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Title: Mystery and Confidence Vol. 1 - A Tale
Author: Pinchard, Elizabeth
Language: English
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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 "Mystery and Confidence Vol. 1 - A Tale" ***

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                        MYSTERY AND CONFIDENCE:

                              _A TALE._

                        BY ELIZABETH PINCHARD.

                          IN THREE VOLUMES.

                               VOL. I.


    LONDON:
    PRINTED FOR HENRY COLBURN,
    PUBLIC LIBRARY, CONDUIT-STREET, HANOVER-SQUARE,
    AND SOLD BY GEORGE GOLDIE, EDINBURGH,
    AND JOHN CUMMING, DUBLIN.

    1814.

    B. CLARKE, Printer, Well-Street, London.



ADVERTISEMENT.


It having been suggested to the Author of the following Tale, that its
principal event may perhaps be thought somewhat too romantic and
improbable, she begs to observe, that it is founded upon a fact well
known, and not so long past as not to be in the recollection of many
persons now alive, and particularly those in the higher circles.



MYSTERY

AND

CONFIDENCE.



CHAP. I.

    Due westward, fronting to the green,
    A rural portico was seen,
    Where Ellen's hand had taught to twine
    The ivy and Idean vine;
    The clematis, the favor'd flow'r,
    Which boasts the name of virgin's bow'r.

    LADY OF THE LAKE.


At the foot of one of the most romantic mountains in North Wales, about
a mile from the coast of Carnarvonshire, stands the little village of
Llanwyllan: there, amongst trees which seemed coeval with the dwelling,
was a very large farm-house, the residence of Farmer Powis. Its high
chimneys, and neatly white-washed walls, rendered it a pleasing object
to those who travelled on the high-road, about a mile off, which led to
the next market-town, if high-road that might be called which merely
served to facilitate the journies of the neighbouring farmers' wives to
market and back again, or those of the curate, who served the churches
in the immediate vicinity. The hand of native taste had removed a few
branches from the immense trees which shaded this rural dwelling, and by
that means afforded to the inhabitants a view of the road, the spire of
the village church, and two or three natural rills of water, which,
falling from the adjacent hills, increased the beauty of the scene. At
this dwelling a traveller arrived on the evening of a day which had been
intensely hot, in the summer of 18--: the dust which covered his shoes,
and almost concealed the colour of his coat, declared him a pedestrian;
probably, therefore, of inferior rank; yet, under the shade which
fatigue had thrown over his features, might be discerned a fine and
interesting countenance; and when at the door of the farm-house, where
Powis sat inhaling the mixed fumes of his evening pipe, and the
fragrance of a fine honeysuckle which entwined around the porch, he
inquired the nearest way to----, the tones of his voice, and the
fineness of his accent, would, to a practised ear, have proclaimed a man
who had mixed with the higher orders of society: to Powis, however, they
conveyed no idea but that the traveller was weary and spoke with
civility; and either would have demanded from him civility, nay,
kindness in return: he rose therefore from his seat, and pushing aside
his little table, made room for the stranger, and requested him to be
seated. The stranger thankfully complied, and taking off his hat, wiped
the dust from his face, and shewed a fine forehead and eyes, whose
brilliant rays seemed more obscured by sorrow than by time, though he
appeared to be about five-and-thirty. While the farmer went into the
house to order some refreshment for his weary guest, the stranger turned
his eyes, and saw with surprise that every thing about him bore the
marks of taste; of taste not indeed highly refined, but simple, natural,
and delicate: every tree round the spot on which he sat was intertwined
with woodbines, clematis, and the wild hop; and the long shoots of all
were carried from tree to tree, forming festoons of exquisite grace and
beauty. At the foot of each tree a space had been cleared and filled
with fragrant plants, whose culture requires little trouble.
Mignionette, roses, pinks, and carnations, perfumed the air, while the
too powerful seringa was only suffered to rise at a considerable
distance, whence its odour came occasionally wafted by the evening
breeze, and (if the expression may be allowed) harmonized well with the
softer scents in the immediate vicinity of the dwelling. A variety of
birds in the adjacent orchard and fields yet poured their mingled songs,
which, as the sun declined gradually, sunk into a softer strain, and
soon all was hushed into repose. In the meantime the table was spread
with a neat cloth, cold meat, brown bread, some fresh-gathered fruit,
cream, ale, and home-made wine; each excellent in its kind.

The farmer had not asked his guest to "_take some refreshment_," the
phrase being probably unknown to him, but with genuine hospitality,
seeing he was fatigued, concluded it would be acceptable, and pressed
him to partake of what was set before them; then calling to the servant
girl, who had spread the table, he said something to her in Welsh, which
she answered in the same language. "That is unlucky," said Powis: "my
daughter, Sir, is absent just now; she is gone to the curate's, the only
house in the neighbourhood she likes to visit at; indeed, she has reason
to like it, for Mrs. Ross has taught Ellen to sew and to read, and be a
tolerable housewife, ever since my poor wife died, which happened when
Ellen was a little child; and she looks upon Mrs. Ross as her mother,
and Joanna Ross, who is nearly her own age, as her sister: they are good
companions for each other, and good girls both, I assure you: however,
we will not wait, for perhaps Ellen may not be at home this half hour or
more." "I fear," said the stranger, "I have induced you to hasten your
meal, and perhaps----" "Not at all, not at all," interrupted Powis.
"Ellen can eat her fruit and milk at any time, or perhaps will partake
of our good parson's supper; never mind her." "You are indeed very kind;
but I fear it grows late. How far have I to walk to the little inn where
you said I might procure a bed?" "About half a mile: but the moon is
rising, and one of my boys shall shew you the way: you may be sure of a
bed; they have two to spare; both clean and decent, though plain and
homely; and we have few travellers in these parts."

Some more conversation passed, and then, the stranger having eaten as
much as he liked, and withstood an earnest solicitation to eat a great
deal more, rose to depart. The boy was called, and the charge given to
him in Welsh to recommend the stranger to the best attentions of
neighbour Jones, at the sign of the Prince of Wales; being explained to
the traveller in English, he took his leave.

In the course of the conversation which passed between them, the
stranger told Powis that he was travelling merely for amusement, and
preferred walking to any other mode of conveyance, as affording him
better opportunities of exploring the romantic scenery with which Wales
abounds; but this the farmer imagined was the language of a man, who,
although he was poor, did not wish to be thought so. He said he was so
much pleased with what he had seen of the country round Llanwyllan, that
it was his intention to remain there a few days, if he found tolerable
accommodations at the inn; and Powis gave him a pressing invitation to
rest whenever he pleased at his house, and to partake of his dinner or
supper; for in that retired spot, where fraud and deceit were almost
unknown, suspicion was equally a stranger, nor arose to check that frank
hospitality man should naturally afford to man. The stranger said he had
left his portmanteau at Carnarvon, and should send a man to fetch it the
next day, if he determined on remaining at the village. Powis mentioned
several points of view which he said were thought fine, though he
professed not to understand the business much.

As the stranger, with his little Welsh guide, passed through the trees
which grew round the house, just where the shadow was deepest, he
discerned the flutter of the white or light-coloured garments of two
girls, and heard youthful voices in chat, and laughing; yet not rudely
or with vulgarity, but with native gaiety and mirth of heart. He could
just distinguish that one of the females was taller than the other, and
heard a soft harmonious voice articulate in good English, and with very
little of the Welsh accent: "Good night, dear Joanna; come to-morrow,
and stay with me all day: good night; love to Charles." The other
replied at a few paces distant: "Ah, poor Charles! how vexed he will be
that he staid so late; well, good night, Ellen."

"These, I suppose," thought the stranger, "are Powis's daughter and her
friend Joanna Ross. I am glad I missed them. I hate country-girls.
Charles I imagine is the lover of one. Happy creatures who can yet fancy
felicity in love, and dream I know not what of constancy and
bliss!--Falsehood, jealousy, revenge!--dreadful, dreadful words! to them
are unknown: but what have I to do with thoughts like these? Why, even
in the stillness of this calm retreat, do such shocking images haunt my
mind?" He hurried on as if fatigue had no longer power over him,
insomuch that his young guide could hardly keep up with him, till he
reached the village inn, where, as Powis had said, a cleanly though
homely bed was soon prepared for him.



CHAP. II.

    Her form was fresher than the morning rose,
    When the dew wets its leaves, unstain'd and pure
    As is the lily, or the mountain snow.
    The modest virtues mingled in her eyes.

    THOMSON.


In the evening of the next day, having in the course of it received his
portmanteau from Carnarvon, our traveller, whose name he gave his
landlord to understand was Mordaunt, began slowly to ascend a romantic
mountain, stopping at intervals to admire the beauty of the surrounding
prospect, and occasionally selecting from the mountain plants such
specimens as he had not met with before; for our traveller was an
excellent botanist, had a slight knowledge of mineralogy, and a genuine
taste for the charms of nature. In what farther sciences he was
instructed, and how he came by information so much above his present
sphere, we shall learn as we proceed.

Mordaunt had wandered more than an hour, when he reached some slight
remains of an ancient castle: it was a complete ruin, affording no
shelter, and scarcely a resting-place; however, on a large stone, which
had fallen from one of the crumbling pillars, he sat down and enjoyed
the beauty of the extensive prospect before him, and to which no
descriptive powers short of Mrs. Radcliffe's could do justice: here he
remained, catching, at intervals, a distant sail; for the sea, not far
off, formed one magnificent feature in the view; till the shades of
evening appeared to close upon him somewhat suddenly: surprised at the
gloom, he turned round, and observed that the top of the mountain behind
him was covered with heavy clouds, which soon becoming thicker, fell
around him in large drops of rain, mingled with low muttering thunder,
and distant gleams of lightning: the sea assumed a more terrific
appearance, and the lashing of the waves against the shore was more
distinctly heard: every thing, in short, seemed to foretell a tremendous
storm.

                            The gloomy woods
    Start at the flash, and from their deep recess,
    Wide flaming out their trembling inmates shake!
    Amid Carnarvon's mountains rages loud
    The repercussive roar; with mighty crush,
    Into the flashing deep from the rude rocks
    Of Penmanmawr heap'd hideous to the sky,
    Tumble the smitten cliffs; and Snowden's peak,
    Dissolving, instant yields his wintry load.

    THOMSON.

Yet Mordaunt, unappall'd, was rather pleased to have an opportunity of
observing the effects of a thunder-storm in a region so elevated; but in
a moment, a vivid flash of lightning, followed instantly by a tremendous
burst of thunder, was succeeded by a piercing scream; and two girls,
descending the mountain, ran by him with the utmost swiftness. The rain,
which now fell in torrents, had already wetted their slight garments,
and as the descent was now become extremely slippery, one of them had
nearly fallen to the ground, at the instant she had passed him. Humanity
prompted Mordaunt to follow, entreat them not to be alarmed, and to
allow him to assist them: his appearance, so totally unexpected (for the
shadow of the ruin under which he stood, and the deep gloom of the
atmosphere, had prevented their seeing him), seemed to startle them
almost as much as the storm, which one of the half-breathless girls said
had surprized them still higher on the mountain than he had been. The
thunder, however, now became more distant; and a light breeze, springing
up from the land, carried the clouds towards the sea: still, however,
the descent continued dangerous, from being so slippery; and Mordaunt
solicited the young women to accept of his aid. He readily conjectured
them to be Joanna Ross and Ellen Powis; and the moment the soft voice of
the latter fell upon his ear, he recognized the speaker he had heard the
night before saying, "Good night, dear Joanna." Her voice, indeed, was
so singularly sweet, that once heard it could never be forgotten; and
Mordaunt, turning as she spoke, beheld a face and figure, which, once
seen, must equally be for ever remembered--

    And ne'er did Grecian chisel trace
    A nymph, a Naïad, or a Grace,
    Of finer form or lovelier face.
    What though the sun, with ardent frown,
    Had slightly ting'd her cheek with brown;
    What though no rule of courtly grace
    To measur'd mood had train'd her pace.
    A foot more light, a step more true,
    Ne'er from the heath-flow'r dash'd the dew:
    E'en the slight hare-bell rais'd its head
    Elastic from her airy tread.
    What though upon her speech there hung
    Some accents of the mountain tongue;
    Those silver sounds, so soft, so dear,
    The list'ner held his breath to hear.

    SCOTT'S LADY OF THE LAKE

Terror had, indeed, robbed her charming countenance of some of its
graces; but a bright blush, springing to her cheeks as she caught the
traveller's glance, restored its native lustre. Oh! such a face!--so
fair--so bright--so spotless!--eyes so full of soul!--a smile of such
inimitable beauty! Every feature expressing a native delicacy of
sentiment, unsoiled by the world, unruffled by passion, yet giving
assurance that its possessor owned a heart of such fine frame as seldom
can be met with, either in court or cottage. And when with sweet
confidence, which, intending no harm, feared none, she accepted
Mordaunt's offered arm, he felt a degree of pleasure to which he had
long been a stranger: he scarcely noticed that Joanna had taken the
other arm: yet Joanna was not a plain girl; but who could look at her
when Ellen was present? As they descended the mountain, the storm having
by this time blown over, the girls laughed at their vain terrors, and
made light of those which Mordaunt expressed, lest their wet clothes
should give them cold, saying, they were so accustomed to take exercise
in all weathers, they were not likely to be injured by a sudden shower:
"Though I must acknowledge," said Joanna, with a smile, "we do not much
like thunder-storms." Every thing that either said was expressed in the
plural; and "_We_" was always the term, whichever spoke. Mordaunt
admired the good sense and propriety with which each seemed endowed; but
in Ellen he distinguished an elegance of expression, a superiority of
mind, which, in so young a girl, and one who could have had so few
opportunities of improvement, completely surprised him. This lovely
creature seemed yet hardly seventeen; and when he talked to her on
various subjects, he found, that although Mr. Ross's library had
furnished her with the works of Addison, Pope, and a few more of our
best English authors, yet her acquisitions had not gone beyond a
tincture of English literature, in a general way; that she was tolerably
well instructed in English History, knew scarcely any thing of
Geography, and could neither play on any instrument nor draw; so that
she certainly was much inferior to the heroines of some modern novels,
who learn all these things by intuition: her voice, however, in singing,
was as harmonious as in speaking, and she could sing many of the simple
Welsh airs with natural taste, and in a very pleasing manner. Mordaunt
escorted the girls to Llanwyllan Farm, where he was immediately
recognized by Powis, who, hearing from his daughter the attention he had
shewn to her and Joanna, was cordial in his acknowledgments, and
insisted on the traveller partaking their supper. Mordaunt could not
refuse; and it was accordingly spread, not as usual in the porch, the
late storm having left a dampness in the air, but in a large hall, the
farm-house having formerly been a capital mansion.

Joanna and Ellen, having hastily changed their wet garments, soon joined
them; and this little party sat down to supper pleased with each other,
and without any of that cold formality which strangers so generally
feel; confiding hospitality on the one hand, and something, at least,
very like good breeding, on the other, rendering them all easy and
pleasant to themselves, and to each other.

During this little repast, though no ill-timed curiosity demanded the
explanation, Mordaunt thought proper to mention his name, and, in some
degree, declare his situation in life. He had, he said, been educated
with the Earl of St. Aubyn, who was his distant relation, and had a few
years before appointed him his steward for his estate in
Northamptonshire, where he had a comfortable house, not far from St.
Aubyn Castle, the noble residence of the Earl himself, who had been for
sometime on the Continent; that he himself, having met with some
domestic vexations, which had injured his health, the Earl had permitted
him to appoint a deputy, and travel into Wales, as he had done the
summer before into the Highlands of Scotland; of which he gave a most
animated description. His patron, he added, had also a fine estate on
the borders of Westmoreland, with a very noble old seat called the
Abbey, which, though extremely ancient, still retained its former
magnificence. Mordaunt's manners were so pleasing, his voice so
impressive, and his countenance so fine, that the little party who were
his auditors hung upon his words with almost breathless admiration.--The
moments flew, and they were surprised when the hall clock struck eleven,
an hour unheard of among the sober inhabitants of Llanwyllan. "God bless
me," said Powis, "why it's eleven o'clock: I have not been up so late
these ten years!" "Dear father!" said Ellen, with a reproving accent, as
she glanced at Mordaunt, who hastily rose from his chair. "Excuse my
rudeness, Sir," said Powis; "I did not mean to turn you out uncivilly,
but fear neighbour Jones may be gone to bed." Mordaunt smiled, and said
he ought to apologize for keeping them up. Then extending his hand, he
shook the farmer's rough one with great kindness, and said, "If I should
not see you again----" "Not see us again!" interrupted Powis: "why to be
sure you are not going away! Lord bless me--why, I thought you would
stay a day or two at least; for my share, if you don't, I wish you had
never come at all; for I never saw a man in all my days I liked so
well." "Upon my word, Sir," said Joanna, "you have not yet seen half the
beauties of Llanwyllan; has he, Ellen?" "No, indeed," replied Ellen. "I
assure you, Mr. Mordaunt, there are many charms--" "I know it, I feel
it!" interrupted Mordaunt: "there is every charm which the most
beautiful nature, the kindest hospitality, can bestow! But to stay at
the village without visiting the Farm of Llanwyllan would be impossible,
and, stranger as I am, would it not be intruding?" "Not at all," said
Powis; "we should rejoice to keep you amongst us; the girls will shew
you the fine views, as they call them, and I shall be proud to see you
at my table, if it be not too plain for you, at all times." "You are too
good! but, will Miss Ross, will Miss Powis, accept their share of the
agreement? Are there no more agreeable engagements, no more amiable
friends to claim their attention?" He took a hand of each, but fixed his
penetrating eyes on Ellen: she blushed, but the lightest emotion made
Ellen blush, so that though Mordaunt had "_Charles_" in his head when he
spoke, he could judge nothing by her blushing; and her eyes met his with
a look of confiding sweetness, which seemed to speak a heart unconscious
of any secret sentiment. Joanna answered, "If we were to tell you, Mr.
Mordaunt, we had nothing to do but to walk about, you would think we
were very idle girls, or said what was not true: we are very busy all
the day till five in the evening, when we drink tea either here or at my
father's, who will be happy to see you: after that, if it is fine we
walk; if not, amuse ourselves within, till ten o'clock, when we go to
bed, that we may rise at five the next morning; from five in the evening
till ten we shall be glad of your company."

In consequence of this frank statement, and the secret inclination he
felt to see more of Llanwyllan, and its art-less inhabitants, Mordaunt
determined to pass a few days there; and the next day, after attending
their early tea-table, walked two or three hours with Ellen and Joanna,
equally delighted with Powis's kind hospitality, and the unsuspicious
confidence of the two innocent girls, who, stranger as he was, saw
nothing extraordinary or improper in allowing him a degree of friendly
intimacy, which, in a situation of more publicity, he would hardly have
attained under some weeks of acquaintance, even with the assistance of a
proper introduction. Still more was he charmed with their affectionate
manner towards each other, and the beauty of Ellen, as well as her
unaffected simplicity, united with an extraordinary share of good sense
and information beyond her apparent opportunities. When they parted in
the evening, Joanna said, "To-morrow, you know, Ellen, Charles will pass
at home; and as he goes away entirely the next day, I think we must not
make any engagement for to-morrow." "Very true," said Ellen, in a low
voice, and a slight shade passed over her expressive features; but
whether it arose from regret that she must relinquish the society of her
new friend, with whose spirited and sensible conversation she appeared
much pleased, or from concern for Charles's approaching absence, our
traveller had no means of judging. He had discovered, in the course of
conversation, that Charles was Joanna's brother, and was now absent for
a day or two preparatory to his leaving home for some time, being in the
navy: a few more particulars relative to him he felt anxious to
ascertain as soon as possible; and he took leave of his new friends,
after engaging to spend the next evening but one at Mr. Ross's.

The landlord at the Prince of Wales understood and spoke English; but it
was with so much of the Welsh accent, that Mordaunt, with difficulty,
comprehended his meaning. The curiosity which he felt, however, to learn
more about Charles Ross, induced him, once again, to attempt a
conversation with "neighbour Jones," as Powis called him, though, in
general, Mordaunt's patience, which was by no means inexhaustible, and
an ear refined by living much in his early days with people of fashion
and learning, were severely tried by provincial dialects, and he
avoided, as much as possible, any conference with those who spoke what
he termed a barbarous jargon: for humour of any kind, or odd characters,
whether natural or acquired, he had no taste; sentiment, elegance, and
refinement of language and manners, were to him indispensable requisites
of those be regarded; and above all things he detested that mixture of
familiarity and obsequiousness which the landlord of a country inn shews
to one, who, though his guest, he fancies his equal; yet there was some
paramount feeling in Mordaunt's mind, which forced him to dispense with
all these niceties, and seek intelligence even from a man whose language
and manner were equally distasteful to him. From Jones, then, he learnt
that Charles was the son of Mr. Ross, and that he was a young man of
about twenty, rather handsome, a midshipman in the navy, and that he was
going to join his ship immediately. Jones allowed that the general
opinion was that Ellen Powis was the object of Charles's affections, and
that all their friends wished it might be a match, but that Winifred
Powis's old servant declared Miss Ellen only regarded him as a brother,
and she was sure had no thought of being his wife. Mordaunt recollected
the blush, the slight shade of gravity or vexation which had passed over
Ellen's lovely face; yet these might not be symptoms of more than
sisterly affection, and something whispered a wish to Mordaunt that
Ellen's love for Charles might be no more.

