Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Wanderer (Volume 3 of 5) - or, Female Difficulties
Author: Fanny, Burney
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Wanderer (Volume 3 of 5) - or, Female Difficulties" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



VOLUME III



CHAPTER XLI


From the time of this arrangement, the ascendance which Mr Naird
obtained over the mind of Elinor, by alternate assurances and alarms,
relative to her chances of living to see Harleigh again, produced a
quiet that gave time to the drafts, which were administered by the
physician, to take effect, and she fell into a profound sleep. This, Mr
Naird said, might last till late the next day; Ellis, therefore,
promising to be ready upon any summons, returned to her lodging.

Miss Matson, now, endeavoured to make some enquiries relative to the
public suicide projected, if not accomplished, by Miss Joddrel, which
was the universal subject of conversation at Brighthelmstone; but when
she found it vain to hope for any details, she said, 'Such accidents,
Ma'am, make one really afraid of one's life with persons one knows
nothing of. Pray, Ma'am, if it is not impertinent, do you still hold to
your intention of giving up your pretty apartment?'

Ellis answered in the affirmative, desiring, with some surprise, to
know, whether the question were in consequence of any apprehension of a
similar event.

'By no means, Ma'am, from you,' she replied; 'you, Miss Ellis, who have
been so strongly recommended; and protected by so many of our capital
gentry; but what I mean is this. If you really intend to take a small
lodging, why should not you have my little room again up stairs?'

'Is it not engaged to the lady I saw here this morning?'

'Why that, Ma'am, is precisely the person I have upon my mind to speak
about. Why should I let her stay, when she's known to nobody, and is
very bad pay, if I can have so genteel a young lady as you, Ma'am, that
ladies in their own coaches come visiting?'

Ellis, recoiling from this preference, uttered words the most benevolent
that she could suggest, of the unknown person who had excited her
compassion: but Miss Matson gave them no attention. 'When one has
nothing better to do with one's rooms, Ma'am,' she said, 'it's sometimes
as well, perhaps, to let them to almost one does not know who, as to
keep them uninhabited; because living in them airs them; but that's no
reason for letting them to one's own disadvantage, if can do better. Now
this person here, Ma'am, besides being poor, which, poor thing, may be
she can't help; and being a foreigner, which, you know, Ma'am, is no
great recommendation;--besides all this, Miss Ellis, she has some very
suspicious ways with her, which I can't make out at all; she goes abroad
in a morning, Ma'am, by five of the clock, without giving the least
account of her haunts. And that, Ma'am, has but an odd look with it!'

'Why so, Miss Matson? If she takes time from her own sleep to enjoy a
little air and exercise, where can be the blame?'

'Air and exercise, Ma'am? People that have their living to get, and that
a'n't worth a farthing, have other things to think of than air and
exercise! She does not, I hope, give herself quite such airs as those!'

Ellis, disgusted, bid her good night; and, filled with pity for a person
who seemed still more helpless and destitute than herself, resolved to
see her the next day, and endeavour to offer her some consolation, if
not assistance.

Before, however, this pleasing project could be put into execution, she
was again, nearly at day break, awakened by a summons from Selina to
attend her sister, who, after quietly reposing many hours, had started,
and demanded Harleigh and Ellis.

Ellis obeyed the call with the utmost expedition, but met the messenger
returning to her a second time, as she was mounting the street which led
to the lodging of Mrs Maple, with intelligence that Elinor had almost
immediately fallen into a new and sound sleep; and that Mr Naird had
ordered that no one should enter the room, till she again awoke.

Glad of this reprieve, Ellis was turning back, when she perceived, at
some distance, Miss Matson's new lodger. The opportunity was inviting
for her purposed offer of aid, and she determined to make some opening
to an acquaintance.

This was not easy; for though the light feet of Ellis might soon have
overtaken the quick, but staggering steps of the apparently distressed
person whom she pursued, she observed her to be in a state of
perturbation that intimidated approach, as much as it awakened concern.
Her handkerchief was held to her face; though whether to conceal it, or
because she was weeping, could not readily be discovered: but her form
and air penetrated Ellis with a feeling and an interest far beyond
common curiosity; and she anxiously studied how she might better behold,
and how address her.

The foreigner went on her way, looking neither to the right nor to the
left, till she had ascended to the church-yard upon the hill. There
stopping, she extended her arms, seeming to hail the full view of the
wide spreading ocean; or rather, Ellis imagined, the idea of her native
land, which she knew, from that spot, to be its boundary. The beauty of
the early morning from that height, the expansive view, impressive,
though calm, of the sea, and the awful solitude of the place, would have
sufficed to occupy the mind of Ellis, had it not been completely caught
by the person whom she followed; and who now, in the persuasion of being
wholly alone, gently murmured, 'Oh ma chère patrie!--malheureuse,
coupable,--mais toujours chère patrie!--ne te reverrai-je jamais!'[1]
Her voice thrilled to the very soul of Ellis, who, trembling, suspended,
and almost breathless, stood watching her motions; fearing to startle
her by an unexpected approach, and waiting to catch her eye.

[Footnote 1: 'Oh my loved country!--unhappy, guilty--but for ever loved
country!--shall I never see thee more!']

But the mourner was evidently without suspicion that any one was in
sight. Grief is an absorber: it neither seeks nor makes observation;
except where it is joined with vanity, that always desires remark; or
with guilt, by which remark is always feared.

Ellis, neither advancing nor receding, saw her next move solemnly
forward, to bend over a small elevation of earth, encircled by short
sticks, intersected with rushes. Some of these, which were displaced,
she carefully arranged, while uttering, in a gentle murmur, which the
profound stillness of all around alone enabled Ellis to catch, 'Repose
toi bien, mon ange! mon enfant! le repos qui me fuit, le bonheur que
j'ai perdu, la tranquilité precieuse de l'ame qui m'abandonne--que tout
cela soit à toi, mon ange! mon enfant! Je ne te rappellerai plus ici! Je
ne te rappellerais plus, même si je le pouvais. Loin de toi ma
malheureuse destinée! je priai Dieu pour ta conservation quand je te
possedois encore; quelques cruelles que fussent tes souffrances, et
toute impuissante que J'etois pour les soulager, je priai Dieu, dans
l'angoisse de mon ame, pour ta conservation! Tu n'est plus pour moi--et
je cesse de te reclamer. Je te vois une ange! Je te vois exempt à
jamais de douleur, de crainte, de pauvreté et de regrets; te
reclamerai-je, donc, pour partager encore mes malheurs? Non! ne reviens
plus à moi! Que je te retrouve là--où ta félicité sera la mienne! Mais
toi, prie pour ta malheureuse mère! que tes innocentes prières
s'unissent à ses humbles supplications, pour que ta mère, ta pauvre
mère, puisse se rendre digne de te rejoindre!'[2]

[Footnote 2: 'Sleep on, sleep on, my angel child! May the repose that
flies me, the happiness that I have lost, the precious tranquillity of
soul that has forsaken me--be thine! for ever thine! my child! my angel!
I cease to call thee back. Even were it in my power, I would not call
thee back. I prayed for thy preservation, while yet I had the bliss of
possessing thee; cruel as were thy sufferings, and impotent as I found
myself to relieve them, I prayed,--in the anguish of my soul,--I prayed
for thy preservation! Thou art lost to me now!--yet I call thee back no
more! I behold thee an angel! I see thee rescued for ever from sorrow,
from alarm, from poverty, and from bitter recollections;--and shall I
call thee back, to partake again my sufferings?--No! return to me no
more! There, only, let me find thee, where thy felicity will be
mine!--but thou! O pray for thy unhappy mother! Let thy innocent prayers
be united to her humble supplications, that thy mother, thy hapless
mother, may become worthy to join thee!']

How long these soft addresses, which seemed to soothe the pious
petitioner, might have lasted, had she not been disturbed, is uncertain:
but she was startled by sounds of more tumultuous sorrow; by sobs,
rather than sighs, that seemed bursting forth from more violent, at
least, more sudden affliction. She looked round, astonished; and saw
Ellis leaning over a monument, and bathed in tears.

She arose, and, advancing towards her, said, in an accent of pity,
'Helas, Madame, vous, aussi, pleurez vous votre enfant?'[3]

[Footnote 3: 'Alas, Madam! are you, also, deploring the loss of a
child?']

'Ah, mon amie! ma bien! ameè amie!' cried Ellis, wiping her eyes, but
vainly attempting to repress fresh tears; 't'aì-jè chercheè, t'aì-jè
attendue, t'aì-jè si ardemment desireè, pour te retrouver ainsi?
pleurant sur un tombeau? Et toi!--ne me rappelle tu pas? M'a tu
oubliee?--Gabrielle! ma chère Gabrielle!'[4]

[Footnote 4: 'Ah, my friend! my much loved friend! have I sought thee,
have I awaited thee, have I so fervently desired thy restoration--to
find thee thus? Weeping over a grave? And thou--dost thou not recollect
me? Hast thou forgotten me?--Gabriella! my loved Gabriella!']

'Juste ciel!' exclaimed the other, 'que vois-je? Ma Julie! ma chère, ma
tendre amie? Est il bien vrai?--O! peut il être vrai, qu'il y ait encore
du bonheur ici bas pour moi?'[5]

[Footnote 5: 'Gracious heaven! what do I behold? My Juliet! my tender
friend? Can it be real?--O! can it, indeed, be true, that still any
happiness is left on earth for me!']

Locked in each other's arms, pressed to each other's bosoms, they now
remained many minutes in speechless agony of emotion, from nearly
overpowering surprise, from gusts of ungovernable, irrepressible sorrow,
and heart-piercing recollections; though blended with the tenderest
sympathy of joy.

This touching silent eloquence, these unutterable conflicts between
transport and pain, were succeeded by a reciprocation of enquiry, so
earnest, so eager, so ardent, that neither of them seemed to have any
sensation left of self, from excess of solicitude for the other, till
Ellis, looking towards the little grave, said, 'Ah! que ce ne soit plus
question de moi?'[6]

[Footnote 6: 'Ah!--upon me can you, yet, bestow a thought?']

'Ah, oui, mon amie,' answered Gabriella, 'ton histoire, tes malheurs, ne
peuvent jamais être aussi terribles, aussi dechirants que les miens! tu
n'as pas encore eprouvé le bonheur d'être mère--comment aurois-tu, donc,
eprouvé, le plus accablant des malheurs? Oh! ce sont des souffrances qui
n'ont point de nom; des douleurs qui rendent nulles toutes autres, que
la perte d'un Etre pûr comme un ange, et tout à soi!'[7]

[Footnote 7: 'True, my dear friend, true! thy history, thy misfortunes,
can never be terrible, never be lacerating like mine! Thou hast not yet
known the bliss of being a mother;--how, then, canst thou have
experienced the most overwhelming of calamities! a suffering that admits
of no description! a woe that makes all others seem null--the loss of a
being pure, spotless as a cherub--and wholly our own!']

The fond embraces, and fast flowing tears of Ellis, evinced the keen
sensibility with which she participated in the sorrows of this afflicted
mother, whom she strove to draw away from the fatal spot; reiterating
the most urgent enquiries upon every other subject, to attract her, if
possible, to yet remaining, to living interests. But these efforts were
utterly useless. 'Restons, restons où nous sommes!' she cried: 'c'est
ici que je te parlerai; c'est ici que je t'écôuterai; ici, où je passe
les seuls momens que j'arrache à la misere, et au travail. Ne crois pas
que de pleurer est ce qu'il y a le plus à craindre! Oh! qu'il ne
t'arrive jamais de savoir que de pleurer, même sur le tombeau de tout ce
qui vous est le plus cher, est un soulagement, un dèlice, auprès du dur
besoin de travailler, la mort dans le coeur, pour vivre, pour exister,
lorsque la vie a perdu toutes ses charmes!'[8]

[Footnote 8: 'Here, here let us stay! 'tis here I can best speak to
thee! 'tis here, I can best listen;--here, where I pass every moment
that I can snatch from penury and labour! Think not that to weep is what
is most to be dreaded; oh never mayst thou learn, that to weep--though
upon the tomb of all that has been most dear to thee upon earth, is a
solace, is a feeling of softness, nay of pleasure, compared with the
hard necessity of toiling, when death has seized upon the very heart,
merely to breathe, to exist, after life has lost all its charms!']

Seated then upon the monument which was nearest to the little grave,
Gabriella related the principal events of her life, since the period of
their separation. These, though frequently extraordinary, sometimes
perilous, and always touchingly disastrous, she recounted with a
rapidity almost inconceivable; distinctly, nevertheless, marking the
several incidents, and the courage with which she had supported them:
but when, these finished, she entered upon the history of the illness
that had preceded the death of her little son, her voice tremblingly
slackened its velocity, and unconsciously lowered its tones; and, far
from continuing with the same quickness or precision, every circumstance
was dwelt upon as momentous; every recollection brought forth long and
endearing details; every misfortune seemed light, put in the scale with
his loss; every regret seemed concentrated in his tomb!

Six o'clock, and seven, had tolled unheeded, during this afflicting, yet
soothing recital; but the eighth hour striking, when the tumult of
sorrow was subsiding into the sadness of grief, the sound caught the ear
of Gabriella, who, hastily rising, exclaimed, 'Ah, voilà que je suis
encore susceptible de plaisir, puisque ta société m'a fait oublier les
tristes et penibles devoirs, qui m'appellent à des tâches qui--à
peine--m'empêchent de mourir de faim!'[9]

[Footnote 9: 'See, if I am not still susceptible of pleasure! Thy
society has made me forget the sad and painful duties that call me
hence, to tasks that snatch me,--with difficulty,--from perishing by
famine!']

At these words, all the fortitude hitherto sustained by Juliet,--for the
borrowed name of Ellis will now be dropt,--utterly forsook her. Torrents
of tears gushed from her eyes, and lamentations, the bitterest, broke
from her lips. She could bear, she cried, all but this; all but
beholding the friend of her heart, the daughter of her benefactress,
torn from the heights of happiness and splendour; of merited happiness,
of hereditary splendour; to be plunged into such depths of distress, and
overpowered with anguish.

'Ah! que je te reconnois bien à ce trait!' cried Gabriella, while a
tender smile tried to force its way through her tears: 'cette ame si
noble! si inebralable pour elle-même, si douce, si compatissante pour
tout autre! que de souvenirs chers et touchans ne se presentent, à cet
instant, à mon coeur! Ma chère Julie! il est bien vrai, donc, que je
te vois, que je te retrouve encore! et, en toi, tout ce qú'il y a de
plus aimable, de plus pûr, et de plus digne! Comment ai-je pû te revoir,
sans retrouver la felicité? Je me sens presque coupable de pouvoir
t'embrasser,--et de pleurer encore!'[10]

[Footnote 10: 'Ah, how I know thee by that trait! thy soul so noble! so
firm in itself; so soft, so commiserating for every other! what tender,
what touching recollections present themselves at this instant to my
heart! Dearest Juliet! is it, then, indeed no dream, that I have
found--that I behold thee again? and, in thee, all that is most
exemplary, most amiable, and most worthy upon earth! How is it I can
recover thee, and not recover happiness? I almost feel as if I were
criminal, that I can embrace thee,--yet weep on!']

Forcing herself, then, from the fatal but cherished spot, she must
hasten, she said, to her daily labour, lest night should surprise her,
without a roof to shelter her head. But Juliet now detained her; clung
and wept round her neck, and could not even endeavour to resign herself
to the keen woes, and deplorable situation of her friend. She had come
over, she said, buoyed up with the exquisite hope of joining the darling
companion of her earliest youth; of sharing her fate, and of mitigating
her hardships: but this softening expectation was changed into
despondence, in discovering her, thus, a prey to unmixt calamity; not
alone bowed down by the general evils of revolutionary events; punished
for plans in which she had borne no part, and for crimes of which she
had not even any knowledge;--not only driven, without offence, or even
accusation, from prosperity and honours, to exile, to want, to misery,
and to labour; but suffering, at the same time, the heaviest of personal
afflictions, in the immediate loss of a darling child; the victim, in
all probability, to a melancholy change of life, and to sudden privation
of customary care and indulgence!

The task of consolation seemed now to devolve upon Gabriella: the
feelings of Juliet, long checked by prudence, by fortitude, by imperious
necessity; and kept in dignified but hard command; having once found a
vent, bounded back to nature and to truth, with a vivacity of keen
emotion that made them nearly uncontrollable. Nature and truth,--which
invariably retain an elastic power, that no struggles can wholly subdue;
and that always, however curbed, however oppressed,--lie in wait for
opportunity to spring back to their rights. Her tears, permitted,
therefore, at length, to flow, nearly deluged the sad bosom of her
friend.

'Helas, ma Julie! soeur de mon ame!' cried Gabriella, 'ne t'abandonne pas
à la douleur pour moi! mais parles moi, ma tendre amie, paries moi de
ma mère! Où l'a tu quitte? Et comment? Et à quelle epoque?--La plus
digne, la plus cherie des mères! Helas! eloignée de nous deux, comment
saura-t-elle se resigner á tant de malheurs?'[11]

[Footnote 11: 'Alas, my Juliet! sister of my soul! abandon not myself to
sorrow for me! but speak to me, my tender friend, speak to me of my
mother! where didst thou leave her? And how? And at what time? The most
precious of mothers! Alas! separated from us both,--how will she be able
to support such accumulation of misfortunes!']

Juliet uttered the tenderest assurances, that she had left the
Marchioness well; and had left her by her own injunctions, to join her
darling daughter; to whom, by a conveyance that had been deemed secure,
she had previously written the plan of the intended journey; with a
desire that a few lines of direction, relative to their meeting, under
cover to L.S., to be left till called for, might be sent to the
post-offices both of Dover and Brighthelmstone; as it was not possible
to fix at which spot Juliet might land. The initials L.S. had been fixed
upon by accident.

Filial anxiety, now, took place of maternal sufferings, and Gabriella
could only talk of her mother; demanding how she looked, and how she
supported the long separation, the ruinous sacrifices, and the perpetual
alarms, to which she must have been condemned since they had parted;
expressing her own surprise, that she had borne to dwell upon any other
subject than this, which now was the first interest of her heart; yet
ceasing to wonder, when she contemplated the fatal spot where her
meeting with Juliet had taken place.

Each, now, deeply lamented the time and consolation that had been lost,
from their mutual ignorance of each other's abode. Juliet related her
fruitless search upon arriving in London; and Gabriella explained, that,
during three lingering, yet ever regretted months, she had watched over
her dying boy, without writing a single line; to spare her absent
friends the knowledge of her suspensive wretchedness. Since the
irreparable certainty which had followed, she had sent two letters to
her beloved mother, with her address at Brighthelmstone; but both must
have miscarried, as she had received no answer. That Juliet had not
traced her in London was little wonderful, as, to elude the curiosity
excited by a great name, she had passed, in setting out for
Brighthelmstone, by a common one. And to that change, joined to one so
similar on the part of Juliet, it must have been owing that they had
never heard of each other, though residents of the same place. Juliet,
nevertheless, was astonished, in defiance of all alteration of attire
and appearance, that she had not instantly recognized the air and form
of her elegant and high bred Gabriella. But, equally unacquainted with
her indigence, which was the effect of sundry cruel accidents, and with
the loss of her child; no expectation was awakened of finding her either
in so distressed or so solitary a condition. Now, however, Juliet
continued, that fortunately, though, alas! not happily, they had met,
they would part no more. Juliet was fully at liberty to go whithersoever
her friend would lead, the hope of obtaining tidings of that beloved
friend, having alone kept her stationary thus long at Brighthelmstone;
where she could now leave the address of Gabriella, at the post-office,
for their mutual letters: and, as insuperable obstacles impeded her
writing herself, at present, to the Marchioness, Gabriella might make
known, in a covert manner, that they were together, and were both safe.

And why, Gabriella demanded, could not Juliet write herself?

'Alas!' Juliet replied, 'I must not even be named!'

'Eh, pour quoi?--n'a-t-tu pas vu tes parens?--Peut on te voir sans
t'aimer? te connoître sans te cherir? Non, ma Julie, non! tu n'a qu'à te
montrer.'[12]

[Footnote 12: 'And why? Hast thou not seen thy relations?--Canst thou be
seen, and not loved?--known, and not cherished? No, my Juliet, no! thou
hast only to appear!']

Juliet, changing colour, dejectedly, and not without confusion, besought
her friend, though for reasons that could neither be assigned nor
surmounted, to dispense, at present, with all personal narration. Yet,
upon perceiving the anxious surprise occasioned by a request so little
expected, she dissolved into tears, and offered every communication, in
preference to causing even transitory pain to her best friend.

'O loin de moi cette exigence!' cried Gabriella, with energy, 'Ne
sais-je pas bien que ton bon esprit, juste émule de ton excellent
coeur, te fera parler lorsqu'il le faudra? Ne me confierai-je pas à
toi, dont la seule étude est le bonheur des autres?'[13]

[Footnote 13: 'Oh far from me by any such insistence! Know I not well
that thy admirable judgment, just counterpart of thy excellent heart,
will guide thee to speak when it is right? Shall I not entirely confide
in thee?--In thee, whose sole study has been always the good and
happiness of others?']

Juliet, not more penetrated by this kindness, than affected by a facile
resignation, that shewed the taming effect of misfortune upon the
natural vivacity of her friend, could answer only by caresses and
tears.

'Eh mon oncle?' continued Gabriella; 'mon tout-aimable et si pieux
oncle? où est il?'[14]

[Footnote 14: 'And my uncle! My so amiable, so pious uncle? Where is
he?']

'Monseigneur l'Eveque?' cried Juliet, again changing colour; 'Oh oui!
tout-aimable! sans tâche et sans reproche!--Il sera bientôt, je crois,
ici;--ou j'aurois de ses nouvelles; et alors--ma destinée me sera
connue!'[15]

[Footnote 15: 'My lord the Bishop?--Oh yes! yes!--amiable
indeed!--pure!--without blemish!--He will soon, I believe, be here; or I
shall have some intelligence from him; and then--my fate will be known
to me!']

A deep sigh tried to swallow these last words. Gabriella looked at her,
for a moment, with re-awakened earnestness, as if repentant of her own
acquiescence; but the sight of encreasing disturbance in the countenance
of Juliet, checked her rising impatience; and she quietly said, 'Ah!
s'il arrive ici!--si je le revois,--j'éprouverai encore, au milieu de
tant de désolation, un mouvement de joie!--tel que toi, seule, jusqu'à
ce moment, a su m'en inspirer!'[16]

[Footnote 16: 'Ah, should he come hither!--should I be blest again by
his sight, I should feel, once more, even in the midst of my desolation,
a sensation of joy--such as thou, only, as yet, hast been able to
re-awaken!']

Juliet, with fond delight, promised to be governed wholly, in her future
plans, occupations, and residence, by her beloved friend.

'C'est à Brighthelmstone, donc,' cried Gabriella, returning to the
little grave; 'c'est ici que nous demeurions! ici, où il me semble que
je n'ai pas encore tout à fait perdu mon fils!'

Then, tenderly embracing Juliet, 'Ah, mon amie!' she cried, with a smile
that blended pleasure with agony; 'ah, mon amie! c'est à mon enfant que
je te dois! c'est en pleurant sur ses restes que je t'ai retrouvée! Ah,
oui!' passionately bending over the grave; 'c'est à toi, mon ange! mon
enfant! que je dois mon amie! Ton tombeau, même, me porte bonheur! tes
cendres veulent me bénir! tes restes, ton ombre veulent du bien à ta
pauvre mère!'[17]

[Footnote 17: ''Tis at Brighthelmstone, then,--'tis here that we must
dwell! Here, where I seem not yet, entirely, to have lost my darling
boy! Oh my friend! my dearest, best loved friend! 'tis to him--to my
child, that I am indebted for seeing thee again! 'tis in visiting his
remains that I have met my Juliet!--Oh thou! my child! my angel! 'tis to
thee, to thee, I am indebted for my friend! Even thy grave offers me
comfort! even thy ashes desire to bless me! Thy remains, thy shadow,
would do good, would bring peace to thy unhappy mother!']

With difficulty, now, Juliet drew her away from the fond, fatal spot;
and slowly, and silently, while clinging to each other with heartfelt
affection, they returned together to their lodgings.



CHAPTER XLII


Elinor, kept in order by a continual expectation of seeing Harleigh,
ceased to require the presence of Juliet; who, but for the sorrows of
her friend, would have experienced a felicity to which she had long been
a stranger, the felicity of being loved because known; esteemed and
valued because tried and proved. The consideration that is the boon of
even the most generous benevolence, however it may soothe the heart,
cannot elevate the spirits: but here, good opinion was reciprocated,
trust was interchanged, confidence was mutual.

The affliction of Gabriella, though of a more permanent nature, because
from an irreparable cause, was yet highly susceptible of consolation
from friendship; and when once the acute emotions, arising from the tale
of woe which she had had to relate, at the meeting, were abated, the
charm which the presence of Juliet dispensed, and the renewal of early
ideas, pristine feelings, and first affections, soon reflected back
their influence upon her own mind; which gradually strengthened, and
insensibly revived.

Juliet immediately resigned her large apartment, and fixed herself in
the small room of Gabriella. There they settled that they would live
together, work together, share their little profits, and endure their
failures, in common. There they hoped to recover their peace of mind, if
not to re-animate their native spirits; and to be restored to the
harmony of social sympathy, if not to that of happiness.

Yet, it was with difficulty that they learnt to enjoy each other's
society, upon such terms as their altered condition now exacted; where
the eye must never be spared from laborious business, to search, or to
reciprocate a sentiment, in those precious moments of endearing
converse, which, unconsciously, swell into hours, ere they are missed as
minutes. Their intercourse was confined to oral language alone. The
lively intelligence, the rapid conception, the arch remark, the cordial
smile; which give grace to kindness, playfulness to counsel, gentleness
to raillery, and softness even to reproach; these, the expressive
sources of delight, and of comprehension, in social commerce, they were
fain wholly to relinquish; from the hurry of unremitting diligence, and
undivided attention to manual toil.

Nevertheless, to inhale the same air, and to feel the consoling
certitude, that they were no longer cast wholly upon pity, or charity,
for good opinion, were blessings that filled their thoughts with
gratitude to Providence, and brought back calm and comfort to their
minds.

Still, at every sun-rise, Gabriella visited the ashes of her little son;
where she poured forth, in maternal enthusiasm, thanks and benedictions
upon his departed spirit, that her earliest friend, the chosen sharer of
her happier days, was restored to her in the hour of her desolation; and
restored to her There,--on that fatal, yet adored spot, which contained
the ever loved, though lifeless remains of her darling boy.

Juliet, in this peaceful interval, learnt, from the voluble Selina, all
that had been gathered from Mrs Golding relative to the seclusion of
Elinor.

Elinor had travelled post to Portsmouth, whence she had sailed to the
Isle of Wight. There, meeting with a foreign servant out of place, she
engaged him in her service, and bid him purchase some clothes of an
indigent emigrant. She then dressed herself grotesquely yet, as far as
she could, decently, in man's attire; and, making her maid follow her
example, returned to the neighbourhood of Brighthelmstone, and took
lodgings, in the character of a foreigner, who was deaf and dumb, at
Shoreham; where, uninterruptedly, and unsuspectedly, she resided. Here,
by means of her new domestic, she obtained constant intelligence of the
proceedings of Juliet; and she was no sooner informed of the musical
benefit, in which an air, with an harp-accompaniment, was to be
performed by Miss Ellis, than she sent her new attendant to the
assembly-room, to purchase a ticket. Golding, who went thither with the
lackey, met Harleigh in the street, as he was quitting the lodgings of
Juliet.

The disguise of the maid saved her from being recognised; but her
tidings set her mistress on fire. The moment seemed now arrived for the
long-destined catastrophe; and the few days preceding the benefit, were
spent in its preparation. Careless of what was thought, Elinor, had
since, casually, though not confidentially, related, that her intention
had been to mount suddenly into the orchestra, during the performance of
Juliet; and thence to call upon Harleigh, whom she could not doubt would
be amongst the audience; and, at the instant of his joining them,
proclaim to the whole world her immortal passion, and expire between
them. But the fainting fit of Juliet, and its uncontrollable effect upon
Harleigh, had been so insupportable to her feelings, as to precipitate
her design. She acknowledged that she had studied how to die without
torture, by inflicting a wound by which she might bleed gently to death,
while indulging herself, to the last moment, in pouring forth to the
idol of her heart, the fond effusions of her ardent, but exalted
passion.

The tranquillity of Elinor, built upon false expectations, could not be
long unshaken: impatience and suspicion soon took its place, and Mr
Naird was compelled to acknowledge, that Mr Harleigh had set out upon a
distant tour, without leaving his address, even at his own house; where
he had merely given orders that his letters should be forwarded to a
friend.

The rage, grief, and shame of the wretched Elinor, now nearly destroyed,
in a moment, all the cares and the skill of Mr Naird, and of her
physician. She impetuously summoned Juliet, to be convinced that she was
not a party in the elopement; and was only rescued from sinking into
utter despair, by adroit exhortations from Mr Naird, to yield patiently
to his ordinances, lest she should yet die without a last view of
Harleigh. This plea led her, once more, though with equal disgust to
herself and to the whole world, to submit to every medical direction,
that might give her sufficient strength to devise means for her ultimate
project; and to put them into practice.

Mr Naird archly confessed, in private, to Juliet, that the real danger
or safety of Miss Joddrel, so completely hung upon giving the reins, or
the curb, to her passions, that she might, without much difficulty, from
her resolution to die no other death than that of heroic love, in the
presence of its idol, be spurred on, while awaiting, or pursuing, its
object, to the verge of a very comfortable old age.

He acknowledged himself, also, secretly entrusted with the abode of Mr
Harleigh.

Elinor, when somewhat calmed, demanded of Juliet when, and how, her
meetings with Harleigh had been renewed.

Juliet recounted what had passed; sparing such details as might be
hurtful, and solemnly protesting that all intercourse was now at an
end.

With a view to draw Elinor from this agitating subject, she then
related, at full length, her meeting, in the church-yard, with the friend
whom she had so long vainly sought.

In a short time afterwards, feeling herself considerably advanced
towards a recovery, Elinor, impetuously, again sent for Juliet, to say,
'What is your plan? Tell it me sincerely! What is it you mean to do?'

Juliet answered, that her choice was small, and that her means were
almost null: but when she lamented the severe DIFFICULTIES of a FEMALE,
who, without fortune or protection, had her way to make in the world,
Elinor, with strong derision, called out, 'Debility and folly! Put aside
your prejudices, and forget that you are a dawdling woman, to remember
that you are an active human being, and your FEMALE DIFFICULTIES will
vanish into the vapour of which they are formed. Misery has taught me to
conquer mine! and I am now as ready to defy the world, as the world can
be ready to hold me up to ridicule. To make people wise, you must make
them indifferent; to give them courage, you must make them desperate.
'Tis then, only, that we throw aside affectation and hypocrisy, and act
from impulse.'

Laughing, now, though with bitterness, rather than gaiety, 'What does
the world say,' she cried, 'to find that I still live, after the pompous
funeral orations, declaimed by myself, upon my death? Does it suspect
that I found second thoughts best, and that I delayed my execution,
thinking, like the man in the song,

    That for sure I could die whenever I would,
    But that I could live but as long as I could?

'Well, ye that laugh, laugh on! for I, when not sick of myself, laugh
too! But, to escape mockery, we must all be guided one by another; all
do, and all say, the very same thing. Yet why? Are we alike in our
thoughts? Are we alike in our faces? No. Happily, however, that
soporiferous monotony is beginning to get obsolete. The sublimity of
Revolution has given a greater shake to the minds of men, than to the
kingdoms of the earth.'

After pausing, then, a few minutes, 'Ellis,' she cried, 'if you are
really embarrassed, why should you not go upon the stage? You know how
transcendently you act.'

'That which might seem passable in a private representation,' Juliet
answered, 'might, at a public theatre--'

'Pho, pho, you know perfectly well your powers. But you blight them, I
suppose, yourself, with anathemas, from excommunicating scruples? You
are amongst the cold, the heartless, the ungifted, who, to discredit
talents, and render them dangerous, leave their exercise to vice, by
making virtue fear to exert, or even patronize them?'

'No, Madam, indeed,' cried Juliet: 'I admire, most feelingly, the noble
art of declamation:--how, then, can I condemn the profession which gives
to it life and soul? which personifies the most exalted virtues, which
brings before us the noblest characters, and makes us witnesses to the
sublimest actions? The stage, well regulated, would be the school of
juvenile emulation; would soothe sorrow in the unhappy, and afford
merited relaxation to the laborious. Reformed, indeed, I wish it, and
purified; but not destroyed.'

'Why, then, do you disdain to wear the buskins?'

'Disdain is by no means the word. Talents are a constant source to me of
delight; and those who,--rare, but in existence,--unite, to their public
exercise, private virtue and merit, I honour and esteem even more than I
admire; and every mark I could shew, to such, of consideration,--were I
so situated as to bestow, not require protection!--I should regard as
reflecting credit not on them, but on myself.'

'Pen and ink!' cried Elinor, impatiently: 'I'll write for you to the
manager this moment!--'

'Hold, Madam!' cried Juliet smiling: 'Much as I am enchanted with the
art, I am not going to profess it! On the contrary, I think it so
replete with dangers and improprieties, however happily they may
sometimes be combatted by fortitude and integrity, that, when a young
female, not forced by peculiar circumstances, or impelled by resistless
genius, exhibits herself a willing candidate for public applause;--she
must have, I own, other notions, or other nerves, than mine!'

'Ellis, Ellis! you only fear to alarm, or offend the men--who would keep
us from every office, but making puddings and pies for their own
precious palates!--Oh woman! poor, subdued woman! thou art as dependant,
mentally, upon the arbitrary customs of man, as man is, corporally, upon
the established laws of his country!'

She now grew disturbed, and went on warmly, though nearly to herself.

'By the oppressions of their own statutes and institutions, they render
us insignificant; and then speak of us as if we were so born! But what
have we tried, in which we have been foiled? They dare not trust us with
their own education, and their own opportunities for distinction:--I
except the article of fighting; against that, there may, perhaps, be
some obstacles: but to be condemned, as weaker vessels in intellect,
because, inferiour in bodily strength and stature, we cannot cope with
them as boxers and wrestlers! They appreciate not the understandings of
one another by such manual and muscular criterions. They assert not that
one man has more brains than another, because he is taller; that he is
endowed with more illustrious virtues, because he is stouter. They judge
him not to be less ably formed for haranguing in the senate; for
administering justice in the courts of law; for teaching science at the
universities, because he could ill resist a bully, or conquer a footpad!
No!--Woman is left out in the scales of human merit, only because they
dare not weigh her!'

Then, turning suddenly to Ellis, 'And you, Ellis, you!' she cried,
'endowed with every power to set prejudice at defiance, and to shew and
teach the world, that woman and man are fellow-creatures, you, too, are
coward enough to bow down, unresisting, to this thraldom?'

Juliet hazarded not any reply.

'Yet what futile inconsistency dispenses this prejudice! This Woman,
whom they estimate thus below, they elevate above themselves. They
require from her, in defiance of their examples!--in defiance of their
lures!--angelical perfection. She must be mistress of her passions; she
must never listen to her inclinations; she must not take a step of which
the purport is not visible; she must not pursue a measure of which she
cannot publish the motive; she must always be guided by reason, though
they deny her understanding!--Frankness, the noblest of our qualities,
is her disgrace;--sympathy, the most exquisite of our feelings, is her
bane!--'

She stopt here, conscious, colouring, indignant, and dropt the subject,
to say, 'Tell me, I again demand, what is it you mean to do? Return to
your concert-singing and harping?'

'Ah, Madam,' cried Juliet, reproachfully, 'can you believe me not yet
satisfied with attempting any sort of public exhibition?

'Nay, nay,' cried Elinor, resuming her careless gaiety, 'what passed
that evening will only have served to render you more popular. You may
make your own terms, now, with the managers, for the subscription will
fill, merely to get a stare at you. If I were poor myself, I would
engage to acquire a large fortune, in less than a week, by advertising,
at two-pence a head, a sight of the lady that stabbed herself.'

'What, however,' she continued, 'is your purpose? Will you go and live
with Mrs Ireton? She is just come hither to give her favourite lap-dog a
six weeks' bathing. What say you to the place of her toad-eater? It may
be a very lucrative thing; and I can procure it for you with the utmost
ease. It is commonly vacant every ten days. Besides, she has been dying
to have you in her toils, ever since she had known that you spurned the
proposition, when it was started by Mrs Howel.'

Juliet protested, that any species of fatigue would be preferable to
subservience of such a sort.

'Perhaps you are afraid of seeing too much of Ireton? Be under no
apprehension. He makes it a point not to visit her. He cannot endure
her. Besides, 'tis so rustic, he says, to have a mother!'

Juliet answered, that her sole plan, now, was to be guided by her
friend.

'And who is this friend? Is she of the family of the Incognitas, also?
What do you call her?--L.S.?'

Juliet only replied by stating their project of needle-work.

Elinor scoffed the notion; affirming that they would not obtain a morsel
of bread to a glass of water, above once in three days. She felt,
nevertheless, sufficient respect to the design of the noble fugitive, to
send her a sealed note of what she called her approbation.

This note Juliet took in charge. It contained a draft for fifty pounds.

Ah, generous Elinor! thought Juliet, tears of gratitude glistening in
her eyes: what a mixture of contrasting qualities sully, and ennoble
your character in turn! Ah, why, to intellects so strong, a heart so
liberal, a temper so gay, is there not joined a better portion of
judgment, a larger one of diffidence, a sense of feminine propriety, and
a mind rectified by religion,--not abandoned, uncontrolled, to
imagination?

Gabriella, though truly touched by a generosity so unexpected, declined
accepting its fruits; not being yet, she said, so helpless, however
poor, as to prefer pecuniary obligation to industry. She would leave,
therefore, the donation, for those who had lost the resources of
independence which she yet possessed--youth and strength.

The tender admiration of Juliet forbade all remonstrance, and excluded
any surprise. She well knew, and had long seen, that the distress which
is the offspring of public calamity, not of private misfortune, however
it may ruin prosperity, never humbles the mind.

Gabriella, in a letter of elegant acknowledgements, to obviate any
accusation of undue pride, solicited the assistance of Elinor, in
procuring orders for embroidery, amongst the ladies of her acquaintance.

Elinor, zealous to serve, and fearless to demand, instantly attacked,
by note or by message, every rich female at Brighthelmstone; urging the
generous, and shaming the niggardly, till there was scarcely a woman of
fortune in the place, who had not given, or promised, a commission for
some fine muslin-work.

The two friends, through this commanding protection, began their new
plan of life under the most favourable auspices; and had soon more
employment than time, though they limited themselves to five hours for
sleep; though their meals were rather swallowed than eaten; and though
they allowed not a moment for any kind of recreation, of rest, or of
exercise; save the sacred visit, which they unfailingly made together,
at break of day, to the little grave in the church-yard upon the hill.

Yet here first, since her arrival on the British shores, the immediate
rapturous moment of landing, and the fortnight passed with Lady Aurora
Granville excepted, here first sweet contentment, soft hopes, and gentle
happiness visited the bosom of Juliet. No privation was hard, no toil
was severe, no application was tedious, while the friend of her heart
was by her side; whose sorrows she could mitigate, whose affections she
could share, and whose tears she could sometimes chase.

But the relief was not more exquisite than it was transitory; a week
only had passed in delicious repose, when Gabriella received
intelligence that her husband was taken ill.

Whatever was her reluctance to quitting the spot, where her memory was
every moment fed with cherished recollections, she could not hesitate to
depart; but, when Juliet, in consonance with her inclination and her
promise, prepared to accompany her, that hydra-headed intruder upon
human schemes and desires, Difficulty, arose, in as many shapes as she
could form projects, to impede her wishes. Money they had none: even for
the return to town of Gabriella, her husband was fain to have recourse
for aid to certain admirable persons, whose benevolence had enabled her,
upon the illness of her son, to quit it for Brighthelmstone: and, in a
situation of indigence so obvious, could they propose carrying away with
them the work with which they were entrusted? Juliet, indeed, had still
Harleigh's bank notes in her possession; but she turned inflexibly from
the temptation of adopting a mode of conduct, which she had always
condemned as weak and degrading; that of investing circumstance with
decision, in conscientious dilemmas.

These terrible obstacles broke into all their plans, their wishes,
their happiness; involved them in new distress, deluged them in tears,
and, after every effort with which ingenious friendship could combat
them, ended in compelling a separation. Gabriella embraced, with pungent
affliction, the sorrowing Juliet; shed her last bitter tears over the
grave of her lost darling, and, by the assistance of the angelic
beings[18] already hinted at, whose delicacy, whose feeling, whose
respect for misfortune, made their beneficence as balsamic to
sensibility, as it was salutary to want, returned alone to the capital.

[Footnote 18: Residing in, and,--in 1795!--at the foot of Norbury Park.]

Juliet thus, perforce, remaining, and once again left to herself, was
nearly overwhelmed with grief at a stroke so abrupt and unexpected; so
ruinous to her lately acquired contentment, and dearly prized social
enjoyment. Yet she suffered not regret and disappointment to consume her
time, however cruelly they preyed upon her spirits, and demolished her
comfort. Solitarily she continued the employment which she had socially
begun; but without relaxing in diligence and application, without
permitting herself the smallest intermission that could be avoided:
urged not alone to maintain herself, and to replace what she had touched
of the deposit of Harleigh, but excited, yet more forcibly, by the fond
hope of rejoining her friend; to which she eagerly looked forward, as
the result and reward of her activity and labour.



CHAPTER XLIII


Left thus to herself, and devoted to incessant work, Juliet next, had
the vexation to learn, how inadequate for entering into any species of
business was a mere knowledge of its theory.

She had concluded that, in consecrating her time and her labours to so
simple an employment as needle-work, she secured herself a certain,
though an hardly earned maintenance: but, as her orders became more
extensive, she found that neither talents for what she undertook, nor
even patronage to bring them into notice, was sufficient; a capital also
was requisite, for the purchase of frames, patterns, silver and gold
threads, spangles, and various other articles; to procure which, she was
forced, in the very commencement of her new career, again to run in
debt.

