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Title: The Wanderer (Volume 4 of 5) - or, Female Difficulties
Author: Fanny, Burney
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Wanderer (Volume 4 of 5) - or, Female Difficulties" ***

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VOLUME IV



CHAPTER LX


Juliet was precipitately followed by Lord Melbury.

'It is not, then,' he cried, 'your intention to return to Mrs Ireton?'

'No, my lord, never!'

She had but just uttered these words, when, immediately facing her, she
beheld Mrs Howel.

A spectre could not have made her start more affrighted, could not have
appeared to her more horrible. And Lord Melbury, who earnestly, at the
same moment, had pronounced, 'Tell me whither, then,--' stopping
abruptly, looked confounded.

'May I ask your lordship to take me to Lady Aurora?' Mrs Howel coldly
demanded.

'Aurora?--Yes;--she is there, Ma'am;--still in the gallery.'

Mrs Howel presented him her hand, palpably to force him with her; and
stalked past Juliet, without any other demonstration of perceiving her
than what was unavoidably manifested by an heightened air of haughty
disdain.

Lord Melbury, distressed, would still have hung back; but Mrs Howel,
taking his arm, proceeded, as if without observing his repugnance.

Juliet, in trembling dismay, glided on till she entered a vacant
apartment, of which the door was open. To avoid intrusion, she was
shutting herself in; but, upon some one's applying, nearly the next
minute, for admittance, the fear of new misconstruction forced her to
open the door. What, then, was her shock at again viewing Mrs Howel! She
started back involuntarily, and her countenance depicted undisguised
horrour.

With a brow of almost petrifying severity, sternly fixing her eyes upon
Juliet, Mrs Howel, for a dreadful moment, seemed internally suspended,
not between hardness and mercy, but between accusation and punishment.
At length, in a tone, from the deep sounds of which Juliet shrunk, but
had no means to retire, she slowly pronounced, while her head rose more
loftily at every word, 'You abscond from Mrs Ireton, though she would
permit you to remain with her? 'Tis to Lord Melbury that you reveal your
purpose; and the inexperienced youth whom you would seduce, is the only
person that can fail to discover your ultimate design, in taking the
moment of meeting with him, for quitting the honourable protection which
snatches you from want, if not from disgrace: at the same time that it
offers security to a noble family, justly alarmed for the morals, if not
for the honour of its youthful and credulous chief.'

The terror which, in shaking the nerves, seemed to have clouded even the
faculties of Juliet, now suddenly subsided, superseded by yet more
potent sensations of quick resentment. 'Hold, Madam!' she cried: 'I may
bear with cruelty and injustice, for I am helpless! but not with insult,
for I am innocent!'

Mrs Howel, surprised, paused an instant; but then harshly went on, 'This
cant, young woman, can only delude those who are ignorant of the world.
Whatever you may chuse to utter to me of that sort will be perfectly
null. What I have to say is simple; what you have to offer must, of
course, be complicate. But I have no time to throw away upon rants and
rodomontades, and I have no patience to waste upon impostors. Hear me
then without reply.'

'Not to reply, Madam, will cost me little,' indignantly cried Juliet:
'but to hear you,--pardon me, Madam,--force only can exact from me so
dreadful a compliance.'

She looked round, but not having courage to open a further door, nor
power to pass by Mrs Howel, walked to a window.

Not heeding her resistance, and disdaining her emotion, Mrs Howel
continued: 'My Lord Melbury is not, it is true, like his sister, under
my immediate care; but he is here only to join her ladyship, whom my
Lord Denmeath has entrusted to my protection. And, therefore, though he
is as noble in mind as in rank, since he is still, in years, but a boy,
I must, in honour, consider myself to be equally responsible to my Lord
Denmeath for the brother as for the sister. This being the case, I must
not leave him to the machinations of an adventurer. In two words,
therefore,--Declare yourself for what you are; or return with Mrs Ireton
to Brighthelmstone, and remain under her roof, since she deigns to
permit it, till I have restored my young friends, safe and uninjured, to
their uncle. Otherwise--'

Juliet, casting up her eyes, as if calling upon heaven for patience,
would have opened the window, to seek refuge in the air from sounds of
which the shock was insupportable: but Mrs Howel, offended into yet
deeper wrath, advanced with a mien of such rigid austerity, that she
lost her purpose in her consternation, and listened irresistibly to what
follows: 'Otherwise,--mark me, young woman! the still unexplained
mystery with which you have made your way into the kingdom, will
authorise an application which you will vainly try to elude, and with
which you will not dare to prevaricate. You will take your choice, and,
in five minutes, you will be summoned to make it known.'

With this menace she left the room.

In an agony of terrour, that again absorbed even resentment, Juliet
remained motionless, confounded, and incapable of deliberation, till the
groom of Mrs Ireton came to inform her that his lady was ready to set
out.

Juliet, scarcely herself knowing her own intentions, precipitately
ejaculated, 'The crisis is arrived!--I must cast myself upon Lady
Aurora!'

The servant said he did not understand her.

'Tell Lady Aurora--;' she cried, 'or Lord Melbury,--no, Lady Aurora,--'
she stopt, fearfully balancing upon which to fix.

The groom asked what he was to say.

'You will say,--I must beg you to say,--' cried Juliet, endeavouring to
recollect herself, 'that I desire,--that I wish,--that I take the
liberty to request that Lady Aurora will have the goodness to honour
me,--that I shall be eternally obliged if her ladyship will honour me
with a few moment's conversation!'

The groom went; and almost the next instant, she heard the fleet step of
Lady Aurora approaching, and her soft voice, with unusual emphasis,
pronounce, 'Pardon me, dear Madam, but I could not refuse her for a
thousand worlds!'

'She ought not to refuse her, Mrs Howel!' added, with fervency, the
voice of Lord Melbury; 'in humanity, in justice, in decency, Aurora
ought not to refuse her! Whatever may be your fears of objections to an
intimacy, there can be none to common civility; for though we know not
what Miss Ellis has been, we see what she now is;--a pattern of
elegance, sweetness, and delicacy.'

'A moment, my lord!--one moment, Lady Aurora!' answered Mrs Howel; 'we
may be overheard here;--honour me with a moment's attention in another
room.' She seemed drawing them away, and not a word more reached Juliet.

A dreadful ten minutes preceded any farther information: a quick step,
then, followed by a tap at the door, re-awakened at once terrour and
hope. She awaited, motionless, its opening, but then saw neither the
object she desired, nor that which she dreaded; neither Lady Aurora nor
Mrs Howel, but Lord Melbury.

Affrighted by the threatened vengeance of Mrs Howel, but irresistibly
charmed by his generous defence, and trusting esteem, Juliet looked so
disturbed, yet through her disturbance so gratified, that Lord Melbury,
evidently much agitated himself, approached her with a vivacity of
pleasure that he did not seek to repress, and could not have disguised.

'Miss Ellis will, I am sure, forgive my intrusion,' he cried, 'when I
tell her that it is made in the name of my sister. Aurora is grieved
past all expression not to wait upon you herself; but Mrs Howel is in
such haste to depart, from her fear of travelling after sun-set, that it
is not possible to detain her. Poor Aurora sends you a thousand
apologies, and entreats you not to think ill of her for appearing thus
unfeeling--'

'Think ill of Lady Aurora?' interrupted Juliet, 'I think her an
angel!--'

'She is very near it, indeed!' cried Lord Melbury, ardently; 'as near
it, I own, as I wish her; for I don't see, without wings, and flying to
heaven, how she can well be nearer! However, since you are so kind, so
liberal, as to do her that justice, would it be possible that you could
communicate, through me, what you had the goodness to intend saying to
her? She is quite broken-hearted at going away with an appearance of
such unkindness. Can you give her this consolation?'

'Oh, my lord!' answered Juliet, with an energy that shewed off all
guard, 'if I might hope for Lady Aurora's support--for your lordship's
protection,--with what transport would my o'er-burthened heart,--'Seized
with sudden dread of Mrs Howel, she stopt abruptly, and fearfully looked
around.

Enchanted by a prospect of some communication, Lord Melbury warmly
exclaimed, 'Miss Ellis, I swear to you, by all that I hold most sacred,
that if you will do me so great an honour as to trust me to be the
bearer of your confidence to my sister, no creature upon earth, besides,
shall ever, without your permission, hear what you may unfold! and it
shall be my whole study to merit your good opinion, and to shew you my
respect.'

'O my lord! O Lord Melbury,' cried Juliet, 'what hopes, what sweet
balsamic hopes you pour into my wounded bosom! after sufferings by which
I have been nearly,--nay, through which I have even wished myself
demolished!--'

Lord Melbury, inexpressibly touched, eagerly, yet tenderly, answered,
'Name, name what there is I can be so happy as to do! Your wishes shall
be my entire direction. And if I can offer you any services, I shall
console Aurora, and, permit me to say, myself, still more than you.'

'I will venture, then, my lord,--I must venture!--to lay open my
perilous situation!--And yet I may put your feelings,--alas!--to a test,
alas, my lord!--that not all your virtues, nor even your compassion may
withstand!'

Trembling almost as violently as she trembled herself, from impatience,
from curiosity, from charmed interest, and indescribable wonder, Lord
Melbury bent forward, so irresistibly and so palpably to take her
hand, that Juliet, alarmed, drew back; and, calling forth the
self-command of which her sorrows, her terrours, and her hopes had
conjointly bereft her, 'If I have been guilty,' she cried, 'of any
indiscretion, my lord, in this hasty, almost involuntary disposition to
confidence,--excuse,--and do not punish an errour that has its source
only in a--perhaps--too high wrought esteem!--'

Starting with a look nearly of horrour, 'You kill me,' he cried, 'Miss
Ellis, if you suspect me to be capable, a second time, of dishonouring
the purest of sisters by forgetting the respect due to her friend!--'

'No, my lord, no!' warmly interrupted Juliet; 'whatever you think
dishonourable I am persuaded your lordship would find impracticable: but
the stake is so great,--the risk so tremendous,--and failure would be so
fatal!--'

Her preturbation now became nearly overpowering; and, not with standing
she was prepared, and resolved, to disclose herself, her ability seemed
unequal to her will, and her breast heaved with sighs so oppressive,
that though she frequently began with--'I will now,--I must now,--' she
strove vainly to finish her sentence.

After anxiously and with astonishment waiting some minutes, 'Why does
Miss Ellis thus hesitate?' cried Lord Melbury. 'What can I say or do to
remove her scruples?'

'I have none, my lord, none! but I have so solemnly been bound to
silence! and ...'

'Oh, but you are bound, now, to speech!' cried he, with spirit; 'and, to
lessen your inquietude, and satisfy your delicacy, I will shew you the
way to openness and confidence, by making a disclosure first. Will you,
then, have more reliance upon my discretion?'

'You are too,--too good, my lord!' cried Juliet, again brightening up;
'but I dream not of such indulgence: 'tis to your benevolence only I
apply.'

'Oh, but I have a fancy to trust you! Aurora will be delighted
that I should have found such a confidant. Yet I have nothing
positive,--nothing fixed,--to say, it is but an idea,--a thought,--a
kind of distant perspective ...'

He coloured, and looked embarrassed, yet evidently with feelings of
pleasure.

A radiant smile now illumined the face of Juliet, 'Ah! my lord,' she
cried, 'if I might utter a conjecture,--I had almost said a wish--.'

'Why not? cried he, laughing.'

'Your lordship permits me?--Well, then, let me name--Lady Barbara
Frankland?--'

'Is it possible?' cried he, while the blood mantled in his cheeks, and
pleasure sparkled in his eyes; 'what can have led you to such a thought?
How can you possibly have suspected ... She is still so nearly a
child....'

'It is true, my lord, but, also, how amiable a child! how richly endowed
with similar qualities to those which, at this instant, engage my
gratitude!--'

He bowed, with smiling delight. 'I will not deny,' he cried, 'that you
have penetrated into my secret; though as yet, in fact, it is hardly
even a secret; for we have not,--hitherto,--you will easily believe,
conversed together upon the subject! Nor shall we say a word about it,
together, till I have made the tour. But I will frankly own, that we
have been brought up from our very cradles, with this notion, mutually.
It was the wish of my father even in our infancy.--'

'Hold it then sacred!' cried Juliet, with strong emotion. 'Happy, thrice
happy, in such a wish for your guide!'

She burst into tears.

'How your sorrows,' said he, tenderly, 'affect me! and how they interest
me more deeply every moment! Tell me, then, sweet Miss Ellis!--amiable
friend of my sister!--tell me why you are thus afflicted? and how, and
in what manner, there is the least possibility that I may offer you my
services, or procure you any consolation?'

The door here was abruptly opened by Mrs Howel.

Red with constrained rage, yet assuming a courteous demeanour, 'Your
lordship will pardon,' she cried, 'my intrusion;' but Lady Aurora is so
delicate, that I am always uneasy at keeping her ladyship out late.'

Highly provoked, yet deeply confused, Lord Melbury stammered that he was
extremely sorry to have detained them, and begged that they would set
out; promising to follow immediately.

Civilly smiling, though fixing her eyes upon his face in a manner that
doubled his embarrassment, she entreated him to use his own influence
with Lady Aurora, to prevail upon her ladyship to proceed.

Too much perturbed to resist, he ran out of the room; casting a glance
at Juliet, as he passed, expressive of his chagrin at this interruption,
and full of sensibility and respect.

Juliet dreadfully affrighted, and utterly confounded, had hid her
streaming eyes, and conscious blushes, with her handkerchief, upon the
entrance of Mrs Howel; but, when left alone with that tremendous lady,
mingled terrour and indignation would have urged immediate flight, had
she not been apprehensive of seeming to follow, and clandestinely, Lord
Melbury.

Benign had been as yet the countenance, and melody itself the voice of
Mrs Howel, compared with the expression of the one, or the sound of the
other, while she now pronounced the following words: 'The terms, young
woman, that I would keep with a person of name and character; the honour
and delicacy due to myself in any intercourse with such a one, I set
wholly aside in treating with an adventurer. I know all that has passed!
I have heard every syllable! Convinced, therefore, of your deep laid
scheme, to captivate to his disgrace a youth of an illustrious house, by
revealing to him a pretended tale, which you craftily refuse to trust to
all who may better judge, or try, its truth; I shall take, without
delay, such measures as it behoves should be taken, by a friend of his
family, and of himself, to effectually open his eyes to your arts, and
to his own danger. In one word, therefore, Will you, and this instant,
return to Brighthelmstone under the superintendence of Mrs Ireton?'

'No, Madam!' Juliet, without hesitation, replied.

'Enough! I shall myself take in charge, then, that you do not quit the
castle, till the arrival of a peace-officer; who may conduct you where
you may make your confession with rather more propriety than to a young
nobleman!'

Neither native courage, nor resentment of hard usage, could support
Juliet against a menace such as this. She changed colour, and sunk,
terrified, upon a chair.

Mrs Howel, after a moment's pause, magisterially moved to the door;
whence she took the key, which was within side, and was leaving the
room; but Juliet, struck with horrour at such a preparation for
confinement, started up, exclaiming, 'If you reduce me, Madam, to cry
for help, I must cast myself at once upon the protection of Lord
Melbury;--and then assure yourself,--be very sure! he will not suffer
this outrage!'

'This affrontery exceeds all credibility! Assure yourself, however,
young woman, and be very sure, in return! that I shall not be
intimidated by an imposter, from detecting imposition; nor from
consigning it to infamy!'

With a scoffing smile of power, she then left the room, locking the door
without.

Consternation alone had prevented Juliet from rushing past her, and
forcing a passage; though such violence was as opposite to her nature,
as to propriety, and to the habits of her sex.

Alone, and a prisoner, the first reflexion that found way through her
disturbance, served less to diminish her terrour than to awaken new
alarm. It represented to her all the blighting horrours of calumny, in
being known to place her confidence in Lord Melbury, while forced to
exact that he himself should guard her secret. She felt as if cast upon
a precipice, from which, though a kind hand might save, the least
imprudence might precipitate her downfall. She struggled for fortitude,
she prayed for patience. What, indeed, she cried, are any sufferings
that Mrs Ireton can inflict, compared with those I am flying? If I must
submit to transient tyranny, or hazard incurring misery as durable as my
existence,--can I hesitate to which I shall yield?

Hastily, now, she looked for the bell, and rang it repeatedly, till some
one through the door demanded her orders.

'Acquaint Mrs Ireton,' she answered, 'that I am ready to attend her to
Brighthelmstone.'

The door was almost instantly unlocked, and Mrs Howel again appeared. 'I
deign not, young woman,' she sternly said, 'to enquire into the reasons,
the arts, or the apprehensions that may have induced your repentance: I
am aware that whatever you would tell me is precisely what I ought not
to believe. I come merely to give you notice that, if you venture to
attempt keeping up any sort of correspondence with Lady Aurora
Granville, or with Lord Melbury, nothing can save you from detection and
punishment. Mark me well! You will be properly watched.'

She then retired, shutting, but no longer locking the door.

All of philosophy, of judgment, or of forbearance that the indignant
Juliet possessed, was nearly insufficient to keep her firm to her
concession upon an harangue thus insulting. Necessity, however,
inculcated prudence. I will await, she cried, better days! I will learn
my ultimate doom ere I seek any mitigation to my passing sorrows. If all
end well,--this will be as nothing!--forgive and forgotten at once! If
ill,--in so overwhelming a weight of woe, 'twill be still less
material!



CHAPTER LXI


Juliet was aroused from this species of patient despondency by the groom
of Mrs Ireton, who broke in upon her with orders to enquire, whether it
were her intention to detain his lady at the castle all night? adding,
that all the rest of the party had been gone some time.

Juliet followed him to the hall, where she was greeted, as usual, with
sharp reproaches, conveyed through ironical compliments.

Upon reaching the portico, she perceived, hastily returned, and
dismounting his horse, Lord Melbury.

He held back, with an air of irresolution, till Mrs Ireton, to whom he
distantly bowed, was seated; and then, suddenly springing forward,
offered his hand to her depressed and neglected dependent.

Blushingly, yet gratefully she accepted his assistance; and having
placed her in the coach, and made a slight compliment to Mrs Ireton, the
carriage drove off; and, the final amazement over, the envenomed taunts
of that lady were indulged in a full scope of unrestrained malignity
during the whole little journey.

Juliet scarcely heard them; new perplexity, though mingled with hope and
pleasure, affected and occupied her. Lord Melbury, in aiding her into
the carriage, had said, 'I am afraid you will lose your shawl;' and,
snatching at it, as if to present its falling, he enveloped a small
packet in the folds which he put into her hands, of which, in her first
confusion, she was scarcely conscious; though she felt it the instant
that he disappeared.

Was it money? Nothing, in her helpless state, could be more welcome; yet
to what construction, even from himself, might not its acceptance be
liable? Nevertheless, with so suspicious and illjudging a witness by her
side, to call him back, might seem accusing him of intentions of which
she sincerely believed him guiltless.

The moment that she could disengage herself from her troublesome
charges, she stole to her chamber, where she read the following words,
written with a pencil upon the cover of a letter.

     'How shall I ever endure myself again, should Miss Ellis withdraw
     her kind promise of communication, in resentment of an acquiescence
     in quitting her, for which already I begin almost to disdain
     myself? Yet my consent was granted to two of the purest of her
     admirers and well wishers. I could not have been biassed an instant
     by those who know not how to appreciate her. Hold, therefore,
     amiable Miss Ellis, your condescending promise sacred, though I
     make a momentary cession of my claim upon it, to the pleadings of
     those who are every way better entitled to judge than I am, of what
     will best demonstrate the high and true respect felt for Miss
     Ellis, by

     'Her most obedient,
     'humble servant,
     'MELBURY.

     'P.S. Aurora had no time to entreat for your permission to lodge
     the enclosed trifle in your hands. She is ashamed of its
     insignificance; but she has a plan, which I shall unfold when I
     have next the honour of seeing you, to solicit, as a mark of your
     confidence, becoming, through me, your banker till your affairs are
     arranged.

     'Pardon this paper. I write on horseback, to catch you flying.'

Soft were the tears of Juliet, and radiant the eyes whence they flowed,
as she perused these words. Nor could she hesitate in accepting the
offering, though the little gold-purse, which contained it, was marked
with the cypher of Lord Melbury. It was presented in the name of his
sister; a sister whom he revered as truly as he loved; such a name,
therefore, sanctioned both the loan and the kindness. And the
intimation, given by the young peer himself, of the equal influence over
his mind possessed by Lady Barbara Frankland, proclaimed and proved the
purity of his regard, and the innocence of his intentions.

An idea now struck her, that bounded to her heart with rapture. Might
not the sum of which she permitted herself to take the disposal, prove
the means of re-union with Gabriella? A very small part of it would
suffice for the journey; and the rest might enable them, when once
together, to make some arrangement for being parted no more.

A plan so soothing could not, even for a moment, present itself to her
imagination, unaccompanied by some effort to put it into execution, and
she instantly wrote a few lines to her beloved friend; stating the
present possibility of their junction, and demanding her opinion, her
consent, and her directions, for the immediate accomplishment of so
delicious a scheme.

Cheered by a hope so dear to her wishes, so promising to her happiness,
Juliet, now, was perfectly contented to continue at Brighthelmstone,
till she should receive an answer to her proposal.

But, before its arrival was yet possible, she was called to a messenger,
who would deliver his commission only to herself.

She descended, not without perturbation, into the hall; where a
countryman told her, that he had been ordered to beg that she would go,
at the usual time, the next morning, to the usual place, to meet her old
friend.

He was then walking off; but Juliet stopt him, to demand whence he came,
and who sent him.

A lady, he answered, who spoke broken English, and who had named five of
the clock in the morning.

'Oh yes! Oh yes!' cried Juliet: 'I will not fail!' whilst a soft murmur
finished with 'Tis herself!--'tis my Gabriella!

What brought her back to Brighthelmstone, now occupied all the thoughts
of her friend. Was it a design to fix her abode where her maternal
enthusiasm might daily be cherished by visiting the grave of her child?
Or, was it for the single indulgence of bathing that melancholy spot
once more with her tears?

It was already night, or Juliet would have sought to anticipate the
meeting, by some enquiry at their former lodgings: the morning, however,
soon arrived, and, nearly with its dawn, she arose, and, by a previous
arrangement made with the gardener, quitted the house, to hasten to the
church-yard upon the hill.

In her way thither, she was seized, from time to time, with something
like an apprehension that she was pursued; for, though no one came in
sight, the stillness of the early morning enabled her to hear,
distinctly, a footstep that now seemed to follow her own, now to stop
till she had proceeded some yards.

It might merely be some workman;--yet would not a workman overtake her,
and pass on? It was more probably some traveller. Nevertheless, she
would not ascend the hill without making some examination; and, casting
a hasty glance behind her, she perceived a tall man, muffled up, whose
air denoted him to be a gentleman; but who instantly hung back.

A thousand anxious doubts were now awakened. Was it possible that she
had been summoned upon any false pretence? Gabriella had not written;
and though that omission had, at first, appeared the natural result of
haste upon her arrival; joined to the difficulty of immediately
procuring writing implements, it left an opening to uncertainty upon
reflection, by no means satisfactory. That she should not personally
have presented herself at the house of Mrs Ireton, could excite no
surprize, for she well knew that Juliet had neither time nor a room at
her own command; and to re-visit the grave of her child had always been
the purpose of Gabriella.

With a slackened and irresolute step, she now went on, till, wistfully
looking towards the church-yard, she descried a female, with arms
uplifted, that seemed inviting her approach. Relieved and delighted, she
then quickened her pace; though, as she advanced, the form retreated,
till, gradually, it was wholly out of sight.

This affected and saddened her. The little grave was on the other side
of the church. It is there, then, only, she cried, there, where our
melancholy meeting took place, that my ever wretched Gabriella will
suffer me to rejoin her!

With an aching heart she proceeded, though no Gabriella came forward to
give her welcome; but when, upon crossing over to the other side of the
church, in full sight of the little grave, no Gabriella was there; and
not a human being was visible, she felt again impressed with a fear of
imposition, and was turning back to hurry home; when she observed, just
mounting the hill, the person by whose pursuit she had already been
startled.

Terrour now began to take possession of her mind. She had surely been
deluded, and she was evidently followed. She had neither time nor
composure for divining why; but she was instantly certain that she could
be no object for premeditated robbery; and the unprincipled Sir Lyell
Sycamore alone occurred to her, as capable of so cruel a stratagem to
enveigle her to a lonely spot. The height of the man was similar: his
face was carefully concealed; but, transient as had been her glance, it
was obvious to her that he was no labourer, nor countryman.

To descend the hill, would be to meet him: to go on yet further, when
not a cottage, perhaps, might be open, would almost seem to expect being
overtaken: yet to remain and await him, was out of all question. She
saw, therefore, no hope of security, but by endeavouring to regain the
street, through a circuitous path, by sudden rapidity of flight.

But, upon gliding, with this design, to the other side of the church,
she was struck with amazement to see that the church-door was ajar; and
to perceive, at the same instant, a passing shadow, reflected through a
window, of some one within the building.

Was this accident? or had it any connection with the tall unknown who
followed her?

Filled with wonder and alarm, though a stranger to every species of
superstition, her feet staggered, and her presence of mind threatened to
play her false; when again a fleeting shadow, of she knew not whom nor
what, gleamed athwart a monument.

Summoning now her utmost force, though shaking with nameless
apprehensions, she crossed, with celerity, a gravestone, to gain what
appeared to be the quickest route for descending; when the sound of a
hasty step, immediately behind her, gave her the fearful intelligence
that escape was impossible.

Nevertheless, though nearly overcome with dread, she was pressing on;
but some one, rushing abruptly past her, and turning short round, stopt
her passage.

Horrour thrilled through her every vein, in the persuasion that she was
the destined victim of deliberate delusion, when the words, 'It is,
indeed, then, you!' uttered in an accent of astonishment, yet with
softness, made her hastily raise her eyes,--and raise them upon
Harleigh.

Bereft of prudence, in the suddenness of her joy; forgetting
self-command, and casting off all guard, all reserve, she rapturously
held out to him her willing hands, exclaiming, 'Oh, Mr Harleigh!--are
you, then, my destined protector?--my guardian angel?'

Speechless from transported surprize, Harleigh pressed to his lips and
to his heart each unresisting hand; while Juliet, whose eyes beamed
lustrous with buoyant felicity, was unconscious of the happiness that
she bestowed, from the absorption of the delight that she experienced.

'Precious, for ever precious moment!' cried Harleigh, when the power of
utterance returned; 'Here, on this spot, where first the tortures of the
most deadly suspense give way to the most exquisite hopes,--'

The countenance of Juliet now again underwent a change the most sudden;
its brilliancy was overclouded; its smiles vanished; its joy died away;
not, indeed, to return to its look of horrour and affright, but to
convey an expression of the deepest shame and regret; and, with cheeks
tingling with burning blushes, she strove to regain her hands; to
recover her composure; and to account to him, by relating what had been
her dread, and her mistake, for her flattering reception.

But she strove in vain: her efforts to disengage herself had no more
that frozen severity which Harleigh had not dared resist; and though her
earnestness and distress shewed their sincerity, her varying blushes,
her inability to find words, and her uncontroulable emotion,
demonstrated, to his quick perception, that to govern her own
conflicting feelings, at this critical moment, was as difficult as to
resume over his accustomed dominion.

'Here on this spot,' he continued, 'this blessed, sacred, hallowed spot!
clear, and eternally dismiss, every torturing doubt by which I have so
long been martyrized! Here let all baneful mystery, all heart-wounding
distrust, be for ever exiled; and here--'

A faint, but earnest, 'Oh no! no! no!' now quivered from the lips of
Juliet; but Harleigh would not be silenced.

'And here, where you have condescended to call me your protector,--your
destined protector!--a title which gives me claims that never while I
live shall be relinquished!--claims which not even yourself, now, can
have power to recall--'

'Hear me! hear me!--' interrupted, but vainly, the pleading Juliet;
Harleigh, uncontrouled, went on.

'Initiate me, without delay, in the duties of my office. Against whom,
and against what may I be your protector? You have called me, too, your
guardian-angel; Oh suffer me to call you mine! Consent to that sweet
reciprocation, which blends felicity with every care of life! which
animates our virtues by our happiness! which secures the performance of
every duty, by making every duty an enjoyment!'

A frequent 'Alas! alas!' was all that Juliet could gain time to utter,
from the rapid energy with which Harleigh overpowered all attempt at
remonstrance.

'Why, why,' he then cried, with redoubled vivacity; 'Why not exile now,
and repudiate for ever, that terrible rigour of reserve that has so long
been at war with your humanity?--Listen to your softer self! It will
plead, it will surely plead for gentler measures!'

'Oh no, no, no!' reiterated the agitated Juliet, with a vehemence that
would have startled, if not discouraged him, had not another incautious
'Alas! alas!' stole its way into the midst of her tremulous negatives;
and revealed that her heart, her wishes, her feelings, bore no part in
the refusals which her tongue pronounced.

This was not a circumstance to escape Harleigh, who, indescribably
touched, fervently exclaimed, 'And what, now, shall sunder us? Pardon my
presumption if I say us! What is the power,--the earthly power,--while
yet I live, and breathe, and feel, that can now compel me to give up the
rights with which, from this decisive moment, I hold myself invested?
No! our destinies are indissolubly united!--All procrastination,--all
concealment must be over! They would now be literally distracting. Why,
then, that start?--Why that look?--Can you regret having shewn a little
feeling?--a trait of sensibility?--O put a period to this unequalled,
unexampled mystery! I am yours! faithfully, honourably yours! Yours to
the end of my mortal existence; yours, by my most sacred hopes, far, far
longer!--You weep?--not from grief, I trust,--I hope,--not from grief
flow those touching tears? Open to me your situation,--your heart! Here,
on this sacred, and henceforth happiest spot, where first you have
accorded me a ray of hope, let our mutual vows be plighted to all
eternity!'

Juliet, whose whole soul seemed dissolved in poignant yet tender
distress, cast up to heaven, as if imploring for aid, her irresistibly
streaming eyes; when, caught by some shadowy motion to turn them towards
the church, she fancied that she beheld again the female, whose
appearance and vanishing had been forgotten from the excess of her own
emotions.

Startled, she looked more earnestly, and then clearly perceived, though
half hidden behind a monument, a form in white; whose dress appeared to
be made in the shape, and of the materials, used for our mortal
covering, a shroud. A veil of the same stuff fell over the face of the
figure, of which the hands hung down strait at each lank side.

Struck with awe and consternation, Juliet involuntarily ceased her
struggles for freedom; and Harleigh, who saw her strangely moved,
pursuing the direction of her eyes, discerned the object by which they
had been caught; who now, slowly raising her right hand, waved to them
to follow; while, with her left, she pointed to the church, and,
uttering a wild shriek, flitted out of sight.

Could it be Elinor? Each felt at the same instant the same terrible
apprehension. Harleigh sprang after her; Juliet, almost petrified with
affright, was immovable.

The fugitive entered the church, and darted towards the altar; where she
threw her left hand over a tablet of white stone, cut in the shape of a
coffin, with the action of embracing it; yet in a position to leave
evident the following inscription:

                       'This Stone
    Is destined by herself to be the last kind covering
                  of all that remains of
                     ELINOR JODDREL:
       Who, sick of Life, of Love, and of Despair,
           Dies to moulder, and be forgotten.'

Casting off her veil when she perceived Harleigh, 'Here! Harleigh,
here!' she cried, in a tone authoritative, though tremulous, ''tis here
you must reciprocate your vows! Here is the spot! Here stands the altar
for the happy;--here, the tomb for the hopeless!'

Suspicious of some sinister purpose, Harleigh was at her side with the
swiftness of lightening; but not till her fingers were upon the trigger
of a pistol, which she had pointed to her temple; though in time, by
attaining her arm, and forcibly giving it a new direction, to make her
fire the deadly weapon in the air.

Her own design, nevertheless, seconded by the loud din of a pistol, so
close to her ear, and let off by her own hand, operated upon her
deranged imagination with a belief that her purpose was fulfilled; and
she sunk upon the ground, uttering, with a deep groan, 'Oh Harleigh!
bless the dying Elinor,--and be happy!--'

Harleigh, terrified and shocked, though thankfully perceiving her
mistake, dropped down at her side, and supported her head; while
congratulating eyes stole a glance at Juliet; who, at the sound of the
pistol, had hastened, aghast, to the spot; but who now, dreading to be
seen, retreated.

'Oh Elinor!' he then cried, 'what direful infatuation of wrong is
this!--What have you done with your nobler, better self?--How have you
thus warped your reason and your religion alike, to an equal and
terrible defiance of here and hereafter?'

Recovering, at these interrogatories, to conscious failure, and
conscious existence, she hastily arose, indignantly spurned at the
tablet, looked around for Juliet with every mark of irritation, and,
casting a glance of suffering, yet investigating shame at Harleigh,
''Tis again, then,' she cried, 'abortive!--and, a third time, I am food,
for fools,--when I meant to be food only for worms!'

She then peremptorily demanded Juliet; who, affrighted, was absconding,
till shrieks rather than calls forced her forward.

With an exaltation so violent that it seemed incipient frenzy, Elinor
hailed her. 'Approach, Ellis, approach!' she cried. 'Oh chosen of the
chosen! Oh born to shew, and prove the perfectibility of earthly
happiness, and the falsehood and sophistry of the ignorance and
superstition that deny it! Approach! and let me sanction your nuptial
contract! I here solemnly give you back your promise. I renounce all tie
over your actions, your engagements, your choice. Approach, then, that I
may join your hands, while I quaff my last draught of tender poison from
the grateful eyes of Harleigh, whose happiness,--my own donation!--will
cast a glory upon my exit!'