Though Mordaunt could not intrude upon a party from which he had been by
Joanna almost expressly interdicted, he yet, in returning from his
ramble the next evening, contrived to pass the Parsonage, and to catch a
glimpse of Ellen and Joanna walking in the garden with a young man. He
bowed to them, and saw that their companion, whom he naturally concluded
was Charles, took some hasty steps from the path he was walking in, to
catch a nearer view of him; and Mordaunt fancied, from the earnestness
of his gestures, and something of impatience in his air, when he
rejoined his sister and her friend, that he spoke of him, and with
displeasure: perhaps he was jealous of his attentions towards
Ellen.--"Well, be it so," said Mordaunt; "I shall soon discover if he
has any influence over her mind; and if I perceive that she wishes my
absence, I will immediately quit Llanwyllan. Not for worlds would I make
that lovely creature unhappy; far otherwise. If there be any engagement
between her and this fortunate Charles, I will do all I can to promote
his interest: but if, on the other hand, I find her to-morrow only
lamenting him as a friend, I will yet linger here awhile, and forget, if
possible, in this sweet retirement, and her enchanting society, _all the
past_! Oh that I could as easily forget all the future threatens! Happy,
most happy, could I here remain for ever! That, alas! cannot, must not
be! Edmund, cruel, vindictive Edmund!--Ah! those dark eyes pursue me
every where: in the gloom of night they are before me, demanding
vengeance--vengeance for her blood! speaking volumes of hatred--of
revenge! What a fate is mine! Soon, too soon, we must meet again!" Thus
murmured Mordaunt, in one of those soliloquies to which he had
accustomed himself; and his pace, sometimes fast, sometimes slow,
betrayed the agitation of his mind. At length he came within sight of
Llanwyllan Farm; and leaning on the little green gate which led to the
house, the mixed odours of those sweet plants, which he now knew were
Ellen's care, struck upon his senses: her lovely image rose renewed to
his imagination, and the distant water-fall and rising moon seemed
combined with that enchanting scent to lull his anguish to repose.
Whilst he yet lingered, he saw through the trees Ellen, Joanna, and
Charles, approaching; and Mordaunt hastily retired, with sensations not
very unlike indignation and envy.



CHAP. III.

      When he speaks,
    The air, a charter'd libertine, is still,
    And the mute wonder lurketh in mens' ears,
    To steal his sweet and honey'd sentences!

    HENRY V.


The following evening, when Mordaunt arrived at the Parsonage, he was
met in the little garden before it by Joanna and Ellen. He glanced his
eyes over the countenances of both, and found that of Joanna, which he
had hitherto seen full of smiling vivacity, overspread with gloom: her
eyes were excessively red, and when he spoke to her, they filled with
tears. Ellen also looked as if she had been weeping, but on Mordaunt's
approach, a bright smile gleamed over her face, and a soft blush
restored its animation.

As Mordaunt looked inquiringly at Joanna (dissembling as well as he
could the pleasure Ellen's blush and smile had given him), she turned
her head aside, and the tears ran down her cheeks: "Don't look at her,
don't speak to her, Mr. Mordaunt," said Ellen in a low voice, drawing
him a little on one side: "her brother has left home this morning, and
Joanna has been crying all day." Her voice trembled, and a tear started
in her own eye. Mordaunt softly drew her arm through his; and as Joanna
turned into another walk to hide her distress, he said, "And you too,
Ellen, have been weeping." He had never called her Ellen before, and
felt half ashamed of having done so now, so much respect her native
modesty had inspired; but she, who was always accustomed to be called
Ellen, nor imagined she had any pretension to a higher title, saw
nothing in it extraordinary, and answered in the most unaffected manner,
yet with some tenderness of voice and accent, "It is very true, I also
feel for Charles a sister's affection." "Is he then _very_ amiable, this
happy Charles?" asked Mordaunt. "He is very amiable, that is, very
_good_, very _sensible_," said Ellen: "but why do you call him
happy?"--"Can he be otherwise than happy, rich in the affection of _two_
such charming _sisters_?" "You are very obliging but just now Charles is
not very happy; he is very much grieved at quitting his father, his
mother, and Joanna, and--and--me." Ellen hesitated a little. "But in the
profession he has chosen," said Mordaunt, "he must expect to be
frequently absent from those he loves; and a sailor in general, though
he feels acutely for the moment, soon whistles care away." "Very true,"
answered Ellen; "and I never before knew Charles give way to his
feelings as he has done to-day and yesterday, and that indeed is what
has overcome Joanna so much: he has taken strange fancies into his head,
either that he shall never return, or that _we_, I mean that _I_, shall
have forgotten him if he does." "But why does he fancy this _just now_?"
said Mordaunt, fixing his sparkling eyes upon her. "Oh, I cannot tell
you," answered Ellen, blushing crimson, "half the strange things he has
been saying; but we see so few strangers here, that I believe, that I
fancy Charles supposes,--I mean, he thinks we have suddenly become very
intimate with _you_, and we have said so much respecting books and
subjects rather above what we usually meet with, that Charles, who is a
little rough, and not very fond of reading, says we are growing such
fine ladies, and so much wiser than he is, that he is sure we shall not
be at all sorry he is going."

Mordaunt paused a moment. One of the reflections of the preceding night
passed through his mind--what was he doing? was he making this amiable
young creature unhappy? was he sowing discord between her and a young
man to whom she was perhaps attached, and who certainly was so to her?
and, after all, to what purpose? He continued silent so long, that the
innocent Ellen, looking in his face, and seeing his countenance
discomposed, hastily said, "Pray, Mr. Mordaunt, do not be offended.
Charles is naturally kind and hospitable, and I am sure would blush for
us if we were not attentive to a stranger whose behaviour has been so
obliging to us; but just now his temper is ruffled, and he certainly has
said a great many odd things lately." "Offended I can have no right to
be," answered Mordaunt; "but if I give offence by staying here, Miss
Powis, either to you or _your friends_, I shall indeed be sorry that I
did not, as I at first intended, leave Llanwyllan yesterday." "Pray do
not suppose it. I cannot tell why I repeated all these silly things to
you, but I am so apt to speak all I think, and so unused to form and
ceremony, that I dare say I must appear very strange to you, who have
lived so much in the world. I begin _now_ to wish what I never wished
before." "What is that, Ellen?" "That I also had lived more in the
world, that my manners might have been a little more polished, and not
so--so--strange as I must seem to _you_." "Artless and ever amiable
creature!" exclaimed Mordaunt with a vehemence which almost made her
start: "what, oh, what could the world have done for you! Believe me,
Ellen, for one grace it could have given, it would have robbed you of a
thousand."

At this moment, when Mordaunt, startled by his own warmth, wished to
have recalled his words, when Ellen became so confused by it, she could
make no answer, Joanna rejoined them, and asked him if he would not walk
in, saying her father and mother were waiting for them. "Indeed, Miss
Ross," said Mordaunt, "I think I have done wrong in coming hither
to-day. Your parents, distrest by parting from their son, should not be
broken in upon by a stranger." "Pray do not judge of them by my folly,"
answered Joanna: "they have parted from Charles before: as his absence
will probably not exceed a few months, they are now quite composed, and
will be glad to see you."

Joanna led the way to a very neat little parlour, where Mr. and Mrs.
Ross, with the tea-table placed before the latter, were waiting to
receive them. Mr. Ross was a man far advanced in life, who in the early
part of it had been accustomed to genteel society, was an excellent
classical scholar, and well grounded in English literature of a superior
class, as well as what is properly termed the Belles Lettres. He had
greatly ameliorated the condition of his parishioners, by introducing
industry and neatness in their habitations, yet he had merely tinctured
the minds of Ellen and Joanna with a love of reading, justly conceiving
that in their station of life much literary knowledge and refinement of
taste would be worse than useless to them. The gay heart of Joanna had
been well content to skim the mere surface; but Ellen, more serious, and
with more native delicacy of taste, had often excited the anger of Mrs.
Ross by the reluctance with which she left her studies, and tore herself
from the polished pages of Addison and Pope, to sit down to heavy
needlework, or make preserves. Every thing worthy of observation which
Ellen heard or read she made her own, not only by the aid of memory, but
by that happy nameless faculty which selects the best of every thing,
and combining ideas with admirable facility, extracts knowledge and wit
from what to common minds presents little better than an uninteresting
blank. An old magazine in Ellen's hands became a commentary on the
history of the times to which it belonged; and while other girls would
have been idling over the tales, or puzzling themselves with the
enigmas, it contained, she was selecting and classing a store of facts
and characteristic anecdotes, which, with a very little assistance,
would have been a foundation for the most accurate historical knowledge:
thus, like the bee, from the most unpromising materials, Ellen extracted
the honey, and left the refuse behind. In this manner, and with the aid
of very few books, she had obtained a degree of information, which many
women, whose educations are most anxiously attended to, never attain.
Another circumstance was, that having no great variety of authors, she
was obliged to repeat the perusal of those she was allowed to read, and
by that means had time thoroughly to digest and comprehend them;
whereas, the young people of the present day have such an endless
variety of books offered to them, that nothing which has not the charm
of novelty can be endured, and scarcely any merit can obtain a second
reading.

Mrs. Ross was a little, bustling, notable woman, who picqued herself
upon her good housewifery, could not endure a _litter_, and thought
books and papers made the most intolerable of any: Mr. Ross was
therefore obliged to confine his to his study, and the girls the few
they were allowed to their own bed-room, which was considered equally
the apartment of Ellen and Joanna. Mr. Ross had heard a great deal for
the last two or three days of Mr. Mordaunt from his daughter and Ellen:
he saw they were greatly pleased with their new acquaintance; but
knowing their simplicity, and the charm of novelty to youth, was
desirous of judging for himself how far the traveller was a proper
companion for them. Ross had formerly seen something of the world, and
was of course more qualified to judge of character than Powis, or two
girls so totally unacquainted with guile as Ellen and Joanna were: he
determined, if he found any thing in the manners of the stranger
repulsive to his ideas of propriety, to put an end to all connection
with him; and Mrs. Ross, who felt assured the traveller must have fallen
in love with one of the girls, resolved, as she expressed it, to keep a
_sharp look out_ upon him: such, however, was the unaffected propriety
of Mordaunt's manners, mingled with somewhat of dignity, to which Mrs.
Ross had never been accustomed, and which Ross had not lately seen, that
the good little woman was awed into silence; and though Charles had
infected her with some of his jealous fears (for such they certainly
were), she soon lost the kind of prejudice she had taken up against the
traveller, was pleased with "_the gentleman_," as she called him, and
could not ascertain at all to her own satisfaction whether Joanna or
Ellen, or either, had been his inducement to remain at Llanwyllan.

Ross was not only charmed with Mordaunt's manners, but had not for years
enjoyed so exquisite a treat as his conversation. The traveller was
fully competent to cope even with Ross on literary ground, understood
the learned languages, was an enthusiast in the classics, an excellent
historian and geographer; and gave Ross in an hour the most perspicuous
account of all that was then passing in the political world.

The two girls sat attentive auditors: Ellen seemed all ear. Mrs. Ross at
last began to fidget a little, and soon after walked off to superintend
some domestic concerns, but, unusually indulgent, suffered the girls to
remain. The evening passed on, and Ross was so engaged with his guest,
that walking could not be proposed. Mordaunt expressed himself so
charmed with Llanwyllan, that he said, if he could be accommodated with
a neat lodging, he should after about a fortnight's absence, which was
absolutely necessary, endeavour to obtain Lord St. Aubyn's consent to an
arrangement, which might permit him to remain there some time; that he
found the pure air from the mountains agreed with him, and thought two
or three months, divested of the cares of business, in that peaceful
retirement, would quite restore his health. Ross knew that if Powis
heard his proposal, he would, in the warmth and cordiality of his heart,
offer Mordaunt apartments at Llanwyllan Farm, where indeed there was
plenty of room; but Ross also knew, though Powis did not, that
apartments under the same room with such a lovely girl as Ellen Powis,
for a man not passed the meridian of life, would be highly improper, and
even in that retired place would subject Ellen to unpleasant remarks; he
therefore immediately said that there were two neat quiet rooms at the
house of a widow in the village, who, having lately lost her son, would
be glad to let them; that she was a very civil old woman, and had
formerly been cook in a gentleman's family; and though the rooms might
not be furnished quite well enough for Mr. Mordaunt, yet any little
accommodation might easily be added at an inconsiderable expense from
Carnarvon, which was not more than twelve miles from Llanwyllan.
Mordaunt eagerly caught at the proposal, and said that a few guineas,
when compared to the recovery of his health, were not material to him;
it was therefore settled that he should go with Ross the next day to
look at the rooms. Mordaunt then rose to take leave, but the entrance of
Mrs. Ross, followed by the servant with a couple of hot roasted
chickens, &c. prevented him, and an earnest invitation to stay and
partake of their supper, which indeed seemed to have been greatly
enlarged on his account, could not be resisted. Mordaunt of course
complied: the conversation became more general: Mrs. Ross's tarts,
home-made wines, &c. were excellent, and Mordaunt praised them too much
not to become a favourite with the good lady. He sat by Ellen, and a few
words spoken to her occasionally in a low voice, and, still more, the
expressive manner in which they were said, began to raise suspicions in
Ross's mind that she was in reality the magnet which attracted the
stranger. He was not blind to her superior beauty and native elegance,
and considered her as more peculiarly his care, inasmuch as he knew the
guileless simplicity of Powis, and that he was by no means calculated to
have the guidance of so lovely a girl. Ross determined therefore to
watch carefully over Ellen, and if he saw any thing too particular in
Mordaunt's conduct towards her, to advise Powis to send her from home
during the traveller's stay at Llanwyllan, which, as Powis had a
relation at Bangor, would be very possible. Ellen was to sleep that
night at the Parsonage; and as soon as Mordaunt took his leave, the two
girls retired together.

Ellen was so silent, that Joanna began to rally her on the subject of
the stranger, and amongst other things said, "Indeed, Ellen, I believe
poor Charles was right. Mr. Mordaunt will soon take his place in your
affections." "_His_ place, _Charles's_ place! no, indeed, Joanna!"
"Well, you may say what you please, Ellen; but Charles never gained half
so much attention from you as you bestowed on Mr. Mordaunt's
conversation to-night"--"Perhaps not: Charles never conversed on such
agreeable topics." "Then why do you say you do not, nor shall, like him
so well as you do Charles?" "I did not say so." "Well, but you said he
would not take Charles's place in your affections, and that is the same
thing." "Nor will he. I love Charles as a brother, you as a sister; but
does it follow no other man or woman can be agreeable to me--must I
cease to love you both before I can be pleased with another?" "No,
certainly; but Charles I am persuaded would not much relish such a
degree of liking for another, as Mordaunt seems to have gained from
you." "I cannot help that: I shall never think myself obliged to consult
Charles respecting my likings or dislikings." "What, not if you marry
him?" "Marry Charles!"--"Aye, _marry Charles_, Miss Powis: what is there
so wonderful in that?" "Dear Joanna, I do not know you to-night. _Miss
Powis!_ and in that reproachful tone: what have I done to offend you,
and why do you call me _Miss Powis_?" "Then why do you seem so surprised
at the idea of marrying Charles, and look as if you quite scorned the
thought?" "Because such an idea never entered my mind: I might well
therefore seem surprised; though, as to scorn, I never felt or could
have looked it." "If Mordaunt had said half as much to you as Charles
has, you would easily have seen _his_ meaning." "You are not kind,
Joanna. I thought you had liked Mordaunt too." "So I do; but I do not
like that he should prevent Charles from gaining your love." "Then, be
assured, that cannot be: I love Charles as a brother, but if I had never
seen Mordaunt, or any other man, I would not have been Charles's wife.
Mordaunt does not, cannot think any thing of me: and I hope, Joanna, I
am not such a bold girl as to fall in love, as they call it, with a man
who will not, I am sure, ever cast a serious thought on _me_, who is so
very much above me." "Then why do you declare so seriously against
Charles: you never did so before?" "Because you never pressed me so
earnestly before, and I assure you I never thought of it." "But what are
your objections to Charles as a husband?" "Many, Joanna, many: he is too
hasty, too passionate: he would frighten me." "And how do you know
Mordaunt is not passionate?" "Still Mordaunt!" said Ellen, a little
impatiently: "what signifies to me whether he is passionate or not? He
will never be more to me than an agreeable acquaintance,"--"Well, I
think Mordaunt has at times an odd look with his eyes, and a gloom on
his countenance that is frightful." "Frightful! Mordaunt's countenance
frightful! I never saw any thing so handsome; and the expression is the
softest--his smile the sweetest--" Ellen paused with some embarrassment,
and Joanna answered a little spitefully, "That may be, when he looks at
_you_; and then you blush, and cast down your eyes, and of course do not
see how _he_ looks; but I tell you that he _has_ a gloom that is
_frightful_, though you are so astonished at the word, and so delighted
with him." Here the shrill voice of Mrs. Ross calling to them from her
own room, "Girls, girls, do you mean to talk all night," put an end to
the conference, and they hastily said "Good night," less pleased with
each other than they had ever been before. Joanna was angry with Ellen
for preferring Mordaunt to Charles, and Ellen thought Joanna extremely
captious, and out of humour.

The next day, Mordaunt, accompanied by Mr. Ross, looked at the lodgings
he had proposed for him, and agreed immediately to take them for three
months, to commence at the expiration of three weeks from the present
time, during which, he said, he must take a journey to Bath, where he
should see Lord St. Aubyn, and obtain his consent to an arrangement
which would admit of his leaving Northamptonshire for that time; and
that during his absence from Llanwyllan he should send some books and
other additional comforts to his new lodgings: he should set out, he
said, the next day but one, for he was impatient to begin his journey,
that he might return the sooner. On the intermediate day, he walked to
the Farm, and, strange to tell, found Ellen without Joanna.

Ellen had been very busy all day, and a little coldness still hung about
Joanna, who could not forget her decided rejection of Charles: she had
also been much employed, and told Ellen the evening before she should
not see her on that day. "But Mr. Mordaunt will," added she, with some
asperity, "and that will make full amends for my absence." "You are
unkind, Joanna," answered Ellen, "and will make me wish Mr. Mordaunt had
never visited Llanwyllan." Joanna shook her head with an air of
incredulity, and left her. Mordaunt found Ellen therefore alone, and
busily engaged amongst her shrubs and flowers. The brisk evening air,
exercise, and the delight she took in her employment, had given fresh
beauty to her complexion, and new animation to her eyes. After the first
greetings had passed, he requested to assist her, and mounting a ladder,
which a Welsh boy, who was executing the more laborious parts of the
employment held for him, he busied himself in giving a new turn to the
festoons which hung from tree to tree. Ellen stood below, and as she
looked up to direct him, a long shoot of the clematis fell from his
hand, and became entangled in her straw hat. Fearing to break it, he
descended, and while he endeavoured to untwist it, the straw hat fell to
the ground; and as Ellen had not, as usual, her modest muslin cap, her
beautiful hair became for the first time exposed to his view, and he
stood gazing at her bright auburn ringlets and fair-polished temples, as
if transfixed. Beautiful as he had always thought her, he never saw her
look so beautiful as now, and her increasing colour at length reminded
him that his gaze was becoming oppressive. Instantly he withdrew his
eyes, and taking up the hat, and brushing off some dust which adhered to
it, he presented it to her with an air of respect, and said, "I am a
very awkward gardener; I have spoiled your bonnet." "Indeed," said
Ellen, "on the contrary, I should think you had practised it all your
life, you seem so well versed in the employment."--"Would to heaven I
had," answered Mordaunt, "and never known any thing beyond the culture
of these shrubs, and the sweet shades of Llanwyllan." And now Ellen saw
for the first time a peculiar expression in his eyes, and a gloom over
his countenance, which reminded her of what Joanna had said respecting
him; but Ellen put a different construction upon it, and had she known
Shakespeare would have said, "He wrings at some distress: would I might
free it, what-e'er it be."

To divert his thoughts, she said, in the softest tone, "What a wish! How
different are my sentiments! I would give worlds, had my lot resembled
your's; had I been employed not solely in the culture of these trees,
myself almost as much a vegetable, but, like you, cultivating my mind,
my manners, and forming myself into a companion for--the wise and good!"
The soft expressive pause spoke volumes to the heart of Mordaunt, and he
could not help replying, "You are already a fit companion for angels."

A long pause ensued. Ellen again began her pleasant labours, and
Mordaunt, with fresh eagerness, assisted her. At length he said, "When I
come back, Ellen, will you permit me to recommend to your perusal some
books, which I shall send to my lodgings?" "Ah," said Ellen, "with
delight should I peruse them, but Mrs. Ross is so strict, she will not
allow me to read at all, if she can help it; and my father expects me to
obey her in every respect." "But surely Mr. Ross, who is so literary
himself, would willingly indulge such a mind as your's, which so eagerly
aspires to superior attainments." "Ah, no; Mr. Ross thinks that in our
station any extraordinary refinement would be injurious, and only tend
to make us discontented." "Those common-place ideas may do very well for
Joanna Ross, and girls of common minds; but you, surely, ought to be
guided by other maxims. Talents like your's demand cultivation so
imperiously, it is a real cruelty to deny it." "Ah, Mr. Mordaunt, do not
talk to me in this manner; I am enough inclined to lament the lowness of
my condition; not from ambition, but from a desire of knowledge, which,
circumstanced as I am, is quite out of my reach. Rather strive to
strengthen my mind, and my anxious wish to do my duty in the station
where God has been pleased to place me." "Abhor me, Ellen, if ever you
find me endeavouring to subvert one good and useful principle in your
spotless mind; but how is Mr. Ross to know what station you may
hereafter be called upon to fill, unless, indeed," added Mordaunt,
expressively, "_your lot is already determined_?" "Undoubtedly it is,"
said Ellen (not understanding his allusion to Charles): "what can I have
to expect but to remain here, the useful assistant of my father?" "But
you may, nay, most probably will marry." "It is unlikely," said Ellen;
"but if I should, it will probably be in a line of life which will
render any farther literary attainments at best unprofitable; so at
least says Mr. Ross, and I look to him as my chief director." "You have
hitherto done well in so doing; but circumstances may hereafter arise to
alter your views. In the meantime, let me assure you, for the honour of
literature, that its female professors do not necessarily, according to
a vulgar prejudice, become useless as mothers, mistresses, or domestic
economists. I have actually seen a lady high not only in literary
knowledge, but in literary fame, who attends with the most exquisite
skill and propriety, not only to the management of a large family, but
of a large farm, and whose order, neatness, and regularity, can no where
be exceeded; yet this excellent woman has published many books, written
in a style free from blemish, and full of the purest principles, and of
the most superior good sense." "How well she must have arranged her
concerns, and managed her time!" "Undoubtedly--and we shall see whether
Ellen Powis has not mind enough to become a second Mrs. W----."

