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Title: Modern Flirtations - A Novel
Author: Sinclair, Catherine, 1800-1864
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.

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Transcriber's Note: Minor typographical errors have been corrected
without note. Irregularities and inconsistencies in the text have
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underscores: _italics_. The Table of Contents was not present in the
original text and has been produced for the reader's convenience.


[Illustration: Granville intercepting the Stranger.--See page 176]


MODERN FLIRTATIONS,

A NOVEL:

BY CATHERINE SINCLAIR,

AUTHOR OF "BEATRICE."

[Illustration: Blind Uncle Arthur endeavoring to escape from the
flames.--See page 334]

STRINGER & TOWNSEND, NEW YORK



MODERN FLIRTATIONS,

A NOVEL:


BY CATHERINE SINCLAIR,

AUTHOR OF

"BEATRICE, OR THE UNKNOWN RELATIVES," "MODERN ACCOMPLISHMENTS," "MODERN
SOCIETY," "HILL AND VALLEY," "SHETLAND AND THE SHETLANDERS,"
"HOLIDAY HOUSE," "CHARLIE SEYMOUR," ETC.


    "I clasped my hand close to my breast,
    While my heart was as light as a feather,
    Yet nothing I said, I protest,
    But, ---- 'Madam! 'tis very fine weather!'"

    RITSON'S SONGS.


NEW-YORK:
STRINGER & TOWNSEND, PUBLISHERS,
222 BROADWAY.



CONTENTS

    PREFACE

    CHAPTER

    I.
    II.
    III.
    IV.
    V.
    VI.
    VII.
    VIII.
    IX.
    X.
    XI.
    XII.
    XIII.
    XIV.
    XV.
    XVI.
    XVII.
    XVIII.
    XIX.
    XX.
    XXI.
    XXII.
    XXIII.
    XXIV.
    XXV.
    XXVI.
    XXVII.
    XXVIII.
    XXIX.
    XXX.
    XXXI.
    XXXII.
    XXXIII.
    XXXIV.
    XXXV.
    XXXVI.
    XXXVII.
    XXXVIII.
    XXXIX.
    XL.
    XLI.
    XLII.
    XLIII.
    XLIV.
    XLV.
    XLVI.
    XLVII.



PREFACE.


It was the rule of a celebrated equestrian, which might be adapted to
authors as well as to horsemen, that every one should ride as if he
expected to be thrown, and drive as if he expected to be upset.
Impunity in publishing, far from rendering an author presumptuous,
should tend rather to increase his timidity, the danger being greater
always of venturing too much, than of hazarding too little; and the
more cause any writer has to feel grateful for the lenient judgment of
an enlightened public, the more circumspect should he become, not to
trespass by an obtrusive reappearance on that notice which has already
perhaps been, as in respect to the author herself, beyond all
expectation favorable.

An old proverb declares that "a goose-quill is more powerful than a
lion's claw," and authors have been called "keepers of the public
conscience;" but no influence is perhaps so extensive as that
exercised by what is termed "light reading," which has now in a great
measure superseded public places and theatrical entertainments,
affording a popular resource with which the busiest men relax their
hard-working minds, and the idlest occupy their idleness. It becomes a
deep responsibility, therefore, of which the author trusts she has
ever felt duly sensible, to claim the leisure hours of so many, while
it is her first desire that whatever be the defect of these pages, no
actual evil may be intermingled, and the cause of sound religion and
morality supported, for her feelings are best expressed in the words
of the poet,

    "If I one soul improve, I have not liv'd in vain."

Novel-reading, formerly considered the lowest resource of intellectual
vacuity, has been lately promoted to a new place in the literary
world, since men of the brightest genius as well as of the highest
attainments in learning and philosophy, allow their pens occasionally
to wander in the attractive regions of fiction; therefore works of
imagination, no longer merely a clandestine amusement to frivolous
minds, are now avowedly read and enjoyed, to beguile an idle hour, or
to cheer a gloomy one, by men of science, of wisdom, and of piety.
Such is the general encouragement given now to works of fancy, that,
as the literary existence of authors depends on attracting readers,
there will scarcely be encouragement enough soon to induce historians
and biographers to dip the pen of veracity into the ink of
retrospection, while it is perhaps to be lamented that when so large a
proportion of the public attention is occupied by novelists, their
works being certain of instant circulation, for a very short period
and for no more, few authors afford themselves time to aspire at the
highest grade of imaginary composition. When such volumes are really
true to nature, they convey very important truths in a form more
popular than a dry sententious volume of moral precepts, and perhaps
history itself can scarcely afford so graphic a portrait of human life
as many of those fictitious volumes, written under the inspiration of
genius, which portray in vivid coloring, the thoughts and motives by
which men are internally influenced.

The Life of Cleopatra, or the Memoirs of Agrippina, can afford
scarcely so much direction to young ladies respecting their views of
life and manners in the present day, as might be conveyed by a
judiciously-drawn portrait of that world as it is, on the stage of
which they are about to be personally introduced; and a large
proportion of those elaborate volumes dignified with the name of
history, can only be considered in the main fictitious, because, while
biographers would confidently state the private opinions, secret
intentions, and real characters of illustrious men who lived and acted
several hundred years ago, they cannot justly estimate the actual
dispositions and motives of their own most intimate friends, nor
confidently point out what circumstances have influenced the greatest
events in their own day. If two authors, entertaining opposite
political sentiments, were to write the history of last year, every
fact recorded, and every individual mentioned must inevitably be
represented, or misrepresented, according to the writer's own private
feelings, while each would believe he was writing unadulterated truth.

Thus poetry and fiction, when true to the principles of human life,
exhibit the mind and soul of man visibly to the senses; and history,
which has been called "the Newgate Calendar of Kings and Emperors,"
supplies the facts of human existence, and may be considered a
portrait of men's persons and external actions.

In writing a story of domestic life, it is singular to reflect how
commonly men are remembered by their eccentricities, and loved for
their very faults, while the most difficult task in fiction is, to
describe amiable persons so as to render them at all interesting and
not utterly insipid. Probably it may be for this reason that modern
writers too frequently, instead of describing the principles which
ennoble human nature, and the sentiments which embellish life, have
painted in vivid coloring, all that is low, mean, and vicious in
society, introducing their readers into scenes, the reality of which
would be shunned with abhorrence, and flinging over vice such a mantle
of genius as converts the deformities of society into subjects of
interest--unfortunately even of sympathy.

Were authors obliged hereafter, to live with the characters they
create, how few would desire to share with them in such a world! Even
where the intention is to represent an attractive character, it seldom
appears as one which could be an agreeable acquisition to any family
circle; and in works of sentiment or feeling, nothing is less
successfully pictured than a generous and refined attachment, fitted
to survive every trial or vicissitude of existence, between those who
are to love each other for ever. Few stories could be written, if
lovers in a romance acted with the slightest degree of confidence or
esteem; but such narratives are generally founded on a teazing
succession of narrow-minded suspicions, and unwarrantable concealments
on the part of heroes and heroines, who condemn each other unheard,
and go through volumes of heart-breaking alienation, enough to
terminate life itself, rather than ask the most simple explanation,
while the reader cannot but feel a certain conviction in closing the
last page, that an engagement begun with cavilling jealousies and
painful recriminations, can never become productive of lasting peace.

The mothers and daughters in fashionable society have of late been so
harshly stigmatized by the press, that it seems as if some authors had
taken up a porcupine's quill dipped in gall, to ridicule their conduct
and motives, while not a pen has yet been drawn from the scabbard, nor
a drop of ink spilled in their justification; but the weight of
censure might become greatly lightened by being more equitably divided
among all who are entitled to carry a share, and in these volumes an
endeavor is made to rectify the balance more justly, though with what
success remains to be discovered by the author herself, as not a
single friend ever sees her pages, or puts on the spectacles of
criticism till after they are printed. The only peculiarity to which
she makes any pretension, in once more presuming to publish, is, that
avoiding all caricature, all improbability, and all personality, she
has introduced a few individuals acting and thinking in the ordinary
routine of every-day life, while her highest ambition is to represent
in natural colors, the conduct and feelings of men elevated and
ennobled by the influence of Christianity.

When Dr. Johnson remarked once that it required a clever person to
talk nonsense well, Boswell replied, "Yes, sir! If you were to
represent little fishes speaking, you would make them talk like great
whales;" and on a similar plan, authors describing society, instead
of sketching the good-humoured chit-chat and lively _persiflage_
with which the business and amusements of fashionable life are carried
on, too frequently fill up their dialogues with set speeches, moral
essays, and long quotations, such as never are extemporized in any
drawing-room, where too energetic a stroke given to the shuttlecock of
conversation makes it instantly fall to the ground. The flagrant
impossibilities by which a carelessly-written narrative is carried on,
destroys often at once the illusion. Persons are described, who maybe
overheard speaking aloud their most secret thoughts when supposing
themselves alone, soliloquizing audibly in the streets, journalizing a
history of their own crimes, becoming permanent guests in houses to
which they have no introduction, preserving the noblest sentiments
amidst the most degraded habits, and dying enlightened Christians when
they have lived as dissolute infidels.

A celebrated mathematician threw aside a novel once in disgust, saying
that "it proved nothing;" but in these pages the author has
endeavoured to prove much. Amidst the bustle and business, the joys
and sorrows of life, she has attempted to illustrate how truly
"wisdom's ways are of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace,"--how
superior is the Christian standard of principle to the mere worldly
code of honour or expediency, and how much of the happiness intended
for man by his Creator is ruined and forfeited by the perversity of
his own will, in neglecting the good of others, and in vainly
grasping, like a spoiled child, at more than is intended for his
share. While thus writing a fiction, which may perhaps be denominated
a large religious tract in high life, the author humbly submits her
pages to the judgment of others, and cannot conclude in the words of a
more universally venerated, or of a more generally popular fictitious
author than the excellent Bunyan:

"Thus I set pen to paper with delight, And quickly had my thought--in
black and white; For having now my method by the end, Still as I
pulled it came, and so I penned It down, until at last it came to be,
For length and breadth, the bigness which you see."



MODERN FLIRTATIONS.



CHAPTER I.


The newspapers have recently adopted a strange habit of sometimes
unexpectedly seizing an individual's name, long since retired from
public notice, and gibbetting it up before the world's eye, when least
anticipated, by volunteering a paragraph to announce, that some aged
lord, or ex-minister, whom no one has remembered to think of for half
a century or more, is residing on his estates, and enjoying, the
editor is happy to understand, astonishing health, considering his
advanced years. In observance of this custom, an exclamation of
irritability and astonishment, too violent to be worthy of record, was
elicited one day, from a dignified and very distinguished-looking old
gentleman, with a venerable head, such as Titian might have painted,
and a high lofty forehead bearing the traces of deep thought and
feeling, when, after having seated himself on his favorite arm chair
at the United Service Club in Edinburgh, his eye rested with a look of
kindling amazement on these few lines, in large consequential-looking
type, on a leading column of the Courant.

_June 1829._ "We are happy to inform our readers that the brave and
noble veteran, once a distinguished hero in many a well-fought fight,
Sir Arthur Dunbar, G.C.B., is yet alive, reposing on his well-earned
laurels, at a retired mansion in the marine village of Portobello.
Though frequently and most severely wounded in battle, besides being
deprived of an arm in Lord Rodney's engagement during the year '82, the
Admiral's health continues unimpaired and his cheerfulness invariable,
at the advanced age of 70."

"Pshaw! stuff and nonsense! Some enemy is resolved to make a
laughing-stock of me in my old age!" exclaimed he, angrily pointing out
the paragraph to his gay young relative, Louis De Crespigny, who was
familiarly leaning over the high back of his chair; and then crumpling
up the offending Courant with an obvious wish that it might be consumed
in the flames--"I hope this is only the work of some wretched
penny-a-liner; but if I even suspected that my conceited, good-looking
scoundrel of a nephew had a hand in the jest, I would cut him off with a
shilling,--or rather without one, for I could scarcely raise so much as
a shilling to leave him, and he knows that. This is most thoroughly
ridiculous! I, who have been dead, buried, and forgotten for years, to
be made as conspicuous here, as a hair-dresser's wig-block! The editor
shall be prosecuted,--horse-whipped,--or--or made as absurd as he has
made me!"

"Why really, Admiral, I wish he had as much good to say of us all, and
then the sooner he paragraphs about me the better!--'We are happy to
inform our readers that the agreeable and fascinating Cornet De
Crespigny, of the 15th Light Hussars, now in his eighteenth year, is
still alive!'--the public likes to know the exact age of distinguished
men, such as you and I, Admiral!"

"The public is an ass!" replied Sir Arthur, breaking into a smile;
"and perhaps I am another, to mind what is said at all, but that
rascal of an editor has made me ten years older than I am; besides
which, though a grey-haired Admiral of sixty-four is not probably much
addicted to blushing, he really has put my modest merit out of
countenance. I would rather pay the newspapers any day for overlooking
than for praising me. We ought to live or die for our country; but
now, when I am no longer needed, let me stay in peace on the shelf,
like," added he, giving a comic smile at his empty sleeve, "like a
cracked tea-cup with the handle off!"

"But, Sir Arthur!" replied the young Cornet warmly, "you who never
turned your back on friend or foe, are not very likely to remain
quietly on the shelf, as long as every man who lives must respect you,
and every man who dies continues to appoint you, as my father did, his
executor, the trustee of his estates, and the guardian of his
children, asking you to lend them a hand, as you have done to me in
all the difficulties of life."

"I have but one hand to lend, and that is much at your service, in
whatever way it can be useful! the other, though absent without leave,
has been my own best friend, as the loss of that arm was the luckiest
hit in the world. It obtained me a step at the time, and the pension
has supported me ever since. What with my nephew's frantic
extravagance, and my two young nieces being but indifferently provided
for, I often wish, like every body else, for a larger income. Poor
girls!" added Sir Arthur, knitting his bushy eye-brows into a
portentous frown, which gave to his venerable countenance a look of
noble and manly sorrow. "No one can blame them! but it was little
short of insanity in my brother to leave such young children under the
sole guardianship of a heartless spendthrift like your friend and my
nephew Sir Patrick, who would sell his soul for sixpence."

"Yes! and squander it the next minute," added young De Crespigny,
laughing. "I saw Pat produce a £20 note yesterday at Tait's
auction-room, and a buzz of wonder ran all through the circle of his
friends. Such a sight had not been seen in his pocket for many a day,
and he threatened to put it up to auction, saying, he was sure we
would all give double the value for it, as a rarity, considering the
quarter from which it came. He really seems to pique himself on his
poverty, and has the art of doing what another man would be cut for,
with so much grace and apparent unconsciousness, that his friends
really forget to disapprove."

"I never forget!" replied the Admiral, slowly rising and adjusting his
spectacles. "I am even told the incorrigible rascal has mortgaged the
legacy he pretends to expect from me! He would do anything short of a
highway robbery for money, and has done some things that seem to a man
of honor quite as bad. But," added Sir Arthur, growing more and more
angry, "as long as he can give his friends a good bottle of claret,
they ask no questions! Patrick Dunbar has caused me the only feeling
of shame I ever had occasion for, and yet to see that proud
snuff-the-moon look of his, you would suppose the world scarcely big
enough to hold him! With his chin in the air, as I saw him yesterday,
he will certainly knock his forehead some day against the sky!"

"You cannot wonder, Sir Arthur, that Dunbar is in immense favor with
himself, when he is so admired, and almost idolized in society. He
certainly has the handsomest countenance in Scotland;--as my uncle
Doncaster says, Pat is a portrait of Vandyke in his best style. With
that grand, chivalrous, Chevalier-Bayard look, he is the best rider
who ever sat on horseback! I could not but laugh when he mounted
yesterday for a ride along Princes Street, and turned to me, with his
lively, victorious laugh, saying, 'Now I am going to give the ladies a
treat!'"

"The insufferable coxcomb!" said Sir Arthur, relaxing into an
irresistible smile of indulgent affection. "From the day he first
came staggering into this world to astonish us all, he has thought
himself the finest sight between this and Whitehall!"

"Of course he does! Pat is asked for so many locks of his hair, by
various young ladies, that his valet keeps a wig to supply them; and
he might almost pay his debts with the countless collection he has
received of sentimental rings, displaying forgotten forget-me-nots, in
turquoises and gold! Who, on the wide earth, except yourself, Sir
Arthur, would ever dream of finding fault with our gay, dashing,
high-spirited friend, Dunbar, the life of society, the model of dress,
equipage, and good living. Why! the very instant he opens his lips,
all dulness vanishes like a spectre! I wish the whole world were
peopled with such men; but he promises to shoot himself as soon as he
sees his own equal. He staked his reputation one day that he would!"

"His reputation!! the sooner he parts with it the better! Let Patrick
Dunbar exchange his own with the first man he meets in the street, and
he will gain by the bargain."

"Pardon me there, Sir Arthur, your nephew is universally allowed to be
the best fellow upon earth!"

"Very probably! 'the best fellow upon earth' generally means a
selfish, extravagant, scatter-brained roue; but I must be off! There
is a cold, sharp, cutting wind, blowing in at the back of my neck,
which makes me feel like Charles the First when the axe fell. If you
have any influence, De Crespigny, with my scape-grace of a nephew--all
nephews are scape-graces, as far as my experience goes--try to make
him more like yourself, and I shall be grateful, with all my heart."

"Like me!!!" said the young Cornet, turning away with a smile; but it
was a smile of bitterness, almost amounting to remorse, while he
hastily grasped a newspaper, and flung himself into a seat. "No! no!
Sir Arthur, he is not quite so bad as that. Dunbar has his faults; he
wears them upon his sleeve, and attempts no disguise; but there are
many worse men in the world, who are held up as examples by those who
know no better. Whenever I reform myself, you may depend upon my
lecturing our friend, but not till then. We must both sow all our wild
oats first."

"Yes! and endure the fruit of them afterwards," replied Sir Arthur,
with a look of anxious kindness at his young relative. "That is the
only crop where to sow is more agreeable than to reap! But I waste
words! Young men will be young men, and I might as well ask this east
wind not to blow, or try to turn the sea from its course, as attempt
to stop the mad career of that scatter-brained madcap! It would matter
less if he only fell himself hereafter, like a pebble in the stream;
but the fatal eddy extends in a wide circle, which must reach the
interests of those helpless young girls, my nieces; and I cannot but
grieve over the consequences which may, and must befall them, after I
go to that rest which is in the grave, and to that hope which is
beyond it."

"Never trouble your head about that which shall occur then, Sir Arthur!
'Too much care once made an old man grey.' My motto is, '_apres moi le
deluge_!' This little world of ours got on wonderfully well before we
came into it, and will do astonishingly well again, after we make our
exit," said young De Crespigny, with a strange medley in his tone, of
melancholy thought, and contemptuous derision. "Pat tells me that both
my young cousins promise to turn out a perfect blaze of beauty, with
long shining ringlets that they almost tread upon in walking, teeth
that would make the fortune of a dentist, and complexions that
Rowland's kalydor could not improve. Ten years hence, I shall propose
to one or both of them myself, if that will give you satisfaction."

"Perfect! but as marrying two sisters at once is not quite customary,
let your intentions be limited to Agnes. She is several years the
eldest; and I like the good old patriarchal rule of marrying by
seniority; besides which, she is quite a little flirt already, though
scarcely yet in her teens. She will be a young lady, entirely suited
for the ordinary marrying and giving in marriage of every-day life;
but little Marion is the very light of my eyes, and I must match her
by a very high standard indeed. It will be a dark day for me, if ever
I am obliged to part with her at all; and being now only in her sixth
year, I may, without selfishness, hope to keep her beside me for my
few remaining days. I must begin match-making for Agnes, however,
directly, and your offer shall be duly considered. A future peer, with
countless thousands in expectancy, and not particularly ill-looking,
does not fall in our way every morning."

"So all the young ladies seem to think!" replied the young Cornet, in
his most conceited tone. "Girls dislike nothing so much as to marry on
a competence; there is a great deal of romance in marrying on nothing,
and a great deal of comfort in marrying on wealth; but a mere vulgar
competence has neither romance nor reality. Now I can offer both!
First, actual starvation on a Cornet's pay; and then, with my uncle's
leave, the pumpkin will turn to a carriage, and the mice into horses;
but in the meantime, Sir Arthur, Pat tells me you keep a capital
chop-house at Portobello, so pray invite me to drop in some day at
six, to begin my siege of your pretty niece. I must come and see,
before I can conquer," added Mr. De Crespigny, in a tone of peculiar
conceit, with which he always spoke either to ladies or of them.
"Probably next week I may find my way to this _terra incognita_
of yours. Is it across the Queensferry, or where?"

"My good friend! you are not so pre-eminently ignorant of geography as
you would appear; for did I not see you honoring that dullest of all
dull places, the little obscure village of Portobello, with your
august presence, only yesterday. I nearly spitted you on the point of
my umbrella, you hurried so rapidly past, evidently wishing to escape
from that girl in a cloak, who seemed to beset your footsteps!"

"Impossible!!!" exclaimed young De Crespigny, coloring violently, and
starting from his seat. "Could it be in the nature of things that I
should cut you!"

"True enough! I might have said, like Lady Towercliffe to Prince
Meimkoff, '_vous m'avez coupe_.'"

"Indeed!" continued the cornet, trying to conceal his countenance. "I
wish you had cut my throat in return!"

"If it is to be done, I would rather somebody else did! Why, De
Crespigny! you will set the house on fire with that violent poker
exercise! Your own face is on fire already! Have more regard for your
complexion! Ah! now it is pale enough! Are you ill? My dear fellow!
what is the matter?"

"Nothing! I am merely looking at the beautiful sunset!"

"What! does the sun set in the east to-night?" asked Sir Arthur,
jestingly; "that is worth looking at!"

"I am annoyed with a spasm of toothache!" said De Crespigny, putting a
handkerchief to his face, which nearly covered it; and then suddenly
throwing open the window, he looked far out, as if in search of his
groom. He leaned forward so long, however, that Sir Arthur kindly but
vehemently remonstrated on the danger of exposing himself, while in so
much pain, to the cold air; enumerated a whole host of remedies for
decayed teeth; suggested the great comfort and convenience of having
the offender extracted by Hutchins, and ended by hoping his young
friend would still have a tooth left for his proposed dinner at
Portobello.

"Depend upon me for that," replied Mr. De Crespigny, with forced
vivacity. "I shall ferret you out next week. I have little doubt your
pasture is excellent in that quarter, and there is no one from whom I
would be half so happy to receive a soup ticket."

"Keep your flattery for the ladies, where it will always be
acceptable, and where I hear you are already an experienced
practitioner in the arts of captivation. As for my dinner, I consider
it an imposition to ask any friend, and not give him the best my cook
and cellar can furnish; and you may expect whenever you do come, to
find a notice over my door, 'hot joints every day!'"

"But it was the society of your house, and not the dinner, to which my
agreeable anticipations were directed; and there, you know, I cannot
be disappointed! as somebody wisely said, when shown a tempting bill
of fare, 'show me a bill of the company!'"

"That reminds me to say, you must not expect my pretty niece to be at
my little bathing machine of a house! It would not be fair to inveigle
you under such false pretences; but I promise you an old man's
welcome, and the best that my cottage can produce; aged as this
newspaper makes me I enjoy every inch of life, and hope you, at the
same age, will do the same. I may almost apply to my little villa that
favourite saying in Spain,

    'My home, my home! though thou'rt but small,
    Thou art to me th' Escurial.'"

With a cordial shake of the hand, and a smile of cheerful benignity,
Sir Arthur withdrew, and as his firm and stately step receded, Mr. De
Crespigny watched him with a look of respectful interest, which ended
in his turning away after the admiral had disappeared, and heaving a
deep sigh, while a cloud of care darkened on his forehead, and a look
of angry vexation shaded his previously animated eyes.

Day after day passed on, subsequent to the preceding conversation,
during which Sir Arthur frequently postponed his chop, to what he
considered an atrociously late hour, in hopes of his promised guest
appearing. Once the admiral felt positively convinced that he had seen
him enter a Portobello omnibus at four o'clock, but still he appeared
not. Week after week elapsed, and still Sir Arthur ate his dinner
alone, in long-surviving expectation that either his own not very
dutiful nephew, or young De Crespigny, would "cast up;" but at last
these hopes and wishes were ended by his hearing that Sir Patrick's
embarrassments had caused him to leave Edinburgh by moonlight, and
that, soon after, Mr. De Crespigny as suddenly departed, no one knew
why, when, or wherefore.



CHAPTER II.


The two most dashing, bold, and mischievous boys at Eton during their
day, had formerly been Sir Patrick Dunbar and Louis De Crespigny, who
astonished the weak minds of masters and pupils, by the strange and
startling invention displayed in their exploits, as well as by the
ingenuity with which both got safely out of every threatening
predicament, and the sly humor or cunning with which they frequently
shifted the disgrace, or even the punishment, of their offences, on
others who deserved it less, or perhaps not at all. Invariably at the
head of every mad exploit, or at the bottom of every secret design,
how they could possibly have escaped being expelled was a frequent
topic of subsequent wonder among their contemporaries in the classes;
but their delight was to run as near the wind as possible, and still
to display their skilful pilotage by baffling justice, and evading the
utmost rigor of the law, while always ready rather to do harm than to
do nothing.

When very young, the two enterprising friends, both since gazetted
into the 15th Light Huzzars, had shown an early predilection for
military life, by frequently escaping to the neighbouring barracks,
assisted by a ladder of rope on which they descended every night from
the windows. A gay, joyous reception invariably awaited these lively
boys at the mess-table, where they sung many a jovial song, and
cracked many a merry jest over their claret, till, after some hours
spent in rapturous festivity, they stole silently back within bounds,
and were re-admitted at the window, by their respective fags, who had
received orders, under pain of death, to keep awake and answer their
signals for the ladder by instantly lowering it. The spirits of both
these young companions were more like the effect of intoxication, than
mere sober enjoyment; and, on one occasion, they set the table in a
roar, by having a rivalship which would best imitate the gradual
progress of becoming tipsy, though drinking nothing but cold water; in
which exhibition they showed so much talent for mimicry, taking off
the surrounding officers before their faces, and making so many
home-thrusts and personal remarks, that the scene was never afterwards
forgotten in the regiment. On another occasion Sir Patrick caused
himself to be placed in a coffin, stolen from the undertakers, and was
carried through the barracks by his companions, who made paper
trumpets with which they played the dead march in Saul, while all the
sentries saluted as they passed. Such juvenile exploits in the dawn of
life were now the subject of many a laughing reminiscence, and had
been followed by others on a more extended scale and of more matured
enterprise, at Mr. Brownlow's, a private tutor, where the two young
men afterwards distinguished themselves in a way not easily to be
forgotten, causing their better disciplined companions to wonder,
though in very few instances to admire.

In the favorite aristocratic achievements of driving stage-coaches,
breaking lamps, wringing off knockers, assaulting watchmen, with other
fistic and pugilistic exploits, they were nearly unrivalled; and
occasionally their genius had soared into an extraordinary display of
dexterity, in transposing the signs suspended over shops, and in
filching silk handkerchiefs from the pockets of their friends, merely
as amateurs, but still the deed was done, and the laugh raised
literally at the expense of the sufferer, as the plunder was retained
to be a future trophy of success. Each successive stage of their
youth, in short, supplied an inexhaustible fund of standing jests and
lively anecdotes, the wit of which mainly consisted in their mischief,
while they betrayed an utter recklessness about the opinions or the
feelings of others, till at length the patience of their unfortunate
private tutor was so completely exhausted that he gave them a secret
hint to withdraw, which they accordingly lost no time in preparing to
do, but not till they had enjoyed a very characteristic revenge. When
Mr. Brownlow had taken a party of friends with him one evening to the
theatre, Sir Patrick suddenly discharged from the gallery the whole
contents of a prodigious bag of flour, which powdered all the heads,
faces, and coats, in the pit, perfectly white, and caused an uproar of
anger and of irresistible laughter throughout the house; and the same
evening Louis De Crespigny, as a farewell frolic, abstracted a stuffed
bear from the neighbouring hair-dresser's, and having equipped it in
the costume of Mr. Brownlow, hung it from the lamp-post, where a
panic-struck crowd was speedily assembled by the alarming report that
the reverend gentleman had committed suicide. A strict investigation
took place respecting the authors of these unpardonable tricks, but,
though suspicion fell at once upon the real culprits, and the
circumstantial evidence against them seemed irresistibly strong, Sir
Patrick argued his own cause with so much skill and vivacity, while De
Crespigny looked so innocently unconscious of the whole affair, that,
with a silent frown from the master, of stern reproof and suspicion,
they were, not honorably acquitted, but allowed to return home without
any public mark of censure or disgrace; and soon after both joined
their regiment at Dublin.

De Crespigny and Sir Patrick had but one companion whom they
acknowledged as their equal at Eton, in all the spirit, enterprise,
and vivacity of their characters, but who was, in a thousand other
respects their superior, for seldom, indeed, has there been known, in
one so young, a character of as much intensity, or which displayed a
combination so singular, of superb talents, rare judgment, sound
principle, deep piety, and energetic feeling, as in Richard Granville,
an object of admiration to all, and of envy to many; though jealously
lost half of its bitterness in association with one so eloquent and
single-hearted in conversation, so courteously amiable and
conciliatory in manner, and with so fine a principle of tact, ready as
far as possible to enhance the pleasures, to palliate the faults, and
to share the sorrows of all his companions. Cultivated in all that
could adorn the heart as well as the head, in whatever was amiable,
high-spirited and generous, Richard Granville had but to follow the
impulse of natural feeling as well as of principle, and he out-did the
very wishes of his friends, while no one excelled him in all the manly
exercises suited to his early years. His countenance was illuminated
with an expression of intellectual energy, at times almost sublime,
while there was a living grace and amiability in his manner
irresistibly attractive. Brave, liberal, and resolute, he entered with
eagerness into all the offensive recreations of his companions, and no
one excelled him in riding, fencing, and cricket, while he was the
best shot in his own country; but he firmly declined ever to squander
his time or money on any game of chance, cards, billiards, or gambling
in any form. While Sir Patrick's betting-book was from the first a
model of skill, in hedging bets, and all the manoeuvres of
jockey-ology, young Granville said all that eloquence and affection
could dictate, to point out how dangerous and dishonorable was the
course on which he seemed about to enter, but in vain, for Sir Patrick
finished the discussion by offering to bet him £5 he would not be
ruined in less than ten years. "I have a fortune and constitution
which will last me till thirty," said the young baronet; "and I do not
wish to live a day longer."

"It is easy," said Prince Eugene, "to be modest when one is
successful; but it is difficult not to be envied." While the very
presence of young Granville in the room, with his riotous young
associates, seemed as if it held up a glass to their mind's eye,
testifying the folly and evil of their course, yet Richard Granville
abhorred display, while Sir Patrick and De Crespigny frequently
declared he was "too clever and too good for them;" and unavoidable
circumstances afterwards combined to estrange the young men still
more. A law-suit had been going on almost since the period of their
birth, conducted in an amicable way by their guardians, in which the
interests of all three were so deeply concerned, and the case so
exceedingly complicated, that years passed on, during which the youths
had all grown to manhood, and the case remained still undecided; while
the one-sided view which was given to Dunbar and De Crespigny on the
subject caused in them an angry feeling of hostility and rancour
against their amiable and high-minded young relative, who was so
enthusiastically desirous to enter the English church, and devote
himself to those sacred duties, that he scarcely wished a favorable
decree, which would prevent the necessity for his pursuing a
profession at all.

A Scotch law-suit may be compared to a game at battle-dore between the
tribunals of England and Scotland, while the gaping client sees the
shuttle-cock for ever flying over his head, higher and higher out of
reach, and sent backwards and forwards with ceaseless diligence, but
no apparent progress; or it is like a kitten playing with a ball of
worsted, which is allowed to come often apparently within her grasp,
and is then, when she least expects, twitched away farther than
before. The Granville case had been decided by the Court of Session,
against the two cousins, Dunbar and Crespigny, but being appealed to
the House of Lords, was recommended for consideration, re-argued,
re-considered, and nearly reversed, while replies and duplies, remits
and re-revisals, commissions of inquiry, and new cases, followed each
other in ceaseless succession, and many of the lawyers who were young
men when the case began, grew grey in the service, while it yet
remained in suspense. A grand-uncle of Sir Patrick's had fifty years
before, bought an estate of £12,000 a-year from the Marquis of
Doncaster, to whom young De Crespigny was now heir presumptive; but
Mr. Dunbar having, it was conjectured, entertained some suspicion that
the title deeds were not perfectly valid, as an entail had been
discovered afterwards, by which it was generally thought that the land
must be restored to the original owner, he hastily and most unfairly
sold the property to the late Mr. Granville for £350,000, and dying
intestate, after having lost nearly the whole sum in a mining
speculation, it could not be proved whether Sir Patrick's father had
acted as an executor for the deceased or not, so as to render himself
responsible for his debts, and liable to refund the sum paid by Mr.
Granville. Thus, whether the entail held good, and carried the estate
back to Lord Doncaster, or whether it had been legally broken, so as
to entitle the Granville family to keep it, or whether, if it were
refunded, the price could be claimed from the heirs of Mr. Dunbar,
still continued a mystery never apparently to be solved.

For many generations past, the ancient Marquisate of Doncaster had
been inherited by a succession of only sons, all strict Papists, who
had each in his turn been reckoned by the next heirs exceedingly
sickly and unpromising, but still the wonder grew, for not one had
ever died, till he left a substitute in regular rotation, to supply
the vacancy which he created himself; and a long train of minorities
in the family had caused the accumulation of wealth and property to be
enormous, when the present proprietor succeeded fifty years before our
story commences. Nothing could exceed his own astonishment at the
unembarrassed magnificence of the fortune, of which he most
unexpectedly found himself in possession, as his father had been in
the habit of concealing the amount of his own income, and allowing his
heir rather less than nothing, saying, that as he himself had never
had anything to eat till he had no teeth to eat with, he was resolved
that his successor should be similarly treated. In pursuance of this
plan, the old nobleman even on his death-bed, had actually expired
with a practical joke on his lips. He sent for his son, gravely told
him that with debts, mortgages, and settlements, the very encumbered
estate he was about to inherit would scarcely pay its own expenses,
and recommended him to live in future with the most penurious economy.
When the will was opened, finding to his unutterable joy, that he had
merely been played upon by the old humorist, who, in reality left him
£40,000 per annum clear, so great was Lord Doncaster's surprise, that
he declared his good fortune at the time to be "almost incredible;"
and it might have been supposed, that he never afterwards completely
believed it, as his personal expenses were always in a style more
suited to the old Lord's threat than his performance, and he became a
fresh instance of what may be so often remarked, that the most
extravagant heirs in expectancy become the most avaricious in
possession.

There was one singular peculiarity in the settlements of Lord
Doncaster's family, that so long as he had no son, or if his son at
twenty-one declared himself a Protestant, he had the power of selling
or bequeathing the estates according to his own pleasure or caprice;
and the ancestor who had inserted this clause in his deed of entail,
made his intention evident, that the succession should go to the Roman
Catholic Church, rather than to a Protestant heir; but the present
peer had taken advantage, on so large a scale, of his own childless
privilege, to sell the family estates, that his two deceased sisters,
Lady Charlotte De Crespigny, and Lady Caroline Smytheson, used
secretly to complain, that little would be left for their children, if
he persevered in turning every acre into gold; yet no one ever could
guess how the large sums were squandered or melted away, which the old
Marquis was continually raising, unless they went, as was strongly
suspected, in the form of "secret service money," among the priests by
whom he was surrounded.

Nobody had a better right to be eccentric than Lord Doncaster!--old,
rich, unmarried, and originally educated at home,--a misfortune
sufficient in itself to engender so many peculiarities, as to render a
man unfit for society ever afterwards. The aged peer was shy, proud,
and arbitrary beyond all conception, avaricious about trifles, yet
lavish to excess on great occasions, suspicious of all men's motives
and intentions, and yet confiding to the last extreme of weakness, in
the Abbe Mordaunt, his confessor, despising all men, and yet anxious
beyond measure for the world's good opinion, addicted to the very
worst female society, when he might have enjoyed the best, hating
company, and yet sometimes plunging into it, when and where he was
least expected, jealous to excess of his next heir, Louis De
Crespigny, whom he enslaved to his caprices, as if even his existence
were to be given or withheld at his option, yet sometimes whimsically
cordial in his manner to him, though ready to take fire in an instant
if his condescension led the lively youth into the slightest approach
towards confidence or familiarity.

Mr. Howard Smytheson, the wealthy brother-in-law of Lord Doncaster,
having purchased most of the De Crespigny estates, as acre after acre,
farm after farm, and house after house, came successively into the
market, bequeathed them on his decease to an only daughter then an
infant, and it became a favorite day-dream with the old peer, that his
nephew and niece should be educated for each other, while to this end
he tried his utmost power of conciliation with the maiden sister of
Mr. Howard Smytheson, to whose care the young heiress had been
consigned, hoping that thus all the amputated limbs of his vast
property might yet be reunited in their pristine magnitude, to which
very desirable end he thenceforth directed his whole conversations
with young De Crespigny, to whom he more than hinted that, unless
their will were the same about this marriage, his own will after death
would be found very different from what his nephew probably
anticipated and wished.

The private vices of Lord Doncaster had been so very private, that
though much was suspected, little could be known; yet, while he had
few visible or personal expenses, and no imaginable outlet for his
fortune, he invariably spent all his income, and considerably more,
being one of those personages occasionally seen who excite the wonder
and speculation of relations and neighbours, by unaccountably
frittering away fortunes of almost royal splendor, without any
appearance of royal luxury or royal liberality. Wearied of the world,
in which he had nothing more to desire, and of himself, as he had
nothing to think of or to do,--bored in short with the want of a want,
Lord Doncaster's life was indeed a mere heartless pageant of mean
ostentation and fretful pride, sternly insulated in a state of
solitary old-bachelor despotism, and absorbed in himself to a degree
which no ordinary mind could conceive or comprehend. Encumbered with
so many unoccupied hours, it was a subject of as much wonder how he
disposed of his superfluous time, as of his superfluous fortune; but
he settled that question, by remarking one day to his nephew, that
"the great business of life is, to shuffle through the day anyhow till
dinner time." Like all parsimonious men, Lord Doncaster could not
endure to hear any one else reckoned affluent, and Louis De Crespigny
knew that a certain receipt for irritating him was, to over-estimate
everybody's income, consequently he amused himself occasionally by
audibly giving out Lord Towercliffe's fortune to be £15,000 a-year,
and estimating his friend Sir Patrick Dunbar's rent-roll at a clear
sum of £20,000 per annum, while he slyly watched his uncle's rising
choler, and patiently heard, for the fiftieth time, an elaborate
explanation, that it was impossible, and a sober calculation which
reduced both the offending parties almost to beggary.

In the month of August, as regularly as time revolved, Lord Doncaster
delighted to read in the newspapers, his own pompous advertisement,
the only original composition he was ever known to attempt, in which
he prohibited poachers and strangers from shooting on his moors in
Argyleshire, Mid-Lothian, Yorkshire, Galloway, Cromarty, and
Caithness, but except the annual appearance of this spirited
manifesto, no public evidence ever came forth of that extraordinary
wealth which property so extensive must be supposed to produce. No
charitable donations bore witness to Lord Doncaster's liberality--no
country objects were encouraged by his public spirit--and the
monuments daily arising in memory of departed merit, made a vain
appeal for his pecuniary tribute of respect and regret, for Lord
Doncaster neither respected nor regretted any man.

It was an often-repeated axiom of Lord Doncaster's, that every man
cheats or is cheated; but in one instance, and one only, his Lordship
had shown apparently some kind feeling, or rather perhaps he might be
said to have exhibited a capricious freak of benevolence, though the
result had been such as to afford him an excuse ever afterwards for
not again attempting a single act of gratuitous liberality.

The nearest relative to his ancient family, after Louis De Crespigny
and Miss Howard, was Mrs. Anstruther, a distant cousin, who, after
making a low and almost disgraceful marriage, had suddenly died, it
was believed by her own hands, thus consigning her two young children
to helpless, and apparently hopeless poverty, till at length they were
very unwillingly invited, or rather permitted to become residents in
an almost menial capacity at Beaujolie Castle, in Yorkshire, where, as
they could neither be drowned like kittens, nor shot like puppy-dogs,
the Marquis caused them to be treated like the "whipping boys" in
Charles the First's time--sometimes employed as playmates to amuse his
nephew and niece during their holiday visits to his residence, but
more frequently treated in a sort of mongrel way between dependents
and slaves by the heartless and tyrannical old peer, who considered
them as mere poachers on the preserve of his family honors, having
forced their way into existence by some untoward accident, and become
absolute blots in the creation, liable to be suspected, and even
accused to their faces of every low and vicious propensity, in
consequence of which, from an early age, he destroyed their
self-respect, and irritated their evil passions by the most rash and
unfounded aspersions--theft, swindling, lying, and gluttony, were
among the principal counts in his Lordship's indictment, when he
sometimes vented a paroxysm of ill-humor on these his unhappy
dependents; and many a time the tears of Mary Anstruther, and the
flashing eye of her brother Ernest, bore witness to the anger and
grief with which they listened to his bitter and often unmerited
upbraidings.

At times, however, Lord Doncaster found it convenient for his own
private purposes to patronize the Anstruthers, and threatened, in the
hearing of all his young relatives, that if Louis De Crespigny's
conduct did not in all respects satisfy him, an heir more subservient
to his wishes might be found, and though the culprit must be his
nephew, he need not be his successor, while the glance of his eye
towards Ernest aroused hopes, wishes, and even expectations of the
wildest extravagance, which were then confirmed for a time by his
being promoted to temporary attention and consideration, not only
displayed ostentatiously by their capricious patron, but extending to
the increased respect and observance of the servants, the thermometer
of whose obedience rose and fell according as the sunshine of Lord
Doncaster's favor shone upon his young relative or not; yet brief as
these periods of increased importance had always been, they made an
indelible impression on the young and ambitious minds of those usually
neglected children. "The child becomes a boy, the boy a youth, and
then the game of life begins in earnest."

Without education or principle, and with no friend on the wide earth
to confide in or to consult, the two young Anstruthers, like weeds
that will yet flourish though trampled upon, grew up vigorous in body,
and enthusiastically as well as devotedly attached to each other, with
a depth and power of affection which appeared, before long, the only
redeeming quality in characters wherein strong passions and weak
principles promised little, and threatened much, to all with whom they
might hereafter become associated.

The resemblance between them was as remarkable as their attachment,
both having dark Italian-looking countenances, of remarkable symmetry,
with a singularly excitable and determined expression in their large
lustrous eyes, while it was remarkable that neither could by
possibility look any one steadily in the face. There was a wild,
almost feverish brilliancy in the eye of Ernest, expressive of a fiery
impetuosity, amounting at times almost to an appearance of insanity,
when, after being obliged to crouch and flatter for his bread before
Lord Doncaster, he would retire with Mary, and give loose to all the
angry torrent of his long-suppressed emotions. The sister's heart
cowered sometimes before the flood of invectives and imprecations with
which he relieved his heart by speaking of his wrongs, while he seemed
to cherish a gnawing belief that fortune herself had shown him a most
unaccountable and undeserved enmity, which he was resolved, by fair or
by foul means, to subvert. "I shall yet rise above all the accidents
of fortune! It shall be done, I care not how, Mary," said he sternly.
"We must not be over-particular on that score, for, as the proverb
says, 'a cat in mittens will never catch mice!'"

Bold, fearless, and ready, with a keen appetite for danger, a fearless
ambition, consummate cunning, and an insatiable thirst for adventure,
it seemed sometimes as if he would put his mind into a pugilistic
attitude, and buffet his way forward to pre-eminence in spite of all
the malice of fortune and of mankind. With a temper vindictive, harsh,
and deadly, his blood mounted like mercury in a thermometer at the
very thought of success, and often when he spoke to his sister in the
lowest whisper of their future prospects, she would start and look
hastily round as if in terror, lest the wild dreams of his
undisciplined mind might be overheard and resented, for he nourished a
feverish hope, which he called a presentiment, but which amounted
almost to a monomania, that the splendid residence in which they were
now only tolerated on sufferance, "as reptile dependents," would one
day become his own.

If every man living might remove at pleasure all those who stand
inconveniently in his way, political economists would have nothing to
fear from a too rapidly increasing population, and the day-dreams of
Ernest, which gained strength and consistency every hour, were
prolific in both deaths and marriages. He carefully collected in the
Peerage all the instances there recorded, in which distant relations
had succeeded through a long mortality of twenty or five-and-twenty
intermediate heirs,--he remembered that neither Louis nor Caroline had
yet endured the measles,--he thought their Shetland ponies very
dangerous, and, in short, if their days had been measured by him, the
measure would have been short indeed. His personal vanity was
excessive, and amidst his wild schemes of aggrandisement, the first
and foremost had lately been to marry his lively, frolicsome, little
cousin, and occasional playmate, Caroline Howard Smytheson, in whose
infant manner, heedless and good-humored as she was, he flattered
himself there might be traced an evident appearance of preference,
while he could not but also remark, that before any of the young party
had attained the age of maturity, and Caroline was yet a mere infant.
Louis De Crespigny had already begun to exercise his genius for
flirtation in the society of his humble cousin Mary Anstruther,--humble
only in circumstances, but possessing that pride without principle,
which goes before a fall.

Time had ripened the faults of the two young Anstruthers, and
perfected also their extraordinary beauty of person, when, after
Ernest had attained the age of nineteen, a whim as sudden, and
apparently as unaccountable as their adoption, caused Lord Doncaster,
or rather the Abbe Mordaunt, unexpectedly to announce that they were
dismissed from the house. Various rumours were circulated among the
servants to account for this harsh and hasty decision, but nothing
could be discovered for certain. Ernest was reported to have expressed
himself with the greatest rancour and contempt respecting a report in
circulation, that Lord Doncaster intended to marry the Abbe Mordaunt's
beautiful niece, then on a visit at Kilmarnock Abbey, near Edinburgh.
The Abbe was said to have missed some valuable jewels belonging to his
niece Laura, who accused both the Anstruthers of having been seen in
her room,--a large sum of money, it was hinted, had mysteriously
disappeared--some people said that Ernest had been discovered at a
late hour of the night attempting to enter the sleeping apartment of
Lord Doncaster, without being able to give any satisfactory account of
his intentions, and others declared that Louis De Crespigny's
assiduities to Mary Anstruther had recently become rather too obvious,
while surmises arose against her character; but whatever might be the
cause, they were both hastily transferred on a few hours' notice from
the splendors of Kilmarnock Abbey, to a small obscure lodging at
Portobello. As Ernest was about to leave that house which had so long
been his home, with Mary sobbing in uncontrollable grief on his arm,
anger and despair were fearfully stamped on their young faces, when
the Abbe Mordaunt advancing silently, placed a small sum of money in
their hands, which the young man furiously dashed upon the ground, and
trampled upon, saying in accents of strong and almost terrifying
vehemence, while his countenance exhibited a dark insidious expression
of almost maniacal fury, "I would not be human if I did not hate your
niece and you!--my curse shall rest on both till I am revenged! Take
back your paltry gold, I shall build up my own fortune, or perish in
the ruins! I shall live by my own hands, or--by own hands I shall
die!"

From that day forward the names of Mary and Ernest Anstruther never
passed the lips of Lord Doncaster or the Abbe, who ordered the
servants also to abstain from ever mentioning them, which only piqued
the curiosity of the second table into greater activity than ever; but
though many vague conjectures, dark suspicions, and absurd rumours,
were promulgated throughout the establishment, nothing certain could
be ascertained, except that they returned no more to Kilmarnock Abbey,
and that a final extinguisher had been placed on all their prospects
and hopes from Lord Doncaster.

About this time Mrs. Bridget Smytheson sent Miss Howard, then only six
years old, to school, and seemed so little anxious to encourage an
intimacy between the young heiress and Louis De Crespigny, whom she
had long disliked, that Lord Doncaster, piqued and indignant, angrily
reminded her of his sister Lady Caroline's dying injunction, to which
she had promised implicit attention, that if the cousins, after they
were grown up, could be ascertained to have to have a disinterested
preference for each other, every opportunity should be given them to
become attached and engaged.

"Certainly, Lord Doncaster; and I shall fulfil my pledge," replied the
over-dressed, and rather under-bred aunt, in her usual tone of
fantastic affectation; "but these boy-and-girl intimacies are not the
most likely to produce that romantic love with which young people
ought to begin their married lives; and besides, how could their
preference be disinterested, where the brilliant prospects of both are
continually descanted on as motives to their union. No! I have a
considerable spice of romance in my composition; and when they do meet
again, it shall be under very different circumstances."

"What a creature to have the charge of any girl!" thought Lord
Doncaster, as he returned from handing her, with every appearance of
profound respect, into her pony-carriage. "There is another woman
half so insane out of bedlam; and that mad-cap child herself is as
wild as a horse with the reins broke. The greatest annoyance on earth
is, to have a rich and vulgar upstart among on's near connections."



CHAPTER III.


The life of Louis De Crespigny, from the hour he entered the army, was
one continued steeple-chase after pleasure and amusement, in whatever
form they could be courted, or at whatever expense they could be
enjoyed. At a very early age, he was already a veteran in the world
and its ways; for he stood "alone in his glory," the most admired,
courted, and idolized of mankind, a perfect adept in all the arts of
rendering himself agreeable in society, and possessing many pleasant
qualities, but none that were valuable. During a gay career of
dissipation and frivolity, he had entered with successive eagerness on
a thousand flirtations, though he always forgot to marry in the end,
while his heart, like a phoenix, was frequently consumed, yet never
destroyed, and always ready at the service of any young lady, with
youth, beauty, and accomplishments enough to excite his temporary
interest. Being of opinion, that, though not yet a peer, he ought
speedily to be one, young De Crespigny openly avowed the impossibility
of marrying while Lord Doncaster survived, and jocularly remarked,
that it would be a pity prematurely to cut off the hopes of his
hundred and one Scotch cousins, who lived, like Ernest Anstruther, on
the hope, that if his neck were broken at Melton, his succession might
yet be "cut up" amongst them; and to the friendly inquiries of his
many relatives, he frequently replied with a condoling look, that he
and his uncle were both "hopelessly well."

Lord Doncaster was not even yet, by any means, so great a
Methusalemite in age, nor so weighed down by infirmities, as his
lively nephew chose among the mothers and daughters of his intimate
acquaintance to represent; and some ladies whom young De Crespigny had
piqued or affronted, were actually ill-natured enough to hint, that
Lord Doncaster was still almost young and almost handsome! They had
even been so malicious as to insinuate, that his Lordship might
possibly have a genius for marrying his house-keeper, almost the only
respectable female who ever crossed his threshold; but Mrs. Fireland's
very mature age, and very antiquated dress, shewed how completely she
must have given up that point; and even her desire to please him in
her own department, became every hour so increasingly difficult, and
was attended with failures and disappointments so unforeseen and
unaccountable, that the good woman often shook her head ominously, in
alluding to his Lordship's numerous whims, saying, in a confidential
under tone, which seemed to mean more than met the ear, to the
steward, "he's petiklar! he's very petiklar! It would require a person
bespoke to order to please his Lordship." And certainly he had become
of late years more particular than ever.

One personage only seemed to have the art of doing no wrong in the
estimation of Lord Doncaster; and the respect which he withheld from
all mankind, was concentrated to an immeasurable degree on the Abbe
Mordaunt, who was the Cardinal Wolsey of Kilmarnock Abbey and
Beaujolie Castle. Proud, overbearing, harsh, and arbitrary, he ruled
over the house, the purse, and even the will of his patron, with
despotic and unlimited sway. Men are generally advanced in years
before the passions and feelings have stamped their indelible traces,
like the impression of a seal, which becomes permanent only after the
wax has began to cool; but in every feature of the Abbe's countenance,
might now be seen the evidences of a gloomy, severe, and almost
ferocious temper, yet never was there a greater triumph of art over
nature, than in the skill with which he adapted his looks and
conversation to the taste or caprice of those whom it was his interest
to govern, and the astonishing facility with which he could call up a
bland smile and insinuating voice, to supersede the habitual
haughtiness of his tone and manner.

Educated at St. Omers, in all the dark superstitions of that bigoted
college, the Abbe was nevertheless far from desirous to seek within
the walls of a cloister any protection from those temptations to
worldly indulgence, which he had not even the wish to resist. He
neither preached nor practised the virtues of his vocation, but
paraded a whole troop of vices openly in the public eye; and far from
attempting to reform mankind, he never attempted even to reform
himself. Though in personal appearance of distinguished ugliness, yet
such was the magic of his manner, that even by ladies he was
considered perfectly irresistible; and to all, whether old or young,
he generally succeeded in imparting a conviction, that he saw in her,
for the first time, a realization of female perfection and female
fascination. The Abbe was never known to stop half-way in arduously
pursuing any object of pleasure, profit, or ambition, nor, whatever
might be the impediments, was he ever seen to fail of success; for,
like Bonaparte, he did not know the meaning of the word "impossible."

After having recklessly squandered, in a career of almost startling
dissipation, the whole of his own patrimony, it was believed that he
had obtained fraudulent possession of £10,000 belonging to his very
beautiful niece, to whom he must have refunded it had she lived to
come of age, or had she married it must have been restored to her
children, but about the time our story commences, she was supposed
either to have died, or to have retired to a convent abroad, though
whether upon conviction or not, might be considered very doubtful, as
she had been educated by her mother in the Protestant faith, and it
was generally conjectured that to so sudden and entire a removal from
all former connections, her poverty more than her will must have
consented. Laura Mordaunt had resided much at Kilmarnock Abbe with her
uncle, to whom she seemed warmly and blindly attached, but the
gossiping world sometimes conjectured that perhaps the evident
partiality and admiration of Lord Doncaster might have roused in her
some ambitious thoughts, backed by the influence of the Abbe. Among
the peculiarities of the Marquis he had always professed a decided
contempt for all respectable ladies, and therefore his attentions to
Laura Mordaunt were at best a very questionable compliment, and became
naturally of a nature which few relatives would have wished to
encourage, yet Miss Mordaunt still remained a guest at Kilmarnock
Abbey, till the period of her sudden disappearance, which caused so
much astonishment among her intimate friends and near connections,
that the father of Richard Granville, her cousin, shortly before his
own death, wrote an affectionate letter, entreating her to return,
were it but for a few months, and to make a home of his house for the
future, should it suit her to do so; but to this kind and generous
offer no reply ever came, and as all communications were to pass
through the Abbe's hands, who alone knew his niece's direction, it
might be doubted whether the invitation ever reached that hand for
which it was intended.

That Lord Doncaster had cruelly disappointed Laura Mordaunt, as he had
already disappointed many others, her friend and cousin had good
reason to believe; and though unable to imagine any really romantic or
lasting attachment to a man, however elevated in rank or agreeable in
manners, of at least fifty years old, yet he knew that Laura, who
lived so retired that she could boast of few friends and no admirers,
might really have been dazzled with the splendour of his rank or the
fascination of his conversation; while it seemed the most
unaccountable part of the whole affair, that if such were the case,
the attachment had not been reciprocal, between a young and beautiful
girl, thrown so continually in his way, and an aged roue, who had so
evidently admired her.

If the probable duration of Lord Doncaster's life had been measured
according to the estimate formed of it in many an Edinburgh
drawing-room, it would have brought a very small premium indeed at the
insurance offices. By referring to that valuable record, Debrett's
peerage, it was satisfactorily proved that the De Crespignys were a
very short-lived family! One Lord Doncaster had died of a fall from
his horse at thirty-five; another had been killed in battle, at
forty-two; and not one of them had contrived very much to exceed
eighty, therefore hopes might be entertained of the popular and
fascinating Louis De Crespigny at last gaining the long-expected
"step." It might have been supposed by strangers in Edinburgh, that
there was but one marquisate in Britain, so frequently were the
strawberry-leaves of Lord Doncaster under animated discussion; and any
visitor who accidentally took Burke or Debrett in his hand, might
smile to observe that the pages naturally fell open where that
interesting paragraph presented itself to notice,

    "Doncaster, Marquis of. Heir presumptive, Louis Henry De
    Crespigny."

A tradition prevailed among the elder ladies of fashion now in
society, that a splendid set of diamonds, which had been long the
ornament and admiration of Queen Charlotte's drawing-rooms, were since
entailed, by an old Lady Doncaster, in the family; and many a young
beauty, in arranging a bright futurity on her own plan, had frequently
worn these far-famed jewels in her imagination, when presented at
Court as a Marchioness, the envy and admiration of all her
contemporaries. Meantime nothing could be more astonishing than to
find how much was known in Edinburgh concerning the modes of life,
temper, and character of the present Lord Doncaster, though he lived
not only secluded from society, but made it his peculiar study to
evade the scrutiny of impertinent curiosity, and was so anxious to
check the loquaciousness of servants, that his butler and housekeeper
had strict orders to keep up a sort of prison discipline in the
establishment, and not to allow a word to be spoken when at meals. It
was, however, authentically ascertained by some unknown means, that
Lord Doncaster, who had formerly been a man of dissipated habits and
irregular hours, now devoted himself to the care of his health as
diligently and intensely as a miser does to the care of his money, and
that to him it had become a subject of almost avaricious interest. If
the Marquis had a finger-ache, it was magnified in Edinburgh into a
case of certain death; but after a really severe illness, he was heard
jocularly to remark, in sporting phrase, "I have had another round
with death!" while he seemed confident, on these occasions, of always
coming off victorious, though few among the young ladies of his
nephew's acquaintance would have been found ready to back his
expectations, while Agnes Dunbar impatiently remarked, that Lord
Doncaster had been so long in the world, he seemed not to know how to
leave it.

It was generally understood by the juries who sat upon Lord
Doncaster's case in society, that his breakfast consisted of strong
gravy-soup and poached eggs, which were pronounced to be very
plethoric,--he ate no luncheon, which must be very exhausting at his
time of life,--he had an enormous appetite for dinner, which would
certainly drive blood to his head,--and above all, he took a hot
supper, which must be fatal at last;--every newspaper tends to prove,
that after eating a hearty supper the night before, people are
invariably found dead in their beds the next morning;--and it was
already unaccountable how many mornings Lord Doncaster had survived!
Any day in the world might bring accounts of his death,--some day must
do so, sooner or later,--hundreds of old people were dying
continually, and so might the superannuated peer; yet though his days
were numbered in so many houses, they nevertheless seemed to be
numberless, while gentlemen, older than himself, were often heard
impatiently speculating and wondering what will he would make, and
declaring they only wished to live, in order to know the result of so
many anxious conjectures, while his dutiful nephew gayly remarked,
that his uncle need never wait for parchment to write his will upon,
while the skin on his face looked so like it.

Still Lord Doncaster obstinately persevered in living on, while,
strange to say, many of the manoeuvring mamas who had been heard to
declare, that if an old person must die at any rate, they could spare
his Lordship better than any other mortal, became mortal themselves,
and were first consigned to the tomb. Even some of the young and
lovely girls, who had thought, in the morning of life, before the
freshness of their bloom had been dimmed, or the lustre of their
beauty had decayed, that this one obstacle to their happiness must be
removed,--many of these gay, joyous, and unthinking beings had sunk
unexpectedly into an early grave, while still Lord Doncaster, in a
most provoking and unprincipled manner, disappointed everybody, and
continued to exist in a world where he was anything but welcome,
resolved apparently, never, in an every-day vulgar way, to die at all.

In the mean time, Louis De Crespigny, devoted to the amusements of
life, but independent of all its finer sympathies, seemed to breathe
nothing but the exhilarating ether of life, joyous, giddy, and
intoxicating. He revelled in a laughing, lively, satirical
consciousness of his own exact position in society, and privately
resolved to make the most of it,--not that he deliberately made up his
mind to deceive,--his code of honor was rigid enough in respect to his
transactions with gentlemen, but in the case of young ladies it was
otherwise,--

            "Man, to man so oft unjust,
    Is always so to woman."

With ladies Mr. De Crespigny considered his own brilliant prospects
and personal fascinations to be fair, marketable produce, which there
could be no objection that he should use to the utmost advantage, for
bringing in the largest possible return of pleasure, profit, and
amusement. Accordingly, the gay young Cornet, living upon what he
could borrow, on the disinterested attentions of manoeuvring
mothers, and on the expectation of his uncle's speedy demise, made
himself the chosen attendant of half a hundred accomplished and
perfectly amiable young ladies, who laughed, talked, sang, and danced
with him, while he soon became but too intimately known as a ruthless
flirt, to many a young heart, and to many a happy home, where he took
care that it should be distinctly implied and understood, that nothing
but the jealous penuriousness of "that old quiz, Lord Doncaster,"
impeded his ardent wish to settle for life; while in the mean time,
wherever a good table and cellar were kept, he testified exactly such
a degree of partiality for the sister or daughter of his host, as made
her be considered his wife-presumptive, and secured him a regular
knife and fork in the house on all family festivals and state
occasions, without any trouble in either ordering or paying for the
entertainment. It has been said, that as a rolling stone gathers no
moss, neither does a roving heart gain any affection; but whatever
might be the case with others, Louis De Crespigny felt himself without
a doubt the idol of every drawing-room, where he sentimentalized,
rattled, and flirted in every style, with every girl under twenty, as
diligently as if he were canvassing for an election, while they
talked, looked, smiled, and dressed their very best; and the
excellence of any gentleman's wine might be accurately estimated by
the thermometer of Mr. De Crespigny's attention to the daughters; but
he had a declared abhorrence of family dinners, which looked too
business-like and domestic, as if he had really committed himself;
though, as Lady Towercliffe remarked to her four daughters one day,
"he never said anything to the purpose, when the purpose was
marriage."

Though Mr. De Crespigny seemed, at the "dignity dinners" in Edinburgh,
to live for no other object on earth, but the one fascinating young
lady, with whom it was his game at the time to appear _epris_, and
though she might probably be astonished and piqued during the following
week, to observe this indefatigable amateur in flirtations equally
assiduous in his attentions to another, and shooting like a brilliant
meteor in the ball-room, unheedingly past herself, yet she might
console herself by reflecting, that Mr. De Crespigny was in the habit
of confidentially hinting how much he felt embarrassed and annoyed by
the necessity of generalizing his intimacies, that no gossiping reports
might reach his whimsical relative. "Because actually!" he one day
whispered in confidence to Lady Towercliffe, "when my uncle becomes
irritable, he threatens to make all sorts of ridiculous marriages
himself; and it would be my last hour in his will, if he thought me
heretic enough merely to dance with a Protestant partner. He would not
engage so much as a housemaid of your persuasion; but for my own part,
I leave all these concerns to the Abbe Mordaunt, who, to do him
justice, lets me off very easily."

The difference of faith made wonderfully little difference in the
intentions of those young ladies who believed themselves the objects
of Mr. De Crespigny's unacknowledged preference, for every bit of
millinery in a ball-room was in a flutter of agitation whenever he
approached; and certainly no one ever excelled more in making those he
conversed with rise in their own opinion, from his tact in showing how
very high they stood in his, and the consequence was, that he already
possessed a rare and romantic collection of sentimental valentines,
sketches with his figure in the foreground, songs with the magical
name of Louis conspicuously introduced, withered bouquets, anagrams,
anonymous letters, and anonymous verses, all with a too-well-remembered
history belonging to them, which called up a smile of derision, or a
sigh of self-reproach, according as the case required, but all
treasured as relics of former happy hours, which had perhaps been the
history of a lifetime to the fair donors, and the diversion of a few
days only to himself, while he secretly applauded his own dexterity in
escaping the matrimonial noose, and to them there remained only the
silent remembrance of that intercourse, now for ever at an end, which
they had believed was to last for life.

Mr. De Crespigny's engagement book was nearly as complicated an affair
as any ledger or day-book, and much more so than his own banker's
account, for he arranged it on the most systematic principles of
profit and loss. In whatever house he had been invited to dine, he
considered himself as "owing a quadrille" to one of the young ladies
at the next assembly. If he had actually "sat under her father's
mahogany," as he termed it, she might be perhaps entitled to two
dances; and when he had spent the greater part of a summer in her
mother's country house, that established a sort of sinking fund in her
behalf, which entitled him to have the use of him as a partner,
whenever he happened accidentally to be disengaged, though indeed
nothing ever occurred accidentally in Captain De Crespigny's
arrangements, for he never acted on impulse, but always on systematic
calculation. He seemed, with his gay pell-mell manner, the most
off-hand, careless, and undesigning of men; but even in the trifling
affair of going to a ball, where he might literally have exclaimed, "I
am monarch of all I survey," he invariably carried in his mind's eye a
list of all those partners with whom policy or self-interest directed
him to dance, and very seldom indeed did he swerve from his
pre-conceived muster-roll.

It was a singular evidence of young De Crespigny's discretion and
skill, that, while paying attentions which should either have never
been paid at all, or never afterwards discontinued, and while, with all
its fascinations, Lady Towercliffe declared it was dangerous to a young
lady's happiness to be even introduced to him, still, in not one
instance had "his intentions" ever yet been asked, and neither fathers,
uncles, nor brothers had betrayed the slightest symptoms of
insurrection against his universal dominion, believing, as his excuse
for delaying to propose was so perfectly unanswerable and respectable,
that his intentions might safely be allowed to "lie on the table,"
while they awaited in breathless suspense the _denouement_, certainly
to take place on Lord Doncaster's death.

Some of Mr. De Crespigny's brother officers, envious perhaps of his
extraordinary success in society, threw out sceptical hints respecting
the certainty of his succession, and laughed sarcastically at the
indefatigable vanity with which he evidently liked being thus torn to
pieces among the chaperons and dowagers of society; but he laughed as
heartily as themselves. No one could ever get the start of him in a
joke; and his associates, when he came in competition with any one of
them, found it no laughing matter. He knew his own power--who does not
know that?--and difficulties only enhanced his triumph.

Lord Doncaster often dryly remarked, that the best economist in
Britain must certainly be Louis De Crespigny, as, to his certain
knowledge, he possessed only £300 a year, and yet he seemed to revel
in all the luxuries of life, besides having a great deal over for
extravagance. There was no occasion for the young Cornet ever to think
of dining at his club, as he might be entertained at the houses of
three or four friends in a day, if he could have mustered as many
appetites. In summer he incurred no expense, except to pay for his
place occasionally on the top of a coach, or in a steam-boat, from one
hospitable country house to another, where gigs were sent a stage to
meet him on the way, if he were expected by the mail, or if by sea, a
chariot might be seen waiting on the pier. He got "a mount" from one
friend, the best seat in a barouche from another, and often the vacant
place in a britschska from a third party, even to the expulsion of its
more legitimate occupiers.

"De Crespigny has nothing on earth, and you see how he looks!" remarked
his handsome friend Sir Patrick one day to Sir Arthur Dunbar; "yet how
magnificently he contrives to live at the expense of all those deluded
mortals who have disposable or indisposable daughters. His future
prospects act like a cork jacket in society, keeping him always at the
top. Last summer worthy Lord Towercliffe, with his rapidly increasing
family and rapidly decreasing income, took De Crespigny in his gig to
that old tumble-down castle of his in Argyleshire, where he spent six
weeks, ruining the family in champagne and wax candles. The house
became rather cold in September, so at last he accepted a cast in Lady
Winandermere's carriage to that nest of nieces and daughters at Castle
Highcombe, where he found excellent yachting and sea-bathing. There he
lingered a month, till the brother of those four pretty Miss Vavasours
bid still higher for his company, by offering him a mount at Kelso, and
mentioning that he had a first-rate French cook a '_cordon bleu_,' who
hires his own stall at the opera during the London season, and enjoys a
salary and perquisites amounting to more than the best curacy in the
English Church; and all this De Crespigny repays with a few frothy
nothings, which he is for ever repeating to any young lady who will
lend an ear. Those who beat the bush do not always snare the bird; and
I wonder the manoeuvring world does not yet see that he is evidently no
marrying man."

"What sort of looking individual, is a marrying man?" asked Sir
Arthur, slyly. "I am often told that you, for instance, do not look
like a marrying man; but pray point me out any one who does, that I
may become more a connoisseur on the subject than I am. As for what
you say of Louis De Crespigny, it sounds to my unpractised ear very
like swindling; and he is not the youth I took him for if he live in
such an element of deceit, sacrificing all sense of honor, all
confidence, and all good feeling, for a worthless and transient
popularity, or worse than all, for motives of mean, heartless
self-interest. Such a man is not worth the space he occupies in the
world!"

The Admiral's honest indignation would have been vented in still
stronger terms, could his upright and honorable mind have been made to
understand how entirely every thought, word, and action of Mr. De
Crespigny's life was based on the most unswerving principles of cold,
hard, unrelenting selfishness, and with what utter carelessness he
seemed ready to trample on the wounded feelings of others; for it
mattered not to him what degree of confidence he betrayed, or what
degree of sorrow he inflicted. If in one house where he had been
received as a son or a brother, he no longer found the cordial welcome
of other days, a hundred other doors were still opened wide to receive
him, where he could boast of having been "very nearly caught," and
carry on the same game as before, which was a pastime to him, though
fatal to the peace of many, who would willingly have died rather than
betray the injury their feelings had suffered, when, after passing
through the ordeal of his assiduities, they found themselves beguiled
and cheated of all that was deepest and most sacred in their earthly
affections--robbed without compunction by one who gave no return--who
watched with elated triumph the growing delusion of those whom he had
marked as victims to his own self-love, and whom he appeared to
consider all in all to his happiness, till they found out at last that
they were in reality less than nothing to him; yet the deception
admitted of no redress. He lived on in a sort of cowardly impunity;
for no young girl endowed with sensibility, and conscious of her own
injuries, could desire, after entrusting him with the whole story of
her hopes and affections, that the truth should be known; and his was
a crime against which no evidence can be brought; for who could
describe the tender nothings--the refined insinuations--the looks
which say everything and mean nothing--the wordless language of the
eyes, with which an undeclared love may be safely and yet obviously
professed? What but a smile of ridicule or of censure could attend on
such a detail of "unutterable things?" But with Louis De Crespigny
nothing was unutterable; for he could say and unsay the same things
two hundred times, and they always seemed to carry as much or as
little weight as he pleased at the moment, while he entered society as
a school-boy rushes into a garden, eagerly to pursue the brilliant
insects fluttering in the sunbeams, ready to crush and injure them all
for his momentary diversion, and yet on his guard to retreat in good
order, should there appear to be the slightest danger of annoyance or
discomfort to himself.



CHAPTER IV.


It was impossible to pass an hour in the society of Sir Arthur Dunbar,
without seeing much to admire, and much also to love,--there was a
sturdy, resolute, old-fashioned sense of honor in all his actions,
tempered by the kindest and most considerate attention to the
feelings, as well as to the interest of all with whom he might be
associated, and his sentiments were tinctured by a generous
liberality, only limited in action by the rigid restraints consequent
on a very narrow income, which he had never been known to exceed,
though he was often heard jocularly to remark, that the surplus, after
his yearly accounts were paid, would scarcely buy him a pair of
gloves.

Though the fire of Sir Arthur's eyes had been quenched by approaching
blindness, and his weather-beaten countenance had been scarred in
battle, and hardened by facing every tempest which had blown for half
a century, yet his aspect had an air of habitual distinction and
conscious dignity which commanded instant respect. There was an energy
in the expression of his feelings, and a straightforward pursuit of
what he thought right in all his actions, which gave him a singular
influence over the affections and the conduct of those with whom he
wished to associate, and the admirable use he made of which no one
afterwards ever had cause to regret. His early life had been one full
of action and of vigorous exertion, seeking, with old-fashioned
patriotism, the honor of his country, more than the promotion of his
own interests; but in advanced years, when no longer able publicly to
distinguish himself, he directed his time and talents to the diffusion
of happiness at home, and to a zealous, diligent, and humble
preparation for that long and quiet home to which he believed himself
rapidly approaching, and which he contemplated with the best of all
philosophy,--that of a truly devoted Christian.

With all the blunt frankness of his sailor-like manner, Sir Arthur
could nevertheless testify an almost feminine gentleness and sympathy
towards the unfortunate. He was often discovered to have exerted
clandestinely a degree of activity and zeal in serving the needy and
desolate, which to a mind less eager and generous, would have seemed
almost incredible,--he never lacerated the feelings of those who came
to him for comfort, by attempting to convince the sufferer, as most
people begin by doing, on such occasions, that the misfortune,
whatever it be, is all his own fault,--and he was quite as ready, as
well as better pleased, to rejoice with those that rejoiced, than to
weep with those that wept, without ever, at any period of life, having
found a place for envy in his kindest of hearts, which

    "Turn'd at the touch of joy or woe,
    And turning trembled too."

With a good humored smile at his own credulity in having believed that
Louis De Crespigny could ever be serious in proposing to sacrifice a
day of his gay and busy life, to a prosing tete-a-tete on the
sea-beach with an old man like himself, Sir Arthur dismissed the
subject from his thoughts, and finally relinquished all hope of seeing
his young friend, after a short soliloquy, in which he ended, by slyly
hoping that the gay Cornet would never cause those who might feel it
more, to regret his having jilted them.

Not many days following, the Admiral had retired at his usual early
hour to bed, and after some time passed in profound repose, he was
suddenly startled into wakefulness at the dawn of day, while the
watchman was calling the hour of "Past four o'clock," by a loud and
vehement knocking at the front-door of his house, accompanied by the
most fearful and vociferous out-cries of "murder!" It was the sharp,
shrill tone of a woman in the agony of fear, becoming more and more
vehement at every repetition of the cry, while Sir Arthur dressed with
the rapidity of a practised seaman, and hurried down stairs, where he
found his maid-of-all-work, and his man-of-all-work, already assembled
in breathless consternation round a trembling, terrified-looking
servant girl, whose eyes were gleaming with an expression of frantic
alarm, while, from her incoherent exclamations, Sir Arthur could only
gather that some act of unutterable horror had been perpetrated in an
opposite house, the windows of which were all partially closed, except
one in the upper story, which was wide open, and seemed to be much
broken and shattered.

Without waiting another moment to investigate the business, Sir Arthur
strode across the street, hurried in at the open door, and guided by a
momentary cry of childish distress, he mounted the staircase, with an
activity beyond his years, three steps at a time, and precipitately
entered the nearest room he could find. There he paused for a moment
on finding himself in a splendidly-furnished bed-room, adorned with a
degree of taste and elegance, far excelling what was customary in so
obscure-looking a lodging, and the Admiral was about hastily to
withdraw, when he became suddenly transfixed to the spot, and his eye
seemed perfectly blasted by the spectacle which met his agitated and
astonished gaze, while several moments elapsed before he had nerve to
advance, and ascertain the reality of a scene, which filled him with
horror.

On a magnificent couch, the rich coverlet of which was drenched in
blood, that had sprinkled the floor, and spouted to the very roof of
the room, lay the cold stiffened corpse of a young female, whose head
seemed to have been nearly severed from her body, while a violent
contusion appeared upon her forehead. The wrist of her right hand,
with which she had probably attempted to defend herself, had also been
deeply cut, and in her hand she grasped a quantity of dark hair, which
seemed to have been torn from the head of her assassin in the struggle
for life. Her teeth were clenched, and her eye-balls were starting
from their sockets with a look of agonised fear, most appalling to
behold, and her long fair hair which lay in disordered billows on her
shoulders, were matted with gore.

A table near the bed had been overturned and broken,--a knife of very
peculiar form, bent and distorted, lay conspicuously upon the pillow,
as if placed there on purpose to attract notice, and the carpet, on
which a pool of congealed blood had gathered, was likewise strewed
with money, rings, bijouterie, trinkets, and plate.

Nestled in a little crib, close beside the murdered woman, but plunged
in a slumber so profound, that it could not be natural, slept
undisturbed and uninjured, a lovely boy of about eight years old. His
head rested on his arm, and a clustering profusion of jetty black hair
fell over his blooming countenance, in which there was a look of
almost death-like repose. Awakened with the utmost difficulty by Sir
Arthur, the child, who appeared to be of wondrous beauty, opened for a
moment, a pair of bright blue, star-like eyes, and with a cry of
terror, called for his mother, but a moment afterwards, overcome by
irresistible drowsiness, his rosy cheek dropped upon the pillow, his
heavy eyes were closed, and he relapsed into the same strange,
mysterious insensibility as before.

It was a fearful sight, that young mother, with her look of ghastly
agony turned towards the ruddy healthful countenance of her child in
his peaceful slumbers, and it was evident that her last thought had
been for him, as his clothes were still convulsively held in her left
hand, while a vain attempt had obviously been made to tear them
asunder,--many deep cuts being visible on the child's night-gown,
though his person had been left uninjured.