Alas! she cried, where business is not necessary to subsistence, how
little do we know, believe, or even conceive, its various difficulties!
Imagination may paint enjoyments; but labours and hardships can be
judged only from experience!

She was equally, also, unprepared for continual and vexatious delays of
payment. Her work was frequently, when best executed; or set apart for
some distant occasion, and forgotten; or received and worn, with no
retribution but by promise. Even the few who possessed more
consideration, seemed to estimate her time and her toil as nothing,
because she was brought forward by recommendation; and to pay debts of
common justice, with the parade of generosity.

Yet, vanity and false reasoning set apart, the ladies for whom she
worked were neither hard of heart nor illiberal; but they had never
known distress! and were too light and unreflecting to weigh the
circumstances by which it might be produced, or prevented.

To save time, and obviate innumerable mortifications, Juliet, at first,
employed a commissioner to carry home her work, and to deliver her
bills; but he returned always with empty messages, that if Miss Ellis
would call herself, she should be paid. Yet when, with whatever
reluctance, she complied, she was ordinarily condemned to wait in
passages, or anti-chambers, for whole hours, and even whole mornings;
which were commonly ended by an excuse, through a footman, or lady's
maid, that Lady or Miss such a one was too much engaged, or too much
indisposed, to see her till the next day. The next day, when, with
renewed expectation, she again presented herself, the same scene was
re-acted; though the passing to and fro of various comers and goers,
proved that it was only to herself her fair creditor was invisible.

Nevertheless, if she mentioned that she had some pattern, or some piece
of work, finished for any other lady to exhibit, she was immediately
admitted; though still, with regard to payment, she was desired to call
again in the evening, or the next morning, with a new bill; her old one
happening, unluckily, to be always lost or mislaid; and not seldom,
while stopping in an anti-room, to arrange her packages, she heard
exclamations of 'How amazingly tiresome is that Miss Ellis! pestering
one so, always, for her money!'

Is it possible, thought Juliet, that common humanity, nay, common sense,
will not tell these careless triflers, that their complaint is a lampoon
upon themselves? Will no reflexion, no feeling point out to them, that
the time which they thus unmercifully waste in humiliating attendance,
however to themselves it may be a play-thing, if not a drug, is, to
those who subsist but by their use of it, shelter, clothing, and
nourishment?

If sometimes, in the hope of exciting more attention from this
dissipated set, she ventured to drop a mournful hint, that she was a
novice to this hard kind of life; the warm compassion that seemed
rapidly kindled, raised expectations of immediate assistance; but the
emotion, though good, took a direction that made it useless; it merely
played about in exclamations of pity; then blazed into curiosity, vented
itself in questions,--and evaporated.

She soon, therefore, ceased all attempt to obtain regard through
personal representations; feeling yet more mortified to be left in
passages, or recommended to domestics, after avowing that her lowly
state was the effect of misfortune; than while she permitted it to be
presumed, that she had nothing to brook but what she had been born and
bred to bear.

Some, indeed, while leaving their own just debts unpaid and unnoticed,
would have collected, from their friends, a few straggling half-crowns;
but when Juliet, declining such aid, modestly solicited her right, they
captiously disputed a bill which had been charged by the strictest
necessity; or offered half what they would have dared propose to any
ordinary and hired day-jobber. And whatever admiration they bestowed
upon the taste and execution of work prepared for others, all that she
finished for themselves, was received with that wary precursor of
under-valuing its price, contempt; and looked over with fault-finding
eyes, and unmeaning criticism.

Yet, if the following day, or even the following hour, some sudden
invitation to a brilliant assembly, made any of these ladies require her
services, they would give their orders with caressing solicitations for
speed; rush familiarly into her room, three or four times in a day, to
see how she went on; supplicate her to touch nothing for any other human
being; load her with professions of regard; confound her with hurrying
entreaties; shake her by the hand; tap her on the shoulder; call her the
best of souls; assure her of their eternal gratitude; and torment her
out of any time for sleep or food:--yet, the occasion past, and the work
seen and worn, it was thought of no more! Her pains and exertions, their
promises and fondness, sunk into the same oblivion; and the commonest
and most inadequate pay was murmured at, if not contested.

Now and then, however, she was surprised by sudden starts of kindness,
and hasty enquiries, eagerly made, though scarcely demanding any answer,
into her situation and affairs; followed by drawing her, with an air of
confidence, into a dressing-room or closet:--but there, when prepared
for some mark of favour or esteem, she was only asked, in a mysterious
whisper, whether she could procure any cheap foreign lace, or French
gloves? or whether she could get over from France, any particularly
delicate paste for the hands.

To ladies and to behaviour of this cast, there were, however,
exceptions; especially amongst the residents of the place and its
neighbourhood, who were not there, like the visitors, for dissipation or
irregular extravagance, that, alternately, causes money to be loosely
squandered, and meanly held back. But this better sort was rare, and
sufficed not to supply employment to Juliet for her maintenance, though
the most parsimonious. Nor were there any amongst them that had the
leisure, or the discernment, to discover, that her mind both required
and merited succour as much as her circumstances.

Yet there was the seat of what she had most to endure, and found hardest
to sustain. Her short, but precious junction with her Gabriella, gave
poignancy to every latent regret, and added disgust to her solitary
toil. Thoughts uncommunicated, ideas unexchanged, fears unrevealed, and
sorrows unparticipated, infused a heaviness into her existence, that not
all her activity in business could conquer; while slackness of pay, by
rendering the result of her labours distant and precarious, robbed her
industry of cheerfulness, and her exertions of hope. With an ardent love
of elegant social intercourse, she was doomed to pass her lonely days in
a room that no sound of kindness ever cheered; with enthusiastic
admiration of the beauties of Nature, she was denied all prospect, but
of the coarse red tilings of opposite attics: with an innate taste for
the fine arts, she was forced to exist as completely out of their view
or knowledge, as if she had been an inhabitant of some uncivilized
country: and fellow-feeling, that most powerful master of philanthropy!
now taught her to pity the lamentations of seclusion from the world,
that she had hitherto often contemned as weak and frivolous; since now,
though with time always occupied, and a mind fully stored, she had the
bitter self-experience of the weight of solitude without books, and of
the gloom of retirement without a friend.

During this period, the only notice that she attracted, was that of a
gouty old gentleman, whom she frequently met upon the stairs, when
forced to mount or descend them in pursuit of her fair heedless
creditors. She soon found, by the manner in which he entered, or
quitted, at pleasure, the apartment that she had recently given up, that
he was her successor. He was evidently struck by her beauty, and, upon
their first meeting, looked earnestly after her till she was out of
sight; and then, descended into the shop, to enquire who she was of Miss
Matson. Miss Matson, always perplexed what to think of her, gave so
indefinite, yet so extraordinary an account, that he eagerly awaited an
opportunity of seeing her again. Added examination was less calculated
to diminish curiosity, than to change it into pleasure and interest; and
soon, during whole hours together, he perseveringly watched, upon the
landing-places, for the moments of her going out, or coming back to the
house; that, while smiling and bowing to her as she passed, he might
obtain yet another, and another view of so singular and so lovely an
Incognita.

As he annexed no fixed idea himself to this assiduity, he impressed none
upon Juliet; who, though she could not but observe it, had a mind too
much occupied within, for that mental listlessness that applies for
thoughts, conjectures, or adventures from without.

Soon, however, becoming anxious to behold her nearer, and, soon after,
to behold her longer, he contrived to place himself so as somewhat to
obstruct, though not positively to impede, her passage. The modest
courtesy, which she gave to his age, when, upon her approach, he made
way for her, he pleased himself by attributing to his palpable
admiration; and his bow, which had always been polite, became
obsequious; and his smile, which had always spoken pleasure, displayed
enchantment.

Still, however, there was nothing to alarm, and little to engage the
attention of Juliet; for though ostentatiously gallant, he was
scrupulously decorous. His manners and deportment were old-fashioned,
but graceful and gentleman-like; and his eyes, though they had lost
their brilliancy, were still quick, scrutinizing, and, where not
softened by female attractions, severe.

One day, upon her return from a fruitless expedition, as fearfully,
while ascending the stairs, she opened a paper that had just been
delivered to her in the shop, her deeply absorbed and perplexed air, and
the sigh with which she looked at its contents, induced him, with
heightened interest, to attempt following her, that he might make some
enquiry into her situation. He had discerned, as she passed, that what
she held was a bill; he could not doubt her poverty from her change of
apartment; and he wished to offer her some assistance: but finding that
he had no chance of overtaking her, before she reached her chamber, he
gently called, 'Young lady!' and begged that she would stop.

With that alacrity of youthful purity, which is ever disposed to
consider age and virtue as one, she not only complied, but, seeing the
difficulty with which he mounted the stairs, respected his infirmities,
and descended herself to meet him, and hear his business.

To a younger man, or to one less experienced, or less sagacious, this
action might have appeared the effect of forwardness, of ignorance, or
of levity; but to a man of the world, hackneyed in its ways, and
penetrating into the motives by which it is ordinarily influenced, it
seemed the result of innocence without suspicion; yet of an innocence to
which her air and manner gave a dignity that destroyed, in its birth,
all interpretation to her disadvantage. His purse, therefore, which
already he held in his hand, he felt must be offered with more delicacy
than he had at first supposed to be necessary; and, though he was by no
means a man apt to be embarrassed, he hesitated, for a moment, how to
address a forlorn young stranger.

That moment, however, sufficed to determine him upon making an apology,
with the most marked respect, for the liberty which he had taken in
claiming her attention. The look with which she listened rewarded his
judgment: it expressed the gratitude of feelings to which politeness was
a pleasure; but not a novelty.

'I think--I understand, Ma'am,' he then said, 'you are the lady who
inhabited the apartment to which, most unworthily, I have succeeded?'

Juliet bowed.

'I am truly concerned, Ma'am, at a mistake so preposterous in our
destinies, so diametrically in opposition to our merits, as that which
immures so much beauty and grace, which every one must wish to behold,
in the attics; while so worn-out, and good-for-nothing an old fellow as
I am, from whom every body must wish to turn their eyes, is perched,
full in front, and precisely on the very spot so every way your
superiour due. Whatever wicked Elf has done this deed, I confess myself
heartily ashamed of my share in its operation; and humbly ready, should
any better genius come amongst us, with a view to putting things into
their proper places, to agree, either that you should be lodged, in the
face of day, in the drawing-room, and I be jammed, out of sight, in the
garret; or--that you should become gouty and decrepit, and I grow
suddenly young and beautiful.'

Juliet could not but smile, yet waited some explanation without
speaking.

Charmed with the smile, which his own rigid features immediately caught,
'I have so frequently,' he continued, 'pondered and ruminated upon the
good which those little aerial beings I speak of might do; and the
wrongs which they might redress; were they permitted to visit us, now
and then, as we read of their doing in days of yore; that, sometimes, I
dream while wide awake, and fancy I see them; and feel myself at the
mercy of their antic corrections; or receive courteous presents, or
wholesome advice. Just this moment, as you were passing, methought one
of them appeared to me!'

Juliet, surprised, involuntarily looked round.

'And it said to me, "Whence happens it, my worthy antique, that you grow
as covetous as you are rich? Bear, for your pains, the punishment due to
a miser, of receiving money that you must not hoard; and of presenting,
with your own avaricious hand, this purse to the fair young creature
whose dwelling you have usurped; yet who resides nearest to those she
most resembles, the gods and goddesses."'

With these words, and a low bow, he would have put his purse into her
hand; but upon her starting back, it dropt at her feet.

Surprized, yet touched, as well as amused, by a turn so unexpected to
his pleasantry, Juliet, gracefully restoring, though firmly declining
his offer, uttered her thanks for the kindness of his intentions, with a
sweetness so unsuspicious of evil, that they separated with as strong an
impression of wonder upon his part, as, upon hers, of gratitude.

Anxious to relieve the perplexity thus excited, and to settle his
opinion, he continued to watch, but could not again address her; for
aware, now, of his purpose, she fled down, or darted up stairs, with a
swiftness that defied pursuit; yet with a passing courtesy, that marked
respectful remembrance.

Thus, in a life of solitary hardship, with no intermission but for
mortifying disappointment, passed nearly three weeks, when Juliet found,
with affright and astonishment, that all orders for work seemed at an
end. It was no longer the season for Brighthelmstone, whose visitors
were only accidental stragglers, that, here to-day, and gone to-morrow,
had neither care nor leisure but for rambling and amusement. The
residents, though by no means inconsiderable, were soon served; for
Elinor was removed to Lewes, and her influence was lost with her
presence. Some new measure, therefore, for procuring employment, became
necessary; and Juliet, once more, was reduced to make application to
Miss Matson.

In passing, therefore, one morning, through the shop, with some work
prepared for carrying home, she stopt to open upon the subject; but the
appearance of Miss Bydel at the door, induced her, with an hasty
apology, to make an abrupt retreat; that she might avoid an encounter
which, with that lady, was always irksome, if not painful, from her
unconstrained curiosity; joined to the grossness of her conceptions and
remarks.



CHAPTER XLIV


Juliet, in re-mounting the stairs, was stopt, by her new acquaintance,
before the door of his apartment.

'If you knew,' he said, 'how despitefully I have been treated, and how
miserably black and blue I have been pinched, by the little Imp whose
offer you have rejected, sleep would fly your eyes at night, from
remorse for your hardness of heart. Its Impship insists upon it, that
the fault must all be mine. What! it cries, would you persuade me, that
a young creature whose face beams with celestial sweetness, whose voice
is the voice of melody, whose eyes have the softness of the Dove's--'

Juliet, though she smiled, would have escaped; but he told her he must
be heard.

'Would you persuade me, quoth my sprite, that such an angelic personage,
would rather let my poor despised coin canker and rust in your miserly
coffers, than disperse it about in the world, in kind, generous, or
useful activity? No, my antique, continues my little elf, you have
presented it in some clumsy, hunchy, awkward mode, that has made her
deem you an unworthy bearer of fairy gifts; and she flies the downy
wings of my gentle succour, from the fear of falling into your rough and
uncooth claws.'

Juliet, who now, through the ill-closed fingers of his gouty hand,
discerned his prepared purse, seriously begged to decline this
discussion.

'What malice you must bear me!' he cried. 'You are surely in the pay of
my evil genius! and I shall be whipt with nettles, or scratched with
thorns, all night, in revenge of my failure! And that parcel,
too,--which strains the fine fibres of your fair hands,--cast it but
down, and millions of my little elves will struggle to convey it safely
to your chamber.'

'I doubt not their dexterity,' answered Juliet, 'nor the benevolence of
their fabricator; but I assure you, Sir, I want no help.'

'If you will not accept their aerial services, deign, at least, not to
refuse mine!'

He endeavoured, now, to take the gown-packet into his own hands;
laughingly saying, upon her grave resistance, 'Beware, fair nymph, of
the dormant sensations which you may awaken, if you should make me
suppose you afraid of me! Many a long day is past, alas! and gone, since
I could flatter myself with the idea of exciting fear in a young
breast!'

Ceasing, however, the attempt, after some courteous apologies, he
respectfully let her pass.

But, upon entering her room, she heard something chink as she deposited
her parcel upon a table; and, upon examination, found that he had
managed to slip into it, during the contest, a little green purse.

Vexed at this contrivance, and resolved not to lose an instant in
returning what no distress could induce her to retain, she immediately
descended; but the staircase was vacant, and the door was closed.
Fearful any delay might authorize a presumption of acceptance, she
assumed courage to tap at the door.

A scampering, at the same moment, up the stairs, made her instantly
regret this measure; and by no means the less, for finding herself
recognized, and abruptly accosted by young Gooch, the farmer's son, at
the very moment that her gouty admirer had hobbled to answer to her
summons.

'Well, see if I a'n't a good marksman!' he cried; 'for else, Ma'am, I
might have passed you; for they told me, below, you were up there, at
the very top of the house. But I'd warrant to pick you out from a
hundred, Ma'am; as neat as my father would one of his stray sheep. But
what I come for, Ma'am, is to ask the favour of your company, if it's
agreeable to you, to a little junket at our farm.'

Then, rubbing his hands with great glee, unregarding the surprised look
of Juliet, at such an invitation, or the amused watchfulness of the
observant old beau, he went glibly on.

'Father's to give it, Ma'am. You never saw old dad, I believe, Ma'am?
The old gentleman's a very good old chap; only he don't like our clubs:
for he says they make me speak quite in the new manner; so that the
farmers, he says, don't know what I'd be at. He's rather in years,
Ma'am, poor man. He don't know much how things go. However, he's a very
well meaning old gentleman.'

Juliet gravely enquired, to what unknown accident she might attribute an
invitation so unexpected?

'Why, Ma'am,' answered Gooch, delighted at the idea of having given her
an agreeable surprize, 'Why it's the 'Squire, Ma'am, that put it into my
head. You know who I mean? our rich cousin, 'Squire Tedman. He's a great
friend of yours, I can assure you, Ma'am. He wants you to take a little
pleasure sadly. And he's sadly afraid, too, he says, that you'll miss
him, now he's gone to town; for he used often, he says, to bring you one
odd thing or another. He's got a fine fortune of his own, my cousin the
'Squire. And he's a widower.--And he's taken a vast liking to you, I can
tell you, Ma'am;--so who knows....'

Juliet would have been perfectly unmoved by this ignorant forwardness,
but for the presence of a stranger, to whose good opinion, after her
experience of his benevolence, she could not be indifferent. With an
air, therefore, that marked her little satisfaction at this familiar
jocoseness, she declined the invitation; and begged the young man to
acquaint Mr Tedman, that, though obliged to his intentions, she should
feel a yet higher obligation in his forbearance to forward to her, in
future, any similar proposals.

'Why, Ma'am,' cried young Gooch, astonished, 'this i'n't a thing you can
get at every day! We shall have all the main farmers of the
neighbourhood! for it's given on account of a bargain that we've made,
of a nice little slip of land, just by our square hay-field. And I've
leave to choose six of the company myself. But they won't be farmers,
Ma'am, I can tell you! They'll be young fellows that know better how the
world goes. And we shall have your good friend 'Squire Stubbs; for it's
he that made our bargain.'

Juliet, now, turning from him to the silent, remarking stranger, said,
'I am extremely ashamed, Sir, to obtrude thus upon your time, but the
person for whom you so generously destined this donation commissions me
to return it, with many thanks, and an assurance that it is not at all
wanted.'

She held out her hand with the purse, but, drawing back from receiving
it, 'Madam,' he cried, 'I would upon no account offend any one who has
the honour of being known to you; but you will not, therefore, I hope,
insist that I should quarrel with myself, by taking what does not belong
to me?'

While Juliet, now, looked wistfully around, to discover some place where
she might drop the purse, unseen by the young man, whose
misinterpretations might be injurious, the youth volubly continued his
own discourse.

'We shall give a pretty good entertainment in the way of supper, I
assure you, Ma'am; for we shall have a goose at top, and a turkey at
bottom, and as fine a fat pig as ever you saw in your life in the
middle; with as much ale, and mead, and punch, as you can desire to
drink. And, as all my sisters are at home, and a brace or so of nice
young lasses of their acquaintance, besides ever so many farmers, and us
seven stout young fellows of my club, into the bargain, we intend to
kick up a dance. It may keep you out a little late, to be sure, Ma'am,
but you shall have our chay-cart to bring you home. You know our
chay-cart of old, Ma'am?'

'I, Sir?'

'Why, lauk! have you forgot that, Ma'am? Why it's our chay-cart that
brought you to Brighton, from Madam Maple's at Lewes, as good as half a
year ago. Don't you remember little Jack, that drove you? and that went
for you again the next day, to fetch you back?'

Juliet now found, that this was the carriage procured for her by
Harleigh, upon her first arrival at Lewes; and, though chagrined at the
air of former, or disguised intimacy, which such an incident might seem
to convey to her new friend, she immediately acknowledged recollecting
the circumstance.

'Well, I'm only sorry, Ma'am, I did not drive you myself; but I had not
the pleasure of your acquaintance then, Ma'am; for 'twas before of our
acting together.'

The surprise of the listening old gentleman now altered its expression,
from earnest curiosity to suppressed pleasantry; and he leant against
his door, to take a pinch of snuff, with an air that denoted him to be
rather waiting for some expected amusement, than watching, as
heretofore, for some interesting explanation.

Juliet, in discerning the passing change in his ideas, became more than
ever eager to return the purse; yet more than ever fearful of
misconstruction from young Gooch; whom she now, with encreased
dissatisfaction, begged to lose no time in acquainting Mr Tedman, that
business only ever took her from home.

'Why, that's but moping for you, neither, Ma'am,' he answered, in a tone
of pity. 'You'd have double the spirits if you'd go a little abroad;
for staying within doors gives one but a hippish turn. It will go nigh
to make you grow quite melancholick, Ma'am.'

Hopeless to get rid either of him or of the purse, Juliet, now, was
moving up stairs, when the voice of Miss Bydel called out from the
passage, 'Why, Mr Gooch, have you forgot I told you to send Mrs Ellis to
me?'

'That I had clean!' he answered. 'I ask your pardon, I'm sure,
Ma'am.--Why, Ma'am, Miss Bydel told me to tell you, when I said I was
coming up to ask you to our junket, that she wanted to say a word or two
to you, down in the shop, upon business.'

Juliet would have descended; but Miss Bydel, desiring her to wait,
mounted herself, saying, 'I have a mind to see your little new room:'
stopping, however, when she came to the landing-place, which was square
and large, 'Well-a-day!' she exclaimed: 'Sir Jaspar Herrington!--who'd
have thought of seeing you, standing so quietly at your door? Why I did
not know you could stand at all! Why how is your gout, my good Sir? And
how do you like your new lodgings? I heard of your being here from Miss
Matson. But pray, Mrs Ellis, what has kept you both, you and young Mr
Gooch, in such close conference with Sir Jaspar? I can't think what
you've been talking of so long. Pray how did you come to be so intimate
together? I should like to know that.'

Sir Jaspar courteously invited Miss Bydel to enter his apartment; but
that lady, not aware that nothing is less delicate than professions of
delicacy; which degrade a just perception, and strict practice of
propriety, into a display of conscious caution, or a suspicion of evil
interpretation; almost angrily answered, that she could not for the
world do such a thing, for it would set every body a talking: 'for, as
I'm not married, Sir Jaspar, you know, and as you're a single gentleman,
too, it might make Miss Matson and her young ladies think I don't know
what. For, when once people's tongues are set a-going, it's soon too
late to stop them. Besides, every body's always so prodigious curious to
dive into other people's affairs, that one can't well be too prudent.'

Sir Jaspar, with an arched brow, of which she was far from comprehending
the meaning, said that he acquiesced in her better judgment; but, as she
had announced that she came to speak with this young lady upon business,
he enquired, whether there would be any incongruity in putting a couple
of chairs upon the landing-place.

'Well,' she cried, 'that's a bright thought, I declare, Sir Jaspar! for
it will save me the trouble of groping up stairs;' and then, seizing the
opportunity to peep into his room, she broke forth into warm
exclamations of pleasure, at the many nice and new things with which it
had been furnished, since it had been vacated by Mrs Ellis.

A look, highly commiserating, shewed him shocked by these observations;
and the air, patiently calm, with which they were heard by Juliet,
augmented his interest, as well as wonder, in her story and situation.

He ordered his valet to fetch an arm-chair for Miss Bydel; while,
evidently meant for Juliet, he began to drag another forward himself.

'Bless me, Sir Jaspar!' cried Miss Bydel, looking, a little affronted,
towards Juliet, 'have you no common chairs?'

'Yes,' he answered, still labouring on, 'for common purposes!'

This civility was not lost upon Juliet, who declining, though thankful
for his attention, darted forward, to take, for herself, a seat of less
dignity; hastily, as she passed, dropping the purse upon a table.

A glance at Sir Jaspar sufficed to assure her, that this action had not
escaped his notice; and though his look spoke disappointment, it shewed
him sensible of the propriety of avoiding any contest.

Relieved from this burthen, she now cheerfully waited to hear the orders
of Miss Bydel: young Gooch waited to hear them also; seated,
cross-legged, upon the balustrade; though Sir Jaspar sent his valet
away, and, retired, scrupulously, himself, to the further end of his
apartment.

Miss Bydel, as little struck with the ill breeding of the young farmer,
as with the good manners of the baronet, forgot her business, from
recollecting that Mr Scope was waiting for her in the shop. 'For
happening,' said she, 'to pass by, and see me, through the glass-door,
he just stept in, on purpose to have a little chat.'

'O ho, what, is 'Squire Scope here?' cried young Gooch; and, rapidly
sliding down the banisters, seized upon the unwilling and precise Mr
Scope, whom he dragged up to the landing-place.

'Well, this is droll enough!' cried Miss Bydel, palpably enchanted,
though trying to look displeased; 'only I hope you have not told Mr
Scope 'twas I that sent you for him, Mr Gooch? for, I assure you, Mr
Scope, I would not do such a thing for the world. I should think it
quite improper. Besides, what will Miss Matson and the young milliners
say? Who knows but you may have set them a prating, Mr Gooch? It's no
joke, I can assure you, doing things of this sort.'

'I'm sure, Ma'am,' said Gooch, 'I thought you wanted to see the 'Squire;
for I did not do it in the least to make game.'

'There can be no doubt, Madam,' said Mr Scope, somewhat offended, 'that
all descriptions of sport are not, at all times, advisable. For, in
small societies, as in great states, if I may be permitted to compare
little things with great ones, danger often lurks unseen, and mischief
breaks out from trifles. In like manner, for example, if one of those
young milliners, misinterpreting my innocence, in obeying the supposed
commands of the good Miss Bydel, should take the liberty to laugh at my
expence, what, you might ask, could it signify that a young girl should
laugh? Young persons, especially of the female gender, being naturally
given to laughter, at very small provocatives; not to say sometimes
without any whatsoever. Whereupon, persons of an ordinary judgment, may
conclude such an action, by which I mean laughing, to be of no
consequence.--'

'But I think it very rude!' cried Miss Bydel, extremely nettled.

'Please to hear me, Madam!' said Mr Scope. 'Persons, I say, of deeper
knowledge in the maxims and manners of the moral world, would look
forward with watchfulness, on such an occasion, to its future effects;
for one laugh breeds another, and another breeds another; for nothing is
so catching as laughing; I mean among the vulgar; in which class I would
be understood to include the main mass of a great nation. What, I ask,
ensues?--'

'O, as to that, Mr Scope,' cried Miss Bydel, rather impatiently, 'I
assure you if I knew any body that took such a liberty as to laugh at
me, I should let them know my thoughts of such airs without much
ceremony!'

'My very good lady,' said Mr Scope, formally bowing, 'if I may request
such a favour, I beg you to be silent. The laugh, I observe, caught
thus, from one to another, soon spreads abroad; and then, the more aged,
or better informed, may be led to enquire into its origin: and the
result of such investigation must needs be, that the worthy Miss Bydel,
having sent her commands to her humble servant, Mr Scope, to follow her
up stairs--'

'But if they said that,' cried Miss Bydel, looking very red, 'it would
be as great a fib as ever was told, for I did not send my commands, nor
think of such a thing. It was Mr Gooch's own doing, only for his own
nonsense. And I am curious to know, Mr Gooch, whether any body ever put
such thoughts into your head? Pray did you ever hear any body talk, Mr
Gooch? For, if you have, I should be glad to know what they said.'

Mr Scope, waving his hand to demand attention, again begged leave to
remark, that he had not finished what he purposed to advance.

'My argument, Madam,' he resumed, 'is a short, but, I hope, a clear one,
for 'tis deduced from general principles and analogy; though, upon a
merely cursory view, it may appear somewhat abstruse. But what I mean,
in two words, is, that the laugh raised by Mr Gooch, and those young
milliners; taking it for granted that they laughed; which, indeed, I
rather think I heard them do; may, in itself, perhaps, as only
announcing incapacity, not be condemnable; but when it turns out that it
promulgates false reports, and makes two worthy persons, if I may take
the liberty to name myself with the excellent Miss Bydel, appear to be
fit subjects for ridicule; then, indeed, the laugh is no longer
innocent; and ought, in strict justice, to be punished, as seriously as
any other mode of propagating false rumours.'

Miss Bydel, after protesting that Mr Scope talked so prodigiously
sensible, that she was never tired of hearing him, for all his speeches
were so long; abruptly told Juliet, that she had called to let her know,
that she should be glad to be paid, out of hand, the money which she had
advanced for the harp.

Sir Jaspar, who, during the harangue of Mr Scope, which was uttered in
too loud and important a manner, to leave any doubt of its being
intended for general hearing; had drawn his chair to join the party,
listened to this demand with peculiar attention; and was struck with the
evident distress which it caused to Juliet; who fearfully besought a
little longer law, to collect the debts of others, that she might be
able to discharge her own.

Young Gooch, coming behind her, said, in a half whisper, 'If you'll tell
me how much it is you owe, Ma'am, I'll help you out in a trice; for I
can have what credit I will in my father's name; and he'll never know
but what 'twas for some frolic of my own; for I don't make much of a
confidant of the old gentleman.'

The most icy refusal was insufficient to get rid of this offer, or
offerer; who assured her that, if the worst came to the worst, and his
father, by ill luck, should find them out, he would not make a fuss for
above a day or two; 'because,' he continued, 'he has only me, as one may
say, for the rest are nothing but girls; so he can't well help himself.
He gave me my swing too long from the first, to bind me down at this
time of day. Besides, he likes to have me a little in the fashion, I
know, though he won't own it; for he is a very good sort of an old
gentleman, at bottom.'

Sir Jaspar sought to discover, whether the colour which heightened the
cheeks of Juliet at this proposal, which now ceased to be delivered in a
whisper, was owing to confusion at its publicity, or to disdain at the
idea of conspiring either at deceiving or braving the young man's
father; while Miss Bydel, whose plump curiosity saved her from all
species of speculative trouble, bluntly said, 'Why should you hesitate
at such an offer, my dear? I'm sure I don't see how you can do better
than accept it. Mr Gooch is a very worthy young man, and so are all his
family. I'm sure I only wish he'd take to you more solidly, and make a
match of it. That would put an end to your troubles at once; and I
should get my money out of hand.'

This was an opportunity not to be passed over by the argumentative but
unerring Mr Scope, for trite observations, self-evident truths, and
hackneyed calculations, upon the mingled dangers and advantages of
matrimony, 'which, when weighed,' said he, 'in equal scales, and
abstractedly considered, are of so puzzling a nature, that the wise and
wary, fearing to risk them, remain single; but which, when looked upon
in a more cursory way, or only lightly balanced, preponderate so much in
favour of the state, that the great mass of the nation, having but small
means of reflection, or forethought, ordinarily prefer matrimony. If,
therefore, young Mr Gooch should think proper to espouse this young
person, there would be nothing in it very surprising; nevertheless, in
summing up the expences of wedlock, and a growing family, it might seem,
that to begin the married state with debts already contracted, on the
female side, would appear but a shallow mark of prudence on the male,
where the cares of that state reasonably devolve; he being naturally
supposed to have the most sense.'

'O, as to that, Mr Scope,' cried Miss Bydel, 'if Mr Gooch should take a
liking to this young person, she has money enough to pay her debts, I
can assure you: I should not have asked her for it else; but the thing
is, she don't like to part with it.'

Juliet solemnly protested, that the severest necessity could alone have
brought her into the pecuniary difficulties under which she laboured;
the money to which Miss Bydel alluded being merely a deposit which she
held in her hands, and for which she was accountable.

'Well, that's droll enough,' said Miss Bydel, 'that a young person, not
worth a penny in the world, should have the care of other people's
money! I should like to know what sort of persons they must be, that can
think of making such a person their steward!'

Young Gooch said that it would not be his father, for one, who would do
it; and Mr Scope was preparing an elaborate dissertation upon the nature
of confidence, with regard to money-matters, in a great state; when Miss
Bydel, charmed to have pronounced a sentence which seemed to accord with
every one's opinion, ostentatiously added, 'I should like, I say, Mrs
Ellis, to know what sort of person it could be, that would trust a
person with one's cash, without enquiring into their circumstances? for
though, upon hearing that a person has got nothing, one may give 'em
something, one must be no better than a fool to make them one's banker.'

Juliet, who could not enter into any explanation, stammered, coloured,
and from the horrour of seeing that she was suspected, wore an air of
seeming apprehensive of detection.

A short pause ensued, during which every one fixed his eyes upon her
face, save Sir Jaspar; who seemed studying a portrait upon his
snuff-box.

Her immediate wish, in this disturbance, was to clear herself from so
terrible an aspersion, by paying Miss Bydel, as she had paid her other
creditors, from the store of Harleigh; but her wishes, tamed now by
misfortune and disappointment, were too submissively under the controul
of fear and discretion, to suffer her to act from their first dictates:
and a moment's reflection pointed out, that, joined to the impropriety
of such a measure with respect to Harleigh himself, it would be liable,
more than any other, to give her the air of an impostor, who possessed
money that she could either employ, or disclaim all title to, at her
pleasure. Calling, therefore, for composure from conscious integrity,
she made known her project of applying once more to Miss Matson, for
work; and earnestly supplicated for the influence of Miss Bydel, that
this second application might not, also, be vain.

The eyes of the attentive Sir Jaspar, as he raised them from his
snuff-box, now spoke respect mingled with pity.

'As to recommending you to Miss Matson, Mrs Ellis,' answered Miss Bydel,
'it's out of all reason to demand such a thing, when I can't tell who
you are myself; and only know that you have got money in your hands
nobody knows how, nor what for.'

An implication such as this, nearly overpowered the fortitude of Juliet;
and, relinquishing all further effort, she rose, and, silently, almost
gloomily, began ascending the stairs. Sir Jaspar caught the expression
of her despair by a glance; and, in a tone of remonstrance, said to Miss
Bydel, 'In your debt, good Miss Bydel? Have you forgotten, then, that
the young lady has paid you?'

'Paid me? good Me! Sir Jaspar,' cried Miss Bydel, staring; 'how can you
say such a thing? Do you think I'd cheat the young woman?'

'I think it so little,' answered he, calmly, 'that I venture to remind
you, thus publicly, of the circumstance; in full persuasion that I shall
merit your gratitude, by aiding your memory.'

'Good Me! Sir Jaspar, why I never heard such a thing in my life! Paid
me? When? Why it can't be without my knowing it?'

'Certainly not; I beg you, therefore, to recollect yourself.'

The stare of Miss Bydel was now caught by Mr Scope; and her 'Good Me!'
was echoed by young Gooch; while the surprised Juliet, turning back,
said, 'Pardon me, Sir! I have never been so happy as to be able to
discharge the debt. It remains in full force.'

'Over you, too, then,' cried Sir Jaspar, with quickness, 'have I the
advantage in memory? Have you forgotten that you delivered, to Miss
Bydel, the full sum, not twenty minutes since?'

Miss Bydel now, reddening with anger, cried, 'Sir Jaspar, I have long
enough heard of your ill nature; but I never suspected your crossness
would take such a turn against a person as this, to make people believe
I demand what is not my own!'

Juliet again solemnly acknowledged the debt; and Mr Scope opened an
harangue upon the merits of exactitude between debtor and creditor, and
the usefulness of settling no accounts, without, what were the only
legal witnesses to obviate financial controversy, receipts in full; when
Sir Jaspar, disregarding, alike, his rhetoric or Miss Bydel's choler,
quietly patting his snuff-box, said, that it was possible that Miss
Bydel had, inadvertently, put the sum into her work-bag, and forgotten
that it had been refunded.

Exulting that means, now, were open for vindication and redress, Miss
Bydel eagerly untied the strings of her work-bag; though Juliet
entreated that she would spare herself the useless trouble. But Sir
Jaspar protested, with great gravity, that his own honour was now as
deeply engaged to prove an affirmative, as that of Miss Bydel to prove a
negative: holding, however, her hand, he said that he could not be
satisfied, unless the complete contents of the work-bag were openly and
fairly emptied upon a table, in sight of the whole party.

Miss Bydel, though extremely affronted, consented to this proposal;
which would clear her, she said, of so false a slander. A table was then
brought upon the landing-place; as she still stiffly refused risking her
reputation, by entering the apartment of a single gentleman; though he
might not, as she observed, be one of the youngest.

Sir Jaspar demanded the precise amount of the sum owed. A guinea and a
half.

He then fetched a curious little japan basket from his chamber, into
which he desired that Miss Bydel would put her work-bag; though he would
not suffer her to empty it, till, with various formalities, he had
himself placed it in the middle of the table; around which he made every
one draw a chair.

Miss Bydel now triumphantly turned her work-bag inside out; but what was
her consternation, what the shock of Mr Scope, and how loud the shout of
young Gooch, to see, from a small open green purse, fall a guinea and a
half!

Miss Bydel, utterly confounded, remained speechless; but Juliet, through
whose sadness Sir Jaspar saw a smile force its way, that rendered her
beauty dazzling, recollecting the purse, blushed, and would have
relieved Miss Bydel, by confessing that she knew to whom it belonged;
had she not been withheld by the fear of the strange appearance which so
sudden a seeming intimacy with the Baronet might wear.

Sir Jaspar, again patting her snuff-box, composedly said, 'I was
persuaded Miss Bydel would find that her debt had been discharged.'

Miss Bydel remained stupified; while Mr Scope, with a look concerned,
and even abashed, condolingly began an harangue upon the frail tenure of
the faculty of human memory.

Miss Bydel, at length, recovering her speech, exclaimed, 'Well, here's
the money, that's certain! but which way it has got into my work-bag,
without my ever seeing or touching it, I can't pretend to say: but if
Mrs Ellis has done it to play me a trick--'

Juliet disavowed all share in the transaction.

'Then it's some joke of Sir Jaspar's! for I know he dearly loves to
mortify; so I suppose he has given me false coin, or something that
won't go, just to make me look like a fool.'

'The money, I have the honour to assure you, is not mine,' was all that,
very tranquilly, Sir Jaspar replied: while Mr Scope, after a careful
examination of each piece, declared each to be good gold, and full
weight.

Sundry 'Good me's!' and other expressions of surprise, though all of a
pleasurable sort, now broke forth from Miss Bydel, finishing with,
'However, if nobody will own the money, as the debt is fairly my due, I
don't see why I may not take it; though as to the purse, I won't touch
it, because as that's a thing I have not lent to any body, I've no right
to it.'

Juliet here warmly interfered. The purse, she said, and the money
belonged to the same proprietor; and, as neither of them were hers, both
ought to be regarded as equally inadmissible for the payment of a debt
which she alone had contracted. This disinterested sincerity made even
Mr Scope turn to her with an air of profound, though surprised respect;
while Sir Jaspar fixed his eyes upon her face with encreased and the
most lively wonder; young Gooch stared, not perfectly understanding her;
but Miss Bydel, rolling up the purse, which she put back into the
basket, said, 'Well, if the money is not yours, Mrs Ellis, my dear, it
can be nobody's but Sir Jaspar's; and if he has a mind to pay your debt
for you, I don't see why I should hinder him, when 'twould be so much to
my disadvantage. He's rich enough, I assure you; for what has an old
bachelor to do with his money? So I'll take my due, be it which way it
will.' And, unmoved by all that Juliet could urge, she put the guinea
and the half-guinea carefully into her pocket.

Juliet declared, that a debt which she had not herself discharged, she
should always consider as unpaid, though her creditor might be changed.

Confused then, ashamed, perplexed,--yet unavoidably pleased, she mounted
to her chamber.



CHAPTER XLV


With whatever shame, whatever chagrin, Juliet saw herself again involved
in a pecuniary obligation, with a stranger, and a gentleman, a support
so efficacious, at a moment of such alarm, was sensibly and gratefully
felt. Yet she was not less anxious to cancel a favour which still was
unfitting to be received. She watched, therefore, for the departure of
Miss Bydel, and the restoration of stillness to the staircase, to
descend, once more, in prosecution to her scheme with Miss Matson.

The anxious fear of rejection, and dread of rudeness, with which she
then renewed her solicitation, soon happily subsided, from a readiness
to listen, and a civility of manner, as welcome as they were unexpected,
in her hostess; by whom she was engaged, without difficulty, to enter
upon her new business the following morning.

Thus, and with cruel regret, concluded her fruitless effort to attain a
self-dependence which, however subject to toil, might be free, at least,
from controul. Every species of business, however narrow its cast,
however limited its wants, however mean its materials; required, she now
found, some capital to answer to its immediate calls, and some steady
credit for encountering the unforeseen accidents, and unavoidable risks,
to which all human undertakings, whether great or insignificant, are
liable.

With this conviction upon her mind, she strove to bear the
disappointment without murmuring; hoping to gain in security all that
she lost in liberty. Little reason, indeed, had she for regretting what
she gave up: she had been worn by solitary toil, and heavy rumination;
by labour without interest, and loneliness without leisure.

Nevertheless, the beginning of her new career promised little
amelioration from the change. She was summoned early to the shop to
take her work; but, when she begged leave to return with it to her
chamber, she was stared at as if she had made a demand the most
preposterous, and told that, if she meant to enter into business, she
must be at hand to receive directions, and to learn how it should be
done.

To enter into business was far from the intention of Juliet; but the
fear of dismission, should she proclaim how transitory were her views,
silenced her into acquiescence; and she seated herself behind a distant
counter.

And here, perforce, she was initiated into a new scene of life, that of
the humours of a milliner's shop. She found herself in a whirl of hurry,
bustle, loquacity, and interruptions. Customers pressed upon customers;
goods were taken down merely to be put up again; cheapened but to be
rejected; admired but to be looked at, and left; and only bought when,
to all appearance, they were undervalued and despised.

It was here that she saw, in its unmasked futility, the selfishness of
personal vanity. The good of a nation, the interest of society, the
welfare of a family, could with difficulty have appeared of higher
importance than the choice of a ribbon, or the set of a cap; and
scarcely any calamity under heaven could excite looks of deeper horrour
or despair, than any mistake committed in the arrangement of a feather
or a flower. Every feature underwent a change, from chagrin and
fretfulness, if any ornament, made by order, proved, upon trial, to be
unbecoming; while the whole complexion glowed with the exquisite joy of
triumph, if something new, devised for a superiour in the world of
fashion, could be privately seized as a model by an inferiour.