At this part of the conversation Powis joined them; and Mordaunt, having
chatted a few minutes with him, took his leave. But though he had talked
of leaving Llanwyllan on the next day, he did not go until that
following; and on the Sunday he attended Mrs. Ross and the young people
to the neat parish church, where he was greatly pleased and edified with
the serious and dignified manner in which the venerable Ross performed
the service. His fine countenance, shaded with grey hair, the rich tones
of his voice, and the energetic manner in which he exhorted his rustic
congregation, inspired Mordaunt with the utmost respect for him, and
with a fervour of devotion he had rarely before experienced. Nor did he
less admire the unaffected piety and attention of Mrs. Ross and her two
pupils, who, once within the church, appeared too deeply impressed with
the intention of their coming, to permit that either look or thought
should stray to any other object. As they returned through the
church-yard, Mordaunt was delighted to see the neatness, and even
elegance with which this repository of the dead was kept. The graves,
bound with osier-bands, and decorated with fresh flowers, as is
customary through all Wales, excited in him sentiments of the tenderest
nature; he was charmed to witness the effects of a love which survived
the tomb, and whispered to Ellen, that wherever he lived, he should wish
to be buried in Wales. "Idle as it may seem," said he, "to care what
becomes of this perishable frame when the immortal spirit is fled, yet
in the truth of Gray's inimitable reflections on this subject I cannot
but coincide:--

    "Even from the grave the voice of Nature cries,
     Even in our ashes live their wonted fires."

As Ellen had never met with Gray, Mordaunt now repeated to her some of
the finest stanzas, and promised to send her the poem in the morning
following.

What a happiness for her that she had never been condemned to hear this
enchanting elegy hacknied till even its beauties are lost in the insipid
recitation of girls who learn it as a task.



CHAP. IV.

    A prattling gossip, on whose tongue
    Proof of perpetual motion hung,
    Who with a hundred pair of eyes,
    The vain attacks of sleep defies;
    Who with a hundred pair of wings,
    News from the farthest quarters brings,
    Sees, hears, and tells, untold before,
    All that she knows, and ten times more.

    CHURCHILL.


When Mordaunt was gone, Joanna and Ellen returned to their usual manner
of living: at first Ellen found a great insipidity in her ordinary
occupations. The day seemed unusually tedious, but this by degrees wore
off; and had she never seen Mordaunt again, she would certainly have
always remembered him with peculiar interest; but the peace of her mind
was undisturbed: yet Mordaunt's conversation had been of the most
dangerous tendency. What girl of seventeen, tinctured with the natural
romance which a life in a country of such sublimity as Wales almost
necessarily produces in an ardent mind and feeling heart, but might be
led by the voice of flattery to believe herself superior to the mere
common employments of domestic life; yet if the flatterer mean to
substitute no higher line of occupation in their stead, is it not
probable that unhappiness, if not a dereliction from virtue, may be the
consequence? Mordaunt's suggestions therefore to a mind more practised
in worldly guile would have rendered his intentions extremely equivocal;
and the very little Mr. Ross had seen of him made him not only very glad
that he was gone, but led him to wish earnestly he might not return; and
when a fortnight had elapsed, and no books or packages arrived at the
cottage of the Widow Grey, Ross, and, to say the truth, Joanna also,
began to hope he would not return. Joanna liked Mordaunt as a companion,
and had none of those fears which had crept into the mind of Ross: but
her love for her brother, and the certainty that Mordaunt was preferred
to him by Ellen, gave her a sort of prejudice against him, and she could
not help shewing a sort of triumph at his not returning. Ellen, whose
temper was as sweet as her understanding was excellent, bore the little
taunts Joanna now and then threw out on her supposed disappointment with
great mildness; but when Joanna accused Mordaunt of caprice and
insincerity, she sometimes defended him, with candour indeed, but with a
little warmth, which excited fresh displeasure in Joanna: and these
little disputes insensibly abated the pleasure they used to feel in the
society of each other. Nothing could be more ill-judged than Joanna's
conduct on this occasion: had she remained silent, Ellen would never
have spoken and seldom thought of Mordaunt; but by being forced
continually to defend either herself or him, he became more interesting
to her; her generous heart not bearing to hear him accused probably
without a cause: thus, Joanna, like all people who suffer themselves to
be misled by prejudice and ill-humour, increased the evil she wished to
obviate, and by rendering her own society less desirable to Ellen, left
her more at liberty to receive Mordaunt's visits, if he really should
return; and to return it seemed probable at length he intended: for,
about three weeks after his departure, several large packages were
brought in a light cart to the Widow Grey's, and the driver said he had
been hired at Carnarvon, by a strange gentleman who arrived in the mail
the night before, and would be with her the next morning. The news of
this important event spread quickly through the village, and numerous
were the conjectures which followed. Dame Grey had several visitors in
the course of the evening to look at these wonderful packages, to
conjecture what each might contain, and to endeavour to learn from her
what could make a gentleman, so grand as Mr. Mordaunt must be, to come
and live in her cottage: to all which the good woman could only reply,
that Mr. Ross had told her that the gentleman was coming for his health,
and she dared say Mr. Ross knew: at all events, it was nothing to her:
the gentleman had agreed to give her twelve shillings a week for her two
rooms, which was four shillings more than she expected; but then, to be
sure, she was to cook for him, and they all knew she was as pretty a
cook as Madam Ross herself; for that, when she lived with 'Squire
Davies--The mention of 'Squire Davies was enough for the whole audience;
they walked off one by one, and left her to admire and wonder at her
lodger's grand packages by herself, dreading nothing more than the
tedious tales they knew they must encounter if they staid, now Dame Grey
had begun to talk of the days when she lived with 'Squire Davies.

Dame Grey not knowing very well what to do respecting her lodger's
rooms, which wanted linen, and many other articles she supposed the
packages might contain, thought it would be but right, and the proper
compliment, if she was to step up and ask Madam Ross and Miss Joanna,
and Miss Ellen, if she were there, what she had better do. Mrs. Ross
advised her on no account to open any of the parcels, and said, if Mr.
Mordaunt did not arrive in time the next day, she would furnish her with
linen proper for his bed and table, till his own could be opened: at the
same time declaring her readiness to go with Dame Grey, and see that
things were put a little out of a litter; to which obliging act she was
certainly prompted by the same sort of curiosity as had influenced her
poorer neighbours, to see the packages, and judge by their weight and
size what they might contain. No one who has ever lived in a small
village will wonder at this: such a one will know that no one creature
ever appears in a gown of a different colour, or a hat of a different
size from what has been seen before, without exciting the utmost
curiosity and animadversion; that a wedding, a burial, or a christening,
will afford conversation to the whole neighbourhood for many hours; and
that if one should be convicted of living, in the most simple concerns,
at all different from the generality, oddity, absurdity, stinginess,
and, finally, madness, will probably be imputed to him: think then what
a feast for the gossips Mr. Mordaunt's parcels must have presented; for
by the time Dame Grey and Mrs. Ross arrived, two or three more were in
waiting to take a peep at them. Now, amongst these parcels, &c. was one
which certainly bore the appearance of being a lady's bonnet-box:
"Well," Mrs. Ross said, "this is an odd thing; what can it contain? Sure
Mr. Mordaunt is not going to bring a lady with him! He did not say any
thing to you, Dame Grey, did he, as if he was married?" "Lord bless me,
no, Madam; but, to be sure, Mr. Ross knows, or Farmer Powis." "Poh! they
know nothing at all about it: well, we shall see. For my part I should
not wonder: he is not a very young man, and most likely is or has been
married." Away went two or three of the assembly, eager to spread the
report that Mr. Mordaunt and his lady were coming next day to Dame
Grey's; that it must be true, for Madam Ross had said so, and moreover,
they had seen with their own eyes _Madam Merdan's_ fine bonnet-box,
which no doubt contained a power of good things. Some went so far as to
settle the probable colour of the lady's bonnet and best gown; and one
notable dame, the wife of a farmer, who rented lands adjoining Powis's,
thought she would "just step in and tell Miss Ellen and Miss Joanna,
that they might smarten themselves a bit, before _Madam Mording_
arrived." To paint the surprize of Ellen and Joanna, who were sitting
together when neighbour Price related all these strange circumstances,
embellished by her own conjectures and comments, would be impossible.
Joanna believed, and was not sorry: Ellen doubted, and said she should
be glad if it proved so, as Mrs. Mordaunt would be an agreeable addition
to their society. Joanna looked at her with arch and half triumphant
eyes; and Ellen, teazed, vexed, and disconcerted, could scarcely refrain
from tears. At last the chattering gossip departed, and Joanna's
conversation with Ellen ran in the usual strain; but Ellen was unusually
unable to endure it. Amongst other things, Joanna told Ellen, if Mrs.
Mordaunt came, she supposed her whole time would be engaged with her;
and if she did not, perhaps she would think Mordaunt's company quite
enough without the addition of hers, and that her mother was convinced
she would no longer be as willing to be ruled by her as formerly. Ellen
now burst into tears, and told Joanna she knew not what she had done to
occasion such very unkind remarks; that she had never given her reason
to suppose she did not prefer her company to that of any other person,
nor ever, for a moment, hesitated to obey Mrs. Ross in all things: but
if it was required of her to give up all acquaintance with a man who had
never done any thing to offend her, she must say she could not, nay,
would not do it. Joanna, startled by a warmth she had not expected from
the generally mild and yielding Ellen, now begged her pardon; and
embracing her tenderly, said, she knew she had been wrong in teazing her
so much, and would in future drop the subject. Ellen's warm forgiving
heart immediately prompted her to say she had perhaps herself been
captious; and after an appointment to meet again to-morrow, they parted
better friends than they had been for a long time.

On Joanna's arrival at home, she inquired of her mother the foundation
of the strange story she had heard from Mrs. Price; and could hardly
help laughing when she learnt on what slight grounds the report had been
raised. Mrs. Ross, however, still defended the probability of her own
conjectures, and added, that she was, however, quite sure there were a
great many books among the parcels, and she supposed she should now have
less work done than ever, for that both Joanna and Ellen would never be
easy, unless they were walking with Mordaunt, or reading some of the new
trumpery he had sent down. "Dear mother," said Joanna, "why should you
think so? You know I am not so very fond of reading, though I like it
very well in turn, and should still more, if I had not so many other
things to do: and as to Ellen, though I believe she has more pleasure in
reading than any thing else in the world; yet you know she is so good
and gentle, she never refuses to do any thing you wish her to do." "Aye!
that has been; but mark my words, Joanna, you will see alterations you
do not expect." This was one of those equivocal prophecies by which Mrs.
Ross, like the Vicar of Wakefield, endeavoured to impress her family
with an opinion of her penetration: she did not succeed so well as Dr.
Primrose, for Mr. Ross never paid the smallest attention to them: and
Joanna had so rarely seen one of them fulfilled, that she generally
thought nothing about them. In the present instance, however, she
certainly felt a little uneasy, and began to fear that poor Charles must
forego all hopes of Ellen Powis: for Joanna was in her own mind
convinced that Mordaunt greatly admired Ellen, and she was sure Ellen
thought him a being of a superior order: and Joanna was too innocent and
too unsuspicious to imagine, for a moment, that if Mordaunt liked Ellen,
he could have any view but marriage. Ellen, on her side, felt more
vexation this night than she could well account for: she could hardly
doubt the truth of what Mrs. Price asserted to have heard from Mrs.
Ross, namely, that Mordaunt was married, and his lady coming to
Llanwyllan with him, this she fancied she should be very glad of: but
then she was hurt that Mordaunt should have kept this circumstance a
profound secret, and never once adverted to it when he talked, as he had
done repeatedly during the two last days of his stay at Llanwyllan, of
the pleasure he proposed to himself in the society of Mr. Ross, Ellen,
and Joanna.



CHAP. V.

    And with them words of so sweet breath composed
    As made the things more rich.

    HAMLET.


Ellen was engaged the next morning with her needle when Mordaunt
suddenly entered the room (for the ceremony of announcing visitors was
never thought of at Llanwyllan): she rose hastily, as hastily sat down
again, turned pale, then red, and in answer to his hasty inquiries,
said--"Are you alone, Sir?" "Alone," replied Mordaunt, surprized beyond
measure; "yes, certainly: did you expect to see anyone with me?"
"Yes--no, that is, I thought we were told that Mrs. Mordaunt, that your
wife was to come with you." "My wife!" exclaimed Mordaunt, turning first
as red and then as pale as Ellen had done, almost in the words of
Othello, and perhaps not perfectly unlike him in feeling; "What wife? I
have no wife." "I beg your pardon, indeed," said Ellen, "for giving you
such a strange reception, but we were really told that your lady was
certainly coming with you." "What could have given rise," said Mordaunt,
regaining his composure, "to such a ridiculous tale? And did _you_,
Ellen, could you believe it?" "I own I thought it strange," replied she,
"that you had never mentioned it, and I doubted the truth of the story;
but Joanna seemed to credit it, and I was told Mrs. Ross had asserted
it, but I daresay," added she, smiling, "that it was one of those
gossip's tales of which we have so many in this village." Mordaunt said
he was wholly unable to account for it, and advancing to the table where
she had been sitting, for hitherto they had both continued standing,
said--"Shall I disturb you if I sit down by you for half-an-hour?"
"Certainly not," said Ellen: "you will allow me to go on with my work."
But Ellen's hand did not second her intention, for it shook so much, she
was obliged to put down the work, and to say, half laughing, by way of
covering her confusion--"I have flurried myself so ridiculously by
fancying I was going to see a stranger, that I must rest till my hand is
a little more steady." Mordaunt, for the first time, took the trembling
hand within his own, and pressing it very gently, said:--"You have not
shaken hands with me on my return, Ellen, yet I hoped you would have
been glad to see your friend Mordaunt once more: will you allow me the
title?" he added, gazing on her intently. Poor Ellen, who had not really
any of the usual complimentary phrases, such as "you do me honour, &c."
knew neither which way to look nor what to say; and Mordaunt, softly
raising her hand to his lips, relinquished it, and pitying her visible
confusion, endeavoured to relieve it by saving:--"I think you are a
little, a very little paler and thinner than when I left Llanwyllan." "I
have been taking a great deal of exercise," said Ellen; "and I think you
too, Mr. Mordaunt, are changed: you look pale, and seem fatigued." "Oh
yes, Ellen, yes; I have encountered much since we parted--much fatigue
both of body and mind. In these sweet shades I hope once more to be at
peace: oh, that I might never leave them more, 'the world forgetting, by
the world forgot;' that I might, that I could remain here for ever!
Would _you_, Ellen, would _you_ endeavour to sooth my cares, and to
restore my peace of mind?" He again seized her hand, and wildly
grasping, pressed it to his throbbing forehead. Ellen looked at him with
eyes of apprehension; his energy, his apparent agitation alarmed her: he
saw the surprize he had excited, and dropping her hand, said:--"Forgive
me, I am not myself to-day; but I must indeed be lost before I can for a
moment forget the perfect respect I owe you." His countenance became at
once more composed, and after a moment's pause, he said smiling:--"And
how is the poor straw hat which I spoilt the night before I went away?"
"Indeed you did not spoil it," said Ellen, laughing; "it would not
easily be injured." "Oh, certainly, it was completely spoilt, and as I
was the author of the mischief, though you would not give me any
commission for Bristol or Bath, I could not resist the desire I felt to
replace the loss which I know you cannot do here, and I have accordingly
chosen one for you, which, though extremely simple, will, I am sure, be
particularly becoming: I have also added one for Joanna, not exactly
like your's in shape, because it would be ridiculous; I mean it would
not be becoming to her style of face." "You are too good: I am sorry you
should have had so much trouble." "Oh, the trouble certainly of doing
any thing for _you_ and your friend must be insupportable; terrible as
it was, however, if you will do me the favour of wearing this simple
bonnet I shall think it overpaid: there is also a little parcel for Mrs.
Ross: and some books for our good friend Mr. Ross: nor have I forgotten
my first and truly valued friend your father: his little remembrance I
shall take the liberty of sending here; but shall I order the box with
the other things to Mr. Ross's or here?" "Mrs. Ross and Joanna are going
to pass this afternoon with me," said Ellen; "if you will therefore
persist in taking so much trouble, we will examine our presents, which
are, I dare say, very elegant." "I thank you a thousand times for not
reproving my presumption in fancying I could chuse a hat for you. I will
send the box presently, and when the contents have been looked at, may I
join your little party and walk with you?" "Certainly; we shall be glad
of your company." Mordaunt soon after went away, though Powis, who came
in, and seemed heartily glad to see him, pressed him to partake their
homely fare at dinner, but promising to come again in the afternoon,
Mordaunt declined staying then. Powis was haunted by no fears on his
daughter's account: his open hospitable temper made him always ready to
receive the stranger, and he saw not far enough into the human heart to
suspect that one so eminently gifted by nature and improved by art, as
Mordaunt was, must have some paramount inducement to fix himself for two
or three months amongst the woods of Llanwyllan. Honest, simple, and
credulous, he implicitly believed what Mordaunt had told him respecting
his health, and the delight he took in the wild scenery around the
village; and pleased with his company, would willingly have had him a
constant inmate of his house; yet he doated on, and highly appreciated
Ellen; but he fancied that Charles Ross had gained her affections, and
looked forward to her marriage with him as a thing determined on. Ellen
felt a little awkward on the subject of the bonnet, for she had never
mentioned to Mrs. Ross or Joanna that Mordaunt had spent two or three
hours at the Farm the night before he left Llanwyllan; as to the straw
hat, it was, in reality, not injured, although he chose to fancy it was
spoilt by way of excuse for ordering another; she, therefore, did not
like to mention the circumstance at all, dreading Mrs. Ross's sharp
questions and Joanna's looks; in fact, she did not wish to mention the
intended presents, and half resolved to appear surprized when the box
arrived: this, however, her natural dislike to deceit deterred her from
attempting, though Joanna's late conduct had taught her a reserve she
never before had felt towards her. The moment dinner was over Ellen went
to her chamber, where she took unusual pains in dressing herself as
nicely as her very moderate wardrobe would allow; a neat plain white
gown or two being the extent of her finery. Mrs. Ross would seldom allow
Ellen or Joanna to wear any thing better than a grey stuff, or small
printed calico, yet in spite of her expected rebuke, the very best white
gown was this afternoon put on; her hair was nicely and delicately
arranged under a cap smaller than those she usually wore; for going
without a cap or hat, was, in Mrs. Ross's idea, quite bold and improper.
Neither Joanna nor Ellen had ever seen a feather or artificial flower,
except once, when mere children, Powis had taken them for a few days to
Carnarvon, where a few were exhibited; but as to wearing any, they would
as soon have thought of putting on diamonds, so different were their
simple ideas from those of the very fine ladies we now see every day
walking or riding to market, with their ear-rings and necklaces, fine
lace frills, green veils, au parasols: expect them soon with foot-boys
at their heels. Yet Powis could have given his daughter a thousand
pounds; and Ross, though not rich, was in a station of life which might
have entitled Joanna to expect some little indulgences, of which,
however, she never even thought. Two or three small bows of pale pink
ribbon were the only ornament of Ellen's caps, and her slender waist was
surrounded by a short sash of the same colour; a bouquet of late roses
and jessamine was placed in her bosom; and the gentle agitation of her
spirits animated her eyes and complexion: she looked exquisitely lovely;
so fresh--so new--so bright--the poet might have said of her--"she
looked like Nature in the world's first spring." She had just completed
her nosegay, when Mrs. Ross and Joanna arrived; the former with a new
assortment of work prepared for Ellen's completion, who sighed when she
saw the quantity to be executed. "Bless me, Ellen," said Mrs. Ross; "why
you are dressed up as fine as a lady; one would think you were going to
a wedding or a christening.--I hope you have not invited Mrs. Price and
Mrs. Howel to-day," (the wives of two neighbouring farmers, who drank
tea once or twice a year with Ellen and the Ross's) "for I am come in my
old gown, and Joanna in her every-day cotton: why, child, are you
dressed so much?" "I don't know, ma'am: I thought my coloured gown was
dirty, and the day was so fine and warm, I thought this would be
cooler." "Umph," said Mrs. Ross, looking at her with eyes sharpened by
curiosity, and then nodding at Joanna, as much as to say you see I was
right, she drew up her head and was silent a moment; then, by her next
question, shewing the turn her thoughts had taken, she said: "Has Mr.
Mordaunt been here?" "Yes, ma'am," said poor Ellen, blushing like
crimson. "Umph," again said Mrs. Ross, and again she nodded at Joanna.
Joanna, looking slily at Ellen, added, while she could hardly refrain
from laughing--"And his wife?" "No," said Ellen, looking up at Joanna,
and smiling, for she could not help being diverted at the oddity of her
tone and look. Just at this moment in came the maid with a small parcel
and a large bonnet-box, which, she said, a boy had brought from Dame
Grey's. "God bless my heart," said Mrs. Ross, "why that is the very box
I saw at Mr. Mordaunt's, and which made me fancy he was married." Ellen
explained as well as she could, but certainly not very clearly, what the
contents were; and Joanna was so diverted with the absurdity of the
report raised by such a trifle, that she burst into a loud and
incontrollable fit of laughing, in which Ellen heartily joined; and
though Mrs. Ross scolded, and was quite angry that they would not cease
laughing and open the box, they laughed on, when the door opened, and in
came Mordaunt. He supposed the box had been received and opened an hour
before, not knowing his messenger had stopped to play by the way, and
was quite astonished to see them gathered round it, the two girls
laughing, and Mrs. Ross half scolding and half laughing too. He was
hastily retreating; but his presence operated like an electric shock on
the whole party. Ellen was half ashamed; and Mrs. Ross and Joanna, who
always felt a degree of awe from the dignity of his manner, were afraid
he would be offended: the former endeavoured to explain the cause of
their mirth; and Mordaunt no sooner heard what had given rise to the
report which had so much perplexed him, than--"Albeit unused to the
laughing mood," he could not keep his countenance. The explanation,
however, was not unpleasant to him, for he had been quite at a loss to
guess how any report of him, whether true or false, could have reached
Llanwyllan. The box was now opened, a ceremony at which Mordaunt would
willingly not have been present, though he certainly wished to see
whether the hat was becoming to Ellen.