Juliet stood motionless, pale, almost livid, and appearing nearly as
unable to think as to speak. But the feelings of Harleigh were as much
too actively alive, as hers seemed morbid. Agitation beat in every
pulse, flowed in every vein, throbbed even visibly in his heart, which
bounded with tumultuous triumph, that Juliet, now, was liberated from
all adverse engagements: and though he sought, and meant, to turn his
eyes, with tender pity, upon Elinor, they stole involuntarily,
impulsively, glances of exstatic felicity at the mute and appalled
Juliet.

The watchful Elinor discerned the distraction, which he imagined to be
as impenetrable as it was irresistible. Shame, mingled with despondence,
superseded her exaltation; and disdainfully, and even wrathfully, she
disengaged herself from his hold; but, suspicious of some new violence,
he hovered over her with extended arms; and presently caught a glimpse
of a second pistol, placed behind the tablet, and, as nearly as
possible, out of sight. Her intention could not be doubted; but,
forcibly anticipating her movement, he seized the destined instrument of
death, and, flying to the porch, fired it also into the air.

Elinor now was confounded; she reddened with confusion, trembled with
ire, and seemed nearly fainting with excess of emotion; but, after
holding her hands a minute or two crossed over her face, she forced a
smile, and said, 'Harleigh, our tragi-comedy has a long last act! But
you can never, now, believe me dead, till you see me buried. That, next,
must follow!' And abruptly she was rushing out of the church, when she
was encountered, in the porch, by her foreign servant, accompanied by
the whole house of Mrs Maple.

Juliet, satisified that this victim to her own passions and delusions,
would now fall into proper hands, eagerly glided past them all; and,
finding the streets no longer empty, fled back to the mansion of Mrs
Ireton.



CHAPTER LXII


Juliet re-entered her chamber without having been missed, but in a
perturbation of mind indescribable; affrighted, confused, overpowered
with various and varying sensations; wretched for Elinor; dissatisfied
with herself; and yet more at war with what seemed to be her destiny;
ejaculating, from time to time, Oh Gabriella! receive, console,
strengthen, and direct your terrified,--bewildered friend!--

Unusual sounds from the hall soon announced some disturbance; but,
wholly without courage to go forth upon any enquiry, she remained, in
trembling ignorance of what was passing; till she was relieved by a
visit from Selina, which gave her the extreme satisfaction of hearing
that Elinor was actually in the house.

Grief, however, though unmixt with surprize, followed the information,
when she heard, also, that Elinor was in so disordered a state, that she
had been forced from the church only by the interference of Mr Naird;
for whom Mr Harleigh had sent; and who had positively told her, that, if
she would not submit to be conveyed to some house, and try to repose, he
should hold it his duty to send for proper persons to controul and take
care of her, as one unfit to be trusted to herself.

Even then, though evidently startled, she would not consent to go back
to Lewes, which she had quitted, she loudly declared, for ever: but,
after wildly enquiring for Ellis, and being assured that she was
returned to Mrs Ireton's, she was, at length, wrought upon to accept an
invitation, which, through measures that were taken by the active
Harleigh, Mrs Ireton had been prevailed with to send to her; and which
included her sister and Mrs Maple.

What else of the history of this transaction was known to Selina, was
speedily revealed.

The whole house of Mrs Maple had been awakened at day-light, by the
foreign servant of Elinor; who came to bid Tomlinson call up Mrs Maple,
and acquaint her, that he believed that her niece was determined to make
away with herself. She had found means, he said, over night, to induce
the clerk of the church at Brighthelmstone to let her have the key of
the church, to begin a drawing, of one of the monuments, at sun-rise,
when no idle loungers would interrupt her: and the clerk, knowing her
for a lady of property and fashion, in the neighbourhood, had not had
the thought to refuse her. She had made him, the lackey, come for her at
Mrs Maple's, with a post chaise, and wait near the house at three
o'clock in the morning: she and Mrs Golding then got into it, while he
attended, as usual, on horseback. They stopt at a place, by the way, to
receive a heap of things, that he did not take much notice of, as it was
not well light; and then they all gallopped to Brighthelmstone. He
thought no harm, all the time, as his lady so often went about oddly,
nobody knowing why. She made the chaise stop at the church-yard, and
told him, and Golding, to help up with all the things, into the church.
She then said she was going to begin her drawing; and bid the postilion
wait at some inn, till she went for him. But she told the lackey to stay
in the church-yard. She and Golding were then shut up together a quarter
of an hour; when Golding came out, crying. Her lady, she said, had put a
white trimmed stuff dress over her cloaths, that made her look as if she
were buried alive, and just the same as a ghost; and she was afraid all
was not right; for she had made her help to place what she had called a
pallet, for her drawing, upon the altar-table, and it looked just like a
coffin; only it was covered over with paper. She had ordered that they
should both go to an inn, and return for her, with the chaise, at eight
o'clock. Neither of them knew what to make of all this; but so many out
of the way things had passed, and nothing had come of them, that, still,
they should have done only as they were bid, but that the lackey
recollected two loaded pistols, which his lady had made him charge, upon
the route, to frighten away robbers, by firing one of them off, she
said, if they saw any suspicious persons dodging them: and these, which
had been put carefully into the chaise, Golding had seen, in the hand of
her mistress, in the church. This gave him such a panic, that he thought
it safest to ride back to Madame Maple's, and tell the whole at once.
All the family, upon this alarming news, set out for Brighthelmstone,
the moment that the horses could be got ready: and, just as they arrived
at the church, Elinor herself, had appeared, bursting from it into the
porch.

Her indignation at thus being followed and detected, had been terrible:
Who, she asked, had any right to controul her? But that was nothing to
her disturbance, when she found that Ellis had vanished. She grew so
agitated, that it was frightful, Selina continued, to see her; and
looked franticly about her, as if for means to destroy herself: and
nothing could urge her to quit the church, or church-yard, whence she
eagerly tried to command away all others; till Mr Harleigh had recourse
to Mr Naird, who had alarmed her into submission. They had then brought
her in a chaise, between Mrs Maple and the surgeon, to Mrs Ireton's;
where, to hide herself, she said, from light and life, she had gloomily
consented to go to bed; but she raved, sighed, groaned, started, and was
in a state of shame and despair, the most deplorable.

Juliet heard this narration with equal pity and terrour; but no sooner
understood that Mrs Maple had entreated Mr Harleigh to remain at
Brighthelmstone, for a day or two, than she determined to quit the place
herself, persuaded that these bloody enterprizes were always reserved
for their joint presence.

The nearly exhausted Elinor passed the rest of the day without effort,
without speech, and almost without sign of life. But, early on the
following morning, Juliet received from her a hasty summons.

Juliet essayed, by every means that she could devise, to avoid obeying
it; but every effort of resistance was ineffectual. By compulsion,
therefore, and slowly, she mounted the stairs, secretly determining
that, should Harleigh also be called upon, she would seize the first
instant in which she could elude observation, to escape, not alone from
the room, nor from the house, but from Brighthelmstone; whence she would
set off, by the quickest conveyance that she could find, for London and
Gabriella. Elinor, muffled up, and looking pale, haggard, and altered,
was reclining upon a sofa; not in compliance with the request of her
friends, but from an indispensable necessity of repose, after the
violent exertions which had recently shaken her already weakened frame.
At the entrance of Juliet she lifted up her head, with an air of eager
satisfaction, and exclaimed, 'You are really, then, here? And you come,
at length, to my call? Harleigh is less courteous! Triumphant Harleigh!
he leaves me, he says, to take some rest:--rest?--'

She paused, and her under lip shewed her contempt of the idea; and
presently, with a sarcastic smile, she added, 'Yes, yes, I shall
certainly take rest! I mean no less. He, too, will take some rest!
There, at least, ultimately, our destinies will approximate. And you,
even you, victorious Ellis! will sink to vapid rest, like those who have
never known happiness!'

With a laugh, then, but expressive of scorn, not gaiety, she exclaimed,
'And I, too, preaching? Can we never be tired, and good for nothing, but
we must take to moralizing? Summon him, however, Ellis, yourself. Tell
him to come without delay. I am sick;--and he is sick; and you are
sick;--we are all round sick of this loathsome procrastination.'

Alert to seize any pretence to be gone, Juliet was already at the door;
when Elinor, suddenly seeming to penetrate into her intentions, called
her back; and demanded a solemn promise that she would not fail to
return with Harleigh.

To the quick perceptions of Elinor, hesitation was alarm; she no sooner,
therefore, observed it, than she peremptorily ordered Selina and Mrs
Golding out of the room, and then, yet more positively, commanded Juliet
to approach the sofa.

'I see,' she cried, 'your collusion! You imagine, by coming to me
alternately, that you shall keep me in order? You conclude that I only
present myself a bowl and a dagger, like a Tragedy Queen, to have them
dashed from my hands, that I may be ready for a similar exhibition
another day?--And can Harleigh, the noble Harleigh! judge me thus
pitifully? No! no! Full of great and expansive ideas himself, he can
better comprehend the exaltation of which a high, uncurbed, independent
spirit is capable. But little minds deem all that is not common, all
that has not been practised from father to son, and from generation to
generation, to be trick, or to be impossible. You, Ellis, and such as
you, who act always by rule, who never utter a word of which you have
not weighed the consequence; never indulge a wish of which you have not
canvassed the effects: who listen to no generous feeling; who shrink
from every liberal impulse; who know nothing of nature, and care for
nothing but opinion:--you, and such as you, tame animals of custom,
wearied and wearying plodders on beaten tracks, may conclude me a mere
vapouring impostor, and believe it as safe to brave as to despise me!
You, Ellis--But no!--'

She stopt, and her look and manner suddenly lost their fierceness, as
she added: 'Oh no!--You! You are not of that cast! Harleigh can only
admire what alone is admirable. He would soon see through littleness or
hypocrisy; you must be good and great at once--eminently good,
unaffectedly great!--or how could Harleigh, the punctilious,
discriminating Harleigh, adore you? Oh! I have known, and secretly
appreciated you long; though I have been too little myself to
acknowledge it! I have not been calm enough--perhaps not blind enough
for justice! for if I saw your beauty less clearly--O happy Ellis! how
do I admire, envy, revere,--and hate you!'

Shocked, yet filled with pity, Juliet would have sought to deprecate her
enmity, and soften her feelings; but her fiery eye shewed that any
attempt at offering her consolation would be regarded as insult. 'I
disdain,' she cried, 'all expedient, all pretence. However the abortion
of my purpose may have made me appear a mere female mountebank, I have
meant all that I have seemed to mean: though, by waiting for the moment
of most _eclat_, opportunity has been past by, and action has been
frustrated. But I can die only once. That over,--all is ended. 'Tis
therefore I have studied how to finish my career with most effect. Let
Harleigh, however, beware how he doubt my sincerity! doubt from him
would drive me mad indeed! To the torpid formalities of every-day
customs; the drowsy thoughts of every-day thinkers; he may believe me
insensible, and I shall thank him; but, indifferent to my own principles
of honour!--lost to my own definitions of pride, of shame, of
heroism!--Oh! if he touch me there!--if he can judge of me so
degradingly ... my senses will still go before my life!'

She held her forehead, with a look of fearful pain; but, soon
recovering, laughed, and said, 'There are fools, I know, in the world,
who suppose me mad already! only because I go my own way; while they,
poor cowards, yoked one to another, always follow the path of their
forefathers; without even venturing to mend the road, however it may
have been broken up by time, accident or mischief. I have full as much
contempt of their imbecility, as they can have of my insanity. But hear
me, Ellis! approach and mark me. I must have a conference with Harleigh.
You must be present. A last conference! Whatever be its event, I have
bound myself to Elinor Joddrel never to demand another! But do not
therefore imagine my life or death to be in your power. No! My
resolution is taken. Take yours. Let the interview which I demand pass
quietly in this room; or be responsible for the consequences of the
public desperation to which I may be urged!'

Gloomily, she then added, 'Harleigh has refused to come; I will send him
word that you are here; will he still refuse?'

Juliet blushed; but could not answer. Elinor paused a moment, and then
said, 'If he knows that he can see you elsewhere, he will be firm; if
not ... he will return with my messenger! By that I can judge the
present state of your connexion.'

She rang the bell, and told Mrs Golding to go instantly to Mr Harleigh,
and acquaint him that Elinor Joddrel and Miss Ellis desired to speak
with him immediately.

Vainly Juliet remonstrated against the strange appearance of such a
message, not only to himself, but to the family and the world:
'Appearance?' she cried; 'after what I have done, what I have
dared,--have I any terms to keep with the world? with appearances?
Miserable, contemptible, servile appearances, to which sense, happiness,
and feeling are for ever to be sacrificed! And what will the world do in
return? How recompense the victims to its arbitrary prejudices? By
letting them quickly sink into nothing; by suffering them to die with as
little notice and distinction as they have lived; and with as little
choice.'

Mrs Golding returned, bringing the respects of Mr Harleigh, but saying
that he was forced, by an indispensable engagement, to refuse himself
the honour of waiting upon Miss Joddrel.

'Run to him again!--' cried Elinor, with vehemence; 'run, or he will be
gone! Make him enter the first empty room, and tell him 'tis Miss Ellis
alone who desires to speak with him. Fly!'

Yet more earnestly, now, Juliet would have interfered; but the
peremptory Elinor insisted upon immediate obedience. 'If still,' she
cried 'he come not ... I shall conclude you to be already married!'

She laughed, yet wore a face of horrour at this idea; and spoke no more
till Mrs Golding returned, with intelligence that Mr Harleigh was
waiting in the parlour.

The bosom of Juliet now swelled and heaved high, with tumultuous
distress and alarm, and her cheeks were dyed with the crimson tint of
conscious shame; while Elinor, turning pale, dropt her head upon the
pillow of the sofa, and sighed deeply for a moment in silence.
Recovering then, 'This, at least,' she said, 'is explicit; let it be
final! Your influence is not disguised; use it, Ellis, to snatch me from
the deplorable buffoonery of running about the world--not like death
after the lady, but the lady after death! Assure yourselves that you
will never devise any stratagem that will turn me from my purpose;
though you may render ridiculous in its execution, what in its
conception was sublime. Happiness such as yours, Ellis, ought to be
above all narrow malignity. You ought to be proud, Ellis, voluntarily to
serve her whom involuntarily you have ruined!'

Juliet was beginning some protestations of kindness; but Elinor,
interrupting her, said, 'I can give credit only to action. I must have a
conference; but it is not to talk of myself;--nor of you; nor even of
Harleigh. No! the soft moment of indulgence to my feelings is at an end!
When I allowed my heart that delicious expansion; when I abandoned it to
nature, and permitted it those open effusions of tenderness, I thought
my dissolution at hand, and meant but to snatch a few last precious
minutes of extacy from everlasting annihilation! but these endless
delays, these eternal procrastinations, make me appear so unmeaning an
idiot, even to myself, that, for the remnant of my doleful ditty, I must
resist every natural wish; and plod on, till I plod off, with the stiff
and stupid decorum of a starched old maid of half a century. Procure me,
however, this definitive conference. It is upon no point of the old
story, I promise you. You cannot be more tired of that than I am
ashamed. 'Tis simply an earnest curiosity to know the pure, unadulterate
thoughts of Harleigh upon death and immortality. I have applied to him,
fruitlessly, myself; he inexorably refers me to some old canonicals;
without considering that it is vain to ask for guides to shew us a road,
before we are convinced, or at least persuaded, that it will lead us to
some given spot. Let him but make clear, that 'tis his own opinion that
death does not sink us to nothing; let him but satisfy me, that he does
not turn me over to others, only because he thinks as I think himself,
and has not the courage to avow it;--and then, in return, I may suffer
him to send to me some one of his black robed tribe, to harangue me
about here and hereafter.'

All contestation on the part of Juliet, was but irritating; she was
forced upon her commission, and compelled solemnly to promise, that she
would return with Harleigh, and be present at the conference.



CHAPTER LXIII


With unsteady footsteps, and covered with blushes, Juliet repaired to
the parlour, where Harleigh, with delighted, yet trembling impatience,
was awaiting her arrival.

The door was half open, and he had placed himself at a distant window,
to force her entire entrance into the room, before she could see him, or
speak; but, that point gained, he hastened to shut it, exclaiming, 'How
happy for me is this incident, whatever may have been its origin! Let me
instantly avail myself of it, to entreat--'

'Give me leave,' interrupted Juliet, looking every way to avoid his
eyes; 'to deliver my message. Miss Joddrel--'

'When we begin,' cried Harleigh, eagerly, 'upon the unhappy Elinor, she
must absorb us; let me, then, first--'

'I must be heard, Sir,' said Juliet, with more firmness, 'or I must be
gone!--'

'You must be heard, then, undoubtedly!' he cried, with a smile, and
offering her a chair, 'for you must not be gone!'

Juliet declined being seated, but delivered, nearly in the words that
she had received it, her message.

Harleigh looked pained and distressed, yet impatient, as he listened.
'How,' he cried, 'can I argue with her? The false exaltation of her
ideas, the effervescence of her restless imagination, place her above,
or below, whatever argument, or reason can offer to her consideration.
Her own creed is settled--not by investigation into its merits, not by
reflection upon its justice, but by an impulsive preference, in the
persuasion that such a creed leaves her mistress of her destiny.'

'Ah, do not resist her!' cried Juliet. 'If there is any good to be
done--do it! and without delay!'

'It is not you I can resist!' he tenderly answered, 'if deliberately it
is your opinion I should comply. But her peculiar character, her
extraordinary principles, and the strange situation into which she has
cast herself, give her, for the moment, advantages difficult, nay
dangerous to combat. Unawed by religion, of which she is ignorant;
unmoved by appearances, to which she is indifferent; she utters all that
occurs to an imagination inflamed by passion, disordered by
disappointment, and fearless because hopeless, with a courage from which
she has banished every species of restraint: and with a spirit of
ridicule, that so largely pervades her whole character, as to burst
forth through all her sufferings, to mix derision with all her sorrows,
and to preponderate even over her passions! Reason and argument appear
to her but as marks for dashing eloquence or sportive mockery.
Nevertheless, if, by striking at every thing, daringly, impetuously,
unthinkingly, she start some sudden doubt; demand some impossible
explanation; or ask some humanly unanswerable question; she will
conclude herself victorious; and be more lost than ever to all that is
right, from added false confidence in all that is wrong.'

'If so, the conference were, indeed, better avoided,' said Juliet with
sadness; 'yet--as it is not the sacred truth of revealed religion that
she means to canvass; as it is merely the previous question, of the
possibility, or impossibility, according to her notions, of a future
state for mankind, which she desires to discuss; I do not quite see the
danger of answering the doubts, or refuting the assertions, that may
lead her afterwards, to an investigation so important to her future
welfare. If she would consult with a clergyman, it were certainly
preferable; but that will be a point no longer difficult to gain, when
once you have convinced her, upon her own terms of controversy, that you
yourself have a firm belief in immortality.'

'The attempt shall surely be made,' said Harleigh, 'if you think such a
result, as casting her into more reverend hands, may ensue. If I have
fled all controversy with her, from the time that she has publicly
proclaimed her religious infidelity, it has by no means been from
disgust; an unbeliever is simply an object of pity; for who is so
deplorably without resource in sickness or calamity?--those two common
occupiers of half our existence! No; if I have fled all voluntary
intercourse with her, it has only been that her total contempt of the
world, has forced me to take upon myself the charge of public opinion
for us both. While I considered her as the future wife of my brother, I
frankly contested whatever I thought wrong in her notions. The wildness
of her character, the eccentricity of her ideas, and the violence of
all her feelings; with her extraordinary understanding--parts, I ought
to say; for understanding implies rather what is solid than
brilliant;--joined to the goodness of her heart, and the generosity,
frankness, and openness of her nature, excited at once an anxiety for my
brother, and an interest for herself, that gave occasion to the most
affectionate animadversion on my part, and produced alternate defence or
concession on hers. But her disdain of flattery, or even of civil
acquiescence, made my freedom, opposed to the courteous complaisance
which my brother deemed due to his situation of her humble servant,
strike her in a point of view ... that has been unhappy for us all
three! Yet this was a circumstance which I had never suspected,--for,
where no wish is met, remark often sleeps;--and I had been wholly
unobservant, till you--'

Called from the deep interest with which she had involuntarily listened
to the relation of his connection with Elinor, by this sudden transition
to herself, Juliet started; but he went on.

'Till you were an inmate of the same house! till I saw her strange
consternation, when she found me conversing with you; her rising
injustice when, with the respect and admiration which you inspired, I
mentioned you; her restless vigilance to interrupt whatever
communication I attempted to have with you; her sudden fits of profound
yet watchful taciturnity, when I saw you in her presence;--'

'I may tell her,' interrupted Juliet, disturbed, 'that you will wait
upon her according to her request?'

'When you,' cried he, smiling, 'are her messenger, she must not expect
quite so quick, quite so categorical an answer! I must first--'

'On the contrary, her impatience will be insupportable if I do not
relieve it immediately.'

She would have opened the door, but, preventing her, 'Can you indeed
believe,' he cried, with vivacity; 'is it possible you can believe,
that, having once caught a ray of light, to illumine and cheer the dread
and nearly impervious darkness, that so long and so blackly overclouded
all my prospects, I can consent, can endure to be cast again into
desolate obscurity?'

Juliet, blushing, and conscious of his allusion to her reception of him
in the church yard, for which, without naming Sir Lyell Sycamore, she
knew not how to account, again protested that she must not be detained.

Still, however, half reproachfully, half laughingly, stopping her, 'And
is it thus,' he cried, 'that you summon me to Brighthelmstone,--only to
mock my obedience, and disdain to hear me?'

'I, Sir?--I, summon you?'

'Nay, see my credentials!'

He presented to her the following note, written in an evidently feigned
hand:

     'If Mr Harleigh will take a ramble to the church-yard upon the
     Hill, at Brighthelmstone, next Thursday morning, at five o'clock,
     he will there meet a female fellow-traveller, now in the greatest
     distress, who solicits his advice and assistance, to extricate her
     from her present intolerable abode.'

Deeply colouring, 'And could Mr Harleigh,' she cried, 'even for a moment
believe,--suppose,--'

He interrupted her, with an air of tender respect. 'No; I did not,
indeed, dare believe, dare suppose that an honour, a trust such as might
be implied by an appeal like this, came from you! Yet for you I was sure
it was meant to pass; and to discover by whom it was devised, and for
what purpose, irresistibly drew me hither, though with full conviction
of imposition. I came, however, pre-determined to watch around your
dwelling, at the appointed hour, ere I repaired to the bidden place. But
what was my agitation when I thought I saw you! I doubted my senses. I
retreated; I hung back; your face was shaded by your head-dress;--yet
your air,--your walk,--was it possible I could be deceived?
Nevertheless, I resolved not to speak, nor to approach you, till I saw
whether you proceeded to the church-yard. I was by no means free from
suspicion of some new stratagem of Elinor; for, fatigued with
concealment, I was then publicly at my house upon Bagshot Heath, where
the note had reached me. Yet her distance from Brighthelmstone for so
early an hour, joined to intelligence which I had received some time
ago,--for you will not imagine that the period which I spend without
seeing, I spend also without hearing of you?--that you had been
observed,--and more than once,--at that early hour, in the
church-yard--'

'True!' cried Juliet, eagerly, 'at that hour I have frequently met, or
accompanied, a friend, a beloved friend! thither; and, in her name, I
had even then, when I saw you, been deluded: not for a walk; a ramble;
not upon any party of pleasure; but to visit a little tomb, which holds
the regretted remains of the darling and only child of that dear,
unhappy friend!'

She wept. Harleigh, extremely touched, said, 'You have, then, a friend
here?--Is it,--may I ask?--is it the person you so earnestly sought upon
your arrival?--Is your anxiety relieved?--your embarrassment?--your
suspence?--your cruel distress?--Will you not give me, at length, some
little satisfaction? Can you wonder that my forbearance is worn
out?--Can my impatience offend you?--If I press to know your situation,
it is but with the desire to partake it!--If I solicit to hear your
name--it is but with the hope ... that you will suffer me to change it!'

He would have taken her hand, but, drawing back, and wiping her eyes,
though irresistibly touched, 'Offend?' she repeated; 'Oh far,--far!...
but why will you recur to a subject that ought so long since to have
been exploded?--while another,--an essential one, calls for all my
attention?--The last packet which you left with me, you must suffer me
instantly to return; the first,--the first--' She stammered, coloured,
and then added, 'The first,--I am shocked to own,--I must defer
returning yet a little longer!'

'Defer?' ardently repeated Harleigh. 'Ah! why not condescend to think,
at least, another language, if not to speak it? Why not anticipate, in
kind idea, at least, the happy period,--for me! when I may be permitted
to consider as included, and mutual in our destinies, whatever
hitherto--'

'Oh hold!--Oh Mr Harleigh!' interrupted Juliet, in a voice of anguish.
'Let no errour, no misconstruction, of this terrible sort,--no
inference, no expectation, thus wide from all possible reality, add to
my various misfortunes the misery of remorse!'

'Remorse?--Gracious powers! What can you mean?'

'That I have committed the most dreadful of mistakes,--a mistake that I
ought never to forgive myself, if, in the relief from immediate
perplexity, which I ventured to owe to a momentary, and, I own, an
intentionally unacknowledged, usage of some of the notes which you
forced into my possession, I have given rise to a belief,--to an
idea,--to--'

She hesitated, and blushed so violently, that she could not finish her
phrase; but Harleigh appeared thunderstruck, and was wholly silent. She
looked down, abashed, and added, 'The instant, by any possible
means,--by work, by toil, by labour,--nothing will be too severe,--all
will be light and easy,--that can rectify,--that--'

She could not proceed; and Harleigh, somewhat recovered by the view of
her confusion, gently, though reproachfully, said, 'All, then, will be
preferable to the slightest, smallest trust in me?--And is this from
abhorrence?--or do you deem me so ungenerous as to believe that I should
take unworthy advantage of being permitted to offer you even the most
trivial service?'

'No, no, oh, no!' with quickness cried Juliet; 'but the more generous
you may be, the more readily you may imagine--'

She stopt, at a loss how to finish.

'That you would be generous, too?' cried Harleigh, revived and smiling.

She could not refrain from a smile herself, but hastily added, 'My
conduct must be liable to no inference of any sort. Adieu, Sir. I will
deliver you the packet in Miss Joddrel's room.'

Her hand was upon the lock, but his foot, fixed firmly against the door,
impeded its being opened, while he exclaimed, 'I cannot part with you
thus! You must clear this terrific obscurity, that threatens to involve
me, once more, in the horrours of excruciating suspense!--Why that cruel
expression of displeasure? Can you think that the moment of
hope,--however brief, however unintentional, however accidental,--can
ever be obliterated from my thoughts? that my existence, to whatever
term it may be lengthened, will ever out-live the precious remembrance
that you have called me your destined protector?--your guardian angel?'

He could add no more; a mortal paleness overspread the face of Juliet,
who, letting go the lock of the door, sunk upon a chair, faintly
ejaculating, 'Was I not yet sufficiently miserable?'

Penetrated with sorrow, and struck with alarm, Harleigh looked at her in
silence; but when again he sought to take her hand, shrinking from his
touch, though regarding him with an expression that supplicated rather
than commanded forbearance; 'If you would not kill me, Mr Harleigh,' she
cried, 'you will relinquish this terrible perseverance!'

'Relinquish?' he repeated, 'What now? Now, that all delicacy for this
wild, eccentric, though so generous Elinor is at an end? that she has,
herself, annulled your engagement? Relinquish, now, the hopes so long
pursued,--so difficultly caught? No, I swear to you--'

Juliet arose. 'Oh hold, Mr Harleigh!' she cried; 'recollect yourself a
moment! I lament if I have, involuntarily, caused you any transient
mistake; yet, do me the justice to reflect, that I have never cast my
destiny upon that of Miss Joddrel. No decision, therefore, of hers can
make any change in mine.'

She again put her hand upon the lock of the door.

Harleigh fixt upon her his eyes, which spoke the severest disturbance,
while, in tremulous accents, he uttered, 'And can you leave me thus, to
wasting despondence?--and with this cold, chilling, blighting
composure?--Is it from pitiless apathy, which incapacitates for judging
of torments which it does not experience?--O no! Those eyes that so
often glisten with the most touching sensibility,--those cheeks that so
beautifully mantle with the varying dies of quick transition of
sentiment,--that mouth, which so expressively plays in harmony with
every word,--nay, every thought,--all, all announce a heart where every
virtue is seconded and softened by every feeling!--a mind alive to the
quickest sensations, yet invigorated with the ablest understanding! a
soul of angelic purity!--'

Some sound from the passage made him suddenly stop, and remove his foot;
while the hand of Juliet dropt from the lock. They were both silent, and
both, affrighted, stood suspended; till Juliet, shocked at the
impropriety of such a situation, forced herself to open the door,--at
the other side of which, looking more dead than alive, stood Elinor,
leaning upon her sister.

'I began to think,' she cried, in a hollow tone, 'that you were
eloped!--and determining to trust to no messenger, I came myself.' She
then endeavoured to call forth a smile; but it visited so unwillingly
features nearly distorted by internal agony, that it gave a cast almost
ghastly to her countenance.

'Why, Harleigh,' she cried, 'should you thus shun me? Have I not given
back her plighted faith to Ellis? Yet I am not ignorant how tired you
must be of those old thread-bare topics, bowls, daggers, poignards, and
bodkins: but they have had their reign, and are now dethroned. What
remains is plain, common, stupid rationality. I wish to converse with
you, Albert, only as a casuist; and upon a point of conscience which you
alone can settle. For this world, and for all that belongs to it, all,
with me, is utterly over! I have neither care nor interest left in it;
and I have no belief that there is any other. I am very composedly
ready, therefore, to take my last nap. I merely wish to learn, before I
return to my torpid ignorance, whether it can be a fact, that you,
Harleigh, you! believe in a future state for mortal man? And I engage
you by your friendship,--which I still prize above all things! and by
your honour, which you, I know, prize in the same manner, to answer me
this question, instantly and categorically.'

'Most faithfully, then, Elinor, yes! All the happiness of my present
life is founded upon my belief of a life to come!'

Elinor held up her hands. 'Astonishing!' she cried. 'Can judgment and
credulity, wisdom and superstition, thus jumble themselves together! And
in a head so clear, so even oracular! Give me, at least, your reasons;
and see that they are your own!'

Harleigh looked disturbed, but made not any answer.

The wan face of Elinor was now lighted up with hues of scarlet. 'I
feel,' she cried, 'the impropriety of this intrusion;--for who, if not
I,--since we all prize most what we know least,--should respect
happiness? When you have finished, however, your present conference,
honour me, both of you, if you please,--that the period so employed may
be less wearisome to either,--with a final one up stairs. Harleigh! A
final one!'

Harleigh was still silent.

A yet deeper red now dyed the whole complexion of Elinor, and she added,
'If, to-day, you are too much engaged,--to-morrow will suffice. To-day,
indeed, your solemn protestations of belief, upon a subject which to me,
is a chaos,--dark,--impervious, impenetrable! has given ample employment
to my ideas.'

Repulsing, then, his silently offered arm, she returned, with Selina, to
the chamber consigned to her by Mrs Ireton.



CHAPTER LXIV


Harleigh, confused, disconcerted, remained motionless; but when the
conscious Juliet would have glided silently past him, he entreated for a
moment's audience.

'Oh no, Mr Harleigh, no!' she cried: 'these are scenes and alarms, that
must be risked no more!--'

She was hurrying away; but, upon his saying, 'Hear me, at least, for
Elinor!' she turned back.

His eye, now reproached even her compliance; but he rapidly communicated
his opinion, that the conference demanded by Elinor ought, in prudence,
for the present, to be avoided; since, while she had still some
favourite object in view, life, would, unconsciously, be still
supported. Time, thus, might insensibly be gained, not only for eluding
her fatal project, but happily, perhaps, for taming the dauntless
wildness that made her, now, seem to stand scoffingly at bay, between
life and death.

Juliet saw nothing to oppose to this statement, and thanking him that,
at least, it liberated her, was again hastening away.

'Hold, hold!' cried he, stopping her: 'it is not from me that it must
liberate you! Elinor has ratified the restoration of your word--'

'Oh, were that all!--' she cried, hastily; but, stopping short, deeply
blushing, 'Mr Harleigh,' she added, 'compel me not to repeat
declarations that cannot vary!--Aid me rather, generously,--kindly,
shall I say?--aid me,--to fly, to avoid you,--lest you become
yourself ...' her voice faltered as she pronounced, 'the most fatal of
my enemies!'

The penetrated Harleigh, charmed, though tortured, saw her eyes
glittering with tears; but she forced her way past him, and took refuge
in her chamber.

There, in deep anguish, she was sinking upon a chair, when she received
the gentle balm of a letter from Gabriella, written with exstatic joy at
the prospect of their re-union.

This decided her plan of immediate escape to London, under a full
conviction that Harleigh, to obviate any calumnious surmizes from her
disappearance, would studiously shew himself in the world; however
cautiously he might avoid any interview with Elinor.

The shock of Juliet, at this unfortunate intrusion, somewhat abated,
when she reflected that confirmed hopelessness might, perchance, lead
Elinor to acquiescence in disappointment; for hopelessness, equally with
resignation,--though not so respectably,--terminates all struggles
against misfortune.

She now, therefore, seized an opportunity, when she knew Mrs Ireton to
be engaged with Mrs Maple, for going forth to secure a place in some
machine, for a journey to London on the following morning.