Sir Arthur compassionately snatched the boy up in his arms, to hurry
him away from the dreadful scene, and called the watchman, who
instantly raised an alarm, and summoned the whole neighborhood to his
assistance, when before ten minutes had elapsed, the room was filled
with a crowd of agitated spectators, scared by the tremendous event,
and crowding around the bed in every attitude of astonishment, terror,
and commiseration, uttering exclamations of alarm, gazing helplessly
at the frightful spectacle, and forming a thousand conjectures
respecting the tragical event, instead of attempting to give any
rational assistance.

"Not a moment is to be lost!" said Sir Arthur, in the steady
authoritive tone of one accustomed in great emergencies, to command,
"Where are the other servants?" asked he, turning to the girl who had
first given an alarm, "and where is your master?"

"I have no master, Sir!" replied she in a low incoherent whisper. "I
think the lady was not married; but perhaps, Sir, she might be! A
gentleman called here last week."

"What was he like?" asked Sir Arthur, earnestly.

"A sort of clergyman, or gentleman, Sir! I don't know nothing about
him, but he visited sometimes at this here house. No good ever came of
it though, for my poor young mistress was always in sore distress
after he'd be gone away. Last time there be much loud talking and
argufying in the parlor, but it was none of my business to listen. I
never pays no attention to what the quality says!"

"Here is a most disastrous business!" exclaimed Sir Arthur, in a deep
and solemn tone, while he glanced at the crowd of white, livid, ashy
faces, collected around him. "Let us remember, my friends, that every
trifle we can observe here, may be of the utmost importance in
bringing this dreadful mystery to light. Touch nothing, but have all
your eyes about you to detect what you can, and let us instantly
search the house."

With the little boy in his arms, who had awakened, bewildered and
terrified by the sight of so many strangers, Sir Arthur, followed by
the whole troop of spectators, who huddled together with evident
symptoms of fearful apprehension, proceeded minutely to scrutinize the
whole house.

In one apartment on the garret floor, belonging, as the terrified
housemaid declared, to a person who had been taken in, she believed
out of charity, to teach the little boy, the bed was disordered, as if
the sleeper, when hastily rising, had thrown the bed-clothes almost
upon the floor. The window-frame was broken to shivers, by some one
violently forcing his way out; but no other sign appeared of the room
having been inhabited. Not an article of clothing could be found in
the drawers; not a book or a paper; and the search was about to be
abandoned, when Sir Arthur perceived in an obscure corner of the room,
a man's glove, stained with blood, and a red silk handkerchief, from
which the initials had evidently been erased with great care, though
he hoped that some one more accustomed to such investigations might
yet be able to trace them.

The next room which Sir Arthur attempted to enter had the door
double-locked; and though the party which accompanied him made a noise
of knocking and hammering that might have raised the dead, no answer
was returned, till at length, losing all patience, they broke it open,
and impetuously rushed forward, all gazing eagerly around, as if they
expected an immediate _denouement_ of the mystery to take place; but
some of those who were foremost shrunk back in astonishment, and
hastily made way for Sir Arthur, while the servant girl earnestly
whispered in his ear, with a look of anxiety and alarm, "This is Sarah
Davenport's room! the child's maid! Better not disturb her, Sir! She is
sometimes hardly right in her mind I think!"

When Sir Arthur, disregarding the simple girl's warning, advanced, he
perceived with surprise a very young woman, scarcely twenty, who
started up in bed, with a look of bewildered perplexity, as he
approached, asking in accents of tremulous alarm, what had occurred to
cause this extraordinary disturbance. Her cheek was of an ashy
paleness, her very lips were blanched, and her voice sounded husky and
hollow with agitation; but all this might be attributed to so sudden
an inroad of strangers, while again and again she asked with quivering
accents, whether any accident had occurred, and why they all appeared
so alarmed.

"At all events, my darling boy is safe!" added she, holding out her
arms to the child, who instantly recoiled from her, with looks of
unequivocal terror, and hiding his face on the shoulder of Sir Arthur,
he sobbed aloud with a degree of passionate grief and agitation which
seemed almost beyond his years. The observant eye of Sir Arthur
perceived that a dark scowl of malignity flitted for a moment across
the beautiful features of Sarah, whose brow became singularly
contracted over her flashing eyes; but making an effort instantly to
recover herself, she averted her countenance, and added in a subdued
voice of assumed tranquillity, "The child never knows me in a cap! I
forgot to take it off, but the hurry of seeing so many strangers has
confused me!"

In an instant she snatched off her night-cap, when her shoulders and
neck became covered with a cloud of dark massy ringlets, floating down
below her waist, and shading her pallid countenance, which had assumed
an expression of livid horror, and unnatural wildness. "Let him come
to me now!" added she again, stretching out her arms with a ghastly
smile; but the boy struggled more vehemently than before, and clung to
Sir Arthur with a tenacity and confidence, which deeply touched the
old veteran's heart, who tried to soothe the terrified child by every
endearment which his kind nature could suggest, while his attention
was nevertheless enchained by observing the rigid, marble look of the
young woman's countenance; the dragged and corpse-like appearance
which stole over her features, as if she had suffered a stroke of
paralysis.

"You have been frightened enough already, poor boy!" said Sir Arthur,
soothingly. "No one shall hurt you! With me at least you are safe!
Stay where you are, and do not be alarmed! No one shall touch you but
myself!"

The child seemed to understand Sir Arthur's promise of protection, and
his head drooped sleepily down, while his eyes again closed in that
deep unnatural slumber, from which he had been with so much difficulty
aroused, till at length,

    "Now like a shutting flower, the senses close,
    And on him lies the beauty of repose."

"Young woman!" said Sir Arthur, bending a look of penetrating scrutiny
on Sarah Davenport, "how came you to be quietly asleep, and partly
dressed too! while your mistress was murdered in the room immediately
below! Did you hear no disturbance? Was no alarm given?"

"My mistress!" exclaimed Sarah, clasping her hands in an attitude of
astonishment, and speaking as if every word would choke her, though
not a muscle of her face was altered from the fixed and rigid look it
had previously worn. "Oh! what will become of me!"

"What will become of you!" exclaimed Sir Arthur sternly, fixing his
penetrating eye upon her. "Think rather of your murdered mistress!
Come, come, girl! you performed that start very well; but I know good
acting! I greatly fear you are more concerned in this horrid business
than we at first suspected, and much more than you would wish to
acknowledge. Get up instantly, and follow me!"

There was something fearful and appalling in the silence which reigned
among the many persons who had gathered around, when Sarah, as a
prisoner, was led into the chamber of death. A look of shuddering
horror distorted for a moment her pale and haggard countenance, when
she was unwillingly drawn forward to the place where her deceased
mistress lay, and Sir Arthur, with silent solemnity, pointed to the
ghastly spectacle. His eyes were intensely and most mournfully fixed
on the prisoner's sullen and nearly livid countenance, while she
silently clung to a chair to support herself.

Sarah appeared neither startled nor astonished after the first thrill
of horror, but with a cold stony look of almost preternatural
calmness, she muttered to herself in a low tone, which became
nevertheless distinctly audible to all the spectators, and was
evidently meant to be heard,--

"Why am I brought here! I know nothing, about this! The poor lady has
committed suicide! No wonder! She often wished herself dead! She had a
miserable life of it, and has got rest at last! I wish!" added Sarah
suddenly, with vehement, almost frantic energy, "O how I wish that I
could change places with her! O that I could be that cold, senseless
image, without memory or feeling, without hope or fear, shut up from
living wretchedness in everlasting sleep!"

"Let us hope that the Almighty has in mercy received her never-dying
soul, and that in His own good time He will reveal the guilty
assassins who sent her so suddenly to judgment," said Sir Arthur
solemnly. "Unburden your own mind now, by confessing all, and be
assured it will relieve the agony you are so evidently suffering.
Murder is like fire, it cannot be smothered long."

"I know nothing! What could I know!" replied Sarah hurriedly. "She has
destroyed herself, or thieves have broken into the house and robbed
her. Could I help that?"

"No one has broken into this house," replied Sir Arthur, scanning the
expression of her fixed and apparently unalterable features. "But you
can perhaps tell us who escaped by that shattered window above? Not a
lock is broken--not a door is injured--not a trinket seems missing,
among the many scattered around the room. Here is money in abundance,
if gold had been the inducement! Some other motive has provoked this
crime--jealousy perhaps--or revenge----"

At the last word an angry hectic rushed over the face, arms, and neck
of the prisoner, and her eye glittered for a moment with an unnatural
fire, which rapidly faded away, leaving her as pale and death-like as
the corpse beside which she stood, and on which her eye now rested
with a look of cold and passionless indifference.

"It was only yesterday that she wished herself dead! this is her own
doing!" said Sarah, turning away. "Why am I brought here! This is too
dreadful! too shocking! It will drive me mad--it will! it will!" added
she, with rising agitation; and then suddenly bursting in a hideous
maniacal laugh, which rang with fearful sound through the gloomy
chamber, and caused the horror-struck spectators to fall hastily back,
"I would have saved her! I would! What woman ever sheds blood! but it
was too late! I would have saved her, as I saved the child; but it was
done--kill me! kill me! if you have any mercy, let me die! let me hide
myself in the grave for ever!" Saying these words, with a scream of
agony, she fell upon the floor in violent convulsions, from which it
was nearly an hour before she entirely recovered, when faint, weak,
and exhausted, Sir Arthur suggested that she could be carried to bed;
but before she left the room, anxious, if possible, to elucidate the
mystery, and to gain some clue for pursuing the actual murderer, he
detained Sarah during a moment, and desired that a glass of water
might be brought for her, hoping that the violent emotion she had
betrayed might lead her to a full confession. Laying his hand then
upon her arm, in tones of deep and awful solemnity, he looked at her,
and pointed once more to the corpse, saying,--

"By a dark and harrowing crime those lips are sealed in the silence of
death! What a tale they could disclose, if they might but once
describe all that passed in this room a few hours ago! Those very
walls have echoed this very night to her cries! You alone seem able to
throw any light upon the horrid deed. You could tell all, or I am
greatly mistaken. We shall yet know, at the day of judgment, if not
sooner, how this fearful act was done. Consider, Sarah Davenport, that
undying remorse will pursue you through life, and be the fitting
tenant of your soul, unless by timely repentance you avert the fearful
doom, and hereafter your heart will be tortured by the pangs of
eternal despair. Unfortunate woman! consider now, or during the long
period of your approaching imprisonment, whether it be better to
repent and confess at once, or to confess and suffer everlastingly."

Not a word or look gave evidence that Sarah so much as heard Sir
Arthur speak. Her large eyes were vacantly fixed on the ground, her
hands were firmly clenched, and her teeth were set with an air of
resolute determination, when, after a silence of several minutes,
during which her very stillness was frightful, supported by some of
the strangers around, she walked with almost mechanical
unconsciousness out of the room.

Again and again the house was searched that day--the very floors and
wainscots torn up; but not a trace could be discovered to throw light
upon the cause or circumstances of this disastrous event; and equally
remarkable was it, that no hint could be obtained of who or what the
murdered lady had been. There were books on the table in various
languages, but not one retained any name written on the boards, though
it was evident that on some a coat of arms had once been pasted, and
subsequently defaced. Not a letter or paper could be found with either
signature or direction, though one or two notes were discovered
beneath the pillow of the bed, all anonymous, but written in a similar
hand, and containing nothing that could identify the writer; and
several sketches of the child, beautifully executed in various
attitudes, were found in a portfolio, beside which were written many
simple verses, containing the most fervent expressions of tender
affection and anxious solicitude for the boy, and the most passionate
bursts of melancholy, but all conceived in general terms, which
baffled the researches of curiosity.

"This hand is disguised, yet surely I have seen it before," said Sir
Arthur, musingly examining the anonymous notes, which related chiefly
to remittances of money. "The face of that appalling spectacle
sometimes seems also familiar to me. Have I not met with it already,
or is this only the delusion of an excited mind? These deep and
prominent eyelids--the small aquiline nose--the delicately-pencilled
eye-brows--and that month of perfect grace and beauty, which seems
still almost to speak without a tongue, in the language of
heart-broken misery, telling of deceived affections--of blighted
hopes--of unpitied and solitary tears."

Sir Arthur seated himself on a chair beside the couch for some moments
in agitated reflection, vainly endeavoring to collect his thoughts,
and form them into some tangible remembrance. "It is a strange and
bewildering sensation, to look at the mute features of this death-like
image, and to feel as if once she had been known to me in her days of
youth and bloom. A vague harassing perplexity besets me in trying to
realize the floating and flickering remembrance, which dimly mock my
efforts to catch them. It seems like starting out on a dark night, and
trying to distinguish some busy scene, where figures and lights
appear, and vanish again before they can be identified. Where have we
met before? Surely in some dream of former days I once beheld those
fixed and glassy eyes lighted up with intelligence! but my treacherous
memory will not help me--it recalls enough to torture me with
perplexity, and not enough to be of any actual avail."

Sir Arthur wearied himself with intense efforts to identify the
lineaments before him, but in vain. They were lovely indeed, and many
a stranger came likewise to try whether they could be recognised, but
without success. The fearful story circulated like wild-fire--the
excitement and curiosity it produced became intense; but not a gleam
of light was thrown upon the dark and mysterious event.

Among the many who hurried to behold the murdered woman before her
remains were disturbed, two gentlemen arrived one evening after dusk,
and having ascertained that neither the Admiral nor any other stranger
was in the house, they gave Sir Arthur's servant, Martin, who was in
attendance, a handsome donation, and desiring him not to follow,
hurried up stairs, and remained in the room alone for several minutes.
Both were much muffled up, and evidently avoided any scrutiny of their
countenances; but they seemed greatly agitated on leaving the room;
and as they hastened past Martin, and threw themselves into a hackney
coach which awaited them at some distance, one of the party had
appeared so overcome, that he could not walk without support. Much
conjecture was aroused by this incident, which seemed to increase the
mystery and interest attached to the melancholy circumstances, and not
a doubt could be entertained that these untimely visitors had a more
than common connection with the affair, but of what nature, and to
what degree, could only admit of very vague conjecture.

Nothing could exceed the active interest taken in all the proceedings
by Sir Arthur, who seemed to forget all his years and infirmities,
while keenly promoting the cause of truth and justice. Much as he had
formerly bemoaned the trouble entailed upon him by deceased friends,
many of whom had bequeathed their estates and children to his
guardianship, he felt on this occasion, a pity so intense, for the
nameless, friendless, and helpless boy, thus unexpectedly and
tragically thrown on his compassion, that he publicly pledged himself
to harbor and protect the child in the mean time, trusting that some
connections might at last be found, to whom he more naturally
belonged. "Life has had a mournful commencement for him, poor boy! His
days are dark, and his friends are few," said Sir Arthur, with a
strong emotion of pity, "but we must hope for the best hereafter, and
do the best that can be done in the mean time, trusting that a wise
Providence, who cast him on my care and kindness, will also watch over
his future welfare."

On the night previous to that appointed by Sir Arthur for committing
to the grave the last remains of the murdered lady, he who had so
often faced death in every form, and "kiss'd the mouth of a cannon in
battle," yet felt himself awed and deeply affected in contemplating
the solemn preparations for committing to the tomb one so young, so
deeply injured, and so apparently unlamented. It was with mournful and
mysterious wonder that he stood beside the corpse, and contemplated
that mortal frame, from which the spirit had been so suddenly and so
cruelly driven; and he could not but imagine the scenes of love and
joy which those eyes had once probably looked upon--the busy thoughts
that had hurried through that lifeless head--the warm affections that
had flowed through that heart, now for ever at rest.

While yet his mind was dwelling with painful interest on all the
thoughts which crowded through his fancy, Martin hastily entered the
room, and in an agitated voice requested Sir Arthur's immediate
presence in the entrance-hall, as some persons were there who had
orders to communicate only with himself.

On arriving in the passage, Sir Arthur was astonished, and almost
startled, to find several porters in the passage, carrying a coffin
magnificently decorated, and covered with a velvet pall, on the summit
of which was conspicuously placed a large brass plate, with the date
of the murder engraved, and bearing no other inscription, but these
two words in German characters--

    _My Wife._

"This is strange!" said Sir Arthur, turning anxiously to the men. "Who
sent you here?"

"A gentleman left his orders with the undertaker, Sir. No questions
were to be asked; and he paid for everything at once, leaving neither
name nor direction," said the man who seemed to have charge of the
business. "We know nothing of him; but he desired us to deliver this
note into your own hands, and perhaps it may tell you more."

Sir Arthur hastily tore open the letter offered to him, giving an
impatient glance at the handwriting, which was exactly similar to that
of the anonymous notes he had already so carefully and so vainly
scrutinized. He was astonished; and solemn as the occasion was, almost
amused to observe that his name and direction had been carefully cut
out of the newspaper paragraph which he quarrelled with some weeks
before at the Club, and that this unknown correspondent, to prevent
the possibility of his writing being detected by those who examined
the outside, had pasted these printed letters on the cover, "Sir
Arthur Dunbar, Portobello." The packet was sealed with a plain
impression on black wax; the paper bore a broad black border; and
there was an evident tremulousness in the pen which had inscribed
these words:--

"Enclosed is the sum of £200, for the benefit of Sir Arthur Dunbar's
adopted ward, Henry De Lancey. The same amount shall be transmitted
annually, so long as no effort is made to trace from whence it
originates; and the day he comes of age, it shall be increased to £500
per annum. The first attempt to find out his connections will be
detected, and shall put a final period to all intercourse. The
unfortunate woman was married to one who remained ignorant, till a few
hours ago, of the circumstances attending her death. She disgraced his
name, and abandoned his house; nevertheless her child may one day,
perhaps, be acknowledged; and the whole expenses of his education
shall be liberally defrayed, till he is grown up and has chosen a
profession."

It was a strange, cold, heartless communication from a parent, without
one expression of relenting affection, one word of solicitude for his
happiness, or one expression of gratitude to Sir Arthur for taking
upon himself so arduous a charge; but still it was to a certain extent
most satisfactory, the Admiral being relieved of a great perplexity,
by having thus ascertained in what rank of life the interesting boy
should be educated, as he felt justified now in obtaining for him the
highest cultivation, an advantage to which he attached the utmost
importance, often repeating his favorite aphorism, that "principle is
the helm, and learning the main-sail, which carries a young man
forward in life; but both would be useless, unless the wind, which
'bloweth where it listeth,' be sent from Heaven to guide and direct
him safely into harbor."



CHAPTER V.


The day of trial at length arrived, and the court, from the roof to
the floor, seemed one sea of faces, crowded together like the "studies
of heads" on a painter's canvass. During the legal investigation,
which was conducted with deep solemnity and anxious perseverance, the
mystery became still deeper, and more inscrutable. No appearance of a
robbery could be observed, except that the finger of the lady's hand,
on which a wedding ring had probably been worn, was much bruised and
discolored, as if, immediately after her decease, it had been
violently torn off; and a vain attempt had evidently been made to
snatch away a gold chain hung round her neck, to which was appended a
small broken miniature frame, set with brilliants, and adorned with
what seemed to represent a very antique coronet. The portrait which it
once enclosed, had been, with obvious difficulty removed, as the marks
were visible all round, of some sharp-pointed instrument having been
inserted in the frame, to which there still adhered several broken
fragments of glass.

Sarah Davenport, who had been fully committed for trial, on suspicion
of being an accomplice, refused to give any references as to
character, and was strongly suspected of habitually concealing her
real name, and of more than once assuming those that were fictitious,
as her clothes and linen appeared to be marked with various initials,
but in not one case did they bear those that she pretended were her
own. It was evident that she labored under a powerful, but
forcibly-subdued excitement; yet, with a tone and manner externally
cold and hard as Siberian ice, she persisted in professing her own
perfect innocence, and her utter consciousness of anything that might
by possibility lead to a discovery of the perpetrators. She coldly,
and almost calmly, threw back glance for glance, on the spectators
nearest her, who were keenly watching every turn of her countenance,
while dark surmises, and fearful conjectures, were whispered in
murmurs of horror on every side; but at length her eye wandered to a
distant part of the court, when suddenly a livid paleness flashed upon
her face--an indescribable but startling lustre glittered in her
eyes--her whole frame shook, as in the coldest blast of winter, and
with a suppressed groan of agony and fear, she bowed her head upon her
hands, and sunk fainting upon the floor. At the same time, a man was
observed hastily to leave the court, and, gliding with rapid steps
through the narrow passages, disappeared, before any of those who
stood near had presence of mind to stop him, or could even identify
his appearance.

Nothing apparently touched the feelings of Sarah Davenport, except
when a suspicion seemed to be implied that she meant to injure the
boy; and when a question to this effect was put to her by the court,
she wrung her hands and burst into tears, saying, in accents of
piercing anguish, though with a shudder as if death were upon her,
"No! oh, no! Who suspects that I would injure a hair of his head! He
once loved me! Few--few but he, ever did!--none that have not
afterwards given me reason to hate them! I am a solitary, lost, and
desolate being; but let him not forget in after years, that I saved
his life!--that I saved it at a risk you never can conceive!"

An impulse of mournful interest and astonishment ran through the
assembled multitude, when they beheld the rare and singular beauty of
the child, after he was led into court; and it seemed as if the
spectators had ceased to breathe as soon as he began to answer some of
the questions which were skilfully put, to draw out his recollections
of past times, and especially the dark history of the last few weeks.
He was at first shy and intimidated, but gradually regained an
unexpected degree of self-possession, and spoke with a surprising
degree of intelligence and distinctness of all he remembered.

The boy retained a faint recollection of having been awakened, on the
night of the murder, by some violent scene of strife and horror; but
his faculties had evidently been so benumbed by opiates, that no
distinct impression remained; and to his own young mind, the whole
seemed like a fearful dream, too dreadful to look back upon even yet,
except with bewildering terror. He gave a clear account, however, of
the last evening he had passed with his mother, of whom he spoke in
accents of infantine affection, evidently unable yet to conceive that
he should see her face no more.

An old gentleman, he said, had come into the room and spoken angrily
to her; while, with astonishing precision, the boy acted over the
whole scene, recapitulated some of the language they had used, and
described how his mother had hung to him with frantic eagerness,
saying she would promise anything, if she might only retain her child;
how the stranger, who was very tall, and wore a black coat, had spoken
again with angry vehemence before he left the room; and how his
mother, when left alone, had prayed and wept over him with looks of
agonized and desolate grief, until he had been carried away to bed by
the maid, who administered some medicine to him, which she said the
doctor had ordered.

He spoke much also of a large room, hung with pictures, in which his
earliest days had been passed, and of a small dark apartment close
beside it, into which he had often been precipitately hurried,
apparently for concealment, and where toys and sweetmeats had been
always provided to keep him quiet, while he was punished with the
utmost severity, for making the slightest noise; and he still
remembered with looks of apprehension, the gentleman dressed in black,
who most frequently visited him there, and often caused his mother to
weep bitterly.

Sarah Davenport was then recalled, and rigidly cross-examined,
respecting the gentleman who had visited at the house; but she
doggedly asserted her entire ignorance respecting his rank in life, or
connections, and pertinaciously maintained that the lady's death had
been her own voluntary act, and that the sleeping potion had been
given to the boy by his mother's own imperative orders, as she did not
herself know even what it contained.

During a long and anxious consultation of the jury, there was a hushed
and intense silence in the court, so still and unbroken, that the
breathing of an infant would have been audible, while every eye
perused the countenance of the prisoner, with an intensity that
brought a hectic flush, burning like fire, upon her cheek, and she
gazed around with a glance of anger that caused her beauty for the
moment to look like that of a fiend or a fury.

At length, after arduously scrutinizing every atom of evidence that
could be gathered, the jury, though morally certain of the prisoner's
being an accomplice in the crime, felt unwillingly obliged to bring in
a verdict of "not proven," and she was immediately liberated, after
which, amidst the yells, jeers, and execrations of the populace who
were convinced of her criminality, she hurried from the court, and was
seen no more.

Nothing is half so attractive as a mystery, and many crowded at first,
with a temporary enthusiasm, to see the beautiful boy, so strangely
bereaved, and so cruelly abandoned; but the interest and excitement of
hearing and relating his story were soon superseded by greater wonders
and fresher news. In a world where all are rushing on headlong in
pursuit of novelty, and where events, great or small, are speedily
hurried into one common oblivion, people were tired at last of
thinking or talking about young Henry and his concerns.

Every one of the Admiral's friends hinted that he could have managed
the whole affair ten times better than Sir Arthur; all blamed him for
many things, and praised him for very few; the Admiral was wondered
at, criticised, discussed, admired, pitied, and censured, more than he
remembered to have been for many years before; and the givers of
advice were lavish of propositions and objections, all which were
borne by their venerable friend with good-humored indifference,
whether adopted or not. At length some perfectly new murders from
London came on the tapis in society; those who liked reading in the
Jack Sheppard style were satiated with studies from the life; the
Mording Post assumed a terrifying interest; and the lady of fashion
who consulted Sir Henry Halford about her appetite, because she could
no longer enjoy her murders and robberies at breakfast, would have
thought, when they were coming out hot and hot every week, that it was
a wearisome repetition to speculate another hour upon a murder nearly
a month old.

In short, "the Portobello story" ceased to be told or listened to.
Henry had had his day. There is no such thing now as a nine days'
wonder, because nothing lasts so long. Young De Lancey had been talked
of as much as any reasonable being could expect to be talked of; and
now it was universally voted a bore whenever the subject occurred in
conversation; for, as Lady Towercliffe remarked, with a very
long-drawn yawn, when, for the last time, it was alluded to in her
presence, "It was a shocking, barbarous, and really startling affair;
but all stories should be allowed to die out like an echo, which grows
fainter and fainter at every repetition. One cannot be for ever
talking of the same thing."

When Henry De Lancey lost one parent, he certainly gained another in
Sir Arthur, who often afterwards remarked, that in no instance could
virtue be more obviously its own parent, than in the case of any
kindness he had shown to this fascinating boy, whose gay, joyous
spirits became a source of perpetual amusement to him, while the
Admiral seemed to derive new life from watching the frolicsome gambols
of his young companion, occasionally enlivened by the gleeful vivacity
of his niece Marion, when she escaped a single day from the trammels
of school, bringing generally in her train two of her favorite
juvenile companions, Clara Granville and Caroline Smythe, both several
years older than herself.

On many occasions the sensibility of Henry De Lancey seemed already to
have attained almost the depth and intensity of manhood, so strong
were the bursts of natural feeling with which he occasionally spoke or
acted, while it was deeply affecting to trace throughout the
extraordinary progress thus early made in his education, the careful
culture given to his remarkable abilities--the pains bestowed by his
solitary parent to strengthen his mind for future difficulties and
sorrows, the earliest and worst of which she could so little have
foreseen or apprehended.

With considerable thoughtfulness of character, however, and natural
integrity of mind, which Sir Arthur was delighted from the first to
remark, yet, when the merry group of young friends assembled together
on the shore of Portobello, building houses of sand, or running
eagerly in search of shells, it would have been difficult to say which
was the most carelessly happy, while the Admiral seemed to borrow
their young spirits for the time, and gazed with ceaseless delight on
those joyous countenances, radiant with laughter and smiles, which
were archly turned towards their aged playmate, sometimes with a
challenge to run after them, or lighted up with smiles of affection
when they brought him a bouquet of his favorite flowers, torn roughly
from the stems, and crumpled in their little hands.

Sir Arthur often seemed almost ashamed to betray the engrossing
interest and delight he felt in his young companion, who gained every
day a stronger hold upon his affections, and it appeared as if he were
anxious to forget that a time had ever existed when the playful and
interesting boy was unknown to his heart; but a circumstance occurred,
not long after Henry's adoption, which brought painfully to mind, with
greatly increased solicitude, the fearful mystery that hung over his
origin, proving also that danger still threatened him from some
unforeseen quarter.

While the whole party of his young guests were noisily engaged on the
shore in a game at hide-and-seek, one day in the month of July, Sir
Arthur had seated himself on a bench within sight of them, sometimes
watching their gambols with pleasure, and frequently conning over a
newspaper, which proved by undeniable and satisfactory demonstration,
that the country was entirely ruined--that the Government was coming
to an end--that the Houses of Lords and Commons would be completely
demolished--that the ministry had not another day to exist--and, as a
grand climax, that anarchy, confusion, bankruptcy, and revolution,
were about finally to drop their extinguisher over Great Britain. Sir
Arthur had read the same thing in different words every day during
fifty years, and under twenty varied administrations; yet still the
wonder grew, how a constitution so mismanaged could so long survive,
and that when all was wrong at the head of the country, it still had a
leg to stand on. The Admiral's patriotic meditations had been several
times interrupted by repeated complaints from the little girls, that
Henry had hid himself so well, that they could not possibly find him;
but he was too much pre-occupied to give the subject much attention,
till at length Martin announced that the children's dinner had waited
some time, and that still the boy was not to be found, though his
companions had been searching for him at least half an hour.

Upon hearing this, Sir Arthur hastily started up, making a
considerable expenditure of energetic and wondrous explanations, while
he gazed around with increasing surprise at the wide waste of sand,
like an Arabian desert, with which he was on every side encompassed,
and where it seemed to him as if a mouse could not be long concealed.

A hasty and most anxious search was instantly commenced in the garden,
while Sir Arthur and Martin shouted the name of Henry at the full
pitch of their voices, but in vain; not a sound was heard in reply,
nor was there a spot unexamined in which he could by possibility be
lurking.

The Admiral now became seriously alarmed at so unaccountable a
disappearance, especially when the child's gardening tools, with which
he had been last observed, were found mutilated and broken, at a great
distance, on the beach--one of his shoes had fallen off close to the
water, and his hat lay nearly buried in the tide. Sir Arthur instantly
summoned the police to his aid, but the search continued fruitless,
till at length the dreadful conjecture became more and more probable,
that Henry must have rashly ventured into the water, and been washed
away by the waves--in pursuance of which apprehension Sir Arthur
summoned more assistance, that the water might instantly be dragged.

Martin, meantime, no less active than his master, had accidentally met
a stranger on the beach, who mentioned, on hearing of his alarm, that
on the road to Leith, half an hour before, he had observed a boy
struggling and screaming in the arms of a female, dressed like a
nursery-maid, who complained loudly that the child would not go home,
when a young man, rather strangely dressed, and of very singular
appearance, had instantly offered his assistance, and carried him
forcibly onwards. This gentleman said he had stopped the woman to
remonstrate with her on using the boy so roughly, as a cap was drawn
over his eyes, and he seemed to suffer agonies of terror, sobbing
convulsively, and trembling in every limb; but the man had answered in
reply, with a strong Irish accent, that he would see the child safe to
his friends, and let no one do the poor boy "a taste of harm." The
stranger added indifferently, that it was no affair of his, therefore
he ceased to interfere; but he thought both the man and the woman had
a very bad expression, and he would not trust either of them with his
dog for an hour, to use it kindly.

Without wasting time in returning to communicate what he had heard,
Martin hurried forward to Leith, where, with reckless speed and
untiring diligence, he threaded all the narrow streets, and elbowed
his way among carts, carriages, parcels, and passengers, till at
length he reached the pier, to which he had been so eagerly aiming his
steps. At its farthest point stood a smoking steam-boat in full boil,
while men and women, boxes, packages, bags, and trunks were pouring
in; and at length, as he breathlessly approached within some hundred
yards, an arbitrary little bell was rung, to summon stragglers on
board, and to hurry stragglers away.

A single plank, connecting the steam-boat with the pier, was on the
point of being withdrawn, when Martin approached; and while he paused,
in momentary hesitation whether to pursue his almost hopeless search,
the steward peremptorily desired him to hasten on board instantly, if
he were coming at all, as not a moment more could be lost.

At this moment a cry, almost amounting to a scream of childish joy,
became audible on the deck--a young boy was seen vehemently struggling
in the arms of a female; and in an instant, pursued by a man who
vainly endeavored to overtake him, he rushed past the steward, ran
across the temporary bridge, and clasped Martin round the knees,
exclaiming, with eager incoherent exclamations of almost hysterical
delight, "Take me, Martin! take me! O let me go home to Sir Arthur! I
did not come away without leave! I did not, indeed! That naughty,
horrid woman forced me! She tied a cap over my face, and would not let
me go back! I have been so frightened and so sorry," added the child,
bursting into tears, and sobbing as if his heart would break; "I
thought Sir Arthur would be angry, and I thought, perhaps, I would
never see him again! O take me home, Martin! take me home! and let me
never see these people again!"

The boy put his hand, with an air of happy confidence and security
into that of Martin, who snatched him up in his arms, with a thousand
expressions of joyful surprise; but a moment afterwards, when he
recollected himself, his first impulse was to secure the culprits who
had decoyed Henry away, and to deliver them up to a magistrate for
examination. With this intention, he looked hastily around, intending
to cause their immediate apprehension; but the steam-boat had sailed
off; and all the gesticulations he could make to bring them back only
caused the steward laughingly to shake his head, thinking that Martin
had merely missed his passage, as he deserved, for not showing more
alacrity in obeying his injunctions to embark.

At Portobello, meantime, Sir Arthur had suffered agonies of grief, and
even of self-reproach, thinking he had too securely relied on the
safety of his young protege; and with a heavy heart he was still
directing his steps, and conducting his assistants to the most
probable places for finding the child's body, having already ordered
his maid to have everything in readiness, in case a chance remained of
his being restored to life, when he felt a gentle pull at the skirt of
his coat, and, on looking down, he uttered a volley of joyful
exclamations, on beholding the radiant countenance of Henry, whom he
clasped in his arms with unutterable joy. While Martin and the boy
himself gave each his own history of the strange adventure, Sir Arthur
walked up and down in a state of irrepressible irritation, clenching
his teeth, and grasping his walking-stick firmly in his hand, as if
about to wreak instant vengeance on the miscreants. At length, after
exhausting his indignation, he took Henry again in his arms, declaring
he would never for a moment lose sight of him again.

Nothing in Henry's narrative threw the slightest gleam of light on the
plans or intentions of the strange man and woman, which seemed
destined to remain buried in impenetrable obscurity. They had
evidently been accomplices in decoying him from home; and the boy had
brought away from the steam-boat a small book which they had given
him, full of ribald songs and profane jests, but covered with
magnificent boards, and clasped with silver hinges, which seemed to
have once belonged to some ancient missal, and still retained in the
inside a collection of texts beautifully written in a very remarkable
hand, which seemed to be that of a highly-educated female.

For some time afterwards, several suspicious-looking people were seen
lurking about Sir Arthur's premises, late at night; and one evening a
shot was fired suddenly in at the drawing-room window, which passed so
near to Henry's head, that his hair was actually disturbed; but though
an active police had been placed on the watch, not a trace could be
obtained of the authors of this outrage.

As time wore on, and the mind of Henry rapidly expanded on all
subjects of classical learning and general science, the fearful and
melancholy events of his early years faded considerably from his mind,
while he made astonishing progress at the excellent school where Sir
Arthur placed him, exhibiting that happy, but rare combination of deep
thought, and refinement of mind, with extreme liveliness of fancy, and
enthusiasm of character. This threw a perfect witchery over his
conversation, which sparkled with vivacity, or flowed with uncommon
depth and power, as best suited the occasion, while at the same time,
during his intercourse with Sir Arthur, he became imbued with the
highest principles of honor and good-feeling; and from his master he
imbibed the most enlightened knowledge of the doctrines and duties of
Christianity, with the profoundest reverence for its precepts and
practice.

Sir Arthur felt a dreary blank during Henry's absence at school, which
became more and more intolerable as his eyesight was at length nearly
extinct; and he had serious thoughts of engaging a person to walk out
with him during the day, and to read to him during the evening, being
of opinion that it is the highest wisdom, as well as the best
Christianity, cheerfully to meet every appointed privation, and derive
from the blessings that remain, as much enjoyment as they can afford.

Sir Arthur often remarked to his friend, Lady Towercliffe, that it is a
misfortune to wear out a taste of any inoffensive occupation; and he
began to fear it might be possible for him to survive his enjoyment of
reading. "In my long life," he observed, "I have myself travelled all
the travels described by others, thought all the thoughts, and felt
all the feelings. If I read such a book as Robertson's America, for
instance, the question forces itself upon me, 'what the better would I
be of knowing this whole volume by heart!' The time was once, when a
romance carried me off into another existence altogether, and I seemed
to awaken as from a dream, when called back to the ordinary business
of life; but now I can anticipate from the first page, the whole
_denouement_ of every novel, and never for an instant forget my own
identity in reading the story."

"It is a shocking symptom of advancing years," said Lady Towercliffe.
"But you must wait till I publish."

"Yet," continued Sir Arthur, "there is one volume always new, in which
I never can tire of reading my own heart and character; and in the
Bible, the descriptions of eastern countries are so like what I have
observed myself of the scenery, customs, and manners, that they fill
me with recollections and associations that are of endless interest."

No sooner had Sir Arthur mentioned incidentally, to Lady Towercliffe,
and several friends, that he would willingly give a handsome salary to
a person of good reading and writing abilities, than it seemed as if
all the meritorious young men in Scotland happened at that very time
to be looking out for precisely such a situation; and it made Sir
Arthur almost melancholy in examining testimonials, which ought to
have procured any one of them a bishopric, to think that so many
admirable youths, of learning and talents, were ready to sacrifice
themselves for a mere home, and a pittance of £50 per annum!

No situation ever became vacant in the memory of man, for which Lady
Towercliffe had not some protege exactly suited; and no sooner did she
hear that Sir Arthur required a secretary and reader, than she wrote
him a note of seven pages, closely penned, in which she made it
evident that there was but one individual in the world who could suit,
or ought to suit, and that one individual was the bearer of her
despatch, who waited below for an answer.

It appeared that, with all her zeal in the cause, Lady Towercliffe
knew very little of the young man she so vehemently recommended; but
having accidentally met him in a bookseller's shop, he had been
employed by her to copy some verses in an album, and she thought him,
without exception, one of the most civil and grateful creatures in the
world, who really deserved encouragement.

When Sir Arthur sent for Mr. Howard up stairs, his kind heart was
almost shocked at the tone of wild energy, and the look of feverish
anxiety with which he entreated that his capabilities might be tried.
His figure, though youthful, was tall, gaunt, and meagre, while his
care-worn countenance, which bore a stern and melancholy aspect, was
lighted up by large, dark, flashing eyes, in which there gleamed an
expression of singular excitement. He appeared young and handsome, but
not prepossessing--so gloomy and determined was the expression of his
firmly-compressed mouth, that it seemed almost indicative of ferocity;
and his eye had that peculiarity invariably expressing evil--an
impossibility of looking any one steadily in the face.

"You see me under great disadvantage, Sir Arthur; friendless,
homeless, and poverty-struck," said Mr. Howard, with a look of eager,
deprecating solicitude, which spoke at once to the generous heart of
the Admiral, and filled him with commiseration. "Fate and fortune have
hitherto frustrated my efforts, and weighed me down with life-crushing
sorrows; but only give me employment, and I would not thank the Queen
to be my cousin!"

It was a favorite saying with Sir Arthur, that he would be more
ashamed to suspect mankind, than to be deceived by them; and if he had
a weakness in the world it was a total incapacity to give pain.
Touched by the nervous excitement in Mr. Howard's eye and manner,
which he attributed entirely to his necessitous circumstances, he
almost immediately engaged him, to the entire satisfaction of Lady
Towercliffe, who never asked or cared any more about her protege,
gratified that he had achieved "a job," and that by her interest, and
hers only, a place in the world had been filled up, which would have
been occupied by some one else, perhaps equally deserving, if she had
not interfered, and she was satisfied for the present to have been of
consequence to somebody, no matter whom.

Mr. Howard generally spoke in a subdued, mysterious voice, as if
afraid to let himself know what he was saying; yet sometimes his words
came forth with a rushing impetuosity, full of energy and fire, like
lightning itself. His hollow, blood-shot eyes, betrayed a wild,
watchful, suspicious expression, by no means prepossessing; and there
was something inscrutable in the bland, perpetual smile he always wore
upon his countenance, and in the frozen tranquillity of his manner,
which occasionally, though seldom, gave way to bursts of tempestuous
emotion. The very pupils of his eyes seemed to have become darker,
with a fearfully wild and ferocious expression when irritated, while
the fierce fire flashed out from beneath his lowering brows, with a
blaze of inexpressible fury; yet in a moment he could command himself
again into a cold, calm, and almost haughty exterior, while the
spectral paleness of his handsome countenance made him look like
marble itself.

Years passed on, during which Sir Arthur endured, rather than enjoyed,
Mr. Howard's attendance, whose pre-occupied air and vague manner
continually annoyed him; but his benevolent heart shrunk from
consigning the poor man to that hopeless and solitary want which he
seemed to apprehend must inevitably follow the loss of his present
situation, and from day to day he postponed the decision, till habit
grew into second nature, and he became so accustomed to hear "The
Times," column after column, spouted forth in a rather theatrical tone
by his reader, and to dictate notes and letters to his very silent and
diligent secretary, that he almost forgot at last to think of parting
with him.

When Henry returned for the first time from school, six or seven
months after Mr. Howard had become domesticated at Portobello, the
secretary professed a vehement fancy for the boy, would fetch and
carry for him like a tame dog, and loaded him with attentions; yet,
though in general most affectionately grateful to all who showed him
even a trifling kindness, these assiduities and flatteries were
lavished upon him in vain. The boy shrunk instinctively from Mr.
Howard's notice, but could assign no other reason to himself or others
for this apparently unreasonable antipathy, except merely that the
stranger resembled somebody he had seen before, but how, when, or
where, not a trace remained in his memory. This little caprice did not
appear to be noticed or resented by the secretary, till one day, when
Henry refused some bon-bons which Mr. Howard offered him, saying, the
last he accepted had made him sick, and when the boy soon after flew
gaily out of the room, Marion was for a moment startled and surprised
to observe the malignant scowl with which the eye of Mr. Howard
followed Henry. It was a glance, fell and malignant, that feared to be
seen, while his cheek became pale as death, but whether in anger or in
sorrow, Marion thought it impossible to divine.

As Henry grew older, his instinctive dread of Mr. Howard seemed only
to increase, but he was too considerate to disturb the tranquillity of
Sir Arthur by mentioning it, or to injure the poor man himself, by
giving way to a feeling of dislike so unaccountable, and yet so
perfectly unconquerable; but at length, after many years of such
prudent self-restraint, when nearly grown up to manhood he could not
help saying one day, in a careless tone, to the Admiral, after
witnessing a sudden outbreak of temper in Mr. Howard that morning,

"Your secretary always reminds me, Sir Arthur, of Sinbad's Old Man of
the Sea. It seems impossible to get handsomely rid of him, and he will
never certainly make a voluntary departure!"

"I fear not!" replied the Admiral, with something between a smile and
a sigh. "He does all I desire him, but without interest or pleasure,
and he has the most undisguised contempt for every living being,
almost amounting to hatred, yet he expresses unbounded gratitude for
being harbored in my house. What can I do? It would be cruel to kick
the man out of doors, merely because he is unhappy; but I have often
observed, Henry, that he is no favorite of yours, though that is the
only subject on which you have never been entirely open with me."

"Because I am heartily ashamed of my feelings, Sir Arthur, and you are
the last person on earth to whom I wish to tell anything against
myself. You have told me there are people with a loathing antipathy to
cats, and somewhat similar is the shuddering sensation with which I
see your worthy secretary enter the room. A sort of shiver comes over
me, and a wish to keep him off--to avoid his very glance and touch. He
has a strange under-look certainly! His smile makes me shudder! and
yet the feeling is quite undefinable! They say dogs and children have
an instinctive liking or antipathy to those who secretly like or hate
them, and perhaps my sensation is on somewhat similar grounds.

"There is something fearful in the eye of Mr. Howard, occasionally,
when I catch it fixed upon myself," added Henry rapidly, but in a sort
of musing, absent under-tone, while his voice acquired a deeper tinge
of thought, "I seem to have beheld him once in a dream! When he looks
at me in that strange and extraordinary manner, his eyes like the
flickering glare of light in a gloomy cavern, I feel and know that at
some period in my life I have seen such a countenance before! The time
and place have escaped me, but the remembrance is painful, and in his
presence I cannot but be convinced that I am in the presence of an
enemy. It is a feeling I can neither drive away, nor distinctly
realize!"

"Why did you never tell me this before, Henry?" asked the Admiral,
rising with agitation. "He has been hardly dealt with by fortune, but
surely you do not think----"

"Think!!--; I think nothing, Sir Arthur, for I know nothing, and I
ought not to have spoken as I have done,--it was wrong and rash. I
shall try to conquer this,--to conquer myself,--and, as they say,
acquired tastes are always the strongest, I may yet learn to like Mr.
Howard better than any one living; but, in the mean time, Sir Arthur,
he does occasionally look to me, very like some stray member of the
Lunatic Asylum!"

"I sometimes think," said Sir Arthur, "that Howard has a bee in his
bonnet."

"He has a whole hive of bees in his bonnet!" replied Henry in his
usual off-hand tone; but when he looked round, as is usual, when
people are spoken of, the individual himself, Mr. Howard, stood before
him. A mortal paleness had overspread his countenance, contending
emotions seemed flitting across his lowering brow, like shifting
clouds in a threatening sky, and his eye gleamed upon young De Lancey
with a look of maniacal fury; but the same artificial smile was on his
lips which he habitually assumed, while, in the blandest tone of
courtesy, he turned from the steady penetrating gaze of Henry to Sir
Arthur, saying, in a tone of servile cunning, but with a smile the
most ghastly that was ever seen on a human face,

"Every fool can find fault, but my livelihood fortunately depends not
on any boyish caprice. It is derived from the generosity of a noble
mind, unbiassed by cruel and unfounded prejudices, which may, however,
yet be my ruin. A small leak sinks a great ship, and even you, my
benefactor, may hereafter be influenced by the opinion of one who
avowedly hates me, though without cause,--I should have little to
dread if he were like you, but then who is? Come what may, however,
you deserve and shall ever retain my undying gratitude and attachment.
I have met with little kindness in life, and am never likely to forget
that little, from whatever benevolent heart it comes. In this bleak,
desolate, most harsh and cruel world, you are now my only friend."

"Those who have deserved friends, Mr. Howard, are seldom so entirely
destitute of them!" said Sir Arthur, with a certain tone of
interrogation in his voice, for he abhorred the slightest approach to
flattery, and always had an instinctive apprehension that it was
accompanied by deceit. "We are too ready often to throw the blame upon
human nature, when our own individual nature is to blame. For my own
part, I have met with little unkindness or ingratitude hitherto, and
would willingly look upon the sunny side of life, hoping all things,
and believing all things, of mankind in general, and of yourself among
the number."

The darkened sight of Sir Arthur prevented him from perceiving that in
the countenance of Mr. Howard there flitted a quick succession of
emotions, fiery and vivid as summer lightning, but Henry observed with
astonishment the powerful though ineffectual efforts he made to
control his agitation. His hands were clenched, till the very blood
seemed ready to spring; he gnawed his nether lip with frightful
vehemence, and his eyes shot fire from beneath his dark and frowning
brow. With a glance of unspeakable malevolence at Henry, and a hurried
bow to Sir Arthur, he hastened with rapid steps out of the room, and
subsequently out of the house.

"If there be a madman out of bedlam, Sir Arthur, that is he!"
exclaimed Henry, following with his eyes the rushing steps of Howard,
as he crossed the garden. "Before I go to college, let me hope you
will dismiss him. Give the man a trifling pension, or do anything for
him, rather than trust yourself in his hands, for I am mistaken,
indeed, if he is not a bad and dangerous man."

"Before you return here, I may perhaps be able to find some other
situation for him; but he has done nothing yet, Henry, to forfeit my
protection, and I scarcely think he would live, if I dismissed him. He
has drank a bitter cup of wretchedness, and without principle or hope,
he has more than hinted to me, that death itself will be his resource
if I turn him adrift. It was a well-meant officiousness of Lady
Towercliffe to force him upon my good offices, and I cannot yet see
any easy way to relieve myself of the charge, without causing more
distress than I can reconcile myself to occasioning."

"He is certainly a strange, mysterious being," replied Henry, wishing
to turn off a subject which he saw was agitating Sir Arthur with
perplexity; "but Mr. Howard is not probably the only man on earth whom
in the course of my existence I shall not be able to comprehend."



CHAPTER VI.


The most popular girl at Mrs. Penfold's "Seminary for Young Ladies,"
near Edinburgh, was Marion Dunbar, too much loved by her companions to
be envied; admired by all, and almost idolized by each, while beneath
the gay, sparkling surface of her joyous disposition, there rolled on
a warm current of sensibility and feeling sufficient to repay, and
more than repay, all the deep tenderness and enthusiastic affection
she excited among the little circle of her young and ardent friends.

Cast in the finest mould of classical beauty, and formed mentally as
well as personally in the very poetry of nature, the perfect grace and
symmetry of her features became enlivened frequently by a rich and
radiant smile, like a Hebe, glowing with the richest hues of health
and joy. Her splendid eyes sparkled with every passing emotion,
sometimes dimmed for a moment by tears of sensibility, but usually
glittering with smiles, while occasionally, when amused or delighted,
she burst into a comic, elfish laugh, the very essence of glee and
joyousness--a most enlivening accompaniment to what she said, while
her conversation, always fresh and unpremeditated, rushed straight
from her heart, fresh and natural as a mountain stream.

The color of a violet was not more deeply blue than the dark,
unfathomable eyes of Marion, shaded by a fringe of eye-lashes that
might have been mistaken for black. No description could do justice to
the fascination of her smile, without one shade of affectation, while
her pure transparent complexion, fresh as a bouquet of roses, took a
richer tint from all the fleeting emotions which chased each other
through her mind. A rich profusion of nut-brown hair played around her
high arched forehead of alabaster whiteness, and a thousand laughing
dimples quivered around her delicately-formed mouth, giving her a
merry, joyous look of girlish beauty, varied occasionally by a melting
softness of expression when she looked on any countenance that she
loved. On one occasion, a celebrated sculptor asked Sir Patrick's
permission to take a cast of Marion's head, and on obtaining the
desired permission, he observed, that if those features could be
turned into marble, he would stake his whole fame on the impossibility
of any critic pointing out a single defect. But while admiration is
given by the eye of an artist merely to symmetry, expression is the
mystery of beauty; and the charm of Marion, in the estimation of her
friends, was, that her face seemed like a mirror formed to reflect
every emotion of their own hearts.

The most stern and morose of human beings must have been conciliated
into some degree of regard by the deep tenderness of a character
"without one jarring atom form'd," which seemed made only to love and
to be loved. While her gay fancy revelled in "cheerful yesterdays and
confident to-morrows," the flowers that grew around her path, the
birds that sang as she passed, the very turf beneath her feet, and the
sky above her head, called forth her feelings. She had a tear to spare
for the sorrows of every one who claimed her sympathy, and a ready
smile for the joys of all her companions, while yet a great deal of
unoccupied love remained at her disposal, the chief portion of which
was bestowed with prodigal enthusiasm on her indulgent uncle Sir
Arthur, whose doting affection would have spoiled any other
disposition, but only rendered her more keenly to merit and to deserve
his partiality.

In the estimation of Sir Arthur, his "little Marion" never became a
day older, and he considered her a perfect prodigy in everything she
said or did, watching all her words, and entering into all her
juvenile feelings with a versatility of mind astonishing at his
advanced age. Nothing on earth is more touching than to see the warmth
of sensibility and enthusiasm yet surviving the chill of many a year
in this disappointing and sorrowing world; but there was a degree of
mutual confidence between Sir Arthur and his young niece which can
seldom exist with a disparity of years and circumstances. Besides all
her feminine gentleness, and almost poetical gracefulness of
character, Marion yet displayed at times a power of intellect and an
energetic strength of character for which a superficial observer would
have been totally unprepared; for her mind seemed always to rise in
proportion to the occasion, while she had been born apparently to
practise without reserve that beautiful Christian rule, for each
individual always to consider himself last. Rarely are deep feelings
and intense sensibility united with that high intelligence of mind,
and that vivid gladness of spirit peculiar to Marion; but the stream
of her mind was deep as well as sparkling, while during her early
years sorrow flitted through her cheerful, laughter-loving mind, like
the shadow of a butterfly in a bright sunny flower-bed. Pleased "she
knew not why, and car'd not wherefore," there was a peculiar grace in
all she did, and an infectious merriment in all she said, which
attracted a joyous group of companions continually around her, on whom
the light of her own buoyant vivacity seemed to be continually and
brightly reflected.

Nothing could be more pleasing and characteristic than to observe the
refined ingenuity with which, from the earliest age, Marion tried to
evade receiving the multitude of little presents with which it was Sir
Arthur's delight to surprise her. Trinkets and toys would have
multiplied around her, if she had not frequently made an ostentation
of possessing more than it was possible for her to use; and when Sir
Arthur allowed her a choice in any gift he was about to force on her
acceptance, she invariably selected that which seemed least expensive;
and her uncle afterwards told, that when, on the twelfth anniversary
of her birthday, he clasped a beautiful Maltese chain round her neck,
she said to him, with a deepening color and faltering voice, "I would
like better to love you for nothing, uncle Arthur! My drawers up
stairs are like a jeweler's shop already. You know I inherited half
dear mamma's ornaments, and Patrick says you bring Rundell and Bridge
in your pocket every time I have a holiday; but I would be quite as
happy to see you all for yourself."

The merry-eyed Marion seemed to "wear her heart upon her sleeve," and
to see only what was best in all those with whom she associated. With
her small means, it was truly astonishing how frequently and
ingeniously she invented some unobtrusive way of conferring a favor on
her companions, as if she were receiving rather than bestowing one;
and it certainly appeared as if she scarcely knew the difference.
There was not an individual among her numerous young contemporaries
who did not often relate traits of goodness in one whom they always
found ready to answer the largest drafts that could be drawn upon her
good offices, while the cheerfulness of her mind reflected itself on
all.

If one of her young friends rushed joyously forward to announce some
unexpected success, Marion's features seemed as if they had been put
together only for smiles and laughter, while her bright eye glittered
with instant gladness, and a glow of color mounted to her dimpling
cheek, as she felt and expressed with spontaneous warmth all that
kindness could dictate, and more; but if some unforeseen affliction
visited the hearts of her juvenile associates, there seemed no limits
to the patience with which she listened to their complaints, or to the
eager assiduity with which she endeavored to alleviate their sorrow.
The most trifling attentions she never overlooked, were it merely the
tying of a string, or the picking up of a handkerchief, which she did
with a good-humored grace all her own, and the trifling actions of
life are those by which the character can generally be most justly
appreciated. Great achievements are a conspicuous embroidery laid on
the surface often for effect, but the ground-work and material are
formed of what is most unobtrusive and often scarcely noticed. With
Marion, every kind and generous feeling was as natural as perfume to
the violet, and equally inseparable from her daily existence; her
ideas were fresh and vivid, while her manner was thoroughly
fascinating and thoroughly feminine, at the same time that all the
grace of look and expression added a surpassing charm to her lively
and intelligent conversation, every word of which sprang from the
spontaneous impulse of a heart full of natural emotion and
straightforward sentiments.

Many a difficult exercise she had secretly assisted to write for her
young contemporaries, many an unintelligible drawing she had touched
up, many a dress she had privately mended, many a little debt she had
clandestinely paid for her juvenile friends, and far from wishing to
be thanked, she shrunk with modest sensibility from letting her
services be over-estimated, even by those whom she had most exerted
herself to oblige. Whenever a kindness had been privately done at
school, the author of which could not be guessed at nor discovered,
few hesitated to declare that it must have proceeded from Marion
Dunbar, and none were ever mistaken in saying so.

It was indeed wonderful that the lovely and gay young school-girl
found time for a tenth part of her kind and tender affections, at Mrs.
Penfold's first-rate seminary for what Sir Arthur called
"fiddle-faddle education." There no taste was inculcated for quiet
pursuits or domestic intercourse, and it was one of Mrs. Penfold's
favorite axioms, that nature is always vulgar; but in her zeal for the
honor of her establishment she seemed resolute to make every pupil an
Admirable Chrichton,--or more,--not in studying the experience of past
ages, and reading the thoughts and feelings which have been recorded
for their instruction by millions of the best and wisest of their
predecessors in life, but in all the frivolities of existence; and to
this end the pupils were stinted in sleep and food, while they pursued
a course of application more incessant, though not so profound, as
that of students for a double first class at Oxford. The most eminent
masters were in hourly attendance to cultivate every thing but the
heart or understanding. The various arts of killing or of wasting time
were taught in perfection, by the best, or at least by the most
fashionable teachers; and, as the Admiral disapprovingly remarked to
her brother, "little Marion was surrounded by professors of every
thing on earth,--by professors of trumpery in all its branches, but by
no professors of common sense!"

With Mrs. Penfold each pupil was a favorite in exact proportion as she
appeared likely to acquire a talent for the difficult art of rising in
the world, by which she might reflect credit and celebrity on the
theatre of her education; and it seemed, therefore, by no means
intended as an expression of kindness, when the lady was heard one day
impatiently to exclaim in accents of reproach, "Marion Dunbar is all
heart, and no head! Some girls do nothing, but she does less than
nothing; and though she gets on in years, she gets on in no other
thing!"

Wearily busied in being taught, Marion yet felt that there was no
incitement, and one only, which made every effort a pleasure, while it
gave life to the dull routine of her heartless labors, and that
incitement was her fervent, incessant desire to please, not the
dictate of vanity, but of spontaneous sensibility; and while, with her
bright and beaming looks, she was by no means a prodigy, Marion very
much under-rated her own powers, believing, in the simplicity of her
heart, that she really was the most hopeless dunce on many subjects,
only able to recommend herself by diligence and by alacrity to oblige.

Even Mrs. Penfold was disarmed of half her severity, by the eagerness
with which Marion, buoyant with youth, and joyous as a bird on wing,
undertook any task, or suffered any penance to compensate for such
little _etourderies_ as had caused her to be in temporary disgrace; and
the stern schoolmistress herself could not but smile sometimes in the
midst of her gravest lecture, to observe the look of extreme anxiety
and self-reproach with which Marion listened to the catalogue of her
small indiscretions, and the grateful joy with which she heard that
there were any terms on which she might yet be restored to favor.
Caroline Smythe, her most frolicsome companion, frequently amused
herself by inventing imaginary scrapes into which Marion was supposed
to have fallen, and by sending her express to Mrs. Penfold for a
reprimand, while the lively girl watched, in laughing ambuscade, for
the bright beaming smile which flashed into the supposed culprit's
countenance, the instant she unexpectedly found herself honorably
acquitted.

Thus the foundation of Marion's mind was laid, and these were the
light breezes that ruffled the smooth current of her life; but
enchanted by the slightest pleasures, few ever bore the burden of her
annoyances so lightly, while a brilliant painted curtain hung over the
future, filled with images of anticipated joy, to be realized in all
their brightness and beauty, as soon as she became emancipated from
the dreary thralldom of Mrs. Penfold's manufactory of young ladies.

Meantime, Marion's mind grew and flourished, like some rare and
beautiful plant injudiciously cultivated, yet glowing in almost
unprecedented luxuriance. Plunged in this inextricable labyrinth of
educational troubles, she had to undergo lessons from sunrise till
sunset, while all the varied arts, sciences, and languages were piled
promiscuously on her brain, like an ill-grown coppice, distorted and
stunted for want of more judicious thinning and training. She could
name things in every language, but was told nothing of their nature
and properties; while, as Sir Arthur complained, "poor little Marion
was taught plenty of sound, but no sound sense, except what she had
inherited by nature, without paying £100 a-year for it."

In music Marion displayed great taste and expression, while her
flexible, richly-toned voice poured out sometimes a flood of harmony
most exquisite to hear, as the pathos of her full round intonations
drew forth the feeling and sympathy of all her auditors. Expression in
music is like expression of countenance, not to be taught or acquired,
but the spontaneous result of natural emotion, and with Marion music
was almost a passion, for her whole spirit seemed instinct with
melody, while her lark-like voice trilled its liquid notes with joyful
hilarity.

Signors and Signoras, who might have fitted their pupils to become
chorus-singers at the opera, were multiplied around the young ladies
at Mrs. Penfold's "College of Frivolity," followed in ceaseless
succession by Messieurs and Mesdames, who taught the young ladies to
maltreat pianofortes, by playing on them at the rate of 100 miles an
hour, or to speak foreign languages better than the natives, and to
write them better than they could write their own;--

    While hands, lips, and eyes were put to school,
    And each instructed feature had its rule.

On Sunday evenings, for the sake of effect, the girls were regularly
assembled to prayers, which were conducted like those of Frederick the
Great's soldiers, being performed simultaneously at the word of
command as a part of their exercise, without a semblance of reverence,
and within a very limited number of minutes, while they were hastily
slurred over by Mrs. Penfold herself, with scarcely an external aspect
of solemnity or interest. Sunday had long been considered by all the
pupils at Mrs. Penfold's as a privileged day for writing letters,
wearing best bonnets, peeping from behind a red silk curtain at the
congregation, criticising the clergyman's manner, dress, and
appearance, discussing, in suppressed whispers, who it would be
possible or impossible for them to think of marrying, and enjoying
rather a longer walk than common in strolling to church and returning
again.

Any knowledge of the Bible inculcated at Mrs. Penfold's was like all
the other acquirements taught in that establishment, more for show
than use. Each young pupil could repeat by heart, without hesitation
or mistake, the whole history of Jacob, Abraham, and any of the
patriarchs, prophets, or apostles, and enumerate all the kings who
ever reigned over Israel, but they remained utterly uninstructed
respecting the influence which the Divine revelation should obtain
over their own life and character, nor were they ever taught to
inquire what was their own nature, why they were placed upon the
earth, and whither they were likely to go after this perishable world
had passed from their sight. Summer flowers alone were implanted in
their minds, but no thoughts, hopes, or affections, such as may last
for winter wear. To them their birth seemed merely to have been the
commencement of an existence, given entirely for their own individual
pleasure or advantage, which was finally to terminate at their death.

Before Marion had been long at school, however, she formed an intimacy
which produced a permanent and most happy effect on all her subsequent
life and feelings. Clara Granville, several years older than herself,
had been nurtured, like her brother, in holiness, and in every
domestic excellence, while she lived only for the dictates of a
chastened and sanctified heart. Delicate in health, and fragile in
extreme to appearance, there was something almost seraphic in the
delicate purity of her lovely countenance, and in the tranquil
composure of her graceful manner. During a long and tedious illness,
with which Clara was seized, a short time before leaving school, she
testified a tender and almost exclusive affection for Marion, who
spent all her leisure hours--or rather moments, for hours were scarce
at Mrs. Penfold's--in the most assiduous attention to the beloved
invalid, and in imbibing those elements of good, those feelings and
principles of religion which were to be guides of all her future life,
and thus she became, before long, an enlightened, well informed, and
deeply pious Christian, not shrinking from the society of one who
excelled herself, but humbly and gratefully seeking, on all occasions,
her advice and instruction, while both had their hearts filled with a
fervent desire, steadily and consistently to pursue their own best
interests, and an anxious wish also to succor and benefit others, in
all the troubles and sorrows of life, though Marion was apt to feel
like the poet,--

    Ready to aid all beings, I would go
    The world around to succor human woe,
    Yet am so largely happy, that it seems,
    There are no woes, and sorrows are but dreams.

Marion's health and spirits were refreshed and invigorated by frequent
excursions to visit Sir Arthur, who endeared himself to his eager
young auditors, Henry and Marion, by expatiating with all the
freshness of youth, to their wondering ears, on the times long past,
when holidays, romping, sight-seeing, birth-days, and festivals, were
still in fashion, but these were the days of his own boyhood, before
children were too wise and busy to have time for natural enjoyment.
The Admiral was thought, by Mrs. Penfold, a sad marplot, having
already, as she knew, done all in his power to dissuade Sir Patrick
from placing the "little fairy," as he called his favorite, in such a
tread-mill as her school-room, where he said the only knowledge to be
acquired was, that knowledge of the world which ruins the heart, and
where fascination was to be taught as one of the fine arts, but all
his representations, whether in jest or in earnest, were in vain. Sir
Patrick, being the guardian of both his sisters, had determined to
expend a considerable part of the provision bequeathed by their father
in training them up as carefully, for the course of fashionable life,
as he would have trained a promising race-horse which was expected to
win the St. Leger, confidently anticipating a short and brilliant
career of admiration and success, ending with a splendid trousseau, a
chariot and four, and a profusion of wedding favors.

Even the gay, frolicsome Caroline Smythe, many years older than
Marion, and the most seditious and unruly of pupils, became speedily
tamed down to mechanical obedience at school, where, losing her
naturally intense enjoyment of mere existence, she seemed at best
almost a habitual drudge in the usual routine of labor. There was a
mystery never apparently to be fathomed about this lively girl, which
excited the most intense curiosity among her companions, but though
she was gifted with an extraordinary degree of volubility, which
astonished and diverted the whole school, talking in a rapid and
irregular manner of all events, past, present, or to come, with a
brilliant confusion of drollery and humor, still she never dropped a
hint which threw the most transient light on her own situation and
affairs. No one knew whence she came or who she was, but though
defying all the powers of all the masters to render her accomplished,
yet Mrs. Penfold evidently treated her with extraordinary
consideration, and almost with respect.

Many were the restrictions and directions given respecting her to the
scholars and teachers, which seemed to them most unaccountable, and
several of which were voted by the juvenile community to be so
peculiarly barbarous and oppressive, that though the young lady
herself seemed neither surprised nor annoyed by the rigid watchfulness
exercised over all her motions, it excited among her companions an
indignant pity, and a keen spirit of partizanship. She was never on
any occasion known to walk with the governesses and the other girls
beyond the narrow limits of the high garden walls, and on Sundays,
instead of attending the parish church, it was observed that one of
the teachers invariably remained at home to read prayers with her. No
general invitations sent for all the pupils by the friends of other
girls, were ever accepted for Caroline, who had special permission to
visit with Marion at Sir Arthur Dunbar's, but at no other house in the
visible world.

She never spoke of home,--received no letters, and once only had a
visitor, an object of keen and eager scrutiny to the little gossiping
community of Dartmore House, who discovered nothing more, however,
than that Caroline's aunt, Mrs. Smythe, was a gay, fantastic-looking,
showily-dressed little woman of no certain age, for whom her niece
seemed to care very little, as the whole flood of her affections was
concentrated on her companions at school. Money she had in the most
lavish abundance, while she squandered it with a degree of reckless,
and almost contemptuous profusion, perfectly startling to those who
scarcely received as much in a year as she seemed able to spend in a
day on presents for those she loved, which was the chief use to which
her large funds were devoted.

Marion, the companion and pet of her two elder companions, Clara and
Caroline, tried with all her powers to extend her affection also to
Mrs. Penfold, but her feelings found nothing to feed upon in the cold,
formal, rigid manner, and stern upright appearance of the
schoolmistress, who repelled all intercourse with her pupils,
considering them necessary grievances to be endured in her house, as a
source of existence to herself, but not of pleasure. Towards these
little slaves of education, driven from task to task with ceaseless
pertinacity, no confidence was shown, and between them conversation
became systematically discouraged. A governess was appointed to sleep
in each room to secure silence among the pupils, few of whom had that
glow of heart and imagination peculiar to Marion, and it was
fortunate, perhaps, that her large stock of sympathy was not more
frequently in requisition, as the most astounding confidences were
sometimes imparted to her wondering ears.

One young lady, in a high fever of romance, described to Marion at
great length, in the strictest confidence, an elopement which took
place from the school where she had last been educated, on which
occasion the young narrator had accompanied the bride part of her way,
and returned home without detection, by climbing in at an open window.
Another of the pupils asked if she did not think Monsieur D'Ambereau,
the Italian master, wore singularly handsome mustachios, adding that
it was a very common custom now for noblemen to go about in disguise,
teaching at boarding-schools, in order to see the young ladies; and a
third of Marion's young friends pointed out to her notice that many a
ringlet appeared to be more carefully curled than usual, and many a
dress to be put on with unwonted solicitude, when Monsieur Frescati,
the singing-master, was expected.

Girls in a boarding school are as unnaturally situated as nuns in a
convent, where the feelings and emotions, being checked in their
spontaneous course, are thrust into channels for which they never were
originally intended. Marion had a sufficient object in view, every
time she entered a room, from the desire she felt to please all with
whom she associated, which gave a vent to the warmth of her affections
in seeking the reciprocal attachment of her companions; but many of
the other pupils, shut out from nature with her sunshine and flowers,
her feelings and emotions, and wearied by a monotonous, uneventful
life of dictionaries and grammars, snatched at every legitimate or
illegitimate source of novelty or excitement, and their conversation
became as frivolous as a toy-shop, while the hopeless vacancy of their
thoughts obtained relief if even a blind fiddler or a hand-organ
appeared beneath their windows. It was an object of romantic interest
for the day, to most of the girls, if an officer in uniform passed
along the high-road within sight; an equestrian in plain clothes, if
tolerably mounted, furnished them with a subject of exclamations
during the following half-hour, and even the very Doctor, a mere
country pill-box, who prescribed for Mrs. Penfold's pupils, being
well-dressed, and not much above forty, would himself have been
astonished could he possibly have guessed the interest excited by his
visits, and the keen discussion that ensued after his exit, respecting
his slightly grey hair, and brilliant yellow gloves.

Each young lady at school had a large assortment of romantic stories
to relate, in a confidential under-tone, to her listening companions,
of lovers who had committed suicide, gone mad, or been, at the very
least, rendered miserable for life, in consequence of a disappointed
attachment; while the whole party impatiently anticipated the time,
not perhaps far distant, when their own turn would come to be
idolized, admired, courted, and finally married to some "perfect
love," with title, fortune, and establishment all pre-eminently
superlative. Pure as the swan that passes through the darkest and most
turbid stream, with plumage unsoiled, Marion's mind, in the meantime,
remained untainted by the atmosphere of evil and frivolity around her.
She caught at all that seemed good, avoided what was evil, and
rejected every thought that might injure the unsophisticated
excellence of her artless mind.

There arose, however, in time, one source of individual anxiety to
Marion, known only to herself and Mrs. Penfold; but it increased in
weight and urgency every year, throwing occasionally a shadow of care
over that bright young countenance, in general so beaming with joy,
though with true philosophy Marion tried often to forget what it had
proved impossible for her to remedy. Once a quarter, or at least
during every successive "half," the mortifying fact forced itself upon
her observation, that no bills were so irregularly paid as her own;
for while their amount rapidly accumulated, Sir Patrick's agent
forwarded annually the very smallest instalments, with a thousand
apologies, and many promises of a final satisfactory settlement at
some future period, which period never seemed any nearer; and Mrs.
Penfold often dryly remarked, in the hearing of Marion, that "short
accounts make long friends."

An appeal to Sir Arthur for his interference often occasionally
suggested itself to the mind of Marion; but she knew that his
influence was less than nothing, and she greatly feared lest his
vehement partiality to herself might lead him to overlook the very
limited nature of his income, and to volunteer some generous
sacrifice, such as she would rather suffer any privations than
occasion. The pension and half-pay of Sir Arthur very barely sufficed,
she knew, to defray his extensive charities, and to furnish sometimes
the hospitable table, and the bottle of first-rate claret, round which
it was his delight to gather a frequent circle of old brother
admirals; but his purse was little calculated to stand the shock of
such a draft as Sir Patrick would unhesitatingly have drawn upon it,
had the idea occurred to him that Sir Arthur might perhaps be induced
to take Marion's school bills upon himself.

In no instance was it more obvious than in that of Sir Patrick Dunbar,
how precisely in society men are generally estimated at their own
valuation. He was, like his sisters, pre-eminently handsome, while the
hauteur of his demeanor, bordering on a sort of well-bred contempt for
others, rendered his slightest notice an event of considerable
magnitude even to many whom the world might have deemed his superiors
in rank, fortune, and talents. There were a few exclusives, however,
among his own exclusive set, whom he admitted to the most unbounded
familiarity and good fellowship, inviting them to entertainments,
given much more as an ostentatious display of wealth and taste, than
from any feeling that might be dignified with the name of friendship;
and thus, by a reckless and unbounded profusion in dress, equipage,
and hospitality, unchecked by one sentiment of justice or of prudence,
the young Baronet obtained universal celebrity for his generosity and
good humor,--anecdotes of which were circulated with delighted
approbation in every house.

He was known to have tossed a sovereign one day to an old woman at a
cottage door, for merely reaching him a glass of water; he paid the
post-boys double always when travelling; he gave ten pounds at a
ladies' bazaar, for a paper card-case, which he presented the next
moment to Clara Granville; and he sent Marion a magnificent rosewood
box, filled with crystal perfume bottles, and gold tops, which cost
twenty pounds, when at that very time she had scarcely a frock to put
on, and was in agonies of vexation under an unpaid shoemaker's bill.

Sir Patrick's grooms and footmen always roundly estimated his income
at £20,000 a year; and his rent-roll certainly exceeded that of all
the parents united who paid Mrs. Penfold regularly for cramming their
children's understandings; but while Sir Patrick made it a matter of
accurate calculation to train Marion with skill and sagacity in the
way most likely to take her speedily off his hands, yet it was no part
of his calculation to pay for anything in money if he could do so in
words; and while he rattled off whole estates in a dice-box, and raced
himself into difficulties, entering horses for every cup, and dogs for
every coursing-match, he privately resolved that Marion and her
embarrassments should always remain both out of sight and out of mind.

Mrs. Penfold's grave and dry expression of countenance became graver
and drier every time she contemplated the rapidly-increasing amount of
Marion's bill, while she urgently impressed on her pupil's mind the
absolute necessity of entreating more zealously than ever for the
speedy payment of such very old scores.

Observing Sir Patrick so exceedingly profuse in his expenditure,
however, Mrs. Penfold believed there could be no cause to apprehend
any defalcation at last, being convinced that he might at any time
defray her demands with ease, though the only thing he never found it
convenient to command was ready money; and Marion soon discovered that
it made him frantic with ill-humor to be asked for any. Of this
peculiarity she had once an early instance, never afterwards to be
forgotten. Having received from Sir Arthur, on her fifteenth
birth-day, the first five sovereigns which it had ever been her good
fortune to possess, she accidentally heard Sir Arthur laughingly
complain during her mid-summer holidays at home, to Mr. De Crespigny,
that he had arrived at the bank that morning too late to present a
draft for money, and having given his last shilling to a beggar, he
was, according to his own expression, "completely cleaned out," not
having enough even to pay for being admitted to the exhibition of
pictures, and actually put to some temporary inconvenience by his
penniless condition for that day.

In all the pride of exhaustless wealth, Marion soon after stole up to
her brother's side, and displayed her glittering treasure; but afraid
to be suspected of conferring a favor, with intuitive delicacy she
asked Sir Patrick to take charge of it until the following Saturday,
that she might consider what to purchase on that day. Scarcely
conscious of what she said or did, the young Baronet mechanically
dropped the sovereigns into his pocket, where sovereigns in general
had a very short reign, and soon after sauntered away to the club.

Day after day elapsed, week after week, and every time Sir Patrick
entered the room, or drew out his pocket handkerchief, Marion thought
she was on the eve of being paid; but at length her holidays came to a
close, and still not a syllable transpired respecting her funds.
Rendered desperate at last by anxiety to re-enter school, laden with
presents to her favorite companions, Marion, who valued money only as
a means of being kind to others, ventured one day, with glowing
cheeks, and faltering voice, to remind Sir Patrick, for the first
time, of their little pecuniary transactions, which was so very
trifling that he had probably forgotten it.

"You tiresome little dear! am I never to hear the last of those
sovereigns!" exclaimed he angrily, throwing down his newspaper. "You
deserve not to be paid till Christmas! But here they are! No! I have
no change, I see, at present. Well! I shall remember it some other
time!"

That "other time" never came, however, and Marion returned penniless
to school, sympathizing more fully than she had ever done before, in
Mrs. Penfold's lamentations respecting Sir Patrick's carelessness
about money,--a subject which supplied that lady with a ready-made
excuse, whenever she was out of humor at any rate, for venting it all
on her unoffending pupil, whose sensitive heart became so imbued at
last with vexation and anxiety, that on attaining the age of sixteen,
she ventured to pen an earnest appeal to Sir Patrick, begging with all
the eloquence of natural feeling, that if the expenses of her
education were inconvenient, she might return home, where she would
willingly shew all the benefit derived from the advantages he had
already afforded her, by continuing her studies alone, and by devoting
herself entirely to his comfort, amusement, and happiness.