Both hats were of straw, equally fine; but that intended for Ellen had
an elegant simplicity in the form, which seemed made on purpose for her.
At the bottom of the box was found a parcel, directed for Mrs. Ross,
which contained a handsome dark sarsnet for a gown, with which the good
lady was so delighted, that she quite overwhelmed Mordaunt with thanks
and compliments, to which he put a stop by requesting to see the bonnets
on their respective owners.

"I am not dressed fit to wear such a bonnet," said Joanna, glancing her
eyes on Ellen; "but--" "Aye," said Mrs. Ross, "very true: I believe you
knew your bonnet was trimmed with pale pink, Ellen, and put on those
ribbons on purpose to match it." "No, indeed," said Ellen, half hurt at
the suggestion. Mordaunt saw with what unusual care she was adorned, and
could not help being pleased at it. He was himself drest with particular
nicety, and was really as handsome and fine a figure as Ellen was
beautiful. The bonnets were tried on, and highly approved. Ellen,
indeed, was, if possible, improved by hers. The parcel for Powis
contained some handsome articles of plate likely to be useful to him;
and Mr. Ross's books, which were sent to the Parsonage, consisted of
Eschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles, uniformly and elegantly bound, and
of superior editions. Thus the taste of all parties seemed to have been
consulted, and every one of course was pleased with the kind attention.



CHAP. VI.

      To me be Nature's volume broad display'd;
    And to peruse its all instructing page,
    Or haply catching inspiration thence,
    Some easy passage raptured to translate,
    My sole delight.

      She lov'd: but such her guileless passion was,
    As in the dawn of time, inform'd the heart
    Of innocence and undissembling truth.

    THOMSON'S SEASONS.


From this time Mordaunt's visits at Llanwyllan Farm were constant, and
in spite of Mrs. Ross's expected reprehension, Ellen, though always
gentle, humble, and submissive, certainly did not execute all the
needlework planned for her to do; and, worse than that, Farmer Howel's
wife declared she had not above half the usual number of chickens to
carry to market for Ellen Powis that she used to have; and Mrs. Ross
requesting to taste the currant wine, made under her own direction,
found that it had latterly been managed so ill, that it would all become
vinegar. This was a grievous fault, and grievously did Ellen answer it,
for loud and sharp were Mrs. Ross's animadversions; and repeatedly did
she remind Joanna that she had prophesied all this. Joanna walked
sometimes with Ellen, and of course with Mordaunt, for they seemed
inseparable, but found their conversation frequently turning on things
beyond her comprehension, or interrupted by short dialogues, carried on
in a low voice, to which her presence seemed an interruption; yet no one
could say Mordaunt ever directed himself but with the most entire
respect towards Ellen, and politeness towards Joanna. Amongst other
wonders which Mordaunt shewed to Ellen, such as beautiful drawings,
trinkets for gentlemen, &c. and which were to her entirely new, was one
which excited in her, not only admiration, but delight. This was his own
miniature picture, beautifully painted, and a striking likeness. Ellen
had literally never seen a portrait, except some old faded family
pictures, which hung in the hall and staircase of her father's house,
and represented some of the former proprietors: but these dull miserable
daubs hardly conveyed to her an idea of the delightful art of portrait
painting; and when she saw this speaking and elegant resemblance of her
fascinating friend, she was so enchanted and enraptured, that Mordaunt,
contrary to his first intention, requested her to keep it; and she,
ignorant of its value, or the construction the world would have put on
her accepting the picture of a gentleman, as readily received it as she
had done two or three books and drawings he had given her; but different
were the sensations with which she looked at this, to her, most
desirable gift: it was the companion of her solitary hours, and, when
not actually before her eyes, was ever present to her imagination: and
when Mordaunt was absent, his picture was laid by her side; yet a sort
of intuitive feeling made her snatch it up, and conceal it when any one
approached. It is obvious how greatly this indulgence must have
increased those sentiments of tenderness which now so irresistibly
assailed her young and innocent heart. As the autumn advanced, and the
evenings grew longer, Joanna and Ellen were still left less together.
Mordaunt was understood to be continually at the Farm; and even the
unobserving farmers' wives began to conclude his attentions into love,
and to conclude the match between him and Ellen Powis determined on. A
slight cold gave Ellen a reason, or rather an excuse, for staying at
home, when at the end of a week Mrs. Ross determined to go herself to
the Farm and see how Ellen's work went on. In the road she met Powis,
and asking if his daughter were at home, he said, "Yes," and added, "I
don't think she is well; she has a cold, and looks pale. How is it you
and Joanna have not been to see her these two days?" "Nay," said Mrs.
Ross, "I have not seen her for nearly a week. Joanna called the other
day, but I fancy Ellen is better engaged than to want _our_ company."
"How do you mean," said Powis, looking surprized, "why is not Mr.
Mordaunt with her every day?" "Why yes, I believe so--part of every
day--but what need that hinder your coming? He says she is a clever
girl, and she is so anxious to learn what he calls geography, or
something like it, that they spend a good deal of their time at their
books and such like, and I can't but say I relish my newspaper twice as
well now Mr. Mordaunt and Ellen sometimes shew me whereabouts the armies
are, and have made me understand whereabouts France, and Spain, and
England, and so on are, upon the great maps he has brought to our
house."

"'Tis all very well, neighbour Powis, all very well, if you like it: I
hope you will have no reason to repent it; but I am afraid, when your
shirts and stockings want mending, you will not like these new-fangled
ways quite so well." "Why, to be sure, if Ellen neglects her business,
that won't do at all; but I assure you she is very industrious, and
tells me she rises an hour the earlier every morning, to get through her
work, and have time to attend to her books." "Well, neighbour, as long
as you are satisfied, I do not wish to make mischief; but certainly Mr.
Ross never approved of her or Joanna's learning such things; if he had,
he could have instructed them, at least as well as Mr. Mordaunt." "Very
true; I did not think of that--well, we will talk to Ellen about it: you
will find her at home; I left her busy at work: do speak your mind to
her a little; I shall be guided by you and Mr. Ross in all things,
seeing you understand such matters better than I do." They then parted,
and Mrs. Ross a few minutes after arrived at the Farm; and on walking
into the usual sitting-room, instead of finding Ellen at work, she found
her surrounded with books and maps, and Mordaunt seated by her side, one
arm rested on the back of her chair, while the other was engaged in
tracing with the end of his pencil some lines on the map on which Ellen
was looking: she was too intently engaged to observe Mrs. Ross's
entrance, who stood suspended a moment, while she heard Mordaunt say,
"And here, Ellen, here is Northampton--this is the road to Aubyn Castle;
and just here----" "What here?" said Ellen, eagerly placing her finger
on the spot she supposed to be that on which Mordaunt's habitation
stood. "Is it here your house stands?" "Very near that precise spot,"
replied Mordaunt, drawing her hand gently away, and retaining it in his
own, while his expressive eyes were fixed on her face: "very near it is
my residence; but it is so far from Llanwyllan, that I begin to detest
it, and to dread the thoughts of returning to it.--But what am I doing?"
said he, with a deep sigh: "Oh, Ellen, I dare not tell you all my
thoughts!" Ellen blushed, sighed, withdrew her hand, and accidentally
glancing her eyes upwards, saw Mrs. Ross standing in the door-way, with
astonishment, anger, and vexation, painted on her countenance. Ellen
started, half screamed, and rose so hastily, she almost overset the
table before her. "Bless me, Ma'am," she exclaimed, "I did not see
you--I did not know--" "No, I dare say not, Miss Ellen; you were a great
deal too much engaged to see or think of me: your servant, Sir. I beg I
may not keep you standing; at least _I_ shall sit down, for _I_ am not
going yet."

This gentle hint was intended to tell Mordaunt that she meant to outstay
him; but she looked at Ellen with "eyes so full of anger," and Ellen
turned so pale, and looked so alarmed, that Mordaunt thought he would at
least give Mrs. Ross time to cool a little, before he left them
together. Ellen began, in much confusion, to gather the books and maps
together. "I am sorry to disturb you, but I did not expect," said Mrs.
Ross, "to find you engaged in this manner, at this time of day, whatever
you might chuse to do in an evening. I met your father, and he told me
you were busy at work, or in the dairy: but," added she, in a low voice,
"those things are not thought of _now_." "Indeed, Ma'am," said Ellen,
blushing, while the tears started in her eyes, at being so lectured
before Mordaunt, "indeed, I had just finished what I had to do in the
dairy to-day, and had begun the work you desired me to do, when Mr.
Mordaunt accidentally came in, and the maps we had been looking at last
night lying in the window, he was just shewing me--" "Oh, it is all
mighty well," interrupted Mrs. Ross; "I have no authority to interfere,
I am sure, and do not wish to be impertinent. Pray, Sir," added she,
turning to Mordaunt, "_do you stay much longer at Llanwyllan_?" "So,"
thought Mordaunt, "my turn is coming next. I hope, Madam," added he,
smiling, "I shall not stay long enough to tire my friends." "Oh, I dare
say not, Sir; I dare say you are _pretty sure of that_." This coarse and
cruel hint covered Ellen with the deepest crimson; and Mordaunt, while
his face was scarlet, and his eyes sparkled with an indignation he with
difficulty repressed, said, in a lofty tone, "I have not, at least,
Madam, been accustomed to incur such a misfortune, and therefore flatter
myself I have now done nothing to deserve it." He rose with dignity, and
approaching Ellen, who sat almost motionless, he took her trembling
hand, bowed respectfully upon it, and said, "I shall do myself the
honour of attending your father and yourself, Miss Powis, in the
evening." Then slightly bowing to Mrs. Ross, he departed. "Good lack,
good lack," said Mrs. Ross, who, awed by his manner, had been silent a
moment, "what a dainty speech! The honour of attending Miss Powis! well,
what will this world come to! Why, Ellen, child, you are spoilt for a
farmer's wife, and will soon begin to fancy yourself a lady indeed."
Ellen, whose spirits were now totally subdued, wept bitterly, and said,
"I am sure, Madam, I do not know how I have deserved to be treated
thus."

Softened by her distress, for with all her sharpness, Mrs. Ross loved
Ellen, and really had her welfare at heart, she began to relent, and
said more softly, "Why now, Ellen, child, hear me. Do you think it is
right or creditable for a young girl like you to be constantly receiving
the visits of such a man as Mr. Mordaunt? Tell me, Ellen, will he make
you his wife?"

This was a question Ellen had never dared to ask herself. In the
beautiful language of Shakespeare, which Mordaunt had lately given her,
and with which she was so enchanted, she often allowed herself only
three hours sleep in a night, that she might find time to read, she had
often repeated to herself--

                        ---- It were all one,
    That I should love a bright particular star,
    And think to wed it: he is so above me;
    In his bright radiance, and collateral light
    Must I be comforted, not in his sphere.

This question from Mrs. Ross, therefore, struck her heart with a pang of
unutterable anguish, and she felt almost dying, while she owned, that so
far from offering her his hand, Mordaunt had never spoken one word of
love to her. Mrs. Ross, however, was rather pleased at the latter part
of this confession, for she began to fear worse for the innocent and
guileless Ellen than the capture of her heart; that, she had no doubt,
might soon be retrieved when Mordaunt quitted the country, and Ellen
could have no farther acquaintance with him; but she had begun to fear
that his views were such as might involve Ellen in infamy, as well as
misfortune: these fears, however, she had feeling enough to conceal from
their object, and only dwelt upon the trouble she was preparing for
herself, by giving so much of her time and regard to a man who, it
evidently appeared, had no thoughts of her. In vain did Ellen murmur the
word "Friendship," and faintly protest neither Mordaunt nor herself had
the least idea of any thing beyond. Mrs. Ross, though her knowledge of
the world was not extensive, knew enough to be convinced of the fallacy
of such pretensions, and she ceased not till she drew from the dejected
Ellen a promise to see less of Mordaunt, and to regain, as speedily as
possible, her former mode of life. "And let me, Ellen, also, see you
looking blooming and merry again," said she. "I wish, with all my heart,
this man had never found his way to Llanwyllan: you used to be active,
industrious, and happy; not a care to distress you, not a trouble to
take away your colour; but now Charles would not know you again."
"Charles!" thought Ellen, while a strange feeling, not unmingled with
indignant comparison, swelled her heart, and gave a transient colour to
her cheek. "What is Charles to me? Why am I always to be teased about
him? They will teach me to hate, instead of loving him." "Well, Ellen,
may I suppose you will take my advice?" "Certainly, Ma'am," said Ellen,
with a deep sigh; "but," added she, hesitating, "you know, Ma'am, Mr.
Mordaunt said he would be here this evening. You would not wish me--it
would look very particular, very rude." "Never mind that. Come, you say
you have done all you had to do in the dairy, so put on your hat, take
your work, and come and dine with us like a good girl, as you used to
be; you can leave word you were obliged to go out, and the sooner you
let him see you are determined to avoid him the better." Ellen dared not
refuse; she hesitated some excuse about her father's dining alone, which
Mrs. Ross obviated by saying he would only run home, and take his
dinner, and out again, and would not want her. Waiting, therefore, while
poor Ellen put on her hat, and bathed her eyes, she dragged her away
with her, and kept her all day at the Parsonage. Nay, under pretence of
finishing their work, she would not suffer either Ellen or Joanna to
stir out, though the weather was beautiful. Late in the evening Mr. Ross
came in; he spoke with such particular kindness, and in so soothing a
tone to Ellen, that the tears, which she had with difficulty restrained
all day, ran down her cheeks, and she hastily rose, under pretence of
looking at the moon, and went to the open window: there leaning her head
over the window-seat, into which the jasmine crept, she hoped the
torrents of tears she was shedding might fall unobserved; but the good
Ross, who had followed her, and now stood at a small distance from her,
perceived, by her air and action, that she was weeping, though no one
else noticed it; for Ellen's was

    "Mute, silent sorrow, free from female noise,
    Such as the majesty of grief destroys."

He was distressed to see her sorrow, and gently approaching, he took her
hand, (while she, half starting, turned her head aside) and said, "My
dear Ellen, I lament to see you so dejected; assure yourself, we love
you as our own child, and would in all things consult your happiness.
But reflect, my dear, on the change a few short weeks have produced:
this man, this Mordaunt; nay, blush not, Ellen; for who can doubt it is
on his account you weep--I own him elegant in person, polished in
manners,

    "Complete in person and in mind,
    With all good grace to grace a gentleman!"

"But what has he been to you? A friend! No, Ellen; he found you
cheerful, contented with your lot, and happily engaged in the active
duties of your station. What has he done for you? He has inspired you
with views above the state where Providence has placed you. He has made
your former useful occupations, your former simple friends, insipid to
you; he has sought to give a degree of refinement to your taste, of
delicacy to your sentiments, of which I well know nature has made you
fully capable; but unless he means to transplant you to a soil where
these flowers may flourish, believe me, Ellen, he has done you no
kindness. He has only prepared for you years of anguish, of vain regret,
of useless discontent, which will for ever destroy not only the glow
upon your cheek, but the spring and elasticity of your mind. I will not
ask you what are his professions; I will only suppose, that if they are
serious, your father and your friends would not be strangers to them."

Here Ellen sunk into a chair, and sobbed aloud. Mrs. Ross and Joanna,
seeing that Ross was talking to her, had stolen out of the room. "It
grieves me to distress you, my dear girl," said the benevolent Ross, and
his gentle voice became tremulous; "but, Ellen, let my experience
benefit you. There are characters in the world of which your innocent
nature can form no idea. I will not offend your delicacy, nor indeed my
own belief, by supposing, for an instant, that Mordaunt is one of those
villains who seek the seduction of innocence."

Here Ellen started from her chair, her clasped hands, glowing cheeks,
and throbbing bosom, bespeaking an indignant agitation, which would not
be controlled. Ross, gently reseating her, said, "Ellen, I wrong not
you; I wrong not him, so much as to imagine such a possibility; but
there are men, who, though they lead not so decidedly to guilt, yet lead
as certainly to misery acute as aught but guilt can make it: and that
only for the gratification of a mean and sordid vanity, inconceivable by
such as have not witnessed its effects. I had once a sister, Ellen, fair
almost as yourself, as gentle, and as virtuous; possessed of a
sensibility that was at once her grace and her misfortune. In early
life, it fortuned that she met with one of those practised deceivers,
who united talents the most superior to manners the most enchanting. By
a long series of quiet and silent attentions, by studying her tastes,
devoting his time to her, he, without ever addressing to her a word of
love, led her, and all who knew her, to believe he was her lover, and
would be her husband. At last she was told that such was his usual
practice, when he met with any woman who was superior to those around
her; but she felt indignant at the accusation, and would not believe it
till that belief was forced upon her, by seeing him going over the same
ground with another. 'She pined in thought;' and a hectic complaint, to
which she was subject, gained fast upon her. A mutual friend came to an
explanation with him, while the mean wretch declared he had never made
any profession to her, and never even thought of marrying her; but that
the world would talk, and he wondered she did not despise it, as he did.
A few months terminated the existence of the injured creature. Sweet
Emily! thy gentle spirit fled to those regions where no deceit could
further betray thee. The wretch at last met his fate in a duel with the
brother of one whom he had sought to mislead, as he had done the
unfortunate Emily." Ross's voice here failed, and both were silent.
"Assure yourself, Ellen," at length resumed Ross, "I was not blind to
your talents, and your love of knowledge; and many have been my
struggles against the strong inclination I felt to become your
instructor. My own children had not, I easily saw, such minds as yours,
and I longed to cultivate your vigorous understanding. I resisted,
though the temptation was aided by the wish I felt to secure to myself a
future companion and assistant in the studies I best loved. Why, Ellen,
did I resist? What was the powerful motive which prevented my yielding
to such united inducements? It was a wish to secure your welfare and
your happiness, which I thought would be most certainly effected by
limiting your acquirements to something like an equality with those
amongst whom you seemed fated to live. I may have erred in judgment; and
since the bent of your inclination so determinately points towards the
acquisition of knowledge, I am willing to suppose that I have done so. I
will then, Ellen, be your tutor: we will, with Mrs. Ross's assistance,
so arrange your hours, that your new employments shall not interfere
with your domestic duties; and let me hope, my dear, that the same
strength of mind, which so eagerly leads you to literary pursuits, will
be manifested in conquering any sentiment too tender for your peace,
which may have been excited by one, who, I fear, has merely had in view
his own gratification. Should I wrong him--should he hereafter prove
that he feels a sincere affection for you, and seeks your happiness,
great will be my joy: no selfish or personal consideration shall
influence my wishes on this subject. I had hoped that Charles might have
been happy with the object of his first affections; but that I see is
not _at present_ likely: fear, therefore, no persecution on that
subject, either from me, or his mother and sister."

Ross was silent; and Ellen, who had hitherto remained so from the
mingled feelings of pride, regret, and tenderness, which swelled her
heart, now fearing to seem sullen, faintly articulated, "You are very
good and kind: I will be all I can--all, if possible, you wish me to
be."

Ross, seeing the variety of emotions she had that day undergone had
quite exhausted her, advised her to retire to bed, saying she had better
sleep there, and in the morning they would talk a little further on her
future plans. Ellen, however unwillingly, how much soever her rebellious
heart longed to return home, in the hope of seeing Mordaunt if but for a
minute, yet felt that Ross had acted so kindly and so wisely, that his
reasoning was so founded on truth, that she determined "in all her best
to obey him." She retired therefore to the chamber she and Joanna had so
often occupied, when no care disturbed their repose, when "sleep sat
upon her eyes, peace in her breast." But ah! how changed! Exhausted,
wan, and spiritless; her eyes heavy with weeping; her heart agitated
with a thousand contending reflections, Ellen long vainly sought repose.
Joanna was unusually kind and affectionate--she said little; and all she
said was tender and endearing. Ellen felt truly grateful for this
goodness, and found her love for her early friend revive, now the
roughness which abated it was once more laid aside. At length,
thoroughly wearied with the occurrences of the day, "tired Nature's kind
restorer--balmy sleep," came to her aid, "and steeped her senses in
forgetfulness."



CHAP. VII.

    Grief was heavy at her heart,
      And tears began to flow!
    Soft as the dew from heaven descends,
      His gentle accents fell.

                    GOLDSMITH'S HERMIT.


