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Title: Mystery and Confidence, Vol. 2 - 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. 2 - A Tale" ***

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                                MYSTERY
                                  AND
                              CONFIDENCE:


                               _A TALE._

                               BY A LADY.

                           IN THREE VOLUMES.


                                VOL. II.



                                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.



                                MYSTERY
                                  AND
                              CONFIDENCE.



CHAP. I.

  ----To mourn because a sparrow dies,
  To rave in artificial ecstasies,
  Laments how oft her wounded heart has bled,
  And boasts of many a tear she never shed.

                                MISS MORE'S POEM ON SENSIBILITY.


The next day being Sunday, Lady St. Aubyn, attired in the most elegant
undress, and attended by the Earl, made her appearance at the church:
the expensive lace veil which shaded her fair face, and hung loosely
below her waist, prevented the gazing of those around her from being
too oppressive. The neighbouring families certainly had heard that Lord
St. Aubyn had married a young person of a rank in life much inferior to
his own, for secretly as every thing had been conducted, as no one could
tell the name or family of his bride, such, at least, were the
conjectures of those who knew him; yet, in spite of the prejudices which
had been excited against her, the elegance of her form, and the modest
composure of her demeanour, in a great measure overcame it, and all who
were entitled, by their situation in life, to visit at the Castle,
determined to do so; some prompted by mere curiosity, and some by less
unworthy motives. The three or four following days, therefore, brought
Ellen many visitors, and her own intuitive sense of propriety, added to
the few general directions St. Aubyn had given her, and with the
advantageous support his respectful attention gave her, prevented her
appearing at all awkward; and these visits, which she had so greatly
dreaded, passed over with less pain than she had expected.

Amongst their first visitors were Sir William and Miss Cecil; the former
of whom was a mere common-place character, whom, if you did not happen
to see for sometime, you would be apt to forget you had ever seen at
all; but the fine countenance of Laura, her expressive features, and the
bright black eyes which animated them, charmed Ellen, who had never seen
any woman before so pleasing: yet Laura was not strictly beautiful, and
at this time the lustre of her fine eyes was dimmed by the melancholy
which pervaded her mind, for she said her little invalid was so much
indisposed, and so weak, she would not have left her to go any where
else; but she wished so very much to be introduced to Lady St. Aubyn she
could not resist the temptation.

The very elegant manner in which she spoke, the clearness of her
articulation, and sweetness of her voice, were strikingly agreeable; and
St. Aubyn afterwards said that a few years before she had a gaiety of
manner, enlivened by wit of a superior nature, with so much playfulness
of expression, that by many people she was considered as merely a lively
girl, and a little satirical; but time and misfortune had softened what
at times might have been too severe in her opinions, had improved and
mellowed her fine judgment, and given a pensive sweetness to her
manners, which was occasionally relieved by flashes of her former gaiety
and ready repartee. St. Aubyn shewed her a particular and most
respectful attention, and told Ellen she would be charmed with Miss
Cecil's drawings, which were the very finest he ever saw, except from
the hands of a professed artist. He then, with a smile, addressed a few
words to Laura in an undertone, to which she replied: "Oh, pray, my
Lord, do not expose my juvenile follies: I might have done such things
when we were mere children together, but I hope you think me wiser now!"

"The world," said he, "has perhaps made us both graver since the days
you speak of; and that, in the eyes of many, will doubtless give us
credit for an increase of wisdom; but believe me, my fair friend, I have
lost so little of the romance of youth (if such you choose to term it),
that I must hope you do not neglect the pleasing talent to which I
alluded, and of which you must allow Lady St. Aubyn to judge: I assure
you she has a great taste for poetry, and perhaps one day or other may
follow your example, and court the Muses in her turn."

"Ah, my Lord!" said Laura, smiling and colouring: "I see you are
determined not to keep my secret." "Tell me, Ellen," said St. Aubyn,
"can you see any reason why Miss Cecil should wish to make a secret of
her having succeeded very happily in some elegant little poetical
compositions?" "No, indeed," replied Ellen: "it surely is a gift to be
rather proud than ashamed of." "Ah, my dear Lady St. Aubyn, if you could
conceive the illiberal prejudice of some minds, you would not wonder at
my dislike to having these trifling attempts spoken of. A lady I knew,
who was eminently gifted in that way, and indeed an excellent
prose-writer also, was, from circumstances, obliged to be less
scrupulous than I have been; and if you could have heard the things I
have witnessed, when she entered or left a room, you would be amazed:
while she, gentle, unassuming, and even timid, judging candidly of every
one, unwilling to see faults, and detesting personal satire, had not the
most remote idea of the severe and uncandid remarks she excited."

Ellen was really astonished at this account, as much as she was pleased
with the spirit and grace with which it was delivered; and St. Aubyn
said to her with an expressive smile, "You see, Ellen, our friend Ross
had more reason than we were willing to allow him for _certain
prohibitions_. However," added he, "I will not relinquish the hope that
Miss Cecil will soon see how little she has to fear from any
observations of such a nature from _you_." "I see it already," said Miss
Cecil with quickness: "one glance at Lady St. Aubyn would convince the
most incredulous that nothing but sweetness and candour can lodge in
such a temple."

She then looked at her watch, and saying she had much exceeded her time,
and Juliet would expect her, departed with her father, who had been
deeply engaged in giving Doctor Montague a long account of a
county-meeting, which had been held for some public purpose a few days
before. They had scarcely driven from the door, when Miss Alton was
announced; and as she entered, St. Aubyn whispered to Ellen--"Now you
will see a character quite new to you." Then rising hastily, he crossed
the room to meet the lady, exclaiming, "Heavens! my dear Miss Alton, how
enchanted I am to see you look so well! You really improve every day, at
least every year: for I believe it is at least that time since I saw you
last." "Oh, my Lord," answered the lady in an affected tone, but in a
voice the natural sharpness of which all her efforts failed to soften;
"you flatter--don't try to make me vain. Lord bless me, you men have no
mercy on us poor young women: but will you not introduce me to your
Lady?"

Ellen, who at the distance from whence she had first seen this visitor
imagined that she really was young and handsome, was astonished as she
approached, to find in the white frock, sash, ringlets, and little
straw hat of a girl, a woman apparently between fifty and sixty; and who
vainly attempted to conceal, by a quantity of _rouge_ and a slight veil
thrown over her face, the ravages which time had made in her
countenance. Her spare figure gave her some resemblance to youthful
slightness; but when near, the sharp bones, and angular projections of
her face and person, sufficiently proved, that slender appearance was
the result of lean old age, instead of girlish delicacy. In spite of the
advanced season, she was clad so lightly, that she still shivered from
the impression of the keen breeze which had assailed her as she crossed
the Park, and gladly accepted a seat by the comfortable fire, though
affecting to conceal her sufferings under an air of gaiety and ease.

St. Aubyn (who had known her many years, and had been from a boy
accustomed to divert himself with her foibles, though he really felt a
degree of regard for her, as, in spite of her oddities, she was not
without a mixture of good qualities), after having introduced her to his
bride, seated himself by her, and began to talk to her in a strain of
such marked flattery, as really alarmed Ellen, who thought Miss Alton
would certainly be offended; but her enormous vanity prevented her from
perceiving that he was merely laughing at her, and she grew every moment
more ridiculous. At last, turning to Ellen, she said in a pathetic tone,
"Oh, my dear Madam, you cannot conceive how I have felt for you these
two days! I declare I have not been able to sleep for thinking of you,
and really have shed tears to imagine what a tax you have been paying:
how you must have been fatigued by receiving such a succession of
visitors! but every one must have some trouble. There is my dear friend,
Mrs. Dawkins, the best of women--sweet woman, indeed--there she is
lamenting at home such a vexation!" "What is the matter?" said St.
Aubyn, laughing, for he knew what sort of misfortunes Mrs. Dawkins and
her friend Miss Alton generally lamented with so much pathos: "has she
lost her little French dog, or has the careless coachman scratched the
pannels of her new carriage?" "Oh, you sad man! how can you make a jest
of the dear soul's uncommon sensibility? To be sure she has the
tenderest feelings. She often says to me, 'my dear Alton, what should I
do without you: you are the only person who can really feel for the
misfortunes of a friend.' Sweet woman!"

"Well, but," said St. Aubyn, "you were going to tell us what has
happened to this _amiable friend_ of your's."

"Nay, I will tell Lady St. Aubyn, she looks all softness and
sensibility: but you are so wicked, you make a jest of every thing. Do
you know, my dearest Lady St. Aubyn, just as poor Mrs. Dawkins was
coming to make you a visit, this morning, nay, she was actually dressed,
and had one foot on the step of the carriage, _I_ was in it, for she was
so kind as to say she would bring me; so I thought, as I was to come
with her, I need not put on a pelisse, or shawl, for you know they spoil
one's dress. But I can't say but that it was rather cold walking, as I
was at last obliged to do, for _just_ as she put her foot upon the
step----" "What happened?" interrupted St. Aubyn, laughing still more at
the emphatic manner in which poor Alton told her distressing
story.--"Did she fall down and break her leg, or did the horses run away
and carry off her kid slipper?"----"Now only hear him; did you ever see
such a teasing creature: well, I am glad _I_ have not the task of
keeping you in order; I don't know what even the sweet Countess will do
with you."

This piece of self-congratulation threw St. Aubyn into a violent fit of
laughing, in which even the grave Doctor Montague joined, and Ellen
could hardly resist, though the fear of quite affronting her guest put a
check upon her risibility.

"Well," said St. Aubyn, at last recovering himself a little, "but what
really did happen to poor Mrs. Dawkins?"

"Nay, I protest I won't tell you, you wicked creature; I will tell Lady
St. Aubyn some other time, for you do not deserve to hear any thing
about it."

"Oh, yes, do, my dear Alton, tell, for really I am in great pain for
poor Mrs. Dawkins, who has been standing so long with one foot upon the
step: don't leave her in so dangerous a situation any longer."----"Well,
then, if I must tell--at that moment up came a servant on horseback, to
say her sister, Mrs. Courtenay, was on the road to her own house, in her
way from Buxton, and would, with a whole train of children and servants,
dine at her house to-day; and as they were coming directly, she was
actually obliged to defer her visit to your Ladyship till to-morrow; and
she was so sorry, and I am sure so was I, for I was obliged to walk here
after all."

"Well, but," said Lord St. Aubyn, "notwithstanding this terrible shock
to her feelings, she might have sent the carriage with _you_."----"Aye,
so she might, to be sure; but poor dear soul, she was put in such a
bustle she never thought of it; some people don't think----dear me, if I
had a carriage of my own, I should be happy to make it useful to my
friends, and not let them go broiling on foot two or three miles in warm
weather or splashing through the mud in the middle of winter."----"I
believe you," said St. Aubyn; for with all her foibles, he knew Miss
Alton was really good-natured, and willing to do a kind action.

"Well, my dear Miss Alton, if you will favour us with your company, and
dine with us, Lady St. Aubyn will, I am sure, be happy to send you home
in her carriage; and I promise you, if the Prince himself was to make us
a visit, that should not prevent your having it."

Ellen joined in this invitation, to which the happy Miss Alton readily
assented; and Ellen found her, after a little while, a more tolerable
companion than she expected.

Miss Alton's particular passion was for being with people who lived in
style; if they had a title so much the better; and as she would do any
thing to make herself useful, and knew how to pay those little
attentions which every body likes, she generally made herself agreeable,
or so necessary, that she had admittance at almost all the houses of
consequence in the neighbourhood. The entrè of St. Aubyn Castle was the
height of her ambition. St. Aubyn's mother, who lived much in the
country, had been in the habit of receiving Miss Alton, when she was a
girl, on familiar terms: the old Lady was fond of needle-work, and
Alton assisted in filling up the groundwork of carpets, rugs, &c. with
the most patient good humour; or was at any time ready to make up a
whist or quadrille table; so that in those days she was very often a
week or two together at the Castle, where St. Aubyn, at his vacations,
had been accustomed to meet her, and to divert himself with her foibles,
though he had always retained a degree of regard for her, a felicity
which the death of the old Countess deprived her of, and she had never
since ceased to regret; for though her other connections were
respectable, they were not so high in fortune or consequence as the St.
Aubyns, and great was her joy to find herself once more an invited guest
at the Castle.

Amongst her other friends, as her narrow income by no means permitted
her to return their civilities in kind, she yet was always well
received, for there was nothing she would not do to oblige: one Lady
would send her in her carriage, if not well enough to go herself, to
inquire the character of a servant; another would express a wish, in her
hearing, for some game, or fruit, for a dinner party, and Miss Alton
would set out the next morning "to try her luck," as she termed it, by
calling at some of the higher sort of houses, where she was acquainted,
and _wishing_ she knew where to get a hare, or a pine-apple (according
to which was wanted), "to oblige a friend to whom she owed a great many
favours," the good natured hearer generally, if possible, was willing to
oblige "poor Alton;" or if she did not succeed there, she would tramp a
mile or two farther, and at worst could fairly boast what pains she had
taken, even if they were not successful.

In London, if a notable friend wanted a cheap trimming, or to match a
silk or lace, yet did not like to go about to little shops herself,
Alton would take a hackney coach, or walk if the weather permitted, and
never rest till she had obtained the thing in question.

By these and similar means she had made a great many high acquaintance,
and _eked_ out a small income by visits, sometimes a little too long, to
each in turn.----She had thus acquired some amusing anecdotes, and was
far from an unpleasing companion, especially when no male beings came in
her way; but when with men, vanity and affectation took such full
possession of her, that she became completely ridiculous. This Lady St.
Aubyn had an opportunity of seeing: when two or three gentlemen happened
to call before dinner, her whole manner changed, and she became really
absurd: her voice was softened----her head leant on one shoulder----a
tolerably white hand and arm displayed in every possible attitude, and
she behaved, in every respect, like a very silly affected girl; but when
they were gone, she was again tolerably conversable, and St. Aubyn,
ceasing to play upon her foibles, and turning the conversation to such
topics as were most likely to shew her to advantage, the afternoon and
evening passed pleasantly enough. Nor was St. Aubyn sorry to familiarise
Ellen, by degrees, to company, or to do the honour of his table, before
they should be obliged to receive the neighbouring families at dinner,
many of whom he knew (especially two or three ladies who had unmarried
daughters) would be eagerly looking out for any little omission in her,
while Miss Alton was so delighted with the good things before her
(certainly being _un peu gourmande_) with the beautiful new service of
china, rich plate, &c. &c. that she never thought of her entertainers,
except to express her pleasure in their kindness and attention: and they
sent her home in the evening perfectly happy, and eager to tell dear
Mrs. Dawkins what a delightful day she had spent, how happy the Earl
was to see her, what a _sweet woman_ the Countess was, what fine china!
what a dessert! what an elegant new carriage! &c. &c.



CHAP. II.

  Yet once again farewell, thou minstrel harp,
    Yet once again forgive my feeble sway,
  And little reck I of the censure sharp,
    May idly cavil at an idle lay.
  Much have I owed thy strains on life's long way,
    Through secret woes the world has never known,
  When on the weary night dawn'd wearier day,
    And bitterer was the grief devour'd alone.

                                                       W. SCOTT.


The next month was past in receiving and returning visits; and the most
pleasing among them was a sociable day passed at Rose-Hill, the seat of
Sir William Cecil. Miss Cecil promised, if Juliet, who now for some time
had been tolerably well, should continue so, that Ellen should see her;
though she very seldom admitted any company: "But I have said so much of
you," said Laura, "that she is quite anxious to see you; and I am
particularly anxious to familiarize her to you, both as it will I am
sure give her pleasure, and facilitate our being often together."
Accordingly, after dinner, when they left the gentlemen, Miss Cecil led
Lady St. Aubyn to Juliet's apartment.

Never had Ellen seen so interesting a being: this fair creature, now
about fifteen, was a perfect model of beauty and symmetry; though so
slightly formed, she appeared, "like a fairy vision, or some bright
creature of the element:" her cheeks were faintly tinged with a hectic
blush; her eyes were of the most dazzling brightness; her lips like
coral; and her teeth of pearly whiteness; her fair hair was covered with
a fine lace cap, and her fragile form enveloped in a large shawl.

"My love," said Laura, "here is Lady St. Aubyn, who is so good as to
come and see you."

Juliet extended her white hand, and said in a voice of peculiar
harmony, fixing at the same time her sparkling and penetrating eyes on
Ellen's face, as if she wished to read her heart in her countenance,
"Laura says she loves you already, and I am sure _I_ shall." The simple
naïvetè of her voice and manner went to the heart of Ellen, who could
not help embracing her tenderly, while she felt the tears start to her
eyes at seeing one so young and lovely in a state of health so
precarious.

After a little more conversation, Ellen put her hand accidentally on a
small book which lay half concealed by one of the pillows of Juliet's
couch, and said with that native politeness which ever prevented her
from doing any thing rude or intrusive, "May I look at the subject of
your studies?" "Yes," said Juliet, with an angelic smile, "If you
please." Ellen opened the book. It was in a character totally unknown to
her. "Do you read Greek?" asked the fair Juliet, with a simplicity and
absence of design which proved her question was serious; and this
interrogation, which would from most people to a young woman be
absolutely ridiculous, from Juliet appeared merely a natural wish to
know whether her new friend was as able as herself to read the book she
held in her hand; for strange as it may appear, it was a copy of the New
Testament in Greek; and Juliet read it as easily as if it had been
English.

"My dear Juliet," said Laura, "few females make that language their
study; I conclude, therefore, Lady St. Aubyn does not know it any more
than myself." "Oh, I wish you both did," said Juliet: "if you could but
know the delight I feel from reading the Scripture in its original
language!--If I live till next summer I hope the Hebrew Bible will be as
familiar to me as that book is now."

It is impossible for language to do justice to the perfect innocence and
artlessness with which she spoke: she seemed to think her own wonderful
attainments no more extraordinary than other girls do of being able to
read a newspaper, or work a handkerchief: not a trace of affectation or
pedantry was visible in her manner: she had a childishness of voice and
tone that singularly contrasted with the subjects on which she spoke;
for Laura, willing to let Ellen see what a wonderful creature she was,
led her to speak of astronomy; and a celestial globe happening to be on
a table before her, led her by degrees to display her extraordinary
knowledge in that science--of the dimensions and motions of the heavenly
bodies, their distances from the sun and from each other, &c. all of
which she explained in the clearest and most perspicuous manner, making
such happy allusions to the poets who have touched on the subject, and
illustrating it by such apt comparisons, as shewed her imagination was
as brilliant, as the calculations she readily made proved her memory
was accurate.

Lady St. Aubyn, who had at every leisure hour since her marriage been
engaged in studying this and other interesting subjects of useful
knowledge, could in some degree appreciate the value and extent of this
sweet girl's extraordinary acquirements, and was lost in admiration of
her abilities, and the industry with which, notwithstanding her ill
health, she had cultivated them.

This happened to be a day in which Juliet was unusually well, for in
general she declined all conversation, and spent most of her time in
studying the Scriptures, in devotional exercises, and promoting every
plan which her health would permit her to join in for the relief of the
poor; for her early piety and extensive charity were as remarkable as
her other attainments were wonderful: but this day she was so well, that
at Laura's solicitation, in which Ellen earnestly joined, she placed
herself at a chamber organ that stood in her apartment, which she
touched with great taste and science; and was at last prevailed on to
accompany it with a voice of the most angelic sweetness.

She sung only sacred music, and now delighted Ellen with "Angels ever
bright and fair;" and, "I know that my Redeemer liveth:" and while her
pure lips poured forth these exquisite specimens of musical inspiration,
the soft and pious expression of her heavenly countenance, for ever
fixed and hallowed them in the remembrance of her hearers.

To Ellen she seemed hardly a being of this world, and her young and
enthusiastic heart was melted with the tenderest love for one so very
far superior to any thing she could have imagined.

From this day the St. Aubyns and Cecils spent a great part of their time
together, and the highly polished manners of Miss Cecil, her excellent
judgment, and fine taste, were extremely advantageous to Lady St.
Aubyn. Without losing her natural grace and sweet simplicity, she
gradually acquired more of that style which marks both the woman of
fashion and the possessor of intellectual knowledge; even her beauty
improved with the encreased intelligence of her mind, and the serenity
of her heart; for now for the first time she felt entirely happy;
scarcely a cloud overshadowed her.

St. Aubyn was every day more tender and attentive, and every day
expressed himself more pleased and delighted with his choice. Those
starts of agitation and gloom which on their first acquaintance had
appeared in him so frequently, were now very seldom seen. He received
frequent letters from Spain, which he told Ellen were from his friend
the Marquis of Northington, who was there in a diplomatic situation, and
was engaged in seeking a person, by means of his extensive connections
on the Continent, who alone could unravel some mysterious circumstances
of the most material consequence to _him_. "But when found," said St.
Aubyn, one day when he had by degrees been led to speak on this
subject--"when found, if ever that should happen, I know not that he
will be prevailed on to disclose what I have every reason to believe he
alone can tell. He is a villain!"----(and St. Aubyn's frame shook with
the agitation of smothered rage) "and may from motives of fear or
revenge add to the other injuries he has done me, by withholding that
information which alone can secure _my fame_, perhaps _my life_."

