are quite
right not to accept him. I am not so eager to part with my Ellen as to
advise her marrying, whether she likes it or not. I shall soon have only
you to cheer my old age, you know. Do not look so pained and sad, love;
it is not thus young ladies in general refuse an offer. Go and give your
letter to Herbert, tell him it has my unqualified approval, and then
return to me. I marked some beautiful passages in one of our favourite
authors the other day and you shall read them to me. Now run away, and
come back quickly."

Ellen obeyed gladly and gratefully, and was enabled playfully to return
the smile with which Herbert received her letter and his mother's
message. Mrs. Hamilton felt more and more convinced that her suspicions
were correct, and that her niece's affections were unhappily engaged.
She thought again and again who could be their object, and still she
fancied it was Arthur Myrvin. She scarcely knew why herself, except from
Ellen's agitation the night of his arrival at Oakwood, and engagement
with Emmeline. That Herbert was the object was to her so improbable,
that the idea never crossed her mind. They had lived so long as brother
and sister, they had from their earliest childhood so intimately
associated with each other, Ellen and Edward were to her so like her own
children, that not once did she imagine Ellen loved her cousin. She
watched her closely, and she was more and more convinced that she had
something to conceal. She was certain her decided rejection of Walter
proceeded from her affections being already engaged, which had also
blinded her to his attentions; and she was convinced also that Ellen
loved in vain, and therefore, though she longed to console and soothe
her, she resolved not to speak to her on the subject, and wring from her
a secret which, when once betrayed, though revealed to her alone, might
be still more painful to endure. Mrs. Hamilton's manner was so kind, so
soothing, so calculated to support and strengthen, that Ellen more than
once wondered whether her aunt had indeed discovered her secret; but she
could not speak of it. She could not even to the being she loved best on
earth, with the exception of one, thus lay bare her aching heart. Often
and often she longed to throw herself in the arms of her aunt and weep,
but she controlled the impulse, and bore on in silence and outward
cheerfulness; strengthened in her efforts by the conviction that Herbert
knew not, imagined not the truth.

Young Cameron was grieved and disappointed, for his love for Ellen was
indeed sincere, but he could not mistake her letter; he saw there was no
hope, her expressions of friendship and kindness were soothing and
gratifying, they prevented all bitterness of feeling, and he determined
to preserve the friendship and brotherly regard which she so frankly
proffered.

Mrs. Cameron was at first somewhat hurt at Ellen's decided rejection of
her son, but she could not long retain any emotion of coolness towards
her, she could not resist the affectionate manner of Ellen, and all was
soon as usual between them. A visit with Percy to Castle Malvern, at
Lord Louis's earnest entreaty, to Walter was an agreeable change, though
it had at first been a struggle to rouse himself sufficiently. There the
character and conversation of Lady Florence Lyle, to his excited fancy,
so much resembled Ellen's, that unconsciously he felt soothed and happy.
From Castle Malvern, he joined his regiment with Lord Louis, who had
received a commission in the same troop, and by the time Captain Cameron
returned to Oakwood, he could associate with Ellen as a friend and a
brother. Above a year, it is true, elapsed before that time, and in that
period events had occurred at Oakwood, as unexpected as they were
mournful--but we will not anticipate.

Soon after Lord and Lady St. Eval's departure for Italy, Mr. Grahame,
despite the entreaties of his friends, even the silent eloquence of
Lilla's appealing eyes, put his resolution into force, and retired to
Wales. He had paid to the last farthing all his misguided son's
honourable and dishonourable debts; and this proceeding, as might be
expected, left him so reduced in fortune as to demand the greatest
economy to live with any comfort. To such an evil Grahame seemed
insensible; his only wish was to escape from the eye and tongue of the
world. A mistaken view with regard to his child also urged him on. Why
should he expose her to the attentions of the young noblemen so
constantly visiting at Mr. Hamilton's house, when, he felt assured,
however eagerly his alliance would once have been courted, now not one
would unite himself to the sister of a publicly disgraced and privately
dishonoured man? No, it was better for her to be far away; and though
her mild submission to his wishes, notwithstanding the pain he knew it
was to part from her friends at Oakwood, rendered her dearer to him than
ever, still he wavered not in his resolution. The entreaties of Arthur
Myrvin, Emmeline, and Ellen did, however, succeed in persuading him to
fix his place of retirement at Llangwillan, so that all connection would
not be so completely broken between them, as were he to seek some more
distant part of the country. Llangwillan, Arthur urged, was scarcely
known to the world at large, but it was to them, and they might hope
sometimes, to see them; for he, Emmeline, and Ellen would often visit
his father. Grahame consented, to the great joy of his child, who felt
more than himself the force of Myrvin's arguments.

"Mr. Myrvin is such a dear, good, old man, you cannot fail to love him,
Lilla," Ellen said, soothingly, as the day of parting neared. "You must
ask him to show you the little cottage where the first eight weeks of my
residence in England were passed, and make friends with the old widow
and her daughter for my sake; you will find them willing enough to talk
about us and my poor mother, if you once speak on the subject. And my
mother's grave, dear Lilla, you will visit that sometimes, will you not?
and not permit a weed to mingle with the flowers Arthur planted around
it after we left, to distinguish it, he said, from every other grave. It
shall be your charge, dearest Lilla, and Edward and I will thank you for
it; he never goes to Llangwillan without passing an hour of each day by
that little humble mound."

"Edward, does he ever come to Llangwillan?" Lilla suddenly asked, her
tears checked, and every feature expressive of such animated hope, that
Ellen looked at her for a moment in astonishment, and then smilingly
answered in the affirmative. Lilla clasped her hands in sudden joy, and
then, as if ashamed, hid her face, burning with blushes, on Ellen's
hand. Her companion stooped down to kiss her brow, and continued talking
of her brother for some time longer.

From that day Ellen observed Lilla regained her usual animation, her eye
sparkled, and her cheek often flushed, as if from some secret thought;
her spirits only fell at the hour of parting, and Ellen felt assured
they would quickly rise again, and the first packet she received from
Llangwillan confirmed the supposition. Mrs. Hamilton was surprised, but
Ellen was not.

Preparations were now actively making for Herbert's visit to France,
thence to bring home his betrothed. His father and Percy had both
resolved on accompanying him, and Mrs. Hamilton and Emmeline and Arthur
anxiously anticipated the return of their long-absent friends.

A longer time than usual had elapsed between Mary's letters, and
Herbert's anxiety was becoming more and more intense. Two or three of
his letters had remained unanswered; there were no tidings of either
herself or her mother. St. Eval had determined on not visiting Paris
till his return from Switzerland, as his solicitude to arrive at his
journey's end, and commence the prescribed remedies for Caroline would,
he was quite sure, destroy all his pleasure. In vain his wife laughed at
his hurry and his fears; much as he wished to see Mary, he was
determined, and Caroline no farther opposed him. Through them, then,
Herbert could receive no tidings; he had not heard since that event,
which he believed would have been as much joy to Mary as to
himself--his ordination. He struggled with his own anxiety that the
intervening obstacles to his journey should not deprive him of serenity
and trust, but the inward fever was ravaging within. Only one short
week, and then he departed; ere, however, that time came, he received a
letter, and with a sickening feeling of indefinable dread recognised the
handwriting of his Mary. He left the breakfast-parlour to peruse it
alone, and it was long before he returned to his family. They felt
anxious, they knew not why; even Arthur and Emmeline were silent, and
the ever-restless Percy remained leaning over a newspaper, as if
determined not to move till his brother returned. A similar feeling
appeared to detain his father, who did not seek the library as usual.
Ellen appeared earnestly engaged in some communications from Lady
Florence Lyle, and Mrs. Hamilton was perusing a letter from Caroline,
which the same post had brought.

With a sudden spring Percy started from his seat, exclaiming, in a tone
that betrayed unconsciously much internal anxiety--

"What in the world is Herbert about? He cannot have gone out without
bringing us some intelligence. Robert, has Mr. Herbert gone out?" he
called loudly to the servant, who was passing the open window.

"No, sir," was the reply; "he is still in his room."

"Then there will I seek him," he added, impetuously; but he was
prevented by the entrance of Herbert himself, and Percy started from him
in astonishment and alarm.

There was not a particle of colour on his cheek or lips; his eyes
burned as with fever, and his lips quivered as in some unutterable
anguish.

"Read," he said, in a voice so hoarse and unnatural, it startled even
more than his appearance, and he placed the letter in his father's hand.
"Father, read, and tell them all--I cannot. It is over!" he continued,
sinking on a stool at his mother's feet, and laying his aching head on
her lap. "My beautiful dream is over, and what is the waking?
wretchedness, unutterable wretchedness! My God, my God, Thy hand is
heavy upon me, yet I would submit." He clasped his mother's hands
convulsively in his, he drooped his head upon them, and his slight frame
shook beneath the agony, which for hours he had been struggling to
subdue. Mrs. Hamilton clasped him to her bosom; she endeavoured to speak
words of hope and comfort.

Silence deep and solemn fell over that little party; it was so fearful
to see Herbert thus--the gentle, the self-controlled, the exalted
Herbert thus bowed down even to the earth; he, whose mind ever seemed
raised above this world; he, who to his family was ever a being of a
brighter, holier sphere. If he bent thus beneath the pressure of earthly
sorrow, what must that sorrow be? His family knew the depth of feeling
existing in his breast, which the world around them never could suspect,
and they looked on him and trembled. Myrvin raised him from the arms of
his mother, and bore him to the nearest couch, and Mrs. Hamilton wiped
from his damp brow the starting dew. Tears of alarm and sympathy were
streaming from the eyes of Emmeline, and Myrvin resigned his post to
Percy, to comfort her. But Ellen wept not; pale as Herbert, her features
expressed suffering almost as keen as his, and yet she dared not do as
her heart desired, fly to his side and speak the words that love
dictated. What was her voice to him? _she_ had no power to soothe.

Deep and varied emotions passed rapidly over Mr. Hamilton's countenance
as he read the letter which had caused this misery. Percy could trace
upon his features pity, sorrow, scorn, indignation, almost loathing,
follow one another rapidly and powerfully, and even more violently did
those emotions agitate him when the truth was known.

"It was an old tale, and often told, but that took not from its
bitterness," Mary wrote, from a bed of suffering such as she had never
before endured; for weeks she had been insensible to thought or action,
but she had resolved no one but herself should inform her Herbert of all
that had transpired, no hand but her own should trace her despairing
words. They had lived, as we know, calmly at Paris, so peaceably, that
Mrs. Greville had indulged in brighter hopes for the future than had
ever before engrossed her. Mr. Greville spent much of his time from
home, accompanying, however, his wife and daughter to their evening
amusements, and always remained present when they received company in
return. They lived in a style of more lavish expenditure than Mrs.
Greville at all approved of. Her husband, however, only laughed
good-humouredly whenever she ventured to remonstrate, and told her not
to trouble herself or Mary about such things; they had enough, and he
would take care that sufficiency should not fail. A dim foreboding
crossed Mrs. Greville's mind at these words; but her husband's manner,
though careless, preventing all further expostulation, she was
compelled to suppress, if she could not conquer, her anxiety. At
length, the storm that Mary had long felt was brooding in this unnatural
calm, burst over her, and opened Mrs. Greville's eyes at once.

Among their most constant but least welcome visitors was a Monsieur
Dupont, a man of polished manners certainly, the superficial polish of
the Frenchman, but of no other attraction, and even in that there was
something about him to Mary particularly repulsive. He had seen some
threescore years; his countenance, in general inexpressive, at times
betrayed that strong and evil passions were working at his heart. He was
said to be very rich, though some reports had gone about that his
fortune had all been amassed by gambling in no very honourable manner.
With this man Mr. Greville was continually associated; they were seldom
seen apart, and being thus the favourite of the master, he was
constantly at the house. To Mrs. Greville as to Mary he was an object of
indefinable yet strong aversion, and willingly would they have always
denied themselves, and thus escaped his odious presence. Once they had
done so, but the storm of fury that burst from Mr. Greville intimidated
both; they felt some little concession on their parts was demanded to
preserve peace, and Monsieur Dupont continued his visits.

To this man, publicly known as unprincipled, selfish, incapable of one
exalted or generous feeling, Greville had sworn to give his gentle and
unoffending child; this man he sternly commanded Mary to receive as her
husband, and prepare herself for her marriage within a month.

As if a thunderbolt had fallen, Mary and her mother listened to these
terrible words, and scarcely had the latter sufficient courage to
inform her unpitying husband of their child's engagement with Herbert
Hamilton. For Mary's sake, she struggled and spoke, but her fears were
not without foundation. A horrid imprecation on Mr. Hamilton and his
family burst instantly from the lips of the now infuriated Greville; he
had chosen for many years to fancy himself deeply injured by that
gentleman, and, with an oath too fearful to be written, he solemnly
swore that Mary should never be the wife of Herbert; he would rather see
her dead. Louder and louder grew his passion, but Mrs. Greville heard
him not. Mary had dropped as if lifeless at his feet. She had sprung up
as if to arrest the imprecation on her father's lips, but when his
dreadful oath reached her ears, her senses happily forsook her, and it
was long, very long before she woke to consciousness and thought. Mrs.
Greville hung in agony over the couch of her unhappy child; scarcely
could she pray or wish for her recovery, for she knew there was no hope.
Her husband had let fall hints of being so deeply pledged to Dupont,
that his liberty or perhaps his life depended on his union with Mary,
and could she wish her child to live to be the wife of such a man, yet
could she see her die? What pen can describe the anguish of that fond
mother, as for weeks she watched and tended her senseless child, or the
contending feelings that wrung her heart when Mary woke again to
consciousness and misery, and asked her, in a voice almost inarticulate
from weakness, what had happened--why she was thus? Truth gradually
broke upon her mind, and Mary too soon remembered all. The physician
said she was recovering, that she would quickly be enabled to leave her
bed and go about as usual. Greville swore he would no longer be
prevented seeing her, and Mary made no opposition to his entrance.
Calmly and passively she heard all he had to say; what he told her then
she did not repeat in writing to Herbert. She merely said that she had
implored him to wait till her health was a little more restored; not to
force her to become the wife of Dupont, till she could stand _without
support_ beside the altar, and he had consented.

"Be comforted, then, my beloved Herbert," she wrote, as she concluded
this brief tale of suffering. "They buoy me up with hopes that in a very
few months I shall be as well as ever I was. I smile, for I know the
blight has fallen, and I shall never stand beside an earthly altar; all
I pray is, that death may not linger till my father's patience be
exhausted, and he vent on my poor mother all the reproaches which my
lingering illness will, I know, call forth. Oh, my beloved Herbert,
there are moments when I think the bitterness of death is passed, when I
am so calm, so happy, I feel as if I had already reached the confines of
my blissful, my eternal home; but this is not always granted me. There
are times when I can think only on the happiness I had once hoped to
share with you when heaven itself seemed dimmed by the blessedness I had
anticipated on earth. Herbert, I shall never be another's wife, and it
will not be misery to think of me in heaven. Oh, no, we shall meet there
soon, very soon, never, never more to part. Why does my pen linger?
Alas! it cannot trace the word farewell. Yet why does it so weakly
shrink? 'tis but for a brief space, and we shall meet where that word is
never heard, where sorrow and sighing shall be no more. Farewell, then,
my beloved Herbert, beloved faithfully, unchangeably in death as you
have been in life. I know my last prayer to you is granted ere even it
is spoken: you will protect and think of my poor mother; you will not
permit her to droop and die of a broken heart, with no kind voice to
soothe and cheer. I feel she will in time be happy; and oh, the
unutterable comfort of that confiding trust. Once more, and for the last
time, farewell, my beloved; think only that your Mary is in heaven, that
her spirit, redeemed and blessed, waits for thee near the Saviour's
throne, and be comforted. We shall meet again."

No sound broke the stillness when that sad letter had been perused. Mr.
Hamilton had bowed his head upon his hands, for he could not speak of
comfort; the long years of domestic bliss which had been his portion,
made him feel bitterly the trial which the heart of his son was doomed
to endure. And how was he to aid? Could he seek Greville, and condescend
to use persuasions, arguments to force from him his consent? With
clenched hand and knitted brow Percy stood, his thoughts forcibly drawn
from the sufferers by the bitter indignation he felt towards the
heartless, cruel man who had occasioned all. Mrs. Hamilton could think
only of her son, of Mary, whom she had so long loved as her own child,
and the longing to behold her once again, to speak the words of soothing
and of love, with which her heart felt bursting. Emmeline could only
weep, that such should be the fate of one whom from her childhood she
had loved, and whom she had lately anticipated with so much delight
receiving as a sister. For some minutes Ellen sat in deep and painful
thought, then starting up, she flew to the side of her uncle, and
clasping his hand, entreated--

"Go to Paris, my dear uncle; go yourself, and see this relentless man;
speak with him, know why he has commanded Mary to receive this Dupont as
her husband; perhaps you may render Herbert's claims as valuable in his
eyes. He has no cause of strife with you; he will hear you, I know he
will; his fury was called forth because he thought Herbert stood in the
way of his wishes. Prove to him the happiness, the life of his child, of
yours, depend on their union. He cannot, he will not refuse to hear you.
Oh, do not hesitate, go to him, my dear uncle; all may not be so
desperate as at this distance we may fancy."

"My father may as well plead to the hard flint as to Alfred Greville's
feelings," muttered Percy. "Ellen, you know not what you ask; would you
have my father debase himself to a wretch like that?"

"'Tis Mr. Greville who will be debased, and not my uncle, Percy. The
world might think him humbled to plead to such a man, but they would
think falsely; he is raised above the cringing crowd, who from false
pride would condemn the child of virtue to misery and death, because
they would not bear with the vices of the parent. Were Mary, were Mrs.
Greville in any point otherwise than they are, I would not thus plead,
for there would be no necessity. She could not be so dear to Herbert. I
do not ask my uncle to humble himself; I ask him but to reason with Mr.
Greville, to convince him of his error."

"What says my Herbert?" demanded Mr. Hamilton, gazing with astonishment
on his niece's animated features, and almost wondering at her unwonted
eloquence.

"That she has spoken well, and may God in Heaven bless her for the
thought!" exclaimed Herbert, who had roused himself to listen to her
earnest words, and now, with sudden energy, sprung up. "Father, let us
go. Ellen has spoken justly; he will listen to you, he will not hear my
entreaties unmoved. I have never offended him; he is, indeed, a harsh
and cruel man, one whom I would gladly shun, but the father of Mary. Oh,
let us seek him, for her sake we will plead; he will wake from his
dream, he will know he has been in error. Oh, my father, let us go. She
may yet be saved to live and bless me."

He sunk back on the sofa, and burst into tears. Hope had suddenly sprung
up from the dark void which had been in his heart. Mrs. Hamilton could
not check that suddenly-excited hope, but she did not share it, for she
felt it came but to deceive. She whispered gentle and consoling words,
she spoke of comfort that she could not feel. But once his energies
aroused, they did not fail him. To go instantly to Paris, to seek Mr.
Greville, and plead his own cause, aided by his father's influence,
acknowledge he had been wrong in not asking his consent before, such
thoughts now alone occupied his mind, and Mr. Hamilton could not check
them, though, even as his wife, he shared not his son's sanguine
expectations. That he had once possessed more influence than any one
else over Mr. Greville he well knew; but he thought with Percy, the
dislike felt towards him originated from this, and that it was more than
probable he would remain firm in his refusal to triumph over both
himself and his son; yet he could not hesitate to comply with Herbert's
wishes. Ellen's suggestion had roused him to exertion, and he should not
be permitted to sink back into despondency, at least they should meet.

It would be difficult to define Ellen's feelings as she beheld her
work, and marked the effect of her words upon her cousin. Not a particle
of selfishness mingled in her feelings, but that deep pang was yet
unconquered. Herbert's manner to her was even kinder, more affectionate
than usual, during the few days that intervened ere they parted, as if
he felt that she had drawn aside the dark veil of impenetrable gloom,
and summoned hope to rise again; and could she see or feel this unmoved?
Still was she calm and tranquil, and she would speak of Mary and of
brighter hopes, and no emotion was betrayed in her pale cheek or in that
tearless eye.

Percy accompanied his father and brother. They travelled rapidly, and a
favourable voyage enabled them to reach Paris in a shorter time than
usual. Mr. Hamilton had insisted on seeking Mr. Greville's mansion at
first alone, and Percy controlled his own feelings. To calm the strong
emotion, the deep anxiety, that now he was indeed in the same city as
his Mary, almost overpowered Herbert; the struggle for composure, for
resignation to whatever might be the will of his God, was too powerful
for his exhausted strength. Sleep had only visited him by snatches,
short and troubled, since he had received Mary's letter; the long
interval which elapsed ere Mr. Hamilton returned was productive of even
keener suffering than he had yet endured. Hope had sunk powerless before
anxiety; the strength of mind which had borne him up so long was giving
way beneath the exhaustion of bodily powers, which Percy saw with alarm
and sorrow; his eyes had lost their lustre, and were becoming dim and
haggard; more than once he observed a slight shudder pass through his
frame, and felt his words of cheering and of comfort fell unheeded on
his brother's ear. At length Mr. Hamilton returned.

"She lives, my son," were the first words he uttered, but his tone was
not joyful; "our beloved and gentle Mary yet lives, and soon, very soon
you shall meet, not to part on earth again."

Herbert gazed wildly in his face, he clasped his hands convulsively, and
then he bowed his head in a deep and fervent burst of thanksgiving.

"And Greville," said Percy, impatiently, "has he so soon consented?
father, you have not descended to entreaties, and to such a man?"

"Percy, peace," said his father, gravely. "With Mr. Greville I have
enchanged no words. Thank God, I sought not his house with any hostile
intention, with any irritation urging me against him. Percy, he is dead,
and let his faults die with him."

"Dead!" repeated the young man, shocked and astonished, and Herbert
started up. His lip quivered with the vain effort to ask an explanation.

It was even so, that very morning Greville had breathed his last, with
all his sins upon his head, for no time had been allowed him either for
repentance or atonement. A few days after Mary had written to Herbert,
her father had been brought home senseless, and dreadfully injured, by a
fall from his horse. His constitution, shattered by intemperance and
continued dissipation, was not proof against the fever that ensued;
delirium never left him. For five days Mrs. Greville and Mary watched
over his couch. His ravings were dreadful; he would speak of Dupont, at
one time, with imprecations; at others, as if imploring him to forbear.
He would entreat his child to forgive him; and then, with fearful
convulsions, appear struggling with the effort to drag her to the altar.
Mary heard, and her slight frame shook and withered each day faster than
the last, but she moved not from her father's side. In vain Mrs.
Greville watched for some returning consciousness, for some sign to say
he died in peace. Alas! there was none. He expired in convulsions; and
scarcely had his wife and child recovered the awful scene, when the
entrance of the hated Dupont roused them to exertion. He came to claim
Mary as his promised wife, or send them forth as beggars. The house and
all that it contained, even to their jewels, were his; for Greville had
died, owing him debts to an amount which even the sale of all they
possessed could not entirely repay. He had it in his power to arrest the
burial of the scarcely cold corpse, to stain the name of the dead with
undying infamy; and he vowed that he would use his power to its utmost
extent, if Mary's consent were not instantly given. Four-and-twenty
hours he gave her to decide, and departed, leaving inexpressible
wretchedness behind him, on the part of Mrs. Greville, and the calm
stupor of exhaustion and despair pervading Mary's every faculty.

"My child, my child, it shall not be; you shall not be that heartless
villain's wife. I have health; I can work, teach, do anything to support
us, and why, oh, why should you be thus sacrificed? Mary, Mary, you will
live, my child, to bless your desolate and wretched mother. Oh, my God,
my God, why hast thou thus forsaken me? I have trusted in thee, and wilt
thou thus fail me? To whom can I appeal--what friend have I near me?"

"Mother, do not speak thus," exclaimed Mary, roused from the lethargy
of exhaustion by her mother's despairing words, and she flung herself on
her knees beside her, and threw her arms around her. "Mother, my own
mother, the God of the widow and the fatherless is still our friend; He
hath not forsaken us, though for a time His countenance is darkened
towards us. Oh, he will have mercy; He will raise us up a friend--I
feel, I know He will. He will relieve us. Let us but trust in Him,
mother; let us not fail now. Oh, let us pray to Him, and He will
answer."

The eyes of the good and gentle girl were lit up with sudden radiance.
Her pallid cheek was faintly flushed; her whole countenance and tone
expressed the enthusiasm, the holiness which had characterised her whole
life. Mrs. Greville clasped her faded form convulsively to her aching
bosom, and, drooping her head, wept long and freely.

"Father, I have sinned," she murmured; "oh, have mercy."

An hour passed, and neither Mary nor her mother moved from that posture
of affliction, yet of prayer. They heard not the sound of many voices
below, nor a rapid footstep on the stairs. The opening of the door
aroused them, but Mary looked not up; she clung closer to her mother,
for she feared to gaze again on Dupont. A wild exclamation of joy, of
thanksgiving, bursting from Mrs. Greville's lips startled her; for a
moment she trembled, yet she could not be mistaken, that tone was joy.
Slowly she looked on the intruder. Wildly she sprung up--she clasped her
hands together.

"My God, I thank thee, we are saved!" broke from her parched lips, and
she sunk senseless at Mr. Hamilton's feet.

Emissaries of wickedness were not wanting to convey the intelligence
very quickly to Dupont's ear, that Mrs. and Miss Greville had departed
from the Rue Royale, under the protection of an English gentleman, who
had stationed two of his servants at their house to protect Mr.
Greville's body from insult, and give him information of all that took
place during his absence. Furiously enraged, Dupont hastened to know the
truth of these reports, and a scene of fierce altercation took place
between him and Mr. Hamilton. The calm, steady firmness of his
unexpected opponent daunted Dupont as much as his cool sarcastic
bitterness galled him to the quick. The character of the man was known;
he was convinced he dared not bring down shame on the memory of
Greville, without inculpating himself, without irretrievably injuring
his own character, and however he might use that threat as his weapon to
compel Mary's submission, Mr. Hamilton was perfectly easy on that head.
Dupont's cowardly nature very soon evinced itself. A few words from Mr.
Hamilton convinced him that his true character had been penetrated, and
dreading exposure, he changed his ground and his tone, acknowledged he
had been too violent, but that his admiration for Miss Greville had been
the sole cause; expressed deep sorrow for Mr. Greville's melancholy end,
disavowed all intention of preventing the interment of the body, and
finally consented to liquidate all debts, save those which the sale of
the house and furniture might suffice to discharge.

Scarcely could Mr. Hamilton command his indignation during this
interview, or listen to Dupont's professions, excuses, defences, and
concessions, without losing temper. He would not consent to be under any
obligation: if M. Dupont could _prove_ that more was owing than that
which he had consented to receive, it should be paid directly, but he
should institute inquiries as to the legality of his claims, and
carefully examine all the papers of the deceased.

"It was not at all necessary," Dupont replied. "The sum he demanded was
due for debts of honour, which he had a slip of paper in Greville's own
handwriting to prove."

Mr. Hamilton made no further reply, and they parted with nothing decided
on either side, Dupont only repeating his extreme distress at having
caused Miss Greville so much unnecessary pain; that had he known she was
engaged to another, he would never have persisted in his suit, and
deeply regretted he had been so deceived.

Mr. Hamilton heard him with an unchanging countenance, and gravely and
formally bowed him out of the house. He then placed his seal on the lock
of a small cabinet, which Mrs. Greville's one faithful English servant
informed him contained all his master's private papers, dismissed the
French domestics, and charging the Englishmen to be careful in their
watch that no strangers should be admitted, he hastened to impart to his
anxiously-expecting sons all the important business he had transacted.

Early the following morning Mr. Hamilton received intelligence which
very much annoyed and startled him. Notwithstanding the vigilant watch
of the three Englishmen stationed at Mr. Greville's house, the cabinet,
which contained all his private papers, was gone. The men declared
again and again, no one could have entered the house without their
knowledge, or removed such a thing as that without some noise. Mr.
Hamilton went instantly with them to the house; how it had been taken he
could not discover, but it was so small that Mr. Hamilton felt it could
easily have been removed; and he had no doubt that Dupont had bribed one
of the dismissed servants, who was well acquainted with every secret of
the house, to purloin it for him, and Dupont he instantly determined on
charging with the atrocious theft. Dupont, however, had decamped, he was
nowhere to be found; but he had desired an agent to receive from Mr.
Hamilton's hands the payment of the debts he still claimed, and from
this man it was endeavoured by many questions to discover some traces of
his employer, but all in vain. M. Dupont had left Paris, he said, the
previous evening.

Mr. Hamilton was not satisfied, and, consequently, seeking an able
solicitor, put the affair into his hands, and desired that he would use
every means in his power to obtain the restoration of the papers. That
Dupont had it in his power farther to injure the widow and child of the
deceased he did not believe; he rather thought that his extreme desire
to obtain them proceeded from a consciousness that they betrayed some of
his own evil deeds, yet he could not feel easy till they were either
regained, or he knew that they were destroyed. Mrs. Greville earnestly
wished their recovery, for she feared they might, through the similarity
of names, bring some evil on her son, towards whom her fond heart yet
painfully yearned, though years had passed since she had seen, and many
weary months since she had heard of him. Her fears on this head
rendered both Mr. Hamilton and Percy still more active in their
proceedings, and both determined on remaining at Paris even after
Herbert and Mrs. Greville, with Mary, had left for England.

And what did Herbert feel as he looked on the fearful change in her he
loved? Not yet did he think that she must die; that beaming eye, that
radiant cheek, that soft, sweet smile--oh, could such things tell of
death to him who loved? He held her to his heart, and only knew that he
was blessed.

And Mary, she was happy; the past seemed as a dim and troubled vision;
the smile of him she loved was ever near her, his low sweet voice was
sounding in her ear. A calm had stolen over her, a holy soothing calm.
She did not speak her thoughts to Herbert, for she saw that he still
hoped on; they were together, and the present was enough. But silently
she prayed that his mind might be so prepared, so chastened, that when
his eyes were opened, the truth might not be so terrible to bear.



CHAPTER VII.


It was indeed a day of happiness that beheld the arrival of Mrs.
Greville and Mary at Oakwood, unalloyed to them, but not so, alas! to
those who received them. Mrs. Hamilton pressed the faded form of Mary to
her heart, she kissed her repeatedly, but it was long before she could
speak the words of greeting; she looked on her and on her son, and tears
rose so thick and fast, she was compelled to turn away to hide them.
Ellen alone retained her calmness. In the fond embrace that had passed
between her and Mary, it is true her lip had quivered and her cheek had
paled, but her agitation passed unnoticed.

"It was _her_ voice, my Mary, that roused me to exertion, it was her
representations that bade me not despair," whispered Herbert, as he hung
over Mary's couch that evening, and perceived Ellen busily employed in
arranging her pillows. "When, overwhelmed by the deep misery occasioned
by your letter, I had no power to act, it was her ready thought that
dictated to my father the course he so successfully pursued." Mary
pressed the hand of Ellen within both her own, and looked up gratefully
in her face. A faint smile played round the orphan's lips, but she made
no observation in reply.