This letter, which cost Marion agonies of thought, and a shower of
tears, received no answer whatever; and with a sigh of unwonted
depression, she dismissed the subject from her thoughts, and trying to
hope the best, quietly resumed the course of her occupations,
comforted by the consolatory reflection, that in two years she would
have nothing more to learn--the whole range of human acquirement being
supposed to attain its completion by each of Mrs. Penfold's pupils at
the age of eighteen.

Clara Granville, and Caroline Smythe, having attained the highest acme
of perfection under the finishing hand of Mrs. Penfold, were about to
be emancipated in a few months from the thralldom of school, and to
astonish society by their brilliant acquirements; respecting the most
advantageous mode of displaying which, great pains had been taken to
instruct them, though the inclination seemed wanting in both girls,
being already surfeited with admiration and panegyric among their
masters and governesses, who vied with each other in praising their
two most advanced pupils, by whose influence they hoped hereafter to
obtain recommendations and employment.

Marion had strolled one evening with Caroline, farther than Miss
Smythe had ever been known to venture before; and the two young
friends were seated in an arbor at the extreme verge of the bounds
prescribed by Mrs. Penfold, in earnest conversation, while watching
with delight the declining sun, which superbly illuminated a heavy
mass of clouds in the western horizon. Time flew on, and darkness
nearly closed around them while they discussed with lively, careless
humor, all the petty annoyances of their daily life, and compared the
little hopes and fears they entertained for the future. As the hour
became later, Marion felt that the high exhilarating key in which
Caroline spoke, and her gay, well-rung-out laugh, made her almost
nervous in the obscure and solitary retreat to which they had
withdrawn; but ashamed of her own timidity, she determined to conquer
or conceal it.

Marion was flattered when a companion like Caroline, some years older
than herself, thus treated her with familiarity; though certainly,
neither on this occasion, nor on any other, was it with confidence, as
no living being seemed entirely in the confidence of Miss Smythe, who,
while she appeared gayly and heedlessly to rattle on in conversation,
yet kept a cautious silence respecting all that concerned herself.

Many very reserved persons pass for being perfectly open, by means of
a frank, free manner, and by speaking in a confidential tone
concerning the most private affairs of those with whom they converse;
and this Caroline did to excess, asking Marion, with every appearance
of kindness, a hundred questions, which in her own case she either
could not, or would not have answered, and testifying the most
cordial, unfeigned interest in all that related to the prospects or
feelings of her companion, who never attempted to conceal a wish or a
thought, and often forgot that the trust was not mutual.

Caroline was talking eagerly with great animation, and telling Marion
that the only injury she never would forgive, was, if any of those she
loved had a sorrow that did not allow her to share with them; and
especially if they permitted themselves to suffer from any pecuniary
difficulties which it was within her power to relieve, when suddenly
Marion laid a hand on her arm, making a hurried signal for silence,
while she whispered in a low undertone,

"I have scarcely heard you for the last five minutes. Did you observe
that strange-looking man, very much muffled up, who scrambled several
minutes ago to the top of the garden-wall? He was staring wildly about
him for some time, then gliding noiselessly down, and has suddenly
disappeared?"

"Where? where?" whispered Caroline, grasping Marion's hand with a look
of wild alarm, and speaking in a low, hoarse tone of extreme terror.
"For your life, Marion, do not stir! Tell me which way he went! He
must not see us. O how on earth has he traced me out!"

"Who?" asked Marion, bewildered and terrified, when she beheld a
degree of frantic alarm depicted on the countenance of her companion,
which seemed almost unaccountable. "Dear Caroline! whom do you fear?"

"A madman!" replied Miss Smythe, in accents of mingled anger and
disgust. "He has haunted me for years! He threatens either to murder
or to marry me; and you may guess which I think the worst! He has even
adopted my name! Did you never hear, Marion, that he actually put his
marriage to me last year in the newspapers! He besets my
footsteps--besieges my dwelling-place, persecutes me with letters,
sends me his picture, follows me to church, throws stones at my
windows in the night, and frightens my very life out, yet the law
leaves me unprotected, because he commits no actual breach of the
peace. It was to avoid him that I begged my aunt to let me live here!
How did he discover my retreat?"

Caroline seemed to have lost all command of herself in the agony of
her fear, and poured out a flood of words in the rapid and subdued
accents of extreme terror, while she retreated into the darkest corner
of the arbor to screen herself from observation, hastily dragging
Marion along with her, and whispering an eager request, if they were
discovered, that she would endeavor herself to get off, and fly
towards the house for assistance. "Meantime I shall engage his
attention; but if he once sees me, all hope of escape on my part would
be vain, while the very endeavor might irritate him! Everything
depends on you, Marion! Be resolute, and lose not a moment, or you may
be too late."

In agonized suspense and apprehension the two friends remained during
several minutes, cowering behind the overhanging branches, and
scarcely venturing to breathe, while Caroline bent her head eagerly
forward to catch the slightest sound, and grasped Marion's arm almost
convulsively, as if to secure her being perfectly immovable; at
length, after some time, she heaved a deep sigh, expressive of relief,
and looked up, saying

"He is surely gone! he must be gone! I never eluded his eye
before!--his sight is almost supernatural; but he must be gone at
last! Let us hurry home!"

"Stop!" whispered Marion, in an under tone, "I heard a rustling close
behind us, among the leaves and branches. Some one certainly
approaches!"

"Fly, then, Marion! all is over, and I must face the danger!" said
Caroline, with sudden energy, while rising and drawing herself up to
her full height, with resolute countenance, though her limbs evidently
trembled beneath her, she walked towards the door, saying, in a loud,
commanding accent, to a tall man, much muffled up in a loose
great-coat, who had now appeared at the door, "Who goes there?
Ernest!!" added she, in tones of remonstrance. "How dare you enter my
presence again! How dare you intrude here!"

"Be true to yourself and me!" replied the stranger, in a voice which
sounded harsh and excited, while the deep, full tones appeared to
Marion as if she had heard them before; but the darkness prevented her
from seeing him distinctly, even if his dress had not been sufficient
to disguise him from the most penetrating eye. "Say what you will, I
know you are glad to meet me," added he, in accents of increasing
wildness. "All that you do is dictated by others; but Caroline, in her
secret heart, loves me! I know that! By your looks, by your voice, by
your manner, it was revealed to me years ago! Yes, you love me, and
cannot deny it! Speak but the word, and we may both be happy,--happier
than the wildest dreams of fancy! No impediment can prevent it! Let
your aunt conceal you where she will, she cannot hide you from me. In
the farthest corner of the earth--in the deepest dungeon that was ever
dug, I shall find you out, and still free you from persecution. She
may do her worst, but love laughs at locksmiths, and I can still
enable you to elude her vigilance. I come now prepared, if you will
but consent to fly with me!--now,--this moment. If not,----"

The madman's voice, which had been loud and vehement, here dropped
into a low, stern, inaudible murmur, and his hand plunged into the
breast of his coat, seemed as if it grasped some weapon there, while
Marion, taking advantage of his pre-occupied attention, darted off
with the speed of thought, and almost as noiselessly fled towards the
house. A loud, angry cry to stop her, mingled with curses and
imprecations, from the madman, while he waved his singularly long arms
menacingly above his head, only accelerated her pace, while he
followed some steps in pursuit; but terror gave wings to her feet, and
rushing into the entrance-hall, she instantly rang the large dinner
bell, and raised an alarm, which assembled the whole household, all of
whom gazed with looks of panic-struck astonishment at Marion's pale
and ghastly countenance.

Not a moment required to be lost in explanation, for Mrs. Penfold
seemed at once to guess the whole nature and extent of Caroline's
danger, the instant her name was mentioned; therefore Marion had but
to point out the direction in which she might be found, when Mrs.
Penfold hastened forward, preceded by several of the more active
servants.

When Marion had rapidly executed some orders committed to her she
quickly returned towards the arbor, but not a trace remained there of
any one. The little table had been upset, several branches torn down
that surrounded the entrance, and the grass beneath was much trampled
and disfigured; but all was silent and deserted. After one hurried
glance of alarm and perplexity, Marion hastened forward to the garden
gate, which she found had been violently burst open, and on emerging
into the high road beyond, she there found Mrs. Penfold and her
servants all crowding round Caroline, who remained in a dead faint on
the ground for nearly half an hour.

A carriage was rapidly disappearing at full speed in the distance, but
already almost too far off to be distinguished; and Marion perceived
the figure of a man lurking behind the hedge close beside her; but
when she made it evident that he was observed, he rushed close up to
her side, saying, in a threatening tone, between his clenched teeth,
"You have provoked a madman!"

Scarcely had Marion time to utter an exclamation of sudden affright,
before he sprung over the hedge, and was seen running across the
neighboring fields, until his figure mingled with the surrounding
gloom, and vanished out of sight.

Mrs. Penfold's chief care, after Caroline's recovery from her alarming
swoon, was earnestly to enjoin that the circumstances of this
adventure should never be mentioned, or so much as remembered by those
who had witnessed them; a story so extraordinary and alarming, being
likely to injure her establishment, besides causing much unnecessary
gossip among the younger pupils; but had Marion ever been disposed to
consign, as desired, the whole adventure to oblivion, she could not
but be continually reminded of it for several weeks afterwards, by the
startled and agitated manner of Caroline, whose frolicsome spirits had
entirely deserted her, while she seemed for some time to be in
imminent danger of a nervous fever. If any one appeared suddenly in
the room, she almost screamed with the start it occasioned her; she
could not bear for a moment to be left alone, and seemed as if
continually listening, even when safe in the house, for the sound of
steps in pursuit of her. Gradually, however, her mind became more
composed, and she ventured one day to take a stroll with Marion in
some of the nearer parts of the garden, though even there she scarcely
spoke above her breath, and turning hastily round several times, as if
apprehensive that some one approached.

Had the far-famed Upas tree grown over the arbor, Caroline could
scarcely have shunned more fearfully the slightest approach in that
direction, and with equal care did she avoid any allusion to what had
occurred there, not a hint of which ever transpired in her most
confidential moments. The very sound of her own feet on the gravel
seemed to startle her, and as she walked beneath the shade of some
tall forest trees which overhung the garden-wall, Marion observed that
Caroline trod more cautiously; and though she dropped not a word
respecting her feelings or fears, it was evident that her nerves were
strung to an agony of sensitiveness, for the fluttering of a bird in
the hedge, or the fall of a leaf, made her start, and she seemed about
at last to give up the point in despair, and hurry homewards, when
suddenly a loud shrill whistle arose amidst the branches of an
ash-tree, almost directly over their heads, and before Marion had time
to look round, a small packet had dropped at the feet of Caroline.

With a half-suppressed cry of alarm, the terrified girl fled, while
Marion, scarcely less frightened, instinctively picked up the parcel,
and followed, while again she was pursued by a volley of oaths and
imprecations, which ended in a laugh so wild, so maniacal, and so
fearful, that for months afterwards it rung in her ears, causing her a
shudder of horror and alarm.

When Mrs. Penfold tore open an innumerable multitude of seals which
closed the packet addressed to Caroline, she discovered within only a
long incoherent letter of several sheets, filled with the most
extravagant professions of ardent love, and the most vehement
declarations, that nothing on earth could impede or discourage him in
his resolution to carry her off, which he seemed still persuaded, with
the self-delusion peculiar to madness, must be a welcome assurance to
Caroline, whose words and actions he perseveringly attributed to the
arbitrary influence of others. Accompanying this farrago of most
intolerable nonsense, was a black shade in a wooden frame,
representing the profile of a young man, certainly handsome, and which
seemed to Marion like features she had known elsewhere, but being
frequently addicted to observing resemblances, she felt at once
persuaded that this must be some such vague and unaccountable likeness
as she had frequently found or fancied before.

Time wore on, and still Caroline lingered at school, unwilling
apparently to forsake the comparative quietness of Mrs. Penfold's,
where, though her age exceeded by some years that of the other pupils,
and though her cotemporary Clara had been already introduced into
society, she still seemed anxious to forget herself and her affairs in
the multitude of her masters and studies, so completely was she
engrossed by which, that she evidently grudged every moment and every
thought which interrupted her progress. At length, on the evening
previous to that fixed on for her final departure from school, when
Mrs. Smythe was expected to convey her home, Mrs. Penfold was
bestowing on Caroline some of her last advice, of the most approved
mode of "getting on" in society, and especially on the manners and
conversation most attractive to gentlemen, when a note was brought
into the room, which had arrived by express, bringing the melancholy
intelligence that Mrs. Smythe's carriage had been upset a few miles
off, causing so severe a blow on the head, that a concussion of the
brain had taken place, and she continued insensible, at a village some
miles off, where little hope remained of her recovery. The Doctor who
wrote these hurried particulars had obligingly sent his own carriage
and servant to accompany Miss Smythe to the spot, that she might take
a last leave of her dying relative, and he recommended that she should
not lose an instant, or it might be too late to find the sufferer in
life.

Struck with grief and consternation by this most unexpected and
calamitous intelligence, Caroline, though she had never before seemed
much to love her aunt, yet now became overwhelmed with the shock, and
lost not an instant in hastily preparing to obey the melancholy
summons, by throwing on her coat and bonnet, while she rushed into the
arms of Marion, and burst into an agony of tears in bidding her
farewell.

The French governess who had been summoned to escort Caroline in the
carriage, was one of those nervous persons, who became perfectly
frantic when hurried, and she flew about the room, uttering a volley
of incoherent exclamations, expressive of her wonder and perplexity at
so sudden a call on her activity, while her preparations seemed to
make no visible progress. There is a secret, mysterious pleasure in
being waited for, which every living mortal seems to enjoy when they
have the opportunity; and without a thought of Caroline's impatience,
her anxiety, and her sorrow, Madame D'Aubert expressed the most eager
and vehement solicitude about her own dress, and a resolution not to
stir till equipped to her entire satisfaction, for so rare and almost
unprecedented an event, as leaving the boundaries of Dartmore House.

Every thing that has a limit, however, must come to an end, and Madame
D'Aubert's toilette being at last completed she leisurely advanced,
talking to herself and to everybody else, arranging her shawl, and
giving a last finish to the contour of her bonnet, before she threw
herself with dignified deliberation into the chariot.

Marion had affectionately insisted on conveying her weeping friend to
the carriage, while, with all the little arts of affection, she tried
to console and encourage her, till at length they exchanged a final
embrace, and parted. Scarcely, however, had Miss Smythe placed her
foot upon the steps, while the man-servant who accompanied the
carriage carefully assisted her in, before Marion suddenly sprung
forward with an exclamation of terror, seized hold of Caroline's
dress, and before she could speak, dragged her forcibly into the
house, exclaiming in accents almost inarticulate from alarm,

"Come back, Caroline! come back! This is some mistake! some dreadful
trick! Caroline! dear Caroline! come back! That servant wears the very
dress of the person who attacked you in the garden! I cannot see his
face, but I am certain it is he!"

Before Marion could finish her sentence, the supposed servant had
violently seized Miss Smythe by the arms, and was about forcibly to
drag her towards the carriage, when the loud cries of Marion brought
assistance. The almost fainting girl was rescued, and the post-chaise
secured; but not a trace could be seen of the madman, who instantly
vanished; and the post-boy could give no intelligence respecting him,
except that he had been ordered out at an inn close by, in urgent
haste, that evening, with a promise of double payment if he implicitly
obeyed the gentleman, who seemed highly irritable, and swore at him in
a most fearful manner, if he made the slightest delay, or so much as
asked a direction which way to turn.

The most diligent search was made, but made in vain, by the officers
of police, to find out the lunatic's retreat, which eluded their
utmost research; and as Caroline Smythe was privately removed soon
afterwards from school, where the subject was forbidden ever to be
mentioned, the whole story seemed almost buried in oblivion, and
Marion herself felt at last as if the entire adventure had been an
agitating dream, remembered by no one but herself.



CHAPTER VII.


Marion's sister, Agnes, five years older than herself, after being
distinguished as the best musician, best sketcher, best linguist, best
everything, at Mrs. Penfold's, had left school with no real knowledge,
except of the most frivolous kind, accidentally gathered in
conversation, and repeated again in society like a parrot. Formed to
excite the most rapturous admiration, by the gorgeous magnificence of
her almost regal beauty, art had acted the part of the Fairy Bountiful
in forming Agnes, while nature had showered her choicest gifts on
Marion.

Agnes was brilliant without being interesting, and dazzling without
being attractive, for her mind seemed irremediably and incorrigibly
vulgar, selfish, and vain. A good actress, an inimitable mimic, and
incomparable in a tableau, she assumed generally a queen-like dignity
of manner, "stalking through life," as Sir Arthur said, "with an
assured and stately step, as if practising for her appearance as a
Duchess at the next coronation."

Admiration seemed to Agnes the only pleasure of life, and amusement
its only business; while, if ever she had possessed any sensibility,
it was frittered away on the fictitious sorrows of the Adelines and
Julias in the volumes which she read with surpassing diligence from a
circulating library; though, in all other respects, Agnes wasted her
time amidst such listless idleness, that she might have let her nails
grow, like those of a Chinese mandarin, to testify how literally she
did nothing.

No one, certainly, could excel Agnes in turning up her hands and eyes
at the faults of others; but those who trace nothing except evil in
their companions, have seldom much good in themselves. Marion found it
one of the most important and pleasing studies in the world, to
comprehend the character and temper of her friends and connexions,
besides her own, with a wish to render herself suitable to them, as
her mind, pliable without weakness, was bent on constantly yielding
her own wishes to those she loved; but this unobtrusive generosity was
only a subject of satirical remark to her sister, who could neither
understand nor believe in Marion's utter singleness of heart and
disinterestedness; her own sole aim being selfish indulgence, and her
sole rule to obtain it in the easiest possible way.

Self-love was the ruling passion of Agnes; love of others the
quickening principle, or rather impulse with Marion, who would have
zealously planted flowers for even strangers to enjoy; but Agnes would
have plucked all those of her friends, and scarcely taken the trouble
to rear any even for her own use. Agnes, cold, vain, heartless, and
self-sufficient, thought she was made only for this world, and this
world for her, and for such as herself, young, gay, rich, and lovely,
while all others were mere intruders on the creation. But Marion, on
the contrary, followed the dictates of her own heart, in wishing to do
good of every kind to every person, while still she had learned to aim
above nature, to that high standard of Christian perfection, so
exalted, that those who have gained the most elevated human attainment
in virtue and excellence, must still consider the structure of their
minds, however beautifully decorated with generous sympathies and kind
emotions, as being only begun, while they perseveringly aspire
upwards, even to the measurement of that Divine Being who left us an
example that we should follow his steps.

Agnes had now been, for three seasons, the reigning beauty of
Edinburgh! There it is the privilege of every tolerable-looking girl
to be considered in her own set pre-eminent, during the first winter
after she is introduced; but though the public eye usually grows weary
of the same features, however perfect, during a second campaign, Agnes
had apparently taken out a diploma of beauty, the reputation for which
seemed confirmed to others by her own thorough conviction of being
completely unrivalled, and by the exulting consciousness she displayed
of her own supreme loveliness. Three seasons of tumultuous joy,
triumph, and conquest, had already succeeded each other, during which
Agnes was, to use her own expression, "fiercely gay," yet still no
younger rival had appeared to eclipse the dazzling array of her
charms; and not a whisper was heard that the freshness of her
Raphael-like beauty was at all impaired; nor were any ladies ever
heard to "wonder" what gentlemen could possibly see to admire in Agnes
Dunbar, as not a dissenting voice had yet ventured to make itself
audible on that subject.

Agnes began life with that perfect confidence in her own knowledge of
the world, universally felt by young ladies under twenty, especially
when they have seen very little of it, and with a thousand schemes and
projects of perfect happiness. Though one after another her castles of
cards fell to the ground, still, in the exercise of persevering
energy, she rebuilt the edifice again with new materials, and on what
she imagined a better construction, but still in every instance, to
her own unutterable astonishment, she found that most unaccountably,
"hope told a flattering tale!"

Considering every officer she danced with as a hero, and every
gentleman who paid her a compliment as a lover, Agnes wasted her first
season, as most young ladies do, in flirting with scarlet uniforms,
the inhabitants of which were generally so much alike in ideas and
conversation, that if blindfolded, she might have found it difficult
or impossible to distinguish which of her countless red and gold
admirers happened at the moment to be "doing the agreeable."

All her military victims were dying to know what Agnes thought of their
brother officers; whether she intended to adorn the next ball by her
presence, or the next concert; how she liked their military band; if
she proposed patronising their night at the theatre; whether she
preferred a _galope_ fast or slow; how she thought the colonel's
daughter looked on horseback; whether she did not think it barbarously
tyrannical of the commander-in-chief to insist on their all wearing
uniforms; how she liked the new regulation jacket; and above all,
whether she thought the order for their wearing mustachios an
improvement or not!

To all these subjects, and many more of similar import, Agnes lent her
very profound attention, not only during the discussion, but in many a
solitary hour, while her whole head, heart, and understanding were
crowded with the recollection of epaulettes, mustachios, spurs, and
gold lace, and she privately believed that the supreme felicity of
earth,--all the most refined sensibilities of life, and all its
brightest joys, were to be found at Piershill Barracks.

Sir Patrick laughingly alleged that Agnes had rehearsed a set of
prepared conversations suited to every different occasion,--a musical
conversation for amateurs, full of crotchets and quavers--a hunting
conversation about foxes, dogs, and steeple-chases,--a Court of
Session conversation for the lawyers,--and a dragoon conversation,
discussing at great length whether officers should dance with spurs or
without them, and in which she had been known to enumerate correctly,
the facings of every regiment in Her Majesty's service.

Her brother often and loudly declared that nothing is more perfectly
hopeless, than for any young lady to expect a serious attachment from
an officer actually quartered with his regiment, as it was against all
rule, and contrary to all nature or custom, for Cupid to attack the
army. The mess-table, he assured her, invariably sets its face against
matrimony, and the mess-table conversation was an ordeal, through
which he protested that few young ladies could wish their names to
pass; but nevertheless, Agnes, full of groundless expectations and
lively vanity, continued to endure a succession of heart-rending and
unaccountable disappointments, from very promising military admirers,
who had stolen her bouquets, listened to her music, and drunk Sir
Patrick's claret month after month; but no sooner did marching
orders come for Dublin, Leeds, or Canada, than these interesting
affairs came to an untimely end with a P.P.C. card, or a sort of
never-expect-to-meet-again bow, and Agnes was left with the army-list
in her hand, wondering what regiment would come next, and whether
there were many unmarried officers in it.

"How amusing it is," said Agnes, in a confidential mood, one day to
Clara and Caroline, "when I walk about with Captain De Crespigny at
the promenades or balls, and see all the other beaux looking angry or
disappointed!"

"Nothing on earth is so charming, I suppose, as to be a beauty!"
exclaimed Caroline, with a good-humored sigh, and a look of comic
humility, "I would sacrifice ten years of my life to be admired for
one! To hear people saying, 'Have you seen the lovely Miss Smythe? Is
Miss Smythe to show herself at Lady Towercliffe's party?' and then,
like you, Agnes, to have all the beaux dying for me!"

"I would rather be married for any attraction in the world, than mere
beauty," said Clara, earnestly; "even money is a more tolerable
motive. How insufferable it would be to live with a person whose
affection depended on whether your hair were well dressed, or your
shoes well made!"

"That is the very thing I should like!" exclaimed Agnes, "to see it
considered of the greatest consequence whether I wore pink or blue,
and whether it were one of my well-looking days or not!"

"But then, Agnes, your well-looking days would occur seldomer and
seldomer, while during the very periods of illness and depression,
when attention and kindness are most needed, a fastidious husband
would feel injured if your complexion were not at its best," replied
Clara, laughing. "No! no! give me the happiness that will, as my
milliner says, 'wash and wear well!'--good fire-side domestic
comfort."

"Comfort! I hate comfort!" said Agnes, indignantly, "a stupid,
detestable word, as opposite to real happiness as night is to day! I
shall be satisfied with nothing short of felicity."

"But felicity can last only a day, while peace and comfort may be
enjoyed for life," replied Clara. "In talking of marriage, you seem to
think of nothing beyond the honey-moon, and to forget the hours, days,
and years of actual life that must follow!"

"It is absolute nonsense looking so far out to sea as you do, Clara,"
said Agnes, impatiently. "How I shall enjoy, next winter, perhaps,
chaperoning you both to parties if I can find any fascinating victim,
tall, thin, and handsome enough to please me."

"But surely you would not, for any consideration, marry yet!"
exclaimed Caroline. "Lady Towercliffe says that the holiday of a
girl's life is from the time she leaves school till the day she
marries, and you should enjoy ten years at least, Agnes, before you
are tempted to begin the cares of life."

"Cares!" exclaimed Agnes, with a contemptuous laugh, "I do not mean
ever to take any cares upon myself! but, as Captain De Crespigny very
sensibly observed yesterday, the husband worthy of me should be made
on purpose. In the first place, he must be rich, for I have a scruple
of conscience in ever witnessing a poor marriage, where, after the
wedding-cake has been eaten, there is nothing else left. In
everything,--even in the mere choice of a ribbon,--I am fastidious,
and would rather not have a thing at all, than dispense with getting
precisely what I like. My intended, then, must have been educated at
Eton, for I do think the ugliest bit of human nature on earth is a
Scotch school-boy of about fourteen. He must have such a foot! so
small! oh! no foot at all. He must employ Buckmaster the tailor, get
his shoes from Paris, and never wear the same gloves twice. He
must----"

"My dear Agnes! this should be all put into the contract!" said Clara,
laughing. "It perfectly ruins me to hear you talk so extravagantly;
and, besides, pray be warned in time of your own probable fate, that
the beauty of a family, or the beauty of a winter, is said always to
make a poor marriage. I never could understand the reason of that; but
Lady Towercliffe says, men are perverse beings, who like to criticise
and undervalue a professed beauty, while, in the mean time, they are
taken by surprise, and fall in love unexpectedly with some obscure
girl, whose charms they discover, or fancy for themselves, and whom,
probably, not another man living ever thought tolerable."

"For my part," said Caroline, "I shall wait till a person can be found
as handsome as Sir Patrick, as agreeable as you tell me Captain De
Crespigny is, as clever as Mr. Granville, as merry as young De
Lancey----"

"And as rich as Lord Doncaster!" interrupted Agnes.

"No! no!--, a hundred times no!" replied Caroline, coloring, speaking
in a singular tone of asperity, "I hate and abhor money as a
consideration in marrying! I wish money had never been invented! It
becomes a misery for those who have too much, as well as for those who
have too little."

"Well! give me money," said Agnes, laughing. "And let me tell you,
Caroline, that even if you have eight or ten thousand pounds, which is
probably the utmost, you will find it no great inconvenience during
the long run of life. Money has its merits, and I should be afraid to
marry any man, even the most romantic of my lovers, if it involved the
necessity for his sacrificing one of his usual comforts;--if it
obliged him to drink his bottle of sherry instead of claret every day,
I am not quite sure that he would never begin to grumble! They tell me
it should be considered a man does not wish himself twice every day
unmarried again. No, no money, is no bad thing, and if you have any to
spare, pray let me have the surplus."

"Who, and what are Mrs. and Miss Smythe?" was a frequent question of
Agnes to herself, never apparently to obtain a satisfactory answer. On
Caroline leaving school, her aunt had taken a villa at Portobello,
where the two English strangers excited extreme attention, more from
their evident desire to avoid it, than from any thing very remarkable
in their appearance or manner, though Mrs. Smythe was certainly of that
_genus_ old maid so common in England, with a handsome independence, a
suite of servants, a pony-carriage, most splendid dress, and some
pretensions still to youth and beauty, as any fragment of good looks
that yet remained she most liberally displayed; while her manner had a
flirting tone of coquetry most unsuitable to her apparent age, forming
a singular contrast to the quaker-like simplicity of Caroline's dress.

There was a singular contrast between the gravity of costume affected
by Miss Smythe, and the keen festivity of spirit with which she
entered into every scheme of amusement, or even, it might be said, of
mischief. Her vivacity was occasionally almost overpowering, her fancy
lively beyond example, while with her brilliant, yet interesting
animation, there was mingled a rare acuteness of mind, a swift
comprehension, and an innate passion for all that was amiable and
beautiful, which gave liveliness and vigor to what she said, though
the rapidity of her mind sometimes led Caroline to a false estimate of
persons and circumstances, as she always judged or acted from
instantaneous impulse; yet there was a generous frankness in her
disposition, which captivated those who knew her, and a graceful
simplicity in all she did, which gave it interest; for, without
intention, there was something in all her thoughts and actions
striking and peculiar.

Her features, though irregular, attracted and enchained the eye, from
the magical variety of their expression, and though an amateur of mere
beauty might have been surprised and perplexed to divine why her light
grey eyes, pale cheeks, and chestnut hair could beguile his attention
away from the more perfect contour of others, the amateur of
physiognomy was delighted to find there an ever-varying source of
interest in watching the bright emanations of thought, feeling, and
vivacity, which glittered or sparkled in her eye, or played about her
mouth.

When Mrs. Smythe first settled at Portobello, scarcely a week of
gossiping, wonder, and conjecture had elapsed, in the little community
around, when she requested to have an interview with Sir Arthur alone,
which took place immediately, and must have excited much interest in
his mind, as the Admiral remained silent and abstracted during the
whole subsequent evening, while he strolled slowly up and down the
drawing-room, "pacing the quarter-deck," as he called it, for a length
of time; and, after being closeted some hours the following day with
Mrs. Smythe and his confidential agent, they proceeded to a
magistrate's house together, with whom they requested a private
conference, the purport of which did not transpire.

From that day, an intimacy, amounting to friendship, was established
between Sir Arthur and the two ladies, who seemed on all occasions to
look to him for advice and protection, and in whose house they spent a
part of every day, to the unspeakable delight of Henry De Lancey, who
was charmed, on his return from college, to find so agreeable an
addition to the small circle at Seabeach Cottage.

"Years rush by us like the wind;" and how rapid seems the transition
from boyhood to mature years! Henry had early attained an
extraordinary development of mind and appearance, a strength of
intellect and a decision of purpose which seemed to Sir Arthur almost
precocious, while every day discovered some new talent, or enlarged
those he already possessed, for his mind seemed ever on the wing and
full of energy. "Either he is nobly born, or nature has a nobility of
her own," thought the Admiral, when viewing the character of his young
protege, as it gradually arose to personal and intellectual supremacy.
His mind was ardent, courageous, and deeply contemplative, full of
generous impulses, but apt to view all that happened to himself
through an exaggerated medium. His mysterious history, and the
fascination of his manner and appearance cast a spell over the
interest and affections of all who beheld his countenance, or heard
the sound of his harmonious voice. With a strikingly handsome person,
he had already acquired a decided air of fashion and refinement, while
a bright vein of almost chivalrous romance which enlivened his mind
was subdued by a poetical temperament, inclining him to dwell much on
melancholy musings, relating to the strange circumstances of his own
early history. Keenly sensitive to kindness or neglect, his love and
gratitude to Sir Arthur were without bounds, and his brotherly
affection for Marion was tinged with the natural enthusiasm of his
disposition, but before long the warmest and deepest feelings of his
nature were secretly concentrated on the gay, giddy, and fascinating
Caroline Smythe. Every scrap of paper that came in his way became
covered with sketches of her buoyant figure and graceful profile, in a
variety of animated attitudes; or, on other occasions, verses in Latin
or English, little better certainly than the nonsense verses at
school, immortalised her charms.

Young as he was, however, Henry's spirit recoiled already from the
danger of loving too well, or being beloved by any, when he was
taught, in hours of solitary reflection, to remember that principle
and honor must forbid him to seek a mutual attachment, while his name
and station remained unknown, and, perhaps, disgraceful. There was a
bewildering power in Caroline's society, which chained him to her side
wherever they met, while, contrary to his resolutions and wishes, his
every look, smile, word, and action became steeped in love. Often and
severely did he upbraid himself for this vain and dangerous
indulgence, but he seemed spell-bound and unable to remember, in her
presence, any thing but the delight of listening to her gay sallies
and her delicious laugh; though the mirth of her young eyes became
veiled often by a look of care as sudden as it was to him
unaccountable, being so foreign to the sparkling, almost mischievous
gaiety of her nature.

Henry's devoted, and nearly boyish attachment, raised in his heart
many a high aspiration after future distinction, many a bright hope of
honor, promotion, and usefulness. The model for his imitation in every
thing noble and distinguished was Sir Arthur, and he resolved to
sacrifice love itself, till he had attained, like him, a name and a
station for himself. The very sound of Sir Arthur's step, the very
tones of his voice, were dear to him; and, casting aside every softer
emotion connected with his romantic reveries respecting Caroline, he
became impatient to face the bitter blasts of the world's trials,
taking his beloved benefactor for his example, and the Holy Scriptures
as his guide.

"Perhaps," thought he, allowing his young mind to wander away from the
dull inexorable realities of life, while a rapturous smile of
anticipated joy lighted up his countenance. "Perhaps, when honor and
distinction have at last crowned my efforts, I may yet be acknowledged
in the face of the world, by those connexions who have now so
mysteriously cast me off. Perhaps Caroline herself may at last be
proud to return that fervent attachment, of which she has not yet even
a suspicion! The old proverb says, 'all men know what they are, but
none know what they shall be!' I know neither the one nor the other;
but I must not be satisfied with vaguely coveting learning, honor, or
usefulness hereafter, contemplating like a mere child the end without
the way, but seek them energetically. Nothing is impossible to those
who persevere! This may and must be a rough world of difficulty to me,
but amidst a thousand buffetings and humiliations to come, I feel an
undying hope of success, while even in this scene of hard and trying
discipline, my best comfort and encouragement shall ever be drawn from
the august truths of religion, in all their awfulness and solemn
obligations."

Knowledge is power, and knowledge of character is the greatest power
of all; but Henry, in general very penetrating, was perplexed by the
flirting, light-headed manner of Mrs. Smythe, whenever she was in the
society of gentlemen her own contemporaries in age, and the grave,
deferential manner she adopted towards her young companion, whom she
seemed to treat almost inadvertently as her superior, though the
slightest indication of her doing so usually brought the color of
Caroline in vivid flashes to her cheek, and caused an appearance of
mutual embarrassment between the aunt and niece, which surprised and
puzzled him. Their extraordinary munificence to the poor and public
charities also astonished him, as that appeared so widely
disproportioned to their visible means and usual expenditure, though
it seemed only to please without surprising Sir Arthur, who was
accustomed to give so liberally himself, that Henry sometimes feared
he encouraged his newly-found friends in a degree of lavish
extravagance inconsistent with the ordinary means of single ladies;
yet all was given with a graceful negligent indifference to the vulgar
subject of pounds, shillings, and pence, quite unprecedented.
Subscriptions to church extension, missionaries, schools, Bibles,
blankets, food, clothing, coals, money, and medicine, were scattered
around them with unsparing profusion, though it appeared to Henry,
that, in the case of Mrs. Smythe herself, whose name always appeared
ostensibly on the list as the larger contributor, there was less
alacrity in giving, than in Caroline, who seemed to be purse-bearer
for both, and always defrayed the whole amount.

Among the many things which surprised Henry in Mrs. and Miss Smythe,
nothing had that effect more than the keen, intense, and rather
satirical interest with which both ladies gathered up every particular
relating to the manners, flirtations and adventures of Captain De
Crespigny, though it was evident, that while both ladies could relate
every particular of his former history and character, neither knew him
by sight. Mrs. Smythe mentioned rather contemptuously some vague
recollections of him formerly, as a pert, awkward school-boy, while,
to Henry's increasing perplexity, the young lady's color visibly rose
to carnation whenever he was unexpectedly named, and her eyes usually
glittered with a suppressed smile, if any anecdote or description in
Sir Arthur's conversation related to him, till at length the curiosity
which had so long been evidently fermenting in the minds of Mrs. and
Miss Smythe, exploded one day in the form of an eager request, that
Sir Arthur would invite Captain De Crespigny to meet them at dinner.

Marion and Henry were amused at the laughing alacrity with which Sir
Arthur at once consented, and they observed, after the note was
despatched, that many a whispered consultation took place, and many a
lively jest passed among the lively trio, to which they were not made
a party; while the two ladies appeared evidently in extacies of
amusement at their anticipated introduction. Marion would have given
worlds to witness the scene; but her furlough from Mrs. Penfold's had
expired on the very day of Sir Arthur's party, and she was most
unwillingly deposited in a carriage with her baggage, at the moment
when Captain De Crespigny alighted, in full huzzar uniform, out of the
minibus which had conveyed him from Piershill.

The Admiral's party was exceedingly small and select; but the guests
appeared all in gay, buoyant spirits; while Captain De Crespigny,
seeing but one young lady in the room, looked upon himself as her
natural property, and handed her to dinner, though no formal
presentation had taken place.

With Caroline he was, before long, flirting to the top of his bent,
while she assumed a charming look of consciousness when he addressed
her, receiving the whole artillery of his small talk and civilities
with the most interesting expression of naivete, though once Henry
observed in her smile so odd a mixture of mirth and malice, while, at
the same time, a look of covert humor lurked in her eye, and quivered
on her lip, that he could not but wonder at the grave, demure look
which she affected.

Nothing was ever more enchanting to Captain De Crespigny than the
blushing, averted looks with which Caroline listened to all his
insinuated admiration; while now and then she nodded and smiled with
the prettiest air of incredulity imaginable, if he professed it more
openly. Occasionally, however, Captain De Crespigny was almost put
out of countenance by her unexpected replies, or very mal-apropos
questions, which gradually led him on, he scarcely knew how, into
flirting perfectly _a'loutrance_, while opportunities seemed purposely
afforded him with a degree of tact perfectly incredible in one so
young, and apparently unsophisticated, to say even more than he ever
said before. With a gay, laughing animation, almost amounting to
silliness, the young lady archly doubted his sincerity, admired his
wit, and slyly misunderstood all his compliments, till he was obliged
to repeat his meaning and explain his insinuations, making his
professions and speeches all so exceedingly plain and undisguised,
that, to his own astonishment, he found himself positively making love,
on a very few hours' acquaintance, with a degree of explicitness which
had never occurred to him in the whole course of his practice before.

In the evening, Caroline was, after many entreaties, prevailed on to
favor Captain De Crespigny with a song; and never had he been so
completely perplexed as by those with which the young lady, preserving
a look of most imperturbable gravity, proceeded to favor him. She
seemed to have a dozen different voices, and half-a-dozen different
styles of performance, but had evidently been well taught, and
displayed occasionally some beautiful notes. At first her tones were
clear and sharp, accompanied by the strangest flourishes and cadences
that Captain De Crespigny had ever heard or imagined. In the next
song, her voice was low and husky, while her eyes were most
sentimentally elevated to the ceiling, with a sort of St. Cecilia
expression, rather partaking, however, of the ludicrous, and in her
voice another like a mouse in a cupboard. At one time her tone
reminded him of a well-known singer at Vauxhall; at another, he felt
persuaded she was taking off Clara Novello; occasionally there was so
considerable a tinge of the brogue, that he became convinced she must
be Irish, and she ended by singing "The Dog's Meat Man," in a tone
out-screaming a peacock, but adopting the air and attitude of a
Catalani, and concluded with looking exultingly round in expectation
of rapturous applause, which Sir Arthur bestowed in abundance, and
Captain De Crespigny in comparative moderation, being, for the first
time in his life, at a loss to know whether he were treated on this
occasion in jest or in earnest.

Repeated subsequent visits at Seabeach Cottage continued the intimacy
which Captain De Crespigny had so oddly begun, and his curiosity
became more and more piqued by the singularity of Miss Smythe's manner
and conversation. She displayed, along with a most extravagant love of
amusement, a genius for satire and mimicry quite unprecedented, and in
which she most freely indulged. Many a scene was acted over by her,
and supported by Henry, with astonishing talent and vivacity; for both
seemed to have a similar propensity, being able, after an hour's
intercourse with any individual, to imitate his whole peculiarities
with almost magical precision--to follow, in an imaginary
conversation, the very train of his ideas, and to represent every
little trick or habitual expression, every turn of the head, and every
tone of the voice, with a gay look of mockery which would have made
their fortunes on the stage.

One evening, Sir Arthur having delivered up to his young friends the
key of an old chest, filled with velvet coats and brocaded silk
dresses, formerly worn by his bye-gone ancestors, Caroline, Henry, and
Captain De Crespigny amused themselves by grouping some beautiful
tableaux, and by acting charades. At one time, both the gentlemen
appeared in similar costumes, as Shakespeare's two Dominos in the
Comedy of Errors, when Sir Arthur suddenly exclaimed, as if he had
made some great discovery, "How very strange that I never before
observed the likeness between you two good-looking young fellows! I
declare it is quite remarkable! If you were brothers in reality as
well as in pretence, it could scarcely be more striking! Do pray
Captain De Crespigny, turn your profile more towards Mrs. Smythe, that
she may see what I mean!"

Henry laughingly received these remarks as an undoubted compliment,
and bowed with good-humored grace to Sir Arthur, who observed with
astonishment that Captain De Crespigny's color rushed to his very
temples, and receded again, leaving his countenance pale and almost
ghastly, while he suddenly broke off the entertainment, and strode up
to the fire-place, where for some minutes he stood, with his back to
the company, in evident agitation, while a dead silence ensued.

"Well!" whispered Sir Arthur to Caroline, "I have often been told that
people are never pleased with a likeness, but certainly Louis De
Crespigny is the most conceited of men to feel so intolerably angry at
being compared to my young friend here. There are certainly
worse-looking people in the world than Henry!" added the Admiral, with
a look of partial affection. "And it was no such insult as De
Crespigny seems to think, when I paid him the compliment, to say that
he resembled my boy, who is in every respect the pride of my heart."

"I wish the Captain may never meet with a greater mortification,"
replied Caroline, laughing; "and I am sure he would be much the better
of a few pretty severe ones to keep him in his senses!"

Henry meantime had observed with good-humored surprise, and no small
degree of perplexity, the excitement, so disproportioned to the
occasion, into which Captain De Crespigny had been thrown by Sir
Arthur's remark, but with boyish frankness he instantly went up to
him, saying, in a lively and rallying tone,

"I am sure Sir Arthur did not mean anything personal, Captain De
Crespigny; but his remark only proves my uncommon skill in assuming a
likeness to any one I please. My success in disguising myself at
college, was often beyond my intentions or utmost hopes. You would not
know me yourself, if I represented an old man, or a French
hair-dresser, as I have sometimes done!"

"Indeed!" replied Captain De Crespigny, trying to recover himself, "I
should think there was not the dress upon earth in which I would not
know you again!"

"Well! some day perhaps, as a beggar, I may, with your leave, beguile
you of half-a-crown."

"It would be a clever beggar who succeeded in that! but I defy you
there. Half-a-crown! why! I have only as much as that to keep me till
midsummer! You have my free leave to try me at any time, or in any way
you please, and my pardon for all your success!"

"I can only say," interposed Sir Arthur, "that the impudent rascal
brought real tears into my eyes, not long ago, by a story he trumped
up at my door, which would have deceived the whole Medicity Society.
He can make himself appear as old as myself,--and I declare one day he
looked not very unlike your uncle, Lord Doncaster!"

A vivid flush passed over the whole forehead and features of Captain
De Crespigny at these words; but assuming a sudden tone of liveliness
and vivacity, he summoned Henry to continue their entertainments for
the evening, which were to be concluded by acting a proverb of which
Sir Arthur and his guests were to discover the design. Miss Smythe,
dressed in cottage costume, seated herself pensively on a stool, after
which Captain De Crespigny, equipped with a bow in his hand, and
carrying on his back a quiver filled with all the old pens in the
house, to represent arrows, entered in the character of Love, and was
about to aim his darts at the peasant girl, when Henry, disguised in a
tattered old cloak, to personate Poverty, limped slowly into the room.
On seeing this beggarly apparition, Cupid, pushing his hair up till it
stood on end, assumed an expression of comic horror, and with a shriek
of dismay, rushed to the window, as if about to jump out.

The whole party laughed heartily, and declared that the _denouement_ of
this piece contained a most salutary lesson against a mere love-match;
and Sir Arthur said, for his own part he would attend to the
warning,--that all portionless young ladies might consider the case
hopeless with him, and he trusted every one present intended to be
equally prudent!

"Yes! most assuredly!" exclaimed Captain De Crespigny, "I am almost
tempted how to take my uncle's advice, and propose to my cousin, Miss
Howard, the heiress, though love flies out of the window whenever I
think of her. She was a little, pert, red-fingered, flaxen-haired
child, when we parted last! The memory of that girl often haunts me
like a night-mare since; for my poor mother, on her death-bed, got a
promise made about our being married, or something of that kind. I
never heard the particulars; but I believe we were to be made
acquainted, and refuse one another, before either of us could accept
any one else; but I should think there could be little chance of
anything that depended on my being refused."

Captain De Crespigny was bowing himself off late in the evening, and
taking a very particular leave of Miss Smythe, having called up all
his most fascinating graces for the occasion, while he felt inwardly
gratified by the pleasing conviction that another had been added to
the list of young ladies whom he had made miserable for life, when he
was surprised to observe her mouth perfectly quivering with suppressed
laughter, and an arch, satirical gleam in her eye for which he could
not account, though it made him feel somewhat uncomfortable and
dissatisfied. If it were possible that any one could be laughing at
him, she certainly was! A world of most intolerable ridicule appeared
in her expression--an air almost of contempt! and he turned to leave
the room with a feeling of mortification and anger which he was
ashamed to allow even to himself.

When Captain De Crespigny hurriedly opened the drawing-room door, near
which he and Caroline had been standing, he was surprised to see a
person lurking close behind it, who darted instantly away, and
disappeared; but before the intruder was out of sight, an exclamation
of terror and dismay escaped from the lips of Caroline, who rushed
towards Sir Arthur, exclaiming, in accents of almost frantic alarm,
"He is there! he is there! Oh! save me, Sir Arthur! he is there! That
horrid, dreadful man! he is there! Stop him! stop him!"

Captain De Crespigny instinctively ran in pursuit of the retreating
figure, and eagerly attempted to seize him; but the fugitive
instantaneously opened the house door, and escaped in the darkness,
while, apparently to intimidate his pursuer, he fired a pistol in the
air, and waved another above his head with frantic gestures of rage
and violence.

"It is beyond all measure extraordinary how he got into the house!"
exclaimed Sir Arthur, in discussing the event with an aspect of grave
perplexity. "My doors are most systematically locked after dusk, and
not a window is unbarred, yet the locks are unbroken and the bars
untouched!"

"There is something next to supernatural in the way he invariably
finds us out, and gets access everywhere," said Mrs. Smythe, in almost
breathless agitation. "One would imagine he had some unearthly
accomplice to discover where we are concealed, and to assist him in
escaping the vigilance of the police. Night and day we have been
liable to his incursions. In town or country--in the drawing-room, or
beside our carriage--in church, or going to a party--there he is,
lurking secretly near us, or terrifying Caroline by his sudden
disappearance, and gliding away like a shadow. He baffles every
attempt to overtake or arrest him, but seems for ever on the watch!
Sometimes he used to make his presence known by throwing a stone at
our windows; often at midnight, by singing hoarsely beneath them, and
even occasionally by firing a pistol in the air; but I did hope in
this remote corner we might have enjoyed peace and safety. How are we
ever to venture home?"

"I shall escort you with the whole party in close phalanx," replied
Sir Arthur, trying to assume a rallying tone. "Old Martin and myself
are quite invulnerable, and I only wish my secretary were here also,
as he would be a host in himself; but he is absent on a month's leave,
and for the first time in my life I miss him."

The night being impenetrably dark, and not a sound to be heard but the
echo of their footsteps on the gravel, when Mrs. Smythe alighted from
the carriage to walk across the garden leading towards her house. Sir
Arthur immediately desired the servants to bring out lights, when one
of the candles having flared up suddenly near Caroline, she thought
she perceived the madman close beside her, lurking behind the stem of
a large tree. The dark shadows concealed all but his face, in which
there gleamed a look of maniacal triumph and malignity, while rushing
close up to Captain De Crespigny, he said, in a threatening tone, low
and distinct, "He who crosses my path shall die!" and instantly
disappeared through the hedge. When Miss Smythe, on hearing his voice,
with a stifled scream of terror fled into the house, again that loud
and fiendish laugh, which she had already heard once, arose behind
her, and rung through the night air in tones of high delirium, causing
a cold shudder to thrill through the hearts of even the boldest among
her companions, while they hastily followed her, and having placed the
trembling girl in apparent safety, soon after took leave, charging the
servants to chain and double-lock the door.

It was some hours before Caroline could sufficiently compose her mind
to retire; but after the house was sufficiently quiet, and the
servants in bed, she sat up reading, with the hope that her nerves
might become less painfully agitated. The slightest noise caused her
heart to beat almost audibly, and she was conscious that a mouse
rattling in the wainscot would have caused her to faint. Mrs. Smythe
could scarcely be prevailed upon to leave her alone; but as they both
slept on the drawing-room floor, only divided by a thin partition,
Caroline induced her, at a late hour, to withdraw, while not a sound
now disturbed the deep repose of nature, but "the wailing sorrows of
some midnight bird."

The moon had arisen, shining with softened radiance into her
apartment, when Miss Smythe arose from her devotions, and she could
not but think at the moment what a bright emblem of her divine Saviour
that glorious luminary presented to the mind, not glowing, like the
sun, with a radiance which no human eye can gaze upon, but reflecting
upon the darkened earth a mild, subdued refulgence, perfectly suited
for the steady contemplation of those whom it had arisen to benefit
and cheer.

    Nature was hush'd, as if her works ador'd
    The night-felt presence of creation's Lord.

Pleased with such thoughts, a gradual composure stole over her senses,
and Caroline, at length, seeing her candle nearly burned out,
consequently determined to retire for the night. Not a sound was to be
heard in the house, but her own light step, as she moved about the
room,--the very opening of a drawer, or the shutting of her book,
sounded unnaturally loud, jarring upon her nerves with a startling
effect,--the shadows in the more distant part of the room looked
darker than usual, and the least moan of the wind increased the
painful tension of her nerves to agony. Scarcely had she begun to
undress, when a sudden noise not far off caused her to start with
convulsive terror; her heart became chilled with apprehension, the
candlestick which she carried in her hand fell to the ground, the
light was extinguished, and she stood trembling and alone in total,
impenetrable darkness.

Caroline tried to persuade herself that the sound must have been
produced by her own fancy,--she looked around, and all was quiet,--she
listened, and all was perfectly still,--she reasoned with herself, and
became resolute to try whether sleep might not plunge her into
forgetfulness and peace, when her attention was accidentally attracted
towards one of the windows, where the bright moonbeams rested on an
object which seemed to blast her eyes with horror, and paralyzed her
at once in a speechless agony of fear. The top of a ladder rested on
the window-sill, upon the summit of which stood the dark figure of a
man, his face plastered so close upon the glass, that his nose was
perfectly flattened against it, and his hands raised in a menacing
attitude towards her. The instant he saw, by Caroline's look of
frantic alarm, that she had seen him, he dashed in the window-frame by
a single stroke of his powerful arm, and seemed about to make a
forcible entrance, when Miss Smythe, with the energy of despair, threw
open the door, and fled, calling aloud, in the sharp, shrill accents
of desperation, for help.

The servants were speedily assembled around her, and the instant she
felt herself in comparative safety, nature could sustain no more, but,
convulsed in every nerve, and throwing herself into the arms of Mrs.
Smythe, with a cry of thankfulness and agitation, she fainted.

An instant alarm was given in the neighborhood, a diligent search was
made, and the police for several days exerted their utmost activity to
detect the miscreant, but in vain. Not a trace remained to convince
Caroline that the whole had not been a hideous dream, except that the
ladder had been left standing at her window, and turned out to have
been stolen from a neighboring garden. The window-frame exhibited a
frightful picture of devastation, being literally broken to fragments,
and at some distance in the garden a loaded pistol was discovered,
perfectly new, which it was hoped might lead to a discovery, by the
police tracing out the maker and purchaser, seeing that it had been so
recently obtained.



CHAPTER VIII.


Several meetings now took place at Sir Arthur's for the purpose of
considering what plans would be best adapted to secure the safety of
Mrs. and Miss Smythe, till the dangerous madman who persecuted them
could be secured and confined, on all which occasions Captain De
Crespigny attended, as he rather enjoyed the excitement and interest
with which the story filled up his vacant hours, and, careless of the
impression he believed himself to be making on the affections of Miss
Smythe, he felt some solicitude respecting her safety, while he
expressed ten times more than he felt, and observed, in his usual
off-handed style, that this was not the only man whose head she would
probably turn; but in his own case, though she had almost put him out
of his senses already, yet he would rather make an end of himself than
of her.

Caroline drily thanked him for his obliging intentions on her behalf,
and after a lively dialogue, in which the gay huzzar actually excelled
himself, in his fervent expressions of admiration and regard, he took
leave, rather wondering to think how he had been led on in professing
so much, and giving himself a lecture as he rode home, on the
propriety of beginning to "back out," seeing that he was getting
rather beyond his depth. Still there were several of the reasons for
meeting next day, usual with those who have a natural desire to
improve an agreeable intimacy, a song to be practised, a drawing to be
admired; and Miss Smythe having made a sort of promise to let Captain
De Crespigny sit to her for his picture in the character of Dromio, as
she was an admirable artist, the offer became irresistible. He had
never yet entered their own house, as meetings were always hitherto
arranged at Sir Arthur's; and a slight feeling of curiosity likewise
helped him to the agreeable conclusion, that he must for once, and
only once, call on the "Smythes," were it only to ascertain what sort
of establishment they had.

Punctual to the appointed hour, Captain De Crespigny's groom rang a
consequential peal for his master at the gate of Rosemount Villa, such
as had not been heard there since bells were invented, and after a
considerable delay, the door was opened by a shabby awkward-looking
Irish girl, speaking with a powerful brogue, who curtsied with an
appearance of most preposterous respect to Captain De Crespigny as he
alighted, and pointed up stairs, begging him to walk in, but without
having an idea apparently that she ought herself to usher him into the
drawing-room.

Being always pretty confident of making himself welcome, Captain De
Crespigny advanced, and in his usual gay, humorous tone, announced his
own name at the drawing-room door, while he threw it open and entered.
To his surprise, he now found himself in a small, not very splendidly
furnished apartment, stretched on the only sofa belonging to which,
there lounged, in solitary indolence, with a quite-at-home look, a
young man whom he had never seen before. His aspect and dress were
equally singular, presenting that happy mixture of the ruffian and
gentleman, not very uncommon in Ireland. Attired in a military
great-coat, he wore a most preposterous pair of whiskers and
mustachios, long, coarse, and dirty, which looked as if they had been
curled over knitting wires. Taking the last remnant of a cigar out of
his mouth when the visitor entered, and showing not the smallest
surprise, with a smile which betrayed a set of dingy, decayed teeth,
and a very disfiguring squint, he watched the approaching step of
Captain De Crespigny with a _degag_ look of indifference, saying, in a
tone of easy familiarity,

"Och! sure! I always knew a milithary man, for he enters with his lift
foot first! Many deserters who would may-be have escaped, but the
thrick betrayed 'em. A curious fact! Will ye be pleased to sit on your
four quarthers, Captain?"

A smile of contempt and ridicule curled on the haughty lip of Captain
De Crespigny, while he proudly drew back, saying, in a tone of great
reserve, and with the very slightest possible _soupcon_ of a bow,
"Excuse me, sir, I must have mistaken the house!"

"Arrah! not at all! not in the very laste. Sure! I'm here for the
purpose!" exclaimed the stranger, starting up from his recumbent
position with astonishing agility, and closing the door. "Isn't it
relations we shall be before long, and why should we meet as
strangers?"

"Relations! what do you mean, sir? Here is some ridiculous blunder!"
replied Captain De Crespigny, turning contemptuously on his heel.
"Allow me to pass! Good morning!"

"Well! relations or connexions, it's all one," continued the Irishman,
with a look of easy good humor. "My aunt, Mrs. Smythe, dropped me a
line to say I would be wanted about the settlement, though, for the
matter of that, there is not much, I fancy, on either of your parts to
settle. More gold on the outside of the pocket than the inside,
Captain! Hey! excuse me! but as my aunt says, in the matther of money,
we take the will for the deed!"

"You must be slightly deranged, sir," interrupted Captain De
Crespigny, in a tone of angry perplexity; "I have heard that a madman
is loose about this neighborhood, and I need not go far, I see, to
find him."

"What! Hey! Sure you're not going to forswear all, or say thing you
have said to my pretty cousin, Caroline. We do make short work of our
courtships in Dublin, sure enough; but when my aunt told me this
morning how soon you had come to the point with Caroline, and nothing
left but to fix the day, I laughed ready to kill myself, and says I,
'you beat all Ireland to sticks!'"

"No more of this folly, sir!" exclaimed Captain De Crespigny, with
rising irritation, and in his most peremptory tone. "Detain me here
one moment longer, and I shall send you a shorter way down stairs than
you ever tried before!"

"Och, murder! you'll excuse me, sir, but I've not been dipped in the
Shannon for nothing! This must all be settled as gintlemen usually
settle these affairs in our counthry! Sure you met my cousin at Sir
Arthur's many a time, and you'll not be afther denying that she
convarsed with you every day for a matther of four hours!"

"Perhaps she had that honor, but what then?"

"Why thin, sir! such things as you said, from such a gintleman, are
not easily to be forgotten!"

"You are pleased to be complimentary!" replied Captain De Crespigny,
turning round his magnificent head with an air of bitter contempt;
"but what of that?"

"I heartily wish," continued the Irishman, with a still stronger
brogue than before, "that every young lady who meets with a gintleman
such as you, had a cousin like Paddy Smythe to take up her cause, and
I am as little to be thrifled with as any man in Ireland! The tongue
that deceives me or mine shall never spake again. I have exchanged
shots before now on a slighter occasion!"

A momentary pause ensued, during which Captain De Crespigny frowned
and bit his lip, in angry embarrassment, while, with a look of
unutterable contempt and disgust, he eyed his companion, who thrust
his hands into his ample pockets, and paced up and down the room with
rapid strides and determined emphasis. At length, stopping opposite to
his irritated companion, he eyed him for some moments with a look of
stern reproach, saying, in a stronger Irish brogue than ever, and with
a torrent of indignation, which gave almost the dignity of eloquence
to what he uttered,

"You think there are no feelings in the world to be consulted but your
own! perhaps we may prove this a slight mistake! I have married seven
of my cousins already to officers quarthered in our neighborhood at
Limerick, and Caroline is the last! Captain Mortimer was introduced to
Mary at the top of a country dance, and engaged her for life before he
reached the bottom. Lieutenant Murray gave his arm to Bessy for the
first time going down to dinner at Mrs. Fitz-Patrick's, and offered
her his hand before the fish was off the table! We understand these
things very soon in Ireland! and I would shed every drop of my blood
before Caroline shall be disappointed!"

Captain De Crespigny began now to feel seriously annoyed at his own
position! Not having lately been quartered in Ireland, he had
forgotten how such affairs are managed there, but at this moment a
thousand recollections crowded upon him, of warnings he had received
from his brother officers respecting the prudence and circumspection
to be exercised beside the Shannon, though most of what they said, had
been listened to with the same incredulous attention usually bestowed
upon stories of ghosts and witchcraft. Here he was, however, snared
like a fly in a spider's web, though without a single doubt of his own
powers to escape, and with no stronger objection to call out this
insolent ruffian beside him, than the publicity and ridicule he must
inevitably incur, if involved in a vulgar every-day duel with a
hot-headed Irishman.

Seeing that the affair was likely to take a graver turn than he had
imagined, Captain De Crespigny now slowly and resolutely strode
towards the hearth-rug, and turning his back to the fire, in that
attitude peculiar to Englishmen, calmly and sternly looked in the face
of his insolent companion, whose lip became compressed with an air of
fierce determination, while his dark eye glittered with a triumphant
smile, and in an attitude of perfect _nonchalance_, he returned
Captain De Crespigny gaze for gaze, while leisurely resuming his
lounging attitude on the sofa. Neither gentleman seemed at all
inclined to recommence the discussion immediately, and both looked
equally angry, till the Irishman at length opened a pocket-book, to
which, he frequently afterwards referred, with a business-like air,
and in a tone of conscious triumph, saying,

"Will you be afther denying all you said to my cousin only last
night?"

"I deny nothing, Sir, except the right you or any human being can
have, with what I choose to say, five minutes after it has been
uttered!" replied Captain De Crespigny, almost delirious with rage,
and drawing in his breath between his clenched teeth, while the
Irishman eyed him with provoking coolness, and merely muttered in
reply, while still referring to the pocket-book,

"That is not our way in Limerick! Scarcely one of my cousins had a
case like this! Breach of promise! Sure it would fetch a verdict
to-morrow; but the shortest way is the best! Why, Sir! you told my
cousin, poor girl! that you wished there were not another man on the
earth, in case she might prefer him to you!"

"But luckily there are many, or she would have little chance of a
husband!" replied Captain De Crespigny, almost beside himself with
rage. "I have said the same thing a thousand times, to a thousand
different young ladies, without expecting them ever to think of it
more!"

The Irishman looked away for a moment, as if some irresistible feeling
had come over him, which he could scarcely suppress, and with a slight
quiver in his voice, as if on the very eve of laughter, though Captain
De Crespigny was too angry to notice it, he sang, while looking out of
the window, these words, with a very marked emphasis,--

"Erin, oh! Erin's the land of delight, Where the women all love, and
the men they all fight."

At length, Captain De Crespigny, losing all patience, followed his
antagonist to the window, and said, in a tone of angry command,

"Let there be a truce to this most contemptible farce! If you are a
gentleman, which I very much doubt, send any respectable friend--a man
of honor, if you happen by chance to know such a person--to my
barracks, and before to-morrow I shall find, if possible, some
blundering Irishman who can understand you, to settle this absurd
affair."

"That may soon be done," replied Mr. Smythe, "if I am not satisfied
with your intentions."

"Intentions!" re-echoed Captain De Crespigny, in a frenzy of contempt.
"My intentions were merely to amuse myself for an hour or two with a
rather pleasing young lady, and----"

"Rather pleasing!! you may be proud of your gallantry!" replied the
Irishman, with more real indignation in his voice, than it had yet
exhibited. "Perhaps, Sir, being the lady's cousin----"

"It is no matter who you are! I am not here to be questioned like a
member before his constituents. I did not know the young lady had a
relation on earth."

"The more shame to you, Sir, for meaning to deceive her!" replied the
Irishman in a tone of stern reproach. "If I were to get all Ireland
for holding my tongue, you should hear the truth. But maybe you would
be after giving me satisfaction in another way. I'm not such a wild
beast as to thirst for blood, it can be done with pen and ink!"

Captain De Crespigny fixed his eyes with stern contempt upon his free
and easy companion, who passed his fingers through his long bushy wig,
stretched his legs upon the sofa, and spoke with a yawning voice,
while he added in a careless off-hand way, "If my cousin could only be
persuaded you meant nothing from first to last, there's an ensign in
the 42d, with very good prospects, she might have for the asking! Here
is a paper. I prepared it in case you might object to the match; and
if you'll only sign this assurance that you meant nothing, for the
lady's own satisfaction, you are a free man. It will save us both a
deal of bother and fighting. A man who has fought a dozen times like
me, may go out once too often; and my pistols are all at Dublin!"

Captain De Crespigny paused a moment, irresolute what to do. It was a
condescension quite intolerable to have another moment's intercourse
with such a man, and to sign any paper at his request, seemed almost a
degradation; but then he saw before him a long vista of vulgar
annoyance from this forward Irishman. He was aware that hundreds of
gentlemen would laugh if the story got any publicity, and that dozens
of young ladies would feel themselves aggrieved if it became
circulated that his attentions had been so very marked to an obscure
Miss Smythe.

The tea-tables, the newspapers, the club, and the mess, were all to be
dreaded; and seeing that the Irishman had, with an air of perfect
_nonchalance_, buried himself behind a double number of the "Times,"
which he seemed to be attentively reading, Captain De Crespigny glanced
his eye over the paper, and finding that it contained only a short and
simple declaration that he never had intended to marry the young lady
introduced to him by Sir Charles Dunbar, he hastily signed his name,
tossed the paper contemptuously across the table, and with infinite
dignity, strode out of the house.

Great was his surprise, when descending the staircase, to hear, in the
room he had so recently left a simultaneous burst of smothered
laughter from several persons. He could not be mistaken! It seemed
even as if there were female voices in the number; but almost
bewildered with anger, and happy also to escape, he hastened onwards,
threw himself on horseback, and galloped for three hours before he had
regained any portion of his usual equanimity.

Had Captain De Crespigny followed his first impulse, on hearing the
laughter behind him, it would have been to retrace his steps and
re-enter the drawing-room of Mrs. Smythe, when his astonishment would
certainly not have been small to see Henry De Lancey laughingly
disencumbering himself of his whiskers, wig, and mustachios, while
Mrs. Smith exclaimed, in accents of almost convulsive risibility,

"Well done, my adopted nephew! You deserve to be my heir! I have often
heard that my old aversion Louis De Crespigny's exploits were
inimitable in his line; but we needed such a specimen as this. I
bestow the fright upon him with all the pleasure in life!"

"I only hope, if we ever, in the course of years, meet again, that my
cousin will not recognise me," added Caroline, smiling. "It was not
particularly flattering to see Louis in so much alarm! Yesterday,
however, when he saw me last, I was certainly looking my very worst."

"Your worst is better than the best of anybody else," exclaimed Henry,
in a tone so exactly resembling that of Captain De Crespigny, that
Mrs. Smythe started, and looked round with alarm; while Caroline and
young De Lancey burst into a simultaneous laugh of frolicsome glee,
and continued the dialogue during several minutes, with great spirit
and vivacity, till Henry suddenly became conscious, that in imagining
the words of another, he was gradually betrayed into expressing his
own real feelings, and that, too, with a depth and fervor which
sincerity alone could have dictated.

Checking himself in a moment, while the color rushed to his face,
dyeing it red to the very roots of his hair, and instantly receded
again, he took a hurried leave of Mrs. Smythe, and turning to Caroline
with a quivering lip, he said, in a voice which none but herself could
hear, "I must not say in jest what I feel in earnest! Farewell! There
are wishes known only to my own heart, and never to be realized, which
I must try to forget. You go to-morrow, and we shall probably meet no
more! Forgive me, then, if I say, that so long as I live you shall be
first in my most respectful and devoted affections; and death only can
ever make me forget you."

Before Henry left the ante-room, being in search of his hat, he found
it laid beside an open portfolio on the table, which, having, in his
haste, accidentally thrown down, he began hastily collecting its
contents, when his surprise was great, on turning up one sheet of the
drawing paper, to find there a finely-executed sketch, done with all
the skill and spirit of an accomplished artist, representing the
venerable head of Sir Arthur; and on the same paper--could it be
possible!--an almost living representation of himself. The likeness
very much flattered, he thought--exceedingly flattered; but still it
could be no other; and the picture dropped from his hand in the
transport of his delight.

Henry again returned to the portfolio, hurriedly turning the leaves
over; and amidst a variety of superbly-finished miniatures, he found
his own countenance over and over again grouped in animated contrast
with that of Sir Arthur. His heart throbbed with joy, when, after
hastily turning to the title-page, he discovered, according to his
hopes and wishes, the name of Caroline Smythe; and he leaned his head
on his hand, contemplating that name in silent ecstacy, while
indulging for one moment the pleasing, but perhaps presumptuous hope,
that he had been remembered with unacknowledged partiality, and that
the secret was here portrayed with her own pencil.

He was about then to withdraw, when suddenly the raised and irritated
tones of Mrs. Smythe became unavoidably audible to him, from the room
he had so recently left, saying, in accents of angry remonstrance,

"That look of girlish joy when he comes, and the sadness of your eye
when he departs, might betray it to any one less interested than
myself; but he has met few ladies hitherto, and on his part it is a
mere boyish fancy, which, if properly discouraged, will of itself wear
out."

Henry had fled to avoid hearing what was not intended for him, before
Caroline replied, in a low, agitated voice,

"I think and hope you are mistaken; but his constancy and
disinterestedness shall be tried and proved. I would rather any man
should cut my throat for money, than marry me for it. A girl of
fortune, like Midas, turns all who look on her into gold; and I am not
a gem to attract many lovers, without a very brilliant setting. I have
a romantic desire to be chosen for myself alone--a vain dream perhaps
never to be realized, unless young De Lancey prove constant. If not, I
mean to declare war upon all mankind--to be a perfect Captain De
Crespigny for flirtations!--to talk to gentlemen, ridicule, mortify,
and humble them!--to do everything, in short, but love or marry any
one of them!"

Though Caroline spoke these words in a tone of lively _badinage_,
there was a tremulous bitterness in her manner, as she turned away,
and contemptuously threw upon the table a massive gold chain which she
usually wore, saying, "Lovers! I'll get fifty, and break the heart of
every one of them!"

When Captain De Crespigny next visited Portobello, during a review
of his regiment, he was surprised to see the well-remembered windows
of Rosemount Villa closed, and a ticket suspended over the door,
intimating that it was "to be sold or let, furnished or unfurnished;
entrance immediately; rent moderate!" and with a feeling of relief he
dismissed the whole affair from his thoughts, and the whole family of
Smythes from his memory for ever, while humming one of his favorite
airs,

    "It is good to be merry and wise,
    It is good to be honest and true;
    It is good to be off with the old love,
    Before you be on with the new."



CHAPTER IX.


Among the companions of Agnes and Marion Dunbar, none was more
calculated to excite a feeling of enthusiastic tenderness and regard
than Clara Granville, whom all approached with a feeling of nearly
romantic interest, occasioned by the etherealized delicacy of her
lovely countenance and fragile form. Sir Patrick, from her earliest
childhood, had always mentioned Clara in terms of such exaggerated
enthusiasm, that Agnes, imagining his taste to be very different,
believed him to be more than half in jest, though his language and
manner seemed daily to become more in earnest, while in terms of
rapture he admired her eloquent and intelligent conversation, so
different from the flippant nonsense of most girls, and the light
gracefulness of her step, saying she looked like some beautiful
apparition, less encumbered with body, and more endowed with spirit,
than any one who ever before stepped upon the earth. Her pale golden
hair, falling like a halo round her fair bright countenance, and the
rare beauty of her large downcast eyes, which were generally veiled
with a look of deep thought and sensibility, gave a charm so peculiar
to her aspect, that the eye loved to dwell upon it as upon some lovely
twilight scene, over which the light of heaven was casting its pure
and peaceful, yet fading refulgence. None looked at Clara without
fearing that she could not be long intended for this world, as the
fervor of her mind and feelings appeared so little in proportion to
the extreme delicacy of her complexion, which was tinted like a
rose-leaf on her transparent cheek, the color flitting with every
passing emotion. It did indeed seem as if the sword within must
quickly wear out the scabbard; yet Clara enjoyed society beyond
measure, and mingled in it with a zest which caused Sir Patrick often
to say she must be stronger certainly than she looked, and there was
nothing, he thought, more odious in a woman than rude health--a sort
of rudeness never certainly attributable to Miss Granville.

Agnes's favorite aversion had always been Clara, formerly her
cotemporary and rival at school, though the rivalship was only felt on
one side, as Miss Granville would have remained unconscious of its
very existence, but for the bitter taunts occasionally levelled at
her, and the tone of evident irritability in which Agnes took it
always for granted that the jealousy was mutual, attributing thoughts
and motives perpetually to her gentle companion, of which so amiable
and well-regulated a disposition was incapable. It may generally be
observed, that many more quarrels arise from people wilfully taking
offence, than from people wilfully giving it; and there is quite as
much ill-temper in the one case as in the other. Clara had suffered
much on account of her every inadvertent word or action being
purposely misconstrued; but she very properly viewed the annoyance as
a salutary lesson in circumspection, before entering the great arena
of society, and mildly avoided all collision of interests or opinions
with Agnes, though her whole powers of conciliation on the part of Sir
Patrick gave his sister reason to apprehend that his affections might
by possibility be engaged to her. Nothing could be more painfully
irritating than the tone of contempt with which Agnes "spoke at" Clara
respecting the art and cunning with which some manoeuvring misses
endeavored to push their fortune in the matrimonial world, by making
advances to gentlemen, which she would despise herself for
condescending to, and that lookers on see more of the game than is
intended. All this was said in such an accidental tone, and in such
general terms, that no decided notice could be taken of it by Clara,
who nevertheless felt so painful a consciousness of what was meant and
insinuated, that she ceased almost entirely to visit Agnes, or to
associate with her.

About the time when Mrs. Smythe left Portobello, Sir Patrick returned
from spending a month at Lady Towercliffe's in Fife, evidently
laboring under a depression of spirits very unusual with him; and when
Agnes, perplexed by observing that he did not attempt to throw off the
cloud of melancholy, tinged very strongly with ill-humor, which had so
suddenly come over him, tried to guess or discover the cause, she
found it for some time impossible to gain a glimpse of the truth,
though she asked as many questions as might have filled a volume of
Pinnock's Catechisms.

At length, after some miscellaneous conversation one day, Agnes
inquired for the twentieth time whether the party in Fife had been
agreeable, when Sir Patrick shortly and drily replied,

"Clara Granville was there!"

"But had you any new beauties?"

"Clara Granville!"

"Pshaw! Well, then! were there any agreeable people?"

"Clara Granville!"

"You are beyond all bearing absurd and tormenting, Pat!" continued
Agnes, with a contemptuous toss of her head; "but I may at least
venture with impunity to ask, were any of the ladies well dressed?"

"Clara Granville!"

"That ends my curiosity on the subject of your visit," replied Agnes,
angrily affecting to yawn. "Never try to persuade me you care for
Clara. She is the most unflirtable girl in the world! As cold as a
statue of ice in an east wind! She has the most tiresome style of
prettiness that can be conceived, with that alabaster paleness, that
petrifying calmness of manner, and a heart like a cucumber! The very
style of her dress is wearying, with not a color that one could give a
name to; and then her long undertoned tete-a-tete conversations about
nobody knows what, as dull and monotonous as a dinner-bell, never
enlivened with a bit of gossip, nor spiced with any scandal! There is
a whole "Society for the suppression of vice" in her eye every time
she looks at one! She would evidently be terrified for the echo of her
own voice, and never yet committed the indiscretion of a laugh!"

"Are you done?" asked Sir Patrick, in a tone of concentrated anger,
which would have silenced any one but Agnes.

"Done! I could speak for two hours without telling you half how little
I think of Clara Granville!" said she, in a paroxysm of eloquence.
"One comfort is, however, she will never take!"

"But Clara has already 'taken,' as you elegantly express yourself,"
exclaimed Sir Patrick, who had been walking vehemently up and down the
room during this tirade from Agnes, and now stood opposite to her,
with a look of angry defiance. "Clara is surpassingly lovely! Her
portrait should be the frontispiece to Finden's next Book of Beauty!
She has the loveliness of a seraph!"

"Certainly, if you mean that she looks as if the first breath of wind
would blow her down! like an overgrown geranium, that should be tied
up to a stick!"

"Clara is delicate and graceful as the first frail blossoms of
spring," interrupted Sir Patrick. "She has but one fault in the world,
and that is, being faultless! Clara is worth a whole creation of
ordinary girls! That look of mild serenity, and those deep, thoughtful
eyes, looking as serene as the blue firmament above. Her every
attitude is what a Guido might have delighted to paint. Agnes, there
is music and rapture in every tone of her voice! At Lady Towercliffe's
no one was looked at, nor spoken to, but Miss Granville! She stole
into all hearts, without any man guessing his danger till too late!
Everybody admired, or, I should rather, say, loved her!"

"You are 'everybody,' then, I suppose, for I never heard of any one
else, who for half a moment thought her tolerable. All this nonsense
is merely to tease me, Pat. Do confess it at once, and be serious!"

"That I never am when I can help it!"

"Well, then, let it always be a jest and I have no objection to call
up a laugh, if it be your humor; but I would engage to walk out of the
world at once, whenever Clara has a serious, downright proposal from
any presentable-looking man, such as one would not be ashamed to sit
in a room with!"

"What do you think of me, Agnes?" asked Sir Patrick, walking straight
up to her and looking his sister full in the face, with a momentary
attempt to be facetious, while his countenance betrayed considerable
agitation. "Would you be much astonished if I had made her an offer?"

"Nonsense, Pat! I would disown you for a brother! Now, do not look
like an ogre at me! You will say any absurdity in jest!"