He had never before spoken so much or so calmly on this interesting
subject; and seeing that Ellen listened with great anxiety, and that at
his last words she trembled and turned pale, he added:

"Fear not, my love: for your dear sake I will take every necessary
precaution; and should I find the enemy, who has long, though most
unjustly, threatened to revenge on me an act, horrible indeed, but of
which I was not the author----should I find him still determined on
vindictive measures, I will for a time pass over to the Continent, till
some accommodation can be effected. At all events, my Ellen, remember
you have promised to _believe me innocent_. In the course of the next
summer, this enemy (who, alas! and that is not the least hardship in my
wayward fate, ought by every tie to look upon me as a friend and father)
will be in England, and I shall perhaps be able to clear his mind from
those evil impressions with which an unfortunate chain of circumstances
have stampt it----impressions received in early youth, and which he has
ever since cherished, and brooded over with the most determined
resentment."

At this juncture, when St. Aubyn seemed for the first time inclined to
open his whole heart to his wife, and to disclose to her a story in
which she was so deeply interested, they were interrupted by a servant,
who announced Mrs. Dawkins, and her tender friend Miss Alton, who came
armed with a whole catalogue of sympathetic feelings and notes of
admiration of all kinds to entertain Lady St. Aubyn.

Many were the disasters which had happened since they saw her last:
horses had been lame, servants impertinent, showers of rain had fallen
at the most unlucky moments, even a dinner had been spoilt which had
cost a whole week's preparation, by the cook's inattention in
over-roasting the venison; in short, all the minor evils of life had set
themselves in array against the peace of poor Mrs. Dawkins: and even the
sympathizing Miss Alton could hardly keep pace with lamentations
sufficient for such a doleful list of distresses. She fought her way,
however, as well as she could, and where words failed her, shrugs,
sighs, and the whole artillery of gesticulation, were employed in their
stead.

What then became of poor Ellen, who could at best only sit "with sad
civility and an aching head," amid this alternate din of complaint and
compassion? But Mrs. Dawkins was pre-determined to like and be pleased
with every thing the lovely Countess did or omitted to do, and construed
the silence and acquiescence with which she heard every thing into the
kindest attention and most obliging concern for the troubles of her
friends.

The entrance of a sandwich tray fortunately gave some pause to this
melancholy duet; and the excellent hot-house fruits, rich cake, &c.
seemed to arrive in good time to refresh both ladies after so much
exertion. At last they took their leave, but the moment for confidence
was past; indeed, St. Aubyn, in no humour for trifling, had made his
escape at one door, as they entered at the other: of course, the
conversation was not then resumed.

Not to interrupt the course of the narrative, we omitted in the proper
place to notice that Lord and Lady St. Aubyn had, immediately on their
arrival at the Castle, written letters of explanation to Powis and
Joanna, and he permitted Mr. Ross to publish what he alone knew the real
rank and title of the person Ellen had married.

We will not pretend to describe the astonishment excited by this
intelligence amongst the inhabitants of Llanwyllan: the honest and
unaspiring Powis declared he would much rather Ellen had married a man
nearer her own rank in life, for he was afraid, poor dear child, she
would be bewildered amongst such fine people, and in such a great house:
for his part, even if he were able to travel so far, he should not like
to go to such a grand place as she described the Castle to be; besides,
he was afraid they would be ashamed to see such a rough, ignorant fellow
as he was among their fine company: and if Ellen was above calling him
father, he should wish himself in the grave.

The tears started in his eyes at the painful idea, and the good Ross
could hardly dissipate his apprehensions of being forsaken by his only
child, by reminding him of her excellent qualities and tender affection
for him, and of the kindness with which Lord St. Aubyn had treated him
through the whole of his acquaintance.

Mrs. Ross was in ten times a greater bustle than ever; she could not
rest till she had told the surprizing news to every one she met, and at
intervals she scolded Mr. Ross heartily for not letting her into the
secret, as if she were not as worthy to be trusted as any body else for
secrecy and prudence; "she that had been a mother to Ellen, was no
gossip, and minded nothing but her own business!" but when he reminded
her that even Ellen, deeply as she was interested, was not permitted to
know it, she could not but acknowledge she had no great right to expect
to be better informed.

As to Joanna, with the natural vanity of youth, she was elated beyond
measure at the idea of her dear Ellen's being a _real lady_, and the
hope of visiting her one day or other in her fine castle, and seeing all
her beautiful things, while Mrs. Ross made no doubt Ellen had a dress
for every day in the week, and her caps trimmed with fine lace; then she
laughed at the recollection of having once "scolded Ellen for putting on
her best white gown when she expected Mr. Mordaunt, as we called him,
and now I should not wonder if she wears as good in a morning!"--"Dear
mother," said Joanna, who, from the slight view she had of what she
fancied the world, when she went with St. Aubyn and Ellen to Carnarvon,
imagined herself better instructed in fashionable matters--"dear mother,
I daresay she does not wear such gowns at all; I should not wonder if
her maid had as good: I am sure I saw a lady's maid on a travelling
carriage at Carnarvon much better dressed than either of us." "Well,
bless me, what will the world come to," said Mrs. Ross, "when such folks
as those wear white gowns and flappits!" Alas, poor Mrs. Ross! could she
have seen some ladies' maids!--

All these things Joanna told Ellen in a letter the longest she had ever
written, and greatly was St. Aubyn diverted with the simplicity of their
ideas. The good Ross wrote to St. Aubyn, and expressed his high
satisfaction at the very just and honourable manner in which he had
performed all his engagements respecting Ellen, and requested to hear
from time to time whatever might arise concerning those important
circumstances which the Earl had done him the honour to confide to him.

"What can we do for these very good people, my dear Ellen?" said St.
Aubyn: "they have no wants nor wishes beyond their present possessions.
If I send them any articles of luxury, or the means of encreasing their
present expenses, I know not that I should render them happier. I could
easily procure a valuable living for Mr. Ross, and told him so; but he
assured me nothing should induce him to leave his present flock, and
that he had not a wish to rise to a higher sphere, or for any thing in
the world, but a few more books; and for those I have sent an order to
my bookseller, requesting they may be immediately forwarded to
Carnarvon. I shall also enclose to Ross a larger payment for my good old
landlady and cook, dame Grey, than I thought it prudent to make while we
remained at Llanwyllan. Is there any thing else my Ellen can think
of?"--"There are," answered Ellen, in a low voice, "some very poor
people at Llanwyllan, that Joanna and I used to be as kind to as we
could. I should like, if you approve of it, to send Joanna a little
money for their use." "By all means, send whatever you think proper, and
as often as you please; never consult me, but do all that your kind and
generous heart prompts you to do on all occasions--think also if there
is any thing Mrs. Ross and Joanna would be pleased to have. You must be
a better judge of their wishes than I can be."--He then took out his
pocketbook, and gave her notes to a large amount, telling her, with a
smile, that her expences were so small, he should forget he had a wife
if she were not a little more profuse. "Well, but Ellen," said St.
Aubyn, "surely this is not all you have to ask for the friends of your
youth! don't make me fancy either that you are forgetful, or _think more
than you choose to express for some of them_." "My dear Lord, what do
you mean?" said Ellen, a little startled by the manner in which he
spoke, "Nay, don't be alarmed," replied St. Aubyn, with a smile, "_I_
was thinking of one certainly not so much in _my_ favour as he ought to
be in _your's_, for he deprived me once of your society for a whole day,
for which, and some certain pangs and anxieties, I cannot quite forgive
him." "I cannot guess who you mean." "Is that really true?" "Most
perfectly so." "Certainly," said St. Aubyn, "I can only mean Charles
Ross." "Oh poor Charles!" exclaimed Ellen: "I really had quite forgotten
him."

"Now that was excessively ungrateful," said St. Aubyn, laughing, "for I
dare engage he has not forgotten you: well, are you still enough his
friend to wish to do him service?"

"Certainly," said Ellen: "I shall always feel a regard for him, though
just at that moment I was not thinking of him: but what service can I
do him, my Lord?"

"If _you_ give him your interest with me, I may, perhaps, try, and most
likely shall succeed, in getting him promotion. Should you wish this to
be done?"

"Oh, yes, indeed," replied Ellen, animated and sparkling with the
pleasing idea of serving her early friend, and of the joy his promotion
would give his parents and sister, "nothing could give me more
pleasure."

"Not too much of that bright colour and sparkling eye, though, Ellen,"
said St. Aubyn, half in jest, half gravely: "I shall be jealous."

"You have so much reason!"

"Well, be cautious, I am in that point a Turk, and bear no rival _near_
the throne."

Ellen, half vexed, would have said something, but embracing her
tenderly, he stopt her by saying, "Not a word, my love, I am perfectly
satisfied," and left her a little disconcerted, and half fearing that
she had disturbed or displeased him.

In the familiar intercourse which now took place between Miss Cecil and
Lady St. Aubyn, the former shook off her reserve, and imparted to Ellen,
not indeed all the particulars of her early disappointment, but that she
had endured the most painful trials that the perfidy and inconsistent
conduct of one sincerely loved could inflict; yet dignified on this, as
on every other subject, she never expatiated upon it, or said any thing
disrespectful of the author of her sufferings: though she never fully
explained the cause of her separation from her unworthy lover, it was
understood, that a full conviction of his bad conduct, and that his
address to her had chiefly been induced by mercenary motives, had
induced her to discard him, and to resist all his subsequent entreaties
to be forgiven.

One day, when Lord St. Aubyn and Sir William Cecil were engaged at a
great public dinner in the neighbourhood, Ellen had the pleasure of
dining tête-à-tête with her agreeable friend: they had spent two hours
in Juliet's apartment, who every time they met gained more and more on
Ellen's affections, and was become excessively attached to her, when the
sweet girl, feeling fatigued, said she would lie down for an hour, and
then she should be well enough to enjoy their company at tea, which she
requested they would take in her apartment; they went therefore to pass
this hour in Miss Cecil's dressing-room, who, opening a writing-desk to
shew Ellen a drawing she had just finished, undesignedly displayed to
the quick eye of Lady St. Aubyn a little book, marked "Manuscript
Poetry."

"Your own," said Ellen, laying her hand on it playfully, "or extracts?"
"Why," returned Laura, "as Lord St. Aubyn thought proper to betray a
secret which he learnt when we were children together, I will not deny
that little volume contains some insignificant attempts of my own."

"Oh let me see some of them, pray do," said Ellen: "assure yourself I
will make no ill use of your confidence. I really am quite delighted
with this opportunity, for I have long wished to see some specimens of
your talents in this way." Thus urged, Laura allowed her to read two or
three of the little poems contained in the volume, and at her earnest
request, permitted her afterwards to have copies of the two following


  ELEGIAC STANZAS.

  Athwart the troubled bosom of the night,
    Low heavy clouds in awful grandeur sweep;
  And, in the solemn darkness of their flight,
    Serve but to wrap the world in calmer sleep;
  Save those sad eyes, which only wake to weep;
  And give the dreary hour to meditation deep.

  Those eyes perceive, as slow the clouds divide,
    One star, whose tremulous but brilliant ray
  Might serve the uncertain wand'rer's steps to guide,
    And cheer his bosom till the dawn of day;
  Who trembling else, and lost in black dismay,
  Wearied and wild, might rove and perish on the way.

  Even such a star, so fair and so benign,
    When o'er the soul dark clouds of sorrow lour,
  Is Hope; whose tranquil rays serenely shine,
    Brightening the horrors of each dreary hour;
  Smiling when youth prepares the fancied flower,
  And when in age it feels misfortune's blighting power.

  Oh, thou bright star! still grateful shalt thou find
    The heart so often cheer'd by thy mild ray:
  I will not call thee faithless and unkind,
    Nor with ingratitude thy smiles repay,
  Because thou hast not, like the glorious day,
  Power to dispel the dark, and drive the clouds away.

  Gild but those clouds till brighter suns arise;
    Checkering with thy fair light life's troubled stream;
  And oft unwearied shall these wakeful eyes,
    Watching the progress of thy doubtful beam,
  Shine even in tears; and, closing, still shall seem
  Sooth'd by thy gentle ray in every peaceful dream.


  EPISTLE TO LADY DELAMORE,

  ON RETURNING TO ROSE-HILL.

    From those rain scenes, where fancied pleasure reigns;
  From crowds that weary, and from mirth which pains;
  From flattering praises, from the smiles of art,
  Sweet to the eye but faithless to the heart;
  From guilt which makes fair innocence its prey,
  Sighs but to blast, and courts but to betray;
  From these I fly, impatient to caress
  All lovely Nature in her fairest dress.
  Oh, sweet retirement! Oh! secure retreat
  From all the cares and follies of the great!
  Here lavish Nature every charm bestows,
  In softness smiles, in vivid beauty glows!
  Here May presents each blossom of the spring,
  And balmy sweetness falls from Zephyr's wing.
    Yet while I stray, in tranquil quiet blest,
  Fond mem'ry presses at my anxious breast;
  And as I rove 'mid scenes so justly dear,
  Remembrance wakes the tributary fear!
  The mental eye perceives a sister's form,
  And even these peaceful shades no longer charm.
  "Yes!" I exclaim, "'twas here she lov'd to stray,
  Smiling in beauty, innocently gay!
  Oft by yon streamlet, in the echoing vale,
  Her voice would swell upon the evening gale,
  Charm from the care-fraught bosom half its woes,
  And hush the wounded spirit to repose!"
    While these delightful hours I thus retrace,
  And dwell on every recollected grace,
  Thy sister's soul, my Agatha, forgets
  That _thou_ art blest in that which _she_ regrets;
  Forgets that pleasure crowns thy happy hours,
  And fond affection strews thy path with flowers;
  Anxious thy way with rose-buds to adorn,
  And from those buds remove each lurking thorn.
  Ah! selfish heart, lament thy loss no more,
  Nor thus thy recollected bliss deplore;
  Content thyself to know thy sister blest,
  And calm the plaintive anguish of thy breast!
  Be still serenity thy future state;
  Far from the pomps and perils of the great;
  Unnotic'd, quiet, shall thy peace ensure,
  Peace, when the world forgets thee, most secure.
  --Yet, yet, my Agatha, affection swells
  The trembling heart where thy lov'd image dwells;
  Still bids me look to thee for all that cheers
  In lengthen'd life, and blesses ling'ring years:
  My spirit, form'd a _social_ bliss to prove,
  Dares but to hope it from thy future love.
  Deceived by him on whom it most relied,
  Pierced in its fondness, wounded in its pride--
  Yet, yet, while throbbing through each shatter'd nerve,
  Disclaims to thee the veil of low reserve;
  Owns all its weakness, will each thought confide,
  And what it dares to feel, disdains to hide;
  Owns, though no more the storms of passion rise,
  That from the thought of selfish bliss it flies,
  Still feels whate'er had once the power to charm,
  Faithful affection, sensitive alarm;
  But from the pangs which once it felt relieved,
  No more will trust where once it was deceived;
  To thee alone will look for future joy,
  And for thy bliss each anxious wish employ:
  Absorbed in thee, and in thy opening views,
  Its pains, its pleasures, nay its being lose:
  One we will be, and one our future cares,
  Our thoughts, our hopes, our wishes, and our prayers.

                                                          LAURA.

With both these little pieces Ellen was perhaps more pleased than their
intrinsic merit warranted; but we naturally look with a partial eye on
the performances of those we love. After looking over several other
poetical attempts, and some beautiful drawings, they returned to
Juliet's apartment, where they spent a delightful evening; for Juliet
seemed materially mending, and Laura's spirits rose in proportion.

Thus, and in similar pleasures, passed the time till the beginning of
March, varied indeed by the occasional visits of the neighbouring
families. One day, after a long solicitation, the St. Aubyns, Cecils,
and some more of the most fashionable people near them, dined with Mrs.
Dawkins, where they also met her tender friend and shadow, Miss Alton,
who this day, for the first time in her life, was destined to offend
that _sweet woman_, Mrs. Dawkins; for charmed to find herself seated on
a sofa between "her _dearest_ Lady St. Aubyn," and that _most
delightful_ man, General Morton, a veteran officer in the neighbourhood,
at whom it was supposed Miss Alton had long _set her cap_, as the phrase
is, she attended not to the hints, shrugs, and winks of her friend, who,
not keeping a regular housekeeper, and being extremely anxious for the
placing her first course properly, wished Miss Alton just to slip out
and see it put on table: but vain were her wishes; and the cook, finding
no aid-de-camp arrive, after waiting till some of the dishes were
over-dressed, and others half cold, was obliged to act as
commander-in-chief, and direct the disposition of the table herself; in
which, not having clearly understood her mistress's directions (for in
fact her anxiety to have all correct made them vary every half hour),
she succeeded so ill, that when, after all her fretting and fuming, poor
Mrs. Dawkins was told dinner was on table, that unfortunate Lady had
nearly fainted at perceiving, when she entered the dining-room, that
half the articles intended for the second course were crowded into the
first, and roasted, ragoued, boiled, fried, sweet and sour, were jumbled
together, in the finest confusion imaginable!

"This is all _your_ fault," said Mrs. Dawkins, in a low voice, but with
the countenance of a fury, to poor Alton: "you could not _stir_ to see
it put down;" and pushing rudely by her, she left her staring with
surprize, and wondering what had made the dear soul so very angry: but
when she saw the blunders which were so obvious in the arrangement of
the table, and recollected her own negligence (for in fact she had
promised to see it set down), she was in her turn quite shocked.

Insupportable was the delay and confusion in putting down this second
course; even curtailed as it was, Mrs. Dawkins's servants were not
perfectly _au fait_ at such things, and at last Lord St. Aubyn gave a
hint to his own man, who waited behind his chair to assist, which he did
so effectually, that every thing was soon placed as by magic, and the
rest of the dinner and dessert passed over tolerably well. After dinner,
the ladies retired to the drawing-room, and listened, with their usual
patience, to fresh lamentations from Mrs. Dawkins, and renewed
sympathies on the part of Miss Alton, who sought, by even increasing her
usual portion of _tender sensibility_, to regain her wonted place in
Mrs. Dawkins's good graces; but that lady continued so haughty and
impracticable, that poor Alton came at last with _real_ tears, to
complain to the good-natured Ellen and Laura of her hard fate, and the
impossibility, do all she could, of pleasing some people; and they
really were so sorry for her vexation, that when Lady St. Aubyn's
carriage was announced, she rescued her from the visible unkindness of
Mrs. Dawkins, by desiring to have the pleasure of setting her down, and
made her quite happy again, by asking her to meet a small party at the
Castle the next day, which, as it was understood to be rather a select
thing, and confined to those most intimate there, assured Miss Alton a
renewed importance with Mrs. Dawkins and all her friends, as she should
have much to tell, which they could by no other possibility know any
thing about.



CHAP. III.

    Sweet Juliet, that with angels dost remain,
  Accept this latest favour at my hands,
  That living honour'd thee, and being dead,
  With funeral praises do adorn thy tomb.

                                               ROMEO AND JULIET.


The day was now fixed at the distance of a week for the removal of the
St. Aubyns to London. Ellen lamented much the impossibility of having
Laura Cecil with her, who would have been such a support to her in a
situation so new; but nothing could be urged on that point, as it was
impossible she could leave Juliet, who appeared sometimes better
sometimes worse, but always patient, gentle, and pious to a degree that
was really angelic.

Ellen felt sincerely grieved to leave her, and proposed that she should
be removed to London for better advice, but found this expedient had
been before resorted to, and Doctor B----'s advice frequently renewed by
letters since, and that it was thought the air of London did not agree
with her. The weather now, for the time of year, the second week in
March, was remarkably mild; and the medical man in attendance on Juliet,
who had now been for some days tolerably free from the low fever which
generally hung about her, permitted her to go out once or twice in a
garden chair, for the benefit of the air: the returning verdure of
spring seemed, for a time, to revive her: but whether the exertion was
too much, or some unobserved change in the atmosphere affected her
delicate frame, could not be known; but she was suddenly seized with one
of those attacks of fever which had so frequently brought her to the
brink of the grave; and on the day before that fixed for Ellen's leaving
Northamptonshire, a note from Laura announced that the life of this
admirable young creature was despaired of.

"She is perfectly sensible," added the afflicted sister; "the dear angel
retains all her usual pious composure; she wishes to see you. Could you,
dear Lady St. Aubyn, without being too much affected, come to her?"

Ellen, bursting into tears, put the note into St. Aubyn's hand, saying,
"Oh, my dear Lord; let me go--pray let me go directly!"