This office performed, she thought, while returning home, that she
perceived, though at a considerable distance, Harleigh.

In the dread of some new conflict, she was planning to seek another way
back, when recollecting that she had his bank-notes in her work-bag, she
judged that she might more promptly return them at this accidental
meeting, than in the house of Mrs Ireton.

She slackened, therefore, her pace, and, taking out her ever ready
packet, turned round, as the footstep approached, gravely and calmly to
deliver it; when, to her utter surprize, she faced Lord Melbury.

Pleasure emitted its brightest hues in the tints of her cheeks, at sight
of the marked respect that chastened the visible delight with which she
was looked at and accosted by the young peer. 'How fortunate,' he cried,
'am I to meet with you thus directly! This moment only I dismount from
my horse. I have a million of things to say to you from Aurora, if you
will have the goodness to hear them; and I have more at heart still my
own claim upon your patience. When may I see you for a little
conversation?'

The pleasure of Juliet was now severely checked by perplexity, how
either to fulfil or to break her engagement. Observing the change in her
countenance, and her hesitation and difficulty to answer, Lord Melbury,
whose look and air changed also, said, in a tone of concern, 'Miss Ellis
has not forgotten her kind promise?'

'Your lordship is extremely good, to remember either that or me; yet I
hope--'

'What does Miss Ellis hope? I would not counteract her hopes for the
world; but surely she cannot be so cruel as to disappoint mine? to make
me fear that she has changed her opinion? to withdraw her amiable
trust?'

'No, my lord, no! not a moment could I hesitate were trust alone in
question! but the hurry of this instant,--the impossibility of detailing
so briefly, and by an imperfect account--'

'And why an imperfect account? Why, dear Miss Ellis, since you have the
kindness to believe I may be trusted, not confide to me the whole
truth?'

'Alas, my lord! how?--where?'

'In some parlour,--in the garden,--any where.--'

'Ah, my lord, what I have to say must be uninterrupted; unheard but by
yourself; and--I can command neither a place nor a moment free from
intrusion!'--

'Sweet Miss Ellis!--sweet injured Miss Ellis! I know, I have witnessed
the unworthiness of your treatment. Even Aurora, with all her
gentleness, has been as indignant at it, nearly, as myself. All our
wonder is how you bear it!--We burn, we expire to learn what can urge so
undue a subjection. But I have not obtruded myself upon you only for
myself; I have galloped hither to prepare you,--and to entreat you not
to be uneasy,--and to save you from any surprize, by acquainting you
that my uncle Denmeath--'

He stopt short, as if thunderstruck. Juliet, alarmed, looked at him, and
saw that, in bending over her, to name, in a lower voice, his uncle, his
eyes had caught the direction of her packet, "For Albert Harleigh, Esq."

Shocked at the evidently unpleasant effect which this sight produced,
and covered with blushes at the suspicions to which it might give rise,
Juliet hastily exclaimed, 'Oh my lord! I must no longer defer my
explanation! any, every risk will be preferable to the loss of your
esteem!'

Delight, enchantment again were depicted on the countenance, as they
seized the faculties of the young peer; and, involuntarily, his eager
hands were stretching forwards to seize hers, when he perceived, just
approached to them, pale, agitated, and with the look of some one taken
suddenly ill, Harleigh.

The colour of Juliet now rose and died away alternately, from varying
sensations of shame and apprehension; to which the deepest confusion
soon succeeded, as she discerned the contrast of the cheeks, whitened by
pale jealousy, of Harleigh; with those of Lord Melbury, which were
crimsoned with the reddest hues of sudden suspicion, and painful
mistrust.

Harleigh, with a faint and forced smile, bowed, but stood aloof: Lord
Melbury seemed to have not alone his sentiments, but his faculties held
in suspension.

Juliet, with cruel consciousness, perceived that each surmized something
clandestine of the other; and the immense importance which she annexed
to their joint good opinion; and the imminent danger which she saw of
the double forfeiture, soon re-invigorated her powers, and, addressing
herself with dignity, though in a tone of softness, to Lord Melbury, 'If
you judge me, my lord, from partial circumstances,' she cried, 'I have
every thing to apprehend for what I value more than words can express,
your lordship's approbation of the favour with which I am honoured by
Lady Aurora Granville; but let me rather hope,--suffer me, my lord, to
hope, that by the opinion I have formed of the honour of your own
character, you will judge,--though at present in the dark,--of the
integrity of mine!'

Turning then from him, as, touched, electrified, he was beginning, 'I
have always judged you to be an angel!'--she would have presented her
packet to Harleigh; though without raising her eyes, saying, 'Mr
Harleigh has so long;--and upon so many occasions, honoured me with
marks of his esteem,--and benevolence,--that I flatter myself,--I
think,--I trust--'

She stammered, confused; and Harleigh, who, from the moment that Lady
Aurora had been mentioned, had recovered his complexion, his
respiration, and his strength; recovered, also, his hopes and his
energy, at sight of the embarrassment of Juliet. Not doubting, however,
what were the contents of the packet, he held back from receiving it;
though with a smile that conveyed the most lively expression of grateful
delight, at her palpable anxiety to preserve his esteem.

'Nay, you must take your property!' she resumed, with attempted
cheerfulness; yet blushing more deeply every moment, at thus betraying
to Lord Melbury that she had any property of Mr Harleigh's to return.

'I will take your commands in every shape in which they can be framed,'
cried Harleigh, gaily; 'but you must not refuse to grant me, at the same
time, directions for their execution.'

The interest with which Lord Melbury listened to what passed, was now
mingled with undisguised impatience: but Juliet could not endure to
satisfy him; could not support letting him know, that she retained
money of Harleigh's in her hands; nor yet bear to suffer Harleigh, now
the address had been seen, to leave it still in her possession:
hesitating, abashed, she turned from one to the other, with looks at
Lord Melbury that seemed appealing for forbearance; and to Harleigh with
down-cast eyes, that had not force to encounter his, but that were
expressive of distress, timidity, and fear of misconstruction.

This pause, while it astonished and perplexed Lord Melbury, gave rise,
in Harleigh, to the most flattering emotions. Her disturbance was,
indeed, visible, and cruelly painful to him; but, since their meeting in
the church-yard, the severity of her reserve had seemed shaken, beyond
her power, evident as were her struggles, to call back its original
firmness. The more exquisitely he felt himself bewitched by this
observation, the more fondly he desired to spare her delicacy, by
concealing, though not repressing his hopes; but his eyes, less under
his controul than his words, air, or address, spoke a language not to be
doubted of tenderness, and sparkled with lustrous happiness, Juliet felt
their beams too powerfully to mistake, or even to sustain them. Her head
dropt, her eye-lids nearly closed; blushing shame tingled in her cheeks,
and apprehension and perturbation trembled in every limb.

Perceiving, and adoring, her inability to find utterance, Harleigh, with
subdued rapture, yet in a tone that spoke of his feelings to be, at
length, in harmony with all his wishes, was gently beginning an entreaty
that she would adjourn this little dispute to another day, when the
words, 'Well! if here i'n't the very person we were talking off!'
striking his ears, he looked round, and saw Miss Bydel, accompanied by
Mr Giles Arbe; whose approach had been unheeded by them all, from the
deep interest which had concentrated their attention to themselves.

'Why, Mrs Ellis,' she continued, 'why what are you doing here? I should
like to know that. I've just had a smart battle about you with my good
friend, Mr Giles. He will needs have it, that you paid all your debts
from a hoard that you had by you, of your own; though I have told him I
dare say an hundred times, at the least, I must needs be a better judge,
having been paid myself, for my own share, by that cross-grained
Baronet, who's been such a good friend to you.'

The sensations of Juliet underwent now another change, though shame was
still predominant; her fears of exciting the expectations she sought to
annul in Harleigh, were superseded by a terrour yet more momentous, of
giving ground for suspicion, not alone to himself, but to Lord Melbury,
that, while fashioning a thousand difficulties, to accepting the
assistance that was generously and delicately offered by themselves, she
had suffered a third person, that person, also, a gentleman, to supply
her pecuniary necessities. She breathed hard, and looked disordered, but
could suggest nothing to say; while Harleigh and Lord Melbury stood as
if transfixed by disturbed astonishment.

'Well! I protest,' resumed Miss Bydel, 'if here i'n't another of the
people that we were talking of, Mr Giles! for I declare it's Mr
Harleigh, that I was telling you, you know, my good friend, was the
person that made poor Miss Joddrel make away with her herself, because
of his skimper-scampering after Mrs Ellis, when she had that swoon!
which, to be sure, had but an out of the way look; for the music would
have taken care of her. Don't you think so yourself, my dear?'

The most painful confusion again took possession of Juliet; who would
silently have walked away, had not Miss Bydel caught hold of her arm,
saying, 'Don't be in a hurry, my dear, for you shan't be chid; for I'll
speak for you myself to Mrs Ireton.'

'I am mighty glad to hear that Sir Jaspar is your friend, my pretty
lady,' said the smiling Mr Giles; 'and I am mighty glad, too, that you
have persuaded him to help to pay your debts. He's a very good sort of
man, where he takes; and very witty and clever. Though he is crabbed,
too; rather crabbed and waspish, when he i'n't pleased. He always scolds
all the men: and, indeed, the maids, too, when they a'n't pretty, poor
things! And they can't help that: else, I dare say, they would. Yet, I
am afraid, I don't like them quite so well myself, neither, in my heart,
when they are ugly; which is but hard upon them; so I always do them
double the good, to punish myself. But I'm prodigiously sorry you should
have taken to that turn of running in debt, my dear, for it's the only
thing I know to your disadvantage; for which reason I have never named
it to a single soul; only it just dropt out, before I was aware, to Miss
Bydel; which I am sorry enough for; for I am afraid it will be but hard
to her, poor lady, to keep it to herself.'

'What do you mean by that Mr Giles?' cried Miss Bydel, angrily. 'Do you
want to insinuate that I don't know how to keep a secret? I should be
glad to know what right you have to fleer at a person about that, when
you blab out every thing in such a manner yourself! and before these two
gentlemen, too; who don't lose a word of what passes, I can tell you!'

'True! Good! You are right there, Mrs Bydel! I did not think of that, I
protest. However, these two gentlemen have too much kindness about them,
to repeat a thing that may hurt a young person just coming, as one may
say, into the world, for she is but a chicken; and my lord, here, who
looks younger still, is scarcely more than an egg. So you may be sure he
has no guile in him, for he seems almost as innocent as herself.
However, my pretty lady, if you have still any more debts, new or old,
only tell me who you owe them to, and I'll run and fetch all the people
here; and we'll join together to discharge them at once; for Mr Harleigh
is always at home when he is doing good; and this young nobleman can't
begin too soon to learn what he is rich for: so you can never be in
better hands for taking up a little money. When we settled the last
batch, you had no debt left but to Mrs Bydel; and, as the Baronet has
paid her, she's off our hands. So tell me whether there is any new one
that you have been running up since?'

Wounded, and nearly indignant at this demand, 'None!' Juliet
spontaneously answered; when catching a glance at Lord Melbury, who
involuntarily looked down, his purse and the fifteen guineas of Lady
Aurora, rushed upon her memory, and filled her again with visible
embarrassment.

'Good! good!' cried the pleased Mr Giles: 'you could not tell me better
news. But are there any poor souls, then, that you forgot to mention in
our last reckoning? Are there any old debts that you did not count?'

Inexpressibly hurt at a supposition so offensive to her sense of
probity, Juliet hastily repeated, 'No, Sir, there are none!' but, in
raising her head, and encountering the penetrating eyes of Harleigh, the
terrible recollection of the capital into which she had broken, and of
the large sum so long his due, struck cold to her heart; though it burnt
her cheeks with a dye of crimson.

Yet were these sensations nearly nugatory, compared with those which she
suffered the next instant, when Miss Bydel, suddenly perceiving the
direction upon the packet, read aloud 'For Albert Harleigh, Esq.'

Her exclamations, her blunt, unqualified interrogatories, and the
wonder, and simple ejaculations of Mr Giles Arbe, filled Juliet with a
confusion so intolerable, that she forced her arm from Miss Bydel, with
intention to insist upon publicly restoring the packet to Harleigh; but
Harleigh, confounded himself, had advanced towards the house, which,
frequently as they had stopt, they now insensibly reached; but from
which he would most willingly have retrograded, upon seeing Ireton
issue, laughing, into the portico.

The laugh of Ireton, whose gaiety was always derision, and whose
derision was always scandal, though it was innocently echoed by the
unsuspicious Mr Giles, was as alarming to the two gentlemen and to
Juliet, as it was offensive to Miss Bydel; who pettishly demanded, 'Pray
what are you laughing at, Mr Ireton? I should like to know that. If it
is at me, you may as well tell me at once, for I shall be sure to find
it out; because I always make a point of doing that.'

Ireton, seizing upon Harleigh, exclaimed 'What, Monsieur le Moniteur!
still hankering after our mysterious fair one?' when, perceiving the
wishes of Juliet, to pass on, he wantonly filled up the door-way.

Harleigh, who, also, could not but guess them, though he dared not look
at her, hoped, by delaying her entrance, to catch a moment's discourse:
but the youthful Lord Melbury, deeming all caution to be degrading, that
interfered with protection to a lovely female, openly desired that
Ireton would stand aside, and let the ladies enter the house.

'Most undoubtedly, my lord!' answered Ireton, making way, with an air of
significant acquiescence.

Miss Bydel, with a warm address of thanks to his lordship, whose
interference she received as a personal civility, said, 'This is like a
gentleman, indeed, my lord, and quite fit for a lord to do, to take the
part of us poor weak women, against people that keep one standing out in
the street, because they think of nothing but joking;' and then, telling
Juliet to follow her, 'I can do no less,' she added, as she entered the
hall, 'than be as good as my word to this poor young music-maker, to
save her a chiding, poor creature, for staying, dawdling, out so long;
when ten to one but poor Mrs Ireton has wanted her a hundred times, for
one odd thing or another. But I shall take all the fault upon myself for
the last part of the job, because I can't deny but I held her a minute
or two by the arm. But what she was gossipping about before we came up
to her, my good friend Mr Giles and I, is what I don't pretend to say;
though I should like to know very well; for it had but an odd
appearance, I must own; both your gentlemen having been talked of so
much, in the town, about this young person.'

The most pointed darts of wit, and even the poisoned shafts of malice,
are less disconcerting to delicacy, than the unqualified bluntness of
the curious under-bred; for that which cannot be imputed to a spirit of
sarcasm, or a desire of shining, passes, to the bye-standers, for
unvarnished truth. As such, the intimation of Miss Bydel was palpably
received by Ireton, and by Mr Giles; though with malevolent wilfulness
by the one, and, by the other, with the simplest credulity; while Lord
Melbury, Harleigh and Juliet, were too much ashamed to look up, and too
much confounded to attempt parrying so gross an attack.

Yet both Lord Melbury and Harleigh, urged invincibly by a desire of
knowing in what manner Juliet was to be patronized by her loquacious
mediatrix, and how they might themselves fare in the account,
irresistibly entered the mansion; though marvelling, each, at the
curiosity, and blaming the indiscretion of the other.

To avoid the aspersion of making a clandestine retreat, Juliet had
decided, however painful to her might be such an exertion, openly to
relinquish her situation with Mrs Ireton; but she by no means felt equal
to risking the irascibility of that lady before so many witnesses.
Nevertheless, when she would have glided from the party, Miss Bydel,
again seizing her arm, called out, 'Come, don't be afraid, Mrs Ellis:
I've promised to take your part, and I am always as good as my word;'
and then dragged, rather than drew her into the drawing-room; closely
attended by Lord Melbury, Harleigh, Mr Giles Arbe, and Ireton.



CHAPTER LXV


Unweariedly concerting means of detection relative to the stranger,
which no failure of success could discourage, Mrs Ireton and Mrs Maple
sate whispering upon the same sofa in the drawing-room; while Selina and
Miss Arramede were tittering at a window.

'How do you do, ladies?' cried Miss Bydel. 'In close chat, I see.
However, I don't want to know what it's about. I'm only come to speak a
word about this poor thing here, for fear you should think she has been
all this time gossipping about her own affairs; which, I assure you, Mrs
Ireton, I can bear witness for her i'n't the case.'

The supercilious silence of Mrs Ireton to this address, would have
authorised the immediate retreat of Juliet, but that Ireton maliciously
placed himself against the door, and impeded its being opened; while
Lord Melbury and Harleigh were obliged to approach the sofa, to pay
their compliments to the lady of the mansion; who, giving them her whole
attention, left Miss Bydel to finish her harangue to Mrs Maple.

'Right! True!' cried Mr Giles, eager to abet what he thought the good
nature of Miss Bydel. 'What you say is just and fair, Mrs Bydel; for
this pretty young lady here wanted to go from these two gentlemen the
minute we came up to her; only Mrs Bydel's arm being rather, I conceive,
heavy, she could not so soon break away. But I did not catch one of her
pretty dimples all the time. So pray, Mrs Ireton, don't be angry with
her; and the less because she's so sweet tempered, that, if you are, she
won't complain; for she never did of Mrs Maple.'

'I hope this is curious enough!' cried Mrs Maple. 'A body to come and
live upon me, for months together, upon charity, and then not to
complain of me! I think if this is not enough to cure people of charity,
I wonder what is! For my part, I am heartily sick of it, for the rest of
my life.'

Juliet having again, but vainly, tried to pass by Ireton, retired to an
unoccupied window. Harleigh, though engaged in discourse with Mrs
Ireton, reddened indignantly; and Lord Melbury nearly mashed the nails
of his fingers between his teeth; while Mr Giles, staring, demanded,
'Why what can there be, Ma'am, in charity, to turn you so sick? A poor
helpless young creature, like that, can't make you her toad-eater.'

Alarmed at an address which she looked upon as a prognostic to an
exhortation, of which she dreaded, from experience, the plainness and
severity, Mrs Maple hastily changed her place: while Mrs Ireton,
startled, also, by the word toad-eater, unremittingly continued speaking
to the two gentlemen; whose attention, nevertheless, she could not for a
moment engage, though their looks and persons were her prisoners.

'I don't know why you ladies who are so rich and gay,' continued Mr
Giles, composedly, and, to the great annoyance of Mrs Ireton, taking
possession of the seat which Mrs Maple had abdicated; 'should not try to
make yourselves pleasant to those who are poor and sad. You, that have
got every thing you can wish for, should take as much pains not to be
distasteful, as a poor young thing like that, who has got nothing but
what she works for, should take pains not to be starved.'

Mrs Ireton, extremely incensed, though affecting to be unconcerned,
haughtily summoned Ellis.

Ellis, forced to obey, went to the back of the sofa, to avoid standing
by the side of the two gentlemen; and determined to make use of this
opportunity for announcing her project of retreat.

'Pray, Ma'am,' Mrs Ireton cried, 'permit me to enquire--' her eye
angrily, yet cautiously, glancing at Mr Giles, 'to what extraordinary
circumstance I am indebted, for having the honour of receiving your
visitors? Not that I am insensible to such a distinction; you won't
imagine me such an Hottentot, I hope, as to be insensible to so
honourable a distinction! Nevertheless, you'll pardon me, I trust, if I
take the liberty to intimate, that, for the future, when any of your
friends are to be indulged in waiting upon you, you will have the
goodness to receive them in your own apartments. You'll excuse the hint,
I flatter myself!'

'I shall intrude no apologies upon your time, Madam,' said Ellis,
calmly, 'for relinquishing a situation in which I have acquitted myself
so little to your satisfaction: to-morrow, therefore--'

Anticipating, and eager to convert a resignation which she regarded as a
disgrace, into a dismission which she considered as a triumph, Mrs
Ireton impatiently interrupted her, crying, 'To-morrow? And why are we
to wait for to-morrow? What has to-day done? Permit me to ask that. And
pray don't take it ill. Pray don't let me offend you: only--what has
poor to-day done, that to-morrow must have such a preference?'

Juliet, frightened at the idea of being reduced to pass a night alone at
an inn, now hesitated; and Mrs Ireton, smiling complacently around her,
went on.

'Suffer me, I beg, to speak a little word for poor, neglected to-day!
Have we not long enough been slaves to to-morrow? Let the pleasures of
dear expectation be superseded, this once, for those of actual
enjoyment. Not but 'twill be very severe upon me to lose you. I don't
dissemble that. So gay a companion! I shall certainly expire an
hypochondriac upon first missing your amusing sallies. I can never
survive such a deprivation. No! It's all over with me! You pity me, I am
sure, my good friends?'

She now looked around, with an expression of ineffable satisfaction at
her own wit: but it met no applause, save in the ever ready giggles of
Selina, and the broad admiration of the round-eyed Miss Bydel.

Juliet silently courtsied, with a gravity that implied a leave-taking,
and, approaching the door, desired that Ireton would let her pass.

Ireton, laughing, declared that he should not suffer her to decamp, till
she gave him a direction where he could find her the next day.

Offended, she returned again to her window.

'O, now, pray, Mrs Ireton,' cried Miss Bydel, 'don't turn her away, poor
thing! don't turn her away, Ma'am, for such a mere little fault. I dare
say she'll do her best to please you, if you'll only try her again.
Besides, if she's turned off in this manner, just as young Lord Melbury
is here, he may try to make her his kept mistress again. At least
naughty people will say so.'

'Who will say so, Ma'am?' cried Lord Melbury, starting up, in a rage to
which he was happy to find so laudable a vent: 'Who will dare say so?
Name me a single human being!'

'Lord, my lord,' answered Miss Bydel, a little frightened; 'nobody, very
likely! only it's best to be upon one's guard against evil speakers; for
young lords at your time of life, a'n't apt to be quite so good as they
are when they are more stricken in years. That's all I mean, my lord;
for I don't mean to affront your lordship, I'm sure.'

Mrs Ireton, again beckoning to Ellis, said, 'Pray, Mrs Thing-a-mi, have
you done me so much honour as to make out your bill?' And,
ostentatiously, she produced her purse. 'What is the amount, Ma'am, of
my debt?'

Juliet paused a moment, and then answered, ''Tis an amount, Madam, much
too difficult and complicate for me, just now, to calculate!'

Mr Giles, alertly rising, cried, 'Let me help you, then, my pretty lady,
to cast it up. What have you given her upon account, Mrs Ireton?'

'I am not her book-keeper, Sir!' returned Mrs Ireton, extremely nettled.
'I don't pretend to the honour of acting as her steward! But I trust she
will be good enough to take what is her due. 'Tis very much beneath her,
I own; extremely beneath her, I confess; yet I hope, this once, she will
let herself down so far.' And, ten guineas, which she had held in her
hand, were augmented to twenty, which she paradingly flung upon the
table.

Mrs Maple and Miss Bydel poured forth the warmest exclamations of
admiration at this magnificence; but Juliet, quietly saying, 'Let me
hope, Madam, that my successor may merit your generosity,' again
courtsied, and was going: when Mr Giles, eagerly picking up the money,
and following her with it, spread upon his open hand, said, 'What do you
go without your cash for, my pretty lady? Why don't you take your
guineas?'

'Excuse, excuse me, Sir!' cried Juliet, hastily, and trying to be gone.

'And why?' cried he, a little angrily. 'Are they not your own? What have
you been singing for, and playing, and reading, and walking? and
humouring the little naughty boy? and coddling the cross little dog?
Take your guineas, I say. Would you be so proud as to leave the
obligation all on the side of Mrs Ireton?'

A smile at this statement, in defiance of her distress, irresistibly
stole its way upon the features of Juliet; while Mrs Ireton, stung to
the quick, though forcing a contemptuous laugh, exclaimed, 'This is
really the height of the marvellous! It transcends all my poor ideas! I
own that! I can't deny that! However, I must drop my acquaintance
entirely with Miss Arbe, if it is to subject me to intrusions of every
sort, on pretence of visiting that Miss what's her name! I have had
quite enough of all this! I really desire no more.'

Harleigh, to hide his acute interest in the situation of Juliet,
pretended to be examining a portrait that was hung over the
chimney-piece; but Lord Melbury, less capable of self-restraint,
applaudingly seized the hand of Mr Giles, and grasping it warmly,
cried, 'Where may I have the pleasure of waiting upon you, Sir? I desire
infinitely to cultivate your acquaintance.'

'And I shall like it too, my good young nobleman,' said Mr Giles, with a
look of great satisfaction; and was beginning, at very full length, to
give his direction, when Selina called out from the window, as a
carriage drove up to the door, 'Mrs Ireton, it's Lord Denmeath's
livery.'

Lord Melbury, abruptly breaking from Mr Giles, hurried out of the room;
which alone prevented the same action from Juliet, whose face suddenly
exhibited horrour rather than affright. But she felt that to fly the
uncle, at a moment when she might seem to pursue the nephew, might be
big with suspicious mischief; and, though shaking with terrour, she
placed herself as if she were examining a small landscape, behind an
immense screen, which in summer, as well as in winter, nearly surrounded
the sofa of Mrs Ireton. And hence she hoped, when his lordship should be
entered, to steal unnoticed from the room.

'This is a stroke that surpasses all the rest!' faintly cried Mrs
Ireton; 'that Lord Denmeath, whom I have not seen these seven ages,
should renew his acquaintence at an epoch of such strange disorder in my
house! He will never believe this apartment to be mine! it will not be
possible for him to believe it. He'll conclude me in some lodging. He'll
imagine me the victim of some dreadful reverse of fortune. He is so
little accustomed to see me in any motley group! He can so little figure
me to himself as a person in a general herd!'

'Well, I, for one, am here by mere accident, to be sure,' said Miss
Bydel; 'but, however, I did not come in from mere curiosity, I assure
you, Mrs Ireton; for I knew nothing of Lord Denmeath's being to come.
However, as I happen to be here, I sha'n't be sorry to see his lordship,
if I sha'n't be in anybody's way, for I never happened to be where he
was before. Only I can't think what Lord Melbury went off so quick for;
unless it was to shew his uncle the way up stairs. And if it was for
that, it was pretty enough of him.'

'No, no, you'll be in nobody's way, Mrs Bydel,' said Mr Giles; 'don't be
afraid of that. Here's abundance of room for us all. The apartment's a
very good apartment for that.'

Mrs Ireton now, impatiently ringing the bell, demanded, of a servant,
what he had done with Lord Denmeath; adding, 'I should be glad, Sir, to
be informed! very glad, I must confess; for, perhaps, as you have been
so good as to shew a visitor of one of my people into the drawing-room,
you may have thought proper to usher a visitor of mine into the
kitchen?'

His lordship, the servant answered, had been met by Lord Melbury, upon
alighting from the coach, and had stept with him into the
dining-parlour.

Mrs Maple exulted that she could now, at last, have an opportunity to
clear herself of his lordship, about the many odd appearances which had
so long stood against her: while Ireton, who had espied the effort of
Juliet to escape notice, called out, 'I don't know where the devil I
have put my hat;' and suddenly pushing towards her, with a blustrous
appearance of search, gave her a mischievous nod, as she started back
from his bold approach, and encircled her completely within the broad
leaves of the screen.

She suffered this malicious sport in preference to attempting any
resistance; though vexed at the noise which she must now unavoidably
make in removing.

She was scarcely thus enclosed, when Lord Denmeath was announced.

Her heart now beat so violently with terrour, that her shaking hand
could scarcely grasp a leaf of the screen, as she tried to make an
opening for letting herself out, while his lordship was returning a
reception of fawning courtesy, by some embarrassed and ambiguous
apologies, relative to the motives of his visit. And when, at length,
she succeeded, she was deterred from endeavouring to abscond, by seeing
Harleigh, with his hand upon the door, making his bow.

Mrs Maple, interfering, would not permit him to depart; clamorously
declaring, that he was the properest person to give an account to his
lordship of this adventurer, as he must best know why he had forced them
to take such a body into their boat.

With deep agitation, and blushing anxiety, Juliet now unavoidably heard
Harleigh answer, 'I can but repeat to his lordship what I have a
thousand times assured these ladies, that I have not the smallest
knowledge whence this young lady comes, nor whom she may be. I can only,
therefore, reply to these enquiries from my mental perceptions. These
convince me, through progressive observations, that she is a person of
honour, well educated, accustomed to good society, highly principled,
and noble minded. You smile, my lord! But those only who judge without
conversing with her, or converse without drawing forth her sentiments,
can annex any disparaging doubt to the mystery of her situation. Her
conduct has rather been exemplary than irreproachable from the moment
that she has been cast upon our knowledge; though she has suffered,
during that short interval, distress of almost every description. Her
language is always that of polished life; her manners, even when her
occupations are nearly servile, are invariably of distinguished
elegance; yet, with all their softness, all their gentleness, she has a
courage that, upon the most trying occasions, is superiour to
difficulty; and a soul that, even in the midst of injury and misfortune,
depends upon itself, and is above complaint. Such, my lord, I think her!
not, indeed, from any certain documents; but from a self-conviction,
founded, I repeat, upon progressive observations; which have the weight
with me, now, of mathematical demonstration.'

Tears resistless, yet benign, flowed down the cheeks of Juliet in
listening to this defence; and, while she endeavoured to disperse them,
before she ventured from her retreat, Lord Denmeath began an enquiry,
whether this young person had regularly refused to say who she was; or
whether she had occasionally made any partial communication; or given
any hints relative to her family or connexions.

Juliet was now in an agony of mind indescribable. She had hoped to glide
away with the general party unobserved; but Harleigh had kept constantly
at the door till he made his exit; which, now, was so crowdingly
followed by that of every one, except Mrs Ireton and his lordship, that
the delay ended in making her, individually, more conspicuous. Yet, to
overhear, unsuspectedly, a conversation believed to be private, even
though she knew herself to be its subject, was dishonour: hastily,
therefore, though shaking in every limb, she forced herself from without
the screen.

Mrs Ireton shrieked and sunk back upon the sofa, crying out, 'Oh, my
lord, she's here!--Concealed to listen to us!--What a shock!--I shall
feel it these three years!'

Juliet fleetly crossed the drawing-room, without daring to raise her
head; but Lord Denmeath, passing quickly before her, as if intending to
open the door, held the handle of the lock, while, steadily examining
her as he spoke, he said, 'Will you give me leave, Ma'am, to see you for
a few minutes to-morrow?'

Juliet made not, nor even attempted to make any answer: terrour was
painted in every line of her face, and she trembled so violently, that
she was forced to catch by the back of a chair, to save herself from
falling.

'I hope, Ma'am,' said Lord Denmeath, 'you are not ill?' and,
approaching her with a look of compassion, added, in a whisper, 'I know
you!--but be not frightened. I will not hurt you. I will speak to you
to-morrow alone, and arrange something to your advantage.'

Juliet seemed utterly overcome, and remained motionless.

'Compose yourself,' continued Lord Denmeath, speaking louder, and
turning towards the wondering Mrs Ireton; 'I will see you when and where
you please to-morrow.'

Mrs Ireton, whose own curiosity knew not how to brook any delay, now
recovered sufficient strength to rise; and, begging that his lordship
would not postpone his business, she passed into her boudoir; the door
of which, however, Lord Denmeath failed not to remark, was shut without
much vigour.

Lowering, therefore, his tone till, even to Juliet, it was scarcely
audible, 'We cannot,' he said, 'converse here with any openness; but, if
you are not your own enemy, you may make me your friend; though I cannot
but take ill your coming over against my advice and injunctions, and
thus insidiously introducing yourself to my nephew and niece.'

Juliet here looked up, with an air of self-vindication; but Lord
Denmeath steadily went on.

'I have for some time suspected who you were, though but vaguely; yet,
attributing your voyage to the officious counsel of the Bishop, I
contented myself, for the moment, with putting a stop to your
intercourse with my credulous young relations. But other information has
reached me; and reached me at the very moment when Mrs Howel,--when,
indeed, my nephew and niece themselves had acquainted me with the
meeting at Arundel Castle. I will talk upon all these matters in detail
to-morrow morning. I have only to demand, in the interval, that you will
neither speak nor write to Lord Melbury. I have already obtained his
promise to be quiet till our conference is over. But I know that there
are ways and means to induce a young man to forget his engagements. I
hope you will try none such. Where can we have our conversation?'

'No where, my lord!' to the utter astonishment of Lord Denmeath, and
even to her own, Juliet now, with sudden spirit, answered: but the
courage which had been subdued by apprehension, was revived, during the
preceding harangue, by strong glowing indignation.

'What is it,' when amazement would give him leave to speak, 'what is
it,' Lord Denmeath said, 'that you mean?'

'That I will not trouble your lordship to offer me directions that I
may not be at liberty to follow. I have already, my lord, a guide; and
one to whose judgment I shall submit implicitly. That Bishop, whom your
lordship is pleased to call officious, is my first, best, and nearly
only friend; and if ever again I should be so blest as to meet with him,
his opinion shall be my law,--as his benediction will be my happiness!'

In great emotion, yet with unappalled dignity, she was departing; but
Lord Denmeath, with an air of surprize, stopping her, said, 'You are
then a Papist?'

'No, my lord, I am firmly a Protestant! But, as such, I am a Christian;
so, and most piously, yet not illiberally, is the Bishop.'

'What is it,--tell me, if you please, that this Bishop purposes? To
renew those old claims so long ago vainly canvassed? Can he imagine he
will now have more influence than when possessed of his episcopal rank
and fortune? Set him right in that point. You will do him a friendly
turn. And permit me to do a similar one by yourself. I know the whole of
your situation!'

Juliet started.

'I have just had information which I meant to communicate to you,
accompanied with offers of mediation and assistance; but you are
sufficient to yourself! or your champion, the Bishop, makes all other
aid superfluous! Suffer me, nevertheless, to intimate to you, that you
will do well to return, quietly and expeditiously, to the spot whence
you came. You may else make the voyage less pleasantly!'