A very few weeks elapsed before the dreaded truth forced itself upon the
minds of all, even on her mother, that Mary was sinking, surely sinking,
there was no longer hope. Devotedly as her friends loved her, they could
not sorrow, before her they could not weep. She was spared all bodily
suffering save that proceeding from debility, so extreme she could not
walk across the room without assistance. No pain distorted the
expression of her features, which, in this hour of approaching death,
looked more lovely than they had ever seemed before; her soft blue eye
beamed at times with a celestial light, and her fair hair shaded a brow
and cheek so transparent, every blue vein could be clearly seen. One
thought alone gave her pain, her Herbert she felt was still unprepared.

He was speaking one day of the future, anticipating the time when the
Rectory would receive her as its gentle mistress, and of the many things
which occupied his thoughts for the furtherance of her comfort, when
Mary laid her hand gently on his arm, and, with a smile of peculiar
sweetness, said--

"Do not think any more of such things, my beloved; the mansion which
will behold our blessed union is already furnished and prepared; I may
seek it first, but it will be but to render it even yet more desirable
to you."

Herbert looked on her face to read the meaning of her words; he read
them, alas! too plainly, but voice utterly failed.

"Look not on me thus," she continued, in that same pleading and soothing
tone. "Our mansion is prepared for us above; below, my Herbert, oh,
think not it will ever receive me. Why should I hesitate to speak the
truth? The blessed Saviour, to whose arms I so soon shall go, will give
you strength to bear this; He hath promised that He will, my own
Herbert, my first, my only love. My Saviour calls me, and to Him, oh,
can you not without tears resign me?"

"Mary," murmured the unhappy Herbert, "Mary, oh, do not, do not torture
me. You will not die; you will not leave me desolate."

"I shall not die, but live, my beloved--live, oh, in such blessedness!
'tis but a brief, brief parting, Herbert, to meet and love eternally."

"You are ill, you are weak, my own Mary, and thus death is ever present
to your mind; but you will recover, oh, I know, I feel you will. My God
will hear my prayers."

"And He will grant them, Herbert--oh, doubt Him not, grant them, even in
my removal. He takes me not from you, my Herbert, He but places me,
where to seek me, you must look to and love but Him alone; and will you
shrink from this? Will that spirit, vowed to His service from your
earliest boyhood, now murmur at His will? Oh, no, no; my Herbert will
yet support and strengthen his Mary, I know, I feel he will. Forgive me
if I have pained you, my best love; but I could bear no other lips than
mine to tell you, that on earth I may not live--but a brief space more,
and I shall be called away. You must not mourn for me, my Herbert; I die
so happy, oh, so very happy!"

Herbert had sunk on his knees beside her couch; he drooped his head upon
his hands, and a strong convulsion shook his frame. He uttered no sound,
he spoke no word, but Mary could read the overwhelming anguish that
bowed his spirit to the earth. The words were spoken; he knew that she
must die, and Mary raised her mild eyes to heaven, and clasped her hands
in earnest prayer for him. "Forsake him not now, oh God; support him
now; oh, give him strength to meet Thy will," was the import of her
prayer. Long was that deep, deep stillness, but when Herbert looked up
again he was calm.

"May God in heaven bless you, my beloved," he said, and imprinted a long
fervent kiss upon her forehead. "You have taught me my Saviour's will,
and I will meet it. May He forgive--" His words failed him; again he
held her to his heart, and then he sat by her side and read from the
Book of Life, of peace, of comfort, those passages which might calm this
anguish and strengthen her; he read till sleep closed the eyes of his
beloved. Yes, she was the idol of his young affections; he felt her
words were true, and when she was gone there would be naught to bind his
spirit to this world.

It would be needless to lift the veil from Herbert's moments of
solitary prayer. Those who have followed him through his boyhood and
traced his character need no description of his feelings. We know the
intensity of his earthly affections, the strength and force of his every
emotion, the depth and holiness of his spiritual sentiments, and vain
then would be the attempt to portray his private moments in this dread
trial: yet before his family he was calm, before his Mary cheerful. She
felt her prayers were heard, he was, he would be yet more supported, and
her last pang was soothed.

Mr. Hamilton had returned from France, unsuccessful, however, in his
wish to obtain the restitution of Greville's papers. Dupont had
concealed his measures so artfully, and with such efficacy, that no
traces were discovered regarding him, and Mr. Hamilton felt it was no
use to remain himself, confident in the integrity and abilities of the
solicitor to whom he had intrusted the whole affair; he was
unaccompanied, however, by Percy, who, as his sister's wedding was, from
Mary's illness, postponed, determined on paying Lord and Lady St. Eval a
visit at Geneva.

As Emmeline's engagement with Arthur very frequently engrossed her time,
Ellen had devoted herself assiduously as Mary's constant nurse, and well
and tenderly she performed her office. There was no selfishness in her
feelings, deeply, unfeignedly she sorrowed, and willingly, gladly would
she have laid down her life to preserve Mary's, that this fearful trial
might be removed from Herbert. To spare him one pang, oh, what would she
not have endured. Controlled and calm, who could have guessed the chaos
of contending feeling that was passing within; who, that had seen the
gentle smile with which she would receive Herbert's impassioned thanks
for her care of his Mary, could have suspected the thrill, the pang
those simple words occasioned. Mary alone of those around her, except
Mrs. Hamilton, was not deceived. She loved Ellen, had long done so, and
the affectionate attention she so constantly received from her had drawn
the bonds of friendship closer. She felt convinced she was not happy,
that there was something heavy on her mind, and the quick intellect of a
vivid fancy and loving nature guessed the truth. Her wish to see her
happy became so powerful, that she could not control it. She fancied
that Ellen might be herself deceived, and that the object of her
affections once known, all difficulties would be smoothed. The idea that
her last act might be to secure the happiness of Ellen, was so soothing
to her grateful and affectionate feelings, that, after dwelling on it
some time, she took the first opportunity of being alone with her friend
to seek her confidence.

"No, dearest, do not read to me," she said, one evening, in answer to
Ellen's question. "I would rather talk with you; do not look anxious, I
will not fatigue myself. Come, and sit by me, dear Ellen, it is of you
that I would speak."

"Of me?" repeated Ellen, surprised. "Nay, dearest Mary, can you not find
a more interesting subject?"

"No, love, for you are often in my thoughts; the approach of death has,
I think, sharpened every faculty, for I see and read trifles clearer
than I ever did before; and I can read through all that calm control and
constant smile that you are not happy, my kind Ellen; and will you think
me a rude intruder on your thoughts if I ask you why?"

"Do you not remember, Mary, I was ever unlike others?" replied Ellen,
shrinking from her penetrating gaze. "I never knew what it was to be
lively and joyous even as a child, and as years increase, is it likely
that I should? I am contented with my lot, and with so many blessings
around, should I not be ungrateful were I otherwise?"

"You evade my question, Ellen, and convince me more and more that I am
right. Ah, you know not how my last hour would be soothed, could I feel
that I had done aught to restore happiness to one who has been to me the
blessing you have been, dear Ellen."

"Think not of it, dearest Mary," said Ellen. "I ought to be happy, very
happy, and if I am not, it is my own wayward temper. You cannot give me
happiness, Mary; do not let the thought of me disturb you, dearest, kind
as is your wish, it is unavailing."

"Do not say so, Ellen; we are apt to look on sorrow, while it is
confined to our own anxious breasts, as incurable and lasting; but when
once it is confessed, how quickly do difficulties vanish, and the grief
is often gone before we are aware it is departing. Do not, dearest,
magnify it by the encouragement which solitary thought bestows."

"Are there not some sorrows, Mary, which are better ever concealed? Does
not the opening of a wound often make it bleed afresh, whereas, hidden
in our own heart, it remains closed till time has healed it."

"Some there are," said Mary, "which are indeed irremediable, but"--she
paused a moment, then slightly raising herself on her couch, she threw
her arm round Ellen's neck, and said, in a low yet deeply expressive
voice--"is your love, indeed, so hopeless, my poor Ellen? Oh, no, it
cannot be; surely, there is not one whom you have known sufficiently to
give your precious love, can look on you and not return it."

Ellen started, a deep and painful flush rose for a moment to her cheek,
she struggled to speak calmly, to deny the truth of Mary's suspicion,
but she could not, the secret of her heart was too suddenly exposed
before her, and she burst into tears. How quickly will a word, a tone
destroy the well-maintained calmness of years; how strangely and
suddenly will the voice of sympathy lift from the heart its veil.

"You have penetrated my secret," she said, and her voice faltered, "and
I will not deny it; but oh, Mary, let us speak no more of it. When a
woman is weak enough to bestow her affections on one who never sought,
who will never seek them, surely the more darkly they are hidden, the
better for her own peace as well as character. My love was not called
for. I never had aught to hope; and if that unrequited affection be the
destroyer of my happiness, it has sprung from my own weakness, and I
alone have but to bear it."

"But is there no hope, Ellen--none? Do not think so, dearest. If his
affections be still disengaged, is there not hope they may one day be
yours?"

"No, Mary, none. I knew his affections were engaged; I knew he never
could be mine, and yet I loved him. Oh, Mary, do not scorn my weakness;
you have wrung my secret from me, do not, oh, do not betray me. There is
no shame in loving one so good, so holy, and yet--and yet--Mary, dearest
Mary, promise me you will not speak it--I cannot rest unless you do; let
it pass your lips to _none_."

"It shall not, my Ellen; be calm, your secret shall die with me,
dearest," replied Mary, earnestly, for Ellen's feelings completely
overpowered her, and bursting sobs choked her utterance.

"For me there is no hope. Oh, could I but see him happy, I should ask no
more; but, oh, to see him miserable, and feel I have no power to
soothe--when--" She paused abruptly, again the burning blood dyed her
cheeks, even her temples with crimson. Mary's eyes were fixed upon her
in sympathy, in love; Ellen fancied in surprise, yet suspicion. With one
powerful effort she conquered herself, she forced back the scalding
tears, the convulsive sob, and bending over Mary, pressed her trembling
lips upon her pale brow.

"Let us speak no more of this, dearest Mary," she said, in a low calm
voice. "May God bless you for your intended kindness. It is over now.
Forgive me, dearest Mary, I have agitated and disturbed you."

"Nay, forgive me, my sweet Ellen. It is I who have given you pain, and
should ask your forgiveness. I thought not of such utter hopelessness. I
had hoped that, ere I departed, I might have seen the dawn of happiness
for you; but I see, I feel now that cannot be. My own Ellen, I need not
tell you the comfort, the blessed comfort of prayer."

For a few minutes there was silence. Ellen had clasped the hand of Mary,
and turned aside her head to conceal the tears that slowly stole down
her cheek. The entrance of Emmeline was a relief to both, and Ellen left
the room; and when she returned, even to Mary's awakened eyes, there
were no traces of agitation. Each week produced a visible change in
Mary; she became weaker and weaker, but her mind retained its energy,
and often her sorrowing friends feared she would pass from the detaining
grasp of love, ere they were aware of the actual moment of her
departure. One evening she begged that all the family might assemble in
her room; she felt stronger, and wished to see them altogether again.
Her wish was complied with, and she joined so cheerfully in the
conversation that passed around, that her mother and Herbert forgot
anxiety. It was a soft and lovely evening; her couch, at her own
request, had been drawn to the open window, and the dying girl looked
forth on the beautiful scene beneath. The trees bore the rich full green
of summer, save where the brilliantly setting sun tinged them with hues
of gold and crimson. Part of the river was also discernible at this
point, lying in the bosom of trees, as a small lake, on which the
heavens were reflected in all their surpassing splendour. The sun, or
rather its remaining beams, rested on the brow of a hill, which, lying
in the deepest shadow, formed a superb contrast with the flood of liquid
gold that bathed its brow. Clouds of purple, gold, crimson, in some
parts fading into pink, floated slowly along the azure heavens, and the
perfect stillness that reigned around completed the enchantment of the
scene.

"Look up, my Mary, and mark those clouds of light," said Herbert. "See
the splendour of their hues, the unstained blue beyond; beautiful as is
earth, it shows not such exquisite beauty as yon heaven displays, even
to our mortal sight, nor calls such feelings of adoration forth. What
then will it be when that blue arch is rent asunder, and the effulgent
glory of the Maker of that heaven burst upon our view?"

"Blessed, oh, how blessed are those who, conducted by the Lamb of God,
can share that glory," answered Mary, with sudden energy. "Who can speak
the unutterable love which, while the beauteous earth yet retains the
traces of an awful curse, hath washed from man his sin, and takes from
death its sting?"

"And is it this thought, this faith which supports you now, my Mary?"
demanded Herbert, with that deep tenderness of one so peculiarly his
own.

"It is, it is," she answered, fervently, "My sins are washed away; my
prayers are heard, for my Saviour pleads, and my home is prepared on
high amid the redeemed and the saved. Oh, blessed be the God of truth
that hath granted me this faith"--she paused a minute, then added--"and
heard my prayer, my beloved Herbert, and permitted me thus to die in my
native land, surrounded by those I love!"

She leaned her head on Herbert's bosom, and for some time remained
silent; then looking up, said cheerfully, "Do you remember, Emmeline,
when we were together some few years ago, we always said such a scene
and hour as this only wanted music to make it perfect? I feel as if all
those fresh delightful feelings of girlhood had come over me again.
Bring your harp and sing to me, dearest, those words you read to me the
other day."

"Nay, Mary, will it not disturb you?" said Emmeline, kneeling by her
couch, and kissing the thin hand extended to her.

"No, dearest, not your soft, sweet voice, it will soothe and give me
pleasure. I feel stronger and better to-night than I have done for some
time. Sing to me, but only those words, dear Emmy; all others would
neither suit this scene nor my feelings."

For a moment Emmeline hesitated, and looked towards her mother and Mrs.
Greville. Neither was inclined to make any objection to her request, and
on the appearance of her harp, under the superintendence of Arthur,
Emmeline prepared to comply. She placed the instrument at the further
end of the apartment, that the notes might fall softer on Mary's ear,
and sung, in a sweet and plaintive voice, the following words:--

  "Remember me! ah, not with sorrow,
    'Tis but sleep to wake in bliss.
  Life's gayest hours can seek to borrow
    Vainly such a dream as this.

  Ah, see, 'tis heaven itself revealing
    To my dimmed and failing sight;
  And hark! 'tis angels' voices stealing
    Through the starry veil of night.

  Come, brother, come; ah, quickly sever
    The cold links of earth's dull chain;
  Come to thy home, where thou wilt never
    Pain or sorrow feel again.

  Come, brother, come; we spread before thee
    Visions of thy blissful home;
  Heed not, if Death's cold pang come o'er thee,
    It will but bid thee haste and come!

  Ah, yes, I see bright forms are breaking
    Through the mist that veils mine eyes;
  Now gladly, gladly, earth forsaking,
    Take, oh, take me to the skies.

The mournful strain ceased, and there was silence. Emmeline had adapted
the words to that beautiful air of Weber's, the last composition of his
gifted mind. Mary's head still rested on the bosom of Herbert, her hand
clasped his. Evening was darkening into twilight, or the expression of
her countenance might have been remarked as changed--more spiritual, as
if the earthly shell had shared the beatified glory of the departing
spirit. She fixed her fading eyes on Ellen, who was kneeling by her
couch, steadily and calmly, but Ellen saw her not, for in that hour her
eyes were fixed, as in fascination on the form of Herbert, as he bent
over his beloved. The dying girl saw that mournful glance, and a gleam
of intelligence passed over her beautiful features. She extended one
hand to Ellen, who clasped it fondly, and then she tried to draw it
towards Herbert. She looked up in his face, as if to explain the meaning
of the action, but voice and strength utterly failed, and Ellen's hand
dropped from her grasp.

"Kiss me, Herbert, I would sleep," she said, so faintly, Herbert alone
heard it. Their lips met in one long lingering kiss, and then Mary
drooped her head again upon his bosom, and seemed to sleep so gently, so
sweetly, her friends held their breath lest they should disturb her.
Nearly half an hour passed and still there was no movement. The full
soft light of an unclouded moon fell within that silent chamber, and
gilded the forms of Mary and Herbert with a silvery halo, that seemed to
fall from heaven itself upon them. Mary's head had fallen slightly
forward, and her long luxuriant hair, escaped from its confinement,
concealed her features as a veil of shadowy gold. Gently and tenderly
Herbert raised her head, so as to rest upon his arm; as he did so her
hair fell back and fully exposed her countenance. A faint cry broke from
his parched lips, and Ellen started in agony to her feet.

"Hush, hush, my Mary sleeps," Mrs. Greville said; but Mr. Hamilton
gently drew her from the couch and from the room. Her eyes were closed;
a smile illumined that sweet face, as in sleep it had so often done, and
that soft and shadowy light took from her features all the harsher tale
of death. Yes, she did sleep sweetly and calmly, but her pure spirit had
departed.



CHAPTER VIII.


It was long, very long ere Mr. Hamilton's family recovered the shock of
Mary's death. She had been so long loved, living amongst them from her
birth, her virtues and gentleness were so well known and appreciated by
every member. She had been by Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton so long considered
as their child, by her betrothment with their Herbert, that they
sorrowed for her as if indeed she had been bound to them by that tender
tie; and her poor mother now indeed felt desolate: her only treasure,
her precious, almost idolized Mary, was taken from her, and she was
childless, for of Alfred she had long ceased to receive intelligence.
She bowed her head, earnestly striving for submission, but it was long,
long ere peace returned; soothed she was indeed by the tender kindness
of her friends; but what on earth can soothe a bereaved and doting
mother? Emmeline, Ellen, Herbert, even Arthur Myrvin, treated her with
all the love and reverence of children, but neither could fill the
aching void within. On Herbert indeed her spirit rested with more
fondness than on any other object, but it was with a foreboding love;
she looked on him and trembled. It was a strange and affecting sight,
could any one have looked on those two afflicted ones: to hear Herbert
speak words of holy comfort to the mother of his Mary, to hear him speak
of hope, of resignation, mark the impress of that heavenly virtue on
his pale features; his grief was all internal, not a word escaped his
lips, not a thought of repining crossed his chastened mind. The extent
of that deep anguish was seen alone in his fading form, in his pallid
features; but it was known only to the Searcher of all hearts. He had
wished to perform the last office to his Mary, but his father and
Archdeacon Howard conjured him to abandon the idea, and suffer the
latter to take his place. All were bathed in tears during that solemn
and awful service. Scarcely could Mr. Howard command his voice
throughout, and his concluding words were wholly inaudible. But no
movement was observable in Herbert's slight and boyish form; enveloped
in his long mourning robe, his features could not be seen, but there was
somewhat around him that created in the breasts of all who beheld him a
sensation of reverence. All departed from the lowly grave, but Herbert
yet remained motionless and silent. His father and Myrvin gently sought
to lead him away, but scarcely had he proceeded two paces, when he sunk
down on the grass in a long and deathlike swoon; so painfully had it the
appearance of death, that his father and friends believed for a time his
spirit had indeed fled to seek his Mary; but he recovered. There was
such an aspect of serenity and submission on his countenance, that all
who loved him would have been at peace, had not the thought pressed
heavily on their minds that such feelings were not long for earth.

These fainting fits returned at intervals, and Mrs. Hamilton, whilst she
struggled to lift up her soul in undying faith to the God of Love, and
resignedly commit into His hands the life and death of her beloved son,
yet every time she gazed on him, while lying insensible before her, felt
more and more how difficult was the lesson she so continually strove to
learn; how hard it would be to part from him, if indeed he were called
away. She compared her lot with Mrs. Greville's, and thought how much
greater was her trial; and yet she, too, was a mother, and though so
many other gifts were vouchsafed her, Herbert was as dear to her as Mary
had been to Mrs. Greville. Must she lose him now, now that the fruit she
had so fondly cherished, watched as it expanded from the infant germ,
had bloomed so richly to repay her care, would he be taken from her now
that every passing month appeared to increase his love for her and hers
for him? for Herbert clung to his mother in this dread hour of
affliction with increasing fondness. True, he never spoke the extent of
his feelings even to her, but his manner betrayed how much he loved her,
how deeply he felt her sympathy, which said that next to his God, he
leaned on her.

At first Mr. Hamilton wished his son to resign the Rectory and join his
brother and sister at Geneva, and then accompany Percy on his travels;
but mournfully yet steadily Herbert rejected this plan.

"No, father," he said. "My duties as a son and brother, as well as the
friend and father of the flock committed to my charge, will be far more
soothing and beneficial, believe me, than travelling in far distant
lands. My health is at present such, that my home and the beloved
friends of my infancy appear dearer to me than ever, and I cannot part
from them to seek happiness elsewhere. I will do all in my power, by the
steady discharge of my many and interesting duties, to preserve my
health and restore peace and contentment. I seek not to resign my charge
in this world till my Saviour calls me; His work has yet to be done on,
earth, and till He dismisses me, I will cheerfully perform it; till then
do not ask me to forsake it."

Mr. Hamilton wrung his son's hand in silence, and never again urged his
departure.

There was no selfishness in Herbert's sorrow; he was still the devoted
son, the affectionate brother, the steady friend to his own immediate
circle; and to the poor committed to his spiritual charge, he was in
truth, as he had said he would be, a father and a friend. In soothing
the sufferings of others, his own became less bitterly severe; in
bidding others hope, and watch, and pray, he found his own spirit
strengthened and its frequent struggles calmed. With such unwavering
steadiness were his duties performed, that his bodily sufferings never
could have been discovered, had not those alarming faints sometimes
overpowered him in the cottages he visited ere his duties were
completed; and he was thankful, when such was the case, that it occurred
when from home, that his mother was thus sometimes spared anxiety. He
would walk on quietly home, remain some little time in his own chamber,
and then join his family cheerful and composed as usual, that no one
might suspect he had been ill.

Arthur Myrvin often gazed on his friend with emotions of admiration,
almost amounting to awe. His love for Emmeline was the strongest feeling
of his heart, and when for a moment he fancied her snatched from him, as
Mary had been from Herbert, he felt he knew he could not have acted like
his friend: he must have flown from scenes, every trace of which could
speak of the departed, or, if he had remained, he could not, as Herbert
did, have attended to his duties, have been like him so calm.

In the society of his cousin Ellen, Herbert found both solace and
pleasure. She had been so devoted to the departed, that he felt he loved
her more fondly than he had ever done, and he would seek her as the
companion of a walk, and give her directions as to the cottages he
sometimes wished her to visit, with a portion of his former animation,
but Ellen never permitted herself to be deceived; it was still a
brother's love, she knew it never could be more, and she struggled long
to control, if not to banish, the throb of joy that ever filled her
bosom when she perceived there were times she had power to call the
smile to Herbert's pensive features.

Percy's letters were such as to soothe his brother by his affectionate
sympathy; to betray more powerfully than ever to Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton
how dear to each other were their sons, how pure and consoling was the
friendship subsisting between them, and on other points to give much
pleasure to all his family. Caroline's health was much improved; her
little son, Percy declared, was such a nice, merry fellow, and so
handsome, that he was quite sure he resembled in all respects what he,
Percy Hamilton, must have been at the venerable age of two years. He
said farther, that as Lord and Lady St. Eval were going to make the tour
of the principal cities of Europe, he should remain with them and be
contented with what they saw, instead of rambling alone all over the
world, as he had intended. At first Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton were somewhat
surprised at this decision, but knowing the nature of their son, began
to fancy that a certain Miss Manvers had something to do with it, the
sister of Lord Delmont, the Earl St. Eval's most intimate friend, and
the chosen friend of Mary Greville during her residence at Monte Rosa.
In Lord Delmont's will he had left the Earl guardian of his sister
during the year that intervened before her coming of age, an office
which rendered St. Eval still more intimate with the family. On his way
to Geneva he had heard from Miss Manvers of her mother's death, and that
she was residing with an English family on the banks of the Lake. The
information that her brother's friends, and indeed her own, with his
wife and family, intended spending some little time at Geneva, was a
source of so much pleasure, that after a little hesitation she accepted
the earnest invitation of both the Earl and his lady, and gladly and
gratefully consented to reside with them during their stay in
Switzerland, and then accompany them on their intended tour.

The strong affection Percy bore his brother rendered him long unable to
regain his usual mirth and flow of spirits, and he found the
conversation of Louisa Manvers even more pleasing than ever. Mary had
made her perfectly acquainted with Herbert, and therefore, though she
had never seen him, she was well enabled to enter into the deep
affliction the loss of his betrothed must have occasioned him. Percy
could speak to her as often as he pleased of his brother and Mary, and
ever found sympathy and interest attached to the subject. Thus the idea
of travelling alone, when his sister's family offered such attractions,
became absolutely irksome to him, and he was pleased to see that his
plan of joining them was not disagreeable to Miss Manvers. Mr. Hamilton
sent his unqualified approval of Percy's intentions, and Herbert also
wrote sufficiently of himself to satisfy the anxious affection of his
brother.

There was only one disappointing clause in Percy's plans, and he
regretted it himself, and even hinted that if his sister still very much
wished it, he would give up his intention, and return home in time to be
present, as he had promised, at her wedding. He wrote in his usual
affectionate strain both to Emmeline and Myrvin, but neither was selfish
enough to wish such a sacrifice.

At Herbert's earnest entreaty, the marriage of his sister was, however,
fixed rather earlier than she had intended. It was not, he said, as if
their marriage was to be like Caroline's, the signal for a long course
of gaiety and pleasure; that Emmeline had always determined on only her
own family being present, and everything would be so quiet, he was sure
there could be no necessity for a longer postponement.

"My Mary wished to have beheld your union," his lip trembled as he
spoke; "had not her illness so rapidly increased she wished to have been
present, and could she now speak her wishes, it would be to bid you be
happy--no longer to defer your union for her sake. Do not defer it, dear
Emmeline," he added, in a somewhat sadder tone, "we know not the events
of an hour, and wherefore should we delay? it will be such joy to me to
unite my friend and my sister, to pour forth on their love the blessing
of the Lord."

There was something so inexpressibly sweet yet mournful in his
concluding words, that Emmeline, unable to restrain the impulse, leaned
upon his neck and wept.

"Do not chide my weakness, Herbert," she tried to say, "these are not
tears of unmingled sadness; oh, could I but see you happy."

"And you will, my sweet sister: soon--very soon, I shall be happy,
quite--quite happy," he added, in a lower tone, as he fondly kissed her
brow.

Emmeline had not marked the tone of his concluding words, she had not
seen the expression of his features; but Ellen had, and a cold yet
indefinable thrill passed through her heart, and left a pang behind,
which she could not conquer the whole of that day. She understood it
not, for she _would_ not understand.

Urged on, however, a few days afterwards, during a walk with Herbert,
she asked him why he was so anxious the ceremony should take place
without delay.

"Because, my dear Ellen, I look forward to the performance of this
ceremony as a source of pleasure which I could not bear to resign to
another."

"To another, Herbert; what do you mean? Do you think of following my
uncle's advice, and resigning your duties for a time, for the purpose of
travel?"

"No, Ellen; those duties will not be resigned till I am called away;
they are sources of enjoyment and consolation too pure to be given up. I
do not wish my sister's wedding to be deferred, for I know not how soon
my Saviour may call me to Himself."

"May we not all urge that plea, my dear cousin?" said Ellen; "and yet in
your sermon last Sunday, you told us to do all things soberly, to give
due reflection to things of weight, particularly those in which temporal
and eternal interests were united; not to enter rashly and hastily into
engagements, not too quickly to put off the garb of mourning, and plunge
once more into the haunts of pleasure." She paused.

"I did say all this, Ellen, I own; but it has not much to do with our
present subject. Emmeline's engagement with Arthur has not been entered
on rashly or in haste. She does not throw off the garb of mourning to
forget the serious thoughts it may have encouraged; and though you are
right, we none of us can know how soon we may be called away, yet,
surely, it behoves those unto whom the dart has sped, the mandate been
given, to set their house in order for they shall surely die, and not
live the usual period of mortals."

"But who can tell this, Herbert? who are so favoured as to know the
actual moment when the dart has sped and how soon it will reach them?
should we not all live as if death were near?"

"Undoubtedly, we should so order our souls, as ever to be ready to
render them back to Him who gave them; but we cannot always so arrange
our worldly matters, as we should, did we know the actual moment of
death's appearance; our business may require constant care, we may have
dear objects for whom it is our duty to provide, to the best of our
power, and did we know when we should die, these things would lose the
interest they demand. Death should, indeed, be ever present to our
minds; it should follow us in our joy as in our sorrow, and never will
it come as a dark and gloomy shadow to those who in truth believe; but
wise and merciful is the decree that conceals from us the moment of our
departure. Were the gates of Heaven thus visible, how tame and cold
would this world appear; how few would be the ties we should form, how
insignificant would seem those duties which on earth we are commanded to
perform. No, to prepare our souls to be ready at a minute's warning to
return to their heavenly home is the duty of all. More is not expected
from those in perfect health; but, Ellen, when a mortal disease is
consuming this earthly tabernacle, when, though Death linger, he is
already seen, ay, and even felt approaching, then should we not wind up
our worldly affairs, instead of wilfully blinding our eyes to the truth,
as, alas! too many do? Then should we not 'watch and pray' yet more, not
only for ourselves, but those dearest to us, and do all in our power to
secure their happiness, ere we are called away?"

Ellen could not answer. She understood too well his meaning; a sickness
as of death crept over her, but with an effort she subdued that deadly
faintness; she would have spoken on other things, but her tongue was
parched and dry.

Engrossed in his own solemn feelings, in the wish to prepare his cousin
for the truth, Herbert perceived not her agitation, and, after a
minute's pause, continued tenderly--

"My own cousin, death to you is, I know, not terrible; why then should I
hesitate to impart tidings which to me are full of bliss? The shaft
which bore away my Mary, also entered my heart, and implanted in me the
disease which no mortal skill can cure. Do not chide me for entertaining
an unfounded fancy. Ellen, dear Ellen, I look to you, under heaven, to
support my mother under this affliction. I look to your fond cares to
subdue the pang of parting. You alone of her children will be left near
her, and you can do much to comfort and soothe not only her, but my
father; they will mourn for me, nature will speak, though I go to joy
inexpressible, unutterable! Ellen, speak to me; will you not do this, my
sister, my friend?"

"Give me but a moment," she murmured almost inaudibly, as, overpowered
by increasing faintness, she sunk down on a grassy bank near them, and
buried her face in her hands. Minutes rolled by, and still there was
silence. Herbert sat down beside her, threw his arm around her, and
pressed a brother's kiss upon her cold, damp brow. She started and would
have risen, but strength failed; for a moment her head leaned against
his bosom, and a burst of tears relieved her. "Forgive me, Herbert," she
said, striving at once for composure and voice. "Oh, weak as I am, do
not repent your confidence. It was unexpected, sudden; the idea of
parting was sharper than at the first moment I could bear, but it will
soon be over, very, very soon; do not doubt me, Herbert." She fixed her
mournful eyes upon his face, and her cheek was very pale, "Yes," she
said, with returning strength, "trust me, dear Herbert, I will be to my
aunt, my more than mother, ever as you wish. My every care, my every
energy shall be employed to soften that deep anguish which--" She could
not complete the sentence, but quickly added, "the deep debt of
gratitude I owe her, not a whole life can repay. Long have I felt it,
long wished to devote myself to her and to my uncle, and this charge has
confirmed me in my resolution. Yes, dearest Herbert, while Ellen lives,
never, never shall my beloved aunt be lonely."