"Be less alarmed, be more composed, my dearest love," replied he, after
glancing over the contents, "or I cannot consent to your going. I wish
it had not been asked."

"Oh, indeed, dear St. Aubyn, I am quite composed, quite easy; but I
shall suffer much more in not seeing the dear, dear creature once again,
than even by witnessing this sudden and most unexpected change."

"Well, my love, we will go together; but do not be too much alarmed; she
may yet recover: Laura's fears may outrun the occasion: Juliet has often
been very ill before; but we will go: they will both, I know, be pleased
at your coming."

He then ordered the carriage, which was soon ready; and half an hour
brought them to Rose-hill. Ellen was immediately shewn to Juliet's room:
by the bed-side sat Laura: her cheeks, lips, and whole countenance, were
the colour of monumental marble; not a tear fell from her eyes; not a
sigh heaved her bosom; but the woe, the deep expressive woe which marked
every feature, no language could describe: she rose, and advanced a few
steps to meet Ellen, grasping her hand with one which the touch of death
could alone have rendered colder; her lips moved, but no articulate word
broke the mournful silence.

Ellen turned pale, shuddered, and looked ready to faint; Miss Cecil
made a sign to an attendant, who, bathed in tears, stood near her: she
placed a chair for Lady St. Aubyn, and brought her a few drops in some
water; she wept, and was relieved.

"Oh, why did I send for you!" said Laura, in a low tone, and speaking
with difficulty; "I fear it is too much."

"Don't be frightened, my Lady," said the nurse: "Miss Juliet is a little
easier; she is dozing."

In a few minutes Juliet moved and spoke, but so faintly, her voice could
hardly be distinguished. In an instant Laura was on her knees beside
her, and catching the imperfect sounds, replied in a voice which
betrayed not the anguish of her soul, "Yes, my love, she is here--will
you see her?"

Then turning to Ellen, she motioned her to approach. Ellen rose, and
went to the bed-side; she looked on Juliet, and saw that sweet angelic
countenance, slightly flushed, and looking as composed as ever; and
ignorant of the appearances of disease, fancied her better, and was, in
some measure, comforted. Juliet faintly articulated a few words,
expressive of the pleasure she felt in seeing Ellen, and would have said
more, but the nurse, for the sake of all, interposed, and requested that
Miss Juliet might not be allowed to speak much. With difficulty she held
out her feeble emaciated arms to Ellen, who tenderly embraced her, and
half dissolved in tears, retired to the window, whither she drew Miss
Cecil. Still the wretched Laura shed no tear; and the deep grief,
impressed on her fine countenance, was much more painful to the beholder
than the loudest expressions of sorrow could have been.

  "Give sorrow vent: the grief which does not speak
  Whispers the o'er-fraught heart, and bids it break!"

"For heaven's sake, my dearest Laura," said Ellen, "endeavour to take
comfort; surely she is better--she will recover!"

Laura only shook her head; and the nurse approaching, said, "Indeed,
Madam, Miss Cecil will kill herself; she has not had her clothes off
these two nights, nor has the slightest refreshment passed her lips this
day."

"Oh! talk not to me of rest or food," cried Laura, "I can partake of
neither."

Ellen most tenderly urged her to take something; but pressing her hands
upon her heart, she replied, "Oh no, oh no--I could not; indeed I could
not. Go," she added, "my dear friend--go, this is no place for you;
nothing but the request of ----; nothing but _her_ request should have
induced me to send for you."

"But now I _am_ here," said Ellen, "surely you will allow me to stay; I
may be of use to you; of comfort to dear dear Juliet."

In vain she urged. Laura sacrificed all selfish considerations, and
insisted on her returning home, promising to send to her should Juliet
wish to see her again; and St. Aubyn, anxious for her, now sent to
request his wife would come: she therefore embraced her friend, and
looking once more on the departing saint, who now again lay heavily
dozing, she lifted up her hands and eyes to heaven, and, with another
shower of tears, left the room.

St. Aubyn was rejoiced to find her disposed to accompany him home,
though she complained bitterly that Laura would not let her stay.

"Laura," said he, "judges as she always does, wisely, and acts kindly:
you could be of no real service, and your being here would be highly
improper; you must not think of it."

Two days of the greatest anxiety now passed, and at the end of that time
the fair and lovely Juliet breathed no more: her last moments were
attended by consolation so powerful, and hopes so celestial, as might
well have taught the worldly "how a Christian could die!"

For many days Laura was confined to her bed, and it was feared she would
follow her sister to the grave; but by degrees she shook off the excess
of her sorrow, and for her father's sake endeavoured to recover from the
dreadful shock she had received.

Sir William Cecil, who had long been convinced that Juliet would not
live many months, was more easily consoled. The St. Aubyns of course had
delayed their journey to London on this event; and finding that Sir
William Cecil was disposed to make an excursion to Bath, which his gouty
habit indeed rendered almost necessary, they endeavoured to prevail on
Laura to come to them at St. Aubyn Castle for a short time, and then go
with them to London. From this proposal, especially the latter part, she
for some time shrunk, and wished to be allowed to remain at Rose-hill
alone: but that her friends would not permit: and Sir William having
arranged to go to Bath at the same time with a neighbouring family, and
to be in the same house with them, Laura was at length prevailed on to
remove to the Castle, and from thence, after a short stay, to accompany
her friends to London, where they promised her an apartment exclusively
her own, and that she should see no other till she herself wished it.

"Yet why," said she, "my dearest Lady St. Aubyn, why should I burden you
with one so powerless to add to your comforts, or partake your
pleasures?"

"Is not that an unkind question?" said Ellen; "or do you really believe
me insensible to the gratification of soothing your mind, and supporting
your spirits? Whenever you will permit me, I will be your visitor in
your apartment; whenever my company would be irksome, I will leave you
to yourself, provided I do not find you the worse for the indulgence."

All was therefore thus arranged, and Miss Cecil, Lord and Lady St. Aubyn
in one carriage, and Miss Cecil's maid, and Ellen's talkative but
faithful Jane, in another, with out riders, &c. in great style left
Northamptonshire, and arrived the next evening at the Earl's magnificent
house in Cavendish-square.--Lady St. Aubyn's first care was to select
such an apartment for the mournful Laura as would make her easy, and
free from restraint; and having conducted her to it, she told her she
was entirely mistress there, and never should be interrupted unless she
chose it.

Ellen, who had made several little attempts in verse since she had seen
those of Miss Cecil, now soothed her sorrow for the loss of the sweet
Juliet by a few stanzas, which, when she thought her able to bear them,
she gave to Laura, who was gratified by this little tribute to her
loved, lamented sister's memory.


  ELEGIAC STANZAS.

  How mourns the heart, when early fades away
    The opening promise of a riper bloom;
  When youth and beauty, innocently gay,
    Sink in the silent ruin of the tomb!

  Oh, thou pure spirit! which in life's fair dawn,
    Arose superior to that childish frame,
  (Fair tho' it was) from which thou art withdrawn,
    To that bright Heaven from whence thy beauty came.

  Sweet Juliet! happily releas'd from care,
    Which future years perhaps had bade the prove;
  A heart so tender, and a form so fair,
    Ill with the perils of the world had strove!

  Thy heart expanding at affection's voice,
    How had it borne in native kindness warm,
  To check the rapid fire of youthful choice,
    And dread deceit beneath the loveliest form!

  To thee were graces so benignly given,
    A soul so tender, and a wit so rare;
  A love of harmony, as if kind Heaven
    Had bade thee for an early bliss prepare.

  Long shall the heart which lov'd thy dawning grace,
    The pensive mem'ry of each charm retain;
  Thy winning manners studiously retrace,
    And dwell anew on each harmonious strain.

  Nor shall that heart to present scenes confine
    Its views and wishes; but with worthier care,
  Seek to preserve an innocence like thine,
    And humbly hope thy happiness to share.



CHAP. IV.

  To such how fair appears each grain of sand,
  Or humblest weed as wrought by nature's hand!
  A shell, or stone, he can with pleasure view.--
  ----See with what art each curious shell is made:
  Here carved in fret-work, there with pearl inlaid!
  What vivid th' enamel'd stones adorn,
  Fair as the paintings of the purple morn!

                                                      S. JENYNS.


The arrival of the St. Aubyns in London opened a wide field for
conjecture and conversation in the fashionable world. It was known, for
St. Aubyn's haughty relations had not failed to publish it, that he had
married a young woman far inferior to him in rank, and absolutely
without fortune. It was also known that she was uncommonly beautiful;
and great anxiety, mixed with no small share of ridicule, was excited by
her expected _debut_; but the modest Ellen was in no haste to afford the
starers and sneerers so rich a treat: she merely went to a few morning
exhibitions, attended only by her Lord, for the first fortnight of her
stay in town; and indeed St. Aubyn hoped, notwithstanding her present
distance and displeasure, to induce his aunt, Lady Juliana Mordaunt, to
chaperon Ellen to some of the public places, being fully sensible what
an advantage it would be to her to be so supported: he therefore
acquiesced in her wishes, till he could bring about this desirable
arrangement, and allowed his wife to spend most of her evenings at home.

Several ladies had however called on Lady St. Aubyn, some of whom had
left their cards, and others she had seen. Most of these visits she had
returned; but one of those, who had shewn the greatest desire to see
more of Lady St. Aubyn--indeed, a distant relation of the Earl's, she
had not been yet to see.

One morning Lord St. Aubyn said he would go with her to see the museum
of an old friend of his, who lived at Knightsbridge, who was a great
collector of every thing rare and curious, particularly shells,
pictures, and gems. "He is quite a character," added he: "but I will not
anticipate your surprize: we can go there early. I told him we would go
to-day, or to-morrow; and after we have been there, you can call on Lady
Meredith, who gave herself a trouble so extraordinary, as actually to
alight from her carriage and make you a personal visit."

"You will go with me?"

"Pardon me, my love, that is not necessary, and you really must learn to
_go alone_, and not depend so much on me."

"I hope her Ladyship may not be at home."

"Indeed, my love, I hope she may; for dissimilar as they are in every
respect, my aunt, Lady Juliana, spends a great deal of her time there.
She is so fond of finding fault, and differing in opinion from others,
that I really believe she goes to Lady Meredith's chiefly for the
pleasure of lecturing her, who is so indifferent to the opinion of any
one, that she does not think it worth while to be at the trouble of
resenting the sharp things Lady Juliana says to her."

"What a strange motive for being intimate with any one."

"Strange enough: but when you see more of the world, you will discern
that affection is not the only bond of union between those who call
themselves friends."

"I think I have seen that already in Mrs. Dawkins and Miss Alton."

"True: convenience, the wish of finding a patient _hearer_, accident,
the want of a more pleasing companion, are amongst the numerous
inducements which form what we are pleased to call friendship. Nay, I
once heard a good lady say she was sure a family she mentioned had
proved themselves _real friends_ to her, for they had sent her a _large
plumcake_[A]."

    [A] A fact.

Ellen laughed at this curious definition of friendship.

"Well," said St. Aubyn: "but to return to Lady Meredith. I hope she may,
by reporting well of you to Lady Juliana, induce her to become more
friendly towards us: you know how anxious I am to have you in her good
graces--not, believe me, on account of her immense fortune, but because,
with all her pride and stiffness, she has a warm heart and excellent
qualities, and would be to you a most valuable friend; so pray do your
best to please Lady Meredith."

"Very well: but will you tell me the most likely way to succeed?"

"I am afraid it will be difficult: she will think you too handsome,
unless indeed she intends soon to have a large party."

"How is it possible _that_ should have any thing to do with the matter?"

"Why, Lady Meredith's great ambition is to outshine all her competitors
in the number and fashion of those collected at her routes; and as
sometimes, in spite of her charms, and the lustre of her abundant
jewels, there are some obstinate animals who will be uncivil enough to
recollect they '_have seen them before_,' consequently become rather
weary of them, and desert her for some newer belle. Lady Meredith may
think you (so new to the world, and so beautiful) a desirable
reinforcement, and may therefore honour you with an invitation: pray
accept it, if she does, and take great pains at your toilette to-day:
for my friend, Mr. Dorrington, is a great admirer of beauty, and will
shew you his fine collection a great deal more readily if he admire
your's, particularly if he should fancy you like a bust he has of the
_bona Dea_ (at least he gives it that name, though it is so mutilated,
he confesses he does not exactly know for what or whom it was designed),
which he almost idolizes."

Ellen hastened to obey, but she wished herself at Castle St. Aubyn, for
she had not liked the little she had seen of Lady Meredith, and she
shrunk from the idea of this formidable morning visit. Conquering her
fears, however, as well as she could, and looking uncommonly beautiful,
she rejoined her Lord. Her milliner had just sent home a most elegant
and expensive morning dress, bonnet, and cloak, all of the finest
materials, and in that delicate modest style, which she always chose,
and was to her peculiarly becoming. St. Aubyn thought he had never seen
her look so well, and gave great credit to Madame de ---- for consulting
so admirably the natural style of her beauty, as to embellish, without
overloading it. The barouche was at the door: she had therefore only
time to say "farewell" to Laura, and stepping hastily in, half an hour
brought them to Mr. Dorrington's.

As the carriage stopt at the house, the figure of a fine old man with
grey hair caught the eye of Lady St. Aubyn: he was at the instant
ascending the steps to knock at the door, and was so meanly dressed,
that she supposed him a mendicant, or at least extremely poor, and her
ready hand sought her purse, intending to give relief to the infirm
looking old man. What then was her surprize, when, just as she stretched
out her hand for that purpose, the old man, looking into the carriage,
and seeing Lord St. Aubyn, advanced, and taking off his hat with the
most courtly air imaginable, displayed a fine commanding forehead,
expressive eyes, and a contour of countenance so admirable, as, once
seen, could never be forgotten.

"Ah! my dear St. Aubyn," he exclaimed, "how rejoiced I am to see you! I
am really happy that I returned in time to receive you: as you did not
say positively you would come to-day, it was all a chance; but come, do
me the favour to alight: I have just succeeded in making the finest
purchase--a shell, a unique: you shall see it."

By this time St. Aubyn had alighted, and giving his hand to Ellen,
introduced her to this extraordinary man. Nothing could be more polished
than his address, nothing more elegant than the grace with which he
received her, or more spirited than the little compliment he made St.
Aubyn on his happiness, and the beauty of his lady.

Whoever looked at Mr. Dorrington, when his shabby old hat was removed,
must instantly see the man of sense and superior information: whoever
heard him speak, heard instantly that it was the voice and enunciation
not only of a gentleman, but of one who had lived in the very highest
circles; and yet his appearance, at first, would have led any one to
suppose him, as Ellen did, in absolute poverty. He led the way into his
favourite apartment, indeed the only one he ever inhabited, except his
bed-chamber; and into neither would he ever suffer any one to enter
unless he was with them. No broom, nor brush of any kind, ever disturbed
the sacred dust of this hallowed retirement: in the grate, the
accumulated ashes of _many months_ remained; the windows were dimmed
with the untouched dirt of years: and nothing but the table on which his
slender meals were spread (for his temperance in eating and drinking
were as remarkable as his singular neglect of personal attire), and two
or three chairs for the reception of occasional visitors, were ever
wiped. In one of these he seated the astonished Ellen, who gazed around
her at treasures, the value of which exceeded her utmost guess. A
handsome cabinet with glass doors contained a variety of curious gems,
vases, and specimens of minerals: some invaluable pictures stood leaning
against the walls: heaps of books in rich bindings, which Ellen
afterwards found were either remarkable for their scarceness, or full of
fine prints, lay scattered around.

"Now, my Lord," said Mr. Dorrington, "I will shew you and Lady St. Aubyn
my new purchase: I said it was unique, but it is not exactly so: I have
another of the same sort; but these are the only two in the world: I
think this is a little, a very little finer than that I had before; I
bought it at ****'s sale, and gave a monstrous price for it; but I was
determined to have it: it was the only thing in his collection I
coveted."

He then displayed his new purchase, and descanted for some time on its
various beauties; and seeing Ellen really admired it, pleased also with
her beauty and sweetness, he proceeded to shew her his collection, and
even those rare articles which never appeared but to particular
favourites, saying she was "_worthy to admire them_." Some beautiful
miniatures particularly pleased her, and he was delighted that she
seemed to understand their value. He also produced some fine illuminated
missals, and explained every thing with so much grace and perspicuity as
quite delighted her.

Two hours fled swiftly in examining these wonders, and even then they
had not seen half, but promised to visit him another day. He told Lady
St. Aubyn he should be at her command at any time; and then most
politely attending her to her carriage, he with a courteous bow took his
leave.

On their way home, St. Aubyn told Ellen that the extraordinary man they
had just left had for many years led a life of dissipation, by which he
reduced a large fortune almost to nothing; but that having once, in
consequence of his extravagance, been obliged to sell a collection
still finer than that he now had, he had determined to gratify his
passion for _virtu_, without the risk of again ruining himself, and
therefore denied himself every thing but the bare necessaries of life;
and was, consequently, enabled to purchase rare articles at any price,
and to outbid other collectors, who had different demands on part of
their incomes. He kept no man, and but one female servant; and St. Aubyn
said, that when he had called on him a few days before, he found him in
a storm of rage with this poor servant-girl, for having dared, while he
was engaged with some company in his sitting-room, to brush out his
bed-chamber, in the door of which he had, _par miracle_, left the
key.--"And I am sure, Sir," said the girl, crying, "I never touched
nothing but that great wooden man" (meaning a layman which always stands
in Mr. Dorrington's room), "that's enough to frighten a body; and he I
only just moved, for master never won't have nothing like other people;
and I thought if he brought the gentlefolks in his bed-room, as he
sometimes will, it was a shame to see such a place, and such a dirty
table cover; so I was only just going to make it a little tidy, and I
never broke nothing at all."

"I comforted the poor girl," said St. Aubyn, "by giving her a trifle,
and advised her by no means to provoke her master, by presuming to touch
a brush in his rooms again without order: and she promised me she would
in future be contented with cleaning her own kitchen and passages--'And
never touch nothing belonging to master's rooms, nor any of them
outlandish things, that be all full of dust, and enough to breed moths
and all manner of flies all over the house.'----And I think," said he,
laughing, "she appears to have kept her promise very exactly."



CHAP. V.

  ---- So perfumed, that
  The winds were love-sick with it.
  ---- She did lie
  In her pavilion, cloth of gold.

                                           ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.


Lady St. Aubyn set down the Earl in Cavendish Square, and proceeded
alone to the house of Lady Meredith in Portland Place. A carriage which
appeared to be in waiting drove from the door to make way for her's, by
which Ellen guessed Lady Meredith had company. To the inquiry whether
her Ladyship were at home, she was answered in the affirmative, and
requested to walk up stairs. Ellen was now tolerably well accustomed to
magnificent houses; but there was something in the style of this
different from any thing she had yet seen: the hall was not only warmed
by superb stoves, but bronze figures, nearly as large as life, stood in
different attitudes in every corner, and all bearing censers or urns, in
which costly aromatics perpetually burnt, diffusing around a rich but
almost overpowering perfume. As she ascended the staircase she found
every possible recess filled with baskets, vases, &c. full of the most
rare and expensive exotics, which bloomed even amidst the cold winds of
March, with nearly as much luxuriance as they would have done in their
native climes; for every part of this mansion was kept in a regular
degree of heat by flues passing through the walls and beneath the floors
communicating with fires, which were not visible: when, on the other
hand, the weather became warm, the cambric sun-blinds at every window
were kept perpetually moistened with odoriferous waters, by two black
servants, whose whole employment it was to attend to this branch of
luxury; indeed, to luxury alone the whole mansion appeared to be
dedicated. The floors were not merely covered, but carpetted with
materials, whose softness and elasticity seemed produced by a mixture of
silk and down: the sofas, ottomans, &c. were not merely stuffed, but
every one had piles of cushions appertaining to it, filled with
eider-down, and covered with the richest silks or velvets. To the
presiding goddess of this superb temple Lady St. Aubyn was presently
introduced. In her boudoir Lady Meredith sat, or rather lay, not on a
chair or sofa, but on piles of cushions, covered with the finest painted
velvet. Her majestic, though somewhat large figure, appeared to great
advantage in the studied half-dress in which she now appeared; yet there
was something in her attitude, in the disposal of her drapery, from
which the modest eye of Ellen was involuntarily averted. Her dress was
of the finest and whitest muslin that India ever produced, and clung
around her so closely as fully to display the perfect symmetry of her
form: the sleeves were full, and so short, they scarcely descended below
the shoulder, which not the slightest veil shaded from the beholder's
gaze, while the delicate arms thus exposed were decorated with rows of
what she called undress pearls: they were of an extraordinary size and
beauty, and were formed into armlets and bracelets of fanciful but
elegant fashion: two or three strings, and a large Maltese cross of the
same, were the only covering of her fair bosom, and a few were twisted
loosely amongst her dark but glossy and luxuriant hair. At her feet sat
a lovely little girl about four years old, with a low hassock before
her, on which she was displaying the contents of one of mamma's caskets
of jewels, as well amused as the great Potemkin himself could have been
by arranging his diamonds in different figures on black velvet; a
favourite entertainment of that extraordinary man.