The colour which resentment and exertion had just raised in the cheeks
of Juliet, now faded away, and left them nearly as white as snow. Lord
Denmeath, softening his voice and manner, and changing the haughty air
of his countenance into something that approached to kindness, went on
more gently.

'I did not mean to alarm, but to befriend you. I allow not only for your
youth and inexperience, but for the false ideas with which you have been
brought up. If it had not pleased the Bishop to interfere, all would
have been amicably arranged from the first. Take, however, a little time
for reflection. Think upon the enormous risk which you run!--a fine
young woman, like you,--and you are, indeed, a very fine young woman;
flying from her house and home--'

Juliet, shaking, shuddering, hid her face, and burst into tears.

'I see that it is not impossible to work upon you,' he continued; 'I
will beg Mrs Ireton, therefore, to let us converse to-morrow where we
may canvass the matter at leisure. The road is still open for you to
affluence and credit. It will make me very happy to be your conductor.
You will find I am authorized so to be. Make yourself, therefore, as
easy as you can, and depend upon my best offices. We will certainly meet
to-morrow morning.'

He then bowed to her, and moved towards the boudoir; which Mrs Ireton,
appearing accidentally to open the door that had never been shut,
quitted, to receive him; while Juliet, in speechless disorder, retired.



CHAPTER LXVI


Upon quitting the drawing-room, to mount to her chamber, Juliet caught a
glance of Ireton, ascending the staircase to the second story.

Apprehensive that he was watching for an opportunity to again torment
her, she turned into a small apartment called the Print Closet, of which
the door was open; purposing there to wait till he should have passed
on.

There, however, she had no sooner entered, than, examining the beautiful
engravings of Sir Robert Strange, she perceived Harleigh.

Eagerly and with delight he advanced, and sought, once more, to take her
hand. A look of solemnity repressed him; but 'twas a solemnity mixt with
sorrow, not anger.

'Generous Mr Harleigh!' she faintly articulated, while endeavouring to
disperse the tears that again strove to find their way down her cheeks;
'can you then, thus unabatedly preserve your good opinion of an unknown
Wanderer, ... who seems the sport of insult and misfortune?'

Almost dissolved with tender feelings at this question, Harleigh, gently
overpowering her opposition, irresistibly seized her hand, repeating,
'My good opinion? my reverence, rather!--my veneration is yours!--and a
confidence in your worth that has no limits!'

Ashamed of the situation into which a sudden impulse of gratitude had
involuntarily betrayed her, the varying hues of her now white, now
crimson cheeks manifested alternate distress and confusion; while she
struggled incessantly to disengage her hand; but the happy heart of
Harleigh felt so delightedly its possession, that she struggled in vain.

'Yet, let not that confidence,' he continued, 'be always the offspring
of fascination! Give it, at length, some other food than conjecture!
not to remove doubts; I have none! but to solve difficulties that rob me
of rest.--'

'I am sorry, Sir, very sorry, if I cause you any uneasiness,' said
Juliet, resuming her usual calmness of manner; yet with bent down eyes,
that neither ventured to meet his, nor to cast a glance at the hand
which she still fruitlessly strove to withdraw; 'but indeed you must not
detain me;--no, not a minute!'

Enchanted by the mildness of this remonstrance, little as its injunction
met his wishes; 'Half a minute, then!' he gaily replied, 'accord me only
half a minute, and I will try to be contented. Suffer me but to ask,--'

'No, Sir, you must ask me nothing! There is no question whatever I can
answer!--'

'I will not make one, then! I will only offer an observation. There is a
something--I know not what; nor can I divine; but something there is
strange, singular,--very unusual, and very striking, between you and
Lord Melbury! Pardon, pardon my abruptness! You allow me no time to be
scrupulous. You promise him your confidence,--that confidence so long,
so fervently solicited by another!--so inexorably withheld!--'

'I earnestly desire,' cried Juliet, recovering her look of openness, and
raising her eyes; 'the sanction of Lord Melbury to the countenance and
kindness of Lady Aurora.'

'Thanks! thanks!' cried Harleigh; who in this short, but expressive
explanation, flattered himself that some concern was included for his
peace; ''Tis to that, then, that cause,--a cause the most lovely,--he
owes this envied pre-eminence?--And yet,--pardon me!--while apparently
only a mediator--may not such a charge,--such an intercourse,--so
intimate and so interesting a commission,--may it not,--nay, must it not
inevitably make him from an agent become a principal?--Will not his
heart pay the tribute--'

'Heaven forbid!' interrupting him, cried Juliet.

'Thanks! thanks, again! You do not, then, wish it? You are generous,
noble enough not to wish it? And frank, sweet, ingenuous enough to
acknowledge that you do not wish it? Ah! tell me but--'

'Mr Harleigh,' again interrupting him, cried Juliet, 'I know not what
you are saying!--I fear I have been misunderstood.--You must let me be
gone!'--

'No!' answered he, passionately; 'I can live no longer, breathe
no longer, in this merciless solicitude of uncertainty and obscurity!
You must give me some glimmering of light, some opening to
comprehension,--or content yourself to be my captive!--'

'You terrify me, Mr Harleigh! Let me go!--instantly! instantly!--Would
you make me hate--' She had begun with a precipitance nearly vehement;
but stopt abruptly.

'Hate me?' cried Harleigh, with a look appalled: 'Good Heaven!'

'Hate you?--No,--not you!... I did not say you!--'

'Who, then? who then, should I make you hate?--Lord Melbury?--'

'O no, never!--'tis impossible!--Let me be gone!--let me be gone!--'

'Not till you tell me whom I should make you hate! I cannot part with
you in this new ignorance! Clear, at least, this one little point Whom
should I make hate you?--'

'Myself, Sir, myself!' cried she, trembling and struggling. 'If you
persist in thus punishing my not having fled from you, at once, as I
would have fled from an enemy!'

He immediately let go her hand; but, finding that, though her look was
instantly appeased, nay grateful, she was hastily retreating, he glided
between her and the door, crying, 'Where,--at least deign to tell
me!--Where may I see,--may I speak to you again?'

'Any where, any where!'--replied she, with quickness; but presently,
with a sudden check of vivacity, added, 'No where, I mean!--no where,
Sir, no where!'--

'Is this possible!' exclaimed he. 'Can you,--even in your wishes,--can
you be so hard of heart?'--

'It is you,' said she reproachfully, 'who are hard of heart, to detain
me thus!--Think but where I am!--where you are!--This house--Miss
Joddrel--What may not be the consequence?--Is it Mr Harleigh who would
deliver me over to calumny?'

Harleigh now held open the door for her himself, without venturing to
reply, as he heard footsteps upon the stairs; but he permitted his lips
to touch her arm, for he could not again seize her hand, as she passed
him, eagerly, and with her face averted. She fled on to the stairs, and
rapidly ascended them. Harleigh durst now follow; but he pursued her
with his eyes. He could not, however, catch a glance, could not even
view her profile, so sedulously her head was turned another way.
Disappointment and mortification were again seizing him; till he
considered, that that countenance thus hidden, had she been wholly
unfearful of shewing some little emotion, had probably, nay, even
purposely, been displayed.

Fleetly gaining her room, and dropping upon a chair, 'I must fly!--I
must fly!' she exclaimed. 'Danger, here, attacks me in every
quarter,--assails me in every shape! I must fly!--I must fly!'

This project, which had its origin in her terrour of Elinor, was now
confirmed by the most profound, however troubled meditation. To
difficulties of discussion which she deemed insurmountable with
Harleigh; to claims of a confidence which she now considered to be
deeply dangerous with Lord Melbury; and to indignities daily, nay,
hourly, more insufferable from Mrs Ireton, were joined, at this moment,
the horrour of another interview with Lord Denmeath, still more
repugnant to her thoughts, and formidable to her fears.

She refused to descend to the evening-summons of Mrs Ireton; determining
to avoid all further offences from that lady, to whom she had already
announced her intended departure; yet she sighed, she even wept at
quitting with the same unexplained abruptness Lord Melbury and Harleigh;
and the cruel disappointment, mingled with strange surmizes, of the
ingenuous Lord Melbury; the nameless consternation, blended with
resentful suspence, of the impassioned Harleigh; presented scenes of
distress and confusion to her imagination, that occupied her thoughts
the whole night, with varying schemes and incessant regret.

When the glimmering of light shewed her that she must soon be gone, she
mounted to a garret, which she knew to be inhabited by a young
house-maid, whom she called up; and prevailed upon to go forth, and seek
a boy who would carry a parcel to a distant part of the town.

Having thus gotten the street-door open, she guided the boy herself to
the inn; where she arrived in time to save her place; and whence she set
off for London.



CHAPTER LXVII


Escape and immediate safety thus secured, her tender friendship for
Gabriella superseding all fear, and leaving behind all solicitude, made
Juliet nearly pronounce aloud, what internally she repeated without
intermission, 'I come to you, then, at last, my beloved Gabriella!'
Cheerful, therefore, was her heart, in defiance of her various
distresses: she was quitting Mrs Ireton, to join Gabriella!--What could
be the circumstances that could make such a change severe to Juliet?
Juliet, who felt ill treatment more terribly than misfortune; and to
whom kindness was more essential than prosperity?

Her journey was free from accident, and void of event. Absorbed in her
own ruminations, she listened not to what was said, and scarcely saw by
whom she was surrounded; though her fellow-travellers surveyed her with
curiosity, and, from time to time, assailed her with questions.

Arrived at London, she put herself into a hackney-coach; and, almost
before her fluttered spirits suffered her to perceive that she had left
the inn-yard, she found herself in a haberdasher's shop, in Frith
Street, Soho; and in the arms of her Gabriella.

It was long ere either of them could speak; their swelling hearts denied
all verbal utterance to their big emotions; though tears of poignant
grief at the numerous woes by which they had been separated, were
mingled with feelings of the softest felicity at their re-union.

Yet vaguely only Juliet gave the history of her recent difficulties; the
history which had preceded them, and upon which hung the mystery of her
situation, still remained unrevealed.

Gabriella forbore any investigation, but her look shewed disappointment.
Juliet perceived it, and changed colour. Tears gushed into her eyes,
and her head dropt upon the neck of her friend. 'Oh my Gabriella!' she
cried, 'if my silence wounds, or offends you,--it is at an end!'

Gabriella, instantly repressing every symptom of impatience, warmly
protested that she would await, without a murmur, the moment of
communication; well satisfied that it could be withheld from motives
only that would render its anticipation dangerous, if not censurable.

With grateful tears, and tenderest embraces, Juliet expressed her thanks
for this acquiescence.

Of Gabriella, the history was brief and gloomy. She had entered into
business with as little comprehension of its attributes, as taste for
its pursuit; her mind, therefore, bore no part in its details, though
she sacrificed to them the whole of her time. Of her son alone she could
speak or think. From her husband she reaped little consolation. Married
before the Revolution, from a convent, and while yet a child; according
to the general custom of her country, which rarely permits any choice
even to the man; and to the female allows not even a negative; chance
had not, as sometimes is kindly the case, played the part of election,
in assorting the new married couple. Gabriella was generous, noble, and
dignified: exalted in her opinions, and full of sensibility: Mr ---- was
many years older than herself, haughty and austere, though brave and
honourable; but so cold in his nature, that he was neither struck with
her virtues nor her graces, save in considering them as appendages to
their mutual rank; nor much moved even by the death of his little son,
but from repining that he had lost the heir to his illustrious name. He
was now set off, _incognito_, to an appointed meeting with a part of his
family, upon the continent.

Again a new scene of life opened to Juliet. The petty frauds, the
over-reaching tricks, the plausible address, of the craft shop-keeper in
retail, she had already witnessed: but the difficulties of honest trade
she had neither seen nor imagined. The utter inexperience of Gabriella,
joined to the delicacy of her probity, made her not more frequently the
dupe of the artifices of those with whom she had to deal, than the
victim of her own scruples. New to the mighty difference between buying
and selling; to the necessity of having at hand more stores than may
probably be wanted, for avoiding the risk of losing customers from
having fewer; and to the usage of rating at an imaginary value whatever
is in vogue, in order to repair the losses incurred from the failure of
obtaining the intrinsic worth of what is old-fashioned or faulty;--new
to all this, the wary shop-keeper's code, she was perpetually mistaken,
or duped, through ignorance of ignorance, which leads to hazards,
unsuspected to be hazards.

Repairs for the little shop were continually wanted, yet always
unforeseen; taxes were claimed when she was least prepared to discharge
them; and stores of merchandize accidentally injured, were obliged to be
sold under prime cost, if not to be utterly thrown away.

Unpractised in every species of business, she had no criterion whence to
calculate its chances, or be aware of its changes, either from varying
seasons or varying modes; and to all her other intricacies, there was
added a perpetual horrour of bankruptcy, from the difficulty of
accelerating payment for what she sold, or of procrastinating it for
what she bought.

Every embarrassment, however, at this period, was accommodated by
Juliet; who had the exquisite satisfaction not only to bring to her
beloved friend personal consolation, but solid and effectual comfort.
The purse of Lord Melbury, which Juliet would only consider as the loan
of Lady Aurora, was but little lightened by the small expences of the
short journey from Brighthelmstone; and all that remained of its
contents were instantly assigned to relieving the most painful of the
distresses of Gabriella, those in which others were involved through her
means.

Gabriella, with a grace familiar, if not peculiar, to her nation, of
sharing, without the confusion of false pride, the offerings of tender
friendship, or generous sympathy, accepted with noble frankness the
assistance thus proposed; though Juliet again was obliged to hide her
face from the enquiring eye, that seemed strangely to wonder whence this
resource arose, and why its spring was concealed.

Juliet now became a partner in all the occupations and cares of her
friend: together they prepared the shop for their customers every
morning, and decked it out to attract passers bye; together they
examined and re-arranged their goods every night; cast up their
accounts, deposited sums for their creditors, and entered claims into
their books for their debtors: together they sat in the shop, where one
served and waited upon customers, and the other aided the household
economy by the industry of her needle. Yet, laborious as might seem this
existence to those who had known 'other times,' Juliet, by the side of
Gabriella, thought every employment delightful; Gabriella, in the
society of Juliet, felt every exertion lightened, and every sorrow
softened.



CHAPTER LXVIII


Thus, in manual toil, yet mental comfort, had passed a week, when one
morning, while the usual commissioner for carrying about goods happened
to be out of the way, a lady from Soho Square sent, in great haste, an
order for some ribbons. Juliet, to save a customer to her friend,
proposed supplying the commissioner's place; and set forth for that
purpose, with a little band-box in her hands, and a large black bonnet
drawn over her eyes. But before she reached the square, she overtook two
men who were loitering on, as leisurely as she was tripping diligently,
and the words, 'You'll never know her again, I promise you; she's turned
out quite a beauty!' struck her ears, from a voice which she recollected
to be that of Mr Riley.

Anxious to avoid being recognized by him, she crossed to the other side
of the street, with a precipitance that caused the cover of her
band-box, which she had neglected to fasten, to slip aside, and most of
her stores to roll in the dust.

While, with great dismay, she sought to recover them, a feeble, but
eager voice, from a carriage, which suddenly stopt, ordered a footman to
descend and assist the young lady.

Not without confusion, Juliet perceived to whom she owed so uncommon a
civility; it was to her old friend and admirer Sir Jaspar Herrington.
She collected her merchandize, courtsied her thanks, but looked another
way, and hurried back to her new home.

She related her adventure to Gabriella, with whom she bemoaned the
mischief that had befallen the ribbons; and who now determined to spare
her friend any further hazard of unwelcome encounters, by carrying
herself what yet remained unsoiled of the pieces, to Soho Square.

Juliet had barely time to install herself as mistress of the small
warehouse, when she saw, through the window, the carriage of Sir Jaspar;
at the same time, that a young woman opened the shop-door, and demanded
a drachm of black sewing silk, and a yard of tape.

While Juliet with difficulty found, and with embarrassment prepared to
weigh the first, and to measure the second, the Baronet, with a curious,
but respectful air, entering, and hobbling towards the counter, desired
to look at some ribbons.

Juliet, however vexed, could not refrain from smiling; but, through
confusion, joined to the novelty of her office, she doubled the weight
of her silk, and the measure of her tape, yet forgot to ask to be paid
for either; and her customer, whether from similar forgetfulness, or
from reluctance to mark the new shop-keeper's ignorance of business,
walked off without seeming to notice this inattention.

Sir Jaspar, then, gravely repeated his request to be shewn some ribbons.

Juliet began now to hope that she had not been recollected by the
Baronet. Shading her face, therefore, still lower with her large bonnet,
she produced a drawer of black ribbons; concluding that what he required
must be for his queue, or for his shoe-strings.

No, he said, black would not do: the colour that he wanted was brown.

In a low voice that strove to disguise itself, she answered that she had
no other colour at home.

He would stay till some other were returned, then, he said; and,
composedly seating himself, and taking out his snuff-box, he added, that
he did not want plain brown ribbons, but ribbons speckled, spotted, or
splashed with brown.

Juliet who could now no longer doubt being known to him, made no reply;
though again, irresistibly, she smiled.

To the Baronet her smile was always enchantment; setting aside,
therefore, any further pretence to strangeness, he leant his hands upon
the counter, and peering archly under her bonnet, said, ''Tis you,
indeed, then, sweet sorceress? And what sylph is it,--or what
imp?--dulcet, or malignant!--that has drawn me again into the witchery
of your charms?'

He then poured forth countless enquiries into her situation, her
projects, and her sentiments; but, all proving fruitless, he
pathetically lamented the luckless meeting; and frankly owned, that he
had brought himself to a resolution of seeing her no more. 'The rude
assault,' said he, 'made upon my feelings by those mundane harpies at
Arundelcastle, removed a bandage from "my mind's eye" that had veiled
me to myself, and shewed me that I was an old fool caught in the
delusions of love and beauty! I could parry no raillery, I could brave
no suspicion, I could retort no sneer! Panic-struck and disordered, I
stole away, like a gentle Philander of Arcadia, my head drooping upon my
left shoulder, my eyes cast down upon the ground, with every love-born
symptom,--except youth, which alone offers their apology! I spent the
rest of the day in character with this opening; mute with my servants;
loquacious in soliloquy; quarrelling with my books; and neglecting my
dinner! Sleepless and sighing, I repaired to my solitary couch; lost to
every idea of existence, but what pointed out to me how, when, and where
I might again behold my lovely enchantress. Shall I tell you how it was
I recovered, at last, my senses?'

'If you think the lesson may be useful to me, Sir Jaspar!--'

'Ah, cruel! "He jests at scars who never felt a wound". Mark, however,
the visions by which I have been tutored. The servants gone, the lights
removed, and the world's bustle superseded by stillness, darkness, and
solitude,--then, when my fancy meant to revel in smiles, dimples, sweet
looks, and recreative wiles, then,--what a transformation from hope and
enjoyment, to shame and derision! I no sooner closed my poor eyes, than
an hundred little imps of darkness scrambled up my pillow. How was I
tweaked, jirked, and jolted! Mumbled, jumbled, and pinched! Some of them
encircled my eye-balls, holding mirrours in each hand. They spoke not;
the mirrours were all eloquent! You think, they expressed, of a young
girl? Behold here what a young girl must think of you! Others jammed my
lean, lank arms into a machine of whale-bone, to strength and invigorate
them for offering support, in cases of difficulty or danger, to my fair
one: others fastened elastic strings to my withered neck and shoulders,
to enable me, by little pulleys, to raise my head, after every
obsequious reverence to my goddess. Crowds of the nimblest footed dived
their little forked fingers into my heart, plucking up by the root sober
contentment and propriety; and pummelling into their places
restlessness, jealousy, and suspicion: mocking me when they had done, by
peeping into my ears, and squeaking out, with merry tittering, See! see!
see! what sickly rubbish the old dotard has got in his crazy noddle!'

Juliet again smiled, but so faintly, from uncertainty to what this
fantastic gallantry might tend, that Sir Jaspar, looking at her with
concern, said,

'How's this, my dainty Ariel? Why so serious a brow? Have some of my
nocturnal visitants whisked themselves through the key-hole of your
chamber-door, also? And have they tormented your fancy with waking
visions of fearful omens? Spurn them all! sweet syren! What can the
tricks and malice of hobgoblins, or even the freaks and vagaries of
fortune itself, enact against youth, beauty, and health such as yours?
Give me but such arms, and I will brave the wayward sisters themselves.'

More seriously, then, 'Alas!' he cried, 'what is it, thus mystic, yet
thus attractive, that allures me whether I will or not into your
chains?--Could I but tell who, or what you are,--besides being an
angel,--it is possible there might occur some idea,--some--some little
notion of means to exorcise the wicked familiars that severally annoy
us. Tell me but under what semblance the pigmy enemies invade you?
Whether, as usual, with the darts of Master Cupid, shot, furiously, into
your snowy bosom, or--'

'No, no, no!'

'Or whether by the bags of Plutus, emptied, furtively, from your strong
box? In the first case,--little as my bosom is snowy!--I should but too
well know how to pity; in the second, I should be proud and honoured to
serve you. Tell me, then, who you are, resistless paragon! and you shall
wander no more in the nameless state, an exquisite, but nearly visionary
being! Tell me but who you are, and I will protect you, myself, with my
life and fortune!'

Alarmed by this warmth, and doubtful whether it demanded gratitude or
resentment, Juliet was silent.

'If you will not reveal to me your history,' he resumed, 'you will, at
least, not refuse to let me divine it? I am a famous star-gazer; and, if
once I can discover your ruling planet, I shall prognosticate your
destiny in a second. Let me, then, read the lines of your face. Nay! you
must not hide it! You must give me fair play. Or, shall I examine the
palm of your hand?'

Juliet laughed, but drew on her gloves.

'O you little Tyrant! I must only, then, catch, as I can, a glimpse of
your countenance; A nauseous task, enough, to dwell on any thing so
ugly! All I can make out from it, just now, is the figure of a coronet.'

'A coronet?'

'Yes; under which I perceive the cypher D. Do you know any thing of any
nobleman whose name begins with a D? I cannot decipher the rest of the
letters, except that the last is--I think, an h.'

Juliet started.

'My art, I must, however, own, is at a stand, to discover whether this
nobleman may be a lover or a kinsman. To discern that, the general lines
of the face are inadequate. I must investigate the eyes.'

Juliet pertinaciously looked down.

'How now, my dainty, Ariel? Will you give me no answer? neither verbal
nor visual? Will you not even tell me whether I must try to make the old
peer my advocate, or whether I must run him through the body? Surely you
won't let me court him as of kin if he be a rival? nor pink him as a
rival if he be of kin?

'He is neither, I can assure you, Sir: he is nothing to me whatsoever.'

'You know, at least, then, it seems, whom I mean?'

'Sir?'

'My tiny elves have not here deluded me? I am always afraid lest those
merry little wags should be playing me some prank. But it is you who are
the wicked Will o' the Wisp, that lures all others, yet never can be
lured yourself! Lord Denmeath has really, then, and in sober truth, the
happiness of some way belonging to you?'

'No, Sir;--you mistake me;--I never--' She left her phrase unfinished.

'Shall I relate what the prattling tell-tales have blabbed to me
further? They pretend that Lord Denmeath ought himself to be your
protector; but that he is so void of taste, so empty of sentiment, that
he seeks to disguise, if not disown, an affinity that, with more liberal
ideas, he would exult in as an honour.'

'Who talked of affinity, Sir?' cried Juliet, with quickness
irrepressible.--

'Was it Lord Denmeath?--Did he name me to you?'

'Name you? Has any one named you? Indefinable, unconquerable,
unfathomable Incognita! Has any one presumed to give you a human
genealogy? Are you not straight descended from the clouds? without even
taking the time to change yourself first into a mortal? Explain,
expound, unravel to me, in soft pity--'

Juliet solemnly entreated him to forbear any further interrogatory,
assuring him that all enquiry gave her pain.

'Then shall "the stars,"' cried he, '"fade away, the sun grow dim, and
nature,"--like my poor old carcass!--"sink in years," ere one grain more
of the favourite attribute of our general mother shall be sown in my
discourse! But you, in all things marvellous! You! have you really, and
_bona fide_, so little in your composition of our naughty mamma, as not
even to desire to know in what shape appeared to me the tattling little
elf, that talked to me of Lord Denmeath?'

'You have not then, Sir, seen him?'

'Or if I had?--twenty interviews would not have initiated me into his
affairs with so much promptitude, as twenty minutes sufficed for doing
with my elfin fay.'

'I conjecture, then, Sir, your informant: Miss Selina Joddrel?'

'Even so. Upon determining to quit Brighthelmstone, three or four days
ago, I drove over to Lewes, to offer what apologies I could suggest to
Mrs Maple, for the vagaries of my hopeful nephew and heir,--who is
suddenly set out for Constantinople in search, as he writes me word, of
a fair Circassian! The last of my designs, in so delicate a case, you
will easily believe, was to embarrass the injured and deserted fair one
by my sight. But she had a fortitude far above my precautions. She flew
to me herself; and her own plaintive tale had no sooner been bemoaned,
than she hastened to favour me with the history of the whole house. I
then learnt your sudden disappearance; and heard, with extreme
satisfaction, from the indignation I had felt in seeing your ill
treatment, that my meek sister-in-law had fallen into fits, from the
first shock of finding that you were no longer under her dominion. My
Lord Denmeath, who had already gone through the ceremonial of demanding
Mrs Maple's permission to obtain a private audience with you, seemed
thunderstruck at the news, that the bird he so much wished to sing to
him was flown. The whole house was in disorder; running, enquiring,
asserting, denying;--the wild Elinor alone was tame and tranquil,--for
Mr Harleigh has kept constantly in sight.'

Delicate, and ever feeling Harleigh! thought Juliet; Her life, and My
reputation, hang suspended upon the same guardian care!

'That eccentric and most original personage,' continued Sir Jaspar, 'has
now wholly made over her mind to the study of controversial theology.
Every chair is covered with polemical tracts, to prove one side of an
argument, that every table is covered to disprove on the other. If she
settle her opinion one way, she will probably become the foundress of
some new-fangled monastery; if on the other, she will be discovered,
some star-light night, seeking truth at the bottom of a well.'

Juliet then anxiously enquired into the state of her health.

'She seems to me,' answered the Baronet, 'quite as well as it is
possible for a person to be, who is afflicted with the restless malady
of struggling for occasion to exhibit character; instead of leaving its
display to the jumble of nature and of accident. But these new systemers
do not break out of bounds more wildly from whim, than they afterwards
seek retreat within them, tamely, from experience. The little Selina, on
the contrary, who has escaped the trouble of supporting a character, by
not having an idea that could form one, had the kindness to make me the
most liberal communication of every thing that she has either seen or
heard, since she has been skipping about in this nether world; and, in
her scampers from room to room, and from person to person, she had
gathered sundry interesting particulars of a certain fair unknown.--'

He paused; looked anxious, and then went on.

'I would not be officious,--impertinent, nor importunate,--yet, could I
but ascertain some points.--If, however, you will not unfold to me your
history, will you, at least,--syren of syrens!--to develop why I demand
it, hear me divulge my own?'

Juliet, surprised and amused, gratefully assented.

'Know, then, my fair torment! it pleased my wise progenitors to entail
my estate upon my next of kin, in case I should have no lineal heir.
Brought up with the knowledge of this restriction to the fantasies of my
future will, I conceived an early suspicion that my younger brother
built sundry vain-glorious castles upon my celibacy; and I determined
not to reach my twentieth year before I put an end to his presumption.
The first idea, therefore, that fastened upon my mind was that of
marriage. But as I entertained a general belief, that I should every
where be accepted from mercenary motives, I viewed all females with the
scrutiny of a bargain-maker. Thankless for any mark of partiality,
difficult even to absurdity, I sought new faces with restless
impatience; modestly persuaded that I ought to find a companion without
a blot! yet, whatever was my success, regularly making off from every
fair charmer, after the second interview, through the fear of being
taken in.'

'And were none of your little sylphs, Sir, at hand, to point out to you
some one who was disinterested in her nature, however inferiour in her
fortune?'

'No! alas! no; my sylphs all reserved themselves for my meeting with
you! The wicked little imps who then guided and goaded me, incited me to
suspect and to watch every thing that seemed lovely or amiable; and the
pranks that they played me were endless. They urged me to pursue the
glowing Beauty, whose vivid cheeks, crimsoned by the dance, had warmed
all my senses at a ball, to her alighting from her carriage, at her
return home, with the livid line of fatigue and moonlight! They
instigated me to surprize, when ill-dressed, negligent, and spiritless,
the charming face and form that, skilfully adorned, had appeared to me
Venus attired by the Graces. They twitched me on to dart upon another,
whose bloom had seemed the opening of the rose-bud, just as an untoward
accident had rubbed off, from one cheek, the sweet pink which remained
undiminished upon the other! And when, tired of the deceptions of
beauty, I would only follow merit, the wanton little sprites suggested
detections still more mischievous. They led me to overhear the softest
of maidens insult a poor dependent; they shewed me a pattern of
discretion, secretly involved in debt; and the frankest of human lasses,
engaged in a clandestine affair! They whisked me, in short, into every
crevice of female subtlety. They exhibited all as a drama, and gave me a
peep behind the curtain to see the gayest damsel the sulkiest; the most
pleasing one, the most spiteful; the delicate one, obstreperous; the
bashful one, bold; the generous one, niggardly; and the humble one, a
tyrant!'

'Oh wicked imps, indeed, Sir Jaspar! What a view of poor human nature
have they deformed for you! And how have you preserved such a stock of
philanthropy, while instigated by so much malignity?'

'Alas, my fair love, my history is but that of half the old bachelors
existing! We pay, by our aged facility and good humour, for our youthful
severity and impertinence! and, after having wasted our early life in
conceiving that no one is good enough for us, we consume our latter days
in envy of every married man! Now--all too late! I never see a lovely
young creature, but my heart calls out what a delicious wife she would
make me! were I younger, without reflection, without enquiry, were I
younger, I would marry her! THEN--when such precipitation might have
been pardonable, some difficulty instantly followed the sight of
whatever was attractive: one had not fortune enough for my expectations;
another, had beauty to make me eternally jealous; another, though
charming, was too old to be formed to my taste; another, though lovelier
still, was too young to be judged. One was too wise, and might hold me
cheap; another was too simple, and might expose me to seeing her held
cheap herself. THEN--I was so plaguely nice! Now, alas! I am so cursedly
easy!'

'Your sylphs, elves, and imps, Sir, or, in other words, your humour and
imagination, must seek some counterpoise, and not always, you see, be
trusted uncontrouled.'

'You are right, my wise charmer! but we never arrive at judgment, the
only counterpoise to our fancies, till we cease to want it! When we are
young, in the midst of the world, and in pursuit of beauty, riches,
honours, power, fame or knowledge, then, when judgment would either
guide us to success, or demolish our senseless expectations, it keeps
aloof from us like a stern stranger: and will only hail us as an
intimate, when we have no longer any occasion for its services! Of what
value is judgment to a goaty old codger, who sits just as snugly over
his fire-side, whether his opinions are erroneous or oracular? who wraps
himself just as warmly in flannel, whether the world go ill or go well?
and who, if, by ignorance or mismanagement, he be cheated, loses
only what he cannot enjoy! I first became aware of my folly, by the
folly of my nephew. When he was sent forth into the world, my
decided--alas!--heir, I told him my case; and urged him to a rational
but quick choice, to obviate a similar punishment to fantastical
difficulties. He listened, according to the usage of youth, to half what
I said; and, adopting only my mistrust, was inattentive to its result;
and thus so caricatured my researches, suspicious, and irresolutions,
that he has rendered them and myself, even in my own eyes, completely
ridiculous. 'Tis a most piteous circumstance that a man can be young
only once in his life! Could I but, with my present experience, lop off
thirty or forty years of my age,--ah! fair seducer!--how would the
desire of giving you pleasure, the fear of causing you pain, the wish to
see your face always beaming with smiles--'

Juliet arose to interrupt him; but whither could she go? She again sat
down.

The Baronet also arose; and stood for some minutes, covering his eyes
with one hand, in deep rumination. Re-seating himself, then, with an air
of the most lively satisfaction, 'I have told you,' he cried, 'now, my
history. You see in me a whimsical, but contrite old bachelor; whose
entailed estate has lost to him his youth, by ungenerous mistrust: but
who would gladly devote the large possessions which have fallen to him
collaterally, to making the rest of his existence companionable. Shrink
not, sweet flower! I mean nothing that can offend you. Tell me but who
you are, and, be you whom you may, if you will accept an old protector;
if you will deign to become his friend; to give him your conversation,
your society, your lovely presence; he will despise the mocking
world--and decorate himself for your bridegroom, by a marriage
settlement of the whole of his unintailed estate.'

Astonished, and uncertain whether he were serious, Juliet was beginning
a playful attack upon his fairy elves; but, stopping her with perturbed
earnestness, 'Will you,' he cried, 'accept me? Your beauty, your
difficulties, your distresses; your exquisite looks, and witching
manners; with my solitude, my repugnance to mercenary watchers, my deep
regrets, and my desire of domestic commerce; unite to devote me to you
for ever; provided, only I can catch a grain, a single grain, of gentle
good will! Give me, then, but this one satisfaction--I ask no more! tell
me but whence it comes that, thus formed, thus accomplished, thus wise,
thus lovely,--you are helpless, dependent, indigent, and a Wanderer?'