"You know, Agnes, I have been a month in the house lately with Clara!"
replied Sir Patrick, in a voice which sounded by no means like jest;
"and that month was more than a lifetime in showing me the worth of a
real and heartfelt attachment. Even I, mercenary as I am, could value
it more than gold! I date the beginning of my existence from the hour
I first knew her. There is a depth of mind and heart in the character
of Clara Granville, utterly incomprehensible to ordinary observers.
She does everything well, and says everything with a grace peculiarly
her own. Her manner is the very essence of fascination. Every other
person seems coarse and vulgar in comparison; and I even feel so
myself! I know you will treat me to a cannonade of abuse against
Clara; but that is no matter now," added Sir Patrick, in a tone of
deep dejection; "perhaps it may do me good!"

"Wonders occur every hour of every day, but this is the greatest of
all!" observed Agnes, drily. "I never thought you would commit such a
piece of disinterested nonsense, as to fall in love, gratis, with any
penniless girl, and least of all with Clara. If you were to choose
among all the young ladies I know, blindfold, you could scarcely
choose one more unsuitable! If this indeed be true, Clara may be proud
of her conquest!"

"She ought!" replied Sir Patrick, glancing at his own magnificent head
in a mirror; "but being in many respects peculiar, she by no means
appreciated the honor as you expect!"

"You are possessed by the very genius of nonsense to-day, Pat! but if
such a catch as you were to fall in Clara Granville's way, I should
like to see her and all her family, not more than happy on the
occasion!"

"Well, then! open your ears of astonishment, Agnes! She has actually
rather refused me than otherwise! I am positively more in love with
Clara, than language can express! I could pursue her to the very ends
of the earth! I must, and shall marry her! I would shoot myself
to-morrow, if I thought there could be doubt of it," exclaimed Sir
Patrick, vehemently, while Agnes became gradually as grave as night.
"Clara at first actually accepted me! She was your sister-in-law
elect, for three long and happy weeks, and I did not think life could
have given me so much to live for; but she afterwards most perversely
and unaccountably revoked! What do you think was the reason, Agnes, of
all reasons in the world!"

"I am bad at guessing absurdities," replied Agnes, who would have
hurled a more angry answer at her brother, had she dared. "Whatever
might be the cause, it was very lucky for you, who may, if you know
your own value, make the first match in the kingdom!"

"Well, then! actually that she thought my religious principles not
sufficiently serious! That her brother disapproved of my morals and
conduct! I offered her any terms! To attend chapel with her once every
Sunday; to refrain from Sunday dinners, and Sunday travelling! Not even
to ride out on horseback that day; and, in short, to pass Sir Andrew's
whole Sunday bill in my house; but it did not satisfy her! What would
they have!" continued Sir Patrick, gnawing his lip with vexation. "I
gave her a _carte blanche_ to put my name down as a subscriber to as
many tract, missionary, and slave-abolition societies, as she pleased,
and asked her how many distressed families she wished me to maintain."

"How excessively handsome!" said Agnes, satirically. "All I need say
is, it was very genteel!"

"Yet Clara persevered in giving me a plump decline! No wonder you look
incredulous! I can scarcely yet believe it myself! This shall not
last, however! I felt piqued at first, and left her. I am always too
soon, or too late, in all I do; but it must be tried again and again!
I would rather live without the sun and stars, than without Clara
Granville! The very repetition of her name is a pleasure! Agnes, what
can you do to assist me!"

"Assist! I shall do everything in the world to bring you back your
senses, Pat! Rather than see that grave, priggish, matter-of-fact,
Clara, my sister-in-law, I would----"

Agnes could not, at the moment, think of any illustration sufficiently
strong to exemplify her abhorrence of such a catastrophe, and twisted
her ringlets over her finger for some moments, in dignified and
portentous silence. At length she said, with an air of supreme
contempt, "You know, Pat! Clara Granville has not a shilling in the
wide world!--never had! At school she used to be like a bale of cotton
from the manufactories; cotton stockings, pink gingham frocks, and
horrid grey beaver gloves! She once had a silk dress, and it was
turned, I think, three times!"

"Fiddlesticks and nonsense! So much the better! She will be an
excellent wife for a poor man; and poor enough I shall soon be! You
need not argue with a milestone, but put a good face on the matter in
time, Agnes; for during all the four thousand years that men have been
falling in love, and marrying, I believe no one ever did so merely to
please his sister, and I am not the man to begin! In most respects, I
may, perhaps, be sordidly anxious for money, but in the matter of love
I have taken the whim of being disinterested. If Clara had the Bank of
England for her portion, I could not love her more. As for heiresses,
I hear the only one worth a thought, Miss Howard Smytheson, with her
million a-year, is bespoke to order for De Crespigny."

"Perhaps he has taken the whim of being disinterested also!" replied
Agnes, arranging a favorite curl with great complacency at a mirror.
"His uncle is very arbitrary; and like all uncles, continues for ever
to think his nephew a perfect boy. He threatened lately to marry
himself, if Captain De Crespigny declined! That old dot has some
spirit! He seems not to be aware that there is such a thing in the
world for himself as a refusal; and certainly, Pat, I can scarcely
fancy the woman in existence who could refuse you. I hardly know
whether to wonder most that Clara had the opportunity, or that she had
the inclination!"

"The whim will soon wear off! She loves me, that is certain; but if
even she hated me, it would make no difference in my attachment. I like
her the better for showing some spirit, and great disinterestedness.
Clara's conduct was like herself, beautiful. Her affections are mine!
I see it, and no earthly power can tear her from me! I would follow
her to the very grave."

Sir Patrick did not by any means find Clara's resolutions, which were
formed upon principle, of such very malleable materials as he had
prophesied. His own feelings were, on all occasions, like a whirlwind;
and his eagerness, excited to excess by opposition, became unbounded
to meet Clara, or to catch the most distant glimpse of her
shadow,--but in vain. Day after day he contrived to pass beneath her
window, but she had adopted invisibility; and evening after evening,
he obliged Agnes, greatly against her inclination, to send the very
kindest notes of invitation, which he dictated himself, asking her to
the house; but the polite apology which invariably returned, might
almost have been lithographed, it became so frequently necessary; yet
still Sir Patrick persevered and hoped, saying one day, in a voice of
irritability and depression, to Agnes, "It seems as if we were
destined never to see Clara again!"

"That would be too much happiness," exclaimed Agnes peevishly;
twisting Clara's last reply into a thousand shapes and tossing it into
the fire. "This is all so like you, Pat! You invent a thousand reasons
for wishing something till it is obtained, and then you care for it no
more! If Clara Granville consented, you would be, like Sir Peter
Teazle, 'the most miserable man alive before people were done wishing
you joy!' Men are all so changeable and selfish!"

"Whether are men or women most selfish, I should like to know?"

"Men, decidedly! From six years old, till sixty, they seem born and
brought up to think of no one's comfort but their own, and they always
marry to please themselves!"

"Of course! and very right they should!"

Agnes had now got upon a favorite subject of declamation, the
selfishness of mankind,--for those who are selfish or ill-tempered
themselves, live always under the delusion that they are the only
persons living entirely exempt from such faults,--but her eloquence
now soon left her "in possession of the house," as Sir Patrick made a
rapid retreat, followed by that very effective slamming of the door,
so infallible a receipt for obtaining the last word in an argument,
and for asserting in undoubted terms, a very decided view of the
subject in question.

Though Sir Patrick Dunbar had long been known as a Tattersall and
Doncaster man, yet Clara Granville had little suspected that his name
was implicated in transactions of rather an equivocal complection,
while the good-natured half of the world persevered in calling it
scandal, being unwilling very severely to censure the peccadilloes of
the handsomest and most agreeable man in their circle of society,
living only for the enjoyment of the senses and the happiness of the
present hour, while he thought it too long a look-out to anticipate
what might happen the day after to-morrow. In respect to Sir Patrick's
reputation, a vague understanding seemed to prevail that all was not
right, yet no explicit explanation seemed ever to be obtained.

    Some thing there was--what, none presumed to say,
    Clouds lightly passing as the summer day.

There are not only faults in the very best characters, but redeeming
qualities also in the very worst, and with much selfishness, the
result of a perverted education, the handsome and fascinating Sir
Patrick had naturally a good temper and excitable affections, though
these were wound up occasionally to the wildest excess, while his
fortune was not more recklessly squandered than his attachment in the
momentary impulse of an hour.

As, therefore, no man is so thoroughly excellent as to be without
errors, neither is any living mortal so depraved as to be without
virtues, and the utmost extreme, in one respect or the other, will
only be perfected in an eternal world. It often seems to an observer,
as if two opposite beings had been kneaded into one, since qualities
so contradictory may be traced in the same individual.

Though Sir Patrick Dunbar was eager and rapacious in acquiring money,
and would incur any meanness to avoid paying it, he seemed,
nevertheless, lavish, and what some people mis-called generous, in
squandering what he called his own. Though cold and selfish in
general, some fine impulses had been in his nature, which proved him
capable of vehement, persevering, and passionate attachment, where his
affections, or rather his fancy, had been once engaged; while, at the
same time, he was more ashamed to testify any feeling than he would
have been to commit a crime, and endeavored to blind people towards
that sensibility which was in reality the redeeming point in his
character, by talking often with the utmost contempt and even ridicule
of all those for whom he might have been supposed to feel the weakness
of a real attachment.

Sir Patrick had indeed been, what his companions called, "fairly
caught," by Clara; and his heart, till now hermetically sealed against
all real confidence and friendship, was now for the first time
unclosed, in its inmost recesses, while even his hackneyed mind seemed
to catch a ray of light and warmth from the sunny freshness and purity
of Clara's intellectual mind. Her intelligent conversation, enlivened
by a vein of sly pleasing humor, had completely taken him by surprise,
being as fresh and gentle as a summer breeze, while her appearance, so
young, timid, and lovely, caused the eye to rest on her with a
sentiment of almost melancholy interest. Clara had only emerged from
school, finally, a few days before Sir Patrick met her at Lady
Towercliffe's, and her extreme naivete was her first attraction,
though that was superseded before long by still greater admiration,
while he became hourly more fascinated by her melancholy songs and
thoughtful conversation.

To Clara, Sir Patrick had only hitherto been known as a school
companion of her brother's, but so conscientiously did Richard
Granville invariably abstain from evil-speaking, that, even where
justice might have warranted the severest censure, he merely became
silent. It is observable that, in the wisdom of Providence, nothing is
made in vain. Even the very weeds that encumber our path have, when
under proper restraint, their important uses, and in the mind of man,
the tendency implanted by nature, to discuss and criticize the conduct
of others, has, when properly exercised, its own advantages, by acting
as a salutary restraint on the conduct of those who would otherwise do
evil with impunity, and by also giving a timely warning, and hanging
out a beacon-light to those who would otherwise trust their interest
and happiness where such confidence was unmerited, and where all
contact is dangerous.

Captain De Crespigny's jilting propensities were the less dangerous,
from their being so generally discussed in society, as few were
willing that the unwary should suffer, rather than his faults be
exposed to censure; but Mr. Granville, by not giving his sister timely
warning against the dissipated extravagance and almost infidel
principles of his old school-companion, had now, unfortunately exposed
her to a danger he had not anticipated, as it never occurred to his
imagination, in its wildest fancies, that the reckless, dissolute Sir
Patrick, who had long sneered at marriage, and even broken that holy
tie for others, might find a charm in the pure, calm, high-minded
Clara, which raised him above his ordinary self, and made him appear
all she could most like or admire. During their earlier intercourse,
she saw nothing in his conversation to disapprove, because Sir Patrick
most unintentionally deceived her into a belief of his being very
different from what he really was, owing to the respect with which he
treated all her opinions; and only when he talked to others, did she
become startled occasionally by the tone of careless defiance with
which he spoke of all those persons and things which she was most
accustomed to reverence and esteem. Before long, his attachment had
become so unbounded, that, conscious he could not obtain Clara's hand
if she knew his real character, he assumed all that seemed most likely
to secure her confidence, and, for the pleasure of being with her,
attended church regularly on Sunday at the village. Clara was
astonished at his evident ignorance of the forms of devotion; yet
knowing his education had been finished by a clergyman, she supposed
he must have imbibed a due respect for the ordinances; while Lady
Towercliffe, indulging her usual jobbing propensities, was enchanted
to make up a match of any kind in her own house, and praised Sir
Patrick as the most immaculate and perfect of men.

Clara's intimacy with Sir Patrick had been continually increasing for
some time, before his attention became so very obvious as to excite
her peculiar interest, or to make her conscious of a necessity for
inquiring into the state of her own heart; but, upon doing so, she
became instantly aware of the deep hold he had acquired over her
thoughts and affections. His frank, off-hand, good-humored manner had
pleased her, his amusing conversation had enlivened her, and at length
his ardent professions of attachment interested her deeply, being
expressed with all the eloquence of natural feeling.

Clara, in the gloomy recesses of Mrs. Penfold's school-room, had
learned nothing of the world, and her heart at once, therefore,
endowed Sir Patrick with all those amiable qualities which he assumed,
while she yielded herself to the most pleasing of all earthly dreams,
that of loving and being beloved by one who seemed to deserve and to
return her attachment; while her sole hesitation in accepting the
offer he soon after made of his hand, arose from her doubts, whether,
in the chief essential to mutual happiness, in religious faith, hope,
and morality, they were so far of similar mind as to afford a
well-grounded prospect of happiness.

In almost undoubting confidence of a satisfactory answer, Clara wrote
to consult her brother, then studying for holy orders at Oxford,
in whose opinion, on all occasions, she implicitly relied; and it
was with grief and astonishment, which no words could describe, that
she received a reply, in which Mr. Granville, with affectionate
earnestness, reproached himself for not having explicitly laid open to
her the character of his former companion and _ci-devant_ friend, who
was, he grieved to say, a ruined gamester--a bankrupt in fame, as much
as in fortune, dreaded by the most respectable among women, and shunned
by the most respectable among men, even by his kind, indulgent, but
high-minded uncle, Sir Arthur,--an open scoffer frequently at the
decencies of life, and still more at its most sacred duties and hopes.
"Sir Patrick makes no secret of his profligacy," continued Mr.
Granville, "showing the most flagrant dishonesty in the only way a
gentleman can be tempted to do so, by not paying his debts, while many
poor tradesmen have already been ruined by his extravagance; and he has
openly entered into a perfect crusade against religion and morality. In
short, my dear Clara, Sir Patrick is by no means to be trusted with the
happiness of another, and least of all with yours, being a confirmed
roue, still pursuing the very wildest career of unprincipled
dissipation. Many have already had reason to mourn they ever trusted
him or knew him, for he is the very reverse of all you believe and
wish. It would be extravagant to waste a hope upon the reformation of a
reckless libertine, who thus outrages every law of God and man; and
often have you and I agreed, that it was a thing not to be conceived, a
woman who rightly valued her immortal soul placing herself under the
authority and influence of a husband who did not! The risk is too
great; and how much better to suffer now the sorrow of a separation,
than to endure the long agony of an unsuitable union, for which your
own heart and conscience would continually upbraid you. If the
tenderest affection of a brother can in any degree compensate for the
sacrifice, you need not be told, my dear Clara, that I shall bestow it
upon you more lavishly than ever; and it will be my first earthly wish,
as well as my sacred duty, to render you happier than you could ever be
with a man of principles--, or rather of no principles,--like Sir
Patrick!"

Had the grave opened at Clara's feet, she could scarcely have been
more startled and astonished than by the contents of this most
unforeseen letter, the first unwelcome line ever received from
Richard. She could have borne anything but to find her lover
unprincipled or unworthy; and a wintry chill seemed to gather round
her heart, while, with a stifled groan which struggled for utterance,
she covered her face with her hand, and sank back upon a sofa. By a
powerful effort, Clara preserved herself from fainting--she was
resolved not to faint, and she did not--but in the secret chamber of
her heart all was darkness, loneliness, and grief. Visions of earthly
happiness had glittered for a time, in brightest coloring, before her
mind; but now they must be blotted out by her tears. They all lay
prostrate and disfigured at her feet, scorched and blasted as if by
lightning; and her heart, bewildered by a multitude of thoughts and
emotions, seemed full almost to bursting.

Clara wept many bitter tears over her letter, and she not only wept
but acted. Without delay, Clara prepared to return to the relation
with whom, during her brother's absence, she usually found a home; and
before her departure, not only wrote to Sir Patrick, stating in terms
of touching grief, all her reasons for so suddenly and unwillingly
withdrawing from her engagement to him; but she had a long and most
afflicting interview with him, vainly endeavoring to convince her
lover, that their total incompatibility of sentiment raised a barrier
between them, which forbade the possibility of their union.

Sir Patrick became nearly frantic with vexation, while he could not
but admire the beautiful grace of her manner, and the sorrowful
modulations of her voice when she spoke, yet unconscious how
completely the gentle Clara was ruled by principle as with a sceptre
of iron, he seemed utterly unable to comprehend why his talking
carelessly, or even contemptuously of religion, should in any degree
affect the preference which she had once confessed for him, and which
he felt assured she still entertained. With passionate vehemence he
urged the depth of his attachment, and his total indifference to
everything in life but herself, while he warmly protested that she,
and she only, could complete the reformation which her own influence
had already begun.

"You love me, Clara, and would cast me off for ever! Impossible! Let
us forget all my early indiscretions--my vices, then, if it must be
so--but why should every leaf of my past life be turned over now!
Since we met I have been an altered being! I am astonished even at
myself! If I have deceived you, it is because I deceived myself, but
now I am entirely in your power. Use it then kindly, and forget all
but my attachment; I have staked my whole happiness in life on the
hope of your accepting me. The wish to deserve you shall be a
sufficient motive to fit me for all the duties of life. Without you I
shall have no object, no hope, not even a home, for never more shall I
have one unless you share it. Clara, let me throw myself on your
compassion, if not on your love."

"Oh no!" said Clara, hurriedly, yet with a look of pale and tearful
distress, "I dare not hesitate! All must be as I have said. It will be
most for the happiness of both!"

"Happiness! speak not to me of happiness without you! It is a mockery!
Every tie to peace or virtue would then be ruptured."

"There are better ties to virtue and stronger," whispered Clara, in a
faltering voice, while she gasped for utterance, and a glow-like
sunset was on her cheek.

"No! no! not for me! There may be amusement, frivolity, gaiety, and
dissipation; but I never understood the real meaning of happiness till
we met. My whole thoughts, feelings, and character have been
revolutionized to please you, Clara, but your influence alone could
snatch me from evil--from myself--from all on which I have hitherto
wasted my existence. For your sake, and for yours alone, I could be
all, and more than you wish. Years spent in your society shall prove
the extent of your influence."

"By trusting to such a hope, many, like me, have wrecked their whole
peace both now and hereafter," said Clara, trying to speak with
firmness, but her voice became almost inaudible. "If it were the same
thing to will as to do, I have not a doubt of your sincerity; but the
mere resolution to change established habits, unless the power be
derived from above, is only an air-built castle to which I dare not
trust. It would be easy still to indulge myself in romantic schemes of
domestic happiness, such as I have lately anticipated, but these hopes
could only be blossoms without root or durability, unless they arise
from firm principles of religion. Without such a cement happiness has
neither worth nor durability."

"Clara! you have never loved as I do!" exclaimed Sir Patrick
reproachfully. "I never did, and never can express half what I feel;
but you do not yet know the heart you so cruelly undervalue! It seems
now as if you would rather cut off your hand than bestow it on me!"

"Perhaps in future years--" stammered Clara. "We are both young; and
if, for your own sake, you alter in some respects, we might yet look
forward to--to----"

"Speak not of delay! that is worse than death! I never in my life
could endure suspense! No! it must--it shall be now, or never!"

"Never, then," replied Clara, in a low, husky, indistinct voice,
while, in spite of herself, tears rolled over her face. "It ought
indeed to be never! Forget me, as if I were already dead! I must only
consent to pass my life with a confirmed and consistent Christian,
completely master of himself and of his actions. If we lived for each
other, I should have a thousand anxieties, regrets, and sorrows, which
you could neither foresee nor understand! Oh no! I must only love on
earth one whom I may hope to love hereafter for ever!"

"Must it be my misfortune, Clara, to have known you?" exclaimed Sir
Patrick, with agitated energy. "Do you not see that with me, to know
excellence is to love it, and that if we were constantly together, I
should always be like you. The loss of honor, fortune, or reputation,
I might endure; but your loss I cannot, and will not. Tell me, then,
are my whole affections to be buried in darkness, never to see a
dawn?"

"If my happiness in this world only were at hazard, I would venture
all for your sake?" replied Clara, in a low, gentle, tremulous voice.
"I feel grateful for your attachment--more than grateful; but marriage
is so very awful and sacred a tie! to devote every early thought,
every feeling, every hope, every hour of my life to one! I could not
and dare not enter on such a duty, without a perfect and unalterable
confidence. I feel that to be united in love and duty where I did not
esteem is a misfortune I could not survive--which I could scarcely
even wish to survive. In giving you my heart, as I have already done,
I ventured my all of worldly happiness on that one stake, and have
lost it; but there are better hopes and higher duties, which bind me
to follow them, even though death were the consequence."

Sir Patrick clenched his hands vehemently together, while his
countenance burned, and muttering a curse between his teeth, which
chilled the blood of Clara in her veins, he walked about the room with
rapidly-increasing excitement, till at length stopping before her, he
said, in accents of angry reproach, "You have spoken my doom, Clara,
and only from your own lips would I have believed it."

Clara buried her face in her hands, and feeling that her high-wrought
fortitude was giving way, she hurried towards the door; but as she
tremblingly endeavored to open it, Sir Patrick again seized her hand,
saying, "You are mine, Clara; you are bound by a promise that must not
be broken!"

"I shall never give myself to another," said she, still hastening
away. "Be happy in making others happy. May you yet find one who loves
you as I have done, and who shall not hereafter find the same reasons
for giving you up. I shall pray for you, and rejoice in all the good I
hear. Farewell."

No words could do justice to the silent agony of Clara's young heart,
when, in solitary grief, she retraced her whole intimacy with Sir
Patrick, and reflected that she had bid a last adieu to one whom she
must not esteem, and yet could not but love. All that this world could
offer she had rejected for conscience sake. A cold frost seemed to
gather around her spirit, while, trembling and depressed, she viewed
the desolation of all her lately cherished hopes; and amidst the
ruined fabric of her happiness, she now seemed like some solitary
pillar, surrounded by the broken fragments of what once supported and
adorned it; yet summoning to her aid that Christian firmness, which in
her amounted to heroism, she gazed on the shattered wreck without a
wish to restore it at the sacrifice of principle, determined, as far
as her sensitive nature would admit, to adopt the rule of an aged and
experienced Christian, "Hope nothing, fear nothing, expect anything,
and be prepared for everything!"



CHAPTER X.


Years having thus rolled on, bringing joy to some, and laying sorrow
more or less on all, Marion Dunbar, fresh in the spring-tide of
youthful bloom, had nearly completed her seventeenth year, and was
hurrying on still in a whirlpool of education at Mrs. Penfold's,
exerting herself more zealously for the credit of her teachers than
she ever would have done for her own.

One evening about this time a message reached Marion, desiring that
she would instantly hasten to Mrs. Penfold's private sitting-room,
which was, on all extraordinary occasions, that lady's hall of
audience, and a solemn summons to which was usually of ominous import.
Marion, however, conscious that her own recent diligence had been
quite pre-eminent, and her success most distinguished, heard the word
of command with a flutter of pleasing anticipation, for to her the
future was always full of hope. Too old now for medals and ribbons,
she yet indulged in the gay recollection of her former triumphs, and
remembered with a smile, as she hurried up stairs, how often Sir
Arthur had formerly declared, while pretending to frown upon her, that
"he hated to see girls flouncing about with medals, and defying the
world!" yet how silly, when she one day entered his drawing-room, with
deepening color and a look of modest consciousness, half concealing
and half displaying her honors, he had advanced to meet her, wearing
his own Grand Cross of the Bath, to prove, as he said, that he was
indeed fit company for so meritorious a young lady.

Humming a favorite air, with a buoyant, joyful step, and radiant
smile, Marion hastened to the door of Mrs. Penfold's apartment, where,
after trying to compose her features into a suitable expression of
sober respect, with dimpling cheek, and still almost laughing eyes,
she entered, making, as she had been taught, the usual respectful
courtesy exacted by Mrs. Penfold, such as might have been suitable for
an introduction at Court, or for a public performer receiving the
plaudits of a numerous audience, and then, with a bright, speaking
look, full of hope and vivacity, she paused, to ascertain the object
of her unexpected summons.

To Marion's astonishment and dismay, Mrs. Penfold was pacing about the
room, evidently in a state of furious irritation; while in her hand
she carried that endless bill, the growth of many years, for board,
education, masters, and sundries, which had so often already greeted
the unwilling eyes of her young pupil, whose whole inward spirit
recoiled with shame and apprehension, while she silently measured the
length and breadth of its contents, every item of which she already
knew by heart, and could almost have recapitulated without a prompter.

Had Marion herself been a ruined gamester or a spendthrift, she could
scarcely have felt more guilty and ashamed than now; but after
standing an entire minute without being observed, and perceiving Mrs.
Penfold unable to speak, from the effort it cost to restrain her anger
within decent bounds, Marion, with the frankness natural to her candid
disposition, came at once to the point, saying, with heightened color,
and scarcely articulate voice, while her beautiful deep intelligent
eyes were fixed with an earnest gaze on Mrs. Penfold.

"I fear no satisfactory answer has come this term from my brother?"

"No! nor there never will be!" thundered Mrs. Penfold, in a voice
that made the gentle Marion absolutely cower before her. "There,
Miss Dunbar! look at that bill!" added she, flinging it furiously
into the lap of Marion, who had sunk upon a seat. "How much will a
shilling in the pound be for that? Four hundred guineas absolutely
lost--wasted--squandered upon you!"

Unable to speak from consternation, though such scenes were already
but too familiar to her memory, Marion fixed her eyes on the unwelcome
bill, apparently examining its contents, while her thoughts were in
the mean time painfully occupied in devising what would be right for
her to say or do in this unexpected crisis. A long pause ensued,
during which Mrs. Penfold seemed resolute not to speak; therefore
Marion, with a strenuous effort, endeavored to new-string her nerves,
and say something, while the large heavy tears forced themselves into
her eyes.

"Mrs. Penfold," replied she earnestly, "you know how ready I would be
to send my brother another letter of remonstrance, if that could be of
any avail, but now he never so much as answers me. I seem indeed to be
quite forgotten by both Patrick and Agnes!"

Marion paused to recover her voice, and to choke back her tears, after
which she continued in a firmer tone, while Mrs. Penfold listened,
with a dry, harsh, unmoved expression of countenance.

"You are justly dissatisfied about my brother's payment, but if there
be the least cause to doubt your being ultimately remunerated, send me
immediately home. I dare not go of myself, but you have power to
dismiss me, and let it be done. The sorrow and mortification must all
be mine, but whatever falls on myself alone, I shall always be able to
bear."

"Miss Dunbar! you have anticipated exactly what I am obliged to do,
and what it would have been well for me if I had done sooner!" replied
Mrs. Penfold, angrily flouncing into a chair, and pirouetting it
almost round, so as to look Marion full in the face. "I am sorry for
you certainly, because, though your music is not yet exactly such as
to do me much credit, and your Italian is sometimes far from
grammatical, yet on the whole there cannot be a better-disposed girl,
nor one who has testified a more constant desire to please me."

Marion's heart was melted by even this very slight expression of
regard, and nothing could exceed the troubled beauty of her eyes, when
she raised them gratefully to Mrs. Penfold, but conscious that her
presence was not exactly the place for a scene, as that lady had long
been considered incapable of a tear or a smile, she averted her face,
and struggled for composure.

"I have learned for the first time to-day." resumed Mrs. Penfold, her
voice becoming more stern as she proceeded, "that before your father's
death, Sir Patrick twice, in the most profligate manner, paid off his
creditors with a shilling in the pound! In consequence of great losses
now at the Doncaster races, and having paid what he calls his debts of
honor to a ruinous amount, Sir Patrick has yesterday fled to the
sanctuary at Holyrood House for refuge, and the creditors have already
seized everything. No wonder indeed! it was full time! He is all
promise and no performance,--for ever feeding us with empty spoons!"

Mrs. Penfold angrily changed her position, and with another indignant
glance at Marion, continued,

"Even Sir Patrick's large rent-roll would scarcely suffice in a
life-time to pay the half of us off. Good worthy Sir Arthur too, his
own uncle, he has cheated, and the property being entailed, we have
only Sir Patrick's life to depend upon for what he owes us! This is a
very heavy blow to me, and extremely hard to bear!"

While thus bemoaning herself. Mrs. Penfold forgot, like most selfish
people, that any one had to suffer besides, though the parted lips,
the tearful eyes, and the pallid cheek of Marion testified in a
language not to be mistaken, the depth and intensity of her grief,
while with astonishment and dismay, she heard this short summary of
Sir Patrick's history and circumstances.

Long after Mrs. Penfold had ceased to speak, Marion gazed in her face,
as if expecting more, while her every nerve continued quivering with
agitation, till at length she closed her eyes in speechless agony,
bewildered by the sudden transition from joyful anticipation to blank
despair. Formerly she had heard of difficulties and bankruptcies, as
she had heard of the plague or the bow-string at Constantinople--things
dreadful to those who might be affected by them, but quite foreign
to herself, and now, like a clap of thunder, all had suddenly burst
over the heads of those who were nearest and dearest to her, with
apparently destructive effect. She yet felt as if the whole were some
hideous dream from which it might be possible to awaken,--the voice of
Mrs. Penfold rang painfully on her ears,--every surrounding object
faded from her vision,--her thoughts became confused,--a vague sense
of burning misery was at her heart,--and one only wish remained
distinctly prominent on her mind--the wish to be alone.

"Indeed, Miss Dunbar," continued Mrs. Penfold, in a monotonous
complaining voice, "no wonder you are shocked that I who have labored
so hard to realize a small independence, should be swindled out of it
in this way by your brother. Lady Towercliffe tells me that among his
intimate friends he is known by the nick-name of "Sixpenny Dunbar!" on
account of his having so often already played a similar game, but once
catch him beyond the bounds of Holyrood now, and he'll never be at
liberty to try such manoeuvres again. We are to offer a reward of
£500 for his apprehension!"

"My poor uncle and Agnes!" exclaimed Marion, in a voice of anguish,
while hot tears fell like rain over her cheek, and a confused
apprehension of ruin, bankruptcy, and disgrace hovered darkly through
her mind, though she scarcely yet knew what to think or to fear. "I
must go home, if I yet have a home! Wherever they are, let me find
them! I must see my uncle.--Patrick cannot be all you say! oh no! It
is some dreadful mistake! Whatever happens, I trust and hope, Mrs.
Penfold, you will be repaid. It shall be my first earthly wish--my
duty sooner or later, to see it done! Now let me go instantly home!"

Mrs. Penfold most heartily seconded her pupil's desire to depart, while
one of the heaviest pangs which Marion had to endure on this occasion,
sprang from the stern angry coldness with which her _ci-devant_
preceptress appeared about to bid her a last farewell.

A tumult of gossiping wonder and curiosity arose among the pupils,
when it became whispered that Marion was to "leave" on an hour's
notice. Many questions were asked, much astonishment was expressed,
and even a great deal of real sympathy excited, but Marion shrank from
the clamorous exclamations of her young companions, who could not so
much as guess the measure and depth of her misfortunes. Often had she
shared their sorrows, and willingly would she have accepted any
consolation they could offer, but the worst of her trials could not be
spoken to mortal ears, and in lamenting for her brother's disgrace,
she could only bear her wound, like a stricken deer, into solitude and
silence.

There are insects that live a life-time in an hour, and it seemed to
Marion as if she had really done so, since the time when sparkling
with gladness, she flew to Mrs. Penfold's presence. Now, heavy with
sorrow and anxiety, she slowly retraced her steps, and on reaching her
room, sank upon her bed in a paroxysm of tears, delivering herself up
to many painful thoughts, or rather to her feelings, for she could not
think amidst the tumult of an agitated mind, when suffering thus under
the most painful of all transitions, from hope to despair.

It was during the unoccupied half-hour after dinner, when Mrs. Penfold
allowed her pupils a gasp of rest from their labors during the day,
that they gathered in groups at every window, to criticise a
hackney-coach and very tired broken-down looking horses in waiting,
while the pupils all watched for Marion's departure, anxious to catch
a last glimpse of their favorite companion. She had been shut up
alone, ever since her interview with Mrs. Penfold, and tried to occupy
herself in packing up her few possessions, while endeavoring to
compose her mind, both of which tasks occupied more time than she
wished or expected. But all now over, and trying to assume an aspect
of serenity, with pale cheeks and swollen eyes, she entered the
school-room, carrying in her hand a large and very heavy-looking
casket.

The young community crowded round to say a thousand affectionate
farewells, when, for a moment, Marion looked at them all with her own
beautiful smile, but unable to control her emotion, she turned away
her head, and burst into an agony of tears.

"Miss Dunbar, my dear! the sooner this is all over the better!" said
Mrs. Penfold, hastily advancing, with a look of irritable vexation.
"No wonder you are sorrow to leave us; but what can't be cured must be
endured. Remember to be diligent in practising your music, as the
success of my establishment depends on the conduct of all my young
ladies. The only recompense I am ever likely to receive for my care,
will proceed from your attention not to do me any discredit. Now,
farewell, my dear, and try bear up the best way you can!"

"Mrs. Penfold!" faltered Marion, while a flash of bright intelligence
lighted up her eyes; "allow me, for a single moment, to see you
alone!"

"No! no! my dear! I hate scenes; therefore let us now take leave.
I wish you well!" added Mrs. Penfold, in a tone that sounded
marvellously sincere. "I really do! Whatever has happened is your
misfortune, not your fault!"

"One single word, if you please," whispered Marion, coloring the
deepest carnation, and leading the way to an inner room, while Mrs.
Penfold followed, with an air of royal condescension. "The fault is
indeed, as you kindly remark, not my own; but for my sake, Mrs.
Penfold, spare my brother's name in all you say. It gives me pleasure
to think that I can do something towards settling our account myself,
and I would think no sacrifice worth a thought, that enabled me to do
so. My mother's trinkets were divided between Agnes and me; besides
which my dear kind uncle has been lavish in his gifts. This gold
repeater cost a great sum, and that locket is set in diamonds."

"Well, my dear!" interrupted Mrs. Penfold, relaxing into a look of
graciousness, "such honorable sentiments show that you have not been
under my care in vain; and though these pretty trifles are not
equivalent to what you owe, yet half a loaf is better than no bread!"

"All that I ever possessed, the gifts or legacies of friends and
relations, I leave in pledge with you, Mrs. Penfold, as an assurance,
that if brighter days ever come, I would redeem them at twenty times
their value. Keep these till then. Whatever ornaments I might ever
wear, would be a reproach till you are paid. Some debts never can be
sufficiently discharged, and among these is what I owe to your care
during many past years."

The bright eyes of Marion were dimmed with tears of sincerity and
emotion when she concluded; and, placing the casket in Mrs. Penfold's
astonished hands, she hastened out of the room. Giving a last, long
look at those inanimate objects to which she had been accustomed, and
feeling that even to these she could not without regret bid a final
adieu, Marion threw herself into the carriage, and drove off, so
overpowered with anguish and anxiety respecting her brother, that she
scarcely noticed the phalanx of white pocket handkerchiefs, waved to
her as a last farewell from those beloved companions, among whom so
large a share of her young affections had hitherto been lavished; and
thus she took a final farewell of Mrs. Penfold's finishing seminary
for young ladies, where she was never destined to be finished!



CHAPTER XI.


Marion Dunbar being by no means an arrant novel reader, knew nothing
of those artificial feelings which too often obliterated the reality.
Simple as a field-flower, her natural sensibility remained perfectly
fresh and unimpaired, while now, for the first time, experiencing the
withering disappointments, and blighting anxieties of life.

As she drove slowly along towards the sanctuary where Sir Patrick had
taken refuge, the most prominent apprehension on her mind, was that
of finding him on the eve of imprisonment; but she in some degree
consoled herself by imagining the services that in such circumstances
she might perhaps be able to do him, and the privations she could
endure for his sake. The more proud, overbearing, and arbitrary, he
had hitherto been, the more touching it appeared to her affectionate
spirit, that one seemed born to command, should now be humbled; and
impatiently did she long to prove, that, however all things might
alter, yet, in prosperity or adversity, in sickness or in health, she
was unchangeably the same; while her young heart glowed with the
paramount hope of at last becoming useful to her brother, and
therefore welcome.

As she proceeded, visions of deep distress and difficulty floated
dimly through the mind of Marion, who could not entirely close her
eyes against the iron truths, and stern realities of life, while
considering how totally unsuited her brother was, to endure the
privation of a single luxury, and now he could scarcely have enough
to command the most ordinary necessaries.

In the mind of Marion, immediate starvation, and going out as a
governess, were the two ideas that most prominently connected
themselves with the consciousness of being ruined; for her conception
of bankruptcy was of the most terrifying description.

In the few novels she had ever seen, the heroines could always support
themselves by selling their drawings; but Marion did not hope to gain
an independent livelihood by her slanting castles, and top-heavy
trees, though taking in plain work, or teaching music, suggested
themselves as possible resources. Marion thought of arrests, bailiffs,
writs, and of the world come to an end. The sunny hours of her life
seemed suddenly darkened, and she had grown old in a day! In the
simplicity of her heart, she imagined that a ruined man of rank and
fashion, was like a ruined man in earnest; obliged actually to reduce
his establishment! to dismiss his servants! to dispose of his
equipages! to make an auction of his furniture! to part with his
plate! and really to live as if he were in downright matter-of-fact
earnest, poor! "to exist," as Sir Patrick once contemptuously said of
Richard Granville, "on twopence a year, paid quarterly!"

The slow-moving hackney-coach stopped at last before the gate of Sir
Patrick's new residence, St. John's Lodge, a gloomy antique villa near
Holyrood House, with gabled windows, stone balconies, richly carved
balustrades, and pointed roof, surrounded by dusty beech-trees, and
formal yew hedges, clipped into fifty unimaginable shapes. Marion
was surprised, on hastily alighting, to perceive the whole house
glittering with lights, and would have supposed she had made some
mistake, had not the bell been instantly answered by Sir Patrick's own
man, followed by the usual three yellow-plush footmen.

"Faithful creatures!" thought she, having often heard of old servants
who insisted on being retained for nothing; "amidst all Patrick's
distress, this must indeed be gratifying!"

In a tumult of emotion, Marion, throwing off her bonnet, rushed up a
broad well-lighted flight of stairs, while, wound up to a pitch of
heroism and romantic self-devotion, she thought only of her brother,
impatiently longing to fly into his arms, and to express the whole
fulness of her affection, and the whole depth of her sympathy. While
her heart sprang forward to meet him, she eagerly threw open a door
next the staircase, and entered with a hurried and tremulous step; but
suddenly her eyes were dazzled and bewildered by the sight which met
her agitated glance, while for a moment she became rooted to the
floor, like one who had been stunned by a sudden blow. Marion gazed
without seeing, and heard without knowing what was said, so unexpected
and surprising was the scene to which she had thus suddenly introduced
herself!

A murmur of noise and gayety rang in her ears, while the whole
apartment was brilliantly illuminated, and the first object which
became distinct to her vision was Sir Patrick, seated at the head of a
superbly-decorated dinner-table, in a perfect uproar of merriment and
hilarity. Around him were placed five or six of his gayest associates,
dressed in their scarlet hunting-coats, and evidently in joyous
spirit, like school-boys during vacation, while the whole party
presented a most convivial aspect, laughing in merry chorus, and with
claret circulating at full speed round the hospitable board.

Marion felt as if her feet had lost all power of motion, while,
grasping the handle of the door with one hand, and shading her eyes
with the other, she became transfixed to the spot. It was a shock of
unexpected joy, and while standing in the deep embrasure of the door,
her large eyes dilated, and her lips parted, with an expression of
speechless amazement, she looked like a breathing portrait, which an
artist might have shown as his master-piece--young, bright, and
graceful, as the first crescent of the moon, or like the fabled houri
of an eastern tale.

The gentlemen all instinctively stood up with one accord the moment
she appeared, giving her looks of embarrassed astonishment and
admiration, while Marion hastily retreating, in an agony of confusion,
heard her own voice inadvertently exclaim, "Patrick!"

"Marion!" cried her brother, in a frenzy of astonishment more than
equal to her own, while the flowing bumper which had been raised to
his lips remained suspended there, and in an instant afterwards, his
tone of surprise became changed into angry imperative remonstrance.
"Marion! what brought you here, child?"

Before she had quite retreated, suspecting the real state of the case,
and not wishing for any public explanation, Sir Patrick added, in an
accent of careless good humor, "Agnes is up stairs dressing for the
ball, so make yourself scarce, and find her if possible. The house is
not large enough to puzzle any one long, but I suppose you mistook
this room for hers!"

"Patrick is not ruined after all!" thought the delighted Marion,
vanishing in a transport of joy, while her brother's jovial companions
became vehemently energetic in expressing their admiration of the
beautiful apparition.

"Can that be the darling cherub Marion, who used to call herself my
little wife? I wish she may do so in earnest now! She is undoubtedly
the loveliest creature that my sight ever looked upon, her eyes
glittering like stars beneath that rich cloud of hair! Let us drink
a bumper to her health!" exclaimed Captain De Crespigny, in a
spontaneous impulse of enthusiasm, filling his glass, and singing in a
fine, full-toned tenor, the favorite ballad,

    "I saw her but a moment,
    And methinks I see her yet,
    With the wreath of summer flow'rs
    Beneath her curls of jet."

"That must mean Agnes, for Marion's hair is brown," interrupted Sir
Patrick, in a rallying tone, yet his manner betrayed the excited
and exaggerated vivacity of one who evidently forced his spirits,
endeavoring to banish care by ceasing to think. "Be constant for one
entire week, and I shall then think Agnes has achieved a wonder
indeed."

"You do me injustice, Dunbar! I must be allowed to beg your pardon! I
have not been what is called 'in love' above nine times in my life!
Well! you may laugh--anybody can laugh, but I consider that smile of
yours exceedingly malicious!"

"When a man is on the ice, you know his best safety is to keep
moving," replied Sir Patrick, drily. "People talk of two strings to
their bow, De Crespigny, but you are never satisfied under two dozen!"

"_Tant mieux et tant pis!_ As Rosamond says, 'Thou canst not tell yet,
how many fathoms deep I am in love;' how concealment is preying on my
damask cheek, and what violent heart-quakes I am continually enduring!
The girl before last that I died for was my idol for an eternity of
three months' duration. I might have continued most deplorably in love
yet, if she had not imprudently appeared before me one day in an
unbecoming east wind, with considerably more color in her nose than in
her cheek!"

"You are the most observant of men, De Crespigny! If you only pass a
young lady at full speed on a staircase, you can describe her eyes,
complexion, figure, and expression, before I could be certain whether
she has one eye or two! But what is this Irish story I heard about
you! Some lady with seven brothers, and you threatened to shoot them
all that she might become an heiress! What were the particulars?"

"You seem to know more than I do, or anybody else!" replied Captain De
Crespigny, hastily tossing off a bumper to conceal his confusion.
"There are so many girls whose peace of mind I annihilate, that it is
next to impossible for me to remember them, but I can think of nothing
now except my cousin Marion, who always promised to be beautiful, and
has more than fulfilled her promise. Tell me, Dunbar! when does that
pearl come out of the shell?"

"If you please, sir!" said a servant, entering, "the hackney coachman
is waiting to be paid seven shillings for bringing Miss Dunbar from
Dartmore House!"

"Let him wait all night if he chooses!" replied Sir Patrick, angrily
frowning away his footman, "as the Irishman said, 'may he live till I
pay him!' Tell the man to come again to-morrow--and next day--and the
next--to come back in short, whenever he has nothing else to do!
Perhaps in a delirium of generosity I may some day think of paying
him."

"At our usual rate of payment, seven shillings from you would be equal
to £7!" said Captain De Crespigny, laughing, "let him put it down to
your account!"

"Yes! I have already more creditors than pence, therefore one more
less can be of no consequence! That fellow of mine is the most
officious rascal!--and he begins every sentence the same, 'If you
please, sir, the plate-chest has been robbed!' or, 'If you please,
sir, the bay mare is dead!' But I am never pleased to pay when it can
be avoided, and especially now. This is one of my moneyless days! My
banker's bulletins continue unfavorable! I cannot raise another
shilling! The handle of the pump is chained. All my relations have
made wills in my favor, but not one of them will die! As Falstaff
says, 'What money's in my purse? seven groats and twopence!'"

"I shall set up a hackney coach, and drive one myself if it pays
so well!" exclaimed Captain De Crespigny indignantly, "What an
extortioner the fellow is! up to snuff and a pinch above it! He
deserves to be executed!"

"Don't speak of executions in this house! we have had enough of them
already," replied Sir Patrick, forcing a laugh that sounded very like
a stage laugh. "What brings me here, if I am to be dunned in the very
sanctuary by a set of rascally creditors! You can take the hackney
coach home, if the man waits a few hours longer, De Crespigny, and pay
him off! It would be difficult generally to say which of us is best
off for ready money, but as Jeremy Diddler says, 'You don't happen to
have such a thing as ten-pence there, have you?'"

"No! I make it a principle never now to patronize the paper currency or
bullion _ca m'est egal_. Scotch notes are so atrociously filthy, and
gold is too heavy for the pocket. I am hastening as fast as possible to
my last shilling! Money is a bore! As for you, Dunbar, if you wished to
borrow a glass of water, I shall not be the man to lend it! I would not
for worlds be included among your 'rascally creditors!'"

"They beset my door so incessantly the week before we came here," said
Sir Patrick, laughing, "that I played the fellows an admirable trick
by connecting a strong galvanic battery with the knocker of the door,
so that the more angrily they grasped it, the stronger was the shock
they received. I sat with Wigton for an hour at the window in perfect
fits, when we saw the look of astonishment and terror with which, one
after another, they staggered away. One impudent rascal absolutely
succeeded in serving a writ on me for £200, but happening to have as
much in the house, I thought it best for once to pay him off, and----"

"This is a most remarkable story! almost incredible!" exclaimed
Captain De Crespigny, laughing; "not so much your being arrested, for
that might happen to any of us, any day, but your having £200 in the
house, Dunbar! Excuse me there! I have as much credulity as most
people, but you should keep to probabilities!"

"If one could pay people off with golden opinions," observed Sir
Patrick conceitedly, "I flatter myself in that case, that all my
creditors might be more than satisfied."

"When are those fellows to have their next meeting?"

"I wish we knew, that I might give them a harangue on agricultural
distress!" replied Sir Patrick, carelessly plunging his whole hand
into his luxuriant hair. "It gives me no scruple to disappoint the
shop-keeping world! None whatever! These rascals have not the
slightest hesitation in making punctual customers pay their bills
twice, therefore it is quite fair that others should not pay at all. I
could point out a dozen of my tradespeople who, knowing they risk only
a sheet of paper by re-sending their bills a year after they are paid,
make a practice of doing so. If the ill-used customer produces a
receipt, why then, an angry bow and a sulky apology are all the
satisfaction to be got; but if the receipt, by good chance, be lost,
then he becomes perfectly cheatable, and no remedy can be had but to
pay over again! I have seen the thing happen fifty times, long ago,
when I really did sometimes pay my debts, and of course never took the
trouble to keep any receipts."

"On such occasions," said Captain De Crespigny, "the offending
shopkeeper, when proved in the wrong, should be fined double the amount
of his bill, to be expended for the benefit of meritorious men like you
and me, Dunbar, who cannot pay once. The sight of every poor man I meet
gives me a moral to avoid poverty, _coute qui coute_; but as for you,
Dunbar, prudence and economy are not certainly to be enumerated in the
catalogue of your many virtues! As sure as your name is Patrick, if
£1000 dropped into your pocket now, it would be squandered with the
liberality of a prince before you walked to the next street."

"Most uncommonly true, De Crespigny!" replied Sir Patrick, ringing to
order a fresh bottle of claret. "But in these days of bankruptcies,
revolutions, robberies, sudden deaths, and murders, the only way to
make sure of enjoying my own is, to spend it immediately. In that case
there can be no mistake! I long ago discovered that it is impossible
to be both merry and wise; therefore give me joy at any price.
Happiness is to be bought, like everything else, if people have only
the heart to pay for it. In my opinion a long face and a short purse
are the two great evils of existence, both to be avoided at the risk
of one's life."

"Perfectly unanswerable, Dunbar! Money is the patent sauce for giving
a relish to everything! It throws dust in the eyes of all the world,
till they can observe none of our faults, and yet see all our
perfections magnified and enlarged, as we see them ourselves. Misers
make money the end of life, but we make it the only means of enjoying
existence; a sure ticket to pleasure of every kind and of every
degree!"

"One of these years, De Crespigny, your grave will be dug with a
golden spade! You are growing mercenary! But every man living is, in
one way or other, deranged about money;--those who have much, hoarding
as if their lives depended on amassing another shilling."

"I wish, Dunbar, you would write a treatise on the art of living well,
after we have been obliged to calculate that difficult sum in
arithmetic, 'take nothing from nothing, and nothing remains!'"

"Why, really, as a shillingless spendthrift, I could say enough to
make all of you misers during life; but for my own part, as long as I
possess a guinea, the first man who wants it may get the half.
Hoarding is the only enjoyment which increases, I am told, with
increasing years; but it is the only enjoyment of life I never intend
to taste. I mean always to live rich, that I am determined on; and if
I die rich, I shall out-hospital every fool who ever left a will, by
endowing a 'Dunbar Dispensary for superannuated _bon-vivants_!'"

"How well the world would get on if everybody were of your way of
thinking!"

"Thinking! my dear fellow--I never think! What do you take me for?"

"For a strange being, certainly, and for my own particular friend.
Besides, as the poet beautifully expresses it, in speaking of such
friendship as ours:--

    "We have lived and _laughed_ together,
    Through many changing years;
    We have smiled each other's smiles.
    And--_and paid each other's bills_."

"Thank you, De Crespigny! I shall send a file of mine to you
to-morrow! Do you remember the memorable hour at old Brownlow's long
ago, when my first bright guinea glittered in our hands, while he
detained us to enumerate all the various uses it might and ought to be
put to. I never forgot his oration--that is to say, I have thought of
other things certainly during the intervening ten years; but it has
often occurred to me, that if I had, as he proposed, hoarded my
treasure till another came, I should have been a miser for life. I
did, however, squander it then, with the spirit of a gentleman; and
ever since, whenever any one lectures on economy, I put cotton in my
ears. Wigton, the wine stands with you!"

"Capital claret this, Dunbar! My uncle Doncaster would not have
quarrelled with Crockford, if he had given him such a bottle as this.
Claret is certainly the poetry of wine, and I should like to have a
cascade of this pouring down my throat all day and every day! Your own
importation, I suppose? It does your cellar great credit."

"It has been, at any rate, placed to my credit in Morton's books. I am
very fastidious now, and owe it to myself to have the best."

"I can't tell what you may owe to yourself," said Captain De Crespigny,
laughingly turning his dark keen eyes on Sir Patrick; "but you
certainly owe a great deal to other people."

"Very true, and I owe you a grudge for saying so. I never can forgive
myself for not having been born to a larger estate! £50,000 a year
would have suited me so much better than my paltry pittance of twenty!
These are very hard times! The fellow who supplied this claret might
have enjoyed my custom for ten years to come, if he would have waited
as long for payment! It is a man's own fault always when he loses my
business! The moment he takes to dunning, we part. It is a rule with
me, and I told him so. He did not take warning!--actually sent in his
account a second time!--a most ungentleman-like thing to do!--an
offence I never pardon! So now----"

"He may retire from business at once!" added Captain De Crespigny,
filling his glass. "Did I not hear that the house had failed next
morning! We all know what your countenance is worth!"

"Three farthings a-year, paid at sight! We should make it a principle
to discourage duns; but they do occasionally force their way upon me
in some unaccountable manner, like a draught of air through the
key-hole, and then I can look as grand and immovable as George the
Fourth's statue; but fortune will be in good-humor with us again some
day, and take me under her especial patronage, when I shall pay
everybody thirty shillings in the pound, and----"

"Hear! hear! and a laugh! as they say in the House of Commons!"
exclaimed Lord Wigton. "Well done, Sir Patrick, the Great----"

"The great what? Your speech is a fragment," said Sir Patrick, in his
liveliest accents; "besides which, it was an interruption to mine,
Wigton; and I intended to have said something particularly amusing, if
you had not broken the thread prematurely. It is lost to you for ever
now! I am dumb as a flounder; and you may pity all the present
company, as they have really missed a very good thing."

"We shall place it to your credit accordingly, Dunbar," said Captain
De Crespigny, laughing. "It was rather annoying to have perhaps the
only good thing you ever could have said in your life nipped in the
bud. I hate sometimes to see a joke of mine standing with its back to
the wall, and struggling in vain for existence."

"Dunbar has talked himself into such a fit of parsimony," said Lord
Wigton, laughing, "that he is ever economizing his words."

"_N'importe_," replied Sir Patrick, gaily circulating the bottles. "You
are all mistaken, and you particularly, Wigton. I can economize my way
up the hill of life as well as any of you, and shall yet live upon an
income of nothing per annum. My plan is, to keep only five hunters--to
stay but one month at Melton--to feed upon sunshine--to fill my head
with the rule of three--in short, to become actually quite a pauper in
my style of life; and, if all things else should fail, I can, as a last
resource, turn patriot, and subsist upon liberalism and
mob-popularity!"

"That sounds vastly prudent and proper, Dunbar; but all I say is,
whatever desperate schemes you arrive at in the way of retrenchment,
give me the income you spend, rather than the income you have!"
replied Captain De Crespigny. "I took a fit of arithmetic one day, and
discovered, upon accurate calculation, that scattering £20,000 a-year
on an income of ten, gradually drains off the whole!"

"You are a perfect Babbage, my good fellow; but you know I have
expectations from three uncles in Australia, and one in the West
Indies!"

"Uncles! except the brave old Admiral, you scarcely possess a relation
besides myself in the world; but as long as Sir Arthur lives, you have
something to be proud of. The only thing I envy you on earth is for
being his nephew. I reverence him. I never pass him, hail, rain, or
sunshine, without taking off my hat. He is quite a jewel of a man."

"You shall have him very cheap!" replied Sir Patrick, assuming a
careless tone, to conceal a great deal of irritation. "What will you
bid? I wish he were 'going! going! and gone!' I never knew such an old
bore as he is, always interfering about my sisters, and fussing about
my debts. The world ought to be entirely peopled with uncles, aunts,
and grandmothers, for they all know so much better how to act than
anybody else."

"It is setting a very bad example for old people to live very long. My
uncle Doncaster took a twenty years' lease of his house in Belgrave
Square lately, and told me afterwards, he thought of having the term
'extended' to the period of his natural life! I am sure his life is
perfectly supernatural already! What would the old fellow have!"

"Those superannuated people who outlive themselves have nothing
else to do but to sit in their arm chairs and find fault! The world
is good enough if they would only think so; but all their
world-before-the-flood ideas are picked up in a different state of
existence from ours. Everything changes in half a century--customs,
dress, modes of thinking, notions of honor, ideas of pleasure, habits
of society--all are turned upside down; so there can be no use in your
uncle or mine prosing about the past and the future. There is neither
past nor future in my plans of existence now."

"Why, really, if men would neither look backwards nor forwards, there
is scarcely a moment of any man's life which is not very tolerably
agreeable. The rule that carries me joyously forward through life, is
to make the best of everything. We borrow all our annoyances from
anticipation of the future, which often turns out perfectly
groundless, or from regret of the past. We cannot alter the stream of
events; therefore I am for floating along the tide with my arms
folded, and looking neither to the right hand nor to the left."

"Quite right; and take my word for it, that in this little trumpery
world of ours, ruined men enjoy the best of it. We have nothing to
lose--our estates are managed for us--we care not the toss of a
farthing about politics--we have no fear of a reverse--we are always
the most liberal of what we have--and in short, it is true enough,
that '_menage sans souci_ is the _menage six sous_----'"

"I have generally got through all the difficulties of life hitherto
with a hop-skip-and-a-jump; so I mean always to keep myself in
practice; but after all, Dunbar, money has its merits, and the best
profession for a ruined man is to marry an heiress. They always select
the greatest roue who makes them an offer! Why do you not propose to
Miss Crawford and her £60,000?"

"I never answer questions in the dog-days! My dear fellow! £60,000
would not be a breakfast to me! It would scarcely supply copper-caps
to my gun! Besides which, I cannot make a low marriage, and pick money
out of the puddle! An heiress at best always seems to me a
personification of all my creditors! A person one should marry to
please them! but the only thing on earth I would not sell is--myself!"

"Being beyond all price, of course, Dunbar! I am still insufferably
bored at Beaujolie Castle to marry that cousin of mine with a purse as
long as her nose, and both I believe are miraculous, but we have not
met in the memory of man! Perhaps I may some day yet be obliged to
welcome gold from whatever pocket it comes, but I am not very
impatient to see Miss Howard at the head of my table!"

"My dear fellow! you would be sitting at the bottom of her table, if
Miss Howard Smytheson accepted you! It is unlucky that a fairy-like
fortune and a fairy-like person are so seldom united in one
individual."

"I have no objection to marry for money as soon as they are. Love among
the roses would not be in my line at all, but when I see gold in a
beautiful enough casket, then '_les beaux yeux de sa casette pour
moi_!' 'Mammon wins its way, where seraphs might despair!'"

"But if we must choose between them, give me love, and let money take
care of itself!"

"Splendidly said! you are growing magnanimous, Dunbar. What has
happened to you since we met last? Did I not hear some romantic tale
of true love lately, connected with yourself and Granville's pretty
sister, Clara! 'a portionless lass wi' a land pedigree!' I vehemently
contradicted the whole affair, as Lady Towercliffe's entire story was
so very unlike you, but----"

Captain De Crespigny paused suddenly--filled his glass--averted his
eye--and pushed the bottles hastily round, for he had observed with
astonishment that Sir Patrick's under lip became violently compressed,
his white forehead became visibly paler, a bright flash was emitted
from his eye, and his agitation became so obvious to every one around,
that a deep silence fell over the whole party, which soon after
dispersed.



CHAPTER XII.


One of the greatest pleasures in life is derived from the
unexpectedness of events, without which existence would lose much of
its interest, and finding herself thus emancipated from school,
settled at home, and relieved from her worst fears respecting Sir
Patrick, Marion no sooner escaped from her unexpected glimpse of the
jovial party in the dining-room, than, lightly carolling some snatches
of a popular song, she flew up stairs the happiest of the happy, to
find the scene of Agnes' toilette, whom she discovered at last all joy
and flutter at the prospect of a ball at Lady Towercliffe's in the
palace.

The softening effect of happiness on stern and rugged natures has been
often remarked, but selfishness never slumbers, and the reception
Agnes bestowed on Marion partook more of astonishment than of
pleasure, and was mingled much more with censure than with
approbation. Still, after expressing more wonder than the occasion
called for, what could possibly have brought her home, and the most
unbounded censure of Mrs. Penfold for her "unjustifiable conduct" in
sending her, Agnes, having no one better, or rather no one else to
talk to, though not violently delighted at the unexpected meeting,
gave some fragments of her attention to Marion, whose deep tender eyes
were sparkling with affectionate pleasure on again seeing her sister,
while her countenance, from recent agitation, looked like an April
face of smiles and tears.

"What a storm in a tea-cup you have had at Mrs. Penfold's! tiresome
old cat! I am glad it teased her! Dixon! pin that wreath more to the
right:--not quite so far! there!--oh! how perfect!" said Agnes, gazing
with exultation at her own extraordinary beauty. "Pat must find out
some other school for you, Marion! It would never do to stay idling
here! Dixon! never shew me that dress again! Wear it yourself or burn
it, but blue always looks vulgar! I have lucky and unlucky gowns! Some
in which I meet with all the friends I wish to meet, and dance with
all the partners I prefer, but that dress is a happy riddance. I
remember once being obliged, when wearing it, to dance three times and
go to supper with stupid, tiresome Lord Wigton! Dixon! fetch my
bouquet! not that withered old thing, but the one Captain De Crespigny
brought me to-night. Fetch it from the drawing-room."

"So that horrid Dixon is still with you!" whispered Marion, as soon as
the abigail's last frill disappeared. "I very seldom dislike anybody,
Agnes, but she is very odd. There is a strange gleam about her eyes,
which look so sharp and penetrating, they have prongs that pierce when
they are turned on me."

"Yes!" said Agnes, laughing, "she does sometimes look through me till
I feel myself nailed to the wall."

"Moreover, she has such a flattering, fawning, cunning manner, that I
wonder you can tolerate her for an hour," continued Marion. "We know
so little of her, too, that she is like a person fallen from the
clouds!"

"Oh! there you are wrong, for Lady Towercliffe says she is 'a perfect
treasure!' Consider, too, what low terms she accepts, merely from her
desire to serve me! I never saw a creature so preternaturally anxious
to be taken, and now, after two years' practice, she really is
excellent. Do you remember at the time I engaged Dixon, what a perfect
romance her history was! Pat did not believe a word of it; but to do
her justice, she made it very entertaining. I hope, at least, the
greater part was founded on fact!"

"Why does she wear widow's weeds,--she did not mention at first having
ever been married!"

"No more she did! how strangely beautiful she looks in them, like the
abbess of a convent! Her husband, if ever she had one, which I doubt,
is said to have died, abroad, and her only wish is never to see
strangers. Pat insists she has had some _affaire du coeur_, but I tell
him it must positively have been with old Sir Arthur, for she started
so visibly one day long ago, and became redder than red, when I said he
was coming to dinner."

Seeing Agnes in so unusually gracious and communicative a mood, Marion
ventured now to inquire into the state of her brother's affairs,
saying, she supposed he must inevitably sell his estate, go abroad, or
retrench, as the expedient of planting half-pence, to grow into
guineas, had not yet been brought to perfection, even by Sir Patrick,
though it had so long been a subject of wonder how he contrived to get
on.

"This has been a horrid business!" exclaimed Agnes peevishly; "as for
Pat himself, he will do very well! Trust him for taking care of that.
He has always money enough and to spare for his own amusement, though
sometimes he would hardly even pay the postage of a letter to save my
life. Only think of his bringing me here, out of everybody's way,
during the most beautiful years of my existence! Our friends will
scarcely imagine that I think it worth chair hire to travel from this
burying-place to the inhabited world! What can one do. We shall give
some quadrille parties ourselves, but scarcely a living soul is within
reach except the Towercliffes, and those odious Granvilles!"

"The Granvilles!" exclaimed Marion, in a blaze of joy and
astonishment; "dear Clara! is she here."

"Yes; but she cuts this house entirely, and we are hardly on speaking
terms, therefore let me beg you not to attempt any violent missyish,
boarding-school friendships in that quarter. I cannot enter into
particulars, but rest assured that the less you see of Clara the
better for me,--and the better, too, for Patrick. Never, for your
life, mention her name before him."

"Why?" asked Marion with a look of bewildered disappointment. "Agnes,
I cannot give up Clara Granville!"

"Perhaps, then, she may give you up! She abhors the whole family now!
If I must not veto her without rendering a reason, let me tell you
that there is a very awkward pecuniary quarrel between Mr. Granville,
Pat, and Mr. De Crespigny. It is merely one of their madcap tricks,
but extremely annoying. You have often heard Sir Arthur tell of three
Yorkshire baronets, who signed a mutual contract sixty years ago, that
the first of them who married should forfeit £10,000 to both the
others."

"Yes; and not one of them ever ventured to dispose of himself at so
great a sacrifice."

"Well! some years afterwards, the subject was discussed one day in
public conclave, at the Harrowgate ordinary, and what should the late
Mr. Granville do, in company with Major De Crespigny and our father,
but, like a set of madmen, as they must have been at the moment, drew
up, for a frolic, precisely such an agreement for themselves, which
they signed and sealed, making some of the 150 strangers present act
as witnesses. The whole affair had been long forgotten, when Mr.
Granville married some fright of a girl, all nose and freckles, merely
because of her being amiable, or some such whim. She lived long enough
to make saints of the whole family, and died after her son and
daughter were only a few years old."

"Then how is your quarrel with Clara tacked on to this affair, I
cannot quite trace the connexion."

"Why! Pat has been very angry at Mr. Granville lately about some
unexplainable affront; so, having accidentally found the old Harrowgate
document, and being very hard up for money, he and Captain De Crespigny
are threatening to levy the fine of £10,000 due to each of them, and
poor Mr. Granville is, as you may suppose, rather indignant, having
been all his life stringing halfpence together, to pay off his father's
debts, though no one could legally oblige him. As Pat says, 'more fool
he!' You know our brother's favorite expression of contempt is, to
describe any one as 'the sort of man who would lock up his money!'"

"What a shocking affair!" exclaimed Marion, coloring with shame and
indignation. "As uncle Arthur says, Patrick would do anything for
money short of a highway robbery! Surely, Agnes, he cannot be in
earnest."

"Pshaw! never mind being amiable now," replied Agnes impatiently; "we
need not act to empty benches! I am already aware that you, Marion,
are on the exact pattern of what Mrs. Hannah Moore would bespeak to
order for a sister or daughter; but with all you learn at school, pray
learn to keep that goodyism out of sight, for I can fancy nothing more
intolerable than a young lady turned out on the model of those horrid
sententious books, filled with advice to young ladies. Mrs. Ellis
writes to the 'Women of England,' but she luckily leaves the 'Women of
Scotland,' to their own devices, without troubling us to be
exorbitantly amiable."

"I shall be in no hurry to see Clara now!" continued Marion,
dejectedly. "I suppose Patrick will be cut by all gentlemen for such
unjustifiable conduct."

"Oh dear, no! Nobody is ever cut for anything now as long as he has
money! I can scarcely tell the thing upon earth, except cheating at
cards, that a man of £10,000 a-year may not do, and yet be as well
received as ever,--and ladies ditto! Any woman who can afford a court
plume, and many even who cannot afford, may fit on her ostrich
feathers, and go to court with as proud a step and as lofty a
carriage, as either you or I. Your uncle, Sir Arthur, complains that
there is no such as 'moral indignation' in the world now, and so much
the better. What good would it do to anybody? If a gentleman once gets
into a fashionable club, he is made for life, and may ever afterwards
defy the world to look askance at him."

"Then nobody takes any notice of Patrick's affairs?" asked Marion
doubtfully.

"No; except uncle Arthur, who makes himself quite absurd about them;
refuses to dine here; turns his back on Patrick at the club, in a most
un-uncle-like manner; and performs all sorts of antics to testify his
annoyance; but we are both rather glad he no longer comes prosing to
this house, and that we need never enter his. The Admiral is a fitter
companion for those old pictures round the wall than for us. Do not
look at me with that hair-standing-on end expression! I can't help
what Patrick does, and you will soon get accustomed to such things."

"Oh no, never! I hope never! but Patrick cannot surely push that claim
in earnest against the Granvilles. He will refund the money, will he
not, Agnes?"

"Perhaps, when all his other creditors are paid off. Now spare the
whites of your eyes, and do not look at me as if I had five heads, but
pray attend to my injunction, and avoid Clara, who is only fit to be a
saint in a niche at her brother's chapel. You may know her at any
distance now by her five-year-old dresses and country-cousin bonnets.
Richard Granville has taken orders at last, and become a most superb
preacher. In short, the Granvilles are good, worthy, dull, respectable
people as ever lived, though the very last upon earth that would suit
us."

"Do you mean to be severe, Agnes? I hope you are mistaken!" replied
Marion, humbled and depressed by all she had heard. "I have sometimes
felt, when with Clara, as if goodness were infectious, and never hear
of any people better than myself without wishing at least to be in the
same room with them."

"Take my word for it, Marion, these enormously good, sagacious persons
are better to look at than to converse with. They may be admired at a
distance, but the greater the distance the better; and pray never
set-up in that line yourself, as nothing is more unpopular. Clara
invited me, when we first arrived here, to one of her tea parties!
some horrid Granville-ish affair, I have no doubt! But I knew my own
value better than to go. Fancy me, Agnes Dunbar, at a good party!"

"I hope you might not be so very much out of place, Agnes!" replied
Marion, with an arch and pretty smile. "Whenever I give 'good parties'
you shall be the very first person invited!"

"Then take my apology now,--previously engaged! Indeed, I may perhaps
consider myself an engaged person in every sense, Marion. Captain De
Crespigny has already almost proposed several times, and makes no
secret of his attachment. Oh, never mind Dixon! She knows who sent me
this bouquet and all about it. Captain De Crespigny tells me he has
planted all my favorite flowers at Kilmarnock Abbey, and often says
what a resource they will hereafter become to me! Here are all the
letters of my name grouped together, Anemone, Geranium, Narcissus,
Everlasting, and Sweet William."

"Very ingenious," observed Marion, smiling.

"I promised not to mention whose device it was; therefore, Marion, as
I am exceedingly particular about keeping my word, if any one guesses
where I got this, remember to recollect that I did not tell. But,
Dixon, what is the meaning of this? the geranium is broken and these
flowers are so withered, they have not surely been in water."

When Marion looked accidentally at Dixon, she was startled to perceive
that a mortal paleness had overspread her features, which bore a
strange bewildered expression, while her hand, in which she held the
flowers, trembled visibly, but she said nothing, and Agnes, in the
triumphant gaiety of her spirits, rattled heedlessly on.

"One of the rooms at Beaujolie Castle, which Captain De Crespigny
already calls 'my _boudoir_,' opens into a conservatory filled with
rare exotics, but he says I shall be the brightest flower of the whole,
though never born to blush unseen, if he can help it! How very droll he
is, paying compliments often that would make one feel beautiful for a
year. He said this morning, when Patrick complained of the room being
hot, that he wished I would fan it with my eyelashes, and asked for one
of them to wear as a feather in his Highland bonnet! Yesterday, when I
showed Captain De Crespigny this new pearl hoop, he said I spoiled the
symmetry of my hand with rings, as there was not a jewel in the world
fit for me to wear, and only one ring that ought ever to be placed
here! You should have seen his sentimental look on the occasion, which
might have done for twenty proposals!"

"One would have been enough," said Marion, smiling.

"What he said was quite sufficiently explicit, and I only wish he
would appear a little more diffident, as his look was most provoking
self-satisfied, when he added, 'how fortunate will be the happy man
who places a ring on that finger!' When speaking of the Admiral, too,
he always now calls him 'uncle Arthur!' and yesterday, at taking
leave, he said in his half jocular, half serious tone, 'I shall live
upon the Bridge of Sighs till we meet again!'"

"Then, pray, let him stay here till he is a little less confident,"
replied Marion, laughing. "You should teach diffidence in three
lessons, Agnes; he has no right to seem sure of success till he has
obtained your consent point blank. You have many admirers to choose
among."

"Squadrons of admirers, but not so many lovers as you think, Marion!
The race of marrying men is becoming extinct in the world, so I must
not be severely discouraging to poor diffident Captain De Crespigny,
who has been setting his mustachios at me so long. Your notions about
keeping people in suspense are quite of the old school, when ladies
used all to be upon stilts, but '_nous avons change tout cela_.'"

"I am sorry for it. We should all have been born when Sir Arthur was,
and I wish everybody were like him."

"Spectacles, grey hair, and all! Thank you, Marion, but I am not
particular, and feel quite satisfied to be a contemporary of Captain
De Crespigny. If you could but have heard him this morning when he
sang the 'Pirate's Serenade,'" said Agnes, warbling the words to
herself,

    "This night, or never, my bride thou shalt be."

While Agnes continued singing _sotto voce_ for some minutes, her whole
heart and thoughts occupied with agreeable retrospections, the eye of
Marion again accidentally wandered towards Dixon, and she was startled
out of a reverie into something almost approaching alarm, by observing
her attitude and expression. With features as pale and rigid as those
of a corpse, she gazed at Agnes, and there was an intensity in her look
perfectly unaccountable, while a dazzling and terrible light glittered
in her eyes. Marion with difficulty suppressed an exclamation of
astonishment, when she perceived the extraordinary change in Dixon's
countenance, but with a private resolution to watch more narrowly than
before, what such evident agitation could mean, she determined as yet
to make no remark, but allowed Agnes to rattle on undisturbed, while
her own thoughts were filled with perplexity and surprise.

"Yesterday, Marion, Captain De Crespigny actually made me read over
with him that proposal scene in the new novel, 'Matrimonial Felicity.'
I nearly died of confusion when he doubled down the page, saying, he
hoped this was not the last time we should study it together. The story
has but one fault, that the hero makes rather a low marriage, and of
that Captain De Crespigny expressed an utter abhorrence. I remember
ages ago, his making me laugh so excessively with a description of some
school-boy attachment he had in Yorkshire. Such a burlesque upon love!
It was exquisite! The silver thimbles and wall-flowers he presented to
a fair damsel in prunella shoes, and no gloves, while his _gages
d'amour_ were accompanied with verses borrowed from the Irish Melodies,
and passed off as his own. I forgot always to ask what became of the
poor deluded girl at last--probably married before this time to some
fat farmer or thriving shopkeeper, but for my own part, the misery of
an unrequited attachment is what I never can know. Captain De Crespigny
really is the only person one could possibly have fancied."

A loud and startling crash at this moment interrupted Agnes'
delightful reminiscences. Marion instinctively sprang from her seat
with alarm, and looked hastily round, when she perceived that Dixon
had tripped over and thrown down a table covered with china ornaments,
on which Miss Dunbar had frequently squandered half her income, even
at times when she could scarcely afford a dress. The etiquette being
now established that all young ladies, of whatever means, shall
cultivate a passion for china and hot-house plants, Agnes had made a
collection of second-rate vases and third-rate tea cups, interspersed
with stunted hyacinths and drooping camellias, at so great an expense
that Sir Patrick often recommended her to take a wing of the bazaar
and sell off all her trumpery again. The whole assortment now lay in
fragments on the floor, while Agnes delivered herself up to agonies of
lamentation, scolding, and wondering, over the ruin of her hoarded
treasures, while she pointed out with consternation how nearly the
table had fallen with its edge upon her own foot, which might have
lamed her for life. The "fall of china" is a proverbial trial of
temper, and that of Agnes did not prove on this occasion invulnerable,
while the epithets, "awkward wretch!" and "stupid idiot!" were audibly
lavished on the offending abigail.

Marion appeared exclusively occupied in gathering up the scattered
fragments of china, and arranging them together, but her eye was
secretly observing Dixon, the strange wild expression of whose
features filled her with indefinite apprehension. In her countenance
there gleamed, certainly, for an instant, a dark smile of malignant
satisfaction. Marion felt sure that it was so. Could the poor
creature's mind be shipwrecked? Was she insane? Her look had become
fierce and haggard, her forehead of a deadly paleness, and when she
caught the eye of Marion earnestly fixed upon her, she started up,
with a frown of angry defiance, and hurried out of the room.

"This is a most calamitous catastrophe!" exclaimed Agnes,
disconsolately. "How could Dixon be so intolerably stupid?"

"Are you quite certain it proceeded from stupidity? The accident is
altogether very strange," observed Marion, going close up to her
sister, and relating all she had observed during that evening in the
very lowest whisper, for Marion felt a nervous consciousness that
Dixon was not far off, and might attempt to overhear them. A stealthy
step was heard on the stair after she concluded, but Marion,
thoroughly engrossed with the subject, reiterated once more her
conviction that there had been something more than common in the
manner of Dixon, whom she advised Agnes to watch very carefully, if
she did not part with her soon.

"You were always prejudiced against Dixon, poor stupid fool that she
is, Marion. I wish I had sent her adrift before she broke all the
china, but it is very unlike you to be so severe! How can you fancy
the creature did it on purpose? That is too bad, when you might have
seen how ghastly pale she became!"

"I did see, Agnes! and that makes me wonder only the more! No one ever
looked like that surely, for breaking a few china gewgaws!"

"Marion! speak respectfully of my treasures! But you are in a most
censorious mood this evening: very different from common, when you are
generally a knight-errant in all our conversations, defending
everybody. But nothing pleases you to-night. My admirer first, then my
maid, my china, and even Patrick, who certainly behaved exceedingly
ill to-day, in not asking me to preside at his party. The pretext was,
that we had no chaperon, but I had the greatest mind, in a fit of
offended dignity, to leave his house."

"Your dignity would have been rather put out of countenance, by having
to borrow my carriage if you did go!" said Sir Patrick, who had
laughingly entered the room unobserved. "Lady Towercliffe may perhaps
receive you in time for her six o'clock breakfast to-morrow morning,
Agnes, but unless you make more haste, the supper and dancing will be
quite out of the question. Past twelve o'clock, and a rainy night!"