Herbert understood not the entire signification of his cousin's words;
he knew not, that simple as they were to his ears, to her they were a
vow sacred and irrevocable. She knew she could never, never love
another, and there was something strangely soothing in the thought, that
it was his last request that consecrated her to his mother, to her
benefactress. To feel that, in endeavouring to repay the dept of
gratitude she owed, she could associate Herbert intimately with her
every action, so to perform his last charge, that could he look down
from heaven it would be to bless her.

Herbert knew not the intensity of Ellen's feelings, still less did he
imagine he was the object of her ill-fated affection. Never once had
such a suspicion crossed his mind; that she loved him he doubted not,
but he thought it was as Emmeline loved. He trusted in her strength of
character, and therefore had he spoken openly; and could Ellen regret
his confidence, when she found that after that painful day, her society
appeared dearer, more consoling to him than ever?

Although some members of her family could not be present at Emmeline's
wedding, a hasty visit from Edward was a source of joy to all. He was
about to sail to the shores of Africa in a small frigate, in which he
had been promoted to the second in command, an honour which had elevated
his spirits even beyond their usual buoyancy. He had been much shocked
and grieved at his sister's account of Mary's death, and Herbert's deep
affliction; but after he had been at home a few days, the influence of
his natural light-heartedness extended over all, and rendered Oakwood
more cheerful than it had been since the melancholy event we have
narrated.

To Lilla Grahame it was indeed a pleasure to revisit Oakwood,
particularly when Lieutenant Fortescue was amongst its inmates. Edward's
manner was gallantly courteous to all his fair friends; a stranger might
have found it difficult to say which was his favourite, but there was
something about both him and Miss Grahame which very often called from
Ellen a smile.

It was an interesting group assembled in the old parish church on the
day that united our favourite Emmeline with her long-beloved Arthur, but
it was far from being a day of unmingled gladness. Deep and chastened as
was the individual and mutual happiness of the young couple, they could
neither of them forget that there was a beloved one wanting; that they
had once hoped the same day that beheld their nuptials would have
witnessed also those of Herbert and his Mary.

Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton had looked with some degree of dread to this day,
as one of painful recollection to Herbert; but he, perhaps of all who
were around him, was the most composed, and as the impressive ceremony
continued, he thought only of those dear ones whose fate he thus united;
he felt only the solemn import of the prayers he said, and his large and
beautiful eyes glistened with enthusiasm as in former days. It would
have been a sweet group for a skilful painter, those three principal
figures beside the altar. Herbert, as we have described him; Emmeline,
in her simple garb of white, her slight figure and peculiarly feminine
expression of countenance causing her to appear very many years younger
than in reality she was; and Arthur, too, his manly features radiant
with chastened yet perfect happiness, seemed well fitted to be the
protector, the friend of the gentle being who so soon would call him
husband, and look to him alone for happiness. Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton
rejoiced that their beloved child was at length blessed in the
gratification of her long-cherished, long-controlled hopes; that, as far
as human eye could penetrate, they had secured her happiness by giving
her to the man she loved. There was one other kneeling beside the altar
on whom Mrs. Hamilton looked with no small anxiety, for the emotion she
perceived, appeared to confirm the idea that it was indeed Arthur Myrvin
who had engrossed the affections of her niece. There are mysteries in
the human heart for which we seek in vain to account; associations and
sympathies that come often uncalled-for and unwished. Ellen knew not
wherefore the scene she witnessed pressed strangely on her heart; she
struggled against the feeling, and she might perhaps have succeeded in
concealing her inward emotions, but suddenly she looked on Herbert. She
marked him radiant, it seemed, in health and animation, his words
flashed across her mind; soon would the hue of death be on that cheek,
the light of that eye be dimmed, that sweet and thrilling voice be
hushed on earth for ever; that beautiful form bent down as a flower,
"the wind passeth over it and it is gone, and the place thereof shall
know it no more;" and thus would it soon be with him she loved. The gush
of feeling mocked all her efforts at control, Ellen buried her face in
her hands, and her slight frame shook, and the low choking sob was
distinctly heard in the brief silence that followed the words, "Those
whom God hath joined let no man put asunder."

Arthur, at Emmeline's own desire, conducted his bride at once to the
small yet comfortable home which had been prepared for her in his
vicarage on Lord St. Eval's estate. That her residence was so near them
was a great source of pleasure to both her parents, and the feeling that
her home was in the centre of all she loved, not only so near the
beloved guardians of her infancy but Caroline and St. Eval, would have
added to her cup of joy, had it not been already full to overflowing;
the pang of parting was thus soothed to both mother and child. Even more
than Caroline, Mrs. Hamilton felt she should miss the gentle girl, who
scarcely from her infancy had given her one moment's pain; but in the
happiness of her child she too was blessed, and thankfully she raised
her voice to Him whose blessing, in the rearing of her children, she had
so constantly and fervently implored, and the mother's fond and yearning
heart was comforted.

Though Ellen had smiled, and seemed to every eye but that of her
watchful aunt the same as usual the whole of that day, yet Mrs. Hamilton
could not resist the impulse that bade her seek her when all had retired
to their separate apartments. Ellen had been gone some time, but she was
sitting in a posture of deep thought, in which she had sunk on first
entering her room. She did not observe her aunt, and Mrs. Hamilton
traced many tears slowly, almost one by one, fall upon her
tightly-clasped hands, ere she found voice to speak.

"Ellen, my sweet child!"

Ellen sprung up, she threw herself into those extended arms, and hid her
tearful eyes on her aunt's bosom.

"I have but you now, my own Ellen, to cheer my old age and enliven our
deserted hearth. You must not leave me yet, dearest. I cannot part with
you."

"Oh, no, no; I will never, never leave you. Your home shall be my home,
my more than mother; and where you go, Ellen will follow," she murmured,
speaking unconsciously in the spirit of one of the sweetest characters
the Sacred Book presents. "Do not ask me to leave you; indeed, indeed,
no home will be to me like yours."

"Speak not, then, so despondingly, my Ellen," replied Mrs. Hamilton,
fondly kissing her. "Never shall you leave me without your own full and
free consent. Do you remember, love, when I first promised that?" she
continued, playfully; for she sought not to draw from Ellen the secret
of her love, she only wished to soothe, to cheer, to tell her, however
unrequited might be her affections, still she was not desolate, and when
she left her, fully had she succeeded. Ellen was comforted, though she
scarcely knew wherefore.

Some few months passed after the marriage of Emmeline, and the domestic
peace of Oakwood yet remained undisturbed. There were times when Ellen
hoped she had been deceived, that Herbert had been deceived himself. But
Myrvin dared not hope; he was not with his friend as constantly as Ellen
was, and almost every time he beheld him he fancied he perceived an
alarming change.

About this time a malignant disease broke out in the neighbourhood of
the Dart, whose awful ravages it appeared as if no medical aid was
adequate to stop. In Herbert Hamilton's parish the mortality was
dreadful, and his duties were consequently increased, painfully to
himself and alarmingly to his family. A superhuman strength seemed,
however, suddenly granted him. Whole days, frequently whole nights, he
spent in the cottages of the afflicted poor. Soothing, encouraging,
compelling even the hardened and impenitent to own the power of the
religion he taught; bidding even them bow in unfeigned penitence at the
footstool of their Redeemer, and robbing death, in very truth, of its
sting. The young, the old, men in their prime, were carried off. The
terrible destroyer knew no distinction of age or sex or rank. Many a
young child would cease its wailing cry of suffering when its beloved
pastor entered the lowly cot, and with the fondness of a parent, with
that smile of pitying love which few hearts can resist, would seek to
soothe the bodily anguish, while at the same moment he taught the young
soul that death was not terrible; that it was but a few moments of pain
to end in everlasting bliss; that they were going to Him who had said
"Suffer little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of
heaven." From the old, Herbert would learn many a lesson of piety and
resignation, and feel that attendance on such beds of death was in truth
a blessing to himself.

Fearlessly, for her trust was fixed on the Rock of Righteousness, did
Ellen second the exertions of her cousin in this time of general
affliction. There were many who sought to deter her, for they whispered
the disease was contagious, but Ellen heeded them not, nor did Mrs.
Hamilton, herself so active in seasons of distress, seek to dissuade
her. "The arm of my God is around me, alike in the cottages of the dying
as in the fancied security of Oakwood," she said one day to Herbert, who
trembled for her safety, though for himself no fears had ever entered
his mind. "If it is His will that I too should feel His chastening rod,
it will find me though I should never leave my home; my trust is in Him.
I go in the humble hope to do His work, and He will not forsake me,
Herbert."

Herbert trembled for her no more, and an active and judicious assistant
did he find her. For six weeks the disease continued unabated; about
that time it began to decline, and hopes were entertained that it was
indeed departing.

There was moisture in the eyes of the young minister, as he looked
around him one Sabbath evening on the diminished number of his
congregation; so many of whom were either clad in mourning, or bore on
their countenance the marks of recent suffering, over the last victim
the whole family at Oakwood had sincerely mourned, for it was that kind
old woman whom we have mentioned more than once as being connected with
the affairs we have related. Nurse Langford had gone to her last home,
and both Ellen and Herbert dreaded writing the intelligence to her
affectionate son, who was now in Percy's service. She had been buried
only the day previous. Her seat was exactly opposite the pulpit, where
she had so often said it was such a blessing to look on the face of her
dear Master Herbert, and hear such blessed truths from his lips. She now
was gone. Herbert looked on her vacant seat, and it was then his eyes
glistened in starting tears. He had seen his cousin look towards the
same place, and though her veil was closely drawn down, he _felt_ her
tears were falling fast and thick upon her book. More than usually
eloquent was the young clergyman that day, in the discourse he had
selected as most appropriate to the feelings of those present. He spoke
of death, and, with an eloquence affecting in its pure simplicity, he
alluded to the loss of those we love. "Wherefore should I say loss, my
brethren?" he said, in conclusion. "They have but departed to mansions
of undying joy: to earth they may be lost, but not to us. Oh, no, God
cursed the ground for man's sake--it is fading, perishable! There will
be a new heaven and a new earth, but the spirit which God breathed
within us shall not see corruption. Released from this earthly shell, we
shall again behold those who have departed first; they will meet us
rejoicing, singing aloud the praises of that unutterable love that
redeemed and saved us, removing the curse pronounced on man, even as on
earth, making us heirs of eternal life, of everlasting glory! My
brethren, Death has been amongst us, but how clothed? to us who remain,
perhaps for a time in sadness; but to those who have triumphantly
departed, even as an angel of light, guiding them to the portals of
heaven. Purified by suffering and repentance, their garments white as
snow, they encircle the throne of their Saviour; and those whose lives
below were those of toil and long suffering, are now among the blessed.
Shall we then weep for them, my friends? Surely not. Let us think of
them, and follow in their paths, that our last end may be like theirs,
that we may rejoin them, never again to part!

"Are there any here who fear to die? Are there any who shrink and
tremble when they think they may be the next it may please the Lord to
call? My Christian brethren, think awhile, and such thoughts will cease
to appal you. To the heathen alone is death the evil spirit, the
blackening shadow which, when called to mind, will poison his dearest
joys! To us, brethren, what is it? In pain it tells us of ease; in
strife or tumult, that the grave is a place of quiet; in the weariness
of exhausted spirits, that the end of all these things is at hand. Who
ever found perfect joy on earth? Are we not restless, even in the midst
of happiness? Death tells us of a purer happiness, in which there is no
weariness, no satiety. When we look around on those we love, when we
feel the blessings of affection, death tells us that we shall love them
still better in heaven! Is death then so terrible? Oh, let us think on
it thus in life and health, and in the solitude and silence of our
chamber such thoughts will not depart from us. Let these reflections
pervade us as we witness the dying moments of those we love, and we
shall find even for us death has no sting; for we shall meet again in a
world where death and time shall be no more! Oh, my beloved brethren,
let us go home, and in our closets thank God that His chastening hand
appears about to be removed from us, and so beseech Him to enlighten our
eyes to look on death, and so to give us that faith, which alone can
make us whole, and give us peace, that we may say with the venerable
Simeon, 'Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine
eyes have seen thy salvation.'"

He ceased, and a solemn stillness reigned within the church. For a
moment the young clergyman bowed his head in silent prayer upon his
book, and then he raised his clasped hands on high, and, in a voice of
almost unearthly sweetness and power, gave the parting benediction. The
flush was observed to fade from his cheek, the lustre depart from his
eye; he raised his hand languidly to his damp brow, and in another
minute Mr. Hamilton darted from his seat, and received his son in his
arms, in a long and deathlike swoon, That same evening beheld Herbert
Hamilton, the beloved, the good, stretched on his couch a victim to the
same fearful disease, to remove the sting of which he had so long and
perseveringly laboured.



CHAPTER IX.


There was joy in the superb hotel at Frankfort-sur-Maine which served as
the temporary residence of Lord St. Eval's family, domestic joy, for the
danger which had threatened the young Countess in her confinement had
passed away, and she and her beautiful babe were doing as well as the
fond heart of a father and husband could desire. They had been at
Frankfort for the last two months, at which place, however, Percy
Hamilton had not been stationary, taking advantage of this pause in St.
Eval's intended plans, by seeing as much of Germany as he could during
that time; and short as it was, his energetic mind had derived more
improvement and pleasure in the places he had visited, than many who had
lingered over the same space of ground more than double the time.
Intelligence that Caroline was not quite so well as her friends wished,
aided perhaps by his secret desire to see again her gentle companion,
Percy determined for a short time to return to Frankfort, till his
sister's health was perfectly restored, and they might be again enabled
to travel together. His almost unexpected arrival added to the happiness
of the young Earl's domestic circle, and there was somewhat in his arch
yet expressive glance, as he received his baby niece from the arms of
Miss Manvers, and imprinted a light kiss on the infant's sleeping
features, that dyed her cheek with blushes, and bade her heart beat
quick with an indefinable sense of pleasure.

The sisterly friendship of Louisa Manvers had been a source of real
gratification to both the Earl St. Eval and his Countess during their
travels, more particularly now, when the health of the latter required
such kindly tending. Mrs. Hamilton had deeply regretted the
impossibility of her being with her child at such a time; the letter
Lord St. Eval had despatched was, however, calculated to disperse all
her anxiety, the danger appearing after the letter had gone, and not
lasting sufficiently long to justify his writing again. They were
sitting round the breakfast-table the morning after Percy's return,
lengthening the usual time of the meal by lively and intelligent
conversation; Miss Manvers was presiding at the table, and Percy did not
feel the least inclined to move, declaring he would wait for his English
despatches, if there were any, before he went out. The post happened to
be rather late that morning, a circumstance, wonderful to say, which did
not occasion Percy annoyance. It came in, however, at length, bringing
several papers for Lord St. Eval and his wife, from the Malvern family,
but only two from Oakwood, one, in the handwriting of Ellen, to Percy,
and one for Robert Langford, evidently from Mr Hamilton.

"This is most extraordinary," Percy said, much surprised. "My mother
not written to Caroline, and none from Herbert to me; his duties are
increased, I know, but surely he could find time to write to me."

"Mrs. Hamilton has written to Caroline since her confinement, and so did
all her family four or five days ago," said Lord St. Eval, but his words
fell unheeded on the ear of Percy, who had hastily torn open his
cousin's letter, and glanced his eye over its contents. Engaged in his
own letters, the Earl did not observe the agitation of his friend, but
Miss Manvers saw his hand tremble so violently, that he could scarcely
hold the paper.

"Merciful heaven! Mr. Hamilton--Percy, what is the matter?" she
exclaimed, suddenly losing all her wonted reserve, as she remarked his
strange emotion, and her words, connected with the low groan that burst
from Percy's heart, effectually roused the Earl's attention.

"Hamilton, speak; are there ill news from Oakwood? In mercy, speak!" he
said, almost as much agitated as his friend.

"Herbert," was all Percy could articulate, "Herbert, my brother; oh God,
he is dying, and I am not near him. Read, St. Eval, for pity; I cannot
see the words. Is there yet time--can I reach England in time? or is
this only a preparation to tell me he is--is dead?"

"He lives, Percy; there may be yet time, if you set off at once,"
exclaimed the Earl, who saw the necessity of rousing his friend to
exertion, for the sudden blow had bewildered his every faculty. He
started up wildly, and was darting from the room, when he suddenly
paused--

"Keep it from Caroline--tell her not now, it will kill her," he cried.
"May God in heaven bless you for those tears!" he continued, springing
towards Louisa, and clasping her hands convulsively in his, as the sight
of her unfeigned emotion caused the hot tears slowly to trickle down his
own cheek, and his lip quivered, till he could scarcely speak the words
of parting. "Oh, think of me; I go to the dying bed of him, whom I had
hoped would one day have been to you a brother--would have joined--" He
paused in overwhelming emotion, took the hand of the trembling girl,
raised it to his lips, and darted from the apartment.

St. Eval hastily followed him, for he saw Percy was in no state to think
of anything himself, and the letter Robert had received, telling him of
the death of his mother, rendered him almost as incapable of exertion as
his master; but as soon as he heard the cause of Percy's very visible
but at first incomprehensible agitation, his own deep affliction was at
once subdued; he was ready and active in Percy's service. That Mr.
Hamilton should thus have written to him, to alleviate the blow of a
parent's death, to comfort him when his own son lay on a dying bed,
penetrated at once the heart of the young man, and urged him to
exertion.

Day and night Percy travelled; but we must outstrip even his rapid
course, and conduct our readers to Oakwood, the evening of the second
day after Percy's arrival at Ostend.

Herbert Hamilton lay on his couch, the cold hand of Death upon his brow;
but instead of robing his features with a ghastly hue, it had spread
over them even more than usual beauty. Reduced he was to a mere shadow,
but his prayers in his days of health and life had been heard; the
delirium of fever had passed, and he met death unshrinkingly, his mind
retaining even more than its wonted powers. It was the Sabbath evening,
and all around him was still and calm. For the first two days after the
delirium had departed, his mind had still been darkened, restless, and
uneasy. Perseveringly as he had laboured in his calling, he had felt in
those darker days the utter nothingness of his own works, how wholly
insufficient they had been to secure his salvation; and the love of his
God, the infinite atonement in which he so steadily believed, shone not
with sufficient brightness to remove this painful darkness. Death was
very near, and it no longer seemed the angel of light he had ever
regarded it; but on the Saturday the mist was mercifully dispelled from
his mind, the clouds dispersed, and faith shone forth with a brilliancy,
a lustre overpowering; it told of heaven with an eloquence that banished
every other thought, and Herbert's bodily sufferings were felt no
longer; the confines of heaven were gained--but a brief space, one
mortal struggle, and he would meet his Mary at the footstool of his God.

With solemn impressiveness, yet affecting tenderness, Archdeacon Howard
had administered the sacrament to him, whom he regarded at once as
pupil, friend, and brother; and the whole family of the dying youth, at
his own particular request, had shared it with him. Exhausted by the
earnestness in which he had joined in the solemn service, Herbert now
lay with one hand clasped in his mother's, who sat by his side, her head
bent over his, and her whole countenance, save when the gaze of her son
was turned towards her, expressive of tearless, heart-rending sorrow,
struggling for resignation to the will of Him, who called her Herbert
to Himself. Emmeline was kneeling by her mother's side. Mr. Hamilton
leaned against the wall, pale and still; it was only the agonized
expression of his manly features that betrayed he was a living being. On
the left side of the dying youth stood Arthur Myrvin, who, from the
moment of his arrival at Oakwood, had never once left Herbert's couch,
night and day he remained beside him; and near Arthur, but yet closer to
her cousin, knelt the orphan, her eyes tearless indeed, but her whole
countenance so haggard and wan, that had not all been engrossed in
individual suffering, it could not have passed unobserved. The tall,
venerable figure of the Archdeacon, as he stood a little aloof from the
principal figures, completed the painful group.

"My own mother, your Herbert is so happy, so very happy! you must not
weep for me, mother. Oh, it is your fostering love and care, the
remembrance of all your tenderness from my infancy, gilding my boyhood
with sunshine, my manhood with such refreshing rays--it is that which is
resting on my heart, and I would give it words and thank and bless you,
but I cannot. And my father, too, my beloved, my revered father--oh, but
little have I done to repay your tender care, my brother and sisters'
love, but my Father in heaven will bless--bless you all; I know, I feel
He will."

"Percy," repeated the dying youth, a gleam of light kindling in his eye
and flushing his cheek. "Is there indeed a hope that I may see him, that
I may trace those beloved features once again?"

He closed his eyes, and his lips moved in silent yet fervent prayer,
that wish was still powerful within; it was the only thought of earth
that lingered.

"Tell him," he said, and his voice sounded weaker and weaker, "tell him,
Herbert's last prayer was for him, that he was in my last thoughts; tell
him to seek for comfort at the foot of that Throne where we have so
often knelt together. Oh, let him not sorrow, for I shall be happy--oh,
so happy!"

Again he was silent, and for a much longer interval; but when he
reopened his eyes, they were fixed on Ellen.

"My sister, my kind and tender nurse, what shall I say to you?" he said,
languidly, but in a tone that thrilled to her aching heart. "I can but
commend you to His care, who can take from grief its sting, even as He
hath clothed this moment in victory. May His spirit rest upon you,
Ellen, and give you peace. May He bless you, not only for your
affectionate kindness towards me, but to her who went before me. You
will not forget, Ellen." His glance wandered from his cousin to his
mother, and then returned to her. She bowed her head upon his extended
hand, but her choking voice could speak no word. "Caroline, too, she
will weep for me, but St. Eval will dry her tears; tell them I did not
forget them; that my love and blessing is theirs even as if they had
been around me. Emmeline, Arthur,--Mr. Howard, oh, where are you? my
eyes are dim, my voice is failing, yet"--

"I am here, my beloved son," said the Archdeacon, and Herbert fixed a
kind glance upon his face, and leaned his head against him.

"I would tell you, that it is the sense of the Divine presence, of love,
unutterable, infinite, inexhaustible, that has taken all anguish from
this moment. My spirit rises triumphant, secure of eternal salvation,
triumphing in the love of Him who died for me. Oh, Death, well may I
say, where is thy sting? oh, grave, where is thy victory? they are
passed; heaven is opening. Oh, bliss unutterable, undying!" He sunk back
utterly exhausted, but the expression of his countenance still evinced
the internal triumph of his soul.

A faint sound, as of the distant trampling of horses, suddenly came upon
the ear. Nearer, nearer still, and a flush of excitement rose to
Herbert's cheek. "Percy--can it be? My God, I thank thee for this
mercy!"

Arthur darted from the room, as the sound appeared rapidly approaching;
evidently it was a horse urged to its utmost speed, and it could be none
other save Percy. Arthur flew across the hall, and through the entrance,
which had been flung widely open, as the figure of the young heir of
Oakwood had been recognised by the streaming eyes of the faithful
Morris, who stood by his young master's stirrup, but without uttering a
word. Percy's tongue clove to the roof of his mouth; his eyes were
bloodshot and haggard. He had no power to ask a question, and it was
only the appearance of Myrvin, his entreaty that he would be calm ere
Herbert saw him, that roused him to exertion. His brother yet lived; it
was enough, and in another minute he stood on the threshold of Herbert's
room. With an overpowering effort the dying youth raised himself on his
couch, and extended his arms towards him.

"Percy, my own Percy, this is kind," he said, and his voice suddenly
regained its wonted power. Percy sprung towards him, and the brothers
were clasped in each other's arms. No word did Percy speak, but his
choking sobs were heard; there was no movement in the drooping form of
his brother to say that he had heard the sound; he did not raise his
head from Percy's shoulder, or seek to speak of comfort.

"Speak to me, oh, once again, but once more, Herbert!" exclaimed Percy.
Fearful agony was in his voice, but, oh, it could not rouse the _dead_:
Herbert Hamilton had departed. His last wish on earth was fulfilled. It
was but the lifeless form of his beloved brother that Percy held in the
stern grasp of despairing woe. It was long ere the truth was known, and
when it was, there was no sound of wailing heard within the chamber, no
cry of sorrow broke the solemn stillness. For him they could not weep,
and for themselves, oh, it was a grief too deep for tears.

       *       *       *       *       *

We will not linger on the first few weeks that passed over the inmates
of Oakwood after the death of one we have followed so long, and beheld
so fondly and deservedly beloved. Silent and profound was that sorrow,
but it was the sorrow of those who, in all things, both great and small,
beheld the hand of a God of love. Could the faith, the truth, which from
her girlhood's years had distinguished Mrs. Hamilton, desert her now?
Would her husband permit her to look to him for support and consolation
under this deep affliction, and yet not find it? No; they looked up to
their God; they rejoiced that so peaceful, so blessed had been the death
of their beloved one. His last words to them came again and again on the
heart of each parent as soothing balm, of which nor time nor
circumstance could deprive them. For the sake of each other, they
exerted themselves, an example followed by their children; but each felt
years must pass ere the loss they had sustained would lose its pang, ere
they could cease to miss the being they had so dearly loved, who had
been such a brilliant light in their domestic circle--brilliant, yet how
gentle; not one that was ever sparkling, ever changing, but of a soft
and steady lustre. On earth that light had set, but in heaven it was
dawning never to set again.

For some few weeks the family remained all together, as far at least as
Arthur's ministerial duties permitted. Mr. Hamilton wished much to see
that living, now vacant by the death of his son, transferred to Myrvin,
and he exerted himself towards effecting an exchange. Ere, however,
Percy could return to the Continent, or Emmeline return to her husband's
home, the sudden and alarming illness of Mrs. Hamilton detained them
both at Oakwood. The fever which had been raging in the village, and
which had hastened the death of Herbert, had also entered the household
of Mrs. Hamilton. Resolved that no affliction of her own should
interfere with those duties of benevolence, to exercise which was her
constant practice, Mrs. Hamilton had compelled herself to exertion
beyond the strength of a frame already wearied and exhausted by
long-continued but forcibly-suppressed anxiety, and three weeks after
the death of her son she too was stretched on a bed of suffering, which,
for the first few days during the violence of the fever, her afflicted
family believed might also be of death. In this trying time, it was to
Ellen that not only her cousin but even her uncle turned, by her example
to obtain more control and strength. No persuasions could induce her to
leave the side of her aunt's couch, or resign to another the painful yet
soothing task of nursing. Young and inexperienced she was, but her
strong affection for her aunt, heightened by some other feeling which
was hidden in her own breast, endowed her at once with strength to
endure continued fatigue, with an experience that often made Mr.
Maitland contemplate her with astonishment. From the period of Herbert's
death, Ellen had placed her feelings under a restraint that utterly
prevented all relief in tears. She was never seen to weep; every feature
had indeed spoken the deep affliction that was hers, but it never
interfered with the devoted care she manifested towards her aunt.
Silently yet perseveringly she laboured to soften the intense suffering
in the mother's heart; it was on her neck Mrs. Hamilton had first wept
freely and relievingly, and as she clasped the orphan to her bosom, had
lifted up her heart in thanksgiving that such a precious gift was yet
preserved her, how little did even she imagine all that was passing in
Ellen's heart; that Herbert to her young fancy had been how much dearer
than a brother; that she mourned not only a cousin's loss, but one round
whom her first affections had been twined with an intensity that death
alone could sever. How little could she guess the continued struggle
pressing on that young mind, the anguish of her solitary moments, ere
she could by prayer so calm her bursting heart as to appear the composed
and tranquil being she ever seemed before the family. Mrs. Hamilton
could only feel that the comfort her niece bestowed in this hour of
affliction, her controlled yet sympathising conduct, repaid her for all
the care and sorrow Ellen once had caused. Never had she regretted she
had taken the orphans to her heart and cherished them as her own; but
now it was she felt the Lord had indeed returned the blessing tenfold in
her own bosom; and still more did she feel this in the long and painful
convalescence that followed her brief but severe attack of fever, when
Ellen was the only one of her children remaining near her.

Completely worn out by previous anxiety, the subsequent affliction, and,
finally, her mother's dangerous illness, Emmeline's health appeared so
shattered, that as soon as the actual danger was passed, Myrvin insisted
on her going with him, for change of air and scene, to Llangwillan, a
proposal that both her father and Mr. Maitland seconded; trembling for
the precious girl so lately made his own, Arthur resisted her entreaties
to remain a little longer at Oakwood, and conveyed her at once to his
father's vicarage, where time and improved tidings of her mother
restored at length the bloom to her cheek and the smile to her lip.

It was strange to observe the difference of character which opposite
circumstances and opposite treatment in their infant years had made in
these two cousins. Emmeline and Ellen, had they been brought up from
babes together, and the same discipline extended to each, would, in all
probability, have in after years displayed precisely the same
disposition; but though weak indulgence had never been extended to
Emmeline, prosperity unalloyed, save in the affair with Arthur Myrvin,
had been her portion. Affection and caresses had been ever lavished
almost unconsciously upon her, but instead of cherishing faults, such
treatment had formed her happiness, and had encouraged and led her on
in the paths of virtue. Every thought and feeling were expressed without
disguise; she had been so accustomed to think aloud to her mother from
childhood, so accustomed to give vent to her little vexations in words,
her sorrows in tears, which were quickly dried, that as years increased,
she found it a very difficult task either to restrain her sentiments or
control her feelings. Her mind could not be called weak, for in her
affection for Arthur Myrvin, as we have seen, when there was a
peremptory call for exertion or self-control, it was ever heard and
attended to. Her health indeed suffered, but that very fact proved the
mind was stronger than the frame; though when she marked Ellen's
superior composure and coolness, Emmeline would sometimes bitterly
reproach herself. From her birth, Ellen had been initiated in sorrow,
her infant years had been one scene of trial. Never caressed by her
mother or those around her, save when her poor father was near, she had
learned to bury every affectionate yearning deep within her own little
heart, every childish sentiment was carefully concealed, and her
father's death, the horrors of that night, appeared to have placed the
seal on her character, infant as she was. She was scarcely ten when she
became an inmate of her aunt's family, but then it was too late for her
character to become as Emmeline's. The impression had been made on the
yielding wax, and now it could not be effaced. Many circumstances
contributed to strengthen this impression, as in the first portion of
this history we have seen. Adversity had made Ellen as she was, and
self-control had become her second nature, long before she knew the
meaning of the word.

The intelligence of Herbert's death, though deferred till St. Eval
thought his wife enabled to bear it with some composure, had, however,
so completely thrown her back, that she was quite unequal to travel to
England, as her wishes had instantly dictated, and her husband was
compelled to keep up a constant system of deception with regard to her
mother's illness, lest she should insist, weak as she was, on
immediately flying to her aid. As soon as sufficient strength returned
for Mrs. Hamilton to express her wishes, she entreated Percy to rejoin
his sister, that all alarm on her account might subside. The thought of
her child was still uppermost in the mother's mind, though her excessive
debility compelled her to lie motionless for hours on her couch,
scarcely sensible of anything passing around her, or that her husband
and Ellen hardly for one moment left her side. The plan succeeded,
Caroline recovered soon after Percy's arrival; and at the earnest
message Percy bore her from her mother, that she would not think of
returning to England till her health was quite restored, she consented
leisurely to take the celebrated excursion down the Rhine, ere she
returned home.