Juliet, though no longer able to doubt his meaning, and though not
disposed to suspect his sincerity, felt nevertheless, shocked by such an
investigation; though grateful, and even touched by his singular and
romantic proposal. Delicacy, however, which keeps back acknowledged
belief in unrequited partiality, as scrupulously as it is withheld by
timid consciousness, where the partiality is returned; make her again
have recourse to his visionary friends, in order to parry a serious
reply; but, too much in earnest to submit to any delay, the Baronet,
ejaculating, 'Paragon of the world!' was bending over the counter, in an
attempt to take her hand; when the sudden opening of the shop-door,
which he had himself carefully closed, previous to his declaration, made
him draw back, in the utmost confusion; to recover his seat and his
crutches, and again demand to look at some ribbons.



CHAPTER LXIX


Gabriella, who had thus long been detained from her business, because
the lady, whose orders she had obeyed, had either forgotten that those
orders had been issued, or deemed that to wait in an anti-room was the
natural fate of an haberdasher; now, entering the shop, saw, with no
little surprize, Juliet in close conference with an old bean, who was
evidently disconcerted, and embarrassed by the interruption. Remitting,
however, all enquiry, and gracefully declining a chair, which was
respectfully offered to her by Sir Jaspar, who imagined her to be some
customer; she silently employed herself in examining and arranging her
unpinned, unrolled, and tumbled ribbons.

The surprize of the Baronet, now, became greater than her own. No
plainness of attire could hide, from his scrutinizing eye, a certain
native taste with which her habiliments, however simple, were put on;
nor could even the band-box which she held in her hand, and which he had
supposed to be there from some accident, disguise the elegance of her
motions, or conceal her lofty mien. When, therefore, he discovered that
she was at home, and that she was an haberdasher, he looked from one
lovely companion to the other, with reverential wonder, and uplifted
hands. Long profoundly impressed by the beauty of Juliet, by her merit,
her youth, her modest yet dignified demeanour, in the midst of all the
difficulties of distressed poverty; he was now as powerfully affected by
the appearance of Gabriella; whose noble, yet never haughty manners,
joined to a tragic expression of constant woe in her countenance,
rendered her if not as attractive, at least as interesting as her
friend.

A general pause ensued, till Gabriella, fearing that she was obtrusive,
retired to the inner room.

Sir Jaspar, wide opening his eyes, and again leaning forward, to hear
more distinctly, exclaimed, 'Who is that fine creature? What a majestic
port! Yet how sweet a look! She awes while she invites! Who is she?'

Juliet felt enchanted; she even felt exalted by a testimony so impartial
and so honourable, to the merit of her friend, and she eagerly answered,
'Your admiration, Sir, does honour to your discernment. Her
excellencies, her high qualities, and spotless conduct, might make the
proudest Englishman exult to own her for his country-woman; though the
lowest Frenchman would dispute, even at the risk of his life, the honour
of her birth. Sprung from one of the first houses of Europe, a house not
more ancient in its origin, than renowned for its virtues; allies to a
family the most illustrious, whose military glory has raised it to the
highest ranks in the state; herself an ornament to that birth, an honour
to that alliance; she sustains a reverse of fortune, which reduces her
from every indulgence to every privation, with a calm courage that keeps
her always mistress of herself, and enables her to combat evil by
labour, misery by industry! And which never has failed her, but in a
personal, bosom affliction, that would equally have shaken her
fortitude, in the brightest splendour of prosperity!--'

'Hold! hold, you little torment!' interrupted Sir Jaspar. 'You don't
consider what an artillery my wanton sprites are bringing upon me! My
poor gouty fingers are so mumbled and pinched, and tweaked, to hurry me
to get at my purse, that I cannot catch hold of it for very tremour!--'

'Oh no, Sir Jaspar, no! What she earns, however hardly and however
humbly, she thankfully reaps; but she could only submit to accept alms,
if bowed down by age, by malady, or by incapacity for work. Yet this
spirit is not pride; 'tis but a strong and refined sense of propriety;
since from a friend, in the tender persuasion, that participation of
fortune ought to be leagued with participation of sentiment, she would
candidly receive whatever would not injure that friend to bestow.'

'Divinest of little mortals!' cried Sir Jaspar. 'What whimsey is it,
what astonishing whimsey of "the sisters three", that can have nailed to
a counter two such delectable beings, to weigh pins and needles, and
measure tapes and bobbins? And how,--beautiful witch! with charms,
graces, accomplishments, talents such as yours, how is it you submit to
such base drudgery in "durance vile," without even making a wry face?
without a scowl upon your eye-brow, or a grumble from your throat?'

'Can you look, Sir, at her whom you call my partner, and think of me?
She has lost her country; she wastes in exile; she sinks in obscurity;
she has no communication with her friends; she knows not even whether
they yet breathe the vital air!--nevertheless she works, she sustains
herself by her industry and ingenuity; and repines only that she has not
still another, has not her loved and lovely infant to sustain also!--and
I, shall I complain?--Offspring of a race the most dignified, she toils
manually, not to degrade it mentally;--and I, shall I blush to owe my
subsistence to my exertions?'

Tears now flowed fast down her cheeks, while the crutches dropt from the
feeble hands of the penetrated Baronet, whose eyes, dimmed by
compassion, were fastened upon the face of the lovely mourner, when
Gabriella re-appeared.

In deep amazement and concern, she hesitated whether she should come
forward, to offer comfort; or whether, as she now concluded the old
gentleman to be some intimate friend, she ought not again to retire; but
Juliet entreated her to return to her place. She resumed, therefore, her
business of restoring her ribbons to order; dejectedly announcing, that
nothing had been bought; though every thing had been examined, deranged,
and tossed about.

Sir Jaspar now, courteously waving his hand, smilingly addressed himself
to Gabriella, saying, ''Tis my good Genius, Ma'am, make no doubt of it,
that has run away with the feeling of those people you mention! For my
good Genius, I must beg you to observe, has frequently taken lessons of
the god Mercury, and is nearly as adroit in petty larceny as his godship
himself. I should not, therefore, wonder, if, in his eagerness to serve
me, he had pilfered from those poor souls, who have used you so ill,
every grain he could pick up of decency! For, knowing that ribbons are a
commodity of which I want a prodigious stock, he would not suffer your
assortment to be diminished, till I had had the pleasure of making my
bargains.'

He then selected the piece of ribbon which seemed the most considerable,
and desired to have it measured.

Gabriella obeyed, not more amazed than Juliet felt amused.

But, when a similar order was given, for ascertaining the quantity of a
second piece, and then a third; Juliet, though delighted at the pleased
looks of Gabriella, and charmed with the generosity of the Baronet,
began to apprehend, that she might herself be supposed to incur some
debt of gratitude for this liberality. She retreated, therefore, with
her needle-work, to the adjoining little room.

In a few minutes, she was followed by Gabriella; who, uneasily, asked
what she must do with this magnificent old beau, who still while she
measured one piece of ribbon, employed himself in selecting another; and
who, though so gallant that he never spoke without a compliment, was so
respectful, that it was not possible to check him by any serious
reproof.

Juliet disclaimed taking any share in his present munificence; yet owned
that she had an ancient obligation to him that she was unable, at this
moment, to repay; and which, from the delicacy with which it had been
conferred, and the seasonable relief which it had procured her, would
merit her lasting gratitude. He was brother-in-law, she added, to the
lady with whom she had lately resided; and he was as rich as he was
benevolent.

Her scruples, then, Gabriella said, were at an end. Juliet, therefore,
begged that she would endeavour to enter into conversation with him
concerning Brighthelmstone; and try to obtain some particulars relative
to the party at Mrs Ireton's.

'I began to fear you had flown away, Ma'am,' said Sir Jaspar, upon
Gabriella's re-entrance into the shop; 'and I was much less surprised
than concerned; for I had already surmized that you were an angel;
though I had failed to remark your wings.'

He then put into her hand three more pieces of ribbon, which he had
chosen during her absence.

Gabriella, who understood English well, though she spoke it imperfectly,
made her answers in French.

Having now given her ample employment, he sat down to examine, or,
rather, to admire at his ease, the lightness and grace with which she
executed her office; saying, 'You are not, perhaps, aware, Madam, that
there are certain little beings, nameless and invisible, yet active and
penetrating, perpetually hovering around us, who have let me a little
into your history; and have taken upon them to assure me that you were
not precisely brought up to be a shop-keeper? How, then, is it that you
have jumbled thus together such heterogeneous materials of existence?
leaguing high birth with low life? superiour rank with vulgar
employment; and grace, taste, and politeness with common drudgery? How,
in short, born and bred to be dangled after by your vassals, and to
lollop, the live-long-day, upon sofas and arm-chairs, have you acquired
the necessary ingredients for being metamorphosed into a tidy little
haberdasher?'

Gabriella, concluding that her situation had been made known to him by
Juliet, answered, in a melancholy tone,

'Is this a period, Sir, to consider punctilio? Alas! whence I come, all
that are greatest, most ancient, and most noble,[1] have learnt, that
self-exertion can alone mark nobility of soul; and that self-dependence
only can sustain honour in adversity. Alas, whence I come, the first
youth is initiated in the view, if not in the endurance of misfortune!
There can be no understanding, or there must be early reflection; there
can be no heart, or there must be commiserating sympathy!'

[Footnote 1: The period is the reign of Robespierre.]

'I protest, Ma'am,' cried Sir Jaspar, looking at her with astonishment,
'I begin to suspect that I came into the world only this morning! Where
I may have been rambling, all these years, in the persuasion I was in it
already, I have by no means any clear notion! But to see two such
instances of wisdom and resignation, united with youth and beauty, makes
me believe myself in some new region, never yet visited by vice or
folly.'

'Ah, Sir, the French Revolution has opened our eyes to a species of
equality more rational, because more feasible, than that of lands or of
rank; an equality not alone of mental sufferings, but of manual
exertions. No state of life, however low, or however hard, has been left
untried, either by the highest, or by the most delicate, in the various
dispersions and desolation of the ancient French nobility. And to
see,--as I, alas! have seen,--the willing efforts, the even glad toil,
of the remnants of the first families of Europe, to procure,--not
luxuries, not elegancies, not even comforts,--but maintenance! mean,
laborious maintenance!--to preserve,--not state, not fortune, not
rank,--but life itself! but simple existence!'--

'Very wonderful personage!' cried Sir Jaspar, his air mingling reverence
with amazement; 'and what,--unfold to me, I beg, what is the necromancy
through which you support, under such toils, your intellectual dignity?
and strangle, in its birth, every struggle of false shame?'

'Alas, Sir, I have seen guilt!--Since then, I have thought that shame
belonged to nothing else!'

The eyes of Sir Jaspar were now suffused with tender admiration. 'Fair
deity of the counter!' he cried, 'you are sublime! And she, too,--your
witching little handmaid; by what kind, dulcet chance,--new in the
annals of misfortune,--have two such wonders met?--'

'Ah, rather, Sir,--since you couple us so kindly,--rather ask by what
adverse chance we have so long been separated?'

'You have known her, then, some time?'

'We were brought up together!--the same convent, the same governess, the
same instructors, were common to both till my marriage. And now,
again,--as before that period,--I have not the most distant idea of any
possible happiness, that is not annexed to her presence.'

Touched to hear the word happiness once again, even though with such
sadness, pronounced by Gabriella; yet alarmed at a discourse that might
lead, inadvertently, to some secret history, Juliet was returning, to
stop any further detail; when, upon Sir Jaspar's answering, 'Sweet
couple! Lord Denmeath, who ought at least, if I understand right,--to
take care of one of you will surely make it his business that you should
coo together in the same cage?'--she again retreated, anxious to learn
what this meant, and hoping that he would become more explicit.

'Lord Denmeath?' repeated Gabriella, 'If you know Lord Denmeath you may
be better informed upon this subject than I am myself. Was it at
Brighthelmstone that you met with his lordship?'

'It was at Brighthelmstone that I heard of him; and heard that, though
wary of speech, he has been incautious in manner, and left little doubt
upon the minds of his observers, that this fair flower springs from the
same stock as some part of his own family; though she may be one of
those sweet, but hapless buds, whose innocence pays for the guilt of its
planter.--'

'No, Sir, no!' Gabriella precipitately interrupted him; 'the birth of my
friend is unstained, though unequal; the marriage of her parents was
legal, though secret. Her mother came not, indeed, from an ancient race;
but she was a pattern of virtue, as well as a model of beauty. Could it,
indeed, be believed, that a young nobleman of such expectations, in
every way, as those of the Earl of Melbury's only son, Lord Granville,
would have given his hand to the orphan and destitute daughter of an
insolvent man of business, had she not possessed every advantage, nay,
every perfection to which human nature can rise?'

Affrighted by this so open relation, drawn forth involuntarily from the
nobly ingenuous Gabriella, in the persuasion that Sir Jaspar was already
a confidential, and might become a useful friend; Juliet, in the first
moment, was advancing to stop it; but her heart, yet more than her ear,
was so fascinated by the generous eulogy of her virtuous, though lowly
mother, from the offspring of a house whose height, and natal
prejudices, might have palliated, upon this subject, the language even
of disdain; that she could not prevail with herself to break into what
she considered as sacred praise.

''Tis even so, then!' cried Sir Jaspar, with smiling delight; 'this
forlorn, but most beautiful Wanderer,--this so long concealed, and
mysterious, but most lovely _incognita_, is the daughter of the late
Lord Granville, and the grand-daughter of the late Earl of Melbury!'

Utterly confounded, to hear the secret history of her birth and family
thus casually, yet irretrievably discovered, Juliet, trembling, again
shrunk back; yet would not, now, and unavailingly, check the ardent zeal
of her high-minded friend, since without any added danger, it might
procure some useful intelligence.

The willing Baronet, whose sole desire was to keep up the conversation,
wanted no urging to relate all that he had gathered from the loquacious
Selina. Lord Denmeath, upon the sudden disappearance of Miss Ellis, had
been surprised into confessing, that he had a faint notion that he knew
something of that young person; that there had been, once, an odd
story,--a report--that a young woman was existing in France, who was
some way belonging to the late Lord Granville, his sister's husband;
though without ever having been acknowledged by the family. He let fall,
also, sundry obscure hints of information, of the most serious import,
which he had recently received, relating to this young woman; but which
he would not divulge, till he had investigated; as he began to surmise,
that it had been conveyed to him for some fraudulent and mercenary
purpose. Mrs Ireton, to all this, had answered, that she had suspected,
from the beginning, that the creature was an adventurer; and that she
was now fully convinced that they had been played upon by a
supposititious person. Lord Denmeath, though he forbore confirming this
assertion, listened to it with a smile of concurrence.

Juliet here felt shocked and confounded; but Gabriella, animated by
generous resentment, warmly repeated her asseverations, of the validity
of the marriage of Lord Granville with Miss Powel, her friend's mother;
though an excess of fear of the inflexible character of the old Earl
Melbury had prevented its early avowal; and the death of the concealed
wife, while Juliet was yet in arms, had afterwards decided the young
widower to guard the secret, till his child should be grown up; or till
he should become his own master.

'But where, during this interval,' said Sir Jaspar, 'where,--and what
was the hiding-place of that seraphic offspring?'

Till her seventh year, Gabriella answered, she had been consigned to the
care of Mrs Powel, her maternal grandmother; who, satisfied of the
legality, had herself aided the secresy of the marriage. They had dwelt,
during that period, in the same picturesque, but no longer loved
retreat, upon the banks of the Tyne, in which Lady Granville, under a
feigned name, had been concealed, for the short space of time between
her marriage and her death.

Juliet, whose intention had been to gather, not to bestow intelligence,
now came forward, and made signs to Gabriella to drop the subject. But
this was no longer practicable. Urged by the idea of doing honour to her
friend, and incited by adroit interrogatories, or piquant observations,
from Sir Jaspar, Gabriella, having insensibly begun the tale, felt
irresistibly impelled to make clear the birth and family of Juliet,
beyond all doubt or cavil. She continued, therefore, the narration; and
Juliet, much agitated, retreated wholly to the inner room.

Under pretence of change of air for his health, Lord Granville, to hide
his grief from his father and friends, spent the first year of his
widowhood at Montpellier; then the residence of the Bishop of ----, the
maternal uncle of Gabriella; with whom he formed a friendship that
neither time nor absence, not even death itself, had had power to
dissolve; and to whom he confided the history and punishment of his
clandestine juvenile engagement. Called home, the following year, by the
Earl, his father, he had been prevailed upon to marry a lady of quality
and large fortune. But, previous to these new nuptials, to secure
justice to his eldest born, though he had not the courage to own her; as
well as to tranquillize Mrs Powel; he deposited in the hands of that
worthy old lady, the certificate of his first marriage; to which he
added a deed, that he called the codicil to whatever will he might have
made, or might hereafter make; and in which he declared Juliet
Granville, born near ----, in Yorkshire, to be his lawful daughter, by
his first marriage, with Juliet Powel, in Flanders; and, as such, he
bequeathed to her the same portion, at his death, that should be settled
upon any other daughter, or daughters, that he might have, hereafter, by
any subsequent marriage.

The impossibility of obtaining, in the Yorkshire retirement, such means
of improvement, as were suitable to the future expectations and lot in
life of his little girl, determined Lord Granville to have her conveyed
to France for her education. Mrs Powel, who had no other remaining tie
upon earth, but a son who was settled in the East Indies, preferred
accompanying her little darling to a separation; the fear of which, with
the possession of the marriage certificate, and the codicil to the will,
had always counteracted her impatience for the discovery ultimately
promised. The uncle of Gabriella, the Bishop, consented to take the
child under his immediate care; and to place her in the convent in which
his sister, the Marchioness of ----, had placed his niece. And here the
children had been brought up together, with the same opportunities of
improvement; except that the little Juliet had the advantage of speaking
English with her grandmother; who knew no other language; and who
entered the convent as a pensioner. By this means, and by books, Juliet
had perfectly retained her native tongue, though she had acquired
something of a foreign accent. She was known only as a young English
lady of fortune, for whom no expence was to be spared; and the
remittances for her board and education were constant, and even
splendid. She had been called simply by the name of Mademoiselle
Juliette, which had generally been supposed to be the name of her
family. Here, from the facility with which she caught instruction, and
the ability with which she appropriated its result, she became the most
accomplished pupil of the convent and was not more generally, from her
appearance, called _la belle_, than from her acquirements and conduct
_la sage petite Anglaise_. And here, still more united by the same
sentiments than by the same studies, Gabriella had formed with her the
tender, confiding and unalterable friendship, that had bound them to
each other with an even sisterly love.

The Bishop frequently pressed the young lord to avow the birth of
Juliet, and to legitimate her claims upon his family: but he always
answered, that since she, whose reputation, happiness, and spirits might
have paid the avowal, was gone, he could not support the fruitless pain
of offending his sickly, but imperious father, by such a discovery, till
the necessity of receiving his daughter should make it indispensable.

Previous to this period, Gabriella was taken from the convent, to
prepare for her marriage with the Comte de ----; and Juliet, who had then
lost her tender grandmother, was invited to the wedding-ceremony, and to
remain with her friend till she should be called to her own country.
Lord Granville, with that spirit of procrastination which always grows
with indulgence, joyfully acceded to this invitation; and remitted to
the ensuing summer the public acknowledgment of his daughter. But, ere
the ensuing summer arrived, all these projects were rendered abortive!
The Bishop, through a news-paper, received the fatal intelligence, that
Lord Granville had been killed by a fall from his horse.

While the deeply disappointed and afflicted Juliet was the prey of heavy
grief at this event, the Bishop, to whom the grandmother, in dying, had
consigned the marriage-certificate, the codicil, and every letter or
paper that authenticated the legitimacy of her grandchild, constituted
himself guardian and protector of the young orphan.

Convinced that no time should be lost in making known her rights, yet
unwilling to risk shocking the old peer by an abrupt address, he stated
the affair to Lord Denmeath, brother to Lord Granville's second lady,
and guardian of two children by the second marriage. To this
communication he received no answer. But, upon writing again, with more
energy, and hinting at sending over an agent, Lord Denmeath thought
proper to reply. His style was extremely cold. His brother-in-law, he
said, had expired, after his fall, without uttering a word. Having,
therefore, no knowledge of any secret business, he begged to be excused
from entering into a discussion of the obscure affair to which the
Bishop seemed to allude.

The Bishop grew but warmer in the interests of his Ward, from the
difficulty of serving her. He sent over, to Lord Denmeath, copies of the
codicil, of the certificate, and of every letter upon the subject, that
had been written to the grandmother, or to himself, by the late lord.

The answer now was more civil, but evidently embarrassed, though
professing much respect for the motives which guided the charitable
Bishop; and a willingness to enter into some compromise for the young
person in question; provided she could be settled abroad, that so
strange a tale might not disturb his sister; nor involve his nephew and
niece, by coming before the public.

All compromise was declined by the Bishop, who now made known the whole
history to the old peer.

The answer, nevertheless, was again from Lord Denmeath, though written
by the desire, and in the name of the Earl; briefly saying, Let the
young woman marry and settle in France; and, upon the delivery of the
original documents relative to her birth, she shall be portioned; but
she shall never be received nor owned in England; the Earl being
determined not to countenance such a disgrace to his family, and to the
memory of his son, as the acknowledgment of so unsuitable a marriage.

The Bishop held his honour engaged to his departed friend, to sustain
the birth-right of the innocent orphan; he menaced, therefore,
accompanying her over to England himself, and putting all the documents,
with the direction of the affair, into the hands of some celebrated
lawyer.

Alarmed at this intimation, milder letters passed: but the result of all
that the Bishop could obtain, was a promissory-note of six thousand
pounds sterling, for the portion of a young person brought up at the
convent of ----, and known by the name of Mademoiselle Juliette; to be
paid by Messieurs ----, bankers, on the day of her marriage with a
native of France, resident in that country.

The conditions annexed to the payment were then detailed, of delivering
to the bankers the originals of all the MSS of which copies had been
sent over; with an acquittal, signed by the new married couple, and by
the Bishop, to all future right or claim upon the Melbury family. The
whole to be properly witnessed, &c. This promissory-note had the joint
seal and signature of the old Earl and of Lord Denmeath.

But the Bishop inflexibly insisted, that his ward should be recognized
as the Honourable Miss Granville; and share an equal portion with her
half-sister, Aurora; for whom, upon the premature death of Lord
Granville, the old peer had solicited and obtained the title and honours
of an earl's daughter.

All representation proving fruitless, the Bishop was preparing to attend
Miss Granville to England, when the French Revolution broke out. The
general confusion first stopt his voyage, and next destroyed even the
materials of his agency. The family chateau was burnt by the populace;
and all the papers of Juliet, which had been carefully hoarded up with
the records of the house, were consumed! The promissory-note alone, and
accidentally, had been saved; the Bishop chancing to have it in his
pocket-book, for the purpose of consulting upon it with some lawyer.

With the nobleness of unsuspicious integrity, the Bishop wrote an
account of this disaster to Lord Denmeath; whose answer contained
tidings of the death of the old Earl, and reclaimed the promissory-note
for revisal. But the Bishop, who possessed no other proof or document of
the identity of Juliet, would by no means part with a paper that became
of the utmost importance.

Juliet, pitied and sustained, loved and esteemed by all, had been
prevailed upon to continue with her cherished and cherishing friends,
till some political calm should enable the Bishop to conduct her to
England, and there to struggle for her rights. At the opening, however,
of the dreadful reign of Robespierre, sudden and immediate danger had
compelled Gabriella, with her husband and her child, to emigrate: but
Juliet, hopeless of making herself acknowledged by her family without
the support of the Bishop, had preferred, till she could obtain the
sanction of his presence, to remain with the Marchioness.

'And what,' Sir Jaspar cried, 'what is become of this Bishop? this man
of peace, this worthiest wight that breathes the vital air?'

Gabriella herself knew not; nor what change of plan had induced her
friend to venture over alone: she knew only that what was counselled by
the Bishop must be wise; that what was executed by Juliet must be right.

Juliet, who had heard this recital with melting tenderness, was now with
difficulty restrained, even by the presence of Sir Jaspar, from casting
herself rather at the feet than into the arms, of her generous, noble,
and confiding, though untrusted friend.



CHAPTER LXX


Various customers, though for small purchases, had, from time to time,
interrupted, but not broken this narration. The Baronet respectfully
made way for whoever came, but resumed his place the instant that it was
vacated; spending the interval in selecting new pieces of ribbon; till,
ere the history was finished, not a remnant of that article remained
unsold. It was his purpose, he gallantly said, to present a top-knot,
for a twelve-month to come, to every fair syren who, either by face,
voice, shape, feature, complexion, size, air, or manner, should afford
him so much pleasure as to remind him, however transiently, of the
adorable haberdasher, whose taper fingers had put it into his
possession.

Gabriella interrupted these compliments, to observe, with some anxiety,
two strange men, who were sauntering up and down the street, and who,
from time to time, peeped in at the window.

'And how can they do any better?' said the Baronet; 'unless you invite
them into your apartments? 'Tis precisely what I shall enact myself, if
you turn me out of doors! Do you fancy you are to dart yourselves, you
and your mischievous partner, into as many hearts as you can find
spectators, and then bid your poor wounded gazers go lie down and bleed,
in the kennel, like so many puppies; without allowing them even a
lamenting yell, or friendly barking, to call themselves into notice
before they give up the ghost? I pity the poor caitiffs with all my
heart.

    'A fellow-feeling makes one wond'rous kind!'[2]

[Footnote 2: Garrick.]

'Let me, however, hope, that the seductive tale which I have been
quaffing, has not intoxicated all my senses only to my own destruction!
that my poor nerves have not been pierced and pinched; that my feelings
have not been twitched and tweaked, and my senses scared and confounded,
only to drag my own crazy folly into fuller view!'

He paused a few minutes, during which Gabriella began making out the
account of her ribbons; and then, with a mild voice, but an arch brow,
'Hear me,' he resumed, 'my dulcet frog! for such, you know, is your
destined classification in this country; hear, and under your auspices
let me proceed. If this fair marvellous Wanderer,--in her birth no
longer an Incognita, yet an Incognita still in her history; will venture
to put herself under my protection,--honourably I mean; so don't frown!
for nothing so spoils the forehead! Besides, who can look at you, and
not mean honourably? With all your sweetness, there is a fire in your
eye, that, if I harboured a naughty idea, only for a moment, would, I
see plainly, consume me. Let us, however, talk the matter over with
becoming seriousness. It may, perchance, be less difficult than you may
imagine, to establish your fair journeywoman's rights.'

'O make the attempt, then,' cried Gabriella; 'exert yourself in so noble
a trial!'

'A little activity,' he continued, 'and a great deal of menacing,
adroitly put in play, will now and then do wonders. A little money, too,
dexterously handled, rarely does much harm. When Lord Denmeath sees all
these at work, take my word for it, he will think twice, before he will
let them operate upon the public. We like mighty well to reap the fruits
of our address in the world; but we have a sagacious tendency to keeping
our ways and means to ourselves. Lord Denmeath, after all, as a worldly
man, does but his office, in putting to sleep his conscience for the
better keeping awake his interest. This is simply in the ordinary course
of things: but, when the blood that is youthful is not generous; when
life is begun with the crafty hardness that years, experience, and
disappointment have given to those who are ending it; when we see even
striplings, who ought to be made up of wild romance, and credulous
enthusiasm, meanly, basely, heartlessly, for a few pitiful thousands,
suffer an orphan to be cheated, despoiled of her rank in life, and made
an alien to her country, as well as to her family;--then it is, that I
curse Vanity as an imp of darkness, and Pride as a demon of hell! When a
boy like Lord Melbury, a young girl such as Lady Aurora--'

'They are innocent, Sir Jaspar! they are noble! they are faultless!'
called out Juliet, eagerly returning to the shop; 'they dream not of my
claims; they have not the most distant idea that I have the honour to
belong to their house. Innocent? they are meritorious! Conceiving me
simply a helpless, unpatronized, and indigent Wanderer, they have
treated me with a kindness, a consideration, an heavenly benevolence,
that, towards a stranger so forlorn, could have been dictated only by
the most angelic of natures!'

'Astonishing! incredible!' exclaimed Sir Jaspar. 'What! do they not know
your story? Have you made no appeal to their justice, their affections?'

'You will cease, Sir, to wonder, and cease also, I hope, to question me,
when I tell you that here, even here, I have not made my situation
known! here, even here,--to the friend of my heart, the confidant of my
life, the loved and honoured descendant of the house by which I have
been preserved, and from which alone I hope for protection! Judge then,
how powerful must be my motives for secresy! And she,--she submits to my
silence! Too high-minded for distrust, too nobly mistress of herself for
impatience; and conscious that even a wish, expressed, would to me have
the force of a command, she waits my time! She knows the most dire and
barbarous obstacles could alone lead me to reserve and concealment,
where my softest consolation would be openness and sympathy!'

Gabriella could offer no answer but by wide extended arms, with which
Juliet, gushing into tears, was fondly encircled; while the Baronet,
touched, amazed, and enchanted, repeatedly wiped his eyes; when
Gabriella, observing, again, at the window, one of the men of whom she
had spoken, whispered Juliet to compose herself, or to retire.

There was not time: Riley, who had seen her, bounced into the shop.

'Ah, ha, I have caught you at last, have I, Demoiselle?' he cried,
rubbing his hands with joy. 'I could not devise where the deuce you had
hidden yourself. I only knew you were in some shabby little bit of a
shop in this street. And who do you think is my author for this
intelligence?--Won't you guess?--Why Surly! your old friend, Surly!'

Apprehensive of some attack similar to that which she had endured at
Brighthelmstone, Juliet ventured not to speak, though she felt too
anxious to withdraw: while Sir Jaspar, extremely curious, repeated, 'Old
Surly?' in a tone that invited explanation.

'The same, faith! He's come over o' purpose to hunt you out,
Demoiselle.'

'Me?' cried Juliet, changing colour; 'and why?--And who is he?'

'Who is he? Well! that's droll, faith! Why you have not forgotten your
old crony, the pilot?'

Juliet looked down, to conceal the alarm with which she was seized.

'Why, I'll tell you how it all happened,' continued Riley, mounting upon
the counter, as he might have mounted upon his horse; 'I'll tell you how
it all happened. About a month ago, in one of my rambles, I met Master
Surly; and, for old acquaintance sake, I was prodigiously glad to see
him: for I like, as a curiosity, to shew John Bull a Mounseer that i'n't
a milk-sop. So we talked over our voyage; but when I told him that I had
met with the Demoiselle at Brighthelmstone; and that she had cast off
her slough, and was grown a beauty; he asked me a hundred questions, and
said that, most likely, she was a person of whom he was in search; and
after whom there had been a great hue and cry.'

Juliet now opened various small drawers, shutting them almost at the
same moment; but always with her face turned from Riley.

'Well, we parted, and I saw no more of him, and thought no more of him
neither, faith! till this very morning, when I popt upon him, all at
once, in Piccadilly. And then, he told me that he was just come from
Brighthelmstone, where he had been looking for you.'

Juliet though in a tremour that shook her whole frame, faintly said,
'And why?'

'Because, by my account of you, he was satisfied you must be the very
person that he was commissioned to find.'

Juliet now seemed scarcely able to sustain herself. Gabriella and Sir
Jaspar saw, with deep concern, her emotion; but Riley, unobservant, went
on.

'At Brighton, he had discovered that you had journied up to town, in the
stage. And he came up after you, in the very same carriage, only
yesterday. And, by means of a boy at the inn, who had called your
hackney-coach, he had just found out coachy; who informed him, that he
had set down a pretty young damsel, that had arrived from Brighton about
a week ago, at a small shop in Frith-street, Soho. Upon that, I offered
to help him in his search; and we jogged on to these quarters together:
for I always liked you, Demoiselle, and always had a prodigious mind to
know who you were. But the deuce a bit would you ever tell me. So we
have been sauntering and maundering up and down the street, one on one
side, and t'other on t'other, in search of you; peeping and peering into
every shop, and lounging and squinting at every window. We have had the
devil of a job of it to find you, Demoiselle; we have, faith!--But my
best sport will be to make Monsieur Surly look you full in the face, as
I did myself, without knowing you! though he pretends that that's all
one. The French always say that to every thing that they don't like;
_c'est egal!_ cries Monsieur, whenever he's put out of his way. However,
old Surly stands to it, that he shall discover you in a twinkling; for
he's got your description.'

'My description?' Juliet repeated; in a tone of terrour.

'Ay; and there he is, faith! on t'other side the way! An old owl!' cried
Riley; striding to the door, and calling aloud, 'Surly! old Surly! Come
over, Mounseer Surly!'

Juliet was now precipitately gliding into the little room; but Sir
Jaspar, intercepting her flight, warmly entreated, whatever might be her
fears or her difficulties, to be accepted as her protector: and, while
she was struggling, with speechless impatience, to pass him, the pilot,
pulled into the shop by Riley, stood full before her; stared hardily in
her face; looked at a paper which he held in his hand, and, grinning
horribly a scoffing smile, walked away, without speaking.

Juliet, who seemed nearly fainting, was drawn tenderly into the
adjoining room by Gabriella; who was herself in almost equal
consternation.

'A pretty feat you have performed here, Sir! An admirable exploit!' said
Sir Jaspar, angrily, to Riley; who, laughing heartily at the savage
satisfaction of the pilot, had re-mounted the counter. 'And what sort of
man must you be to find it so dulcet and recreative, to give chace to a
timid, defenceless lamb?'

'What sort of man?' returned Riley; 'faith, I don't know! I don't,
faith! But who does? If you can tell me the man who knows himself,
you'll do more than has been done yet since the days of old Adam. I
never trouble myself with vain researches, and combinations, and
developments, and metaphysical analysings. What do they do for us,
beside cracking our skulls? They only leave us where they found us;
forced to eat and drink, and sleep and wake, and live and die, just the
same, since all the discoveries of Newton, as we did before we knew a
square from an angle.'