The ladies whose practice it was to frequent the shop, thought the time
and trouble of its mistress, and her assistants, amply paid by the
honour of their presence; and though they tried on hats and caps, till
they put them out of shape; examined and tossed about the choicest
goods, till they were so injured that they could be sold only at half
price; ordered sundry articles, which, when finished, they returned,
because they had changed their minds; or discovered that they did not
want them; still their consciences were at ease, their honour was
self-acquitted, and their generosity was self-applauded, if, after two
or three hours of lounging, rummaging, fault-finding and chaffering,
they purchased a yard or two of ribbon, or a few skanes of netting silk.

The most callous disregard to all representations of the dearness of
materials, or of the just price of labour, was accompanied by the most
facile acquiescence even in demands that were exorbitant, if they were
adroitly preceded by, 'Lady ----, or the Duchess of ----, gave that sum
for just such another cap, hat, &c., this very morning.'

Here, too, as in many other situations into which accident had led, or
distress had driven Juliet, she saw, with commiseration and shame for
her fellow-creatures, the total absence of feeling and of equity, in the
dissipated and idle, for the indigent and laborious. The goods which
demanded most work, most ingenuity, and most hands, were last paid,
because heaviest of expence; though, for that very reason, the many
employed, and the charge of materials, made their payment the first
required. Oh that the good Mr Giles Arbe, thought Juliet, could arraign,
in his simple but impressive style, the ladies who exhibit themselves
with unpaid plumes, at assemblies and operas; and enquire whether they
can flatter themselves, that to adorn them alone is sufficient to
recompense those who work for, without seeing them; who ornament without
knowing them; and who must necessarily, if unrequited, starve in
rendering them more brilliant!

Upon further observation, nevertheless, her compassion for the milliner
and the work-women somewhat diminished; for she found that their notions
of probity were as lax as those of their customers were of justice; and
saw that their own rudeness to those who had neither rank nor fortune,
kept pace with the haughtiness which they were forced to support, from
those by whom both were possessed. Every advantage was taken of
inexperience and simplicity; every article was charged, not according to
its value, but to the skill or ignorance of the purchaser; old goods
were sold as if new; cheap goods as if dear; and ancient, or vulgar
ornaments, were presented to the unpractised chafferer, as the very pink
of the mode.

The rich and grand, who were capricious, difficult, and long in their
examinations, because their time was their own; or rather, because it
hung upon their hands; and whose utmost exertion, and sole practice of
exercise consisted in strolling from a sofa to a carriage, were
instantly, and with fulsome adulation, attended; while the meaner, or
economical, whose time had its essential appropriations, and was
therefore precious, were obliged to wait patiently for being served,
till no coach was at the door, and every fine lady had sauntered away.
And even then, they were scarcely heard when they spoke; scarcely shewn
what they demanded; and scarcely thanked for what they purchased.

In viewing conflicts such as these, between selfish vanity and cringing
cunning, it soon became difficult to decide, which was least congenial
to the upright mind and pure morality of Juliet, the insolent, vain,
unfeeling buyer, or the subtle, plausible, over-reaching seller.

The companions of Juliet in this business, though devoted, of course, to
its manual operations, left all its cares to its mistress. Their own
wishes and hopes were caught by other objects. The town was filled with
officers, whose military occupations were brief, whose acquaintances
were few, and who could not, all day long, ride, or pursue the sports of
the field. These gentlemen, for their idle moments, chose to deem all
the unprotected young women whom they thought worth observance, their
natural prey. And though, from race to race, and from time immemorial,
the young female shop-keeper had been warned of the danger, the folly,
and the fate of her predecessors; in listening to the itinerant admirer,
who, here to-day and gone to-morrow, marches his adorations, from town
to town with as much facility, and as little regret, as his regiment;
still every new votary to the counter and the modes, was ready to go
over the same ground that had been trodden before; with the fond
persuasion of proving an exception to those who had ended in misery and
disgrace, by finishing, herself, with marriage and promotion. Their
minds, therefore, were engaged in airy projects; and their leisure,
where they could elude the vigilance of Miss Matson, was devoted to
clandestine coquetry, tittering whispers, and secret frolics.

'These,' said Juliet, in a letter to Gabriella, 'are now my destined
associates! Ah, heaven! can these--can such as these,--setting aside
pride, prejudice, propriety, or whatever word we use for the
distinctions of society,--can these--can such as these, suffice as
companions to her whose grateful heart has been honoured with the
friendship of Gabriella? O hours of refined felicity past and gone, how
severe is your contrast with those of heaviness and distaste now
endured!'

The inexperience of Juliet in business, impeded not her acquiring almost
immediate excellence in the millinery art, for which she was equally
fitted by native taste, and by her remembrance of what she had seen
abroad. The first time, therefore, that she was employed to arrange some
ornaments, she adjusted them with an elegance so striking, that Miss
Matson, with much parade, exhibited them to her best lady-customers, as
a specimen of the very last new fashion, just brought her over by one of
her young ladies from Paris.

In a town that subsists by the search of health for the sick, and of
amusement for the idle, the smallest new circumstance is of sufficient
weight to be related and canvassed; for there is ever most to say where
there is least to do. The phrase, therefore, that went forth from Miss
Matson, that one of her young ladies was just come from France, was soon
spread through the neighbourhood; with the addition that the same person
had brought over specimens of all the French _costume_.

Such a report could not fail to allure staring customers to the shop,
where the attraction of the youth and beauty of the new work-woman,
contrasted with her determined silence to all enquiry, gave birth to
perpetually varying conjectures in her presence, which were followed by
the most eccentric assertions where she was the subject of discourse in
her absence. All that already had been spread abroad, of her acting, her
teaching, her playing the harp, her needle-work, and, more than all, her
having excited a suicide; was now in every mouth; and curiosity, baffled
in successive attempts to penetrate into the truth, supplied, as usual,
every chasm of fact by invention.

This species of commerce, always at hand, and always fertile, proved so
highly amusing to the lassitude of the idle, and to the frivolousness of
the dissipated, that, in a very few days, the shop of Miss Matson became
the general rendezvous of the saunterers, male and female, of
Brighthelmstone. The starers were happy to present themselves where
there was something to see; the strollers, where there was any where to
go; the loungers, where there was any pretence to stay; and the curious
where there was any thing to develop in which they had no concern.

Juliet, at first, ignorant of the usual traffic of the shop, imagined
this affluence of customers to be habitual; but she was soon undeceived,
by finding herself the object of inquisitive examination; and by
overhearing unrestrained inquiries made to Miss Matson, of 'Pray, Ma'am,
which is your famous French milliner?'

In the midst of these various distastes and discomforts, some interest
was raised in the mind of Juliet, for one of her young
fellow-work-women. It was not, indeed, that warm interest which is the
precursor of friendship; its object had no qualities that could rise to
such a height; it was simply a sensation of pity, abetted by a wish of
doing good.

Flora Pierson, without either fine features or fine countenance, had
strikingly the beauty of youth in a fair complexion, round, plump, rosy
cheeks, bright, though unmeaning eyes, and an air of health, strength,
and juvenile good humour, that was diffused copiously through her whole
appearance. She was innocent and inoffensive, and, as far as she was
able to think, well meaning, and ready to be at every body's command;
though incapable to be at any body's service. Yet her simplicity was of
that happy sort that never occasions self-distress, from being wholly
unaccompanied by any consciousness of deficiency or inferiority.
Accustomed to be laughed at almost whenever she spoke, she saw the smile
that she raised without emotion; or participated in it without knowing
why; and she heard the sneer that followed her simple merriment without
displeasure; though sometimes she would a little wonder what it meant.

This young creature, who had but barely passed her sixteenth year, had
already attracted the dangerous attention of various officers, from
whose several attacks and manoeuvres she had hitherto been rescued by
the vigilance of Miss Matson. Each of these anecdotes she eagerly took,
or rather made opportunities to communicate to Juliet; waiting for no
other encouragement than the absence of Miss Matson, and using no other
prelude than 'Now I've got something else to tell you!'

Except for some slight mixture of contempt, Juliet heard these tales
with perfect indifference; till that ungenial feeling, or rather absence
of feeling, was superceded by compassion, upon finding that she was the
object, probably the dupe, of a new and unfinished adventure, with which
Miss Matson was as yet unacquainted. 'Now, Miss Ellis!' she cried, 'I'll
tell you the drollest part of all, shall I? Well, do you know I've got
another admirer that's above all the rest? And yet he i'n't a captain,
neither, nor an officer. But he's quite a gentleman of quality, for he's
a knight baronight. And he's very pretty, I assure you. As pretty as
you, only his nose is a little shorter, and his mouth is a little
bigger. And he has not got quite so much colour; for he is very pale.
But he's prettier than I am, I believe. Yet I'm not very homely, people
say. I'm sure I don't know. One can't judge one's self. But I believe
I'm very well. At least, I am not very brown; I know that, by my
looking-glass. I've a pretty good skin of my own.'

Neither the giggling derision of her fellow-work-women, nor the total
abstinence from enquiry or comment with which Juliet heard these
insignificant details, checked the pleasure of Flora in her own prattle;
which, whenever she could find some one to address,--for she waited not
till any one would listen,--went on, with sleepy good humour, and
pretty, but unintelligent smiles, from the moment that she rose, to the
moment that she went to rest. But when, in great confidence, and
declaring that nobody was in the secret, except just Miss Biddy, and
Miss Jenny, and Miss Polly, and Miss Betsey, she made known who was this
last and most striking admirer, the attention of Juliet was roused; it
was Sir Lyell Sycamore.

Copiously, and with looks of triumph, Flora related her history with the
young Baronet. First of all, she said, he had declared, in ever so many
little whispers, that he was in love with her; and next, he had made her
ever so many beautiful presents, of ear-rings, necklaces, and trinkets;
always sending them by a porter, who pretended that they were just
arrived by the Diligence; with a letter to shew to Miss Matson,
importing that an uncle of Flora's, who resided in Northumberlandshire,
begged her to accept these remembrances. 'Though I'm sure I don't know
how he found out that I've got an uncle there,' she continued, 'unless
it was by my telling it him, when he asked me what relations I had.'

Her gratitude and vanity thus at once excited, Sir Lyell told her that
he had some important intelligence to communicate, which could not be
revealed in a short whisper in the shop: he begged her, therefore, to
meet him upon the Strand, a little way out of the town, one Sunday
afternoon; while Miss Matson might suppose that she was taking her usual
recreation with the rest of the young ladies. 'So I could not refuse
him, you may think,' she said, 'after being so much obliged to him; and
so we walked together by the sea-side, and he was as agreeable as ever;
and so was I, too, I believe, if I may judge without flattery. At least,
he said I was, over and over; and he's a pretty good judge, I believe, a
man of his quality. But I sha'n't tell you what he said to me; for he
said I was as fresh as a violet, and as fair as jessamy, and as sweet as
a pink, and as rosy as a rose; but one must not over and above believe
the gentlemen, mamma says, for what they say is but half a compliment.
However, what do you think, Miss Ellis? Only guess! For all his being so
polite, do you know, he was upon the point of behaving rude? Only I told
him I'd squall out, if he did. But he spoke so pretty when he saw I was
vexed, that I could not be very angry with him about it; could I?
Besides, men will be rude, naturally, mamma says.'

'But does not your mamma tell you, also, Miss Pierson, that you must not
walk out alone with gentlemen?'

'O dear, yes! She's told me that ever so often. And I told it to Sir
Lyell; and I said to him we had better not go. But he said that would
kill him, poor gentleman! And he looked as sorrowful as ever you saw;
just as if he was going to cry. I'm sure I'm glad he did not, poor
gentleman! for if he had, it's ten to one but I should have cried too;
unless, out of ill luck, I had happened to fall a laughing; for it's
odds which I do, sometimes, when I'm put in a fidget. However, upon
seeing his sister, along with some company of his acquaintance, not far
off, he said I had better go back: but he promised me, if I would meet
him again the next Sunday, he would have a post-chaise o'purpose for me,
because of the pebbles being so hard for my feet; and he'd take me ever
so pretty a ride, he said, upon the Downs. But he came the next morning
to tell me he was forced, by ill luck, to go to London; but he'd soon be
back: and he bid me, ever so often, not to say one word of what had
passed to a living creature; for if his sister should get an inkling of
his being in love with me, there would be fine work, he said! But he'd
bring me ever so many pretty things, he said, from London.'

Juliet listened to this history with the deepest indignation against the
barbarous libertine, who, with egotism so inhuman, sought to rob, first
of innocence, and next, for it would be the inevitable consequence, of
all her fair prospects in life, a young creature whose simplicity
disabled her from seeing her danger; whose credulity induced her to
agree to whatever was proposed; and whose weakness of intellect rendered
it as much a dishonour as a cruelty to make her a dupe.

Whatever could be suggested to awaken the simple maiden to a sense of
her perilous situation, was instantly urged; but without any effect. Sir
Lyell Sycamore, she answered, had owned that he was in love with her;
and it was very hard if she must be ill natured to him in return;
especially as, if she behaved agreeably, nobody could tell but he might
mean to make her a lady. Where a vision so refulgent, which every speech
of Sir Lyell's, couched in ambiguous terms, though adroitly evasive of
promise, had been insidiously calculated to present, was sparkling full
in sight, how unequal were the efforts of sober truth and reason, to
substitute in its place cold, dull, disappointing reality! Juliet soon
relinquished the attempt as hopeless. Where ignorance is united with
vanity, advice, or reproof, combat it in vain. She addressed her
remonstrances, therefore, to their fellow-work-women; every one of
which, it was evident, was a confidant of the dangerous secret. How was
it, she demanded, that, aware of the ductility of temper of this poor
young creature, they had suffered her to form so alarming a connexion,
unknown either to her friends or to Miss Matson?

Pettishly affronted, they answered, that they were not a set of fusty
duennas: that if Miss Pierson were ever so young, that did not make them
old; that she might as well take care of herself, therefore, as they of
themselves. Besides, nobody could tell but Sir Lyell Sycamore meant to
marry her; and indeed they none of them doubted that such was his
design; because he was politeness itself to all of them round, though he
was most particular, to be sure, to Miss Pierson. They could not think,
therefore, of making such a gentleman their enemy, any more than of
standing in the way of Miss Pierson's good fortune; for, to their
certain knowledge, there were more grand matches spoilt by meddling and
making, than by any thing else upon earth.

Here again, what were the chances of truth and reason against the
semblance, at least the pretence of generosity, which thus covered folly
and imprudence? Each aspiring damsel, too, had some similar secret, or
correspondent hope of her own; and found it convenient to reject, as
treachery, an appeal against a sister work-woman, that might operate as
an example for a similar one against herself.

Juliet, therefore, could but determine to watch the weak, if not willing
victim, while yet under the same roof; and openly, before she quitted
it, to reveal the threatening danger to Miss Matson.



CHAPTER XLVI


The first Sunday that Juliet passed in this new situation, nearly robbed
her of the good will of the whole of the little community to which she
belonged. It was the only day in the week in which the young work-women
were allowed some hours for recreation; they considered it, therefore,
as rightfully dedicated, after the church-service, to amusement with one
another; and Juliet, in refusing to join in a custom which they held to
be the basis of their freedom and happiness, appeared to them an
unsocial and haughty innovator. Yet neither wearying remonstrances, nor
persecuting persuasions, could prevail upon her to parade with them upon
the Steyne; to stroll with them by the sea-side; to ramble upon the
Downs; or to form a party for Shoreham, or Devil's Dyke.

Evil is so relative, that the same chamber, the lonely sadness of which,
since her privation of Gabriella, had become nearly insupportable to
her, was now, from a new contrast, almost all that she immediately
coveted. The bustle, the fatigue, the obtrusion of new faces, the spirit
of petty intrigue, and the eternal clang of tongues, which she had to
endure in the shop, made quiet, even in its most uninteresting dulness,
desirable and consoling.

To approach herself, as nearly as might be in her power, to the loved
society which she had lost, she destined this only interval of peace and
leisure, to her pen and Gabriella; and such was her employment, when the
sound of slow steps, upon the stairs, followed by a gentle tap at her
door, at once interrupted and surprised her. Miss Matson and her maids,
as well as her work-women, were spending their Sabbath abroad; and a
shop-man was left to take care of the house. The tap, however, was
repeated, and, obeying its call, Juliet beheld Sir Jaspar Herrington,
the gouty old Baronet.

The expression of her countenance immediately demanded explanation, if
not apology, as she stepped forward upon the landing-place, to make
clear that she should not receive him in her apartment.

His keen eye read her meaning, though, affecting not to perceive it, he
pleasantly said, 'How? immured in your chamber? and of a gala day?'

The recollection of the essential, however forced obligation, which she
owed to him, for her deliverance from the persecution of Miss Bydel,
soon dissipated her first impression in his disfavour, and she quietly
answered that she went very little abroad: but when she would have
enquired into his business, 'You can refuse yourself, then,' he cried,
pretending not to hear her, 'the honour--or pleasure, which shall we
call it? of sharing in the gaieties of your fair fellow-votaries to the
needle? I suspected you of this self-denial. I had a secret presentiment
that you would be insensible to the fluttering joys of your sister
spinsters. How did I divine you so well? What is it you have about you
that sets one's imagination so to work?'

Juliet replied, that she would not presume to interfere with the
business of his penetration, but that, as she was occupied, she must beg
to know, at once, his commands.

'Not so hasty! not so hasty!' he cried: 'You must shew me some little
consideration, if only in excuse for the total want of it which you have
caused in those little imps, that beset my slumbers by night, and my
reveries by day. They have gotten so much the better of me now, that I
am equally at a loss how to sleep or how to wake for them. 'Why don't
you find out,' they cry, 'whether this syren likes her new situation?
Why don't you discover whether any thing better can be done for her?'
And then, all of one accord, they so pommel and bemaul me, that you
would pity me, I give you my word, if you could see the condition into
which they put my poor conscience; however little so fair a young
creature may be disposed to feel pity, for such a hobbling, gouty old
fellow as I am!'

Softened by this benevolent solicitude, Juliet, thankfully, spoke of
herself with all the cheerfulness that she could assume; and, encouraged
by her lessened reserve, Sir Jaspar, to her unspeakable surprise, said,
'There is one point, I own, which I have an extreme desire to know; how
long may it be that you have left the stage, and from what latent
cause?'

No explanation, however, could be attempted: the attention of Juliet was
called into another channel, by the sound of a titter, which led her to
perceive Flora Pierson; who, almost convulsed with delight at having
surprised them, said that she had heard, from the shop-man, that Miss
Ellis and Sir Jaspar were talking together upon the stairs, and she had
stolen up the back way, and crept softly through one of the garrets, on
purpose to come upon them unawares. 'So now,' added she, nodding, 'we'll
go into my room, if you please, Miss Ellis; for I have got something
else to tell you! Only you must not stay with me long.'

'And not to tell me, too?' cried Sir Jaspar, chucking her under the
chin: 'How's this, my daffodil? my pink? my lilly? how's this? surely
you have not any secrets for me?'

'O yes, I have, Sir Jaspar! because you're a gentleman, you know, Sir
Jaspar. And one must not tell every thing to gentlemen, mamma says.'

'Mamma says? but you are too much a woman to mind what mamma says, I
hope, my rose, my daisy?' cried Sir Jaspar, chucking her again under the
chin, while she smiled and courtsied in return.

Juliet would have re-entered her chamber; but Flora, catching her gown,
said, 'Why now, Miss Ellis, I bid you come to my room, if you please,
Miss Ellis; 'cause then I can show you my presents; as well as tell you
something.--Come, will you go? for it's something that's quite a secret,
I assure you; for I have not told it to any body yet; not even to our
young ladies; for it's but just happened. So you've got my first
confidence this time: and you have a right to take that very kind of me,
for it's what I've promised, upon my word and honour, and as true as
true can be, not to tell to any body; not so much as to a living soul!'

To be freed quietly from the Baronet, Juliet consented to attend her;
and Flora, with many smiles and nods at Sir Jaspar, begged that he would
not be affronted that she did not tell all her secrets to gentlemen;
and, shutting him out, began her tale.

'Now I'll tell you what it is I'm going to tell you, Miss Ellis. Do you
know who I met, just now, upon the Steyne, while I was walking with our
young ladies, not thinking of any thing? You can't guess, can you? Why
Sir Lyell himself. I gave such a squeak! But he spoke to all our young
ladies first. And I was half a mind to cry; only I happened to be in one
of my laughing fits. And when once I am upon my gig, papa says, if the
world were all to tumble down, it would not hinder me of my smiling.
Though I am sure I often don't know what it's for. If any body asked me,
I could not tell, one time in twenty. But Sir Lyell's very clever;
cleverer than I am, by half, I believe. For he got to speak to me, at
last, so as nobody could hear a word he said, but just me. Nor I could
not, either, but only he spoke quite in my ear.'

'And do you think it right, Miss Pierson, to let gentlemen whisper you?'

'O, I could not bid him not, you know. I could not be rude to a
Knight-Baronet! Besides, he said he was come down from London, on
purpose for nothing else but to see me! A Knight-Baronet, Miss Ellis!
That's very good natured, is it not? I dare say he means something by
it. Don't you? However, I shall know more by and by, most likely; for he
whispered me to make believe I'd got a head-ache, and to come home by
myself, and wait for him in my own room: for he says he has brought me
the prettiest present that ever I saw from London. So you see how
generous he is; i'n't he? And he'll bring it me himself, to make me a
little visit. So then, very likely, he'll speak out. Won't he? But he
bid me tell it to nobody. So say nothing if you see him, for it will
only be the way to make him angry. I must not put the shop-man in the
secret, he says, for he shall only ask for old Sir Jaspar; and he shall
go to him first, and make the shop-man think he is with him all the
time. So I told our young ladies I'd got a head-ache, sure enough; but
don't be uneasy, for it's only make believe; for I'm very well.'

Filled with alarm for the simple, deluded maiden, Juliet now made an
undisguised representation of her danger; earnestly charging her not to
receive the dangerous visit.

But Flora, self-willed, though good natured, would not hear a word.

    No ass so meek;--no mule so obstinate.

She never contradicted, yet never listened; she never gave an opinion,
yet never followed one. She was neither endowed with timidity to suspect
her deficiencies, nor with sense to conceive how she might be better
informed. She came to Juliet merely to talk; and when her prattle was
over, or interrupted, she had no thought but to be gone.

'O yes, I must see him, Miss Ellis,' she cried; 'for you can't think how
ill he'll take it, if I don't. But now we have stayed talking together
so long, I can't shew you my presents till he is gone, for fear he
should come. But don't mind, for then I shall have the new ones to shew
you, too. But if I don't do what he bids me, he'll be as angry as can
be, for all he's my lover; (smiling.) He makes very free with me
sometimes; only I don't mind it; because I'm pretty much used to it,
from one or another. Sometimes he'll say I am the greatest simpleton
that ever he knew in his life; for all he calls me his angel! He don't
make much ceremony with me, when I don't understand his signs. But it
don't much signify, for the more he's angry, the more he's kind, when
it's over, (smiling.) And then he brings me prettier things than ever.
So I a'n't much a loser. I've no great need to cry about it. And he says
I'm quite a little goddess, often and often, if I'd believe him. Only
one must not believe the men over much, when they are gentlemen, I
believe.'

Juliet, kindly taking her hand, would have drawn her into her own
chamber; but they were no sooner in the passage, than Flora jumped back,
and, shaking with laughter at her ingenuity, shut and locked herself
into her room.

Juliet now renounced, perforce, all thought of serving her except
through the medium of Miss Matson; and she was returning, much vexed, to
her own small apartment, when she saw Sir Jaspar, who, leaning against
the banisters, seemed to have been waiting for her, step curiously
forward, as she opened her door, to take a view of her chamber. With
quick impulse, to check this liberty, she hastily pushed to the door;
not recollecting, till too late, that the key, by which alone it was
opened, was on the inside.

Chagrined, she repaired to Flora, telling the accident, and begging
admittance.

Flora, laughing with all her heart, positively refused to open the door;
saying that she would rather be without company.

The shop-man now came up stairs, to see what was going forward, and to
enquire whether Miss Pierson, who had told him that she was ill, found
herself worse. Flora, hastily checking her mirth, answered that her head
ached, and she would lie down; and then spoke no more.

The shop-man made an attempt to enter into conversation with Juliet; but
she gravely requested that he would be so good as to order a smith to
open the lock of her door.

He ought not, he said, to leave the house in the absence of Miss Matson;
but he would run the risk for the pleasure of obliging her, if she would
only step down into the shop, to answer to the bell or the knocker.

To this, in preference to being shut out of her room, she would
immediately have consented, but that she feared the arrival of Sir
Lyell Sycamore. She asked the shop-man, therefore, if there were any
objection to her waiting in the little parlour.

None in the world, he answered; for he had Miss Matson's leave to use it
when she was out of a Sunday; and he should be very glad if Miss Ellis
would oblige him with her company.

Juliet declined this proposal with an air that repressed any further
attempt at intimacy; and the shop-man returned to his post.

'I must not, I suppose,' the Baronet, then advancing, said, 'presume to
offer you shelter under my roof from the inclemencies of the staircase?
And yet I think I may venture, without being indecorous, to mention,
that I am going out for my usual airing; and that you may take
possession of your old apartment, upon your own misanthropical terms. At
all events, I shall leave you the door open, place some books upon the
table, take out my servants, and order that no one shall molest you.'

Extremely pleased by a kindness so much to her taste, Juliet would
gratefully have accepted this offer, but for the visit that she knew to
be designed for the same apartment; which the absence of its master was
not likely to prevent, as the pretence of writing a note, or his name,
would suffice with Sir Lyell for mounting the stairs. Who then could
protect Flora? Could Juliet herself come forward, when no one else
remained in the house, conscious, as she could not but be, of the
dishonourable views of which she, also, had been the object? The
departure of Sir Jaspar appeared, therefore, to be big with mischief;
and, when he was making a leave-taking bow, she almost involuntarily
said, 'You are forced, then, Sir, to go out this morning?'

Surprized and pleased, he answered, 'What! have my little fairy elves
given you a lesson of humanity? Nay, if so, though they should pommel
and maul me for a month to come, I shall yet be their obedient humble
servant.'

He then gave orders aloud that his carriage should be put up; saying,
that he had letters to write, and that his servants might go and amuse
themselves for an hour or two where they pleased.

Juliet, now, was crimsoned with shame and embarrassment. How account for
thus palpably wishing him to remain in the house? or how suffer him, by
silence, to suppose it was from a desire of his society? Her blushes
astonished, yet, by heightening her beauty, charmed still more than they
perplexed him. To settle what to think of her might be difficult and
teazing; but to admire her was easy and pleasant. He approached her,
therefore, with the most flattering looks and smiles; but, to avoid any
mistake in his manner of addressing her, he kept his speech back, with
his judgment, till he could learn her purpose.

This prudential circumspection redoubled her confusion, and she
hesitatingly stammered her concern that she had prevented his airing.

More amazed still, but still more enchanted, to see her thus at a loss
what to say, though evidently pleased that he had relinquished his
little excursion, he was making a motion to take her hand, which she had
scarcely perceived, when a violent ringing at the door-bell, checked
him; and concentrated all her solicitude in the impending danger of
Flora; and, in her eagerness to rescue the simple girl from ruin, she
hastily said: 'Can you, Sir Jaspar, forgive a liberty in the cause of
humanity? May I appeal to your generosity? You will receive a visitor in
a few minutes, whom I have earnest reasons for wishing you to detain in
your apartment to the last moment that is possible. May I make so
extraordinary a request?'

'Request?' repeated Sir Jaspar, charmed by what he considered as an
opening to intimacy; 'can you utter any thing but commands? The most
benignant sprite of all Fairyland, has inspired you with this gracious
disposition to dub me your knight.'

Yet his eyes, still bright with intelligence, and now full of fanciful
wonder, suddenly emitted an expression less rapturous, when he
distinguished the voice of Sir Lyell Sycamore, in parley with the
shop-man. Disappointment and chagrin soon took place of sportive
playfulness in his countenance; and, muttering between his teeth, 'O ho!
Sir Lyell Sycamore!'--he fixed his keen eyes sharply upon Juliet; with a
look in which she could not but read the ill construction to which her
seeming knowledge of that young man's motions, and her apparent interest
in them, made her liable; and how much his light opinion of Sir Lyell's
character, affected his partial, though still fluctuating one of her
own.

Sir Lyell, however, was upon the stairs, and she did not dare enter into
any justification; Sir Jaspar, too, was silent; but the young baronet
mounted, singing, in a loud voice,

    O my love, lov'st thou me?
    Then quickly come and see one who dies for thee!

'Yes here I come, Sir Lyell!'--in a low, husky, laughing voice, cried
Flora, peeping through her chamber-door; which was immediately at the
head of the stairs, upon the second floor; and to which Sir Lyell looked
up, softly whispering, 'Be still, my little angel! and, in ten
minutes--' He stopt abruptly, for Sir Jaspar now caught his astonished
sight, upon the landing-place of the attic story, with Juliet retreating
behind him.

'O ho! you are there, are you?' he cried, in a tone of ludicrous
accusation.

'And you, you are there, are you?' answered Sir Jaspar, in a voice more
seriously taunting.

Juliet, hurt and confounded, would have escaped through the garret to
the back stairs, but that her hat and cloak, without which she could not
leave the house, were shut into her room. She tried, therefore, to look
unmoved; well aware that the best chance to escape impertinence, is by
not appearing to suspect that any is intended.

Three strides now brought Sir Lyell before her. His amazement, vented by
rattling exclamations, again perplexed Sir Jaspar; for how could Juliet
have been apprized of his intended visit, but by himself?

Sir Lyell, mingling the most florid compliments upon her radiant beauty,
and bright bloom, with his pleasure at her sight, said that, from the
reports which had reached him, that she had given up her singing, and
her teaching, and that Sir Jaspar had taken the room which she had
inhabited, he had concluded that she had quitted Brighthelmstone. He was
going rapidly on in the same strain, the observant Sir Jaspar intently
watching her looks, while curiously listening to his every word; when
Juliet, without seeming to have attended to a syllable, related, with
grave brevity, that she had unfortunately shut in the key of her room,
and must therefore seek Miss Matson, to demand another; and then, with
steady steps, that studiously kept in order innumerable timid fears, she
descended to the shop; leaving the two Baronets mutually struck by her
superiour air and manner; and each, though equally desirous to follow
her, involuntarily standing still, to wait the motions of the other; and
thence to judge of his pretensions to her favour.

Juliet found the shop empty, but the street-door open, and the shop-man
sauntering before it, to look at the passers by. Glad to be, for a
while, at least, spared the distaste of his company, she shut herself
into the little parlour, carefully drawing the curtain of the
glass-door.

The two Baronets, as she expected, soon descended; the younger one eager
to take leave of the elder, and privately re-mount the stairs; and Sir
Jaspar, fixed to obey the injunctions, however unaccountable, of Juliet,
in detaining and keeping sight of him to the last moment.

'Decamped, I swear, the little vixen!' exclaimed Sir Lyell, striding in
first; 'but why the d--l do you come down, Sir Jaspar?'

'For exercise, not ceremony,' he answered; though, little wanting
further exertion, and heartily tired, he dropt down upon the first
chair.

Sir Lyell vainly offered his arm, and pressed to aid him back to his
apartment; he would not move.

After some time thus wasted, Sir Lyell, mortified and provoked, cast
himself upon the counter, and whistled, to disguise his ill humour.

A pause now ensued, which Sir Jaspar broke, by hesitatingly, yet with
earnestness, saying, 'Sir Lyell Sycamore, I am not, you will do me the
justice to believe, a sour old fellow, to delight in mischief; a surly
old dog, to mar the pleasures of which I cannot partake; if, therefore,
to answer what I mean to ask will thwart any of your projects, leave me
and my curiosity in the lurch; if not, you will sensibly gratify me, by
a little frank communication. I don't meddle with your affair with
Flora; 'tis a blooming little wild rose-bud, but of too common a species
to be worth analysing. This other young creature, however, whose wings
your bird-lime seems also to have entangled--'

'How so?' interrupted Sir Lyell, jumping eagerly from the counter, 'what
the d--l do you mean by that?'

'Not to be indiscreet, I promise you,' answered Sir Jaspar; 'but as I
see the interest she takes in you,--'

'The d--l you do?' exclaimed Sir Lyell, in an accent of surprize, yet of
transport.

Sir Jaspar now, ironically smiling, said, 'You don't know it, then, Sir
Lyell? You are modest?--diffident? unconscious?--'

'My dear boy!' cried Sir Lyell, riotously, and approaching familiarly to
embrace him, 'what a devilish kind office I shall owe you, if you can
put any good notions into my head of that delicious girl!'

New doubts now destroying his recent suspicions, Sir Jaspar held back,
positively refusing to clear up what had dropt from him, and laughingly
saying, 'Far be it from me to put any such notions into your head! I
believe it amply stored! All my desire is to get some out of it. If,
therefore, you can tell me, or, rather, will tell me, who or what this
young creature is, you will do a kind office to my imagination, for
which I shall be really thankful. Who is she, then? And what is she?'

'D--l take me if I either know or care!' cried Sir Lyell, 'further than
that she is a beauty of the first water; and that I should have adored
her, exclusively, three months ago, if I had not believed her a thing of
alabaster. But if you think her--'

'Not I! not I!--I know nothing of her!' interrupted Sir Jaspar: 'she is
a rose planted in the snow, for aught I can tell! The more I see, the
less I understand; the more I surmize, the further I seem from the mark.
Honestly, then, whence does she come? How did you first see her? What
does she do at Brighthelmstone?'

'May I go to old Nick if I am better informed than yourself! except that
she sings and plays like twenty angels, and that all the women are
jealous of her, and won't suffer a word to be said to her. However, I
made up to her, at first, and should certainly have found her out, but
for Melbury, who annoyed me with a long history of her virtue, and
character, and Lady Aurora's friendship, and the d--l knows what; that
made me so cursed sheepish, I was afraid of embarking in any measures of
spirit. My sister, also, took lessons of her; and other game came into
chase; and I should never have thought of her again, but that, when I
went to town, a week or two ago, I learnt, from that Queen of the Crabs,
Mrs Howel, that Melbury, in fact, knows no more of her than we do. He
had nobody's world but her own for all her fine sentiments; so that he
and his platonics would have kept me at bay no longer, if I had not
believed her decamped from Brighthelmstone, upon hearing that you had
got her lodging. How came you to turn her into the garret, my dear boy?
Is that _à la mode_ of your _vieille cour_?'

Sir Jaspar protested that, when he took the apartment, he knew not of
her existence; and then enquired, whether Sir Lyell could tell in what
name she had been upon the stage; and why she had quitted it.

'The stage? O the d--l!' he exclaimed, 'has she been upon the stage?'

'Yes; I heard the fact mentioned to her, the other day, by a
fellow-performer! some low player, who challenged her as a sister of the
buskins.'

'What a glorious Statira she must make!' cried Sir Lyell. 'I am ready to
be her Alexander when she will. That hint you have dropt, my dear old
boy, sha'n't be thrown away upon me. But how the d--l did you find the
dear charmer out?'

Sir Jaspar again sought to draw back his information; but Sir Lyell
swore that he would not so lightly be put aside from a view of success,
now once it was fairly opened; and was vowing that he should begin a
siege in form, and persevere to a surrender; when the conversation was
interrupted, by the entrance of the shop-man, accompanied by a
mantua-maker, who called upon some business.

Juliet, who, from the beginning, had heard this discourse with the
utmost uneasiness, and whom its conclusion had filled with indignant
disgust; had no resource to avoid the yet greater evil of being joined
by the interlocutors, but that of sitting motionless and unsuspected,
till they should depart; or till Miss Matson should return. But her care
and precaution proved vain: the shop-man invited Mrs Hart, the
mantua-maker, into the little parlour; and, upon opening the door,
Juliet met their astonished view.

Sir Jaspar, not without evident anxiety, endeavoured to recollect what
had dropt from him, that might hurt her; or how he might palliate what
might have given her offence. But Sir Lyell, not at all disconcerted,
and privately persuaded that half his difficulties were vanquished, by
the accident that acquainted her with his design; was advancing,
eagerly, with a volley of rapid compliments, upon his good fortune in
again meeting with her; when Juliet, not deigning to seem conscious even
of his presence, passed him without notice; and, addressing Mrs Hart,
entreated that she would go up stairs to the room of Miss Pierson, to
examine whether it were necessary to send for any advice; as she had
returned home alone, and complained of being ill. Mrs Hart complied; and
Juliet followed her to Flora's chamber-door.



CHAPTER XLVII


The gentle tap that Mrs Hart, fearing to disturb her, gave at the door
of Flora, deceived the expecting girl into a belief that Sir Lyell was
at length arrived; and crying, in a low voice, as she opened it, 'O Sir!
how long you have been coming!' she stared at sight of Mrs Hart, with an
amazement equal to her disappointment.

Presently, however, with a dejected look and tone, 'Well, now!' she
cried, 'is it only you, Mrs Hart?--I thought it had been somebody quite
different!'

Mrs Hart, entering, enquired, with surprize, why Miss Ellis had said
that Miss Pierson was ill, when, on the contrary, she had never seen her
look better.

'Well, now, Miss Ellis,' cried Flora, whispering Juliet, 'did not I tell
you, as plain as could be, 'twas nothing but make believe?'

Juliet, without offering any apology, answered, that she had invited Mrs
Hart to make her a visit.

'Why, now, what can you be thinking of?' cried Flora, angrily: 'Why, you
know, as well as can be, that I want to see nobody! Why, have you forgot
all I told you, already, about you know who? Why I never knew the like!
Why he'll be fit to kill himself! I'll never tell you any thing again,
if you beg me on your knees! so there's the end to your knowing any more
of my secrets! and you've nobody but yourself to thank, if it vexes you
never so!'

Mrs Hart interrupted this murmuring, by enquiring who was the Sir that
Miss Pierson expected; adding that, if it were the shop-man, it would be
more proper Miss Pierson should go down stairs, than that she should let
him come up to her room.

'The shop-man?' repeated Flora, simpering, and winking at Juliet; 'no,
indeed, Mrs Hart; you have not made a very good guess there! Has she,
Miss Ellis? I don't think a man of quality, and a baronet, is very like
a shop-man! Do you, Miss Ellis?'

This blundering simplicity of vanity was not lost upon Mrs Hart. 'O ho!'
she cried, 'you expect a baronet, do you, then, Miss Pierson? Why there
were no less than two Baronets in the shop as I came through, just now;
and there's one of them this minute crossing the way, and turning the
corner.'

'O Me! is he gone, then?' cried Flora, looking out of the window. 'O Me!
what shall I do? O Miss Ellis! this is all your fault! And now, perhaps,
he'll be so angry he'll never speak to me again! And if he don't, ten to
one but it may break my heart! for that often happens when one's crossed
in love. And if it does, I sha'n't thank you for it, I assure you! And
it's just as likely as not!'

Juliet, though she sought to appease both her grief and her wrath, could
not but rejoice that their unguarded redundance informed Mrs Hart of the
whole history: and Mrs Hart, who, though a plain, appeared to be a very
worthy woman, immediately endeavoured to save the poor young creature,
from the snares into which she was rather wilfully jumping, than
deludedly falling, by giving her a pressing invitation to her own house
for the rest of the day. But to this, neither entreaty nor reproof could
obtain consent. Flora, like many who seem gentle, was only simple; and
had neither docility nor comprehension for being turned aside from the
prosecution of her wishes. To be thwarted in any desire, she considered
as cruelty, and resented as ill treatment. She refused, therefore, to
leave the house, while hoping for the return of Sir Lyell; and continued
her childish wailing and fretting, till accident led her eyes to a
favourite little box; when, her tears suddenly stopping, and her face
brightening, she started up, seized, opened it, and, displaying a very
pretty pair of ear-rings, exclaimed, 'Oh, I have never shewn you my
presents, Miss Ellis! And now Mrs Hart may have a peep at them, too. So
she's in pretty good luck, I think!'

And then, with exulting pleasure, she produced all the costly trinkets
that she had received from Sir Lyell; with some few, less valuable,
which had been presented to her by Sir Jaspar; and all the baubles,
however insignificant or babyish, that had been bestowed upon her by her
friends and relatives, from her earliest youth. And these, with the
important and separate history of each, occupied, unawares, her time,
till the return of Miss Matson.

Mrs Hart then descended, and, urged by Juliet, briefly and plainly
communicated the situation and the danger of the young apprentice.

Miss Matson, affrighted for the credit of her shop, determined to send
for the mother of Flora, who resided at Lewes, the next day.

Relieved now from her troublesome and untoward charge, Juliet had her
door opened, and re-took possession of her room.

And there, a new view of her own helpless and distressed condition,
filled and dejected her with new alarm. The licentiously declared
purpose of Sir Lyell had been shocking to her ears; and the
consciousness that he knew that she was informed of his intention added
to its horrour, from her inability to shew her resentment, in the only
way that suited her character or her disposition, that of positively
seeing him no more. But how avoid him while she had no other means of
subsistence than working in an open shop?

The following morning but too clearly justified her apprehensive
prognostics, of the improprieties to which her defenceless state made
her liable. At an early hour, Sir Lyell, gay, courteous, gallant,
entered the shop, under pretence of enquiring for Sir Jaspar; whom he
knew to be invisible, from his infirmities, to all but his own nurses
and servants, till noon. Miss Matson was taciturn and watchful, though
still, from the fear of making an enemy, respectful; while Flora,
simpering and blushing, was ready to jump into his arms, in her
eagerness to apologize for not having waited alone for him, according to
his directions: but he did not look at Miss Matson, though he addressed
her; nor address Flora, though, by a side glance, he saw her
expectations; his attention, from the moment that he had asked, without
listening to any answer, whether he could see Sir Jaspar, was all, and
even publicly devoted to Juliet; whom he approached with an air of
homage, and accosted with the most flattering compliments upon her good
looks and her beauty.