Sir Patrick was a good-natured, selfish man, willing that everybody
should be happy, provided it put him to no personal inconvenience, and
when Marion took this opportunity to explain the circumstances of her
very unexpected return, he merely bestowed a contemptuous whistle on
the description of Mrs. Penfold's wrath, laughed at Marion's evident
anxiety about his embarrassments, and then desired her to set about
being happy at home the best way she could, as he thought she might
make the rest of her life a holiday now. "And," added he, in his usual
gay rallying tone, "forget for ever all your grievances at Mrs.
Penfold's, or rather, Mrs. Tenfold's, on account of the breadth of her
person and the length of her bills!"



CHAPTER XIII.


Sir Patrick, like most men who are gifted with more head than heart,
disbelieved in all such generous emotions and exalted affections as he
had not himself experienced. With a lively defiance of received
opinions, his vivacity was unchecked by the fear of giving pain or of
causing offence, being perfectly reckless on that score, provided only
he could enliven the dull routine of ordinary society. Marion's
mingled expression of shyness and animation, her light laughter and
ardent feelings, were refreshing to a mind so hackneyed as his, and
though he often checked her sensitive spirit in its full flow of
affectionate confidence, by a retort courteous, or rather
discourteous, he was nevertheless vain of the admiration she
invariably excited, and read, in the eyes of others, the value he
ought to place on her beauty and talents.

Agnes' whole mind was so frothed over with folly, and encrusted with
selfishness, that unless the wheel of fortune touched upon her
personal comforts, she was as impervious to all external impressions
as a tortoise beneath the shell, and it was a useless waste of
generous sentiments and kind emotions, whenever the heart of Marion
was laid open to her. Agnes, who had long since adopted a company
manner, and even a company voice, persuaded herself that Marion also
had very cleverly "got up" a character on some imaginary model of
excellence, which she acted over to the very life. It seemed to her a
naked certainty that the refinement and delicacy natural to Marion's
mind were in reality artificial; and though the radiance of her
intellect, and the sensibility of her eye, were but in harmony with
her actions, all testifying disinterested self-denial and invariable
affection, still Agnes convinced herself that Marion lived "for
effect."

If Marion ever acted a part at all, it was only in concealing from
those who might have ridiculed her, the unfathomable depth of her
feelings, since she might as well have asked for sympathy from an
ice-berg as from Agnes. Knowing that every evidence of sensibility
would be received with scepticism, she silently and hopefully waited
till some scope might be afforded her for testifying that all which
she might have wished to profess was nothing to what she would do or
suffer for those she loved; and if ever Marion repined at any one
circumstance in her lot, it was, that she might perhaps pass through
life unknown to those she loved the best, because she dared not
express, even by a few insignificant words, that affectionate
attachment to Agnes and Sir Patrick, which she would have thought any
sacrifice a pleasure, to evince in its full and heartfelt measure.

One privilege of friendship Marion enjoyed in unbounded measure with
both her brother and sister. She became the usual depositary of their
many grievances and disappointments. Marion had the art,--or rather
the instinct, for to her all art was unknown,--of listening in
perfection. If Agnes received a dress from her London milliner which
did not fit, or if Sir Patrick did not obtain an invitation to some
jovial party which he had expected to enliven, Marion became of
immediate importance. The annoyance he felt on such occasions could
scarcely be exceeded--the death of his nearest relation, or of all his
relations together, would have been nothing to it; but Marion could
always administer some gentle anodyne to the irritated sufferer, and
displayed a wonderful ingenuity in turning up the best side of
everything, for the advantage and comfort of others. Nothing melted
Marion's heart so entirely as to see Sir Patrick for a moment
depressed, as the very pride and haughtiness of his spirit rendered
it, in her estimation, the more affecting when he seemed at all
subdued, and on the evening of Lady Towercliffe's ball, she could not
but fancy, before he set off with Agnes, that there was a forced
vivacity in his spirits which she had never perceived before, and that
the tone of his voice had a melancholy modulation when he bid her good
night, accompanied by an unusual degree of kindness, always the very
worst indication of Sir Patrick's spirits, the consciousness of which,
and a thousand conjectures respecting its cause and extent, dismissed
her to bed with an anxious mind and a prayer, even more fervent than
usual, for his happiness.

In one house, Marion was understood and loved as she wished to be, and
all her young enthusiasm found its best refuge and welcome in the aged
heart of Sir Arthur, who felt refreshed and cheered by the
companionship of thoughts and feelings as fresh and natural as the
flowers in spring, while they reminded him of the time when his own
had been as buoyant and untrodden, as hopeful and gay, as full of kind
intentions and generous wishes.

The morning after Marion's arrival at St. John's Lodge, she arose by
the peep of the day, intent on surprising her uncle with a visit
during his early breakfast, and gayly anticipating the look of joyful
surprise and perplexity with which she would be welcomed, while she
rehearsed in her own happy mind, how best to increase Sir Arthur's
astonishment. The day was indeed one of matchless beauty, the sunshine
perfectly superb, and all around resplendent with light, gayety, and
happiness, the white clouds skimming along like swans on the blue sky,
the air perfumed with blossoms, every leaf spangled with dew, the
painted butterflies, like winged flowers, hovering over the meadows,
and the country people exhibiting looks full of mirth, hilarity, and
good humor, as they hastened past to their tasks of daily toil,
enjoying those common gifts of a bountiful Providence, the light
breeze, the balmy sunshine, the music of birds, the perfume of
flowers, and the joy of natural, unfevered spirits.

    "And now, while bloom and breeze their charms unite,
    And all is glowing with a rich delight,
    God! who can tread upon the breathing ground,
    Nor feel Thee present, where Thy smiles abound?"

The whole air seemed full of incense and poetry when the light-footed
Marion, with a bounding and elastic step, set forth on her solitary
walk towards Portobello, joyous as a bird in spring, pleased with the
whole world, and admiring everything with a lightness of heart that
cast its sunshine on all she saw. Marion delighted in a wild sense of
liberty now, when she contrasted it with her long years of endurance
at Mrs. Penfold's; and equipped in exactly such a pink gingham dress
as Agnes had censured on Clara Granville, with the free air, like
liquid sunshine, playing about her glowing cheek, and her light
ringlets fluttering in the breeze, the excitement of her spirits
became such that she could have run with pleasure across the daisied
meadows, and, "glad as the wild bee on his glossy wing," longed to
reach the craggy heights of Arthur Seat, or to linger beneath the old
thorns already fragrant with blossoms, and steeped in dew.

Marion had picked some flowers as fresh and blooming as herself, while
she hurried through the more inhabited parts of the sanctuary, but
when passing beneath the palace windows, her steps were arrested for a
moment by hearing the sounds of mirth and music. "Can it be!" thought
she, in astonishment, "Lady Towercliffe's ball is yet at its zenith!"

Pitying the dancers much more than she envied them, Marion looked at
the scene of glorious beauty around her, and was hurrying forward,
humming a light barcarolle in concert with the thousand birds in full
chorus on every side, when suddenly a loud shout caused her to start
and turn around. Marion now perceived with astonishment that a window
of Lady Towercliffe's apartment had been hastily opened, and Sir
Patrick stood on the balcony waving his handkerchief impetuously for
her to stop, and a moment afterwards she saw him eagerly running after
her across the fields without his hat.

"Marion! you lucky girl! stop there!" exclaimed he with breathless
animation. "We are all at breakfast, and require one lady more to make
up a last quadrille, so come along; you are my prisoner! What makes
you look so aghast? Who ever heard of a girl not liking her first
ball?"

"Patrick, you are certainly mad!" said Marion, unable to help laughing
at the almost delirious eagerness of his manner. "Pray consider! I am
not in a ball dress! I am not invited! I shall look like a
house-maid!----"

"Nonsense! I wish everybody looked half as well! All these reasons,
and fifty more, go for nothing. I have set my heart upon it, and you
shall not stand in your own light, like the man in the moon. No,
Marion! you are to be published immediately under my auspices. You
have often expressed a willingness to die for me any day, but that is
not necessary just at present. All I ask is that you shall dance for
me! Now, fling that bonnet off, shake your little forest of ringlets,
and come along. You will pass muster very well without Cinderella's
god-mother to make a metamorphosis."

Unable to resist the outburst of her brother's extravagant mirth, yet
shrinking and abashed, almost ready to cry with vexation, Marion was
unwillingly led, or almost dragged by her laughing persecutor into the
drawing-room, where, with a look of _naivete_, and an aspect lovely in
the first blush and freshness of girlhood, she gazed in mute
astonishment and almost with dismay at this her first peep into the
great world of fashion, wishing for her own part that she could have
adopted invisibility, and enjoyed the scene as if she were in a private
box at the theatre, for as yet her feelings were "_trop pres de la
peine pour etre un plaisir_."

A bright sunshine streamed into the room, while the gas lamps still
dimly glared over the breakfast table, at present surrounded by three
or four hot, flushed, dusty-looking young ladies, with exaggerated
colors, soiled dresses, torn gloves, withered bouquets, and
exceedingly disordered ringlets, falling in dishevelled masses over
their naked shoulders. These ladies, assuming forced spirits, and an
appearance of over-done gaiety, kept up a rattling, flippant dialogue
with about twice or three times the number of gentlemen, some in
glittering uniforms, padded and stuffed to the very chin, and others
in plain clothes, but all over-heated, over-excited, and
over-fatigued, while, in spite of parched lips and blood-shot eyes,
they were still endeavoring, with all their might, to be fascinating.

To Marion's unaccustomed eye the whole party seemed like a set of
second rate actors from the theatre, not calculated, by their aspect,
to elicit very rapturous applauses, and she privately wondered they
were not ashamed to look each other in the face when in so ridiculous
a plight. Even Agnes, her own beautiful sister, looked very unlike
Agnes! and she felt astonished to find that it might actually be
possible to spend an hour in her company and not be admiring her, but
in Marion's very private opinion, her appearance was now as if some
sign post painter had done a resemblance of her sister in the very
coarsest coloring, and in the most overdone style of dress and
expression.

Agnes had a great deal to say, and no diffidence to prevent her saying
it all, therefore she was now plunged into the midst of a very
animated dialogue with Captain De Crespigny, talking with a look of
conscious beauty and conscious success, in the only style she could
talk, nonsense, and making a lavish expenditure of smiles, attitudes,
and exclamations, to give herself the appearance of vivacity. Her hair
was in a most disastrous state, and her complexion everything but what
it should be, while her dress had so completely fallen off at the
shoulders, that she might appropriately have sung her favorite air,
"One struggle more and I am free."

The expression of Agnes' countenance became at once perfectly natural,
when she turned round, and for the first time observed, with a start
of genuine astonishment, that Marion was beside her, looking at the
moment like some being of a better world, or like some graceful water
lily rearing its pure and beautiful head above the turbid pool.

Marion glanced at her sister in a state of smiling embarrassment, as
if desirous to claim her protection amidst a scene so new and strange,
and taking possession, with a confiding look, of Agnes' arm, joy
seemed rushing out of her bright animated eyes, and dimpling in her
cheeks, when, under her sister's protection, she gazed around with an
expression of timid amusement and curiosity.

"Marion, what mad freak is this?" exclaimed Agnes, with a hot red
blush of angry surprise; "Patrick, do take her home!"

"Not till she has been my _vis a vis_ in this quadrille, and then we
must all disperse," replied Sir Patrick, with a boyish mischievous
laugh, while noticing a haughty flash pass swiftly over the brow of
Agnes; "I had difficulty enough in getting Marion to come at all, so
she shall not escape me now. De Crespigny, have you engaged a partner?"

"If I had I would have strangled her!" replied Captain De Crespigny,
with an admiring glance at Marion, who stood with her downcast eyes
shaded with their long deep fringes, while an arch young smile played
round her mouth, and dimpled her cheek.

"Will you then take the very great trouble of dancing with Marion?"

"I shall be too happy," replied he, throwing a world of expression
into his fine animated eyes. "I shall do so with all my heart!"

"Marion, your old friend and cousin, Louis De Crespigny. Did you ever
see such an ugly fellow?"

"That is the very thing I pique myself upon! I am like the Skye
terriers, admired chiefly for my surpassing ugliness," said Captain De
Crespigny laughingly, observing the smile and the blush with which
Marion listened. "You think me plain; but I wish you saw my uncle!"

"Wear a mask, De Crespigny, if you ever become as hideous! But in
respect to looks, the most unendurable of all living beings is a
handsome vulgar man, like the description I hear of that creature
Howard, Sir Arthur's pen-and-ink man. I could forgive his vulgarity,
if Marion did not tell me that he presumes to be handsome, which
renders him utterly insufferable! I wish somebody would put him to
death!"

"The fellow has never yet shown himself to me," replied Captain De
Crespigny, carelessly. "Now, Miss Dunbar, allow me the honor of the
next quadrille with you; and if there be a dozen more," added he, with
his most ineffable smile, "so much the better! I consider any other
gentleman who asks you to-night as my personal enemy!"

Marion stole a frightened glance at Agnes, while timidly accepting the
offered arm of Captain De Crespigny; but her sister had turned away
with a look of superb disdain, and was engaged in lively conversation
with Lord Wigton, a tall stripling, who seemed as if he was never to
be done growing, and who copied Captain De Crespigny in everything,
from the pattern of his watch-chain to the choice of his partners.

Agnes felt invariably more astonished at any deficiency of attention,
than at the most devoted assiduity, having accustomed herself to
believe that she was always the first object of interest to every
gentleman in the room, though diffidence or caution might cause them
to exercise their self-denial for a time, by keeping aloof; and it was
with more commiseration for Captain De Crespigny's privation in losing
her, than for her own, that she accepted the school-boy Peer as a
partner, while secretly amused and flattered by the ludicrous
expression of awe and admiration with which he usually offered
himself. Having talked, flirted, and laughed, through one quadrille
and several reels, the clock struck eight. It was an unspeakable
triumph to Lady Towercliffe, that her ball had thus been kept up the
latest of any during the season; and now the whole prepared for
retiring to their fevered pillows.

Captain De Crespigny, after uttering, as usual, in his most
ingratiating manner, a million of absurd nothings, took a sentimental
leave of Marion, saying, with his very best smile, and a sigh
to correspond, "I shall always remember this evening with
pleasure--always! Ten minutes of unmixed happiness are something in
this world to be thankful for. Life has nothing more delightful."

These words were said in his usual gay, off-hand tone, while Captain De
Crespigny felt perfectly charmed to think what an impression they must
be making on the heart of his young and unsophisticated partner. He was
at the same time astonished himself, to find on this occasion how much
more his heart was on his lips than it had ever been before. Marion was
the only girl Captain De Crespigny had yet seen whom he did not feel a
wish to trifle with; for during the last half hour, he had been not
only amused, but deeply interested, by discovering in her conversation
a degree of matured reflection, of _naivete_, humor, and good sense,
accompanied by a brightness of expression in her deeply-speaking eyes,
much in contrast with what he had ever been accustomed to before.
Nothing is so rare in manner as to be perfectly natural, without a
_soupcon_ of affectation; and to this charm was added another, quite
as new and unexpected to Captain De Crespigny, though by no means so
acceptable, as he became not only astonished, but piqued, at the gay,
indifferent carelessness with which Marion heard, as words of course,
not more belonging to her than if they had been addressed to any one
else, his well-turned compliments and insinuated admiration.

Not to be met half-way was new and astonishing to Captain De Crespigny!
It seemed perfectly unaccountable, little as he knew how long his
character for a ruthless flirt had been placarded before the eyes of
Marion, who no more credited the sincerity of his professions now, than
if he had been an actor performing on the stage. She considered that it
was his part for the evening to scatter civilities indiscriminately
around him, while his real feelings were, she believed, privately
consecrated to one, and to one only. Marion's own heart was in armor,
protected by the belief of Captain De Crespigny being her affianced
brother; and therefore she received his _adieux_ with a quiet, demure
look, succeeded by an arch smile, as the idea crossed her mind how
completely she was in the secret of his attachment, and how little he
seemed to guess that she was.

When Captain De Crespigny observed Marion's good-humored, careless
manner in taking leave of him, he began to fancy it just possible she
might still be quite indifferent to his attentions; but he rather
indignantly resolved that this should not continue long. It would be a
distinction, he knew, to follow in the train of a young beauty so
admired as he saw that Marion must be; for a hundred tongues were
already talking around him of her matchless loveliness, while he alone
had yet enjoyed an opportunity of discovering that much as she was to
be admired by those who saw her, she was still more to be loved by
those who knew her; for she seemed to unite in herself all that he had
ever praised in a thousand others before, though he carried no plummet
in his mind fitted to measure the depth of hers. Captain De Crespigny
had been accustomed, hitherto, always to feign more than he felt; but
now, for the first time, he found it necessary to conceal, even from
himself, the extent of his feelings; for it seemed as if the last few
hours had rendered Marion perfectly known, and for ever dear to him.
Slowly strolling homewards, therefore, he gave vent to his thoughts,
by singing, in a voice like moonlight, soft and clear, the words of a
favorite song:--

    "And fare thee well, my only love
    And fare thee well a while!
    And I will come again, my love,
    Though it were ten thousand mile."



CHAPTER XIV.


Marion had a genius for being happy, and much as the unexpected ball
had amused her, she hurried along the road to Portobello, her cheek
dimpling at the recollection of all that had passed, while she
confidently anticipated one pleasure yet to come from it, the
amusement she knew Sir Arthur would derive from her adventure; for
never did two individuals, when together, seem to converse more in
accordance with Dr. Johnson's rule, than Marion and her uncle, that
"the aged should remember that they have been young, and the young
that they must yet be old."

As Marion arrived within sight of the cottage, her step became more
buoyant, and her thoughts more joyous, when, seeing Sir Arthur at his
open window, she waved her handkerchief to him; and Henry, leaping out
from a height of about ten feet, ran laughing to meet her, his rich
brown hair waving in the wind, his color heightened by the exercise,
and his eye sparkling with the joy of this very unexpected meeting.

While Marion poured out the tea, and poured out, at the same time, a
whole flood of recollections and circumstances connected with the
ball, Sir Arthur equalled her utmost hopes, in being amused and
enlivened by the description, while he said, in a rallying tone,
looking fondly at her bright, happy countenance, "My dear Marion, you
will never get on in the fashionable world! You look too pleased and
happy, like a girl in the Christmas holidays. That will never do. It
is the fashion to be exceedingly fastidious and discontented. You must
positively give yourself some airs, or I shall have to be angry at
you."

"You, uncle Arthur! Do let me see you angry! I cannot fancy such a
thing. But pray, publish a volume of advice to young ladies on their
first coming out. It would be a great pity for the rising generation
not to benefit by your remarks," said Marion, gaily seating herself at
the window. "I feel this morning as cheerful as that view of yours
from the window, where the waves are dancing in sunshine, the ocean
one liquid diamond, the sands all sparkling with gladness, and the
white-winged vessels gliding joyfully along."

"External things take their expression from the feelings with which
they are looked at," replied Sir Arthur, with sudden emotion. "That
wide desert of sand seems to me this morning boundless as human
wishes, and barren as their reality. I would not willingly throw a
cloud over your happy face, Marion; but it must be! How strange, that
even you, young and joyous as you are, must be doomed, like all the
children of man, to sorrow! The delight of seeing you here, my very
dear girl, had banished all care from my mind for a time; but it is on
your account, far--far more than my own--that I feel anxious and
melancholy."

Marion put her arm gently within that of Sir Arthur, and looked
affectionately, but silently, in his face, while he continued, in
accents of manly regret and indignation, while there was a mournful
tenderness in the look he turned on his niece,

"You have not heard, Marion, that the little I ever had has been made
less by a mean transaction of my nephew's. For my own part, this
matters little, as it is not in the nature of things, that with all my
accumulated infirmities, I should live as much as a couple of years.
My sight has almost entirely failed, my general health is equally bad,
and my long-faded spirits owe their best support to religion, and to
the affection of yourself and Henry."

Marion silently and tearfully kissed her uncle's check, and pressed
his hand more closely in her own, while he proceeded, in accents of
increasing emotion,

"My boy here wishes, as he ought, to pursue a profession, and Henry
will be an honor to any one he enters. He has never cost me an anxious
thought, nor a single shilling. I trust his anonymous annuity will be
always continued, and that on his account I need not lament my
impoverished circumstances; but my chief earthly care is for you,
Marion. Though Agnes, too, shows me little attention, and no kindness,
I cannot forget whose child she is, nor think of her future life
without anxiety. I had hoped to have the means of being useful to both
of you while I lived--to have offered you a shelter here, in case, as
I expect soon, there should be no other for you--and to have left you
both at last above absolute penury, when I am at rest in the grave. It
is for your sakes only that I would now cling to the tattered shreds
of my worn-out existence; but this is a difficult world for
unprotected, portionless girls, in which to buffet their way onwards.
Remember, dear Marion, it is my misfortune, not my fault, if death now
overtake me before I can do anything for my brother's children."

Marion clasped her arms round Sir Arthur's neck, and wept in silence.
There was a weight of grief in all he had said, for which she was
totally unprepared, and which she felt in every fibre of her heart.
Sir Patrick's disgraceful conduct, and the impending departure of
Henry, so long her companion and friend, were afflictions for which
she was in some degree prepared; and they seemed as nothing, compared
with what her venerable uncle said, for the first time, of himself. He
was a strong-minded man, unwilling to obtrude his infirmities and
feelings on the notice of any one, anxious always rather to borrow
cheerfulness from those around, than to cause anxiety or grief; but a
sense of its absolute necessity had induced him to show Marion, in
some degree, her real position, and in doing so, had obliged him for
once to speak of his own pecuniary losses and growing frailty. Long as
the Admiral had been threatened with blindness, brought on by the
pernicious climates in which he had served, the apprehension of
actually losing him had hitherto been so far from Marion's thoughts,
that she frequently pleased herself with anticipating the time when
she might herself supply, by reading to him and walking with him, the
place of that gloomy and spectral-looking Mr. Howard, one of the few
people in the world whom Marion disliked, at the same time that she
almost envied him for being so constantly in the society of Sir
Arthur, and for being so indispensably useful to him.

Marion felt that all the world would be cold and bleak to her indeed,
as if the sun had left the firmament, if she lost the warmth of
affection and kindness to which, from infancy, she had been
accustomed, in the house of her beloved uncle, the only parent she had
ever known. If such a misfortune were to come, who would then advise
her--who would then be interested in her feelings--who would believe
in the sincerity of her affections--who would be happy when she
appeared, and grieved when she departed? All this rushed upon Marion's
young mind when she arose to depart, while bitter tears coursed each
other down her cheeks, and large drops stood in the nearly blinded
eyes of Sir Arthur, which he endeavored to hide, as he affectionately
embraced her, saying, in a tone of dignified, but melancholy
composure,

"Come back soon, my dear girl! Let me see that face often, while I can
see at all! You are the ivy giving life and cheerfulness to a blasted
tree."

"Let me remain with you always!" whispered Marion, in a tone of the
deepest earnestness, "dear uncle Arthur! It is impossible to tell how
happy I could be with you, but I have an abhorrence now, not to be
expressed, of my present situation. It seems little short of swindling
even for me, to live as I do, with all our debts unpaid. When I sit
down at my brother's table, or wear the dresses he gives me, I cannot
but feel myself an accomplice. It is degrading to my very heart, and I
would not willingly do it. Take me home, dear uncle, to the best home
I have ever known. Let me read to you, write for you, walk with you,
and we shall be so happy--so very happy together."

"It may come to that too soon, dear Marion, and when it does, no
parent ever received his own child with more pleasure than I shall
welcome you. Even with all my shame and sorrow, then, for your
brother, my very heart shall rejoice to see you, but not yet. Patrick
is your guardian--a most unfit one certainly;--but while he is able
and willing to receive you, which cannot probably be long,--it would
ill become me to interfere. In remaining with him, you fulfil your
father's will, who bequeathed you to his care,--a trust he has but
little deserved. Remain with him, however, at present, and do not feel
answerable for his actions or circumstances, over which you have no
control."



CHAPTER XV.


Marion's walk back from Portobello was of a very different aspect from
her gay outset in the morning, and nature seemed to have suddenly gone
out of tune as she gazed around, with an altered eye on the sombre
massy hills with their giant shadows, throwing into mysterious
obscurity the tall ancient buildings of the doleful Canongate, which
looked like the ghost of a departed city; and the melancholy
magnificence of Holyrood reminded her of greatness in adversity, while
she reflected that the royal houses of Stuart and of Bourbon had there
found a dismal refuge in their utmost destitution. But more
immediately connected with herself, and more interesting still to her
thoughts, though rather a sinking in poetry, was the consideration
that there her own brother had been driven by his folly and
indiscretion, and that her father's family, so long respected in
Scotland, seemed now about to be finally extinguished in penury and
disgrace. It was a misfortune without remedy, for Marion knew the
limit of her influence with Sir Patrick to be less than nothing, and
she believed that not a living being possessed more. She had never
heard a surmise of his attachment to Clara, or deep and unconquerable
as it was, she might have entertained some hope that the love of
virtue and goodness in others, might lead to a respect for it in
himself, though none can doubt the melancholy truth, that, as fevers
are infectious, but health is not, so moral evil is far more
contagious than moral good.

After a hurried walk, Marion reached home in some trepidation, lest
she might be too late to dress for dinner, an offence which Sir
Patrick always visited with his utmost indignation; but on entering
the house, she was alarmed and surprised to hear, from the butler,
that Agnes had been seized with sudden illness very soon after her
return from Lady Towercliffe's ball, and that she was unable to leave
her bed.

Marion flew, rather than walked up stairs, and entered her sister's
room with the most affectionate solicitude, but great was her
astonishment to find Agnes stretched almost insensible on the bed, and
evidently in an agony of suffering, pale, cold, and languid. Her
spirits were evidently in the lowest depression, and, for the first
time in her life, she seemed to consider herself a mere mortal like
other people.

Dixon, in the mean time, watched over the invalid with an air of
excessive, almost exaggerated solicitude, emitting a series of very
ostentatious sighs, while she kept her place close beside the bed, so
as to exclude every one else, and made eager signs to Marion when she
entered, to leave the room without speaking, and not approach her
sister, or agitate her in any way.

Without heeding any such signals, however, Marion approached the
bed-side with noiseless steps, and quietly assuming the place which
had been occupied by Dixon, gently took hold of Agnes' hand, which
felt so cold and clammy, that she started with a degree of alarm,
greatly increased by the sight of the invalid's altered aspect.

"Have you called in a doctor?" said she, anxiously. "Surely Patrick
does not know how very ill you are, Agnes?"

"Dixon says he thought nothing of it, and recommended me to put off my
illness till after the assembly: unfeeling wretch! when I shall
perhaps never recover. Since then he is gone hunting," added Agnes,
with a peevish look at Marion, as if it were her fault, "and he will
not return home before night!"

"Who said Patrick had gone out hunting? It is not the case. I met him
in the passage, and he had been told you complained only of a slight
nervous headache!" said Marion, glancing at Dixon, whose countenance
wore an expression so sinister and peculiar, that Marion felt the
color rush to her face with surprise, but turned away instantly to
conceal how much she had been startled by it, though determined
privately to watch Dixon's face more narrowly than before, while
feeling a vague apprehension of she knew not what.

"Miss Dunbar must be kept quiet," observed Dixon, in a harsh sulky
voice, "she ought not to speak. It only fatigues her, and she should
see no one!"

"Who ordered that?" asked Marion with a scrutinizing look at the
abigail's averted face. "I shall remain here, Dixon, therefore leave
the room yourself at present."

While she angrily and slowly prepared to obey this authoritative
command, Agnes turned her pallid face towards Marion, saying, in a
faint voice, and with a look of extreme lassitude,

"Dixon says I have been in a delirium. She is probably right, for I
could have been certain that when the shutters were closed, I heard a
voice in the farthest corner of my room. It sounded like muttered
curses, and a dark figure crossed the fire-place. Could it be a dream?
I was too weak to move--my hand trembled, so that I could not reach
the bell, but surely I heard a low, strange, unearthly laugh. It was
horrible! but a moment afterwards Dixon appeared, and she says I was
in a deep sleep, evidently dreaming some horrible dream!"

"It is impossible sometimes to distinguish between a dream and a
reality, especially when we are ill," said Marion soothingly, for she
was alarmed at the look of terror and perplexity with which Agnes
mentioned these circumstances, and privately determined, as soon as
possible, to communicate on the subject with Sir Patrick. "I must be
allowed, Agnes, to sleep in your room to-night."

"Dixon maintains that this is all mere fatigue, after the excitement
of Lady Towercliffe's, but I was never yet wearied with being
flattered and admired! This morning, however, strange to say, my
spirits are dreadfully depressed. Nothing gives me pleasure. I can
scarcely imagine any earthly thing that could interest me. Though the
ball turned out pleasanter than any ball ever was before, and Captain
De Crespigny seemed, as usual, the most lover-like of men, yet this
morning, if he proposed to you, or even to Dixon, I should scarcely
care. Everything seems a blank. I feel a sort of depression and horror
not to be described or imagined."

"I desired you, Dixon, to leave the room," exclaimed Marion,
astonished to perceive her still lurking about the bed. "Go
instantly," added Marion in a more peremptory tone, for there was
something that terrified her in the woman's look. "What do you think,
my dear Agnes, can be the cause of this very sudden illness? Did you
eat any supper?"

"Nothing; I Jephsonized completely; tasted not a morsel, and drank
still less! That good creature, Dixon, brought me a cup of tea from her
own breakfast, on my return home, merely to lay the dust in my throat,
but, _entre nous_, I tossed the greater part out of that window
clandestinely, as it had an odd, disagreeable taste, like
stuff-petticoats! Poor Dixon would be mortified if she knew what I
thought of her 'delicious mixture' at, probably, 3s. 6d. the pound. It
is a pleasure to see any human being so attached as she is to me."

Marion's color deepened at the tone of reproach in which these last
words were spoken. It was impossible, she thought, that they could be
seriously considered applicable to her, and yet both the look and
accent seemed to say so, and the ready color flushed her cheek when
she felt that no attachment could have equalled her own, had she dared
to express it either in word or deed.

As Agnes declined sending for a doctor, and seemed already better,
though unable for more exertion, Marion took up a book, and remained
silently by her side, watching, with anxious solicitude, every
variation of her countenance, and, with affectionate ingenuity,
anticipating all her many wants, the most troublesome of which
appeared to be a craving and intolerable thirst.

After some time the door opened, and Dixon was about to enter with a
tray containing Agnes' dinner, but on seeing Marion still there, she
started and seemed about hastily to withdraw.

"Come in," said Marion, looking with astonishment at the abigail's
countenance, which was flushed and inflamed, as if she had been
intoxicated. "Come in."

"When Miss Dunbar is ill, she always likes her dinner alone," said
Dixon, pertly. "This is only a plain pudding, so I shall keep it warm
below."

"My sister will not like it the less for my helping her," said Marion,
affectionately turning to Agnes. "You may leave it with me, Dixon."

Marion was surprised to see the woman visibly change color when she
said this. The abigail instantly compressed her lips as if to prevent
their quivering, fixed her wild glaring eyes on Agnes, and then gave
an anxious glance at the dinner tray.

"This pudding seems excellent," continued Marion, helping Agnes; "but
surely there is rather too much sugar scattered on the top! Sugar!"
added Marion in accents of astonishment, when she had put it to her
lips; "this is not sugar! stop, Agnes! stop! I charge you not to taste
it!" exclaimed Marion, hastily dashing the spoon out of her sister's
hand, as she was raising it to her mouth. "What can this mean? There
is something here I do not understand. It must be explained!"

Bewildered and amazed, Marion looked round, and beheld a dark scowl of
rage and fear, like insanity itself, never afterwards to be forgotten,
which disturbed the countenance of Dixon for a moment, and then she
became of a livid, unnatural whiteness, when, in a low, subdued voice,
she uttered,

"I know nothing about it; the cook seasons Miss Dunbar's dinner; if
this is not to her taste, I can take it away."

"Marion, what is the matter? I hate all this fuss. Pray do not make a
scene when I am so ill. Dixon manages for me without half this
trouble. The pudding seems good enough."

Marion trembled visibly as she got up, but without saying another word
she rang three times for the cook, who expressed the greatest
astonishment when the pudding was shown to her, saying, in a tone of
pique, as she supposed her skill was in question,

"I put none of that there powdering on; sure it be something very
queer; neither sugar, salt, nor mustard! It would be of little use in
a kitchen, with no taste? I declare," added she, suddenly changing
color, "to my thinking, it be nothing better nor worse than arsenic!"

A stifled cry of astonishment and consternation escaped from Marion
at these words, while she hurriedly exclaimed, "Stop Dixon; do not
let Dixon leave the house! Send for an apothecary. Where is Patrick?"

The powder, on being analyzed, proved, indeed, to be arsenic, which
Dixon bought on the previous evening, on the usual pretext of
poisoning rats; but while Marion was raising an alarm, the culprit
herself absconded, carrying off all Agnes' trinkets and money, which
she must previously have secreted; and notice of the robbery was
immediately sent to the police. Among her valuable collection of
jewelry, Agnes bestowed the most audible lamentations on a splendid
locket set in diamonds with her brother's hair; but her secret regrets
were the deepest for a crystal scent-bottle, with a gold top set in
turquoises, which Captain De Crespigny had presented on the previous
evening, pretending he had lost it to her in a bet.

"One would fancy," said Agnes, in her usual rallying tone, the first
time she saw Captain De Crespigny after her recovery, "that Dixon had
been some old admirer of yours. Not a vestige is left of anything I
ever received from you! The last year's annual which you gave me, the
music which you copied for me, even my withered bouquet of the night
before, all gone at one fell swoop, leaving not a wreck behind!"

Captain De Crespigny colored violently, and strode to the window in
evident confusion, which Marion could not but remark with astonishment
and perplexity; but Agnes, quite unconscious of his agitation, rattled
on with increasing animation.

"I always now put my money and everything valuable in the most
conspicuous part of my room, to save anybody the trouble of murdering
me for them. I have a perfect horror of being murdered! It never
occurred to me, however, that the treasures which for certain reasons
I value most, were in any danger, being of no intrinsic value to other
people. I really would have died in defence of my little
scent-bottle."

Captain De Crespigny had recourse now to the poker, an inestimable
refuge in all cases where the concealment of emotion is an object, as
his heightened color could excite no reasonable surprise after the
exertion of lifting it, and the noise he made afterwards seemed
equivalent to a reply.

"It was, after all, a most terrifying escape!" continued Agnes, rather
delighted than otherwise by the importance she had acquired by this
adventure, and holding it up continually in every light that she
could. "That horrid Dixon! she always had a half-crazed look! You must
remember my telling you so, Marion?"

"I remember it perfectly it was I who said so to you!" replied her
sister, laughing,

"Ah! that is exactly the same thing!"

"Not in the least," persisted Marion, good-humoredly smiling. "All
great discoveries occasion disputes about the originators. Watt and
Bell about steam, and you and I about this poisoning affair!"

"Well, it was clever of you, Marion! I shall do as much for you
another time. That ungrateful creature! The arsenic would probably, at
the very least, have spoiled my teeth, and perhaps made my hair grow
grey! That I never could have survived!"

"The strangest thing of all is, that there seems to have been so much
malice in the whole business," continued Marion. "She might easily
have carried off all the plate, or Patrick's gold dressing-case! What
could ail Dixon at you, Agnes? You were kindness itself to her."

"This is an odd world, and very remarkable things happen in it,"
observed Sir Patrick, with a yawn. "But you may talk till you are both
in your coffins, without making anything new of this business. Your
affair has been the wonder of the house for two entire days, Agnes,
without a single new fact having come out, and there is De Crespigny
strolled into the garden to escape being wearied to death. I really
think two days long enough to discuss any one subject, and the less
you annoy yourselves about it the better. If the culprit is above
ground, the police will ferret her out; and my advice to both of you
is, to eat your puddings for the next month without sugar!"

Agnes assumed a look of majestic ire at this very cavalier allusion to
her adventure, and threw herself back in her arm-chair, with an
exceedingly ill-used aspect, heaving a succession of indignant sighs,
which continued most provokingly unnoticed till they amounted at last
almost to groans of suppressed anger, while Sir Patrick, taking up the
"Times," concluded, by saying, in a tone of absent, careless
indifference,

"One has no leisure now to be happy and sorry about everything that
occurs. I remember once seeing a very impudent, forward-looking
actress perform Juliet at Covent-Garden, when De Crespigny whispered
to me, in his droll way, 'Depend upon it, this is not the first lover
whom that young lady has met on a balcony!' and you may depend upon
it, Agnes, this is not the first poisoning experiment your abigail has
attempted: I hope she will never try her skill on me! What would you
say if she were to administer a dose of zinc some day, and turn you
blue! I often wonder that no jealous woman ever wreaked her vengeance
in that way! It would be a capital joke!"

Agnes had been greatly flattered, and if any attention to herself
could have surprised her, she might have been astonished at the
intense interest almost inadvertently betrayed by Captain De
Crespigny, in the mysterious circumstances of her lately discovered
danger. When the particulars were first mentioned, he turned as pale
as death, and asked with startling eagerness, for a minute description
of the abigail's appearance, to which he listened with almost
breathless attention. From that moment he became indefatigable in his
efforts to trace out the fugitive, in which he seemed most truly and
heartily in earnest, writing advertisements himself for the
newspapers, to offer a reward for her apprehension, and never seeming
to tire of hearing all that could be remembered or related, respecting
the period of her being first engaged by Agnes, her dress, manner,
age, and appearance, while his color varied visibly from red to pale
several times during the narration.

"It is altogether most flattering to me!" observed Agnes next day,
when pointing all this out to Sir Patrick. "Captain De Crespigny has
been sometimes most maliciously accused of insincerity towards young
ladies; but when he is in earnest you see how very much in earnest he
is! It would be impossible for him to be more deeply interested and
agitated on the occasion, if his own life, instead of mine, had been
endangered. I wish everybody else had shown as much feeling!" added
she, glancing angrily at Sir Patrick, who was carelessly whistling a
tune, and beating time with a riding whip on his boot. "Well!"
exclaimed Agnes, getting more and more irritated, "if I did not see
that one person at least cares more for me in the world than you do, I
would be ready yet, without giving Dixon the trouble, to poison
myself! I would spend my last shilling on a dose of arsenic!"

"I am not sure that poisoning in such a case would be the best plan!"
replied Sir Patrick, describing circles on the carpet with his whip,
and speaking in a tone of most provoking _nonchalance_. "In the first
place, if people are so very indifferent, it might be no great
punishment to them; and besides, I do not exactly see how poisoning
would improve your own prospects, either in this world or the next! In
respect to my friend De Crespigny, it is quite a catch for any idle man
like him, when something occurs that he can be interested in, for he
was dying of too much leisure; but as for his ever falling seriously in
love with any young lady in the creation, let me warn you, Agnes, once
for all, that there cannot be a more hopeless hope invented or dreamed
of."



CHAPTER XVI.


Marion found it more and more difficult every day, to account for the
bitter, angry contempt with which Agnes spoke of Clara Granville, her
dislike to whom never seemed for an hour to lie dormant, as she was
perpetually making allusions to her, which caused very frequent
irritation between herself and Sir Patrick, who sometimes angrily left
the room, and yet occasionally joined in her invectives against the
whole Granville family, in a tone of reckless, angry derision, which
was to Marion completely perplexing and unaccountable. If Agnes felt
dull or out of spirits, she complained of being excessively
Granville-ish; or if Sir Patrick were observed for a wonder, in any
single instance, to economise, she called him a Granville-ist; but if
her brother either laughed, or flung himself out of the room,
according to the humor he was in, it was in a fit of Granville-ism;
and Marion became surprised to perceive that the mention of that name
was never, even by chance, like that of any other name, a subject of
indifference; and conscious that some secret was connected with it,
not imparted to her, she carefully avoided all allusion to Clara.

Agnes one day jestingly announced to Sir Patrick that the Granvilles
had taken out perpetual tickets at the Charitable Soup Kitchen, and
meant to dine there every day on broth; and the next morning she
rather inconsistently found fault with them, because at least twenty
poor people assembled at their lodgings every day, to be fed, as if it
were a House of Refuge.

Marion observed that all the innumerable books for charitable
subscriptions, which were circulated from door to door, Agnes liked to
examine, for the gossiping amusement of ascertaining how much was
given by each or her friends, though never for the purpose of adding
her own name, as her purse was a complete valetudinarian, always
complaining of exhaustion, yet always capable of any exertion dictated
by inclination; and Sir Patrick also, though he generally swore an
impatient oath or two, when he saw the succession of dingy looking
books brought into the drawing-room, sometimes amused himself with a
supercilious glance at the contents.

Whenever the object was judicious, the Reverend Richard Granville's
name, and that of his sister, appeared for a small sum, such as they
might be able to afford; and Marion felt convinced there was much
single-hearted goodness, and courageous disregard of mere appearances,
when beneath the pompous £5 5s., of Lady Towercliffe, she saw the
modest unobtrusive ten shillings, or half-a-crown of Miss Granville.
It was probably all Clara could give, and she did not feel ashamed to
proclaim the very small amount, though Agnes, like most persons who
are mean themselves, in respect to giving, was splendid in her notions
for others, and exclaimed outrageously against the absurdity of
bestowing a paltry trifle at all.

"Five shillings to the Infirmary! did ever anybody hear such nonsense!
as if an Infirmary could be supported on five shillings! It is so like
Clara Granville's trumpery ideas! I daresay she thought the fortune of
the institution made by such a donation! It will scarcely buy a packet
of James' powders for one of the invalids!"

"But when Clara spares five shillings, are we to give nothing!" asked
Marion, seeing Sir Patrick's pompous butler, as usual, carrying away
the book untouched.

"Better give nothing than make ourselves ridiculous, like the
Granvilles. Nobody will guess that this book was brought here! I wish
Clara had given her superfluous money towards the better equipment of
their own one solitary man-servant,--the merest attempt at a footman I
ever beheld, with such a lodging-house look! Like the waiter from some
second-rate inn! Did you ever see anything so ugly, and out of taste,
as that little yellow cottage of the Granvilles', standing close to
the old palace, like a kippered salmon nailed to the wall!"

An angry flush burned upon the cheek of Sir Patrick, who did not trust
his temper with a reply to Agnes' tirade; and Marion hastily withdrew
her eyes from his countenance, on perceiving that he had bit his lip
till the blood seemed ready to spring, while his eyes flashed fire. In
a moment afterwards, he whistled half a tune, threw open the window,
and finally hurried out of the room, while Agnes looked mysteriously
at Marion, and said nothing, though the expression of her eye plainly
told that something was wrong.

Sir Patrick never entered a church; but Sunday being a day of impunity,
when he might go to his club, and become a gentleman-at-large, without
the possibility of being arrested, he invited a weekly supper party to
meet him at Douglass' Hotel, every Saturday night, punctually at
twelve o'clock, which held together till so late an hour on Sunday
mornings, that once having carried a candle to the door, when letting
out Captain De Crespigny, the day-light flashed in upon them, and they
saw the congregations passing along every street to church.

Sir Patrick's life had now become one continual subterfuge. '_Il jurait
bien, mais il payait mal_;' and he was heard frequently to declare,
that he could not but fancy it might be, to an old experienced fox, a
great amusement, when he afforded a good day's hunting to sportsmen,
from the strange delight he felt himself in baffling duns and teasing
bailiffs. He cared for nothing, not even for his debts and creditors,
but over-reached everybody, paid nobody, and treated all mankind in
different styles of insolence; but his favorite diversion was, nearly
to out-stay the hour of twelve on Sunday night, knowing that his
ill-treated creditors had offered a reward of £500 for his capture, and
that the whole way along the High Street, emissaries were ambuscaded,
in the eager hope that some fortunate night the clock might strike
Monday morning before he was safely sheltered within the sanctuary.

Once Sir Patrick had indeed lingered several minutes too late; and
when he approached the ditch, forming a line of demarcation between
the debtor's refuge and the world in general, a rope was drawn
completely across the street, while two men like constables, in large
loose duffle coats, and hats slouched over their faces, had taken
their station, each holding it resolutely at opposite ends, in the
certain expectation of entrapping him, though the courage of both
seemed for a moment to waver, when they saw the tall, well-knit, and
finely-proportioned figure of Sir Patrick, as he strode onwards, with
his usual military bearing and commanding aspect. After exchanging a
look, however, they tightened the rope, and were about, with a rapid
manoeuvre, to coil it round him, when Sir Patrick, seeing their
intention, rushed forward on the nearest, and levelled him to the
ground with a single blow, saying, "You dastardly rascals! do you
suppose that a dozen such fellows could be a match for any gentleman!"

"I'm a better gen'lemen than you, Sir!" said the other, in an insolent
blustering tone. "Every guinea in your pocket, Sir, there's ten men in
the world have a better right to than you have! I think a gen'leman
born means a gen'leman as pays his debts!"

"Then here is what I owe to you!" replied Sir Patrick, flinging him
almost across the street, with a violent blow on the head. "Only dare
to stand in my way again, and every joint or bone in that miserable
carcass of yours shall be fit for the surgeons. I intend to keep this
rope till the day you are hanged!"

Agnes made her Sundays literally a day of rest, by remaining most of
the morning in bed, to recover the fatigues of the previous week; and
even in the afternoon, a "Sunday shower" often kept her at home. She
had been taught at Mrs. Penfold's, to consider the most superficial
attention to religion, as being little short of angelic, and to
believe that the utmost extreme of rational devotion, if she wished to
be inordinately pious, would consist in going once every Sunday to a
pew in some fashionable chapel, where the stream of the preacher's
eloquence might be permitted to flow in at one ear, and out at the
other, without there being any occasion for her to analyse or
understand what he said, satisfied that her duty was more than done by
appearing there at all,--besides which, she occasionally read prayers
at home, in a careless mechanical way, which was anything but
praying--she had a magnificently bound bible on her toilette, more for
ornament than for use--she wore all her dresses for the first time at
chapel, dined on roast beef every Sunday, and spent the evening in
writing letters or in reading, or rather in sleeping over some volume
of religious poetry or tales--what Sir Patrick laughingly called "a
half-good book."

Both Agnes and her brother spoke with unmitigated and indiscriminating
reprobation of Methodists, Roman Catholics, Unitarians, Independents,
or any other sect of whom they knew the name, because, having always
belonged nominally to an orthodox chapel, they considered it a matter
of course, when thinking about the matter at all, that they must be
orthodox too; though, if Agnes had been obliged to give a summary of
her own doctrines, it would have been a confused medley, containing
many of the heresies she reprobated by name, without knowing their
nature. Thus sailing down on the stream of her own inclinations,
without effort or reflection, Agnes would have been indignant and
astonished beyond measure to be told, that she was not performing in a
most commendable manner "The Whole Duty of Man," or at least more than
the whole duty of woman, while she looked upon all those who evinced a
greater reverence for religion as mean hypocrites or fanatical
enthusiasts--being very much of opinion with the divine, who said that
orthodox meant his own opinion, and paradox other people's.

Marion silently, and very unobtrusively, pursued the even tenor of her
own way, with that deep and ardent devotion of spirit which had first
been awakened to life by the happy instrumentality of Clara, whose
apparent estrangement from her family now she deeply deplored, while
many an anxious conjecture frequently crossed her mind, whether she,
along with her brother and Agnes, must share in that alienation which
she could neither fully understand nor in any degree diminish; and on
the Sunday morning after her arrival at St. John's Lodge, before
setting out for chapel, she had been surprised and mortified to
observe, that Agnes' occupation in bed consisted in tearing up, to
make matches, a numerous collection of notes from Miss Granville, all
containing apologies for not accepting various invitations to St.
John's Lodge. "What can this all mean?" thought Marion, in agitated
perplexity, as she pursued her way to chapel. "It is very unlike Clara
to be so repulsive! and equally unlike Agnes to be importunate! I fear
something is greatly wrong; but Clara is too just and too good to
mingle me in any quarrel of which I do not so much as know the cause.
When we meet I shall at once ask Clara for an explanation. We must all
yet be reconciled and happy, as in former days."

There is nothing which extravagant people grudge so much as paying for
a pew in church; and those often who squander money upon everything
else, meanly evade subscribing this just and necessary tribute for the
maintenance of religion and good order in society. It is astonishing
how many who pay their way with lavish liberality during the interval
to concerts and balls, will stand, week after week, like paupers, in a
chapel-aisle, begging for a seat, rather than hire one for the season;
and on this occasion Marion, finding that neither Sir Patrick nor
Agnes had ever imagined any necessity for providing themselves with a
local habitation of their own, followed a stream of people into
chapel, and stood for some time near the door, in that most awkward
and conspicuous of all situations, waiting for the chance of being
shown into a seat by some compassionate pew-opener.

The street had been crowded by a dense mass of carriages, while Marion
felt almost bewildered by the loud crash of equipages driving up and
driving off, breaking the line and backing out, as if they had been
assembled on the benefit night of some popular actor, while a flood of
pedestrians crowded along the foot-path, as if their lives depended on
being first. She was astonished also at the unprecedented concourse of
people already assembled in chapel, with looks of eager excitement and
flushed expectation. Every aisle appeared filled to excess, and the
staircase seemed one solid mosaic of faces, while the congregation
were all crushing, elbowing, and pushing forward, in impatient haste.
Voices were heard, at length, speaking aloud, in angry contention, for
places--a sound which grated strangely and startlingly on the ear in a
sacred edifice; and when at length the heat became unbearably intense,
a loud crash was heard, of persons breaking the window for air.

Marion, intimidated at having ventured alone into so dense a crowd,
and at a loss to guess what could occasion so much excitement, would
have made her way out; but the pressure behind rendered it as
impossible to retreat as to advance. On few occasions do people betray
so great a want of kind consideration, and even of hospitality, as
when comfortably ensconced in an extensive pew at church, occupying
room enough for three or four others, and carelessly staring at those
who are vainly waiting, with hesitation and confusion such as
Marion's, in hopes of being obligingly accommodated with a place. Her
color deepening every moment, and her veil drawn closer, Marion shrank
from notice, while one person after another elbowed his way forward,
and closed the door of his pew, with the authoritative, self-satisfied
air of a proprietor, heedless how others might be situated; and still
Marion anxiously glanced around her in vain, for the obscurest nook in
which to subside unseen.

At length, when the first loud peal of the organ had sent forth its
solemn tones, summoning every heart to devout attention, Marion felt a
gentle touch given to her arm, and on looking round, her hand was
clasped for a moment with a look of heartfelt affection by Clara
Granville, who silently led her to the seat, at some distance, from
which she had followed her, and giving one more affectionate pressure
of the hand to Marion, she composed herself into a look of devout and
fervent attention, forgetful evidently of all but the important
services of the hour, while Marion's heart beat with rapture to find
herself once more beside her most beloved friend, and that friend
unchanged.

The prayers were not merely read, but prayed--not in the every day
matter-of-course tone, so common in the pulpit, nor in a pompous,
self-sufficient, commanding voice, but with deep thrilling solemnity,
and in a manner calm, graceful, and dignified, by a young clergyman of
most intelligent and serious aspect, who evidently felt all he said,
and became so utterly absorbed in his duty, that it appeared as if he
almost imagined himself alone, and visibly present with the Divine
Being whom he addressed.

The young preacher's appearance was singularly striking and
prepossessing. His dark Spanish-looking complexion, and rather foreign
features, were animated by an expression of the brightest
intelligence, while in his eye might be traced the calm dignity of a
highly cultivated intellect, and the benevolence of a Christian who
hoped all things and believed all things, judging others as he would
himself be judged. In preaching, he avoided the arena of controversy,
but his arguments were clear and comprehensive, his eloquence
irresistible, as much by the fire and splendor of his genius, as by
the depth and solemnity of his reflections, while the attention was
enthralled, the judgment convinced, the heart awakened, and the inward
feelings touched in their most secret recesses. Without a thought of
affectation, he was simple, dignified, full of earnestness,
self-conviction, and fervent devotion, while there were passages of
grandeur when he alluded to the solemn mysteries, and higher truths of
revelation, which might have made a mere philosopher feel as if the
wing of his imagination had been broken in attempting to follow; and
yet there were thoughts and illustrations so clear and comprehensible,
that any ignorant child from a charity school might have understood
them.

Amidst the brighter scintillations of his genius, it was evident that
he understood the whole alchemy of human nature, and while almost
insensibly revealing the magnificent proportions of his own mind, he
understood and sympathised with all the trials, temptations, and
sorrows of human nature, and considered the whole art of happiness for
man to consist in unreserved and heartfelt submission of his own will,
his own hopes, wishes, and affections to the will of his Maker,
desiring to have nothing, to be nothing, to do nothing, and to expect
nothing, but according to His wise and holy decrees--to let the stream
of events run on, seeking to extract the best happiness from them as
they occurred, without one rebellious wish that they had been
otherwise, but only with a fervent prayer that they may, and a firm
belief that they shall, carry him forward, though the course be rough
and perilous, to a calm, bright haven of ceaseless and unutterable
joy.

When the congregation had dispersed, with a degree of silence and
solemnity very different from their noisy and irreverent entrance,
Marion walked for some time, leaning on the arm of Miss Granville, but
so entranced that she was unable yet to break the chain which had
carried her mind and feelings captive to another and a better world.
She had never before felt so deeply impressed with the transitory
nature of all around her, the insignificance of those joys and sorrows
with which she was encompassed, and it seemed to her but a day or an
hour, till the curtain of eternity should rise, and the glories of a
great hereafter become visible to her sight.

"You have been deeply interested by all we have heard?" said Clara, in
an accent of gentle interrogation, but with an expression of peculiar
meaning in her countenance, which Marion was at a loss how exactly to
interpret.

"Interested!" exclaimed Marion, with youthful enthusiasm. "If all the
sermons I ever heard were compressed into one, they could scarcely
equal what has been said to-day!"

"Do you remember the preacher?" asked Clara, coloring and smiling.
"But no! how could that be possible, when you never met before! Here
he comes! Allow me to introduce you, then, to my very dear brother
Richard. You know each other already, by the description of one who
loves you both!"

Mr. Granville advanced to Marion with frank and prepossessing
kindness, but though his manner was most ingratiating, his countenance
wore an expression of pre-occupation and fatigue, while he walked
hurriedly past, after cordially shaking Marion by the hand, who
observed to Clara with surprise, that his hand felt as cold as ice.

"That is always the case with Richard after preaching," replied Miss
Granville. "The solemn feeling of responsibility which he has on
entering the pulpit, often agitates and overawes him to a degree you
would scarcely credit. The extravagant enthusiasm with which he has
lately been followed, makes him still more anxious to use rightly
while it lasts his influence with others, though, as he says, nothing
is so transient in this transitory world as the popularity of a
preacher, and his chief solicitude is to remind men that it is the
word preached, and not the preacher, which they are come to hear, and
always to preserve the simplicity of his own mind, unadulterated by
any inordinate wish for applause."

"I am sure his words and thoughts have all the force of genuine
feeling," said Marion, earnestly. "He preaches from heart to heart,
which is the only way to strike a light between them. It seemed
to-day, as if he were steering us through an ocean of immeasurable
thought."

"But," replied Clara, "Richard is deeply impressed with the danger to
a preacher himself, arising from the adulation with which he is
followed by crowds in search of novelty, who give that respect to the
mere ambassador delivering his message, which he wishes to claim
solely and entirely for his Divine Master. He quoted to me yesterday a
quaint old author, who says that God humbles men in this life, that He
may exalt them forever; but Satan exalts men in this life, that he may
cast them down for eternity. It is a solemn truth, and Richard feels
the danger as he ought."

"Then it is a danger no longer, if seen and rightly avoided," replied
Marion. "He already lives, I have heard, in a better world, while he
acts in this, but so much applause must be apt sometimes to draw down
your brother's thoughts from heaven to earth, if he hears all that is
said and thought. Lady Towercliffe remarked, as we came out, that his
eloquence does him immortal honor."

"Yes! as Richard himself once observed, 'immortal honor for
twenty-four hours, or perhaps a week;' but that is no object of
legitimate ambition to a preacher of immortality. My brother is
blessed with one Christian attainment almost in perfection, and that
is an actual dread of worldly applause. No penny trumpet could be more
insignificant in his estimation than the enthusiasm of a few excitable
young ladies, and I have seen him often carefully avoiding those, who
would be 'frothing him,' as he calls it, with preposterous praise. He
compares popularity to the sails of a windmill, raised to the clouds
one minute, and down below zero the next; but fashionable notoriety
has no attraction for one who aims at real usefulness. If he did not
despise it, he would despise himself. He is engrossed with the
fervent, heartfelt hope of doing good according to his opportunity,
and in perfect simplicity performing his duty to God and man."

"How mean and low in comparison do those appear who are living only
for the opinions of men, and the trumpery tinsel of this world, yet
how difficult it must be to rise above earthly ambition," said Marion.
"No patent of nobility could confer half the distinction on your
brother that he enjoyed to-day, surrounded by a multitude all aroused
to enthusiasm by his words. A mere author writes in solitude, and
never knows the full influence of what he has written; but an orator
reaps an immediate harvest of honor, and sees it before his eyes,
which must be ten thousand times more apt to intoxicate him with
success."

"Yes," replied Clara, "no enthusiasm can rival what is felt at the
moment for a popular preacher. His eloquence rouses feelings stronger
than in any nature, while men become conscious that it would be their
highest honor and best safety to encourage such thoughts as he
suggests. You would smile sometimes to see how Richard's steps are
beset as he leaves the chapel, by crowds anxious to catch a glimpse of
his countenance, to request an introduction, to express their warmest
thanks, to entreat he will print his last sermon, or to beg for an
autograph."

"It is taking pains to destroy what they most admire, when people
throw such temptations to vanity in a clergyman's way," said Marion.
"Even I could not but perceive, as he passed, the reverential glances,
and the whispered announcement of his name on every side, as he
hurried onward, looking neither to the right hand nor to the left; but
he sets an example of what he teaches, to live for high and holy
purposes. It is only by carrying a light himself, that a clergyman can
give light to others."

"Yes, Marion! it was not in mere words, of course, or of sacrilegious
presumption, that Richard declared, on being ordained, his own solemn
conviction that he was specially called to be a minister of the
church. Unlike the Jews, who had Christ in their Bibles, but not in
their hearts, his whole spirit was imbued with the pure holy faith and
morality of the everlasting Gospel, and he considered it the highest
of earthly honors to be consecrated for that solemn office."

"I was often told formerly," said Marion, "that your brother had
talents which would have raised him to eminence--or rather to
pre-eminence--at the bar, and in the House of Commons--or, as Pat has
always said, meaning the greatest compliment of all--on the stage;
but, dear Clara, how different, and how greatly superior, to feel, as
he must do, with an approving conscience, that all his abilities,
time, and strength, are consecrated to an object, which his heart,
without one momentary feeling of doubt or self-reproach, may delight
in--that all his studies, duties, and occupations increase his own
fitness to be happy for ever; while, at the same time, they are for
the good of all mankind, and for the glory of God. Your brother most
truly said to-day, that a sinner is 'the drudge of Satan;' but if
there be real greatness upon earth, I think it is that of an honored
and useful minister in the Church of Christ, whose character is
modelled upon the Holy Scriptures, as some insects take their hue from
the leaf on which they feed."

"True, Marion! Richard's profession is, indeed, in the way he fulfils
it, 'twice bless'd,' as a means of both giving and receiving
happiness. It is with him a labor of love, in which every duty is a
pleasure, and his object is, to keep us in mind of our individual
importance in being believers; for as the glory of the sun is
reflected in a single drop of dew, so may the character of Christ be
represented in that of the humblest Christian; and like a stone in an
arch, each atom has a place to fill, which must be conscientiously
kept, whether more or less important and conspicuous, with unswerving
steadiness, for in no other can it be so advantageously situated."

"I am entirely convinced of that," said Marion. "As your brother said
to-day, Christians must never feel themselves raised above the homely
duties of every-day life, nor give mere moralists occasion to say that
their faith is not evidenced by their works."

"No," replied Clara, "let the ravens croak while the eagle pursues his
steady flight towards the sun, heedless of all but his high
destination. Yet, as Richard says, Christian mothers should instruct
their own children, wives should find their first earthly duty in
associating with their husbands, the heads of houses should watch
conscientiously over the belief and conduct of their servants, a
clergyman's vocation is within his own parish, and every family should
be a little kingdom in itself, ruled and governed by the law and the
Gospel of Christ, so that, as benighted wanderers in the dark are
often cheered and guided by seeing, as they hurry onwards, the light
and warmth gleaming round the hearth of a stranger, the sinner, also,
in his dark and dreary course, when he beholds a passing glimpse of
that peace and joy which are to be found in a Christian household, and
there only, might be tempted and encouraged to go home and do
likewise."

"I wish it were so oftener," said Marion, while her thoughts reverted
sorrowfully to St. John's Lodge.

"It is in speaking with single-hearted simplicity of home duties and
home affections, that Richard always excels himself," continued Clara,
warmly. "There he preaches as he practices, for he cultivates
happiness to diffuse it all around him, and he is, in reality, all
that other men wish to appear. He deprecates, in general, pulpit
oratory, as men are often apt to mistake mere excited feeling for true
devotion; and he considers that attention in church at most to be
depended on that which does not require to be pampered with novelty.
Eloquence has so often been perverted to such evil purposes, both
moral and political, that Richard sometimes tells me, he thinks, on
the whole, this world would have been a better world without oratory
at all, because brilliant talents and enthusiastic tempers usurp so
often the place due only to principle."

"It often occurs to me," said Marion, "that half the actual history of
our own lives is unknown to us now, but will be probably revealed
hereafter;--in what respect, for instance, our circumstances in life
would have been altered, had we on various occasions acted
differently--how near we may have been to meeting with great events
which never actually occurred--what impression has been made on others
by our conduct and actions--who really loved us, and what is the
extent of good or evil which our conversation or our writings may have
done in the world. To your brother how many interesting discoveries
would such revelation probably disclose!"

"Richard's own endeavor is generally to maintain a calm, rational, and
argumentative style of reasoning with his congregation, and yet he is
carried away irresistibly by his feelings, sometimes into such a burst
of eloquence as we heard to-day," added Clara; "you would sometimes
fancy, even in conversation, that Richard's mind, like some great
volcano, was undergoing an overwhelming eruption, while he pours forth
in resistless torrents, the burning lava of his thoughts and
feelings."

Marion listened with increasing interest to Clara's remarks, and
watched with affectionate sympathy, the kindling brightness of her
friend's expressive eyes when she spoke of that brother so tenderly
beloved, and so unspeakably respected, of whom, from his earliest
boyhood, she had heard nothing but praise, for none had ever measured
the stature of his mind without finding it higher than they
anticipated. Marion felt an unenvying happiness in the happiness of
Clara, and yet a tear suddenly started into her eyes, and a pang of
unutterable sorrow struck upon her heart when she reflected, that, not
many years ago, her own brother, Patrick, had been the friend and
companion of this highly-gifted man, but that now they were friends no
more, and becoming every day less suited to be companions.



CHAPTER XVII.


From that memorable Sunday when Marion first renewed her friendship
and intimacy with Clara, her fair young countenance brightened into
its sunniest smiles, while day after day she carried her work to the
little "cottage of contentment," where Clara generally received her in
what she called her summer drawing-room, a small bowling-green in the
garden, bright and shining as an emerald, beneath a grove of
overhanging lilacs and laburnums. There Mr. Granville frequently
brought out books, which he read aloud and discussed, developing the
lofty aspirations of a mind fitted to be high among the highest in
learning and intellect, while his thoughts were like a well-tuned
instrument, from which every chord sounded to the praise of their
Divine maker, and his conversation was, as Pascal said of the Holy
Scriptures, even more addressed to the heart than to the head.

When reading aloud, Mr. Granville evinced so much interest, with so
quick a consciousness of the author's meaning, and so true a sympathy
in his sentiments, that it seemed as if he must himself have composed
every line; and when he occasionally lent Marion any volume that she
particularly liked, she found his favorite passages marked, and the
margin enriched by so many interesting notes, that she followed with
delight the course of his mind, while at the same time storing her own
memory with high thoughts and refined sentiments.

There was a degree of soul and spirit in the countenance of Mr.
Granville, which marked him as no ordinary man, and an indefinite
charm in his grave and courteous manner, suited to his holy
profession, and displaying the calmness and polish of one accustomed
to good society. He had an energy of expression irresistibly
influential, while illustrating with an eloquence peculiarly his own,
all the highest and holiest principles which can occupy the human
heart. His master mind conversed of Milton, Spenser, Cowper,
Montgomery, and of all the pious authors dear to every lover of nature
and of highly-wrought genius and devotion, while the most phlegmatic
must have been roused, and the most passionate become subdued, by the
indisputable dominion of a great mind, for his genius appeared to look
upon the trifles of existence with the passing glance of an eagle in
its lofty ascent.

Marion and Clara were often entertained by Mr. Granville when he
related characteristic anecdotes of pious and literary men with whom
he had associated, enlivened by original remarks, shewing strong
powers of observation, and displaying the best side of human life; yet
his wit and humor were evidently chastened and subdued by a thoughtful
estimate of existence, and by a continual consciousness of his high
vocation, while Marion scarcely knew whether to be most astonished at
the versatility of his talents, or at the extent of his information.
No subject seemed strange to him, no country unknown, no science
unstudied, no book unread,--while with ready memory and practised
judgment he spoke as he thought, betraying no reserve or affectation:
and religion still, like a golden thread, was to be traced running
through his whole conversation.

Marion's was a heart which required something in those she loved to
reverence and look up to; but here she had found that in its fullest
measure, and under the happiest auspices, among friends with whom she
had never spent an hour without feeling the happier and the better for
it. Now for the first time she discovered that there is an aristocracy
of conversation, which avoids everything low or mean in its origin,
while a new world of ideas opened upon her, in listening to sentiments
of high honor, and to feelings of universal benevolence. The genius of
Agnes for conversation lay only in the line of scandal, and she was in
the habit of sweeping away characters like cobwebs, at a single
stroke, by remarks full of flippancy, and often using her talents as a
mimic, while with tricks almost amounting to buffoonery, she rendered
the best and most estimable of her friends, though above the reach of
censure, at all events ridiculous. Ill-nature was to her conversation
what fuel is to the flame; and Agnes piqued herself on her penetration
in discovering the motive of others for all they did, while invariably
tracing it to something mean or contemptible; but with Richard and
Clara an equal ingenuity was shewn in tracing it to good; and while in
the one house every individual discussed was brought down to the same
level of absurdity or selfishness, it was cheering and gratifying to a
heart like Marion's, that at Mr. Granville's, the characters and
feelings of every one living were respected and elevated.

At St. John's Lodge, when Marion heard Sir Patrick and Agnes discuss
their acquaintances, she could not but wonder sometimes where all good
or commendable people had hid themselves, as it seemed as if they must
have fled from the face of man, or have closed their hearts in disgust
from all association with the mean and paltry world of fashion and
frivolity; but now at last she had discovered some whom malice itself
could scarcely criticise; and in thus associating intimately with the
"excellent of the earth," she felt an increasing ambition to resemble
them.

None were more fitted than Clara and Richard to appreciate the
single-hearted excellence of Marion's disposition, her utter
disregardlessness of self, her anxious desire to please, her gay
spirits, brilliant without effort, her heart generous without guile,
and her thoughts fresh and unsophisticated as the gentle summer breeze
from the mountains. No one could look at Marion, and not wish to be
her friend.

There was a tone of frank and entire confidence in her manner, which
instantly gained that of others in return--a softened sensibility in
her expression--a deep fascination in her smile--and in her voice a
tone of joyous hilarity, indicative of her sunny mind, though, like her
countenance, it was capable of intense expression, and deepened
sometimes, now, into a tone of reflection and feeling beyond her years,
while before long it appeared evident, in Clara's opinion, that she had
become all and everything in this world to Richard, and Richard to
her--that her amiable, single-hearted _naivete_ of disposition had at
once carried all the outworks of Mr. Granville's affection, and that
already she was established not only in his friendship, but in
something more.

Unsuspicious of Mr. Granville's increasing preference, Marion smiled
and talked in his society with unembarrassed vivacity, or in their
graver moods replied to his remarks as she might have done to those of
any aged clergyman. The perfect harmony of their tastes, and the
sympathy of their feelings, produced that gradual communion of thought
which is the essence of friendship, while heart answered to heart, as
if each had a telegraph instantaneously to reveal all that passed
within. The highest qualities of Mr. Granville's mind, as well as the
deepest feelings of his nature, were brought into visible exercise,
while he who had hitherto lived only for others, now felt that there
was not a link in the chain of human sympathies and affections which
had not become sacred and dear to himself. There was even something
that might be considered romantic in his feelings--a poetry of the
heart, which led him to believe that a refined and sanctified love,
such as men read and write of, but seldom feel, might yet exist on the
earth--such love as could survive the lapse of time, the withering
influence of prosperity, the chilling blast of adversity, and the
growing infirmities of age, till at length, nourished and perfected by
every vicissitude of sunshine and storm, it should be transplanted in
renewed holiness and beauty to another and a better world.

Marion's character was rapidly matured and developed by her
intercourse with Mr. Granville, who raised in her ardent mind the most
enthusiastic interest; and while with timid pleasure, but increasing
confidence, she joined in the conversation, her voice dwelt on his ear
long after she ceased to speak, her looks were imprinted on his memory
in his most solitary hours, and to Marion a new degree of interest and
of happiness had suddenly become known, when with a vivid blush, and a
beaming smile of pleased emotion, day after day, she thought over all
that had passed, though ignorant yet of the extent to which her heart
and feelings were already engaged. How much of life's most interesting
emotions now passed through her mind during a few weeks, the heart of
Marion alone could testify; while the attachment of Mr. Granville was
concealed from common observation, to be only the more ardently
testified towards herself; and their happiness being the result of no
precipitate impulse, they became attracted together by that love of
excellence, which is the only permanent source of mutual attachment.

Marion's mind had always a propensity to admire, and whether in nature
or in art, she found it more congenial to her feelings ever to seek
for beauties rather than defects, therefore now she was delighted to
associate with one who not only appreciated everything as she did, but
pointed out unexpected excellencies in all the objects of animated
nature, in all the books she read, and even in many of the companions
with whom she associated. With Richard and Clara she first visited the
abodes of poverty; and in attending to the sufferings and sorrows of
others, she saw that Miss Granville found the best relief from a
depression of spirits, under which Marion could not but see with
surprise and regret, that her friend had recently suffered. Clara's
piety was testified in deeds much more than in words, for good actions
she evidently considered as the necessary embellishments of that holy
faith which alone can render any mortal acceptable in the eyes of his
Divine Maker, while salvation by the cross of Christ is the pivot on
which all depends--the crowning stone to the arch, giving stability
and grace to the whole fabric of Christian hope.

Miss Granville gave not only her time and money, but her feelings and
sympathies to the poor; while it evidently cheered her very heart when
she could do a kind action; and though ever ready, heartily and
gratefully, to acknowledge the Divine goodness to herself, whether in
joy or in sorrow, yet nothing appeared so keenly to stir up her
gratitude as any opportunity allowed her of doing a benevolent or a
friendly action, as she considered that the knowledge of religion,
without active exertion, testifying our love to God by our love to our
fellow-creatures, was worse than useless. "The most depraved of
sinners," as Mr. Granville said, "could repeat the creed, but a
Christian only can believe and follow it like Clara."

    Graceful and useful in all she does,
    Blessing and blest wher'er she goes.

Marion, on returning one day over the hills and through the fields,
with Mr. Granville and Clara, from a tour of interesting visits to the
abodes of chilling poverty and agonised wretchedness, such as she had
never even imagined, could not but contrast the smiling aspect of
nature in all the sunny joy and verdure of spring, with the mournful
lot of man as she had so recently witnessed it.

"How strange," said she, "to take a bird's-eye view, as we do this
evening, of that great city, all glittering in sunshine, and every
window illuminated with a flood of light, as if nothing but festivity
and joy were there, and yet to know what a world of anxiety, and fear,
and pain, and sorrow, are all fermenting within its walls! Silent as
the whole scene appears, yet, for every window we can look upon, there
is probably some living being full of schemes, hopes, and fevered
wishes, dissatisfied with his own lot, and envying that of another!
What an awful world this is to be born into, when, amidst its many
pleasures and its many beauties, we yet consider all its solemn
responsibilities and fearful trials!"

"Yes," replied Mr. Granville, in that voice, the deep melody of which
was like no other voice, "we are placed here in a great theatre; and
while, as interested spectators, we admire the decorations, let us
remember, in respect to the actors, that nothing is either ours or
theirs, but each has his part to perform, for which he is responsible,
and all shall then be swept away to take an abiding place, according
as we are fitted for it, in that real and unchangeable scene for which
here we are only rehearsing our parts. If actors on the stage were to
become actually and permanently for life, the great characters they
represent, provided only they supported the part well for a night, the
stake would be nothing in proportion to what a Christian shall gain if
grace be given him to fulfill his allotted part in this short and
transitory life, which is but a final rehearsal for eternity."

"Very true," said Clara; "this world is a mere preparatory school,
where, like wayward children, we become surprised and irritated at the
slightest correction, being most unwilling to acknowledge that it is
either required or deserved."

"Yet," added Mr. Granville, "nothing brings out the best qualities of
man like suffering. It is a hard rub given to gold, which becomes only
the brighter; and I often think how much interest and dignity is
bestowed on every event of our short lives, by thinking that we are
trained and disciplined as a part of a mighty plan which has been
going systematically on from the beginning of time, and must be
continued to the very end."

"As you observed yesterday," replied Clara, "we are woven into the web
of human life which is passing on daily into eternity, carrying us
along on its surface with irresistible speed. We have no choice
allowed either in coming into the world, or in going out of it; but
the existence thus given to us leads on to an eternity of joy or of
insufferable misery, according to the state of preparation in which we
are found at last. It often occurs to me, as a solemn reflection, that
the two principles of good and evil are, as long as we live, to
continue at war in our minds, but that, like fire and water, one of
these will finally extinguish the other, and that, when death
overtakes us, we shall then become either entirely holy or entirely
reprobate."

"It is a solemn truth," said Mr. Granville, with his usual tranquil
dignity of manner. "The tide of this world's history rolls on, while
generation after generation, like the successive billows on a troubled
ocean, rises and swells into momentary importance, till it be dashed
in pieces and followed by another; but one great Omnipotent power
directs the whole, and watches over each insignificant atom as it is
hurried along. He, by whom the very hairs of our head are numbered,
ordains for our good and for His glory, all events and circumstances,
whether great or small; and if our wills are implicitly conformed to
His, we shall see the trifles of this life through a blaze of
religious light, which will display us their importance as a means of
attaining good, but their insignificance if pursued as an end."

"Even now," observed Clara, "the very occupations and habits essential
to a Christian life, in themselves confer a degree of happiness which
the world cannot give, and does not know--a faint but pleasing emblem
of what is promised in a better state."

"It appears to me," said Mr. Granville, "that those who live for mere
amusement, are no wiser than if they embarked for a voyage round the
world, in a little pleasure-boat, dancing lightly on the billows, with
its white and flowing sails glittering in the sunbeams, rather than in
a strong and sturdy vessel, cutting its dignified way with deep,
steady and undeviating course, in gladness and in safety, through
tempest or calm, whether the breeze be adverse or favorable. Life is
one long struggle, where the Christian must learn to hate much that he
naturally loves, and to love much that he naturally hates, continually
steering his course against nature, to advance in grace."

"I have heard it said," observed Marion, "that Paris is the place, of
all others, where men can most easily do without happiness, because if
any one can entirely forget himself in mere pleasure, it is there."

"How often have I pitied those who squandered their years abroad on an
aimless, amusement-seeking life," said Clara. "What a weight of _ennui_
they must endure! What a sense of utter worthlessness they must feel! A
fever of delirious pleasure is probably the best they occasionally
enjoy! I have sometimes been astonished lately, when in confidential
conversation with the gayest, and apparently the happiest of my
companions, to find that they were actually laboring under the deepest
depression of spirits."

"You need never be surprised by such discoveries, for I meet with them
continually in my clerical visitations," replied Mr. Granville. "The
bright sun above our heads was not created to look down on scenes of
merely selfish enjoyment. It cannot be; and if a thermometer could
visibly display the relative degree of cheerfulness enjoyed through
life by the slave of amusement, who consults only the impulse of his
own passions, or the servant of God who obeys the dictate of reason
and revelation, how astonished most men would be at the measureless
disparity of actual felicity. The one wrapped up in selfishness, yet
anxious to escape amidst a wild uproar of amusement, from his own
thoughts; the other retiring often, voluntarily, to the companionship
of his reflections, while his heart expands to embrace the true
interests of all mankind; the one rich in everything but real
happiness; the other poor, perhaps, in respect to wealth, but yet
possessing great riches."