It would have seemed as though no other grief could be the portion of
Ellen, but another sorrow was impending over her, which, while it
lasted, was a source of distress inferior only to Herbert's death.
Entering the library one morning, she was rather surprised to find not
only Mr. Maitland but Archdeacon Howard with her uncle.

The former was now too constantly a visitor at the Hall to occasion
individually much surprise, but it was the expression on the
countenances of each that created alarm. Mr. Hamilton appeared
struggling with some strong and painful emotion, and had started as
Ellen entered the room, while he looked imploringly towards the
Archdeacon, as if seeking his counsel and assistance.

"Can we indeed trust her?" Mr. Maitland said, doubtingly, and in a low
voice, as he looked sadly upon Ellen. "Can we he sure these melancholy
tidings will be for the present inviolably kept from Mrs. Hamilton, for
suspense such as this, in her present state of health, might produce
consequences on which I tremble to think?"

"You may depend upon me, Mr. Maitland," Ellen said, firmly, as she came
forward. "What new affliction can have happened of which you so dread my
aunt being informed? Oh, do not deceive me. I have heard enough to make
fancy perhaps more dreadful than reality, Mr. Howard. My dear uncle,
will you not trust me?"

"My poor Ellen," her uncle said, in a faltering voice, "you have indeed
borne sorrow well; but this will demand even a greater share of
fortitude. All is not yet known, there may be hope, but I dare not
encourage it. Tell her, Howard," he added, hastily, shrinking from her
sorrowful glance, "I cannot."

"Is it of Edward you would tell me? Oh, what of him?" she exclaimed.
"Oh, tell me at once, Mr. Howard, indeed, indeed, I can bear it."

With the tenderness of a father, Mr. Howard gently and soothingly told
her that letters had that morning arrived from Edward's captain,
informing them that the young lieutenant had been despatched with a
boat's crew, on a message to a ship stationed about twelve miles
southward, towards the Cape of Good Hope; a storm had arisen as the
night darkened, but still Captain Seaforth had felt no uneasiness,
imagining his young officer had deemed it better remaining on board the
Stranger all night, though somewhat contrary to his usual habits of
promptness and activity. As the day, however, waned to noon, and still
Lieutenant Fortescue did not appear, the captain despatched another boat
to know why he tarried. The sea was still raging in fury from the last
night's storm, but the foaming billows had never before detained Edward
from his duty. With increasing anxiety, Captain Seaforth paced the deck
for several hours, until indeed the last boat he had sent returned. He
scanned the crew with an eye that never failed him, and saw with dismay,
that neither his lieutenant nor one of his men were amongst them.
Horror-stricken and distressed, the sailors related that, despite every
persuasion of the captain of the Stranger, Lieutenant Fortescue had
resolved on returning to the Gem the moment his message had been
delivered and the answer given; his men had seconded him, though many
signs denoted that as the evening advanced, so too would the impending
storm. Twilight was darkening around him when, urged on by a mistaken
sense of duty, the intrepid young man descended into the boat, and not
half an hour afterwards the storm came on with terrific violence, and
the pitchy darkness had entirely frustrated every effort of the crew of
the Stranger to trace the boat. Morning dawned, and brought with it some
faint confirmation of the fate which all had dreaded. Some spars on
which the name of the Gem was impressed, and which were easily
recognised as belonging to the long-boat, floated on the foaming waves,
and the men sent out to reconnoitre had discovered the dead body of one
of the unfortunate sailors, who the evening previous had been so full of
life and mirth, clinging to some sea-weed; while a hat bearing the name
of Edward Fortescue, caused the painful suspicion that the young and
gallant officer had shared the same fate. Every inquiry was set afloat,
every exertion made, to discover something more certain concerning him,
but without any effect. Some faint hope there yet existed, that he might
have been picked up by one of the ships which were continually passing
and repassing on that course; and Captain Seaforth concluded his
melancholy narration by entreating Mr. Hamilton not to permit himself to
despair, as hope there yet was, though but faint. Evidently he wrote as
he felt, not merely to calm the minds of Edward's sorrowing friends, but
Mr. Hamilton could not share these sanguine expectations. Mystery had
also enveloped the fate of his brother-in-law, Charles Manvers; long,
very long, had he hoped that he lived, that he would yet return; but
year after year had passed, till four-and-twenty had rolled by, and
still there were no tidings. Well did he remember the heart-sickening
that had attended his hopes deferred, the anguish of suspense which for
many weary months had been the portion of his wife, and he thought it
almost better for Ellen to believe her brother dead, than to live on in
the indulgence of hopes that might have no foundation; yet how could he
tell her he was dead, when there was one gleam of hope, however faint.
Well did he know the devoted affection which the orphans bore to each
other. He gazed on her in deep commiseration, as in unbroken silence she
listened to the tenderly-told tale; and, drawing her once more to his
bosom as Mr. Howard ceased, he fondly and repeatedly kissed her brow,
as he entreated her not to despair; Edward might yet be saved. No word
came from Ellen's parched lips, but he felt the cold shudder of
suffering pass through her frame. Several minutes passed, and still she
raised not her head. Impressively the venerable clergyman addressed her
in tones and words that never failed to find their way to the orphan's
heart. He spoke of a love and mercy that sent these continued trials to
mark her as more peculiarly His own. He told of comfort, that even in
such a moment she could feel. He bade her cease not to pray for her
brother's safety; that nothing was too great for the power or the mercy
of the Lord; that however it might appear impossible to worldly minds
that he could be saved, yet if the Almighty's hand had been stretched
forth, a hundred storms might have passed him by unhurt; yet he bade her
not entertain too sanguine hopes. "Place our beloved Edward and yourself
in the hands of our Father in heaven, my child; implore Him for strength
to meet His will, whatever it may be, and if, indeed, He hath taken him
in mercy to a happier world, He will give you strength and grace to meet
His ordinance of love; but if hope still lingers, check it not--he may
be spared. Be comforted, then, my child, and for the sake of the beloved
relative yet spared you, try and compose your agitated spirits. We may
trust to your care in retaining this fresh grief from her, I know we
may."

"You are right. Mr. Howard; oh, may God bless you for your kindness!"
said the almost heart-broken girl, as she raised her head and placed her
trembling hands in his. Her cheeks were colourless as marble, but the
long dark fringes that rested on them were unwetted by tears; she had
forcibly sent them back. Her heart throbbed almost to suffocation, but
she would not listen to its anguish. The form of Herbert seemed to flit
before her and remind her of her promise, that her every care, her every
energy should be devoted to his mother; and that remembrance,
strengthened as it was by Mr. Howard's words, nerved her to the painful
duty which was now hers to perform. "You may indeed trust me. My Father
in heaven will support me, and give me strength to conceal this
intelligence effectually, till my beloved aunt is enabled to hear it
with composure. Do not fear me, Mr. Maitland; it is not in my own
strength I trust, for that I feel too painfully at this moment is less
than nothing. My dearest uncle, will you not trust your Ellen?"

She turned towards him as she spoke, and Mr. Hamilton felt the tears
glisten in his eyes as he met the upturned glance of the afflicted
orphan--now indeed, as it seemed, so utterly alone.

"Yes I do and ever will trust you, my beloved Ellen," he said, with
emotion. "May God grant you His blessing in this most painful duty. To
Him I commend you, my child; I would speak of comfort and hope, but He
alone can give them."

"And He _will_," replied Ellen, in a low, steady voice; and gently
withdrawing her hand from Mr. Howard's, she softly but quickly left the
library. But half an hour elapsed, and Ellen was once more seated by her
aunt's couch. The struggle of that half hour we will not follow; it was
too sacred, too painful to be divulged, and many, many solitary hours
were thus spent in suffering, known only to herself and to her God.

"You have been long away from me, my Ellen, or else my selfish wish to
have you again near me has made me think so," Mrs. Hamilton said that
eventful morning.

"Have you then missed me, my dear aunt? I am glad of it, for comfort as
it is to be allowed to remain always with yon, it is even greater
pleasure to think you like to have me near you," replied Ellen.

"Can I do otherwise, my own Ellen? Where can I find a nurse so tender,
affectionate, and attentive as you are? Who would know so well how to
cheer and soothe me as the child whose smallest action proves how much
she loves me?"

Tears glistened in the eyes of Ellen as her aunt spoke, for if she had
wanted fresh incentive for exertion, those simple words would have given
it. Oh, how much encouragement may be given in one sentence from those
we love; how is every effort to please lightened by the consciousness it
is appreciated; how is every duty sweetened when we feel we are beloved.

Mrs. Hamilton knew not how that expression of her feelings had fallen on
the torn heart of her niece; she guessed not one-half Ellen endured in
secret for her sake, but she felt, and showed she felt, the full value
of the unremitting affectionate attentions she received.

Days, weeks passed by; at length, Mrs. Hamilton's extreme debility began
to give place to the more restless weariness of convalescence. It was
comparatively an easy task to sit in continued silence by the couch,
actively yet quietly to anticipate her faintest wish, and attend to all
the duties of nurse, which demanded no exertion in the way of talking,
and other efforts at amusement; there were then very many hours that
Ellen's saddened thoughts could dwell on the painful past.

She struggled to behold heaven's mercy in affliction, and rapidly, more
rapidly than she was herself aware of, was this young and gentle girl
progressing in the paths of grace. Had Herbert and Mary both lived and
been united, Ellen would, in all probability, have at length so
conquered her feelings, as to have been happy in the marriage state, and
though she could not have bestowed the first freshness of young
affection, she would ever have so felt and acted as to be in very truth,
as Lord St. Eval had said, a treasure to any man who had the felicity to
call her his. Had her cousin indeed married, Ellen might have felt it
incumbent on her as an actual duty so to conquer herself; but now that
he was dead she felt it no sin to love, in devoting herself to his
parents in their advancing age, partly for his sake, in associating him
with all she did for them, and for all whom he loved; there was no sin
now in all this, but she felt it would be a crime to give her hand to
another, when her whole heart was thus devoted to the dead. There was
something peculiarly soothing to the grateful and affectionate feelings
with which she regarded her aunt and uncle; that she perhaps would be
the only one of all those who had--

                     "Played
    Beneath the same green tree,
  Whose voices mingled as they prayed
    Around one parent knee"--

would remain with nothing to divert her attention from the pleasing task
of soothing and cheering their advancing years, and her every effort was
now turned towards making her _single_ life, indeed, one of
_blessedness_, by works of good and thoughts of love towards all with
whom she might associate; but in these visions her brother had ever
intimately mingled. She had pictured herself beholding and rejoicing in
his happiness, loving his children as her own, being to them a second
mother. She had fancied herself ever received with joy, a welcome inmate
of her Edward's home, and so strongly had her imagination become
impressed with this idea, that its annihilation appeared to heighten the
anguish with which the news of his untimely fate had overwhelmed her. He
was gone; and it seemed as if she had never, never felt so utterly
desolate before; as if advancing years had entirely lost the soft and
gentle colouring with which they had so lately been invested. It seemed
but a very short interval since she had seen him, the lovely, playful
child, his mother's pet, the admiration of all who looked on him; then
he stood before her, the handsome, manly boy she had parted with, when
he first left the sheltering roof of Oakwood, to become a sailor. Then,
shuddering, she recalled him when they had met again, after a lapse of
suffering in the young life of each; and her too sensitive fancy
conjured up the thought that her fault had not yet been sufficiently
chastised, that he was taken from her because she had loved him too
well; because her deep intense affection for him had caused her once to
forget the mandate of her God. In the deep agony of that thought, it
seemed as if she lived over again those months of suffering, which in a
former pages we have endeavoured to describe.

Humbled to the dust, she recognised the chastising hand of her Maker,
and as if it had only now been committed, she acknowledged and repented
the transgression a moment's powerful temptation had forced her to
commit. Had there been one to whom she could have confessed these
feelings, whose soothing friendship would have whispered it was needless
and uncalled-for to enhance the suffering of Edward's fate by such
self-reproach, Ellen's young heart would have been relieved; but from
that beloved relative who might have consoled and alleviated her grief,
this bitter trial she must still conceal. Mr. Hamilton dared not
encourage the hope which he had never felt but his bosom swelled with
love and almost veneration for the gentle being, to whose care Mr.
Maitland had assured him the recovery of his beloved wife was, under
Providence, greatly owing. He longed to speak of comfort; but, alas!
what could he say? he would have praised, encouraged, but there was that
about his niece that utterly forbade it; for it silently yet
impressively told whence that sustaining strength arose.

It was when Mrs. Hamilton was beginning to recover, that still more
active exertions on the part of Ellen were demanded. Every effort was
now made to prevent her relapsing into that despondency which
convalescence so often engenders, however we may strive to resist it.
She was ready at a minute's notice to comply with and often to
anticipate her aunt's most faintly-hinted wishes; she would read to her,
sing her favourite airs, or by a thousand little winning arts
unconsciously entice the interest of her aunt to her various pursuits,
as had been her wont in former days. There was no appearance of effort
on her part, and Mrs. Hamilton insensibly, at first, but surely felt
that with her strength her habitual cheerfulness was returning, and
fervently she blessed her God for this abundant mercy. No exertion on
her side was wanting to become to her husband and household as she had
been before the death of her beloved son; she felt the beauteous flower
was transplanted above; the hand of the reaper had laid it low, though
the eye of faith beheld it in perfect undying loveliness, and though the
mother's heart yet sorrowed, 'twas a sorrow now in which no pain was
mingled.

One evening they had been speaking, among other subjects, of Lilla
Grahame, whose letters, Mrs. Hamilton had observed, were not written in
her usual style. Too well did Ellen guess the reason; once only the poor
girl had alluded to Edward's supposed fate, but that once had more than
sufficiently betrayed to Ellen's quickly-excited sympathy the true
nature of her feelings towards him. As Lilla had not, however, written
in perfect confidence, but still as if she feared to write too much on
emotions she scarcely understood herself, Ellen had not answered her as
she would otherwise have done. That her sympathy was Lilla's was very
clearly evident, but as the secrecy preserved towards Mrs. Hamilton had
been made known to her by Emmeline, she had not written again on the
subject, but yet Ellen was not deceived; in every letter she received
she could easily penetrate where Lilla's anxious thoughts were
wandering. Of Cecil Grahame there were still no tidings, and, all
circumstances considered, it did not seem strange she should often be
sorrowful and anxious. On dismissing this subject, Mrs. Hamilton had
asked Ellen to sing to her, and selected, as a very old favourite, "The
Graves of the Household." She had always forgotten it, she said, before,
when Ellen wished her to select one she preferred. She was surprised
that Ellen had not reminded her of it, as it had once been an equal
favourite with her. For a moment Ellen hesitated, and then hastened to
the piano. In a low, sweet, yet unfaltering voice, she complied with her
aunt's request; once only her lip quivered, for she could not sing that
verse without the thought of Edward.

  "The sea, the blue lone sea, hath one,
    He lies where pearls lie deep;
  He was the loved of all, yet none
    O'er his low bed may weep."

Mr. Hamilton unobserved had entered the room, and now stood with folded
arms and mournful glance, alternately regarding his wife and niece. Mr.
Maitland had that morning told him there was not now the slightest
danger remaining, and he rather advised that Mrs. Hamilton should be
informed of what had passed, lest the painful intelligence should come
upon her when quite unprepared. He had striven for composure, and he now
entered expressly to execute this painful task; he had marked the
suffering imprinted on his niece's face, and he could continue the
deception no longer. On the conclusion of her song, Ellen reseated
herself on the stool she had occupied at her aunt's feet, her heart too
full to speak.

"Why are you so silent, my dear husband?" Mrs. Hamilton said, addressing
him, and who almost started at her address. "May I know the subject of
such very deep thought?"

"Ellen, partly," he replied, and he spoke the truth. "I was thinking how
pale and thin she looks, and how much she has lately had to distress and
cause her anxiety."

"She has, indeed, and therefore the sooner we can leave Oakwood for a
few months, as we intended, the better. I have been a long and
troublesome patient, my Ellen, and all your efforts to restore me to
perfect health will he quite ineffectual unless I see the colour return
to your cheek, and your step resume its elasticity."

"Do not fear for me, my beloved aunt; indeed I am quite well," answered
Ellen, not daring to look up, lest her tears should be discovered.

"You are right, my Emmeline," suddenly exclaimed Mr. Hamilton, rousing
himself with a strong effort, and advancing to the couch where his wife
sat, he threw his arms around her. "You do not yet know all that our
Ellen has in secret borne for your sake. You do not yet know the deep
affliction which is the real cause of that alteration in her health,
which only now you are beginning to discover. Oh, my beloved wife, I
have feared to tell you, but now that strength is returning, I may
hesitate no longer; for her sake you will bear these cruel tidings even
as she has done. Will you not comfort her? Will you--" The sudden
opening of the door arrested the words upon his lips. Touched by
indefinable alarm, Mrs. Hamilton's hand grasped his without the power of
speech. Ellen had risen, for she felt she could not hear those sad words
again spoken.

It was James the footman who entered, and he placed a letter in her
hand. She looked at the direction, a faint cry broke from her lips; she
tore it open, gazed on the signature, and sunk senseless on the floor.
She who had borne suffering so well, who had successfully struggled to
conceal every trace of emotion, when affliction was her allotted
portion, was now too weak to bear the sudden transition from such
bitter grief to overwhelming joy. Mr. Hamilton sprung forward; he could
not arrest her fall, but his eye had caught the well-known writing of
him he had believed lay buried in the ocean, and conquering her own
extreme agitation, Mrs. Hamilton compelled herself to think of nothing
but restoring the still senseless girl to life. A few, very few words
told her all. At first Mr. Hamilton's words had been almost inarticulate
from the thankfulness that filled his heart. It was long ere Ellen awoke
to consciousness. Her slight frame was utterly exhausted by its
continued conflict with the mind within, and now that joy had come, that
there was no more need for control or sorrow, her extraordinary energy
of character for the moment fled, and left her in very truth the weak
and loving woman. Before she could restore life to Ellen's inanimate
form, Mrs. Hamilton had time to hear that simple tale of silent
suffering, to feel her bosom glow in increasing love and gratitude
towards the gentle being who for her sake had endured so much.

"Was it but a dream, or did I not read that Edward lived, was
spared,--that he was not drowned? Oh, tell me, my brain seems still to
swim. Did they not give me a letter signed by him himself? Oh, was it
only fancy?"

"It is truth, my beloved; the Almighty mercifully stretched forth His
arm and saved him. Should we not give Him thanks, my child?"

Like dew upon the arid desert, or healing balm to a throbbing wound, so
did those few and simple words fall on Ellen's ear; but the fervent
thanksgiving that rose swelling in her heart, wanted not words to render
it acceptable to Him, whose unbounded mercy she thus acknowledged and
adored.

Mrs. Hamilton pressed her closer to her bosom, again and again she
kissed her, and tried to speak the words of affectionate soothing, which
seldom failed to restore Ellen to composure.

"You told me once, my Ellen, that you never, never could repay the large
debt of gratitude you seemed to think you owed me. Do you remember my
saying you could not tell that one day you might make me your debtor,
and are not my words truth? Did I not prophesy rightly? What do I not
owe you, my own love, for sparing me so much anxiety and wretchedness?
Look up and smile, my Ellen, and let us try if we can listen composedly
to our dear Edward's account of his providential escape. If he were near
me I would scold him for giving you such inexpressible joy so suddenly."

Ellen did look up and did smile, a bright beaming smile of chastened
happiness, and again and again did she read over that letter, as if it
were tidings too blessed to be believed, as if it could not be Edward
himself who had written. His letter was hasty, nor did he enter into
very many particulars, which, to render a particular part of our tale
intelligible, we must relate at large in another chapter. This epistle
was dated from Rio Janeiro, and written evidently under the idea that
his sister had received a former letter containing every minutiae of his
escape, which he had forwarded to her, under cover to Captain Seaforth,
only seven days after his supposed death. Had the captain received this
letter, all anxiety would have been spared, for as he did not write to
Mr. Hamilton for above a week after Edward's disappearance, it would
have reached him first; it was therefore very clear it had been lost on
its way, and Edward fearing such might be the case, from the uncertain
method by which it had been sent, wrote again. He had quite recovered,
he said, all ill effects from being so long floating in the water on a
narrow plank; that he was treated with marked kindness and attention by
all the crew of the Alma, a Spanish vessel bound to Rio Janeiro and
thence to New York, particularly by an Englishman, Lieutenant Mordaunt,
to whose energetic exertions he said he greatly owed his preservation;
for it was he who had prevailed on the captain to lower a boat, to
discover what that strange object was floating on the waves. He
continued, there was something about Lieutenant Mordaunt he could not
define, but which had the power of irresistibly attracting his respect,
if not affection. His story he believed was uncommon, but he had not yet
heard it all, and had no time to repeat it, as he was writing in great
haste. Affectionately he hoped no alarm amongst his friends had been
entertained on his account, that it would not be long before he returned
home; for as soon as the slow-sailing Spaniard could finish her affairs
with the ports along the coast of Spanish America and reach New York,
Lieutenant Mordaunt and himself had determined on quitting her, and
returning to England by the first packet that sailed. A letter to New
York might reach him, but it was a chance; therefore he did not expect
to receive any certain intelligence of home--a truth which only made him
the more anxious to reach it.

Quickly the news that Edward Fortescue lived, and was returning home in
perfect health, extended far and wide, and brought joy to all who heard
it. A messenger was instantly despatched to Trevilion Vicarage to
impart the joyful intelligence to Arthur and Emmeline, and the next day
saw them both at Oakwood to rejoice with Ellen at this unexpected but
most welcome news. There was not one who had been aware of the suspense
Mr. Hamilton and Ellen had been enduring who did not sympathise in their
relief. Even Mrs. Greville left her solitary home to seek the friends of
her youth: she had done so previously when affliction was their portion.
She had more than once shared Ellen's anxious task of nursing, when Mrs.
Hamilton's fever had been highest; kindly and judiciously she had
soothed in grief, and Mrs. Greville's character was too unselfish to
refuse her sympathy in joy.

A few weeks after the receipt of that letter, Mr. Hamilton, his wife,
and Ellen removed to a beautiful little villa in the neighbourhood of
Richmond, where they intended to pass some of the winter months. A
change was desirable, indeed requisite for all. But a short interval had
passed since the death of their beloved Herbert, and there were many
times when the parents' hearts yet painfully bled, and each felt
retirement, the society of each other, and sometimes of their most
valued friends, the exercise of domestic and religious duties, would be
the most efficient means of acquiring that peace of which even the
greatest affliction cannot deprive the truly religious mind. At
Christmas, St. Eval had promised his family should join them, and all
looked forward to that period with pleasure.



CHAPTER X.


Although we are as much averse to retrospection in a tale as our readers
can be, yet to retrace our steps for a short interval is a necessity.
Edward had written highly of Lieutenant Mordaunt, but as he happens to
be a personage of rather more consequence to him than young Fortescue
imagined, we must be allowed to introduce him more intimately to our
readers.

It was the evening after that in which Lieutenant Fortescue had so
rashly encountered the storm, that a Spanish vessel, of ill-shaped bulk
and of some hundred tons, was slowly pursuing her course from the coast
of Guinea towards Rio Janeiro. The sea was calm, almost motionless,
compared with its previous fearful agitation. The sailors were gaily
employed in their various avocations, declaring loudly that this respite
of calm was entirely owing to the interposition of St. Jago in their
favour, he being the saint to whom they had last appealed during the
continuance of the tempest. Aloof from the crew, and leaning against a
mast, stood one apparently very different to those by whom he was
surrounded. It was an English countenance, but embrowned almost to a
swarthy hue, from continued exposure to a tropical sun. Tall and
remarkably well formed, he might well have been supposed of noble birth;
there were, however, traces of long-continued suffering imprinted on his
manly face and in his form, which sometimes was slightly bent, as if
from weakness rather than from age. His dark brown hair was in many
parts silvered with grey, which made him appear as if he had seen some
fifty years at least; though at times, by the expression of his
countenance, he might have been thought full ten years younger.
Melancholy was the characteristic of his features; but his eye would
kindle and that cheek flush, betraying that a high, warm spirit still
lurked within, one which a keen observer might have fancied had been
suppressed by injury and suffering. It was in truth a countenance on
which a physiognomist or painter would have loved to dwell, for both
would have found in it an interest they could scarcely have defined.

Thus resting in meditative silence, Lieutenant Mordaunt's attention was
attracted by a strange object floating on the now calm ocean. There were
no ships near, and Mordaunt felt his eyes fascinated in that direction,
and looking still more attentively, he felt convinced it was a human
body secured to a plank. He sought the captain instantly, and used every
persuasion humanity could dictate to urge him to lower a boat. For some
time he entreated in vain. Captain Bartholomew said it was mere folly to
think there was any chance of saving a man's life, who had been so long
tossed about on the water, it would be only detaining him for nothing;
his ship was already too full either for comfort or profit, and he would
not do it.

Fire flashed from the dark eyes of Mordaunt at the captain's positive
and careless language, and he spoke again with all the spirited
eloquence of a British sailor. He did not spare the cruel recklessness
that could thus refuse to save a fellow-creature's life, merely because
it might occasion a little delay and trouble. Captain Bartholomew looked
at him in astonishment; he little expected such a burst of indignant
feeling from one whose melancholy and love of solitude he had despised;
and, without answering a word, led the way to the deck, looked in the
direction of the plank, which had now floated near enough to the ship
for the body of Edward to be clearly visible upon it, and then instantly
commanded a boat to be lowered and bring it on board.

"It will be but taking him out of the sea to plunge him back again,
Señor," he said, in Spanish, to the Lieutenant, who was now anxiously
watching the proceedings of the sailors, who, more active than their
captain, had carefully laid the plank and its burden at the bottom of
the boat, and were now rapidly rowing to the ship. "Never was death more
clearly imprinted on a man's countenance than it is there, but have your
own will; only do not ask me to keep a dead man on board, I should have
my men mutiny in a twinkling."

Mordaunt made him no answer, but hastened towards the gangway, where the
men were now ascending. They carefully unloosed the bonds that attached
the body to the plank, and laid him on a pile of cushions where the
light of the setting sun shone full on his face and form. One glance
sufficed for Mordaunt to perceive he was an English officer; another
caused him to start some paces back in astonishment. As the youth thus
lay, the deadly paleness of his countenance, the extreme fairness of his
throat and part of his neck, which, as the sailors hastily untied his
neckcloth and opened his jacket, were fully exposed to view, the
beautifully formed brow strewed by thick masses of golden curls gave him
so much the appearance of a delicate female, that the sailors looked
humorously at each other, as if wondering what right he had to a
sailor's jacket; but Mordaunt's eyes never moved from him. Thoughts came
crowding over him, so full of youth, of home and joy, that tears gushed
to his eyes, tears which had not glistened there for many a long year;
and yet he knew not wherefore, he knew not, he could not, had he been
asked, have defined the cause of that strong emotion; but the more he
looked upon that beautiful face, the faster and thicker came those
visions on his soul. Memories came rushing back, days of his fresh and
happy boyhood, affections, long slumbering, recalled in all their
purity, and his bosom yearned towards home, as if no time had elapsed
since last he had beheld it, as if he should find all those he loved
even as he had left them. And what had brought them back? who was the
youth on whom he gazed, and towards whom he felt affection strangely and
suddenly aroused, affection so powerful, he could not shake it off?
Nothing in all probability to him; and vainly he sought to account for
the emotions those bright features awakened within him. Rousing himself,
as symptoms of life began to appear in the exhausted form before him, he
desired that the youth might be carried to his own cabin. He was his
countryman, he said; an officer of equal rank it appeared, from his
epaulette, and he should not feel comfortable were he under the care of
any other. On bearing him from the deck to the cabin, a small volume
fell from his loosened vest, which Mordaunt raised from the ground with
some curiosity, to know what could be so precious to a youthful sailor.
It was a pocket Bible, so much resembling one Mordaunt possessed
himself, that scarcely knowing what he was about, he drew it from his
pocket to compare them. "How can I be so silly?" he thought; "is there
anything strange in two English Bibles resembling each other?" He
replaced his own, opened the other, and started in increased amazement.
"Charles Manvers!" he cried, as that name met his eye. "Merciful
heaven! who is this youth? to whom would this Bible ever have been
given?" So great was his agitation, that it was with difficulty he read
the words which were written beneath.

"Edward Fortescue! oh, when will that name rival his to whom this book
once belonged? I may be as brave a sailor, but what will make me as good
a man? This Sacred Book, he loved it, and so will I." Underneath, and
evidently added at a later period, was the following:

"I began to read this for the sake of those beloved ones to whom I knew
it was all in all. I thought, for its own sake, it would never have
become the dear and sacred volume they regarded it, but I am mistaken;
how often has it soothed me in my hour of temptation, guided me in my
duties, restrained my angry moments, and brought me penitent and humble
to the footstool of my God. Oh, my beloved Ellen, had this been my
companion three years ago as it is now, what misery I should have spared
you."

Other memorandums in the same style were written in the blank leaves
which appeared attached for the purpose, but it so happened that not one
of them solved the mystery which so completely puzzled Mordaunt. The
name of Fortescue was utterly unknown to him, and increased the mystery
of the youth's having produced such a strange effect upon his mind.
There were many names introduced in these memorandums, but they
explained nothing; one only struck him, it was one which in his hours of
suffering, of slavery, ever sounded in his ear, the fondly-remembered
name of her whom he longed to clasp to his aching heart--it was
_Emmeline_; and as he read it, the same gush of memory came over him as
when he first gazed on Edward. In vain reason whispered there were many,
very many Emmelines in his native land; that name only brought one to
his remembrance. Though recovering, the youth was still much too weak
and exhausted to attempt speaking, and Mordaunt watched by his couch for
one day and two nights, ere the surgeon permitted him to ask a question
or Edward to answer it. Often, however, during that interval had the
young stranger turned his bright blue eyes with a look of intelligence
and feeling on him who attended him with the care of a father, and the
colour, the expression of those eyes seemed to thrill to Mordaunt's
heart, and speak even yet more forcibly of days gone by.

"Let me write but two lines, to tell Captain Seaforth I am safe and
well," said Edward impetuously, as he sprung with renewed spirits from
the couch on which he had been so long an unwilling prisoner.

"And how send it, my young friend? There is not a vessel within sight on
the wide sea."

Edward uttered an exclamation of impatience, then instantly checking
himself, said, with a smile--

"Forgive me, sir; I should think only of my merciful preservation, and
of endeavouring to express in some manner my obligations to you, to
whose generous exertions, blessed as they were by heaven, I owe my life.
Oh, would that my aunt and sister were near me, their gratitude for the
preservation of one whom they perhaps too fondly and too partially love,
would indeed be gratifying to feelings such as yours. I can feel what I
owe you, Lieutenant Mordaunt, but I cannot express myself sufficiently
in words."