On one side of Lady Meredith sat a gay young officer in the uniform of
the guards, and on the other a stiff formal looking old lady in a dress
somewhat old fashioned, but more remarkable for being excessively neat
and prim: she had a sour contemptuous look, and her stays and whole
figure had the stiff appearance of a portrait of the last century. She
levelled her eye-glass at Ellen, as she followed the servant who
announced her into the room, and with an emphatic _humph!_ (not unlike
poor Mrs. Ross's) let it fall again as if perfectly satisfied with one
look, and not feeling any wish to repeat it; yet repeat it she did,
again and again, and, as if the review displeased or agitated her, her
countenance became still more and more sour. In the meantime Lady
Meredith half rose from her cushions, and holding out her hand,
languidly said:--

"My dear Lady St. Aubyn, how good you are to come and see me! I am
delighted I happened to be at home. Andrew," (to the servant, who,
having placed a chair, was retiring) "don't give Lady St. Aubyn that
shocking chair: bring a heap of those cushions and arrange them like
mine: do rest on them, my dear creature; you must be fatigued to death."

"Excuse me," said Ellen, smiling with modest grace; "I am not accustomed
to such a luxurious seat, and prefer a chair."

"Do you really? Is it possible!" exclaimed the languishing Lady, sinking
back again as if the exertion of speaking had been too much for her.
"Well, I should absolutely die in twelve hours if I might not be
indulged in this delicious mode of reposing."

"Nonsense!" said the stiff old lady, in no very conciliating tone; "how
can you be so ridiculous: pray how do you manage when you sit six or
eight hours at pharo, or go to the Opera--you have none of those silly
things there?"

"Oh, as to pharo, dear delightful pharo, that keeps me alive, prevents
my feeling fatigued even when my unfortunate feet cannot command so much
as a poor little footstool; and as to the Opera, I wonder your Ladyship
asks, for you know very well, my box, and the cushions belonging to it,
are stuffed with eider-down, like these," and she sunk still more
indolently on her yielding supporters. "Apropos of the Opera," added
she; "have you obtained a box there, Lady St. Aubyn?"

"No," replied Ellen: "Lord St. Aubyn had one offered to him, but as it
is so late in the season, and our stay in town will not be long, I
begged him to decline it."

Lady Meredith here exchanged a smile of contempt with the officer, which
seemed to say "how rustic that is!" then half yawning she said:--

"Oh, but indeed that was very wrong: what can a woman of fashion do
without a box at the Opera? I am sure, from all I have heard of the
former Lady St. Aubyn, for I had not the honour of knowing her, she
would not have lived a month in London without one."

"Very likely," said the old lady, "but for all that _I_ think _this
young person_ quite in the right, and as to the late Lady St. Aubyn, I
am sure _she_ was no pattern for any body, and I wonder, Lady Meredith,
you will name her in my hearing."

"I beg your Ladyship's pardon," replied Lady Meredith; "I forgot."

"Well, no matter; don't say any more."

To paint Ellen's surprize would be difficult: the odd epithet this
strange lady had applied to her, "_this young person_," the allusions to
the late countess, of whom she never heard without an indescribable sort
of emotion, and the suspicion she now entertained that her ungracious
neighbour was Lady Juliana Mordaunt, all conspired to overpower her;
and the heat of the apartment, the strong smell of perfumes from immense
China jars, with which the room was ornamented, completed it; in short,
though wholly unaccustomed to such sensations, she had nearly fainted.
The young officer, who had long been watching her interesting and lovely
countenance, saw her change colour, and said hastily:--

"The lady is ill."

"What's the matter, child?" said the old lady; and rising hastily, she
untied her bonnet and the strings of her mantle, which, falling aside,
discovered enough of her figure to render her situation obvious.

"So!" exclaimed the old lady; but whether the interjection expressed
surprize, pleasure, or what other sensation, was not easy to discover.
"Do, Colonel Lenox, exert yourself so much as to open the door and ring
for a glass of water: the air of this room is enough to kill any body."

"Pardon me," said Ellen, the colour returning to her cheeks and lips,
"I am sorry to give so much trouble; I am much better."

"That's well," said the old lady. By this time the water was brought;
Ellen drank some, and quite recovered, begged leave to ring for her
carriage.

"Don't go yet, child," said the old lady; "perhaps you may be ill
again."

"No: pray don't go yet," said Lady Meredith, who all this time had been
holding a smelling bottle to her own nose, affecting to be too much
overcome to do any thing for the relief of her visitor. "You have
frightened me enormously; stay a little to make me amends; besides, you
still tremble and look pale: are you subject to these faintings?"

"Not in the least," said Ellen. "I believe the heat of the room overcame
me."

"No wonder," said the old lady; "it is a perfect stove, and enough to
unstring the nerves of Hercules, especially when aided by the powerful
scent of those abominable jars."

"Oh, my dear sweet jars," cried Lady Meredith; "now positively you shall
not abuse them; any thing else you may find what fault you please with,
but my sweet jars I cannot give up:--have you ever read Anna Seward's
poetical recipe to make one?"

"Not I," replied her friend in an angry tone, "nor ever desire it; all
the poetry in the world should never induce me to fill my rooms with
such nonsense."

During this conversation, the little girl, who had tired herself with
looking at the jewels and trinkets, rose from her cushion, and said:--

"Pretty mamma, dress pretty Miranda in these," holding up some fine
emeralds.

"No indeed, child: go to Colonel Lenox, and ask him to adorn you; I
cannot take so much trouble."

"No, Miranda won't; Miranda go to pretty, sweet, beautiful lady;" and
she went to Ellen, who, admiring the lovely little creature, kissed her,
and indulged her by putting the shining ornaments round her little fair
neck and arms, and twisting some in the ringlets of her glossy hair.

"Now I beautiful," said the child, looking at herself. "Is not Miranda
pretty now, mamma?"

"Yes, my love, beautiful as an angel: come and kiss me, my darling."

The child, climbing up the load of cushions, laid her sweet little face
close to her mother's and kissed her.

"Is not she a beauty and a love?" said the injudicious mother to the
Colonel, clasping the little creature to her bosom, with an air more
theatrical than tender. He whispered something, in return to which she
replied with affected indignation, "Oh, you flattering wretch, _that_
she is, and a thousand times handsomer; but she will never know what[B]
her mother was, for before she is old enough to distinguish, I shall
either be dead or hideous, and then she will hate me." She heaved a deep
sigh, and looked distressed at the idea, which the child perceiving,
fondly twined her little arms round her mother's neck, and answered:--

"No, dear mamma, Miranda always love you, you so beautiful."

    [B] It is said that the once lovely Lady C----, when on her
        death-bed, lamented to a friend sitting by her, that her
        little boy, then in the room, _would never know what a
        beautiful creature his mother was_. "She feels the
        ruling passion strong in death!"

"See," said the old lady, "the effect of your lessons; you teach her to
love nothing but beauty, and if you were to lose your good looks, she
would of course cease to care any thing about you."

"Yes, that is exactly what I dread."

"Then why do you not endeavour to prevent it, by giving her more
reasonable notions? If she is led to suppose beauty and fine dress the
only claims to affection, if she is never taught that virtue and an
affectionate heart can alone ensure unfading esteem, she will grow up a
mere frivolous automaton, and probably throw herself away on the first
coxcomb with a handsome face and red coat she meets with."

The Colonel coloured, laughed, and bowed.

"Nay," said the old lady, "if you choose to apply the character to
yourself, with all my heart, settle it as you please; but, I suppose,
all red coats are not mere coxcombs."

Lady Meredith and the Colonel laughed, but did not appear entirely
pleased even with this half apology.

"Well, but," said Lady Meredith, "what, Ma'am, would you have me do with
Miranda? Can I prevent the child from observing that beauty is
universally admired?"

"That," said Colonel Lenox, with a bow, "would indeed be impossible
while with _you_."

The old lady shrugged up her shoulders, with a sour contemptuous frown,
and said:--"Then put her into a better school."

"A school!" replied Lady Meredith, half screaming; "what, would you have
me send the dear creature from me? No, my only darling, thou shalt never
leave me."

"Pshaw!" exclaimed the old lady, with even encreasing sourness; "well,
if fashion absolutely demands this _extraordinary_ degree of tenderness,
for very good mothers _have_ sent their children to school before now,
at least, do get the child a rational and sensible governess, and let
her employ herself in something better than admiring your jewels, or
even your beauty, all the morning.--Ah! I wish," said she, turning
abruptly to Ellen, "I wish she had such an instructress as _your Miss
Cecil_."

Ellen's surprise at this sudden address from one with whom not even the
ceremony of introduction had passed, yet who seemed to know her and all
her concerns so well, almost deprived her of the power to reply; she
rallied her spirits, however, and said, that any mother might think half
her fortune well bestowed, could it purchase such a preceptress: "But,"
added she, "such excellent qualities as Miss Cecil possesses, are rarely
to be met with in any rank of life: my experience of character has,
indeed, been very limited, but Lord St. Aubyn says, for elegance of
manners, sweetness of temper, and strength of mind, her equal will
hardly ever be found."

The blended modesty and spirit with which she spoke appeared to please
the old lady, who, with an approving nod, again took up her eye-glass,
and viewed Lady St. Aubyn from head to foot, though she saw that the
steadfast gaze embarrassed and covered her with blushes.

Lady Meredith said something to the old lady in so low a tone, that the
word "introduce" was alone audible, to which she replied with some
tartness: "No, I can introduce myself."

Ellen now once more rose to depart, and Lady Meredith detained her
another minute, to mention a large party she intended having in about
three weeks, for which she said she should send Lady St. Aubyn a ticket;
and requested her to tell St. Aubyn he might come also, "For I hear,"
she said, "you always are seen together."

"So much the better," muttered the old lady, who seemed, however, to be
speaking aside, so no one took any notice of her. She rose when Ellen
left the room, and returned her graceful courtesy with a not ungracious
bend, and bade her good morning with an air more conciliating than she
had shewn on her entrance.

On relating the particulars of this visit to her Lord, Lady St. Aubyn
found there was no doubt the old lady she had seen was Lady Juliana
Mordaunt: he made her repeat the conversation that had passed, and when
she told him that the old lady had made use of the disrespectful term,
"_this young person_," in speaking of her, he coloured excessively, and
execrating his aunt's pride and impertinence, told his wife she ought to
have quitted the room immediately. He smiled when Ellen mentioned Lady
Juliana's attention and kindness on her fainting, and said, "That is so
like her: her warm heart thaws the ice of her manners when she sees any
one ill or distrest."

When Ellen repeated the mention which had been made in the course of
conversation of the late Lady St. Aubyn, he changed colour, and said,
"Well, Ellen, were you not surprized? You did not, I believe, know--you
never heard I had been married before."

"Pardon me, my Lord, I was previously acquainted with that
circumstance."

"You knew it!--from whom? Where did you hear it?"

"From Miss Cecil, from Miss Alton, accidentally."

"And were they not astonished you had not heard it before?"

"I had heard it before from Mrs. Bayfield, the day after we went to
Castle St. Aubyn."

"From Mrs. Bayfield--she told you of it?--She told you--What, Ellen, did
she tell you more?"

"Nothing, my Lord, but that your lady was young and beautiful, and died
abroad."

"And why did you never mention the subject before? Why this reserve, my
love?"

"Because I thought as you never told me of it yourself, you would rather
the subject were not mentioned."

"Dear creature!" said St. Aubyn, sighing. "I have always had reason to
admire the excellence of your judgment and the delicacy of your
sentiments. Believe me, Ellen, I withhold from you only those things
which I think will give you pain to know. Our acquaintance commenced
under such singular circumstances, that I had hardly opportunity to tell
you this before we were married, and in fact, that name, that
recollection is so hateful to me, is connected with so many painful
ideas, that I cannot bear to recall, to dwell upon it! Why that tear, my
love--are you dissatisfied with me?"

"No, dearest St. Aubyn: whatever you do, appears to me wisest and best
to be done--but I was pitying--I was thinking----"

"Whom were you pitying?--Of what was my Ellen thinking?"

"Pitying a woman, who, having once possessed your love, lost it so
entirely, as to render her very name unpleasant to you. Thinking--ah,
heaven!--thinking--should such ever be _my_ lot!"

She paused, struggling with a sudden gush of tears, and sobs which
almost choaked her.

"Impossible, impossible!" exclaimed St. Aubyn, clasping her to his
bosom: "you will never deserve it, never bring disgrace and dishonour on
my name, and blast with misery the most acute, the best years of my
life!--Agitate not yourself, my best love, with these frightful ideas.
Ah, had the hapless Rosolia been like thee!--but oh! how different were
her thoughts and actions!----No more of this, compose yourself, my love,
and tell me what more passed with this strange proud woman."

After a few moments, Ellen recovered enough to repeat the remainder of
the conversation, with the result of which he appeared very well
pleased, and prophesied from the latter part of it they should soon be
on good terms with Lady Juliana Mordaunt, an event for which he appeared
so anxious, that Ellen could not fail to wish it also; and, indeed, that
lady's good sense and just sentiments had made a very favourable
impression on her mind, though her manners were so sour and repulsive.

This day Miss Cecil dined with her amiable friends, as they had no other
company; indeed, except by a few gentlemen, their dinner hour had
generally passed uninterrupted, Ellen not being yet sufficiently
acquainted with any ladies to mix with them in dinner parties. The
report of St. Aubyn's male friends had, however, been so favourable
towards her, as to incline Lady Meredith to wish a more intimate
acquaintance, and to attract so much youth, beauty, and grace to her
evening parties, while Lady Juliana was pleased to hear that she
possessed qualities in her eyes far superior, namely, modesty, talents,
and a demeanor towards her husband equally delicate and affectionate.

After dinner, St. Aubyn having some engagement, left the fair friends
alone, and they enjoyed a long and confidential conversation.

From Laura, Lady St. Aubyn learnt that Lady Juliana was well known to
her, and that in spite of her austere and forbidden manners, and the
pleasure she undoubtedly took in contradicting almost every thing she
heard, she was yet a woman of good sense, and would most certainly,
could her esteem be once engaged, prove to Ellen a steady and valuable
friend: "Especially," added Laura, "should any thing happen to Lord St.
Aubyn, for she is his only near relation to whom he could confide the
future interests, either of his wife or child; and young and beautiful
as you are, my dear Ellen, no doubt St. Aubyn thinks such an additional
support would be highly desirable for you." Seeing she was deeply
affected, for Ellen now believed she could discern the cause of St.
Aubyn's anxiety for her being on good terms with his aunt, and connected
it with the painful circumstances he had told her were hanging over him,
Laura now added, with a pensive smile, "Nay, my dear friend, do not be
distressed. I have of late thought so much of mortality, I was not
sensible how much you would be pained by the suggestion; but certainly,
St. Aubyn will not leave you a moment the sooner for my hinting the
possibility of such an event."

Ellen endeavoured to shake off the painful ideas which forced themselves
upon her, and asked Miss Cecil if she had known much of the former
Countess. "Not very much," said Laura: "she was very handsome, but the
character of her beauty was so different from yours, that I have often
wondered how St. Aubyn came to _choose_ two so different; though,
indeed, I believe I should hardly say choose, for Lady Rosolia de
Montfort was not so much his choice as that of his relations--at least,
I believe he would never have thought of her as a wife if they had not."

"Who was she? Do tell me a little about her: I am quite a stranger to
all particulars."

"I know little more than I have told you, except that she was the only
daughter of the late Earl de Montfort, a distant relation of Lord St.
Aubyn's. Lord de Montfort, during the life of his elder brother, went to
Spain in a diplomatic situation, and there married the daughter of the
Duke de Castel Nuovo: this marriage with an English protestant, was, for
a long time, opposed by the lady's relations: but, at length, moved by
fear and compassion for her, whose attachment threw her into a lingering
disease, which threatened her existence, they consented on one
condition, namely, that the sons of the marriage should be educated
Roman Catholics, and on the death of their father, be placed with their
maternal grandfather, while they permitted the daughters to be brought
up in the Protestant religion, hoping, perhaps, that the influence of a
mother over females might ultimately bring them also over to her faith:
but the Countess died young: one son and one daughter were her only
children, the boy some years younger than his sister: they both remained
with their father (who soon after his marriage became Earl de Montfort),
sometimes in Spain, sometimes in England, till the marriage of Lady
Rosolia with Lord St. Aubyn, though she was frequently his mother's
guest, both in London and at St. Aubyn Castle, where the young Edmund
also often spent some time: he was a very fine and amiable boy, and
excessively attached to his sister.

When Lord de Montfort died, the son was claimed by his maternal
grandfather, and Lord and Lady St. Aubyn went to Spain with him, where
she died: report spoke unfavourably of her conduct during her abode on
the Continent; indeed, in England, the gaiety of her manners, especially
after the death of Lord St. Aubyn's mother, approached more nearly to
the habits of foreign ladies than those of England. It was said, that
while abroad, Lord St. Aubyn was involved in many unpleasant
circumstances by her behaviour: certain it is, that on his return, he
appeared overwhelmed with melancholy, which was the more extraordinary,
as it was well known they had not lived on very affectionate terms even
before they had quitted this country."

"And what became of her brother: where is the young Lord de Montfort?"
asked Ellen. "He has remained ever since in Spain," replied Laura; "but
as he will very soon be of age, he must then, I suppose, return to
England to take possession of his estates, of which Lord St. Aubyn is
the guardian."

"Oh," thought Ellen, "is it to his return St. Aubyn looks with so much
apprehension and dismay? What! O! what is the strange mystery in which
this story seems to be involved?"



CHAP. VI.

  "Within 'twas brilliant all, and light,
  A thronging scene of figures bright:
  It glowed on Ellen's dazzled sight,
  As when the setting sun has given
  Ten thousand hues to summer's even;
  And from their tissue fancy frames,
  Ærial knights and fairy dames."

                                               LADY OF THE LAKE.


The next morning, Ellen, who felt a little fatigued from the various
circumstances of the day before, some of which had considerably agitated
her spirits, declined going out; and after breakfast retired to her own
dressing-room; Laura, at the same time, going to her's, having letters
to write to her father and some other friends.

Lady St. Aubyn was soon surrounded by her favourite books, some maps, a
drawing she was finishing, and all those resources with which she now
knew so well how to fill up her time. In one corner stood an elegant
harp, on which Ellen had been taking lessons, and had made a
considerable proficiency; in another sat her faithful Jane busy at her
needle, at which she was very expert; and Ellen detesting to see any one
idle, kept her generally employed either in fine work, or making linen
for the poor, to seek out, and relieve whom, was one branch of Jane's
business. A simple, though graceful taste, regulated the ornaments and
furniture of this favourite retirement; no velvet cushions, no
overwhelming perfumes, were met with here; all was elegant, but all was
modest, and generally useful: a small bookcase, a porte-feuille, a
netting box, shewed that its inhabitant loved to be employed.

By a cheerful fire this fair inhabitant was now seated: the modesty of
her demeanor, the delicacy of her dress, were such as suited one, who,
though young, and even girlish, was a wife, and likely to be a mother;
the toût-ensemble, in short, was a perfect contrast to the figure,
dress, and apartment of the luxurious Lady Meredith. A complete silence
prevailed (for Jane had learned when her lady chose, which as now was
sometimes the case, to have her in her apartment, to be quiet), and had
lasted at least half an hour, when a step was heard in the anti-room;
and a footman knocking at the door, Jane opened it, and the servant
requested her to tell her lady that----A voice behind interrupted him,
by saying, "You need not trouble yourself, Sir; I know my way, and shall
announce myself." Ellen rose, and looked surprised, for visitors were
never shewn to this room: still more was she amazed when she saw the
sharp countenance and stiff figure of the old lady she now supposed to
be Lady Juliana Mordaunt, who, pushing by the man, gave him one of her
express nods, and said, "You may go, Sir."--She then advanced, and
seeing Jane, who rose and stared at this extraordinary visitant, she
said, with another nod to Ellen, "So, you make your maid work at her
needle: I am glad of it; but send her away now, for I want to talk to
you." Ellen seeing that Jane hesitated to leave her with this stranger,
whom the poor girl began to believe was deranged, told her to go to her
own room, and she, gathering up her work, very readily obeyed; though
she went to the housekeeper and told her she thought they had better
both go and stay in the anti-room, for she really believed a mad-woman
was gone into her Lady's dressing-room. "Nonsense!" said the
housekeeper: "I saw the lady go up: it is my Lord's aunt, Lady Juliana."
This intelligence quieted Jane, who really was under some fears for
Ellen, to whom she was become tenderly attached.