Juliet turned aside from him, with an indignant disgust, in which she
hoped he would read her resentment of his scheme, and her abhorrence of
his principles. But those who are deep in vice are commonly incredulous
of virtue. Sir Lyell took her apparent displeasure, either for a
timidity which flattery would banish, or an hypocrisy which boldness
would conquer. He continued, therefore, his florid adulation to her
charms; regarding the heightened colour of offended purity, but as an
augmented attraction.

Juliet perceived her failure to repress his assurance, with a
disturbance that was soon encreased, by the visible jealousy manifested
in the pouting lips and frowning brow of Flora; who, the moment that
Sir Lyell, saying that he would call upon Sir Jaspar again, thought it
prudent to retire, began a convulsive sobbing; averring that she saw why
she had been betrayed; for that it was only to inveigle away her
sweetheart.

Pity for the ignorant accuser, might have subdued the disdain due to the
accusation, and have induced Juliet to comfort her by a self-defence;
but for a look, strongly expressing a suspicion to the same effect, from
Miss Matson; which was succeeded by a general tossing up of the chins of
the young work-women, and a murmur of, 'I wonder how she would like to
be served so herself!'

This was too offensive to be supported, and she retired to her chamber.

If, already, the mingled frivolity and publicity of the business into
which she had entered, had proved fatiguing to her spirits, and ungenial
to her disposition; surmises, such as she now saw raised, of a petty and
base rivality, urged by a pursuit the most licentious, rendered all
attempt at its continuance intolerable. Without, therefore, a moment's
hesitation, she determined to relinquish her present enterprise.

The only, as well as immediate notion that occurred to her, in this new
difficulty, was to apply to Mrs Hart, who seemed kind as well as civil,
for employment.

When she was summoned, therefore, by Miss Matson, with surprize and
authority, back to the shop, she returned equipped for going abroad;
and, after thanking her for the essay which she had permitted to be made
in the millinery-business, declared that she found herself utterly unfit
for so active and so public a line of life.

Leaving then Miss Matson, Flora, and the young journey-women to their
astonishment, she bent her course to the house of Mrs Hart; where her
application was happily successful. Mrs Hart had work of importance just
ordered for a great wedding in the neighbourhood, and was glad to engage
so expert a hand for the occasion; agreeing to allow, in return, bed,
board, and a small stipend per day.

With infinite relief, Juliet went back to make her little preparations,
and take leave of Miss Matson; by whom she was now followed to her room,
with many earnest instances that she would relinquish her design. Miss
Matson, in unison with the very common character to which she belonged,
had appreciated Juliet not by her worth, her talents, or her labours,
but by her avowed distress, and acknowledged poverty. Notwithstanding,
therefore, her abilities and her industry, she had been uniformly
considered as a dead weight to the business, and to the house. But now,
when it appeared that the pennyless young woman had some other resource,
the eyes of Miss Matson were suddenly opened to merits to which she had
hitherto been blind. She felt all the advantages which the shop would
lose by the departure of such an assistant; and recollected the many
useful hints, in fashion and in elegance, which had been derived from
her taste and fancy: her exemplary diligence in work; her gentle
quietness of behaviour; and the numberless customers, which the various
reports that were spread of her history, had drawn to the shop. All,
now, however, was unavailing; the remembrance of what was over occurred
too late to change the plan of Juliet; though a kinder appreciation of
her character and services, while she was employed, might have engaged
her to try some other method of getting rid of the libertine Baronet.

Miss Matson then admonished her not to lose, at least, the benefit of
her premium.

'What premium?' cried Juliet.

'Why that Sir Jaspar paid down for you.'

Juliet, astonished, now learnt, that her admission as an inmate of the
shop, which she had imagined due to the gossipping verbal influence of
Miss Bydel, was the result of the far more substantial money-mediation
of Sir Jaspar.

She felt warmly grateful for his benevolence; yet wounded, in reflecting
upon his doubts whether she deserved it; and confounded to owe another,
and so heavy an obligation, to an utter stranger.

She was finishing her little package, when the loud sobbings of Flora,
while mounting the stairs for a similar, though by no means as voluntary
a purpose, induced her to go forth, with a view to offer some
consolation; but Flora, not less resentful than disconsolate, said that
her mother was arrived to take her from all her fine prospects; and
loaded Juliet with the unqualified accusation, of having betrayed her
secrets, and ruined her fortune.

Juliet had too strong a mind to suffer weak and unjust censure to breed
any repentance that she had acted right. She could take one view only of
the affair; and that brought only self-approvance of what she had done:
if Sir Lyell meant honourably, Flora was easily followed; if not, she
was happily rescued from earthly perdition.

Nevertheless, she had too much sweetness of disposition, and too much
benevolence of character, to be indifferent to reproach; though her
vain efforts, either to clear her own conduct, or to appease the angry
sorrows of Flora, all ended by the indignantly blubbering damsel's
turning from her in sulky silence.

Juliet then took a quick leave of Miss Matson, and of the young
journey-women; and repaired to her new habitation.



CHAPTER XLVIII


Experience, the mother of caution, now taught Juliet explicitly to make
known to her new chief, that she had no view to learn the art of
mantua-making as a future trade, or employment; but simply desired to
work at it in such details, as a general knowledge of the use of the
needle might make serviceable and expeditious: no premium, therefore,
could be expected by the mistress; and the work-woman would be at
liberty to continue, or to renounce her engagement, from day to day.

This agreement offered to her ideas something which seemed like an
approach to the self-dependence, that she had so earnestly coveted: she
entered, therefore, upon her new occupation with cheerfulness and
alacrity, and with a diligence to which the hope, by being useful, to
become necessary, gave no relaxation.

The business, by this scrupulous devotion to its interests, was
forwarded with such industry and success, that she soon became the open
and decided favourite of the mistress whom she served; and who repaid
her exertions by the warmest praise, and proposed her as a pattern to
the rest of the sewing sisterhood.

This approbation could not but cheer the toil of one whose mind, like
that of Juliet, sought happiness, at this moment, only from upright and
blameless conduct. She was mentally, also, relieved, by the local change
of situation. She was now employed in a private apartment; and, though
surrounded by still more fellow-work-women than at Miss Matson's, she
was no longer constrained to remain in an open shop, in opposition alike
to her inclinations and her wishes of concealment; no longer startled by
the continual entrance and exit of strangers; nor exposed to curious
enquirers, or hardy starers; and no longer fatigued by the perpetual
revision of goods. She worked in perfect quietness, undisturbed and
uninterrupted; her mistress was civil, and gave her encouragement; her
fellow-semptresses were unobservant, and left her to her own reflexions.

It is not, however, in courts alone that favour is perilous; in all
circles, and all classes, from the most eminent to the most obscure, the
'Favourite has no friend[19]!' The praises and the comparisons, by which
Mrs Hart hoped to stimulate her little community to emulation, excited
only jealousy, envy, and ill will; and a week had not elapsed, in this
new and short tranquillity, before Juliet found that her superiour
diligence was regarded, by her needle-sisterhood, as a mean artifice 'to
set herself off to advantage at their cost.' Sneers and hints to this
effect followed every panegyric of Mrs Hart; and robbed approbation of
its pleasure, though they could not of its value.

[Footnote 19: Gray.]

Chagrined by a consequence so unpleasant, to an industry that demanded
fortitude, not discouragement; Juliet now felt the excess of her
activity relax; and soon experienced a desire, if not a necessity, to
steal some moments from application, for retirement and for herself.

Here, again, she found the mischief to which ignorance of life had laid
her open. The unremitting diligence with which she had begun her new
office, had advanced her work with a rapidity, that made the smallest
relaxation cause a sensible difference in its progress: and Mrs Hart,
from first looking disappointed, asked next, whether nothing more were
done? and then observed, how much quicker business had gone on the first
week. In vain Juliet still executed more than all around her; the
comparison was never made there, where it might have been to her
advantage; all reference was to her own setting out; and she was soon
taught to forgive the displeasure which, so inadvertently, she had
excited, when she saw the claims to which she had made herself liable,
by an incautious eagerness of zeal to reward, as well as earn, the
maintenance which she owed to Mrs Hart.

Alas, she thought, with what upright intentions may we be injudicious! I
have thrown away the power of obliging, by too precipitate an eagerness
to oblige! I retain merely that of avoiding to displease, by my most
indefatigable application! All I can perform seems but a duty, and of
course; all I leave undone, seems idleness and neglect. Yet what is the
labour that never requires respite? What the mind, that never demands a
few poor unshackled instants to itself?

From this time, the little pleasure which she had been able to create
for herself, from the virtue of her exertions, was at an end: to toil
beyond her fellow-labourers, was but to provoke ill will; to allow
herself any repose, was but to excite disapprobation. Hopeless,
therefore, either way, she gave, with diligence, her allotted time to
her occupation, but no more: all that remained, she solaced, by devoting
to her pen and Gabriella, with whom her correspondence,--her sole
consolation,--was unremitting.

This unaffected conduct had its customary effect; it destroyed at once
the too hardly earned favour of Mrs Hart, and the illiberal, yet too
natural enmity of her apprentices; and, in the course of a very few
days, Juliet was neither more esteemed, nor more censured, than any of
her sisters of the sewing tribe.

With the energy, however, of her original wishes and efforts, died all
that could reconcile her to this sort of life. The hope of pleasing,
which alone could soften its hardships, thus forcibly set aside, left
nothing in its place, but calmness without contentment; dulness without
serenity.

Experience is not more exclusively the guide of our judgment, than
comparison is the mistress of our feelings. Juliet now also found that,
local publicity excepted, there was nothing to prefer in her new to her
former situation; and something to like less. The employment itself was
by no means equally agreeable for its disciples. The taste and fancy,
requisite for the elegance and variety of the light work which she had
quitted; however ineffectual to afford pleasure when called forth by
necessity, rendered it, at least, less irksome, than the wearying
sameness of perpetual basting, running, and hemming. Her
fellow-labourers, though less pert and less obtrusive than those which
she had left, had the same spirit for secret cabal, and the same passion
for frolic and disguise; and also, like those, were all prattle and
confidential sociability, in the absence of the mistress; all sullenness
and taciturnity, in her presence. What little difference, therefore, she
found in her position, was, that there she had been disgusted by
under-bred flippancy; here, she was deadened by uninteresting monotony;
and that there, perpetual motion, and incessant change of orders, and of
objects, affected her nerves; while here, the unvarying repetition of
stitch after stitch, nearly closed in sleep her faculties, as well as
her eyes.

The little stipend which, by agreement, she was paid every evening,
though it occasioned her the most satisfactory, by no means gave her the
most pleasant feeling, of the day. However respectable reason and
justice render pecuniary emolument, where honourably earned; there is a
something indefinable, which stands between spirit and delicacy, that
makes the first reception of money in detail, by those not brought up to
gain it, embarrassing and painful.

During this tedious and unvaried period, if some minutes were snatched
from fatiguing uniformity, it was only by alarm and displeasure, through
the intrusion of Sir Lyell Sycamore; who, though always denied admission
to herself, made frequent, bold, and frivolous pretences for bursting
into the workroom. At one time, he came to enquire about a gown for his
sister, of which Mrs Hart had never heard; at another, to look at a
trimming for which she had had no commission; and at a third, to hurry
the finishing of a dress, which had already been sent home. The motive
to these various mock messages, was too palpable to escape even the most
ordinary observation; yet though the perfect conduct, and icy coldness
of Juliet, rescued her from all evil imputation amongst her companions,
she saw, with pique and even horrour, that they were insufficient to
repress the daring and determined hopes and expectations of the
licentious Baronet; with whom the unexplained hint of Sir Jaspar had
left a firm persuasion, that the fair object of his views more than
returned his admiration; and waited merely for a decent attack, or
proper offers, to acknowledge her secret inclinations.

Juliet, however shocked, could only commit to time her cause, her
consistency, her vindication.

Three weeks had, in this manner, elapsed, when the particular business
for which Mrs Hart had wanted an odd hand was finished; and Juliet, who
had believed that her useful services would keep her employed at her own
pleasure, abruptly found that her occupation was at an end.

Here again, the wisdom of experience was acquired only by distress. The
pleasure with which she had considered herself free, because engaged but
by the day, was changed into the alarm of finding herself, from that
very circumstance, without employment or home; and she now acknowledged
the providence of those ties, which, from only feeling their
inconvenience, she had thought oppressive and unnecessary. The
established combinations of society are not to be judged by the personal
opinions, and varying feelings, of individuals; but by general proofs of
reciprocated advantages. If the needy helper require regular protection,
the recompensing employer must claim regular service; and Juliet now
saw, that though in being contracted but by the day, she escaped all
continued constraint, and was set freshly at liberty every evening; she
was, a stranger to security, subject to dismission, at the mercy of
accident, and at the will of caprice.

Thus perplexed and thus helpless, she applied to Mrs Hart, for counsel
how to obtain immediate support. Gratified by the application, Mrs Hart
again recommended her as a pattern to the young sisterhood; and then
gave her advice, that she should bind herself, either to some milliner
or some mantua-maker, as a journey-woman for three years.

Painfully, again, Juliet attained further knowledge of the world, in
learning the danger of asking counsel; except of the candid and wise,
who know how to modify it by circumstances, and who will listen to
opposing representations.

Mrs Hart, from the moment that Juliet declined to be guided wholly by
her judgment, lost all interest in her young work-woman's distresses.
'If people won't follow advice,' she said, ''tis a sign they are not
much to be pitied.' Vainly Juliet affirmed, that reasons which she could
not explain, put it out of her power to take any measure so decisive;
that, far from fixing her own destiny for three years, she had no means
to ascertain, or scarcely even to conjecture, what it might be in three
days; or perhaps in three hours; although in the interval of suspense,
she was not less an object for present humanity, from the incertitude of
what either her wants or her abundance might be in future; vainly she
reasoned, vainly she pleaded. Mrs Hart always made the same reply: 'If
people won't follow advice, 'tis a sign they are not much to be pitied.'

In consequence of this maxim, Juliet next heard, that the small room and
bed which she occupied, were wanted for another person.

Alas! she thought, how long must we mingle with the world, ere we learn
how to live in it! Must we demand no help from the understandings of
others, unless we submit to renounce all use of our own?

These reflections soon led her to hit upon the only true medium, for
useful and safe general intercourse with the mass of mankind: that of
avowing embarrassments, without demanding counsel; and of discussing
difficulties, and gathering opinions, as matters of conversation; but
always to keep in mind, that to ask advice, without a predetermination
to follow it, is to call for censure, and to risk resentment.

Thus died away in Juliet the short joy of freedom from the controul of
positive engagements.

Such freedom, she found, was but a source of perpetual difficulty and
instability. She had the world to begin again; a new pursuit to fix
upon; new recommendations to solicit; and a new dwelling to seek.



CHAPTER XLIX


Juliet was making enquiries of the young work-women, for a
recommendation to some small lodging, when she was surprised by the
receipt of a letter from Mrs Pierson, soliciting her company immediately
at Lewes; where poor Flora, she said, was taken dangerously ill of a
high fever, and was raving, continually, for Miss Ellis. A return
post-chaise to the postilion of which Mrs Pierson had given directions
to call at Mrs Hart's, at three o'clock in the afternoon, would bring
her, for nearly nothing; if she would have so much charity as to come
and comfort the poor girl; and Mrs Pierson would find a safe conveyance
back at night, if Miss Ellis could not oblige them by sleeping at the
house: but she hoped that Mrs Hart would not refuse to spare her from
her work, for a few hours, as it might produce a favourable turn in the
disorder.

Juliet read this letter with real concern. Had she rescued the poor,
weak, and wilful Flora from immediate moral, only to devote her to
immediate physical, destruction? And what now could be devised for her
relief? Her intellects were too feeble for reason, her temper was too
petulant for entreaty. Nevertheless, the benevolent are easily urged to
exertion; and Juliet would not refuse the summons of the distressed
mother, while she could flatter herself that any possible means might be
suggested for serving the self-willed, and half-witted, but innocent
daughter.

She set out, therefore, upon this plan, far from sanguine of success,
but persuaded that the effort was a duty.

By her own calculations from memory, she was arrived within about a mile
of Lewes, when the horses suddenly turned down a narrow lane.

She demanded of the postilion why he did not proceed straight forward.
He answered, that he knew a short cut to the house of Mrs Pierson.
Uneasy, nevertheless, at quitting thus alone the high road, she begged
him to go the common way, promising to reward him for the additional
time which it might require. But he drove on without replying; though,
growing now alarmed, she called, supplicated, and menaced in turn.

She looked from window to window to seek some object to whom she might
apply for aid; none appeared, save a man on horseback, whom she had
already noticed from time to time, near the side of the chaise; and to
whom she was beginning to appeal, when she surprised him making signs to
hurry on the postilion.

She now believed the postilion himself to be leagued with some
highwayman; and was filled with affright and dismay.

The horses galloped on with encreased swiftness, the horseman always
keeping closely behind the chaise; till they were stopt by a small cart,
from which Juliet had the joy to see two men alight, forced, by the
narrowness of the road, to take off their horse, and drag back their
vehicle.

She eagerly solicited their assistance, and made an effort to open the
chaise door. This, however, was prevented by the pursuing horseman, who,
dismounting, opened it himself; and, to her inexpressible terrour,
sprung into the carriage.

What, then, was her mingled consternation and astonishment, when,
instead of demanding her purse, he gaily exclaimed, 'Why are you
frightened, you beautiful little creature?' And she saw Sir Lyell
Sycamore.

A change, but not a diminution of alarm, now took place; yet, assuming a
firmness that sought to conceal her fears, 'Quit the chaise, Sir Lyell,'
she cried, 'instantly, or you will compel me to claim protection from
those two men!'

'Protection? you pretty little vixen!' cried he, yet more familiarly,
'who should protect you like your own adorer?'

Juliet, leaning out, as far as was in her power, from the chaise-window,
called with energy for help.

'What do you mean?' cried he, striving to draw her back. 'What are you
afraid of? You don't imagine me such a blundering cavalier, as to intend
to carry you off by force?'

The postilion was assisting the two men to fix their horse, for dragging
back their cart; but her cries reached their ears, and one of them,
advancing to the chaise, exclaimed, 'Good now! if it is not Miss Ellis!'
And, to her infinite relief and comfort, she beheld young Gooch.

She entreated him to open the door; but, lolling his arms over it,
without attending to her, he said, 'Well! to see but how things turn
out! Here have I been twice this very morning, at your new lodgings, to
let you know it's now or never, for our junket's to night; and the old
gentlewoman that keeps the house, who's none of the good-naturedest, as
I take it, would never let me get a sight of you, say what I would; and
here, all of the sudden, when I was thinking of you no more than if you
had never been born, I come pop upon you, as one may say, within
cock-crow of our very door; all alone, with only the young Baronight!'

Nearly as much shocked, now, as, the moment before, she had been
relieved, Juliet eagerly declared, that she was not with any body; she
was simply going to Lewes upon business.

'Why then,' cried he, 'the Baronight must be out his head, begging his
pardon, to let you come this way; and the postilion as stupid as a post;
for it's quite the contrary. It will lead you to you don't know where.
We only turned down it ourselves, just to borrow a few glasses, of
farmer Barnes, because we've more mouths than we have got of our own:
for I've invited all our club; which poor dad don't much like. He says I
am but a bungler at saving money, any more than at getting it; but I am
as rare a hand as any you know, far or near, says the old gentleman, for
spending it. The old gentleman likes to say his say. However, I must not
leave my horse to his gambols.'

Then nodding, still without listening to Juliet, he returned to his
_chay-cart_.

Juliet now unhasped the chaise-door herself, and was springing from the
carriage; when Sir Lyell, forcibly holding her, exclaimed, 'What would
you do, you lovely termagant? Would you make me pass for a devil of a
ravisher? No, no, no! you handsome little firebrand! name your terms,
and command me! I know you love me,--and I adore you. Why then this idle
cruelty to us both? to nature itself; and to beauty?'

More and more indignant, Juliet uttered a cry for help, that immediately
brought back young Gooch, who was followed by an elderly companion.

Provoked and resentful, yet amazed and ashamed, the Baronet jumped out
of the chaise, saying, with affected contempt, yet stronger pique,
'Yes! help, gentlemen, help! come quick! quick! Miss Ellis is taken
suddenly ill!'

The insolent boldness of this appeal, was felt only by Juliet; whose
scorn, however potent, was less prevalent than her satisfaction, upon
beholding her old friend Mr Tedman. She descended to meet him, with an
energetic 'Thank Heaven!' and an excess of gladness, not more tormenting
to the Baronet, than unexpected by himself. 'Well, this is very kind of
you, indeed, my dear,' cried he, heartily shaking hands with her; 'to be
so glad to see me; especially after the ungenteel way I was served in by
your lodging-gentlewoman, making no more ceremony than refusing to let
me up, under cover that you saw no gentlemen; though I told her what a
good friend I had been to you; and how you learnt my darter the musics;
and how I used to bring you things; and lend you money; and that; and
how I was willing enough to do the like again, put in case you was in
need: but I might just as well have talked to the post; which huffed me
a little, I own.'

'O, those old gentlewomen,' interrupted Gooch, 'are always like that.
One can never make any thing of 'em. I don't over like them myself, to
tell you the truth.'

Juliet assured them that, having no time but for business, her
injunctions of non-admission had been uniform and universal; and ought
not, therefore, to offend any one. She then requested Mr Tedman to order
that the postilion would return to the high road; which he had quitted
against her positive direction; and to have the goodness to insist upon
his driving her by the side of his own vehicle, till they reached Lewes.

Tedman, looking equally important and elated, again heartily shook hands
with her, and said, 'My dear, I'll do it with pleasure; or, I'll engage
Tim to send off your chay, and I'll take you in his'n; put in case it
will be more to your liking; for I am as little agreeable as you are, to
letting them rascals of drivers get the better of me.'

Juliet acceded to this proposal, in which she saw immediate safety, with
the most lively readiness; entreating Mr Tedman to complete his
kindness, in extricating her from so suspicious a person, by paying him
the half-crown, which she had promised him, for carrying her to Lewes.

'Half-a-crown?' repeated Mr Tedman, angrily refusing to take it. 'It's
too much by half, for coming such a mere step; put in case he did not
put to o'purpose. You're just like the quality; and they're none of
your sharpest; to throw away your money, and know neither the why nor
the wherefore.'

The Baronet, with a loud oath, said that the postilion was a scoundrel,
for having offended the young lady; and menaced to inform against him,
if he received a sixpence.

The postilion made no resistance; the horses were taken off, and the
chaise was drawn back to the high road. The little carriage belonging to
young Gooch followed, into which Juliet, refusing all aid but from Mr
Tedman, eagerly sprang; and her old friend placed himself at her side;
while Gooch took the reins.

Sir Lyell looked on, visibly provoked; and when they were driving away,
called out, in a tone between derision and indignation, 'Bravo, Mr
Tedman! You are still, I see, the happy man!'

Young Gooch, laughing without scruple, smacked his horse; while Mr
Tedman angrily muttered, 'The quality always allows themselves to say
any thing! They think nothing of that! All's one to them whether one
likes it or not.'

The design of Juliet was, when safely arrived at the farm, which was
within a very short walk of the town of Lewes, to beg a safe guide to
accompany her to the house of Mrs Pierson; where she resolved to pass
the night; and whence she determined to write to Elinor, and solicit an
interview; in which she meant to lay open her new difficulties, in the
hope of re-awakening some interest that might operate in her favour.

To save herself from the vulgar forwardness of ignorant importunity, she
forbore to mention her plan, till she alighted from the little vehicle,
at the gate of the farm-yard.

'Goodness! Ma'am,' then cried young Gooch, 'you won't think of such a
thing as going away, I hope, before you've well come? Why our sport's
all ready! why, if you'll step a little this way, you may see the three
sacks, that three of our men are to run a race in! There'll be fine
scrambling and tumbling, one o' top o' t'other. You'll laugh till you
split your sides. And if you'll only come here, to the right, I'll shew
you the stye where our pig is, that's to be caught by the tail. But it
will be well soaped, I can tell you; so it will be no such easy thing.'

Slightly thanking him, Juliet applied for aid, in procuring her a
conductor, to Mr Tedman; who, though at first he pressed her to stay, as
she might get a little amusement so pure cheap, since it would cost
nothing but looking on; no sooner heard her pronounce that she was
called away by business, than he ceased all opposition; and promised to
take care of her to Lewes himself, when he'd just spoken a word or two
to his cousin Gooch: 'For I can't go with you, my dear, only I and you,
you know, without that,' he said, 'just upon coming; for fear it should
put them upon joking; which I don't like; for all the quality's so fond
of it. Besides which, I must give in my presents; for this little
hamper's full of little odd things for the junket; and if I leave 'em
out here, to the mercy of nobody knows who, somebody or other'll be a
pilfering, as sure as a gun; put in case they smoke what I've got in my
hamper. And they're pretty quick at mischief.'

Juliet supplicated him to be speedy. Pleased to have his services
accepted, he put his hamper under his arm, and walked on to the house;
mindless of the impatient remonstrances of young Gooch, who exclaimed,
'Why now, who'd have thought this of the 'Squire? it's doing just
contrary; for he's the very person I thought would make you stay! for
he's come, as one may say, half o' purpose for your sake; for he never
plump accepted of our invitation till I told him, in my letter, of my
having invited of you. And then he said he would come.'

Then, lowering his voice into a whisper, he added, 'Between ourselves,
Ma'am, the poor 'Squire, my good cousin, don't get much for his money at
home, I believe. His daughter's got quite the top end; and she's none of
your obligingests; she won't do one mortal thing he desires. She's been
brought up at them fine boarding-schools, with misses that hold up their
heads so high, that nothing's good enough for 'em. So she's always
ashamed of her papa, because, she says, he's so mean; as he tells us.
The poor 'Squire, my cousin, don't much like it; but he can't help
himself. She's as exact like a fine lady as ever you see; and she won't
speak a word to any of her poor relations, because they are so low, she
says.' He then added, 'If you won't go while I'm gone, I'll give you as
agreeable a surprize as ever you had in your life!'

He ran on to the house.

In a few minutes, Juliet felt something tickle the nape of her neck,
and, imagining it to be an insect, she would have brushed it away with
her hand, but received, between her fingers, a pink; and, looking round,
saw Flora Pierson, nearly breathless from her efforts to smother a
laugh.

'Is it possible?' cried Juliet, in great amazement. 'Miss Pierson! I
thought you were ill in bed?'

No further efforts were necessary to repress the laugh; resentment,
rather than gravity, took its place, and, with pouting lips, and a
frowning brow, she answered, 'Ill? Yes! I have had enough to make me
ill, that's sure! It's more a wonder, by half, that I a'n't dead; for I
cried so that my eyes grew quite little; and I looked quite a fright;
and I grew so hoarse that nobody could tell a word I said; though I
talked enough, I'm sure; for nothing can hinder me of my talking, if it
was never so, papa says.'

Juliet now, upon closer enquiry, learnt that Flora had neither had a
fever, nor desired a meeting; and that Mrs Pierson had neither written
the letter, nor given any orders about a return post-chaise.

The passing suspicions which already had occurred to Juliet in disfavour
of Sir Lyell Sycamore, returned, now, with redoubled force. That he had
made signs to the driver to quit the high road, however dismaying, she
had attributed to sudden impulse, upon meeting her alone in a
post-chaise; and had not doubted that, upon seeing the sincerity of her
resentment, he would have retired with shame and repentance: but a plan
thus concerted to get her into his power, changed apprehension into
certainty, and indignation into abhorrence.

The happy accident to which she owed her escape, even from the
knowledge, till it was past, of her danger, she now blessed with
rapture; and the junket, so disdained and rejected, she now felt that
she could never recollect without grateful delight.

But how return to Brighthelmstone? What vehicle find? How trust herself
to any even when procured?

She enquired of Flora whether it were possible that Mrs Pierson could
grant her one night's lodging?

The smiles, the dimples, and the good humour of the simple girl, all
revived, and played about her pretty face, at this request. 'O yes!' she
cried. 'Miss Ellis, I shall be so glad to have you come! for mamma and I
are so dull together that I'm quite moped. I don't like it by half as
well as I did the shop. So many smart gentlemen and ladies coming in and
out every moment! dressed so nice, and speaking so polite! I'm obliged
to wear all my worst things, now, to save my others, mamma says, for
fear of the expence. And it makes me not look as well by half, as I did
at Miss Matson's. I looked well enough there, I believe; as people told
me; at least the gentlemen. But I go such a dowd, here, that it's enough
to frighten you. I'm sure when I go to the glass, and that's a hundred
times a-day, for aught I know, if it were counted, to see what sort of a
figure I make, I could break it with pleasure, for seeing me such a
disguise; for I look quite ugly, unless I happen to be in my smilings.'

This prattle was interrupted by a signal from Mr Tedman, that made
Juliet hope that he was now ready to depart; but, upon approaching him,
he only said, 'Come hither, my dear, and sit down a bit, upon this
bench, for we can't go yet. I have not given all my presents. And I
don't care to leave 'em!' winking significantly: 'not that I mean to
doubt any body; only it's as well have a sharp eye. We are all honestest
with good looking after.'

Juliet now was surrounded by young farmers, who offered her cakes or
ale, and asked her hand for the ensuing dance; while young Gooch
collected around him an admiring audience, to listen to his account, how
he and the young gentlewoman, who was so pretty, had acted together in a
play.

Mr Tedman then bid her divine how his cousin Gooch was employed, and why
the presents were not yet delivered? and upon her declared inability to
conjecture, 'Would you believe it, my dear?' he cried, 'For all Tim
drove us such a good round trot, the quality got the start of us! And
now he's in the kitchen, with cousin Gooch, taking a cup of ale!'

The disturbance of Juliet at this intelligence, he thought simply
surprize, and continued, 'Nay, it was not easy to guess, sure enough. He
must have rid over every thing, hedge, ditch, and the like. But your
quality's not over mindful of other people's property. He's come to buy
some hay. He come o'purpose, he says. And he's a mortal good customer,
for he says nothing but, "Mighty well! That's very reasonable, indeed! I
thought it had been twice the price!" Old coz chuckles, I warrant him!
Your quality's but a poor hand at a bargain. I would not employ 'em,
between you and I. They never know what they are about.'

They were now joined by Mr Gooch, a hale, hearty, cherry-cheeked dapper
farmer, fair in all his dealings, and upright in all his principles,
except when they had immediate reference to his professional profits.
'Well!' he cried, ''Squire!' rubbing his hands in great glee. 'I've had
a good chapman enough here! I've often seen un at our races, but I
little thought of having to chaffer with un. Howsever, one may have
worse luck with one's money. A don't much understand business. But who's
that pretty lass with ye, 'Squire? Some play-mate, I warrant, of cousin
Molly? And why did no' cousin Molly come, too? A'd a have been heartily
welcome. And perhaps a'd a picked up a sweetheart.'

'Stop, father, stop!' cried young Gooch: 'I've something to say to you.
You know how you've always stood to it, that you would not believe a
word about all those battles, and guillotines, and the like, of Mounseer
Robert Speer, in foreign parts; though I told you, over and over, that I
had it from our club? Well! here's a person now here, in your own
grounds, that's seen it all with her own eyes! So if you don't believe
it, never believe it as long as you live.'

'Like enough not, Tim,' answered the father: 'I do no' much give my mind
to believing all them outlandish fibs, told by travellers. I can hear
staring stories eno' by my own fire-side. And I a'n't over friendly to
believing 'em there. But, bless my heart! for a man for to come for to
go for to pretend telling me, because it be a great ways off, and I
can't find un out, that there be a place where there comes a man, who
says, every morning of his life, to as many of his fellow-creatures as a
can set eyes on, whether they be man, woman, or baby; here, mount me two
or three dozen of you into that cart, and go and have your heads chopt
off! And that they'll make no more ado, than go, only because they're
bid! Why if one will believe such staring stuff as that be, one may as
well believe that the moon be made of cream-cheese, and the like.
There's no sense in such a set of lies; for life's life every where,
even in France; though it be but a poor starving place, at best, without
pasture, or cattle; or corn, either, fit for a man for to eat.'

'Ay, father, ay; but Bob Spear, as we call him at our club--'

'Y're young, y're young, Tim,' interrupted Mr Gooch; 'and your
youngsters do believe every thing. When you've sowed your wild oats,
you'll know better. But we mustn't all be calves at the same time. If
there were none for to give milk, there'd be none for to suck. So it be
all for the best. And that makes me for to take it the less to heart,
when I do see you be such a gudgeon, Tim, with no more sense than to
swallow neat down every thing that do come in your way. But you'll never
thrive, Tim, till you be like to what I be; people do tell such a peck
of staring lies, that I do no' believe, nor I wo'no' believe one mortal
word by hear-say.'

'For my part,' said Mr Tedman, 'I never enquire into all that, whether
it be true, or whether it be false; because it's nothing to me either
way; and one wastes a deal of time in idle curiosity, about things that
don't concern one; put in case one can't turn them to one's profit.'

'That's true, coz,' said Mr Gooch; 'for as to profit, there be none to
come from foreign parts: for they be all main poor thereabout; for, they
do tell me, that there be not a man among un, as sets his eyes, above
once in his life, or thereabout, upon a golden guinea! And as to roast
beef and plum-pudding, I do hear that they do no' know the taste of such
a thing. So that they be but a poor stinted race at best, for they can
never come to their natural growth.'

'What, then, you do believe what folks tell you sometimes, father?'
cried the son, grinning.

'To be sure I do, Tim; when they do tell me somewhat that be worth a
man's hearing.'

They were now joined by Mr Stubbs, who, seeing Juliet, was happy in the
opportunity of renewing her favourite enquiries, relative to the
agricultural state of the continent.

Mr Gooch, extremely surprized, exclaimed, 'Odds heart! Why sure such a
young lass as that be, ha'n't been across seas already? Why a couldn't
make out their gibberish, I warrant me! for't be such queer stuff that
they do talk, all o'un, that there's no getting at what they'd be at;
unless one larns to speak after the same guise, like to our
boarding-school misses. I've seen one or two o'un myself, that passed
here about; but their manner o' talk was so out of the way, I could no'
make out a word they did say. T'might all be Dutch for me. And I found
'em vast ignorant. They knew no more than my horse when land ought to be
manured, from when it ought for to lie fallow. I did ask un a many
questions; but a could no' answer me, for to be understood.'

'But, for all that, Master Gooch,' said Mr Stubbs, 'my late Lord has
told me that France is sincerely a fine country, if they knew how to
make the most of it; but the waste lands are quite out of reason; for
they are such a boggling set of farmers, that they grow nothing but what
comes, as one may say, of itself.'

'France a fine country, Maister Stubbs? Well, that be a word I did no'
count to hear from a man of your sense. Why't be as poor a place as ye
might wish to set eyes on, all over-run with weeds, and frogs, and the
like. Why ye be as frenchified as Tim, making out them mounseers to be a
parcel of Jack the Giant-killers, lopping off heads for mere play, as a
body may say. However, here be one that's come to our hop, that be a
finer spark than there be in all France, I warrant me: for a makes a bow
as like to a mounseer, as if a was twin-brother to un; and a was so
ready to pay down his money handsomely, I could no' but say a'd be
welcome to our junket; for a says a does like such a thing more than all
them new fangled balls and concerts.'

'Oh, and you believe that upon hear-say do you, father?' cried Tim,
sneeringly.

'Yes, to be sure, I do, Tim. When a man do say a thing that ha' got some
sense in it, why should no' I believe un, Tim?'

Juliet, who from what had preceded, had concluded the Baronet to be
gone, earnestly now pressed Mr Tedman to fulfil his kind engagement; but
in vain: Mr Gooch brought his best silver tankard, to insist upon his
cousin's drinking success to the new purchase, that occasioned the
junket; and Tim was outrageous at the proposal of retiring, just as the
feats were going to commence. 'Before five minutes are over,' said he,
'the pig will begin!'

'Well,' answered Mr Tedman, 'it is but a silly thing, to be sure, things
of that sort; and I never give my mind to them; but still, as it's a
thing I never saw, put in case you've no objections, we'll just stay for
the pig, my dear.'

Flora, having now gathered that _the quality_ meant Sir Lyell Sycamore,
began dancing and singing, in a childish extacy of delight, that shewed
her already, in idea, Lady Sycamore, when, turning to Juliet with sudden
and angry recollection, her smiles, gaiety, and capering gave way to a
bitter fit of crying, and she exclaimed, 'But if he is here, it will be
nothing to me, I dare say, if Miss Ellis is here the while; for he won't
look at me, almost, when she is by: will he? For some people play one so
false, that one might as well be as ugly as the cat, almost, when they
are in the way.'

'Don't be fretted, Miss Flora,' cried young Gooch, soothingly; 'for I
shall ask Miss Ellis to dance myself; for as I shall begin the hop,
because of its being our own, I think I've a good right to chuse my
partner; so don't be fretted, so, Miss Flora, for you'll have the
Baronight left to you whether he will or no! But come; don't let's lose
time; if you'll follow me, you won't want sport, I can tell you; for the
beginning's to be a syllabub under the cow.'

Flora was not too proud to accept this consolation; but Juliet
positively declared that she should not dance; and earnestly entreated
that some one might be found to conduct her to Mrs Pierson's.

Flora, recovering her spirits, with the hopes of getting rid of her
rival, whispered, 'If you're in real right earnest, Miss Ellis, and
don't say you want to go, only to make a fool of me, which I shall take
pretty unkind, I assure you; why I can shew you the way so as you can't
miss it, if you'd never so. And I'm sure I shall be glad enough to have
you go, if I must needs speak without a compliment. Only don't tell
mamma who's here, for she don't like persons of quality, she says,
because of their bad designs; but I'm sure if she was to hear 'em talk
as I do, she'd think quite another opinion: wouldn't she?'

Fortunately for the intentions of Juliet, which were instantly to make
known to Mrs Pierson the new danger of her daughter, Flora waited not
for any answer to this injunction; but set out, prattling incessantly as
they went on, to put the willing Juliet on her way to Lewes.

The cry, however, from young Gooch, of 'Come! Where are the young
ladies? The pig's ready!' caught the ears of Flora, with charm not to be
resisted; and, hastily pointing out a style, to pass into the meadow,
and another, to pass thence to the high road, she capered briskly back;
fearing to miss some of the sport, if not a seat next to the Baronet.



CHAPTER L


Juliet, as earnest to avoid, as Flora felt eager to pursue, the opening
feats, hurried from the destined spot, after charging the simple damsel
not to make known her departure. Unavailing, however, was the caution;
and immaterial alike the prudence or the indiscretion of Flora: Juliet
had no sooner crossed the first style, than she perceived Sir Lyell
Sycamore sauntering in the meadow.

She would promptly have returned to the farm, but a shout of noisy
merriment reached her ears from the company that she was quitting, and
pointed out the danger of passing the evening in the midst of such
turbulent and vulgar revelry. She hastened, therefore, on; but neither
the lightness of her step, nor the swiftness of her speed, could save
her from the quick approach of the Baronet. 'My angel!' he cried,
'whither are you going? and why this prodigious haste? What is it my
angel fears? Can she suppose me rascal enough, or fool enough, to make
use of any violence? No, my angel, no! I only ask to be regaled, from
your own sweet lips, with the delicious tale of divine partiality, that
the quaint old knight began revealing. I sigh, I pant to hear
confirmed--'

'Hold, Sir Lyell!' interrupted Juliet. 'If Sir Jaspar is the author of
this astonishing mistake, I trust he will have the honour to rectify it.
When I named you to him, it was but with a view to rescue a credulous
young creature from your pursuit, whom I feared it might injure; not to
expose to it one whom it never can endanger; however deeply it may
offend.'

Struck and disappointed at the courage and coolness of this explanation,
Sir Lyell looked mortified and amazed; but, upon seeing her reach the
style, he sprang over it, and, recovering his usual effrontery, offered
her his hand.

Juliet knew not whether her risk were greater to proceed or to return;
but while she hesitated, a phaeton, which was driving by, stopt, and an
elderly lady, addressing the Baronet, in a tone of fawning courtesy,
enquired after his health, and added, 'So you are come to this famous
junket, Sir Lyell?'

Sir Lyell forced a laugh, and bowed low; though he muttered, loud enough
for Juliet to hear, 'What cursed spies!'

Juliet now perceived Mrs and Miss Brinville; and neither innocence, nor
contempt of calumny, could suppress a rising blush, at being surprised,
by persons already unfavourably disposed towards her, in a situation
apparently so suspicious.

The countenance of the mother exhibited strong chagrin at sight of
Juliet; while the daughter, in a tone of pique, said, 'No doubt but you
are well amused, Sir Lyell?'

They drove on; not, however, very fast, and with so little self-command,
as frequently to allow themselves to look back. This indelicacy, however
ill adapted to raise them in the esteem of the Baronet, at least rescued
Juliet from his persecution. Disconcerted himself, he felt the necessity
of decency; and, quitting her, with affected carelessness, he hummed an
air, while grumbling curses, and, swinging his switch to and fro, walked
off; not more careful that the ladies in the phaeton should see him
depart, than assiduous to avoid with them any sort of junction.

The relief caused to Juliet by his retreat, was cruelly clouded by her
terrour of the false suggestions to which this meeting made her liable.
Neither mother nor daughter would believe it accidental; nor credit it
to have been contrived without equal guilt in both parties. Is there no
end, then, she cried, to the evils of defenceless female youth? And,
even where actual danger is escaped, must slander lie in wait, to
misconstrue the most simple actions, by surmising the most culpable
designs?

Neither to follow the footsteps of Sir Lyell, nor to remain where he
might return, she was going back to the farm; when she was met by Flora,
who, with a species of hysterical laughter, nearly of kin to crying,
called out, 'So Ma'am! so Miss Ellis! I've caught you at last! I've
surprised you at last! a-courting with my sweetheart!'

Pitying her credulous ignorance, Juliet would have cleared up this
mistake; but the petulant Flora would not listen. 'I'll speak to the
gentleman myself!' she cried, running forward to the style; 'for I have
found out your design; so it's of no use to deny it! I saw you together
all the way I came; so you may as well not try to make a ninny of me,
Miss Ellis, for it i'n't so easy!'