"In the name of heaven, young man, in pity tell me who you are!" gasped
Mordaunt, almost inarticulately, as he grasped Edward's hand and gazed
intently on his face; for every word he spoke, heightened by the
kindling animation of his features, appeared to render that
extraordinary likeness yet more perfect.

"Edward Fortescue is my name."

"But your mother's, boy,--your mother's? I ask not from idle curiosity."

"She was the youngest daughter of Lord Delmont, Eleanor Manvers."

Mordaunt gazed yet more intently on the youth, then hoarsely murmuring,
"I knew it,--it was no fancy," sunk back almost overpowered with
momentary agitation. Recovering himself almost instantly, and before
Edward could give vent to his surprise and sympathy in words, he asked,
"Is Lord Delmont yet alive? I knew him once; he was a kind old man." His
lip quivered, so as almost to prevent the articulation of his words.

"Oh, no; the departure of my mother for India was a trial he never
recovered, and the intelligence that his only son, a noble and gallant
officer, perished with the crew of the Leander, finally broke his heart;
he never held up his head again, and died a very few months afterwards."

Mordaunt buried his face in his hands, and for several minutes remained
silent, as if struggling with some powerful emotion, then asked, "You
spoke only of your aunt and sister. Does not your mother live?"

"She died when I was little more than eleven years old, and my sister
scarcely ten. My father, Colonel Fortescue, dying in India, she could
not bear to remain there, but we were compelled to take refuge off the
coast of Wales from the storms which had arisen, and then she had only
time to give us to the care of her sister, for whom she had sent, and
died in her arms."

"And is it her sister, or your father's, of whom you spoke just now?"

"Hers--Mrs. Hamilton."

"Hamilton, and she lives still! you said you knew her," repeated
Mordaunt, suddenly springing up and speaking in a tone of animation,
that bewildered Edward almost as much as his former agitation. "Speak of
her, young man; tell me something of her. Oh, it is long since I have
heard her name."

"Did you know my aunt? I have never heard her mention your name,
Lieutenant Mordaunt."

"Very likely not," he replied, and a faint smile played round his lip,
creating an expression which made young Fortescue start, for the
features seemed familiar to him. "It was only in my boyhood that I knew
her, and she was kind to me. We do not easily forget the associations of
our boyhood, my young friend, particularly when manhood has been a
dreary blank, or tinged with pain. In my hours of slavery, the smile and
look of Emmeline Manvers has often haunted my waking and my sleeping
dreams; but she is married--is in all probability a happy wife and
loving mother; prosperity is around her, and it is most likely she has
forgotten the boy to whom her kindness was so dear."

"Hours of slavery?" asked Edward, for those words had alone riveted his
attention. "Can you, a free and British sailor, have ever been a slave?"

"Even so, my young friend; for seven years I languished in the
loathsome dungeons of Algiers, and the last sixteen years have been a
slave."

Edward grasped his hand with an uncontrollable impulse, while at the
same moment he clenched his sword, and his countenance expressed the
powerful indignation of his young and gallant spirit, though words for
the moment he had none. Lieutenant Mordaunt again smiled--that smile
which by some indefinable power inspired Edward with affection and
esteem.

"I am free now, my gallant boy," he said; "free as if the galling
fetters of slavery had never bowed down my neck. Another day you shall
hear more. Now gratify me by some account of your aunt; speak of
her--tell me if she have children--if her husband still lives. If Mrs.
Hamilton is still the same gentle, affectionate being--the same firm,
unflinching character, when duty called her, as the Emmeline Manvers it
was once my joy to know."

With an animation that again riveted the eyes of Lieutenant Mordaunt on
his countenance, Edward eagerly entered on the subject. No other could
have been dearer to him; Mordaunt could have fixed on few which would
thus have called forth the eloquence of his young companion. Sailor as
he was, truly enthusiastic in his profession, yet home to Edward still
possessed invincible attractions, and the devoted affection, gratitude,
and reverence he felt for his aunt appeared to increase with his years.
Neither Percy nor Herbert could have loved her more. He spoke as he
felt; he told of all he owed her, and not only himself but his orphan
sister; he said that as a mother she had been to them both, that never
once had she made the slightest difference between them and her own
children. He painted in vivid colours the domestic joys of Oakwood, the
affectionate harmony that reigned there, till Mordaunt felt his eyes
glisten with emotion, and ere that conversation ceased, all that
affection which for many a long and weary year had pined for some one on
which to expend its force, now centred in the noble youth of whose
preservation he had been so strangely and providentially an instrument.
To Edward it was not in the least strange, that any one who had once
known his aunt, it mattered not how many years previous, should still
retain a lively remembrance of her, and wish to know more concerning
her, and his feelings were strongly excited towards one, whose interest
in all that concerned her was evidently so great. His first letter to
his family, which he enclosed in one to his captain, spoke very much of
Lieutenant Mordaunt, wondering that his aunt had never mentioned one who
remembered her so well. This letter, as we know, was never received, and
the next he wrote was too hurried to enter into particulars, except
those that related to himself alone. When he again wrote home, he had
become so attached and so used to Mordaunt, that he fancied he must be
as well known to his family as himself, and though he mentioned his name
repeatedly, he did not think of inquiring anything concerning him.

The able activity as a sailor, the graceful, courteous manner of Edward
as a man, soon won him the hearts of Captain Bartholomew and all his
crew. Ever the first when there was anything to be done on board or on
shore, lively, high-spirited, and condescending, his appearance on deck
after any absence was generally acknowledged with respect. The various
characters thus presented to his notice in the Spanish crew, the many
ports he touched at, afforded him continual and exciting amusement,
although his thoughts very often lingered on his darling "Gem," with the
ardent desire to be once more doing his duty on her decks. But amid all
these changing scenes, Edward and his friend, diverse as were their ages
and apparently their dispositions, became almost inseparable. An
irresistible impulse urged Edward repeatedly to talk to him of his home,
till Mordaunt became intimately acquainted with every member of the
family. Of Herbert, Edward would speak with enthusiasm; he little knew,
poor fellow, that the cousin whose character he almost venerated was
gone to his last home, that he should never see him more. Letters
detailing that melancholy event had been forwarded to the Gem, arriving
there just one week after the young sailor's disappearance; and, when
informed of his safety, Captain Seaforth, then on his way to England,
had no opportunity of forwarding them to him. His repeated mention of
Herbert in his letters home, his anxious desire to hear something of
him, were most painful to his family, and Ellen was more than ever
anxious he should receive the account ere he returned.

Among other subjects discussed between them, Mordaunt once asked Edward
who now bore the title of Lord Delmont, and had appeared somewhat
agitated when told the title was now extinct, and had become so from the
melancholy death of the promising young nobleman on whom it had
devolved.

"Sir George Wilmot is out in his prognostication then," he observed,
after a pause. "I remember, when a youngster under his command, hearing
him repeatedly prophesy that a Delmont would revive the honour of his
ancient house by naval fame. Poor Charles was ever his favourite amongst
us."

"You were my uncle's messmate then," said Edward, in a tone of surprise
and joy. "Why did you not tell me this before, that I might ask all the
questions I long to know concerning him?"

"And what have you heard of Charles to call for this extreme interest?"
replied Mordaunt, with his peculiar smile. "I should have thought that
long ere this my poor friend had been forgotten in his native land."

"Forgotten! and by a sister who doted on him; who has never ceased to
lament his melancholy fate; who ever held him up to my young fancy as
one of those whom it should be my glory to resemble. Did you know my
aunt, as, by two or three things I have heard you say, I fancy you must,
you could never suspect her of forgetting one she loved as she did her
brother. My uncle Charles is enshrined in her memory too fondly for time
to efface it."

Tears rose to Mordaunt's eager eyes at these words; he turned aside a
moment to conceal his agitation, then asked if Sir George Wilmot ever
spoke of Manvers. Animatedly Edward related the old Admiral's agitation
the first night he had seen him at Oakwood; how feelingly he had spoken
of one, whom he said he had ever regarded as the adopted son of his
affections, the darling of his childless years, his gallant, merry
Charles. Mordaunt twined his arm in Edward's, and looked up in his face,
as if to thank him for the consolation his words imparted. Again was
there an expression in his countenance, which sent a thrill to the young
man's heart, but vainly he tried to discover wherefore.

We may here perhaps relate in a very few words Mordaunt's tale of
suffering, which he imparted at different times to Edward. The wreck of
the vessel to which he belonged had cast him, with one or two others of
his hapless companions, on the coast of Morocco and Algiers. There they
were seized by the cruel Moors, and carried as spies before the Dey, and
by his command immured in the dungeons of the fortress where many
unhappy captives were also confined, and had been for many years. For
eight years he was an inmate of these horrible prisons, a sickening
witness of many of those tortures and cruelties which were inflicted on
his fellow-prisoners, and often on himself. All those at all acquainted
with the bombardment of Algiers, so ably carried on by Admiral Sir
Edward Pellew, afterwards Viscount Exmouth, an entreprise which was
entered on to avenge the atrocious indignities practised by the Dey on
all the unfortunate foreigners that visited his coast, can well imagine
the sufferings Mordaunt had not only to witness but to endure. On the
first report of a hostile fleet appearing off the coast of Barbary, the
most active and able of the prisoners were marched out to various
markets and there sold as slaves. Mordaunt was one of these:
imprisonment and suffering had not quenched his youthful spirit, nor so
bowed his frame as to render him incapable of energy. Scarcely twenty
when this cruel reverse of fortune overtook him, the tortures of his
mind during the eight, nearly nine, years of his captivity may be better
conceived than described. He had entered prison a boy, with all the
fresh, elastic buoyancy of youth, he quitted it a man; but, oh, how was
that manhood's prime, to which in his visions of futurity he had looked
with such bright anticipation as the zenith of his naval fame, now
about to pass? as a slave; exposed to increased oppression and indignity
on account of his religion, which he had inwardly vowed never to give
up. He secured the Bible, which had first been a treasure to him merely
as the gift of a beloved sister, and throughout all his change of
destiny it was never taken from him. To submit calmly to slavery,
Mordaunt felt at first his spirit never could, and various were the
schemes he planned, and in part executed, towards obtaining his freedom,
but all were eventually frustrated by the observation of his masters,
who were too well accustomed to insubordination on the part of their
slaves for such attempts to cause them much trouble or uneasiness. Still
Mordaunt despaired not; still was the hope of freedom uppermost in his
breast, even when he became the property of a Turk, who, had he been but
a Christian, Mordaunt declared, must have commanded his reverence if not
his affection. Five times he had been exposed for sale, and each master
had appeared to him more cruel and oppressive than the last. To relate
all he suffered would occupy a much larger portion of our tale than we
could allow, but they were such that any one but Mordaunt would have
felt comparative contentment and happiness when changed for the service
of Mahommed Ali, an officer of eminence in the court of Tunis. He was
indeed one who might well exemplify the assertion, that in all religions
there is some good. Suffering and sorrow were aliens from his roof,
misery approached not his doors, and Mordaunt had, in fact, been
purchased from motives of compassion, which his evident wretchedness,
both bodily and mental, had excited; to cure his bodily ills no kindly
attention was spared, but vainly Mahommed Ali sought to lessen the load
of anguish he saw imprinted on the brow of his Christian captive.
Mordaunt's noble spirit was touched by the indulgence and kindness he
received, and he made no effort to escape, for he felt it would be but
an ungenerous, dishonourable return--but still he was a slave. No
fetters galled his limbs, but the fetters of slavery galled his spirits
with a deep anguish; no taskmaster was now set over him with the knotted
whip, to spur on each slackening effort; but the groan which no bodily
suffering could wring, which he had suppressed, lest his persecutors
should triumph, now burst from his sorrowing heart, and scalding drops
stole down his cheeks, when he deemed no eye was near. Slavery, slavery
seemed his for ever, and each fond vision of his native land and all he
loved but added to the burden on his soul.

Mahommed at length became so deeply interested in his Christian slave,
that he offered him freedom, wealth, distinction, his own friendship and
support, all on the one, he thought, simple and easy condition of giving
up his country and his faith, and embracing the one holy creed of
Mahomet. In kindness was the offer made, but mournfully, yet with a
steadiness that gave no hope of change, was it refused; vainly Mahommed
urged the happiness its acceptance would bring, that he knew not all he
so rashly refused; still he wavered not, and Ali with a weary heart gave
up the attempt. Time passed, but its fleeting years reconciled not
Mordaunt to his situation, nor lessened the kindly interest he excited
in the heart of the good old man; and when at length it happened that
Mordaunt, almost unconsciously to himself, became the fortunate
instrument of reconciling some affairs of his master, which were in
confusion, and had been so for years, when, among many other unexpected
services which it had been in his power to perform, he rescued the
favourite son of Mahommed from an infuriated tiger, which had
unexpectedly sprung upon him during a hunting expedition, the old man
could contain his wishes no longer, but gave him his freedom on the
spot. Unconditional liberty to return to his native land was very soon
after accorded, and loading him with rich gifts, Ali himself accompanied
him to the deck of the Alma, which was the only vessel then starting
from the coast of Guinea, where Mahommed in general resided. Mordaunt
was too impatient to wait for an English vessel, nor did he wish to
incur the risk of encountering any hostile to his interests, by crossing
the country and embarking from Algiers or Tunis. While in Africa he felt
that the chain of slavery still hovered round his neck. He could not
feel himself once more a freeborn Briton till he was indeed on the
bounding ocean.

Once on the way to Europe, there was hope, even though that way was by
America. He parted from his former master, now his friend, with a
feeling of regret; but the fresh breezes, the consciousness he stood on
deck free as the wind, free as the ocean that bore him onward to his
native land, removed from his mind all lingering dread, and filled his
soul with joy; but the human heart is not now in a state to feel for any
length of time unchecked happiness. Four-and-twenty years had elapsed
since Mordaunt had been imagined dead; six-and-twenty since he had
departed from his native land, and had last beheld his friends he so
dearly loved. He might return, and be by all considered an intruder,
perhaps not recognised, his tale not believed; he might see his family
scattered, all of them with new ties, new joys, and with no place for
the long-absent exile. The thought was anguish, but Mordaunt had weakly
indulged it too long to enable him at first to conquer it, even when
Edward's tale of the fond remembrance in which his uncle was held by all
who had loved him, unconsciously penetrated his soul with a sense of the
injustice he had done his friends, and brought consolation with it.

These facts, which we have so briefly thrown together, formed most
interesting subjects to Edward many times during his voyage to New York.
Edward hung as in fascination on the stranger's history, innate
nobleness was stamped in every word. More than once the thought struck
him that he was more than what he appeared to be, but Edward knew he had
a slight tendency towards romance in his composition, and fearful of
lowering himself in the estimation of his newfound friend by the avowal
of such fanciful sentiments, he kept them to himself.

At length the wished-for port to both the Englishmen (New York) was
gained, and their passage secured in the first packet sailing for
England. Edward's heart beat high with anticipated pleasure; he longed
to introduce his new friend to his family, and his bright anticipations
shed a kindred glow over the mind of Mordaunt, who had now become so
devotedly attached to the youth, that he could scarcely bear him out of
his sight; and had he wanted fresh incentive to affection, the deep
affliction of the young sailor on receiving the intelligence of his
cousin Herbert's death, would have been sufficient. Edward had one day
sought the post-office, declaring, however, that it was quite
impossible such increased joy could be in store for him, as a letter
from home. There were two instead of one: one from his aunt and uncle,
the other from his sister; the black seal painfully startled him.
Mourning for poor Mary is over long ere this, he thought, and scarcely
had he strength to break the seal, and when he had read the fatal news,
he sat for some time as if overwhelmed with the sudden and unexpected
blow.

Mordaunt's words of consolation fell at first unheeded on his ear; it
was not for Herbert alone he sorrowed, it was for his aunt. He knew how
devotedly she loved her son, and though she did not write much on the
actual loss she had sustained, yet every word seemed to reach his heart,
and Edward leaned his head upon the paper, and wept like a child.
Herbert, the bright, the good, the gentle companion of his boyhood, the
faithful friend of his maturer years, had he indeed gone--his place
would know him no more? And oh, how desolate must Oakwood seem. Percy,
though in affection for his parents and his family, in his devoted
attention to their comfort, equalled only by his brother, yet never
could he be to Oakwood as Herbert. He was as the brilliant planet,
shedding lustre indeed on all over whom it gleamed, but never still,
continually roving, changing its course, as if its light would be more
glittering from such unsteady movements; but Herbert was as the mild and
lucid star, stationary in its appointed orbit, gilding all things with
its mellow light, but darting its most intense and radiant lustre on
that home which was to him indeed the centre-point of love. Such was the
description of his two cousins given by Edward to his sympathising
companion, and Mordaunt looked on the young sailor in wondering
admiration. Eagerly, delightedly, he had perused the letters, which
Edward intrusted to him; that of Mrs. Hamilton was pressed to his lips,
but engrossed in his own thoughts, Edward observed him not. Sadness
lingered on Edward's heart during the whole of that voyage homeward; his
conversation was tinged with the same spirit, but it brought out so many
points of his character, which in his joyous moods Mordaunt never could
have discovered, that the links of that strangely-aroused affection
became even stronger than before. Edward returned his regard with all
the warmth of his enthusiastic nature strengthened by the manner in
which his letters from home alluded to Lieutenant Mordaunt as his
preserver; and before their voyage was completed, Mordaunt, in
compliance with the young man's earnest entreaty, consented to accompany
him, in the first place, to Richmond, whence Edward promised, after
introducing him to his family, and finding him a safe harbour there, he
would leave no stone unturned to discover every possible information
concerning Mordaunt's family. That same peculiar smile curled the
stranger's lips as Edward thus animatedly spoke, and he promised
unqualified compliance.

Having thus brought Edward and his friend within but a few weeks' voyage
to England, we may now leave them and return to Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton,
who were both rejoicing in the improved looks of their niece at
Richmond.

The delightful calmness of their beautiful retreat, the suspension of
all anxiety, the total change of scene which was around them, had done
much towards restoring peace, not only to Ellen but to her aunt. The
feeling that she was now indeed called upon to fulfil the promise she
had made to Herbert, that the enjoyment and cheerfulness of home
depended on her alone, had inspired exertions which had partially
enabled her to conquer her own grief; and every week seemed to bring
forward some new quality, of which her relatives imagined they must have
been ignorant before. Ellen's character was one not to attract at first,
but to win affection slowly but surely; her merits were not dazzling, it
was generally long before they were all discovered, but when they were,
they ever commanded reverence and love. In all her children Mrs.
Hamilton felt indeed her cares fully repaid, and in Ellen more, far more
than she had ventured to anticipate. Thus left alone in her filial
cares, Ellen's character appeared different to what it had been when one
of many. Steady, quiet cheerfulness was restored to the hearts of all
who now composed the small domestic circle of Mr. Hamilton's family;
each had their private moments when sorrow for the loss of their beloved
Herbert was indeed recalled in all its bitterness, but such sacred hours
never were permitted to tinge their daily lives with gloom.

They were now in daily expectation of St. Eval's return to England, with
Miss Manvers, who, at Mrs. Hamilton's particular request, was to join
their family party. An understanding had taken place between her and
Percy, but not yet did either intend their engagement to be known. The
sympathy and affection of Louisa were indeed most soothing to Percy in
this affliction, which, even when months had passed, he could not
conquer, but he could not think of entering into the bonds of marriage,
even with the woman he sincerely loved, till his heart could, in some
degree, recover the deep wound which the death of his only brother had
so painfully inflicted. To his parents indeed, and all his family, he
revealed his engagement, and Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton anxiously anticipated
the return of Lord and Lady St. Eval, to introduce them to the intended
bride of their only son. Their intention was to remain at Richmond till
the spring, when Arthur and his wife would pay their promised visit at
Oakwood, instead of spending the Christmas with them--an arrangement
Emmeline had herself suggested; because, she said, if she and her
husband were away, the family party which had ever assembled at Oakwood
during that festive season would be broken up, and Herbert's absence be
less painfully felt. Mrs. Hamilton noticed it to none, but her
penetration discovered the cause of this change in Emmeline's
intentions, and tears of delicious feeling filled her eyes, as for a
moment she permitted that gentle and affectionate girl to occupy that
thought which she was about to bestow on Herbert.

"We have received interesting news this morning, my dear Arthur," Mrs.
Hamilton said, as her husband entered the parlour, where she and Ellen
were seated. "Lucy Harcourt is returning to England, and has requested
us to look out for a little cottage for her near Oakwood. The severe
illness, and finally the death of her cousin, Mr. Seymour, has been the
cause of my not hearing from her so long. Poor fellow, he has been for
so many years such a sad sufferer, that a peaceful death must indeed be
a blessed release."

"It was a peaceful death, Lucy writes, mournfully but resignedly; she
says she cannot be sufficiently thankful that he was spared long enough
to see his daughters would both be happy under her charge. That she had
gained their young affections, and that, as far as mortal eye could see,
by leaving them entirely under her guardianship and maternal care, he
had provided for their happiness. He said this almost with his last
breath; and poor Lucy says that, among her many consolations in this
trying time, this assertion was not one of the least precious to her
heart."

"No doubt it was. To be the friend and adopted mother of his children
must be one of the many blessings created for herself by her noble
conduct in youth. I am glad now my prophecy was not verified, and that
she never became his wife."

"Did you ever think she would, uncle?" asked Ellen, surprised.

"I fancied Seymour must have discovered her affection, and then
admiration on his part would have done the rest. It is, I own, much
better as it is; his children will love her more, regarding her in the
light of his sister and their aunt, than had she become their
stepmother. But why did you seem so surprised at my prophecy, Nelly? Was
there anything very impossible in their union?"

"Not impossible; but I do not think it likely Miss Harcourt would have
betrayed her affection, at the very time when she was endeavouring to
soothe her cousin for the loss of a beloved wife. She was much more
likely to conceal it, even more effectually than she had ever done
before. Nor do I think it probable Mr. Seymour, accustomed from his very
earliest years to regard her as a sister, could ever succeed in looking
on her in any other light."

"You seem well skilled in the history of the human heart, my little
Ellen," said her uncle, smiling. "Do you think it then quite impossible
for cousins to love?"

Ellen bent lower over her embroidery-frame, for she felt a tell-tale
flush was rising to her cheek, and without looking up, replied calmly--

"Miss Harcourt is a proof that such love can and does exist--more often,
perhaps, in a woman's heart. In a man seldom, unless educated and living
entirely apart from each other."

"I think you are right, Ellen," said her aunt. "I never thought, with
your uncle, that Lucy would become Mr. Seymour's wife."

"Had I prophesied such a thing, uncle, what would you have called me?"
said Ellen, looking up archly from her frame, for the momentary flush
had gone.

"That it was the prophecy of a most romantic young lady, much more like
Emmeline's heroics than the quiet, sober Ellen," he answered, in the
same tone; "but as my own idea, of course it is wisdom itself. But jokes
apart, as you are so skilled in the knowledge of the human heart, my
dear Ellen, you must know I entered this room to-day for the purpose of
probing your own."

"Mine!" exclaimed the astonished girl, turning suddenly pale; "what do
you mean?"

"Only that the Rev. Ernest Lacy has been with me this morning entreating
my permission to address you, and indeed making proposals for your hand.
I told him that my permission he could have, with my earnest wishes for
his success, and that I did not doubt your aunt's consent would be as
readily given. Do not look so terribly alarmed; I told him I could not
let the matter proceed any farther without first speaking to you."

"Pray let it go no farther, then, my dear uncle," said Ellen, very
earnestly, as her needle fell from her hand, and she turned her eyes
beseechingly on her uncle's face. "I thank Mr. Lacy for the high opinion
he must have of me in making me this offer, but indeed I cannot accept
it. Do not, by your consent, let him encourage hopes which must end in
disappointment."

"My approbation I cannot withdraw, Ellen, for most sincerely do I esteem
the young man; and there are few whom I would so gladly behold united to
my family as himself. Why do you so positively refuse to hear him? You
may not know him sufficiently now, I grant you, to love him, yet believe
me, the more you know him the more will you find in him both to esteem
and love."

"I do not doubt it, my dear uncle. He is one among the young men who
visit here whom I most highly esteem, and I should be sorry to lose his
friendship by the refusal of his hand."

"But why not allow him to plead for himself? You are not one of those
romantic beings, Ellen, who often refuse an excellent offer, because
they imagine they are not violently in love."

"Pray do not condemn me as such, my dear uncle; indeed, it is not the
case. Mr. Lacy, the little I know of him, appears to possess every
virtue calculated to make an excellent husband. I know no fault to which
I can bring forward any objection; but"--

"But what, my dear niece? Surely, you are not afraid of speaking freely
before your aunt and myself?"

"No, uncle; but I have little to say except that I have no wish to
marry; that it would be more pain to leave you and my aunt than marriage
could ever compensate."

"Why, Nelly, do you mean to devote yourself to us all your young life,
old and irritable as we shall in all probability become? think again, my
dear girl, many enjoyments, much happiness, as far as human eye can see,
await the wife of Lacy. Emmeline, you are silent; do you not agree with
me in wishing to behold our gentle Ellen the wife of one so universally
beloved as this young clergyman?"

"Not if her wishes lead her to remain with us, my husband," replied Mrs.
Hamilton, impressively. She had not spoken before, for she had been too
attentively observing the fluctuation of Ellen's countenance; but now
her tone was such as to check the forced smile with which her niece had
tried to reply to Mr. Hamilton's suggestion of becoming old and
irritable, and bring the painfully-checked tears back to her eyes, too
powerfully to be restrained. She tried to retain her calmness, but the
effort was vain, and springing from her seat, she flew to the couch
where her aunt sat, and kneeling by her side, buried her face on her
shoulder, and murmured, almost inaudibly,--

"Oh, do not, do not bid me leave you, I am happy here; but elsewhere,
oh, I should be so very, very wretched. I own Mr. Lacy is all that I
could wish for in a husband; precious, indeed, would be his love to any
girl who could return it, but not to me; oh, not to one who can give him
nothing in return."

She paused abruptly; the crimson had mounted to both cheek and brow,
and the choking sob prevented farther utterance.

Mrs. Hamilton pressed her lips to Ellen's heated brow in silence, while
her husband looked at his niece in silent amazement.

"Are your affections then given to another, my dear child?" he said,
gently and tenderly; "but why this overwhelming grief, my Ellen? Surely,
you do not believe we could thwart the happiness of one so dear to us,
by refusing our consent to the man of your choice, if he be worthy of
you? Speak, then, my dear girl, without reserve; who has so secretly
gained your young affections, that for his sake every other offer is
rejected?"

Ellen raised her head and looked mournfully in her uncle's face. She
tried to obey, but voice for the moment failed.

"_My love is given to the dead_" she murmured at length, clasping her
aunt's hands in hers, the words slowly falling from her parched lips;
then added, hurriedly, "oh, do not reprove my weakness, I thought my
secret never would have passed my lips in life, but wherefore should I
hide it now? It is no sin to love the dead, though had he lived, never
would I have ceased to struggle till this wild pang was conquered, till
calmly I could have beheld him happy with the wife of his choice, of his
love. Oh, condemn me not for loving one who never thought of me save as
a sister; one whom I knew from his boyhood loved another. None on earth
can tell how I have struggled to subdue myself. I knew not my own heart
till it was too late to school it into apathy. He has gone, but while
my heart still clings to Herbert only, oh, can I give my hand unto
another?"

"Herbert!" burst from Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton at the same instant, and
Ellen, turning from their glance, hid her flushing and paling cheek in
her hands; for a moment there was silence, and then Mrs. Hamilton drew
the agitated girl closer to her, and murmuring, in a tone of intense
feeling, "my poor, poor Ellen!" mingled a mother's tears with those of
her niece. Mr. Hamilton looked on them both with extreme emotion; his
mind's eye rapidly glanced over the past, and in an instant he saw what
a heavy load of suffering must have been his niece's portion from the
first moment she awoke to the consciousness of her ill-fated love; and
how had she borne it? so uncomplainingly, so cheerfully, that no one
could suspect that inward sorrow. When cheering himself and his wife
under their deep affliction, it was with her own heart breaking all the
while. When inciting Herbert to exertion, during that painful trial
occasioned by his Mary's letter, when doing everything in her power to
secure his happiness, what must have been her own feelings? Yes, in very
truth she had loved, loved with all the purity, the self-devotedness of
woman; and Mr. Hamilton felt that which at the moment he could not
speak. He raised his niece from the ground, where she still knelt beside
her aunt, folded her to his bosom, kissed her tearful cheek, and placing
her in Mrs. Hamilton's arms, hastily left the room.

The same thoughts had likewise occupied the mind of her aunt, as Ellen
still seemed to cling to her for support and comfort; but they were
mingled with a sensation almost amounting to self-reproach at her own
blindness in not earlier discovering the truth. Why not imagine Ellen's
affections fixed on Herbert as on Arthur Myrvin? both were equally
probable. She could now well understand Ellen's agitation when Herbert's
engagement with Mary was published, when he performed the marriage
ceremony for Arthur and Emmeline; and when Mrs. Hamilton recalled how
completely Ellen had appeared to forget herself, in devotedness to her;
how, instead of weakly sinking beneath her severe trials, she had borne
up through all, had suppressed her own suffering to alleviate those of
others, was it strange, that admiration and respect should mingle with
the love she bore her? that from that hour Ellen appeared dearer to her
aunt than she had ever done before? Nor was it only on this account her
affection increased. For the sake of her beloved son it was that her
niece refused to marry; for love of him, even though he had departed,
her heart rejected every other love; and the fond mother unconsciously
felt soothed, consoled. It seemed a tribute to the memory of her sainted
boy, that he was thus beloved, and she who had thus loved him--oh, was
there not some new and precious link between them?

It was some time before either could give vent in words to the feelings
that swelled within. Ellen's tears fell fast and unrestrainedly on the
bosom of her aunt, who sought not to check them, for she knew how
blessed they must be to one who so seldom wept; and they were blessed,
for a heavy weight seemed removed from the orphan's heart, the torturing
secret was revealed; she might weep now without restraint, and never
more would her conduct appear mysterious either to her aunt or uncle.
They now knew it was no caprice that bade her refuse every offer of
marriage that was made her. How that treasured secret had escaped her
she knew not; she had been carried on by an impulse she could neither
resist nor understand. At the first, a sensation of shame had
overpowered her, that she could thus have given words to an unrequited
affection; but ere long, the gentle soothing of her aunt caused that
painful feeling to pass away. Consoling, indeed, was the voice of
sympathy on a subject which to another ear had never been disclosed. It
was some little time ere she could conquer her extreme agitation, her
overcharged heart released from its rigorous restraint, appeared to
spurn all effort of control; but after that day no violent emotion
disturbed the calm serenity that resumed its sway. Never again was the
subject alluded to in that little family circle, but the whole conduct
of her aunt and uncle evinced they felt for and with their Ellen;
confidence increased between them, and after the first few days, the
orphan's life was more calmly happy than it had been for many a long
year.