In the meantime, Lady Juliana seeing that Ellen continued standing,
said--"Sit down, child, and don't be frightened." Ellen gladly obeyed,
for she could not help feeling a little agitated by Lady Juliana's
strange mode of visiting.

The old lady looked round the room, and after a moment's pause,
said--"Why, you are an unfashionable young woman, I see; work, books,
maps, and the furniture remaining nearly as it was seven years ago!
What, has nobody told you, child, the whole house ought to be new
furnished?"

"Indeed, Ma'am, if they had, I should have paid no attention to them,"
said Ellen. "I must, indeed, be a strange ungrateful creature, if the
magnificent furniture of this house was not more than equal to my
wishes."

"So much the better, I am glad of it," returned Lady Juliana.--"Do you
know me?" she added, turning in her usual abrupt manner to Ellen.

"I believe--I think I can guess."

"Oh, I suppose you told St. Aubyn you had met with a cross,
disagreeable old woman at Lady Meredith's, and he told you it must have
been his aunt, Lady Juliana Mordaunt."

"Indeed, Madam," said Ellen, blushing a little at a statement so near
the truth.

"Nay, don't tell lies, child," bluntly replied the old lady. "I hate
flattery; besides, your countenance won't let you. I know what I am,
which is more than every body can say. And do you generally spend your
mornings in this manner?"

"Generally, unless my Lord wishes me to go any where with him."

"And what do you do in the evening?"

"Lord St. Aubyn, Miss Cecil, and myself, sit together: we net or work,
while he reads to us, unless Miss Cecil is sufficiently in spirits to
give us some music."

"And have you no idea, child, how ridiculous the fashionable people
think all this?"

"I am sorry for it."

"But will you persist in the same plan?" Ellen smiled.

"And do you mean to go on in this way all the time you are in town?"

"Not exactly perhaps. I am to see a little more of the public places;
but my Lord wished me to wait till----"

"Till what? You may as well tell me, for I see you have an old-fashioned
way of speaking your thoughts."

"It is true, your Ladyship sees in me one so little accustomed to the
habits of the great world, that I have not yet learned to dissemble:
will you permit me to say, and not be displeased, that Lord St. Aubyn
anxiously wished to procure a chaperon, whose sanction should be
unexceptionable--in short, Lady Juliana Mordaunt."

"I believe you are a little flatterer after all," said Lady Juliana,
relaxing into a smile. "With all your talk of sincerity, I hardly
believe St. Aubyn thought of me at all; and how, if he did, he could
fancy I should ever get the better of the shock he gave my pride, call
it prejudice if you will, by marrying _you_--for I love plain-dealing,
child. I don't know but it is all over now--I like you; and if you will
continue as modest and unaffected as you are now, keep your neck and
arms covered, and bring your Lord an heir, that these de Montforts may
not succeed to his title, I will love you, and do all I can to assist
and support you."

Seeing that Ellen blushed at the last hint, she added,--"Nay, you need
not blush, though I like to see you can: for I promise you, it was
observing the probability of such an event that did more to reconcile me
to you than all your beauty and merit could have done; so take care of
yourself, and don't disappoint me; and now, my dear, kiss me, and call
me _aunt_ whenever you please."

Ellen modestly and gracefully bent to receive the old Lady's embrace,
and at that instant St. Aubyn opened the dressing-room door, and found
the two people he loved best in the world in each other's arms, with
tears of tenderness on the cheeks of both.

"What do I see!" he exclaimed.--"Is it possible!"

"Yes," said Lady Juliana, "it is very possible you see a foolish old
woman, who loves you too well not to love one so dear to you, and so
worthy of being loved."

St. Aubyn respectfully and affectionately kissed the hand she gave him,
and clasping Ellen in his arms, exclaimed, "My dearest Ellen, how happy
has all this made me!"

"Come, don't hurry her spirits with your raptures," said Lady Juliana.
"She is a good girl, and we shall be very happy together, I dare say.
But I find, Sir, you have been waiting for me, of all people, to
chaperon your Lady about to all the fine places: I have had enough of
them, and at my time of life I do not know any business I have at
operas, balls, and plays: however, to oblige you and _my niece_, I will
go wherever you wish me. I do not think she is one who will tire me to
death: I shall dine with you to-day, and if you choose to let one of
your people go to Drury-lane, and inquire if there are places, we may
hear the oratorio to-night."

Charmed with this speech, for St. Aubyn knew his aunt well enough to be
sure if she had not been thoroughly pleased with Ellen, she would
neither have called her niece, nor have staid to dine with them, he most
readily accepted the kind offer.

They dined rather earlier than usual, that they might be in time for the
opening of the oratorio, which Ellen was anxious to hear. Laura Cecil,
in compliment to Lady Juliana, dined with them, and was quite delighted
to see the affection, and even respect, with which she treated Lady St.
Aubyn: for Lady Juliana was not a person to do things by halves; and
having once conquered her own prejudices, was determined to give her
niece all the consequence in her power with every other person, and
would have been extremely angry with any one, who had dared to treat her
with half the contempt she herself had done the day before. Once a
friend, she was a friend for life, unless the object of her affections
proved really undeserving, and then she hated with as much warmth as she
had loved.

Miss Cecil could not be persuaded to go with them to the theatre; and
indeed Ellen was afterwards glad of it, for many of the songs were those
which the sainted Juliet used to sing with so much sweetness and
expression: and exquisitely as they were now performed, yet Ellen still
felt something wanting. The soul that used to animate the eyes of
Juliet, while she sung, was not there. The lips that had breathed those
sacred strains, were so pure, so hallowed, that all the wonders of voice
and science, now lavished for her entertainment, could not compensate to
Ellen's mind for the pang she felt in recollecting that those eyes,
those lips, were closed for ever.

    "Mute was the music of her tuneful breath,
  And quenched the radiance of her sparkling eyes."

After this evening, Ellen's engagements became more frequent; but she
was never seen in public, except with Lady Juliana, and seldom without
her Lord. In vain did fashion dictate, or ridicule assail: the sly
glance, the pointed sarcasm, alike were vain: she knew herself safe, her
reputation secure, with protectors so respectable; yet there was nothing
obtrusive or formal in St. Aubyn's attention to his lovely wife: he was
neither inseparable from her side, or incapable of attention to any
other lady, or expecting Ellen never to speak to any other gentleman.
But it was obvious, without being intrusive, that each was the first
object of the other, and that their mutual honour and happiness were the
most interesting care of both.

Hence no bold and disgusting flattery assailed the ears of Ellen; no
forward flirting woman dared dispute with her the heart of St. Aubyn; so
pure, so spotless was her character, that, raised as she had suddenly
been to a rank which might easily excite the envy of those who thought
they had a better claim to it, not even the bold license of the age we
live in had dared to breathe one syllable against her.

Thus passed the time till the latter end of April, which was the period
fixed for Lady Meredith's famous fête, about which all the great world
was going mad. The persons who were invited were expected to wear
masquerade dresses, and the house appeared in masquerade, as well as
the company. The whole had been new furnished in a fanciful style, and
at an enormous expence, for this one evening; and her Ladyship's own
dress was literally covered with jewels: she wore the habits and
ornaments of an eastern beauty, and her attire was exactly copied from
that Lady M. W. Montague describes for the fair Fatima, only, if
possible, still more rich and splendid; and, if possible, still more
calculated to display as well as to adorn the figure. No words can do
justice to the magnificence and splendour of the whole entertainment:
the Bow-street officers at the door, and Mr. G---- and his men serving
ices and other refreshments in a room fitted up to represent a casino at
Naples, with a panorama view of its beautiful bay, &c. gave it all the
characteristics of a modern fête; and the number of gay dresses, shining
decorations, lights, and music, made the whole appear to Ellen more like
a palace in a fairy tale than any thing "which the earth owns." She
wore a black domino, but with a very fine set of diamonds, which Lady
Juliana had given her the night before: amongst them was a sort of
coronet, or chaplet, set to represent sprigs of jessamine and small vine
leaves, in commemoration of that which St. Aubyn had woven of those
simple materials the day he discovered to her his real rank; for Lady
Juliana had heard the whole story, and was much pleased with that little
incident.

Their party consisted of Lord and Lady St. Aubyn, Lady Juliana, and Sir
Edward Leicester, a particular friend of St. Aubyn's, a very amiable
young man, who appeared much charmed with Laura Cecil, and paid her
great attention, whenever he had an opportunity of being with her. They
spent a very agreeable evening: it concluded with a splendid supper, at
which all the company appeared unmasked, and the super-eminence of Lady
St. Aubyn's beauty was allowed by all.

A few nights after this, Lord and Lady St. Aubyn, Lady Juliana, Lady
Meredith, and her favourite beau, Colonel Lenox, went to the Opera: the
entertainment for the evening happened to be the beautiful opera of
Artaserse. Ellen, lost in delight at the superb stage decorations, the
exquisite beauty of the music, and the interest of the story, which, by
the help of the action, and having read it in English, she understood
very well, was scarcely sensible of any thing around her, till the scene
in which Arbace is accused of the murder of the king. Turning then to
speak to St. Aubyn, who sat behind her, she saw him pale, agitated, and
trembling: "What is the matter?" asked she, in a voice of alarm; but
pressing his hand on her arm, he said, in a low voice, "Be silent--do
not notice me."

At that moment the voice of the singer, who performed Arbace, in the
most pathetic tone, breathed out, "Sono Innocente," to which Artaserse
replies:

  Ma l'apparenza O Arbace
  T'accusa ti condanna!

A stifled sigh, almost amounting to a groan, from St. Aubyn, met the ear
of Ellen. Recovering himself a little, he whispered--"Remember, Ellen,
_and I too am innocent_!"

In spite of the precaution with which he spoke, Lady Meredith turned,
and asked him if he were unwell.

"I have a violent head-ache," he replied, forcing himself to appear more
composed.

"You look pale, indeed, my Lord," returned Lady Meredith: "and Lady St.
Aubyn seems quite overcome with this pathetic scene."

She spoke of the opera, but a crimson flush spread over St. Aubyn's
face, and complaining of the intolerable heat, he rose, and went out of
the box.

"Bless me!" said Lady Juliana: "what is the matter?"

"Only Lord St. Aubyn complains of the head-ache," said Lady Meredith.

"Oh, I know what it is," answered Lady Juliana: "my nephew hates to be
disturbed when he is attending to music; and I suppose you, Lady
Meredith, have been talking to him, as you always do at the Opera."

Lady Meredith only laughed; and St. Aubyn returning soon after, nothing
more passed. When the opera was over, and St. Aubyn and Ellen were alone
in the carriage, he still appeared so restless and agitated, that Ellen
could not resist addressing to him a few words, indicative of curiosity,
if not of alarm. For a time he evaded her tender inquiries; but, at
length, grasping her hands with an action expressive of the utmost
emotion, he again repeated his former words: "Remember, Ellen, oh,
remember that I too am innocent!"

"I know it, I am sure of it," she returned: "but why thus confide by
halves? Why torture yourself and me by these mysterious hints?"

"Ah, why indeed!" said he: "I ought to have more command of myself: but
that scene--that fatal instrument of a horrid deed!--Appearances how
false, yet how convincing!"

"To me," she replied, "appearances are not and never shall be any thing,
when opposed to your single assertion, to my confidence in your
integrity."

"A thousand thousand thanks," he replied, "for the sweet assurance!
Soon, too soon, perhaps, you will be tried!"

"Demanding so much reliance, so much implicit _confidence_ from his
wife, under such _mysterious_ conduct, was St. Aubyn willing, if called
upon, to grant an equal share to her?"



CHAP. VII.

  Think'st thou I'll make a life of jealousy,
  To follow still the changes of the moon
  With fresh surmises?--No; to be once in doubt
  Is to be resolv'd----
    I'll see before I doubt; what I doubt prove.

                                                        OTHELLO.


After the scene at the Opera, which effectually destroyed her pleasure
there, Lady St. Aubyn felt for some days not at all disposed to enter
into the gay parties which were offered for her amusement: a gloom hung
over her, and she had a weight on her spirits, which in some degree
affected her health. Some one says, "A belief in _presentiment_ is the
favourite superstition of feeling minds;" and Ellen was certainly not
entirely free from it. Lady Juliana and Miss Cecil perceived the effect
without knowing the cause; and supposing it to be merely a temporary
indisposition, persuaded her to remain quietly at home for a day or two;
but finding the nervous sort of depression under which she laboured was
encreased by indulgence, they imagined a moderate share of amusement
might remove it; and prevailed on her to take places at Covent-Garden,
to see Mrs. Jordan in a favourite comedy.

Laura did not yet shew herself in public; Ellen therefore went to the
play with only St. Aubyn and Lady Juliana. They were joined there by two
or three gentlemen, and amongst them Sir Edward Leicester, who, between
the acts, made so many inquiries for Miss Cecil, and spoke so highly of
Lady St. Aubyn's "charming friend," as convinced her he took a deep
interest in all that concerned Laura. This gave real pleasure to Ellen,
who thought so well of Sir Edward, as to wish he might succeed in
rendering the prepossession mutual. They were all extremely well pleased
with the play. Who, indeed, that ever saw Mrs. Jordan act was
otherwise? And Lady Juliana was rejoiced to see Ellen quite as cheerful
as usual. They did not choose to stay the farce, and finding at the end
of the play the carriage was in waiting, left the box. Lady Juliana
being rather timid, and not very alert in getting into a carriage, St.
Aubyn gave her his arm, and requested Sir Edward would take care of Lady
St. Aubyn.

As they were crossing the lobby, a gentleman accidentally trod on
Ellen's train, and entangled it in his spur, by which she was detained
half a minute before it could be disengaged. He begged her pardon, and
passed on. St. Aubyn and his aunt not perceiving the circumstance, had
advanced some steps before the Countess and Sir Edward. At that moment
two or three young men pushed rather rudely by them; and Sir Edward
extending his hand, said, "Take care, gentlemen, you incommode the
lady."

One of them turned round, and looking in Ellen's face, exclaimed:

"By heaven 'tis she! 'tis Ellen Powis!"

Lady St. Aubyn starting at the name, cast her eyes upon him, and
instantly recognized Charles Ross: but before she could speak to him, as
she was preparing to do in a friendly manner, he stamped violently, and
with a countenance where the utmost rage was expressed, and a dreadful
oath, exclaimed:

"Is this the villain that has undone thee?--But where, then, is that
accursed Mordaunt? Ah, Ellen! abandoned, miserable girl, art thou, then,
so lost already?"

Pale, gasping for breath at this shocking language, Ellen clung more
closely to the arm of Sir Edward, and faintly articulated, "For God's
sake let me pass!"

"What do you mean, Sir?" said Sir Edward, fiercely: "Are you
intoxicated, or mad? How dare you insult this lady!"

"And how dare you, Sir," answered Charles, approaching in a menacing
attitude, "after seducing her from her friends, and from those who loved
her, to look me in the face?"

"Madman!" replied Sir Edward, pushing him aside with one hand, while
with the other he supported the now almost fainting Ellen. "Gentlemen, I
request you will secure him till I place this lady in her carriage, and
then I am ready to give him any explanation he may wish for."

Some of the gentlemen, who by this time surrounded them, knowing
Charles, said to him: "Come away, Ross; you are very wrong: at any rate,
this quarrel shall go no farther."

At this moment St. Aubyn, having placed his aunt in the carriage,
wondering at Ellen's delay, returned to seek her; and astonished at
what he beheld, exclaimed:

"For heaven's sake, what is the matter? My love, what makes you look so
pale? Has any one dared to insult you?"

"Oh! you are there, Sir, are you," said Charles: "I know you: I saw you
once, and then foretold what has happened: you are the man who must give
me satisfaction."

"Pshaw! he is mad, quite mad," cried Sir Edward; "pay no attention to
him; he knows not what he talks of."

The by-standers began to be of the same opinion; and, indeed, his
rageful countenance, and the violence of his gesticulations, with the
apparent inconsistency of his words, rendered the idea extremely
probable; they therefore forcibly held him, and said: "Pass on,
gentlemen, and take care of the lady: we will prevent him from following
you;" while Ross's friends, supposing either that the wine they knew he
had drank had affected him, or that some sudden frenzy had seized him,
were amongst the foremost to secure him, especially as a gentleman who
now came up said the gentleman and lady were the Earl and Countess of
St. Aubyn: but Charles was too outrageous to hear that or any thing
else, and called after them aloud, stamping with fury, and swearing
terribly:

"Mean, detestable cowards, come back. I am not mad. Give up that
wretched girl: let me take her to her father--to mine, who loved her.
Mordaunt, vile, hateful Mordaunt! to you I call--Come back, I say!"

St. Aubyn turned, and but that Ellen hung half-fainting on him, he would
have obeyed the summons; for he knew that name was addressed to him, and
easily guessed who the supposed madman was, and how the mistake which
caused his insults might have arisen; but Sir Edward said, "You shall
not go back, St. Aubyn, he is mad; or if not, it belongs to me to
chastise him."

"Is it not Charles Ross?" said St. Aubyn to Ellen.

"Yes," she faintly replied; "but do not go back; he is certainly out of
his senses."

By this time they had reached the carriage, and putting her into it, he
shut the door; and saying, "Wait a moment, be not alarmed, I must speak
to him," he ran back again, Sir Edward following.

Ross having, as soon as they were out of sight, disengaged himself from
the by-standers, was hastening with frantic violence to overtake them:
when he saw the two gentlemen, he advanced and said:

"You have thought proper, then, to come back; but what have you done
with that unfortunate girl?"

"For the sake of your father, Mr. Ross," said St. Aubyn, "for now I
know you, I will be patient and tell you."

"What can you tell me more than I already know?" cried Ross,
interrupting him with angry vehemence. "Can you deny that you have
seduced her whom I loved better than my own soul? Did you not bring her
with you to London? I know it all, Sir: the woman where you lodged found
you out. She saw how you had deceived my gentle, innocent Ellen."

"What words are these!" exclaimed St. Aubyn, haughtily. "Whence arises
so vile an error?"

"Villain!" exclaimed Charles, with wild impetuosity, "deny not your
crimes, but give me the satisfaction of a gentleman."

"You do not act like one," said St. Aubyn: "but here is my card; I am
always to be found, and will give you whatever satisfaction you may
require."

He threw a card with his address to Charles, who hastily gave St. Aubyn
one of his.

"It shall not be," said Sir Edward. "I was the first insulted: this
affair is mine."

"Settle it as you please," said Charles: "come one or both, I am ready."

"Very well," said St. Aubyn; "to-morrow we shall be at your service.
Come, Sir Edward; Ellen will be terrified to death." They hastened on;
and Ross rudely pushing aside those around him, left the theatre.

St. Aubyn and Sir Edward now went as quickly as possible, where they
found the Countess, half-fainting, in the arms of Lady Juliana.

"For God's sake," said the latter, as they opened the door, "what is the
matter? What have you been doing? Could you find no time or place to
quarrel in but in the presence of this poor girl?"

"For heaven's sake, Madam," said St. Aubyn, after having ordered the
servants to drive on, "do not talk in that manner. Am I so regardless
of this dear creature's comfort, or so prone to quarrel, that I should
seek it at such a time as this?"

He then made Ellen lean on him, and soothed her with the most
affectionate and tender expressions.

"Oh," said she, reviving; "is he gone? Dear St. Aubyn, tell me, are you
safe, has he hurt you?"

"No--no, my love; be composed, all is over; he is gone away satisfied."

"Satisfied!" replied she; "what could he mean? Do you think he is mad,
or is it the effect of wine, or some mistake?"

"I know not," said St. Aubyn, hastily; "but be at rest--he is gone--we
shall hear no more of him."

"Oh, are you sure--are you quite sure? Dear Lady Juliana, tell me: may I
depend upon it? You said something about a duel."

"I talked like a fool, then, if I did," replied Lady Juliana; "but I do
not remember any thing of it."

"A duel--ridiculous!" said St. Aubyn, pretending to laugh. "I assure
you, Ellen, all is over; pray be composed; there is nothing to fear."

Lady Juliana knew better, but terrified for Ellen, she affected to
believe what St. Aubyn said, and between them, they contrived completely
to deceive the Countess, who, ignorant of the usages of the world, and
not knowing all that had passed, was easily misled. She composed her
mind, therefore, in the hope that all was well, though she still
trembled, and was so much fluttered, that Lady Juliana, after going home
with her, waited till she had seen her in bed; and desiring she might be
kept perfectly quiet, she returned to the drawing-room, and endeavoured
to learn from St. Aubyn and Leicester what had happened, and what was
likely to be the result: but she vainly chid or interrogated either:
both persisted in the story that Ross had apologized, and all was over.