"I am more and more convinced every day," said Clara, "that no living
creature has a sufficient portion of happiness for himself, unless he
shares that of others, while imparting his own; and that no kind of
traffic brings so large a return to all parties, as that of giving and
receiving the sympathy and good offices of Christian kindness. It is
twice, or rather thrice blessed!"

"I often think," said Marion, "if we could step into the chamber of
any person's mind, and look around us there, how astonishing it would
be to survey even that of our most intimate friend! Many would appear
large and spacious, bright, well furnished, and in good order; while
others that make a tolerable appearance in society, because they need
only show a few samples in the window, would turn out to be filled
with rubbish, narrow, gloomy, and disordered."

"Some minds," replied Mr. Granville, "resemble a show-house laid out
for display, where strangers are brought to envy, admire, and exclaim;
but home-feelings are the real ornaments of life, which I covet for
myself, and for those who are dearer to me than myself."

"It would be curious," observed Clara, smiling, "if every human being
might choose the sort of happiness which, in a future life, he wishes
to enjoy! There would be a strange diversity of inclination! I suppose
a foxhunter, who now finds his best enjoyment in riding six hours
a-day, would then bespeak a horse which was never, in a long course of
ages, to tire, accompanied by a fox ready to be killed every three
hours. A gourmand would ask for a perpetual dinner, and a perpetual
appetite; and Captain De Crespigny would wish for a continual
succession of young ladies, all living on his attentions, and dying of
broken hearts when he disappointed them."

"Only ask yourself in respect to any earthly pleasure, if you would
wish it to be continued for ever, and that will convince you more than
anything, Clara, that this world is not our home," said Mr. Granville.
"There is never a moment of our lives in which we could hear with any
satisfaction that what we then enjoyed was to continue throughout
eternity. No! there is a mighty vacuum in our souls, which can only be
filled by that which 'eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,' and which it
hath not entered into the heart of man yet to conceive."

There is a free-masonry,--a sort of electrical connection between
those who suffer and those who sympathise. It was evident to Marion
that, beneath the look of calm, deep, and chastened composure, which
might be traced in the large lustrous eyes of Clara Granville, there
was the heavy aspect of one who had suffered, as well as thought much.
The high arched forehead, in which the meanderings of the smallest
blue vein was visible, and the ethereal transparency of her alabaster
cheek, gave an almost poetical, but very melancholy expression to her
countenance, and there was a subdued tenderness in her voice and
manner, most touching to the heart.

She seemed like a lily blighted in the storm, and often did Marion
wonder what that sorrow could be, which shunned all notice, and seemed
to bury itself beneath a multitude of thoughts and occupations for the
good of others.

Once, and only once, Marion observed an alteration in the settled
composure of Clara's manner, the occasion of which caused her
considerable surprise. Hitherto, when she inadvertently mentioned Sir
Patrick, the Granvilles insensibly changed the subject almost
immediately, but without the slightest appearance of dislike or
resentment, while Marion could not but silently blame her own
forgetfulness of her brother's conduct to Mr. Granville, which she
thought might well render his name unacceptable in their family
circle. One day, however, her eyes were accidentally fixed on Clara,
when she mentioned that Sir Patrick had escorted her to the chapel
door on the previous Sunday, and seemed more than half inclined to
enter, but had suddenly burst away in a most unaccountable paroxysm,
and hurried out of sight.

A deep and sudden blush overspread the pale cheek of Miss Granville,
who hastily looked up, and meeting Marion's eyes, the color rushed in
torrents over her face, arms, and neck, and her long eye-lashes became
heavy with tears, while her emotion growing evidently uncontrollable,
she threw down her work, and glided out of the room.

"Clara dislikes him for his rapacious conduct to Mr. Granville. Why can
I never learn to avoid Patrick's unlucky name," thought Marion. "It
comes in _a propos_ to everything or to nothing. I am unaccustomed to
think before I speak, but this will make me remember to forget him in
future. I could not have believed that Clara would feel that affair so
very acutely."

Marion's thoughts now reverted with some anxiety to her brother and
sister. They were either ignorant of her renewed intimacy with the
Granvilles, or indifferent to it, but which might turn out to be the
case, however important to her own happiness, she scarcely dared to
investigate, and day after day passed on finding her almost
domesticated with her newly-restored friend, and scarcely missed
apparently by Agnes. Marion was truth itself, and would have abhorred
any clandestine engagements, but after having mentioned the first few
times that she was going to call on Clara, the intimation being
received by her brother and sister in solemn silence, she thought it
unnecessary to make a repetition of the announcement; yet, as her
feelings became more deeply and engrossingly interested, her anxiety
became the greater to know what Sir Patrick might say or think on the
occasion; and to Marion's experience it became true as to that of the
poet,

    "Love's first step is on a rose; the second finds a thorn."



CHAPTER XVIII.


It is the greatest height of wisdom to be happy, but the happiest
periods of existence are the most difficult to describe; and from this
time forth, within the domestic circle of Mr. Granville, Marion was
introduced into a scene of such refined and intellectual enjoyment,
that it seemed to her as if she had hitherto beheld the picture of
life, painted only by some inferior artist, coarsely daubed over with
glaring hues, and vulgarly discolored; but it now appeared to her in
all the graceful symmetry, subdued harmony, and exquisite coloring of
a great master.

Marion's natural taste had revolted from the mean, reckless,
exaggerated caricatures of happiness, which had been exhibited to her
in Sir Patrick's riotous revellings, and in her sister's feverish
excitement; while Agnes wasted her heart and feelings in building up
romances for herself, very much in the Minerva press and
Adela-de-Montmorency school; but now the morality appeared in all its
true fascination and inestimable worth to Marion, when she saw real
felicity formed upon that divine model, which she had before imagined,
but never seen.

While sharing the pure joys and peaceful happiness of Clara and
Richard, scarcely a thought of Marion's heart remained unspoken,
except her secret and increasing consciousness of the wide disparity
between that home, where she found nothing but a heartless desolation
or neglect of her best feelings, and the beautiful exemplification of
domestic felicity to which she had now been introduced. Every
occupation or amusement in which she engaged with her friends, became
enhanced in pleasure and importance, by the consciousness, that beyond
the mere gratification of the moment, it was consecrated to a higher
and better aim; that it might be remembered hereafter without remorse,
and that it was but a link in the bright chain of eternal happiness
for which they were all preparing, and which they expected all to
enjoy together, by the light of that sun which never sets, but shines
beyond the grave.

The Christian friendship of a brother and sister for each other, is
perhaps the purest and happiest of all earthly attachments, for there
is not an hour of life from childhood to old age, in which they have
not experienced the same joys and the same sorrows, known every
vicissitude of existence together, acquired the same habits, wept for
the same sorrows, rejoiced in the same prosperity, and cherished the
same hopes. The affection of Clara and Richard was not the transient
union of two individuals thrown together by the accident of birth,
united by mere instinct, living in contact for convenience, and
expecting to be finally separated by death; but it was the deep,
strong, heart-felt attachment of a Christian family, linked together
for mutual support in sunshine or shadow, tenderly to assist each
other along the difficult path of life, happy in the blessings that
were given them now, and happier still in the expectation of those yet
to come in that "new heaven and new earth, wherein dwelleth
righteousness."

As Mr. Granville's character became more known to Marion, and the
interest with which he listened to her thoughts and feelings
perceptibly increased, she could not but secretly indulge sometimes in
the thought, presumptuous though it seemed to herself, how different
life might yet become, if the preference already so obviously
testified were by any "strange impossibility" to increase, till he
became allied, to her by the strictest tie of perpetual friendship,
and their lives and affections were mingled into one. Marion's young
heart glowed with emotion when she thought how her feelings would all
then be understood, her affections appreciated, her happiness cared
for, and every trivial incident of her life rendered doubly important,
because it belonged to another as well as to herself--to one who would
share all her thoughts, direct all her actions, and mingle with every
Christian motive to exertion, the desire to please him in her own
happy home.

The attachment of Agnes for Captain De Crespigny was like that of a
child for its rattle, compared with the ennobling sentiment of which
Marion's heart was capable, for there a mine of undiscovered
affections lay buried and unknown, while every deeper emotion had
hitherto been repelled or neglected by all around, except her uncle,
and she could not but tremble to think, if her affections were ever
warmed into life by reciprocal attachment, how inconceivable must be
the misery or the happiness which would ensue. She indulged in no
fallacious expectations of life, no romantic dreams of never-ending
happiness and never-dying love, which originate in unreasonable
expectation, and too certainly end in bitter disappointment; but, to
be the object of Mr. Granville's unchangeable confidence and
affection, his companion in sickness as much as in health, the sharer
of his sorrows as well as his joys, a participator in all his duties,
and, most of all, to testify her gratitude for his preference, by
devoted attachment on her own part, not bounded within the perishable
limits of a mere earthly tie--these were the silent, unspoken wishes
of Marion, which glanced through her mind often, as she hurried home,
late and unwillingly, to St. John's Lodge, and which caused her bright
eye to beam with additional lustre, or brought the color in a richer
carnation to her cheek.

Events always happen when least expected, and if there be a day in
life when any one in this world of change can feel peculiarly certain
that nothing remarkable shall occur, that is probably the period when
the most remarkable events take place. Marion had gone with Clara and
her brother to spend a quiet day among the romantic glens of Roslin,
when, finding herself alone with Mr. Granville, in one of the most
beautiful parts of the rocky glen, she was suddenly astonished by his
making her, with manly frankness, and yet evident diffidence, an
explicit declaration of his attachment. He said, on the occasion, all
that could be said by such a man, with the eloquence of deep emotion;
and, encouraged by the timid pleasure with which Marion evidently
listened to his words, Mr. Granville laid open the whole depths of a
heart in which all that was ennobling in nature had become embellished
by all the purifying influences of religion, while she, with tears and
blushes, heard thus unexpectedly what promised her the utmost sum of
human felicity, and she attempted not to conceal how highly, beyond
all expression, she appreciated his preference and attachment.

There is a language of the heart which words cannot
express,--thoughts, feelings, and affections too deep to be told, but
revealed only in the eyes and voice, when with sincerity of emotion,
such as Mr. Granville's, a long concealed attachment is at last
declared.

"I have asked myself a thousand times whether I could make you happy,
and if I believed," said he, "that there lived a man upon the earth
who could love you more, or make you happier than myself, I would
endeavor to resign all hope; but I know the lasting nature of my
attachment, which time itself cannot alter, nor death finally
extinguish; and if such affection as mine, with nothing else to offer,
can make you happy, it will be a new motive to exertion on my part,
and a new source of thankfulness to the Divine Giver of all good. Your
brother knows better than most men the pecuniary embarrassment in
which a long-continued law-suit has plunged me, and that my future
income may not perhaps be large, but consult him,--and my very dear
Marion, as I must for once be allowed to call you, consult your own
wishes and your happiness. Before giving me a final answer, take some
days to consider----"

"Not an hour,--or a moment," replied Marion, frankly, but with a
faltering voice and glistening eye, while a vivid blush dyed her
cheek, "I need only consider whether my own heart be worthy of you! I
have thought sometimes,--I have dreamed of such happiness as ours
shall be, but little did I hope ever to see it more than realized
now!"

Love is with lovers an endless subject, and hours appeared like
moments, while they conversed together on the past and the future
with new feelings of confidence and joy, and the whole beautiful
scenery around seemed as it were haunted by the spirit of thought
and of enjoyment, while it was with a thrilling emotion of deep
gratification that Marion now felt undoubtingly conscious that she
had become indeed an object of preference to Mr. Granville, that she
would be thought of always by one whom she could never forget, that
she knew the whole story of his heart and affections, and that these
were devoted,--ardently devoted to herself; and now resolutely
discarding every apprehension of future difficulties or sorrows, all
around took the color of her happiness, and she lived only in the joy
of the present hour. Nothing required concealment between them, and
it seemed the sole object of both to open up the most secret recesses
of their minds, comparing opinions and feelings, while before long it
appeared strange to Marion that a time had ever existed when their
hearts were unknown to each other. No caprices, no misunderstandings,
no jealousies could arise between them, for there seemed to be but
one heart and one mind in common, from the moment when Marion
whispered her confession, that their attachment was reciprocal.

    Oh! there are looks and tones that dart,
    An instant sunshine through the heart,
    As if the soul that minute caught,
    Some treasure it through life had sought.

At length they were warned to return homewards, by the golden light of
a setting sun, which yet looked in glowing majesty over the distant
hills, and sprinkled its glory on the highest tops of the trees, till
they were tipped with fire; but Marion paused, in delighted
admiration, on the centre of a rustic fairy-bridge, like a spider's
web, thrown across the narrowest and deepest part of the swollen
stream. Among rock and moss, tufted with weeping birch, the
overhanging cliffs here formed themselves into two sides of a natural
arch, in which nature had apparently omitted the key-stone, though art
had supplied the deficiency, by a slight bridge, underneath which the
sparkling waters boiled and thundered on with bewildering rapidity,
like a stream of light, bounding and leaping, with a clamorous
brawling uproar, along the rocky channel, and disappearing behind a
bold promontory, over-grown with tall pines, and twisted with the
knotted and gnarled roots of many an ancient oak.

The country seemed indeed clothed with a prodigality of beauty--the
wild confusion of rocks--the feathered branches of a hundred
trees--the sparkling sunbeams, sprinkled like scattered leaf-gold on
every object--the shadows interlaced upon the verdant grass--the
yellow broom, glowing with its sunny hues--the groups of
well-conditioned cattle ruminating on the meadows--and the stream, now
murmuring in wild music over its rocky bed, and dimpling into smiles
beneath the sunshine, while the mind and conversation of Mr. Granville
travelled into the highest regions of thought, and Marion compared the
bright gay aspect of all around to her own happy feelings.

"It is a pleasure to think," said Marion with animation, "that the
poorest and most destitute of human beings might enjoy the beauties of
nature as we do now, and all the pleasures, too, of confidence and
affection, if they but knew how to value them. God gives all that is
most precious to his creatures in common; and how little of our real
happiness in life is derived from the mere vulgar display of wealth,
equipages, jewels, and external splendor. It is not the materials of
our happiness which are so important, as the way in which we build up
the fabric."

"I have sometimes been ready to regret," answered Mr. Granville, "that
in offering you my hand and fortune, I offer you so little; but I
never desired wealth for myself. No man living cares less for luxury;
and we may trust that my devoted affection shall succeed in shielding
you from the thousand inconveniencies of a very limited income."

"It is the heart I value," whispered Marion. "With all my faults, the
love of money never was one. We shall be rich in happiness, and in all
that Providence gives to the most favored of those who trust in Him."

"Yes! such mutual confidence as ours, with Christian contentment and
cheerfulness, are the real elixir of happiness," replied Mr.
Granville. "It is by closing our eyes against the pure enjoyments
prepared for us by the God of nature, and opening them to the
artificial wants invented by man, that we lose all the simplicity, and
most of the real felicity of life. One can scarcely wonder, in a scene
like this, that many Christians think this beautiful earth, in a
purified state, shall hereafter become the place of our eternal
happiness; but wherever the presence of God is, that, and that only
will constitute heaven."

"And who could wish for more?" said Marion. "That should in itself
excite all our gratitude and joy."

"Yet this noisy turbulent stream, rushing wildly past in its angry
career, is like the troubled course of human wishes, thoughts, and
speculations, with which we are continually disturbing that calm,
unruffled state, in which our minds would best reflect the light of
heaven," answered Mr. Granville. "No one ever had a plummet long
enough to measure the depth of that love to man, which has placed us
as probationers in our sin-blighted world; and even if we had no
futurity of glory promised us, and were finally to perish at death, we
have cause to be thankful for seeing so much natural beauty, and so
much intellectual enjoyment, while permitted to remain here."

"Yes!" replied Marion, "considering that we have forfeited every
blessing, I think any man who has enjoyed life as he ought to, might
give a receipt in full, as having received a thousand mercies to which
he had no claim."

"But who can imagine the magnificent expansion of mind hereafter, when
the whole scheme of nature, of providence, and of grace, shall be
fully revealed, and our capacities enlarged, to comprehend and
appreciate the mighty plan," continued Mr. Granville. "Now, even the
wisest and best of Christians must be satisfied with the intelligent
ignorance of knowing that he knows nothing; for even angels,
travelling on the wings of thought for thousands of years, cannot yet
understand the whole counsel of God; but our present business is to
study and practise here the temper and manners of that celestial city
in which we hope hereafter to reside, that our attachment, begun
indeed now upon earth, may be blessed and perpetuated throughout
eternity."

_C'est bien d'etre avec les gens qu'on aime--leur parler, ne leur
parler pas._ The eye of Mr. Granville now gazed in delighted admiration
on the whole circumference of earth and sky, with a keen perception of
their beauties, and an intelligent recollection that while the eternal
sky and the decaying earth form an apt emblem of soul and body, all the
works of nature may be brought beautifully to exemplify the works of
grace. Marion and he long stood still together in that companionable
silence, which became so soothing and delightful to their spirits, that
neither seemed willing to break the spell.

Both Marion and Mr. Granville delighted in devoutly contemplating the
glories of creation--nature's system of divinity--those "elder
Scriptures writ by God's own hand"--the majestic display of Almighty
wisdom, power, and goodness, in the grand theatre of human life, as
well as in the minutest events of their own existence.

    This is religion--not unreal dreams,
    Enthusiastic raptures, and seraphic gleams;
    But Faith's calm triumph--Reason's steady sway--
    Not the bright lightning but the perfect day.

Thus musing together, in silent, speechless happiness, Mr. Granville
was suddenly roused, by observing a young lady approach with agitated
and disordered steps, leaning on the arm of a more elderly female, and
walking at a pace of such unusual rapidity, that it almost amounted to
running. They both glanced frequently and hurriedly behind, as if under
great alarm, while so remarkable an expression of terror was evident in
all their looks and movements, that Mr. Granville, without a moment's
hesitation, stepped forward, and courteously volunteered his services,
while Marion with delighted astonishment, recognised her friend and
companion, Caroline Smythe.

"You seem alarmed! Allow me to offer my assistance!" said Mr.
Granville. "Shall we accompany you?"

"No! no! I am safest alone!" gasped the younger lady, in accents of
wild alarm. "He carries pistols! He is perfectly insane! Stop him if
you can! Oh! stop him! Do not let him follow! Direct him wrong! Do
anything! Try, if you possibly can, to detain him!"

Mr. Granville glanced swiftly round, and observed, with surprise, not
far from the bridge, and turning the sharp corner of a projecting rock,
the figure of a tall, powerful young man, of rather gentleman-like
appearance, wrapped up to the chin in a large cloak, who instantly, on
perceiving strangers, muffled his face closely in his handkerchief, and
drew down his hat, but approached with rapid strides and violent
gesticulations, apparently speaking to himself, and muttering curses
with terrifying vehemence. Not a moment was lost in hesitation, before
Marion assisted the elder lady in supporting Caroline onwards, who
evidently suffered under a mortal terror, while they rapidly dragged
her across the fragile bridge, on which Marion and Richard had so
lately enjoyed some brief and happy moments.

Mr. Granville, in the mean time, approached the stranger so as to stand
directly in his path, and necessarily to impede his progress, while he
steadily fixed his gaze upon the blazing eye of the madman with a calm
and commanding look, which testified an unflinching determination to
obstruct his onward career, and a steady resolution not to be
intimidated by the air of scowling defiance with which he was met.

"Stand back!" exclaimed the stranger, in a tone of maniacal fury. "Life
and death are at stake! stand back! delay me one moment, and you die!"

"Is the bridge secure?" asked Mr. Granville, catching hold of the
madman's arm when he was rushing past, and instantly stooping down as
if to examine the foundation, when, by a powerful effort of strength,
he suddenly hurled the whole fabric into the eddying stream, which
washed the shattered fragments in a moment out of sight.

With a cry of almost fiendish rage, and setting his teeth till it
seemed as if they would be ground to powder, the maniac sprang like a
tiger on Mr. Granville, and would have collared him; but with great
agility he eluded the madman's grasp, and fixed his eyes with an
expression of stern resolution upon his frantic antagonist, till his
face cowered beneath that steady gaze, when he said in a calm, slow,
resolute accent,

"Those ladies shall pass on unmolested. It is base and cowardly to
terrify timid females whom we are bound with our very lives to protect.
Go back as you came, and beware of touching them or me."

A wild and hideous laugh was the maniac's only reply, and his eyes
gleamed more and more fiercely, while he gnawed his lip with rage, but
at length suddenly bursting with irresistible fury past Mr. Granville,
he took a long, quick run to where the bridge had formerly stood, and
instantly, with a single bound of marvellous agility, leaped across.
Richard Granville was for half a moment bewildered with astonishment at
this unexpected achievement, and saw with consternation and dismay that
it would be vain to attempt impeding the infuriated maniac, who turned
a deaf ear to his loudly vociferated remonstrance, and deliberately
fired a pistol in the air, while he held up another in a menacing
attitude towards Mr. Granville, and then replacing the deadly weapon in
his breast, he hastily disappeared along the same path which had been
so recently pursued by the ladies.

Richard, heedless of any danger to himself, became now most seriously
alarmed for the safety of Marion and her companions, therefore he
delayed not an instant to scramble across the stream where it was
fordable, and to follow at his utmost speed. In the impetuosity of Mr.
Granville's career, the ground receded beneath his feet, and as he
rushed onward a band of iron seemed to restrain his breath, for the
road became steeper and more solitary, while long grass and weeds had
grown over the wheel tracks, and the way was impeded by wild straggling
hedges, which threw their sprays of brier and thorn almost entirely
across the way. At length meeting a couple of countrymen, he hurriedly
explained his apprehensions, when they mentioned having met a strange,
wild-looking man, proceeding with long strides in an opposite
direction. To Mr. Granville's great relief, however, they seemed to
think that no ladies could have gone in that way, and after prevailing
on the two laborers, with a bribe, to assist him in capturing the
maniac, he resolutely and fearlessly pursued his course.

Marion, meantime, had accompanied the two ladies in their most
unexpected flight through the forest, at a pace which precluded the
possibility of speaking, except that now and then an ejaculation of
terror, or an expression of fervent thankfulness was wrung from them
when they glanced around, giving a fearful idea of instant danger.
Caroline's pallid lips were parted, her eyes straining forward with
impatient apprehension, and every limb nerved for exertion, while she
silently pursued her way, though her feet seemed to herself as if they
had become lead, in her vehement efforts to fly onwards; and the
countenance of her aunt expressed scarcely less terror.

Without speaking, Marion did all in her power to accelerate their
progress, but at length Caroline's footsteps faltered, her eye became
dim, and she staggered back, faint with fatigue, seeing which Marion
silently pointed to a large empty barn which stood beside the road, and
having supported her within the door, Caroline fell helplessly on the
floor, covering her face with her hands, and trembling visibly in every
limb.

Marion brought water, rubbed Caroline's temples, and tried by every
means to soothe her with the hope of being safe, but in vain--her
tongue grew parched, her eyes became glassy, her features almost livid,
and she faintly pointed towards the door, which Marion barricaded to
the best of her ability. Caroline threw herself back on a heap of
straw, and covered her face with her hands in a helpless agony of fear.
Several minutes afterwards elapsed in breathless silence on the part of
Marion and Mrs. Smythe, when Caroline at length started up, eager to
pursue her course towards the nearest village, now scarcely a mile off,
while her companions earnestly entreated her to rest rather, and
compose herself.

"He has lost the track! he cannot be following us now," said Marion, in
accents of trembling alarm, the agitated tone of which belied her
words, while an icy chill had crept through her veins. "Let us rest
here, we are safe now! He will hurry past! He will not think of
searching for us in this place!"

"He will! he will! when the fit is on nothing escapes him," replied
Caroline, who felt a choking sensation in her throat which impeded her
utterance. "Oh! think of the fearful past! that dreadful night when he
first became insane! Why did I believe him when he promised never to
terrify me more! a horrid dread is upon me! a strange ringing in my
ears! a weight of lead upon my heart!"

"How wonderful that he never can be traced! that he always finds us
out! that if there ever be a moment when we feel peculiarly safe from
his presence, he comes!" whispered Mrs. Smythe, in an under tone, as if
afraid that the very walls might re-echo her words. "We must leave this
neighborhood, we must take new precautions till he can be found and
shut up."

Before Caroline could utter the affirmative, which trembled on her
lips, her eyes became stony with a look of sudden fear, her hands were
faintly clasped together, her parched and livid lips were parted, and
with a half uttered shriek she threw herself behind Marion, riveting
her arms closely round her waist, when, the next minute, a window of
the barn was dashed in with a violence which nothing could resist, and
the maniac, giving a wild cry of malignant triumph, began to clamber
in, clinging to the window-sill with his long bony fingers, while
concealing his face, so that nothing could be seen but his eyes, which
burned like living coals.

"You have deceived me once, but you shall deceive me no more!" said he,
in hoarse, deep accents, and with a ghastly look, while the terrified
girl seemed to wither beneath his glance. "I cannot breathe while you
live! I have shed blood before now, and none can tell who did it! You
may call, but there are none to help--you may weep, but I cannot
pity--you may fly, but there is no escape! My heart is turned to stone!
My blood is liquid fire! Strange figures are gibbering behind me!
Unearthly voices are whispering in my ear! I will do it! Yes! when I
stand on the scaffold to be executed I shall not be nearer death than
you are at this moment."

Marion, conscious that the madman's fury was not directed at herself,
and feeling the courage which arises from desperation, resolved, at
whatever cost, at least to delay, if possible, any catastrophe which
she might not be able finally to prevent, and anxious, even for an
instant, to take the maniac's eye off the trembling girl beside her,
she now walked resolutely forward to the window, though trembling as
much as if she were about to throw herself beside a wild beast in his
cage. Her teeth chattered with terror, and the words seemed to stiffen
in her throat as she uttered them, but still she persevered, saying in
a gentle, soothing accent:

"You are a gentleman, and cannot want money! What would you have? Who
has injured you? Tell me why you pursue us? Think for one moment how
many years you have to live, and how miserable you may be for ever, if
you do a rash act now! Pause and consider, for the curse of God and man
will be upon you!"

The madman gazed for an instant at the pale countenance of Marion,
every feature in which quivered with emotion; he seemed almost ashamed
of his own fearful violence, and was about, in a calmer tone, to reply,
when the barn door was suddenly burst open by the two countrymen, who
entered with Mr. Granville.

"He shall die!" muttered the maniac between his clenched teeth, "Both!
all! all! The power of life and death is here!"

Marion heard a sound of terror close beside her--it was a click, as of
a pistol being cocked, the muzzle of which was directed towards Mr.
Granville, while the maniac deliberately took his aim; but with a
sudden impulse of desperation, she threw her arm upwards, and struck
the fatal weapon, which instantly went off with a report that stunned
her senses.

Nearly blinded by the shock, Marion staggered backwards as if about to
fall, yet strained her eyes, in speechless agony, to ascertain if Mr.
Granville were saved. There was blood upon his cheek, but he rushed
forward at once, and pinioned the madman's arms within his own, while
the two countrymen assisted; and after a severe scuttle, the maniac,
perfectly mastered, lay panting on the floor, while he glared on Mr.
Granville with a frown of baffled malignity, uttering execrations both
loud and deep, so dreadful to hear, that Marion's heart quailed within
her at their awful import, though unable to look round, while occupied
in applying restoratives to Caroline, who had sunk, with a heavy groan,
perfectly insensible on the floor.

After more than ten minutes, during which not a pulse could be felt,
Caroline was carried into the air by Mr. Granville, when the wind,
playing on her cheek, brought on a gradual restoration to life--a
slight fluttering was perceived at her heart, a faint color tinged her
cheek, and with a deep-drawn sigh and a bewildered look, she suddenly
started up, as if about to renew her flight.

"Dear Caroline!" said Marion, calmly, "all is safe! Do not agitate
yourself. We have had, indeed, a wonderful escape."

Miss Smythe embraced Marion in a transport of joy and gratitude, after
which she turned to Mr. Granville, uttering the warmest expression of
her thanks, while he, with an evident desire to conclude a discussion
obviously so agitating to the two ladies, proposed, after amply
remunerating the two countrymen, his assistants, to hurry forward and
send conveyances from the neighboring inn. With one anxious look at the
pale, exhausted countenance of Marion, Mr. Granville hastily
disappeared, meditating, as he hastened along, with deep interest on
his recent adventure, and with pleasing emotion on the happy
_eclaircissement_ which had that morning taken place with Marion,
binding them to each other by the strong ties of honor, principle, and
affection.

Half an hour afterwards, Richard returned with two carriages, in one of
which he placed the ladies, whom he met advancing along the road; but
after proceeding forward with the other, to secure his prisoner, he was
startled and astonished to discover that the maniac and his two keepers
had entirely disappeared.



CHAPTER XIX.


"Well! I do declare! some people have the most marvellous good
fortune!" exclaimed Sir Patrick next morning turning to Marion, with a
newspaper before him. "Here is an account of Granville--Richard
Granville--being engaged in a splendid adventure. I might live for
ever, and not meet with such a thing. He has rescued Miss Howard, the
heiress, from that mad cousin who haunts her with some love-and-murder
threats, and who will positively some day assassinate her, like the
Miss Raes and Miss Shuckburghs of former times. These very good people,
like Granville, who profess to be quite above the world, are all very
fond of money. Ten to one, Granville marries Miss Howard in a month."

"So the young lady is to be murdered first, and married immediately
afterwards!" said Marion, laughing to see her brother's impetuosity.
"The heroine of that story is, after all, only my old school companion,
Caroline Smythe. She has been persecuted by this man, she tells me,
ever since her childhood, but now he must be put in confinement for
life; and--and--as for Mr. Granville,--Patrick,--with your leave, I
have a very private and particular reason for believing he
is--previously engaged."

A brilliant blush mounted to Marion's temples, while her brother might
have almost heard her trembling; but a smile of conscious happiness
played round her mouth, while her long eyelashes drooped over her
burning cheeks when she spoke these words in an accent of pleased but
tremulous emotion; and Sir Patrick, after gazing in her countenance for
a moment with an expression of angry perplexity, suddenly started on
his feet, crumpling up the newspaper in his hand, with a fiery
exclamation of rage, saying,

"Speak again, Marion; tell me what this means. The most uncommon thing
in this world is a direct answer; but your blushes are like no other
person's, for they betray everything. Girls, from the very beginning of
time, have always found out the very last man on earth they ought to
like, and live in a state of romantic misery till they can marry him.
But it shall never be! I hate and detest Granville! He has injured me!
He has caused all my recent sufferings. He shall feel what I have felt.
I have the power now, and the will to be revenged. In his sacred
profession he dare not and cannot marry you without my consent--and
never! no never, shall he have it. Marion, you are a mere child yet!
you do not know your own value, and would let yourself go at a mere
pepper-corn rent! Granville would become a perfect beggar if he loses
our law-suit. You ought to be offered the first match in Scotland."

"So I am," replied Marion, in a low and gentle voice. "Mr. Granville
scarcely has his equal in the world."

"Pshaw! nonsense! I have other views for you! Marion, you have not an
idea of the sensation you make. My friends are all raving about you. I
never understood till now why you cared so little about any of them.
Let Agnes look to her laurels, for I am in more than one secret already
that would astonish her. Granville must be allowed to follow up his
adventure with the heiress. Never mention his name to me again. You may
depend upon it, in a month he will be ready and willing to marry Miss
Howard."

"Let your consent depend upon Richard's constancy, and then I shall be
secure," answered Marion, with a playful smile. "He shall be at liberty
to change his mind on a moment's notice; but, in the mean time,
Patrick, I have a great idea that he will continue always the same; and
be assured that I certainly shall."

"Pshaw! nonsense, Marion! You never could be satisfied with the stupid
sort of happiness to be found in a hum-drum parsonage. Give me no more
of your love-in-a-cottage ideas, when I know you have a chance of--of,
no matter who! somebody worth a dozen Mr. Granvilles, and who could buy
him up a hundred times over."

"One Mr. Granville is quite enough," replied Marion, smiling. "If he
were like the Emperor of China, cousin-german to the stars, and uncle
to the moon, I could not think more of him. Riches are only to be
valued for the use people make of them, but he is 'more bent to raise
the wretched than to rise.' Very little is essential, Patrick, 'when
humble happiness endears each scene;' and nothing more is indispensable
to me than to be so loved by one who is deserving of my love in return.
How much rather I would live with a poor man who is liberal, than with
a rich man who is avaricious; and Richard's wealth, though not great,
is furnished with wings to fly away on a thousand embassies of mercy
and liberality."

"I wish mine had wings to come, instead of to go; but say what you
will, it bores me to hear of Granville, he is so absurdly different
from everybody else."

"So much the worse for everybody else," observed Marion, with a
good-humored smile. "Is that the blackest count in your indictment?"

"And bad enough, too! I'm told there's not a garret nor a dingy
cellar-full of misery in the city, where Granville is not upon visiting
terms. He is a perfect Humane Society in himself. I daresay he will
receive a public dinner and a piece of plate from the beggars at last."

"Let me entreat, Marion," said Agnes, who had entered during the
discussion, "that you will not be running about with those Granvilles,
in search of typhus fever or small-pox. You really ought to be
fumigated every time you return from these houses, where the people are
all dying of dirt."

"When Lady Towercliffe recommended her husband's old castle in the
country to me once, for the shooting, she finished the catalogue of its
many perfections, by saying, 'and we have such very pleasant beggars!"
observed Sir Patrick, laughing. "I should certainly have been tempted
to bag a few brace of them! The Irish fellow whom you may remember
besetting my door so long in Edinburgh, without extracting a _sous_,
came up to me lately, in the coolest manner imaginable, and said, 'you
must find another beggar, Sir Patrick, for the situation here is not
worth keeping!' I gave the rascal half a sovereign for his humor, and
never saw his face again."

"It is all very well, if beggars find us out, to give a trifle, and so
get rid of their importunity," said Agnes, in her most benevolent
accent, "but the idea of setting out on a crusade to find them out, is
rather too amusing. I am immensely charitable, however, in referring
cases of distress to my friends, but benevolence is the most expensive
of all virtues to set up for."

"Better do too much than too little," replied Marion. "We must not
suppose every man in want is either a knave or a fool, and no
remembrance will last so long in our minds as the good we have done, or
left undone, for we gain the highest happiness to ourselves by
dispensing it to others. Yesterday, Mr. Granville relieved a poor man
from actual starvation, nearly ninety years old."

"Was he an orphan?" asked Sir Patrick, in a rallying tone. "What could
the old fellow be doing in the world so long! but if I might be allowed
to give an opinion, which I never do, it is, that you should avoid
those dens of infection and filth."

"There is no absurd romance in their benevolence, and Clara is never
permitted by her brother to visit anywhere, till he has personally
ascertained that there is no contagion of either the scarlet, yellow,
or typhus fever in the house," continued Marion; "but we accompanied
him last week to see a poor woman who was in a darkened room, with her
face muffled up, and yet I could not but fancy the tone of her voice
familiar to me. I was on the point of telling her so when the door
opened, and who should come in but my uncle's clerk, Mr. Howard, who
seemed so caught! One seldom can know who are charitable and kind in
this world, for I never suspected him of being a good Samaritan. He
said it must have been a mistake about my ever having heard the poor
creature's voice before, as to his certain knowledge she has been
bedridden these ten years; therefore, Clara and I gave her all we could
spare and came away. There was only one seat in the room, and nothing
else but the naked walls!"

"How very indecent!" said Sir Patrick, taking up the newspapers, "those
_pauvres honteuses_ have a sad life of it! You will positively draw
tears from my eyes!"

"Nothing will do that but a mouthful of mustard," replied Marion, with
a brilliant smile. "It would be more to the purpose if I drew a
shilling from your purse! You have no idea, Patrick, how many starving
people there are in the very houses that you see from these windows!"

"Well, really! I wish everybody had £5,000 a year," observed Agnes,
yawning. "If we could build an addition to the world it would be a
great convenience! There certainly are too many of us!"

"That is a most original and interesting remark of yours!" exclaimed
Sir Patrick, laughing. "We have certainly more cats than can kill mice.
I did hear that it was very seriously debated at the Speculative
Society lately whether the creation of the world had been on the whole
an advantage to Ireland or not! How the question was decided I forgot
to ask!"

"No doubt the existence of every living being must be an advantage, if
rightly used," observed Marion, in a gentle, diffident voice, "but if
not, then certainly it were better never to have been born."

"That is your last new importation of Granville-ism," said Agnes,
satirically. "Well, I would much rather, Marion, that you took the
typhus fever, than that you became a methodist!--Pray do not infect me
with either the one or the other."

"There is always more contagion in what is evil than in what is good,"
replied Marion. "Fevers are infectious, but health is not. Most of the
illness I have seen lately arises from bad food, or rather from no food
at all."

"It occurs to me," said Sir Patrick, throwing down his newspaper, "that
as all rivers are formed of drinkable water, it is most unlucky that
the ground is not formed of eatable bread! What a world of trouble it
would save about the corn laws!"

"But in such a case," replied Marion, laughing, "no man would work, and
the stones on the road might have to break themselves!"

"If the weather, too, were permitted to be regulated by act of
Parliament, how droll it would be to read a petition from the farmers
of Mid-Lothian against the late excessive rains, or from the hackney
coachmen against a long continuance of fine weather. How I should like
to see the summer with which any one of my tenants would be satisfied!"

"Of course it is their business to complain, or you would increase
their rents. If a farmer came to your factor in ecstacies with his
crops, and wishing a renewal of his lease, what terms would satisfy
you? We are all like buckets in a well--what raises one depresses
another, _ainsi va le monde_."



CHAPTER XX.


Marion was no miser of happiness to hoard it all up for her own use,
and most willingly would she have imparted a share of her present
joyous feelings to Agnes, but in vain did she look for any
encouragement to the frank, confiding, and sociable nature of her own
disposition, from a sister who had no desire to share in the hopes and
fears, the joys and sorrows of a disinterested attachment, such as she
could neither understand nor approve.

"Perfect happiness and a hut in the country!" said Agnes,
contemptuously, while the warm blood mantled into Marion's cheek, but
instantly putting her features in order to look composed and
indifferent, she turned the conversation to no particular subject.

Too happy to be silent, Marion next selected for her _confidante_ the
very last person upon earth whom it would have occurred to most young
ladies to entrust with the progress of a love affair, while, from Sir
Arthur, she received the deepest and most affectionate interest in
return for all she told him, though he acted like a perfect incendiary,
by adding fuel to the flame, inviting Mr. Granville to his house
whenever he could come, and praising him whenever he departed.

With daily increasing solicitude, Marion's elderly confidant listened
to all the simple romance of her thoughts and feelings, delighted with
the overflow of a heart which had nothing to conceal. Neither
overvaluing nor undervaluing the gifts of fortune, Sir Arthur felt
unspeakable comfort in the belief that Marion would now be better
protected and cared for through life, than could have been hoped, from
the few years that remained to himself, or from the heedless
indifference of her brother, who had never shown her much regard till
now, when he testified his care in the way least acceptable to Marion,
by an angry, resolute opposition to her marrying and settling, as he
persisted in saying, "upon ninepence a-day."

The difficulty increased every week, of joining that happy circle where
her most delightful hours had been passed, and a thousand impediments
were now contrived by Sir Patrick to prevent Marion from visiting even
at Sir Arthur's; while the young Baronet filled his house at St. John's
Lodge with so many of his friends, that the Admiral laughingly observed
one day, while he seemed possessed by the very spirit of raillery and
good humor, "I think, Marion, your brother is actually laying siege to
you now--or rather, it is turning into a blockade! I suppose he expects
some of those half-witted blockheads fluttering about the house to
eclipse Granville, which is of course extremely probable! Now, for the
twentieth time to-day, let us discuss my nephew elect. He seems--rather
amiable!"

"Seems! dear uncle Arthur! he is all that he seems, and a hundred times
more! He is--need I say what he is?"

"No! no! I remember to have read novels long ago, and know all about
it! Marion, you may well feel proud of being admired and beloved by one
who is himself admired and beloved by all! I cannot think," added Sir
Arthur, with a sly smile, "what in all the world Mr. Granville sees to
fancy in you!"

"That is exactly what puzzles me! I often wonder why he likes me!"

"Because, I suppose, somehow or other, he cannot help it. Now, Marion,
you have the worst of memories I know, for what Mr. Granville says; but
do try if you can recollect a few of his last conversations to
entertain me with. You will have so many lovers soon at St. John's
Lodge, that it may perhaps become impossible to distinguish Granville
from the rest, or one from another!"

"No! that can never be! Patrick's friends are scarcely my
acquaintances, and not at all likely to become admirers. I feel and
fully appreciate my own happiness now in being chosen and preferred by
one whose thoughts and wishes are all such as my own may be ready and
willing to echo--who can lead my thoughts upwards as well as onwards,
whose attachment is founded on the purest sentiments--and, not the
least of his attraction, dear uncle Arthur, who loves and honors you as
I do!"

"Merely because I am your uncle! Depend upon it, all my great merits
are eclipsed by that one! Well! I must put up with it, till he knows
better! I need not send to the circulating libraries for a romance now,
as there are so many to interest me at home!"

These words of Sir Arthur's referred not merely to the growing
attachment of Richard and Marion, but Caroline Smythe, who was about
soon to depart for England, had in the meantime become a constant and
prominent member of the gay little circle at Seabeach Cottage, where
her friends exerted their utmost endeavors to restore the tone of her
nerves and spirits, which were still much affected by her recent alarm,
and none succeeded so well in diverting her thoughts, and beguiling her
time as the lively, animated Henry De Lancey, who became himself daily
more entranced with the happiness of being in her society. His
preference for Caroline was testified in the way most truly flattering,
being more betrayed than professed, yet his whole heart was visible in
every word and action, while he evidently became every day twenty times
more deeply in love than at first, and the interesting countenance of
Caroline grew more interesting from the additional depth of expression
to be traced there. Sir Arthur, happy in the happiness of others,
appeared to cast aside all care, while sunning himself in the joyous
smiles of those who had so long been the dearest objects of his
solicitude, and day after day the intimacy and mutual affection of all
parties appeared to be riveted by fetters which never could be broken,
though it sometimes crossed Marion's mind as a cause of surprise that
Sir Arthur, who did nothing without reflection, should appear never
once to apprehend the difficulty into which Henry's attachment would
evidently plunge him.

There was something irresistible in the fascinations of young De
Lancey's character, the warmth of which seemed as if it must have been
nurtured beneath a brighter sun than that of others, while there was an
irresistible captivation in his joyous, youthful aspect, his frank and
graceful carriage. Mr. Granville, who had a genius for making society
agreeable, as well as improving, treated him with the confidence and
companionship of a brother, almost insensibly developing the graces of
a heart fitted to awaken the deepest interest, and drawing forth a
power of mind and character in Henry, of which he could scarcely before
have deemed himself capable, while leading him often away from the
common-place nothings of the passing hour, to the highest regions of
thought and to the brightest aspirations after future distinction,
after immortal wisdom and undying happiness.

"We must live and act for others," observed Mr. Granville one day in
his usual tone of energetic animation. "The miser who collects useless
hoards which are lost to him at death, is not more absurd in his vain
pursuit, than the mere philosopher who lays up stores of knowledge to
perish with himself. The good or the evil which may be done by the most
insignificant individual both now and to generations yet unborn, is
incalculable; and the only important question we can ask of ourselves,
in which no other can be concerned, is, 'What shall I do to be saved?'
That, each man must seek to ascertain for himself; and who would not
say that the greatest fool on earth is he who forgets to ask it at
all,--or who asks it with indifference!"

"I am more and more convinced," said Henry, "that religion is the
greatest support in life, and the only one in death. On our hearts it
is like the calm serene light given by the moon when she soars vividly
along the heavens amidst clouds and darkness, pouring celestial light
upon the earth in pure and holy splendor, beautiful and sublime, yet
often how melancholy and solemnizing,

    'Thoughts of immortal beauty spring to birth,
    And waft the soul beyond the dreams of earth.'"

Henry scarcely ventured to tell his own heart how deeply and
engrossingly he had become attached to Caroline, while in secret he
remembered every word or look which had endeared her to him, with a
pleasure and emotion till now unknown, and which could not but be most
painful in his solitary hours of reflection, when he considered the
uncertain tenure of his own situation in life, and his ignorance
respecting that of Miss Smythe, though he felt soothed and comforted by
the consciousness, that to her he was evidently not indifferent, and
that Sir Arthur either seemed blind to their increasing preference, or
pleased to witness it.

Henry had seated himself one morning in a small ante-room, repairing
his fishing tackle, and though voices became audible in the
drawing-room, in animated conversation, he continued perfectly heedless
of what was passing, till at length his own name, spoken in accents
always dear to him, irresistibly enchained his attention. Sir Arthur
was requesting Caroline to sing one of his favorite melodies, and she
gayly resisted his entreaties, saying, in her liveliest accents, "No!
no! wait patiently till the evening. That was copied for me by Mr. De
Lancey, and I promised he should be present the first time it was
performed. I can refuse you nothing, Sir Arthur, so I must seek safety
by flight!"

Nodding and smiling, with one of her archest looks, Caroline tripped
lightly into the room, where Henry sat, so shaded by the
window-curtain, that he was perfectly invisible, when a moment
afterwards she was followed by Mrs. Smythe, who said in an excited tone
of angry remonstrance,

"Is there no end, Caroline, to this extraordinary intimacy of yours
with young De Lancey! It really is becoming absurd! Sir Arthur is very
much to blame in giving it any encouragement! A youth without
prospects! without so much as a name!"

"With no seat in Parliament! no diplomatic appointment! no family
living! no title!" pursued Caroline, laughing. "You know, my dear aunt,
I never centered all good in birth and station!"

"Neither did I suppose you would dispense with both!" replied Mrs.
Smythe, in a tone of increasing bitterness, and hurrying towards the
door, evidently so irritated, that she dared not trust herself to
remain. "Rather than have my niece united to a nameless outcast, living
upon the bounty of Sir Arthur Dunbar, or of connections who are
probably disgraced by his existence, I would prefer seeing you married
to the Twopenny Postman, for he at least is independent, and has
something."

A glow like fire rushed through Henry's frame at these words, and
before Mrs. Smythe had closed the door, the hot blood seemed boiling in
his veins with agonized shame and sorrow. Pale and red by turns, he
leaned his head on his hands in solitary desolation, and quivered in
every nerve with grief and self-reproach. The whole harvest of his
happiness seemed blasted at a single breath; his mind was a wild chaos
of conflicting emotions; and one only thought rose paramount to all,
that he had been held up to ridicule and contempt, perhaps deservedly,
in the eyes of that one beloved being, the object of his dearest,
first, and only attachment, He wreathed his hands together, and bent
his head in a tempest of emotion, while the whole rich treasure of his
affections and hopes lay mouldered into rubbish at his feet; for he
felt and knew that all Mrs. Smythe had said, was but too painfully
true. A dark extinguisher had fallen over every earth-born wish. He
felt that it had been unpardonable even to desire that the happiness of
another should be linked with his uncertain fate; and he struggled
long, though vainly, for composure, while contemplating the destruction
of that one hope which had contained the sum of all his earthly wishes.

"I will yet deserve her or die!" thought Henry, overleaping
impossibilities, or, with the sanguine feelings of a young and ardent
mind, not even seeing them. "My pleasing dream has ended for the
present; and how could I ever expect it should be otherwise! but I
cannot and will not blot out from the picture of my future life, that
form which embellished every hope of my existence! Days and nights of
laborious exertion shall be as nothing, if I can but prove myself
worthy of Caroline,--if I can but, at the remotest period of time, call
her my own. Were it not for such a prospect I should become
indifferent even to myself!"

Henry's musings were disturbed by a slight noise near him, and when,
with a flashing eye, he started and looked up, the very object of all
his thoughts, hopes, and regrets was beside him, and he beheld
Caroline, her cheeks suffused with the deepest emotion, and her
downcast eyelashes sparkling with tears, while in hurried accents of
extreme agitation, she spoke to him almost inaudibly:

"Is it the affairs of the nation you are so deeply meditating on, Mr.
De Lancey, or your own affairs?"

"My affairs!" exclaimed Henry, in a tone of deep depression, while his
dark lustrous eyes became dim and glassy with emotion. "I have no
affairs! a creature of charity,--of the most generous and noble-minded
benevolence,--but still a dependent on the bounty of others! In your
presence I could forget the mystery and bitterness of my lot,--but I
forget it too much! I am not answerable for my feelings, but I am for
my actions; and I must leave you for ever! I can never know the rapture
of a requited attachment; but why should I not acknowledge the feelings
of admiration that must be common to all in your presence. I am a
nameless outcast; but pardon my folly and infatuation in having loved
you, without a hope of return. My mother perished, as you know, under
fearful circumstances; and who can tell whether my father may not have
died like a felon! My worst enemy can say, or suspect nothing worse
than I sometimes fear; and I deserve all I suffer for having one moment
forgotten the dark mystery of my lot."

"You were here, then, Mr. De Lancey, some moments ago," said Caroline,
in hurried accents! "You overheard all that my aunt so imprudently
said! you! you!--you--what must you think!"

"I dare not trust my lips with the expression of half what I think and
feel," replied Henry, in a low, deep, broken voice, and fixing his
troubled eye on Caroline. "Let me speak for once to you on that subject
which another began! Let me for once relieve my heart, by saying how
entirely,--how unchangeably I love you. What bright visions of hope
have flitted before my fancy, all blighted now for ever! I know the
utter despair that ought to attend my attachment. Love, to others a
blessing, must ever be to me a curse; yet I would rather love you
without a hope of return, than gain the hearts of a thousand others. I
neither ask nor expect encouragement; only believe and pity me! In the
long absence which awaits me from home, let me be consoled by thinking,
that I am not utterly despised and forgotten,--that when time and
distance have separated us, I may still preserve a place in your
memory, though not perhaps remembered, as I shall remember you."

Caroline listened with deep delight to this renewed confession of
Henry's long-cherished attachment. It seemed as if she could have
listened for ever, but was unable to reply during several minutes of
agitated silence, till at length, with a strong effort, she said in
faltering accents, yet with some of her usual vivacity--

"You said this once before, and I never forgot it. You were very dull
not to read my heart long ago. If I felt less I could say more. Be
constant for two long years, and we may be happy! I need then consult
no one's wishes but my own. Sir Arthur knows all. He has been entrusted
with my thoughts from the first moment, when you told me that--that our
attachment was reciprocal!"

"Can it be!" exclaimed young De Lancey, in accents of the wildest joy,
while, in a transport of emotion, he clasped her hand in his own, and
those words were at last spoken between them, which pledged Henry and
Caroline to each other for ever. "I am not then doomed to pass through
life alone and uncared for. You will accept a heart that never has
loved, and never can love another! I am now afraid only of being too
happy! The tide of my whole existence is changed! The two years you bid
me wait shall not be wasted. For your sake I shall strenuously seek to
become the architect of my own fortunes, to throw off the trammels of
obscurity, to carve out for myself a name which you shall not be
ashamed to hear. The world is before me, where, with buoyant hopes and
resolute will, surely I may achieve something, when my ardent aim and
eager hope shall be to enjoy honor first, and love hereafter. For years
I have not known a moment of solitude, as your image has been my
perpetual companion, and now there is no futurity of life to either of
us, in which we shall not both be interested, for, believe me, no one
on earth was ever loved with greater depth and constancy of attachment
than yourself."

The feelings of a lifetime are sometimes concentrated in a single hour,
and so it was with Henry and Caroline, who talked of the past and of
the future with buoyant hopes and entire affection, but not yet with an
entire confidence; for it was evident that Miss Smythe, in speaking of
her own connexions and prospects, became agitated and reserved, while
she concluded the conversation abruptly, by saying,

"I shall feel proud and happy to think that the motive for all your
exertions is derived from a generous and disinterested attachment to
myself; and whether success or failure be the consequence, we shall at
last share it together, for better or for worse. All real happiness
must spring from the heart. I care neither for splendor nor
amusement--they are the mere outside crust visible to the vulgar eye;
but friendship and--and attachment, founded on religion, these are the
jewel in the casket, outweighing all else."

"Without them, none can know the greatest joys or the greatest sorrows
of this world," said Henry, with emotion. "For your sake I have now a
thousand ambitious desires that never would have occurred to me for
myself alone. If there be anything in me deserving your regard, I wish
it were ten times redoubled, and that, besides, I had fortune, talents,
estates, and friends, beyond the utmost desires of all your
connexions."

"Then," replied Caroline, with a penetrating look at Henry, but in a
careless, off-hand tone, "if we are to suppose a shower of fairy gifts
called down upon us by our own wishes, I shall, perhaps, ask to become,
for your sake, very beautiful, very fascinating, and, above all, very
rich."

"You have everything already, except the wealth," said Henry, warmly;
"and I should abhor an heiress! I would not sacrifice my independence in
life to any woman--scarcely even to you! A man's office is to confer,
not to receive."

"Men of even very large fortune seem, in these days, to feel
otherwise," observed Caroline, smiling. "They have a sort of mercantile
idea on the subject of marrying, that it would be very presumptuous in
a young lady, without sufficient capital, to expect a partnership in
their house."

"I have little, indeed, to offer, and even that little based upon a
mysterious uncertainty," replied Henry. "Yet unless I could bestow
something besides myself, and something more than I ask in return, I
never would marry. It is a mean, degrading position, for any man to be
a pensioner on his wife, when even the very gifts which his affection
might induce him to give her must be purchased with her own money. No!
dearest Caroline, we shall be contented on very little, and we might be
miserable on a great deal. Your happiness shall be my first, almost my
only consideration. Our affection will be riveted by the sacrifices we
daily make for each other, till it becomes woven into our very being;
while, come what may, we are above adversity, and equal to prosperity,
strong in mutual attachment, and in one common hope for time and for
eternity."

"May we live to realize all you say," replied Caroline, with tears
starting to her eyes, while a smile was on her cheek. "The picture is
drawn by a masterly hand. In this world the sun itself has many dark
spots, and I do not expect or hope that we shall be without our share
of difficulties and sorrows; but our happiness is rooted in a soil that
cannot fail, for we shall advance together, in social and unlimited
confidence, through the land of fleeting shadows, to the land of bright
and permanent realities, of unimaginable and unceasing enjoyment."

"How different is the happiness of the Christian from that described by
the poet," said Henry.

    "My hope, that never grew to certainty,--
    My youth, that perish'd in its vain desire;
    My fond ambition, crush'd e'er it could be
    Aught save a self-consuming, wasted fire!"



CHAPTER XXI.


Captain De Crespigny continued to visit at St. John's Lodge almost
daily, having now adopted a quite-at-home style, dropping in at all
hours of the morning or evening, partly in the character of a cousin,
partly as a convivial friend of Sir Patrick's, and solely, in the
estimation of Agnes, as her devoted admirer; but not one of the
motives which ostensibly brought him there was the real one. He kept
up long, animated, horse-and-dog conversations with Sir Patrick, and
love-and-nonsense conversations with Agnes; but his whole thoughts and
attention were secretly devoted to Marion, to so engrossing an extent,
that he became astonished even at himself. She was always exceedingly
busy about something when he called--more frequently out of the room
than in it, while he staid, and so constantly sat down to write letters
or notes while he talked to Sir Patrick, that one day, in a tone of
pique, he said, writing at such a rate, she would soon be several
volumes a-head of Sir Walter Scott; but still Marion continued as much
pre-occupied in his presence, and as good-humoredly indifferent as
before. She treated him, as the friend of Sir Patrick, almost like a
brother, and was not in the slightest degree agitated, when he flew,
with fascinating _empressement_, to light the taper for her, to open
the door, or to pay any of the ten thousand little attentions with
which he was accustomed to dazzle and delight the hundred and one other
young ladies among whom he had hitherto divided himself. It was
absolutely insufferable to see her so perfectly self-possessed and
conversible, without a thought of being admired, always ready with a
reply when he spoke to her, and amused with his jests, but not
sufficiently interested by his presence, to attempt being either
attractive or repulsive. Seeing him approach the table one day several
times while she was writing, Marion said at last,

"Is there anything here I can give you? anything you want?"

"Yes!" said Captain De Crespigny, in a low, agitated voice. "I do want
more than I dare ask; more than I shall perhaps ever obtain."

Marion at these words glanced with astonishment towards Agnes, and
privately thought her sister's lover must require very great
encouragement indeed, if he were not satisfied with all he got; but
unwilling to interfere in any differences that might have arisen
between them, she calmly resumed her employment, unconscious that the
eyes of Captain De Crespigny were fixed upon her with a look of
disappointment and pique, because she had not so much as favored him
with a conscious blush.

Nothing surprised and amused the young mind of Marion half so much, as
the light raillery and gay persiflage, which continually passed between
her brother and Captain De Crespigny, whose conversation was enlivened
with sallies of good-humored malice against each other, and lively
satire, which sometimes approached the verge, and often even passed the
verge of civility, while each seemed to have conferred on his friend
the royal privilege of saying or doing no wrong, so that the pointed
arrows they levelled at each other became feathers before they reached
their aim.


"I must give the Abbey people a ball!" exclaimed Sir Patrick one day,
after whistling for some time with his back to the fire. "The Children
of the Abbey, as we gentlemen in difficulties are called! A dance of
ruined people! What a capital hit!"

"Like Holbein's dance of death!" observed Marion. "Our creditors would
all come, I suppose, and take out a dividend in cakes and ices! You
are, of course, not serious, Patrick!"

"Why not? You are always ready with an opinion, like a lawyer expecting
a fee; but remember, Marion, the attorney waits at least till he is
asked! I am as serious now as I ever am about anything. Let me make the
neighbors and the neighborhood expire with envy and admiration! You
know the last kick of a dying horse is always the strongest. Agnes,
fetch your visiting book, and we shall get up a splendid impromptu, to
be paid for with my surplus income! Ah! here comes De Crespigny, as he
always does, at the very moment we were wishing for him."

"Because there is never a moment, I suppose, that you are not wishing
for me!" replied he, fixing his expostulating eye on Sir Patrick. "I
owe myself to society, and make a duty of paying visits from pure
benevolence, because in every house I find people perfectly dying for
my arrival. If I had three hands to shake, I would divide them equally
amongst you; but I have only one to offer," added Captain De Crespigny,
with lively emphasis, as he extended his to Agnes, who stood nearest
him.

"You belong, I believe, to the Modest Assurance Company," said she,
with a blush and a smile. "But after this little outbreak of vanity, we
really do want your advice."

"That is a thing I never either give or take. The word should be
drummed out of the English language."

"Then," added Sir Patrick, "pray lend us your opinion."

"No, Dunbar! I lend you nothing! Remember our agreement. Can't afford
bad debts! Better give you half-a-crown than lend you a shilling."

"De Crespigny, your wit is as sharp to-day as that American scythe, the
shadow of which cut a man's leg off! I owe you one for the last hit!"

"Ten to one you never pay me! I have serious thoughts of taking rooms
in the sanctuary myself soon, because it displays beauties and
attractions beyond any other part of the world. Positively, I see no
place like it, and no people like its inhabitants."

Sir Patrick's hearty laugh rang through the room, while Agnes smiled
with conscious triumph; and Marion, who had been for several minutes
planning an escape to the Granvilles, thought this a favorable
opportunity to steal off unobserved, and had safely reached the door,
when Sir Patrick hastily summoned her back.

"Marion! where are you shying off to so hastily? Are you under a vow of
solitude? There is no keeping you in the room for a minute now."

"Never mind me!" said Captain De Crespigny, assuming a tone of
good-humored conceit, to disguise a great deal of real pique. "I am not
so bad as I look."

"No!" replied Agnes, laughing. "That is exactly what the keeper at the
Zoological Gardens says of the ourang outang!"

"Don't be put out of countenance by her, De Crespigny! you'll do," said
Sir Patrick. "I've seen worse looking people in the world! I knew a
gentleman once, much plainer than you are, who got on very well!"

"Sir Patrick Dunbar, for instance, or some other, with no pretensions
whatever! Really, old fellow! I am much the best looking of the two, if
people would only think so. It is astonishing the sort of men who pass
themselves off upon the world for being handsome--quite an imposition."

"Quite!" replied Sir Patrick, and the two gentlemen laughingly glanced
at each other. "I am quite obliged to you for that remark; but as I see
the watch of your wit is wound up for a reply, pray let it strike."

"No, I am not revengeful! As somebody said to somebody, some day when
they were talking about something, I have 'a soul above buttons.' But
positively," continued Captain De Crespigny, gazing around, as if he
had made a sudden discovery, and letting his eye rest upon Marion, "to
do ourselves justice, Dunbar, we in this room are a remarkably good
looking party."

"To be sure we are! You never said a truer thing!" replied Sir Patrick.
"So obvious, indeed, that it was scarcely worth remarking. I remember
the time, De Crespigny, when you used to copy me--to imitate the
inimitable; and positively, with such tolerable success, that I very
nearly bowed to myself one day for you."

"Well, Patrick!" said Agnes, "I do think you are like nobody else, and
like nothing human I ever saw; and yet I have a great turn for finding
out resemblances. How very like Wednesdays are to Thursdays!"

"Astonishingly so!" replied Captain De Crespigny, adding, with one of
his most indescribable looks, "but I see not the slightest resemblance
between your sister and you."

Agnes smiled one of her brightest smiles at what must, she thought, be
intended most unquestionably as a compliment; but though the difference
appeared obvious enough, the superiority, judging from the direction
and the expression of Captain De Crespigny's eyes, was not by any means
so decided a point as Agnes seemed willing to believe.

"De Crespigny!" said Sir Patrick, with one of his most satirical looks.
"Do you really now, in serious earnest, call yourself dressed? It is
very well as a joke; but you are surely not got up in that style for
the day? In the name of all that is hideous, who is your tailor, that I
may avoid him? Does he call that thing you wear a coat?"

"No!"

"Then, pray, what does he call it?"

"A surtout! and such a one as you never had since you wore a cap and
cockade! It is a real original Dodds! I could bet the amount of your
bill, whatever that may be, probably with several years' interest--a
few hundreds--that you will never be half so well fitted. If you want a
coat--a real undeniable, irreproachable coat, fit for a gentleman to be
seen in--employ my tailor in St. James' street; he will make a man of
you!"

"From a certain cut of tigerism in the collar, I guessed he lived in
Cheapside or the Strand! Never employ him again! I would not allow him
to dress me if he offered to do it for nothing! Have more regard for
yourself, De Crespigny, and never be betrayed into trusting him again.
He is totally incapable of his business! You might as well expect a
Whig Ministry to form a tolerable Administration. The thing is not upon
the cards!"

"Pray, attend now to my cards!" interrupted Agnes. "If you are got upon
politics, there will be no slipping in a word edgewise about my ball;
and the joy of planning it quite turns my head."

"You turn every other head, so it is but fair that your own should
share the same fate!" observed Captain De Crespigny, with a light and
careless laugh; but what he said was neither lightly nor carelessly
received by Agnes; for the color rushed in vivid brilliancy to her
cheek, while she bent her head to conceal a smile of pleasure; yet when
Marion looked up suddenly from her drawing, the eyes of Captain De
Crespigny were again fixed on herself, as he added, "I wish those I
admire the most had a few imperfections to make them human."

"I should not think any one thoroughly liked me who saw them," observed
Agnes, in a tone of gratified vanity. "And now for business, Pat! Here
is a correct list of our acquaintances!"

"But I want an incorrect one!" replied Sir Patrick, jocularly seizing
the catalogue of names. "I hate anything correct! Let me see! Here are
some tolerable people enough! This is not a bad world, after all, if
one could pick out those who are ornamental, and pass an act of
extermination upon all who are objectionable in manner, appearance,
circumstances, or disposition. In such a case, it might really become
fit for a gentleman to live in!"

Agnes' visiting-book was now carefully revised, while the party seemed
to think they had met only to pass sentence on all their acquaintances.
No subject appeared so exhaustless as the faults and follies of their
particular friends; their poverty, wealth, avarice, or extravagance;
while the liveliness of their conversation, instead of emanating, like
that of the Granvilles, from the gay fancies and spontaneous sparklings
of their own minds, was almost entirely derived from the follies and
personal defects of others; and Marion could not but remember with a
smile the country clergyman, who said once from the pulpit, that
"people should never speak ill of their neighbors,--except among a few
friends!"

"Let us invite only the tolerable-looking girls in each family, and no
chaperons with turbans and large caps to overshadow the room," said
Captain De Crespigny, drawing a broad dash of his pen through the name
of Lady Towercliffe. "Her large, featureless face, looks like a wax
doll which had been put before the fire till it melted; and she is as
dull as a dormouse."

"We did enough for her in going to that heavy turn-out of a ball,"
added Sir Patrick. "I very nearly 'struck work,' on finding myself
expected to dance with one of those plain, elderly daughters. Lady
Charlotte is quite a _laide ideal_."

"I was pressed into the service, too!" continued Captain De Crespigny,
in an injured tone, "and did not recover the annoyance till--till my
last quadrille!" added he, glancing expressively at Marion. "If one
must dance with plain girls at their own parties, I wish they would
wear veils."

"Poor Lady Charlotte's figure is a perfect pyramid, narrow at the
shoulders, and becoming thicker to the ankles," observed Agnes,
laughing. "She got no partner the first half of the night, but being
very fond of dancing, she stood near the corner of every dance, and was
turned sometimes by mistake!"

"Very good for an impromptu, Agnes! The old girl gets a partner once
a-year, I believe," added Sir Patrick. "If people will not be beauties,
I can't help it; but I wonder at any one who had such a foot as Lady
Charlotte's, would wish to live. It is so enormous that the eye cannot
take it in all at once! The gout is nothing in comparison! De
Crespigny, if you are ever shipwrecked at sea, you could desire no
better boat than one of her shoes, and a paddle!"

"Her hand, too!" exclaimed Captain De Crespigny, shrugging his
shoulders, and admiring his nails. "Mine is ashamed to look so
insignificant beside it! Positively I awoke one forenoon, after my hand
had been stung by a wasp, and seeing something so large, red, and
swelled, I never recognized my own, but seized hold of it in the most
friendly manner, saying, 'Ah, Lady Charlotte Malcolm!----'"

"I have heard," observed Marion, "that the celebrated Hogarth often
lamented how completely his sense of the ridiculous had destroyed his
sense of the beautiful; so that even in the face of an angel he could
not avoid observing something to caricature; and I think some of us, if
we do not take care, will soon be in danger of a similar calamity."

"Well!" exclaimed Sir Patrick, eagerly, "Let me enjoy a jest to-day,
even if I were to die for it to-morrow."

"You, gentlemen, are both too bad!" said Agnes, lazily extending her
own beautiful foot on a footstool. "Charlotte Malcolm has already a
whole tier of double chins; her throat must have once belonged to a
flamingo, and her complexion is like the models we see from abroad in
terra cotta; but then, to do her justice, she dresses to perfect
desperation; and," added Agnes, in her most amiable voice, for she
always assumed the affectation of extreme candor in discussing other
young ladies, "I am told Charlotte is very good tempered; at least so
Lady Towercliffe says."

"And pray, what does that signify to me!" exclaimed Sir Patrick,
contemptuously. "If there is nothing better to be said for your friend,
then, Agnes, for ever hold your tongue. Amiable qualities are quite at
a discount in general society! What does it matter to a man dancing a
quadrille with any girl, that she is miraculously amiable, if she be
miraculously ugly too! She may be a perfect termagant at home, for
anything I care, provided she bring plenty of small talk into the
ball-room; and I would not give a single sous to know whether her
milliner's bills be paid, provided only she is well dressed. I would
not take such a looking girl as Lady Charlotte Malcolm for my fifth
wife!"

"You have quite burned her in effigy, now," observed Marion, looking up
from her work. "Suppose we start some person, for variety, whom
everybody must admire and praise!"

"That should be yourself, then!" said Captain De Crespigny. "Who else
could answer the description?"

"I remember visiting at old Vivian's last summer, where the girls were
all terrifyingly plain; their faces, like the dairy-maid, and their
figures like the churn," said Sir Patrick. "One day I could not resist
asking their old governess, in confidence, what could be the reason why
the fourth daughter invariably took precedence of all the others, when
she whispered in a confidential tone, 'because she once had a
proposal.'"

"If young ladies take precedence on such grounds," observed Captain De
Crespigny, with a glance towards Agnes and Marion, "I know who ought
soon to leave all others behind! My cousins here have the game in their
own hands; four by honors and the odd trick."

"Young ladies had much better gain precedence by accepting offers than
by refusing them!" said Sir Patrick, whistling himself off to the
window. "She's daft to refuse the laird o' Cock-pen!"

"I once saw a man who had been refused!" said Captain De Crespigny. "He
should have kicked himself out of the world after such an adventure!
From that day to this I have lived in a nervous horror of being
rejected! I am the most marrying man in the world, but I never can
venture to make an offer. I do wonder how people set about it! The
author who published a complete letter-writer, should give us a
complete manual of proposals for all occasions! I am so horribly
diffident! Even coming into a room you have no idea how much I suffer
from shyness!"

"It is astonishing, then, what a good face you manage to put upon it,"
said Marion, dryly. "I never guessed you were at all shy!"

"No! nor that I am a lover out of place, in want of a situation! Would
it be a good plan, Miss Marion Dunbar, to advertise? You, being pen in
hand already, shall write the advertisement. Describe me as made of
every creature's best! How would it do to make a raffle of me? Twenty
thousand tickets at one guinea each. How many will you take?"

"I have no money to waste," replied Marion. "But perhaps some young
ladies with more, if they could be quite sure of a blank, might venture
on one ticket, out of charity, hearing you are so anxious to go off."

"I do wonder if anybody would take me," continued Captain De Crespigny,
in a tone of careless conceit. "I have the greatest mind to try Lady
Charlotte Malcolm! Do you think, Miss Dunbar, I might have any chance?"

"Not the slightest!" replied Agnes, laughing. "I could bet my longest
ringlet that she would reject you at once. Charlotte complained to me
long ago how forward gentlemen are--always proposing, on the slightest
encouragement."

"Remarkably true! I am positive that nine out of ten were refused last
winter. We are a most unfortunate set of old fellows, Dunbar. Nobody
appreciates us. I had made myself a promise to go off this season!
positively my last appearance. But," added Captain De Crespigny,
dropping his voice into a low tone of apparent feeling, "the more I am
desirous to recommend myself, the less I succeed. If it were possible
for either of you ladies ever to see me indifferent about pleasing,
then you would be astonished at my success. Did Dunbar never mention,
that in the company of those I do not care for, I am quite another
man?"

"No!" replied Agnes, blushing and smiling. "Patrick is aware that we
always judge of people's merits for ourselves."

"What would I not give to hear that verdict pronounced! If you have
tried me by a court-martial, you may at least let me know the
sentence!"

"It would do you good, De Crespigny, to hear those girls discussing
your demerits! Your vanity requires lowering a peg or two!" said Sir
Patrick, with a mischievous laugh. "You owe me countless thanks for
putting in a word of defence now and then to protect you, for
positively they are too bad. On the score of conceit and extravagance,
I undertake to be your champion. Such faults are like the spots upon
ermine, rather ornamental than otherwise; but if any one says you dress
ill, I have not a syllable to say. Let me advise you, as a friend, to
discard that tailor. He is atrocious. It would be the utmost stretch of
my friendship to be seen with you anywhere to-day, except in some rural
parts of the country; so now for our walk."

"Dress as you may, Dunbar, you will never look like me!" replied
Captain De Crespigny, as they lounged off together. "It was a problem
of Euclid, which we settled at Eton long ago, and may demonstrate now,
that A B C can never be equal to D E F. Good morning, ladies! _au
revoir!_ we must fly. In your society I resemble the gentleman we used
to read of in our school books, whose wings were melted because he
ventured too near the sun."

The more Marion saw of Captain De Crespigny, the more astonished she
became at the multiplicity of his talents for conversation, and at his
universal craving to be admired, while all the _petits soins_ which he
lavished on herself, she, as a matter of course, set down to his
extraordinary vanity, which could not allow the most insignificant of
mortals to escape his fascinations; but to have supposed his attentions
to be indications of love, she would have considered as absurd a
blunder as to mistake an oyster-shell for an oyster.

Captain De Crespigny sketched caricatures with inimitable humor, sung
with taste, and with every appearance of feeling, and his versatility
of powers in talking were almost incredible. He discussed science
occasionally with any blue-stocking, like a philosopher--looked dismal
upon politics with members of Parliament--talked agriculture and fat
cattle with country gentlemen--could describe the state of New Zealand,
as if he had visited the country, to old ladies, with large families of
enterprising sons. He was musical with the musical, sentimental with
the sentimental, and apparently at home equally in poetry or
metaphysics. With a smile for one, a sigh for another, and a jest for a
third, his small-talk for young ladies might be minced into the
smallest grains of sense or nonsense; while at the same time he could
even get up a very plausible religious conversation, on the most
approved model, when in company with any one like Marion, to whom he
thought it might render him more acceptable. The true secret of Captain
De Crespigny's almost universal popularity, lay in his appearing so
flatteringly interested by whatever occupied the attention of others;
and whether it were the last snowstorm, or a newly discovered star in
the firmament--an old pedigree or a new bonnet, he seemed equally ready
to follow the lead of any young lady, being sufficiently delighted in
his own private mind, to imagine how every word he said, and every look
he looked, would be afterwards treasured and remembered by those whom
he had no particular intention of remembering himself.

Marion observed narrowly and anxiously Captain De Crespigny's conduct
to Agnes; but even her discernment, quickened by the most affectionate
solicitude, could bring her to no conclusive decision respecting his
intentions, though she could not but feel sanguine at one time, and
justly indignant at another, according as the thermometer of her hopes
and fears rose or fell; yet she strongly suspected that Captain De
Crespigny was but indulging his own ambition--that he wished to be
thought of and talked about--to become devotedly loved--to be necessary
to the happiness of another--to constitute that happiness for a short
time, and then to destroy it as a useless toy, which had amused him for
an hour, and might be broken without remorse. "How different! oh! how
very different from Richard Granville!" thought Marion, with a glowing
smile. "To him the peace of no living mortal is insignificant; and when
loved or trusted, who ever was so considerate, so totally unselfish, so
free from vanity and caprice! No Christian can doubt that happiness and
principle are one."

The name of any individual more than commonly interesting is apt to
occur often in conversation, _a propos_ to everything or nothing;
and Captain De Crespigny's penetration very soon discovered, that
the Granvilles were never heard of or mentioned by Marion with
indifference; therefore being anxious to fathom her secret, and to
ascertain the extent of her intimacy with them, he tried the experiment
one day, by professing an enthusiastic admiration for the extraordinary
eloquence of "Dick Granville!" in whom he appeared suddenly to have
discovered a thousand new and unheard-of good qualities, while with
humorous pertinacity he defended him from all the satirical cuts with
which Sir Patrick tried to lower his importance in the eyes of Marion;
but Captain De Crespigny, unconscious of the lead which he was expected
to follow, rattled on in his accustomed way,

"Granville always was one whom nothing could spoil! So different from
young Meredith, who used one short month since to go about with a quiet
country-curate look, but since he has become rather popular in the
pulpit, he enters a room with his chin in the air, and all the
self-confidence of a great lion. Weak heads are easily intoxicated."

"And people here do all in their power to ruin those they most admire,
by very overdone adulation," added Agnes. "It would be a very strong
fortress of humility that could withstand all the absurd mobbing which
Mr. Granville has to undergo."

"As Lady Towercliffe said to me yesterday, in her usual slip-slop style
of talking, 'Mr. Granville is so very eloquent, so benevolent, so
learned, so pious, and has such a neat foot!'" continued Captain De
Crespigny, laughing. "Really, Dunbar! if you and I quarrel with
everybody better than ourselves, we shall find no one left to associate
with! I have but one weak side on earth, Miss Marion Dunbar, and it is
that of always standing up for the absent."

"They very often require it; and whether in jest or earnest, I am glad
you do," replied Marion, finding herself obliged to speak, while her
look of agitated consciousness, occasioned a thrill of jealousy in the
heart of Captain De Crespigny, which brought a sudden flush into his
countenance; but he assumed a careless tone, to conceal his real
feelings, and turned to Sir Patrick, saying, "_a propos_ of absence,
the Granvilles are never here now! I remember the time when that pretty
sister and my cousins were like the three graces, perfectly
inseparable!"