'O ho, you are a philosopher, Sir, then, are you?' said Sir Jaspar; 'a
Cynic? guided by contempt of mankind?'

'Not a whit! I only follow my humour. If that happens to please my
friends, so much the better; if not, I am but little "of the melting
mood;" I go on all the same. I never stop to weigh opinion in the scale
of my proceedings.'

'And do you never weigh humanity, neither, Sir? the feelings of others?
the good or ill of society?'

'No! I never think of all that. I let the world take its own course, as
I take mine. I have long had a craving desire to know who this girl is;
and she would never tell me. Her obstinacy doubles my curiosity; and
when my curiosity gets at the helm, it does just what it will with me.
It does, faith!'

Gabriella, now returning, demanded of Riley what business detained him
in the shop, with an air of dignity that surprised him into making
something like an apology; to which he added, that he only stayed to
have a little further parley with the demoiselle.

That young lady was indisposed, and could be spoken to no more.

'Indisposed?' he repeated; 'I am sorry for that! I am, faith! Poor
demoiselle! she has been liberal enough of diversion to me, one way or
another. However, I shall soon discover who she is; for I know where to
catch Master Surly; and he says he is promised a thumping reward, if he
finds that she is the right person. He is but an agent, poor Surly: but
he expects his principal, with the cash, over every hour; if he i'n't
landed already.'

Gabriella, who had returned to the little parlour, perceived, now, that
the face of Juliet looked convulsed with horrour. She procured her a
glass of hartshorn and water; and entreated the Baronet, who seemed
transfixed with concern, to force Riley away; and to be gone, also,
himself.

Sir Jaspar could not refuse compliance; but neither could he deny
himself advancing, for an instant, to say, in a low voice, to Juliet,
'Bow not down your lovely head, sweet lilly! I have friends who will
find means to succour and protect you, be who will your assaulter!'

Offering Riley, then, a place in his chariot, and dropping, as he
passed, his purse into the till-box, he drove off, with his new
acquaintance.

For some minutes, excess of terrour robbed Juliet of speech, and of all
power of exertion; but when, by the cares and soothings of Gabriella,
she was, in some degree, restored, 'Oh my beloved friend!' she cried,
'we must part again,--immediately part!'

A tear stole down the cheek of Gabriella as she heard this
annunciation; but she offered no remonstrance; she permitted herself no
enquiry; her eye alone said, 'Why, why this!'

Juliet saw, but shrunk from this mute eloquence, hastily arranging
herself for going out; making up a packet of linen to carry in her hand,
and hanging a loaded work-bag upon her arm.

Casting herself, then, into the arms of her friend, 'Oh my Gabriella,'
she cried, 'I must fly,--instantly fly!--or entail a misery upon the
rest of my existence too horrible for description! Whither,--which way
to go, I know not,--but I must be hidden from all mankind!--To-morrow I
will write to you;--constantly I will write to you,--dear, generous,
noblest of friends, farewell, farewell!'

They embraced, mingled their tears, embraced again, and separated.



CHAPTER LXXI


Her head bowed low; her bonnet drawn over her eyes; ignorant what course
she took, and earnest only to discover any inlet into the country by
which she might immediately quit the town; Juliet, with hurried
footsteps, and trembling apprehensions, became again a Wanderer.

She passed through various streets, but, unacquainted with London, read,
without any aid to her purpose, their names, till, printed in large
characters, her eyes were struck with the word Piccadilly; and,
presently, she was accosted by an ordinary man, who had a long whip in
his hand, and who, holding open the door of a carriage, asked whether
she would have a cast; saying that he was ready to set off immediately.

Finding that the vehicle was a stage-coach, she eagerly accepted the
proposal, and seated herself next to an elderly woman.

The man demanded whether she meant to go all the way.

She answered in the affirmative; and, to her inexpressible satisfaction,
was driven out of London.

Not to risk discovering to her fellow-travellers so extraordinary a
circumstance, as that of beginning an excursion in utter ignorance where
it might end, she forbore asking any questions; and left to the time of
her alighting at the spot to which the stage was destined, her own
acquaintance with her local situation.

It was not, therefore, till she descended from the coach, that she found
that she had taken the road to Bagshot.

The immediate plan which, in her way, she had formed, was to enter the
first shop that she saw open; thence to write to Gabriella; and then to
stroll on to the nearest village, and lodge herself in the first clean
cottage which could afford her a room.

The sight, however, of the Salisbury stage, gave her a desire to travel
instantly further from London; and she asked whether there were a vacant
place. She was immediately accommodated; and her journey thither, though
long, and passed in dreadful apprehension, was without accident or
event.

Arrived at Salisbury, she quitted the machine, and her fellow
travellers, with whom she had scarcely exchanged a word; and, hoping
that she was now out of the way of pursuit, she put her plan into
execution, by writing a tranquillizing line to Gabriella, from a
stationer's shop; and then, set forth in search of a dwelling.

This was by no means easy to find. A solitary stranger, bearing her own
small baggage, after travelling all night, was not very likely to be
seen but with eyes of scrutiny and suspicion. Yet her air, her manner,
and her language made her application always best received by the upper
class of trades-people, who were most able to discern, that such
belonged not to any vulgar or ordinary person: but, when they found that
she enquired for a lodging, without giving any name, or any reference,
they held back, alike, from granting her admission, or forwarding her
wish by any recommendation.

The evident caution with which she hid as much as possible of her face,
made the beauty of what was still necessarily visible, create as much
ill opinion as admiration; though the perfect modesty of her deportment
rescued her from receiving any offence.

In the smaller shops, and by the meaner and poorer sort of people, her
carrying her parcel herself, levelled her, instantly, to their own rank;
while her demand of assistance, her loneliness and even her loveliness,
sunk her far beneath it, in their opinion; and, almost with one accord,
they bluntly told her that she might find a lodging at an inn.

Helpless, distressed, she wandered some time in this fruitless research;
too much self-occupied to remark the buildings, the neatness, the
antiquities, or the singularities of the city which she was patrolling;
till her eyes were caught by the little rivulets which, in most of the
streets, separate the foot-path from the high-road, by perceiving two
ruddy-cheeked, smiling little cherubs, attempting to paddle over one of
them, and playing so incautiously, that they seemed every moment in
danger of falling into the water.

She hastened towards them, to point out a bridge, somewhat higher up, by
which they might more safely pass; but the elder child, a rosy boy,
careless and sportive, heeded her not; till, finding the stream deeper
than he expected, his little feet slipt, and he would inevitably have
been under water, had not Juliet, with dextrous speed, caught him by the
coat.

She aided him to scramble out, though with much difficulty, for he was
wet through, and covered with mud. Frightened out of his little senses,
he set up an unappeaseable cry; in which the other child, a pretty
little girl, impelled by babyish though unconscious sympathy, joined,
with all the vociferation which her feeble lungs were capable of
emitting.

Juliet, with that kindness which childish helplessness ought always to
inspire, soothed them with gentle words, and persuaded the boy to hasten
to his home, that he might take off his wet cloaths before he caught
cold. But they both sat down to cry at their leisure; though rather as
if they did not understand, than as if they resisted her counsel.

Pitying their simple sufferings, she offered the boy a penny, to buy a
gingerbread cake, if he would rise.

Quick, or rather immediate, now, was the transition from despondence to
transport. The boy not merely wiped his eyes, and ceased his sobs, but,
all smiles and delight, began a rapid prattling of where he should buy,
and of what sort should be, his cake; while every word, rapturously,
though indistinctly, was echoed by the little girl, not less slack in
reviving.

The elasticity, however, of their little persons, kept not entirely pace
with that of their spirits. The wet attire of the boy, which his seat on
the dust had rendered as heavy as it was uncomfortable, nearly disabled
him from rising; and his little sister, who had lost one of her shoes in
the rivulet, had run a thorn into her foot, and could not stand without
crying.

The children were not able to give any account of who they were that was
intelligible; nor of whence they came, save that it was from a great,
great way off. Unwilling to leave them in so pitiable a plight, Juliet,
observing that the street, which led out of the town, was empty, looked
for a clean spot, and, bending upon one knee, had just drawn out the
splinter from the foot of the little girl, when the sound of the voice
of a female, who was approaching, calling out, 'Here I be, my loveys!
here comes mammy!' so miraculously electrified the little creatures,
that, forgetting all impediment to motion, they bounded up, delighted;
the boy no longer sensible to the weight of his wet garments, nor the
girl to the tenderness of her hurt foot: and both capered to embrace the
knees of their mammy; whose eyes alone could return their caresses; her
hands being engaged in holding a heavy basket upon her head.

But when she perceived their condition, she anxiously demanded what had
happened.

They both again began grievously to cry, while the boy related that he
had been drowned, but that the _dood ady_ (good lady) had come and saved
his life: and the little girl, interrupting him every moment, kept
presenting her foot, in telling a similar story of the kindness of the
_dood ady_.

To Juliet scarcely a word of their narrations was intelligible; but, to
the ears of their mother, accustomed to their dialect, their lisping and
their imperfect speech, these prattling details were as potent in
eloquence, as the most polished orations of Cicero or Demosthenes, are
to those of the classical scholar.

The gratitude of the good woman for the services rendered to her little
ones, was so warm and cordial, that she cried for joy, in pouring forth
blessings upon the head of Juliet, for having lent so friendly a hand,
she said, to her poor boy; and having done what she called so
neighbourly a kindness by her dear little girl.

She had directed her children, she said, to go straight to Dame Goss's,
beyond the turnpike; having had business to transact at a house which
they could not enter; but the little dearys were not yet come to their
memory; and, but for so good a friend, the poor loveys might have lain
in the wet and the mud, till they had been half choaked.

Seeing the children thus safely restored to their best friend, Juliet
meant to continue her solitary search; but the good woman, judging from
her kind offices, that there was nothing to fear from her disdain; and
concluding from her parcel, that there was nothing to respect in her
rank, frankly demanded her assistance, for helping on the children as
far as to the turnpike; simply adding, that she would do as good a turn
for her, in requital, another time; but that her basket was heavily
laden, and the poor little things, one without its shoe, and the other
in wet cloaths, would be but troublesome, in such a broiling sun, to
pull all the way by her petticoat.

Cruelly experiencing want of succour herself, Juliet, always open to
charity, was now more than usually ready to serve or oblige. With the
utmost alacrity, therefore, complying with the request, she deposited
her packet in the poor woman's basket; bound her pocket-handkerchief
round the foot and ancle of the little girl; and then, taking a hand of
each of the children, and gently alluring them on, by lively and playful
talk, she conducted them to the turnpike; without any other difficulty
than some fatigue to herself; which was amply compensated by the
pleasure of helping the little innocents, and their affectionate mother;
joined to the relief to her own feelings, afforded by a social exercise,
that drew her, for a while, from her fearful reflections.

The woman, charmed by such kindness, begged to have the direction of
Juliet, that she might call to thank her, when next she came to
Salisbury; whither some business commonly brought her every four or five
months.

Juliet was obliged to confess herself a mere passenger; but asked, in
return, the name and address of her new acquaintance.

Margery Fairfield, she answered, was her name, and she lived a far off
in the New Forest. She was going, in a friend's cart, to Romsey, and
there her husband would meet her, and carry her little girl. She could
never come out without her children, if she were ever so heavily laden,
for her husband was at work all day, and there was nobody to take care
of them in her absence.

A ray of pleasure now broke through the gloomy forebodings of Juliet;
there seemed to her an opening to an asylum, during the period of her
concealment, fortunate beyond her hopes; to lodge with a rustic family
of this simple description, in so retired and remote a spot, promising
all the security and privacy that she required, with fine air, pleasant
country, and worthy hosts.

A very few enquiries sufficed to satisfy her, that she might find a
small room, in which she could sleep; and a little further discourse
procured her all the details necessary for learning the route to the
dame's cottage. She forbore, nevertheless, hinting at her design, that
neither trouble, expence, nor preparation might precede her arrival.

She regretted her inability to accompany these new friends, at once, to
their home; but her letter to Gabriella had desired that the answer
might be directed to be left at the post office at Salisbury, till
called for; and she was too uncertain what her position might be in the
New Forest, to hazard any change of address. She was deeply anxious to
hear from Gabriella; and to learn whether she had herself been sought
since her flight.

When they reached the small, mean house of Dame Goss, beyond the
turnpike, the expected cart was not yet arrived; and Juliet, being
kindly invited to take a little rest, ventured to solicit, from her new
friend, a recommendation to a cheap lodging, with some honest hostess.

Enchanted to be able to serve her, the poor woman immediately said, that
she could no where be better than in that very house: and when its
mistress made various objections; first, that she had not a room
unoccupied; next, that she had no spare bed; and then, that her husband
would be angry; the zealous Dame Fairfield obviated them all. The room,
she said, with a significant nod, where they kept their boxes, would be
never the worse for being slept in a few nights, now all the boxes were
empty; and the bed she had had for herself the last winter, could be
easily carried up stairs, for she would stop to carry it with her own
hands: and as to Master Goss, he was so fond of her little dearys, that
he could not have so bad a heart as to be off doing a service to a
gentlewoman who had been so kind to them.

This eloquence was all-sufficient; the real obstacle, that of aiding an
unknown traveller, occuring neither to the advocate nor to the opponent.
Free from the niceties of custom in higher life, and unembarrassed by
the perplexities of discriminating scruples, the good women, often
lonely travellers themselves, saw nothing in such a situation to excite
distrust; and regarded it therefore simply as a claim upon hospitality.
To have manifested good nature, was sufficient to procure credit for
good character; and to have done kind offices, was to secure their
return.

Dame Fairfield busily set about putting into order a little apartment,
that was encumbered with trunks and boxes, which she piled one upon
another, to make a place for a small bed. She would suffer no one to
give her any help; sweeping, dusting, rubbing, and arranging all the
lumber herself; with an alacrity of pleasure, a gaiety of good will,
that charmed away, for a while, the misery of Juliet, by the consoling
picture thus presented to her view, of untaught benevolence and
generosity: a picture which must always be pleasing to the friend of
human nature, however less exalting, than when those qualities, as the
cultured fruits of religion and of principle, are purified into virtues.

In this mean little lodging, to avoid being seen or heard of, Juliet
passed three days, self-inclosed; with no employment but that of writing
long letters to Gabriella, which, eventually, were to be sent by the
post, or delivered by herself. This, however, not filling up her time,
the wish of obliging, joined to a constant desire of acquiring, in every
situation, the art of being useful,--that art which, more than wealth,
or state, or power, preserves its cultivator from wearying either
himself or those around him;--led her to bestow the rest of the day in
aiding the woman of the house, in sundry occupations.

To have seen and examined the famous cathedral; to have found out the
walks; to have informed herself of the manufactures; and to have visited
the antiquities and curiosities of this celebrated city, and its
neighbourhood, might have solaced the anxiety of this moment; but
discretion baffled curiosity, and fear took place of all desire of
amusement. She could only regale her confinement by the hope of soon
obtaining her freedom in an innocent and beautiful retreat; and
remained, therefore, perfectly stationary, till she conceived that an
answer might be returned from Gabriella.

On the evening of that day, she prevailed upon Dame Goss, whose mornings
were all engaged, but whose good will she had now completely secured, to
be her messenger to the post-office.

Without any letter, however, the messenger returned, though with an
acknowledgement that one was arrived; but that it could only be
delivered to Miss Ellis herself; or to a written order with a receipt.

Juliet was immediately preparing to write one, when Dame Goss said,
'They do tell me that you be a person advertised in the London
news-papers? It ben't true; be it?'

'Good Heaven, no!' Juliet ejaculated.

'Pray, be you the person called, "Commonly known by the name of Miss
Ellis?"'

Juliet, changing colour, asked why she made that enquiry.

The woman, instead of answering, looked earnestly in her face, with an
air of stedfast examination.

In the greatest dismay, Juliet turned from her, without hazarding
another question, and was going up stairs; but Dame Goss begged that she
would just stop a bit, because two persons were a coming, that she had
promised should have a peep at her.

Shocked and terrified, Juliet would still have passed on; but an instant
sufficed to tell her, that, in such an emergency, not to make some
immediate attempt to escape, was to be lost.

Turning, therefore, back, 'Dame Goss,' she cried, slipping a crown-piece
into her hands, with an apology for giving her so much trouble, 'hasten
again to the post-office, and say that I shall come for my letter
myself.'

The woman, without question or demur, received the money and set off.
And she was no sooner out of sight, than Juliet, taking her own small
packet, unnoticed by Master Goss, who was at work in his little garden,
went forth by the opposite way; turning, as quickly as possible, from
the high road, where she might most naturally be pursued; and, for all
else, committing her footsteps to chance and to hope,--those last, and
not seldom, best friends of distress and difficulty.

Wandering on, by paths unknown to herself, with feet not more swift than
trembling; fearing she was followed, yet not daring, by a glance around,
to ascertain either danger or safety, she overtook a young village-girl,
who was hoydening with a smart footman; but who caught her attention, by
representing to him, that, if he detained her any longer, she should
miss the return-chaise, and not know how to get back to Romsey; for her
mother would be too angry to wait for her even a moment.

The sound of Romsey revived the spirits of Juliet. If she could join
this young person, she might find a conveyance, equally unsuspected and
expeditious, to within a mile or two of the very spot where she hoped
for concealment. She loitered, therefore, in sight, till the footman
retreated, and then, following the girl, though with affright, by
returning to the town, she soon found herself in the church-yard of the
cathedral; where the damsel encountered her waiting mother, with whom,
boldly defying her wrath, she began, sturdily, to wrangle.

Juliet stood aloof, during the altercation, still hoping to accompany
them in their route. The beautiful Gothic structure before her, the
latest and finest remains of ancient elegance, lightness, and taste, was
nearly lost to her sight, from the misery and pre-occupation of her
mind; though appearing now with peculiar effect, from the shadows cast
upon it by the rising moon. Yet soon, in defiance of all absorption, the
magnetic affinity, in a mind natively pious, of religious solemnity with
sorrow, made the antique grace of this wonderful edifice, catch, even in
this instant of terrour and agitation, the admiring eye of Juliet; whose
mind was always open to excellence, even when most incapable of
receiving any species of pleasure.

She leaned, for a moment's repose, in a recess of the building, which
the shade rendered dark, nearly sinking under the horrour of pursuit,
and the shame of eluding it. To find herself advertised in a
news-paper!--the blood mounted indignantly into her cheeks.--Perhaps to
be described!--perhaps, named! and with a reward for her
discovery!--cold from them, at this surmise, the blood again descended
to her heart: yet every feeling was transient, that led not to
immediate escape; every reflection was momentary, that turned, not to
personal safety.

The dispute between the mother and daughter was interrupted,--not
finished,--by the re-appearance of the footman, who told them that the
position was just going off.

They scampered instantly to an inn, from the gateway of which a
post-chaise was issuing.

Juliet, who had pursued, now joined them, and proposed making one in
their party.

The women neither refused nor consented; they renewed their contention,
and heard only one another: but the postilion, to whom Juliet held out
half-a-crown, gave her a place with readiness,--and she was driven to
Romsey.



CHAPTER LXXII


The affrighted Juliet, every instant in expectation of being stopt, was
silent the whole way; but the loquacity of her companions, to whom the
journey was an uninterrupted opportunity for wrangling, secured her from
any remark; and they arrived, and were separating, at Romsey, nearly
without having taken notice that they had ever been together, when
Juliet, having descended from the chaise, turned fearfully round, to
examine whether she were pursued.

She saw no one; and blest Heaven.

Nevertheless, it was night; she was alone, in the suburbs of a strange
town; and wholly ignorant of the way to the New Forest. It was too late
to go on without a guide; yet, to demand one, or to order a chaise, at
such an hour, would be risking to leave documents behind her, that might
facilitate her being discovered. She addressed herself, therefore, to
her fellow-travellers, and besought them to afford, or to procure her, a
safe lodging for the night.

The mother, coarsely, demanded immediate payment; which being accorded,
she said that she had some spare bedding, which could be put upon the
floor, in the sleeping-room of Debby.

Juliet, accompanied them to their homely habitation, at the further
extremity of a narrow lane, in the busy and prosperous town of Romsey;
and though nothing could be more ordinary than the dwelling, or the
accommodations which she there found, neither splendour, nor wealth, nor
luxury, nor pleasure, could have devised for her, at that moment, a
sojourn more acceptable; since, to all but safety, distress and affright
made her insensible.

But, this first moment of solid satisfaction passed, her whole mind
became absorbed in fearful ruminations upon the various risks that she
was running, and in gloomy apprehensions of what might be their result.

Her taciturnity and dejection were as little imitated as they were
little happy: her companion, almost equally self-occupied, though by no
means equally incommoded by foresight, or burthened with discretion,
broke forth immediately into the history of her own affairs and
situation; bitterly inveighing against the ill nature of her mother,
which was always thwarting every thing that was agreeable; and boldly
declaring her fixed determination to go to the fair with Mr Thomas.

The humanity of Juliet here conquered her silence; but her
representations, whether of danger or of duty, were scouted with rude
merriment; and she found again as wilful a victim to pleasure as Flora
Pierson; though without the simplicity, the good humour, or the beauty
of that credulous maiden.

Nearly with the light, Juliet arose, resolved, with whatever fatigue, to
travel on foot, that she might not hazard being recognized, through the
advertisement, by any coachman or postilion; and, to be less liable to
detection from passing observers, she changed, over night, her bonnet,
which was of white chip, for one the most coarse and ordinary of straw,
with her young hostess; of whom, also, she bought a blue striped apron.

Shocking to all her feelings was this attempt to disguise, so imitative
of guilt, so full of semblance to conscious imposture. But there are
sometimes circumstances, great and critical, that call for all the
energy of our courage, and demand all the resources of our faculties,
for warding off impending and substantial evil, at whatever risk of
transitory misconstruction.

Her account being already settled, she wished to depart unobserved, that
she might less easily be traced. Her young hostess, sleeping late and
tired, slept soundly, and was not disturbed by her rising, dressing, or
opening the room-door; and she glided down stairs without being missed,
or noticed. The door of the house was fastened only by a bolt, and she
gained the street without noise or interruption.

Here all yet was still as night; the houses were shut up, and nothing
was in view, nor in hearing, but a solitary cart, driven by a young
carter, who amused his toil by the alternate pleasure of smacking his
horse, and whistling to the winds.

This vehicle, which was probably travelling to the high road, she
determined to follow.

The general stillness made the slightest motion heard, and the carter,
though at a considerable distance, turned round, and called out, 'Why
you be up betimes, my lovey! come and Ize give you a cast.'

Startled, she looked down, crossing the way, and appearing not to
suppose herself to be the person thus addressed: but the carter,
standing still, repeated his invitation; assuring her that he had plenty
of room.

Uncertain how to act, she stopt.

Terms of coarse endearment, then, accompanied a more pressing desire
that she would advance.

Frightened, she drew back; but the carter, throwing his whip upon his
carriage, vowed that she should be caught, and ran after her, shouting
aloud, till she regained the house. He then scoffingly exclaimed, 'Why a
be plaguy shy o'the sudden, Mistress Debby!' and, composedly turning
upon his heel, began again to smack his horse, and whistle to the winds.

Juliet, who in finding herself taken for her young hostess, found, also,
how light a character that young hostess bore, was struck to see danger
thus every way surrounding her; and alarmed at the risk, to which
impatience had blinded her, of travelling, at so early an hour, alone.
Alas! she cried, is it only under the domestic roof,--that roof to me
denied!--that woman can know safety, respect, and honour?

She now strolled to the vicinity of a capital mansion, at the door of
which, if again put in fear, she could knock and make herself heard.

But the higgler went on; and another cart soon appeared, in which she
had the pleasure to see a woman, driven by a boy. Unannoyed, then, she
walked by its side till she came to the long middle street; when she
found that, from solitude, at least, she had nothing more to apprehend.
Carts, waggons, and diligences, were wheeling through the town;
market-women were arriving with butter, eggs, and poultry; workmen and
manufacturers were trudging to their daily occupations; all was alive
and in motion; and commerce, with its hundred hands, was every where
opening and spreading its sources of wealth, through its active sisters,
ingenuity and industry.

No difficulty now remained for finding the route; travellers of every
kind led the way. Her coarse bonnet, and blue apron saved her from
peculiar remark; and her appearance of decency, with the deep care in
her countenance, which, to the common observer, seemed but an air of
business, kept aloof all intrusive impertinence.

Thus, for the first early hours of the morning, she journeyed on, nearly
unnoticed, and wholly unmolested. Every one, like herself, alert to
proceed, and impressed with the value of time, because using it to
advantage, pursued his own purpose, without leisure or thought to
trouble himself with that of his neighbour.

Five times she had already counted the friendly mile-stone, since she
had quitted Romsey: one mile only remained to be trodden, ere she
reached the New Forest; but that mile was replete with obstacles, to
which its five sisters had been strangers.

It was now noon; and a gentle breeze, which hitherto had fanned her
passage, and wafted to her refreshment, suddenly ceased its playful
benignity; chaced to a distance by the burning rays of a vertical sun,
just bursting forth with meridianal fire and splendour; and dispersing
the flying clouds which, in obstructing its refulgence, had softened its
intenseness.

This quick change of temperature, operating, materially, like an
effective change of climate, annihilated, for the moment, all the
strength of Juliet; who, as yet, from the freshness of the morning air,
the vivacity of mental courage, had been a stranger of fatigue.

Upon looking around, to seek a spot where she might obtain a few
instants' rest, and some passing succour; she observed that the road,
but just before so busily peopled, appeared to be abruptly forsaken. The
labourers were no longer working at the high ways, or at the hedges; the
harvest-men were vanished; the market-women were gone; the road retained
merely here and there an idle straggler; and the fields exhibited only a
solitary boy, left to frighten away the birds.

A sensation nearly of famine with which next, from long fasting, joined
to vigourous exercise in the open air, she felt assailed, soon pointed
out to her that the cause of this general desertion was the rural hour
of repast.

Initiated, now, by her own exertions, in the necessity both of support,
and of rest, she, too, felt that this was the hour of nature for
recruit. But where stop? and how procure sustenance with safety and
prudence?

She looked about for some cottage, and was not long ere she found one;
but, upon begging for a glass of water from a husbandman, who was
standing upon the threshold, he answered that she should have it, if she
would pay him with a kiss.

She walked on to another; but some men were smoaking at the door, and
she had not courage to make her demand.

At a third, she was disconcerted, by a familiar invitation to partake of
a cup of cyder.

She now resolved to make no further application but to females; since
countrymen, even those who are freest from any evil designs, are almost
all either gross or facetious.

Women, however, at this hour, were not easily met with; they were
within, preparing their meals, or cleaning their platters, and feeding
their poultry, rabbits, or pigs.

She now dropped, scarcely able to breathe from the oppression of the
heat; or to sustain herself from the enfeebling effects of emptiness,
joined to overpowering fatigue. With pain and difficulty she dragged on
her wearied limbs; while a furious thirst parched her mouth, and seemed
consuming her inside.

Now, too, her distress received the tormenting augmentation of intrusive
interruption; for, in losing the elasticity of her motions, she lost, to
the vulgar observer, her appearance of innocence. Her eye, eagerly cast
around in search of an asylum, appeared to be courting attention; her
languor seemed but loitering; and her slow unequal pace, wore the air of
inviting a companion.

Nor was the character of chaste diligence, and vivacious business, any
longer predominant in those whom she now casually encountered. The
noon-tide heat, in impairing their bodily strength, caused a mental
lassitude, that made them ready for any dissipation that might divert
their weariness; and Juliet, young, rosy, and alone, seemed exactly
fashioned for awakening their drowsy faculties. No one, therefore,
passed, without remarking her; and scarcely any one without making her
some address. The inconsistency of her attire, which her slackened pace
allowed time for developing, gave rise to much comment, and some
mockery. Her ordinary bonnet and blue apron, ill accorded with the other
part of her dress; and she was now assailed with coarse compliments upon
her pretty face; now by jocose propositions to join company; and now by
free solicitations for a salute.

Painfully she forced herself on, till, at length, she discerned an
ancient dame, in a field by the side of the road, who sat spinning at
the door of a cottage.

She crossed a style, and, presenting herself to the old woman, craved a
draught of water, and permission to take a little rest.

The good old dame, who was surrounded by little boys and girls, to whom
she was singing the antique ballad of the children of the wood, in a
tone so dolorous, and with such heavy sighs, that the elder of her
hearers, who were five and six years old, were dissolved in tears; while
the younger ones clung to her knees, pale and scared, finished her
stanza, before she would answer, or look at the supplicant stranger. She
then raised her eyes, with evident vexation at the interruption; but,
when she perceived the weak state, and listened to the faint accents of
her petitioner, the expression of her countenance became all
benevolence; and, good humouredly nodding her head, she disengaged
herself from the children, arose, fetched a horn of water, added to it a
cup of milk, and then, presenting to the weary traveller her own chair,
which was large and low, she got a smaller, and less commodious one,
from the kitchen for herself.

The nearly exhausted Juliet gratefully accepted this hospitality; and,
in quaffing her milk and water, believed herself initiated in the
knowledge of the flavour, and of all the occult qualities, of Nectar.

It is thus, then, she thought, that the poor and laborious, also, learn,
even from their toils and sufferings, what is luxury and enjoyment! for
where is the regale, and what is the libation, which the most sumptuous
table of refined elegance can offer, that can be more exquisite to the
taste, than this simple beverage of milk and water, received thus at the
moment of parching thirst, and deadly fatigue?

Meanwhile, the little ones, impatient at the interruption of a tale
which engaged all their tenderest feelings; and of which no repetition
could diminish the interest; looked with clouded brows, and unchecked
ill humour, upon the intruder; and, while the elder ones vented their
chagrin by crying, some of the younger ones, yet more completely in the
rough hands of untutored nature, rushed forward to beat the cause of
their vexation; while others, indignantly, struggled to pull her out of
the chair of their grandame.

Juliet, whom their fat little hands could not hurt, and who approved
their fondness both for their grandmother and for the ballad, forgave
their petulance in favour of its motive: but the grandame, putting aside
her spinning wheel, called them all around her, and calmly enquired what
was the matter?

They vociferously answered that they wanted to push away the naughty
person who was come to take granny's chair.

And what, she asked, would they do themselves, should they be obliged to
walk a great way off, till they were tired to death, and as dry as dust,
if nobody would give them a little drink, nor a seat to sit down?

But they would never walk a great way off, they answered; never as long
as they lived! They would always stay at home with dad and mam and
grandam.

But dad and mam, she resumed, were often obliged to walk a great way off
themselves; and if nobody would let them have a seat, not any thing to
drink, what would become of them? whereas, if they should hap to light
on this young gentlewoman in any trouble, she would remember what had
been done for herself, and get them fresh water, and sweet milk, and the
easiest chair she could find: and would not they be glad of such good
luck to dad and mam? Besides that, by doing good, they would be loved by
all good boys and girls; and even by God himself, who was the Father of
them all.

This was speaking at once to their sensations and their understandings;
dad and mam in distress and relieved seemed present to their view; and
they all flew to do something for their guest, as if their gratitude
were already indebted. One brought her half an apple, another, a quarter
of a pear; one, a bunch of red currants, another, of white; the youngest
of the little girls presented her with an old broken rattle; and the
smallest of the little boys, waddled to her with a hoop.

Amused by this infantine scene of filial piety, and revived by rest and
refreshment, Juliet soon recompensed their endearing innocence, by
dancing the smaller ones in her arms, and prattling playfully with those
who were less babyish.

Then, putting a shilling into one of their hands, she requested to have
a couple of eggs and a crust of bread.

The eggs were immediately baked in the cinders; the crust was cut from a
loaf of sweet and fresh brown bread. And if her drink had seemed nectar,
what was more substantial appeared to her to be ambrosia! and her little
waiters became Hebes and Ganymedes.

Refreshment thus salubrious, rest thus restorative, and security thus
serene, after fatigue, fasting and alarm, made her deem this one of the
most felicitous moments of her life. Her sole immediate desire was to
lengthen it, and to spend, in this tranquil retreat, a part, at least,
of the period destined to concealment and obscurity. She had not
forgotten her first little _protegés_, nor lost her wish to join them
and their worthy mother; but she had severely experienced how little
fitted to the female character, to female safety, and female propriety,
was this hazardous plan of lonely wandering. She begged, therefore,
permission, as a weary traveller, to pass the night in the cottage.

The good dame readily consented; saying, that she could not offer very
handsome bedding; but that it should be clean and wholesome, for it had
belonged to her youngest daughter, who was just gone out to service.

This arranged, the ballad was again begun, so exquisitely to the delight
of the young audience, that though, at the stanza

    Their little lips with blackberries
    Were all besmear'd and dyed;
    And when they saw the darksome night
    They sat them down and cried,

they all sobbed aloud; they were yet so grieved when it was over, that
they clung around their grandame, saying, with one voice, 'Aden, granny,
aden!'

Granny, however, was too much tired to comply, and the repetition was
deferred to another day.

In the evening, the mother of the children came home, and heard what had
been settled with her new and unknown guest, without objection or
interference. The father appeared soon after, and was equally passive.
The grandame was mistress of the cottage, and in her own room, which was
that, also, of the elder children, Juliet was lodged. The younger
branches of the family slept, with their father and mother, in the
kitchen; which, like the apartment of the cobler, served them equally
for parlour and hall.

Juliet found the man and his wife perfectly good sort of people, simply,
but usefully employed in earning their living; while their aged mother
took charge of their dwelling, their nourishment, and their children.