Rather better satisfied, though not fully convinced, Lady Juliana soon
after left them, determined however to keep a little watch upon the
actions of her nephew, with whose temper she was too well acquainted to
suppose such a business would be passed over without farther notice.

St. Aubyn gave Ellen such assurances that nothing more would arise from
this affair, that, tired out with the agitation she had undergone, she
soon fell into a profound sleep, and awakened in the morning perfectly
refreshed and composed. At St. Aubyn's request, however, she remained
later than usual in bed. Laura Cecil sat by her side, and gave her her
breakfast, after which she appeared so entirely well, that no objection
was made to her rising.

In the meantime St. Aubyn had received, at his breakfast-table, the
following note:--

     My Lord,

     I find by the card you gave me last night, that the name of
     _Mordaunt_ was only assumed to conceal the blackest designs and
     most detestable perfidy.

     If you do not mean to plead your privilege, I demand a meeting
     with you on Wimbolton Common to-morrow morning at seven
     o'clock, when I hope to wash out my wrongs, and those of the
     injured Ellen, in the blood of a villain.

     I shall bring pistols and a friend.

                                                   CHARLES ROSS.

     _Eight o'Clock, Wednesday morning._

To this St. Aubyn returned the following answer:--

     Sir,

     I shall be at the place appointed at the time you mention. Sir
     Edward Leicester will be with me.

                                                      ST. AUBYN.

After dispatching this laconic reply, the Earl went to Ellen's
dressing-room. Laura had just left her; Jane only was with her: at the
moment he entered, Ellen was reading a note, which, when she saw him,
she hastily folded together, and put within the bosom of her morning
dress: she seemed a little agitated, and the tears stood in her eyes,
but hastening to meet him, she said:--

"My dear St. Aubyn, they told me you were gone out."

"No, my love," said St. Aubyn, a little surprized at the hasty manner in
which she spoke; "but I am going out soon."

"Shall you take the barouche or the chariot?"

"Neither; I shall walk to Sir Edward Leicester's: but why; are _you_
going out?"

"Yes--by and bye; I think a little air will do me good."

"Had you not better keep quiet? You know my aunt particularly requested
you would do so; she will be here soon: do not go till you have seen
her, nor then unless she advises it."

"But I assure you, my Lord, I am perfectly well, and I am sure a little
air will be of service."

"Well, do as you please," said St. Aubyn, a little surprized at her
adhering so determinately to her idea of going out; for, in general,
half a word from him guided her; "but you will not go alone?"

"Oh--no, Laura will go with me."

"Very well, my love; don't fatigue yourself. Where are you going?"

"I don't know exactly: I want to do some shopping."

St. Aubyn then wished her good-morning, and repeating his request that
she would take care of herself, left her.

The real fact was this--Jane, who was Ellen's almoner, and brought to
her knowledge many cases of distress, of which she would otherwise have
been ignorant, had the night before, while her lady was at the play,
received a petition from an officer's widow, who stated herself to be
living in a small lodging in ---- Street; that she had several children,
of whom the youngest was an infant not a month old, born under
circumstances of the most acute distress, a few months after its father
had fallen in the field of battle; the eldest, a girl of sixteen, in a
deep decline: these circumstances, she said, prevented her from waiting
herself on Lady St. Aubyn, of whose goodness she had heard much from an
old blind lady, her neighbour, whom, in fact, Ellen had supported for
some time past, and whom she had visited two or three times with Jane
only.

Ellen, warm-hearted and benevolent, was extremely anxious to see this
unfortunate family: Jane had given her the letter just before St. Aubyn
came into her room, and fearing if she declared her purpose he would
oppose it, lest her health should be injured by the emotion she must
necessarily feel from the sight of this unhappy mother and her children,
she concealed the letter, and did not exactly tell him why she wished so
much to go out, though aware that she must appear unusually
pertinacious; but she had set her heart with all the fervor of youth on
her object: above all, she desired to see the poor little infant, for
Ellen, always fond of children, had, since she knew herself likely to
become a mother, felt a peculiar interest in young children, and
ardently wished to see and provide for one who had so many claims to
the compassion of a tender heart; and having really some purchases to
make, she gave without consideration _that_ as her only motive for going
out. Never before had she departed for an instant from the singular
sincerity of her character, and the perfect confidence which she reposed
in her husband; dearly did she soon repent of having done so now.

On asking Laura to go with her, she unexpectedly declined it, having a
bad head-ache, and tried to persuade Ellen not to go herself, but to
send Jane, and go some other time: but Ellen was so unusually fixed on
her point, and her imagination was so impressed with the idea of the
_poor little infant_, that, for a wonder, she was not to be prevailed
on; and fearing, lest Lady Juliana should come and prevent her, she
ordered the carriage directly, and set out.

She drove first to ---- Street, where she found the distrest family in
all the poverty and affliction which had been described to her--the
unfortunate mother, still weak, and scarcely able to support herself,
obliged to act as nurse, not only to the infant, but to her eldest
daughter, who, pale and languishing, seemed ready every moment to
breathe her last, while two or three other children were playing in the
room, distracting by their unconscious noise the poor invalids.

The tender and compassionate Ellen felt her heart opprest at this
melancholy sight, and hastened as much as possible to relieve it: she
held herself the baby in her arms, while she sent Jane to seek a nurse
for the poor girl, and to the woman of the house where they lodged, to
whom she spoke herself; and requested she would take charge of the other
children, till the mother was more able to do so. She gave the widow an
ample supply of money to procure every thing necessary for her herself
and family, and after promising to send a physician to attend the poor
girl, and kissing the baby, she departed, followed by thanks and
blessings, "not loud but deep," and went to see the poor old blind lady,
who, always delighted to hear her sweet voice and kind expressions,
detained her as long as she could.

Returning home, rejoicing in the good she had done, feeling herself
animated by the purest pleasure, and quite well in health, Ellen
suddenly recollected that she was close by the street where Mrs. Birtley
lived, with whom she had lodged the first time she was in London; and
she thought she would just stop at the door, and ask for the book she
had left there, for which Jane had, as she said, always forgotten to
call: it was that very volume of Gray which Mordaunt had given her, and
as his first gift she was really anxious to recover it. Meaning merely
to stop at the door, and send Jane in for it, she pulled the check, and
ordered the coachman to drive down that street, and stop at No. 6, and
told Jane for what purpose she was going.

"Oh, my Lady," said the talkative girl, "I shall be rejoiced that Mrs.
Birtley should see you in all your grandeur: she will be surprized after
all she had the impertinence to say."

"Indeed," said Ellen, "I never thought of that: she will wonder to see
me under such a different appearance, and perhaps say something in the
hearing of the servants. I will not go."

"Oh, my Lady," answered Jane, "she need not know who you are: only ask
for the book, and come away directly: she will not know a bit the more
what your Ladyship's real name is; and I suppose she is not enough
amongst the grand people to know the livery or carriage."

"True," said Ellen: "well, you shall go in and ask for the book, but do
not explain any thing to her."

"Oh, no, indeed, my Lady," said Jane; "so far from it, I shall enjoy
seeing her puzzle----"

While they spoke, the carriage stopped at the door of Mrs. Birtley.
Ellen, who half repented having come, sat back in the carriage, and told
Jane to go in and ask for the book, and not to say she was there, for
she would not alight: but notwithstanding Ellen's caution, Mrs. Birtley,
having been drawn to the window by seeing such an elegant equipage stop
at her door, caught a glimpse of her as the footman opened the door of
the chariot for Jane to alight, came to the side of the carriage, and
with civility asked her if she would not walk in. Ellen, feeling more
and more the absurdity of which she had been guilty in coming to the
door of a woman who she knew entertained of her a doubtful opinion, and
to whom she could not explain herself, coldly declined the offer; but
the coachman said he feared the horses would not turn very well, as the
street was rather narrow, and that it would be better if her Ladyship
pleased to alight for a moment, lest she should be alarmed.

Mrs. Birtley stared at the "_Ladyship_" as much as she had done at the
_coronetted carriage_ and fine horses; for she was not quite so ignorant
of _grand people_, as Jane, in the plenitude of her own newly-acquired
knowledge, had supposed her.

Ellen, vexed at her own folly in coming thither, was now obliged to get
out of the carriage; and several people passing by, staring first at the
carriage, and then at Ellen, she thought it would be better to go for an
instant into the house. Mrs. Birtley shewed her into the parlour, and
requesting she would be seated, added, "My lodger is gone out, and will
not, I suppose, be back till dinner-time: he is generally out all the
morning. I believe he knows something of you, Ma'am."

"Of me!" repeated Ellen, surprized.

"Yes, Ma'am: for when he came here about a week ago, he saw, by
accident, that book Mrs. Jane has in her hand; and some writing there
was in it seemed to put him into a great passion. He made me tell him
how I came by the book, and asked me a thousand questions about you:
what was the name of the gentleman you came with, if you were young and
handsome, and I don't know what; and I believe what I told him put him
into a great rage, for he stampt and swore like a madman."

Ellen, vexed and astonished, sorry she had come there, and feeling a
certain dread of she hardly knew what stealing over her, now turned
extremely pale; and Jane exclaimed, "Oh, my Lady will faint: get some
water!"

"Your _Lady_! Why she is Mrs. Mordaunt, is not she, _or calls herself
so_?" asked Mrs. Birtley with some contempt.

"Don't stand there asking questions," said the impatient Jane: "but
fetch some water. Lord, I wish we were at home: if my Lady should be
ill, how Lady Juliana will scold, and my Lord."

"Grant me patience," said Mrs. Birtley, as she left the room to fetch
some drops and water: "the girl makes me mad with her Lords and Ladies.
Poor fool, I suppose they have imposed upon her too finely."

Not one minute had she been gone, when Ellen finding herself better, and
not meaning to wait Mrs. Birtley's return, and farther questions, had
risen, and by Jane's help almost reached the door to go to the carriage,
which through the window she saw drawing up, when that door opened, and
Charles Ross entered the room: amazed beyond the power of words to
describe, he saw her standing--saw Ellen in his apartment! And
forgetting every thing but that he had once dearly loved her, he rushed
towards, and would have caught her in his arms, but she evaded his
grasp; and catching hold of Jane (who, frightened, gave a sudden
scream), said, "He here! Oh, how I am terrified!"

"Terrified, Ellen!" he wildly repeated: "_once_ you were not terrified
by my appearance."

"No, Sir," she replied, with as much spirit as she could assume: "for
once I should have expected friendship and protection, not insult."

"Ah, wretched girl!" he exclaimed: "once you deserved and wished for my
friendship and protection; but now, that fine gaudy carriage, this
elegant dress, the jewels, in which I saw you last night, all tell a
dreadful tale--all speak of your shame, of your ruin."

"Of my shame! of my ruin! what, oh, what do you mean?"

"Aye, what indeed!" said the enraged Jane: "let my Lady pass,
impertinent fellow, and don't stand there talking in that insolent
manner. Do, my Lady, let me call the footmen. I wish my Lord was here:
he would soon teach you better manners."

"Cease, Jane," said Ellen, shaking like a leaf: "cease this shocking
altercation. Of your insulting language, Mr. Ross, I know not the
meaning: it is well for you Lord St. Aubyn does not hear you thus
address his wife."

"His wife! his wife! Is it possible? Have I wronged both him and you?
Stay, Ellen, a moment, for heaven's sake--for St. Aubyn's--for my
father's: you know not the mischief one word of explanation may
prevent."

She stopped, she turned: he seized her hands to detain her. Oh,
unfortunate Ellen!

At that moment St. Aubyn himself entered the room. He rushed impetuously
forward, exclaiming, "Dissembling woman! Was it for this you left your
home--to meet this villain--to come to his very lodging in search of
him?"

"Oh, no! oh, no!" sobbed Ellen, as she sunk at his feet in a swoon so
deep, so death-like, that it seemed as if her life had left her.

"Oh, you have killed my Lady!" cried Jane: "my dear Lady! Oh, my Lord,
we came here for a book, and not----"

"Peace, peace!" sternly interrupted St. Aubyn: "I will not hear a word.
Is she dead?"

"Oh, Lord, I hope not! How can your Lordship talk so shockingly? Oh,
Mrs. Birtley, for God's sake help my Lady--call assistance!"

Between them they raised her: for Charles, confounded, shocked, and half
distracted, dared not, and St. Aubyn, gloomy, cold, and stern, would not
assist her. At length returning life mantled on her cheek, and her first
incoherent words were, "St. Aubyn, dear St. Aubyn, save me!"

St. Aubyn, somewhat calmer, and fearing he might have been too rash,
struggled with the jealous pangs which rent his heart, and approaching
her, said, "How is it, Ellen--are you better?"

"Yes, better, my love; but sick, oh, sick at heart!"

"Compose yourself; all is well."

A little revived, she looked up, but was too languid to discern the
expression of his countenance, which contradicted the kindness of his
words; for St. Aubyn felt there was much, very much to be explained,
before she could be to him again the Ellen she had been--if, indeed, the
perfect confidence he once felt in her could ever be restored; yet
fearing quite to destroy her, he constrained himself. Mrs. Birtley, now
convinced how unjust had been her suspicions, and Jane, eagerly
endeavoured to explain how Lady St. Aubyn came to be there; but
motioning with an air of proud dignity to them to be silent, he said,
"Enough, I am satisfied!" But his gloomy looks contradicted his words,
and turning to Ross, he said, in a low voice, "You and I, Sir, shall
meet again." Then, with Jane's assistance, he raised Ellen, and lifting
her into the carriage, and putting Jane in, followed himself.

"Home!" fiercely exclaimed St. Aubyn, and home they went; but oh, to a
home how different from that of the day before!



CHAP. VIII.

  "Good friend, go to him; for by this light of Heaven
  I know not how I lost him. Here I kneel:--
  If e'er my will did trespass 'gainst his love,
  Either in discourse or thought, or actual deed;
  Or that mine eyes, mine ears, or any sense,
  Delighted them in any other form--
  Comfort, forswear me!--unkindness may do much;
  And his unkindness may defeat my life,
  But never taint my love."

                                                        OTHELLO.


Silent and gloomy was the ride homewards. St. Aubyn, bridling with
difficulty the jealous rage which consumed him, sat leaning against one
side of the carriage, veiling his eyes with his hand, that they might
not for an instant fall on Ellen, who, hardly supporting herself with
Jane's help, shed no tears, though grief and vexation heaved her bosom
with sighs, which almost burst it; for now her recollection was
restored, the dreadful words in which St. Aubyn first addressed her rung
in her ears, and swelled her heart with anguish.

At length they reached Cavendish-Square, and were met in the hall by
Lady Juliana, whose pride, at first, wounded by Ellen's being from home
when she arrived, had, at length, given way to feelings of alarm at her
long absence; but when she saw her lifted from the carriage, pale,
trembling, and half-dead, terrified and astonished, she vainly demanded
an explanation alternately from St. Aubyn and the frightened Jane; her
nephew passing her hastily, and in silence, went into his study, and
instantly shut and fastened the door. There he meant to consider with
himself what part it became him to take, and how to elucidate this
extraordinary event.

Ellen, throwing herself into Lady Juliana's arms, exclaimed, "Oh! my
dearest madam, let me die at once, for my Lord is angry with me!"

"Die!" cried Lady Juliana, struggling with a thousand terrors;
"Nonsense! for what? Do you suppose no man was ever angry with his wife
before? You are so unused to it, it seems strange to you, but you may
assure yourself few wives would think it so extraordinary."

By this time they had reached Ellen's dressing-room, where, having
placed her on a sofa, and given her some restoratives, Lady Juliana
said, "But what is all this about--what offence have you committed?"

"Oh! madam, I know not; but it is too true, St. Aubyn has said such
words to me, such words as I never thought to hear from him!"

"What is the meaning of all this?" said Lady Juliana, turning to Jane.
"Speak, girl, if you have not quite lost your senses, or do not wish
that I should lose mine, and tell me where your lady has been, and what
has happened."

Jane, now, as well as the confusion she was in would let her, repeated
the adventures of the morning to Lady Juliana, the visit to the
officer's widow, and the old blind lady; and lastly, why they went to
Mrs. Birtley's: "And it was I," she said, "that persuaded her Ladyship
to go to that disagreeable Mrs. Birtley's--out of pride, I own it--it
was out of pride, that she might see what a grand place I had got, and
that _my_ lady was not the sort of person that cross old woman fancied
she was; and her Ladyship would not even have alighted or gone into her
trumpery parlour, if the horses had not been so frightful, and the
coachman said, says he, "my Lady had better alight, for the horses--"

"Grant me patience!" said Lady Juliana: "this girl's tongue is enough to
distract me! Well, and when you were in her trumpery parlour, as you
call it, what happened then? Was Lord St. Aubyn angry that you went
there?"

"Oh! no, my Lady, not for that; but the instant after we went in, and
while Mrs. Birtley was chattering about the book, and about her lodger
(and to be sure there never was such another chattering woman in the
world, and looking at my lady from head to foot, so saucy-like, I was
quite in a passion with her), I saw my lady turn pale, and thinking she
was going to faint, I made Mrs. Birtley go for some water, for I knew
well enough how your Ladyship would scold if _my_ Lady was to be ill,
and so I told Mrs. Birtley."

"Will this tale ever have an end?" cried the impatient Lady Juliana.

"Well, my Lady, and so just as Mrs. Birtley was gone for the water, and
we were got up to go away, in came a young man: I believe, for my part,
he was quite mad, not indeed that I am any particular judge of mad
people, for I remember the first day your Ladyship came here I
thought--but I believe I had better not tell _that_;--however, this
young man _was_ mad for certain, for the moment he saw my Lady, he ran
to her, and seemed as if he was going to catch her in his arms. I
screamed, and when her Ladyship said she was terrified, he quite raved,
and called her names, and said something about her shame, and her being
ruined, and her jewels, last night, and I don't know what."

"And who, for Heaven's sake, was this man?" asked the astonished Lady
Juliana.

"Oh, it was Ross! Charles Ross!" sobbed Ellen; "and St. Aubyn came in
while he was speaking to me, and said I came there to meet him, to his
very lodgings; and then I fainted quite away."

"So, so, so!" repeated Lady Juliana; "a pretty piece of work! I see what
this mistake will end in! But stay; surely it is not too late: I will go
to St. Aubyn."

"Yes, go to him, Madam, for Heaven's sake go to him, and explain it to
him. Assure him I could not have an idea that Charles Ross lodged at
Mrs. Birtley's. Oh! how cruel to be obliged to make this explanation:
can St. Aubyn really think so ill of me? Yet, surely, surely he will be
undeceived--this is only a momentary start of passion!"

Lady Juliana shook her head, for she knew St. Aubyn's temper; and how
hardly he would endure to hear even her on such a subject; yet, if he
would but condescend to hear what the servants, who attended the
Countess in this unfortunate excursion, what this Mrs. Birtley would
say, their stories would doubtless confirm that of Ellen; for of the
truth of that story Lady Juliana had not the smallest doubt; but she
knew how St. Aubyn's pride would revolt, and his delicacy be hurt, by
the necessity of interrogating such people on the conduct of his wife.

She felt herself indeed angry with Ellen for the childish impatience
which had taken her out in the morning, after the fright of the night
before had rendered repose so desirable, and for going to Mrs.
Birtley's at all; but she could easily forgive a folly apparently of so
little importance, since it was quite impossible for Ellen to have
foreseen the chain of circumstances which followed, and involved her in
so much distress.

How St. Aubyn happened to go to the same place, no one could guess; it
appeared, indeed, extremely unlikely that he should have done so; but,
as singular coincidences no less singular do sometimes occur, though
their rarity makes us call them improbable, unless they arise within our
own immediate knowledge.

The real truth was this: St. Aubyn, recollecting that Charles Ross had
said the night before, "_the woman where you lodged found you out_," had
determined to ascertain, from this woman herself, what she had told
Ross, and how she had dared to speak of him and Ellen in such terms; and
to explain who her Mr. and Mrs. Mordaunt really were, that no farther
slander, even in Mrs. Birtley's narrow circle, might attach to the
purity of Lady St. Aubyn's character, had walked thither from Sir Edward
Leicester's, with whom he had sat some time, arranging the particulars
of their intended meeting with Charles Ross the next morning; there, to
his utter astonishment, he found Lady St. Aubyn's carriage in waiting;
and inquiring of the servants where she was, was answered, in that
house, meaning Mrs. Birtley's.

"And Miss Cecil?"

"No, my Lord; Miss Cecil did not come out with my Lady, only Mrs. Jane."

St. Aubyn recollected Ellen's apparent agitation in the morning; the
letter he had found her reading, and which she so hastily concealed; her
having said Laura would go with her; yet she had come with only her
maid, a young ignorant girl, come to the very house where he believed
Ross was residing; that Ross, of whom, though almost unknown to
himself, some secret jealousy had always lurked in his heart.