At these words, Sir Patrick colored to the very temples; and instantly
afterwards becoming pale as marble, he stooped to pat his dog, and then
impatiently whistled Dash, along with himself, out of the room first,
and finally out of the house; while Marion's eye was turned towards
Agnes, with a deep and searching look of enquiry and astonishment.



CHAPTER XXII.


Nothing had ever surprised and annoyed Captain De Crespigny more than
the unadmiring indifference with which, week after week, Marion
received his visits. Her easy, good humored courtesy of manner was
unpardonable! No peculiar consciousness became visible in her manner,
when he addressed her; no accession of sensibility in her voice; no
agitation in her smile; no increase of her natural timidity; no desire
of captivation, nor the slightest coquetry in displaying her own
fascinations.

To be thus treated like a cousin or a brother was mortifying in the
extreme, and appeared to him perfectly unaccountable, because he little
guessed the contrast which incessantly presented itself to Marion's
mind, between the low, every-day tone of his thoughts, on all the
essential objects of existence, and the elevated sentiments or generous
feelings, to which she had lately become accustomed in the society of
Mr. Granville. Captain De Crespigny's conversation always diverted her
on account of its eccentricity; but in the selfishness and vanity he
inadvertently betrayed, she saw how little he could know the real
nature and value of that happiness springing from principle and
affection, which alone could satisfy her heart.

Formerly, Captain De Crespigny would have gloried in surmounting
difficulties, if he had ever found any difficulties to conquer; and now
he was determined not to become discouraged, though he felt, if such a
thing could be possible, almost humbled. His eye followed Marion
wherever she turned, and he was now for ever by her side, though she
evidently made it her continual business to avoid him, as she had
latterly become more aware than before of his assiduity.

Fortified by the consciousness of her own secret engagement, and by the
knowledge that Agnes had a well-founded belief in his attachment to
herself, Marion's countenance, which told every transient emotion of
her heart, never betrayed a thought of love; and it seemed to Captain
De Crespigny as if her heart must be of granite, so cold and hard
beneath a smiling stream. She was long of even suspecting the worst,
and would not fully believe when she did, that his volatile fancy had
really changed; yet a spell seemed over her, that she could not escape
from Captain De Crespigny's society, without giving offence to Sir
Patrick and Agnes, who both, for different reasons, insisted on her
being present when he called, though, unlike her sister, who would have
sacrificed every one to herself, she would have sacrificed herself for
every one, and only thought with considerate affection, how she could
best spare the feelings of Agnes, and at the same time escape from
occasioning any jealousy, the fear of which now haunted her like a
perpetual night-mare.

One morning, when Agnes was seated in a state of exceedingly full-blown
satisfaction, expecting Captain De Crespigny's usual visit, and
considering him as much her own property as either her reticule or her
work-box, she observed Marion, who had occupations for every hour of
the day, hastily gather up her drawing materials, and glide towards the
door, evidently anxious to escape without observation, but in vain.

The barometer of Agnes's countenance had become exceedingly stormy,
while watching Marion's progress; and being one who rather enjoyed the
excitement of a quarrel than otherwise, she asked Marion in a voice
raised an octave higher than usual, which sounded as sharp and cutting
as an east wind, where she was about to go, adding, in her most
sarcastic tone,

"Pray inform me, Marion, why I am to be left in solitude here, when
everybody knows that in a place like this I cannot possibly receive
visitors alone. One would suppose that you wished to prevent me from
seeing Captain De Crespigny this morning."

"By no means, Agnes. But is there any occasion for me to remain, when
Patrick of course accompanies him here as usual?"

"Nonsense, Marion. You know perfectly well that Patrick may or may not
be here, for that all depends on whims like your own, and nothing
renders it correct to receive gentlemen in the morning, except there
being two of us at home. I expected more friendship and consideration
from you; but people never will think of any one but themselves!"

"You are like a Hebrew scholar, and always read me backwards, Agnes. I
have only to know your wishes in order to comply with them," replied
Marion, good-humoredly re-seating herself, and adding, with a beautiful
timidity of manner and voice, "I cannot but think that, until you are
actually engaged, it would perhaps be better if--if--Captain De
Crespigny's attentions were not to--to be at all divided."

"Divided!" exclaimed Agnes, looking perfectly sublime in her anger.
"What can you mean?"

"Excuse me, Agnes," replied Marion, trying to steady her voice, and to
hide her confusion. "I mean that Captain De Crespigny has the
reputation of being a confirmed flirt; that I hope and trust, if it be
really for your happiness, he is, as you think, irretrievably attached
and engaged to yourself; but if a housemaid enter the room, he cannot
resist attempting to look handsome, and to attract her admiration;
therefore you cannot but suppose he will endeavor to waste some of his
fascinations occasionally upon me, and till he is my brother, I would
rather avoid any such absurdity."

"Your meaning is plain enough now, and requires no interpreter!" said
Agnes, with an angry toss of her head. "Every one must see and know,
that Captain De Crespigny is exclusively and entirely devoted to me."

"That is a point, Agnes, of which no third person can be an adequate
judge," replied Marion, evasively; "but I am as anxious to believe it
as yourself."

"If you entertain any fear of causing me a disappointment, make your
own mind perfectly easy, as mine is. If Captain De Crespigny could
hesitate a moment between us, I should scarcely think him worth living
for, and still less worth dying for. Be assured I shall never endure a
moment's uneasiness on your account. Here he comes, regular as the
rising sun, and quite as welcome."

After all the lively badinage of Captain De Crespigny's first reception
was over, Marion quietly retreated into the deep embrasure of a window,
where her work-table stood, and busied herself with answering some
notes, while almost entirely shaded from observation; yet still Captain
De Crespigny's eye incessantly wandered to the place where she sat,
for there was something unintentionally _piquante_ in the total
indifference with which she thus secluded herself from his attentions
and civilities. Observing, at length, that Marion had begun carefully
pruning the dead leaves from a bouquet of rather drooping flowers,
which seemed still vainly affecting to look fresh and gay, he broke off
in the middle of a sentence from Agnes, and clandestinely approaching
the table when Marion was looking in another direction, he stole them
all away, and substituted one so fresh and fragrant that Marion uttered
an exclamation of rapturous admiration. She neither blushed nor looked
down, however; but as if it were no more than an every day civility,
held it up to Agnes for admiration, and endeavored to attract her
towards the table by the perfume of her beautiful flowers.

"Nothing withered or blighted should ever be here," said Captain De
Crespigny, in his most sentimental tone. "I should like, in one
respect, to resemble flowers, which give nothing but pleasure to all
who see them. Are you writing prose, or is this Poet's Corner? If I had
the pen of Moore, I could find one subject for my muse more beautiful
than any he ever wrote upon, and feelings more deep than he ever
expressed! My eyes have ached for the last half hour with trying to see
you; and half my eye-strings are cracked with looking from so great a
distance."

Marion was now seriously annoyed, and a glow of indignant vexation
mantled upon her cheek; but Captain De Crespigny, mistaking her blushes
and silence, began to flatter himself that the fortress was not so
impregnable as he had feared. A scrap of paper lay on the table, which
Marion had carelessly flung aside, after trying a pen, by writing down
several times her own Christian name, and Captain De Crespigny having
picked it up, laughingly added to it the name of De Crespigny.

"How does this look?" asked he, showing her the signature of "Marion De
Crespigny," while a gleam of light shot through his dark eye-lashes.
"This is a valuable autograph, which I shall certainly preserve. The
signature is not yet a common one, but I hope it may become so, as no
other looks half so well to my eye--or to my heart."

"There may be another that I should very much prefer," replied Marion,
decidedly, while the bright carnation mounted to her cheek, and she
turned her large eyes towards Agnes, who stood at some distance placid
and secure, in the certain belief that her own supremacy was
established, and that the conversation probably related to herself.
"Give me back that paper, Captain De Crespigny, for it contains a
mischievous forgery--a name that can never exist upon the earth."

"But it may in fairy-land, and it shall!" replied he, with undaunted
pertinacity. "The fates are perpetually weaving people together, and
may do something for me! When we are unwillingly separated for a short
period, sometime hereafter, I shall every day see this name appended to
the most interesting accounts of your garden, your lap-dog, and----"

"And my sister!" added Marion, coldly. "She is always the first object
of interest to me. Agnes! do come here and admire the last few stitches
I have added to this bible-cover."

"How well it will look at Beaujolie Park!" muttered De Crespigny,
almost inaudibly, in that low musical voice which had been
irresistible, and with a significance of manner which Marion seemed not
to remark. "I hope one day to see it there."

"I intend it as a present to Agnes," replied Marion, dryly.--"That and
the prayer-book are both for her dressing-table."

Captain De Crespigny, assuming a look of respectful despondency,
examined the volumes during several minutes in silence; but having
accidentally opened the service of matrimony, he smilingly pointed it
out to Marion, saying, "he hoped this might be considered a good omen,"
and doubling down the page, he placed the prayer-book opposite to her,
saying, "Let me request you will study that till we meet again, as I
wish to ask your opinion of it."

Before Marion had time to reply, or to hurry away, as she had been for
some time projecting, Agnes advanced with an air of exceedingly forced
vivacity, while there was a perceptible flutter of anger in her tone,
and Marion felt as much confused as if she had been guilty of a real
indiscretion, when she saw that her sister's face had become as white
as the wall, her eyes glassy, and her manner unusually excited, though
she tried to assume a careless tone, saying:

"What is all the world talking about here? Captain De Crespigny, you
must have learned the whole mysteries of worsted work by this time!"

"I was merely showing your sister that most interesting of all
compositions, the marriage service," replied Captain De Crespigny,
throwing as much meaning into his voice as it could carry, "and
mentioning that the fashionable blacksmith for these occasions now is
my cousin, the Dean of Chester."

Agnes looked down with an interesting blush, and Marion looked up with
a start of astonishment, at the hardened intrepidity of manner in which
Captain De Crespigny carried on his double game, adapting his tone
equally to suit either or both of his companions; and it was with a
sensation of extreme relief that she saw him at last rise to take
leave, looking most charmingly distressed; but he had glanced at his
watch, "never being able to measure time at St. John's Lodge," and an
unlucky engagement obliged him to depart.

"All engagements are unlucky," observed Agnes, impatiently. "I never
made one yet, without afterwards finding it a tyrannical restraint."

"There is only one engagement I ever wish to make," replied Captain De
Crespigny, in a sentimental voice, but carefully looking at nobody. "I
hope soon to make an engagement for life!"

"What is all this!" exclaimed Sir Patrick, entering the room. "Can De
Crespigny not be persuaded into remaining with you two or three hours
longer, girls?"

"We have not yet tried the experiment," replied Marion, seeing Agnes
unwilling to speak. "I intend to be busy this morning reading your
favorite character in Shakespeare, Malvolio. He had the very common
fault of over-estimating himself."

"To some people that is impracticable!" replied Captain De Crespigny,
with a self-satisfied smile. "The world really spoils me for one."

"Perhaps," observed Sir Patrick, "you flatter yourself, and that is the
most dangerous of all flattery."

"Not to me! I only wish it were possible for me to think as much of
myself as every body else does."

"I hear old Doncaster is likely to make a die of it soon; therefore
wait till you are established at Beaujolie Park, and then you shall see
how much we all think of you!" replied Sir Patrick, laughing. "I hope
you mean to be the most hospitable Marquis in the whole peerage of
England?"

"Most undoubtedly! Hospitality is my weakness, if I have any! Dunbar,
my very dear friend, I make a point of your coming to dine with me once
a-year at Beaujolie Park! I am sorry it will not be in my power to
offer you a bed; but the Highflyer passes my door at nine every
evening. I wish for a very long visit from you! We are old friends, my
good fellow! so I must really stretch a point! I am quite serious!
therefore come by the early mail for breakfast, and take the evening
one for your departure! I always was, and always shall be the most
hospitable man upon earth! Have you half a moment to spare to-morrow? I
want you to help me in my bargain for a bay horse with Duncombe of
ours. He has the prettiest sister in the world, if that will be any
inducement to come. I wish he would throw her into the bargain! Good
morning! I could not stay a minute longer to save all your lives!"

"How I do sometimes hate Captain De Crespigny!" exclaimed Agnes, with
angry vehemence, after he had made a very conceited exit from her
presence, accompanied by Sir Patrick, while she watched him from the
window, as he sprang upon his horse, and galloped out of sight. "I know
he is perfectly devoted to me! I cannot allow myself to doubt it! My
whole happiness in life is cast on that die, and must not be lost! No!"
continued she, speaking to Marion in a tone of unwonted perplexity, "it
would indeed be a disgraceful triumph, to awaken in my heart affections
which, if they must die, I shall die with them. My hopes and feelings
appear all frozen into icicles this morning; yet I can scarcely tell
why! A sensation of utter discouragement torments me! What is man, and
what is woman that trusts him? If all my happiness is now torn up by
the roots, I shall never again incur the grief of forming any earthly
plan! I shall continue for life a bankrupt in hope and peace! Do not
speak to me, Marion! Do not look as if you believed the worst! I will
not hear it! I know you wish to say and do all that is kind; but I
detest sympathy! I abhor being pitied! and I will not be advised."

Even after she had retired to the gloomy solitude of her lonely room,
Agnes buried her face in her hands, as if she would hide herself from
the whole world, and struggled to banish thought; yet the suspicion
would force itself into her mind, that Captain De Crespigny intended to
treat her as she had seen him treat others; and though formerly she had
often laughed at the credulity of those girls who believed half the
rubbish he talked to them, now she repeated to herself all his
professions of admiration, his looks, smiles, innuendoes, implied
flattery, and openly expressed interest, till her cheek regained its
bloom, her eyes their brightness, and she looked into her mirror with
perfectly restored self-complacency, and with renovated confidence in
the truth, honor, and sincerity of Captain De Crespigny.



CHAPTER XXIII.


One of the best receipts for happiness in this world is, to make the
utmost of small pleasures, and the very least of small vexations, which
was the plan on which Marion invariably lived; and it often seemed as
if all the duties of affection and friendship were written with a
sunbeam on her mind. She now resolved, with characteristic kindness and
good sense, that as her presence at St. John's Lodge could do no good
to her sister, it should at least do no harm; therefore she determined
if possible to obtain leave of absence for a few weeks from home, and
to explain in writing to Agnes, her own opinion of Captain De
Crespigny's conduct, and the reasons on which it was grounded; being
convinced that in all the important affairs of life, perfect frankness
between friends is, however painful, an imperative duty, and that no
one, on any occasion where he has to act or to feel, should be left in
the dark as to his own actual position.

With a somewhat tremulous voice, and heightened color, Marion proceeded
next morning into her brother's private sitting-room, where, surrounded
by a perfect armory of rifles, double-barrelled guns and pistols, she
found him selecting his weapons for a pigeon-match to "come off" that
day, between himself and Captain De Crespigny, of whose arrival he was
in momentary expectation; and he seemed by no means inclined at first
to lend her much of his notice.

"I came to mention, Patrick, that if you have no objection, it is my
wish to spend a fortnight now, with uncle Arthur," said Marion. "We
have met very seldom of late, and Henry De Lancey is going off soon to
join the army. Did you hear that a commission in the same corps as
Captain De Crespigny, has been sent to him lately by his unknown
friends. The regiment is going soon, I am told, to Canada, but he is to
join the depot for some months at Portsmouth."

"Well! but what does all this matter to you! I shall not give my
consent if you ask me till midnight!" exclaimed Sir Patrick, peevishly;
for he felt by no means disposed that his house should lose the
attraction of Marion's resplendent beauty. "If Sir Arthur in his
dotage, chooses to make himself ridiculous about this anonymous youth,
is that any reason why the whole family should go wild about him?
Besides, Marion, you confessed long ago, that Mr. Granville visits at
our uncle's; and I am determined that you shall learn to know your own
value better than to take him! What has he to offer you but that
trumpery little cottage, like a Tunbridge-ware work-box, a kitchen
garden stocked with cabbages, or gooseberry bushes, and to live upon
brown bread and water. But I begin to suspect, Marion, that you are one
of the very few people in this world who like their own way; therefore
it is my duty to keep you here out of danger."

"I wish to escape a danger, rather than to encounter one," replied
Marion, with an ingenuous blush. "You know, Patrick, that I consider
Agnes almost engaged to Captain De Crespigny. It would be a very great
disappointment to me, and I think to yourself, if, after all that has
passed, he become merely general in his attentions--showing no
preference to one of us more than for another. You always wish me to be
in the room when he calls,--and--and----"

"Oh! I understand!" exclaimed Sir Patrick, fixing his hawk's eyes on
Marion, and trying to conceal a smile beneath a look of stern
interrogation. "Agnes is jealous!"

"No! not in the very least! I trust she has no reason--that she never
can have any. It seems like vanity in me to mention the subject even to
my own brother in confidence, but I will be perfectly honest. You know,
Patrick, I saw no society at school. I am not at all aware what is
customary; but your friend often says things to me that I am sure he
would not like Agnes to hear."

"You are young and green in this old world, Marion, if you fancy that
Agnes is ever to catch such a will-o'-the-wisp as De Crespigny. _Il
s'aime, et n'a point de rival._ He plays with hearts as if they were
shuttlecocks; and indeed some hearts are little better. It is an absurd
affair of vanity on both sides, and the sooner the thing goes off the
better. I know you are a perfect coward in giving pain, and that Agnes
considers herself sole proprietor of De Crespigny's attentions; but who
made her so? That bubble will burst ere long; and if he is inclined to
try a little harmless flirtation with you, what occasion is there to go
off in a tangent about that, I should like to know! I must insist,
Marion, on your doing all that is possible to make this dull,
out-of-the-way house of mine, agreeable to my friends, for it is
impracticable to exist here without society, which is the best weapon
to kill time with. I shall take it as a mark of your sisterly kindness,
to receive De Crespigny as all other young ladies receive him
everywhere. If he only opened his mouth wide enough, I know at least a
dozen girls who would jump down his throat, and '_il faut jouer le jeu,
selon les regles de la societe dans laquelle vous etes force de
vivre_.' My deepest resentment shall rest on either Agnes or you,
Marion, if my most intimate companion be banished from our society,
either by the one liking him too much, or the other too little."

"But, Patrick! if you think Agnes lays too much stress on Captain De
Crespigny's very marked attentions, and lover-like language, why do you
not warn her against becoming really attached to him?"

"Pshaw! nonsense! She will come to her senses soon, if she has any
senses to come to. Agnes' hopes are all certainties; and she expects by
shutting her own eyes, that everybody else shall become blind; but she
or any one might see with half an eye, that De Crespigny cares no more
for her than the poker does for the tongs. Agnes has been given to
expecting impossibilities from childhood, when she used to be angry at
her wax doll for not answering her when spoken to. If she did not
flatter herself so egregiously, the flattery of De Crespigny would do
her no harm. His love affairs flame up and go out again like a
lucifer-match box."

"Yet, Patrick," replied Marion, trying to steady her voice, and to look
excessively firm, "I must make a point of going for one week to uncle
Arthur. If Agnes is to be disappointed, let me not have any part of the
blame, either from her, or from myself."

"My good Marion! what trash you talk! It puts my mustachios out of curl
to hear you! Agnes is no more engaged to De Crespigny than I am to Mrs.
Penfold! There is no necessity on that score for your becoming a
porcupine, and setting up your quills at my friend. _Il n'a fait, que
remplir son role de jeune homme._ Agnes thinks every partner at a ball
would gladly become a partner for life, and if any one of them were to
mention the ring of Saturn, she would consider it a proposal; but her
lovers all drop off like nine pins at last. Many a time she has seen
the 'decline and fall' of her empire already, and it will be the same
thing now in De Crespigny's case. 'Old birds are not caught with
chaff.'"

"You mean that the chaff is Captain De Crespigny, of course," replied
Marion, with reproachful gravity. "But the subject might have been
illustrated with a more graceful allusion to Agnes' lovers."

"As for Agnes' lovers, no one can tell who they are; yet depend upon
it, De Crespigny is not in the number. As usual, she is always flirting
with the wrong man! Agnes has about as much chance of him as the man in
the moon!" continued Sir Patrick, with increasing vehemence. "She might
as well attempt to overtake last year! Open the door of your
understanding, Marion, and listen to me: De Crespigny will no more
propose to her than you will to the Archbishop of Canterbury! Anybody
may see he is merely amusing himself!"

"Then he deserves to be hanged!" replied Marion, indignantly. "Surely,
Patrick, you should not have allowed this to continue so long, and to
go so far, under your own eyes, unless you really believed that Captain
De Crespigny was as much attached to Agnes as she is certainly to him."

"Or at least to his future title and estates! My dear friend, one would
suppose you had swallowed a whole circulating library this morning! Are
you a believer in broken hearts? My good Marion, they were exploded
long ago, like ghosts and witchcraft! Nobody now dies of love except on
the stage. You do not actually suppose Agnes will expire with the
disappointment! She knows better. Why, Marion, you must expect to go
through half-a-dozen such affairs before you get safe into the harbor
of matrimony."

"I hope not! My heart would not stand quite so much breakage," replied
Marion, coloring and laughing, while she added, in a lower tone,
"besides which it is already in very safe keeping. I have given it
away, you know, Patrick, once for all."

"Pshaw! Marion, none of your sentimental vagaries! Your attachment is,
of course, to be a _chef d'oeuvre d'amour_; but nothing lasts for ever
now. If there were no disappointments in such a love-in-a-cottage
affair as yours, what would become of poets and novel readers! Agnes
understands the game of life better than you do. In her estimation, it
is like a rubber at whist, where hearts are trumps, and the prize a
good establishment in common with the first partner who offers. De
Crespigny knows all this, and cannot be expected to place any great
value on a second-hand heart, much the worse for wear. The intimacy
between them has chiefly arisen from our relationship, he being her
cousin only once removed."

"I wish he were removed altogether. Captain De Crespigny ought to
suffer all the bitterness of disappointment himself, when his
insatiable vanity inflicts it so heartlessly on others."

"Suppose you take that method of revenging Agnes," replied Sir Patrick,
with a penetrating look. "He is the best catch going, and very civil to
you. De Crespigny's attentions are an honor to any one, and would be
quite a feather in your cap."

"So he seems to think; but I have no desire for such feathers. I make
it a rule," said Marion, archly, "never to refuse any gentleman till he
has proposed; but the honor of making him miserable for life never can
be mine, though he so well deserves it. I suppose, being a Roman
Catholic, he has bought an indulgence for deceit, or I should rather
say falsehood."

"What old-fashioned bread-and-butter ideas you have, Marion! Everybody
has been ill-used by somebody, and nobody minds it now. Agnes will
continue incurably heart-broken, til some new lover pays his devoirs,
and then you will understand her better, Marion. _On garde long temps
son premier amant quand on n'en pas un second._"

"I judge of her by myself; and if once so cruelly deceived as she is,
Patrick, my heart could never venture on any second attachment--never!
Once awakened from such a dream, I neither could nor would attempt to
dream it over again. My ideas of mutual attachment are not borrowed
from novels or poems, because I never had time to read one at Mrs.
Penfold's, but from conceiving what it might be to have a companion for
life, from whom no thought should be concealed, and all my happiness
derived. Who could ever place such trust in Captain De Crespigny, if he
has really, as I may say, swindled Agnes out of her time, thoughts, and
affections, without intending amply to repay them with his own? I am
rapidly disliking him, Patrick; and the longer we talk, the more
anxious I become for your leave to be out of his way entirely. Depend
upon it, I shall be excessively rude to your friend the next time we
meet. So, pray, let me go to-morrow."

Hearing a slight noise, Marion looked round, and she would have felt it
rather a relief at the moment if the floor could have opened under her
feet, when, with a gasp of consternation, she beheld Captain De
Crespigny standing in an attitude of perplexity and irresolution near
the door, evidently, for once in his life, feeling almost awkward, and
very nearly abashed, though a moment afterwards he regained his usual
matchless intrepidity of countenance and manner; when Sir Patrick
advanced, with extended hand, to welcome him, saying,

"Ah! De Crespigny! is that you?"

"The same and no other," replied he, bending his riding-whip till it
nearly broke; but assuming an Irish accent to conceal his annoyance.
"The top of the morning to you both. How is every inch of you?"

"Very tolerable, indeed! It always does me good to be astonished, and
certainly your apparition came rather unexpectedly. It made my
mustachios perfectly stand upon end; and Marion will not require a
stroke of electricity for some time after this! She seems rapidly
petrifying into stone!"

"Miss Marion Dunbar! if my presence be unwelcome, I wish it were
possible to dissolve away in the likeness of a sigh!" said he, with a
comic smile. "Shall I invite myself to sit down, or will any one else
do so?"

"If you are so exceedingly ceremonious, perhaps Marion ought to reach
you a chair," replied Sir Patrick, while his face became perfectly
crimsoned with trying to suppress a burst of laughter, when he observed
the graceful timidity of Marion's manner, contrasted with the easy
assurance of Captain De Crespigny's, who looked at her with undisguised
admiration. "I had been inwardly betting with myself for the last half
hour that you would drop in exactly as you did. Here is an undeniably
fine day, so that ends all discussion of the weather, and now for our
pigeon-match."

"Any match you please in this house. I have been sitting for the last
ten minutes tuning your sister's guitar, and she sent me here for the
strings. How much her dog Darling has improved in the tone and
expression of his barking."

"Agnes is perfectly dog mad since you gave her that pert ill-tempered
little animal. As Lord Byron said, 'nobody need want a friend who can
get a dog.' She wears a lock of his hair set in gold--has got a supply
of sheets and towels for him, marked with his name--helps him before
any of us at dinner--teaches him to bark Toryism--and says dogs have
all the good qualities of mankind, with none of the evil. I wish those
who preach sermons against cruelty to animals, would also say a little
against over-indulging them, especially in the case of lap-dogs."

"It is an amiable weakness," observed Captain De Crespigny, in a tone
that sounded very like contempt. "I suppose your sister would scarcely
be outdone by Queen Henrietta Maria, who rushed through a shower of
bullets to save her favorite lap-dog. I envy the whole canine race.
They have, like ourselves, fox-hunting and grouse-shooting for
amusement; and moreover, they are such favorites with the ladies!
Horses are slaves and drudges from youth to age, bearing a yoke from
which nothing can deliver them except death; but dogs generally meet
with some return for their attachment, and are always believed to be
sincere in what they profess. What do you say, Miss Marion Dunbar? Have
I not reason to envy your estimation of Darling?"

Marion colored to the very temples, embarrassed by the consciousness
of all that Captain De Crespigny had evidently overheard, and after
saying a few inaudible words, she would have hastened out of the room;
but on looking round, Sir Patrick, who privately thought that on the
present occasion there might be one too many, had strolled off to the
drawing-room, and as Captain De Crespigny continued speaking, she could
not, without actual rudeness, withdraw. A blush is one of the most
beautiful phenomena in nature, and so thought Captain De Crespigny,
when he perceived Marion's color flitting like an aurora borealis,
while for a moment she remained completely abashed, and then, with a
look of apprehensive timidity, re-seated herself.

"Excuse me, Miss Dunbar!" said he, in a tone of unwonted gravity and
respect, while his usual self-confident audacity seemed entirely to
have forsaken him. "I became inadvertently a listener to-day, when my
name was mentioned by you in terms of which I must entreat an
explanation. You will think me perhaps rather too much of the
free-and-easy school, if I take this liberty; but the value I place
upon your good opinion and cousinly regard is such, that I shall
neither eat nor sleep till you have enlightened me respecting the
offences for which I am to be thus condemned unheard."

"Pray forget all that was said! I am unaccustomed to--to conceal my
thoughts!" replied Marion, trying to look particularly firm; but seeing
that Captain De Crespigny still waited with an obvious resolution to
obtain something more explicit, she felt herself urged on to say what,
under ordinary circumstances, she would have sunk into the earth rather
than utter; therefore assuming a certain haughty dignity of manner
quite unusual with her, she added, "If I did not almost consider you a
brother, I should not remain in the room now; but I do most sincerely
regret that your name occurred in our conversation at all, and
particularly in a way for which I ought to apologise."

"As for my name, Miss Dunbar!" replied Captain De Crespigny, in a
rallying tone, "make any use of it you please. Take it yourself, or
give it to your dog, and I shall feel honored; but pardon me for being
desirous that you, more than any other person in the world, should
understand how perfectly unfounded is the idea of my being engaged
to--to any lady."

"From all that has passed, Captain De Crespigny, and from what I have
myself heard you say, I could scarcely have believed it possible that
there could be any mistake," replied Marion, indignantly. "I shall
never pardon myself for having betrayed such unfounded expectations;
but let it be understood, that I spoke only my own thoughts, in which
no other person is implicated."

"And the misapprehension was most natural--perhaps unavoidable, Miss
Dunbar, considering how little you are yet accustomed to the
_persiflage_ of every-day society," replied Captain De Crespigny,
looking perfectly irresistible. "But allow me the privilege of a
cousin, to give you some little knowledge of the world as it is."

"You have done that already," replied Marion, coldly; "and I mean to be
as long as possible of learning more. It certainly does not improve
upon acquaintance."

"We have all much to complain of, undoubtedly! If the gossiping world
here had its own way, I should be married to as rapid a succession of
young ladies as the Sultan in the Arabian Nights. Reports grow here
like hops. Old women round a tea table make up their budget of scandal,
without giving due allowance to the altered customs of society, and my
name is for ever going about the world like a cricket-ball. Every
gentleman asks his partners to dance now, as nearly as possible in a
tone as if he were engaging a partner for life, and says all that words
can express, without attaching any permanent meaning to it, provided he
has never asked that one conclusive question, which I have never yet
ventured to put, though most anxious soon to do so, if I had the
slightest encouragement from one whom, above all others, I
admire,--Madam, will you marry me?"

Captain De Crespigny said these last words very much as if he meant
them now to be serious, and fixed his eyes--eyes accustomed to do
wonders--on Marion, who felt the color rushing painfully into her
cheek; but angry at herself for blushing, she turned away in silence,
while he added more energetically than before,

"I would not, for all the worlds upon earth, lose one iota of your good
opinion. That really is precious to me. Allow me, irritated as you
evidently are, in some degree to justify myself respecting my cousin
Agnes. Strike, but hear me. She knows the world, having already smiled
on hundreds of admirers, and blushed for dozens; therefore I am but one
in a crowd, who, like the kings in Macbeth, 'come like shadows and so
depart,' being scarcely missed in the rapid succession which follows;
and, to use a vulgar proverb, 'there are some ladies with whom one
shoulder of mutton very soon drives down another.'"

Captain Be Crespigny paused; and had Marion been less agitated, and
less anxious to terminate the interview, she could have smiled at this
unusual fit of humility, which made him willing, for once, to suppose
that his attentions could be insignificant; but seeing that she was now
about to make a hasty exit from the room, he rapidly continued, with a
slight relapse into his ordinary tone of conceit:

"I am vain enough to think that I deserve to be preferred for something
better than the mere accident of birth and fortune, with which the very
meanest of mankind may be endowed; but there are ladies--observe I name
nobody--who, if they were informed that a gentleman waited in the next
room ready to marry them, with double my income, rank, and property,
would ask no other question, but put on a veil, get up a fit of bridal
hysterics, and proceed to chapel. Such intimacies as mine with your
sister are like a tread-mill, always apparently getting on, but never
advancing, while neither of us ever dream of going a step beyond it.
Agnes is formed to be gazed at with wondering admiration--to make
conquests, but not to keep them. I would no more think of being
seriously in love with her, than with a piece of Dresden china in a
shop window. She should be shut up in a glass case, to be admired and
forgotten every day. It is not the mere symmetry of form or features
that could permanently interest me," continued Captain De Crespigny,
looking a million of things; but Marion's eyes were fixed on the door,
while her whole countenance was in a glow of indignant vexation, and he
continued to speak with increasing ardor. "There is beauty in an
icicle, and beauty in a sunbeam; but how different. Can you wonder--can
you blame me--that I see the disparity in mind as much as in appearance
between yourself and your sister. She is like an amusing book,
destitute of interest, to be taken up with pleasure, but laid aside
without regret. She might beguile a weary hour; but you would prevent
the possibility of any hour ever becoming so."

"Captain De Crespigny, I know not what the _persiflage_ of society
entitles you to say, and it would be well for the happiness of others
if they understood your ideas upon that subject as well," replied
Marion, with restored firmness--and never had she looked so tall. "You
forget the confidence that subsists between sisters, and that I am
aware you generally express very different feelings, which I must still
hope, for your credit, are the real truth, otherwise nothing you can
say shall ever convince me that Agnes is not extremely ill-treated. I
only wonder very much that she cares for you at all. I have been
betrayed into speaking on this subject--I shall regret having done so
as long as I live--but I must be true to my sister now, in saying what
I think of your conduct, that it has been most heartless and most
unjustifiable. Let me request you never again to speak to me as you
have done to-day."

"No! not till the next opportunity. You should be angry often, Miss
Dunbar, for it becomes you, and is the only thing that can bring you to
the level of an ordinary mortal; therefore, let me detain you by the
right of cousinship, if by no other, even against your wishes, one
moment longer to propose terms of peace. I am going next week to do
penance at Beaujolie Park with my very long-lived and not very much
respected uncle, who insists on my escorting him to Harrowgate. He may,
perhaps, be unreasonable enough to detain me two months, during which
it would have amused me beyond measure could I act the invisible
gentleman and observe your sister; but what I cannot do myself you may
and must. If Agnes does not flirt in a young-lady-like manner with
every man she meets, then I make you a very safe promise, that the rest
of my life shall be devoted to her, and nothing you ever read in a
romance shall exceed my devotion and constancy; but you must be honest,
and if the day after my P.P.C. cards are left, you perceive her quite
as happy to see Captain Digby, or Lord Wigton, or Sir Anybody Anything,
as ever she was to see me, then I am to be honorably acquitted; and you
will consider me entitled," added Captain De Crespigny, with one of his
most expressive looks, "to seek for happiness where I could be sure of
finding it, if only fortunate enough to be thought deserving; but,
unless a preference be reciprocal, the expression of it is little
believed or valued."

"Captain De Crespigny," replied Marion, looking a thousand ways to
avoid meeting his eye, "whoever you may hereafter prefer, I can wish no
greater happiness to any one than I enjoy myself, being engaged to one
in whom I can place the most perfect reliance. My brother has probably
told you already, what I am always proud to acknowledge, that your old
friend Mr. Granville, is attached to me, and we await only Patrick's
consent to our marriage, having fortunately obtained my uncle's."

The color mounted in brilliant hues to Marion's cheek when she spoke,
for it was evidently a strong effort to do so at all, and her eyes were
fixed on the ground, or she would have been astonished and shocked at
the effect her words produced on Captain De Crespigny, who bit his lip
till the blood nearly sprung out, while his face became for a moment
pale as death; but, after fixing a long scrutinizing look on Marion's
countenance, to read its expressions, he said, in a voice so altered
from his usual tone of gay hilarity, that she could scarcely have
recognised it:

"Dunbar will never consent. Impossible! He knows your value better. It
cannot be. A parson with nothing but his pulpit! I never dreamed of
such a thing--never. A life of Sunday schools and clothing societies in
that bauble of a cottage. Pshaw! No girl ever ends by marrying the
first man she likes, and no more will you. I shall make you prefer me
in a month."

"Probably not, as I rather dislike you now," replied Marion,
suppressing a smile.

"That will wear off. It is best, as Mrs. Malaprop says, to begin with a
little aversion. You will at last like me beyond any one in the world."

"Extremes meet sometimes; but I must explain myself once for all now,
Captain De Crespigny, that no one may ever be led into a mistake. My
brother wishes us to be responsible for making this house, as far as we
can, agreeable to his friends, but only as Patrick's friend can I ever
now have pleasure in seeing you here, as, in another respect, I
heartily disapprove of your conduct, and I will not appear for one
moment to participate in the sort of farce you would carry on here with
myself,--and with others. Let us be on terms of cousinly civility for
the future, and never on more."

"Well, then, I am satisfied to be received on your terms," replied
Captain De Crespigny, with an exceedingly dissatisfied look. "Let me be
welcomed on your brother's account, until I can make myself welcome on
my own. As for constancy in this world, it is all very right and very
desirable, but, as I hope one of your admirers may soon discover,

    "Rien n'est plus commun que le nom,
    Rien n'est plus rare que la chose."



CHAPTER XXIV.


Captain De Crespigny remained in his sitting-room till a late hour the
following night, looking over papers and preparing for his departure to
Yorkshire, after which he seated himself before the dying embers of his
fire to muse, for the twentieth time, on all that had passed between
himself and Marion. More in love with her than he had ever believed it
possible to be with any one, he recalled again and again to mind the
thrilling tones of her voice, and the matchless loveliness of her
countenance, till at length his attention being roused by the clock
striking two, he looked at the candles burning dimly in their sockets,
and prepared to wish himself good night.

When about to rise, his attention was suddenly arrested by a rustling
noise behind. The shadow of a figure became visible on the opposite
wall; it was distinctly outlined, and began slowly to move, when,
springing to his feet with an exclamation of astonishment, Captain De
Crespigny's eye fell on the tall figure of a woman enveloped in dark
draperies, who stood like a phantom close by his side, without speech
or motion. While his eyes were riveted in silent consternation on this
mysterious apparition, gradually the cloak was thrown aside, the veil
dropped, and a countenance became disclosed so white and rigid, so
soul-stricken in sorrow, so utterly without life or motion, that it
seemed as if nothing on earth could have looked so supernaturally
wretched. No moisture flouted over her large dilated eyes, which were
glassy and fixed, her parted lips were livid as death, a mortal
paleness was on her forehead and cheek, and not a sound became audible,
for the grave itself was not more silent. With her emaciated hands
riveted together, she stood the very image of woe; while nothing human
appeared in her face but its expression of mortal anguish.

Captain De Crespigny gazed at this mysterious apparition, unable to
believe the evidence of his senses. A vital horror thrilled through his
heart; his eyes closed as if he would willingly have closed his vision
against a sight which blasted him; but at length, by a strong effort
compelling himself to speak, he said, in a low, doubtful tone, "Mary
Anstruther! Impossible! I was told long ago you were no more."

A few quivering, inaudible murmurs, were for some moments her only
reply, as if unable yet to command herself, till at length, in a tone
so low, hollow, and concentrated, that it seemed scarcely human, but
resembled a dreary echo from the tomb, she said, fixing a ghastly look
on Captain De Crespigny,

"No wonder you disown the wreck! I scarcely know myself in mind or
body. Ages of misery have made me the creature I am! Not want, nor
suffering, nor humiliation, though these are what you consigned me to,
but the bitter agony of being despised and forgotten by yourself,--by
you for whom I steeped my very soul in guilt! You start!--You would
deny this; but when the Abbe Mordaunt, to gain possession of his
niece's fortune, wished me to assist in getting her driven from the
house, was it to serve him that I did so? Was it for his offered bribes
that I lent my aid to that guilty work! Oh no! but her child stood in
your way, and therefore I consented. You never knew what I had done for
your sake; but was it not one of the many promises that you have
broken, that sooner or later you would declare me--even me, the
wretched Mary Anstruther, your wife. Madness and despair drove me on! I
slandered her to Lord Doncaster--got her driven from his house--made my
brother believe she had misrepresented me--that she had caused our
disgrace and banishment--and you know the fearful end of all. I never,
never thought of blood! Oh never! He was mad then! He has been mad ever
since; and who can wonder! Her cry rings for ever in my ears, the
sharpest on earth--a cry for life. It haunts me night and day! Go where
I will, the shadow pursues me. A shapeless horror is on my mind! The
fear of discovery follows me like a spectre! A whispering sound is in
my ears, desolate and dreary thoughts, and fearful dreams, darkness,
poverty, and solitude; my pillow is a pillow of fire; my brain is
scorched,--wherever I turn, dead eyes are staring in their sockets at
me. Oh! if rivers of tears could restore that murdered being, I might
have peace!"

The wretched creature's words poured out like the rushing of a mighty
torrent, while her very reason seemed stretched to it utmost verge. She
leaned against a table, which quivered beneath her trembling form,
while her dragged and ghastly features were turned towards Captain De
Crespigny, and she fixed on him, with a look of dismal meaning, the
blackest eyes that ever vied with night. Vainly he endeavored to
withdraw his gaze from that wild and haggard countenance, or to shut
his ears against the tempest of her words; but there was a compression
at his heart, till his very breath seemed difficult to draw, while he
listened to her almost frenzied ravings. At length, in a voice of deep
and solemn import, he addressed her, while the color fled from his very
lips with agitation, and a cold shudder crept through his frame:

"Tell me, Mary, I adjure you, what all this means! I have sometimes
suspected that Henry De Lancey might be the natural son of my uncle;
never till this moment did I fully imagine that the murdered woman was
actually married. I must know all. Rather than remain in this suspense,
I will ask Lord Doncaster himself. I am not a man who would inherit one
acre unjustly, or sit tamely down under the suspicion that I might be
swindling another out of his rights. Vague apprehensions have sometimes
crossed my mind; but give me only a certainty one way or other. If
beggary itself be the consequence, I shall act like a man of honor, and
let the law take its course."

"Ask nothing! suspect nothing! The dark and dreadful story is buried in
her grave, never to be heard of more. It rests upon the Abbe Mordaunt's
conscience, and on him be the curse! Look here!" cried she wildly
throwing off her cap, while her hair, which streamed like a long banner
behind, was perfectly white and silvery. "This was the work of a single
day, and my heart is no less changed. The world itself has altered! Oh!
who can tell the unimaginable wretchedness that surrounds me! You
believed that I was dead! Would that it had been so! I wish it, and
well may you!" A strange smile gleamed upon her features for a moment,
and vanished. "When shall I become like the dust I tread on? When shall
I find beneath the green turf a chamber of darkness, of silence, and
perhaps of peace! Often, often do I ask myself why I consent to live,
when there are a thousand ways of escaping to my only refuge,--death!
It is a horrid thought, but it will come. There is no future in my
life! Houseless, friendless, penniless, and without hope,--a fiery
anguish is at my heart, as if hell itself were there!"

"Mary Anstruther!" said Captain De Crespigny, in a hurried tone of
great agitation, "I wronged you once. I acknowledge it with sorrow and
remorse. We were young indeed then, and you had no cause, surely, to
complain of my liberality. I offered you----"

"Yes! yes! yes!" replied she, with frantic vehemence, while her eyes,
glazed, and without moisture, were darkened by the shadow of deep
despair. "You offered me everything but what you had promised, and what
alone I would accept. You took from me every blessing of life, and
offered me money! I hated you for supposing me mean enough to accept
it. I would rather die in the street, or perish on a dung-hill, than
receive your alms. My name branded with infamy, not a roof to cover me,
and not a friend in all the earth to pity me; my brother now a terror
and a reproach to all who know him; crazed myself in mind and heart,
aloof from all earthly sympathy, branded and alone--what remains for
me? Yet I would rather die in an hospital than owe the very air I
breathe to you."

"Why, then, do I see you here?" asked Captain De Crespigny, endeavoring
to steady the tremulousness of his voice. "I would serve you yet, if
possible. I cannot entirely forget former times!"

"Former times!" exclaimed the miserable being, with a heavy sob, while
a rush of agony poured itself out in her voice, and clasping her hands
over her burning eyes, tears, such as she had not shed for ages, fell
like rain over her face. "Who talks of former times! You! who made my
whole life, past, present, and future, one long agony of suffering! Do
you remind me of former times! Oh! bring them back--those days which
now seem like a dream, when I was young, innocent, and happy! Who so
gay then as I--whose step so joyous--whose eye so bright--who so
admired; and," added she, her voice changing to a low, deep tone of
anguish, "who so loved? It was the delirium of an hour, and what am I
now? Of all the wretched outcasts on earth, the most wretched; while he
who has made me so thinks it degradation to waste a thought upon one so
lost."

There was a pause for some moments, and she added, in a deep,
sepulchral voice,

"A wide gulph separates us now. I know and feel that. I do not even
wish it otherwise. You are courted and admired in every house, while I
wander like a solitary ghost upon the earth! A furnace of guilt and
horror burns within me! No language is dark and dreadful enough to
express what I endure. The fresh green turf, and the blue sky above, I
dare not look upon; for they speak of days that are for ever past--of
that short summer filled with hope and joy, which has been followed by
this dreary, endless winter----"

Captain De Crespigny's eye quailed beneath the look of chilling despair
fastened upon himself. The hurricane of her feelings had been
exhausted, but there was an unearthly fixedness in the eye of Mary
Anstruther. In her voice, too, a cold, calm, almost spectral solemnity
of tone had succeeded to the wild expression of her manner. Her
expression was that of a lull after a storm, the ground-swell that
follows the hushing of a tempest; and she again stood as at first, pale
as death, still and motionless as a corpse, while the long drapery of
her cloak hung as a winding-sheet around her wasted limbs.

"If there be any thing on earth I can do for you, speak but the word,
and it is done," said Captain De Crespigny, with undisguised emotion.
"My purse, if you will yet accept it, is yours; but remember your very
life is at stake in coming here. I have shut my eyes already too long!
I cannot conceal from my own mind that the man who calls himself
Howard, and lives with Sir Arthur Dunbar, must be your brother. He has
hidden himself always from me, and I should scarcely even know him if
we met, but this shall not last. Tell him he must go! Once,--and once
only, I may for your sake connive at his escape from justice, but let
Ernest cross my path again, and no earthly power shall induce me to
neglect the sacred law that bids us deliver up the murderer to justice.
You also at St. John's Lodge, would once have followed the example of
your unhappy brother's crime. You escaped on that occasion, and I have
tried to convince myself it could not be,--that you were already in
another world,--but I will not, even for the sake of our early days, be
made a participator in crime. Go, then, to some distant country
together. The sword of the law is suspended over both your heads. Fly
for your very lives. The means shall not be wanting,--and tell your
guilty brother, as I tell you, that if he delays, cost what it
may,--and I know the cost to me will be great indeed, justice shall
have its course."

"Let me then drink my cup of sorrow to the dregs!" replied Mary, in a
low deep whisper. "He will not go! No earthly power can rule him,--no
terror in life intimidates him. For myself; I dread nothing now but a
prolonged existence. The sooner it is ended by any hand but my own, the
better. Yours is indeed the fittest. That will only complete the work
which you began. Give us up then to justice. In remembrance of those
days when among the green lanes of England you promised to love me,--me
only till death,--deliver us up now to the rope and to the scaffold.
Yes!" added she, with a look of fevered anguish, and a frightful
hysterical laugh, "This is as it should be; cheated of innocence,
blighted in affection, blistered in heart, trodden down with contempt,
driven almost to madness, and delivered up to death. Such be the fate
of all who ever trust in man."

"Leave me! leave me!" said Captain De Crespigny, visibly shuddering.
"If you desire vengeance, the sight of you, Mary Anstruther, such as
you are now, is more than I can bear. Leave me!"

"Vengeance!--No!--It was for a good purpose I came, and let me not
forget it," said Mary, in a low, broken, bewildered voice, while a
gleam like sun-light on the stormy wave seemed for a moment to restore
the softness and beauty of youth to her countenance. "I would save you
from death. My wretched brother long ago suspected that you were the
author of my ruin. That secret he never could wring from me, and he
never shall. Oh, no! I ask no revenge on you. I am grieved, even once
to have reproached you; but it is done, and my tongue shall be silent
in the grave before you hear it again. Ernest swore an oath,--a deep,
deep oath, that if you had indeed deceived me, nothing should screen
you from his vengeance. Already he was irritated, believing you wished
to marry Miss Howard, and on that subject you know how long he has been
crazed. Ernest never forgives, and never forgets. He lives but for
revenge. He would make you drink a cup bitter as his own. On that fatal
night to which I never dare to look back, the knife he used was
yours,--yes! it was stolen for the very purpose, and you know its
peculiar form. He intended, if detected, to accuse you as an accessary
to the murder. His plans are skillfully laid, and he threatens thus to
hurl you from the eminence on which you now stand in society----"

"Impossible! absurd! Nothing but derangement could make your brother
imagine any mortal would believe a fabrication so atrocious and
improbable!"

"It will at least excite interest, and his plans are but too well laid.
My story might then become public; and little as the world thinks in
general of such sorrows as mine, there are some who would pity me.
Ernest has the cunning of madness; and he thinks if you and Henry De
Lancey were removed, he must succeed to Lord Doncaster. If I live, his
strange and deadly scheme of revenge shall be circumvented; yet beware
of Ernest! Your life is not safe for an hour! Night and day,--alone or
in company, at your table or in your bed, wherever you turn, and
wherever you go, beware; for none but myself can tell what his love or
his hatred are. I would prevent mischief for his sake, and--and even
for yours."

A dark convulsion passed over the unhappy woman's countenance,--she
gazed for several moments at Captain De Crespigny in silent, disastrous
wretchedness, and with the livid smile of a broken heart, she
disappeared.

Captain De Crespigny scarcely slept that night,--the moaning of the
wind sounded dismal as the cry of departed spirits in his ears, and
when at last his eye closed in feverish, restless slumber, he suddenly
started up, thinking his name had been called out with a shriek of
anguish in accents to which he had long been a stranger, and unable to
tell whether it had been a dream or a reality, he watched for some time
in agitated silence, and towards morning fell into a deep repose.



CHAPTER XXV.


When Captain De Crespigny called two days after this at St. John's
Lodge, to take leave before setting out for Yorkshire, he looked so
absent and so agitated, that Agnes became quite elated and flattered by
what she attributed to his unconquerable regret at being obliged to
take so long a leave of herself. She even forgave him for enquiring
almost immediately what had become of Marion, and answered with
careless vivacity, "She is gone to her favorite home at Portobello.
Marion perfectly idolises her uncle. I should require to attend a
series of lectures on naval tactics, and to take a course of nautical
novels for a month, before I could get on with the Admiral as she does!
My sister talks about the battles of Trafalgar and Camperdown, as if
she had fought at them herself, but really somehow or other, I never
can find a word for good, worthy sir Arthur!"

"And yet," observed Sir Patrick, "you never seem very much at a loss
for conversation, Agnes, when I have the pleasure of seeing you! It is
years, countless years, since I have entered his house, or since he has
entered mine; but suppose we go down together some day, and cut out
Marion at once, by doing the agreeable in our very best and most
fascinating style!"

"If my uncle Doncaster were such a man, I should certainly make up to
him greatly!" said Captain De Crespigny, in a tone more than commonly
in earnest. "It would be well worth your while to try."

"Sir Arthur has nothing to leave! you are quite mistaken there!"
replied Agnes, inadvertently. "When we were perfect children, and all
on the very best terms, he used to say that it would be quite enough
for an old sailor like him, if he could bequeath us his watch and
enough to bury him! As Pat says, he might make his will on his
thumb-nail. Oh! rest assured he has nothing to leave!"

"I did not suppose he had," continued Captain De Crespigny, gravely. "A
small income in his liberal hand has done more good than the very
largest in any other person's. It is an odd phenomenon in nature, that
the lightest purse always is the most open to others, while the heavier
a purse grows the more its mouth becomes contracted! A sort of
spasmodic affection, I think!"

"I wonder if it will ever be engraved on people's tomb-stones how much
they die worth?" said Agnes. "That would be all the good many people
can ever get by their wealth, and what they are much more proud of, in
this mercenary world, than of any personal good qualities."

"Young ladies are for ever working me purses, and I have nothing to put
in them!" exclaimed Sir Patrick, throwing his own up in the air, and
catching it again. "Sir Arthur and I are both fighting under the banner
of poverty now; and that one word expresses in a small compass all
earthly annoyance."

"Oh, no! There are many things worse!" exclaimed Agnes magnanimously.
"What a vulgar, low, mercenary idea! so like you, Patrick!"

"Thank you, Agnes! If your good opinion were worth a farthing, I should
grudge to have lost it!"

"But Dunbar! _revenons a nos moutons_," interrupted Captain De
Crespigny, trying to look indifferent. "Surely there is no just cause
or impediment why we may not ride down to Portobello this morning, and
call on good, worthy Sir Arthur together. It is a perfect disgrace to
us both that we never go near his house, much as I always have
respected him, and always shall."

"This is a very sudden fit of cordiality! When did you feel the first
symptoms coming on?" asked Sir Patrick drily, while Agnes began
vehemently winding some skeins of silk. "Let me feel your pulse, De
Crespigny. I am ready to bet your uncle against mine--and the odds are
considerable--that half an hour since, you would no more have thought
of paying a P.P.C. visit to old Sir Arthur, than to Lord Nelson's
monument. My dear fellow, I know you--and you ought to know me better
than to suppose me capable of paying a dull, penitential visit there!"

"Well, be it so! This is no time for me to recommend disinterested
attentions, Dunbar, as I am on wing for Yorkshire, obliged during a
whole long dreary month to play the amiable! Did you ever try that
experiment, Miss Dunbar?"

"Of being amiable? no, never! I am not come to that yet! Whenever
people mention a young lady as being amiable, you may depend upon it
she has nothing better to recommend her. I leave mere hum-drum good
qualities to such people as Clara Granville."

"Omit her in your conversation altogether, Agnes! I told you already,
that she must never be named here," interrupted Sir Patrick, with angry
vehemence. "Why will you continually intrude that family on our
conversation?"

"I do not, Patrick. I beg leave to deny the honorable gentleman's last
assertion! It is three days at least since I have so much as named
Clara Gran----"

Before Agnes could finish her sentence, Sir Patrick, always afraid to
trust his temper when irritated, as he knew the hurricane to be fearful
if allowed to rage, had strode to the door, and burst out of the room,
as if the very house were scarcely large enough to hold him. This
_denouement_ Agnes had confidently anticipated, being perfectly aware
that her brother never withstood a second repetition of Clara's name,
therefore she had artfully tried the experiment of producing an
explosion, which might at any hazard expel him, and secure to herself a
_tete-a-tete_ leave-taking with Captain De Crespigny, from whom she
now confidently anticipated a formal declaration.

When Sir Patrick's angry footsteps died away in the distance, it was
not without some real agitation, therefore, and a great deal more
assumed, that Agnes allowed her long, dark eye-lashes to droop over her
cheek, and called up a rather ostentatious blush, while she sat for
several minutes in silent embarrassment; but though Captain De
Crespigny assumed his most fascinating expression, he seemed resolute
not to begin the dialogue; and while affecting to be considerably
embarrassed himself, an arch smile nevertheless glittered in his eye,
and played about his mouth.

"Is it true," asked Agnes, at length, in a subdued voice, and without
looking up, "that you are actually going for some months to-morrow? I
must tie a knot on my pocket handkerchief, not to forget you during so
long an absence."

"I would much rather tie a knot of a different kind," said Captain De
Crespigny, in his usual rallying tone. "But necessity has no law.
Going, going, gone! Positively the last time! Knocked down to Miss
Dunbar. A great bargain. The best article on hand."

"You are an admirable auctioneer, and shall dispose of me next," said
Agnes, laughingly selecting a rose-bud from her bouquet. "I must give
you something to take away, very beautiful, and which I am sure you
will like."

"That must be yourself, then," replied Captain De Crespigny, looking
most cruelly charming. "I hear the young ladies are all to wear black
crape on their left arm after my exit. I did expect a public dinner
from them, but that is too common-place. My tailor received one lately
on removing from one street to another, and the waiter at Carlisle on
retiring from his profession. I wonder nobody ever voted me a
testimonial. My speech on the occasion would be exquisite."

"Patrick thinks you very much addicted to make speeches," replied
Agnes, with sly emphasis. "I suppose, as you are setting out so
suddenly, that Lord Doncaster is seriously ill now. A number of old
people have died off lately. He must be two hundred at least, for I
have heard of him so long! I remember three years ago hearing that his
memory had failed."

"Not at all--not in the very least. He thinks himself younger and
handsomer every year. He is actually addicted still to flirtation in
all its branches. He told me the last time we parted, that many ladies,
if he chose, would prefer him to me. Perhaps they might. I dare say he
was in the right. We never grow old in our family--never! and we have
all excellent memories," continued Captain De Crespigny, fixing his
dangerous eyes on Agnes. "Mine will be stored with many never-to-be
forgotten recollections of the last few months, 'remembered,' as public
orators say, 'till the latest moment of my existence.' Memory has put
all these scenes in her pocket for me, to be enjoyed hereafter; and how
delightful would a life-time be, made up of such hours as I have spent
in this house! I feel myself striking root in it, like a cutting of
geranium!"

"Indeed!" replied Agnes, smiling most benignly; "geraniums are very
great favorites of mine--very great, indeed--so I wish you were
metamorphosed into one."

"If all the events of life could be modelled on a plan of my own, what
a pleasant little place the world would be!" said Captain De Crespigny,
admiring the polish of his boots. "I might then continue here some time
longer, as a volunteer in the corps of your victims, who are as
numerous now as a disbanded army. Do pray let us call over the
muster-roll of your admirers and count them. I could die in my chair
with curiosity to know how many they are!"

"Not above three or four cases of life and death!" said Agnes,
laughing. "But you jest at scars who never felt a wound."

"I most heartily sympathize with them all," replied Captain De
Crespigny, with an extra-sentimental sigh. "I have gone through every
sorrow of life myself--outraged affections, and all that sort of thing.
You cannot conceive, Miss Dunbar, how like we victims are sometimes to
the frog in the fable, inflated with empty hopes."

"I must shut my eyes to that."

"Your eyes should never be shut. They are much too beautiful! With
respect to your admirers, they might say, like the weather-cock to the
wind, '_Si vous ne changez pas, je suis constante!_' The whole world
has been pulling caps for you all winter, and you pretend to have
limited yourself to three or four victims! Impossible! You are
concealing the half of them! Forgetting Captains A----, B----, C----,
and D----. I have as many young ladies as that dying for me. Now, do
let us run over an authentic list of their names. Show me all your
court-yards at once. I could bet the finest camellia at Loddige's, that
you do not name them all."

"Who shall I say?" exclaimed Agnes, getting up an extempore blush, and
her archest smiles. "I have a most inhospitable memory for bores, and
shall forget two-thirds of them. Captain Digby, slightly wounded;
Colonel Meade, pierced through the heart; Captain O'Brien, slowly
recovering; Mr. Deveril, despaired of; Lord Wigton,----"

"Killed outright!" interrupted Captain De Crespigny. "You mention him
in rather a more relenting tone than the rest, like Bonaparte, when he
wept over one wounded man, alter condemning hundreds to death. But you
are come to a period already. Is there no other worthy of remembrance?"

"Only one, whom I cannot name!" replied Agnes, turning away. "Last, but
not least."

"Ah! some poor fellow with nothing, I suppose--waiting, perhaps, for
the death of a rich relation; but those tiresome old bores always live
for ever, and a day besides. Whoever he is, let me advise you not to
think of him; a man should as soon ask the sun in the hemisphere to
wait for him, as a young lady in the full blaze of her beauty and
attractions. No, no, Miss Dunbar, take my advice. Be like time and
tide. I have a real cousinly interest in your welfare, and should be
delighted, on my return, to find this room fragrant with cake, and
glittering with favors. I shall come down on purpose, if you ask me! I
positively shall!"

If a look could kill, Captain De Crespigny must have withered away
beneath the glance of Agnes' eyes, which streamed with indignant
flashes of anger and surprise; but unconscious, apparently, of being
otherwise than most agreeable, he continued, in his most captivating
manner.

"I must be off now to Macleay's. Half a dozen friends are dying to
obtain a likeness of me, and a deputation of ladies made me promise
lately to sit for them. I wonder what can induce me to take so much
trouble," added he, with a gay, triumphant laugh. "The painter is quite
afraid he shall be robbed and murdered for it."

"Humility is not certainly your cardinal virtue," said Agnes, with a
look of angry scorn, which few could have withstood. "You cultivate an
extensive acquaintance."

"Very! I must really see whether people can be induced to cut me, for
it is exceedingly troublesome. I know sixty-four families with three
young ladies in each. It would puzzle the calculating machine to make
out how many that amounts to. But, meantime, I must unwillingly say the
most hateful of all words--farewell. I have been putting off time here,
expecting Dunbar for the last half hour, though little able to afford
so many minutes. My idiot of a watch must surely be too slow, or your
brother would have been back about the sale of mad Tom. I have twenty
minds to buy him, if Dunbar did not ask so very long a price."

"You are intending, I believe," asked Agnes, "to enter him for the--the
Chiltern Hundreds?"

"Not exactly! but the Doncaster St. Leger. He would be the first horse
in that line, though asses are perfectly accustomed to them. Good
morning! _au revoir!_ I mean to Londonize for a few weeks, then go to
Paris, and afterwards disperse myself over every corner of the
uncivilized globe. Can I do anything for you anywhere? Geneva velvets?
Parisian bonnets? Swiss muslins? I am at your service in every quarter
of the world. May I beg my very best regards to your sister."

So saying, Captain De Crespigny bowed himself out of the room, with
very much the air of a popular actor who expects three rounds of
applause, and Agnes having, with a face as unmoved as if it had been
enamelled, coldly given him her hand, with an ill-supported smile on
her quivering lip, wished him a pleasant journey, and turned almost
haughtily away; a bolt of ice seemed to have fallen upon her heart, and
in that small moment was comprised the agony of ages; but the greatest
wonder in nature is the entire self-command given to many, and
especially to women, by means of which they can hear what involves the
happiness of a life-time, and yet betray no visible emotion.

The strongest feelings on earth never are discovered. Feeble minds can
conceal nothing, but those who have strength of mind to suffer most
deeply, are those who have strength of mind also to hide what they do
endure. On slight occasions, Agnes was a most accomplished fainter; but
now, having stood, with a specious smile on her countenance, till the
door had finally closed, she rushed to the privacy of her own room, and
closed the door, then seating herself, in all the luxury of solitude,
she meditated with silent astonishment on all that had passed.

No coroner's inquest can be summoned on a deceased flirtation, and
whether it die a natural death or a violent one never can be known, as
it may be caused merely by some trifling oversight, perhaps by the
cruel aspersion of an enemy, or simply by whim and caprice, as in this
case seemed the most probable, and to Agnes the most mortifying.
Wounded in all her most sensitive feelings, a crowd of angry and
depressing thoughts crowded into her brain, while she could not but
feel that the arrows which had struck her were most cruelly barbed and
most skilfully aimed. It was harrowing to her vain, proud spirit, to
imagine that Captain De Crespigny could really be indifferent. It
seemed, indeed, almost impossible! Could his carelessness be all
assumed! Had he, indeed, an honorable scruple of engaging her upon the
uncertainty of his uncle's demise. It might be so. Agnes felt that
entire despondency would come soon enough, if come it must; and anxious
to believe in Captain De Crespigny's attachment, she seemed now
resolved to keep up the farce with herself a little longer. She felt
certain that he had cast back a look of regret on leaving the room,
which spoke volumes, and these volumes she filled up according to her
own imagination. The parting had, perhaps, been as painful to Captain
De Crespigny as to herself, but what could he do if Lord Doncaster
always continued to be the "undying one," standing in the way of their
mutual happiness. Agnes now lived over every scene which had passed
between herself and her supposed lover. She could not imagine those
feelings expressed to any other which seemed created by herself alone.
She recapitulated all his civilities to herself, remembered how his
last sigh had been sighed, how his last look had been looked; and,
after a glance at the mirror, which proved as usual an effectual
safety-valve to any feelings of mortification, she became at last
restored to the agreeable conviction, that the most considerate,
self-denying, and constant of lovers was Captain De Crespigny.

"And," exclaimed Agnes, with another triumphant glance at the mirror,
"as he said only yesterday, '_on peut fuir sans oublier_.' Let him
admire any other if he can!"

    I'll still believe that story wrong,
    Which ought not to be true.



CHAPTER XXVI.


The intellectual powers and literary acquirements of Henry de Lancey
were first-rate, and feeling a consciousness of ability, he ardently
longed to coin them into fame and distinction. Full of high
aspirations, there was something grand in the outline of his head, and
in the expression of his speaking eyes, while animated by his desire to
render himself worthy of Caroline, and to reward the care of Sir Arthur
by his own exertions. He longed now to run the race of life with
others--to be useful among men--to win for himself a place in
society--to write his name perhaps in the records of time--but above
all, to promote the cause of truth, religion, and holiness. He had
learned in the society of Mr. Granville to believe that true happiness
is not to be found in the temple of fame, nor in the temple of pleasure
or of fortune, but in the temple of God; and at one time his thoughts
and studies were turned towards the church, with a fervent desire to
take orders, till the tide of his plans became entirely changed by the
unexpected arrival of a commission in the 15th Huzzars, then quartered
in Canada, which he felt bound, from whatever hand it came, to accept.

Henry had been deeply affected when first told all the peculiar
circumstances of his own history, but Sir Arthur accustomed him from
the first to discuss the subject confidentially, that every
recollection might be preserved which he yet retained of those earlier
days, now involved in impenetrable mystery, which none but himself had
witnessed, but the secret of which Sir Arthur still entertained a
sanguine hope of at last developing, while often, when gazing with
almost parental affection at his promising young _protege_, he
prophesied that his unnatural connections would yet be forced or
persuaded to acknowledge him.

Though lines of deep thought were already riveted on the youthful
countenance of Henry, yet his manner became full of life and animation;
and in personal courage he was the boldest of the bold, displaying a
fearless energy of character, which caused the Admiral to express, on
the night when they were about to part, a confident hope that, though
the service of his country had not been his choice, yet he was well
suited to his profession, and his profession to him.

"Let me only become another Sir Arthur Dunbar, and my utmost ambition
will be gratified!" exclaimed Henry, warmly clasping the hand of his
benefactor. "Often--oh, how often! I shall look back upon the only
home, and the best friend I have ever known!"

They were to meet no more, as young De Lancey had engaged his place in
the earliest coach next morning, and Marion saw, by the paleness of his
cheek, and the compression of his lip, that though for worlds he would
not have compromised his manhood by weeping, yet, moved as much by Sir
Arthur's evident grief as by his own, he had the utmost difficulty in
suppressing a burst of tears.

The aged Admiral grasped his young friend's hand in silence, and
leaning for some moments on his arm, he walked up and down the room
with heavy measured steps, his eyes cast down, his noble forehead
clouded with care, and his brows knit as in deep and painful thought.
He too seemed to dread the greatness of his own agitation, being little
fitted now to bear any, yet it seemed to Marion as if a tear had forced
its way into his glazed and nearly blinded eyes, though carefully
screening it from observation, and evidently unwilling or unable to say
a word. After several minutes had elapsed, Henry broke the long
silence, exclaiming, in a low, tremulous tone of incoherent agitation,

"Before my voice fails, Sir Arthur, I must speak!--I must say
something, to tell you what I feel----"

"No! no! my dear boy! I know it all! I will believe more than you say,
but spare yourself and me," interrupted Sir Arthur, in a tone of calm
and serious affection. "We know each other, Henry."

"But once--only once let me say all that has been treasured in my heart
for years! Can I leave the happiest home which ever blessed a son with
his father, and not remember that but for you I should have been a
friendless outcast! Every act of kindness you have shown me, every
smile of regard, every token of confidence, crowds upon my memory now,
and increases the store of obligations which it is my pride and my
happiness to owe you. If you could but read my heart, Sir Arthur, I
need not speak; for there you would see love without bounds, and
gratitude which it shall ever be my delight to cherish! If I am better
than the brutes that perish, you are, under Providence, the cause; and
I shall be worse than the worst of them, if I ever for one hour
overlook what I owe to you, or forget the principles of honor, duty,
truth, and piety that you have taught me."

Henry paused in speechless emotion, he clenched his hands together, the
youthful fire of his eye became dimmed, and he hurried to the window
for several moments, where, having in some measure recovered his
composure, he turned round, and saw, for the first time in his life,
tears rolling down the face of Sir Arthur--the tears of a good and
venerable man, of all sights upon earth the most affecting; and
overcome with emotion, Henry took his benefactor's hand in his own,
with an expression of the deepest solemnity and respect, saying, in
rapid but tremulous accents,

"It might soothe the very bed of death, for you, Sir Arthur, to
remember what you have done for me!--more than almost any man can ever
do for another. The first of earthly blessings is to be loved; and yet,
but from your kindness to me from childhood, no eye would ever have
saddened at my departure, nor brightened at my return! With not a
friend upon the visible earth but yourself, the child perhaps of shame
and misery, I must have become lost indeed! The thought of this will be
nearest my heart when it ceases to beat! If I perish abroad--or if--if
we meet no more on earth, take all I can offer, Sir Arthur, my fervent
prayers that you may be rewarded."

Sir Arthur mournfully held out his hand to Henry, who kneeled down and
kissed it with the profoundest reverence; then starting hastily up, he
seemed about to rush out of the room, when he was arrested by the deep,
solemn voice of the Admiral, whose eye had now become calm and steady,
while in a low and impressive voice he said,

"It is true, Henry, we shall probably meet no more! I know, and so must
you, that this is our last interview on earth; but long after I am at
rest in the grave, may you remember, and may you deserve the fervent
blessing I now give you, trusting that both my children, yourself and
Marion, may hereafter enjoy as bright a destiny as any child of earth
can know in this suffering and sin-blighted world. In speaking of the
past, Henry, do not suppose that the obligation is all on your side!
No! your dutiful affection has more than re-paid me. It is something to
know that my aged years have not been spent in vain--that I leave a
record in your heart, where my name will be respectfully and
affectionately remembered! No man living can endure the thought of
being utterly forgotten; and to you, my young friends, I commit my
memory. The earth will lie lighter on my grave for the belief, that you
have loved me so well, and will so truly lament me. Your young spirits
have cheered my heart--your welfare has deeply interested me; and I
know that one day or other, my young soldier will do me honor in his
profession, and not forget to shed a tear over my remains."

Many were the tears of both Henry and Marion at these words; but Sir
Arthur calmly continued in a firmer voice,

"When I called you back, my dear Henry, it was not for any vain attempt
to express my feelings,--that would be impossible,--but to mention how,
in all probability, you may one day be able more than to return the
little I have done. It is easy for men to wrestle through the
difficulties of life, and with such talent and enter-enterprise as
yours, to conquer them all. For other reasons, too, I have no doubt of
your at last being most happily settled for life, but many anxious
thoughts beset me respecting Marion. The uncertainty of Richard
Granville's prospects, and the certainty that my nephew will refuse his
consent to her marriage, weighs heavily at my heart. I do trust that a
long life of happiness awaits you both; but if my worst anticipations
were ever to be realised--if your brother, Marion, a bankrupt already
in fortune and character, were hereafter to desert you--if your sister,
heartless and vain, should throw herself away, and leave you in bleak
and sorrowful loneliness,--then remember, Henry, my solemn and last
injunction is laid upon you, to act as a brother towards Marion,--much
may then be in your power--more than you now expect--and you must then
protect her, as I would have done myself, considering all that you may
ever do for her, as done for me."

"It would be something to live for, if I had a hope of being useful to
Marion, Sir Arthur! Under any circumstances that would have been a
pleasure; but now it has become ten times more a sacred duty than ever.
Your injunction shall remain with me till my dying hour!"

In the solitude and silence of his own apartment, Henry gave ample vent
to his long-suppressed anguish, while mourning over the sad conviction,
that he had now seen, probably for the last time, that generous and
noble-hearted benefactor, whom he loved with an enthusiasm to which no
words could do justice. Though every action of his life had been
actuated by grateful attachment, he now felt as if his existence had
been wasted without sufficiently testifying his ardent affection, and
he wondered to think that any opportunities were ever formerly
overlooked, of conversing with Sir Arthur, and attending on him. Henry
thought of his growing infirmities, of his solitary home, of his high
spirit, and of his resolute mind, now enervated by advancing years, and
mourned to think that in sickness, or even at the hour of death, he
himself must no longer be at hand, to console and support his
benefactor.

Exhausted nature at length needed repose, and amidst the stillness and
darkness of a night which had already seemed interminable, Henry felt
himself slowly sinking into the calmness of slumber, when suddenly he
was awakened to consciousness by a slight rustling sound from beside
his bed, and the noise of some one breathing, as if trying in vain to
suppress it. Uncertain what this might be, he opened his eyes, and lay
perfectly immoveable; but gradually his heart almost ceased to beat,
and quailed with a feeling of supernatural apprehension, when the
curtains were slowly opened, and a dark form cautiously stooping over
him, gazed into his face, till he felt the warm breath upon his cheek.

In the dead hour of the night, Marion was startled out of a dull,
heavy, unrefreshing sleep, by a sharp shrill cry for help, which seemed
to proceed from Henry's room, and was succeeded by stifled cries, and
the sound of a violent scuffle. Springing out of bed with an
instantaneous decision, Marion flew towards the spot, calling loudly
for assistance, and the instant she opened the door, some one, uttering
a wild and fearful shriek, rushed violently out, striking her what
seemed at the moment a severe blow on the arm, but an instant
afterwards she became deluged with blood.

Henry was in the act of eagerly pursuing the rapidly receding figure,
when, seeing Marion stagger backwards, he caught her in his arms,
supported her to a chair, and hastily bound up her wound, which was
bleeding profusely.

"Leave me! I am well! Look to my uncle," cried she, eagerly. "He must
have been alarmed! How was it, Henry? Are you hurt? Is Sir Arthur safe?
Oh! there he is!" exclaimed she, rushing into her uncle's arms, and
bursting into tears.

"Here is Mr. Howard too!" added Henry, turning round, as that gentleman
entered with a calm but rather anxious look, while the paleness of his
cheek was almost startling. "You seem, Sir, to have dropped ready
dressed from the clouds!"

"I seldom retire early to bed," replied he, with a quick, sharp,
scrutinizing glance at Henry. "Hearing a tumult in the house, I--I----"

"You gave it time to subside before attempting to interfere," added
Henry, with a thrilling emphasis in his voice, while closely observing
Mr. Howard's countenance. "There is a strange and fearful mystery
here!"

"There is!" replied he, gnawing his nails to the very quick, while he
shot a momentary glance of rancorous detestation at young De Lancey,
after which, his features became as passionless and immoveable as if
they had been fixed in a vice. "The whole affair is mysterious--very----"

"What! you already know all!"

"I do!--I--I met the man rushing out of the house," answered Mr.
Howard, with the air of one outfacing an accusation, but his voice
became low and suffocated. "I attempted to stop him, but----"

"I am glad you did!" observed Sir Arthur, looking anxiously at Henry,
and then gazing intently on the sallow countenance of Mr. Howard, which
became gradually dyed with the deepest hectic; his lips were now
closely compressed, he raised his tall figure to its full height, and
closed his eyes, as if wishing thus to exclude some fearful spectre
from his mind, but after a momentary struggle, he became once more calm
and resolute, with a singular serenity of look and manner.

"You met some one in the passage! The assassin must have escaped long
before!" muttered Henry, in a vague and dreaming tone; but his brow
grew darker, and there was an anxious intensity in his look and voice,
when he added in a tone of resolute determination, "Let me be plain
with you, Mr. Howard! Your expression of countenance when I saw you
last night, filled me with astonishment--almost with apprehension; it
was a look never to be forgotten! Your manner now perplexes me! There
is something amiss which I cannot understand, but for your sake as well
as my own, this very strange affair must be fully investigated!"

"You suspect me!" exclaimed Mr. Howard, with a sudden laugh of terrible
mirth, and in a voice elevated into accents of indescribable fury,
while his eye throwing off the torpor in which it had been shrouded,
glittered with the fearful brightness of delirium, his veins became
swollen, and his figure dilated beyond its ordinary height, assuming an
aspect of rage and of almost supernatural strength, such as insanity
alone can give. "You suspect me, and you have dared to confess it. Many
a word lightly spoken carries weight. The arrow has been shot at
random, but you are right. Lightning rushes through my brain! I would
be destructive as a whirlwind to you, De Lancey, as I once was to your
wretched mother. She stood in the way of my advancement, as you may yet
do,--she accused, betrayed, and ruined my sister," continued he in a
rapid voice, insupportably shrill and piercing. "You too have injured
me, and you shall suffer for it as she did--she died!"

With the spring and the strength of a tiger, he rushed toward Henry,
and a knife which he had plucked from his sleeve, gleamed like
lightning in the air, when suddenly Sir Arthur placed himself so as to
intercept the madman's career, and fixed upon him his commanding eye,
with a look of calm, stern, and lofty composure, while Henry vainly
strove to advance before him, and Marion, with frantic vehemence,
called for help.

"Take my life, if you must have blood. I have trusted you,
Howard,--shown you kindness when no other hand was stretched out in
compassion, and through my heart only shall you reach that boy!" said
Sir Arthur, firmly. "I am old, and ready to die, but he is a son to me,
and shall not perish in my sight."