Catching a glimpse of the Baronet as he descended the road, she jumped
over the style to run after him; but seeing him look round, and, though
he perceived her, quietly walk on, she stopt, crying bitterly: 'Very
well, Miss Ellis! very well! you've got your ends! I see that! and, I
don't thank you for it, I assure you, for I liked him very well; and it
i'n't so easy to find a man of quality every day; so it i'n't doing as
you'd be done by; for nobody likes much to be forsaken, no more than I,
I believe, for it i'n't so agreeable. And I had rather you had not
served me so by half! In particular for a man of quality!'

Juliet, though vainly, was endeavouring to appease and console her, when
a young lady, bending eagerly from the window of a post chaise which was
passing by, ejaculated, 'Ellis!' and Juliet, with extreme satisfaction,
perceived Elinor.

The chaise stopt, and Juliet advanced to it with alacrity; but before
she could speak, the impatient Elinor, still looking pale, meagre, and
wretched, burst forth, with rapid and trembling energy, into a string of
disordered, incoherent, scarcely intelligible interrogatories. 'Ellis!
what brings you to this spot?--Whither is it you go?--What project are
you forming?--What purpose are you fulfilling?--Whom are you
flying--Whom are you following?--What is it you design?--What is it you
wish?--Why are you here alone?--Where--Where--'

Leaning, then, still further out of the window, she fixed her nearly
haggard, yet piercing eyes upon those of Juliet, and, in a hollow voice,
dictatorially added: 'Where--tell me, I charge you! where--is Harleigh?'

Consternation at sight of her altered countenance, and affright at the
impetuosity of her questions, produced a hesitation in the answer of
Juliet, that, to the agitated Elinor, seemed the effect of surprised
guilt. Her pallid cheeks then burnt with the mixed feelings of triumph
and indignation; yet her voice sought to disguise her wounded feelings,
and in subdued, though broken accents, ''Tis well!' she cried, 'You no
longer, at least, seek to deceive me, and I thank you!' Deaf to
explanation or representation, she then hurried her weak frame from the
chaise, aided by her foreign lackey; and, directing Juliet to follow,
crossed the road to a rising ground upon the Downs; seated herself; sent
off her assistant, and made Juliet take a place by her side; while Flora
returned, crying and alone, to the farm.

'Now, then,' she said, 'that you try no more to delude, to cajole, to
blind me, tell me now, and in two words,--where is Harleigh?'

'Believe me, Madam,--' Juliet was tremblingly beginning, when Elinor,
casting off the little she had assumed of self-command, passionately,
cried, 'Must I again be played upon by freezing caution and duplicity?
Must I die without end the lingering death of cold inaction and
uncertainty? breathe for ever without living? Where, I demand, is
Harleigh? Where have you concealed him? Why will Harleigh, the noble
Harleigh, degrade himself by any concealment? Why stoop to the subtilty
of circumspection, to spare himself the appearance of destroying one
whose head, heart, and vitals, all feel the reality of the destruction
he inflicts? And yet not he! No, no! 'tis my own ruthless star! He loves
me not! he is not responsible for my misery, though he is master of my
fate! Where is he? where is he? You,--who are the tyrant of his! tell
me, and at once!'

'I solemnly protest to you, Madam, with the singleness of the most
scrupulous truth,' cried Juliet, recovering her presence of mind, 'I am
entirely ignorant of his abode, his occupations, and his intentions.' Ah
why, she secretly added, am I not equally unacquainted with his feelings
and his wishes!

Unable to discredit the candour with which this was pronounced, and
filled with wonder, yet involuntarily consoled, the features of Elinor
lost their rigidity, and her eyes their fierceness; and, in milder
accents, she replied, 'Strange! how strange! Where, then, can he
be?--with whom?--how employed?--Does he fly the whole world as well as
Elinor? Has no one his society?--no one his confidence?--his society,
which, by contrast, makes all existence without it disgusting!--his
confidence, which, to obtain, I would yet live, though doomed daily to
the rack! O Harleigh! love like mine, who has felt?--love like mine, who
but you, O matchless Harleigh! ever inspired!'

Tears now gushed into her eyes. Ashamed, and angry with herself, she
hastily brushed them off with the back of her hand, and, with forced
vivacity, continued, 'He thinks, perchance, to sicken me into the pining
end of a love-sick consumption? to avert the kindly bowl or dagger, that
cut short human misery, for the languors, the sufferings, and despair of
a loathsome natural death? And for what?--to restore, to preserve me?
No! I have no share in the arrangement; no interest, no advantage from
the plan. Appearances alone are considered; all else is regarded as
immaterial; or sacrificed. And he, Harleigh, the noblest,--the only
noble of men!--can level himself with the narrowest and most illiberal
of his race, to pay coward obeisance to appearances!'

Again she then repeated her personal interrogatories to Juliet; and
demanded whether she should set off immediately for Gretna Green, with
Lord Melbury; or whether she must wait till he should be of age.

'Neither!' Juliet solemnly answered; and frankly recounted her recent
difficulties; and entreated the advice of Elinor for adopting another
plan of life.

Elinor, interrupting her, said, 'Nay, 'twas your own choice, you know,
to live in a garret, and hem pocket-handkerchiefs.'

'Choice, Madam! Alas! deprived of all but personal resource, I fixed
upon a mode of life that promised me, at least, my mental freedom. I was
not then aware how imaginary is the independence, that hangs for support
upon the uncertain fruits of daily exertions! Independent, indeed, such
situations may be deemed from the oppressions of power, or the tyrannies
of caprice and ill humour; but the difficulty of obtaining employment,
the irregularity of pay, the dread of want,--ah! what is freedom but a
name, for those who have not an hour at command from the subjection of
fearful penury and distress?'

'If all this is so,' said Elinor, 'which, unless you wait for Lord
Melbury's majority, is more than incomprehensible; what say you, now, to
an asylum safe, at least, from torments of this sort;--will you
commission me, at length, to apply to Mrs Ireton?'

Juliet, instinctively, recoiled at the very name of that lady; yet a
little reflection upon the dangers to which she was now exposed, through
unprotected poverty; through the lawless pursuit of Sir Lyell Sycamore;
and the vindictive calumnies of the Brinvilles, made the wish of solid
safety repress the disgusts of offended sensibility; and, after a
painful pause, she recommended herself to the support of Elinor:
resolving to accept, for the moment, any proposition, that might secure
her an honourable refuge from want and misconception.

Elinor, looking at her suspiciously, said, 'And Harleigh?--Will he let
you submit to such slavery?'

Mr Harleigh, Juliet protested, could have no influence upon her
determination.

'But you yourself, who a month or two ago, could so ill bear her
tauntings, how is it you are thus suddenly endued with so much
humility?'

'Alas, Madam, all choice, all taste, all obstacles sink before
necessity! When I came over, I had expectations of immediate succour. I
knew not that the friend I sought was herself ruined, as well as
unhappy! I had hopes, too, of speedy intelligence that might have
liberated me from all my difficulties....'

She stopt; Elinor exclaimed, 'From whence?--From abroad?--'

Juliet was silent; and Elinor, after a few passing sallies against
secrets and mystery, sarcastically bid her consider, before she adopted
this new scheme, that Harleigh never visited at Mrs Ireton's; having
taken, in equal portions, a dose of aversion for the mother, and of
contempt for the son.

Juliet calmly replied, that such a circumstance could be but an
additional motive to seek the situation; and, hopeless, for the moment,
of doing better, seriously begged that proper measures might be taken to
accelerate the plan.

Elinor, now, from mingled wonder, satisfaction, and scorn, recovered all
her wonted vivacity. 'You are really, and bona fide, contented, then,'
she cried, 'to be shut up as completely from Harleigh, through his
horrour of that woman's irascible temper, as if you were separated by
bolts, bars, dungeons, towers, and bastilles? I applaud your taste, and
wish you the full enjoyment of its fruits! Yet what materials you can be
made of, to see the first of men at your feet, and voluntarily to fly
him, to be trampled under by those of the most odious of women, I cannot
divine! 'Tis an exuberance of apathy that surpasses my comprehension.
And can He, the spirited Harleigh, love, adore, such a composition of
ice, of snow, of marble?'

She could not, however, disguise the elation with which she looked
forward, to depositing Juliet where information might constantly be
procured of her visitors and her actions. They went together to the
carriage; and Elinor conveyed her submissive and contemned, yet
agonizingly envied rival, to Brighthelmstone.

In her usually unguarded manner, Elinor, by the way, communicated the
various, but successless efforts by which she had endeavoured to gain
intelligence whither Harleigh had rambled. 'If I pursued him,' she
cried, 'with the vanity of hope; or with the meanness of flattery, he
would do well to shun me; but the pure-minded Harleigh is capable of
believing, that the moment is over for Elinor to desire to be his! And,
to sustain at once and shew my principles, I never seek his sight, but
in presence of her who has blasted even my wishes! Else, thus
clamourously to invoke, thus pertinaciously to follow him, might,
indeed, merit avoidance. But Elinor, now, would be as superiour to
accepting, ... as she is to forgetting him!'

'Yet his obdurate seclusion,' she continued, 'is the only mark I
receive, that I escape his disdain. It shews me that he fears the event
of a meeting. He does not, therefore, utterly deride the pusillanimity
of my abortive attempt. O could I justify his good opinion!--All others,
I doubt not, insult me by the most ludicrous suspicions; they are
welcome. They judge me by their little-minded selves. But thou, O
Harleigh! could I see thee once more!--in thy sight, thy loved sight,
could I sink, at last, my sorrows and my disgrace to rest! to oblivion,
to sleep eternal!'--

Vainly Juliet essayed to plead the cause of religion, and the duties of
life; unanswered, unmarked, unheard, she talked but to the air. All that
was uttered in return, began and ended alike with Harleigh, death, and
annihilation.



CHAPTER LI


Juliet could not but be gratified by a circumstance so important to her
reputation, with the Brinvilles, and with those among the inhabitants of
Brighthelmstone to whom she was known, as that of being brought home by
Miss Joddrel, after an adventure that must unavoidably raise curiosity,
and that threatened to excite slander. For with however just a pride
wronged innocence may disdain injurious aspersions, female fame, like
the wife of Cæsar, ought never to be suspected.

The celerity of the motions of Elinor, nearly equalled the quickness of
her ideas. Her lackey arrived the next morning, to help to convey
Juliet, and her baggage, immediately to the dwelling of Mrs Ireton; with
a note from his mistress, indicating that Mrs Ireton was already
prepared to take her for a companion. 'An humble companion,' Elinor
wrote, 'I need not add; I had nearly said a pitiful one; for who would
voluntarily live with such an antidote to all the comforts of life, that
has spirit, sense, or soul? O envied Ellis! how potent must be the
passion, the infatuation, that can make Harleigh view such meanness as
grace, and adore it as dignity!--O icy Ellis!--but the human heart would
want strength to support such pre-eminent honour, were it bestowed upon
a mind gifted for its appreciation!'

Then again, wishing her joy of her taste, she assured her that it was
reciprocated; for Mrs Ireton was all impatience to display, to a new
dependent, her fortune, her power, and her magnificence.

Juliet, with her answer of thanks for this service, wrote a few lines
for Mrs Pierson, which she begged the messenger to deliver. They were to
warn the imprudent, or deceived mother of the dangerous state of mind in
which her daughter still continued; and to give her notice that Sir
Lyell Sycamore, who could not be guarded against too carefully, was
still in the neighbourhood.

With a mind revolting from a measure which, while prudence, if not
necessity, dictated, choice and feeling opposed, she now quitted her
mantua-maker's abode, to set out for her new destination; seeking to
cheer herself that, at least, by this step, she should be secured from
the licentious pursuit of Sir Lyell Sycamore; the envenomed shafts of
calumny of the enraged Brinvilles; the perpetual terrour of debts; and
the cruel apprehension of want.

She had not far to go; but the mortifications, for which she prepared
herself, began by the very sight of the dwelling into which she was to
enter. Mrs Ireton had taken the house of Mrs Howel:--that house in which
Juliet had first, after her arrival in England, received consolation in
her distresses; been melted by kindness; or animated by approbation.
There, too, indeed, she had experienced the pain which she had felt the
most severely; for there all the soothing consideration, so precious to
her sorrows, had abruptly been broken off, to give place to an assault
the most shocking upon her intentions, her probity, her character.

Here, too, she had suffered the cruel affront, and heartfelt grief, of
seeing the ingenuous, amiable Lord Melbury forget what was due to the
rights of hospitality; to his own character; and to the respect due to
his sister: and here she had witnessed his sincere and candid
repentance; here had been softened, touched, and penetrated by the
impressive anguish of his humiliation.

These remembrances, and the various affecting and interesting ideas by
which they were accompanied, gave a dejection to her thoughts, and a
sadness to her air, that would have awakened an interest in her favour,
in any one whose heart had been open to the feelings of others: but the
person under whose protection she was now to place herself, was a
stranger to every species of sensation that was not personal. And where
the calls of self upon sensibility are unremitting, what must be the
stock that will gift us, also, with supply sufficient for our
fellow-creatures?

She found Mrs Ireton reclining upon a sofa; at the side of which, upon a
green velvet cushion, lay a tiny old lap dog, whom a little boy,
evidently too wanton to find pleasure but in mischief, was secretly
tormenting, by displaying before him the breast bone of a chicken, which
he had snatched from the platter of the animal; and which, the moment
that he made it touch the mouth of the cur, he hid, with all its fat and
its grease, in his own waistcoat pocket.

Near to these two almost equally indulged and spoilt animals, stood a
nursery maid, with a duster and an hearth-broom in her hands, who was
evidently incensed beyond her pittance of patience, from clearing away,
repeatedly, their joint litter and dirt.

Scared, and keeping humbly aloof, near a window frame, stood, also, a
little girl, of ten or twelve years of age, who, as Juliet afterwards
heard from the angry nursery maid, was an orphan, that had been put to a
charity school by Mrs Ireton, as her particular _protegée_; and who was
now, for the eighth time, by the direction of her governess, come to
solicit the arrears due from the very beginning of her school
instruction.

Yet another trembler, though not one equally, at this moment, to be
pitied, held the handle of the lock of the door; not having received
intelligible orders to advance, or to depart. This was a young negro,
who was the favourite, because the most submissive servant of Mrs
Ireton; and whose trembling was simply from the fear that his lady might
remark a grin which he could not repress, as he looked at the child and
the dog.

Mrs Ireton herself, though her restless eye roved incessantly from
object to object, in search of various food for her spleen, was
ostensibly occupied in examining, and decrying, the goods of a Mercer;
but when Juliet, finding herself unnoticed, was retreating, she called
out, 'O, you are there, are you? I did not see you, I protest. But come
this way, if you please. I can't possibly speak so far off.'

The authoritative tone in which this was uttered, joined to what Juliet
observed of the general tyranny exercised around her, intimidated and
shocked her; and she stood still, and nearly confounded.

Mrs Ireton, holding her hand above her eyes, as if to aid her sight, and
stretching forward her head, said, 'Who is that?--pray who's there?--I
imagined it had been a person I had sent for; but I must certainly be
mistaken, as she does not come to me. Pray has any body here a spying
glass? I really can't see so far off. I beg pardon for having such bad
eyes! I hope you'll forgive it. Let me know, however, who it is, I beg.'

Juliet tried to speak, but felt so confused and disturbed what to
answer, that she could not clearly articulate a word.

'You won't tell me, then?' continued Mrs Ireton, lowering her voice
nearly to a whisper, 'or is it that I am not heard? Has any body got a
speaking trumpet? or do you think my lungs so capacious and powerful,
that they may take its place?'

Juliet, now, though most unwillingly, moved forward; and Mrs Ireton,
surveying her, said, 'Yes, yes, I see who you are! I recollect you now,
Mrs ... Mrs ... I forget your name, though, I protest. I can't recollect
your name, I own. I'm quite ashamed, but I really cannot call it to
mind. I must beg a little help. What is it? What is your name, Mrs ...
Mrs ... Hay?--Mrs ... What?'

Colouring and stammering, Juliet answered, that she had hoped Miss
Joddrel would have saved her this explanation, by mentioning that she
was called Miss Ellis.

'Called?' repeated Mrs Ireton; 'what do you mean by called?--who calls
you?--What are you called for?--Why do you wait to be called?--And where
are you called from?'

The entire silence of Juliet to these interrogatories, gave a moment to
the mercer to ask for orders.

'You are in haste, Sir, are you?' said Mrs Ireton; 'I have your pardon
to beg, too, have I? I am really very unfortunate this morning. However,
pray take your things away, Sir, if it's so immensely troublesome to you
to exhibit them. Only be so good as to acquaint your chief, whoever he
may be, that you had not time to wait for me to make any purchase.'

The man offered the humblest apologies, which were all disdained; and
self-defending excuses, which were all retorted; he was peremptorily
ordered to be gone; with an assurance that he should answer for his
disrespect to his master; who, she flattered herself, would give him a
lesson of better behaviour, by the loss of his employment.

Harassed with apprehension of what she had to expect in this new
residence, Juliet would silently have followed him.

'Stay, Ma'am, stay!' cried Mrs Ireton; 'give me leave to ask one
question:--whither are you going, Mrs ... what's your name?'

'I ... I feared, Madam, that I had come too soon.'

'O, that's it, is it? I have not paid you sufficient attention,
perhaps?--Nay it's very likely. I did not run up to receive you, I
confess. I did not open my arms to embrace you, I own! It was very wrong
of me, certainly. But I am apt to forget myself. I want a flapper
prodigiously. I know nothing of life,--nothing of manners. Perhaps you
will be so good as to become my monitress? 'Twill be vastly kind of you.
And who knows but, in time, you may form me? How happy it will be if you
can make something of me!'

The maid, now, tired of wiping up splash after splash, and rubbing out
spot after spot; finding her work always renewed by the mischievous
little boy, was sullenly walking to the other end of the room.

'O, you're departing too, are you?' said Mrs Ireton; 'and pray who
dismissed you? whose commands have you for going? Inform me, I beg, who
it is that is so kind as to take the trouble off my hands, of ordering
my servants? I ought at least to make them my humble acknowledgements.
There's nothing so frightful as ingratitude.'

The maid, not comprehending this irony, grumblingly answered, that she
had wiped up the grease and the slops till her arms ached; for the
little boy made more dirt and nastiness than the cur himself.

'The boy?--The cur?--What's all this?' cried Mrs Ireton; 'who, and what,
is the woman talking of? The boy? Has the boy no name?--The cur? Have
you no more respect for your lady's lap dog?--Grease
too?--Nastiness!--you turn me sick! I am ready to faint! What horrible
images you present to me! Has nobody any salts? any lavendar-water? How
unfortunate it is to have such nerves, such sensations, when one lives
with such mere speaking machines!'

She then cast around her eyes, with a look of silent, but pathetic
appeal to the sensibility of all who were within sight, against this
unheard of indignity; but her speech was soon restored, from mingled
wrath and surprise, upon perceiving her favourite young negro nearly
suffocating with stifled laughter, though thrusting both his knuckles
into his capacious mouth, to prevent its loud explosion.

'So this amuses you, does it, Sir? You think it very comical? You are so
kind as to be entertained, are you? How happy I am to give you so much
pleasure! How proud I ought to be to afford you such diversion! I shall
make it my business to shew my sense of my good fortune; and, to give
you a proof, Sir, of my desire to contribute to your gaiety, to-morrow
morning I will have you shipped back to the West Indies. And there, that
your joy may be complete, I shall issue orders that you may be striped
till you jump, and that you may jump,--you little black imp!--between
every stripe!'

The foolish mirth of poor Mungo was now converted into the fearfulest
dismay. He dropt upon his knees to implore forgiveness; but he was
peremptorily ordered to depart, with an assurance that he should keep up
his fine spirits upon bread and water for a fortnight.

If disgust, now, was painted upon every feature of the face of Juliet,
at this mixture of forced derision with but too natural inhumanity, the
feeling which excited that expression was by no means softened, by
seeing Mrs Ireton turn next to the timid young orphan, imperiously
saying, 'And you, Ma'am, what may you stand there for, with your hands
before you? Have you nothing better to do with them? Can't you find out
some way to make them more useful? or do you hold it more fitting to
consider them as only ornamental? They are very pretty, to be sure. I
say nothing to the contrary of that. But I should suppose you don't
quite intend to reserve them for mere objects of admiration? You don't
absolutely mean, I presume, to devote them to the painter's eye? or to
destine them to the sculptor's chisel? I should think not, at least. I
should imagine not. I beg you to set me right if I am wrong.'

The poor little girl, staring, and looking every way around to find some
meaning for what she did not comprehend, could only utter a faint
'Ma'am!' in a tone of so much fear and distress, that Juliet, unable,
silently, to witness oppression so wanton, came forward to say, 'The
poor child, Ma'am, only wishes to understand your commands, that she may
obey them.'

'O! they are not clear, I suppose? They are too abstruse, I imagine?'
contemptuously replied Mrs Ireton. 'And you, who are kind enough to
offer yourself for my companion; who think yourself sufficiently
accomplished to amuse,--perhaps instruct me,--you, also, have not the
wit to find out, what a little chit of an ordinary girl can do better
with her hands, than to stand still, pulling her own fingers?'

Juliet, now, believing that she had discovered what was meant, kindly
took the little girl by the arm, and pointed to the just overturned
water-bason of the dog.

'But I don't know where to get a cloth, Ma'am?' said the child.

'A cloth?--In my wardrobe, to be sure!' cried Mrs Ireton; 'amongst my
gowns, and caps, and hats. Where else should there be dirty cloths, and
dusters, and dish-clouts? Do you know of any other place where they are
likely to be found? Why don't you answer?'

'Ma'am?'

'You never heard, perhaps, of such a place as a kitchen? You don't know
where it is? nor what it means? You have only heard talk of
drawing-rooms, dressing-rooms, boudoirs? or, perhaps, sometimes, of a
corridor, or a vestibule, or an anti-chamber? But nothing beyond!--A
kitchen!--O, fie, fie!'

Juliet now hurried the little girl away, to demand a cloth of the house
maid; but the moment that she returned with it, Mrs Ireton called out,
'And what would you do, now, Ma'am? Make yourself all dirt and filth,
that you may go back to your school, to shew the delicate state of my
house? To make your mistress, and all her brats, believe that I live in
a pig-stie? Or to spread abroad that I have not servants enough to do my
work, and that I seize upon you to supply their place? But I beg your
pardon; perhaps that may be your way to shew your gratitude? To manifest
your sense of my saving you from the work-house? to reward me for
snatching you from beggary, and want, and starving?'

The poor little girl burst into tears, but courtsied, and quitted the
room; while Mrs Ireton called after her, to desire that she would
acquaint her governess, that she should certainly be paid the following
week.

Juliet now stood in scarcely less dismay than she had been witnessing
all around her; panic-struck to find herself in the power of a person
whose character was so wantonly tyrannic and irascible.

The fortunate entrance of some company enabled her, for the present, to
retreat; and to demand, of one of the servants, the way to her chamber.



CHAPTER LII


From the heightened disgust which she now conceived against her new
patroness, Juliet severely repented the step that she had taken. And if
her entrance into the family contributed so little to her contentment,
her subsequent introduction into her office was still less calculated to
exhilarate her spirits. Her baggage was scarcely deposited in a handsome
chamber, of which the hangings, and decorations, as of every part of the
mansion, were sumptuous for the spectator; but in which there was a
dearth of almost every thing that constitutes comfort to the immediate
dweller; ere she was summoned back, by a hasty order to the
drawing-room.

Mrs Ireton, who was reading a news-paper, did not, for some time, raise
her head; though a glance of her eye procured her the satisfaction of
seeing that her call had been obeyed. Juliet, at first, stood modestly
waiting for commands; but, receiving none, sat down, though at an humble
distance; determined to abide by the consequences, be they what they
might, of considering herself as, at least, above a common domestic.

This action shortened the term of neglect; Mrs Ireton, letting the
news-paper fall, exclaimed, in a tone of affected alarm, 'Are you ill,
Ma'am? Are you disordered? I hope you are not subject to fits?'

Juliet coldly answered No.

'I am very glad to hear it, indeed! Very happy, upon my word! I was
afraid you were going to faint away! But I find that you are only
delicate; only fatigued by descending the stairs. I ought, indeed, to
have sent somebody to help you; somebody you could have leant upon as
you came along. I was very stupid not to think of that. I hope you'll
pardon me?'

Juliet looked down, but kept her place.

Mrs Ireton, a little nettled, was silent a few minutes, and then said,
'Pray,--if I may ask,--if it will not be too great a liberty to
ask,--what have been your pursuits since I had the honour of
accompanying you to London? How have you passed your time? I hope you
have found something to amuse you?'

Juliet sighed a negative.

'You have been studying the fine arts, I am told.
Painting?--Drawing?--Sculpture?--or what is it?--Something of that sort,
I am informed. Pray what is it, Mrs Thing-a-mi?--I am always forgetting
your name. Yet you have certainly a name; but I don't know how it is, I
can never remember it. I believe I must beg you to write it down.'

Juliet again only sighed.

'Perhaps I am making a mistake as to your occupations? Very likely I may
be quite in the wrong? Indeed I think I recollect, now, what it is you
have been doing. Acting?--That's it. Is it not? Pray what stage did you
come out upon first? Did you begin wearing your itinerant buskins in
England, or abroad?'

'Where I began, Madam, I have ended; at Mrs Maple's.'

'And pray, have you kept that same face ever since I saw you in
Grosvenor Square? or have you put it on again only now, to come back to
me? I rather suppose you have made it last the whole time. It would be
very expensive, I apprehend, to change it frequently: it can by no means
be so costly to keep it only in repair. How do you put on your colours?
I have heard of somebody who had learnt the art of enamelling their own
skin: is that your method?'

Waiting vainly for an answer, she went on.

'Pray, if I may presume so far, how old are you?--But I beg pardon for
so indiscreet a question. I did not reflect upon what I was saying. Very
possibly your age may be indefinable. You may be a person of another
century. A wandering Jewess. I never heard that the old Jew had a wife,
or a mother, who partook of his longevity; but very likely I may now
have the pleasure of seeing one of his family under my own roof? That
red and white, that you lay on so happily, may just as well hide the
wrinkles of two or three grand climacterics, as of only a poor single
sixty or seventy years of age. However, these are secrets that I don't
presume to enquire into. Every trade has its mystery.'

These splenetic witticisms producing no reply, Mrs Ireton, more
categorically, demanded, 'Pray, Ma'am, pray Mrs What's-your-name, will
you give me leave to ask what brings you to my house?'

'Miss Joddrel, Madam, informed me that you desired my attendance.'

'Yes; but with what view?'

Disconcerted by this interrogatory, Juliet stammered, but could devise
no answer.

'To what end, what purpose, what intent, I say, may I owe the honour of
your presence?'

The office pointed out by Elinor, of an humble companion, now died the
cheeks of Juliet with shame; but resentment of the palpable desire to
hear its mortifying acknowledgement, tied her tongue; and though each of
the following interrogatories was succeeded by a pause that demanded a
reply, she could not bring herself to utter a word.

'You are hardly come, I should imagine, without some motive: I may be
mistaken, to be sure; but I should hardly imagine you would take the
trouble to present yourself merely to afford me the pleasure of seeing
you?--Not but that I ought to be extremely flattered by such a
compliment. 'Twould be vastly amiable, certainly. A lady of your
indescribable consequence! 'Twould be difficult to me to shew an
adequate sense of so high an honour. I am distressed at the very thought
of it.--But perhaps you may have some other design?--You may have the
generosity to intend me some improvement?--You may come to favour me
with some lessons of declamation?--Who knows but you may propose to make
an actress of me?--Or perhaps to instruct me how to become an adept in
your own favourite art of face-daubing?'

At least, thought Juliet, I need not give you any lessons in the _art of
ingeniously tormenting_! There you are perfect!

'What! no answer yet?--Am I always so unfortunate as to hit upon
improper subjects?--To ask questions that merit no reply?--I am quite
confounded at my want of judgment! Excuse it, I entreat, and aid me out
of this unprofitable labyrinth of conjecture, by telling me, at once, to
what happy inspiration I am indebted for the pleasure of receiving you
in my house?'

Juliet pleaded again the directions of Miss Joddrel.

'Miss Joddrel told you to come, then, only to come?--Only to shew
yourself?--Well, you are worth looking at, I acknowledge, to those who
have seen you formerly. The transformation must always be curious: I
only hope you intend to renew it, from time to time, to keep admiration
alive? That pretty face you exhibit at present, may lose its charms, if
it should become familiar. When shall you put on the other again, that I
had the pleasure to see you in first?'

Fatigued and spiritless, Juliet would have retired; but Mrs Ireton
called after her, 'O! you are going, are you? Pray may I take the
liberty to ask whither?'

Again Juliet was silent.

'You mean perhaps to repose yourself?--or, may be, to pursue your
studies?--or, perhaps, you may have some visits upon your hands?--And
you may only have done me the favour to enter my house to find time to
follow your humour?--You may think it sufficient honour for me, that I
may be at the expence of your board, and find you in lodging, and
furniture, and fire, and candles, and servants?--you may hold this ample
recompense for such an insignificant person as I am? I ought to be much
obliged to Miss Joddrel, upon my word, for bringing me into such
distinction! I had understood her, indeed, that you would come to me as
my humble companion.'

Juliet, cruelly shocked, turned away her head.

'And I was stupid enough to suppose, that that meant a person who could
be of some use, and some agreeability; a person who could read to me
when I was tired, and who, when I had nobody else, could talk to me; and
find out a thousand little things for me all day long; coming and going;
prating, or holding her tongue; doing every thing she was bid; and
keeping always at hand.'

Juliet, colouring at this true, however insulting description of what
she had undertaken, secretly revolved in her mind, how to renounce, at
once, an office which seemed to invite mortification, and license
sarcasm.

'But I perceive I was mistaken! I perceive I knew nothing of the matter!
It only means a fine lady! a lady that's so delicate it fatigues her to
walk down stairs; a lady who is so independent, that she retires to her
room at pleasure; a lady who disdains to speak but when she is disposed,
for her own satisfaction, to talk; a lady--'

'A lady who, indeed, Madam,' said the tired Juliet, 'weighed too little
what she attempted, when she hoped to find means of obtaining your
favour; but who now sees her errour, and entreats at once your pardon
and dismission.'

She then courtsied respectfully, but, though called back even with
vehemence, steadily left the room.

Not, however, with triumph did she return to her own. The justice of the
sensibility which urged her retreat, could not obviate its imprudence,
or avert its consequences. She was wholly without friends, without
money, without protection, without succour; and the horrour of a
licentious pursuit, and the mischiefs menaced by calumniating ill
wishers, still made a lonely residence as unsafe as when her first
terrour drove her to acquiesce in the proposition of Elinor. Yet, though
she could not exult, she could not repent: how desire, how even support
a situation so sordid? a situation not only distressing, but oppressive;
not merely cruel, but degrading.

She was preparing, therefore, for immediate departure, when she was
stopt by a footman, who informed her that Mrs Ireton demanded to see her
without delay.

The expectation of reproach made her hesitate whether to obey this
order; but a desire not to have the air of meriting it, by the defiance
of a refusal, led her again to the dressing-room.

Here, however, to her great surprise, instead of the haughty or taunting
upbraidings for which she was prepared, she was received with a gracious
inclination of the head; while the footman was told to give her a chair.

Mrs Ireton, then, fixing her eyes upon a pamphlet which she held in her
hand; that she might avoid taking any notice of the stiff and decided
air with which Juliet stood still, though amazed, said, 'My bookseller
has just sent me something to look at, which may serve for a beginning
of our readings.'

Juliet now saw, that, however imperiously she had been treated, Mrs
Ireton had no intention to part with her. She saw, too, that that lady
was amongst the many, though terrible characters, who think superior
rank or fortune authorises perverseness, and legitimates arrogance; who
hold the display of ill humour to be the display and mark of power; and
who set no other boundary to their pleasure in the art of tormenting,
than that which, if passed, might endanger their losing its object. She
wished, more than ever, to avoid all connexion with a nature so wilfully
tyrannic; but Mrs Ireton, who read in her dignified demeanour, that a
spirit was awakened which threatened the escape of her prey, determined
to shun any discussion. Suddenly, therefore, rising, and violently
ringing the bell, she exclaimed, 'I dare say those fools have not placed
half the things you want in your chamber; but I shall make Whitly see
immediately that all is arranged as it ought to be.'

She then gave some parading directions, that Miss Ellis should want for
nothing; and, affecting not to perceive the palpable design of Juliet
to decline these tardy attentions, graciously nodded her head, and
passed into another room.

Juliet, not absolutely softened, yet somewhat appeased, again hesitated.
A road seemed open, by some exertion of spirit, for obtaining better
treatment; and however ungenial to her feelings was a character whose
humours submitted to no restraint, save to ensure their own lengthened
indulgence, still, in appearing more contemptible, it became less
tremendous.

She began, also, to see her office as less debasing. Why, she cried,
should I exaggerate my torments, by blindly giving into received
opinions, without examining whether here, as in all things else, there
may not be exceptions to general rules? A sycophant must always be
despicable; a parasite must eternally deserve scorn; but may there not
be a possibility of uniting the affluent with the necessitous upon more
equitable terms? May not some medium be hit upon, between oppression on
one side, and servility on the other? If we are not worthless because
indigent, why conclude ourselves abject because dependent? Happiness,
indeed, dwells not with undue subordination; but the exertion of talents
in our own service can never in itself be vile. It can only become so
where it is mingled and contaminated with flattery, with unfitting
obsequiousness, and unworthy submissions. They who simply repay being
sustained and protected, by a desire to please, a readiness to serve, a
wish to instruct; without falsehood in their counsels, without adulation
in their civilities, without meanness in their manners and conduct; have
at least as just a claim to respect and consideration, for their
services and their labours, as those who, merely through pecuniary
retribution, reap their fruits.

This idea better reconciled her with her condition; and she blessed her
happy acquaintance with Mr Giles Arbe, which had strengthened her
naturally philosophical turn of mind, by leading her to this simple, yet
useful style of reasoning.

The rest of the day was propitious to her new views. The storms with
which it had begun subsided, and a calm ensued, in which Mrs Ireton set
apart her querulous irascibility, and forbore her contemptuous
interrogatories.

The servants were ordered not to neglect Miss Ellis; and Miss Ellis
received permission to carry to her own apartment, any books from off
the piano forte or tables, that might contribute to her amusement.

Juliet was not of a character to take advantage of a moment of
concession, even in an enemy. The high and grave deportment, therefore,
which had thus happily raised alarm, had no sooner answered its purpose,
than she suffered it to give place to an air of gentleness, more
congenial to her native feelings: and, the next morning, subduing her
resentment, and submitting, with the best grace in her power, to the
business of her office, she cheerfully proposed reading; complied with
the first request that was made her to play upon the piano-forte and the
harp; and even, to sing; though, not so promptly; for her voice and
sensibility were less ductile than her manners. But she determined to
leave nothing untried, that could prove, that it was not more easy to
stimulate her pride by indignity, than to animate her desire to oblige
by mild usage.

This resolution on her part, which the fear of losing her, on that of
Mrs Ireton, gave time to operate, brought into play so many brilliant
accomplishments, and opened to her patroness such sources of amusement,
that, while Juliet began to hope she had found a situation which she
might sustain till her suspences should be over, Mrs Ireton conceived
that she had met with a treasure, which might rescue her unoccupied
hours from weariness and spleen.



CHAPTER LIII


This delusion, unfortunately, was not of long duration on either side.
Mrs Ireton no sooner observed that Juliet appeared to be settled, than
all zest for detaining her ceased; no sooner became accustomed to
hearing at will the harp, or the piano-forte, than she found something
to say, or to do, that interrupted the performance every four or five
bars; and had no sooner secured a reader whose voice she could command
at pleasure, than she either quarrelled with every book that was begun;
or yawned, or fondled and talked aloud to her little lap dog, during the
whole time that any work was read.

This quick abatement in the power of pleasing, was supported by Juliet
with indifference rather than philosophy. Where interest alone is
concerned, disappointment is rarely heavy with the young and generous.
Age, or misfortune, must teach the value of pecuniary considerations, to
give them force. Yet, though no tender affections, no cherished hopes,
no favourite feelings were in the power of Mrs Ireton, every moment of
time, and consequently all means of comfort, were at her disposal.
Juliet languished, therefore, though she would not repine; and though
she was not afflicted at heart, she sickened with disgust.

The urgency of finding security from immediate insult and want, induced
her, nevertheless, to persevere in her fortitude for supporting, and her
efforts for ameliorating her situation. But, the novelty over, all
labour was vain, all success was at an end; and, in a very short time,
she would have contributed no more to the expulsion of spleen, than any
other inmate of the house; had not her superiour acquirements opened a
more extensive field for the exercise of tyranny and caprice. And in
that exercise alone, Juliet soon saw, consisted every sensation of
pleasure of which Mrs Ireton was susceptible.

Of the many new tasks of Juliet, that which she found the most severe,
was inventing amusement for another while sad and dispirited herself. It
was her duty to be always at hand, early or late; it was her business to
furnish entertainment, whether sick or well. Success, therefore, was
unacknowledged, though failure was resented. There was no relaxation to
her toil, no rest for her person, no recruit for her spirits. From her
sleep alone she could purloin the few minutes that she dedicated to her
pen and her Gabriella.

If a new novel excited interest, or a political pamphlet awakened
curiosity, she was called upon to read whole hours, nay, whole days,
without intermission; even a near extinction of voice did not authorize
so great a liberty as that of requesting a few minutes for rest. Mrs
Ireton, who regarded all the world as robust, compared with herself,
deemed it an impertinent rivalry of a delicacy which she held to be
unexampled, ever to pronounce the word fatigue, ever to heave a sigh of
lassitude, or ever even to allude to that part of the human frame which
is called nerves, unless with some pointed reference to herself.

With the same despotic hardness, she ordered Juliet to the harp, or
piano-forte, and made her play though she were suffering from the
acutest head-ache; and sing when hoarse and short-breathed from the most
violent cold. Yet those commands, however arbitrary and unfeeling, were
more supportable than those with which, after every other source of
tyrannic authority had been drained, the day was ordinarily concluded.
Mrs Ireton, at the hour of retiring, when weary alike of books and of
music, listless, fretful, captious; too sleepy for any exertion, yet too
wakeful or uneasy for repose; constantly brought forward the same
enquiries which had so often been urged and repelled, in the week that
they had spent together upon their arrival from France; repeated the
same sneers, revived the same suspicions, and recurred to the same rude
interrogatories or offensive insinuations.

At meals, the humble companion was always helped last; even when there
were gentlemen, even when there were children at the table; and always
to what was worst; to what was rejected, as ill-cooked, or left, as
spoilt and bad. No question was ever asked of what she chose or what she
disliked. Sometimes she was even utterly forgotten; and, as no one
ventured to remind Mrs Ireton of any omission, her helpless _protegée_,
upon such occasions, rose half famished from the inhospitable board.

Upon the entrance of any visitors, not satisfied to let the humble
companion glide gently away, the haughty patroness called out, in a tone
of command, 'You may go to your room now: I shall send for you when I am
at leisure.' Or, 'You may stand at the window if you will. You won't be
in the way, I believe; and I shall want you presently.'

Or, if she feared that any one of the party had failed to remark this
augmentation of her household and of her power, she would retard the
willing departure by some frivolous and vexatious commission; as, 'Stop,
Miss Ellis; do pray tie this string a little tighter.' Or, 'Draw up my
gloves a little higher: but be so good as not to pinch me; unless you
have a particular fancy for it!'

If, drily, though respectfully, Juliet ever proposed to wait in her own
room, the answer was, 'In your own room? O,--ay--well,--that may be
better! I beg your pardon for having proposed that you should wait in
one of mine! I beg your pardon, a thousand times! I really did not think
of what I was saying! I hope you'll forgive my inattention!'

When then, silently, and with difficulty forbearing from shrugging her
shoulders, Juliet walked away, she was again stopt by, 'One moment, Miss
Ellis! if it won't be requesting too great a favour. Pray, when I want
you, where may I hear of your servants? For to be sure you don't mean
that mine should scamper up and down all day long for you? You cannot
mean that. You must have a lackey of your own, no doubt: some page, or
spruce foot-boy at your command, to run upon your errands: only pray let
some of my people know where he may be met with.'

But if, when the purpose was answered of drawing the attention of her
guests upon her new dependent, that attention were followed by any looks
of approbation, or marks of civility, she hastily exclaimed, 'O, pray
don't disturb yourself, Sir!' or 'Ma'am! 'tis only a young woman I have
engaged to read to me;--a young person whom I have taken into my house
out of compassion.' And then, affably nodding, she would affect to be
suddenly struck with something which she had already repeatedly seen,
and cry, 'Well, I declare, that gown is not ugly, Miss Ellis! How did
you come by it?' or, 'That ribbon's pretty enough: who gave it you?'

Ah, thought Juliet, 'tis conduct such as this that makes inequality of
fortune baleful! Where superiour wealth falls into liberal hands,--where
its possessor is an Aurora Granville, it proves a good still more to the
surrounders than to the owners; 'it blesses those that give, and those
that take.'--But Oh! where it is misused for the purposes of bowing
down the indigent, of oppressing the helpless, of triumphing over the
dependent,--then, how baneful then is inequality of fortune!

With those thoughts, and deeply hurt, she was twenty times upon the
point of retiring, during the first week of her distasteful office; but
the sameness of the offences soon robbed the mortifications of their
poignancy; and apathy; in a short time, taking place of sensibility, she
learnt to bear them if not with indifference, at least with its
precursor contempt.

Amongst the most irksome of the toils to which this subjection made her
liable, was the care,--not of the education, nor mind, nor manners, but
of the amusements,--of the little nephew of Mrs Ireton; whom that lady
rather exulted than blushed to see universally regarded as a spoilt
child.