All these circumstances rose at once to his memory; and, without waiting
to knock or ring, the door standing open, he rushed hastily into the
parlour, where the first object that struck his sight was his wife, his
beloved, his adored Ellen, while her hand was held by the man on earth
he most detested, the man who but the night before had insulted her and
outraged him! What could he think? Was it wonderful that the fury which
swelled his heart broke into words of reproach and anger? Was it not
rather wonderful he could so far command himself, so far reflect, as to
return with her apparently calm, and that he did not at once cast from
him a woman who must have appeared so ungrateful and insincere?

Lady Juliana having with the aid of Miss Cecil and Jane put Ellen to
bed, would have retired to seek her nephew, leaving Laura shocked,
astonished, and grieved, remaining with her friend; but seeing the flush
of fever on her cheek, and an unusual brilliancy in her eyes, they sent
without delay to the family physician, who, after asking a few
questions, and learning the Countess had been alarmed, and was then
under the influence of terror for her lord, who, Laura whispered to him,
they feared was meditating a duel with a gentleman who had insulted Lady
St. Aubyn, the doctor shook his head, and said if her mind were not
quieted immediately, he would not be answerable for the consequences:
she had, he said, every symptom of an alarming fever, and that if she
were not soothed, and kept quiet, the worst event might be expected both
to herself and the unborn babe.

Alarmed beyond measure, Lady Juliana now ran to seek St. Aubyn. With
some difficulty she prevailed on him to grant her admittance, and with
still greater, to hear what she had to say. She repeated the whole story
Jane had told her: he shook his head, was silent, but not convinced. She
saw his incredulity, and with some hesitation proposed to interrogate
the men servants who went out with their lady as to the real cause of
her alighting at Mrs. Birtley's. He started indignantly from the idea;
but Lady Juliana assuring him she could ask in such a way as should give
them no suspicion why they were questioned, he at last consented, and
ringing the bell, she ordered the coachman to be sent to her.

"John," said she, "your lady has been frightened at something or other
this morning during her absence from home. Were the horses restive?"

"No, my Lady: the horses went as quiet as lambs to ---- Street, where we
stopped while my Lady went into a house, I believe to see a poor family,
as her Ladyship does sometimes; and then we went to the poor old blind
lady's, that Mrs. Jane says her Lady maintains; and after that we went
to another house, where my Lady said she would not alight, and told Mrs.
Jane to make haste and get the book, for she would not stop an instant;
but I was afraid to turn the carriage with her Ladyship in it, the
street being very narrow just there, and a dray standing at the house
opposite, for fear the horses should prance a little, which my Lady is
always afraid of; and so I begged her just to alight a minute while I
turned, which she seemed not to like to do, but the old lady of the
house coming out and persuading her, she said she would get out for a
minute, and the people staring at her as she stood on the pavement, she
went into the house, and I believe something or somebody frightened her,
for as I drew up to the door, which was not directly, for the horses
were a little unruly, I saw a young man go into the parlour where my
Lady was waiting, and a minute after, I heard Mrs. Jane scream; and I
was going in, and so was James, but just as I was getting off my box,
and Richard was standing at the head of the horses, my Lord came up, and
afterwards I found my Lady had fainted away."

"Then your Lady had only been there a short time?"

"Not above ten minutes I am sure, Madam, and as Mrs. Jane screamed when
the gentleman went into the parlour, I think he must have frightened
her."

"Very well, John: I was afraid it was the horses, and if so, Lady St.
Aubyn should never have gone with them again."

"Oh, no, my Lady, the horses are quiet enough, poor things, only that
narrow street made me think my Lady had better alight."

The man then retired, and Lady Juliana said:--"Well, St. Aubyn, are you
now satisfied?"

"Not quite; all this might have been contrivance and art."

"How is it possible you can think so! Did you ever see the slightest
trace of either in Ellen?"

"Yes, to-day. Why did she tell me Laura was going with her? Why conceal
where she was going?"

"Laura lamented just now not having gone out with Ellen, as she
requested on account of a bad head-ache: as to Ellen's not telling you
where she was going, that arose from a fear lest you should prevent,
what, with the natural impatience of youth, she had set her heart upon.
But if you still doubt, let us inquire of this woman, this
Mrs.----what's her name?--the mistress of the house where you lodged:
she can tell what Lady St. Aubyn's errand was there, and why she
alighted."

"Good God! Madam," said St. Aubyn, peevishly, "would you have me go
about collecting evidences whether I ought to believe my wife
blameless, or the most deceitful of women?"

"Yes I would," replied Lady Juliana, warmly, "if you can suspect her; if
such modesty, such guileless sincerity, and purity of words and manners
as I never before saw in woman, have no power to convince you: if you
can set against them all this one unlucky accident, for I am sure it is
no more, you ought to do every thing, seek every body who can give you
information. Good God! to what purpose is it, as to this world, that a
woman should lead the purest and most unspotted life, if one equivocal
appearance can drive all confidence, all reliance, from the heart which
ought to know her best!"

Touched by this generous warmth, St. Aubyn began to feel convinced he
had gone too far: he knew how penetrating Lady Juliana was, how much she
had been prejudiced against Ellen, and how cautiously she would have
observed, ere she had given to her an affection and confidence so
tender: he called to mind many "a proof of recollected love," of native
modesty, of the strictest principles in his wife, and began deeply to
repent his jealous rashness; but suddenly recollecting the note he had
seen in her hands, and the haste with which she had concealed it, he
hastily said:--"But the letter! What letter was that I found her
reading?"

"What letter?" asked Lady Juliana.

"One I found her reading this morning, just before she went out; she
seemed agitated, and had tears in her eyes, and as I entered, she put it
into the fold of her morning dress."

"And there," said Lady Juliana, eagerly, "I found it, when we undressed
her just now: I have not opened it; here it is." She drew it from her
pocket. St. Aubyn recollected it to be the same, and opened it with
trembling hands. It was, as has been stated, from the officer's widow
to Jane, entreating her good offices with her lady, and describing her
own distress, agreeing exactly with what Ellen and her maid had told
Lady Juliana, and she had repeated to St. Aubyn. Such a corroboration of
her story he could resist no longer; but shocked, alarmed, and ashamed,
he hastily said:

"I have injured her! Oh! can she ever forgive me!"

"It's well," said Lady Juliana with some asperity, for his jealous
obstinacy had vexed her--"it's well if you have not killed her and your
child too. God defend me from such rash, headstrong people, that can
make no distinction between a _Rosolia_ and an _Ellen_: poor girl, she
has paid dear I am afraid for her dream of happiness, and being "perched
up in a glittering greatness, wearing a golden sorrow!"

"For God's sake, Madam, no more reproaches," said St. Aubyn, angrily:
"she has not suffered alone; but let me go to her; let me implore her
to forgive me. Ah! can I ever forgive myself!"

"Indeed, nephew, I shall do no such thing, unless you will promise me
there shall be no fighting with that mad Ross, who I wish had been a
thousand miles off before he had come here to drive us all as mad as
himself."

"We will talk of that, hereafter: perhaps he will apologize; at any
rate, let us go now to Ellen, and try if I can sooth her spirits, and
calm her wounded mind."

But Ellen by the time he reached her was in no condition to hear him:
delirium had seized her, and the scene at the Opera dwelling on her
mind, on which it had made a powerful impression, connected, though
wildly, with the late untoward events, she exclaimed just as he entered
the room, "Remember, St. Aubyn, remember Arbace--_and I too am
innocent_?" then in low tones she imitated the recitative which had
taken such hold on her imagination; and sung in a sweet and plaintive
voice "Sono Innocente!" St. Aubyn, combining these words with all the
interesting ideas connected with them, with the generous assurances
Ellen had so often given him, that no appearances should ever shake her
faith in _his_ integrity and honour, assurances which he had so ill
repaid, was overwhelmed with grief and remorse: he put aside the
curtain, and kneeling by the bed-side, said in the tenderest accents:

"Ellen, my love, my injured Ellen, will you not hear, will you not
forgive me?"

"So you are come at last," said she, turning her head quickly towards
him: "go to your son, my good friend, and tell him he has cruelly
insulted me; that I am St. Aubyn's _wife_, not the wretch he calls me:
why, you know, Mr. Ross, you married us, and my father and Joanna were
present: then what does Charles mean by talking of my _shame_ and
_ruin_?"

"Oh, Heavens! she raves," exclaimed St. Aubyn; "my cruelty has
destroyed her!"

"Take away the bloody sword," screamed Ellen. "I tell you Arbace did
_not_ murder him; no, nor yet St. Aubyn: nothing shall ever make me
believe St. Aubyn guilty:--I promised him;--he says he is innocent;
enough, my love, enough, Ellen will _never doubt you_!" and again she
breathed in plaintive cadences the pathetic "Sono Innocente."

"She will die! she will die!" wildly exclaimed St. Aubyn, starting up:
"run for more help! fetch all the physicians in London. Oh! have I lived
to this!"

"You will kill her indeed," said Laura, "if you are not quiet: leave her
to us. Doctor B---- will again be here in a few minutes: he says if she
can but be quiet, can but be made to understand, all is well; she will
recover; but indeed, my Lord, you must leave her now."

"No, Laura, I will not go; I will sit here without speaking; but should
she recover her senses, if only for a minute, it will I know comfort
her to see me here."

This Laura could readily believe, and therefore made no further
objection; but Doctor B---- arriving soon after, comforted them all with
the assurance, that though the Countess's fever at present ran high, he
had great hopes that perfect quietude, and the medicines he had ordered,
would, in all probability, do much for her, especially, aided as they
were by youth and an excellent constitution, and that he saw no
immediate danger. He strictly enjoined, however, that her chamber might
be kept as still as possible, and that at most only two persons should
remain there: he entreated St. Aubyn and Lady Juliana to retire, and
having prevailed on them to do so, he told Miss Cecil he wished her to
be as much as possible one of Lady St. Aubyn's attendants.

"As to Lady Juliana," said he, "she is so very anxious and restless;
she will only disturb our fair patient: you, my dear Miss Cecil, I
perceive have that happy self-possession, joined with gentleness and
activity, which alone can make a good nurse; your voice too is
particularly calculated to sooth and persuade a sick person:--you may
smile, but believe me, few know how many qualifications are requisite to
form a good superintendent of a sick bed, and amongst them I have always
found a soft but distinct articulation one of the most considerable.
Think only how a nervous patient is what is emphatically called
_worried_ by a droning, discontented voice, or alarmed by too loud a
tone, or sudden question. I assure you I have often seen weak persons
thrown into a fever by these apparently trifling causes; let me,
therefore, beg Miss Cecil will take upon herself the task of replying to
any questions the Countess may ask, but in as few words as possible: the
moment reason returns, sooth her mind by every assurance that the
danger she so much feared is over. I shall see Lord St. Aubyn before I
quit the house, and place before him the evil to be dreaded, should he
pursue this unfortunate business any farther."



CHAP. IX.

  Doubt shall for ever quit my strengthen'd heart,
  And anxious jealousy's corroding smart:
  Nor other inmate shall inhabit there,
  But soft belief, young joy, and pleasing care.

                                         PRIOR'S HENRY AND EMMA.


The medicines ordered by her skilful physician had so salutary an
effect, that towards midnight Ellen fell into a quiet sleep, from which
every thing favourable might be expected. Lady Juliana was therefore
prevailed on to retire to bed, Miss Cecil, Jane, and the housekeeper,
sitting up with Lady St. Aubyn, the two latter in the anti-chamber. But
Lady Juliana was far from being satisfied, notwithstanding the
assurances of St. Aubyn that all was at an end between him and Ross: she
knew him too well to believe he would pass over insults so marked; and
her watchfulness had convinced her no apology from Ross, in writing or
otherwise, had been received. Sir Edward Leicester, too, had called once
or twice in the course of the day; and though she had tormented him and
her nephew, by resolutely remaining in the room in defiance of the hints
St. Aubyn gave of wishing to be alone with his friend, yet she overheard
a few words, that more and more convinced her a duel was intended. She
left orders, therefore, to be called by day-break; and unable to prevail
on St. Aubyn to go to bed, wearied and exhausted by emotions, which, at
her time of life, she could ill support, she at length left him to
himself.

Determined as he was to meet Ross in the morning, and avoiding
reflections, which, though he felt how decisive they were against the
practice of duelling, he yet thought came too late. St. Aubyn's frame
was shaken by various sensations. Recollection of the past, and terror
for the future, hung heavily upon him; yet not for himself he feared:
but should any thing amiss happen to him, what would become of Ellen--of
Ellen, whom he should leave upon a bed of sickness, which, then he felt
convinced, would be to her the bed of death!

"And was it for this," he exclaimed, as he paced his study, "for this I
drew her from her native shades, where, happy and contented, but for me
she might have blossomed still. Oh! little, my Ellen, hast thou had
cause to rejoice in that elevation which doubtless many have envied
thee. Too often have I been to thee the mysterious cause of sorrow and
anxiety. Perhaps I shall have been also the cause of thine untimely
end."

The idea so dreadfully shook him, he dared no longer think, lest it
should quite unman him; but determined to look upon her once more, he
took the taper, which burnt beside him, and, with light steps, passed to
her apartment. In the anti-room he found the housekeeper and Jane both
sleeping in their chairs: all was profoundly still, and he began to fear
Ellen was left without a wakeful guard; but at the sound of his
footsteps, almost noiseless as they were, and the approaching light, for
the bed-room door was open for air, Laura Cecil stole to meet him: she
motioned to him to be silent, and advancing a few steps into the
anti-room, said, in the lowest whisper, "For heaven's sake, Lord St.
Aubyn, why this--why are you not retired to rest?"

"Ah, Laura! dear, kind Laura," he exclaimed, grasping her hand, "how
could I rest, while that injured, perhaps that murdered angel lies
suffering thus, and through my fault, through my accursed, headlong
jealousy!"

"Deeply, indeed," said Laura, "do I lament that appearances should have
thus misled you, my Lord, and am indeed astonished at it: had you but
waited one hour, ere you so harshly condemned, from me you might have
learned her perfect innocence: she pressed me to go with her this
morning, which my having a bad head-ache prevented: she told me where
she was going, shewed me the letter she had received, detailed her kind
plans for relieving the poor widow, and mentioned not having explained
her intentions to you, lest you should prevent her going; and she wished
so much, she said, to see the _poor little infant_; certainly she did
not mention any intention of going to that fatal house where you found
her, and which, I am assured, she never thought of till passing the top
of the street she recollected the book she so much valued, and which I
one day heard her tell Jane to call for; but all this is now unavailing:
let me beg you to retire: should the murmur of our voices disturb her, I
shall indeed greatly lament it."

"Oh, let me look upon her--once more let me see her! Will she die? Is it
possible she may recover?"

"It is very possible, almost certain, from her sleeping so quietly, if
you do not disturb her: but think, if she should awake and see you, at
this strange hour, with those distracted looks!"

"Yet I must see her _now_--yes, Laura, I must venture all; for how do I
know if I shall ever see her more!"

"For heaven's sake, what do you mean? Surely, surely you do not think
of--you are not meditating----"

"No matter what," said he hastily; "I must see her _now_."

Laura shrunk back astonished and dismayed; but feeling that he would not
be contradicted, she again, with light steps, approached the bed; where,
in a profound sleep, the effect of opiates, lay Ellen, "fair lily, and
whiter than her sheets;" and but that in the stillness of night her
quick short breathings were distinctly heard, it could hardly have been
known she lived.

Laura then beckoned St. Aubyn to approach, which he did with trembling
steps, and shaded by the curtain, gazed wistfully upon her. Overcome by
the touching spectacle of youth, beauty, and innocence, in a few hours
almost destroyed by his rash jealousy, the tears now ran down his manly
cheeks; and hardly could he restrain the groans which heaved his bosom,
while Laura's eyes streamed at the affecting sight before her. At that
moment Ellen moved a little, and they both retreated, that if she opened
her eyes she might not see them; but she still slept; and only murmuring
"dear St. Aubyn," and a few inarticulate words, she was again silent.

Again St. Aubyn asked Laura if it were possible she could recover, and
she assured him that Ellen already looked better than she had done an
hour before; and at last, after he had knelt and imprinted a soft kiss
on one of her hands, which lay on the counterpane, and lifted up his
heart to heaven, in silent prayer for her recovery, he was prevailed on
to quit the room.

The rest of the night St. Aubyn spent in settling some papers, and
adding a few lines to his will, all of which he locked into a drawer,
and sealing up the key, directed it to Lady Juliana.

At day-break his valet, according to order, came to him. To this
confidential servant St. Aubyn explained the cause of his going from
home so early, and left the pacquet for Lady Juliana in his care, to be
delivered to her, should he not return in safety. He then sent to
inquire of Jane for her lady, and had the happiness of hearing a
favourable account of her. St. Aubyn then set off, attended only by one
servant, to the house of Sir Edward Leicester, whose carriage was at the
door, and they instantly proceeded to Wimbledon, where, on the spot
marked in Charles Ross's letter, they alighted; and telling the coachman
to draw off, and wait at a place they pointed out to him, the two
friends walked up and down some time, expecting Ross.

In about ten minutes they saw him approaching, but alone: St. Aubyn just
touched his hat, and said, "Mr. Ross, where is your friend?"

"My Lord," said Ross, in a firm tone, "I am here, not to fight, not to
double the injuries you have already received from me, but to make every
concession you can desire. I have brought no friend with me; I trust my
honour and my life implicitly in your hands. Are you prepared to hear my
explanation?--if not, I am ready to stand your fire."

"I know not, Sir," said St. Aubyn, haughtily, "what has caused this
sudden alteration in your sentiments: this meeting was at your own
request; and the insults you bestowed on Lady St. Aubyn yesterday make
me as desirous of it now as you were when you appointed it."

"Yet, my Lord," said Sir Edward, "hear Mr. Ross: if this affair can be
accommodated without bloodshed, I think myself called upon to insist it
shall be so."

St. Aubyn bowed with a lofty air to Ross, and said:--

"Well, Sir, your explanation if you please."

Ross now entered into a long detail of the circumstances which had
misled him, stated his fears of St. Aubyn under the name of Mordaunt,
when he first saw him at Llanwyllan; that no letters from thence had
reached him on the station where he had remained for the last half year,
till, about a month before his ship had come home, and he had been
ordered to London to receive a promotion as unexpected as it was
welcome; that he happened to lodge at Mrs. Birtley's, and by chance,
finding the volume of Gray Lady St. Aubyn had left there, he recognized
the initials "C. F. M. to E. P." in the first page, which the words
"Dear Llanwyllan," written in another, confirmed. The answer Mrs.
Birtley made to his impatient questions had convinced him who the Mr.
and Mrs. Mordaunt she spoke of were: this woman had given him also such
accounts as led him to believe they were not married, and hence his mad
insulting conduct at the theatre had arisen. He next repeated so
accurately every word that had passed between him and Ellen, and
described their mutual astonishment at meeting so unexpectedly in such a
natural manner, that had St. Aubyn doubted before, he could have done so
no longer.

"Yet," said Ross, "convinced as I now was how wrong I had been, I could
not prevail on myself to apologize to one whom I confess I hated, for he
had robbed me of the only woman I ever loved; yet she had never, even in
the happy hours of our youth, given me the slightest hope of ever
obtaining more than the affection of a sister from her, and even that
seemed at times more the effect of habit than choice; for rough and
unpolished, my manners repulsed, and choleric and hasty my temper,
alarmed the gentle Ellen; yet I still flattered myself, time, and the
retired situation in which she lived preventing her extraordinary beauty
from being known, might have done much for me; but from the moment Mr.
Mordaunt was known to her, I easily perceived that hope was at an end;
and now I had only to desire that I might fall by the hand of the man
who had raised her to that greatness. I could have done no more than
wish for her; I therefore determined to keep my engagement for this
morning. But yesterday it came to my knowledge that the promotion
intended for me had been granted to the solicitations of Lord St. Aubyn.
Struck, ashamed at the base ingratitude of my conduct, I resolved at
length to make every explanation, every concession. I have done so, and
now, my Lord, it rests with you to accept this apology: if you refuse
it, I am ready to stand your fire, for never will I lift my hand in a
cause so unjust, and against a man, who, without my knowledge, had so
generously befriended me."

"I told you before, Mr. Ross," said St. Aubyn, "that for your excellent
father's sake I would overlook that in you which in another man I would
instantly have resented. I am not of a vindictive spirit, and the
practice of duelling, though I have in some measure been forced to
countenance it, is against my principles. You are at liberty, Sir, to
retire; I am satisfied."

"I dare not, my Lord," said Ross, "attempt to offer any thanks for the
kindness you intended me in my professional career; still less can I
consent to profit by it: I have not deserved it at your hands, and
declining the promotion offered to me, I shall return to my ship, and
leave England as soon as possible, and I hope for ever."

St. Aubyn's generous spirit was moved by this renunciation.