In the morning Mrs. Ross and Joanna left Mr. Ross and Ellen together for
a few minutes: he drew his chair close to hers, and said, "Do not think,
Ellen, I wish to tease or distress you; but tell me, will it not be
better that you remain our guest for the present? You cannot, when left
alone at Llanwyllan, refuse to admit Mr. Mordaunt without a
particularity which it is on all accounts better to avoid: but here,
even if he comes, you may see him with propriety; and when he finds no
opportunity of entertaining you alone, he will probably cease to visit
us, and perhaps leave Llanwyllan altogether." His mild expressive eyes
glanced over Ellen's countenance: he saw her shrink and tremble at the
painful idea he had excited; and while her every feature expressed the
most exquisite anguish, the good man gently sighed, and removing his
eyes from her face, endeavoured to conceal his knowledge of her
distress. As he seemed to wait her answer, Ellen made a strong effort,
and said, "The plan you propose, Sir, is undoubtedly the best: if you
will be troubled with me, I will remain as long as you please." This
matter settled, Ross undertook to reconcile Powis to spare Ellen for a
short time; and reading her apprehensions in her countenance, said
softly, "Fear not: I will give him sufficient reasons, without exciting
his displeasure, or even his suspicion of our real motive." Ross
accordingly went to the Farm, and meeting with Powis in one of the
fields near the house, he told him that Ellen was not quite well, though
better than she had been the night before, and therefore his wife wished
to detain her a few days at the Parsonage to remove her cold, and would
herself visit the Farm for an hour or two, to settle the concerns of the
dairy, poultry-yard, &c. &c. and that they should be very glad to see
him in the evening, or at any of their meals, when he could make it
convenient. These little arrangements between the two families had till
very lately been so frequent, that Powis felt not the least surprize,
though he owned he was sorry Ellen had not come home the night before,
as Mr. Mordaunt had seemed rather hurt about it; "And he has been so
very civil and kind, you know, neighbour Ross, that one would not wish
to affront him." So perfectly unsuspicious was this good man, that not a
thought crossed his mind of the possible intention of Mordaunt's visits;
and secure in Ellen's fancied affection for Charles Ross, he never
dreamt of her thinking of any other man. Ross silently acquiesced in
what he said, and then went into the house to deliver some directions to
the servant, and which, he said, Mrs. Ross should go herself in the
course of the day to see executed. In the common sitting-room Ross found
the maps and books at which Mordaunt and Ellen had been looking the
preceding day (his wife had told him the circumstances of her visit): he
was rather surprized at the neatness and even elegance of their binding,
though merely what might be called school-books in geography and
grammar, and found that the maps were excellent and expensive. On the
window lay a beautifully bound volume or two of Shakespeare, Thomson's
Seasons, marked and underlined at the description of Lavinia, Cowper's
Poems, and two or three others; in all of which was written, "Ellen
Powis, the gift of her friend Constantine." And in two or three were
short passages in Italian and French, written in a small hand with a
pencil, expressive of admiration and regard, and evidently applied to
Ellen. From one of them dropt the following

STANZAS TO THE MOON.

    Oh, thou bright moon! whose beams, however fair,
      So lately my sad eyes unheeding saw;
    Whose soothing light from its unceasing care,
      My heavy soul so vainly strove to draw;
    I bid thee witness now, that pale despair,
      Her comfortless dominion o'er my mind,
    Reluctant yields, and hope begins to share,
      The empire of my soul, with visions kind!

    With soften'd feelings on thy beams I gaze,
      And their mild influence stealing on my heart,
    Enchanting visions in my bosom raise,
      Sweet friendship comes her blessings to impart:
    In Ellen's form she comes! Oh, fairest form!
      Oh, sweetest voice, that from the grief-worn soul
    E'er stole its cares, e'er bade the beating storm
      Of sorrow cease, and could each woe controul!

Several erasures and interlineations proved this to be an original, and
probably an unfinished performance.

Ross saw in all this new reason to be alarmed: he no longer wondered at
the progress this insinuating man had made in the affections of Ellen,
and most earnestly did he wish that Mordaunt had never seen her, or had
selected her for his wife. Yet even in that case there was something to
consider: they knew nothing of Mordaunt but what he had told them. There
was certainly something equivocal in the total retirement of such a man
from the world: he might have been driven from it rather by his vices
than by his misfortunes: yet there was in the appearance and manners of
Mordaunt, an uprightness, a loftiness of carriage, that looked not like
that of a man debased and bowed down by guilt. While Ross thus
meditated, Mordaunt suddenly came in--his eyes sparkling, and his cheeks
glowing: for hearing some one moving in the parlour, and having seen
Powis in the fields at a distance, he concluded it could be no one but
Ellen: his impatient step, extended hand, and pleased countenance, at
once explained to Ross what his expectation had been. On seeing him,
Mordaunt half started back, exclaiming, "I thought----" Then recovering
himself, he again advanced, and offering his hand to Mr. Ross, said with
much cordiality, "My dear Sir, I am glad to see you: it is sometime
since we met." There was a charm in the voice and manner of Mordaunt
that few could withstand, however unkindly disposed towards him. Ross,
who had from the first felt pleased with him, although he now on Ellen's
account was angry, yet could not prevail on himself to appear
displeased; yet there was a coolness in his expression that was visible
enough to so acute an observer as Mordaunt. Whatever was his motive,
however, he chose not to notice it, but continued to speak with
frankness and vivacity, inquiring for Mrs. Ross and Joanna. At last,
glancing his eyes round the room, he said, "Are you alone this morning,
my good Sir? Miss Powis, I learnt, slept at your house last night: I
hope she is not ill?" Through all the assumed composure of his look, and
affected indifference of his tone, Ross plainly saw that Mordaunt made
this inquiry with real anxiety; but of the true motive of that anxiety
he was extremely doubtful. He replied somewhat coldly, "Ellen is
certainly not quite well, and Mrs. Ross thinks her _safest_ under her
own _care at present_." This speech, which might to a guilty conscience
have conveyed "more than met the ear," seemed to be literally
interpreted by Mordaunt; and thrown off his guard, he evinced great
agitation, while he exclaimed, "Safest! Good God! You do not surely
apprehend any danger in her complaints?" "Not exactly that," said Ross
(not displeased at his warmth), "but she has a bad cold; and Mrs. Ross
has a high opinion of her own skill as a nurse: we shall therefore keep
Ellen with us for a few days at least. If she should then not be better,
I shall advise her father to let her change the air."

This suggestion seemed to complete the dismay of Mordaunt: he trembled,
and turned pale. Ross, bowing, wished him "good morning," and walked
away. Mordaunt, after a moment's recollection, followed him hastily, and
as they walked, endeavoured to enter into a more general conversation,
apparently in the hope that he was going home, and that by going with
him, he might see Ellen: but Ross was going to visit a sick parishioner
at some distance. Mordaunt was therefore obliged to take leave of him at
the door of his own lodgings: he ventured to say, as they parted, "I
shall take an early opportunity of inquiring for my friends at the
Parsonage, Mr. Ross." In answer to which Ross bowed, and said, but not
very cordially, he should be glad to see him.

"And must I bear all this!" said Mordaunt, as they parted: "to what have
I reduced myself? Yet this, and more, sweet Ellen, will I bear for thee!
Yet to what purpose? Can I, dare I, link thee to such a fate as mine may
be? Yet can I leave thee, or bear to be so near, and not to see thee? To
be forbidden, at least by looks forbidden to approach thee: to encounter
the angry glances of a narrow-minded woman, and even by her benevolent
husband to be received with coldness almost bordering on contempt? Yes,
Ellen, I will bear it all! Would to heaven they would have left us to
ourselves, till time--till the full conviction of her affection--they
need not have feared." Thus in broken sentences murmured Mordaunt, as he
strode impatiently across his narrow apartment, and determined nothing
should prevent him from seeing Ellen, and ascertaining whether Ross's
fears for her health were not merely a pretence for separating them.

The whole day passed heavily with Ellen, yet Mrs. Ross and Joanna were
unusually kind to her: no hinted doubt, no implied accusation of herself
and Mordaunt met her ear; but her heart was ill at ease, and her forced
employments irksome. She longed to lie in her own quiet parlour, where,
if Mordaunt might not come, at least she might think of him without
restraint. Ross returned to dinner: he took no notice of Ellen's
dejection, nor mentioned having met with Mordaunt; but told her he had
seen her father, who was quite satisfied she should stay with them
awhile, and try to recover her health, and that he thought it probable
they should see him in the evening. As the afternoon was remarkably
clear, and not too warm (for the autumn was by this time far advanced),
he invited the girls to walk with him, instead of resuming their work,
to which Mrs. Ross gave her consent without a murmur, only begging they
would not walk too far, as she thought Ellen not strong enough to bear
much fatigue. To this they agreed, and Ellen found the calm soft air
revive her. Ross led the conversation to the wonders of nature: he
explained in familiar terms the structure of some flowers he gathered,
and made them admire the wisdom of that Being, who had formed those
blossoms so exquisitely fair. Thence he descanted on the nature and
properties of some rare plants, and was on all so eloquent and so
instructive, that Ellen felt her heart expand more lightly, and some
degree of pleasure take possession of her mind. "But ah!" thought she,
"why is not Mordaunt partaker of this sweet conversation? Why are two
men, so well fitted to gratify and delight each other, thus to be
estranged? Surely, Mr. Ross does not properly appreciate either the
qualities of Mordaunt's mind, or the excellence of his heart and
principles. Had he heard from him the sentiments which have charmed
me--did he know the delicacy of his taste, and his abhorrence of every
thing mean and base, he could not suppose him the wretch he last night
described." Yet Ellen was so candid and unprejudiced, she could allow
great reason in many of Ross's suggestions; and her high opinion of his
judgment, and the general liberality with which it was exercised, filled
her heart with uneasy fears.

They had been a few minutes returned to the house, and were just sitting
down to their simple supper, when Powis came in; and hastening to meet
Ellen, whom he had not seen for nearly two days, he tenderly kissed her.
She loved her father most affectionately, and had met him so eagerly,
that she did not for the instant perceive Mordaunt, who had followed him
into the room, and advanced towards her. She was startled; and fearing
what reception her friends would give him, she turned pale, and
trembled, which her father perceiving, said, "Why, Ellen, it is only Mr.
Mordaunt: you are not frightened at him, are you? Why, you have not seen
him these two or three days, he tells me. Come, shake hands with him,
and tell him you are glad to see him." Not for worlds could Ellen have
articulated one word; but Mordaunt, taking advantage of her father's
friendly commands, took the hand she could not--dared not offer; and
pressing it vehemently between his own, said in a low voice, "No, Ellen,
do not _say_ you are _glad_ to see me: the formal coldness of such an
expression from you would be worse to me than that averted look which
leads me to believe, at least to fear, the sight of me is far from
pleasing to you."

A vivid blush spread over her countenance, and she suddenly lifted her
eyes to him with an expression of reproachful yet gentle timid
affection, that at once explained to him all that her heart was filled
with. Joy, delight, and an expression of the most tender love and
admiration, took possession of Mordaunt's fine features: he seemed
transfixed, and stood gazing on her, still holding her hand, as if he
had no longer power over his own actions. "Why, how you stand," said
honest Powis, laughing, "staring at one another as if you had never met
before! Come, neighbour Ross, I am come to eat a bit of your cold meat:
I have been in the fields all the evening, and made but a short dinner,
Ellen not being at home. Come, let us sit down, and begin supper."

Nothing could equal the awkwardness of Mordaunt's situation: he felt
himself an intruder, yet could not tear himself away. Ross, his wife,
and Joanna, had indeed all spoken to him with civility; but there was
something in their manner which fully convinced him he was no welcome
guest; and though Ellen looked somewhat pale, yet he saw in her no sign
of such a state of health as should make her residence with Mrs. Ross
necessary. Relieved by this conviction (for he had really been alarmed
for her), he yet felt mortified in perceiving that she was kept there on
purpose to avoid his visits. At length, a little recovering himself, he
relinquished her hand, and said, "Pray let me be no interruption: I am
going instantly: I merely called to inquire how Miss Powis was this
evening, and am happy to find her not so ill as I feared." He now bowed,
and was retiring, when Ross, ashamed of appearing so inhospitable,
pressed him to sit down with them; and Joanna (pitying Ellen's
confusion, who was quite distressed at her father's apparent surprize at
the coolness--to him unaccountable--of Mordaunt's reception), said with
great good-nature, "Here's a chair, Mr. Mordaunt; and as you never eat
any thing but fruit at night, see what fine peaches and grapes we have."

Mordaunt, charmed by the kind invitation, and by seeing the chair
mentioned was placed between herself and Ellen, could not resist the
temptation: he sat down, and vainly endeavoured to behave as he used to
do: but there was a visible restraint over the whole party, except
Powis; and though Ross attempted several times to keep up something like
conversation, it soon languished, and every one seemed weary and
uneasy--the mind of each was pre-occupied; and what either said,
appeared to be far from the thing they were thinking of. Once or twice
Mordaunt spoke in a low voice to Ellen; but she, awed by the presence of
Mr. and Mrs. Ross, answered only in the briefest way possible, and
rarely lifted her eyes from the table. He asked her at last if she
should be at home to-morrow. She replied in the negative. "Nor the next
day?" "I believe not." "Good God! and how long is this to last?" "I do
not know: Mrs. Ross thinks I shall be better here for awhile." "And do
you never walk?" "Yes: we walked this evening with Mr. Ross."

Mordaunt saw that every thing possible was done to prevent their
meeting, and that he must come to some decision speedily. Of Ellen's
love, he could no longer doubt: his own for her he had for some time
felt to be that overwhelming sentiment, which must finally conquer all
opposing circumstances; but there were such in his fate as ought (at
least he thought so) to have prevented him from linking hers with it;
yet he had insensibly been so led on, he saw there was no retreating,
and determined shortly to come to an explanation with Ross and her
father, though much he wished a further time had been allowed. These
reflexions, which in spite of himself and the habit of self-command he
had so hardly acquired, sank him into silence; and at length, Powis,
tired of the gloom and heaviness which seemed hung over the whole party,
so different from what their little suppers used to be, told them he
thought they were all very stupid, and he would go home and go to bed.
Then shaking Ross by the hand, he went round the table to Ellen, kissed
her, and wished her good night, telling her to get quite well as fast as
possible, for he wanted her at home. Mordaunt bade them good night at
the same time, and went away with Powis.



CHAP. VIII.

    "Are then the sons of interest only wise?
      Can pomp alone essential good impart?
    Mistaken world; ah! why thus vainly prize
      Those gifts which but contract the human heart?

    "Why only _folly_ that fond passion call,
      Which Heaven itself implanted in the mind;
    Links each to each, and, harmonizing all,
      Swells the rapt heart with sympathy refin'd."


The reflections of a long and sleepless night determined Mordaunt on the
line of conduct he ought to pursue; and as soon as he thought the early
breakfast at the Parsonage would be ended, he walked thither, and asking
for Mr. Ross, was shewn into the little study, which that good man
called exclusively his own. Yet here, in the very last place where he
would have expected to find her, to his utter astonishment he saw Ellen.
Ellen alone--seated at a table covered with books, from one of which she
appeared learning something, or rather to have been so employed, for at
the moment he entered her thoughts had wandered; and she was sitting,
one fair hand holding the open book, the other covering her eyes.
Supposing the person who entered to be Mr. Ross, who had that day
commenced the office of her tutor, she looked up; but seeing Mordaunt,
the book fell from her hand, and she vainly endeavoured to rise from her
seat--a ceremony not yet exploded by the unfashionable inhabitants of
Llanwyllan. Mordaunt sprang eagerly forward, exclaiming, "Here Ellen!
Good Heavens! could I have hoped to see you here! At last then we meet
again, without the irksome restraint of surrounding witnesses, of almost
hostile eyes! Fear not, dearest, for ever dearest Ellen." Seeing she
looked half alarmed at his unusual warmth, for in general his manner
towards her was, though tender, composed,--"fear not: never may word nor
look of mine give you reasonable cause of alarm or vexation. Worlds
would I give for one hour's uninterrupted conversation with you--but now
another moment may prevent my saying more. Tell me then, sweetest girl,
may I, will you permit me to apply to Mr. Ross for his interest with
you, and with your father, till I can hope that my assiduities, if not
my merit, may have excited in you a tenderer sentiment than mere
esteem?"

Bewildered--perplexed--hardly knowing or understanding what she heard,
or believing that Mordaunt could be in earnest in what she could not but
suppose a declaration of his love, Ellen gasped, trembled, and half
fainted in his supporting arms.

At this moment Ross entered, and seeing this extraordinary scene, gazed
with surprize, almost with dismay, upon them. "I was told," said he,
gravely advancing, "that Mr. Mordaunt wished to speak to _me_. What is
the matter Ellen? are you ill?" "Forgive my vehemence, dear Ellen," said
Mordaunt. "I have startled your tender spirits by my impatience: permit
me to conduct you to your friends; or shall Mr. Ross and I retire
together?"

The particular tenderness of this address, and this almost open avowal
of the interest he took in her, still more and more surprized Ross.
Ellen rose, and with difficulty supporting herself, murmured she would
go to Mrs. Ross--"Do so," said Ross; "but let _me_ assist you.--Mr.
Mordaunt, be seated; I will return to you immediately."--Without
speaking more to her, he took her arm in his, and having seated her in
the parlour, (where fortunately Joanna was alone), he told her to
compose herself, and returned to a visitor whom every hour made him
think more perplexing and extraordinary. Mordaunt extended his hand, and
grasping Ross's within it, said, with noble frankness, "You have been,
my dear Sir,--perhaps still are displeased with me: but the time is come
when the mysteries which surround me shall be cleared away. If you will
grant me your attention for an hour I will relate to you some
circumstances upon which I must at present beg you to be silent; but to
the truth of all which I pledge myself by every asseveration which can
bind the man of principle and honour."

They were seated, and Mordaunt related to Ross many events, and
disclosed many secrets, which we shall for the present take leave to
pass over. Having finished the astonishing recital, he said, "And now,
my dear Sir, having heard all I know of myself, and all I may hereafter
fear, will you candidly tell me whether I may hope not only for your
consent, but for your good wishes that I may marry Ellen Powis? May I,
do you think, venture to make her mine, when perhaps a few months may
involve me in so much vexation if not disgrace? And do you think I may
hope such a share of affection from her as will reconcile her to future
events, of whatever nature they may be?"--"I see," said Ross, "that my
cautious fears for her peace have a little precipitated your measures.
It might have been better, perhaps, to let things go on quietly till the
return of that young man you have mentioned to me from abroad might have
explained his future intentions: perhaps his opinions may have altered
during his absence: be that as it may, if you were now to leave
Llanwyllan without coming to a farther explanation with Ellen, I fear
her peace would be too deeply endangered; for though I would
scrupulously guard her delicacy, and leave the declaration of her
sentiments to her own lips, yet it would be idle to deny my conviction
that she has seen her _friend Mordaunt_ with what I believe I must call
_preference_. Is not that the proper word, think you, Sir?" He smiled,
and added such kind professions of regard for Mordaunt, and expressed so
much delight at his truly disinterested love for Ellen, as left our
traveller nothing to wish from him.

It was determined that not even Ellen should know at present the
circumstances Mordaunt had revealed to Ross. "If she knows them," said
Mordaunt, "she will think duty calls upon her to impart at least some of
them to her father, and we are sure our worthy friend Powis will make no
secret of them; you cannot doubt, Mr. Ross, how greatly it would annoy
me to have them known while we remain at Llanwyllan; when we are gone,
the leading circumstances will not remain a secret long, for I hope for
your kind interest with Ellen and her father, that I may take her with
me ere long, before winter has rendered travelling over your 'staircase
roads,' as some one expresses it, unpleasant, if not unsafe. I am
perhaps presuming too far, but I think, I hope, from Ellen's gentle
tremor and not repugnant looks, when just now I was hurried into
something very like a declaration of my love, though I came purposely to
consult you before I made it, that she will not be inexorable." "I
think," replied Ross, "I may venture to assure you she will not even
affect a hesitation which her heart disclaims. Ellen has been brought up
in the most perfect modesty, but at the same time in the most perfect
sincerity, and it is really out of her power to conceal her sentiments;
and to me, who have known her from her infancy, they are as obvious as
if her heart was open to my view; but I will not say more," said he,
with a benevolent smile.--"I ought not to betray my darling little
pupil: by the bye," added he, turning to the books, &c. "my office of
schoolmaster will, I suppose, soon be taken from me; I might as well not
have attempted to take it out of your hands." Mordaunt laughed, and
asked Ross if he might not request to see Ellen then. "You may easily
imagine my anxiety," added he. "Why," said Ross, "there is something so
formidable in sending for the poor little girl, and seating her formally
to hear what you undoubtedly are impatient to say, that if you can allow
her a little time to compose herself, after the flurry she has had this
morning already, I really think it will be better. Will you partake of
our humble dinner to-day--can you eat at our unfashionable early hour?
for the good people here, amongst other things, are amazed at your usual
hours; if you can, pray favour me; and after dinner I will so far relax
my late vigilance, as to permit you to speak to Ellen apart for ten
minutes: will that be long enough?" "Not quite," said Mordaunt, half
laughing; "but how shall we manage with Mrs. Ross, who, I believe, holds
me in very serious aversion, and with Joanna, who will, I know, have her
mother's commands not to stir from Ellen?" "How well you have read us
all," said Ross, laughing in his turn: "but trust to me: I will remove
all these formidable obstacles--yet do not fancy my good woman has any
dislike to you; whatever displeasure she has shewn originated in her
vexation at seeing your influence had deranged the plans she thought
best for Ellen to pursue, and endangered, as we feared, her happiness;
for though she may not shew it exactly according to the manner a more
enlightened mind might chuse, assure yourself Mrs. Ross loves Ellen with
the affection of a mother." "I doubt it not," replied Mordaunt with
vivacity: "who can see and not love that exquisite creature?--what a
person--what a mind she has! You may believe, after all I have told you,
that 'for several virtues have I liked several women.' I may go on and
add, that 'she, so perfectly and so peerless, was created of every
creature's best.'"