The return of Lord St. Eval's family to England, and their meeting with
Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton, was attended with some alloy. Caroline and her
parents had not met since the death of Herbert, and that affliction
appeared at the first moment recalled in all its bitterness. The
presence of a comparative stranger, as was Miss Manvers, did much
towards calming the excited feelings of each, and the exertions of Lord
St. Eval and Ellen restored composure and cheerfulness sooner than they
could have anticipated.

With Miss Manvers Mrs. Hamilton was much pleased. Gentle and unassuming,
she won her way to every heart that knew her; she was the only remaining
scion of Mrs. Hamilton's own family, and she felt pleased that by her
union with Percy the families of Manvers and Hamilton would be yet more
closely connected. She had regretted much, at a former time, the
extinction of the line of Delmont; for she had recalled those visions of
her girlhood, when she had looked to her brother to support the ancient
line, and gilding it with naval honours, bid it stand forth as it had
done some centuries before. Mrs. Hamilton had but little of what is
termed family pride, but these feelings were associated with the brother
whom she had so dearly loved, and whose loss she so painfully deplored.

The season of Christmas passed more cheerfully than Ellen had dared to
hope. The scene was entirely changed; never before had they passed a
Christmas anywhere but at Oakwood, and that simple circumstance
prevented the void in that domestic circle from being so sadly felt.
That Herbert was in the thoughts of all his family, that it was an
effort for them to retain the cheerfulness which in them was ever the
characteristic of the season, we will not deny, but affliction took not
from the calm beauty which ever rested round Mr. Hamilton's hearth. All
appeared as if an even more hallowed and mellowed light was cast around
them; for it displayed, even more powerfully than when unalloyed
prosperity was their portion, the true beauty of the religious
character. Herbert and Mary were not lost to them; they were but removed
to another sphere, that eternal Home, to which all who loved them looked
with an eye of faith.

Sir George Wilmot was the only guest at Richmond during the Christmas
season, but so long had he been a friend of the family and of Lord
Delmont's, when Mrs. Hamilton was a mere child, that he could scarcely
be looked on in the light of a mere guest. The kind old man had sorrowed
deeply for Herbert's death, had felt himself attracted even more
irresistibly to his friends in their sorrow than even in their joy, and
so constantly had he been invited to make his stay at Mr. Hamilton's
residence, wherever that might be, that he often declared he had now no
other home. The tale of Edward's peril interested him much; he would
make Ellen repeat it over and over again, and admire the daring rashness
which urged the young sailor not to defer his return to his commander,
even though a storm was threatening around him; and when Mr. Hamilton
related the story of Ellen's fortitude in bearing as she did this
painful suspense, the old man would conceal his admiration of his young
friend under a joke, and laughingly protest she was as fitted to be a
gallant sailor as her noble brother.

On the character of the young heir of Oakwood the death of his brother
appeared to have made an impression, which neither time nor
circumstances could efface. He was not outwardly sad, but his volatile
nature appeared departed. He was no longer the same wild, boisterous
youth, ever on the look-out for some change, some new diversion or
practical joke, which had been his characteristics while Herbert lived.
A species of quiet dignity was now his own, combined with a devotedness
to his parents, which before had never been so distinctly visible. He
had ever loved them, ever sought their happiness, their wishes in
preference to his own. Herbert himself had not surpassed him in filial
love and reverence, but now, though his feelings were the same, their
expression was different; cheerful and animated he still was, but the
ringing laugh which had so often echoed through the halls of Oakwood had
gone. It seemed as if the death of a brother so beloved, had suddenly
transformed Percy Hamilton from the wild and thoughtless
pleasure-seeking, joke-loving lad into the calm and serious man. To the
eyes of his family, opposite as the brothers in youth had been, there
were now many points of Herbert's character reflected upon Percy, and
dearer than ever he became; and the love which had been excited in the
gentle heart of Louisa Manvers by the wild spirits, the animation, the
harmless recklessness, the freedom of thought and word, which had
characterised Percy, when she first knew him, was purified and
heightened by the calm dignity, the more serious thought, the solid
qualities of the virtuous and honourable man.

Lieutenant Fortescue was now daily expected in England, much to the
delight of his family and Sir George Wilmot, who declared he should have
no peace till he was introduced to the preserver of his gallant boy, as
he chose to call Edward. Lieutenant Mordaunt; he never heard of such a
name, and he was quite sure he had never been a youngster in his
cockpit. "What does he mean by saying he knows me, that he sailed with
me, when a mid? he must be some impostor, Mistress Nell, take my word
for it," Sir George would laughingly say, and vow vengeance on Ellen,
for daring to doubt the excellence of his memory; as she one day
ventured to hint that it was so very many years, it was quite impossible
Sir George could remember the names of all the middies under him. It was
much more probable, Sir George would retort, that slavery had
bewildered the poor man's understanding, and that he fancied he was
acquainted with the first English names he heard.

"Never mind, Nell, he has been a slave, poor fellow, so we will not
treat him as an impostor, the first moment he reaches his native land,"
was the general conclusion of the old Admiral's jokes, as each day
increased his impatience for Edward's return.

He was gratified at length, and as generally happens, when least
expected, for protesting he would not be impatient any more, he amused
himself by setting little Lord Lyle on his knee, and was so amused by
the child's playful prattle and joyous laugh, that he forgot to watch at
the window, which was his general post. Ellen was busily engaged in
nursing Caroline's babe, now about six months old.

"Give me Mary, Ellen," said the young Earl, entering the room, with
pleasure visibly impressed on his features. "You will have somebody else
to kiss in a moment, and unless you can bear joy as composedly as you
can sorrow, why I tremble for the fate of my little Mary."

"What do you mean, St. Eval? you shall not take my baby from me, unless
you can give me a better reason."

"I mean that Edward will be here in five minutes, if he be not already.
Ah, Ellen, you will resign Mary now. Come to me, little lady," and the
young father caught his child from Ellen's trembling hands, and dancing
her high in the air, was rewarded by her loud crow of joy.

In another minute, Edward was in the room, and clasped to his sister's
beating heart. It was an agitating moment, for it seemed to Ellen's
excited fancy that Edward was indeed restored to her from the dead, he
had not merely returned from a long and dangerous voyage. The young
sailor, as he released her from his embrace, looked with an uncontrolled
impulse round the room. All were not there he loved; he did not miss
Emmeline, but Herbert--oh, his gentle voice was not heard amongst the
many that crowded round to greet him. He looked on his aunt, her deep
mourning robe, he thought her paler, thinner than he had ever seen her
before, and the impetuous young man could not be restrained, he flung
himself within her extended arms, and burst into tears.

Mr. Hamilton hastened towards them. "Our beloved Herbert is happy," he
said, solemnly, as he wrung his nephew's hands. "Let us not mourn for
him now, Edward, but rather rejoice, as were he amongst us he would do,
gratefully rejoice that the same gracious hand which removed him in love
to a brighter world was stretched over you in your hour of peril, and
preserved you to those who so dearly love you. You, too, we might for a
time have lost, my beloved Edward. Shall we not rejoice that you are
spared us? Emmeline, my own Emmeline, think on the blessings still
surrounding us."

His impressive words had their effect on both his agitated auditors.
Edward gently withdrew himself from the detaining arms of his aunt; he
pressed a long, lingering kiss upon her cheek, and hastily conquering
his emotion, clasped Sir George Wilmot's extended hand, after a few
minutes' silence, greeted all his cousins with his accustomed warmth,
and spoke as usual.

There had been one unseen, unthought-of spectator of this little scene;
all had been too much startled and affected at Edward's unexpected burst
of sorrow, to think of the stranger who had entered the room with him;
but that stranger had looked around him, more particularly on Mrs.
Hamilton, with feelings of intensity utterly depriving him of either
speech or motion. Years had passed lightly over Mrs. Hamilton's head;
she had borne trials, cares, and sorrows, as all her fellow-creatures,
but her burden had ever been cast upon Him who had promised to sustain
her, and therefore on her it had not weighed so heavily; and years had
neither bent that graceful figure, nor robbed her features of their
bloom. Hers had never been extraordinary beauty, it had been the
expression only, which was ever the charm in her, an expression of
purity of thought and deed, of gentle unassuming piety. Time cannot
triumph over that beauty which is reflected from the soul; and Mordaunt
gazed on her till he could scarcely restrain himself from rushing
forward, and clasping her to his bosom, proclaim aloud who and what he
was; but he did command himself, though his limbs trembled under him,
and he was thankful that as yet he was unobserved. He looked on the
blooming family around him--they were children, and yet to them he was
as the dead; and now would she indeed remember him? Edward suddenly
recalled the presence of his friend, and springing towards him, with an
exclamation of regret at his neglect, instantly attracted the attention
of all, and Mordaunt suddenly found himself the centre of a group, who
were listening with much interest to Edward's animated account of all he
owed him, a recital which Mordaunt vainly endeavoured to suppress, by
declaring he had done nothing worth speaking of. Mrs. Hamilton joined
her husband in welcoming the stranger, with that grace and kindness so
peculiarly her own. She thanked him warmly for the care he had taken,
and the exertions he had made for her nephew; and as she did so, the
colour so completely faded from Mordaunt's sunburnt cheek, that Edward,
declaring he was ill and exhausted by the exertions he had made from the
first moment of their landing at Portsmouth, entreated him to retire to
the chamber which had been prepared for him, but this Mordaunt refused,
saying he was perfectly well.

"It is long I have heard the voice of kindness in my native tongue--long
since English faces and English hearts have thus blessed me, and would
you bid me leave them, my young friend?"

His mournful voice thrilled to Mrs. Hamilton's heart, as he laid his
hand appealingly on Edward's arm.

"Not for worlds," replied the young sailor, cheerfully. "Sir George
Wilmot, my dear aunt, have you any recollection of my good friend here?
he says he knew you both when he was a boy."

Sir George Wilmot's eyes had never moved from Mordaunt since he had
withdrawn his attention from Edward, and he now replied somewhat
gravely--

"Of the name of Mordaunt I have no recollection as being borne by any
youngsters on board my ship, but those features seem strangely familiar
to me. I beg your pardon, sir, but have you always borne that name?"

"From the time I can remember, Sir George; but this may perhaps convince
you I have been on board your ship. Was there not one amongst us in the
cockpit, a young lad whom you ever treated with distinguished favour,
whom, however unworthy, you ever held up to his comrades as a pattern of
all that was excellent in a seaman and a youth, whom you ever loved and
treated as a son? I was near him when he flung himself in the sea, with
a sword in his mouth, and entering the enemy's ship by one of the
cabin-windows, fought his way to the quarter-deck, and hauling down the
French standard, retained his post till relieved by his comrades; and
when the fight was over, hung back and gave to others the meed of praise
you were so eager to bestow. Have you forgotten this, Sir George?"

"No!" replied the Admiral, with sudden animation. "Often have I recalled
that day, one amongst the many in which my Charles distinguished
himself."

"And you told him he would rise to eminence ere many years had
passed--the name of Delmont would rival that of Nelson ere his career
had run."

The old Admiral looked on the stranger with increased astonishment and
agitation.

"Delmont! you knew my brother, then, Lieutenant Mordaunt," Mrs. Hamilton
could not refrain from saying. "Many, many years have passed, yet tell
me when you saw him last."

"I was with him in his last voyage, lady," replied the stranger, in a
low and peculiar voice, for it was evidently an effort to retain his
calmness. Six-and-twenty years have gone by since the Leander left the
coasts of England never to return; six-and-twenty years since I set foot
in my native land."

"And did all indeed perish, save yourself? Were you alone saved? saw you
my brother after the vessel sunk?" inquired Mrs. Hamilton, hurriedly,
laying her trembling hand on the stranger's arm, scarcely conscious of
what she did. "He too might be spared even as yourself; but oh, death
were preferable to lingering on his years in slavery."

"Alas! my Emmeline, wherefore indulge in such fallacious hope?" said her
husband, tenderly, for he saw she was excessively agitated.

"Mrs. Hamilton," said Sir George Wilmot, earnestly, speaking at the same
moment, "Emmeline, child of my best, my earliest friend, look on those
features, look well; do you not know them? six-and-twenty years have
done their work, yet surely not sufficiently to conceal him from your
eyes. Have you not seen that flashing eye, that curling lip before? look
well ere you decide."

"Lady, Charles Manvers lives!" murmured the stranger, in the voice of
one whom strong emotion deprived of utterance, and he pushed from his
brow the hair which thickly clustered there and in part concealed the
natural expression of his features, and gazed on her face. A gleam of
sunshine at this instant threw a sudden glow upon his countenance, and
Mr. Hamilton started forward, and an exclamation of astonishment, of
pleasure escaped his lips, but Mrs. Hamilton's eyes moved not from the
stranger's face.

"Emmeline, my sister, my own sister, will you not know me? can you not
believe that Charles is spared?" he exclaimed, in a tone of excited
feeling.

"Oh, God, it is Charles himself?" she sobbed, and sunk almost fainting
in his embrace; convulsively the brother pressed her to his bosom. It
seemed as if the happiness of that moment was too great for reality, as
if it were but some dream of bliss; scarcely was he conscious of the
warm greeting he received; the uncontrollable emotion of the old
Admiral, who, as he wrung his hand again and again, wept like a child.
His brain seemed to reel, and every object danced before his eyes, he
was alone sensible that he held his sister in his arms, that sister whom
he had loved even more devotedly, more constantly in his hours of
slavery, than when she had been ever near him. Her counsels, her example
had had but little apparent effect on him when a wild and reckless boy
at his father's house, but they had sustained him in his affliction; it
was then he knew the value of those serious thoughts and feelings his
sister had so laboured to inculcate, and associated as they were with
her, she became dearer each time he felt himself supported, under his
many trials, by fervent prayer and that implicit trust, of which she had
so often spoken.

In wondering astonishment the younger members of the family had regarded
this little scene some minutes before the truth had flashed on the mind
of Mrs. Hamilton. Both St. Eval and Percy had guessed who in reality the
stranger was, and waited in some anxiety for the effect that recognition
would have on Mrs. Hamilton, whom Edward had already considerably
agitated. With characteristic delicacy of feeling, all then left the
room, Sir George Wilmot and Mr. Hamilton alone remaining with the
long-separated brother and sister.

"My uncle Charles himself! Fool, idiot that I was never to discover this
before!" had been Edward's exclamation, in a tone of unrestrained joy.

A short time sufficed to restore all to comparative composure, but a
longer interval was required for Charles Manvers, whom we must now term
Lord Delmont, to ask and to answer the innumerable questions which were
naturally called forth by his unexpected return; much had he to hear and
much to tell, even leaving, as he said he would, the history of his
adventures in Algiers to amuse two or three winter evenings, when all
his family were around him.

"All my family," he repeated, in a tone of deep feeling. "Do I say this?
I, the isolated, desolate being I imagined myself; I, who believed so
many years had passed, that I should remain unrecognised, unloved,
forgotten. Reproach me not, my sister, the misery I occasioned myself,
the emotions of this moment are punishment enough. And are all those
whom I saw here yours, Hamilton?" he continued, more cheerfully. "Oh,
let me claim their love; I know them all already, for Edward has long
ere this made me acquainted with them, both individually and as the
united members of one affectionate family; I long to judge for myself if
his account be indeed correct, though I doubt it not. Poor fellow, I
deserve his reproaches for continuing my deception to him so long."

"And why was that name assumed at all, dear Charles?" inquired Mr.
Hamilton. "Why not resume your own when the chains of slavery were
broken?"

"And how dare you say Mordaunt was yours as long as you can remember?"
demanded Sir George, holding up his hand in a threatening attitude, as
if the full-grown man before him were still the slight stripling he last
remembered him. "Deception was never permitted on my decks, Master
Charles."

Mrs. Hamilton smiled.

"Nor have I practised it, Sir George," he replied. "Mordaunt was my
name, as my sister can vouch. Charles Mordaunt Manvers I was christened,
Mordaunt being the name of my godfather, between whom and my father,
however, a dispute arose, when I was about seven years old, completely
setting aside old friendship and causing them to be at enmity till Sir
Henry Mordaunt's death. The tale was repeated to me when I was about ten
years old, much exaggerated of course, and I declared I would bear his
name no longer. I remember well my gentle sister Emmeline's entreaties
and persuasions that I would not interfere, that I knew nothing about
the quarrel, and had no right to be so angry. However, I carried my
point, as I generally did, with my too indulgent parent, and therefore
from that time I was only known as Charles Manvers, for my father could
not bear the name spoken before him. Do you not remember it, Emmeline?"

"Perfectly well, now it is recalled, though I candidly own I had
forgotten the circumstance."

"But, still, why was Manvers disused?" Mr. Hamilton again inquired.

"For perhaps an unjust and foolish fancy, my dear friend. I could not
enjoy my freedom, because of the thought I mentioned before. I knew not
if my beloved father still lived, nor who bore the title of Lord
Delmont, which, if he were no more, was mine by inheritance; for
four-and-twenty years I had heard nothing of all whom I loved, they
looked on me as dead: they might be scattered, dispersed; instead of
joy, my return might bring with it sorrow, vexation, discontent. It was
for this reason I relinquished the name of Manvers, and adopted the one
I had well-nigh forgotten as being mine by an equal right; I wished to
visit my native land unknown, and bearing that name, any inquiries I
might have made would be unsuspected."

Surrounded by those whom in waking and sleeping dreams he had so long
loved, the clouds which had overhung Lord Delmont's mind as a thick
mist, even when he found himself free, dissolved before the calm
sunshine of domestic love. A sense of happiness pervaded his heart,
happiness chastened by a deep feeling of gratitude to Him who had
ordained it. Affected he was almost to tears, as the manner of his
nephew and nieces towards him unconsciously betrayed how affectionately
they had ever been taught to regard his memory. Rapidly he became
acquainted with each and all, and eagerly looked forward to the arrival
of Emmeline and her husband to look on them likewise as his own; but
though Edward laughingly protested he should tremble now for the
continuance of his uncle's preference towards himself, he ever retained
his place. He had been the first known; his society, his soothing words,
his animated buoyancy of spirit, his strong affection and respect for
his uncle's memory when he believed him dead, and perhaps the
freemasonry of brother sailors, had bound him to Lord Delmont's heart
with ties too strong to be riven. The more he heard of, and the more he
associated with him in the intimacy of home, the stronger these feelings
became; and Edward on his part unconsciously increased them by his
devotedness to his uncle himself, the manner with which he ever treated
Mrs. Hamilton, and his conduct to his sister whose quiet unselfish
happiness at his return, and thus accompanied, was indeed heightened,
more than she herself a few months previous could have believed
possible.



CHAPTER XI.


Our little narrative must here transport the reader to a small cottage
in the picturesque village of Llangwillan, where, about three months
after the events we have narrated, Lilla Grahame sat one evening in
solitude, and it seemed in sorrow. The room in which she was seated was
small, but furnished and adorned with the refined and elegant taste of
one whose rank appeared much higher than the general occupants of such a
dwelling. A large window, reaching to the ground, opened on a smooth and
sloping lawn, which was adorned by most beautiful flowers. It led to a
small gate opening on a long, narrow lane, which led to the Vicarage,
leaving the little church and its picturesque burying-ground a little to
the right; the thick grove which surrounded it forming a leafy yet
impenetrable wall to one side of the garden. There were many very pretty
tombs in this churchyard; perhaps its beauty consisted in its extreme
neatness, and the flowers that the vicar, Mr. Myrvin, took so much
pleasure in carefully preserving. One lowly grave, beneath a large and
spreading yew, was never passed unnoticed. A plain marble stone denoted
that there lay one, who had once been the brightest amid the bright, the
brilliant star of a lordly circle. The name, her age, and two simple
verses were there inscribed; but around that humble grave there were
sweet flowers flourishing more luxuriantly than in any other part of
the churchyard; the climbing honeysuckle twined its odoriferous clusters
up the dark trunk of the storm-resisting yew. Roses of various kinds
intermingled with the lowly violet, the snowdrop, lily of the valley,
the drooping convolvulus, which, closing its petals for a time, is a fit
emblem of that sleep which, closing our eyes on earth, reopens them in
heaven, beneath the general warmth of the sun of righteousness. These
flowers were sacred in the eyes of the villagers, and their children
were charged not to despoil them; and too deep was their reverence for
their minister, and too sacred was that little spot of earth, even to
their uncultured eyes, for those commands ever to be disobeyed. But it
was not to Mr. Myrvin's care alone that part of the churchyard owed its
beauty. It had ever been distinguished from the rest by the flowers
around it; but it was only the last two years they had flourished so
luxuriantly; the hand of Lilla Grahame watered and tended them with
unceasing care. In the early morning or the calm twilight she was seen
beside the grave, and many might have believed that there reposed the
ashes of a near and dear relation, but it was not so. Lilla had never
seen and never known the lovely being whose last home she thus
affectionately tended. It was dear to her from its association with him
whom she loved, there her thoughts could wander to him; and surely the
love thus cherished beside the dead must have been purity itself.

It was the hour that Lilla usually sought the churchyard, but she came
not, and the lengthening shadows of a soft and lovely May evening fell
around the graceful figure of a tall and elegant young man, in naval
uniform, who lingered beside the grave; pensive, it seemed, yet scarcely
melancholy. His fine expressive countenance seemed to breathe of
happiness proceeding from the heart, chastened and softened by holier
thoughts. A smile of deep feeling encircled his lips as he looked on the
flowers, which in this season were just bursting into beautiful bloom;
and plucking an early violet, he pressed it to his lips and placed it
next his heart. "Doubly precious," he said, internally, "planted by the
hand of her I love, it flourished on my mother's grave. Oh, my mother,
would that you could behold your Edward now; that your blessing could be
mine. It cannot be, and thrice blessed as I am, why should I seek for
more?" A few moments longer he lingered, then turned in the direction of
the Vicarage.

Lilla's spirits harmonized not as they generally did with the calm
beauty of nature around her. Anxious and sorrowful, her tears more than
once fell slowly and unheeded on her work; but little improvement had
taken place in her father's temper. She had much, very much to bear,
even though she knew he loved her, and that his chief cares were for
her; retirement had not relieved his irritated spirit. Had he, instead
of retreating from, mingled as formerly in, the world, he might have
been much happier, for he would have found the dishonourable conduct of
his son had not tarnished his own. He had been too long and too well
known as the soul of honour and integrity, for one doubt or aspersion to
be cast upon his name. Lady Helen's injudicious conduct towards her
children was indeed often blamed, and Grahame's own severity much
regretted, but it was much more of sympathy he now commanded than scorn
or suspicion, and all his friends lamented his retirement. Had not
Lilla's spirits been naturally elastic, they must have bent beneath
these continued and painful trials; her young heart often felt breaking,
but the sense of religion, the excellent principles instilled both by
Mrs. Douglas and Mrs. Hamilton now had their full effect, and sustained
her amidst all. She never wavered in her duty to her father; she never
complained even in her letters to her dearest and most confidential
friends.

"Have you thought on the subject we spoke of last night, Lilla?" asked
her father, entering suddenly, and seating himself gloomily on a chair
some paces from her. His daughter started as she saw him, for the first
tone of his voice betrayed he was more than usually irritable and
gloomy.

"Yes, father, I have," she replied, somewhat timidly.

"And what is your answer?"

"I fear you will be displeased, my dear father; but indeed I cannot
answer differently to last night."

"You are still resolved then to refuse Philip Clapperton?"

Lilla was silent.

"And pray may I ask the cause of your fastidiousness, Miss Grahame? Your
burst of tears last night made a very pretty scene no doubt, but they
gave me no proper answer."

"It is not only that I cannot love Mr. Clapperton, father, but I cannot
respect him."

"And pray why not? I tell you, Lilla, blunt, even coarse, if you like,
as he is, unpolished, hasty, yet he has a better heart by far than many
of those more elegant and attractive sprigs of nobility, amongst which
perhaps your romantic fancy has wandered, as being the only husbands
fitted for you."

"You do me injustice, father. I have never indulged in such romantic
visions, but I cannot willingly unite my fate with one in whom I see no
fixed principle of action--one who owns no guide but pleasure. His heart
may be good, I doubt it not; but I cannot respect one who spends his
whole life in fox-hunting, drinking, and all the pleasures peculiar to
the members of country clubs."

"In other words, a plain, honest-speaking, English gentleman is not fine
enough for you. What harm is there in the amusements you have
enumerated? Why should not a fox-hunter make as good a husband as any
other member of society?"

Lilla looked at her father in astonishment. These were not always his
sentiments she painfully thought.

"I do not mean to condemn these amusements, my dear father, but when
they are carried on without either principle or religion. How can I
venture to intrust my happiness to such a man?"

"And where do you expect to find either principle or religion now? Not
in those polished circles, where I can perceive your hopes are fixed.
Girl, banish such hopes. Not one amongst them would unite himself to the
sister of that dishonoured outcast Cecil Grahame."

Grahame's whole frame shook as he pronounced his son's name, but
sternness still characterised his voice.

"Never would I unite myself with one who considered himself degraded by
an union with our family, father, be assured," said Lilla, earnestly.
"My hopes are not high. I have thought little of marriage, and till I am
sought, have no wish to leave this sequestered spot, believe me."

"And who, think you, will seek you here? You had better banish such idle
hopes, for they will end in disappointment."

"Be it so, then," Lilla replied, calmly, though had her father been near
her, he would have seen her cheek suddenly become pale and her eyelids
quiver, as if by the pressure of a tear. "Is marriage a thing so
indispensable, that you would compel me to leave you, my dear father?"

"To you it is indispensable; when once you have lost the name you now
hold, the world and all its pleasures will be spread before you, the
stain will be remembered no more; your life need not be spent in gloom
and exile like this."

"And what, then, will become of you?"

"Of me! who cares. What am I, and what have I ever been to either of my
children, that they should care for me? I scorn the mere act of duty,
and which of you can love me? no, Lilla, not even you."

"Father, you do me wrong; oh, do not speak such cruel words," said
Lilla, springing from her seat, and flinging herself on her knees by her
father's side. "Have I indeed so failed in testimonies of love, that you
can for one instant believe it is only the duty of a child I feel and
practise? Oh, my father, do me not such harsh injustice; could you read
my inmost heart, you would see how full it is of love and reverence for
you, though I have not always courage to express it. Ask of me any,
every proof but this, and I will do it, but, oh, do not command me to
wed Mr. Clapperton; why, oh, why would you thus seek to send me from
you?"

"I speak but for your happiness, Lilla;" his voice was somewhat
softened. "You cannot be happy now with one so harsh, irritable, cruel
as, I know, I am too often."

"And would you compare the occasional irritation proceeding from the
failing health of a beloved father, with the fierce passion and constant
impatience of a husband, with whom I could not have one idea in common,
whom I could neither love nor reverence, to whom even my duty would be
wretchedness? oh, my father, can you compare the two? Think of Mrs.
Greville: Philip Clapperton ever reminds me of Mr. Greville, of what at
least he must have been in his youth, and would you sentence me to all
the misery that has been poor Mrs. Greville's lot and her children's
likewise?"

"You do not know enough of Clapperton to judge him thus harshly, Lilla;
I know him better, and I cannot see the faults against which you are so
inveterate. Your sister chose a husband for herself, and how has she
fared? is she happy?"

"Annie cannot be happy, father, even if her husband were of a very
different character. She disobeyed; a parent's blessing hallowed not her
nuptials, and strange indeed would it be were her lot otherwise; but
though I cannot love the husband of your choice, you may trust me,
father, without your consent and blessing, I will never marry."

"Do not say you _cannot_ love Philip Clapperton, Lilla; when once his
wife, you could not fail to do so. I would see you united to one who
loves you, my child, ere your affections are bestowed on another, who
may be less willing to return them."

Grahame spoke in a tone of such unwonted softness, that the tears now
rolled unchecked down Lilla's cheeks. Her ingenuous nature could not be
restrained; she felt as if, were she still silent, she would be
deceiving him, and hiding her face in her hand, she almost inaudibly
said--

"For that, then, it is too late, father; I cannot love Mr. Clapperton,
because--because I love another."

"Ha!" exclaimed Grahame, starting, then laying his trembling hand on
Lilla's head, he continued, struggling with strong emotion, "this, then,
is the cause of your determined refusal. Poor child, poor child, what
misery have you formed for yourself!"

"And wherefore misery, my father?" replied Lilla, raising her head
somewhat proudly, and speaking as firmly as her tears would permit.
"Your child would not have loved had she not deemed her affections
sought, ay, and valued too. Think not I would degrade myself by giving
my heart to any one who deemed me or my father beneath his notice. If
ever eye or act can speak, I do not love in vain."

"And would you believe in trifles such as these?" asked her father,
sorrowfully. "Alas! poor child, words are often false, still less can
you rely on the language of the eye. Has anything like an understanding
taken place between you?"

"Alas! my father, no; and yet--and yet--oh, I know he loves me."

"And so he may, my child, and yet break his own heart and yours, poor
guileless girl, rather than unite himself with the dishonoured and the
base. Lilla, my own Lilla, I have been harsh and cruel; it is because I
feel too keenly perhaps the gall in which your wretched brother's
conduct has steeped your life and mine; mine will soon pass away, but
the dark shadow will linger still round you, my child, and condemn you
to wretchedness; I cannot, cannot bear that thought!" and he struck his
clenched hand against his brow. "Why on the innocent should fall the
chastisement of the guilty? My child, my child, oh, banish from your
unsuspecting heart the hopes of love returned. Where in this selfish
world will you find one to love you so for yourself alone, that family
and fortune are as naught?"

"Why judge so harshly of your sex, Mr. Grahame?" said a rich and
thrilling voice, in unexpected answer to his words, and the same young
man whom we before mentioned as lingering by a village grave, stepping
lightly from the terrace on which the large window opened into the room,
stood suddenly before the astonished father and his child. On the latter
the effect of his presence was almost electric. The rich crimson mantled
at once over cheek and brow and neck, a faint cry burst from her lips,
and as the thought flashed across her, that her perhaps too presumptuous
hopes of love returned had been overheard, as well as her father's
words, she suddenly burst into tears of mingled feeling, and darting by
the intruder, passed by the way he had entered into the garden; but even
when away from him, composure for a time returned not. She forgot
entirely that no name had been spoken either by her father or by herself
to designate him whom she confessed she loved; her only feeling was,
she had betrayed a truth, which from him she would ever have concealed,
till he indeed had sought it; and injured modesty now gave her so much
pain, it permitted her not to rejoice in this unexpected appearance of
one whom she had not seen since she had believed him dead. She knew the
churchyard was at this period of the evening quite deserted, and almost
unconscious what she was about, she hastily tied on her bonnet, and with
the speed of a young fawn, she bounded through the narrow lane, and
rested not till she found herself seated beside her favourite grave;
there she gave full vent to the thoughts in which pleasure and confusion
somewhat strangely and painfully mingled.

"Can you, will you forgive this unceremonious and, I fear, unwished-for
intrusion?" was the young stranger's address to Grahame, when he had
recovered from the agitation which Lilla's emotion had called forth, he
scarcely knew wherefore. "To me you have ever extended the hand of
friendship, Mr. Grahame, however severe upon the world in general, and
will you refuse it now, when my errand here is to seek an even nearer
and a dearer name?"