The temper of this young creature was grown so capricious, from
incessant indulgence, that no compliance, no luxury, no diversion could
afford him more than momentary pleasure; while his passions were become
so ungovernable, that, upon every contrariety or disappointment, he
vented his rage, to the utmost extent of his force, upon whomsoever, or
whatsoever, animate or inanimate, he could reach.

All the mischief thus committed, the injuries thus sustained, the noise
and disturbance thus raised, were to be borne throughout the house
without a murmur. Whatever destruction he caused, Mrs Ireton was always
sure was through the fault of some one else; what he mutilated, or
broke, she had equal certainty must have been merely by accident; and
those he hurt or ill used, must have provoked his anger. If any one
ventured to complain, 'twas the sufferer, not the inflictor who was
treated as culpable.

It was the misfortune of Juliet to excite, by her novelty, the attention
of this young tyrant; and by her powers of entertainment, exerted
inadvertently, from a love of obliging, to become his favourite. The
hope of softening his temper and manners, by amusing his mind, had
blinded her, at first, to the trouble, the torment rather, of such
pre-eminence, which soon proved one of the most serious evils of her
situation. Mrs Ireton, having raised in his young bosom, expectations
never to be realised, by passing the impossible decree, that nothing
must be denied to her eldest brother's eldest son; had authorised
demands from him, and licensed wishes, destructive both to his
understanding and his happiness. When the difficulties which this decree
occasioned, devolved upon a domestic, she left him to get rid of them as
he could; only reserving to herself the right to blame the way that was
taken, be it what it might: but when the embarrassment fell to her own
lot; when the spoilt urchin claimed what was every way unattainable; she
had been in the habit of sending him abroad, for the immediate relief of
her nerves. The favour into which he took Juliet now offered a new and
more convenient resource. Instead of 'Order the carriage, and let the
child go out:' Miss Ellis was called upon to play with him; to tell him
stories; to shew him pictures; to build houses for him with cards; or to
suffer herself to be dragged unmeaningly, yet wilfully and forcibly,
from walk to walk in the garden, or from room to room in the house; till
tired, and quarrelling even with her compliance, he recruited his
wearied caprices with sleep.

Nor even here ended the encroachments upon her time, her attention, her
liberty; not only the spoilt child, but the favourite dog was put under
her superintendence; and she was instructed to take charge of the
airings and exercise of Bijou; and to carry him where the road was rough
or miry, that he might not soil those paws, which had the exclusive
privilege of touching the lady of the mansion; and even of pulling,
patting and scratching her robes and attire for his recreation.

To many, in the place of Juliet, the spoilt child and the spoilt cur
would have been objects of detestation: but against the mere instruments
of malice she harboured no resentment. The dog, though snarling and
snapping at every one but his mistress, Juliet saw as vicious only from
evil habits, which were imbibed, nay taught, rather than natural: the
child, though wantonly revelling in mischief of every kind, she
considered but as a little savage, who, while enjoying the splendour and
luxury of civilized life, was as unformed, as rough, as untaught, and
therefore as little responsible for his conduct, as if just caught, and
brought, wild and untamed, from the woods. The animal, therefore, she
exculpated; the child she pitied; it was the mistress of the mansion
alone, who, wilful in all she did, and conscious of all she inflicted,
provoked bitterer feelings. And to these, the severest poignancy was
accidentally added to Juliet, by the cruel local circumstance of
receiving continual indignity in the very house, nay the very room,
where, in sweetest intercourse, she had been accustomed to be treated
upon terms of generous equality by Lady Aurora Granville.



CHAPTER LIV


Juliet had passed but a short space, by the measure of time, in this new
residence, though by that of suffering and disgust it had seemed as long
as it was irksome, when, one morning, she was informed, by the
nursery-maid, that a grand breakfast was to be given, about two o'clock,
to all the first gentry in and near Brighthelmstone.

Mrs Ireton, herself, making no mention of any such purpose, issued her
usual orders for the attendance of Juliet, with her implements of
amusement; and went, at an early hour, to a light building, called the
Temple of the Sun, which overlooked the sea, from the end of the garden.

This Temple, like every place which Mrs Ireton capriciously, and even
for the shortest interval, inhabited, was now filled with materials for
recreation, which, ingeniously employed, might have whiled away a
winter; but which, from her fluctuating whims, were insufficient even
for the fleet passage of a few hours. Books, that covered three
window-seats; songs and sonatas that covered those books; various pieces
of needle-work; a billiard-table; a chess-board; a backgammon-board; a
cup and ball, &c. &c.; all, in turn, were tried; all, in turn, rejected;
and invectives the most impatient were uttered against each, as it
ceased to afford her pleasure; as if each, with living malignity, had
studied to cause her disappointment.

About noon, she took the arm of Juliet, to descend the steps of the
Temple. Upon opening the door, Ireton appeared sauntering in the garden.
Juliet vexed at his sight, which Elinor had assured her that she would
never encounter, severely felt the mortification of being seen in her
present situation, by one who had so repeatedly offended her by
injurious suspicions, and familiar impertinence.

Mrs Ireton, hastily relinquishing the arm of Juliet, from expecting
that of her son, at whose sight she was evidently surprised; now
resolved, with her most brilliant flourishes, to exhibit the new object
of her power.

'Why don't you take care of the child, Miss Ellis?' she cried aloud. 'Do
you design to let him break his neck down the stone steps? I beg your
pardon, though, for asking the question. It may be very _mal à propos_.
It may be necessary, perhaps, to some of your plans, to see a tragedy in
real life? You may have some work in agitation, that may require that
sort of study. I am sorry to have stood so unopportunely in your way:
quite ashamed, upon my word, to have prevented your taking a few hints
from the child's dislocating a limb, or two; or just fracturing his
skull. 'Twould have been a pretty melancholy sight, enough, for an
elegiac muse. I really beg your pardon, for being so uncooth, as to
think of such a trumpery circumstance as saving the child's life.'

Juliet, during this harangue, assiduously followed the young gentleman;
who, with a shout of riotous rebellion, ran down the steps, and jumping
into a parterre, selected, by his eye, the most beautiful of the flowers
for treading under his feet; and, at every representation of Juliet,
flung at her as many pinks, carnations, and geraniums, as his merciless
little fingers could grasp.

Ireton, approaching, looked smilingly on, negligently nodding, and
calling out, 'Well done, Loddard! Bravo, my little Pickle!'

Loddard, determined to merit this honourable testimony of his prowess,
continued his sport, with augmented boldness. His wantonness, however,
though rude, was childish; Juliet, therefore, though tormented, gave it
no serious resentment; but she was not equally indifferent to the more
maturely malicious insolence of Ireton, who, while he openly enjoyed the
scene, negligently said to Loddard, 'What, my boy, hast got a new
nurse?'

Mrs Ireton, having stood some time leaning upon the balustrade of the
steps which she was descending, in vain expectations of the arm of her
son, who had only slightly bowed to her, with an 'How do do, Ma'am?' to
which he waited not for an answer; now indignantly called out, 'So I am
to be left to myself, am I? In this feeble and alarming state to which I
am reduced, incapable to withstand a gust of wind, or to baffle the fall
of a leaf, I may take care of myself, may I? I am too stout to require
any attention? too robust, too obstreperous to need any help? If I fall
down, I may get up again, I suppose? If I faint, I may come to myself
again, I imagine? You will have the goodness to permit that, I presume?
I may be mistaken, to be sure, but I should presume so. Don't you hear
me, Mistress Ellis? But you are deaf, may be?--I am alarmed to the last
degree!--You are suddenly seized, perhaps with the loss of one of your
senses?'

This attack, begun for her son, though, upon his romping with the little
boy, in total disregard to its reproach, ending for Juliet, made Ireton
now, throwing back his head, to stare, with a sneering half-laugh, at
Juliet, exclaim, 'Fie, Mrs Betty! How can you leave Mrs Ireton, unaided,
in such peril? Fie, Mrs Polly, fie! Mrs.... What is your new nurse's
name, my boy?'

The boy, who never held his tongue but when he was desired to speak,
would make no answer, but by running violently after Juliet, as she
sought to escape from him; flinging flowers, leaves, grass, or whatever
he could find, at her, with boisterous shouts of laughter, and with all
his little might.

Mrs Ireton, brought nearly to good humour by the sight of the perplexity
and displeasure of Juliet, only uttered, 'Pretty dear! how playful he
is!' But when, made still more daring by this applause, the little
urchin ventured to touch the hem of her own garments, she became
suddenly sensible of his disobedience and wanton mischief, and commanded
him from her presence.

As careless of her wrath as he was ungrateful for her favour, the young
gentleman thought of nothing so little as of obedience. He jumped and,
skipped around her, in bold defiance of all authority; laughing loudly
in her face; making a thousand rude grimaces; yet screaming, as if
attacked by a murderer, when she attempted to catch him; though, the
moment that he forced himself out of her reach, hallooing his joyous
triumph in her ears, with vociferous exultation.

Juliet was ordered to take him in hand, and carry him off; an order
which, to quit the scene, she prepared with pleasure to obey: but the
young gentleman, though he pursued her with fatiguing fondness when she
sought to avoid him, now ran wildly away.

Mrs Ireton, enraged, menaced personal chastisement; but upon his darting
at Juliet, and tearing her gown, she turned abruptly aside, in the
apprehension of being called upon for reparation; and, gently saying,
'What a frisky little rogue it is!' affected to observe him no longer.

The torn robe proved a potent attraction to the little dog, who, yelping
with unmeaning fury, flew at and began gnawing it, with as much
vehemence, as if its destruction were essential to his well being.

A party of company was now announced, that begged to join Mrs Ireton in
the garden; and, tripping foremost from the advancing throng, came,
Selina.

Ireton, flapping his hat over his eyes, leisurely sauntered away. Mrs
Ireton returned to the Temple, to receive her guests with more state;
and Juliet hoping, though doubtfully, some relief and countenance, bent
forward to greet her young friend.

Selina, with a look of vivacity and pleasure, eagerly approached; but
while her hands were held out, in affectionate amity, and her eyes
invited Juliet to meet her, she stopt, as if from some sudden
recollection; and, after taking a hasty glance around her, picked a
flower from a border of the parterre, and ran back with it to present to
Lady Arramede.

Juliet, scarcely disappointed, retreated; and the party advanced in a
body. She would fain have hidden herself, but had no power; the boy,
with romping violence, forcibly detaining her, by loud shrieks, which
rent the air, when she struggled to disengage herself from his hold.
And, as every visitor, however stunned or annoyed, uttered, in
approaching him, the admiring epithets of 'Dear little creature!' 'Sweet
little love!' 'Pretty little dear!' &c. the boy, in common with children
of a larger growth, concluding praise to be approbation, flung himself
upon Juliet, with all his force; protesting that he would give her a
green gown: while all the company,--upon Mrs Ireton's appearing at an
open window of the Temple,--unanimously joined in extolling his
strength, his agility, and his spirited character.

The wearied and provoked Juliet now seriously and strenuously sought to
disengage herself from the stubborn young athletic; but he clung round
her waist, and was jumping up at her shoulders, to catch at the ribbon
of her hat, when Lady Kendover and her niece, who were the last of the
company that arrived, entered the garden.

Lady Barbara Frankland no sooner perceived Juliet, and her distress,
than, swift as the wind, breaking from her aunt, she flew forward to
give her succour; seizing the sturdy little assailant by his arms, when
unprepared to defend himself, and twisting him, adroitly, from his prey;
exclaiming, 'You spoilt little wicked creature, beg pardon of that
lovely Miss Ellis directly! this moment!'

'Ellis! Dear, if it is not Ellis!' cried Selina, now joining them. 'How
glad I am to see you, my dear Ellis! What an age it is since we met!'

Juliet, whose confidence was somewhat more than staggered in the regard
of Selina, coldly courtsied to her; while, with the warmest gratitude,
she began expressing her acknowledgements for the prompt and generous
kindness of Lady Barbara; when the boy, recovering from his surprise,
and furious at any controul, darted at her ladyship with vindictive
violence; attempting, and intending, to practise upon her the same feats
which had nearly subdued Juliet: but the situation was changed: the
exclamations were reversed; and 'O, you naughty little thing!' 'How can
you be so rude?' 'Fie, child, fie!' were echoed from mouth to mouth;
which every step bent forward to protect 'poor Lady Barbara' from the
troublesome little creature.

The boy was then seriously made over to his maid, to be new dressed;
with a promise of peaches and sugar plums if he would be so very good a
child, as to submit to the repugnant operations of his toilette, without
crying or fighting.

The butler now appeared, to announce that the breakfast was ready; and
Juliet saw confirmed, that the party had been invited and expected;
though Mrs Ireton meant to impress her with the magnificent idea, that
this was her common way of life.

The company all re-entered the house, and all without taking the
smallest notice of Juliet; Lady Barbara excepted, who affectionately
shook hands with her, and warmly regretted that she did not join the
party.

Juliet, to whom the apparent mystery of her situation offered as much
apology for others, as it brought distress to herself, went back, far
more hurt than offended to the Temple.

Hence, presently, from under one of the windows, she heard a weak, but
fretful and angry voice, morosely giving impatient reprimands to some
servant, while imperiously refusing to listen to even the most
respectful answer.

Looking from the window, she saw, and not without concern, from the
contrast to the good humour which she had herself experienced, that this
choleric reproacher was Sir Jaspar Herrington.

The nursery-maid, who came, soon afterwards, in search of some baubles,
which her young master had left in the Temple; complained that her
mistress's rich brother-in-law, Sir Jaspar, who never entered the house
but upon grand invitations, had been at his usual game of scolding, and
finding fault with all the servants, till they all wished him at
Jericho; sparing nobody but Nanny, whom the men called the Beauty. He
was so particular, when he was in his tantarums, the maid added, that he
was almost as cross as the old lady herself; except, indeed, to his
favourites, and those he could never do enough for. But he commanded
about him at such a rate, that Mrs Ireton, she was sure, would never let
him into the house, if it were not in the hope of wheedling him into
leaving the great fortune, that had fallen to him with the name of
Herrington, to the young 'Squire; though the young 'Squire was well
enough off without it; being certain of the Ireton estate, because it
was entailed upon him, if his uncle, Sir Jaspar, should die without
children.

Juliet did not hear this history of the ill temper of her generous old
beau, without chagrin; but the prating nursery-maid ceased not recording
what she called his tantarums, till the well known sound of his crutches
announced his approach, when she hastily made her exit.

With the awkward feeling of uncertain opinion, softened off,
nevertheless, by the remembrance of strong personal obligation, Juliet
presented herself at the door, to shew her intention of descending.

Occupied by the pain of labouring up the steps, he did not raise his
head, or perceive her, till he had reached the threshold of the little
building. His still brilliant eyes became then brighter, and the air of
harsh asperity which, while mounting, his countenance still retained,
from recent anger, was suddenly converted into a look of the most lively
pleasure, and perfect good humour. After touching his hat, and waving
his hand, with an old fashioned, but well bred air of gallantry, he
laughingly confessed, that he had ascended with the view of recruiting
his strength and spirits, by a private visit to the god Morpheus; to
enable him to get through the weighty enterprize, of encountering a
throng of frivolous females, without affronting them by his yawns. 'How
little,' he continued, 'did I imagine myself coming to Sleep's most
resistless conqueror, Delight! If I rouse not now, I must have more
soporiferous qualities than the Sleepers! or even than the Sleeping
Beauty in the Wood, who took a nap of forty years.'

Then entreating her to be seated, he dropt upon the easy chair, which
had been prepared for Mrs Ireton; and crossed his crutches, as if by
accident, in a manner that prevented her from retreating. She was the
less, however, impatient of this delay, as she saw that the windows
looking from the house into the garden, were filled with company, which
she desired nothing so little as to pass in review.

Taking, therefore, a place as far from him as was in her power, she made
herself an occupation, in arranging some mulberry leaves for silk-worms.

The Baronet, whose face expressed encreasing satisfaction at his
situation, courteously sought to draw her into discourse. 'My little
friends,' cried he, smiling, 'who are always at work, have continually
been tormenting me of late, with pinches and twitches, upon my utter
neglect of my sister-in-law, Mrs Ireton. I could not for my life imagine
why they took so prodigious an interest in my visiting her; but they
nipt, and squeezed, and worried me, without intermission; accusing me of
misbehaviour; saying she was my sister-in-law; and ill, and
hypochondriac; and that it was by no means pretty behaved in me, not to
shew her more respect. It was in vain I represented, that she was rich,
and did not want me; or that she was disagreeable, and that I did not
want her; 'twas all one; they insisted I should go: and this morning,
when I would have excused myself from coming to her fine breakfast, they
beset me in so many ways, that I was forced to comply. And now I see
why! Poor, earthly, mundane mortal that I was! I took them for envious
sprites, jealous of my repose! But I see, now, they were only recreative
little sylphs, amusing themselves with whipping and spurring me on to my
own good!'

And is this, thought Juliet, the man who bears a character of impatience
and ill humour? this man, whose imagination is so playful, and whose
desire to please can only be equalled by his desire to serve?

'And where,' he continued, 'have you all this time been eclipsed? From
sundry circumstances, that perversely obtruded themselves upon my
knowledge, in defiance of the ill reception I gave them, I was led, at
first, to conclude, that you had been spirited away by Sir Lyell
Sycamore.'

He fixed his eyes upon her curiously; but the colour that rose in her
cheeks betrayed no secret consciousness; it shewed open resentment.

'O! I soon saw,' he resumed, as if he had been answered, though she had
not deigned to disclaim an idea that she deemed fitted simply for
contempt; 'by the mortified silence of my young gallant, that the fates
had not been propitious to his wishes. In characters of his description,
success never courts the shade. It basks in the sun-shine, and seeks the
broadest day. How is it that you have thus piqued the vain spark? He
came to me in such a flame, to upbraid me for what he called the cursed
ridiculous dance that I had led him, that I fairly thought he meant to
call me out! I began, directly, to look about me for the stoutest of my
crutches, to parry, for a last minute or two, his broad sword; and to
deliberate which might be the thickest of my leather cushions, to hold
up in my defence, for reverberating the ball, in case he should prefer
pistols. But he deigned, most fortunately, to content himself with only
abusing me: hinting, that such superannuated old geese, as those who
had passed their grand climacteric, ought not to meddle with affairs of
which they must have lost even the memory. I let him bounce off without
any answer; very thankful to the "Sisters three" to feel myself in a
whole skin.'

Looking at her, then, with an expression of humorous reproach, 'You will
permit me, I hope, at least,' he added, 'to flatter myself, that, when
your indulgence to the garrulity of age has induced you to bear with my
loquacity till I am a little hoarser, your consideration for sore
throats and heated lungs, will prevail upon you to utter a little word
or two in your turn?'

Juliet, laughing, answered that she had been too well amused, to be
aware how little she had seemed to merit his exertions.

'Tell me, then,' cried he, with looks that spoke him enchanted by this
reply; 'through what extraordinary mechanism, in the wheel of fortune,
you have been rolled to this spot? The benevolent sprites, who have
urged me hither, have not given me a jot of information how you became
known to Mrs Ireton? By what strange spell have you been drawn in, to
seem an inmate of her mansion? and what philters and potions have you
swallowed, to make you endure her never-ending vagaries?'

Half smiling, half sighing, Juliet looked down; not willing to accept,
though hardly able to resist, the offered licence for complaint.

'Make no stranger,' the old Baronet laughingly added, 'of me, I beg! She
is my sister-in-law, to be sure; but the law, with all its subtleties,
had not yet entailed our affections, with our estates, to our relations;
nor articled our tastes, with our jointures, to our dowagers. Use,
therefore, no manner of ceremony! How do you bear with her freaks and
fancies? or rather,--for that is the essential point, why do you bear
with them?'

'Can that,' said Juliet, 'be a question?'

'Not a wise one, I confess!' he returned; 'for what but Necessity could
link together two creatures who seem formed to give a view of human
nature diametrically opposite the one from the other? These indeed must
be imps,--and imps of darkness,--who, busy, busy still--delight

    To join the gentle to the rude![20]

that can have coupled so unharmonizing a pair. Hymen, with all the
little active sinister devils in his train, that yoke together, pell
mell, for life, hobbling age with bounding youth; choleric violence with
trembling timidity; haggard care with thoughtless merriment;--Hymen
himself, that marrying little lawyer, who takes upon him to unite what
is most discordant, and to tie together all that is most heterogeneous;
even he, though provided with what is, so justly, called a licence, for
binding together what nature itself seems to sunder; he, even he, I
assert, never buckled in the same noose, two beings so completely and
equally dissimilar, both without and within. Since such, however, has
been the ordinance of these fantastic workers of wonders, will you let
me ask, in what capacity it has pleased their impships to conjure you
hither?'

[Footnote 20: Thomson.]

Juliet hesitated, and looked ashamed to answer.

'You are not, I hope,' cried he, fixing upon her his keen eyes, 'one of
those ill-starred damsels, whose task, in the words of Madame de
Maintenon, is to 'amuse the unamuseable?' You are not, I hope, ...' he
stopt, as if seeking a phrase, and then, rather faintly, added, 'her
companion?'

'Her humble servant, Sir!' with a forced smile, said Juliet; 'and yet,
humbled as I feel myself in that capacity, not humble enough for its
calls!'

The smiles of the old Baronet vanished in a moment, and an expression of
extreme severity took their place. 'She uses you ill, then?' he
indignantly cried, and, grasping the knobs of his two crutches, he
struck their points against the floor, with a heaviness that made the
little building shake, ejaculating, in a hoarse inward voice, 'Curse
her!'

Juliet stared at him, affrighted by his violence.

'Can it be possible,' he cried, 'that so execrable a fate should be
reserved for so exquisite a piece of workmanship? Sweet witch! were I
but ten years younger, I would snatch you from her infernal claws!--or
rather, could I cut off twenty;--yet even then the disparity would be
too great!--thirty years younger,--or perhaps forty,--my hand and
fortune should teach that Fury her distance!'

Juliet, surprised, and doubting whether what dropt from him were escaped
sincerity, or purposed irony, looked with so serious a perplexity, that,
struck and ashamed, he checked himself; and recovering his usually
polite equanimity, smiled at his own warmth, saying, 'Don't be alarmed,
I beg! Don't imagine that I shall forget myself; nor want to hurry away,
lest my animation should be dangerous! The heat that, at
five-and-twenty, might have fired me into a fever, now raises but a
kindly glow, that stops, or keeps off stagnation. The little sprites,
who hover around me, though they often mischievously spur my poor
fruitless wishes, always take care, by seasonable twitches, in some
vulnerable gouty part, to twirl me from the regions of hope and romance,
to very sober real life!'

Fearful of appearing distrustful, Juliet looked satisfied, and again he
went on.

'Since, then, 'tis clear that there can be no danger in so simple an
intercourse, why should I not give myself the gratification of telling
you, that every sight of you does me good? renovates my spirits;
purifies my humours; sweetens my blood; and braces my nerves? Never talk
to me with mockery of fairyism, witchcraft, and sylphs; the real
influence of lovely youth, is a thousand times more wonderful, more
potent, and more incredible! When I have seen you only an instant, I
feel in charity with all mankind for the rest of the day; and, at night,
my kind little friends present you to me again; renew every pleasing
idea; revive the most delightful images; and paint you to me--just such
as I see you at this moment!'

Juliet, embarrassed, talked of returning to the house.

'Do you blush?' cried he, with quickness, and evidently increasing
admiration; 'is it possible that you are not enough habituated to
praise, to hear it without modest confusion? I have seen "full many a
lady"--but you--O you!--so perfect and so peerless are created, of every
creature best!'[21]

[Footnote 21: Shakespeare.]

'My whole life has been spent in worshipping beauty, till within these
very few years, when I have gotten something like a surfeit, and meant
to give it over. For I have watched and followed Beauties, till I have
grown sick of them. I have admired fine features, only to be disgusted
with vapid vanity. A face with a little meaning, though as ugly as sin
and satan, I have lately thought worth forty of them! But you--fair
sorceress! you have conjured me round again to my old work! I have found
the spell irresistible. You have such intelligence of countenance; such
spirit with such sweetness, smiles so delicious, though rare! looks so
speaking; grace so silent;--that I forget you are a beauty; and fasten
my eyes upon you, only to understand what you say when you don't utter a
word! That's all! Don't be uneasy, therefore, at my staring. Though, to
be candid, we know ourselves so little, that, 'tis possible, had you
not first caught my eyes as a beauty, I might never have looked at you
long enough to find out your wit!'

A footman now came to acquaint Sir Jaspar, that the rice-soup, which he
had ordered, was ready; and that the ladies were waiting for the honour
of his company to breakfast.

'I heartily wish they would wait for my company, till I desire to have
theirs!' Sir Jaspar muttered: but, sensible of the impropriety of a
refusal, arose, and, taking off his hat, with a studied formality, which
he hoped would impress the footman with respect for its object, followed
his messenger: whispering, nevertheless, as he quitted the building,
'Leave you for a breakfast!--I would almost as willingly be immersed in
the witches' cauldron, and boiled into morsels, to become a breakfast
myself, for the amusement of the audience at a theatre!'



CHAPTER LV


Juliet, who perceived that the windows were still crowded with company,
contentedly kept her place; and, taking up the second volume of the
Guardian, found, in the lively instruction, the chaste morality, and the
exquisite humour of Addison, an enjoyment which no repetition can cloy.

In a short time, to her great discomposure, she was broken in upon by
Ireton; who, drawing before the door, which he shut, an easy chair, cast
himself indolently upon it, and, stretching out his arms, said, 'Ah ha!
the fair Ellis! How art thee, my dear?'

Far more offended than surprised by this freedom, Juliet, perceiving
that she could not escape, affected to go on with her reading, as if he
had not entered the building.

'Don't be angry, my dear,' he continued, 'that I did not speak to you
before all those people. There's no noticing a pretty girl, in public,
without raising such a devil of a clamour, that it's enough to put a man
out of countenance. Besides, Mrs Ireton is such a very particular quiz,
that she would be sure to contrive I should never have a peep at you
again, if once she suspected the pleasure I take in seeing you. However,
I am going to turn a dutiful son, and spend some days here. And, by that
means, we can squeeze an opportunity, now and then, of getting a little
chat together.'

Juliet could no longer refrain from raising her head, with amazement, at
this familiar assurance: but he went on, totally disregarding the rebuke
of her indignant eye.

'How do you like your place here, my dear? Mrs Ireton's rather qualmish,
I am afraid. I never can bear to stay with her myself; except when I
have some point to carry. I can't devise what the devil could urge you
to come into such a business. And where's Harleigh? What's he about?
Gone to old Nick I hope with all my heart! But you,--why are you
separated? What's the reason you are not with him?'

Yet more provoked, though determined not to look up again, Juliet fixed
her eyes upon the book.

Ireton continued: 'What a sly dog he is, that Harleigh! But what the
deuce could provoke him to make me cut such a silly figure before Lord
Melbury, with my apologies, and all that? He took me in, poz! I thought
he'd nothing to do with you. And if you had not had that fainting fit,
at the concert; which I suppose you forgot to give him notice of, that
put him so off his guard, I should have believed all he vowed and swore,
of having no connection with you, and all that, to this very moment.'

This was too much. Juliet gravely arose, put down her book, and said,
with severity, 'Mr Ireton, you will be so good as to let me pass!'

'No, not I! No, not I, my dear!' he answered, still lolling at his ease.
'We must have a little chat together first. 'Tis an age since I have
been able to speak with you. I have been confounded discreet, I promise
you. I have not told your secret to a soul.'

'What secret, Sir?' cried Juliet, hastily.

'Why who you are, and all that.'

'If you knew, Sir,' recovering her calmness, she replied, 'I should not
have to defend myself from the insults of a son, while under the
protection of his mother!'

'Ha! ha! ha!' cried he. 'What a droll piece of dainty delicacy thee art!
I'd give a cool hundred, this moment, only to know what the deuce puts
it into thy little head, to play this farce such a confounded length of
time, before one comes to the catastrophe.'

Juliet, with a disdainful gesture, again took her book.

'Why won't you trust me, my dear? You sha'n't repent it, I promise you.
Tell me frankly, now, who are you?--Hay?'

Juliet only turned over a new leaf of her book.

'How can you be so silly, child?--Why won't you let me serve you? You
don't know what use I may be of to you. Come, make me your friend! only
trust me, and I'll go to the very devil for you with pleasure.'

Juliet read on.

'Come, my love, don't be cross! Speak out! Put aside these dainty airs.
Surely you a'n't such a little fool, as to think to take me in, as you
have done Melbury and Harleigh?'

Juliet felt her cheeks now heated with increased indignation.

'As to Melbury,--'tis a mere schoolboy, ready to swallow any thing; and
as to Harleigh, he's such a queer, out of the way genius, that he's like
nobody: but as to me, my dear, I'm a man of the world. Not so easily
played upon, I promise you! I have known you from the very beginning!
Found you out at first sight! Only I did not think it worth while
telling you so, while you appeared so confounded ugly. But now that I
see you are such a pretty creature, I feel quite an interest for you. So
tell me who are you? Will you?'

Somewhat piqued, at length, by her resolute silence, 'Nay,' he added,
with affected scorn, 'don't imagine I have any view! Don't disturb
yourself with any freaks and qualms of that sort. You are a fine girl,
to be sure. Devilish handsome, I own; but still
too--too--grave,--grim,--What the deuce is the word I mean? for my
taste. I like something more buckish. So pray make yourself easy. I
shan't interfere with your two sparks. I am perfectly aware I should
have but a bad chance. I know I am neither as good a pigeon to pluck as
Melbury, nor as marvellous a wight to overcome as Harleigh. But I can't
for my life make out why you don't take to one or t'other of them, and
put yourself at your ease. I'm deadly curious to know what keeps you
from coming to a finish. Melbury would be managed the easiest; but I
strongly suspect you like Harleigh best. What do you turn your back for?
That I mayn't see you blush? Come, come, don't play the baby with a man
of the world like me.'

To the infinite relief of the disgusted Juliet, she now heard the
approach of some footstep. Ireton, who heard it also, nimbly arose,
and, softly moving his chair from the door, cast half his body out of
the window, and, lolling upon his elbows, began humming an air; as if
totally occupied in regarding the sea.

A footman, who entered, told Juliet that his lady desired that she would
come to the parlour, to play and sing to the company, while they
breakfasted.

Juliet, colouring at this unqualified order, hesitated what to answer;
while Ireton, turning round, and pretending not to have heard what was
said, maliciously, made the man repeat, 'My lady, Sir, bid me tell Miss
Ellis, that she must come to play and sing to the company.'

'Play and sing?' repeated Ireton. 'O the devil! Must we be bored with
playing and singing too? But I did not know breakfast was ready, and I
am half starved.'

He then sauntered from the building; but the moment that the footman was
out of sight, turned back, to say, 'How devilish provoking to be
interrupted in this manner! How can we contrive to meet again, my dear?'

The answer of Juliet was shutting and bolting the door.

His impertinence, however, occupied her mind only while she was under
its influence; the insignificance of his character, notwithstanding the
malice of his temper, made it sink into nothing, to give way to the new
rising difficulty, how she might bear to obey, or how risk to refuse,
the rude and peremptory summons which she had just received. Ought I,
she cried, to submit to treatment so mortifying? Are there no boundaries
to the exactions of prudence upon feeling? or, rather, is there not a
mental necessity, a call of character, a cry of propriety, that should
supersede, occasionally, all prudential considerations, however
urgent?--Oh! if those who receive, from the unequal conditions of life,
the fruits of the toils of others, could,--only for a few
days,--experience, personally, how cruelly those toils are embittered by
arrogance, or how sweetly they may be softened by kindness,--the race of
the Mrs Iretons would become rare,--and Lady Aurora Granville might,
perhaps, be paralleled!

Yet, with civility, with good manners, had Mrs Ireton made this request;
not issued it as a command by a footman; Juliet felt that, in her
present dependent condition, however ill she might be disposed for
music, or for public exhibition, she ought to yield: and even now, the
horror of having another asylum to seek; the disgrace of seeming driven,
thus continually, from house to house; though they could not lessen her
repugnance to indelicacy and haughtiness, cooled all ardour of desire
for trying yet another change; till she should have raised a sufficient
sum for joining Gabriella; and softening, nay delighting, the future
toils to which she might be destined, by the society of that cherished
friend.

In a few minutes, she was visited by Selina, who, rapturously embracing
her, declared that she could not stay away from her any longer; and
volubly began her usual babble of news and tales; to all which Juliet
gave scarcely the coldest attention; till she had the satisfaction of
hearing that the health of Elinor was re-established.

Selina then owned that she had been sent by Mrs Ireton, to desire that
Miss Ellis would make more haste.

Juliet worded a civil excuse; which Selina, with hands uplifted, from
amazement, carried back to the breakfast-room.

Soon afterwards, peals of laughter announced the vicinity of the Miss
Crawleys; who merrily called aloud upon Ireton, to come and help them
to haul The Ellis, will ye, nill ye? to the piano-forte, to play and
sing.

Happy in this intimation of their purpose, Juliet bolted the door; and
would not be prevailed upon to open it, either by their vociferous
prayers, or their squalls of disappointment.

But, in another minute, a slight rustling sound drawing her eyes to a
window, she saw Ireton preparing to make a forced entry.

She darted, now, to the door, and, finding the passage clear, as the
Miss Crawleys had gone softly round, to witness the exploit of Ireton,
seized the favourable moment for eluding observation; and was nearly
arrived at the house, before the besiegers of the cage perceived that
the bird was flown.



CHAPTER LVI


The two sisters no sooner discovered the escape of their prey, than,
screaming with violent laughter, they began a romping race in its
pursuit.

Near the entrance into the hall, Juliet was met by Selina, with commands
from Mrs Ireton, that she would either present herself, immediately, to
the company; or seek another abode.

In minds of strong sensibility, arrogance rouses resentment more quickly
even than injury: a message so gross, an affront so public, required,
therefore, no deliberation on the part of Juliet; and she was answering
that she would make her preparations to depart; when the Miss Crawleys,
rushing suddenly upon her, exclaimed, with clamourous joy, 'She's
caught! She's caught! The Ellis is caught!' and, each of them seizing a
hand, they dragged her, with merry violence, into the breakfast-room.

Her hoydening conductors failed not to excite the attention of the whole
assembly; though it fell not, after the first glance, upon themselves.
Juliet, to whom exercise and confusion gave added beauty; and whom no
disorder of attire could rob of an air of decency, which, inherent in
her nature, was always striking in her demeanor; was no sooner seen,
than, whether with censure or applause, she monopolized all remark.

Mrs Ireton haughtily bid her approach.

Averse, yet unwilling to risk the consequences of a public breach, she
slowly advanced.

'I am afraid, Ma'am,' said Mrs Ireton, with a smile of derision; 'I am
afraid, Ma'am, you have hurried yourself? It is not much above an hour,
I believe, since I did myself the honour of sending for you. I have no
conception how you have been able to arrive so soon! Pray how far do
you think it may be from hence to the Temple? ten or twelve yards, I
verily believe! You must really be ready to expire!'

Having constrained herself to hear thus much, Juliet conceived that the
duty even of her humble station could require no more; she made,
therefore, a slight reverence, with intention to withdraw. But Mrs
Ireton, offended, cried, 'Whither may you be going, Ma'am?--And pray,
Ma'am,--if I may take the liberty to ask such a question,--who told you
to go?--Was it I?--Did any body hear me?--Did you, Lady Arramede?--or
you, Miss Brinville?--or only Miss Ellis herself? For, to be sure I must
have done it: I take that for granted: she would not, certainly, think
of going without leave, after I have sent for her. So I make no doubt
but I did it. Though I can't think how it happened, I own. 'Twas
perfectly without knowing it, I confess. In some fit of absence--perhaps
in my sleep;--for I have slept, too, perhaps, without knowing it!'

Sarcasms so witty, uttered by a lady at an assembly in her own house,
could not fail of being received with applause; and Mrs Ireton, looking
around her triumphantly, regarded the disconcerted Juliet as a
completely vanquished vassal. In a tone, therefore, that marked the most
perfect self-satisfaction, 'Pray, Ma'am,' she continued, 'for what might
you suppose I did myself the favour to want you? was it only to take a
view of your new _costume_? 'Tis very careless and picturesque, to be
sure, to rove abroad in that agreeable dishabille, just like the "maiden
all forlorn;" or rather to speak with mere exactitude, like the "man all
tattered and torn," for 'tis more properly his _costume_ you adopt, than
the neat, tidy maiden's.'

The warm-hearted young Lady Barbara, all pity and feeling for Juliet,
here broke from her quiet and cautious aunt, and, with irrepressible
eagerness, exclaimed, 'Mrs Ireton, 'twas Mr Loddard, your own little
naughty nephew, who deranged in that manner the dress of that elegant
Miss Ellis.'

The Miss Crawleys, now, running to the little boy, called out, 'The
Loddard! the Loddard! 'tis the Loddard has set up the new _costume_!'

Mrs Ireton, though affecting to laugh, had now done with the subject;
and, while she was taking a pinch of snuff, to gain time to suggest some
other, Sir Jaspar Herrington, advancing to Juliet, said, 'Has this young
lady no place?' and, gallantly taking her hand, he led her to his own
chair, and walked to another part of the room.

A civility such as this from Sir Jaspar, made all the elders of the
company stare, and all the younger titter; but the person the most
surprized was Mrs Ireton, who hastily called out, 'Miss Ellis would not
do such a thing! Take Sir Jaspar's own seat! That has his own particular
cushions! She could not do such a thing! I should think not, at least! I
may judge ill, but I should think not. A seat prepared for Sir Jaspar by
my own order! Miss Ellis can dispense with having an easy chair, and
three cushions, I should presume! I may be wrong, to be sure, but I
should presume so!'

'Madam,' answered Sir Jaspar, 'in days of old, I never could bear to
sit, when I saw a lady standing; and though those days are past, alas!
and gone,--still I cannot, even to escape a twitch of the gout, see a
fair female neglected, without feeling a twitch of another kind, that
gives me yet greater pain.'

'Your politeness, Sir Jaspar,' replied Mrs Ireton, 'we all know; and, if
it were for one of my guests,--but Miss Ellis can hardly desire, I
should suppose, to see you drop down with fatigue, while she is reposing
upon your arm-chair. Not that I pretend to know her way of thinking! I
don't mean that. I don't mean to have it imagined I have the honour of
her confidence; but I should rather suppose she could not insist upon
turning you out of your seat, only to give you a paroxysm of the gout.'

However internally moved, Juliet endured this harangue in total silence;
convinced that where all authority is on the side of the aggressor,
resistance only provokes added triumph. Her looks, therefore, though
they shewed her to be hurt and offended, evinced a dignified
forbearance, superiour to the useless reproach, and vain retaliation, of
unequal contention.

She rose, nevertheless, from the seat which she had only momentarily,
and from surprise occupied, and would have quitted the room, but that
she saw she should again be publicly called back; and hers was not a
situation for braving open enmity. She thankfully, however, accepted a
chair which was brought to her by Sir Marmaduke Crawley, and placed next
to that which had been vacated by the old Baronet; who then returned to
his own.

She now hoped to find some support from his countenance; as his powerful
situation in the house, joined to his age, would make his smallest
attention prove to her a kind of protection. Her expectation, however,
was disappointed: he did not address to her a word; or appear to have
ever beheld her before; and his late act of politeness seemed exerted
for a perfect stranger, from habitual good breeding.

And is it you, thought the pensive Juliet, who, but a few minutes
since, spoke to me with such flattery, such preference? with an even
impassioned regard? And shall this so little assembly guide and awe you?
There, where I wished upon me your compliments;--while here, where a
smile would be encouragement, where notice would be charity, you affect
to have forgotten, or appear never to have seen me! Ah! mentally
continued the silent moralist, if we reflected upon the difficulty of
gaining esteem; upon the chances against exciting affection; upon the
union of time and circumstance necessary for obtaining sincere regard;
we should require courage to withhold, not to follow, the movement of
kindness, that, where distress sighs for succour, where helplessness
solicits support, gives power to the smallest exertion, to a single
word, to a passing smile,--to bestow a favour, and to do a service, that
catch, in the brief space of a little moment, a gratitude that never
dies!

But, while thus to be situated, was pain and dejection to Juliet, to see
her seated, however unnoticed, in the midst of this society, was almost
equally irksome to Mrs Ireton; who, after some vain internal fretting,
ordered the butler to carry about refreshments; consoled with the
certainty, that he would as little dare present any to Juliet, as omit
to present them to every one else.

The smiles and best humour of Mrs Ireton now soon returned; for the
dependent state of Juliet became more than ever conspicuous, when thus
decidedly she was marked as the sole person, in a large assembly, that
the servants were permitted, if not instructed to neglect.

Juliet endeavoured to sit tranquil, and seem unconcerned; but her
fingers were in continual motion; her eyes, meaning to look no where,
looked every where; and Mrs Ireton had the gratification to perceive,
that, however she struggled for indifference, she was fully sensible of
the awkwardness of her situation.

But this was no sooner remarked by Lady Barbara Frankland, than,
starting with vivacity from her vainly watchful aunt, she flew to her
former instructress, crying, 'Have you taken nothing yet, Miss Ellis? O
pray, then, let me chuse your ice for you?'

She ran to a side-board, and selecting the colour most pleasing to her
eyes, hastened with it to the blushing, but relieved and grateful
Juliet; to whom this benevolent attention seemed instantly to restore
the self-command, that pointed indignities, and triumphant derision,
were sinking into abashed depression.

The sensation produced by this action in Mrs Ireton, was as ungenial as
that which it caused to Juliet was consolatory. She could not for a
moment endure to see the creature of her power, whom she looked upon as
destined for the indulgence of her will, and the play of her authority,
receive a mark of consideration which, if shewn even to herself, would
have been accepted as a condescension. Abruptly, therefore, while they
were standing together, and conversing, she called out, 'Is it possible,
Miss Ellis, that you can see the child in such imminent danger, and stay
there amusing yourself?'

Lady Kendover hastily called off her young niece; and Juliet, sighing
crossed over the room, to take charge of the little boy, who was sitting
astraddle out of one of the windows.

'But I had flattered myself,' cried Sir Marmaduke Crawley, addressing
Mrs Ireton, 'that we should have a little music?'