"Indeed," said Ross, "I have ever highly appreciated Ellen, but I
believe not highly enough, for I never thought of her making a conquest
so important: the little gipsy is not aware of the power of her charms."
"Ah," said Mordaunt, shrinking, "do not lead my thoughts that way, do
not let me suppose, if she knew them better, my success with her might
be less to be hoped; that when the world shall have taught her to
estimate them more highly--" "Ah, beware of jealousy," said Ross. "Name
not the horrid word," cried Mordaunt, with some emotion; "too much
reason have I to know its misery; but with your virtuous, with your
pious Ellen, I shall surely be secure." "Doubt it not," replied Ross,
gravely; "if ever human being might be relied on for truth, for
sincerity, for singleness of heart, that being is Ellen Powis; yet the
world is a dangerous school, and you, I hope, will watch with unceasing
care over your inexperienced pupil, whose very virtues may betray her,
if not into error, into the appearance of it."

A few more words passed between them, and then Mordaunt retired to dress
for dinner, a custom from which he never departed even in this retired
spot.

During this long conference, poor Mrs. Ross had been in a complete
fidget (to use her own word) to know its subject: her curiosity had long
since reached its highest point, and she repeated almost incessantly to
Ellen and Joanna, who sat at work beside her,--"Well, what in the whole
world can Mr. Mordaunt have to say to Mr. Ross--well, what can they be
talking of all this time? Dear, I hope they won't quarrel." "Quarrel!"
repeated Joanna, while Ellen's work dropt from her fingers, and she
looked amazed and terrified: "quarrel! my dear mother, what should they
quarrel about? Besides, did you ever know my father quarrel with
anybody?" "No: true enough, he has a very fine temper; but then, _that_
Mr. Mordaunt seems so hasty, and sometimes looks so strangely,
that--besides, I thought he seemed quite angry when we went away last
night." She then opened the parlour door, which was exactly opposite to
that of the study, and stood a minute as if to catch the sound of their
voices.

"Well, I declare they are talking still, but not loud: bless me! I
actually heard one of them laugh." "So much the better, mamma," said
Joanna; "I always like to hear people laugh; it shews there is no
mischief going on." "Not at all, not at all, Joanna," said Mrs. Ross,
whose irritated curiosity disposed her to contradiction. "I am sure I
have often thought, when I have heard you two girls chattering and
laughing, that you were planning some mischief." "Well, mamma, I am sure
we never executed it, for you know we were always the best girls in the
world." "Pretty well, pretty well sometimes," replied Mrs. Ross, half
smiling in the midst of her bustle.

At length the study door opened, and Mordaunt was seen to pass through
the little garden before the house, to which Ross attended him: they
shook hands at parting. "You see, mamma, they have not quarrelled," said
Joanna; "so far from it, I have a great notion they are better pleased
with each other than they have been lately;" and she glanced slily at
Ellen, for Joanna had little doubt what subject had employed, at least,
part of the time they had been together.

As soon as Mordaunt was gone, Ross came into the parlour, and
said,--"What have we for dinner to-day, my dear?" "Well, Mr. Ross, I
don't think I ever heard you ask before in all my life." "Possibly not,
my dear; but I wish to know, because Mr. Mordaunt dines with us." "Mr.
Mordaunt!" repeated Mrs. Ross: "well, of all things, that is the last I
should have expected. Why, _now_ I am surprized indeed:--then we have
such an odd dinner to-day;--nothing but----" "Never mind, my dear, never
mind, you can easily make a little alteration: come with me, and I will
tell you more; in the meantime, girls, go and make yourselves very
smart. Mr. Mordaunt is only gone home to dress, and will be here again
soon; of course, as he is so nice in his own appearance, he will expect
to find you lasses dressed to receive him." "Dear Mr. Ross," said the
good woman, staring at him, "I do not know you to-day! What in the world
is come to you? First you inquire about dinner, and then you tell the
girls to go and dress themselves; two things which I never knew you take
the slightest concern in before."

Ross laughed and took her away, and Joanna, looking smilingly at Ellen,
said--"Are you quite as much at a loss to understand all this as my
mother, Ellen? Come, do exert yourself a little, and perhaps by and bye,
with Mordaunt's assistance, you may find out the meaning of some of
these extraordinary things." Ellen half laughed, and blushing, told her
she was very teasing; but the pleasure which shone in her eyes evinced
she was tolerably sure the cause of these new appearances, when
explained, would not be disagreeable. Mrs. Ross came in again with a
face of wonder, and saying only--"Lord bless me! well,--what strange
things have come to pass!--come, Ellen, child, make haste and dress
yourself as nicely as possible--come, Joanna, I want you--there are
fifty things to do," took Joanna away. Ross joined Ellen, who was
hastily putting up her work, impatient to escape to her own room, and
reflect in quiet; and taking her hand with paternal tenderness, while
his fine countenance was radiant with benevolent joy, said:--

"Compose yourself, my dear child; abate as much as possible this evident
emotion; for though with pleasure I tell you every wish of your heart is
likely to be fulfilled, nay in some respects perhaps exceeded, yet I
would have you receive Mr. Mordaunt's declaration, of what I believe to
be the sincerest regard, with something of composure, nay, even of
dignity: for though, my dear girl, your station in life may, and does
render you his inferior, yet, with your mind and person, he ought to
think the affection of a heart so guileless no mean acquisition. Go, my
dear, to your room, and tranquillize the too visible agitation of your
spirits."

Ellen affectionately kissed the kind hand which held her own, and
silently retired.



CHAP. IX.

                      ----The sun goes down;
    Far off his light is on the naked crags
    Of Penmanmawr and Arvon's ancient hills;
    And the last glory lingers yet awhile,
    Crowning old Snowdon's venerable head,
    That rose amid his mountains----
    ----Where Mona the dark island stretch'd
    Her shore along the ocean's lighter line.

                              SOUTHEY'S MADOR.


Pass we over the succeeding interview between Mordaunt and Ellen--its
general style may be easily imagined; and the particulars of scenes like
that seldom give pleasure, unless to those whom they immediately
concern. It will be needless to specify that Ellen modestly, though
frankly, confessed the influence he had obtained over her affections,
and consented to be his wife: one, only one, painful objection arose in
her mind--the probable distance she must be removed from her father, and
the doubtfulness of her seeing him again, at least for years. These
objections Mordaunt did his best to obviate, by reminding her that Powis
was yet in a green old age, and would be well able to visit them; and
that he would engage to revisit Llanwyllan with her, in the course of a
year or two. Here, however, Mordaunt sighed deeply, and his countenance
assumed that inexplicable gloom, with which reflexions on the past, or
anticipations of the future, seemed always to inspire him: recovering
himself a little, he added, "Remember, however, Ellen, this promise must
be in some measure conditional. There are circumstances in my situation,
which I have explained to Mr. Ross, which may affect my honour--almost
strike at my life. Say, Ellen, can you willingly encounter those storms
of adverse fate, which may assail, and, perhaps, make me an exile from
my native country for ever? Can you give me so much of your confidence
as to believe, whatever appearances may be, I am innocent?"

"Your words are full of mystery," said Ellen, in a faltering tone; "yet
my heart is so fully convinced of your honour and veracity, that I can
venture to promise no appearances shall ever shake my confidence in
either--and if Mr. Ross knows those circumstances to which you allude,
and yet is willing to join our hands, I have the best security that my
heart has not misled my judgment."

"Admirable creature!" exclaimed Mordaunt: "how, in this sequestered
situation, have you learnt so to temper the warmth of that innocent
heart by the nicest rules of modesty and discrimination? How good you
are, not to insist on my explaining all these mysteries!--Believe me,
Ellen, I only postpone it in order to avoid as much as possible giving
you pain. Perhaps, before any explanation becomes necessary, the clouds
which have so long hovered over me may be dispersed. There is a clue,
which (if the united efforts of myself and of the best of friends can
attain it) will yet be found, that will unravel all that makes against
me; and all will then be well." Here, for the present, the matter
rested; and though to suppose Ellen void of curiosity would be to
suppose her stupid, yet so entire was the confidence which she felt in
Mordaunt's affection, and Ross's judgment, that she was perfectly
satisfied to rest implicitly on them.

Mordaunt the next day made his application for Powis's consent to his
marrying Ellen. His surprize at the proposal was such as evidently
shewed it had never entered his imagination. After expressing his
astonishment, he hesitated, and then replied: "Why, look ye, Mr.
Mordaunt, you appear to be a gentleman, and I dare say have a good
income. I can give Ellen a few hundreds now, and a few at my death; and
I only want to be sure that you can maintain her in some sort of
comfort.--You must tell me a little more of your situation in life; and
though I like you very well, I should be glad to know from somebody who
knows you what sort of a character you bear. Now don't be angry--I am a
plain spoken man, and no more suspicious than another: but when you come
and ask me for my only child, and to take her away, God knows where,
into strange parts, I had need know whether you are likely to be kind to
her."

Mordaunt seemed a little confused at this harangue; but replied: "You
are very right, my good friend; I have already explained myself, my
situation in life, and all circumstances, to Mr. Ross, who is of opinion
I may marry your daughter, without doing her any injury in point of
fortune--for your farther satisfaction, however, I refer you to the Rev.
Doctor Montague, domestic chaplain to the Earl of St. Aubyn, at St.
Aubyn Castle, Northamptonshire--his Lordship is at present not in
England. That gentleman will give you every necessary detail respecting
me; and should his account be satisfactory, I may then hope all
obstacles are removed."

"You speak very handsomely, and like a gentleman, as I doubt not you
are: but you will excuse my being a little anxious about my
child--truth, to say, I do not like the notion of her going so far from
me; but if she likes you (and I suppose you are pretty well agreed, or
you would not come to me), I will never let my own comfort hinder her
happiness; yet I tell you honestly, I had rather she had married Charles
Ross, as I thought likely." At these words Mordaunt's countenance was
overcast: he feared there had been some attachment between the young
people; and such was the delicacy of his sentiments, that had he been
certain of it, all his love for Ellen, passionate as it certainly was,
would not have induced him to marry her; on this head, therefore, he was
determined to be satisfied. He wrote Doctor Montague's address for
Powis, and then went directly to the Parsonage, where Ellen still
remained. He found her alone; and though he looked delighted to see her,
she yet fancied she saw a little alteration in his manner, which
disturbed her. He told her he had seen her father, and a part of what
passed, omitting the mention of money concerns, which he thought would
distress her.

When he was silent, she said: "Tell me, Mr. Mordaunt, am I mistaken in
supposing you out of spirits to-day? I fear my father's rough manner has
vexed you."--"No, Ellen, not that." "Then there is something, I am
sure." "And do you already know me so well?" said Mordaunt. "I am
ashamed to confess how unreasonable I am when you are so good and so
confiding: but it is true--your father dropt a hint which alarmed me. He
spoke of Charles Ross in terms that--forgive me, Ellen--that led me to
fear, whatever might now be the case, he had not always been indifferent
to you."

Ellen blushed a little, and said, with a calm smile, "It is certainly
true, that Charles Ross professed a great attachment to me; and I
believe his friends and my father earnestly wished we should at some
time or other be married. Joanna, in particular, was very anxious, and
has within a few months been quite uneasy on this subject, and indeed
made me so too--for it was impossible----" She paused: then added, "I
certainly felt the regard of a sister for Charles, but never more. If I
had not--if you had never----" She hesitated, blushed, and said, with
some warmth, "I never could have loved him enough to marry him."

Charmed, and with every suspicion laid at rest by this frank avowal,
Mordaunt now was truly happy--for, till now, though hardly known to
himself, a lurking doubt of Charles had at times hung about him.
Mordaunt's former knowledge of the world had had the effect upon his
heart, which it too often has, of repressing its confidence, and making
it distrustful and suspicious. Great indeed had been his reasons for
hardly believing the existence of real virtue, till he knew Ellen: her
perfect innocence, her sweet simplicity, blended with the tenderest
sensibility and acutest discernment, had once more restored his faith,
and he now hoped and believed no future jealousies would cross his path.
Yet surely he was venturing on doubtful ground. Great indeed must have
been his risk in transplanting so fair a flower from the wildest part of
Wales into the polished interior of England, and, probably, into a
situation widely different from that she had hitherto filled! What could
have implanted in the mind of a man so prone to jealousy as Mordaunt
certainly was, so perfect a confidence in Ellen's veracity and virtue?
It was, that he had observed in her an exalted, though not enthusiastic
_piety_. Mordaunt, though a man of the world, was also a religious man;
and in conversing, as he had done, frequently with Ellen on the subject
of religion, he found her principles so fixed, and her mind so decidedly
made up, and on such reasonable grounds, that he hesitated not in
pronouncing her a Christian upon principle, and as such entitled to the
firm confidence he felt in her sincerity and virtue.

Mordaunt now told her he should be absent all the next day, for it was
necessary to write to one or two of his friends of the intended change
in his prospects; and that, as he did not like to trust his letters to
any common messenger, and indeed expected there were some of consequence
lying for him at Carnarvon, he should go thither himself to fetch them;
that as the distance was rather beyond what he liked to walk, especially
now the days were so much shortened, he should borrow Ross's pony, and
hoped to return in the evening. This scheme he executed accordingly; and
Ross, understanding from Powis the mode proposed for his gaining farther
intelligence of Mordaunt, thought, as Ellen was now returned to the
Farm, it would be as well if Mordaunt absented himself in those little
excursions he used so much to delight in, and restrained his visits to
her in some degree, till her father's scruples were finally removed. To
this, however, reluctantly they agreed; and Mordaunt accordingly spent
the greatest part of the next week in viewing the face of the country,
returning to his lodgings in the evening. Impatient of this vexatious
restraint, Mordaunt, after three or four days, proposed to Ross and the
girls an excursion to Snowdon, which, though he had seen, they had not,
though living within ten or twelve miles of it. Mrs. Ross, who had of
late greatly relaxed her vigilance respecting Ellen's industry, gave her
consent; and mounted on their little Welsh ponies, the happy party set
out with the day-break, a full moon promising to assist them on their
return.

Leaving their horses at Dolbaden Castle, and taking guides with
refreshments, each being armed with a spiked stick, they began the
toilsome ascent. Ross, being fatigued, remained half way seated on an
immense stone, till they should return. As they ascended the mountain,
they perceived that its summit was covered with clouds, though, when
they set out, it was perfectly clear, and the guides had assured them
the day would be favourable. They now, however, began to apprehend that
the thick clouds would prevent them from enjoying the reward of their
labours, by depriving them of the view from the top of the mountain. The
guides, notwithstanding, had still hopes that the day would ultimately
clear up, and the event justified their expectations; for when within
about half a mile of the summit, a fine breeze arose, and rolled the
clouds like a curtain "down the steep of Snowdon's shaggy side,"
gradually disclosing its hollow apertures and broken precipices, with
every variety of mountain, valley, lake, and stream; and below them, in
every direction, a map of exquisite beauty, containing Carnarvon, the
county of Chester, part of the North of England and Ireland, the Isle of
Anglesea, and the Irish coast.

Here Mordaunt, sitting down with his fair companions, one on each side,
on a low wall, which was probably built by shepherds for the safety of
their flocks, but which now serves as a resting-place to travellers,
expatiated with rapture on this amazingly sublime prospect. The "Bard"
of Gray, and many of the beautiful passages of Mason's Elfrida and
Caractacus were familiar to him; and these, with every grace of voice
and action, he repeated, till the charmed and enthusiastic Ellen almost
fancied she saw the white-robed druids with their crowns of mistletoe
and golden harps pass in review before her. After having sufficiently
rested, and taken some refreshment, they cautiously descended; and
joining Ross, pursued the downward course of a mountain-stream of great
beauty, which was frequently hurried over low rocks, forming numerous
small but elegant cascades, till they reached the Castle, where they had
left their ponies, and then returned by moonlight to Llanwyllan.

The next four or five days were employed in similar excursions. Not
having been able on the day of their visit to Snowdon to extend their
ride to Beth-gelert, their next object was to see the grave of the
greyhound, and the romantic pass between Merioneth and Carnarvonshire,
called Pont Aberglaslyn. At the grave of the greyhound Mordaunt repeated
to his fair companions the interesting legend connected with it, and
Spencer's elegant poem on the subject:--that little tale is so
affecting, that, even at this remote period of time, no tender heart can
hear it without lamenting the fate of the faithful and ill-requited
Gelert. Ellen was not ashamed to drop a tear at the recital[1]. "Alas!"
cried Mordaunt: "such is too frequently the fatal consequence of
trusting to _appearances_! This excellent and unfortunate animal fell a
sacrifice to circumstances, which, however apparently conclusive, were
fallacious." He sighed, and fell for a few minutes into a gloomy
silence, from which the soft voice of Ellen alone had power to rouse
him.

[Footnote 1: It is probable most of my readers have heard the little
pathetic tale here alluded to, and which Mr. Spencer has told very
sweetly in his little poem, entitled Beth-gelert. For the advantage of
those who have not met with it, we insert the following account:

The tradition says, that Llewelyn the Great had a house at the place now
called Beth-gelert, and that being once from home, a wolf entered it. On
Llewelyn's return, his favourite greyhound, Gelert, came to meet him,
wagging his tail, but covered with blood. The prince was much alarmed,
and on entering the house, found the cradle of his infant overturned,
and the floor stained with blood. Imagining the dog had killed the
child, he instantly drew his sword, and killed the greyhound; but
turning up the cradle, found the babe asleep, and the wolf dead by its
side. Llewelyn deeply repented his rage, and built a tomb over his
ill-fated greyhound. Mr. Spencer has thus beautifully described the
event:

      The hound all o'er was smear'd with gore,
      His lips, his fangs, ran blood!
    Llewelyn gazed with fierce surprize,
      Unused such looks to meet:
    His fav'rite check'd his joyful guise,
      And crouch'd and lick'd his feet.
    Onward in haste Llewelyn pass'd--

    O'erturn'd his infant's bed he found,
      With blood-stained covert rent!
    And all around the walls and ground
      With recent blood besprent!
    He called his child, no voice replied;
      He search'd with terror wild;
    Blood, blood, he found on every side,
      But no where found his child.

Llewelyn then passionately accuses and kills the greyhound.

    Aroused by Gelert's dying yell,
      Some slumbers waken'd nigh;
    What words the parent's joy could tell,
      To hear his infant's cry!

    Conceal'd beneath a tumbled heap,
      His hurried search had miss'd;
    All glowing from his rosy sleep,
      The cherub boy he kiss'd.

    No scratch had he, nor harm, nor dread;
      But the same couch beneath,
    Lay a gaunt wolf, all torn and dead,
      Tremendous still in death.

    Ah! what was then Llewelyn's pain?
      For then the truth was clear,
    His gallant hound the wolf had slain,
      To save Llewelyn's heir.

    Vain, vain, was all Llewelyn's woe:
      "Best of thy kind, adieu!
    The frantic blow which laid the low,
      This heart shall ever rue."
]

They next visited Pont Aberglass-lyn, the wild and sublime scenery of
which inspired them with awe. Its high grotesque rocks, surrounding like
an amphitheatre the romantic bridge (consisting of a single arch thrown
from one rough precipice to another), to which they approached by a road
winding along a narrow stony valley, where the rocks on each side
scarcely leave room for the road; and the dark impetuous stream, which
rolls at the side of it, filled them with astonishment at the grandeur
of the scene.

They visited also the little romantic village of Llanberis, with its
beautiful vallies and lakes, surrounded by bold and prominent rocks,
ascending almost abruptly from the edge of the water, and returned in
the evening to Llanwyllan, delighted with an excursion which had
afforded them so many beautiful views, and yet delightedly contrasting
their own native village, with the dirty hovels, and miserable
accommodations they had met with in their progress; for the exertions of
Ross and his wife, who were both English, and had in the early part of
their lives resided wholly in England, had introduced a degree of
neatness and comfort both in the houses and apparel of their
parishioners, which gave Llanwyllan the appearance of a comfortable
English village, and rendered it totally distinct from those near it;
where, as is often the case in Wales, extreme poverty, and its too
frequent concomitants, a total carelessness of comfort abound.

They also visited Carnarvon, which the girls found much altered since
they had seen it some years before, and were quite surprized at the
carriages, and smartly drest people in the streets. Of course they went
to the Castle, and saw the chamber where, it is said, the weak and
unfortunate Edward II. was born; though that fact, from the meanness of
its appearance, and inconvenient situation, appears extremeful doubtful,
if not improbable. In short, they seemed in a new world, so very
different were the scenes around them from those to which they were
accustomed.

"Ah, Ellen!" said Joanna, "all this will soon be as nothing to you: you
will see so many fine houses and great cities, you will wonder how you
could ever fancy Carnarvon a large place: and I shall remain in our
little quiet village, which, when you are gone, I shall think stupid,
and never go beyond it!"--"Do not think so," replied Ellen: "I hope, if
indeed I do leave Llanwyllan (for I consider nothing settled till Mr.
Montague's letter arrives), I hope it will not be long before I shall
have you with me--it will be one of my first wishes as soon as I find
myself at all accustomed to the change In my situation." Joanna seemed
much delighted with this promise; they slept that night at Carnarvon,
and returned the next day to Llanwyllan.

In the course of these journies much conversation took place between
Mordaunt and Ellen; but he with great generosity forbore as much as
possible from all particular topics, as he wished to leave her as much
unfettered as was now in his power till the arrival of Montague's
letter; for though he had no doubt of what the contents would be, yet
till he had obtained Powis's free consent, he could not exactly consider
her as his affianced bride; but for conversation they were never at a
loss--literary subjects furnished them with an inexhaustible fund of
delight; for Mordaunt's mind and memory were so well stored with
poetical and classical treasures, he scarcely needed books of reference;
the beautiful views which they also obtained of the heavenly bodies, in
their mountainous excursions, inspired Ellen with a desire to know
something of astronomy, and Mordaunt was thoroughly capable of being her
instructor. In this Ross assisted him; and two hours in the latter part
of the evening were sweetly past in this delightful study. Mordaunt was
also, though not a finished artist, yet very capable of taking sketches
from the surrounding country; and already Ellen began to use her pencil
also in slight attempts, which he both encouraged and directed--so happy
indeed was the life they now led, that the slight restraint thrown upon
their feelings seemed rather to give a zest to their meetings than to
destroy their pleasure: gladly, most gladly, would both have
relinquished all change of station, and remained for the rest of their
lives in the peaceful shades of Llanwyllan.