"You are welcome, ever welcome to my humble home, my dear boy, for your
own sake, and for those dear to you," replied Grahame, with a return of
former warmth and cordiality. "More than usually welcome I may say,
Edward, as this is your first visit here since your rescue from the
bowels of the great deep. You look confused and heated, and as if you
would much rather run after your old companion than stay with me, but
indeed I cannot spare you yet, I have so many questions to ask you."

"Forgive me, Mr. Grahame, but indeed you must hear me first."

"I came here to speak to you on a subject nearest my heart, and till
that is told, till from your lips I know my fate, do not, for pity, ask
me to speak on any other. I meant not to have entered so abruptly on my
mission, but that which Mr. Myrvin has imparted to me, and what I
undesignedly overheard as I stood unseen on that terrace, have taken
from me all the eloquence with which I meant to plead my cause."

"Speak in your own proper person, Edward, and then I may perhaps hear
you," replied Grahame, from whom the sight of his young friend appeared
to have banished all misanthropy. "What I can, however, have to do with
your fate, I know not, except that I will acquit you of all intentional
eaves-dropping, if it be that which troubles you; and what can Mr.
Myrvin have said to rob you of eloquence?"

"He told me that--that you had encouraged Philip Clapperton's addresses
to Lil--to Miss Grahame," answered Edward, with increasing agitation,
for he perceived, what was indeed the truth, that Grahame had not the
least idea of his intentions.

"And what can that have to do with you, young man?" inquired Grahame,
somewhat haughtily, and his brow darkened. "You have not seen Lilla, to
be infected with her prejudices, and in what manner can my wishes with
regard to my daughter on that head concern you?"

"In what manner? Mr. Grahame, I came hither with my aunt's and uncle's
blessing on my purpose, to seek from you your gentle daughter's hand. I
am not a man of many words, and all I had to say appears to have
departed, and left me speechless. I came here to implore your consent,
for without it I knew 'twere vain to think or hope to make your Lilla
mine. I came to plead to you, and armed with your blessing, plead my
cause to her, and you ask me how Mr. Myrvin's intelligence can affect
me. Speak, then, at once; in pity to that weakness which makes me feel
as if my lasting happiness or misery depends upon your answer."

"And do you, Edward, do you love my poor child?" asked the father, with
a quivering lip and glistening eye, as he laid his hand, which trembled,
on the young man's shoulder.

"Love her? oh, Mr. Grahame, she has been the bright beaming star that
has shone on my ocean course for many a long year. I know not when I
first began to love, but from my cousin Caroline's wedding-day the
thoughts of Lilla lingered with me, and gilded many a vision of domestic
peace and love, and each time I looked on her bright face, and marked
her kindling spirit, heard and responded inwardly to her animated voice,
I felt that she was dearer still; and when again I saw her in her
sorrow, and sought with Ellen to soothe and cheer her, oh, no one can
know the pain it was to restrain the absorbing wish to ask her, if
indeed one day she would be mine, but that was no time to speak of love.
Besides, I knew not if I had the means to offer her a comfortable home,
I knew not how long I might be spared to linger near her; but now, when
of both I am assured, wherefore should I hesitate longer? With the
title of captain, that for which I have so long pined, I am at liberty
to retire on half-pay, till farther orders; the adopted son and
acknowledged heir to my uncle, Lord Delmont, I have now enough to offer
her my hand, without one remaining scruple. You are silent. Oh, Mr.
Grahame, must I plead in vain?"

"And would you marry her, would you indeed take my child as your chosen
bride?" faltered Grahame, deeply moved. "Honoured, titled as you are, my
poor, portionless Lilla is no meet bride for you."

"Perish honours and title too, if they could deprive me of the gentle
girl I love!" exclaimed the young captain, impetuously. "Do not speak
thus, Mr. Grahame. In what was my lamented father better than
yourself--my mother than Lady Helen? and if she were in very truth my
inferior in birth, the virtues and beauty of Lilla Grahame would do
honour to the proudest peer of this proud land."

"My boy, my gallant boy!" sobbed the agitated father, his irritability
gone, dissolved, like the threatening cloud of a summer day beneath some
genial sunbeam, and as he wrung Captain Fortescue's hand again and again
in his, the tears streamed like an infant's down his cheek.

"_Will_ I consent, _will_ I give you my blessing? Oh, to see you the
husband of my poor child would be _too, too_ much happiness, happiness
wholly, utterly undeserved. But, oh, Edward, can Mr. Hamilton, can Lord
Delmont consent to your union with one, whose only brother is a
disgraced, dishonoured outcast, whose father is a selfish, irritable
misanthrope?"

"Can the misconduct of Cecil cast in the eyes of the just and good one
shadow on the fair fame of his sister? No, my dear sir; it is you who
have looked somewhat unkindly and unjustly on the world, as when you
mingle again with your friends, in company with your children, you will
not fail, with your usual candour, to acknowledge. A selfish, irritable
misanthrope," he added, archly smiling. "You cannot terrify me, Mr.
Grahame. I know the charge is false, and I dread it not."

"Ask me not to join the world again," said Grahame, hoarsely; "in all
else, the duties of my children shall be as laws, but that"--

"Well, well, we will not urge it now, my dear sir," replied the young
sailor, cheerfully; then added, with the eager agitation of affection,
"But Lilla, my Lilla. Oh, may I hope that she will in truth be mine? Oh,
have I, can I have been too presumptuous in the thought I have not loved
in vain?"

"Away with you, and seek the answer from her own lips," said Mr.
Grahame, with more of his former manner than he had yet evinced, for he
now entertained not one doubt as to Edward being the chosen one on whom
his daughter's young affections had been so firmly fixed. "Go to her, my
boy; she will not fly a second time, so like a startled hare, from your
approach; tell her, had she told her father Edward Fortescue was the
worthy object of her love, he would not thus have thrown a damp upon her
young heart, he would not have condemned him as being incapable of
loving her for herself alone. Tell her, too, the name of Philip
Clapperton shall offend her no more. Away with you, my boy."

Edward awaited not a second bidding. In a very few minutes the whole
garden had been searched, and Miss Grahame inquired for all over the
house, then he bounded through the lane, and scarcely five minutes after
he had quitted Mr. Grahame, he stood by the side of Lilla; the
consciousness that she had confessed her love, that he might have
overheard it, was still paramount in her modest bosom, and she would
have avoided him, but quickly was her design prevented. Rapidly, almost
incoherently, was the conversation of the last half hour repeated, and
with all the eloquence of his enthusiastic nature, Edward pleaded his
cause, and, need it be said, not in vain. Lilla neither wished nor
sought to conceal her feelings, and long, long did those two young and
animated beings remain in sweet and heartfelt commune beside that lowly
grave.

"What place so fitted where to pledge our troth, my Lilla, as by my
mother's resting-place?" said Edward. "Would that she could look upon us
now and smile her blessing."

Happily indeed flew those evening hours unheeded by the young lovers.
Grahame, on the entrance of his happy child, folded her to his bosom;
his blessing descended on her head, mingled with tears, which sprung at
once from a father's love and self-reproach at all the suffering his
irritability had occasioned her. And that evening Lilla indeed felt that
all her sorrows, all her struggles, all her dutiful forbearance, were
rewarded. Not only was her long-cherished love returned, not only did
she feel that in a few short months she should be her Edward's own, that
he, the brave, the gallant, honoured sailor, had chosen her in
preference to any of those fairer and nobler maidens with whom he had
so often associated, but her father, her dear father, was more like
himself than he had been since her mother's death. He looked, he spoke
the Montrose Grahame we have known him in former years. Edward had ever
been a favourite with him, but he and Lilla had been so intimate from
their earliest childhood, that he had never thought of him as a son; and
when the truth was known, so truly did Grahame rejoice, that the
bitterness in his earthly cup was well-nigh drowned by its present
sweetness.

Innumerable were the questions both Lilla and Grahame had to ask, and
Edward answered all with that peculiar joyousness which ever threw a
charm around him. The adventures of his voyage, his dangers, the
extraordinary means of his long-lost uncle being instrumental in his
preservation, Lord Delmont's varied tale, all was animatedly discussed
till a late hour. A smile was on Grahame's lip, as his now awakened eye
recalled the drooping spirits and fading cheek of his Lilla during those
three months of suspense, when Captain Fortescue was supposed drowned,
and the equally strange and sudden restoration to health and
cheerfulness when Ellen's letter was received, detailing her brother's
safety. Lilla's streaming eyes were hid on her lover's shoulder as he
detailed his danger, but quickly her tears were kissed away;
thankfulness that he was indeed spared, again filled her heart, and the
bright smile returned. He accounted for not seeking them earlier by the
fact that, while they remained at Richmond, his uncle, whose health from
long-continued suffering was but weakly established, could not bear him
out of his sight, and that he had entreated him not to leave him till
they returned to Oakwood. This, young Fortescue afterwards discovered,
was to give Lord Delmont time for the gratification of his wishes,
which, from the time he had heard the line of Delmont was extinct, had
occupied his mind. Many of his father's old friends recognised him at
once. His father's and his sister's friends were eager to see and pay
him every attention in their power. He found himself ever a welcome and
a courted guest, and happiness, so long a stranger from his breast, now
faded not again. To adopt Edward as his son, to leave him heir to his
title and estate, was now, as it had been from the first moment he
recognised his nephew, the dearest wish of his heart, "if it were only
to fulfil Sir George Wilmot's prophecy," he jestingly told the old
Admiral, who, with Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton, warmly seconded his wishes.
The necessary formula met with no opposition, and the same day that gave
to Edward his promotion of captain, informed him of the secretly-formed
and secretly-acted-upon desire of his uncle.

In the time of Edward's grandfather, the Delmont estates, as some of our
readers may remember, were, from the carelessness of stewards and the
complete negligence of their lord, in such an embarrassed state, as
barely to return a sufficient income for the expenses of Lord Delmont's
establishment. Affairs, however, were not in a worse state than that a
little energy and foresight might remedy. The guardian of Henry Manvers,
who, as we know already, became Lord Delmont when only three years old,
had acted his part with so much straightforwardness and trust, that when
Manvers came of age he found his estates in such a thriving condition,
that he was a very much richer nobleman than many of his predecessors
had been. Well able to discern true merit, and grateful for the
services already rendered, his guardian, by his earnest entreaty,
remained his agent during his residence with his mother and sister in
Switzerland. There, living very much within his income, his fortune
accumulated, and by his early death it fell to the Crown, from which
Lord Delmont, on his return from his weary years of slavery, received it
with the title of earl, bestowed to prove that the tale of a British
sailor's sufferings and indignities had not fallen unheeded on the royal
ear. The long-banished seaman was presented to his Majesty by the Duke
of Clarence himself, and had no need to regret the gracious interview.
His intentions concerning the young officer Captain Fortescue met with
an unqualified approval. Ardently loving his profession, the royal Duke
thought the more naval heroes filled the nobility of his country the
better for England, and an invitation to Bushy Park was soon afterwards
forwarded, both to Lord Delmont and his gallant nephew.

Edward, already well-nigh beside himself by his unexpected promotion, no
longer knew how to contain the exuberance of his spirits, much to the
amusement of his domestic circle; particularly to his quiet, gentle
sister, who, as she looked on her brother, felt how truly, how
inexpressibly her happiness increased with his prosperity. She too had
wound herself round the heart of her uncle; she loved him, first for his
partiality to her brother, but quickly her affection was extended to
himself. Mrs. Hamilton had related to him every particular of her
history, with which he had been deeply and painfully affected, and as he
quickly perceived how much his sister's gentle firmness and constant
watchfulness had done towards forming the character of not only Edward
and Ellen but of her own children, his admiration for her hourly
increased.

A very few days brought Lord Delmont and his niece Ellen to Mr.
Grahame's cottage, and Lilla's delight at seeing Ellen was only second
to that she felt when Edward came. The presence, the cordial greeting of
Lord Delmont removed from the mind of Grahame every remaining doubt of
his approbation of the bride his nephew had chosen. As a faithful
historian, however, I must acknowledge the wishes of Lord Delmont had
pointed out Lady Emily Lyle as the most suitable connection for Edward.
Lady Florence he would have preferred, but there were many whispers
going about that she was engaged to the handsome young baronet Sir
Walter Cameron, who, by the death of his uncle Sir Hector, had lately
inherited some extensive estates in the south-west of Scotland. When,
however, Lord Delmont perceived his nephew's affections were irrevocably
fixed, and he heard from his sister's lips the character of Lilla
Grahame, he made no opposition, but consented with much warmth and
willingness. He was not only content, but resolved on being introduced
to Miss Grahame as soon as possible, without, however, saying a word to
Edward of his intentions. He took Ellen with him, he said, to convoy him
safely and secure him a welcome reception; neither of which, she assured
him, he needed, though she very gladly accompanied him.

A few weeks passed too quickly by, imparting happiness even to Ellen,
for had she been permitted the liberty of choosing a wife for her
Edward, Lilla Grahame would have been her choice. Deeply and almost
painfully affected had she been indeed, when her brother first sought
her to reveal the secret of his love.

"I cannot," he said, "I will not marry without your sympathy, your
approval, my sister--my more than sister, my faithful friend, my gentle
monitress, for such you have ever been to me," and he folded her in his
arms with a brother's love, and Ellen had concealed upon his manly bosom
the glistening tears, whose source she scarcely knew. "I would have you
love my wife, not only for my sake but for herself alone. Never will I
marry one who will refuse to look on you with the reverential affection
your brother does. Lilla Grahame does this, my Ellen; it was her girlish
affection for you that first attracted my attention to her. She will
regard you as I do; she will teach her children, if it please heaven to
grant us any, to look on you even as I would; her heart and home will be
as open to my beloved sister as mine. Speak then, my ever-cherished,
ever faithful friend; tell me if, in seeking Lilla, your sympathy, your
blessing will be mine."

Tears of joy choked her utterance, but quickly recovering herself, Ellen
answered him in a manner calculated indeed to increase his happiness,
and her presence at Llangwillan satisfied every wish.

Unable to resist the eloquent entreaties of all his friends and the
appealing eyes of his child, Grahame at last consented to spend the
month which was to intervene ere his daughter's nuptials, at Oakwood.
That period Edward intended to employ in visiting the ancient hall on
the Delmont estate, which for the last three months had been in a state
of active preparation for the reception of its long-absent master. It
was beautifully situated in the vicinity of the New Forest, Hampshire.
There Edward was to take his bride, considering the whole estate, his
uncle declared, already as his own, as he did not mean to be a fixture
there, but live alternately with his sister and his nephew. Oakwood
should see quite as much of him as Beech Hill, and young people were
better alone, particularly the first year of their marriage. Vainly
Edward and Lilla sought to combat his resolution; the only concession
they could obtain was, that when their honeymoon was over, he and Ellen
would pay them a visit, just to see how they were getting on.

"You must never marry, Nelly, for I don't know what my sister will do
without you," said Lord Delmont, laughing.

"Be assured, uncle Charles, I never will. I love the freedom of this old
hall much too well; and, unless my aunt absolutely sends me away, I
shall not go."

"And that she never will, Ellen," said Lilla earnestly. "She said the
other day she did not know how she should ever spare you even to us; but
you must come to us very often, dearest Ellen. I shall never perform my
part well as mistress of the large establishment with which Edward
threatens me, without your counsel and support"

"I will not come at all, if you and Edward lay your wise heads together,
as you already seem inclined to do, to win me by flattery," replied
Ellen, playfully, endeavouring to look grave, though she refused not the
kiss of peace for which Lilla looked up so appealingly.

The first week in July was fixed for the celebration of the two
marriages in Mr. Hamilton's family. As both Edward and Percy wished the
ceremony should take place in the parish church of Oakwood, and be
performed by Archdeacon Howard, it was agreed the same day should
witness both bridals; and that Miss Manvers, who had been residing at
Castle Terryn with the Earl and Countess St. Eval, should accompany them
to Oakwood a few days previous. Young Hamilton took his bride to Paris,
to which capital he had been intrusted with some government commission.
It was not till the end of July he had originally intended his nuptials
should take place; but he did not choose to leave England for an
uncertain period without his Louisa, and consequently it was agreed
their honeymoon should be passed in France. It may be well to mention
here that Mr. Hamilton had effected the exchange he desired, and that
Arthur Myrvin and his beloved Emmeline were now comfortably installed in
the Rectory, which had been so long the residence of Mr. Howard; and
that Myrvin now performed his pastoral duties in a manner that reflected
happiness not only on his parishioners, but on all his friends, and
enabled him to enjoy that true peace springing from a satisfied
conscience. He trod in the steps of his lamented friend; he knew not
himself how often his poor yet contented flock compared him in their
humble cottages with Herbert, and that in their eyes he did not lose by
the comparison. Some, indeed, would say, "It is all Master Herbert's
example, and the society of that sweet young creature, Miss Emmeline,
that has made him what he is." But whatever might be the reason, Arthur
was universally beloved; and that the village favourite, Miss Emmeline,
who had grown up amongst them from infancy, was their Rector's
wife--that she still mingled amongst them, the same gentle, loveable
being she had ever been--that it was to her and not to a stranger, they
were ever at liberty to seek for relief in trouble, or sympathy in joy,
was indeed a source of unbounded pleasure. And Emmeline was happy,
truly, gratefully happy; never did she regret the choice she had made,
nor envy her family the higher stations of life it was theirs to fill.
She had not a wish beyond the homes of those she loved; her husband was
all in all to her, her child a treasure for which she could not be
sufficiently thankful. She was still the same playful, guileless being
to her family which she had ever been; but to strangers a greater degree
of dignity characterised her deportment, and commanded their involuntary
respect. The home of Arthur Myrvin was indeed one over which peace and
love had entwined their roseate wings; a lowly yet a beauteous spot,
over which the storms of the busy troubled world might burst, but never
reach; and for other sorrows, piety and submission were alike their
watchword and their safeguard. Lord St. Eval was the only person who
regretted Arthur's promotion to the rectory of Oakwood, as it deprived
him, he declared, of his chaplain, his vicar, and his friend. However,
he willingly accepted a friend of Mr. Hamilton's to supply his place, a
clergyman not much beyond the prime of life; one who for seven years had
devoted himself, laboriously and unceasingly, to a poor and unprofitable
parish in one of the Feroe Islands; in the service of Mr. Hamilton he
had been employed, though voluntarily he had accepted, nay, eloquently
he had pleaded for the office. To those of our readers who are
acquainted with the story of Home Influence, the Rev. Henry Morton is no
stranger. They may remember that he accompanied Mr. Hamilton on his
perilous expedition, and had joyfully consented to remaining there till
the young Christian, Wilson, was capable of undertaking the ministry. He
had done so; his pupil promised fair to reward his every care, and
preserve his countrymen in that state of peace, prosperity, and virtue,
to which they had been brought by the unceasing cares of Morton; and
that worthy man returned to his native land seven years after he had
quitted it, improved not only in inward peace but in health, and
consequently appearances. A perceptible lameness was now the only
remains of what had been before painful deformity. The bracing air of
the island had invigorated his nerves; the consciousness that he was
active in the service of his fellow-creatures removed from his mind the
morbid sensibility that had formerly so oppressed him; and Mr. and Mrs.
Hamilton perceived, with benevolent pleasure, that life was to him no
longer a burden. He had become a cheerful, happy member of society,
willing to enjoy the blessings that now surrounded him with a truly
chastened, grateful spirit: Oakwood and Castle Terryn were ever
enlivened when he was present. After the cold and barren living at
Feroe, exiled as he there had been from any of his own rank in life, the
Vicarage at Castle Terryn and the society those duties included, formed
to him indeed a happy resting-place; while his many excellent qualities
soon reconciled St. Eval and his Countess to Myrvin's desertion, as they
called his accepting the rectory at Oakwood. No untoward event occurred
to prevent the celebration of Percy and Edward's bridals as intended.
They took place, attended with all that chastened joy and innocent
festivity which might have been expected from the characters of those
principally concerned. No cloud obscured the happiness of the
affectionate united family, which witnessed these gladdening nuptials.
Each might, perhaps, in secret have felt there was one blank in every
heart, that when thus united, there was still a void on earth. In their
breasts the fond memory of Herbert lingered still. Mr. Grahame forgot
his moroseness, though he had resolved on returning to his cottage in
Wales. He could feel nothing but delight as he looked on his Lilla in
her chaste and simple bridal robes, and felt that of her he might indeed
be proud. Fondly he dried the tear that fell from her bright eyes, as
she clung to him in parting, and promised to see her soon, very soon at
Beech Hill.

It was the amusement of the village gossips for many a long evening to
discuss over and over again the various merits of the two brides; some
preferring the tearful, blushing Lilla, others the pale, yet composed
and dignified demeanour of Miss Manvers. Some said Captain Fortescue
looked much more agitated than he did when he saved his uncle's life off
Dartmouth, some years before; it was marvellously strange for a brave
young officer such as he, to be so flustered at such a simple thing as
taking a pretty girl for better or worse. And Mr. Percy Hamilton, some
said, was very much too serious for such a joyous occasion; if they had
been Miss Manvers they should not have liked it, and so unlike himself,
too.

"Hold your tongue, silly woman," a venerable old man interposed, at this
part of the conversation, "the poor lad's thoughts were with his
brother, to whom this day would have been as great a source of joy as
to himself. He has not been the same man since dear Master Herbert's
death, and no wonder, poor fellow."

This observation effectually put an end to the remarks on Percy's
demeanour, and some owned, after all, marriage was somehow a solemn
ceremony, and it was better to be too serious at such a time than too
gay.

Percy and his bride stayed a week in London, and thence proceeded to
Paris, which place, a very short scrutiny convinced Percy was internally
in no quiet condition; some disturbance, he was convinced, was
threatening, though of what nature he could not at first comprehend. He
had not, however, left England a fortnight before his family were
alarmed by the reports which so quickly flew over to our island of that
extraordinary revolution which in three short days completely changed
the sovereign dynasty of France, and threatened a renewal of those
horrors which had deluged that fair capital with blood in the time of
the unfortunate Louis XVI. We have neither space nor inclination to
enter into such details; some extracts of a letter from Percy, which Mr.
Hamilton received, after a week of extreme anxiety on his account, we
feel, however, compelled to transcribe, as the ultimate fates of two
individuals, whose names have more than once been mentioned in the
course of these memoirs, may there perhaps be discovered.

"Your anxiety, my dearest mother, and that of my father and Ellen, I can
well understand, but for myself I had no fear. Had I been alone, I
believe a species of pleasurable excitement would have been the
prevailing feeling, but for my Louisa I did tremble very often; the
scenes passing around us were to a gentle eye and feeling heart terrible
indeed, and so suddenly they had come upon us, we had no time to attempt
retreat to a place of greater safety. Cannonballs were flying in all
directions, shattering the windows, killing some, and fearfully wounding
many others; for several hours I concealed Louisa in the cellar, which
was the only secure abode our house presented. Mounted guards, to the
number of six or seven hundred, were dashing down the various streets,
with a noise like thunder, diversified only by the clash of arms, the
shrieks of the wounded, and the fierce cries of the populace. It was
indeed terrible--the butchery of lives has indeed been awful; in these
sanguinary conflicts between desperate men, pent up in narrow streets,
innocent lives have also been taken, for it was next to impossible to
distinguish between those who took an active part in the affray, and
those who were merely paralysed spectators. In their own defence the
gendarmes were compelled to fire, and their artillery did fearful havoc
among the people.

       *       *       *       *       *

Crossing the Quai de la Tournelle, at the commencement of the first day,
I was startled by being addressed by name, and turning round, beheld, to
my utter astonishment, Cecil Grahame at my elbow; he was in the uniform
of a gendarme, in which corps, he told me, with some glee, his
brother-in-law, Lord Alphingham, who was high in favour with the French
court, had obtained him a commission; he spoke lightly, and with that
same recklessness of spirit and want of principle which unfortunately
has ever characterised him, declaring he was far better off than he had
ever been in England, which country he hoped never to see again, as he
utterly abhorred the very sight of it. The French people were rather
more agreeable to live with; he could enjoy his pleasures without any
confounded restraint. I suppose he saw how little I sympathised in his
excited spirits, for, with a hoarse laugh and an oath of levity, he
swore that I had not a bit more spirit in me than when I was a
craven-hearted lad, always cringing before the frown of a saintly
father, and therefore no fit companion for a jolly fellow like himself.
'Have you followed Herbert's example, and are you, too, a godly-minded
parson? then, good day, and good riddance to you, my lad,' was the
conclusion of his boisterous speech, and setting spurs to his horse, he
would have galloped off, when I detained him, to ask why he had not
informed his family of his present place of abode and situation. My
blood had boiled as he spoke, that such rude and scurrilous lips should
thus scornfully have spoken my sainted brother's name; passion rose
fierce within me, but I thought of him whose name he spoke, and was
calm. He swore that he had had quite enough of his father's severity,
that he never meant to see his face again. He was now, thank heaven, his
own master, and would take care to remain so; that he had been a fool to
address me, as he might be sure I should tell of his doings, and bring
the old fellow after him. Disgusted beyond measure, yet I could not
forbear asking him if he had heard of his mother's death. Without the
least change of countenance or of voice, he replied--

"'Heard of it, man, aye, and forgotten it by this; why it is some
centuries ago. It would have been a good thing for me had she died years
before she did.'

"'Cecil Grahame!' I exclaimed, in a tone that rung in my ears some
hours afterwards, and I believe made him start, daring even as he was,
'do you know it is your mother of whom you speak? a mother whose only
fault towards you was too much love, a mother whose too fond heart your
cruel conduct broke; are you so completely devoid of feeling that not
even this can move you?'

"'Pray add to your long list of my good mother's perfections a weakness
that ruined me, that made me the wretch I am,' he wildly exclaimed, and
he clenched his hand and bit his lip till the blood came, while his
cheek became livid with some feeling I could not fathom. He spurred his
horse violently, the spirited animal started forward, a kind of spell
seemed to rivet my eyes upon him. There was a loud report of cannon from
the Place de Grêve, several balls whizzed close by me, evidently fired
to disperse the multitude, who were tumultuously assembling on the Pont
de la Cité, and ere I could recover from the startling effects of the
report, I heard a shrill scream of mortal agony, and Cecil Grahame fell
from his horse a shattered corpse.

       *       *       *       *       *

For several minutes I was wholly unconscious of all that was passing
around me. I stood by the body of the unfortunate young man, quite
insensible to the danger I was incurring from the shot. I could only see
him before my eyes, as I had known him in his boyhood and his earliest
youth, full of fair promises, of hopeful futurity, the darling of his
mother's eye, the pride of his father, spite of his faults; and now what
was he? a mangled corpse, cut off without warning or preparation in his
early youth. But, oh, worse, far worse than all, with the words of
hatred, of defiance on his lips. I sought in vain for life; there was no
sign, no hope. To attempt to rescue the body was vain, the tumult was
increasing fearfully around me; many gendarmes were falling
indiscriminately with the populace, and the countenance of Cecil was so
fearfully disfigured, that to attempt to recognise it when all might
again be quiet would, I knew, be useless. One effort I made, I inquired
for and sought Lord Alphingham's hotel, intending to obtain his
assistance in the proper interment of this unfortunate young man, but in
this was equally frustrated; the hotel was closely shut up. Lord and
Lady Alphingham had, at the earliest threatening of disturbances,
retreated to their chateau in the province of Champagne. I forwarded the
melancholy intelligence to them, and returned to my own hotel sick at
heart with the sight I had witnessed. The fearful tone of his last
words, the agonized shriek, rung in my ears, as the shattered form and
face floated before my eyes, with a tenacity no effort of my own or even
of my Louisa's could dispel. Oh, my mother, what do I not owe you for
guarding me from the temptations that have assailed this wretched young
man, or rather for imprinting on my infant mind those principles which,
with the blessing of our heavenly Father, have thus preserved me.
Naturally, my temper, my passions were like his, in nothing was I his
superior; but it was your hand, your prayers, my mother, planted the
seeds of virtue, your gentle firmness eradicated those faults which, had
they been fostered by indulgence, might have rendered my life like Cecil
Grahame's, and exposed me in the end to a death like his. What would
have availed my father's judicious guidance, my brother's mild example,
had not the soil been prepared by a mother's hand and watered by a
mother's prayers? blessings, a thousand blessings on your head, my
mother! Oh, may my children learn to bless theirs even as I do mine;
they cannot know a purer joy on earth.

       *       *       *       *       *

"We have arrived at Rouen in safety. I am truly thankful to feel my
beloved wife is far from the scene of confusion and danger to which she
has been so unavoidably exposed. I am not deceived in her strength of
nerve, my dear mother; I did not think, when I boasted of it as one of
her truly valuable acquirements, I should so soon have seen it put to
the proof; to her letter to Caroline I refer you for all entertaining
matter.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I have been interrupted by an interview as unexpected as it promises to
be gratifying. One dear to us all may, at length, rejoice there is hope;
but I dare not say too much, for the health of this unhappy young man is
so shattered, he may never yet embrace his mother. But to be more
explicit, I was engaged in writing, unconsciously with the door of my
apartment half open, when I was roused by the voice of the waiter,
exclaiming, 'Not that room, sir, if you please, yours is yonder.' I
looked up and met the glance of a young man, whom, notwithstanding the
long lapse of years, spite of faded form and attenuated features, I
recognised on the instant. It was Alfred Greville. I was far more
surprised and inconceivably more shocked than when Cecil Grahame crossed
my path; I had marked no change in the features or the expression of the
latter, but both in Alfred Greville were so totally altered, that he
stood before me the living image of his sister, a likeness I had never
perceived before. I was too much astonished to address him, and before I
could frame words, he had sprung forward, with a burning flush on his
cheek, and grasping my hand, wildly exclaimed, 'Do not shun me,
Hamilton, I am not yet an utter reprobate. Tell me of my mother; does
she live?"