"That promotion, Mr. Ross," he replied, "was sought for you at the
request of Lady St. Aubyn, who had not forgotten the friend of her
childhood, and in hopes of gratifying your most worthy father, from
whom, as well as from your mother and sister, both my wife and myself
have experienced much kindness and friendship: I must therefore request
you will not renounce it.

"At this moment Lady St. Aubyn is extremely ill, in consequence of the
alarming scene to which your mistake and my rashness gave rise: should
this illness prove fatal," (and his lips quivered with emotion as he
spoke), "never more must you and I meet again! Should she recover, as I
hope and trust she will, I am so perfectly satisfied with the
explanations I have received, that I shall not be sorry to see your
early acquaintance renewed: for the present we part as friends."

Then bowing, he took Sir Edward's arm, and hastened to his carriage,
leaving Ross overwhelmed with shame and remorse for the treatment he
had given to a man so generous.

On reaching Cavendish Square he found Lady Juliana in the utmost alarm;
for missing him when she arose, and hearing at how early an hour he had
left the house, she had immediately suspected his errand abroad: she had
sent to Sir Edward Leicester's, and learned from the servants that their
master and Lord St. Aubyn had gone out together. Still more and more
alarmed, Lady Juliana paced from room to room in dreadful agitation, not
knowing whither to send or what to do. Soon after eight o'clock, Laura
sent a note by Jane to Lady Juliana, saying Lady St. Aubyn was awake,
that the delirium had totally subsided, but had left her so extremely
weak and low she could hardly speak to be heard, but was anxious to see
her and Lord St. Aubyn, whose affectionate inquiries she had heard of
with much delight, and was prepared to see him with composure, and
without recurring to the past. To trust herself near Ellen, agitated as
she was, Lady Juliana knew was impossible; she therefore ordered Jane to
say, that having sat up almost the whole night, neither the Earl nor
herself was up, but in an hour or two they would be with her; then
assuring the girl that the unfortunate misunderstanding of the day
before was perfectly explained, she charged her not to drop a hint of it
amongst the servants, which Jane readily promised, and faithfully
performed.

Soon after this, Doctor B. called, and to him Lady Juliana communicated
her fears on St. Aubyn's account: he entreated she would not go near the
Countess till her spirits were quieter, and by no means to let any ill
tidings reach her, should such arrive: then visiting the sick room, he
rejoiced to find his young and lovely patient out of danger, though
extremely weak. The excellence of her constitution, assisted by his
skill, had triumphed over the disease, and if no new alarm occurred, he
doubted not her perfect recovery: leaving strict and repeated orders
that no one should be admitted at all likely to hurry her spirits, he
left her, and as he passed down the staircase, was rejoiced to see St.
Aubyn enter safe and well. The Earl hastened to him with the most eager
inquiries for his patient, and listened to his favourable accounts with
thankful joy.

"As to Lady Juliana, my good Lord," said the physician, "she is scarcely
in her senses; you have frightened her almost to death: come, let me
have the pleasure of leading you to her, and telling her at the same
time how much better our fair patient is, after which I would advise you
both to take some repose, for your countenance tells me you have not had
much rest last night, and I promise you, you must not go to Lady St.
Aubyn with those pale and haggard looks."

The joy of Lady Juliana at seeing St. Aubyn return safe and unhurt was
extreme, and was still increased when he owned to her candidly where he
had been, and the satisfactory explanation he had received from Ross,
which so completely put an end to this untoward affair for ever.

In the afternoon, St. Aubyn, promising to be as composed as possible,
was permitted to see Ellen for a few minutes. Both forbore to speak of
what had passed, for both felt they could not endure to recur to it; but
the warmth and unaffected tenderness of his manner assured her that all
suspicion had been effaced from his mind; while the affectionate
softness of her's proved to St. Aubyn that his unkindness was forgiven.

In a very few days Ellen was pronounced convalescent, though her
remaining weakness, and Lady Juliana's precautions, confined her to her
dressing-room: there, by slow degrees, she learned from her
affectionate Laura all the circumstances which had led to Charles Ross's
mistake, and that of St. Aubyn, nor could she help acknowledging that
appearances had been in both instances against her: relieved however by
having all her anxieties removed, and by a full though affecting
explanation with St. Aubyn, who gave her the tenderest assurances that
every jealous disposition was for ever removed from his mind, she now
rapidly recovered: but as the weather was now becoming very warm, and
she had had no great reason to delight in London, she earnestly
requested to be allowed to return to Castle St. Aubyn; and the advice of
her medical attendants coinciding with her wishes, the request was
easily granted.

Before she left London, however, she, with her Lord, paid another visit
to the officer's widow and her interesting family, and so arranged for
them as to ensure them a neat residence a little way out of town, and
the certain means of comfortable subsistence for the present; for it was
her intention, with St. Aubyn's permission, to form a school, and other
useful institutions, in the neighbourhood of the Castle, in which she
hoped to render the widow a service, as well as gratify herself, by
placing her at the head of the village seminary. She also visited Mr.
Dorrington again, and spent a delightful hour amongst his treasures;
then leaving her P. P. C. for Lady Meredith, and some other slight
acquaintances, she joyfully left London on her way to Northamptonshire,
accompanied by the Earl (more tenderly attached than ever), Lady
Juliana, and Miss Cecil, Sir Edward Leicester promising to pay them a
visit very soon.

Delighted indeed was Ellen once more to breathe the pure air of the
country; and as they passed the little inn where they had stopped on
their former journey from town, and caught a distant glimpse of the
farm-house where he had told her his real name and rank, she tenderly
pressed St. Aubyn's hand, and with a soft tear on her cheek, reminded
him of the circumstance.

"Ah, my Ellen," he said, "much have we both suffered since that
interesting moment, but never more, through fault of mine, shall you
shed another tear, save such as now glitter in your eyes--tears of
tenderness and affection."



CHAP. X.

  She feels it--'tis her son! with rapture wild,
  Bath'd in warm tears, from soft sensations prest.
  She clasps him to her cheek, her lip, her breast,
  And looks with eye unsated on her child.
  He knows her, sure!--Sure, answering rapture his,
  Leave her at least the visionary bliss!
  Lo! his clear eye to her's responsive speaks,
  And lo! his little mouth, that wistful seeks
  Warm from her lip to suck the sweet o'erflowing kiss.
  She hears the silent call--how quickly hears
  A mother's heart.

                                               SOTHEBY'S OBERON.


Arrived at the Castle, Ellen once more began to breathe; her colour and
appetite returned, and she speedily recovered her strength, and thought
she had never been so happy: her Lord's renewed, and even encreased
affection, Lady Juliana's sincere attachment, and the pleasing society
of Laura Cecil, who remained her guest (Sir William being in Scotland
with Lord and Lady Delamore), left her scarcely any thing to wish.

This little party received a very agreeable addition about a week after,
by the arrival of Sir Edward Leicester, whose continued attentions to
Miss Cecil seemed not ill received by her.

Soon after their return to Castle St. Aubyn, letters from Mr. Ross and
Joanna arrived, filled with thanks and rejoicings for the promotion of
Charles. They said not a word, nor seemed to know any thing of the late
transactions; and Lord and Lady St. Aubyn were glad he had not revealed
them. It appeared, that through St. Aubyn's interest, he had been made
Lieutenant, and honoured with the command of a small frigate, and was
gone to cruize in the Mediterranean. At this latter circumstance Ellen
was not sorry; for she could not wish, after what had passed, to see
Charles Ross again at present. Every thing, therefore, seemed now smooth
before her; and though sometimes her thoughts would wander to the
former mysterious expressions of St. Aubyn, and recollecting that the
time he appointed for their elucidation was arrived, yet as she heard no
more of it, and he seemed to have lost those fits of gloom, which even
from the commencement of their acquaintance had been obvious in him, she
hoped all was passed over, and determined by no ill-timed curiosity to
revive painful ideas in his mind. But she yet fully knew not St. Aubyn,
except when thrown off his guard by any sudden emotion: his command over
his spirits and features was wonderful; and no one who saw him composed,
cheerful, and even gay, could have suspected what at times passed in his
mind, nor to what unpleasant scenes he now looked forward. Not even Lady
Juliana knew what reason he had to think of the future with
apprehension, though with much of what had formerly befallen him she
certainly was acquainted.

The families round the Castle paid every polite attention to Lady St.
Aubyn on her return: many, who had been absent when she was there
before, now visited her; and though for the present she declined
entering into large parties, every one seemed rejoiced to see her once
more amongst them. Not the least delighted was Miss Alton, who with
unfading charms, and exhaustless professions of regard, came eagerly to
greet the charming Countess's return, to rejoice in her perfect
recovery, and to assure her how much she had suffered at hearing she was
ill in London.

"And oh! my dear Lady St. Aubyn," said she, "think how shocked I was to
hear some rude wretch had annoyed you at the theatre, and that your
excellent lord had like to have fought a duel about it. Oh! how thankful
I am that these frightful scenes did not more materially injure your
valuable health, and that you are returned to us, if possible, more
beautiful than ever."

"And who, my dear Miss Alton," said Laura, who alone retained composure
enough to answer her (for this familiar recurrence to scenes so painful
had greatly disturbed Lady St. Aubyn and Lady Juliana), "who told you
all this wonderful story?"

"Oh, it was a cousin of mine, who happened to be coming out of the
playhouse just as it happened, and wrote me word of it; and that the
gentlemen had exchanged cards: so you see I had pretty good authority."

"Yes," replied Lady Juliana, with her usual asperity, "and no doubt made
pretty good use of it. Pray, Ma'am, did you think it necessary to send a
man and horse round the neighbourhood with this amusing piece of
intelligence; or were you contented with your own personal exertions?"

"Dear Lady Juliana, I am sure I thought no harm; I only just mentioned
it----"

"To every one who would hear you, no doubt. If, at least, you had spared
us the recital, it would have been quite as delicate, and more
consistent with your _tender feelings_ for Lady St. Aubyn."

Poor Miss Alton, quite shocked to find she had given such offence to the
old lady, of whom she stood in great awe, vainly attempted to rally her
spirits, and soon after took her leave, earnestly wishing Lady Juliana
had staid in London; for she foresaw the entré of the Castle would not
be so easily granted to her now as it had been when only the
kind-hearted Countess presided; and trembling, lest, if she were not
more cautious in future, she should not be admitted to see the little
stranger when it arrived, and take cake and caudle in Lady St. Aubyn's
apartment.

"See," said Lady Juliana, drawing herself up, "see, my dear, the
consequence of admitting such low, uneducated people to any degree of
intimacy! This gossipping woman would not have ventured to hint at what
had passed, had you kept her at a proper distance: but the easy
impudence of such people in these degenerate times astonishes me. In the
days of the Countess of St. Aubyn, my mother, _she_ would scarcely have
spoken to such a sort of person as this Miss--what do you call her?" For
when Lady Juliana felt proud or indignant, she had a great knack of
forgetting any name which had not a title tacked to it; though no one
remembered more accurately those which had.

"Ah!" thought Ellen, "how with pride so overbearing could I ever have
hoped to be myself exempted from this general censure of such sort of
persons! How fortunate I may think myself, to have overcome a prejudice
of such long standing."

In the society of a few agreeable neighbours, and the ever-pleasing
conversation of Laura, the time passed serenely till the end of August:
yet there were moments when gloom seemed again to steal over the
features of St. Aubyn. His foreign letters arrived more frequently, but
appeared to give him no satisfaction. With Ellen he studiously avoided
all conversation on the subject of his anxiety: for he dreaded, in her
present state, the least alarm, and delayed by every means in his power
the apparently fast approaching crisis of his fate, till her safety
should have been secured.

At length, after some hours of uneasy watching, and the most painful
anxiety, Lady Juliana announced to him the birth of a _son_, who,
notwithstanding all the alarms his mother had undergone in London,
seemed likely as well as herself to do well. Lady Juliana was in
raptures at this event, to which she had so long looked forward with
impatience. Nothing that money could procure was wanting to decorate
either the infant or the chamber where he lay, which, as well as that of
the Countess, had been entirely new furnished in the most superb and
commodious manner at her expence, Lady Juliana having insisted on paying
for every thing prepared, even to the elegant cradle lined with quilted
white satin; and not even Lady Meredith had softer cushions than those
on which the infant heir reposed.

St. Aubyn, charmed with the lovely little creature, and to see its
mother safe, appeared as if he had no wish ungratified, and left no
tender attention unpaid which might ensure his Ellen's health and
comfort. As she approached towards convalescence, Laura Cecil was her
constant and most delightful companion, and well knew how to cheer and
adorn the hours which were necessarily given to the quietude of her own
apartments. The infant was rather delicate though healthy; but safe in
its mother's fostering cares it strengthened every day, without those
cares----

  Ah! what avails the cradle's damask roof,
  The eider bolster, or embroidered woof,
  Oft hears the gilded couch unpitied plains,
  And many a tear, the tassel'd cushion stains!
  No voice so sweet attunes his cares to rest,
  So soft no pillow as his mother's breast!
    Thus charm'd to sweet repose, when twilight hours
    Shed their soft influence on celestial bowers,
  The cherub, Innocence, with smile divine,
  Shuts his white wings, and sleeps on beauty's shrine.

                                                         DARWIN.

Incessantly anxious about the babe, Lady St. Aubyn could not soon permit
it to be removed from her apartments, it lay therefore with its nurse in
a smaller room within that where Lady St. Aubyn slept.

It was about six weeks after this event, so interesting to all parties,
had taken place, and Ellen had for some time been returned to the
society of her own family, that one day, just as they had finished
dinner, St. Aubyn was told two gentlemen in a chaise and four had just
arrived, and requested to speak to him immediately. He changed colour,
but conquering his purturbation, desired they might be shewn into his
study, and he would go to them. "Who are they?" said Lady Juliana. "I
did not know, nephew, you expected any company." "Perhaps," said St.
Aubyn, evading her questions, "they may not remain here an hour, perhaps
till to-morrow morning." He hastily left the room, and Ellen was
convinced these strangers were the persons at whom St. Aubyn had often
hinted as connected with the mystery which hung around him: she
trembled, and felt dismayed, but endeavoured to be as composed as
possible. In a few minutes after St. Aubyn had left the room, Mr.
Mordaunt was sent for; and as he had been some time an invalid, St.
Aubyn desired a carriage might be dispatched to bring him to the Castle.
Ellen passing soon after up stairs to the nursery, crossed him in the
hall, followed by his assistant with a quantity of papers and
parchments: they bowed, and went into the study. "Oh, I know now," said
Lady Juliana, who was with her, "who St. Aubyn has with him: it is I
suppose Lord De Montfort, and his guardian and tutor, Mr. O'Brien, a
Catholic priest, who has the entire management of the young man, and
will I suppose now have the entire direction of his estates, which have
till now been under the care of my nephew, who was appointed by his
father's will the young Earls guardian, as far as related to his English
property, till he should be twenty-four, though his Catholic relations
have had the care of his person. Rejoiced shall I be when St. Aubyn has
finally concluded all his concerns with that family. Heaven knows they
have given him trouble enough already! and this young man I know hates
him. I don't suppose he will stay an hour after the accounts are
settled, indeed he would not have come at all, only Mordaunt having all
the affairs in his hands, and being too unwell to go from home, it was I
conclude necessary: this I know, if these people stay here to-night, I
shall remain in my own room."

Ellen carefully and anxiously attended to all she said, yet this
discourse gave her no clue by which to unravel the mysterious speeches
of St. Aubyn. After spending an hour in the nursery, both ladies
returned to the drawing-room, and sent a servant to know if coffee
should be carried into the study, or if Lord St. Aubyn and his guests
would join the ladies. Orders were given for tea and coffee in the
study; and Lady Juliana could not restrain her curiosity enough to
refrain asking who was with Lord St. Aubyn: from the servant she
learned that the party consisted of his Lordship, Mr. Mordaunt, his
clerk, and two strange gentlemen, one elderly, the other young, and
apparently in ill health. This confirmed her surmises, and soon after
tea, not wishing to see Lord De Montfort, should he make his appearance,
she retired to her own room, leaving Ellen and Laura together, with a
strict injunction to the former not to be kept up too late.

Ellen's anxiety made her somewhat silent; and Laura, never very
talkative, easily fell into her present humour, so that for some time
very little conversation passed between them. Laura was netting, and
Ellen attempting a drawing; but her hand was unsteady, and her attention
divided, therefore finding she should not succeed, she threw down her
pencil, and listened in silence to a loud equinoxial wind, which howled
around, and shook with "murmur not unlike the dash of ocean on his
sounding shores" the ancient trees which grew near the mansion. A
chilling sensation insensibly stole upon her, and at length, to break
the melancholy silence of the apartment, rather than that she wished to
speak, she said, "'Tis a rough night, and cold."

"Yes," said Laura; and they both drew nearer the fire.

"Do you know Lord De Montfort?" asked Ellen.

"I have seen him when a boy," replied Laura, "and think I should know
him again, though six or seven years make a great alteration at his
age."

"Was he handsome?"

"Yes, but not so much so as his sister."

"Is he like her?"

"A little, but of a darker complexion: her's was a clear lively brown;
dark hazle eyes, full of spirit, and indeed at times of scorn, a Grecian
nose, full lips, the upper one curled a little, which gave a haughty air
to her countenance; Edmund was thinner, paler, and his eyes had a
softer look."

"Edmund is his name?"

"He has a long list of names, according to the Spanish custom; but his
sister always called him Edmund, which was his father's."

"I wonder whether we shall see him?"

"Of course,--I suppose so," said Laura, with some surprize: "it is too
late for him to quit the Castle to-night, and he will without doubt pay
his compliments to you before he departs."

"I think," replied Ellen, "from what Lady Juliana said just now, that
St. Aubyn and Lord De Montfort are not on very good terms, that made me
doubt whether he would stay the night."

"It may be so," said Laura, "yet unless they are decidedly at enmity,
the young man cannot avoid seeing you."

Soon after the supper tray was brought into the room, and on its being
announced to the gentlemen, St. Aubyn came to the library, accompanied
by Mr. Mordaunt and Mr. O'Brien, the latter of whom he introduced to the
ladies. St. Aubyn looked pale, and his manners had lost some of its
usual composure. O'Brien was a grave, respectable old man, of Irish
extraction, but bred in a convent abroad, and speaking English but
imperfectly.

"I will return to the study," said St. Aubyn, "and see once more if I
can persuade Lord De Montfort to take some refreshment. You remember De
Montfort, Miss Cecil?--He is my other guest, but he pleads fatigue, and
disinclination to see any one, and will not be prevailed on to take even
a glass of wine. I will once more endeavour to induce him to join you."

"Indeed, my Lord," said Ellen, "I hope he will: if he be fatigued, he
must the more need refreshment."

"My love," said St. Aubyn, "will you have the goodness to order beds to
be prepared for Lord De Montfort and Mr. O'Brien. They remain here this
night."

He then left the room, and Ellen ringing the bell, desired Mrs. Bayfield
might be sent to her dressing-room, whither a few minutes after she went
herself to give orders respecting the beds. As she passed the study
door, which was not quite close, she distinctly heard St. Aubyn say:--

"For Heaven's sake, De Montfort, be persuaded; do not wrong me so
cruelly! Why condemn me on mere appearances?"

Ellen passed hastily on, and heard St. Aubyn close the door with some
violence, warned perhaps by the light she carried that some one might
overhear him.

In her dressing-room she met Mrs. Bayfield, and was instantly struck
with her pale countenance and agitated appearance.

"My good Bayfield," said Ellen, "I sent for you to request you would see
chambers prepared for the strange gentlemen; but you look ill, pray go
to bed: Jane shall go with the housemaids and see that all is right."

"I am not ill, my Lady," said Mrs. Bayfield; "but a glimpse I caught of
Lord De Montfort just now, and the tone of his voice, reminded me of so
many painful events--"

She paused, sighed, and the tears ran down her cheeks as she added:

"I wish he had not come here; I wish he was gone back to Spain; I cannot
bear to see him."

"His likeness to your late lady affects you perhaps, my good friend?"
said Ellen.

"Oh, no, Madam; it is not that; he is like her to be sure; but it is not
_that_. I feel so uneasy when I see him.--He does not love my Lord; and
yet he used to love him. But forgive me, Madam; I forget myself: will
your Ladyship please to give your orders now?"

"I will leave all to your care, my good Bayfield. I suppose the
gentlemen will like to be near each other: the two chambers at the end
of the gallery where I sleep (those next to that your Lord sleeps in at
present, I mean) will suit them best, I think: see that they have good
fires, for it is cold to-night: the wind is really alarming."

"Your Ladyship had better take another shawl round your shoulders: the
staircase is cold."

Ellen thanked her careful old friend, and returned to the company.


                            END OF VOL. II.

                B. CLARKE, Printer, Well Street, London.





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