      ----What was the world to them?
    Its pomp, its pleasure, and its nonsense all?
    Who, in each other, saw whatever fair,
    High fancy forms, or lavish hearts can wish:
    Something than beauty dearer, should they look;
    Or on the mind, or mind illumined face,
    Truth, goodness, honour, harmony, and love,
    The richest bounty of indulgent Heaven.



CHAP. X.

      Now go with me, and with this holy man,
    Into the chantry by; there, before him,
    And underneath that consecrated roof,
    Plight me the full assurance of your faith.

    TWELFTH NIGHT.


At length, for in this remote village letters were not speedily
exchanged, the answer from Doctor Montague arrived: it contained the
following lines.

     Sir,

     I receive Mr. Mordaunt's reference to me as a favour, and
     hasten to reply to your's of the 5th inst. by saying that I
     have had the happiness of knowing that gentleman from his
     youth, and am entirely convinced of his being a man of the most
     perfectly honourable and excellent character. As you have been
     obliging enough to account for this application, I can only add
     that your daughter will in my opinion have reason to esteem
     herself the most fortunate of women in becoming his wife. Mr.
     Mordaunt's fortune is sufficiently ample to enable him to live
     with perfect ease and comfort.

    I am, Sir,
    With great respect,
    Your's, obediently,
    GEORGE MONTAGUE.

    St. Aubyn Castle,
    Sep. 18th, 18--.

Nothing could be more satisfactory than this honourable testimony to the
good qualities of Mr. Mordaunt; and Powis began to feel half ashamed of
having doubted for an instant the honour of a man so highly estimated:
he hastened with the letter in his hand to Ellen, who, with Joanna for
her inmate, was now at home, and exclaiming, "There, child, read that,"
gave her the letter: the emotions of his affectionate heart, bursting
out from time to time while she was reading it, in words pronounced at
intervals, and with some difficulty, such as, "Well!--so I must lose
her--the pride of my life! but she will be happy I hope, dear soul! This
seems to be a man of some consequence: why, she will be quite a lady;
not above her old friends, though, I hope, Joanna!"

When Ellen had finished the letter, she rose, and throwing herself into
her father's arms, wept with mingled emotions of sorrow and gladness;
for sincerely as she rejoiced in such a character of her beloved
Mordaunt, she greatly regretted the certainty that if she married him,
she must immediately leave her father. Powis's heart was melted by the
same consideration, and the tears running down his rough face fell on
Ellen's bosom: at last she articulated, "Oh, my dear father, I cannot
leave you!" Powis, half sobbing half smiling, said, "Why indeed, my
child, I know not how to bear the thoughts of parting from you, but if
not _now_, I must some time or other; and I will not prepare a pain for
my death-bed so terrible as that would be which should tell me I had
preferred my own selfish happiness to thine." At this tender, this
affecting thought, the tears of Ellen redoubled, and Joanna's
accompanied them. Just then Mordaunt, who had seen the boy who brought
letters to Llanwyllan, pass towards the farm, came in impatient to know
if Montague's answer had arrived: he was surprized and almost alarmed at
the scene before him. Powis lifted up his head, and rubbing his eyes,
said, "I am ashamed of myself to be such a child!--here, Mr. Mordaunt,
is your friend's letter, and here, if you will accept of her, is your
wife." He disengaged himself from Ellen's clasping arms, and gently
placed her in those which Mordaunt eagerly extended to receive her.

All was now soon settled; for Powis, though an unlearned was not an
unwise man; and seeing the necessity of Mordaunt's return to his own
abode before the season changed, he would not suffer any selfish
considerations of his own comfort to divide the lovers during a dreary
winter, which would now quickly overtake them. He left every thing
respecting money matters to Mr. Ross. Mordaunt gave that gentleman a
bond, expressed in such terms as fully convinced him Ellen's pecuniary
concerns would be amply considered; and generously refused to accept of
any money with his bride, gaily telling Powis, that now he was robbed of
his daughter, he hoped he would look out for a wife himself, and retain
Ellen's intended portion to encrease his future means of ease and
comfort; or, that if he really did not know what to do with the money,
he should give it to Joanna when she married. "Well," said Powis, "you
are either very rich or very proud, Mr. Mordaunt." "I shall be both when
Ellen is my wife," answered Mordaunt.

Mordaunt requested that Ellen would furnish herself with no more cloaths
on the occasion than were absolutely necessary, till they should reach
Bristol: "Where," he said, "I hope, my dear girl, to find some
fashionable mantua-maker, who will at least give you a more modern
wardrobe than you could meet with here." "You are determined, I see,"
said Ellen, "that I shall be obliged to no one but yourself." "For
Heaven's sake, Ellen!" replied Mordaunt, hastily, "do not talk of such a
paltry concern as a few cloaths, as an obligation: how shall I ever
repay those I owe to your confidence and kindness?"

Few were the preparations requisite for the marriage of Mordaunt and
Ellen. He with some difficulty procured a chaise from Carnarvon on the
morning of their marriage, for the roads between that place and
Llanwyllan were in some parts almost impassable for a carriage, and had
not the autumn been uncommonly fine and dry, would have been entirely
so. On the third of October, at a very early hour, the little party met
at Powis's house, and from thence proceeded to the village church,
where, from her father's hand, Mordaunt received his lovely bride. Mr.
Ross performed the ceremony, and at the end of it added an extempore and
most eloquent prayer for the happiness of friends so dear to him, with a
fervency of devotion that drew tears into every eye. When all the party
had quitted the vestry, after having registered the marriage of
Constantine Frederick Mordaunt and Ellen Powis, Ross and Mordaunt
stepped back an instant, as if something had been forgotten: as they
returned, Ellen heard Ross say, "I rely implicitly upon it, and let me
beg it may be done as soon as possible." "Depend upon my sacred honour,"
answered Mordaunt, impressively: "or, if you wish it, on my most solemn
oath." "It needs not that," said Ross; "I am satisfied." "Then so am I,"
thought Ellen, "for strange as such frequent mysteries appear, Ross, I
am sure, would never partake of one, which was not perfectly innocent."

Let us not attempt to describe the parting of Powis and his daughter,
which took place an hour after the marriage ceremony was concluded.
Mordaunt repeated his assurances of returning, if possible, to
Llanwyllan the following summer; then almost by force severing Ellen
from her father, he placed her in the chaise, and, following hastily,
bowed his farewell. The motion of the carriage, to which she was wholly
unused, roused Ellen from the half-fainting into which she had fallen,
and the tender soothings of Mordaunt at length revived and composed her.
As they passed on, the varied face of the country, the beautiful and
extensive scenery through which they journied, awakened all the soft
enthusiasm of her youthful mind, which, shaking off the dejection caused
by parting from her first connections, roused itself to the perception
of the happy prospects the future might present.

      "And thou, oh! Hope, with eyes so fair,
    What was thy delighted measure?
    Still it whispered promised pleasure,
    And bade the lovely scenes at distance hail."

After several days travelling, stopping occasionally to rest, and to
view such remarkable objects as they thought worthy of observation, they
arrived at the Passage, and, crossing it, soon after entered the city of
Bristol. To paint Ellen's surprise at all the wonders of the new world
which surrounded her would be impossible; so strange indeed did every
thing appear to her, that scarcely the influence which Mordaunt
possessed over her mind could prevent her from exclamations of
astonishment, which, to those around, would have betrayed the perfect
seclusion in which she had hitherto lived. After shewing her all that
was worth notice in Bristol and its interesting environs, Mordaunt took
his fair bride to Bath, with the elegance of which she was particularly
delighted. The streets, the shops, were a constant source of amusement
to one so new to every thing; here, however, they remained but three
days, during which Mordaunt procured for Ellen such a variety of dresses
as appeared to her quite extraordinary; and she began to think her
husband was either very rich or very extravagant, though in truth all he
purchased would hardly satisfy the "indispensable necessities" of most
_young ladies_, of no pretensions really higher than those of Ellen
Powis had been; and were far from appearing to Mordaunt more than barely
sufficient for her present occasions. An elegant new riding habit and
hat were amongst them; and Ellen's delicate figure appeared to such
advantage in that dress, that no one could have supposed her so lately
removed from so remote a situation: her natural gracefulness prevented
her appearing in the slightest degree awkward; and her new dress gave
her an air of fashion, with which Mordaunt was delighted.

From Bath they went to London, where Mordaunt engaged very handsome
lodgings, though not in the most fashionable part of the town, yet in a
handsome street, for a fortnight, where they rested after the fatigues
of so long a journey. Mordaunt told his wife he wished not to take her
to any of the public amusements till the next spring, when he hoped to
revisit London with her, and when some ladies of his acquaintance would
be there also, and would accompany her. Ellen, who desired no greater
pleasure than his society, was well contented with this arrangement:
during their stay in London, therefore, they seldom went out; but
Mordaunt trusted her two or three times under the care of the person at
whose house they lodged, (who was a very respectable woman) to go to
different shops, furnishing her liberally with money, and insisting on
her providing a very complete and elegant wardrobe. Several times Ellen
wished to check his liberality, assuring him she had already as much of
every thing as she wished for; but he replied she was no judge of what
she would want when she went into the country, and that she must oblige
him by buying every thing in abundance, and of the best and most
fashionable materials; nor did he ever go from home without bringing
back with him some elegant trinket or set of ornaments for her; so that
little as she was a judge of the value of money, she was surprized and
somewhat uneasy to see Mordaunt so profuse of his, for in addition to
the large expences he would incur in her dress, he had requested Mrs.
Birtley (the person at whose house they lodged) to hire a young woman to
wait upon his wife; and Ellen really thought her new servant so much
more like a lady than till very lately she had thought herself, that she
hardly knew how to give her any orders. Mordaunt had also hired a job
chariot and horses for the time they staid in town.

Their landlady observing the extreme youth and simplicity of Ellen,
contrasted by that air of the world and of fashion so conspicuous in
Mordaunt, as well as that though he hardly appeared to endure her being
out of his sight, he seldom went abroad with her, and that they seemed
to have no friends or connections in London, began to form conjectures
not very much to the advantage of her guests; and as she was a woman of
good character, though of somewhat a suspicious turn, she was not sorry
when they left her apartments.

Mordaunt chose not to take Jane, Ellen's new maid, with them, but left
directions for her to travel by the stage to the town which was nearest
to his residence in Northamptonshire, where she should be met by a
servant, who would conduct her to his house.

For the first day of their journey Mordaunt appeared at times in deep
reflection, and as if revolving in his mind a variety of considerations,
frequently catching Ellen's hand in his own, he would express the
rapture he felt in the certainty of possessing her affection, and that
she was securely his; then he would add, "Remember, Ellen, you have
promised to take me _for better for worse_: tell me, do you think any
change in my situation could impair your love for me?" To these
questions she returned such tender and affectionate answers, as seemed
for the time to dispel from his mind every uneasy sensation; yet still
at intervals his thoughtfulness returned, and began at last to inspire
Ellen with a sort of anxiety she could not wholly overcome.

The next day Mordaunt proposed resting a few hours at a pleasant
village, which he told her was only about twenty miles from his own
house, but that he thought it would be more agreeable to her not to
arrive at home till towards the evening: to this she readily consented;
it was indeed very agreeable to her, but had it been less so, she knew
no will but his.

After breakfast, the landlady of the inn where they had taken that meal,
coming in, Mordaunt asked her how far it was from thence to St. Aubyn
Castle; she answered about nineteen miles: after asking her some more
questions respecting the length of the stages, &c. he inquired if she
knew Lord St. Aubyn; she replied she had seen his Lordship once before
he went abroad, but she heard he was now soon expected home again; a
gentleman who stopped at her house not many days before, told her his
Lordship was lately returned from Spain, and was coming very shortly to
the Castle. On being asked if she knew who that gentleman was, she said
it was the Reverend Doctor Montague, his Lordship's domestic Chaplain.
Mordaunt then asked her if Lord St. Aubyn was much liked in his
neighbourhood, and she gave him a very high character for his charity to
the poor, and kindness to his servants and dependants.

Ellen here whispered to her husband that she would inquire what sort of
a character _one Mr. Mordaunt_, his Lordship's steward, bore. Mordaunt
laughed, and said she was very malicious, and only hoped to hear some
evil of him. She then repeated her question, looking playfully at him,
to which the landlady replied, that she did not know Mr. Mordaunt except
by name, but she heard he was a very worthy old gentleman. The idea of
Mordaunt's being called an _old gentleman_ diverted Ellen so much, that
she burst into a laugh she could not repress, in which Mordaunt joined
so heartily, as half offended the good woman, who, supposing she had
committed some blunder, left the room immediately.

"Come, my dear Ellen," said Mordaunt, when he had composed his features,
"let us take a walk through this pleasant village: it is long since you
enjoyed the pure air of the country." "Indeed, my dear _old gentleman_,"
Ellen gaily replied, "I shall be very glad to find myself once more at
liberty to walk a little, for I began to feel tired of the restraint of
a carriage, which, when we left Llanwyllan, I thought so delightful, I
could never be weary of it."



CHAP. XI.

    You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand,
    Such as I am; though for myself alone
    I would not be ambitious in my wish,
    To wish myself much better, yet for you
    I would be trebled twenty times myself,
    A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times
    More rich----
      ----but the full sum of me
    Is an unlessoned girl, unschooled, unpractised;
    Happy in this, she is not yet so old
    But she may learn; and happier than this,
    She is not bred so dull but she can learn;
    Happiest of all, is that her gentle spirit
    Commits herself to your's to be directed.

    MERCHANT OF VENICE.


After strolling through some very pleasant fields, they came to a
sequestered spot, where tall trees shaded a little murmuring rivulet,
near whose banks a very neat farm-house attracted their attention.

"Ah, this reminds me of dear Llanwyllan!" said Ellen: "how much I should
like to sit down here awhile!" "That," answered Mordaunt, "may be easily
effected." He then went to the door, where he met a nice looking elderly
woman, the farmer's wife, and saying he was thirsty, asked her to spare
him a draught of milk or whey, with which she very civilly complied, and
requested them to walk in. Ellen, delighted with the sight of the
farm-yard and smell of the dairy, readily consented, and at Mordaunt's
desire, the good woman said she would give them some cream, bread, &c.
With great civility therefore, she shewed them into a neat parlour, and
having placed before them brown bread, cream, and some bunches of
well-ripened grapes, left them to themselves.

Ellen said:--"Now, my dear Mordaunt, I really feel as if I were at home
again, and can _do the honours_ (as you term it) of this little table
very tolerably; but if, as I suspect, you are much visited by high
people near you, will you not often have to blush for your awkward
little rustic?" "If I had feared that," answered Mordaunt, "I would not
have ventured it; but, as I have often told you, the natural propriety
of your manner will very well supply the place of artificial graces; and
as to the mere forms of society, they are so easily acquired, you will
speedily attain them: but tell me, Ellen, after the cursory view you
have had of something more refined, could you now be contented to sit
down here for the rest of your life?" "With you," replied the tender
Ellen, "I could be not only contented but happy any where yet I own
_you_ seem to me formed for something so superior, that I should forever
regret your being confined to a sphere so limited."

Mordaunt, delighted with the sweetness of her words and manners,
scarcely knew how to express how greatly he was pleased with all she
said. After a few minutes he opened the little casement, for the day was
mild and clear, more like spring than the beginning of November; and
gathering some late blossoms of a white jassamine, which grew round it,
and in that sheltered spot, so soft had been the season, still retained
their beauty: he twisted them with some very small vine leaves across
her brow, amongst her fine hair, in a very particular style, and making
her look in the little glass which hung in the room where they sat, he
said:--

"There, Ellen, _that_ is very like a countess's coronet; the jasmine may
pass for pearls, and the little branch of the vine for strawberry
leaves: how should you like one in pearls or diamonds? I think it
becomes you inimitably well." "This simple wreath may," she said,
smiling as she surveyed herself; "but I believe that this little rustic
person would not assort very well with the splendid ornament you
describe." He smiled, and said--"Do not take it off, but sit down, and I
will tell you a story." "A story!--delightful! I hope it is
entertaining." "Very, and perfectly true. _Once upon a time_: do you
like that beginning?" "Not much; it is too childish: try again." "Well
then, once in the days of King Arthur----" "Oh! do not go quite so far
back--your story will last all day." "What! a Welsh girl and not like to
hear a tale of King Arthur. Oh! most degenerate damsel." Ellen still
laughing, said--"Come, dear Mordaunt, make haste, I long to hear this
interesting story."

He placed himself at her side, and with some agitation, said:--

"Ellen, the time is come to clear up some of the mysterious words you
have heard me utter at Llanwyllan: what will you say to me when I tell
you--yet be not alarmed--when I tell you that, though my _name_ is
really _Mordaunt_, yet I have _deceived_ you--for that is not my _only_
designation: do not look so surprised and bewildered, my love; I am not
_inferior_ to the man you suppose me: he is indeed my relation, being
the natural son of my father's brother: he is many years older than I
am. Tell me, Ellen, are you afraid to hear the rest?" "No," she replied
firmly, though with marks of the most impatient curiosity in her
countenance. "I am so convinced of your integrity, that be who or what
you will, I am happy in being your wife, and ready to share your
station, be it ever so lowly." "Enchanting creature!" he exclaimed, and
clasped her to his bosom: "know then, that were the coronet which binds
your brow of the most costly materials instead of a simple flower, it is
your's by right, for I am the Earl, and you are the Countess of St.
Aubyn."

A moment Ellen struggled with the overwhelming surprize: then said: "How
could you condescend to one so much beneath you?" "Beneath me!" he
replied--"oh, in every thing but the mere accident of birth how greatly
my superior! But the surprize, my gentle love, has made you a little
pale; recover yourself, and let me see you again gay and playful as when
you supposed yourself only Mrs. Mordaunt." He fixed his penetrating eyes
upon her: even in that tender moment he sought to discover if any undue
pride or vanity elated her; but there was no trace of any such ignoble
passion: surprized, astonished as she was, and feeling some diminution
of the ease and equality with which she had but lately learned to regard
him, Ellen more than half regretted to find him so greatly her superior,
and to see herself raised so very much beyond the station her humility
led her to believe the only one she could fill with propriety; yet she
must have been more or less than woman, had she not felt charmed with
the disinterested love St. Aubyn had evinced in making her his wife.

Having a little recovered the emotion this interesting discovery had
caused in both, Ellen entreated him, whom yet she hardly knew how to
name, to explain the reason of his having appeared at Llanwyllan in a
character so inferior to his own; which he did in these words:

"I cannot, my love, nor would I wish at present to tell you all my
story, though some day you shall know every circumstance of my life: may
they come to your knowledge without lessening your felicity!" He sighed,
and thus continued:--"Some domestic misfortunes induced me, at different
times, to make several excursions under the name I bore when first I met
you, which is, indeed, that of my family: since my last return from the
Continent, about six months ago, I did not let my friends or servants
know I was come to England, but set out to travel through Wales,
sometimes by one mode of conveyance, sometimes another, and not
unfrequently as a mere pedestrian. I was always a good walker, and had
been accustomed to pass whole days on foot amongst the mountains of
Spain; frequently, therefore, I preferred walking, as giving me better
opportunities of exploring the most romantic scenes. In one of these
excursions I found myself at Llanwyllan; there I merely intended to stay
a day or two, till accident, and your father's hospitality, introduced
you to my knowledge--need I relate to you the progress of that passion
which soon took possession of my heart, and left me powerless to quit
you. A very few days determined me, if your affections were disengaged,
to do all in my power to secure your love; yet I delayed the declaration
of my own, in hopes of bringing some untoward circumstances to a
favourable conclusion; but when I found our good friend Ross began to be
alarmed for you, and fancied I saw in my Ellen's sweet face that she was
not happy, I thought it necessary to come to some decision, and to Ross
I fully explained my _whole_ situation: he was so perfectly convinced of
my honour and integrity, that he consented to give his lovely pupil to
me, even under all the unpleasant circumstances which at present
embarrass and torment me; and even though we both doubted whether a
marriage contracted by me under the name of Mordaunt only would be
completely binding: to obviate this objection, I bound myself to him,
not only to make upon you such settlements as my large income rendered
proper, and my heart prompted, but to remarry you as soon as I could do
so without absolute impropriety; and that I will do if I live before I
sleep again; though I believe the precautions we took render it
unnecessary, for after you left the vestry, the day we were married,
Ross and myself, as perhaps you observed, returned, and in his presence
I added the title of Earl of St. Aubyn to the names of Constantine
Frederick Mordaunt, which, I have no doubt, would substantiate our
marriage in any court in England: to avoid, however, all possible doubt,
now or in future, on this important point, I have at this instant a
special licence in my possession, and this evening, at Castle St. Aubyn,
Montague shall read the marriage service to us again.--Are you satisfied
with this arrangement, my love?"

"I am so ignorant in every thing, that I can only rely on you; which I
do implicitly, and with full confidence."

Ellen then asked St. Aubyn if Doctor Montague knew who he was in reality
recommending to her father, or whether he supposed it to be indeed Mr.
Mordaunt? Lord St. Aubyn laughed at this question, and said Montague
would have had reason to be surprized at hearing Mordaunt was going to
be married, as he was a very stiff old Bachelor of at least sixty; but
the fact was, he had written himself to Montague from Llanwyllan,
informing him who the person really was respecting whom Powis's
inquiries would be made, and desiring him to give such a character of
_that person_ as he thought was deserved, only not to betray his real
title, as he was anxious to avoid the _eclat_ such a discovery would
produce, if made while they remained at Llanwyllan.