Mrs Ireton, to whom the talents of Juliet gave pleasure in proportion
only to her own repugnance to bringing them into play, had relinquished
the projected performance, when she perceived the general interest which
was excited by the mere appearance of the intended performer. She
declared herself, therefore, so extremely fearful lest some mischief
should befall her little nephew, that she could not possibly trust him
from the care of Miss Ellis.

Half the company, now, urged by the thirst of fresh amusement, professed
the most passionate fondness for children, and offered their services to
watch the dear, sweet little boy, while Miss Ellis should play or sing;
but the averseness] of Ellis remained uncombated by Mrs Ireton, and,
therefore, unconquered.

The party was preparing to break up, when Mr Giles Arbe entered the
room, to apologize for the non-appearance of Miss Arbe, his cousin, who
had bid him bring words, he said, that she was taken ill.

Ireton, by a few crafty questions, soon drew from him, that Miss Arbe
was only gone to a little private music-meeting at Miss Sycamore's:
though, affrighted when he had made the confession, he entreated Mrs
Ireton not to take it amiss; protesting that it was not done in any
disrespect to her, but merely because his cousin was more amused at Miss
Sycamore's.

Mrs Ireton, extremely piqued, answered, that she should be very careful,
in future, not to presume to make an invitation to Miss Arbe, but in a
total dearth of other entertainment; in a famine; or public fast.

But, the moment he sauntered into another room, to partake of some
refreshments, 'That old savage,' she cried, 'is a perfect horrour! He
has not a single atom of common sense; and if he were not Miss Arbe's
cousin, one must tell one's butler to shew him the door. At least, such
is my poor opinion. I don't pretend to be a judge; but such is my
notion!'

'O! I adore him!' cried Miss Crawley. 'He makes me laugh till I am ready
to die! He has never a guess what he is about; and he never hears a word
one says. And he stares so when one laughs at him! O! he's the
delightfullest, stupidest, dear wretch that breathes!'

'O! I can't look at him without laughing!' exclaimed Miss Di. 'He's the
best thing in nature! He's delicious! enchanting! delightful! O! so dear
a fool!'

'He is quite unfit,' said Mrs Maple, 'for society; for he says every
thing that comes uppermost, and has not the least idea of what is due to
people.'

'O! he is the sweetest-tempered, kindest-hearted creature in the world!'
exclaimed Lady Barbara. 'My aunt's woman has heard, from Miss Arbe's
maid, all his history. He has quite ruined himself by serving poor
people in distress. He is so generous, he can never pronounce a
refusal.'

'But he dresses so meanly,' said Miss Brinville, 'that mamma and I have
begged Miss Arbe not to bring him any more to see us. Besides,--he tells
every thing in the world to every body.'

'Poor Miss Arbe a'n't to blame, I assure you, Miss Brinville,' said
Selina; 'for she dislikes him as much as you do; only when her papa
invited him to live with them, he was very rich; and it was thought he
would leave all his fortune to them. But, since then, Miss Arbe says, he
is grown quite poor; for he has dawdled away almost all his money, in
one way or another; letting folks out of prison, setting people up in
business, and all that.'

'O! he's the very king of quizzes!' cried Ireton. 'He drags me out of
the spleen, when I feel as if there were no possibility I could yawn on
another half hour.'

Sir Jaspar now, looking with an air of authority towards Ireton, said,
'It would have been your good star, not your evil genius, by which you
would have been guided, Mr Ireton, had you been attracted to this old
gentleman as to an example, rather than as a butt for your wit. He has
very good parts, if he knew how to make use of them; though he has a
simplicity of manners, that induces common observers to conclude him to
be nearly an ideot. And, indeed, an absent man seems always in a state
of childhood; for as he is never occupied with what is present, those
who think of nothing else, naturally take it for granted that what
passes is above his comprehension; when perhaps, it is only below his
attention. But with Mr Arbe, though his temper is incomparably good and
placid, absence is neither want of understanding, nor of powers of
observation; for, when once he is awakened to what is passing, by any
thing that touches his feelings of humanity, or his sense of justice,
his seeming stupor turns to energy; his silence is superseded by
eloquence; and his gentle diffidence is supplanted by a mental courage,
which electrifies with surprize, from its contrast with his general
docility; and which strikes, and even awes, from an apparent dignity of
defying consequence;--though, in fact, it is but the effect of never
weighing them. Such, however, as he is, Mr Ireton, with the
singularities of his courage, or the oddities of his passiveness, he is
a man who is useful to the world, from his love of doing good; and happy
in himself, from the serenity of a temper unruffled by any species of
malignity.'

Ireton ventured not to manifest any resentment at this conclusion; but
when, by his embarrassed air, Sir Jaspar saw that it was understood, he
smiled, and more gaily added, 'If the fates, the sisters three, and such
little branches of learning, had had the benevolence to have fixed my
own birth under the influence of the same planet with that of Mr Giles
Arbe, how many twitches, goadings, and worries should I have been
spared, from impatience, ambition, envy, discontent, and ill will!'

The subject was here dropt, by the re-entrance of Mr Arbe; who,
observing Selina, said that he wanted prodigiously to enquire about her
poor aunt, whom, lately, he had met with no where; though she used to be
every where.

'My aunt, Sir?--She's there!' said Selina, pointing to Mrs Maple.

'No, no, I don't mean that aunt; I mean your young aunt, that used to be
so all alive and clever. What's become of her?'

'O, I dare say it's my sister you are thinking of?'

'Ay, it's like enough; for she's young enough, to be sure; only you look
such a mere child. Pray how is she now? I was very sorry to hear of her
cutting her throat.'

A titter, which was immediately exalted into a hearty laugh by the Miss
Crawleys, was all the answer.

'It was not right to do such a thing,' he continued; 'very wrong indeed.
There's no need to be afraid of not dying soon enough, for we only come
to be gone! I pitied her, however, with all my heart, for love is but a
dangerous thing; it makes older persons than she is go astray, one way
or other. And it was but unkind of Mr Harleigh not to marry her, whether
he liked or not, to save her from such a naughty action. And pray what
is become of that pretty creature that used to teach you all music? I
have enquired for her at Miss Matson's, often; but I always forgot where
they said she was gone. Indeed they made me a little angry about her,
which, probably, was the reason that I could never recollect what they
told me of her direction.'

'Angry, Mr Giles?' repeated Mrs Ireton, with an air of restored
complacency; 'What was it, then, they said of her? Not that I am very
curious to hear it, as I presume you will believe! You won't imagine it,
I presume, a matter of the first interest to me!'

'O, what they said of her was very bad! very bad, indeed; and that's the
reason I give no credit to it.'

'Well, well, but what was it?' cried Ireton.

'Why they told me that she was turned toad-eater.'

Universal and irresistible smiles throughout the whole company, to the
exception of Lady Barbara and Sir Jaspar, now heightened the
embarrassment of Juliet into pain and distress: but the young Loddard
every moment struggled to escape into the garden, through the window;
and she did not dare quit her post.

'So I asked them what they meant,' Mr Giles continued; 'for I never
heard of any body's eating toads; though I am assured our neighbours, on
t'other bank, are so fond of frogs. But they made it out, that it only
meant a person who would swallow any thing, bad or good; and do whatever
he was bid, right or wrong; for the sake of a little pay.'

This definition by no means brought the assembly back to its gravity;
but while Juliet, ashamed and indignant, kept her face turned constantly
towards the garden, Ireton called out, 'Why you don't speak to your
little friend, Loddard, Mr Giles. There he is, at the window.'

Mr Giles now, notwithstanding her utmost efforts to avoid his eyes,
perceived the blushing Juliet; though, doubting his sight, he stared and
exclaimed, 'Good la! that lady's very like Miss Ellis! And, I protest,
'tis she herself! And just as pretty as ever! And with the same innocent
face that not a soul can either buy or make, but God Almighty himself!'

He then enquired after her health and welfare, with a cordiality that
somewhat lessened the pain caused by the general remark that was
produced by his address: but the relief was at an end upon his adding,
'I wanted to see you prodigiously, for I have never forgotten your
paying your debts so prettily, against your will, that morning. It fixed
you in my good opinion. I hope, however, it is a mistake, what they tell
me, that you are turned what they call toad-eater? and have let yourself
out, at so much a year, to say nothing that you think; and to do nothing
that you like; and to beg pardon when you are not in fault; and to eat
all the offals; and to be beat by the little gentleman; and worried by
the little dog? I hope all that's mere misapprehension, my dear; for it
would be but a very mean way of getting money.'

The calmness of conscious superiority, with which Juliet heard the
beginning of these interrogatories, was converted into extreme
confusion, by their termination, from the appearance of justice which
the incidents of the morning had given to the attack.

'For now,' continued he, 'that you have paid all your debts, you ought
to hold up your head; for, where nothing is owing, we are all of us
equal, rich and poor; another man's riches no more making him my
superiour, or benefactor, if I do not partake of them, than my poverty
makes me his servant, or dependent, if I neither work for, nor am
benefited by him. And I am your witness that you gave every one his due.
So don't let any body put you out of your proper place.'

The mortification of Juliet, at this public exhortation, upon a point so
delicate, was not all that she had to endure: the little dog, who,
though incessantly tormented by the little boy, always followed him;
kept scratching her gown; to be helped up to the window, that he might
play with, or snarl at him, more at his ease; and the boy, making a whip
of his pocket-handkerchief, continually attracted, though merely to
repulse him; while Juliet, seeking alternately to quiet both, had not a
moment's rest.

'Why now, what's all this my pretty lady?' cried Mr Giles, perceiving
her situation. 'Why do you let those two plagueful things torment you
so? Why don't you teach them to be better behaved.'

'Miss Ellis would be vastly obliging, certainly,' with a supercilious
brow, said Mrs Ireton, 'to correct my nephew! I don't in the least mean
to contest her abilities for superintending his chastisement; not in the
least, I assure you! But only, as I never heard of my brother's giving
her such a _carte blanche_; and as I don't recollect having given it
myself,--although I may have done it, again, perhaps, in my sleep!--I
should be happy to learn by what authority she would be invested with
such powers of discipline?'

'By what authority? That of humanity, Ma'am! Not to spoil a poor
ignorant little fellow-creature; nor a poor innocent little beast.'

'It would be immensely amiable of her, Sir, no doubt,' said Mrs Ireton,
reddening, 'to take charge of the morals of my household; immensely! I
only hope you will be kind enough to instruct the young person, at the
same time, how she may hold her situation? That's all! I only hope
that!'

'How? Why by doing her duty! If she can't hold it by that, 'tis her duty
to quit it. Nobody is born to be trampled upon.'

'I hope, too, soon,' said Mrs Ireton, scoffingly, 'nobody will be born
to be poor!'

'Good! true!' returned he, nodding his head. 'Nobody should be poor!
That is very well said. However, if you think her so poor, I can give
you the satisfaction to shew you your mistake. She mayn't, indeed, be
very rich, poor lady, at bottom; but still--'

'No, indeed, am I not!' hastily cried Juliet, frightened at the
communication which she saw impending.

'But still,' continued he, 'if she is poor, it is not for want of money;
nor for want of credit, neither; for she has bank-notes in abundance in
one of her work-bags; and not a penny of them is her own! which shews
her to be a person of great honour.'

Every one now looked awakened to a new curiosity; and Selina exclaimed,
'O la! have you got a fortune, then, my dear Ellis? O! I dare say, then,
my guess will prove true at last! for I dare say you are a princess in
disguise?'

'As far as disguise goes, Selina,' answered Mrs Maple, 'we have never, I
think, disputed! but as to a princess!...'

'A princess?' repeated Mrs Ireton. 'Upon my word, this is an honour I
had not imagined! I own my stupidity! I can't but own my stupidity; but
I really had never imagined myself so much honoured, as to suspect that
I had a princess under my roof, who was so complaisant as to sing, and
play, and read to me, at my pleasure; and to study how to amuse and
divert me! I confess, I had never suspected it! I am quite ashamed of my
total want of sagacity; but it had never occurred to me!'

'And why not, Ma'am?' cried Mr Giles. 'Why may not a princess be pretty,
and complaisant, and know how to sing and play, and read, as well as
another lady? She is just as able to learn as you, or any common person.
I never heard that a princess took her rank in the place of her
faculties. I know no difference; except that, if she does the things
with good nature, you ought to love and honour her the double, in
consideration of the great temptation she has to be proud and idle, and
to do nothing. We all envy the great, when we ought only to revere them
if they are good, and to pity them if they are bad; for they have the
same infirmities that we have; and nobody that dares put them in mind of
them: so that they often go to the grave, before they find out that they
are nothing but poor little men and women, like the rest of us. For my
part, when I see them worthy, and amiable, I look up to them as
prodigies! Whereas, a common person, such as you, or I, Ma'am,--'

Mrs Ireton, unable to bear this phrase, endeavoured to turn the
attention of the company into another channel, by abruptly calling upon
Juliet to go to the piano-forte.

Juliet entreated to be excused.

'Excused? And why, Ma'am? What else have you got to do? What are your
avocations? I shall really take it as a favour to be informed.'

'Don't teize her, pretty lady; don't teize her,' cried Mr Giles. 'If she
likes to sing, it's very agreeable; but if not, don't make a point of
it, for it's not a thing at all essential.'

'Likes it?' repeated Mrs Ireton, superciliously; 'We must do nothing,
then, but what we like? Even when we are in other people's houses? Even
when we exist only through the goodness of some of our superiours? Still
we are to do only what we like? I am quite happy in the information!
Extremely obliged for it, indeed! It will enable me, I hope, to rectify
the gross errour of which I have been guilty; for I really did not know
I had a young lady in my house, who was to make her will and taste the
rule for mine! and, as I suppose, to have the goodness to direct my
servants; as well as to take the trouble to manage me. I knew nothing of
all this, I protest. I thought, on the contrary, I had engaged a young
person, who would never think of taking such a liberty as to give her
opinion; but who would do, as she ought, with respect and submission,
whatever I should indicate.'--

'Good la, Ma'am,' interrupted Mr Giles: 'Why that would be leading the
life of a slave! And that, I suppose, is what they meant, all this time,
by a toad-eater. However, don't look so ashamed, my pretty dear, for a
toad-eater-maker is still worse! Fie, fie! What can rich people be
thinking of, to lay out their money in buying their fellow-creatures'
liberty of speech and thought! and then paying them for a bargain which
they ought to despise them for selling?'

This unexpected retort turning the smiles of the assembly irresistibly
against the lady of the mansion, she hastily renewed her desire that
Juliet would sing.

'Sing, Ma'am?' cried Mr Giles. 'Why a merry-andrew could not do it,
after being so affronted! Bless my heart! Tell a human being that she
must only move to and fro, like a machine? Only say what she is bid,
like a parrot? Employ her time, call forth her talents, exact her
services, yet not let her make any use of her understanding? Neither say
what she approves, nor object to what she dislikes? Poor, pretty young
thing! You were never so much to be pitied, in the midst of your worst
distresses, as when you were relived upon such terms! Fie upon it,
fie!--How can great people be so little?'

The mingled shame and resentment of Mrs Ireton, at a remonstrance so
extraordinary and so unqualified, were with difficulty kept within the
bounds of decorum; for though she laughed, and affected to be extremely
diverted, her laugh was so sharp, and forced, that it wounded every ear;
and, through the amusement that she pretended to receive, it was obvious
that she suffered torture, in restraining herself from ordering her
servants to turn the orator out of the room.

With looks much softened, though in a manner scarcely less fervent, Mr
Giles then, approaching Juliet, repeated, 'Don't be cast down I say, my
pretty lady! You are none the worse for all this. The thing is but
equal, at last; so we must not always look at the bad side of our fate.
State every thing fairly; you have got your talents, your prettiness,
and your winning ways,--but you want these ladies' wealth: they, have
got their wealth, their grandeur, and their luxuries; but they want your
powers of amusing. You can't well do without one another. So it's best
be friends on both sides.'

Mrs Ireton, now, dying to give some vent to her spleen, darted the full
venom of her angry eyes upon Juliet, and called out, 'You don't see, I
presume, Miss Ellis, what a condition Bijou has put that chair in? 'T
would be too great a condescension for you, I suppose, just to give it a
little pat of the hand, to shake off the crumbs? Though it is not your
business, I confess! I confess that it is not your business! Perhaps,
therefore, I am guilty of an indiscretion in giving you such a hint.
Perhaps I had better let Lady Kendover, or Lady Arramede, or Mrs
Brinville, or any other of the ladies, sit upon the dirt, and soil their
clothes? You may think, perhaps, that it will be for the advantage of
the mercer, or the linen-draper? You may be considering the good of
trade? or perhaps you may think I may do such sort of menial offices for
myself?'

However generally power may cause timidity, arrogance, in every generous
mind, awakens spirit; Juliet, therefore, raising her head, and,
clearing her countenance, with a modest, but firm step, moved silently
towards the door.

Astonished and offended, 'Permit me, Madam,' cried Mrs Ireton; 'permit
me, Miss Ellis,--if it is not taking too great a liberty with a person
of your vast consequence,--permit me to enquire who told you to go?'

Juliet turned back her head, and quietly answered, 'A person, Madam, who
has not the honour to be known to you,--myself!' And then steadily left
the room.



CHAPTER LVII.


An answer so little expected, from one whose dependent state had been so
freely discussed, caused a general surprize, and an almost universal
demand of who the young person might be, and what she could mean. The
few words that had dropt from her had as many commentators as hearers.
Some thought their inference important; others, their mystery
suspicious; and others mocked their assumption of dignity. Tears started
into the eyes of Lady Barbara; while those of Sir Jaspar were fixed,
meditatively, upon the head of his crutch; but the complacent smile of
admiration, exhibited by Mr Giles, attracted the notice of the whole
assembly, by the peals of laughter which it excited in the Miss
Crawleys.

With rage difficultly disguised without, but wholly ungovernable within,
Mrs Ireton would instantly have revenged what she considered as the most
heinous affront that she had ever received, by expelling its author
ignominiously from her house, but for the still sharpened curiosity with
which her pretentions to penetration became piqued, from the general cry
of 'How very extraordinary that Mrs Ireton has never been able to
discover who she is!'

When Juliet, therefore, conceiving her removal from this mansion to be
as inevitable, as her release from its tyranny was desirable, made
known, as soon as the company was dispersed, that she was ready to
depart; she was surprised by a request, from Mrs Ireton, to stay a day
or two longer; for the purpose of taking care of Mr Loddard the
following morning; as Mrs Ireton, who had no one with whom she could
trust such a charge, had engaged herself to join a party to see Arundel
Castle.

Little as Juliet felt disposed to renew her melancholy wanderings, her
situation in this house appeared to her so humiliating, nay degrading,
that neither this message, nor the fawning civilities with which, at
their next meeting, Mrs Ireton sought to mitigate her late asperity,
could prevail with her to consent to any delay beyond that which was
necessary for obtaining the counsel of Gabriella; to whom she wrote a
detailed account of what had passed; adding, 'How long must I thus waste
my time and my existence, separated from all that can render them
valuable, while fastened upon by constant discomfort and disgust? O
friend of my heart, friend of my earliest years, earliest feelings,
juvenile happiness,--and, alas! maturer sorrows! why must we thus be
sundered in adversity? Oh how,--with three-fold toil, should I revive by
the side of my beloved Gabriella!--Dear to me by every tie of tender
recollection; dear to me by the truest compassion for her sufferings,
and reverence for her resignation; and dear to me,--thrice dear! by the
sacred ties of gratitude, which bind me for ever to her honoured mother,
and to her venerated, saint-like uncle, my pious benefactor!'

She then tenderly proposed their immediate re-union, at whatever cost of
fatigue, or risk, it might be obtained; and besought Gabriella to seek
some small room, and to enquire for some needle-work; determining to
appropriate to a journey to town, the little sum which she might have to
receive for the long and laborious fortnight, which she had consigned to
the terrible enterprize of aiming at amusing, serving, or interesting,
one whose sole taste of pleasure consisted in seeking, like Strife, in
Spenser's Fairy Queen, occasion for dissension.

With the apprehension, however, of losing, the desire of retaining her
always revived; and now, as usual, proved some check to the recreations
of spleen, in which Mrs Ireton ordinarily indulged herself. Yet, even in
the midst of intended concession, the love of tormenting was so
predominant, that, had the resolution of Juliet still wavered, whether
to seek some new retreat, or still to support her present irksome
situation, all indecision would have ceased from fresh disgust, at the
sneers which insidiously found their way through every effort at
civility. What had dropt from Mr Giles Arbe, relative to the bank-notes,
had excited curiosity in all; tinted, in some, with suspicion, and, in
Mrs Ireton, blended with malignity and wrath, that a creature whom she
pleased herself to consider, and yet more to represent, as dependent
upon her bounty for sustinence, should have any resources of her own.
Nor was this displeasure wholly free from surmises the most disgraceful;
though to those she forbore to give vent, conscious that to suggest them
would stamp with impropriety all further intercourse with their object.
And a moment that offered new food for inquisition, was the last to
induce Mrs Ireton to relinquish her _protegée_. She confined her
sarcasms, therefore, when she could not wholly repress them, to oblique
remarks upon the happiness of those who were able to lay by private
stores for secret purposes; lamenting that such was not her fate; yet
congratulating herself that she might now sleep in peace, with respect
to any creditors; since, should she be threatened with an execution, her
house had a rich inmate, by whom she flattered herself that she should
be assisted to give bail.

Already, the next morning, her resolution with regard to her nephew was
reversed; and, the child desiring the change of scene, she gave
directions that Miss Ellis should prepare herself to take him in charge
during the excursion.

But Juliet was now initiated in the services and the endurance of an
humble companion in public; she offered, therefore, to amuse and to
watch him at home, but decidedly refused to attend him abroad; and her
evident indifference whether to stay or begone herself, forced Mrs
Ireton to deny the humoured boy his intended frolic.

Little accustomed to any privation, and totally unused to
disappointment, the young gentleman, when his aunt was preparing to
depart, had recourse to his usual appeals against restraint or
authority, clamourous cries and unappeasable blubbering. Juliet, to
whose room he refused to mount, was called upon to endeavour to quiet
him, and to entice him into the garden; that he might not hear the
carriage of his aunt draw up to the door.

But this commission the refractory spirit of the young heir made it
impossible to execute, till he overheard a whisper to Juliet, that she
would take care, should Mr Loddard chuse to go to the Temple, to place
the silk-worms above his reach.

Suddenly, then, he sprang from his consolers and attendants, to run
forward to the forbidden fruit; and, with a celerity that made it
difficult for Juliet, even with her utmost speed, and longer limbs, to
arrive at the spot in time to prevent the mischief for which she saw him
preparing. She had just, however, succeeded, in depositing the menaced
insects upon a high bracket, when a footman came to whisper to her the
commands of his lady, that she would detain Mr Loddard till the party
should be set off.

Before the man had shut himself out, Ireton, holding up his finger to
him in token of secresy, slipt past him into the little building; and,
having turned the key on the inside, and put it into his pocket, said,
'I'll stand centinel for little Pickle!' and flung himself, loungingly,
upon an arm chair.

Confounded by this action, yet feeling it necessary to appear
unintimidated, Juliet affected to occupy herself with the silk-worms; of
which the young gentleman now, eager to romp with Ireton, thought no
more.

'At last, then, I have caught you, my skittish dear!' cried Ireton,
while jumping about the little boy, to keep him in good humour. 'I have
had the devil of a difficulty to contrive it. However, I shall make
myself amends now, for they are all going to Arundel Castle, and you and
I can pass the morning together.'

The indignant look which this boldness excited, he pretended not to
observe, and went on.

'I can't possibly be easy without having a little private chat with you.
I must consult you about my affairs. I want devilishly to make you my
friend. You might be capitally useful to me. And you would find your
account in it, I promise you. What sayst thee, my pretty one?'

Juliet, not appearing to hear him, changed the leaves of the silk-worms.

'Can you guess what it is brings me hither to old madam my mother's? It
is not you, with all your beauty, you arch prude; though I have a great
enjoyment in looking at you and your blushes, which are devilishly
handsome, I own; yet, to say the truth, you are not--all together--I
don't know how it is--but you are not--upon the whole--quite exactly to
my taste. Don't take it ill, my love, for you are a devilish fine girl.
I own that. But I want something more skittish, more wild, more
eccentric. If I were to fix my fancy upon such symmetry as you, I should
be put out of my way every moment. I should always be thinking I had
some Minerva tutoring, or some Juno awing me. It would not do at all. I
want something of another cast; something that will urge me when I am
hippish, without keeping me in order when I am whimsical. Something
frisky, flighty, fantastic,--yet panting, blushing, dying with love for
me!--'

Neither contempt nor indignation were of sufficient force to preserve
the gravity of Juliet, at this unexpected ingenuousness of vanity.

'You smile!' he cried; 'but if you knew what a deuced difficult thing it
is, for a man who has got a little money, to please himself, you would
find it a very serious affair. How the deuce can he be sure whether a
woman, when once he has married her, would not, if her settlement be to
her liking, dance at his funeral? The very thought of that would either
carry me off in a fright within a month, or make me want to live for
ever, merely to punish her. It's a hard thing having money! a deuced
hard thing! One does not know who to trust. A poor man may find a wife
in a moment, for if he sees any one that likes him, he knows it is for
himself; but a rich man,--as Sir Jaspar says,--can never be sure whether
the woman who marries him, would not, for the same pin-money, just as
willingly follow him to the outside of the church, as to the inside!'

At the name of Sir Jaspar, Juliet involuntarily gave some attention,
though she would make no reply.

'From the time,' continued Ireton, 'that I heard him pronounce those
words, I have never been able to satisfy myself; nor to find out what
would satisfy me. At least not till lately; and now that I know what I
want, the difficulty of the business is to get it! And this is what I
wish to consult with you about; for you must know, my dear, I can never
be happy without being adored.'

Juliet, now, was surprised into suddenly looking at him, to see whether
he were serious.

'Yes, adored! loved to distraction! I must be idolized for myself,
myself alone; yet publicly worshiped, that all mankind may see,--and
envy,--the passion I have been able to inspire!'

Suspecting that he meant some satire upon Elinor, Juliet again fixed her
eyes upon her silk-worms.

'So you don't ask me what it is that makes me so devilish dutiful all of
a sudden, in visiting my mamma? You think, perhaps, I have some debts to
pay? No; I have no taste for gaming. It's the cursedest fatiguing thing
in the world. If one don't mind what one's about, one is blown up in a
moment; and to be always upon one's guard, is worse than ruin itself. So
I am upon no coaxing expedition, I give you my word. What do you think
it is, then, that brings me hither? Cannot you guess?--Hay?--Why it is
to arrange something, somehow or other, for getting myself from under
this terrible yoke, that seems upon the point of enslaving me. My neck
feels galled by it already! I have naturally no taste for matrimony. And
now that the business seems to be drawing to a point, and I am called
upon to name my lawyer, and cavilled with to declare, to the uttermost
sixpence, what I will do, and what I will give, to make my wife merry
and comfortable upon my going out of the world,--I protest I shudder
with horrour! I think there is nothing upon earth so mercenary, as a
young nymph upon the point of becoming a bride!'

'Except,--' Juliet here could not resist saying, 'except the man,--young
or old,--who is her bridegroom!'

'O, that's another thing! quite another thing! A man must needs take
care of his house, and his table, and all that: but the horridest thing
I know, is the condition tied to a man's obtaining the hand of a young
woman; he can never solicit it, but by giving her a prospect of his
death-bed! And she never consents to live with him, till she knows what
she may gain by his dying! Tis the most shocking style of making love
that can be imagined. I don't like it, I swear! What, now, would you
advise me to do?'

'I?'

'Yes; you know the scrape I am in, don't you? Sir Jaspar's estate, in
case he should have no children, is entailed upon me; and, in case I
should have none neither, is entailed upon a cousin; the heaviest dog
you ever saw in your life, whom he hates and despises; and whom I wish
at old Nick with all my heart, because I know he, and all his family,
will wish me at the devil myself, if I marry; and, if I have children,
will wish them and my wife there. I hate them all so heartily, that,
whenever I think of them, I am ready, in pure spite, to be tied to the
first girl that comes in my way: but, when I think of myself, I am taken
with a fit of fright, and in a plaguey hurry to cut the knot off short.
And this is the way I have got the character of a male jilt. But I don't
deserve it, I assure you; for of all the females with whom I have had
these little engagements, there is not one whom I have seriously thought
of marrying, after the first half hour. They none of them hit my fancy
further than to kill a little time.'

The countenance of Juliet, though she neither deigned to speak nor to
turn to him, marked such strong disapprobation, that he thought proper
to add, 'Don't be affronted for little Selina Joddrel: I really meant to
marry her at the time; and I should really have gone on, and "buckled
to," if the thing had been any way possible: but she turns out such a
confounded little fool, that I can't think of her any longer.'

'And was it necessary,--' Juliet could not refrain from saying, 'to
engage her first, and examine whether she could make you happy
afterwards?'

'Why that seems a little awkward, I confess; but it's a way I have
adopted. Though I took the decision, I own, rather in a hurry, with
regard to little Selina; for it was merely to free myself from the
reproaches of Sir Jaspar, who, because he is seventy-five, and does not
know what to do with himself, is always regretting that he did not take
a wife when he was a stripling; and always at work to get me into the
yoke. But, the truth is, I promised, when I went abroad, to bring him
home a niece from France, or Italy; unless I went further east; and then
I would look him out a fair Circassian. Now as he has a great taste for
any thing out of the common way, and retains a constant hankering after
Beauty, he was delighted with the scheme. But I saw nothing that would
do! Nothing I could take to! The pretty ones were all too buckish; and
the steady ones, a set of the yellowest frights I ever beheld.'

'Alas for the poor ladies!'

'O, you are a mocker, are you?--So to lighten the disappointment to Sir
Jaspar, I hit upon the expedient of taking up with little Selina, who
was the first young thing that fell in my way. And I was too tired to be
difficult. Besides, what made her the more convenient, was her extreme
youth, which gave me a year to look about me, and see if I could do any
better. But she's a poor creature; a sad poor creature indeed! quite too
bad. So I must make an end of the business as fast as possible. Besides,
another thing that puts me in a hurry is,--the very devil would have it
so!--but I have fallen in love with her sister!--'

Juliet, at a loss how to understand him, now raised her eyes; and, not
without astonishment, perceived that he was speaking with a grave face.

'O that noble stroke! That inimitable girl! Happy, happy, Harleigh! That
fellow fascinates the girls the more the less notice he takes of them! I
take but little notice of them, neither; but, some how or other, they
never do that sort of thing for me! If I could meet with one who would
take such a measure for my sake, and before such an assembly,--I really
think I should worship her!'

Then, lowering his voice, 'You may be amazingly useful to me, my angel,'
he cried, 'in this new affair. I know you are very well with Harleigh,
though I don't know exactly how; but if,--nay, hear me before you look
so proud! if you'll help me, a little, how to go to work with the divine
Elinor, I'll bind myself down to make over to you,--in case of
success,--mark that!--as round a sum as you may be pleased to name!'

The disdain of Juliet at this proposition was so powerful, that, though
she heard it as the deepest of insults, indignation was but a secondary
feeling; and a look of utter scorn, with a determined silence to
whatever else he might say, was the only notice it received.

He continued, nevertheless, to address her, demanding her advice how to
manage Harleigh, and her assistance how to conquer Elinor, with an air
of as much intimacy and confidence, as if he received the most cordial
replies. He purposed, he said, unless she could counsel him to something
better, making an immediate overture to Elinor; by which means, whether
he should obtain, or not, the only girl in the world who knew how to
love, and what love meant, he should, at least, in a very summary way,
get rid of the little Selina.

Juliet knew too well the slightness of the texture of the regard of
Selina for Ireton, to be really hurt at this defection; yet she was not
less offended at being selected for the confidant of so dishonourable a
proceeding; nor less disgusted at the unfeeling insolence by which it
was dictated.

An attempt at opening the door at length silenced him, while the voice
of Mrs Ireton's woman called out, 'Goodness! Miss Ellis, what do you
lock yourself in for? My lady has sent me to you.'

Juliet cast up her eyes, foreseeing the many disagreeable attacks and
surmises to which she was made liable by this incident; yet immediately
said aloud, 'Since you have thought proper, Mr Ireton, to lock the door,
for your own pleasure, you will, at least, I imagine, think proper to
open it for that of Mrs Ireton.'

'Deuce take me if I do!' cried he, in a low voice: 'manage the matter as
you will! I have naturally no taste for a prude; so I always leave her
to work her way out of a scrape as well as she can. But I'll see you
again when they are all off.' Then, throwing the key upon her lap, he
softly and laughingly escaped out of the window.

Provoked and vexed, yet helpless, and without any means of redress,
Juliet opened the door.

'Goodness! Miss Ellis,' cried the Abigail, peeping curiously around,
'how droll for you to shut yourself in! My lady sent me to ask whether
you have seen any thing of Mr Ireton in the garden, or about; for she
has been ready to go ever so long, and he said he was setting off first
on horseback; but his groom is come, and is waiting for orders, and none
of us can tell where he is.'

'Mr Ireton,' Juliet quietly answered, 'was here just now; and I doubt
not but you will find him in the garden.'

'Yes,' cried the boy, 'he slid out of the window.'

'Goodness! was he in here, then, Master Loddard? Well! my lady'll be in
a fine passion, if she should hear of it!'

This was enough to give the tidings a messenger: the boy darted forward,
and reached the house in a moment.

The Abigail ran after him; Juliet, too, followed, dreading the impending
storm yet still more averse to remaining within the reach and power of
Ireton. And the knowledge, that he would now, for the rest of the
morning, be sole master of the house, filled her with such horrour, of
the wanton calumny to which his unprincipled egotism might expose her,
that, rather than continue under the same roof with a character so
unfeelingly audacious, she preferred risking all the mortifications to
which she might be liable in the excursion to Arundel Castle.

Advanced already into the hall, dragged thither by her turbulent little
nephew, and the hope of detecting the hiding-place of Ireton, stood the
patroness whom she now felt compelled to soothe into accepting her
attendance. Not aware of this purposed concession, and nearly as much
frightened as enraged, to find with whom her son had been shut up, Mrs
Ireton, in a tone equally querulous and piqued, cried, 'I beg you a
thousand pardons, Ma'am, for the indiscretion of which I have been
guilty, in asking for the honour of your company to Arundel Castle this
morning! I ought to make a million of apologies for supposing that a
young lady,--for you are a lady, no doubt! every body is a lady,
now!--of your extraordinary turn and talents the insupportable
insipidity of a tête à tête with a female; or the dull care of a
bantling; when a splendid, flashy, rich, young travelled gentleman,
chusing, also, to remain behind, may be tired, and want some amusement!
'Twas grossly stupid of me, I own, to expect such a sacrifice. You, who,
besides these prodigious talents, that make us all appear like a set of
vulgar, uneducated beings by your side; you, who revel also, in the
luxury of wealth; who wanton in the stores of Plutus; who are accustomed
to the magnificence of unaccounted hoards!--How must the whole detail of
our existence appear penurious, pitiful to you!--I am surprised how you
can forbear falling into fits at the very sight of us! But I presume you
reserve the brilliancy of an action of that _eclat_, for objects better
worth your while to dazzle by a stroke of that grand description? I must
have lost my senses, certainly, to so ill appreciate my own
insignificance! I hope you'll pity me! that's all! I hope you will have
so much unction as to pity me!'

If, at the opening of this harangue, the patience of Juliet nearly
yielded to resentment, its length gave power to reflection,--which
usually wants but time for checking impulse,--to point out the many and
nameless mischiefs, to which quitting the house under similar suspicions
might give rise. She quietly, therefore, answered, that though to
herself it must precisely be the same thing, whether Mr Ireton were at
home or abroad, if that circumstance gave any choice to Mrs Ireton, she
would change her own plans, either to go or to stay, according to the
directions which she might receive.

A superiority to accusation or surmize thus cool and decided, no sooner
relieved the apprehensions of Mrs Ireton by its evident innocence, than
it excited her wrath by its deliberate indifference, if not contempt:
and she would now disdainfully have rejected the attendance which, the
moment before, she had anxiously desired, had not the little master of
the house, who had seized the opportunity of this harangue to make his
escape, caught a glimpse of the carriage at the door; and put an end to
all contest, by stunning all ears, with an unremitting scream till he
forced himself into it; when, overpowering every obstacle, he obliged
his aunt and Juliet to follow; while he issued his own orders to the
postilion to drive to Arundel Castle.

Even the terrour of calumny, that most dangerous and baneful foe to
unprotected woman! would scarcely have frightened Juliet into this
expedition, had she been aware that, as soon as she was seated in the
landau, with orders to take the whole charge of Mr Loddard, the little
dog, also, would have been given to her management. 'Bijou will like to
take the air,' cried Mrs Ireton, languidly; 'and he will serve to
entertain Loddard by the way. He can go very well on Miss Ellis's lap.
Pretty little creature! 'Twould be cruel to leave him at home alone!'

This terrible humanity, which, in a hot day, in the middle of July, cast
upon the knees of Juliet a fat, round, well furred, and over-fed little
animal, accustomed to snarl, scratch, stretch, and roll himself about at
his pleasure, produced fatigue the most pitiless, and inconvenience the
most comfortless. The little tyrant of the party, whose will was law to
the company, found no diversion so much to his taste, during the short
journey, as exciting the churlish humour of his fellow-favourite, by
pinching his ears, pulling his nose, filliping his claws, squeezing his
throat, and twisting round his tail. And all these feats, far from
incurring any reprimand, were laughed at and applauded. For whom did
they incommode? No one but Miss Ellis;--and for what else was Miss Ellis
there?

Yet this fatigue and disgust might have been passed over, as local
evils, had they ceased with the journey; and had she then been at
liberty to look at what remains of the venerable old castle; to visit
its ancient chapel; to examine the genealogical records of the long
gallery; to climb up to the antique citadel, and to enjoy the spacious
view thence presented of the sea: but she immediately received orders to
give exercise to Bijou, and to watch that he ran into no danger: though
Selina, who assiduously came forward to meet Mrs Ireton, without
appearing even to perceive Juliet, officiously took young Loddard in
charge, and conducted him, with his aunt, to a large expecting party,
long arrived, and now viewing the citadel.



CHAPTER LVIII


Relieved, nevertheless, through whatever means effected, by a
separation, Juliet, with her speechless, though far from mute companion,
went forth to seek some obscure walk. But her purpose was defeated by
the junction of a little spaniel, to which Bijou attached himself, with
a fondness so tenacious, that her utmost efforts either to disengage
them, or to excite both to follow her, were fruitless; Bijou would not
quit the spaniel; nor the spaniel his post near the mansion.

Not daring to go on without her troublesome little charge, the approach
of a carriage made her hasten to a garden-seat, upon which, though she
could not be hidden, she might be less conspicuous.

The carriage, familiar to her from having frequently seen it at Miss
Matson's, was that of Sir Jaspar Herrington. Not satisfied, though she
had no right to be angry, at the so measured politeness which he had
shewn her the preceding day, when further notice would have softened her
mortifying embarrassment, she was glad that he had not remarked her in
passing.

She heard him enquire for Mrs Ireton's party, which he had promised to
join; but, affrighted at the sound of the citadel, he said that he would
alight, and wait upon some warm seat in the grounds.

In descending from his chaise, one of his crutches fell, and a
bonbonniere, of which the contents were dispersed upon the ground, slipt
from the hand of his valet. It was then, and not without chagrin, that
Juliet began further to comprehend the defects of a character which she
had thought an entire composition of philanthropy and courtesy. He
reviled rather than scolded the servant to whom the accident had
happened; and treated the circumstances as an event of the first
importance. He cast an equal share of blame, and with added sharpness,
upon the postilion, for not having advanced an inch nearer to the
stone-steps; and uttered invectives even virulent against the groom,
that he had not come forward to help. Angry, because vexed, with all
around, he used as little moderation in his wrath, as reason in his
reproaches.

How superficially, thought Juliet, can we judge of dispositions, where
nothing is seen but what is meant to be shewn! where nothing is
pronounced but what is prepared for being heard! Had I fixed my opinion
of this gentleman only upon what he intended that I should witness, I
should have concluded that he had as much urbanity of humour as of
manners. I could never have imagined, that the most trifling of
accidents could, in a moment, destroy the whole harmony of his temper!

In the midst of the choleric harangue of the Baronet, against which no
one ventured to remonstrate, the little dogs came sporting before him;
and, recollecting Bijou, he hastily turned his head towards the person
upon the garden-seat, whom he had passed without any attention, and
discerned Juliet.

He hobbled towards her without delay, warmly expressing his delight at
so auspicious a meeting: but the air and look, reserved and grave, with
which, involuntarily, she heard him, brought to his consciousness, what
the pleasure of her sight had driven from it, his enraged attack upon
his servants; which she must unavoidably have witnessed, and of which
her countenance shewed her opinion.

He stood some moments silent, leaning upon his crutches, and palpably
disconcerted. Then, shrugging his shoulders, with a half smile, but a
piteous look, 'Many,' he cried, 'are the tricks which my quaint little
imps have played me! many, the quirks and villainous wiles I owe
them!--but never yet, with all the ingenuity of their malice, have they
put me to shame and confusion such as this!'

Rising to be gone, yet sorry for him, and softened, the disapprobation
of Juliet was mingled with a concern, from her disposition to like him,
that made its expression, in the eyes of her old admirer, seem something
nearly divine. He looked at her with reverence and with regret, but made
no attempt to prevent her departure. To separate, however, the dogs, or
induce the spaniel to go further, she still found impossible; and, not
daring to abandon Bijou, was fain quietly to seat herself again, upon a
garden-chair, nearer to the house.

Sir Jaspar, for some minutes, remained, pensively, upon the spot where
she had left him; then, again shrugging his shoulders, as if bemoaning
his ill luck, and again hobbling after her, 'There is nothing,' he
cried, 'that makes a man look so small, as a sudden self-conviction that
he merits ridicule or disgrace! what intemperance would be averted,
could we believe ourselves always,--not only from above, but by one
another, overhead! Don't take an aversion to me, however! nor suppose me
worse than I am; nor worse than the herd of mankind. You have but seen
an old bachelor in his true colours! Not with the gay tints, not with
the spruce smiles, not with the gallant bows, the courteous homage, the
flowery flourishes, with which he makes himself up for shew; but with
the grim colouring of factious age, and suspicious egotism!'