"'She does,' I replied; instantly a burst of thanksgiving broke from his
lips, at least so I imagined, from the expression of his features, for
there were no articulate sounds, and a swoon resembling death
immediately followed. Medical assistance was instantly procured, but
though actual insensibility was not of long continuance, he is
pronounced to be in such an utterly exhausted state, that we dare not
encourage hopes for his final recovery; yet still I cannot but believe
he will be spared--spared not only in health, but as a reformed and
better man, to bless that mother whose cares for him, despite long years
of difficulties and sorrow, have never failed. In vain I entreated him
not to exhaust himself by speaking; that I would not leave him, and if
he would only be quiet, he might be better able on the morrow to tell me
all he desired. He would not be checked; he might not, he said, be
spared many hours, and he must speak ere he died. Comparatively
speaking, but little actual vice has stained the conduct of Greville.
Throughout all his career the remembrance of his mother has often, very
often mingled in his gayest hours, and dashed them with remorseful
bitterness. He owns that often of late years her image, and that of his
sister Mary, have risen so mildly, so impressively before him, that he
has flown almost like a maniac from the gay and heartless throngs, to
solitude and silence, and as the thoughts of home and his infancy, when
he first lisped out his boyish prayer by the side of his sister at his
mother's knee, came thronging over him, he has sobbed and wept like a
child. These feelings returned at length so often and so powerfully,
that he felt to resist them was even more difficult and painful than to
break from the flowery chains which his gay companions had woven round
him. He declared his resolution; he resisted ridicule and persuasion.
Almost for the first time in his life he remained steadily firm, and
when he had indeed succeeded, and found himself some distance from the
scenes of luxurious pleasure, he felt himself suddenly endowed with an
elasticity of spirit, which he had not experienced for many a long year.
The last tidings he had received of his mother and sister were that they
were at Paris, and thither he determined to go, having parted from his
companions at Florence. During the greater part of his journey to the
French capital, he fancied his movements were watched by a stranger,
gentlemanly in his appearance, and not refusing to enter into
conversation when Greville accosted him; but still Alfred did not feel
satisfied with his companionship, though to get rid of him seemed an
impossibility, for however he changed his course, the day never passed
without his shadow darkening Greville's path. Within eighty miles of
Paris, however, he lost all traces of him, and he then reproached
himself for indulging in unnecessary fears. He was not in Paris two
days, however, before, to his utter astonishment, he was arrested and
thrown into prison on the charge of forging bank-notes, two years
previous, to a very considerable amount. In vain he protested against
the accusation alleging at that time he had been in Italy and not in
Paris. Notes bearing his own signature, and papers betraying other
misdemeanours, were brought forward, and on their testimony and that of
the stranger, whose name he found to be _Dupont_, he was thrown into
prison to await his trial. To him the whole business was an impenetrable
mystery. To us, my dear father, it is all clear as day. Poor Mrs.
Greville's fears were certainly not without foundation, and when affairs
are somewhat more quiet in Paris, I shall leave no stone unturned to
prove young Greville's perfect innocence to the public, and bring that
wretch Dupont to the same justice to which his hatred would have
condemned the son of his old companion. Alfred's agitation on hearing my
explanation of the circumstance was extreme. The errors of his father
appeared to fall heavily on him, and yet he uttered no word of reproach
on his memory. The relation of his melancholy death, and the misery in
which we found Mrs. Greville and poor Mary affected him so deeply, I
dreaded their effect on his health; but this was nothing to his
wretchedness when, by his repeated questions, he absolutely wrung from
me the tale of his sister's death, his mother's desolation: no words can
portray the extent of his self-reproach. It is misery to look upon him
now, and feel what he might have been, had his mother been indeed
permitted to exercise her rights. There is no happiness for Alfred
Greville this side of the Channel; he pines for home--for his mother's
blessing and forgiveness, and till he receives them, health will not,
cannot return.

       *       *       *       *       *

In prison he remained for six long weary months, with the consciousness
that, amidst the many light companions with whom he had associated,
there was not one to whom he could appeal for friendship and assistance
in his present situation, and the thoughts of his mother and sister
returned with greater force, from the impossibility of learning anything
concerning them. The hope of escaping never left him, and, with the
assistance of a comrade, he finally effected it on the 27th of July, the
confusion of the city aiding him far more effectually than he believed
possible. He came down to Rouen in a coal-barge, so completely
exhausted, that he declared, had not the thought of England and his
mother been uppermost, he would gladly have laid down in the open
streets to die. To England he felt impelled, he scarcely knew wherefore,
save that he looked to us for the information he so ardently desired.
Our family had often been among his waking visions, and this accounts
for the agitation I witnessed when I first looked up. He said he felt he
knew me, but he strove to move or speak in vain; he could not utter the
only question he wished to frame, and was unable to depart without being
convinced if I indeed were Percy Hamilton.

"'And now I have seen you, what have I learnt?' he said, as he ceased a
tale, more of sorrow than of crime.

"'That your mother lives,' I replied, 'that she has never ceased to pray
for and love her son, that you can yet be to her a blessing and
support.'

"Should he wish her sent for, I asked, I knew she would not demand a
second summons. He would not hear of it.

"'Not while I have life enough to seek her. What, bring her all these
miles to me. My mother, my poor forsaken mother. Oh, no, if indeed I may
not live, if strength be not granted me to seek her, then, then it will
be time enough to think of beseeching her to come to me; but not while a
hope of life remains, speak not of it, Percy. Let her know nothing of
me, nothing, till I can implore her blessing on my knees.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

"I have ceased to argue with him, for he is bent upon it, and perhaps it
is better thus. His mind appears much relieved, he has passed a quiet
night, and this morning the physician finds a wonderful improvement,
wonderful to him perhaps, but not to me."

       *       *       *       *       *

Percy's letters containing the above extracts, were productive of much
interest to his friends at Oakwood. The details of Cecil's death,
alleviated by sympathy, were forwarded to his father and sister. The
words that had preceded his death Mr. Hamilton carefully suppressed from
his friend, and Mr. Grahame, as if dreading to hear anything that could
confirm his son's reckless disposition, asked no particulars. For three
months he buried himself in increased seclusion at Llangwillan, refusing
all invitations, and denying himself steadfastly to all. At the
termination of that period, however, he once more joined his friends, an
altered and a happier man. His misanthropy had departed, and often Mr.
Hamilton remarked to his wife, that the Grahame of fifty resembled the
Grahame of five-and-twenty far more than he had during the intervening
years. Lilla and Edward were sources of such deep interest to him, that
in their society he seemed to forget the misery occasioned by his other
children. The shock of her brother's death was long felt by Lilla; she
sorrowed that he was thus suddenly cut off without time for one thought
of eternity, one word of penitence, of prayer. The affection of her
husband, however, gradually dispelled these melancholy thoughts, and
when Lord Delmont paid his promised visit to his nephew, he found no
abatement in those light and joyous spirits which had at first attracted
him towards Lilla.

Ellen, at her own particular request, had undertaken to prepare Mrs.
Greville for the return of her son, and the change that had taken place
in him. Each letter from Percy continued his recovery, and here we may
notice, though somewhat out of place, as several months elapsed ere he
was enabled fully to succeed, that, by the active exertions of himself
and of the solicitor his father had originally employed, Dupont was at
length brought to justice, his criminal machinations fully exposed to
view, and the innocence of Alfred Greville, the son of the deceased, as
fully established in the eyes of all men.

Gently and cautiously Ellen performed her office, and vain would be the
effort to portray the feelings or the fond and desolate mother, as she
anticipated the return of her long-absent, dearly-loved son. Of his own
accord he came back to her; he had tried the pleasures of the world, and
proved them hollow; he had formed friendships with the young, the gay,
the bright, the lovely, and he had found them all wanting in stability
and happiness. Amid them all his heart had yearned for home and for
domestic love; that mother had not prayed in vain.

Softly and beautifully fell the light of a setting sun around the
pretty little cottage, on the banks of the Dart, which was now the
residence of Mrs. Greville; the lattice was thrown widely back, and the
perfume of unnumbered flowers scented the apartment, which Ellen's hand
had loved to decorate, that Mrs. Greville might often, very often forget
she was indeed alone. It was the early part of September, and a
delicious breeze passed by, bearing health and elasticity upon its wing,
and breathing soft melody amid the trees and shrubs. Softly and calmly
glided the smooth waters at the base of the garden. The green verandah
running round the cottage was filled with beautiful exotics, which
Ellen's hand had transported from the conservatory at Oakwood. It was a
sweet and soothing sight to see how judiciously, how unassumingly Ellen
devoted herself to the desolate mother, without once permitting that
work of love to interfere with her still nearer, still dearer ties at
home. She knew how Herbert would have loved and devoted himself to the
mother of his Mary, and in this, as in all things, she followed in his
steps. Untiringly would she listen to and speak on Mrs. Greville's
favourite theme, her Mary; and now she sat beside her, enlivening by
gentle converse the hours that must intervene ere Alfred came. There was
an expression of such calm, such chastened thanksgiving on Mrs.
Greville's features, changed as they were by years of sorrow, that none
could gaze on her without a kindred feeling stealing over the heart, and
in very truth those feelings seemed reflected on the young and lovely
countenance beside her. A pensive yet a sweet and pleasing smile rested
on Ellen's lips, and her dark eye shone softly bright in the light of
sympathy. Beautiful indeed were the orphan's features, but not the
dazzling beauty of early youth. If a stranger had gazed on her
countenance when in calm repose, he would have thought she had seen
sorrow; but when that beaming smile of true benevolence, that eye of
intellectual and soul-speaking beauty met his glance, as certain would
he have felt that sorrow, whatever it might have been, indeed had lost
its sting.

"It was such an evening, such an hour my Mary died," Mrs. Greville said,
as she laid her hand in Ellen's. "I thought not then to have reflected
on it with feelings such as now fill my heart. Oh, when I look back on
past years, and recall the prayers I have uttered in tears for my son,
my Alfred, the doubts, the fears that have arisen to check my prayer, I
wonder wherefore am I thus blessed."

"Our God is a God of truth, and He promiseth to answer prayer, dearest
Mrs. Greville," replied Ellen, earnestly; "and He is a God of love, and
will bless those who seek Him and trust in Him as you have done."

"He gave me grace to trust in Him, my child. I trusted, I doubted not He
would answer me in another world, but I thought not such blessing was
reserved for me in this. A God of love--ay, in my hour of affliction. I
have felt Him so. Oh, may the blessings of His loving-kindness shower
down upon me, soften yet more my heart to receive His glorious image."

She ceased to speak, but her lips moved still as in inward prayer. Some
few minutes elapsed, and suddenly the glowing light of the sun was
darkened, as by an intervening shadow. The mother raised her head, and
in another instant her son was at her feet.

"Mother, can you forgive, receive me? Bid me not go forth--I cannot,
may not leave you."

"Go forth, my son, my son--oh, never, never!" she cried, and clasping
him to her bosom, the quick glad tears fell fast upon his brow. She
released him to gaze again and again upon his face, and fold him closer
to her heart, to read in those sunken features, that faded form, the
tale that he had come back to her heart and to her home, never, never
more to leave her.

In that one moment years of error were forgotten. The mother only felt
she hold her son to her heart, a suffering, yet an altered and a better
man; and he, that he knelt once more beside his mother, forgiven and
beloved.



CHAPTER XII.

CONCLUSION


And now, what can we more say? Will not the Hamilton family, and those
intimately connected with them, indeed be deemed complete? It was our
intention to trace in the first part of our tale the cares, the joys,
the sorrows of parental love, during the years of childhood and earliest
youth; in the second, to mark the _effect_ of those cares, when those on
whom they were so lavishly bestowed attained a period of life in which
it depends more upon themselves than on their parents to frame their own
happiness or misery, as far, at least, as we ourselves can do so. It may
please our Almighty Father to darken our earthly course by the trial of
adversity, and yet that peace founded on religion, which it was Mr. and
Mrs. Hamilton's first care to inculcate, may seldom be disturbed. It
may please Him to bless us with prosperity, but from characters such as
Annie Grahame happiness is a perpetual exile, which no prosperity has
power to recall. We have followed Mr. Hamilton's family from childhood,
we have known them from their earliest years, and now that it has become
their parts to feel those same cares and joys, and perform those
precious but solemn duties which we have watched in Mrs. Hamilton, our
task is done; and we must bid farewell to those we have known and loved
so long; those whom we have seen the happy inmates of one home, o'er
whom--


  "The same fond mother bent at night,"

who shared the same joys, the same cares, whose deepest affections were
confined to their parents and each other, are now scattered in different
parts of their native land, distinct members of society, each with his
own individual cares and joys, with new and precious ties to divide that
heart whose whole affection had once been centred in one spot and in one
circle; and can we be accused in thus terminating our simple annals of
wandering from the real course of life. Is it not thus with very many
families of England? Are not marriage and death twined hand in hand, to
render that home desolate which once resounded with the laugh of many
gleesome hearts, with the glad tones of youthful revelling and joy?
True, in those halls they often meet again, and the hearts of the
parents are not lone, for the family of each child is a source of
inexpressible interest to them; there is still a link, a precious link
to bind them together, but vain and difficult would be the attempt to
continue the history of a family when thus dispersed. Sweet and
pleasing the task to watch the unfledged nestlings while under a
mother's fostering wing, but when they spread their wings and fly, where
is the eye or pen that can follow them on their eager way?

Once more, but once, we will glance within the halls of Oakwood, and
then will we bid them farewell, for our task will be done, and the last
desires of fancy, we trust, to have appeased.

It was in the September of the year 1830 we closed our narrative. Let us
then, for one moment, imagine the veil of fancy is upraised on the first
day of the year, 1838, and gaze within that self-same room, which twenty
years before we had seen lighted up on a similar occasion, the
anniversary of a new year, bright with youthful beauty, and enlivened by
the silvery laugh of early childhood. But few, very few, were the
strangers that this night mingled with Mr. Hamilton's family. It was
not, as it had been twenty years previous, a children's ball on which we
glance. It was but the happy reunion of every member of that truly happy
family, and the lovely, mirthful children there assembled were, with the
exception of a very few, closely connected one with another by the near
relationship of brothers, sisters, and cousins. In Mr. and Mrs.
Hamilton, Mrs. Greville, Montrose Grahame, Lucy Harcourt, and Mr.
Morton, who were all present, time had comparatively made but little
difference; but it was in those who twenty years before had so well
acted the part of youthful entertainers to their various guests that the
change was striking, yet far, very far from being mournful.

On one side might be seen Percy Hamilton, M.P., in earnest yet
pleasurable conversation with Mr. Grahame. It was generally noticed that
these two gentlemen were always talking politics, discussing, whenever
they met, the affairs of the nation, for no senator was more earnest and
interested in his vocation than Percy Hamilton, but certainly on this
night there was no thoughtful gravity of a senator imprinted on his
brow; he was looking and laughing at the childish efforts of the little
Lord Manvers, eldest child of the Earl of Delmont, then in his seventh
year, to emulate the ease and dignity of his cousins, Lord Lyle and
Herbert and Allan Myrvin, some two or three years older than himself,
who, from being rather more often at Oakwood, considered themselves
quite lords of the soil and masters of the ceremonies, during the
present night at least. The Ladies Mary and Gertrude Lyle, distinguished
by the perfect simplicity of their dress, had each twined an arm in that
of the gentle, retiring Caroline Myrvin, and tried to draw her from her
young mother's side, where, somewhat abashed at the number that night
assembled in her grandfather's hall, she seemed determined to remain,
while a younger sister frolicked about the room, making friends with
all, in such wild exuberance of spirits, that Mrs. Myrvin's gentle voice
was more than once raised in playful reproach to reduce her to order,
while her husband and Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton seemed to take delight in
her movements of elasticity and joy. The Countess St. Eval, as majestic
and fascinating in womanhood as her early youth had promised, one moment
watched with a proud yet softly flashing eye the graceful movements of
her son, and the next, was conversing eagerly and gaily with her brother
Percy and the young Earl of Delmont, who were standing near her; seven
years had wrought but little change in him, whom till now we have only
known by the simple designation of Edward Fortescue. Manhood, in his
prime, had rather increased than lessened the extreme beauty of his face
and form; few gazed on him once but turned to gaze again, and the little
smiling cherub of five years, whose soft, round arms were twined round
Miss Fortescue's neck, the Lady Ellen Fortescue, promised fair to
inherit all her father's beauty and peculiar grace, and endeared her to
her young mother's heart with an increased warmth of love, while the
dark flashing eyes of Lord Manvers and his glossy, flowing, ebon curls
rendered him, Edward declared, the perfect likeness of his mother, and
therefore he was the father's pet. Round Mr. Hamilton were grouped, in
attitudes which an artist might have been glad to catch for natural
grace, about three or four younger grandchildren, the eldest not
exceeding four years, who, too young to join in the dance and sports of
their elder brethren, were listening with eager attention to the
entertaining stories grandpapa was relating, calling forth peals of
laughter from his infant auditors, particularly from the fine
curly-headed boy who was installed on the seat of honour, Mr. Hamilton's
knee, being the only child of Percy and Louisa, and consequently the pet
of all. It was to that group Herbert Myrvin wished to confine the
attention of his merry little sister, who, however, did not choose to be
so governed, and frisked about from one group to another, regardless of
her graver brother's warning glances; one minute seated on Mrs.
Hamilton's knee and nestling her little head on her bosom, the next
pulling her uncle Lord St. Eval's coat, to make him turn round and play
with her, and then running away with a wild and ringing laugh.

"Do not look so anxious, my own Emmeline," Mrs. Hamilton said fondly,
as she met her daughter's glance fixed somewhat anxiously on her little
Minnie, for so she was generally called, to distinguish her from Lady
St. Eval's Mary. "You will have no trouble to check those wild spirits
when there is need to do so; her heart is like your own, and then sweet
is the task of rearing."

With all the grateful fondness of earlier years did Mrs. Myrvin look up
in her mother's face, as she thus spoke, and press her hand in hers.

"Not even yet have you ceased to penetrate my thoughts, my dearest
mother," she replied; "from childhood unto the present hour you have
read my countenance as an open book."

"And have not you, too, learned that lesson, my child? Is it not to you
your gentle, timid Caroline clings most fondly? Is it not to you Herbert
comes with his favourite book, and Allan with his tales of glee?
Minnie's mirth is not complete unless she meets your smile, and even
little Florence looks for some sign of sympathy. You have not found the
task so difficult, that you should wonder I should love it?"

"For those beloved ones, oh, what would I not do?" said Mrs. Myrvin, in
a tone of animated fervour, and turning her glistening eyes on her
mother, she added, "My own mother, marriage may bring with it new tics,
new joys, but, oh, who can say it severs the first bright links of life
between a mother and a child? it is now, only now, I feel how much you
loved me."

"May your children be to you what mine have ever been to me, my
Emmeline; I can wish you no greater blessing," replied Mrs. Hamilton,
in a tone of deep emotion, and twining Emmeline's arm in hers, they
joined Mrs. Greville and Miss Harcourt, who were standing together near
the pianoforte, where Edith Seymour, the latter's younger niece, a
pleasing girl of seventeen, was good-naturedly playing the music of the
various dances which Lord Lyle and Herbert Myrvin were calling in rapid
succession. In another part of the room Alfred Greville and Laura
Seymour were engaged in such earnest conversation, that Lord Delmont
indulged in more than one joke at their expense, of which, however, they
were perfectly unconscious; and this had occurred so often, that many of
Mrs. Greville's friends entertained the hope of seeing the happiness now
so softly and calmly imprinted on her expressive features, very shortly
heightened by the union of her now truly estimable son with an amiable
and accomplished young woman, fitted in all respects to supply the place
of the daughter she had lost.

And what had these seven years done for the Countess of Delmont, who had
completely won the delighted kiss and smiles of Minnie Myrvin, by
joining in all her frolics, and finally accepting Allan's blushing
invitation, and joining the waltz with him, to the admiration of all the
children. The girlish vivacity of Lilla Grahame had not deserted Lady
Dolmont; conjugal and maternal love had indeed softened and subdued a
nature, which in early years had been perhaps too petulant; had
heightened yet chastened sensibility. Never was happiness more visibly
impressed or more keenly felt than by the youthful Countess. Her
husband, in his extreme fondness, had so fostered her at times almost
childish glee, that he might have unfitted her for her duties, had not
the mild counsels, the example of his sister, Miss Fortescue, turned
aside the threatening danger, and to all the fascination of early
childhood Lady Delmont united the more solid and enduring qualities of
pious, well-regulated womanhood.

"I wonder Charles is not jealous," observed Mrs. Percy Hamilton,
playfully, after admiring to Lord Delmont his wife's peculiar grace in
waltzing. "Allan seems to have claimed her attention entirely."

"Charles has something better to do," replied his father, laughing, as
the little Lord Manvers flew by him, with his arm twined round his
cousin Gertrude in the inspiring galop, and seemed to have neither ear
nor eye for any one or anything else. "Caroline, do you permit your
daughter to play the coquette so early?"

"Better at seven than seventeen, Edward, believe me; had she numbered
the latter, I might be rather more uneasy, at present I can admire that
pretty little pair without any such feeling. Gertrude told me to-day,
she did not like to see her cousin Charles so shy, and she should do all
she could to make him as much at home as she and her brother are."

"She has succeeded, then, admirably," replied Edward, laughing, "for the
little rogue has not much shyness in him now. Herbert and Mary have got
that corner all to themselves; I should like to go slily behind them,
and find out what they are talking about."

"Try and remember what you used to talk about to your partners in this
very room, some twenty years back, and perhaps recollection will
satisfy your curiosity," said Lady St. Eval, smiling, but faintly,
however; the names Herbert and Mary had recalled a time when those names
had often been joined before, and the silent prayer arose that their
fates might not resemble those whose names they bore, that they might be
spared a longer time to bless those who loved them.

"Twenty years back, Caroline, what an undertaking. Allan is more like
the madcap I was then, so I can better enter into his feelings of
pleasure. By-the-bye, why are not Mrs. Cameron's family here to-night? I
half expected to meet them here yesterday."

"They spend this season with Sir Walter and Lady Cameron in Scotland,"
replied Lady St. Eval. "Florence declared she would take no excuse; the
Marquis and Marchioness of Malvern, with Emily and Louis, are there
also, and Lady Alford is to join them in a week or two."

"You were there last summer, were you not?"

"We were. They are one of the happiest couples I know, and their estate
is most beautiful. Florence declares that, were Sir Walter Scott still
living, she intended to have made him take her for a heroine, her
husband for a hero, and transport them some centuries back, to figure on
that same romantic estate in some very exciting scenes."

"Had he killed Cameron's first love and rendered him desperate, and made
Florence some consoling spirit, to remove his despair, instead of making
him so unromantically enabled to conquer his passion, because
unreturned. Why I could make as good a story as Sir Walter himself; if
she will reward me liberally, I will set about it."

"It will never do, Lord Delmont, it is much too common-place," said Mrs.
Percy Hamilton, smiling. "It is a very improper question, I allow, but
who was Sir Walter's first love?"

"Do you not know? A certain friend of yours whom I torment, by declaring
she is invulnerable to the little god's arrows," he answered, joyously.

"She may be invulnerable to Cupid, but certainly not to any other kind
of love," remarked Lady St. Eval, as she smilingly pointed out to Mrs.
Percy's notice Miss Fortescue, surrounded by a group of children, and
bearing on her expressive countenance unanswerable evidences of her
interest in the happiness of all around her.

"And is it possible, after loving _her_ he could love another?" she
exclaimed, in unfeigned astonishment.

"Disagreeably unromantic, Louisa, is it not?" said Lord Delmont,
laughing heartily; "but what was the poor man to do? Ellen was
inexorable, and refused to bestow on him anything but her friendship."

"Which he truly values," interrupted Lady St. Eval. "You must allow,
Louisa, he was wise, however free from romance; the character of
Florence, in many points, very much resembles Ellen's. She is one of the
very few whom I do not wonder at his choosing, after what had passed. Do
you know, Edward, Flora Cameron marries in the spring?"

"I heard something about it; tell me who to."

She complied, and Percy and Mr. Grahame joining them, the conversation
extended to more general topics.

"Nay, Allan, dear, do not tease your sister," was Miss Fortesene's
gentle remonstrance, as Allan endeavoured, somewhat roughly, to draw
Minnie from her side, where, however, she clung with a pertinacity no
persuasion or reproach could shake.

"She will hurt Ellen," replied the boy, sturdily, "and she has no right
to take her place by you."

"But she may stand here too, there is room for us both," interrupted the
little Ellen, though she did not offer to give up her place in her
aunt's lap to her cousin.

"Go away, Allan, I choose to stand here, and aunt Ellen says I may," was
Minnie's somewhat impatient rejoinder, as she tried to push her brother
away, though her pretty little features expressed no ill-temper on the
occasion, for she laughed as she spoke.

"Aunt Ellen promised to dance with me," retorted Allan, "and so I will
not go away unless she comes too."

"With me, with me!" exclaimed Lord Manvers, bounding forward to join the
group. "She promised three months ago to dance with me."

"And how often have I not performed that promise, Master Charlie?"
replied Ellen, laughing, "even more often with you than with Allan, so I
must give him the preference first."

Her good-natured smiles, the voice which betrayed such real interest in
all that pleased her little companions, banished every appearance of
discontent. The magic power of affection and sympathy rendered every
little pleader satisfied and pleased; and, after performing her promise
with Allan, she put the final seal to his enjoyment by confiding the
little bashful Ellen to his especial care; a charge, which Myrvin
declared, caused his son to hold himself up two inches higher than he
had done yet.

"Ellen, if you do not make yourself as great and deservedly a favourite
with my children as with your brother's and Emmeline's, I shall never
forgive you," said the Earl St. Eval, who had been watching Miss
Fortescue's cheerful gambols with the children for the last half hour,
in extreme amusement, and now joined her.

"Am I not so already, Eugene?" she said, smiling that peculiar smile of
quiet happiness which was now natural to her countenance. "I should be
sorry if I thought they did not love me equally; for believe me, with
the sole exception of my little namesake and godchild, my nephews and
nieces are all equally dear to me. I have no right to make an exception
even in favour of my little Ellen, but Edward has so often called her
mine, and even Lilla has promised to share her maternal rights with me,
that I really cannot help it. Your children do not see so much of me as
Emmeline's, and that is the reason perhaps they are not quite so free
with me; but believe mo, dear St. Eval, it will not be my fault if they
do not love me."

"I do believe you," replied the Earl, warmly. "I have but one regret,
Ellen, when I see you loving and beloved by so many little creatures."

"And what may that be?"

"That they are not some of them your own, my dear girl. I cannot tell
you how I regret the fact, of which each year the more and more
convinces me, that you are determined ever to remain single. There are
very few in my list of female friends so fitted to adorn the marriage
state, very few who would make a better mother, and I cannot but regret
there are none on whom you seem inclined to bestow those endearing and
invaluable qualities."

"Regret it then no more, my dear St. Eval," replied Ellen, calmly, yet
with feeling. "I thank you for that high opinion which I believe you
entertain of me, too flattering as it may be; but cease to regret that I
have determined to live an old maid's life. To me, believe me, it has no
terrors. To single women the opportunities of doing good, of making
others happy, are more frequent than those granted to mothers and wives;
and while such is the case, is it not our own fault if we are not happy?
I own that the life of solitude which an old maid's includes, may, if
the heart be so inclined, be equally productive of selfishness,
moroseness of temper, and obstinacy in opinion and judgment, but most
fervently I trust such will never be my attributes. It can never be
while my beloved aunt and uncle are spared to me, which I trust they
will be for many, many years longer; and even should they be removed
before I anticipate, I have so many to love me, so many to dearly love,
that I can have no time, no room for selfishness."

"Do not mistake me, Ellen," St. Eval replied, earnestly; "I do not wish
to see you married because I dread your becoming like some single women;
with your principles such can never be. Your society--your influence
over the minds of our children--is far too precious to be lightly wished
removed, as it would be were you to marry. It is for your own sake,
dearest Ellen, I regret it, and for the sake of him you might select,
that you, who are so fitted to enjoy and to fulfil them, can never know
the pleasures attendant on the duties of a happy wife and mother; that
by a husband and child, the dearest ties of earth, you will go down to
the grave unloved."

"You are right, St. Eval, they are the dearest ties on earth; but
pleasures, the pleasures of affection, too, are yet left to us, who may
never know them. Think you not, that to feel it is my place to cheer and
soothe the declining years of those dear and tender guardians of my
infancy must bring with it enjoyment--to see myself welcomed by smiles
of love and words of kindness by all my brothers and sisters--to see
their children flock around me as I enter, each seeking to be the first
to obtain my smile or kiss--to know myself of service to my
fellow-creatures, I mean not in my own rank, but those beneath me--to
feel conscious that in every event of life, particularly in sickness or
in sorrow, if those I so love require my presence, or I feel I may give
them comfort or sympathy, at least I may fly to them, for I shall have
no tie, no dearer or more imperious duty to keep me from them--are not
these considerations enough to render a single life indeed one of
happiness, St. Eval? Even from this calm, unruffled stream of life can I
not gather flowers?"

"You would gather them wherever you were placed, my dear and
noble-minded Ellen," said the Earl, with a warmth that caused her eye to
glisten. "You are right: with a disposition such as yours, I have no
need to regret you have so steadfastly refused every offer of marriage.
My girls shall come to you in that age when they think matrimony is the
only chance of happiness, and you shall teach them felicity dwells not
so much in outward circumstances as in the temper of the mind. Perhaps,
after all, Ellen, you are happier as it is. You might not find such a
husband as I would wish you, and I should be sorry to see your maternal
cares rewarded as were poor Mrs. Greville's."

"I rather think, in the blessedness of the present the past is entirely
forgotten," observed Ellen, thoughtfully. "There are cares and sorrows
attendant on the happiest lot; but if a mother does her duty, in my
opinion she seldom fails to obtain her recompense, however long
deferred."

"You are right, my Ellen," said Mrs. Hamilton, who had been listening to
the conversation some little time unobserved. "There are many sorrows
and many cares inseparable from maternal love, but they are forgotten,
or only remembered to enhance the sweetness of the recompense that ever
follows. Do you not think, to see my children, as I do now around me,
walking in that path which alone can lead to eternal life, and leading
their offspring with them, bringing up so tenderly, so fondly their
children as heirs of immortality, and yet lavishing on me, as on their
father, the love and duty of former years--is not this a precious
recompense for all which for them I may have done or borne? Even as I
watched the departing moments of my Herbert, as I marked the triumphant
and joyful flight of his pure spirit to his heavenly home,--even then
was I not rewarded? I saw the fruit of those lessons I had been
permitted through grace to inculcate; his last breath blessed me, and
was not that enough? Oh, my beloved children, let no difficulties deter
you, no temptation, no selfish suffering prevent your training up the
lovely infants now gambolling around you, in the way that they should
go;--solemn is the charge, awful the responsibility, but sweeter far
than words can give it, the reward which either in life or death will
then be yours."

"Ah, could we perform our parts as you have yours, dearest mother, then
indeed might we hope it," exclaimed the Countess St. Eval and Mrs.
Myrvin at the same moment, as they drew closer to their mother, the eyes
of both glistening with emotion as they spoke.

"And if we do reap the happiness of which you spoke, to whom shall we
owe it, mother?" demanded Percy, feelingly; for he too, attracted by his
mother's emotion, had joined the group. "Whose care, under God's
blessing, has made us as we are, and taught us, not only by precept but
example, how to conduct ourselves and our children? yours and my
father's; and if indeed in after years our children look up to us and
bless us as we do you, oh, my mother, the remembrance of you will mingle
with that blessedness, and render it yet purer."

"Truly have you spoken, my son," said Mr. Hamilton, whose little
companions had about half an hour before been transported to their
nursery. "While sharing with your dear mother the happiness arising from
your conduct, my children, often and often has the remembrance of my
mother entered my heart to chasten and enhance those feelings. Gratitude
to her, reverence of her memory, have mingled with the present joy, and
so will it be with you. Your parents may have descended to the grave
before your children can be to you what you have been to us, but we
shall be remembered. Long, long may you feel as you think on your
mother, my beloved children, and teach your offspring to venerate her
memory, that the path of the just is indeed as a shining light, which
shineth more and more unto the perfect day."


THE END.





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