After a little more conversation on this interesting subject, St. Aubyn
and his Ellen took leave of their hospitable entertainer, after
remunerating her in the most liberal way for the trouble they had given
her; and as by the time they reached the village the day was far
advanced, they ordered a chaise directly, and proceeded to the end of
the next stage, where they dined, and where St. Aubyn told Ellen his own
carriage was to meet them, and convey them to the Castle, where his
household were instructed to expect their lady.

Before they had quite dined, an elegant new travelling carriage and
four, with coronets on the pannels, and out-riders in rich liveries,
drove to the door, and the host, who had no idea of the rank of his
guests, from their arriving in a hack carriage, unattended, was in the
act of denying to the servants that Lord and Lady St. Aubyn were there,
when the Earl, throwing up the sash, told the men to move about, but not
put up the horses, as he should go in half an hour. While he was
speaking, the stage-coach from London stopt at the door, and Ellen's
maid stepping out, inquired whether any servant from one Mr. Mordaunt's,
in that neighbourhood, was waiting for her. St. Aubyn, calling to one of
his men, desired him to send that young woman to Lady St. Aubyn. The man
obeyed, and told the astonished Jane she must go and speak to his lady.
"What for, pray?" answered Jane, pertly. "Indeed I shall do no such
thing; I am going on directly, and don't want such fellows as you to be
joking with me." "Jane!" said Ellen, approaching the window, anxious to
put a stop to a dialogue she feared might disclose more than she wished
the servants should know. "Oh, dear Ma'am, are you there!" answered
Jane. "Oh! I am so glad; I will come to you, Ma'am, directly." One of
the men, wishing for an opportunity of seeing his new lady, said, "Come,
young woman, I will shew you the way to her Ladyship."

The poor girl was so much confused, by these different directions, that
fortunately she had no power to refuse, or indeed to speak at all, but
followed the servant into the room, where St. Aubyn and Ellen were
sitting. "There," said the footman, in a low voice, and giving her a
little push: "go in, child--that is my lady." "Grant me patience," said
Jane, turning sharply to him: "why I tell you that is _my_ mistress. I
suppose you want to persuade me I don't know my own----." "Softly,
Jane," said St. Aubyn: "there, go in, and speak to your lady, and you,
Thomas, may go; we shall soon be ready to start."

He left Jane with her lady, not wishing to be present at the
explanation. Ellen explained to the astonished girl, that she had, for
particular reasons, concealed her title while in London, and did not
wish her to say to the other servants that she had ever known her under
any other name. Jane very willingly promised obedience, and was not a
little elated to find herself own woman to Lady St. Aubyn, instead of
waiting-maid to plain Mrs. Mordaunt. Indeed, Mrs. Birtley had had some
scruples about suffering her to follow the mysterious couple at all, and
charged her, if she did not find all right, to leave her place, and
return to London immediately, all which her unguarded hints betrayed to
Ellen, who felt a little confused at hearing her situation had been so
misconstrued. "And there, Ma'am--beg pardon--my lady--there your
Ladyship;" (for Jane was willing to make amends for her former
ignorance, by using Ellen's title as often as possible)--"there your
Ladyship left a book at Mrs. Birtley's--I forget the name of it; some
poetry book it was, and in it was written, in one place, 'C. F. M. to
Ellen P.' and I was to have brought it with me, but Mrs. Birtley was not
at home when I came away, so I could not have it, and it was a great
pity, for it is very handsome, in a fine binding, and with beautiful
pictures: one of them was a man jumping off a rock, like into the sea,
and with a sort of a clergyman's gown on, and with a musical instrument
in his hand, something like a guitar, but not quite." "I know the book
you mean," said Ellen; "it was Gray's Poems. I am sorry I left it
behind." "Yes, Ma'am--my lady I mean, that was the very book; but I dare
say your Ladyship can have it by sending to Mrs. Birtley; and in one
part, my lady, there was a print of a church-yard, and over the print
was put, 'Dear Landwilliam,' or some such name." "Yes, Jane, yes; that's
the book--that will do: now give me my hat, and step down and inquire if
Lord St. Aubyn is waiting for me."

It was the first time Ellen had framed her lips to say Lord St. Aubyn,
and she wondered whether she should ever become accustomed to the sound.
Jane was met at the door by one of the men servants, who came to know if
her lady was ready, as his lord bade him say the carriage was come
round. Jane, astonished at her own greatness, in being called Ma'am, and
so respectfully addressed by such a fine gentleman, returned to Ellen
with redoubled respect, and a new reinforcement of "my ladies." Ellen
said she was ready, and ran down. "Come, my love," said St. Aubyn, "we
shall be late at home."

Ellen's heart throbbed, as she thought of a home so far above her utmost
ideas of splendour, and of being called to a situation to which she
feared herself unequal; yet she composed her spirits as well as she
could; for she saw, that to please her lord she must assert herself, and
behave with a degree of dignity and self possession: she gave him her
hand, therefore, with tenderness, but with a certain air of calmness, as
if not too much elated with her new honours, or childishly delighted
with her new carriage: he saw, and was charmed with her just
discrimination, and encouraged her by saying, "Ever, my Ellen, all I
wish." He then placed her in the carriage, and leaving Jane to follow
with the luggage in a hack chaise, they were speedily on the road to
Castle St. Aubyn. As they drew near it, they passed a neat little
mansion, standing on a small lawn, surrounded by flowering shrubs, which
St. Aubyn told Ellen was the house of the _real_ Mr. Mordaunt. "Exactly
such a place," said she, "had I figured to myself as your habitation,
not indeed in Wales, for there my imagination did not soar to a pitch so
high; but since we have been in England, and I saw what the smaller
houses of genteel people were, such I fancied your's." "In a few
minutes, my love," he replied, "we shall approach my real home, and most
happy am I to say, my Ellen's home also; though in a different style, it
will, I hope, be as much to your taste as this pretty place appears to
be."

As he spoke, one of the out-riders passed the carriage, and ringing at a
porter's lodge, the large and elegant iron gates were thrown open, and
they turned into a noble park of no common dimensions. Here the hand of
art had followed, not impeded that of nature: large trees, disposed in
clumps, or singly, as the purest taste directed, shaded and ornamented
the verdant lawn. A fine piece of water, almost bearing the aspect of a
fine lake, with an elegant pleasure barge at anchor on its bank, skirted
one side of the road which led to the house. Its pure waters were
enlivened by various aquatic fowls, and on the shelving edges were light
and tasteful cages for gold and silver pheasants and other foreign
birds; while in picturesque groups under the trees, or bounding away at
the approach of the carriage, herds of the finest deer gave new
animation to the scene.

Ellen, enchanted, enraptured, though the closing twilight hardly
afforded her light sufficient to see half the beauties round her, was
every moment uttering exclamations of delight, with which St. Aubyn was
highly gratified: but as they approached the immense pile of building
which he told her was the house, she gradually assumed a more composed
demeanor, determined not to betray to the servants that such things were
totally new to her.



CHAP. XII.

    A happy rural seat of various view,
    Groves whose rich trees wept od'rous gums and balm.--
    ----Betwixt them lawns, or level downs and flocks
    Grazing the tender herb, were interspersed;
    Or palmy hillock, or the flow'ry lap,
    Of some irriguous valley spread her store,
    Flow'rs of all hue.----
            Meanwhile murmuring waters fall
    Down the slope hills, dispersed; or in a lake
    ----Unite their streams--
    The birds their choirs apply, airs, vernal airs,
    Breathing the smell of field and grove attune,
    The trembling leaves----

    PARADISE LOST.


A train of servants in the spacious hall stood ready to receive their
Lord and Lady. Amongst them was a respectable middle-aged woman, who,
with deep respect, mingled with tears of joy and affection, addressed
the Earl: he kindly and condescendingly took her hand, and said, "My
good Mrs. Bayfield, I hope you are quite well: I am rejoiced to see you
look so. See, my worthy friend, I have brought you a new Lady. Ellen, my
love, I am sure I need not tell you to esteem my good housekeeper and
nurse, for such she has been to me in much of illness and affliction."
Ellen, with some kind words, offered her hand to Mrs. Bayfield, who,
courtesying, received it with an air of the most profound respect. St.
Aubyn also spoke with great kindness to the other servants, and then led
Ellen into a magnificent library, which he told her was his usual
sitting-room when at St. Aubyn's. Ellen, fatigued with her journey and
the surprizing occurrences of the day, was not then able to do more than
take a cursory survey of it; but she saw that here was entertainment and
instruction enough to fill a long life, if even wholly devoted to
literary pursuits.

In a few minutes a man of a venerable appearance, dressed in the cassock
of a dignified clergyman, entered the library, whom St. Aubyn announced
to Ellen as his friend and chaplain the Rev. Doctor Montague. "See, my
dear Montague," said he, "this lovely creature, who has generously
forgiven my appearing to her in an assumed character, and before she
knew how much my real station was superior to that in which she first
saw me, most kindly assured me of her perfect willingness to share my
fate, be it what it might." He gave her hand to the good old man, who,
clasping it between both his, said, "Pardon, Madam, this freedom in a
man who has for many years felt the affection of a father for your
excellent Lord." Ellen bent her knee to him as to a second Ross, whose
blessing she had been accustomed to ask in that posture with Joanna. The
venerable man understood the graceful appeal, although fashion has so
long proscribed it to her votaries; and raising his hands and eyes,
said, "God bless you, lovely lady, and you, my dear Lord, with her!"

St. Aubyn then said a few words in a low voice to the Doctor, to which
he replied, "Certainly, my Lord: if you have the least doubt of the
entire legality of your marriage, it will be far the best way: have you
the licence?" "Yes, here," said the Earl: "examine it, if you please.
Ellen, my love," he added, turning towards her, "are your spirits too
much fatigued, or will you oblige me, by allowing Montague to read the
marriage-ceremony to us: I have a special licence from the Archbishop,
and it will not take many minutes?" Ellen bowed a silent assent; and
Montague, saying it would be proper to have witnesses, proposed speaking
to Mrs. Bayfield, and Thornton, Lord St. Aubyn's gentleman, on whose
secrecy they might rely, as of course it was desirable not to have the
transaction made public. He went therefore to them, and having told them
all that was necessary, they immediately attended; and the
marriage-ceremony being read, Montague prepared a certificate, which was
signed by all present, and deposited in Ellen's care.

All parties seemed rejoiced when this embarrassing business was
concluded, which though it gratified Ellen as shewing her Lord's extreme
anxiety to satisfy any doubt she might feel, yet could not be agreeable
to either. A Sandwich tray was soon after brought in, filled with
refreshments: after partaking of which, Ellen and the wondering Jane
were shewn to an elegant dressing-room, which communicated with a still
more splendid bed-chamber, both fitted up with the most peculiar
attention, not only to costliness and effect, but to convenience and
comfort, as the contrivances for hot and cold baths, and every luxurious
accommodation both here and in a gentleman's dressing-room on the other
side the bed-room, sufficiently evinced. All Jane's profound respect for
her Lady could not keep her entirely silent, nor repress the
exclamations of wonder and delight with which she greeted every elegant
article of furniture: above all, a rich service of dressing-plate on the
toilette attracted her attention. "How beautiful, how costly! And here
again, what fine glasses! Dear, my Lady, you may see yourself from head
to foot; and so clear, they make you look, if possible, more beautiful
than you really are!"

Ellen, nearly as little acquainted with such objects as her maid, was
not sorry to have only this simple girl witness to her actions, which
would have betrayed to a more practised observer that she herself hardly
knew the use of half the splendid articles before her. She endeavoured,
however, to assume a graver manner, and to keep Jane at a greater
distance; but the good-natured creature mixed so much affectionate
respect with her somewhat too familiar prattle, Ellen could not be angry
with her: she dismissed her, however, as soon as possible, with a
reiterated caution not to betray to the servants that she had ever known
her under any other name than that she bore at present.

The next day Ellen took a nearer survey of her noble habitation: the
height and size of the rooms, the splendid furniture, and rich
decorations, absolutely bewildered her senses; and when in an immense
mirror, which hung at one end of a superb drawing-room, she saw herself
reflected from head to foot, she, like the innocent Zilia[2], actually
fancied for a moment it was some elegant female coming to meet her.

[Footnote 2: See Lettres d'une Peruvienne.]

Passing through this room, she entered one smaller, indeed, but fitted
up with such exquisite taste, as quite enchanted her: the furniture and
hangings were of pale green silk, lightly ornamented with gold; the
ground of the carpet, pale green, worked with the needle in bunches of
the most beautiful natural flowers, which really appeared to be growing
there. The tables, chairs, candelabras, and every article of furniture,
were formed after the antique, and caught the eye of Ellen by the
perfection of their figures and disposition; so true it is, that what is
really beautiful and in perfect taste will please the unpractised as
well as the critical observer, provided the natural taste has not been
vitiated by any false ideas of proportion and ornament.

On the Countess's expressing herself particularly pleased with this
room, Mrs. Bayfield (who had undertaken to shew her the house, for St.
Aubyn had been interrupted in his intention of doing so by Mr. Mordaunt,
who brought him some papers of consequence to inspect), looking
cautiously round, said, "If your Ladyship pleases, it will be better not
to tell my Lord that you like this room in particular." "Why so, Mrs.
Bayfield?" asked Ellen, struck with surprize at this request, and the
manner it was made in. "Why, Madam," replied Mrs. Bayfield, "this room
and the small one within were fitted up by my late Lady according to her
own fancy, and were always called her drawing-room and boudoir; and
since her death, my Lord has never liked the rooms." "Lady St. Aubyn
then has not been dead long, I suppose," said Ellen; "for the furniture
of these rooms appears almost new." "About seven years, Madam; but the
rooms have scarcely ever been used: they were furnished not long before
she went abroad with my Lord." "Was this beautiful carpet her own work?"
asked Ellen. "Oh dear, no, Madam! my late Lady was of too gay a turn to
do such a piece of work: it was my Lord's _mother_ worked this."

"I thought you had meant your Lord's mother, Mrs. Bayfield: who then do
you call your late Lady?" "My Lord's first wife, Madam, the late
Countess of St. Aubyn."

"The _late_ Countess--my Lord's _first wife_!" repeated Ellen, gazing at
her with the utmost surprize: "I did not know; I never heard that my
Lord had been married before." "Indeed, then," said Mrs. Bayfield,
colouring, and looking vexed, "I am sure, my Lady, if I had known, or
had the least idea my Lord had not mentioned it, I would never have
breathed a word of the matter; but I know my Lord does not like to speak
of the late Countess, for her death was so--so--sudden, and shocked my
Lord so much, he has hardly ever spoken of her since; and I dare say
that was the reason he never told your Ladyship he had been married
before."

Ellen, not altogether satisfied with this explanation, still felt
somewhat hurt at St. Aubyn's extraordinary reserve: she asked Mrs.
Bayfield several questions; such as whether the late Countess was
handsome; who she was before her marriage; how long she had lived after
it; where she died--and to all which Mrs. Bayfield answered with some
appearance of reserve, and as if she felt impatient to dismiss the
subject; that she was very handsome and very young when my Lord married
her; that she was a distant relation of his own; and that all the family
were anxious for the match; that they were married about three years;
had only one child, a son, who had died at a few months old, and that
the Lady had died abroad. "And what was the cause of her death, Mrs.
Bayfield?" "Indeed, Madam, I do not exactly know," answered Mrs.
Bayfield, looking a little confused: "she died, as I have told your
Ladyship, abroad, and suddenly."

Ellen said no more, for she was above the meanness of attempting to
learn from a servant what her Lord apparently meant to conceal from her
knowledge; yet she felt even a painful degree of curiosity to learn some
farther particulars of her predecessor, whose early death she thought
must have caused that gloom of countenance and manner which sometimes
even yet appeared in St. Aubyn.

The boudoir within was fitted up in the same style as the drawing-room,
but with rather more simplicity, and contained a light bookcase, with
gilded wires, and some elegant stands for flowers, &c. Mrs. Bayfield
seemed so anxious for Ellen to hasten from these apartments, that she
took only a cursory survey of them, determined to take a more accurate
view of the paintings and ornaments some other time, when she should
have learned to go about her own house without a guide. The boudoir
being the last of the suite of apartments on that floor, they next
ascended the noble staircase, and visited the bed-chambers, &c. and a
large saloon filled with specimens of the fine arts: capital pictures,
busts, models, &c. here met the eye in every direction, and here St.
Aubyn joined them, and dismissing Mrs. Bayfield, took Ellen's arm within
his own, and pointed out those objects most worthy of her notice.
Charmed with all around her, and delighted with his attention and the
perspicuity of his explanations, Ellen felt as if she had gained a new
sense within the last few hours, so little idea had she before of the
wonders of art, selected by the hand of taste. From this room they went
to the library, where they had supped the night before, at the other end
of which was a green-house, divided from the library by folding doors,
filled with the choicest plants and flowering shrubs, and round the
walls of which a gilded net-work served as an aviary for some beautiful
canary and other birds. This green-house, kept constantly warm by
concealed stoves, in the midst of winter gave an enchanting prospect of
perpetual spring. Beyond the green-house noble hot-houses and
conservatories ensured a constant succession of the finest fruits and
more tender flowers.

In the library St. Aubyn and his grateful Ellen sat down together, and
there he explained to her his wishes as to their manner of living for
the next half year: he told her, that undoubtedly she would, for a time,
be somewhat engaged with the few neighbouring families who remained in
the country for the winter, and whom he expected, of course, to visit
her: "But that once over, my love," said he, "let us propose to
ourselves some rational mode of happiness, which shall not be dependent
on the whim of others; you are so young, and have powers of mind so
extensive, that it will be easy to supply those defects in your
education which the retired situation in which you lived rendered
unavoidable; and this may be done without any parade or _eclat_ of any
kind, as it is by no means unusual for ladies to take lessons by way of
finishing, even at a more advanced age than your's; drawing and
music-masters shall therefore be engaged to attend you, if you do not
object to this disposition of a part of your time. In French, I will
myself be your instructor, and we will mutually improve each other, my
love, by reading together those authors you have so long desired to be
acquainted with. If you wish to take a few lessons in dancing, that may
be done in the spring, when we are in London, and they may perhaps be
desirable to give you a little more confidence in yourself; for, in my
eye, no acquired action, or fashionable attitude whatever, could
compensate for the loss of one simple natural grace, already so
conspicuous in my sweet Ellen: and as to dancing, I am so strange a
being, that I cannot bear the idea of a married woman's ever exhibiting
herself in public, and being exposed to the impertinent whispers and
hateful familiarity of a set of coxcombs." "I wonder," thought Ellen,
"whether the former Lady St. Aubyn was fond of dancing." "In the spring,
then," continued St. Aubyn, "we will go to London for a month or two,
just to see a few of its gaieties, and if I can prevail on Lady Juliana
Mordaunt, a very stiff, haughty old aunt of mine, to forgive the
dereliction she fancies I have made from my consequence, by marrying, as
she supposes, below me, she will be your best guide and most respectable
chaperon." "Ah," sighed Ellen to herself, "what shall I do with these
stiff proud people: I wish I had remained what I supposed myself, plain
Mrs. Mordaunt."

A slight trace of anxiety passed over her countenance, which St. Aubyn
perceiving, for in quickness of apprehension and ready penetration no
one ever exceeded him, he said:--

"Fear nothing, my love; I am by far too happy, and too proud of my
choice, to pay the least attention to the suggestions of either Lady
Juliana or any other person: if they come forward handsomely, and as
they ought to do, they shall be indulged in the happiness of visiting
you; if not, never will I, or shall you, make the slightest concession
to them. I will have you support your dignity, even your pride, if pride
be necessary, and look down with contempt on such insignificant beings.
There is one family near us, Sir William Cecil's, where I hope we shall
be very intimate: he is a widower, and has three daughters: the eldest,
Laura, from a disappointment in the early part of her life, has remained
single, and is now I suppose nearly thirty: the second, Agatha, is
married to Lord Delamore, and is gone to live in Scotland: the youngest,
Juliet, is still a child, and has bad health: she is a most amiable
creature, and has extraordinary talents, but is so unfortunately
delicate that she scarcely passes a day in tolerable health. Laura Cecil
devotes herself to her entirely, scarcely ever leaving her: she has
superintended the whole of her education, as she did that of Lady
Delamore, who is some years younger than herself, and to whom Laura was
most tenderly attached. Agatha was eminently beautiful, and Laura is a
handsome woman, with a great deal of dignity in her air; yet without
hauteur of affectation. I hope you will be on very friendly terms with
her." "Indeed, my Lord, from your account of Miss Cecil," replied Ellen,
"I most sincerely wish it. Next summer, I hope, we shall go into Wales,
and then perhaps you will permit Joanna to return with me." "Of that we
will talk hereafter," said St. Aubyn, rising hastily. "Let but the
spring pass over and all be well, and my Ellen's wishes shall be my law;
but beyond the spring, at present, _I dare not look_." "And may I not
yet inquire----"

"Ask not, inquire not," interrupted St. Aubyn: "let me, if possible,
forget the dreadful, the hateful subject.--And lives that being!" he
exclaimed, in an agitation which mocked restraint--"lives that being who
has the power to shake the soul of St. Aubyn; whose vindictive pursuit
may yet deprive me of----"

He stopt: his pale countenance was instantly flushed to scarlet, and he
hastily left the room; while Ellen, amazed, confounded, seemed as if
every faculty were suspended; yet in ten minutes this mysterious man
returned to her, composed, and even cheerful, neither his countenance
nor manner bearing any traces of the emotion which had so lately shaken
his frame: he solicited Ellen, as if nothing extraordinary had passed,
to ring for her hat and pelesse, and to go with him into the
pleasure-grounds. She readily complied, and was, if possible, more
surprized and delighted by the grandeur and beauty of the shrubberies,
gardens, &c. than she had been with the interior of her magnificent
abode.


END OF VOL. I.





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