Thus safely and tranquilly situated, Juliet, without meeting any
difficulty, proposed to sojourn with them for some days. She gave, also,
a commission, to the younger mistress of the house, to purchase her some
ready-made linen at Romsey; and she was soon more consistently equipped,
in new, but homely apparel.

This interval was most seasonably passed, in recruiting her strength,
and calming her spirits. She took pleasant walks, accompanied by the
tallest boy and girl; she worked for the grandmother; taught a part of
the catechism to some of the children; played with them all, and made
herself at once so useful and so agreeable in the rustic dwelling, that
she won the heart and good will of all its inhabitants.

Yet, three times only the sun had set thus serenely, when her host,
returning half an hour later in the evening than usual, appeared so
altered and ill humoured, that Juliet thought it advisable to leave him
with his family; but the slightness of the small building made as
inevitable as it was alarming, her learning that she was herself the
subject of his discontent.

He told his mother that she must be more cautious how she harboured
travellers, or she might come to trouble; for there was a young
female-swindler, in or about Salisbury, who was advertised in the
news-papers; and who, upon being found out in her tricks, had made off
with Dame Goss's, without so much as paying for her lodging. She had
been traced as far as Romsey, by means of a postilion; but there, too,
she had left her lodgings by stealth, in the very middle of the night.
All the coachmen and postilions and innkeepers were looking out for her;
a handsome reward being offered, for sending tidings where she might be
met with, to an attorney in London. 'And now, mother,' he continued,
'suppose, by hap, this young gentlewoman be she? why you'll be fit to
hong yourself, mother! for as to her being so koind to the children,
that be no sign; for the bad ones be oftentimes the koindest.'

He then enquired whether she had arrived in a white muslin gown, and a
white chip-hat.

Her gown might be white muslin, the mother answered, for aught she could
say to the contrary, for it was covered almost all round by a blue
striped apron; but as to her hat, it was nothing but a straw-bonnet as
coarse and ordinary as he might wish to set eyes on.

O then, he said, it was clear it could not be she, she was not a person
to wear a blue apron; she had been seen, the very night she made off,
dressed quite genteel.

What now was the consternation of Juliet, to find herself thus pursued
as a run-away, and stigmatized as a swindler and an imposter!
Astonishing destiny! she cried; for what am I reserved? O when may I
cast off this veil of humiliating concealment? when meet unappalled the
fair eye of open day? when appear,--when alas!--even know what I am!

This, however, was not the end: it soon seemed scarcely the beginning of
new distress, so far more deeply terrible to her with the intelligence
by which it was followed. When the women demanded where he had heard
this news, he answered, at the public-house; where he was told that all
Salisbury was in an uproar; a rich outlandish Mounseer, in a
post-chaise, having just come to the great inn, with the advertisement
in his hand, pointing to the reward, and promising, in pretty good
English, to double it, if the person should be found.

Not another word could Juliet hear; not an instant, not a thought could
she bestow to learn further what was past, or even to gather what was
passing; the future, the dread of what was to come, took sole possession
of her feelings and her faculties, and again to fly, more rapidly, more
eagerly, more affrighted than ever, to fly, was her immediate act,
rather than resolution.

She accoutred herself, therefore, in all that was most homely to her new
apparel; made a packet of what remained of her genuine attire; left
half-a-guinea open upon a little table, to avoid again the accusation of
being a swindler; and then, descending the ladder, and contriving to
hide her bundle with her blue apron, as she passed, said that she was
going to walk in the neighbouring fields, but that it was too late to
take out the children; and, giving to each of them a penny, to buy
cakes, she quitted the cottage.

Without an instant, without even any powers for reflection, she darted
across the fields, gained the road, and, within twenty minutes, arrived
at an entrance into the New Forest; to which she had already learnt the
way in her rambles with the children.



CHAPTER LXXIII


The terrified eagerness with which Juliet sought personal security, made
her enter the New Forest as unmoved by its beauties, as unobservant of
its prospects, as the 'Dull Incurious[3],' who pursue their course but
to gain the place of their destination; unheeding all they meet on their
way, deaf to the songsters of the wood, and blind to the pictures of
'God's Gallery[4],' the country.

[Footnote 3: Thomson.]

[Footnote 4: Twining.]

Her steps had no guide but fear, which winged their flight; she sought
no route but that which seemed most private. She flew past, across, away
from the high road, without daring to raise her eyes, lest her sight
should be blasted by the view of her dreaded pursuer.

But speed which surpasses strength must necessarily be transitory. Her
feet soon failed; she panted for breath, and was compelled to stop.
Fearfully, then, she glanced her eyes around. Nothing met them but trees
and verdure. Again she blessed Heaven, and ventured to seat herself upon
the 'wild fantastic roots' of an aged beech-tree.

Here, far removed from the 'busy hum of man,' from all public roads; not
even a beaten path within view, not a sheep-walk, nor a hamlet, nor a
cottage to be discerned; nor a single domestic animal to announce the
vicinity of mortal habitation; here, she began to hope that she had
parried danger, escaped detection, and reached a spot so secluded, that
all probability of pursuit was at an end.

With this flattering idea the freedom of her respiration returned: they
will go on, she thought, from stage to stage, from mile-stone to
mile-stone; they will never imagine I should dare thus to turn aside
from the public way; or, should any unfortunate circumstance lead them
to such a surmise, how many chances, how many thousand chances are in my
favour, that they may not fix upon exactly the same direction, as that
to which accident, alone, has been my guide into the mazes of this
intricate forest!

This belief sufficed to attract back to her willing welcome, that
invincible foe to helpless despondency, Hope; whose magic elasticity
waits not for reason, consults not with probability; weighs not
contending arguments for settling its expectations, or regulating its
desires; but, airy, blyth, and bright, bounds over every obstacle that
it cannot conquer.

To find some humble dwelling, by travelling on still further from the
towns in which she had been seen, was her immediate project; but
prudence forbade her seeking the asylum with Dame Fairfield which she
had pleased herself with thinking secured, lest her arrival should be
preceded by an accusing, or followed by a dangerous report from her
hostess of Salisbury. She determined, therefore, to hide herself under
some obscure roof, where she might be utterly unknown; and there to
abide, till the fury of the storm by which she feared to be overtaken,
should be passed.

No sooner were her spirits, in some degree, calmed, than, with the happy
promptitude of youth to set aside evil, all personal fatigue was
insensibly forgotten; her eyes began to recover their functions; and the
moment that she cast them around with abated anxiety, she was so
irresistibly struck with the prospect, and invigorated by the purity of
the ambient air, which exhaled odoriferous salubrity, that, rising fresh
as from the balmy restoration of undisturbed repose, she mounted a
hillock to take a general survey of the spot, and thought all paradise
was opened to her view.

The evening was still but little advanced; the atmosphere was as
serenely clear, as the beauties which met her sight were sublimely
picturesque; and the gay luxuriance of the scenery, though chastened by
loneliness and silence, invited smiling admiration. Chiefly she was
struck with the noble aspect of the richly variegated woods, whose aged
oaks appeared to be spreading their venerable branches to offer shelter
from the storms of life, as well as of the elements, charming her
imagination by their lofty grandeur; while the zephyrs, which agitated
their verdant foliage, seemed but their animation. Soon, however, all
observation was seized and absorbed by the benignant west, where the
sun, with glory indescribable and ever new, appeared to be concentrating
its refulgence, to irradiate the world with its parting blessing: while
the extatic wild notes, and warbling, intuitive harmony of the feathered
race, struck her ear as sounds celestial, issuing from the abode of
angels; or to that abode chanting invitation.

Here, for the first time, she ceased to sigh for social intercourse; she
had no void, no want; her mind was sufficient to itself; Nature,
Reflection, and Heaven seemed her own! Oh Gracious Providence! she
cried, supreme in goodness as in power! What lesson can all the
eloquence of rhetoric, science, erudition, or philosophy produce, to
restore tranquillity to the troubled, to preserve it in the wise, to
make it cheerful to the innocent,--like the simple view of beautiful
nature? so divine in its harmony, in its variety so exquisite! Oh great
Creator! beneficent! omnipotent! thy works and religion are one!
Religion! source and parent of resignation! under thy influence how
supportable is every earthly calamity! how supportable, because how
transitory becomes all human woe, where heaven and eternity seem full in
view!

Thus, in soul-expanding contemplation, Juliet composed her spirits and
recruited her strength, while she awaited the dusky hue of twilight to
discover some retreat; and not without reluctance she then quitted the
delicious spot, where her weary mind and body had been alike refreshed
with repose and consolation.

Though too much occupied by the certain and cruel danger from which she
was running, to bestow much attention upon the uncertain, yet immediate
and local risks to which she might be liable, she was not, now, sorry to
regain a beaten track, of which the rugged ruts shewed the recent
passage of a rural vehicle.

In a few minutes, she descried a small cart, directed by a man on foot,
who was jovially talking with some companion.

While seeking to discover whether their appearance were such as might
encourage her to ask their assistance upon her way, she was startled
with a cry of 'Why if there ben't Deb. Dyson! O the jeade! if I ben't
venged of un! a would no' know me this very blessed morning!'

'Deb. Dyson?' answered the other: 'no, a be too slim for Debby. Debby'd
outweigh the double o' un.'

'O, belike I do no' know Deb. Dyson?' cried the carter. 'Why I zee her,
at five of the clock, at her own door, in that seame bonnet. And I do
know her bonnet of old, for t' be none so new; for I was by when Johnny
Ascot gin it her, at our fair, two years agone. I know un well enough, I
va'nt me! A can make herself fat or lean as a wull, can Debby. A be a
funny wench, be Debby. But a shall peay me for this trick, I van't me, a
jeade!'

Juliet, in the utmost alarm to find herself thus recognised by the
carter, though still supposed to be another, hastily glided back to the
wood; cruelly vexed that the very disguise which had hitherto saved her
from personal discovery, exposed her but additionally to another species
of peril. She might easily, indeed, by speaking, or by suffering herself
to be looked at, shew the carter his mistake in conceiving her to be of
his acquaintance; but there would still remain a dangerous appearance of
intimacy with a young woman who was evidently held in light estimation.
She quickened, therefore, her pace, and determined to relinquish her
suspicious bonnet by the first opportunity.

In a short time the cackling of fowls, and other sounds of rural
animation, announced the vicinity of some inhabited spot. She pursued
this unerring direction, and soon saw, and entered, a small hut; in
which, though the whole dimensions might have stood in a corner of any
large hall, without being in the way, she found a father, mother, and
seven young children at supper.

Their looks, upon her entrance, were by no means auspicious; the woman
scowled at her with an eye of ill will; the man harshly asked what she
wanted; the children, who seemed ravenous, squalled and squabbled for
food; and a fierce dog, quitting a half-gnawn bone, to bark
vociferously, seemed panting for a sign to leap at and bite her; as a
species of order to which he was accustomed upon the intrusion of a
stranger.

Juliet told them that she was going to a neighbouring village; but that
she had missed her road, and, as it was growing dark, had stopt to beg a
night's lodging.

They answered morosely that they had neither bed nor room for
travellers.

Was there any house in the neighbourhood where she could be
accommodated?

Aye, there was one, they answered, not afar off, where an old man and
his wife had a spare bed, belonging to their son: but the direction
which they gave was so intricate that, in the fear of losing her way, or
again encountering the carter, she entreated permission to sit up in the
kitchen.

They went on with their supper, now helping, and now scolding their
children, and one another, without taking any notice of this request.

To quicken their attention she put half-a-crown upon the table.

The man and woman both rose, bowing and courtsying, and each offering
her their place, and their repast; saying it should go hard but they
would find something upon which she might take a little rest.

She felt mortified that so mercenary a spirit could have found entrance
in a sport which seemed fitted to the virtuous innocence of our yet
untainted first parents; or to the guileless hospitality of the poet's
golden age. She was thankful, however, for their consent, and partook of
their fare; which she found, with great surprize, required not either
air or exercise to give it zest: it consisted of scraps of pheasant and
partridge, which the children called _chicky biddy_; and slices of such
fine-grained mutton, that she could with difficulty persuade herself
that she was not eating venison.

All else that belonged to this rustic regale gave a surprize of an
entirely different nature; the nourishment was not more strikingly
above, than the discourse and general commerce of her new hosts were
below her expectations. They were rough to their children, and gross to
each other; the woman looked all care and ill humour; the man, all
moroseness and brutality.

Safety, at this moment, was the only search of Juliet; yet, little as
she was difficult with respect to the manner of procuring it, she did
not feel quite at ease, when she observed that the man and his wife
spoke to each other frequently apart, in significant whispers, which
evidently, by their looks, had reference to their guest.

Nevertheless, this created but a vague uneasiness, till the children
were put to bed; when the man and woman, having given Juliet some
clothing, and an old rug for a mattrass, demanded whether she were a
sound sleeper.

She answered in the affirmative.

They then mounted, by a staircase ladder to their chamber; but, while
they were shutting a trap-door, which separated the attic-story from the
kitchen, Juliet caught the words, 'You've only to turn the darkside of
your lanthorn, as you pass, mon, and what can a zee then?'

She was now in a consternation of a sort yet new to her. What was there
to be seen?--What ought to be hidden?--Where, she cried, have I cast
myself! Have I fallen into a den of thieves?

Her first impulse was to escape; and the moment that all was still over
her head, she stept softly to the door, guided by the light of the moon,
which gleamed through sundry apertures of an old board, that was placed
against the casement as a shutter: but the door was locked, and no key
was hung up; nor was any where in sight.

This extraordinary caution in cottagers augmented her alarm. She had,
however, no resource but to await the dark lanthorn with steadiness, and
to collect all her courage for what might ensue.

She sat upright and watchful, till, by the calculations of probability,
she conceived it to be about three o'clock in the morning. Lulled, then,
by a hope that her fears were groundless, she was falling insensibly
into a gentle slumber; when she was aroused by a step without, followed
by three taps against the window, and a voice that uttered, in low
accents, 'Make heaste, or 'twull be light o'er we be back.'

The upper casement was then opened, and the host, in a gruff whisper,
answered, 'Be still a moment, will ye? There be one in the kitchen.'

Great as was now the affright of Juliet, she had the presence of mind to
consider, that, whatever was the motive of this nocturnal rendezvous, it
was undoubtedly designed to be secret; and that her own safety might
hang upon her apparent ignorance of what might be going forward.

To obviate, therefore, more effectually any surmize of her alarm, she
dropt softly upon the rug, and covered herself with the clothing
provided by her hostess.

She had barely time for this operation before the trap-door was
uplifted, and gently, and without shoes, the man descended. He crossed
the room cautiously, unbolted and unlocked the door, and shut himself
out. Immediately afterwards, the woman, with no other drapery than that
in which she had slept, quickly, though with soft steps, came to the
side of the rug, and bent over it for about a minute; she then rebolted
and locked the door, returned up the ladder, and closed the
trap-opening.

Juliet, though dismayed as much as astonished, forbore to rise, from
ignorance, even could she effect her escape, by what course to avoid
encountering the persons whom she meant to fly, in a manner still more
dangerous than that of awaiting their return to their own abode; whence
she hoped she might proceed quietly on her way the next morning, as an
object not worth detention or examination; her homely attire and
laborious manner of travelling alike announcing profitless poverty.

Her doubts of the nature of what she had to apprehend, were as full of
perplexity as of inquietude. Would robbers thus eagerly have caught at
half-a-crown? Would they be residents in a fixed abode, with a family of
children? Surely not. Yet the whispers, the cautions, the examination
whether she slept, evinced clearly something clandestine; and their
looks and appearance were so darkly in their disfavour, that,
ultimately, she could only judge, that, if they were not actual robbers,
they were the occasional harbourers, and miserable accomplices of those
who, to similar want of principle, joined the necessary hardiness for
following that brief mode of obtaining a livelihood; brief not alone in
its success, but in its retribution!

In a state of disturbance so singular, there was not much danger that
she should find herself surprised by

    'Kind nature's soft restorer, balmy sleep.'[5]

[Footnote 5: Young.]

In less than an hour, three taps again struck her ear, though not upon
her own casement; taps so gentle, that had she been less watchful, they
would not have been heard.

The woman instantly descended the ladder, and approached the bedding;
over which she leant as before; and, as before, concluded stillness to
be sleep. Cautiously, then, she unbolted and unlocked the door; when,
low as were the whispers that ensued, Juliet distinguished three
different tones of voice, though she caught not a word that was uttered.

The woman next, gliding across the room, opened a low door, which Juliet
had not remarked. The man followed slowly, and as if heavily loaded; the
woman shut him out by this private door, and returned to fasten that of
public entrance; whispering 'Good bye!' to some one who seemed to be
departing. Juliet, at the same time, heard something fall, or thrown
down, from within, weighty, and bearing a lumpish sound that made her
start with horrour.

This involuntary and irresistible movement was immediately perceived by
the hostess, who was re-crossing the room, but who, then, precipitately
advanced to the bedding, and roughly demanded whether she slept?

Juliet struggled vainly to resume her serene appearance of repose; the
shock of her nerves had mounted to her features; she felt her lips
quiver, and her bosom heave, but she had still sufficient presence of
mind to conceal her face by rubbing her eyes, while she asked whether it
were time to breakfast?

Satisfied by this enquiry, the woman answered No; and that she had only
gotten up to let in her husband, who had been abroad upon a little job,
for which he had not found leisure in the day: she recommended to her,
therefore, to lie still, and fall asleep.

Still, she remained; but sleep was as far from her eyes, as, in such a
situation, from her wishes. She sought, however, again to wear its
semblance, while the woman followed her husband through the small door,
and shut herself, also, out.

They continued together about half an hour, when, re-entering, they both
re-mounted the ladder; without further examination whether or not they
were observed.

What might this imply? Was it simply that, concluding her to be awake,
they deemed caution to be unavailing? or, that their secret business
being finished, caution was no longer necessary?

Strange, also, it appeared to her, their rustic life and residence
considered, that they should take such a season for rest, when she saw
the vivid rays of the early sun piercing, through various crevices, into
the apartment.

Raising her head, next, to view the door, which, the preceding night,
had escaped her notice, she espied, close to its edge, a large clot of
blood.

Struck with terrour, she started up; and then perceived that the passage
from door to door was traced with bloody spots.

She remained for some minutes immovable, incapable either to think of
her danger, or to form any plan for her preservation; and wholly
absorbed by the image which this sight presented to her fears, of some
victim to murderous rapacity.

Soon, however, rousing to a sense of her own situation, she determined
upon making a new attempt to escape. She listened beneath the trap-door,
to ascertain that all was quiet, and received the most unequivocal
assurances, that fatigue and watchfulness had ended in sound sleep.
Still, however, she could find no key; but, while fearfully examining
every corner, she remarked that the low door was merely latched.

Should she here seek some out-let? She recoiled from the sight of the
blood; yet it was a sight that redoubled her earnestness to fly.
Whatever had been deposited would certainly be concealed: she resolved,
therefore, to make the experiment, though her hand shook so violently,
that, more than once, it dropt from the latch ere she could open the
door.

Tremblingly she then crossed the threshold, and found herself in a
miserable outer-building, without casements, and encumbered with old
utensils and lumber. She observed a large cupboard which was locked, but
of which, from the darkness of the place, she could take no survey. To
the outward door there was no lock, but it was doubly bolted. She opened
it, though not without difficulty, and saw that it led to a small
disorderly garden, which was hedged round, half planted with potatoes,
and half wasted with rubbish. She examined whether there were any
opening by which she might enter the Forest; and discerned a small gate,
over which, though it was covered with briars, she believed that she
could scramble.

Nevertheless, she hesitated; she might be heard, or presently missed and
pursued; and the vengeance incurred by such a detection of her
suspicions and ill opinion, might provoke her immediate destruction. It
might be better, therefore, to return; to rise only when called; to pay
them another half-crown; and then publicly depart.

Accidentally, while thus deliberating, she touched the handle of a large
wicker-basket, and found that it was wet: she held out her hand to the
light, and saw that it was besmeared with blood.

She turned sick; she nearly fainted; she shrunk from her hand with
horrour; yet strove to recover her courage, by ejaculating a fervent
prayer.

To re-enter the house voluntarily, was now impossible; she shuddered at
the idea of again encountering her dreaded hosts, and resolved upon a
flight, at all risks, from so fearful a dwelling.

She made her way through the enclosure; crossed the briery gate, and,
rushing past whatever had the appearance of already trodden ground,
dived into a wood; where, trampling down thorns, brambles, and nettles,
now braving, now unconscious of their stings, she continued her rapid
course, till she came within view of a small cottage. There she stopt;
not for repose; her troubled mind kept her body still insensible to
weariness; but to ponder upon her dreadful suspicions.

Not a moment was requisite to satisfy her upright reason, that to
discover what she had seen, and what she surmised, was an immediate duty
to the community, if, by such a discovery, the community might be
served; however repugnant the measure might be to female delicacy;
however cruel to the pleadings of compassion for the children of the
house; and however adverse to her feelings, to denounce what she could
not have detected, but from seeking, and finding, a personal asylum in
distress.

Yet who was she who must give such information? Anonymous accusation
might be neglected as calumnious; yet how name herself as belonging to
the noble family from which she sprung, but by which she was
unacknowledged? How, too, at a moment when concealment appeared to her
to be existence, come forward, a volunteer to public notice? Small as
ought to be the weight given to a consideration merely selfish, if
opposing the rights of general security; neither law, she thought, nor
equity, demanded the sacrifice of private and bosom feelings, for an
evil already irremediable, where, while the denunciation would be
unavailing, the denunciator must be undone.

Appeased thus for the moment, though not satisfied in her scruples, she
walked on towards the dwelling; but, seeing that it was still shut up,
she seated herself upon the stump of a large tree, where deaf, from
mental occupation, to the wild melody of innumerable surrounding singing
birds, she shudderingly, and without intermission, bathed her bloody
hand in the dew.

Rest, however, to her person, served but to quicken the energy of her
faculties; and the less her fears, the more her judgment prevailed. Her
reasoning, upon examination, she found to be plausible but fallacious.
The evil already committed, it was, indeed, too late to obviate; but if
the wretched hut, from which she had just escaped, were the receptacle
of nocturnal culprits, or of their victims, there might not be a moment
to lose to prevent some new and horrible catastrophe.

In a dilemma thus severe, between the terrour of exposing herself to the
personal discovery which she was flying to avoid, or the horrour of
omitting the performance of a public duty; she had fixed upon no
positive measure, decided upon nothing that was satisfactory, before the
casements of the cottage were opened.

Not to lose, then, another moment in unprofitable deliberation, she
resolved to communicate to the inhabitants her suspicions, and to urge
their being made known to the nearest Justice of the Peace. She might
then, with less scruple, continue her flight; and hereafter, if,
unhappily, there should be no other alternative, give her assistance in
following up the investigation.

She tapped at the cottage-door, and demanded admittance and rest, as a
weary traveller.

She was let in, without difficulty, by an old woman, who was
breakfasting with an old man, upon a rasher of bacon.

It now, with much alarm, occurred to her, that this might be the house
to which she had been directed from the terrible hut. She fearfully
enquired whether they had a spare bed? and, upon receiving an answer in
the affirmative, with the history of their son's absence, not a doubt
remained that she had sought refuge with the friends, perhaps the
accomplices, of the very persons from whom she was escaping; and who,
should they, through vengeful apprehension, pursue her, would probably
begin their search at this spot.

Affrighted at the idea, yet not daring abruptly to abscond, she forced
herself to sit still while they breakfasted; though unable to converse,
and turning with disgust from the sight of food.

The old man and woman, meanwhile, intent solely upon their meal, which,
now too hot for their mouths, now too cold for their taste, now too hard
for their teeth, occupied all their discourse; heeded not her
uneasiness, and, when she arose and took leave, saw her departure with
as little remark as they had seen her entrance.

With a complication of fears she now went forth again; to seek,--not an
asylum in the Forest, the beautiful Forest!--but the road by which she
might quit it with the greatest expedition. Where, now, was the
enchantment of its prospects? Where, the witchery of its scenery? All
was lost to her for pleasure, all was thrown away upon her as enjoyment;
she saw nothing but her danger, she could make no observation but how to
escape what it menaced.

She flew, therefore, from the vicinity of the hut, though with a
celerity better adapted to her wishes than to her powers; for, in less
than half an hour, she was compelled, from utterly exhausted strength,
to seat herself upon the turf.

Not yet was she risen, and scarcely was she rested, when she was
startled by a whistling in the wood, which was presently followed by the
sound of two youthful male voices, in merry converse.

To escape notice, she, at first, thought it safest to sit still; but the
nearer and nearer approach of feet, made her reflect, that to be
surprised, in so unfrequented a spot, at so early an hour in the
morning, might be yet more unfavourable to opinion, than being discerned
to pace her lonely way, with the quick steps of busy haste or timid
caution. She moved, therefore, on; carefully taking a contrary direction
to that whence the voices issued.

She soon found herself bewildered in a thicket, where she could trace
no path, and whence she could see no opening. She was felicitating
herself, however, that she had out-run the sounds by which she had been
affrighted; when she first heard, and next perceived, an immense dog,
who, after beating about the bushes at some distance, suddenly made a
point at her, and sprang forward.

Terrour, which puts us into any state but that which is natural,
bestows, occasionally, what, in common, it robs us of, presence of mind.
Juliet knew that flight, to the intelligent, though dumb friend of man,
was well seen to be cowardice, and instinctively judged to be guilt.
Aware, therefore, that if she could not appease his fury, it were vain
to attempt escaping it, she compelled herself to turn round and face
him; holding out her hand in a caressing attitude, that seemed inviting
his approach; though with difficulty sustaining herself upon her feet,
from a dread of being torn to pieces.

The rage, unprovoked, but not inexorable, of the animal, withstood not
this manifestation of kindness: from a pace so rapid, that it seemed
menacing to level her with the earth by a single bound, he abruptly
stopt, to look at and consider his imagined enemy; and from a barking,
of which the stormy loudness resounded through the forest, his tone
changed to a low though surly growl, in which he seemed to be debating
with himself, whether to attack a foe, or accept a friend.

The hesitation sufficed to ensure to Juliet the victory. Encouraged by a
view of success, her address supplanted her timidity, and, bending
forwards, she called to him with endearing expressions. The dog, caught
by her confidence, made a grumbling but short resistance; and, having
first fiercely, and next attentively, surveyed her, wagged his tail in
sign of accommodation, and, gently advancing, stretched himself at her
feet.

Juliet repaid his trust with the most playful caresses. Good and
excellent animal, she cried, what a lesson of mild philanthropy do you
offer to your masters! The kindness of an instant gains you to a
stranger, though no unkindness, nor even the hardest usage, can alienate
you from an old friend!

She now flattered herself that, by following as he led, she might have a
guide, as well as a protector, to the habitation to which he belonged.
She sate by his side, determined to wait his movements, and to pursue
his course. Perfectly contented himself, he basked in the sun-beams that
broke through the thicket, and was evidently soothed, nay, charmed, by
the fond accents with which she solicited his friendship.

This nearly silent, but expressive intercourse, was soon interrupted by
a vociferous Haloo! from a distant part of the wood.

Up started the new companion of Juliet, who arose, also, to accompany,
or, at least, to trace his steps. Neither were possible. He darted from
her with the same rapidity, though wide from the same ferocity, as that
with which he had at first approached her: vain was every soft appeal,
lost was every gentle blandishment; in an instant he was out of sight,
out of hearing,--she scarcely saw him go ere he was gone. Faithful
creature! she cried, 'tis surely his master who calls! A new tie may
excite his benevolence; none can shake his fidelity, nor slacken his
services.

Alone and unaided, she had now to pierce a passage through the thicket,
uncertain whither it might lead, and filled with apprehensions.

But, in a few minutes, greatly to her satisfaction, her new friend
re-appeared; wagging his tail, rubbing himself against her gown, and
meeting and returning her caresses.

Her project of obtaining a conductor was now recurring, when again an
Haloo! followed by the whistling of two voices, called off her hope; and
shewed her that her intended protector belonged to the young men whom
she had been endeavouring to avoid.

She knew not whether it were better, under the auspices of her new ally,
to risk begging a direction from these youths, to some house or village;
or still to seek her desolate way alone.

She had time only to start, not to solve this doubt; the dog, again
returning, as if unwilling to relinquish his new alliance, began to
excite the curiosity of his masters; who, following, exclaimed, 'Dash a
vound zomething, zure!' and presently, through the trees, she descried
two wood-cutters.

She was seen, also, by them; they scrambled faster on; and one of them
said,

'Why t'be a girl!'

'Be it?' answered the other; 'why then I'll have a kiss.'

'Not a fore me, mon!' cried his companion, 'vor I did zee her virzt!'

'Belike you did,' the other replied; 'but I zpoke virzt; zo you mun come
after!'

Juliet now saw herself in a danger more dreadful than any to which
either misfortune or accident had hitherto exposed her,--the danger of
personal and brutal insult. She looked around vainly for succour or
redress; the woods and the heavens were alone within view or within
hearing.

The first terrible moment of this alarm was an agony of affright, that
made her believe herself a devoted victim to outrage: but the moment
after, observing that the young men were beginning to combat for
precedence, a sudden hope of escape revived her courage, and gave wings
to her feet; and, defying every obstacle, she pushed on a passage,
through the intricate thicket, almost with the swiftness that she might
have crossed the smoothest plain, till she arrived at an open spot of
ground.

The fear of losing her now ended, though without deciding, the dispute;
and the youths ran on together, mutually and loudly shouting familiar
appeals, after the fugitive, upon their rights, with entreaties that she
would stop.

Juliet again felt her strength expiring; but where courage is the result
of understanding, if its operation is less immediate than that which
springs from physical bravery, it is not less certain. The despair,
therefore, of saving herself by bodily exertion, presently gave rise to
a mental effort, which instigated her to turn round upon her
persecutors, and await and face them; with the same assumed firmness,
though not with the offered caresses, with which she had just
encountered her four-footed pursuer.

Their surprize at this unexpected action put an end to their dissention;
and, each believing her to be alike at the service of either, or of
both, they laughed coarsely, and came on, arm in arm, and leisurely,
together.

Juliet, calling to her assistance her utmost presence of mind, and
dignity of manner, stept forward to meet them; and, with an air that
disguised her apprehensions, said, 'Gentlemen, I have business of great
importance with the farmer who lives near this place; but I do not know
the shortest way to his farm. If you will be so obliging as to shew it
to me, you may depend upon his handsomely rewarding any trouble that you
may take.'

Their astonishment, now, was encreased; but although, at the word
business, they leered at one another with an air of mockery, her air and
mien, with her grave civility and apparent trust, caused, involuntarily,
a suspension of their facetious design; and they enquired the name of
the farmer, whom she was seeking.

She could not immediately, she said, recollect it; but he lived at the
nearest farm.

'Why 't-ben't Master Zimmers?' They cried.

'The very same!'

'What, that do live yinder, across the copse?'

'Without any doubt'

They now ogled one another, with a consciousness that persuaded Juliet
that this Simmers was their own master; or, perhaps, their father; and
she repeated her request, with reiterated assurances, that a
considerable recompence would be bestowed upon her conductor.

They looked irresolute, and extremely foolish; Dash, however, was firmly
her friend, and, while they were whispering and hesitating, jumped and
capered from his masters to his new associate, from his new associate to
his masters, with an intelligent delight, that seemed manifesting his
enjoyment of a junction which he had himself brought about.

Juliet shewed so much pleasure in his kindness, that the young men,
proud of their dog, and glad, in their embarrassment, to be occupied
rather than to reply, fondled him, in their rough manner, themselves;
making him fetch, carry, stand on his hinder legs, leap over their hats,
caper, bark, point, and display his various accomplishments.

Juliet encouraged this diversion, by patting the dog, applauding his
teachers, and stimulating a repetition of every feat; till the youths,
charmed by her good fellowship, were insensibly turned aside from their
evil intentions; and soon, and in perfect harmony, they all arrived at a
considerable farm, upon the borders of the New Forest.



CHAPTER LXXIV


Juliet, thus escaped from the eminent and terrific dangers to which she
had been exposed, entered the farm-house with a glowing delight diffused
over her countenance, that instinctively communicated a participating
pleasure to the people of the farm; and caused her to be received with
an hospitality that might have contented the expectations of an old
friend.

Nothing so unfailingly ensures, or rather creates a welcome, as
cheerfulness; cheerfulness! so beautifully, by Addison, called an Hymn
to the Divinity! Whether it be, that the view of sprightliness seems the
fore-runner of pleasure to ourselves; or whether we judge all within to
be innocent, where all without is serene; various, according to
sentiment, or circumstance, as may be the motive, the result is nearly
universal; that those who approach us with cheerfulness, are sure to be
met with kindness. Cheerfulness is as distinct from insipid placidity as
from buoyant spirits; it seems to indicate a disposition of thankful
enjoyment for all that can be attained of good, blended with resignation
upon principle to all that must be endured of evil.

Her first care was to satisfy her two still wondering conductors, who
proved to be sons to the master of the farm, by giving to each
half-a-crown; that they might not lose their time, she told them, by
waiting till she had settled her business with their father: and, after
doubling her caresses to her protector, Dash, she sent them back to
their work; manifestly glad that they had not affronted a young woman,
who knew how to behave herself, they said, so handsomely.

She now begged an audience of the farmer, to whom she resolved to
communicate her alarming adventure at the hut.

The farmer, who was surrounded by his family and his labourers, to whom
he was issuing orders, desired her to speak out at once.

Juliet could by no means consent to publish so dark and uncertain a
history to so many hearers; she again, therefore, entreated to address
him in private.

He had come home, he answered, only to take a mug of beer; for the
plough was in the field: however, she might call again, if she would, at
dinner-time; but he had no time to give to talk in a morning.