The countenance of Juliet shewing her now to be shocked that she had
given rise to these apologies, that of Sir Jaspar brightened; and,
dragging a chair to her side, 'I came hither,' he cried, 'in the fair
hope to seize one of those happy moments, that the fates, now and then,
accord to favoured mortals, for holding interesting and dulcet
discourse, with the most fascinating enchantress that a long life,
filled up with fastidious, perhaps fantastic researches after female
excellence, has cast in my way. Would not one have thought twas some
indulgent sylph that directed me? that inspired me with the idea, and
then seconded the inspiration, by contriving that my arrival should take
place at the critical instant, when that syren was to be found alone?
Who could have suspected 'twas but the envious stratagem of some imp of
darkness and spite, devised purely to expose a poor antiquated soul,
with all his infirmities, physical and moral, to your contempt and
antipathy?'

Peering now under her hat, his penetrating eyes discerned so entire a
change in his favour, that he completely recovered his pleasantry, his
quaint archness, and his gallantry.

'If betrayed,' he continued, 'by these perfidious elves, where may a
poor forlorn solitary wight, such as I am, find a counsellor? He has no
bosom friend, like the happy mortal, whose kindly star has guided him to
seek, in lively, all-attractive youth, an equal partner for melancholy,
all revolting age! He has no rising progeny, that, inheritors of his
interests, naturally share his difficulties. He has nothing at hand but
mercenary dependents. Nothing at heart but jealous suspicion of others,
or secret repining for himself! Such, fair censurer! such is the natural
state of that unnatural character, an old bachelor! How, then, when not
upon his guard, or, in other words, when not urged by some outward
object, some passing pleasure, or some fairy hope,--how,--tell me, in
the candour of your gentle conscience! how can you expect from so
decrepit and unwilling a hermit, the spontaneous benevolence of youth?'

'But what is it I have said, Sir,' cried Juliet smiling, 'that makes you
denounce me as a censurer?'

'What is it you have said? ask, rather, what is it you have not said,
with those eyes that speak with an eloquence that a thousand tongues
might emulate in vain? They administered to me a lesson so severe,
because just, that, had not a little pity, which just now beamed from
them, revived me, the malignant goblins, who delight in drawing me into
these scrapes, might have paid for their sport by losing their prey! But
what invidious little devils ensnare me even now, into this
superannuated folly, of prating about so worn out an old subject, when I
meant only to name a being bright, blooming, and juvenile--'

The recollection of his nearly complete neglect, the preceding day, in
presence of Mrs Ireton, and her society, again began to cloud the
countenance of Juliet, as she listened to compliments thus reserved for
private delivery. Sir Jaspar soon penetrated into what passed in her
mind, and, yet again shrugging his shoulders, and resuming the sorrowful
air of a self-convicted culprit, 'Alas!' he cried, 'under what pitiful
star did I first begin limping upon this nether sphere? And what foul
fiend is it, that, taking upon him the name of worldly cunning, has
fashioned my conduct, since here I have been hopping and hobbling? I
burned, yesterday, with desire to make public my admiration of the fair
flower, that I saw nearly trampled under foot; and I should have
considered as the most propitious moment of my life, that in which I had
raised its drooping head, by withering, with a blast, all the sickly,
noxious surrounding weeds: but those little devils, that never leave me
quiet, kept twitching and tweaking me every instant, with
representations of prudence and procrastination; with the danger of
exciting observation; and the better judgement of obtaining a little
private discourse, previous to any public display.'

Not able to divine to what this might be the intended prelude, Juliet
was silent. Sir Jaspar, after some hesitation, continued.

'In that motley assembly, you had two antique friends, equally cordial,
and almost equally admiring and desirous to serve you; but by different
means,--perhaps with different views! one of them, stimulated by the
little fairy elves, that alternately enlighten and mislead him, not
seeing yet his way, and embarrassed in his choice of measures, was lying
in wait, cautiously to avail himself of the first favourable moment, for
soliciting your fair leave to dub himself your knight-errant; the
other, urged solely, perhaps, by good-nature and humanity, with an happy
absence of mind, that precludes circumspection; coming forward in your
defence, and for your honour, with unsuspecting, unfearing,
untemporising zeal. Alas! in my conscience, which these tormenting
little imps are for ever goading on, to inflict upon me some
disagreeable compliment, I cannot, all simple as he is, but blush to
view the intrinsic superiority of the unsophisticated man of nature,
over the artificial man of the world! How much more truly a male
character.'

Looking at her then with examining earnestness, 'To which of these
antediluvian wights,' he continued, 'you will commit the gauntlet, that
must be flung in your defence, I know not; either of us,--alas!--might
be your great grandfather! But, helpless old captives as we are in your
chains, we each feel a most sincere, nay, inordinate desire, to break
those fetters with which, at this moment, you seem yourself to be
shackled. And for this I am not wholly without a scheme, though it is
one that demands a little previous parleying.'

Juliet positively declined his services; but gratefully acknowledged
those from which she had already, though involuntarily, profited.

'You cannot, surely,' he cried, 'have a predilection for your present
species of existence? and, least of all, under the galling yoke of this
spirit-breaking dame, into whose ungentle power I cannot see you fallen
without losing sleep, appetite, and pleasure. How may I conjure you into
better hands? How release you from such bondage? And yet, this pale,
withered, stiff, meagre hag, so odious, so tyrannical, so irascible, but
a few years,--in my calculation!--but a few years since,--had all the
enchantment of blithe, blooming loveliness! You, who see her only in her
decline, can never believe it; but she was eminently fair, gay, and
charming!'

Juliet looked at him, astonished.

'Her story,' he continued, 'already envelopes the memoirs of a Beauty,
in her four stages of existence. During childhood, indulged, in every
wish; admired where she should have been chidden, caressed where she
should have been corrected; coaxed into pettishness, and spoilt into
tyranny. In youth, adored, followed, and applauded till, involuntarily,
rather than vainly, she believed herself a goddess. In maturity,--ah!
there's the test of sense and temper in the waning beauty!--in maturity,
shocked and amazed to see herself supplanted by the rising bloomers; to
find that she might be forgotten, or left out, if not assiduous herself
to come forward; to be consulted only upon grave and dull matters, out
of the reach of her knowledge and resources; alternately mortified by
involuntary negligence, and affronted by reverential respect! Such has
been her maturity; such, amongst faded beauties, is the maturity of
thousands. In old age,--if a lady may be ever supposed to suffer the
little loves and graces to leave her so woefully in the lurch, as to
permit her to know such a state;--in old age, without stores to amuse,
or powers to instruct, though with a full persuasion that she is endowed
with wit, because she cuts, wounds, and slashes from unbridled, though
pent-up resentment, at her loss of adorers; and from a certain
perverseness, rather than quickness of parts, that gifts her with the
sublime art of ingeniously tormenting; with no consciousness of her own
infirmities, or patience for those of others; she is dreaded by the gay,
despised by the wise, pitied by the good, and shunned by all.'

Then, looking at Juliet with a strong expression of surprise, 'What Will
o'the Wisp,' he cried, 'has misled you into this briery thicket of
brambles, nettles, and thorns? where you cannot open your mouth but you
must be scratched; nor your ears, but you must be wounded; nor stir a
word but you must be pricked and worried? How is it that, with the most
elegant ideas, the most just perceptions upon every subject that
presents itself, you have a taste so whimsical?'

'A taste? Can you, then, Sir, believe a fate like mine to have any
connexion with choice?'

'What would you have me believe, fair Ænigma? Tell me, and I will
fashion my credulity to your commands. But I only hear of you with Mrs
Maple; I only see you with Mrs Ireton! Mrs Maple, having weaker parts,
may have less power, scientifically, to torment than Mrs Ireton; but
nature has been as active in personifying ill will with the one, as art
in embellishing spite with the other. They are equally egotists, equally
wrapt up in themselves, and convinced that self alone is worth living
for in this nether world. What a fate! To pass from Maple to Ireton, was
to fall from Scylla to Charybdis!'

The blush of Juliet manifested extreme confusion, to see herself
represented, even though it might be in sport, as a professional
parasite. Reading, with concern, in her countenance, the pain which he
had caused her, he exclaimed, 'Sweet witch! loveliest syren!--let me
hasten to develope a project, inspired, I must hope, by my better
genius! Tell me but, frankly, who and what you are, and then--'

Juliet shook her head.

'Nay, nay, should your origin be the most obscure, I shall but think
you more nearly allied to the gods! Jupiter, Apollo, and such like
personages, delighted in a secret progeny. If, on the contrary, in
sparkling correspondence with your eyes, it is brilliant, but has been
clouded by fortune, how ravished shall I be to twirl round the wheels of
that capricious deity, till they reach those dulcet regions, where
beauty and merit are in harmony with wealth and ease! Tell me, then,
what country first saw you bloom; what family originally reared you; by
what name you made your first entrance into the world;--and I will turn
your champion against all the spirits of the air, all the fiends of the
earth, and all the monsters of the "vast abyss!" Leave, then, to such as
need those goaders, the magnetism of mystery and wonder, and trust,
openly and securely, to the charm of youth, the fascination of
intelligence, the enchantment of grace, and the witchery of beauty!'

Juliet was still silent.

'I see you take me for a vain, curious old caitiff, peeping, peering and
prying into business in which I have no concern. Charges such as these
are ill cleared by professions; let me plead, therefore, by facts.
Should there be a person,--young, rich, _à la mode_, and not ugly; whose
expectations are splendid, who moves in the sphere of high life, who
could terminate your difficulties with honour, by casting at your feet
that vile dross, which, in fairy hands, such as yours, may be transmuted
into benevolence, generosity, humanity,--if such a person there should
be, who in return for these grosser and more substantial services,
should need the gentler and more refined ones of soft society, mild
hints, guidance unseen, admonition unpronounced;--would you, and could
you, in such a case, condescend to reciprocate advantages, and their
reverse? Would you,--and could you,--if snatched from unmerited
embarrassments, to partake of luxuries which your acceptance would
honour, bear with a little coxcomical nonsense, and with a larger
portion, still, of unmeaning perverseness, and malicious nothingness? I
need not, I think, say, that the happy mortal whom I wish to see thus
charmed and thus formed, is my nephew Ireton.'

Uncertain whether he meant to mock or to elevate her, Juliet simply
answered, that she had long, though without knowing why, found Mr Ireton
her enemy; but had never forseen that an ill will as unaccountable as it
was unprovoked, would have extended so far, and so wide, as to spread
all around her the influence of irony and derision.

'Hold, hold! fair infidel,'--cried Sir Jaspar, 'unless you mean to give
me a fit of the gout.'

He then solemnly assured her, that he was so persuaded that her
excellent understanding, and uncommon intelligence, united, in rare
junction, with such youth and beauty, would make her a treasure to a
rich and idle young man, whose character, fluctuating between good and
bad, or rather between something and nothing, was yet unformed; that, if
she would candidly acknowledge her real name, story, and situation, he
should merely have to utter a mysterious injunction to Ireton, that he
must see her no more, in order to bring him to her feet. 'He acts but a
part,' continued the Baronet, 'in judging you ill. He piques himself
upon being a man of the world, which, he persuades himself, he manifests
to all observers, by a hardy, however vague spirit of detraction and
censoriousness; deeming, like all those whose natures have not a
kindlier bent, suspicion to be sagacity.'

Juliet was entertained by this singular plan, yet frankly acknowledged,
after repeating her thanks, that it offered her not temptation; and
continued immoveable, to either address or persuasion, for any sort of
personal communication.

A pause of some minutes ensued, during which Sir Jaspar seemed
deliberating how next to proceed. He then said, 'You are decided not to
hear of my nephew? He is not, I confess, deserving you; but who is?
Yet,--a situation such as this,--a companion such as Mrs Ireton,--any
change must surely be preferable to a fixture of such a sort? What,
then, must be done? Where youth, youth itself, even when joined to
figure and to riches, is rejected, how may it be hoped that age,--age
and infirmity!--even though joined with all that is gentlest in
kindness, all that is most disinterested in devotion, may be rendered
more acceptable?'

Confused, and perplexed how to understand him, Juliet was rising, under
pretence of following Bijou; but Sir Jaspar, fastening her gown to the
grass by his two crutches, laughingly said, 'Which will you resist most
stoutly? your own cruelty, or the kindness of my little fairy friends?
who, at this moment, with a thousand active gambols, are pinning,
gluing, plaistering, in sylphick mosaic-work, your robe between the
ground and my sticks; so that you cannot tear it away without leaving
me, at least, some little memorial that I have had the happiness of
seeing you!'

Forced either to struggle or to remain in her place, she sat still, and
he continued.

'Don't be alarmed, for I shall certainly not offend you. Listen, then,
with indulgence, to what I am tempted to propose, and, whether I am
impelled by my evil genius, or inspired by my guardian angel--'

Juliet earnestly entreated him to spare her any proposition whatever;
but vainly; and he was beginning, with a fervour almost devout, an
address to all the sylphs, elves, and aeriel beings of his fanciful
idolatry, when a sudden barking from Bijou making him look round, he
perceived that Mrs Ireton, advancing on tiptoe, was creeping behind his
garden-chair.

Confounded by an apparition so unwished, he leant upon his crutches,
gasping and oppressed for breath; while Juliet, to avoid the attack of
which the malevolence of Mrs Ireton's look was the sure precursor, would
have retreated, had not her gown been so entangled in the crutches of
Sir Jaspar, that she could not rise without leaving him the fragment
that he had coveted. In vain she appealed with her eyes for release; his
consternation was such, that he saw only, what least he wished to see,
the scowling brow of Mrs Ireton; who, to his active imagination,
appeared to be Megara herself, just mounted from the lower regions.

'Well! this is really charming! Quite edifying, I protest!' burst forth
Mrs Ireton, when she found that she was discovered. 'This is a sort of
intercourse I should never have divined! You'll pardon my want of
discernment! I know I am quite behind hand in observation and remark;
but I hope, in time, and with so much good instruction, I may become
more sagacious. I am glad, however, to see that I don't disturb you Miss
Ellis! Extremely glad to find that you treat your place so amiably
without ceremony. I am quite enchanted to be upon terms so familiar and
agreeable with you. I may sit down myself, I suppose, upon the grass,
meanwhile! 'Twill be really very rural! very rural and pretty!'

Juliet now could no longer conceal her confined situation, for, pinioned
to her place, she was compelled to petition the Baronet to set her at
liberty.

The real astonishment of Mrs Ireton, upon discovering the cause and
means of her detention, was far less amusing to herself, than that which
she had affected, while concluding her presumptuous _protegée_ to be a
voluntary intruder upon the time, and encroacher upon the politeness of
the Baronet. Her eyes now opened, with alarm, to a confusion so unusual
in her severe and authoritative brother-in-law; whom she was accustomed
to view awing others, not himself awed. Suggestions of the most
unpleasant nature occurred to her suspicious mind; and she stood as if
thunderstruck in her turn, in silent suspension how to act, or what next
to say; till Selina came running forward, to announce that all the
company was gone to look at the Roman Catholic chapel; and to enquire
whether Mrs Ireton did not mean to make it a visit.

If Sir Jaspar, Mrs Ireton hesitatingly answered, would join the party,
she would attend him with pleasure.

Sir Jaspar heard not this invitation. In his haste to give Juliet her
freedom, his feeble hands, disobedient to his will, and unable to second
the alacrity of his wishes, struck his crutches through her gown; and
they were now both, and in equal confusion, employed in disentangling
it; and ashamed to look up, or to speak.

Selina, perceiving their position, with the unmeaning glee of a childish
love of communication, ran, tittering, away, to tell it to Miss
Brinville; who, saying that there was nothing worth seeing in the Roman
Catholic chapel, was sauntering after Mrs Ireton, in hopes of finding
entertainment more congenial to her mind.

The sight of this lady restored to Mrs Ireton the scoffing powers which
amazement, mingled with alarm, had momentarily chilled; and, as Miss
Brinville peeringly approached, to verify the whisper of Selina,
exclaiming, 'Dear! what makes poor Sir Jaspar stoop so?' his loving
sister-in-law answered, 'Sir Jaspar, Miss Brinville? What can Sir Jaspar
do? I beg pardon for the question, but what can a gentleman do, when a
young woman happens to take a fancy to place herself so near him, that
he can't turn round without incommoding her? Not that I mean to blame
Miss Ellis. I hope I know better. I hope I shall never be guilty of such
injustice; for how can Miss Ellis help it? What could she do? Where
could she turn herself in so confined a place as this? in so narrow a
piece of ground? How could she possibly find any other spot for repose?'

A contemptuous smile at Juliet from Miss Brinville, shewed that lady's
approbation of this witty sally; and the junction of Mrs Maple, whose
participation in this kind of enjoyment was known to be lively and
sincere, exalted still more highly the spirit of poignant sarcasm in Mrs
Ireton; who, with smiles of ineffable self-complacency, went on, 'There
are people, indeed,--I am afraid,--I don't know, but I am afraid
so,--there are people who may have the ill nature to think, that the
charge of walking out a little delicate animal in the grounds, did not
imply an absolute injunction to recline, with lounging elegance, upon an
easy chair. There are people, I say, who may have so little
intelligence as to be of that way of thinking. 'Tis being abominably
stupid, I own, but there's no enlightening vulgar minds! There is no
making them see the merit of quitting an animal for a gentleman;
especially for a gentleman in such penury; who has no means to
recompense any attentions with which he may be indulged.'

Juliet, more offended, now, even than confused, would willingly have
torn her gown to hasten her release; but she was still sore, from the
taunts of Mrs Ireton, upon a recent similar mischief.

They were presently joined by the Arramedes; and Mrs Ireton, secure of
new admirers, felt her powers of pleasantry encrease every moment.

'I hope I shall never fail to acknowledge,' she continued, 'how
supremely I am indebted to those ladies who have had the goodness to
recommend this young person to me. I can never repay such kindness,
certainly; that would be vastly beyond my poor abilities; for she has
the generosity to take an attachment to all that belongs to me! It was
only this morning that she had the goodness to hold a private conference
with my son. Nobody could tell where to find him. He seemed to have
disappeared from the whole house. But no! he had only, as Mr Loddard
afterwards informed me, stept into the Temple, with Miss Ellis.'

Sir Jaspar now, surprised and shocked, lifted up his eyes; but their
quick penetration instantly read innocence in the indignation expressed
in those of Juliet.

Mrs Ireton, however, saw only her own triumph, in the malicious simpers
of Miss Brinville, the spiteful sneers of Mrs Maple, and the haughty
scorn of Lady Arramede.

Charmed, therefore, with her brilliant success, she went on.

'How I may be able to reward kindness so extraordinary, I can't pretend
to say. I am so stupid, I am quite at a loss what to devize that may be
adequate to such services; for the attentions bestowed upon my son in
the morning, I see equally displayed to his uncle at noon. Though there
is some partiality, I think, too, shewn to Ireton. I won't affirm it;
but I am rather afraid there is some partiality shewn to Ireton; for
though the conference has been equally interesting, I make no doubt,
with Sir Jaspar, it has not had quite so friendly an appearance. The
open air is very delightful, to be sure; and a beautiful prospect helps
to enliven one's ideas; but still, there is something in complete
retirement that seems yet more romantic and amicable. Ireton was so
impressed with this idea, as I am told; for I don't pretend to speak
from my own personal knowledge upon subjects of so much importance; but
I am told,--Mr Loddard informs me, that Ireton was so sensible to the
advantage of having the honours of an exclusive conference, that he not
only chose that retired spot, but had the precaution, also, to lock the
door. I don't mean to assert this! it may be all a mistake, perhaps.
Miss Ellis can tell best.'

Neither the steadiness of innate dignity, nor the fearlessness of
conscious innocence, could preserve Juliet from a sensation of horrour,
at a charge which she could not deny, though its implications were false
and even atrocious. She saw, too, that, at the words 'lock the door,'
Sir Jaspar again raised his investigating eyes, in which there was
visibly a look of disturbance. She would not, however, deign to make a
vindication, lest she should seem to acknowledge it possible that she
might be thought culpable; but, being now disengaged, she silently, and
uncontrollably hurt, walked away.

'And pray, Ma'am,' said Mrs Ireton, 'if the question is not too
impertinent, don't you see Mr Loddard coming? And who is to take care of
Bijou? And where is his basket? And I don't see his cushion?'

Juliet turned round to answer, 'I will send them Madam, immediately.'

'Amazing condescension!' exclaimed Mrs Ireton, in a rage that she no
longer aimed at disguising: 'I shall never be able to shew my sense of
such affability! Never! I am vastly too obtuse, vastly too obtuse and
impenetrable to find any adequate means of expressing my gratitude.
However, since you really intend me the astonishing favour of sending
one of my people upon your own errand, permit me to entreat,--if it is
not too great a liberty to take with a person of your unspeakable
rank,--permit me to entreat that you will make use of the same vehicle
for conveying to me your account; for you are vastly too fine a lady for
a person so ordinary as I am to keep under her roof. I have no such
ambition, I assure you; not an intention of the kind. So pray let me
know what retribution I am to make for your trouble. You have taken vast
pains, I imagine, to serve me and please me. I imagine so! I must be
prodigiously your debtor, I make no doubt!'

'What an excess of impertinence!' cried Lady Arramede.

'She'll never know her place,' said Mrs Maple: ''tis quite in vain to
try to serve such a body.'

'I never saw such airs in my life!' exclaimed Miss Brinville.

Juliet could endure no more. The most urgent distress seemed light and
immaterial, when balanced against submission to treatment so injurious.
She walked, therefore, straight forward to the castle, for shelter,
immediate shelter, from this insupportable attack; disengaging herself
from the spoilt little boy, who strove, nay cried to drag her back;
forcing away from her the snarling cur, who would have followed her; and
decidedly mute to the fresh commands of Mrs Ireton, uttered in tones of
peremptory, but vain authority.



CHAPTER LIX


Offended, indignant; escaped, yet without safety; free, yet without
refuge; Juliet, hurried into the noble mansion, with no view but to find
an immediate hiding-place, where, unseen, she might allow some vent to
her wounded feelings, and, unmarked, remain till the haughty party
should be gone, and she could seek some humble conveyance for her own
return.

Concluding her in haste for some commission of Mrs Ireton's, the
servants let her pass nearly unobserved; and she soon came to a long
gallery, hung with genealogical tables of the Arundel family, and with
various religious reliques, and historical curiosities.

Believing herself alone, and in a place of which the stillness suited
her desire of solitude and concealment, she had already shut the door
before she saw her mistake. What, then, was her astonishment, what her
emotion, when she discerned, seated, and examining a part of the
hangings, at the further end of the gallery, the gentle form of Lady
Aurora Granville!

Sudden transport, though mingled with a thousand apprehensions,
instantly converted every dread that could depress into every hope that
could revive her. A start evinced that she was seen. She endeavoured to
courtesy, and would have advanced; but, the first moment over, fear,
uncertainty, and conflicting doubts took place of its joy, and robbed
her of force. Her dimmed eyes perceived not the smiling pleasure with
which Lady Aurora had risen at her approach; her breast heaved quick;
her heart swelled almost to suffocation; and, wholly disordered, she
leaned against a window-frame cut in the immensely thick walls of the
castle.

Lady Aurora now ran fleetly forward, exclaiming, in a voice of which the
tender melody spoke the softness of her soul, 'Miss Ellis! My dear Miss
Ellis! have I, indeed, the happiness to meet with you again? O! if you
could know how I have desired, have pined for it!--But,--are you ill?!
You cannot be angry? Miss Ellis! sweet Miss Ellis! Can you ever have
believed that it has been my fault that I have appeared so unkind, so
hard, so cruel?'

With a fulness of joy that, in conquering doubt, overpowered timidity,
Juliet now, with rapturous tears, and resistless tenderness, flung
herself upon the neck of Lady Aurora, whom she encircled with her arms,
and strained fondly to her bosom.

But the same vent that gave relief to internal oppression brought her to
a sense of external impropriety: she felt that it was rather her part to
receive than to bestow such marks of affection. She drew back; and her
cheeks were suffused with the most vivid scarlet, when she observed the
deep colour which dyed those of Lady Aurora at this action; though
evidently with the blushes of surprise, not of pride.

Ashamed, and hanging her head, Juliet would have attempted some apology;
but Lady Aurora, warmly returning her embrace, cried, 'How happy, and
how singular a chance that we should have fixed upon this day for
visiting Arundelcastle! We have been making a tour to the Isle of Wight
and to Portsmouth; and we did not intend to go to Brighthelmstone; so
that I had no hope, none upon earth, of such a felicity as that of
seeing my dear Miss Ellis. I need not, I think, say it was not I who
formed our plan, when I own that we had no design to visit
Brighthelmstone, though I knew, from Lady Barbara Frankland, that Miss
Ellis was there?'

'Alas! I fear,' answered Juliet, 'the design was to avoid
Brighthelmstone! and to avoid it lest a blessing such as I now
experience should fall to my lot! Ah, Lady Aurora! by the pleasure,--the
transport, rather, with which your sudden sight has made me appear to
forget myself, judge my anguish, my desolation, to be banished from your
society, and banished as a criminal!'

Lady Aurora shuddered and hid her face. 'O Miss Ellis!' she cried, 'what
a word! never may I hear it,--so applied,--again, lest it should
alienate me from those I ought to respect and esteem! and you so good,
so excellent, would be sorry to see me estrange myself, even though it
were for your own sake, from those to whom I owe gratitude and
attachment. I must try to shew my admiration of Miss Ellis in a manner
that Miss Ellis herself will not condemn. And will not that be by
speaking to her without any disguise? And will she not have the goodness
to encourage me to do it? For the world I would not take a liberty with
her;--for the universe I would not hurt her!--but if it were possible
she could condescend to give, ... however slightly, however imperfectly,
some little explanation to ... to ... Mrs Howel....'

Juliet here, with a strong expression of horrour, interrupted her: 'Mrs
Howel?--O no! I cannot speak with Mrs Howel!--I had nearly said I can
see Mrs Howel no more! But happier days would soon subdue resentment.
And, indeed, what I feel even now, may more justly be called terrour.
Appearances have so cruelly misrepresented me, that I have no right to
be indignant, nor even surprised that they should give rise to false
judgments. I have no right to expect,--in a second instance,--unknown,
friendless, lonely as I am! a trusting angel! a Lady Aurora!'

The tears of Lady Aurora now flowed as fast as her own. 'If I have been
so fortunate,' she cried, 'as to inspire such sweet kindness in so noble
a mind, even in the midst of its unhappiness, I shall always prize it as
the greatest of honours, and try to use it so as to make me become
better; that you may never wound me by retracting it, nor be wounded
yourself by being ashamed of your partiality.'

With difficulty Juliet now forbore casting herself at the feet of Lady
Aurora, the hem of whose garment she would have kissed with extacy, had
not her own pecuniary distresses, and the rank of her young friend, made
her recoil from what might have the semblance of flattery. She attempted
not to speak; conscious of the inadequacy of all that she could utter
for expressing what she felt, she left to the silent eloquence of her
streaming, yet transport-glittering eyes, the happy task of
demonstrating her gratitude and delight.

With calmer, though extreme pleasure, Lady Aurora perceived the
impression which she had made. 'See,' she cried, again embracing her;
'see whether I trust in your kindness, when I venture, once more, to
renew my earnest request, my entreaty, my petition--'

'O! Lady Aurora! Who can resist you? Not I! I am vanquished! I will tell
you all! I will unbosom myself to you entirely!'

'No, my Miss Ellis, no! not to me! I will not even hear you! Have I not
said so? And what should make me change? All I have been told by Lady
Barbara Frankland of your exertions, has but increased my admiration;
all she has written of your sufferings, your disappointments, and the
patient courage with which you have borne them, has but more endeared
you to my heart. No explanation can make you fairer, clearer, more
perfect in my eyes. I take, indeed, the deepest interest in your
welfare; but it is an interest that makes me proud to wait, not curious
to hear; proud, my Miss Ellis, to shew my confidence, my trust in your
excellencies! If, therefore, you will have the goodness to speak, it
must be to others, not to me! I should blush to be of the number of
those who want documents, certificates, to love and honour you!'

Again Juliet was speechless; again all words seemed poor, heartless,
unworthy to describe the sensibility of her soul, at this touching proof
of a tenderness so consonant to her wishes, yet so far surpassing her
dearest expectations. She hung over her ingenuous young friend; she
sighed, she even sobbed with unutterable delight; while tears of rapture
rolled down her glowing cheeks, and while her eyes were lustrous with a
radiance of felicity that no tears could dim.

Charmed, and encouraged, Lady Aurora continued: 'To those, then, who
have not had the happiness to see you so justly; who dwell only upon the
singularity of your being so ... alone, and so ... young,--O how often
have I told them that I was sure you as little knew as merited their
evil constructions! How often have I wished to write to you! how certain
have I felt that all your motives to concealment, even the most
respectable, would yield to so urgent a necessity, as that of clearing
away every injurious surmise! Speak, therefore, my Miss Ellis, though
not to me! even from them, when you have trusted them, I will hear
nothing till the time of your secresy is over; that I may give them an
example of the discretion they must observe with others. Yet speak! have
the goodness to speak, that every body,--my uncle Denmeath himself,--and
even Mrs Howel,--may acknowledge and respect your excellencies and your
virtues as I do! And then, my Miss Ellis, who shall prevent,--who will
even desire to prevent my shewing to the whole world my sense of your
worth, and my pride in your friendship?'

The struggles that now heaved the breast of Juliet were nearly too
potent for her strength. She gasped for breath; she held her hand to her
heart; and when, at length, the kind caresses and gentle pleadings of
Lady Aurora, brought back her speech, she painfully pronounced, 'Shall I
repay goodness so exquisite, by filling with regret the sweet mind that
intends me only honour and consolation? Must the charm of such
unexpected kindness, even while it penetrates my heart with almost
piercing delight, entail, from its resistless persuasion, a misery upon
the rest of my days, that may render them a burthen from which I may
hourly sigh,--nay pray, to be delivered?'

Seized with horrour and astonishment, Lady Aurora exclaimed, 'Oh heaven,
no! I must be a monster if I would not rather die, immediately die, than
cause you any evil! Miss Ellis, my dear Miss Ellis! forget I have made
such a request, and forgive my indiscretion! With all your misfortunes,
Miss Ellis, all your so undeserved griefs, you are quite a stranger to
sorrow, compared to that which I should experience, if, through me,
through my means, you should be exposed to any fresh injury!'

'Angelic goodness!' cried Juliet, deeply affected: 'I blush, I blush to
hear you without casting myself entirely into your power, without making
you immediate arbitress of my fate! Yet,--since you demand not my
confidence for your own satisfaction,--can I know that to spread it
beyond yourself,--your generous self!--might involve me in instantaneous
earthly destruction, and, voluntarily, suffer your very benevolence to
become its instrument? With regard to Lord Denmeath,--to your uncle,--I
must say nothing; but with regard to Mrs Howel,--let me conjure your
ladyship to consent to my utterly avoiding her, that I may escape the
dreadful accusations and reproaches that my cruel situation forbids me
to repel. I have no words to paint the terrible impression she has left
upon my mind. All that I have borne from others is short of what I have
suffered from that lady! The debasing suspicions of Mrs Maple, the
taunting tyranny of Mrs Ireton, though they make me blush to owe,--or
rather, to earn from them the subsistence without which I know not how
to exist; have yet never smote so rudely and so acutely to my inmost
heart, as the attack I endured from Mrs Howel! They rob me, indeed, of
comfort, of rest, and of liberty--but they do not sever me from Lady
Aurora!'

'Alas, my Miss Ellis! and have I, too, joined in the general persecution
against such afflicted innocence? I feel myself the most unpardonable of
all not to have acquiesced, without one ungenerous question, or even
conjecture; in full reliance upon the right and the necessity of your
silence. I ought to have forseen that if it were not improper you should
comply, your own noble way of thinking would have made all entreaty as
useless as it has been impertinent. Yet when prejudice alone parts us,
how could I help trying to overcome it? And even my brother, though he
would forfeit, I believe, his life in your defence; and though he says
he is sure you are all purity and virtue; and though he thinks that
there is nothing upon earth that can be compared with you;--even he has
been brought to agree to the cruel resolution, that I should defer
knitting myself closer to my Miss Ellis, till she is able to have the
goodness to let us know--'

She stopt, alarmed, for the cheeks of Juliet were suddenly dyed with the
deepest crimson; though the transient tint faded away as she pronounced,

'Lord Melbury!--even Lord Melbury!--' and they became Pale as death,
while, in a faint voice, and with stifled emotion, she added, 'He is
right! He acts as a brother; and as a brother to a sister whom he can
never sufficiently appreciate.--And yet, the more I esteem his
circumspection, the more deeply I must be wounded that calumny,--that
mystery,--that dire circumstance, should make me seem dangerous, where,
otherwise--'

Unable longer to constrain her feelings, she sunk upon a seat and wept.

'O Miss Ellis? What have I done?' cried Lady Aurora. 'How have I been so
barbarous, so inconsiderate, so unwise? If my poor brother had caused
you this pain, how should I have blamed him? And how grievously would he
have repented! How severely, then, ought I to be reproached! I who have
done it myself, without his generous precipitancy of temper to palliate
such want of reflection!--'

The sudden entrance of Selina here interrupted the conversation. She
came tripping forward, to acquaint Lady Aurora that the party had just
discerned a magnificent vessel; and that every body said if her ladyship
did not come directly, it would be sailed away.

At sight of Juliet, she ran to embrace her, with the warmest expressions
of friendship; unchecked by a coldness which she did not observe, though
now, from the dissatisfaction excited by so unseasonable an intrusion,
it was far more marked, than while it had been under the qualifying
influence of contempt.

But when she found that neither caresses, nor kind words, could make her
share with Lady Aurora, even for a moment, the attention of Juliet, she
became a little confused; and, drawing her apart, asked what was the
matter? consciously, without waiting for any answer, running into a
string of simple apologies, for not speaking to her in public; which she
should always, she said, do with the greatest pleasure; for she thought
her the most agreeable person in the whole-world; if it were not, that,
nobody knowing her, it would look so odd.

All answer, save a smile half disdainful, half pitying, was precluded by
the appearance of the Arramedes, Mrs Ireton, and Miss Brinville; who
announced to Lady Aurora that the ship was already out of sight.

Upon perceiving Juliet, they were nearly as much embarrassed as herself;
for though she instantly retreated, it was evident that she had been
sitting by the side of Lady Aurora, in close and amicable conference.

An awkward general silence ensued, when Juliet, hearing other steps, was
moving off; but Lady Aurora, following, and holding out her hand,
affectionately said, 'Are you going, Miss Ellis? Must you go? And will
you not bid me adieu?'

Touched to the soul at this public mark of kindness, Juliet was
gratefully returning, when the voice of Lord Melbury spoke his near
approach. Trembling and changing colour, her folded hands demanded
excuse of Lady Aurora for a precipitate yet reluctant flight; but she
had still found neither time nor means to escape, when Lord Melbury, who
was playing with young Loddard, entered the gallery, saying, 'Aurora,
your genealogical studies have lost you a most beautiful sea-view.'

The boy, spying Juliet, whom he was more than ever eager to join when he
saw that she strove to avoid notice; darted from his lordship, calling
out, 'Ellis! Ellis! look! look! here's Ellis!'

Lord Melbury, with an air of the most animated surprize and delight,
darted forward also, exclaiming, 'Miss Ellis! How unexpected a pleasure!
The moment I saw Mrs Ireton I had some hope I might see, also, Miss
Ellis--but I had already given it up as delusory.'

Again the fallen countenance of Juliet brightened into sparkling beauty.
The idea that even Lord Melbury had been infected by the opinions which
had been circulated to her disadvantage, had wounded, had stung her to
the quick: but to find that, notwithstanding he had been prevailed upon
to acquiesce that his sister, while so much mystery remained, should
keep personally aloof, his own sentiments of esteem remained unshaken;
and to find it by so open, and so prompt a testimony of respect and
regard, displayed before the very witnesses who had sought to destroy,
or invalidate, every impression that might be made in her favour, was a
relief the most exquisitely welcome to her disturbed and fearful mind.

Eager and rapid enquiries concerning her health, uttered with the ardour
of juvenile vivacity, succeeded this first address. The party standing
by, looked astonished, even abashed; while the face of Lady Aurora
recovered its wonted expression of sweet serenity.

Mrs Ireton, now, was seized with a desire the most violent, to repossess
a _protegée_ whose history and situation seemed daily to grow more
wonderful. With a courtesy, therefore, as foreign from her usual
manners, as from her real feelings, she said, 'Miss Ellis, I am sure,
will have the goodness to help me home with my two little companions? I
am sure of that. She could not be so unkind as to leave the poor little
things in the lurch?'

Indignant as Juliet had felt at the treatment which she had received,
resentment at this moment found no place in her mind; she was beginning,
therefore, a civil, however decided excuse; when Mrs Ireton, suspicious
of her purpose, flung herself languishingly upon a seat, and complained
that she was seized with such an immoderate pain in her side, that, if
somebody would not take care of the two _little souls_, she should
arrive at Brighthelmstone a corpse.

The Arramedes, Miss Brinville, and Selina, all declared that it was
impossible to refuse so essential a service to a health so delicate.

The fear, now, of a second public scene, with the dread lest Lord
Melbury might be excited to speak or act in her favour, forced the
judgment of Juliet to conquer her inclination, in leading her to defer
the so often given dismission till her return to Brighthelmstone; she
acceded, therefore, though with cruel unwillingness, to what was
required.

Mrs Ireton instantly recovered; and with the more alacrity, from
observing that Lady Barbara Frankland joined the group, at this moment
of victory.

'Take the trouble, then, if you please, Ma'am,' she replied, in her
usual tone of irony; 'if it will not be too great a condescension, take
the trouble to carry Bijou to the coach. And bid Simon keep him safe
while you come back,--if it is not asking quite too great a favour,--for
Mr Loddard. And pray bring my wrapping cloak with you, Ma'am. You'll be
so good, I hope, as to excuse all these liberties? I hope so, at least!
I flatter myself you'll excuse them. And, if the cloak should be heavy,
I dare say Simon will give you his arm. Simon is a man of gallantry, I
make no doubt. Not that I pretend to know; but I take it for granted he
is a man of gallantry.'

Juliet looked down, repentant to have placed herself, even for another
moment, in a power so merciless. Lord Melbury and Lady Aurora, each hurt
and indignant, advanced, uttering kind speeches: while Lady Barbara,
still younger and more unguarded, seizing the little dog, exclaimed 'No,
I'll carry Bijou myself, Mrs Ireton. Poor Miss Ellis looks so tired!
I'll take care of him all the way to Brighthelmstone myself. Dear,
pretty little creature!' Then, skipping behind Lady Aurora, 'Nasty
whelp!' she whispered, 'how I'll pinch him for being such a plague to
that sweet Miss Ellis! Perhaps that will mend him!'

The satisfaction of Lady Aurora at this trait glistened in her soft
eyes; while Lord Melbury, enchanted, caught the hand of the spirited
little lady, and pressed it to his lips; though, ashamed of his own
vivacity, he let it go before she had time to withdraw it. She coloured
deeply, but visibly with no unpleasant sensation; and, grasping the
little dog, hid her blushes, by uttering a precipitate farewell upon the
bosom of Lady Aurora; who smilingly, though tenderly, kissed her
forehead.

An idea that teemed with joy and happiness rose high in the breast of
Juliet, as she looked from Lord Melbury to Lady Barbara. Ah! there,
indeed, she thought, felicity might find a residence! there, in the rare
union of equal worth, equal attractions, sympathising feelings, and
similar condition!

'And I, too,' cried Lord Melbury, 'must have the honour to make myself
of some use; if Mrs Ireton, therefore, will trust Mr Loddard to my care,
I will convey him safely to Brighthelmstone, and overtake my sister in
the evening. And by this means we shall lighten the fatigue of Mrs
Ireton, without increasing that of Miss Ellis.'

He then took the little boy in his arms; playfully dancing him before
the little dog in those of Lady Barbara.

The heart of Juliet panted to give utterance to the warm
acknowledgements with which it was fondly beating; but mingled fear and
discretion forced her to silence.

All the evil tendencies of malice, envy, and ill will, pent up in the
breast of Mrs Ireton, now struggled irresistibly for vent; yet to insist
that Juliet should take change of Mr Loddard, for whom Lord Melbury had
offered his services; or even to force upon her the care of the little
dog, since Lady Barbara had proposed carrying him herself, appeared no
longer to exhibit dependency: Mrs Ireton, therefore, found it expedient
to be again taken ill; and, after a little fretful moaning, 'I feel
quite shaken,' she cried, 'quite in a tremour. My feet are absolutely
numbed. Do get me my furred clogs, Miss Ellis; if I may venture to ask
such a favour. I would not be troublesome, but you will probably find
them in the carriage. Though perhaps I have left them in the hall. You
will have the condescension to help the coachman and Simon to make a
search. And then pray run back, if it won't fatigue you too much, and
tie them on for me.'

If Juliet now coloured, at least it was not singly; the cheeks of Lady
Aurora, of Lady Barbara, and of Lord Melbury were equally crimsoned.

'Let me, Mrs Ireton,' eagerly cried Lord Melbury 'have the honour to be
Miss Ellis's deputy.'

'No, my lord,' said Juliet, with spirit: 'grateful and proud as I should
feel to be honoured with your lordship's assistance, it must not be in a
business that does not belong to me. I will deliver the orders to Simon.
And as Mrs Ireton is now relieved from her anxiety concerning Mr
Loddard, I beg permission, once more, and finally, to take my leave.'

Gravely then courtsying to Mrs Ireton, and bowing her head with an
expression of the most touching sensibility to her three young
supporters, she quitted the gallery.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Wanderer (Volume 3 of 5) - or, Female Difficulties" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home