And forth he went, whistling, and hallooing after his labourers, as he
jogged his way.

She then applied to his bustling, sturdy wife; but with no better
success; who was to feed the poultry? who was to give the wash to the
pigs? who was to churn the butter? if she threw away her time by
gossipping in the morning?

The rest of the family consisted of three grown up daughters, and four
or five children. The daughters, though more civil, because less
voluntarily busy, and, as yet, less interested than their parents, were
too inexperienced to give any assistance, or form any judgment upon such
an affair; Juliet, therefore, who was sinking with fatigue and
emptiness, and who desired nothing so much as to remain for some time
under any safe roof, begged, of the young women, a bason of bread and
milk for her breakfast; and permission to stay at the farm till the hour
of dinner.

These requests were granted without the smallest demur, even before she
produced her purse; which they viewed with no small surprize, saying
that they hoped they were not so near, as to take money for a little
bread and milk of a traveller; but that, if she must needs do it, she
might give a small matter to the children.

Recollecting, now, her rustic and ordinary garb, and fearing to awaken
suspicion, or curiosity, she put a penny a-piece into the hands of two
little boys and a girl.

It was then that she saw how far she was removed from the capital; in
the precincts of which the poor and the labourer are almost constantly
rapacious, or necessitous. The high price to be obtained, there, for
whatever is marketable, makes generosity demand too great a sacrifice,
save from the exalted few; who, still in all places, and in all classes,
are, by the candid observer, occasionally, to be found. But in this
obscure hamlet, where plenty was not bribed away to sale, this little
donation was received with as much amazement as joy; and the children
scampered to the dairy, and to the plough-field, to shew it first to
mammy, and then to dad.

Juliet, having taken her simple repast, strolled into a small meadow,
just without the farm-yard; where she seated herself upon a style, to
enjoy, at once, the fragrant air, and personal repose.

The prospect here, though less sublime in itself, and less exalting in
the ideas which it inspired, than that of the lonely and majestic
beauty, which had so powerfully charmed her, visually and
intellectually, in the midst of the New Forest; was yet gay, varied,
verdant and lovely. On the opposite side of a winding and picturesque
road, by which the greater part of the hedge around the meadow was
skirted, was situated a small Gothic church; of which the steeple was
nearly over-run with ivy, and the porch, half sunk into the ground, from
the ravages of time and of neglect; wearing, all together, the air of a
venerable ruin. Further on, and built upon a gentle acclivity, stood a
clean white cottage, evidently appropriated to the instruction of youth,
or rather childhood; to which sundry little boys and girls, each with a
book, or with needle-work, in his hand, were trudging with anxious
speed. Juliet spoke to each of them as they passed; pleased with their
innocent prattle, and gathering alternately, from their native
intelligence, or gaping stupidity, food to amuse her mind, with
predictions of their future characters. Sheep were browsing upon a
distant heath; cows were watering in a neighbouring stream; and two
beautiful colts were prancing and skipping, with all the bounding vigour
of untamed liberty, in the meadow. Geese, turkies, cocks and hens, ducks
and pigs, peopled the farm-yard; keeping up an almost constant chorus of
rural noises; which, at first, stunned her ears, but which, afterwards,
entertained her fancy, by drawing her observation to their various
habits and ways. The children came, jumping, to play around her; and her
friend Dash, discovering her retreat, frequently left the wood-cutters
to bound forwards, and court her caresses.

The young women of the house, to divert their several labours of
weeding, churning, or washing, occasionally, also, joined her, for the
pleasure of a little chat; which they by no means, like their father or
mother, held in contempt. Juliet received them with an urbanity that
gave such a zest to their little visits, that it served to quicken their
work, that they might quicken their return; and, with the eldest, she
changed the bonnet of Debby Dyson, for one that was plainer, and yet
more coarse.

There was nothing in these young persons of sufficient 'mark or
likelihood' to make them attractive to Juliet; but she was glad to earn
their good will; and not sorry to learn what were their occupations;
conscious that a dearth of useful resources, was a principal cause, in
adversity, of FEMALE DIFFICULTIES.

Here, then, Juliet formed a project to rest, till her own should be
removed; or, at least, till she could obtain some intelligence, that
might guide her uncertain steps: this seemed the spot upon which she
might find repose; this seemed the juncture for enjoying quiet and
tranquility in the country life; to which she desired to devote the
residue of the time that might still be destined to suspense.--Here,
retirement would be soothing, and even seclusion supportable, from the
charm of the scenery, the beauty of the walks, the guileless characters,
and vivifying activity of the inhabitants of the farm-house; and the
fragrant serenity of all around. Here, peace and plenty were the result
of industry; and primitive, though not polite hospitality, was the
offspring of natural trust. If there was no cultivation, there was no
art; if there was no refinement, there were integrity and good will.

She applied, therefore, to her new young acquaintances, to promote her
plan with their parents. They lost not a moment in making the
arrangement; and Juliet was immediately installed in a small chamber,
upon the attic-story. She settled that she should eat from their table,
but alone; for she dreaded remark or discovery. No terms were fixed; a
little matter, they said, would suffice; and Juliet saw that she had
nothing to fear from imposition; every face in the family bearing the
mark, or the promise, of steady honesty.

Nor, indeed, could any price be exorbitant to Juliet, that could procure
some relief to her fears, and some respite from her toils. Her first
care was to obtain, through her new friends, implements for writing; and
then to transmit, in detail, assurances of her present safety, and even
comfort, to Gabriella; from whom she entreated intelligence, whether
pursuit and enquiry were still active.

As fearful, now, of the name of Ellis, as, heretofore, she had been of
that of Granville, she desired that the answer might be directed, under
cover to 'Master Simmers, Farmer, at ----, near the New Forest;' and that
the enclosed letter might have no other address than, 'For the young
Woman who lodges at the Farm.'

Again, then, she returned to the meadow, which, now her mind was more at
ease, seemed adorned with added verdure, freshness, and beauty. Here,
pensive, yet not without consolation, she past the day.

The next, she rambled a few paces further, and found out a cottage, in a
situation of the most romantic loveliness, in which two labourers, and
their wives, resided with their mother; a cheerful, pleasing old woman,
with whom Juliet was immediately in amity.

She visited, also, the school; made acquaintance with its mistress, who
appeared to be a sensible and worthy woman; and captivated the easy
hearts of the little scholars, by the playful manner in which she
noticed their occupations, encouraged their diligence, and assisted them
to learn their lessons.

She aided, also, the young women of the farm, in various of the lighter
domestic offices that fell to their share; and amused, at once, and
instructed her own mind, by opening a new road for admiration of the
wondrous works of the Great Creator, in observing and studying the
various animals abounding in and about the farm. The remark and
attention of a few days, sufficed to shew her, not only as much
difference in the interiour nature of the four-footed and of the
plumaged race, as there is in their hides or their feathers; but nearly,
or, perhaps, quite as much diversity, in their dispositions, as in those
of their haughty human masters; though the means of manifestation bore
no comparison. In fixing her attention upon them, in following their
motions, and considering their actions; she found that though the same
happy instinct guided them all alike to self-preservation, the degrees
of skill with which they discovered the shortest and best method for
attaining what they coveted, were infinite; yet not more striking than
the variety of their humours; kind, complying, generous; or fierce,
selfish, and gloomy, in their intercourse with one another. _Le droit du
plus fort_, (the right of strength,) though the most ordinary, was by no
means the only, or the universal basis of animal legislation. Dexterity
and sagacity find ascendance wherever there is animation: and
propensities benign and social, or malignant and savage, as palpably
distinguish beast from beast, and bird from bird, as man from his
fellow.

What an inexhaustible source was here, to a thinking being, both for
information and entertainment! Oh Providence Divine! she cried, how
minute is the perfection, yet how grand the harmony of thy works!

Still, however, she sought vainly to obtain the requested conference.
The farmer, whose thoughts were absorbed exclusively in the interests of
his farm, was always too busy to afford her any time, and too
indifferent to give her any attention. As she lodged in the house, he
could hear her, he said, when he should be more at leisure; and all her
eloquence was ineffectual, either to awaken his curiosity, or to excite
his benevolence, by intimations of the importance, or of the haste, of
the business which she wished to communicate. 'Ay, girl, ay,' he would
reply; 'by and by will do just as well.'

But by and by came not! When she endeavoured to catch a moment, at the
hour of breakfast, the whole day, he would cry, was as good as thrown
away, if a man lost a moment of his morning: yet if she solicited his
hearing in the evening, he would cordially offer her some bread and
cheese, and beer; but rise from them himself, heavy and sleepy, to go to
bed; saying, 'Hark y', my girl; when you've worked as hard as a farmer,
you'll be as glad of your night's rest.'

If she sought him in the middle of the day, he was always surrounded by
his family, and by labourers, from whom he would never step apart;
telling her to speak out what she had to say, and to fear nothing and
nobody.

Farming, she soon found, he regarded as the only art of life worth
cultivation, or even worth attention; every other seemed to him
superfluous or silly. A woman, therefore, as she could neither plough
the field, nor mow the corn, he considered as every way an inferiour
being: and, like the savages of uncivilised nature, he would scarcely
have allowed a female a place at his board, but for the mitigation given
to his contempt, from regarding her as the mother of man.

The sex, therefore, of Juliet, was here wholly against her; and youth
and beauty, those powerful combatants of misanthropy! were necessarily
without influence, where they were never looked at: Could they ripen his
corn? or make his hay? No; What then, was their value?

Nevertheless, he treated neither his wife nor his daughters ill; he only
considered them as his servants: and when they were diligent and useful,
he praised them and gave them presents; and, when their work was done,
suffered them to seek what diversion they pleased, without interference
or controul. The females were indifferent, and therefore contented;
though neither confidential nor affectionate.

The sons, on the contrary, were open, boisterous, and daring;
domineering over their sisters, and mocking their mother; while they
nearly shared, with their partial father, both his authority and his
profits.

In a family such as this, Juliet had no chance of softening the languor
of her suspense by society; and books, its best substitute, had never
found their way into the farm-house; save an odd volume or two of
trials, sundry tracts upon farriery, and various dismal old ballads.

The first charm of this rural residence, consisting in its views and
its walks, soon lost something of its animation to Juliet, through the
restriction of fear, which impeded her from roving beyond the
neighbourhood of the farm. And though the beautiful prospect from the
meadow, and the air and exercise of mounting to the school, might
permanently have afforded her delight, if shared with some loved friend,
or enjoyed with some good author; she became, in a short time, through
the total deprivation of either, nearly as languid from monotony
without, as she was wearied by ungenial intercourse within.

On Sunday, after they had all been to church, the young women proposed
to accompany her in a stroll; and the hope of a romantic ramble without
danger, induced her acceptance of the invitation. This, however, was an
essay which she did not feel tempted to repeat. She found that their
only idea of taking a stroll, was to get away from home; and their only
object of pursuit, was to encounter their several sweethearts. They
walked not for exercise; they had more than enough in their daily
occupations. They walked not for air; they rarely spent an hour of the
day under shelter. They walked still less in search of rural views, or
picturesque beauties; they saw them not; or, rather, they saw them too
constantly to heed them. Their chosen scene was the high road; along
which they leisurely, but merrily sauntered, to enjoy,--not the verdure
of the adjacent fields, or wood; not the freshness of the salubrious
breeze; not the charm, here and there occasionally bursting upon the
sight, of sloping hills, or flowery dales; but to watch for every
distant cloud of rising dust, that announced, or that promised the
approach of a horse, cart, or waggon.

What, to these, was the pleasure of situation? Juliet saw, with concern,
that all which, to herself, would have solaced a similar way of life, to
them was null. Accustomed from their infancy to beautiful scenery, they
looked at it as a thing of course, without pleasure or admiration;
because without that which fixes all worldly acceptation of
happiness,--comparison.

The mother, whose existence, from the fear and from the commands of her
husband, was laborious; and, from her own love of saving, penurious; had
scarcely even any idea of pleasure, beyond what accrued from feeding her
rabbits, fattening her hogs, and carrying her eggs and poultry to a good
market.

The farmer, whose will had no controul, either from himself or his
family; and who indulged his own humours in the same proportion that he
kept theirs in awe, had yet a master; and a master more despotic and
ungovernable than himself,--the Weather! to whose power, however, he by
no means submitted tamely. The whole house rang with the violence of his
rage, if the rain fell while his hay were cutting or stacking; and he
could scarcely swallow his dinner for chagrin, if it failed to fall when
his peas wanted filling: his imprecations were those of a man provoked
by the grossest personal injury, if a sharp wind came not at his
bidding, when he perceived insects crawling upon the leaves of his
fruit-trees in the orchard; and his whole family trembled, as if
immediate ruin, or an earthquake were impending, when he claimed, and
claimed in vain, the sun to ripen his corn.

Juliet now found, that a farmer is sensible to no happiness, that a gust
of wind, a shower of rain, or the beams of the sun; as they meet, or
oppose, his wishes; does not confirm, or may not destroy.

The storms, nevertheless, raised by this man of the elements, were from
causes too obvious to create surprize; and they were known to be too
harmless in their operations, to occasion any other movement in his
household, than that of a general struggle which should first get out of
his way till they were blown over: but, to a stranger, to Juliet, they
were more tremendous, because as foreign to the habits of her life, as
they were ungenial to her nature. To change therefore, a scene so
continually overcast, she took leave of the family, thankfully repaying
the services which she had received; and left the farm, to lodge herself
with the pleasing old woman, who had won her favour, in the beautifully
picturesque cottage in the neighbourhood.



CHAPTER LXXV


In this cottage, Juliet, again, witnessed another scene of life; and one
which, serene and soothing, appeared, upon its opening, to exclude all
evil.

The dwelling of the shepherd, or husbandman, had already in its favour
the imagery of poesy, and the ardent predilection of juvenile ideas;
and, with the vivacity of a heart always open to hope, Juliet hailed in
it, at once, tranquillity and contentment.

Paid for his work by the day, the labourer had no anxiety for the
morrow; the ground he was to plough, or till, or sow, was not his own;
the goodness, badness, and variations of the weather touched not his
property, nor endangered his subsistence. Be the seasons, therefore,
what they might, he was not to be pitied.

Yet though his sound repose, the fruit of his toil, was undisturbed by
elemental strife, he waked not to active hope; he looked not forward to
sanguine expectation: the changes which could do him no mischief, could
not bring him any advantage. No view of amelioration to his destiny
enlivened his prospect; no opening to better days spurred his industry;
and, as all action is debased, or exalted, by its motive; and all
labour, by its object; those who struggle but to eat and sleep, may be
saved from solicitude, but cannot be elevated to prosperity. He could
not, therefore, be envied.

Two of the young men were married, and their wives, strong and healthy
like themselves, worked almost as laboriously. Juliet found them as
worthy as they were industrious; and hoped, by exciting their kindness,
to add the interest of gentle amity to peace and rural enjoyment. But,
though pleased and satisfied with their characters, and honouring their
active and useful lives, she sought vainly to content herself with their
uncultured society; and soon saw, with regret, how much the charm,
though not the worth, of innocence depends upon manners; of goodness,
upon refinement; and of honesty upon elevation. There was much to merit
her approbation; but not a point to engage her sympathy; and, where the
dominion of the character falls chiefly upon the heart, life, without
sympathy, is a blank. The unsatisfied soul sighs for communion; its
affections demand an expansion, its ideas, a developement, that,
instinctively, call for interchange; and point out, that solitude,
sought only by misery, remorse, or misanthropy, is as ungenial to our
natural feelings, as retirement is salubrious.

She had here time and opportunity to see the fallacy, alike in authors
and in the world, of judging solely by theory. Those who are born and
bred in a capital; who first revel in its dissipations and vanities,
next, sicken of its tumults and disappointments, write or exclaim for
ever, how happy is the country peasant's lot! They reflect not that, to
make it such, the peasant must be so much more philosophic than the rest
of mankind, as to see and feel only his advantages, while he is blind
and insensible to his hardships. Then, indeed, the lot of the peasant
might merit envy!

But who is it that gives it celebrity? Is it himself? Does he write of
his own joys? Does he boast of his own contentment? Does he praise his
own lot? No! 'tis the writer, who has never tried it, and the man of the
world who, however murmuring at his own, would not change with it, that
give it celebrity.

Though natively endowed with that first, perhaps of worldly blessings,
high animal spirits, Juliet, from an early experience of the
vicissitudes of fortune, was become meditative. She looked with an
intelligent desire of information, upon every new scene of life, that
was presented to her view; and every class of society, that came within
her knowledge: she now, therefore, with equal clearness and concern, saw
how false an idea is conceived, at a distance, not only of the
shepherd's paradise, but of the general happiness of the country
life;--save to those who enjoy it with a large family to bring up; or
with means not alone competent to necessity, but to benevolence; which
not alone give leisure for the indulgence of contemplation, and the
cultivation of rural taste, of literature, and of the fine arts; but
which supply means for lightening the labours, and softening the
hardships of the surrounding poor and needy. Then, indeed, the country
life is the nearest upon earth, to what we may conceive of joys
celestial!

The verdure of the flower-motleyed meadow; the variegated foliage of
the wood; the fragrance and purity of the air, and the wide spreading
beauties of the landscape, charm not the labourer. They charm only the
enlightened rambler, or affluent possessor. Those who toil, heed them
not. Their eyes are upon their plough; their attention is fixed upon the
harvest; their sight follows the pruning hook. If the vivid field
catches their view, it is but to present to them the image of the
scythe, with which their labour must mow it; if they look at the shady
tree, it is only with the foresight of the ax, with which their strength
must fell it; and, while the body pants but for rest, which of the
senses can surrounding scenery, ambient perfumes, or vocal warblers,
enchant or enliven?

Juliet now, herself an inhabitant of the cottage, which, hitherto, she
had only beheld in perspective, smiled, yet sighed at her mistake, in
having considered shepherds and peasants as objects of envy. O ye, she
cried, who view them through your imaginations! were ye to toil with
them but one week! to rise as they rise, feed as they feed, and work as
they work! like mine, then, your eyes would open; you would no longer
judge of their pleasures and luxuries, by those of which they are the
instruments for yourselves! you would feel and remark, that yours are
all prepared for you; and that they, the preparers, are sufferers, not
partakers! You would see then, as I see now, that the most delightful
view which the horizon can bound, affords not to the poor labourer the
joy that is excited by the view of the twilight through which it is
excluded; but which sends him home to the mat of straw, that rests, for
the night, his spent and weary limbs.

Then, as she looked around, from the summit of the hill upon which stood
the small seminary for children, which she frequently visited, Oh that
Elinor, she cried, escaping from the pressure of her passions, would
expand her feelings by contemplating the works of God! Oh Father of
All!--Who can reflect, yet doubt, that Man, placed at the head of these
stupenduous operations, lord of the earthly sphere, can fail to be
destined for Immortality? Yet more, who can examine and meditate upon
the uncertain existence of thy creatures,--see failure without fault;
success without virtue; sickness without relief; oppression in the very
face of liberty; labour without sustenance; and suffering without
crime;--and not see, and not feel that all call aloud for resurrection
and retribution! that annihilation and unjustice would be one! and that
Man, from the very nature of his precarious earthly being, must
necessarily be destined, by the All Wise, and All Just, for regions
that we see not; for purposes that we know not;--for Immortality!



CHAPTER LXXVI


Thus, in beautiful scenery, and meditative resignation, with outward
quiet, though by no means with internal tranquillity, Juliet had passed
about a week, when the wife of the farmer broke rudely into the cottage;
bearing in her hand the bonnet of Debby Dyson, which she flung
scornfully upon a table.

Angrily, then, reproaching Juliet that she had caused Bet to be taken
for that bold hussy, by the higler, she demanded back the exchanged
bonnet; declaring, that the girl should never wear one again, to the
longest day that she had to live, rather than dress herself up in any
thing of Debby Dyson's.

Turning next to the old cottager, she added, that a good mother would do
well not to keep a person used to such light company under her roof;
unless she had a mind to bring her daughters-in-law to ruin.

Then, snatching up her girl's bonnet, she bustled away to look after her
evening's milking; roughly refusing to hearken to any sort of
explanation from Juliet, and saying that she never knew any good come of
listening to talking; which was no better than idling away time.

Juliet remained confounded; while the tender old cottager shed tears,
saying that she had never before had so pretty a companion in her life.
But Juliet would not tempt the good woman to defy the persons upon whom
her children chiefly depended; and, once more, therefore, she was
reduced to make up her little packet.

She entreated of the cottager that, if a letter came for her to the
farm, it might be kept till she sent her direction; then doubled the pay
of all that she owed for board and lodging; and, kindly taking leave of
the old dame, who wept bitterly at the parting; quitted the cottage; and
again, in search of a new asylum, became a Wanderer.

Which way to turn, she made no enquiry, wholly ignorant what choice
might bring security.

It was the end of August, and still not more than six o'clock in the
afternoon. She avoided the high road, in the fear of some unfortunate
encounter, and went down a pleasant looking lane; purposing to proceed
as far, and as fast, as she could go, while it was yet light; and then
to enter some new humble dwelling.

The evening was serene and warm, and occasional openings, through the
hedges on either side, presented views so picturesque, that, had her
mind been more at ease, they would have rendered her walk delightful.

She crossed various corn-fields, and beautiful meadows; but met with no
cottage from which some lounging labourer did not frighten her; till, at
length, overtaken by the dusk of the evening, she was fain to turn back,
and seek, with whatever apprehension, some lodging, for the night, upon
the public road.

But to do this was no longer easy. She mistook what she thought was her
direction, and, instead of arriving at the road, found herself upon a
broad, open, dreary heath.

She endeavoured to discover the track of some carriage, and succeeded;
and followed the mark, till she thought that she perceived a cottage.

She hastened towards it, with all the speed that her wearied limbs would
permit; but the expected habitation proved merely a group of Pollards.

She would then have recovered the wheel-track; but the moon became
suddenly clouded, a general darkness overspread the face of the country
around, and she could discover no kind of path.

She now grew apprehensive that she should pass the night in the open
air; with not a human being within hearing, nor any house, nor any
succour within reach. What she might have to dread she knew not; but, in
a situation so wildly solitary, the very ignorance of what there might
be to fear, was intimidating, nay, awful.

The darkness encreased; cautiously and slowly she went on; starting at
every breeze, and in continual terrour of meeting some unknown mischief.

She wandered thus for some hours, now sinking into marshy ground, now
wounded by rude stones, now upon a soft, smooth plain, and now stung or
torn by bushes, nettles, and briars; till she concluded it to be about
midnight. A light wind then arose, the clouds were dispersed; and the
moon, which, though upon the wane, afforded a gentle, melancholy light,
shewed her that she was once again in the midst of the New Forest.

Few sights could have been less welcome; what already she had suffered,
and, far more, what she had apprehended, filled her with terrour; and
her imagination was fearfully at work, now to bring her to the hut which
she had so suspiciously fled; now to the encounter of disorderly young
assailants, with no Dash for her protection; now to the attack of
lurking thieves, and strolling vagabonds; and now to the danger of being
bewildered and lost in the mazes of the Forest.

The last of these evils soon ceased to be a mere phantasm of fear; the
wind no sooner was calmed than the moon again was obscured, and all
around her was darker, and therefore more tremendous than ever.

She continued to move on, though without knowing whether she were
advancing or retrograding. But, ere long, her walk became embarrassed
and difficult; her progress was every way obstructed; and her retreat at
the same time impeded; and she found herself in a thick wood, of which
the deep hanging boughs continually annoyed her face and her limbs;
while the unscythed grass, the growth of ages, entangled her feet, and
made every step a labour.

Wearied and dejected, she leaned against a tree, and determined to make
no further attempt to proceed, till some gleam of dawn should direct her
way.

She had not remained long in this position of despondence, ere she
discerned, through the trees, at a considerable distance, a dim light.

She concluded that this must proceed from some dwelling; and, feeling
instantly revived, re-commenced her journey: yet, presently, she stopt
and hesitated,--it might emit from the hut! In the dead of the night
there was little probability that any common cottagers would require a
light.

Discomfited, discouraged, she again leaned against a tree.

Yet some one might be ill; and the chamber of sickness and danger could
no more, in the cottage, than in the palace, be consigned to darkness.
She determined, therefore, to approach the spot, and, at break of day,
to examine the premises; certain she could not ever mistake, or ever
forget, the situation of the hut.

She went forward.

The light, in a few moments, disappeared; but she was not, therefore,
led to consider it as a Will with the Wisp, to beguile her to some
illusion; for, ere it vanished, it displayed, in passing sideways, a
view of a cottage double or treble the length of the dreaded hut.

This was a sight truly consoling; yet, though it happily removed the
most terrible of her fears, it awakened new perplexity. The light had
been evidently without doors: the suggestion, therefore, of a sick
chamber proved unfounded. Yet what, in the middle of the night, could
replace it, that was natural, and free from suspicion of evil?

Nevertheless, she moved on; seeking to guide herself by the recollection
of the spot which she had transiently seen; till she was startled by a
murmuring of human voices.

But for the alarm left upon her mind, by the adventure of the hut, and
the pursuit of the wood-cutters, this would have been a sound in which
her ears would have rejoiced, as the fore-runner of succour and of
safety; for, till then, she had always connected the idea of rusticity
with innocence, and of rural life with felicity. But now, she had
fatally learnt, that no class, and no station, appropriatively merit
trust; and that the poor, like the rich, the humble, like the proud, can
only by principle be worthy of confidence: whether that principle be the
happy inherent growth of favouring Providence; or the fruit of religion,
and cultivated virtue.

But fear and incertitude, though they slackened, did not long stop her
progress: the terrour of her lonely situation pointed out to her,
indeed, the danger of falling into evil hands; yet peremptorily, at the
same time, urged her to seek almost any protection, that might rescue
her from the vague horrours of this dark and tremendous solitude. It
was, at least, possible that these might be the voices of some
unfortunate travellers, belated, or lost, like herself, in the Forest.
On, therefore, she glided, till she distinguished three different tones,
all of which were male, but none of which sounded either youthful or
gay. They spoke so low, that not a word reached her ears; nor could she
have caught even a sound, but for the total stillness of the air. That
they spoke in whispers, therefore, was certain: Was it from fear? Was it
from guilt?

The doubt sufficed to check all project of addressing them; but, as she
meant to retreat, she trod upon a broken bough of a tree, which made a
crackling noise under her feet, that, she had reason to believe, was
heard by the interlocutors, as it was followed by profound silence.

She was now forced to remain immovable; for she felt herself entangled
in some of the branches of the bough, and feared that any attempt to
dissembarrass herself might cause a new commotion, and point out her
position.

She soon became but too certain that she had been heard; for the light
re-appeared, and she was sufficiently near to observe, that it had been
produced by a dark lanthorn, which she now saw turned round, by a man
who was evidently seeking to discover whence the noise made by the bough
had issued: she saw, also, that he had two companions; but what was her
shock when, presently, in one of them, she perceived the master of the
hut!

She now gave herself up as lost! Lost alike from his fear of detection,
and his vengeance for her escape. To run away was impossible; she could
find no path; she could not even venture to stir a step, lest she should
betray her concealment.

They searched, for some time, in different directions; two of them then
approached so nearly to the spot upon which she was standing, saying, to
each other, that they were sure the sound came from that quarter, that
she almost fainted with excess of terrour. But they soon turned off
another way; one of them averring that the noise was only from some
windfall; and the hut-man replying, in a coarse bass voice, that, if any
body were watching, 'twas well they had come no sooner; for he'd defy
the sharpest eye living to give a guess, now, at what they had been
about.

In this terrible interval, the door of the habitation, of which she had
already had a glimpse, was opened by a female; who, depositing a candle
upon the threshold, ran up to one of the men, with whom she conversed
for a few minutes; after which, saying 'Good night!' she re-entered the
house; while the men, all three repeating 'Good night!' trudged away,
and were soon out of hearing.

Juliet now conceived a hope, that a female, left, probably, alone,
might, either through kindness or through interest, be made a friend.
She disengaged herself, therefore, from her impediments, and gently
tapped at the door.

It was immediately opened by the woman, who said, 'Why now, dear me,
what have a forgot?' but who no sooner saw a stranger, than she screamed
aloud, 'La be good unto me! what been ye come for here, at such an
untoward time o'night as this be?' while some children who were in bed,
and suddenly awakened, jumping upon the ground, clang round their
mother, and began crying piteously.

Juliet, more affrighted than themselves, uttered the softest petition,
for a few hours' refuge from the dreariness of travelling by night. The
woman, then, casting up her hands in wonder, exclaimed, 'Good la! be you
only no other but the good gentlewoman that was so koind to my little
dearies?'

The children, recollecting her at the same moment, loosened their mother
to throw their little arms around their guest; skipping and rejoicing,
and crying, 'O dood ady! dood ady! it's dood ady!'

This, indeed, was a moment of joy to Juliet, such as life, even at its
best periods, can but rarely afford. From fears the most horrible of
unknown dangers; and from fatigue nearly insupportable, she found
herself suddenly welcomed by trusting kindness. All her dread and
scruples, with respect to the Salisbury turnpike hostess, or to any
previous reports, were, she now saw, groundless; and she delightedly
felt herself in the bosom of security, while encircled in the arms of
affectionate and unsuspicious innocence.

The good woman uncovered her hot embers, and put on some fresh wood, to
restore the weary traveller from the chill of the night: and brought out
of her cupboard a slice of bacon, and the end of a brown loaf of bread:
not mingling, with the warmth of her genuine hospitality, one
mistrustful enquiry into the reason of her guest's late wandering, or
the cause of her lonely difficulties.

The children with, instinctively, the same sensations, ran about, nearly
naked, in search of their homely play-things; persuaded that the 'dood
ady' would be as pleased as they were themselves, by the sight of the
several pieces of broken platter, which they called their tea-things;
and a small truss of straw, rolled round with rags, which they
denominated their doll. Nor would they return to rest, till Juliet sat
down by their side, to tell them some simple stories, of other good boys
and girls; while their mother prepared, for the 'dood ady,' a bed above
stairs.

The thankful happiness of Juliet, at a deliverance so unexpected, so
sweet, so soothing, induced her cordially to partake of a repast of
which she stood greatly in need; but, before she could mount to the
offered chamber, officious doubts and apprehensions broke into the
fulness of her contentment, with enquiries: Who might be the men whom
she had seen hovering about the house? What might be their business
without doors during the dead of the night? What had the man of the hut
to do away from his dwelling at such an hour? And why, and for whom, was
the good dame herself up so late, without giving any reason for what
must necessarily appear so extraordinary?

Bewildered in her ideas, uncertain in her judgment, and fearful how to
act, she could not resolve to inhabit a lonely chamber up stairs, at the
risk of some fatal surprize, or new danger. She complained of cold, and
entreated for leave to sit over the embers; while she begged them,
without heeding her, to take their usual repose.

The good woman started not the smallest difficulty; and, placing herself
by the side of the children, in less than three minutes, was visited,
like themselves, with the soundest sleep.

This woman, thought Juliet, must be as guileless as she is benevolent,
unaccountable as are all the circumstances that hang about her; could
she, else, with trust thus facile, taste rest thus undisturbed, in
presence of a wandering stranger, known to her only by a small and
accidental kindness shewn to her children?

Quieted by this example, Juliet herself, leaning her head against the
wall, partook of that common, but ever wonderful oblivion, by which life
is recruited, sorrow supported, and care assuaged.

With the first sun-beam they all awoke, and Juliet besought her hostess
to accompany her to the nearest town. The good woman cheerfully complied
with this request, making no other condition than that of demanding the
time to dress and breakfast her bantlings, as she never went any where
without them.

Juliet then officiated as nurse to the children: and here, again, the
wish of obliging, with the talent of being serviceable, so endeared her
to the little ones, and made her so agreeable to their parent, that she
was earnestly solicited to remain with them a little longer.

'But, your husband?' Juliet then ventured to ask; 'may I not be in his
way?'

'O no,' the woman answered; 'a be gone his rounds; and 't be odds but
they do take un, God willing, a week.'

This was sufficient encouragement for the harassed Juliet joyfully to
accept the invitation for remaining with them a few days. She deposited,
therefore, her baggage in the no longer rejected up stairs chamber; and,
after a few hours of quiet repose, took the entire charge of the
children for the rest of the day; not merely to play with and amuse
them, but to work for them. And her industry and adroitness soon put
their whole little wardrobe in order; and she fashioned their clothing
to their little shapes, in a manner so neat and commodious, that all
that they possessed appeared to them to be new.

The day following, with the same happy skill, she dedicated her time to
the service of the mother; whose entreaties grew more and more urgent,
that she would prolong her stay at the cottage.

Far was she from desirous to quit it. With repose so much required, she
here found comfort, peace, and affection,--three principal ingredients
in the composition of happiness! which her mind, in her uncertainty of
the fate awaiting her, was delighted to seize, and eager to requite.

For whomsoever, therefore, and at whatsoever she worked, she sung simple
songs, or told simple stories, with invariable good humour and
pleasantry, to her little friends, who clung to her with passionate
fondness; while their enchanted mother thought that some angel was
descended amongst them, in guise of a traveller, to charm and to serve
them at once.

To the unhackneyed observation of this good woman, the change of attire
in Juliet, since their meeting at Salisbury, offered no sort of food to
conjecture; she concluded that to walk about that fine city, had well
deserved the best clothes; and that the worst had naturally been put on,
afterwards, for economy, upon the road. Juliet found her wholly ignorant
of the Salisbury adventure; and filled with innocent gratitude, in
concluding that she had been benighted in the Forest, while seeking to
find the little dearys whom she had thought so pretty upon the high
road.





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