"Your life! no! not yours," replied the maniac, in accents of vehement
horror, yet still fastening his glaring eyes on Henry, with looks of
deadly malignity. "May my hand wither before it injures one hair of
your venerable head! May my life be sacrificed first, and my limbs be
manacled in chains! But for him, his days shall be few! He bears a
charmed life, or he must have died long ago! I would extinguish all
mankind!--the whole human race, if I could; but there are two whom I
have sworn to destroy, and he is one! I have said it! The will and the
power are mine! I cannot fail! His life shall be hunted by night and by
day! This knife shall be plunged to the very hilt in his blood! I have
said it. One blow--one mortal blow, and it is done!"

Having said these words, with gestures of outrageous madness, he
bounded towards the door, broke through every impediment with a
strength which ten men could scarcely have mastered, and giving a loud
delirious cry of insufferable wildness, he instantaneously vanished.

Before long, the neighborhood was aroused, lights gleamed and reddened
in the opposite windows, shouts arose among the assembling crowd, and a
rapid search was made for the frantic and mysterious criminal, but not
a trace of any living being could be discovered, and when they paused
to listen, not a sound broke the stillness of the night.

"This is my second preservation from a violent death!" said Henry, in
once more taking leave of Sir Arthur. "And most forcibly do all these
circumstances bring to mind the horrors of that fearful night which
first threw me on the care of my benefactor. It is exactly such a
shadowy form bending over me in the silence of midnight, which has
often from that hour haunted me in my dreams. I am ready, I trust, to
brave any danger in the open face of day; but there is something
terrible to me, I confess--something vague and appalling in the
stealthy, mysterious, death-like approach of an enemy evidently insane,
who has pursued me with remorseless hatred from childhood to the
present hour, breaking upon me in the darkest hours of midnight, and
invading me amidst the moments of helpless repose; but I am under the
care of one who slumbereth not, nor sleepeth, and to Him I confidently
commit myself."



CHAPTER XXVII.


Every man should be considered accountable to Providence, not only for
diffusing as much enjoyment around him as he possibly can, but also for
being as happy himself as is consistent with the many gifts bestowed on
him individually; and it is a duty to look back with self-reproach on
any hour of existence, which, on account of our ill temper or
discontent, has been less enjoyed by ourselves or by another, than it
might have been; yet it is an obvious truth, that all men might be
happier than they are, if mankind would but make the best of life for
themselves and others. Never had this remark appeared so undeniable to
Marion as now, in the case of Agnes, who alienated Sir Patrick more and
more by her peevishness, though the arrows of her satire had more
poison than point in them, and he was always ready enough to enter on a
skirmish in the diamond-cut-diamond style of conversation, while it
often blistered the very heart of their gentle sister, to hear the
bitter taunting remarks and repartees which they levelled at each
other.

One day, Agnes, in a magnificent fit of ill-humor, had seated herself
at that universal refuge for idleness and discontent, an open window,
complaining that the dulness of Edinburgh was quite maddening; while it
became evident that the needle of her temper pointed in the most stormy
direction. It was a favorite doctrine with Agnes, that _ennui_ is
peculiar to intellectual beings, and that those who never suffered from
it were like cows or sheep, scarcely to be considered rational. On the
present occasion, therefore, she was relieving the intolerable tedium
which oppressed her, by delivering her opinion to Sir Patrick, in no
measured terms, on the unutterable cruelty of his leaving her stranded
in Edinburgh, while she understood he was going soon to amuse himself
abroad.

She seemed inflated with ill-humor, like a spider, bursting with its
own poison, and her countenance had assumed not the most amiable
expression in the world, while Sir Patrick snatched up a newspaper,
which he began intently reading upside down. Having successfully and
distinctly proved that she was a martyr to the injuries which "patient
merit of th' unworthy takes," and her brother being apparently on the
point of falling asleep before her face, Agnes suddenly rose from her
seat, with an exclamation of annoyance and astonishment, saying,

"I do believe here is that old formality, Sir Arthur, going to call!
Getting slowly and with difficulty out of a ragged, ruinous-looking
hackney coach, as frail as himself! I had no idea he was become so
aged and infirm! What a bore! I do wish we might enjoy the privilege,
after being grown up, of choosing our own relations. _J'ai pitie de
moi-meme!_"

"What can bring the old fellow here?" exclaimed Sir Patrick, crumpling
up his newspaper, and approaching the window with an angry whistle. "He
looks, in those glittering spectacles, like a post-chaise, with the
lamps lighted. I must be grown quite respectable when the Admiral
honors me with a visit. Has anybody paid my debts?"

"I declare," said Agnes, "Sir Arthur gropes his way along as if he came
from the Blind Asylum, and his dear, puckered old face looks as dry and
cracked as an old picture!"

"Suppose I stay in the room _incog._, to hear all the civil and
agreeable truths our worthy uncle will say of me," said Sir Patrick,
laughingly throwing himself into a large arm-chair, in a distant corner
of the room. "I should certainty realize the old proverb about
listeners hearing no good of themselves. Sir Arthur is so blind he will
never see me, and it is certainly no bad joke for a rainy day."

"I think it would be a very bad joke, indeed, Patrick," said Marion,
coloring. "But I am sure you would not play upon our uncle's
infirmities, and I shall certainly ask you some question the moment he
enters, to betray your ambuscade."

"Marion! for a young lady who professes timidity, you exhibit a
tolerable share of decision!" replied Sir Patrick, looking with
surprise at the glowing countenance of his sister, whose voice quivered
with agitation. "However, since you are determined to make a scene
between Sir Arthur and me, I shall be off, not feeling in the humor for
one of his lectures to-day! He will be a whirlpool of rage at this
raffle I am making of the family plate and pictures. Perhaps he means
to take a ticket! Do not mention, for your lives, girls, that I am in
the next room, unless he be come on a matter of life and death! Exit
Sir Patrick in haste!"

When Sir Arthur entered the room, there was a look of unwonted care in
his fine countenance, and less firmness in his step than usual. He
silently but cordially shook hands with Agnes, while a look of almost
compassionate kindness beamed in his countenance, and Marion, with
girlish delight sparkling in her eyes, and dimpling in her cheeks, led
him to a chair, on which he sat down for some moments without speaking,
apparently fatigued and agitated, while she filled up the pause which
ensued, by taking his hat and stick, placing her arm within his when
she seated herself by his side, and showing a thousand demonstrations
of her heartfelt affection and respect.

"Uncle Arthur!" said Agnes, observing him at length glancing round the
room. "You have never been in this house before?"

"No! nor I never expected to enter it!" replied he, in a tone of
profound sadness. "Never!--urgent duty brings me now! This then is the
family residence to which the Dunbars of Dornington are at last
degraded! Is your brother at home?"

"No!" replied Agnes, with the most perfect intrepidity of countenance.
"You must have met him in the Park."

"I did not perceive him, and it was as well," answered Sir Arthur with
melancholy sternness. "The seldomer we meet the better. It is a
disgrace to be in the room with Sir Patrick."

"Uncle Arthur! you are growing angry and personal," interrupted Marion,
in a beseeching tone, while she shook his hand caressingly in her own.
"That is the harshest thing you ever said of our brother!"

"May he never deserve more, or he shall have it," continued the
Admiral, with angry vehemence, while his neckcloth seemed growing too
tight for him. "Sir Patrick is, without meaning to flatter him, about
the greatest scamp I know. His last step in the regiment was purchased,
I am told, over the head of a young officer from whom he gained the
money at play! but, Marion, my dear girl, I am not come to quarrel with
you, the dearest niece in the world--nor with Agnes, though I could
wish that she came sometimes to see me."

Sir Arthur held out his hand to both his nieces, and added, in a tone
of hurried agitation, "If you had witnessed, Agnes, the many long years
during which your father and I associated together on terms of more
than brotherly confidence, you could not wonder that now, living in an
empty world, the grave of all who started in life beside me, amidst old
remembrances, vanished pleasures, faded health, and lost affections, I
cling to whatever reminds me of him, and that nothing can make me cease
to love you all--all without exception--even that disgraceful scoundrel
your brother. I would close these eyes in death, only once to see him,
the man his father's son should be; but I might live for ever if I wait
till then!"

Marion was grieved and alarmed to perceive her uncle's increasing
agitation, while he hastily turned away to hide it, but the breeze
which had ruffled his mind soon passed away, and though his hand still
shook with emotion, he added in a calmer tone of deep-rooted anxiety,

"I have been told this morning, that Sir Patrick intends to cut his
stick, and take flight immediately to the continent, therefore I am
here to ascertain, my dear girls, what is to become of you?"

"I scarcely know indeed!" replied Marion, in a tone of irresistible
depression. "Patrick seems to have no settled plan. He did talk of
hiring a lodging for us, and engaging some old lady for a chaperon."

"And for such a scheme, my dear Marion, where in all the wide world is
he to get money--or even credit? Not in the name of Sir Patrick
Dunbar!--a name that, in my brother's time, stood proudly forward as a
warrant for everything honorable, soldier-like and generous!--a name,
till now, never sullied by dishonor."

Sir Arthur's voice faltered, a hectic color burned on his cheek, he
remained silent for several minutes, and then continued, after a strong
effort to recover himself,

"It is no matter! Patrick adds a nail to my coffin every day, but I am
the last wreck of an old generation, and have already outstaid the
period intended for man! My head is whitened by the frost of more than
eighty winters--my heart seared with the wear and tear of life--my very
existence a perpetual miracle! It would people a city if all could be
revived whom I have intimately known in those days when the dearest
ties of life were clustered around me, but now I am a scathed and
solitary ruin. How truly has it been said, that the remembrance of
youth is a sigh, yet all has been ordered as it should be, and that
wind is ever the best which will carry us most safely to the end of our
voyage."

Sir Arthur paused with a look of solemn and inexpressible emotion, and
Marion pressed her uncle's hand affectionately, hot tears coursed each
other down her face, and she gazed earnestly at his countenance, while,
looking at her with his usual expression of benignity and kindness, he
continued, "You are the chief, or rather the only objects of my care,
for all my wishes and hopes on my own account might now be contained in
a nut-shell. I am a stranger in this altered world, soon--very soon to
depart. There is one heart in my brother's family, Marion, that feels
as his child ought to feel, and one eye that will be dimmed with sorrow
when I am no more. For your sake, and yours only, need I wish to live!
Well may the young weep for sorrow--they have long to endure it, but
for me, the end of all earthly things is at hand. Many a warning bell
has reached my ear already, and I would wish only to see you launched
under safe protection in the stormy ocean of life. With no guardian but
a brother worse than nobody, and an old, infirm uncle tottering into
the grave, my dear girls, what are you to do?"

Marion glanced at Agnes, who tried to preserve her usual air of
consequential indifference, and pulled her _bouquet_ to pieces, with
an expression of silent and majestic impatience, but she neither looked
up nor answered.

"While I live, you can always confer a pleasure by taking shelter with
me," continued Sir Arthur, in the warmest tone of kindness; "and all
that an old man can do to make you happy shall be done, though that, I
fear, is little or nothing."

Agnes, evidently not much delighted at this unexpected proposal of
being located at what she always called "the Admiral's humdrummery,"
now assumed a pre-engaged look, while practising a particularly
graceful attitude in the opposite mirror, and drawing out her long
glossy ringlets with a cold, artificial smile, she answered, "Thank
you, Sir Arthur! I am sure we are most excessively obliged. Probably
now that Marion is so well disposed of, my brother may take me with him
to Paris!"

"Reckoning without your host, Agnes!" whispered Sir Patrick, entering
with a look of assumed bravado, but of evident embarrassment. "Wishes
cost nothing; but how could such an idea ever enter your ingenious
head? Pray strike a light and look for your senses! Ah! Sir Arthur! A
hundred thousand welcomes. I am happy not to have missed your kind
visit!"

"That would have been a mutual misfortune!" replied the Admiral, drily,
and drawing himself up to his full height, while Sir Patrick bowed and
smiled with an air of sarcastic gratitude. "Certainly, for some years
past I am not owing you many visits."

"Why, no! I hate to see people running themselves into debt; therefore
believing you might find it inconvenient to return my cards, I have not
been very troublesome in the way of calling; but," continued Sir
Patrick, stealing a look of laughing condolence at Agnes, "my sisters
are exceedingly delighted by your very considerate offer of a home
during my absence. The plan will suit admirably! They both want
sea-bathing, and--society, Agnes?"

"In respect to society I can promise nothing. I would raise a regiment
of beaux if possible, but my house is a mere Greenwich Hospital for
years past, visited only by a few veterans as aged and broken as
myself."

"I wish they had all gone down in the Royal George," muttered Agnes,
whose face now looked like a thunder cloud. "A set of resuscitated
mummies, with scarcely a complete set of limbs and features amongst
them. I would rather live in the moon, where there is at least one
entire man to be seen."

"We instituted a club lately," continued Sir Arthur, "in which no
member was eligible who had not been deprived of one limb at least in
the service of his country. With many of my friends all is lost but
honor! That is what a man should die rather than lose! It was long a
hereditary heir-loom in our family, Patrick! entailed upon you, Sir!
handed down untarnished from father to son, generation after
generation! And where is it now? Lost in the kennel, the race-course,
the stable, the gambling house, and every receptacle of infamy and
shame, while I live to see the Dunbars of Dornington utterly ruined,
as well as utterly disgraced!"

"Not as long as you live!" exclaimed Sir Patrick, advancing with sudden
emotion, and grasping his uncle's hand. "Your name, Sir Arthur, will
shed a lustre over our house after mine has been blotted out for ever
from the memory of man!"

"Why should it be so?" asked Sir Arthur, speaking in a tone of deep
vehemence and solemnity, while his noble and serious countenance
assumed an expression of that affection which nothing could extinguish.
"Patrick! it is long lane that has no turning! Be like your father in
mind, as you are in person, and let me leave you my best blessing at
last!"

"Too late! too late!" replied Sir Patrick, walking hurriedly up and
down the room, and then suddenly resuming his usual tone of reckless
gayety. "No! no! as Joseph Surface remarked, 'too good a character is
inconvenient!' You are unadultered gold, Sir Arthur, but I must only
set up for being a genuine Bristol farthing."

"Yet, Patrick! even if honor were like truth, at the bottom of a well,
it is worth diving for; and the best throw on the dice is to throw them
away."

"Your whole nature and mine are different, Sir Arthur! A wasp may work
his heart out, but he never can make honey," replied the young Baronet,
hurriedly. "I have neither wishes, plans, nor hopes for myself! Already
I am older in heart than you, and neither know nor care how short a
time I have to exist! _N'importe!_ It would not certainly be convenient
for me at present to fly off like a kite, with both my sisters at my
tail, therefore we are all most grateful for your kind invitation to
them, and shall accept the honor you offer with pleasure."

"Be it so then," replied Sir Arthur, in a calm, dignified, but mournful
voice. "If my nieces will be content with little, they may be as happy
as if we had much. I am most anxious to invent anything which might add
to their enjoyment, and Lady Towercliffe tells me, Agnes, that your
whole heart is bent on spending a month at Harrowgate! If that would
really be any pleasure or advantage to you, tell me so, and I shall
endeavor if possible to go there myself, though now, in my old age,
very like Punch, who could act only in his own box."

"Oh! not for worlds would we ask you to go, dear uncle," exclaimed
Marion, venturing in her eagerness to speak before Agnes, and shocked
at the idea of a journey, the fatigue and expense of which she knew the
Admiral was so little able to incur. "We shall be more than happy at
home! do not think of such a thing!"

"But if I may be permitted to have an opinion, being the person
consulted, Marion, let me say that nothing on earth was ever more
enchanting than this delicious proposal. You have made me the happiest
person alive, Sir Arthur!" exclaimed Agnes, for once condescending to
look perfectly pleased. "I must endeavor not to go mad with joy! You
are our very best friend! My dear uncle, all I can say is, YOU ARE A
GENTLEMAN!"

"Well, Agnes! That being the case," replied Sir Arthur, smiling, "how
soon can you be ready to start?"

"To-night!--this minute!--wait till I put on my bonnet!" exclaimed
Agnes, in accents of the liveliest glee. "I am quite impatient to set
about forgetting Edinburgh!"

"Well done, Lady Towercliffe! Harrowgate was a capital hit!" cried Sir
Patrick, laughing satirically. "Before taking a voyage to India, there
is no place like it for young ladies! Why, Agnes, it is a perfect
emporium of _beaux_! You will live there at the rate of twenty new
victims a-day! A down-pour of marriages takes place at the end of every
season. Several jewellers have made large fortunes at Harrowgate,
merely by providing wedding rings! and a confectioner is kept at each
hotel, with nothing else to do but to make marriage cakes! Sir Arthur
must take a dozen lessons in match-making, from some of the manoeuvring
mammas and aunts."

"An unmanoeuvring uncle is all we shall require," answered Agnes,
looking daggers at Sir Patrick, in all the dignity of having been
extremely ill-treated. "In my humble opinion----"

"Humble, Agnes!" interrupted Sir Patrick. "Did I hear aright? Where did
you ever learn the meaning of that word?"

"As for manoeuvring or match-making, I leave all that sort of thing
to such persons as Lady Towercliffe," observed Sir Arthur. "She and
other old ladies have such an intense curiosity about weddings, that I
do think, even when laid in their graves, they would like to be told
who are going to be married. In such affairs I would be out of my
element, like a bear in a boat, not knowing how to proceed,--but at my
age----"

"Your age, uncle Arthur! You are no age at all," interrupted Agnes,
in high good humor. "You are not a day older since we were first
acquainted! As Harrowgate is the greatest marriage manufactory in
Britain, I should not wonder if you were to pick up a wife there
yourself! Indeed, no single man ever escapes, and I shall make it my
business to get you off!"

"By all means!" replied the Admiral, entering good-humoredly into the
jest. "I have no doubt some young lady will fall desperately and
hopelessly in love with me! Are those new spectacles becomingly put on?
My eyes are so fine, they must be kept under glass! My hair has had
rather too much of the bleaching liquid lately, but do you recommend a
wig, Agnes, or the vegetable dye?"

"I would not alter a hair of your head, uncle Arthur," said Marion,
smiling. "And I am sure you will have more admirers at Harrowgate than
any of us. I should like to know," added she, after the Admiral had
departed, "out of the prodigious incomes enjoyed by thousands of
persons in Britain, how much is spent during the year in really
generous actions,--in actions of such disinterested liberality as our
dear kind uncle's, when putting himself to all this expense and
inconvenience for our sakes,--for ours, who never can make him the
smallest return."

"To say the truth," replied Agnes, laughing, "I merely go to Harrowgate
for Sir Arthur's good. It will renew his youth to be forced into balls,
beguiled into pic-nics, and enlisted into dinner parties. A diet of ice
and lemonade is excellent for old people."

"You are lucky girls!" exclaimed Sir Patrick. "A month at Harrowgate!
why! you might be married five times over in that time! It is not the
most impossible thing in the world that I may come there myself, to
meet De Crespigny! The matrimonial horizon looked rather dark and
unpromising in this quarter, Agnes; but your extraordinary merit is
quite unknown as yet in the English hemisphere. The world shall see
you, and you shall see the world now, under Sir Arthur's auspices. Good
worthy old soul! his very walking-stick is respectable!"

"Then I wish you were like it," said Agnes, in her most stinging
accent. "Sir Arthur's respectability might be divided among a dozen of
people whom I know, and each would get a share larger than he had
before."

"You will perfectly canonize him, now that he can be made useful!
Agnes! you jumped at Sir Arthur's offer as an ex-minister would jump at
a seat in the cabinet! You showered down thanks on the Admiral's
devoted head, like _bon-bons_ at the carnival!"

"No wonder!" said Marion. "Think of dear uncle Arthur leaving his old
friends, his old habits, and his old home for us, when he has said and
thought so often, that his next journey would be that long and last
one, which we must all travel, never to return."

"It is vastly kind, as you say, Marion!" added Agnes, flippantly.
"Leaving that old fireside, where he has so long been spinning
interminable yarns, spoiling old servants, reading old magazines,
dozing over antiquated newspapers, letting himself be cheated by
beggars, and getting convivial over very weak negus."

"Agnes, how long is it since you lost your senses!" asked Marion,
indignantly. "Nothing short of that could account for your holding up
our venerable uncle to ridicule, even with no one to hear you but
ourselves, who know his inestimable worth and kindness."

"Well, girls, the best reward you can give him, is to look delightfully
with all your might, and to waltz and quadrille yourselves into
husbands immediately!" said Sir Patrick, in a tone of lively
exultation. "Now, tighten the drums of your ears and listen, for I am
about to give you a popular course of lectures on the important subject
of match-making. Marion, you are a flower that has bloomed in the
shade, and must now be displayed in the sunshine; therefore you ought
to know that fortune is like a game at blind man's buff, where the
timid and retiring are forgotten, while the bold and forward alone put
themselves in the way of receiving her favors. Agnes has frittered away
her time only too long already on the mere minnows of society, danglers
and detrimentals of the younger species; but I must tell you
plainly,----"

"Never tell me anything plainly," interrupted Agnes, laughing. "But you
are altogether mistaken, for I have often wished that people would get
rid of their younger sons now, as Tom Thumb's father wisely did, losing
them in a forest and leaving them to starve."

"Then take my advice, and never dance with any. I warn you against
fashionable huzzars, all spurs and gold lace, with more bullion on
their jackets than in their purses; _attaches_ who are not to be
attached, ready to fall into flirtations but not into love; Honorable
Edwards and Honorable Fredricks, who never are, but always to be rich,
investing their whole fortunes in white kid gloves, and offering,
perhaps, to share their starvation with you; and," added Sir Patrick,
with a glance at Marion, who blushed deeply, but said nothing,
"remember, above all, I forbid reverend divines, young or old,
especially those who have no living and no prospect of a mitre. You
should each knock down a coronet for yourselves, and avoid the most
detestable of all poverty,--genteel poverty; at the same time, do not
gamble too deeply in life. Ascertain well, '_sur quel pied a danser_.'
In a sickly season, even a fifth son is not to be despised. Take a
smaller certainty rather than a greater possibility, and lose no time,
or the bridge may break down before you run across it."

"Your advice to me is perfectly superfluous," replied Agnes, looking
very superb, and giving a contemptuous toss of her head. "I detest
economy, and abjure all penny weddings, having no genius for turning or
dying silk dresses,--putting servants on scanty allowance,--driving
about in hackney coaches,--locking up jellies,--counting out eggs,--or
measuring small beer! I am sworn at Highgate always to prefer the best
partners, and generally have them."

"How would you like," said Marion, "to have been the young lady long
ago in London, who could not dance with the King of Prussia, because she
was previously engaged to the Emperor of Russia?"

"That would suit me exactly. I should like to carry my head as high as
the Pope's tiara. But I have reason, as you know, to expect hereafter
one of the proudest coronets in Britain; and shall certainly not remain
a day longer than I can help dependent, Patrick, on the most singularly
generous, liberal, and considerate of brothers,--with the one only
fault of caring for nobody but himself. If I were drowning, you would
scarcely stretch out your little finger to save me, in case it might
become wet."

"Quite right, Agnes, not to depend on me, or you would have little to
depend upon. My pockets are to let unfurnished now! I shall perhaps go
to Australia,--or probably measure the depth of the Serpentine some
evening; though, in the mean while, I may put up with life a little
longer, bad as it is. Now, therefore, Agnes, hear my last advice. You
have the world upon a string, and shall see a large assortment of
admirers to choose among. When torrents of proposals are pouring in
upon you, as they will and must do soon, get safely into the haven of
matrimony, or you will be shipwrecked for ever. Accomplished misses are
quite a drug in the market now; but you ought to be ashamed, Agnes, of
missing that little pigmy peer, Lord Bowater, two years ago, when you
had three days the start of every other young lady in making the
acquaintance. He treated you shockingly, to fall in love at first sight
with that paltry Miss Gordon. As for any other coronet you are ever
likely to wear, I know of none that even a telescope could give you the
most distant prospect of. Now wait till I am out of the room before you
faint!"

"Marion!" said Agnes, yawning outrageously when her brother had
departed, and looking unspeakably forlorn, "How often I have laughed
ready to die, at the case of other girls, without ever dreaming it
could in any degree resemble my own! Every year that worthy, old,
respectable Lord Towercliffe, as fond of home as uncle Arthur or any
garden snail, suddenly breaks up his comfortable establishment in the
country, and comes to town with the declared intention of giving
Charlotte and Maria 'proper advantages!' The poor girls, then, see
their father obliged to undergo the wretchedness of frequenting a club,
to form suitable acquaintances, and suffering hourly martyrdom in being
absent from his farm, his stud, his improvements, and all that
interests him in life, while our active, energetic friend, Lady
Towercliffe, plunged into a wilderness of blond and feathers, rushes
eagerly from house to house, followed by her flock of disposable
daughters, whom she is perpetually puffing off, like Robins the
auctioneer. Then follow dinner parties, given at an expense which the
young ladies know to be ruinous, balls, soirees, flirtations,
disappointments, and at last the family coach trundling slowly back at
a funeral pace to St. Abbsbury, where the lodge-keeper despondingly
counts heads as they pass, to see whether their numbers continue still
undiminished! It is altogether horrid, and perfectly laughable, too!"

"Not very laughable!" said Marion, coloring; "whether Lord Towercliffe
takes the affair good-humoredly or otherwise, it must be most degrading
and humiliating for the young ladies. I can fancy nothing more odious!"

"A grand skirmish ending in defeat!" added Agnes, ironically. "I
remember formerly, when these Malcolm girls were in their school-room,
the chief bugbear hung over them, if they neglected the arts of dress
and fascination, was, that they would inevitably die old maids. They
were educated for the profession of matrimony, and were each taught to
expect a husband of rank and fortune, at the very least, equal to their
father's."

"Yes," said Marion, "Lady Towercliffe would consider any one of her
very plain daughters as perfectly disgraced, either to marry in a grade
the least degree below her own, or not to marry at all, therefore they
are allowed no alternative. The position of young ladies during the
present time seems far from enviable. In these days of clubs,
money-making, and old bachelorism, not a third of those who grow up now
will be married at all, and perhaps not a third of those who do marry
will be happy! It seems to me strange and unaccountable that parents
who have any consideration for the happiness of their daughters,
inculcate no ideas into their minds and hearts unconnected with
matrimony, and, like Lady Towercliffe, drive them forward to the public
view, a mark for censure, gossip, and ridicule, till they find shelter
in some other home, where it is five to one that they will be
miserable."

"Yes, miserable indeed," added Agnes, indolently, "men are all so
selfish. Husbands expect the whole time, thoughts, and affections of
their wives in return for the very little they choose to spare from
their horses, dogs, and clubs. On these their whole income is to be
squandered, while they keep to that favorite rule--'What is yours is
mine, and what is mine is my own.' The ladies must be invariably in
good humor and lively spirits at home, perfectly well dressed, with a
cheerful fireside, and a luxurious table; but, at the same time, we are
never to ask for money or to have any bills! our servants are all to be
first-rate on the very lowest wages, and our children in the best order
without ever being punished or thwarted!--a fairy's wand could not do
the half of it."

"I am often amused now," said Marion, "to hear people say of the
dullest and most unprepossessing old bachelor in the world, 'I wonder
he never takes it into his head to marry!' while they observe, in
discussing any girl more beautiful and fascinating than another, 'How
very surprising that she has never got married!' when, at the same
time, there is not perhaps a single year of her life since she was born
that she might not have been established if she chose. I believe that
the vulgar consideration of money makes all the difference; for if
ladies had the fortunes, instead of gentlemen, they would be quite as
uncertain and capricious, off and on, about marrying or not marrying,
as--as even Captain De Crespigny!"

"One of the last times he called here," said Agnes, "when lamenting, as
he often does, his unmarriageable state of poverty at present, Captain
De Crespigny said, in his droll way, that he would some day bring a
bill into Parliament, ordaining that every old bachelor who could
maintain a wife for himself and will not, shall be obliged to support
one for somebody else, who wishes to marry and cannot afford. Now,
Marion, let us put all our Harrowgate irons in the fire, and prepare to
be admired by all admirers next week at the Granby!"

"You know, Agnes, though I do not tease you or Patrick by often
alluding to what you call my sentimental vagaries, that there is only
one person in the world by whom I have any ambition to be admired;
though our engagement must be postponed, till Richard is in
circumstances to marry with prudence. Without reference to that,
however, in respect to Harrowgate society, it is said to be more like a
low farce than a genteel comedy!"

"A little of both! but we shall be in the best set. I hope Sir Arthur
will not be teasing us with any of his world-before-the-flood ideas,
about late hours, waltzing, and all the other enormities of fashionable
life! It is my duty, really, to give him a few presentable ideas now,
for he lived in the dark ages, when old Queen Charlotte used to keep
the ladies all so preternaturally precise and decorous. Most of the
Admiral's notions he had from his mother, who lived, I believe, with
Queen Elizabeth!"

"But Agnes! even the prejudices of our uncle should be attended to. He
shows us greater kindness than we ever have known, or can know from any
body else, and the whole wealth of his affection is devoted to us."

"Well, then! I wish his love could be turned into money! I often think
if our skins were made of gold, that Patrick would flay us alive! Of
course I shall not fly in Sir Arthur's face upon every trifle, for we
must humor him sometimes! One day, long ago, I took him in
delightfully, by saying that if he disapproved of waltzing, I hoped he
would not object to a galope! At Harrowgate, the military men will all
fortunately be out of uniform, therefore Sir Arthur need never guess
who or what they are, as he has a most inconvenient dislike to my being
so intimate with the army list, and one really cannot do without a few
tame officers running about the drawing-room."

"But, Agnes! as Patrick says, you cannot live upon fried epaulettes,
therefore it would look much better not to be surrounded by so great a
variety of officers! It scarcely seems respectable to be, as Patrick
called you long ago, the member for Barrackshire!"

"Marion! you are most ridiculously circumspect for your years!" replied
Agnes, in her most stately tone; "you have certainly commenced life at
the wrong end, and will be beginning to grow young, when I am thinking
it time to grow old--if I ever do!"

"I wish not to buy experience at so dear a rate as most girls do, but
rather to benefit by that of others,--to reach the kernel at once,
without having any trouble in breaking the shell!"

"Pshaw, Marion! I would feel myself a fool for a week, had I spoken
such nonsense! It gives me the tic douloureux to hear you. Who would
think of listening now to every old hack, worn out with the
vicissitudes of life, and only fit to make you melancholy before the
time! But take your own way," added Agnes, who allowed Marion her own
way, as the Vicar of Wakefield's daughters were allowed their
pocket-money, which was never to be used. "You go upon the impossible
plan of pleasing everybody; but remember the wise old proverb,--'Cover
yourself with honey, and the flies will eat you up.'"

When Marion spoke from the heart to her sister, she was accustomed to
find herself talking to the winds, therefore she now concluded the
conversation with a lively good-humored reply, and sat down to the
pianoforte. Her music was as different as her conversation from that of
Agnes, who but little appreciated it, and generally left the room,
humming a tune as soon as Marion struck her first chord; but, on this
occasion, she for once remained stationary.

The style of Agnes' singing was a brilliant bravura, which, in any
public performer, might have commanded whirlwinds of applause, but
while her clear soprano voice dazzled and astonished by its uncommon
brilliancy, Sir Patrick alleged that it cracked every glass in the
room, and that her taste had been cultivated till she had literally
none of her own,--Bellini's cadences, Rubini's shake, and Anybody's
graces, all acquired from every teacher except nature, to whom nothing
had been trusted.

The rich full-toned melody of Marion's _contralto_ voice, often became
instinct with the simple suggestions of her own feeling, while her
music had that only one charm which never can be taught,--expression.
There was a depth of sensibility in her eye and voice, which riveted
the attention and awakened the sympathy of every heart, while it always
appeared that, if display had been her object, she could have done much
more than she attempted. No bird on a tree ever warbled its wild notes
with more perfect simplicity and real delight. The rippling of a brook
over its pebbly bed, or the sighing of the breeze amidst the summer
foliage, was not more entirely natural, and while Sir Patrick sometimes
protested that "every note was a tear," she yet reached even his
feelings, so that not a whisper could be heard from him till the last
cadence had melted away on his ear. Marion having seldom yet had any
audience except her school-companions, remained almost unconscious of
her own singular gift; but this day she sang with deep enthusiasm, and
the last thrilling tones of her voice had died inaudibly away, when she
looked round and saw young Lord Wigton standing near the door beside
Agnes, in an attitude of intense and speechless admiration, with all
his faculties, if he had any, apparently suspended,--his lips
apart,--his eyes beaming with delight,--and his whole expression full
of wonder and ecstasy; while Sir Patrick was lounging on a sofa near,
exhibiting a smiling, frolicsome expression in his eye, full of fun and
mischief.

"This is hardly fair," exclaimed Marion, laughingly starting up with a
brilliant blush of astonishment; "you know, Lord Wigton, stealing into
a dwelling house is punishable by law."

"Whatever be the penalty, I am sufficiently rewarded," answered he,
with a shy diffident look. "My flute will be happy any day to make you
an apology."

Those who love music, and those only, can estimate its power over the
feelings, and for several minutes afterwards Lord Wigton remained
silent, then, suddenly awakening as if from a dream, he uttered some
incoherent exclamations of rapture, and in tones of unaffected
animation entreated Marion to sing the same air once again; while she,
amused and surprised at his extraordinary _empressement_, prepared to
comply.

"My song is not worth asking for twice, and still less worth refusing,
therefore you shall have it in my very best style!" said Marion,
playing the prelude, for she had none of that giggling affected shyness
assumed by most girls during their first winter. "This note is pitched
so high, you should go up stairs to hear it!"

"How strange that one so gay as you, should have a voice of such
melting sadness!" exclaimed Lord Wigton. "It awakens fifty thousand
thoughts and feelings I never knew before! I shall become an
improvisatore, when listening to melody 'so rare and enchanting!'"

"You must have heard it through the key-hole!" said Marion, laughing.
"I had no idea that my trash could reach any ears but my own."

"It did more, for it reached my heart! Your voice is the very essence
of nightingales. I shall follow you to Harrowgate, for the chance of
hearing that air once again."

"Perhaps, then, it has some peculiar interest," said Marion, surprised
at the warmth of his enthusiasm. "The chief delight of music certainly
is, the associations it brings out, the remembrances of bye-gone hours
it recalls, and the million of little phantoms it creates of past or
future times."

"Marion! your voice is by no means equal to that song, and your style
is very amateur-ish indeed," interrupted Agnes, bitterly. "I do not
wish to boast," added she, laughing, to conceal her irritation; "but
Grisi never ventured to sing that air after hearing me, and Delvini
said his fortune would be made, if he could engage me for his Prima
Donna. I only mention this among friends. Keep it secret, for I hate to
cause jealousy and mortification! Few people understand music like my
old master Delvini, who said that my god-mother must certainly have
possessed the wand of a fairy, and gifted me with music."

"Ah! Delvini is the man who plays a whole concerto upon one note of the
piano, or something wonderful of that kind," observed Lord Wigton,
looking impatiently for Marion to begin. "I hate the helter-skelter
school in music! people scampering through their songs with a thousand
miraculous flourishes, which set one's teeth on edge."

"Such performers," answered Marion, "give me no more pleasure than to
see Van Amburgh thrust his head into the lion's mouth, which is very
surprising, and what I could not do myself, but it excites no sympathy,
and raises no emotion better than wonder."

"Your voice is like some fairy spirit that would lead me to the world's
end," said Lord Wigton, with an air of eager expectation. "And now,
Miss Dunbar, I am all ears."

"So I think, and very long ears too," muttered Agnes to herself, angry
beyond all bounds at the young Peer's attention to Marion, when
hitherto she had been the principal, or rather the only object of
interest to him whenever they were in the same room. Agnes, without an
assiduous lover, ready to put on her shawl, clasp her bracelets, and
carry her boa, was like a ship without a compass, not knowing which way
to turn, and though nothing could make up for the want of those
graceful flatteries, amusing quarrels, and ambitious hopes, to which
she was accustomed with Captain De Crespigny, yet should he disappoint
her, Lord Wigton had been recently promoted to the character of a _pis
aller_ in the list of her admirers, as she was heard to remark, that
"it is better to have a donkey that carries you, than a horse that
throws you." Though usually the object of her unbounded ridicule, yet
the young Peer had recently become of so much importance to her, that
it was indeed an unpardonable affront when he spared one moment's
attention to Marion, while at the same time she considered his taste on
the occasion, quite as questionable as that of the bird which preferred
a barley-corn to a diamond.

Next morning, to the increased indignation of Agnes, Lord Wigton's
servant left at the door of St. John's Lodge, two splendid bouquets,
both equally rare and beautiful; but when they were presented, Agnes
looked angrily at Marion's, and plucked her own to pieces, saying,
"That absurd little man! it is worth while to hear him talk of being in
love, he makes the subject so thoroughly ridiculous! I like all my
lovers till I tire of them, and his Lordship's reign was over last
Tuesday. He has the stiffness of the poker without its occasional heat,
and no more individuality of character than a leaf upon a tree. I
wonder where we could have him measured for a cap-and-bells. He has so
little vivacity, that he now wears the fool's cap without the bells. He
did so weary me! I think Lord Wigton must be the man Rochefoucalt had
in his eye when he said that many people would never have known how to
fall in love, if they had not first heard it talked about! His
sentimental speeches are so thoroughly ridiculous, they often remind me
of Liston's meditation in the farce, 'There stands my Mary's cottage!
and she must either be in it, or out of it!'"



CHAPTER XXVIII.


If happiness will not come of itself, most very sagacious people set
forth in search of that enjoyment which none are willing to do without,
though many plans are generally tried, before the right one be
discovered. Agnes now declared that she was "ridiculously happy," while
plunged in a whirl of preparations for Harrowgate, trying on every
bonnet at every milliner's, and discussing the tone and coloring of
silks or satins, with as much care and science as an amateur in
paintings would devote to the study of a Titian or a Vandyke, while her
spirits were restored to their highest pitch, by a letter she had
accidentally seen from Captain De Crespigny, expressing the greatest
delight in the prospect of seeing Sir Patrick and "his charming sister"
once more, and mentioning that he was about soon to arrive at the
Granby, in attendance on his uncle, who had already preceded him there.
Agnes at once restored herself now, to the pleasing certainty of
Captain De Crespigny's sincerity, and every ribbon she chose, or every
costume she ordered, had an immediate reference to his taste. "_La
toilette est une belle invention_;" but Marion's dress, without causing
half the trouble and _fracas_ occasioned by that of Agnes, seemed
invariably to fit better than any other person's, and the colors she
wore were always in the most perfect harmony.

Agnes never became wearied of the pleasurable bustle in which she was
now engaged, till at length, when the imperial was packed, and the last
box with extreme difficulty closed, she declared herself to be quite in
love with life, and sprang into Sir Arthur's carriage, radiant in all
the joy of a thousand anticipated triumphs. It might have been a study
for any artist wishing to sketch a frontispiece for "The Pleasures of
Hope," to see Agnes indulging all her own impossible expectations and
ineffable wishes; but unlike the Goddess of Hope, she required no
anchor whatever to rest on. Her drafts on the bank of futurity were
unlimited by a single consideration of reason or probability, and like
the Chinese plant that lives without requiring any nourishment from the
earth, she existed upon a diet of airy nothings, and in a pleasing
delirium of unreal fancies, wherein Captain De Crespigny generally
acted the principal part. In the mind of Agnes--or rather in the empty
space where a mind is supposed to be--she hung up a splendid
picture-gallery, grouped and painted according to her own taste,
displaying shadows as vivid as realities; and ignorant apparently that
ever "hope told a flattering tale," she seemed scarcely to have a past
or present period in her existence, the whole being formed into one
bright futurity, glittering with splendid impossibilities.

If those who waste and enervate their intellects by building castles in
the air, could be supposed able to create scenes in reality, as easily
and rapidly as they do in imagination, it would, perhaps, be the most
vivid conception man could form of omnipotent power. Agnes' _chateaux
en Espagne_ were in a most florid style of architecture, but scarcely
lasted long enough to become finished edifices, as the phantoms came
dashing through her mind in ceaseless variety, all apparently
fragments, or slight sketches of future greatness, but without a
probable access except the fool's ladder of hope. Her own visions were
all, certainly, to be realised, and those of every other person
disappointed, for the mortifications of even her intimate friends
enhanced the pleasure of anticipated success; and while her plans were
like the portraits of Queen Elizabeth, without a single shade, or like
temples of spun sugar, all sweetness without solidity, the crowning joy
of all was, to be envied, even more than to be admired.

While Agnes thus piled hope upon hope, her wishes were dedicated to
very solid possessions. In childhood her world had been a world of _bon
bons_ and rattles, and now the kaleidoscope of her imagination was
filled with an ever-changing galaxy of jewels, titles, equipages, toys,
gold, bijouterie, and coronets, among which the Marquisate of Doncaster
owed some of its prominence to the distinguished place it claimed in
the herald's office. Conscious that she had been born with a peculiar
genius for fine ladyism, Agnes considered the world as a large easy
chair, wherein she might lounge away life in a perpetual gala, enjoying
all the luxuries, and amused with all the trivialities of life. Having
an idea that her undoubted birth-right was distinction and happiness,
she considered it an undeserved injury to be deprived of a single
delight on which her heart was set. Carelessly despising the duties or
affections of life, she coveted only its diversions, and her favorite
consolation, amidst its actual annoyances, was frequently to

    Blow sportive bladders in the beaming sun,
    And call them worlds.

Sir Arthur had always been one of the few old people who would ever
allow himself to be considered well and happy, but he cultivated a
placid, cheerful good-humor, which enabled him now to prepare with
apparent equanimity for exploring his way through the unknown seas of
Harrowgate society, though he entered the carriage to be conveyed there
with very little more inward satisfaction than he would have felt on
stepping into a cart which was conveying him to Newgate, being fully
persuaded that no fish had ever been as much out of water in the world
before, as he was about to feel himself.

Impatience only lengthens the hours which it seems desirable to
accelerate, and time appeared to have become entirely motionless; while
Agnes peevishly thought, during her journey, that the minutes passed
like drops of lead, and that every day had some additional hours, till
that day of days should at last arrive which was to rise the curtain
and display Harrowgate to her view, though she almost ceased to repine
at any present inconveniences while bewildered and lost in gay hopes
for the future.

Sir Arthur good-humoredly whispered to Marion, as they drove along
through Yorkshire, that with such a mute as Agnes beside him, he felt
almost afraid of the bow-string, and that she was the mere _tableau_ of
a travelling companion, who seemed, like Lady Macbeth, to be literally
walking and talking in her sleep. While Marion and her uncle beguiled
their long journey with agreeable discussions and lively remarks,
Agnes, perfectly absent during most of the way, and out of humor during
the rest of it, uttered a thousand consequential complaints about the
cold, the heat, the sun, the dust, the air, or the closeness, while Sir
Arthur smilingly remarked, that Agnes' life seemed to be a sea of
troubles, but hope served as a cork jacket to support her through them
all.

Like the fairy who turned a gloomy grove into a crystal palace, Agnes
had now, in her private mind, metamorphosed the Admiral's old green
chariot into a glittering saloon at Harrowgate, filled by a crowd of
admirers, each gifted with almost superhuman merit and distinction, who
were to fall prostrate at her feet, making proposals which sometimes
she gracefully accepted, and sometimes as gracefully declined. Nothing
was real around Agnes at present; but as the picture of a friend
supplies the want of the original, so the imaginary attentions of
Captain De Crespigny and other victims, consoled her for their being
absent, and her life became a lively comedy, where the curtain never
fell, and she was herself always the principal figure on the stage.

Neither Alnwick Castle nor Harewood House attracted a moment's
attention from Agnes, who cared no more for the magnificent landscapes
they passed, than did the post-horses that drew the carriage; and when
the party stopped at Caterick Bridge to dine, she had just put on the
family diamonds of the Duke of Kinross, who waited to conduct her to
the altar. It was a favorite speculation with Agnes, that she was to
become acquainted in the public room at Harrowgate, with some handsome
_incognito_, the sort of perfect Adonis whom alone it would be possible
to marry; and after dancing, flirting, dining, and supping with him,
he was to turn out the Duke of Somebody, who should make her a
long-sighed-for declaration of undying attachment, while Barons, Earls,
Viscounts, and above all, Captain De Crespigny, should be plunged into
the depths of despair by her accepting him.

Agnes' lovers were never estimated according to the qualities of their
head or heart, but according to the trivialities of their dress and
appearance. Like the Grecian artist, in love with an image of his own
forming, the description of her intended lovers, with which she
occasionally favored Marion, resembled a lecture on comparative
anatomy, so emphatic was she on the necessity of his being neither too
tall, nor too short, too dark, nor too fair; while she would evidently
have considered a bad temper less objectionable than a bad complexion,
and was ready to tolerate a man who was dissipated, rather than one who
was awkward.

In the estimation of Agnes, "good society" was composed entirely of
lords and ladies, while her fancy very seldom strayed out of the
peerage; though she did sometimes take the trouble to fancy herself
admired by some distinguished commoner of more than ordinary celebrity,
merely for the pleasure of rejecting him, and swelling her right
honorable triumph, when she exchanged her wreath of roses for a
coronet. Those who had been proverbially inconstant to other ladies,
would now become unchangeably devoted to her; and if she heard of any
individual more than commonly fatal to the peace of other ladies, her
fertile mind suggested scenes of romance and rapture, where the
injuries of others would be more than revenged by the distracting
suspense in which she meant to hold her intended victim.

While the world thus ran upon castors in the imagination of Agnes, no
novel could be nearly so interesting as her own rose-colored dreams,
because in none could she be herself the heroine; but when reading the
most romantic romances, they served occasionally to suggest new scenes
of emotion and pleasure, which could be adapted with variations to her
own case, while all she saw in books flitted like a gay phantasmagoria
from her mind, except what could be in any way applied to herself. The
business of life, in short, was, she thought, to make every man living
in love with her, and to get through existence like a party of
pleasure, crowding into it the greatest possible variety of amusements,
and ending the whole with orange flowers, Brussels lace, wedding-cake,
and favors.

None of the sacred duties or home affections ever entered into Agnes'
calculations. She lived merely for the triumphs of society; while
Marion existed for the happiness of home, seeking only the redeeming
points of life, and absorbed in a prevailing desire to deserve and to
obtain the attachment of those who were by nature nearest and dearest
to herself. As the proverb says, "A long road or a bad inn teach us to
know our companions;" but all that a generous person can do for others,
and all that a selfish person fancies he could do, Marion did, with
unobtrusive attention, for Sir Arthur and Agnes during the journey;
while her sister sarcastically remarked, that even if Dash wagged his
tail to her, she seemed grateful for his regard.



CHAPTER XXIX.


It was on a pleasant evening towards the end of August, that Sir
Arthur's chariot stopped at the Granby Hotel, which looked to the
travellers more like an entire street than a single house; and Marion
thought that accommodation might be prepared in it for all the invalids
in Great Britain. Her ears were instantly deafened by a noisy clamor of
bells, while the carriage was surrounded by a cluster of shabby
waiters, in second-hand looking clothes, dishevelled hair, soiled
cotton stockings, and dusty shoes, who were vociferous in their
protestations that the house was already more than full, and that a
hundred and fifty guests dined every day at the ordinary. In the mean
time, however, they hurriedly dismounted Sir Arthur's baggage from the
chariot, and at length ushered him into a sitting room, with a promise
of finding sleeping apartments for the whole party, up three pair of
stairs, in a lodging across the common, a tall old building spotted
over like a plum pudding with windows, where they must be ready to
abdicate on a moment's notice, if necessary, the whole house having
been bespoke some weeks before, for Miss Howard Smytheson, the heiress,
and suite.

No place is so little changed by lapse of time as Harrowgate, during
the last two centuries which have elapsed since first its unpalatable
waters were tasted. There the same three great hotels flourish supreme,
as in the days of Smollet, holding their crowded ordinaries, and
distinguished by their former designations, as the House of Lords, the
House of Commons, and the House of Drs. There, during three months of
every successive year, an equal crowd assembles in search of health for
their disordered bodies, and excitement for their stagnant minds, while
time and money are frantically squandered, as if both were dealt out in
unlimited portions among all who thus emulously seek with wearied
eagerness for frivolous amusements, idle flutter, and all those
relaxations of an unsatisfied existence, which soon became intolerable
to those who can amuse themselves, but necessary to those who cannot.

The very same rooms and furniture, the very same tables, knives,
glasses, and spoons, and the same hours of eating and drinking, which
were used during the time of old Humphrey Bramble, are still in
existence, while every thing remains as much unaltered as the blue
firmament above, except the company. Year after year has, at
Harrowgate, even more, perhaps, than elsewhere, testified the ceaseless
mutability of human affairs, where, amidst light laughter, mirth and
music, the young have become married, the old have died, and, as days
roll on in that little world of eager excitement, the names of all are
soon alike forgotten. At Harrowgate the visitors seem scarcely more
permanently interested in each other than in actors on the stage, or in
characters represented by a novelist. Any lounger who appears in the
public saloons a second year, becomes completely naturalized in the
house; after a third season, it is ten to one he may be considered a
bore; and during the fourth or fifth, he is completely superannuated. In
these gay rooms, how much of human life and feeling have existed! how
many of its joys and sorrows been experienced! and how many of its
deepest interests have arisen, amidst the gay dance, the ringing laugh,
the lively coquetry, the frantic dissipation, and the vows of endless
attachment! With many a past generation, the fever of frivolity is
over, and the dust of death now shrouds every remembrance in oblivion:
but a new race yet successively arises, to exist, like their
predecessors, in an atmosphere of music, dancing, flirting, riding,
driving, feasting, and gayety,

    "Smiling as if earth contain'd no tomb."

"I cannot but think, when arriving at any new place," observed Marion,
"what solitary desolation must frequently be experienced by those
'citizens of the world,' who are for ever on the wing, from country to
country, throughout the habitable and uninhabitable globe! We who live
only for social companionship, would feel perfectly lost in arriving at
a perpetual succession of places, where not one human being depends
upon us for comfort or enjoyment--where not a single genuine tear would
be shed by any living individual, if we dropped down dead at their
feet!"

"You are right, Marion," replied Sir Arthur. "Once when taken
dangerously ill abroad, I was surrounded by those only to whom my very
language was unknown, my features strange, my name unheard of, and my
whole feelings indifferent. It was dreary and desolate indeed! A new
place may divert us for a time, but we do not live to enjoy mere
scenery or mere amusement. To find real happiness we must look within
the circle of home feelings, home duties, and home enjoyments."

When the very aristocratic and distinguished-looking Sir Arthur Dunbar
first appeared in the public room at the Granby, leading in his two
radiantly beautiful nieces, the babbling murmur of conversation became
suddenly hushed, while a general whisper of surprise and admiration
circulated round the tea-table. Many an eager inquiry was rapidly
promulgated who they could possibly be, and from whence they came;
while Lord Wigton, to produce some amusement, secretly announced that
it was the Duke of Lincolnshire and his two eldest unmarried daughters.

The better half of pleasure was its novelty to Marion, whose half-shy,
half-amused looks, as she entered among a score or two of perfect
strangers, found a pleasing contrast to the criticising, examining,
fastidious air with which Agnes, in the full swell of magnificence,
glanced her brilliant, haughty eyes round the tables, and muttered
contemptuously to Sir Arthur, that the living furniture in the room
seemed little better than a zoological garden--a human menagerie of
tigers, bears, and monkeys, varied by a large proportion of red
inflamed strawberry-colored faces belonging to the water-drinkers. By
no means satisfied with the commencement of her Harrowgate existence,
Agnes established on the spot a little whispering gallery of satirical
discontent, while she ridiculed to Marion those of the company who were
unlucky enough first to attract her notice and her disapprobation.

Though the room appeared abundantly peopled with _dramatis personæ_ of
many kinds and degrees, yet, instead of seeing, as she had rather too
sanguinely anticipated, a society of distinguished-looking personages,
as select as if they had been introduced at a drawing-room in St.
James' Palace, the saloon was encumbered with groups of people as
ridiculous as any that Agnes ever remembered to have seen at a country
theatre. Old _beaux_ of half a century's duration,--two or three
remarkably conceited, overdressed officers in full-fledged
mustachios,--crowds of busy, bustling, managing-looking mothers,--four
or five over-dressed Irish fortune-hunters,--a knot of agricultural,
kill-your-own-mutton country gentlemen,--one or two widows of not very
doubtful age, but _rouged_ to excess,--a few Oxonian professors, who
were F.R.S. and the whole alphabet besides,--a multitude of
whist-playing clergymen, reverened only on their visiting cards, who
bore no symptom of their profession except a white neckcloth,--many old
people to be made young, and young people to be made younger,--besides
nearly an acre of very un-Almacks-like young ladies, showily attired in
pink, blue, or yellow, like a bed of tulips, all in very gay spirits,
or pretending to be so, who seemed to lead a life of perpetual smiles
and good-humor, as if all the troubles of existence were unknown or a
mere laughing matter to them.

Sir Arthur was not long in having a delighted recognition with an old,
wooden-legged messmate, Captain Ogilvie, who introduced to Marion his
"three head of daughters," pretty animated girls; and Agnes hastily
seated herself at the tea-table, disappointed beyond measure in the
first chapter of her adventures, and half determined already to set
about hating the whole party. Though deceived only by her own too vivid
anticipations, she felt in some way or other imposed upon, in being
unexpectedly introduced to such very third-rate society, and for
several minutes she maintained a petulant silence, so very unlike her
usual volubility, that she began, before long, to wish for some one
with whom to enjoy a laugh at the whole circle of whimsical-looking
oddities.

Close beside the seat on which Agnes had accidentally placed herself,
she very soon observed an old gentleman considerably past the meridian
of life, who nevertheless dressed with very obvious pretensions to
youth, wearing a fashionable, well-contrived wig, a perfectly startling
set of teeth, and a gouty black velvet shoe. His figure was well built,
and he had altogether a look of individual eccentricity peculiar to
himself, with an air of supercilious haughtiness, which testified that,
like Agnes, he thought himself too good for his company.

"Who can he be?" thought she, finding his eye fixed upon herself with a
fastidious look of connoisseurship, such as that with which he might
have examined some doubtful copy of a Vandyke or Titian, while an
expression of complacent approbation gradually stole into his features.
"Probably some eminent artist! He may perhaps ask leave to do my
picture for the exhibition!"

Having reached this conclusion, she was almost startled to hear herself
addressed by her unknown neighbor, in a consequential, rather
patronising voice, and with an air of unembarrassed distinction, while
he evidently watched her countenance with the same look of criticism as
before, so that she felt certain if there had been a flaw in her teeth,
or a single hair disarranged on her head, it could not have escaped his
notice. So fastidious a personage seemed almost worth the trouble of
pleasing, and Agnes, after replying rather graciously to his first few
remarks, became exceedingly surprised to discover that there was a tone
of well bred command in his dry, cynical manner, united with the most
perfect polish, which both awed and surprised her. His assumption of
superiority and importance seemed almost unconscious, but he evidently
entertained not the fraction of a doubt that his conversation was a
singular honor and an agreeable acquisition to any one on whom he
condescended to bestow the slightest attention.

"I have lived here lately at the rate of twenty new acquaintances a
day, and am happy this evening in adding another to my usual allowance.
One must enter into the humors of a place like Harrowgate, and do at
Rome as Rome does," said he, in a somewhat haughty, supercilious tone.
"This is the only spot in all the earth where English people attempt
the ease and sociability of foreign manners, and we must acknowledge it
fits rather awkwardly. Nevertheless, being in my own neighborhood, I
make a point every year of lending my countenance for a short time to
this house."

Agnes gave an undervaluing glance at her companion, and privately
thought his thin, dry countenance, with every vein like whip cord,
might well have been dispensed with, but though he appeared to be
unpardonably ugly, she prudently sipped her tea in silence, looking
somewhat askance at the little consequential gentleman beside her;
while he took the opportunity of examining her profile with his keen,
observant eye, after which, having apparently satisfied himself that
she was worth the honor of being spoken to, he continued, in a hard,
croaking voice, like a door grating on its rusty hinges:

"The company here is nearly of the same calibre as you might probably
encounter in a Margate hoy, or in a second-class train on the
Birmingham railroad."

"Or at Bartholomew fair," added Agnes, determined not to be outdone. "I
feel as if we were dining for once at the second table. There should be
doorkeepers at Harrowgate to keep out the _canaille_! I wonder Captain
De Crespigny misinformed my brother so much about the society here; but
he would have said anything to make us come."

"No one would ever dream, in his wildest moments, of visiting
Harrowgate for society. Mere knife-grinders from Sheffield, and country
curates," replied her fastidious companion, in a short, abrupt tone.
"Are you acquainted with Louis De Crespigny?"

"Yes; everybody who is anybody knows him, and those who do not often
pretend they do," replied Agnes, indignant at the easy, almost
contemptuous manner in which her companion named one whom she
considered as her own peculiar property. "Not to know him would argue
ourselves unknown."

"I certainly am unknown," said her companion, with a strange little
conscious laugh, which seemed to Agnes quite unaccountable. "Has De
Crespigny so universal an acquaintance? People must be more at a loss
for society than I had supposed!"

"You know," replied Agnes, in an unanswerable tone, "he is the future
Marquis of Doncaster."

"Is he?" answered the old gentleman, with another short, dry laugh, and
a proving shrug of polite non-conviction. "So much the better for him.
You are quite sure of that?"

"Perfectly certain! His uncle is a rich old quiz, who never thought
anybody good enough to marry till now, when nobody would accept of him.
The old peer could not get a girl to marry him now if he sent the
bellman round to advertise for one. Captain De Crespigny's succession
is as undoubted as anything can be which depends on the life of a
whimsical, superannuated uncle, these many years past in the last stage
of infirmity. He has the wrinkles ironed out of his face every morning
with a smoothing iron, and I am told his very bones rattle whenever he
moves!"

"Indeed!" exclaimed the stranger, in a hard, withering tone, and with a
cool sneer on his lip. "How very singular!"

"Poor, dear old man! he was handsome once, and never can forget that;
but it is a century since he lost any looks he ever had, and I am told
he is quite preternaturally old, withered, and whimsical. Quite
ingeniously ugly! _laid a faire peur!_ I should be afraid to go near
him, in case his ugliness might be reflected upon me; but I hear he
fancies himself quite captivating still. Patrick tells me that the old
Marquis invested so large a sum of money lately in a new set of teeth,
that his nephew is quite uneasy lest he should be robbed and murdered
for the gold they are set in. He scratches his wig sometimes to look as
if it were his own hair; and he had an ossification of the leg last
year, in consequence of a disappointment in love!"

"Very remarkable!"

"Yes!" added Agnes, encouraged by the attention she had evidently
excited, and happy to vent all her long accumulated antipathy. "The
oldest man who ever lived certainly died at last, but I believe nobody
ever before existed so long in this world without doing one atom of
good either to himself or others. He keeps a Roman Catholic Abbe to
think for him; and once his wig turned grey in a single night with
distress of mind when they had a quarrel. The Marquis is so afraid of
apoplexy, that when he walks out the Abbe Mordaunt always carries a
lancet to bleed him instantly, in case he has a fit."

"How very considerate! You have all this authentic intelligence on the
best authority of course?" asked the stranger with a submissive bow.
"De Crespigny's entire! I understand the nephew has not inherited his
uncle's antipathy to marrying! If this very whimsical old relative
could be safely packed into his grave,--let me assure you he is even
more whimsical than has been represented, though not quite so
infirm,--I suppose Captain De Crespigny would very soon dispose of
himself and his coronet."

"Certainly!" replied Agnes, unable to repress a conscious smile and
heightened color. "In that case we should all probably see before long
a Marchioness of Doncaster!"

"I might not, perhaps, live to be introduced," answered the old
gentleman demurely. "And I could lay a bet that, as long as I exist, we
shall never have Captain De Crespigny in the peerage. If you happen,
however, to know any young lady at all impatient to become Marchioness
of Doncaster, let her consult me, and I could, perhaps, suggest a
shorter cut to that situation, than by waiting for Louis De Crespigny."

"How!" exclaimed Agnes, with a bewildered look. "Quite impossible!"

"Unless by accepting the present Marquis, who ought, by your
description, to go very cheap, old, whimsical, and infirm as he is!"
replied the stranger, with a sly smile, and a graceful bow. "The report
you have heard of Lord Doncaster is such, that I feel almost tempted to
forswear my own name!"

Agnes never in her life approached more nearly to a genuine fainting
fit, than on hearing these words, and to have been swallowed up in an
earthquake would have been quite a relief. She felt now like Abon
Hassan, when he made the vizier bite his finger to ascertain if he were
really awake, while, with a look of vacant wonder, she became aware
that the middle-aged, nearly good-looking, and very elegant man beside
her, was actually the old, worn-out, almost dead, and all but buried
uncle, whose demise Captain De Crespigny had led her daily or hourly to
expect for the last two years. If his ghost had appeared, she would not
have been half so much astonished, while he seemed evidently more
amused than he chose to acknowledge, at having created such a
sensation, which he was by no means inclined to diminish, while
silently admiring the beautiful fluctuations of expression in Agnes'
resplendent eyes, fixed on himself with almost incredulous amazement.
At length he rose to take leave, with a smiling, supercilious bow, and
beckoned in an authoritative manner to a clerical-looking gentleman at
some distance, to follow him, who spoke in a voice of almost feminine
softness, though Agnes thought the expression of his countenance
peculiarly sinister and forbidding.

"That, then, must be the Abbe Mordaunt!" exclaimed Agnes, almost
aloud, while she gazed at his stern, sallow countenance, his shaggy
eyebrows, low forehead, and artful-looking smile. "He might act the
villain in any melo-drama! I would rather not stand between that man
and any earthly object he may set his heart on! He is the most
Jesuitical-looking Jesuit I ever beheld!"

Though Agnes' first recontre with the Marquis of Doncaster had been so
calamitous, and her first prejudice against his shadow, the Abbe, had
seemed most inveterate, she yet spent much of her time for the next few
days in their society, and was delighted to engross the attention and
the evident admiration of the two most distinguished-looking personages
at the ordinary, while, without scruple, she flattered the Marquis most
flagrantly, by laughing to excess at her own very mistaken ideas of him
previous to their meeting, and hinting that this had rendered her
subsequent surprise the more agreeable. Lord Doncaster in return amused
himself with talking to her in a style suited to the female society in
which most of his own time had hitherto been spent, though it should
not certainly have suited any young girl educated like Agnes, who
stretched her complaisance, however, to the utmost for a nobleman, and
the uncle of her intended, Captain De Crespigny.

Marion's refined and delicate feelings shrunk at once from the
libertine freedom of look and manner which she could not but observe in
the old Marquis' tone to ladies, and though he repeatedly tried to
engage her in the flippant and almost dissolute conversation which, in
a low lover-like tone, he addressed to her sister, and made an
ostentatious display of his admiration for both, Marion, disgusted and
shocked at what seemed so utterly unsuitable to his years, gently but
decidedly evaded all intercourse, being of opinion that the coquetry
which was dishonorable in the nephew, became ridiculous and
contemptible in the uncle, therefore she behaved to him with distant
politeness, and a degree of gravity by no means natural to her in
general. Marion devoted herself almost exclusively to Sir Arthur,
leading him about in his walks, and enlivening his conversation with
old Captain Ogilvy, while she could not but frequently compare the age
and respectability of her venerable uncle, with the almost equal age
and very opposite character of the Roman Catholic Marquis, whose thin
skeleton figure, hollow ghost-like laugh and old stories, as broad as
they were long, formed as unsuitable a contrast to his juvenile dress
and manners, as his withered aspect did, to the fresh and fragrant
flowers he constantly wore in his button-hole, and of which he lavished
a splendid profusion on Agnes.

Marion observed with increasing surprise and regret, that the lively
_persiflage_ of her sister with the Marquis, was varied very frequently
by long and apparently grave discussions, with the Abbe Mordaunt, and
at the end of a week, she became startled to observe that Agnes wore
round her neck a black ribbon, from which hung conspicuously suspended
a large gold crucifix of very beautiful workmanship. On many former
occasions, Marion had found reason to dread the bitter vengeance of
Agnes' tongue, but at no loss to guess the source from whence this
unusual ornament had been derived, she inwardly resolved not to let it
pass unnoticed, but warmly to remonstrate with her sister on the
growing influence of the Abbe, which seemed surprising and
unaccountable, while an undefined feeling of alarm respecting the
rapidly increasing intimacy of Agnes with Lord Doncaster, caused her to
long impatiently for the arrival of Sir Patrick, as she felt unwilling
to distress her uncle on the subject of Agnes' extraordinary conduct,
trusting that the whole affair was a mere girlish whim--a piece of
missyish coquetry to please Lord Doncaster, who in the mean time
laughingly boasted that never before had he made a proselyte so young
and beautiful.



CHAPTER XXX.


"Patrick," exclaimed Agnes, hurrying into Sir Arthur's sitting-room the
morning after her brother's arrival at the Granby, while a brilliant
color lighted up her cheek, and her eyes sparkled with animation, "Lord
Wigton is coming in a few minutes to hear me sing that new song of
Bellini's, therefore pray tell the waiters we are not at home to any
living mortal, and do hold this music till I give a last touch to my
ringlets."

Agnes impatiently held out a large roll of paper, but almost screamed
with astonishment on looking up, to perceive that she had addressed
Captain De Crespigny, evidently that moment arrived from a long
journey.

"Good morning, Miss Dunbar. We are well met!" said he, with rather
satirical emphasis. "I am in a very cut-throat humor to-day, and shall
certainly put an end to little Lord Wigton!"

"You have nearly put an end to me," replied Agnes, unable to steady her
voice; "but I am rather glad to see you! Perhaps you may be allowed to
remain here, though that tiresome man does so teaze me about singing."

"Wigton told me he was coming to see, or rather to hear Marion!" said
Sir Patrick, emerging from a distant window.

"To hear me!" exclaimed Marion, with unfeigned surprise and perplexity,
while thunder and lightning both lowered on the forehead of her sister.
"That must be a mistake! I heard nothing of any appointment, and have
not had a minute's conversation with Lord Wigton since we arrived at
Harrowgate. He heard me only once by accident, and probably never will
again."

"Unless by design!" whispered Agnes, angrily. "Marion, you have
certainly some underhand way of getting on with people, which baffles
my comprehension!"

Marion turned away, and silently resumed her place beside Sir Arthur,
who had been amusing himself by standing at the window, while she told
him what carriages came round to the door, what parties of pleasure
were setting out or returning, and what travelling equipages appeared
in sight, of which seldom fewer than ten or twelve arrived in a day;
and by ascertaining the coat-of-arms or coronets emblazoned on the
panels, she sometimes formed a tolerable accurate guess who might
probably be their occupants. After talking together with great vivacity
for some time, Sir Arthur suddenly felt the arm of Marion on which he
was leaning, give an almost convulsive start, while she seemed with
difficulty to suppress a half-uttered exclamation of delighted
astonishment. She now leaned eagerly out of the window, to examine a
travelling chariot which had driven up to the door, from whence a lady,
apparently in the utmost extreme of weakness, was carefully supported
out by a gentleman, and before another moment could elapse, Marion had
rushed down stairs, and was clasped in the arms of Clara Granville.

"Did you get my letter?" exclaimed her friend, in feeble and agitated
accents, while, after the first rapturous greetings, they had retired
alone into a sitting-room. "No! is that possible? How could the post
have been so long delayed? But perhaps it may be as well, for there was
grief as much as joy in it."

Marion observed now with alarm, that the appearance of Clara, always
interesting, had become almost painfully so. The summer bloom had
entirely vanished from her face, and not only had her form shrunk, but
there was a deep and settled sadness in the expression of her eye, when
she added,

"The doctors have ordered me to go by easy stages abroad, but they
recommended me first to try a few weeks here. The sight of you will do
me more good than any medicine, and I had little difficulty--very
little indeed, Marion--in persuading Richard to take the Granby on our
way to the south of France, where we are to go health-hunting and
scenery-hunting during the approaching winter; but you must see now, as
I do, and as everybody does, except my dear brother himself, that I am
hastening fast to that country where the sun always shines, and the
flowers never fade."

A start of indescribable emotion now shot through the heart of Marion,
for in the pallid, emaciated countenance of Clara, she already read a
sentence of death, and she gazed upon her friend with a growing
conviction, which filled her heart with anguish, that soon, very soon
they must be separated for ever! but Miss Granville, observing her
emotion, affectionately added, "Few have more reason to value their
lives than myself, Marion, and mine I shall do all in my power to
preserve. We ought to be perfectly and cheerfully satisfied with every
event as it comes, and while I have such a brother as Richard, my
existence is precious to me. I know, however, that at all events
another will reward him for his kindness to me, and one whom he values
even more than his sister has happily learned to appreciate him as I
do! Indeed, how could it be otherwise? My home will soon be an eternal
world, and if I might have a choice, the sooner, perhaps, the better.
It grieves me to take my brother now from his duties, without a single
hope of my own restoration. I know that, for I feel it here! Change of
air and scene can do no permanent good, and I wish we had been allowed
to remain stationary, as it matters little where I die, compared with
the importance to many of where Richard lives."

Marion's voice, the faithful index to her feelings, trembled with
emotion when she replied; but a moment afterwards, a smile of pleasure
lighted up her dark speaking eyes, when Mr. Granville hastened into the
room, with a look of animated happiness on again meeting Marion, and
his whole countenance had that look of deep sensibility which becomes
externally visible, when the whole mind and heart have been awakened to
those affections which end with life, and only then. To cover their
confusion, and conceal her own feelings, Clara assumed a tone of
unwonted vivacity, saying, with an affectation of extreme gravity,
"Allow me to introduce my brother,--Miss Dunbar, Mr. Granville! I can
recommend both as desirable acquaintances, and hope you may find each
other out by degrees! My duty is done, and now it is your own fault if
you are not speedily friends!"

Marion became every day more conscious that no one can appreciate the
real joys and the real sorrows of human life but those who live for its
friendships and attachments, while she would have thought wealth or
rank, without affection, like a body without a soul; but Agnes cared
comparatively little by whose means she obtained her title, equipages,
and diamonds, provided they were likely to excite envy and admiration.
In her estimation, the coarsest materials of happiness were the most to
be coveted, and the marriage contract, instead of being anticipated in
the light in which it would have appeared to Marion, as giving her the
privilege of devoting a life-time to the happiness of the person she
loved best on earth, was merely contemplated as entitling her to an
expensive _trousseau_, a large establishment, and a set of family
jewels. In the mind of Agnes, Captain De Crespigny seemed only an
appendage to his future rank and future expectations, while she
rehearsed over her own coming greatness with exulting anticipations;
but Mr. Granville might have lost all that mortal man can lose, even
life itself, and still retained the same place as at first in Marion's
affection. The depth of her feelings was tempered, however, by the
supremacy of yet higher and holier duties and hopes, those of sound and
enlightened devotion, in which it was her greatest happiness to think
that she had at length secured "a guide, philosopher, and friend."

No man knew the world more thoroughly, or had viewed it on both sides
with more careful scrutiny than Captain De Crespigny, who often boasted
that he saw the working of people's minds as if their heads were like a
glass bee-hive, and yet he was completely perplexed, on arriving at
Harrowgate, to account for the extraordinary intimacy which had sprung
up so suddenly between the beautiful Agnes and his whimsical old--, but
certainly not venerable relative, Lord Doncaster. It seemed to him at
first a laughable jest, but before long he became struck by the
increased coldness of his uncle's manner, which was, if possible, more
cynical and repulsive than ever, since the time when Agnes had
inadvertently irritated the vanity of Lord Doncaster by her incautious
jests during their first interview.

Curiosity now induced Captain De Crespigny, in some degree, to resume
that intimacy with Agnes, which he came intending entirely to
discontinue; for he had meant that his attentions should be solely and
exclusively devoted to the captivation of her still more fascinating
sister, whom he was intent upon adding to the list of his conquests;
but Marion continued to receive Captain De Crespigny with careless
civility, resolved apparently to forget all that had hitherto been
unpleasant or pleasant between them, while every moment she could spare
from attending to her uncle was dedicated to the Granvilles. Clara
never left her private sitting-room, partly from bodily weakness, but
chiefly to avoid meeting Sir Patrick, whom she had not expected to find
at Harrowgate,--and his name never passed her lips except once, when in
answer to a remark of Marion's, she said, "I shun another meeting with
your brother, not from indifference,--very far from that. If I were
only more safe from the attachments and delusions of this world, it
would be unnecessary to avoid him as I do; but I am consoled for my own
sorrows, Marion, by thinking of my brother's happiness, and by
believing that you will hereafter value and experience together the
affection of reason and principle, with a sufficient tinge of romance
to give it some flavor."

"In that case," replied Marion, frankly, while a bright color glowed on
her cheek, "I should think myself gifted with the largest share of
happiness that the world can offer, and much more than the whole world
could bestow, if unaccompanied by the hope of that felicity we are
promised beyond it."

"And which I shall share with you at last, though the joy of this world
I cannot remain to see and to partake of, with those who have all my
affection and all my prayers," replied Clara, solemnly, while her lips
trembled with a smile such as floats sometimes on the countenance of a
Christian at last, "when all the mortal dies."



CHAPTER XXXI.


It was late one fine evening toward the end of August, when, though the
rooms at the Granby had been brilliantly lighted, several windows were
open to admit the soft radiance of moonlight, and the whole
miscellaneous party of ladies and gentlemen resident at the great hotel
had assembled, full of gay excitement, in the public saloon, where the
buzz and laughter of merry voices might be heard on every side. Various
agreeable excursions had taken place throughout the morning. Pic-nics
had flourished at Studley, Ripon, Bolton Abbey, and Harewood House,
while even Plumpton rocks, very little higher than the cut for a
railway, had not been without admirers who called them sublime, and the
petrifying well at Knaresborough had petrified many with admiration.

A day of amusement seemed likely now to end, as such days too commonly
do, in weariness and ennui. Several very old gentlemen sat down to
cards,--those who still made any attempts at being juvenile, flirted
with the more elderly misses, and Agnes, seated between Lord Doncaster
and the Abbe, seemed industriously exerting herself to fascinate them
both, while, though generally careful of her smiles, she now lavished
them on each side with apparently heedless profusion.

The scarcity of _beaux_, so often remarked and lamented in most
societies, could hardly be a legitimate cause of complaint on this
occasion, but, as Sir Patrick remarked to Marion, "in every family
there is but one eldest son, while there are at least three-and-twenty
daughters, each educated and prepared to take her place at the head of
a brilliant establishment; therefore, seeing in this room sixty-five
young ladies, every one of whom expects to marry on at least £2000
a-year, it would require £130,000 per annum to satisfy them and their
expectant mammas!"

Lord Wigton's fortune alone might have been sufficient, if divided into
suitable portions, for at least ten such happy couples; but his whole
heart seemed bent on bestowing it, with himself, on Marion, who found
that she was pursued with assiduity so persevering, not only by him,
but also by Captain De Crespigny, who had now openly abandoned Agnes
for her, that, annoyed and perplexed how to act, rather than become
repulsive and forbidding, which was always repulsive to her nature, she
silently retreated with Sir Arthur to the quiet domestic fireside of
the Granvilles, where she enjoyed the peaceful reality of happiness,
instead of that noisy and glittering imitation of it which she had so
gladly forsaken.

In the public saloon, Mrs. O'Donoghoe, a superannuated _jeune femme_ of
about thirty, more or less, in a dress as bright and red as a
blacksmith's forge, hammered on a decayed piano-forte a sort of tune,
which might be an Irish jig or a Scotch strathspey, while several
mournful-looking gentlemen had been persuaded to dance with three or
four very affected, over-dressed partners, giggling young ladies, most
of whom were on the shady side of five-and-twenty, dressed in stiff
muslin frocks _a l'enfant_, bare shoulders, rouge, and very pink
stockings.

Mrs. O'Donoghoe's marriage, ten years before, had been a true
Harrowgate match--a mutual take-in--the lady being a reputed heiress,
without a shilling, and the gentleman endowed with an imaginary estate,
which turned out to be situated in the moon. Since her widowhood, she
had affected extreme youth, excessive wealth, and extraordinary
vivacity, being of opinion that liveliness is the most universally
popular of all qualities in the gay world, and that those who are not
gifted by nature with light and joyous spirits, should assume them,
though, if the exact degree of any person's happiness were distinctly
marked by a thermometer on their foreheads, the reality might seldom
coincide with the external appearance, and the pre-eminence would
seldom be awarded to those who are blazing the brightest in a crowd.
The most malevolent persons could scarcely wish their worst enemy to
lead that life of anxiety, mortification, and misery, the inevitable
doom of ladies who will not consent with a good grace to grow old--who
desire to seem what they are not, and never can be again--who, instead
of cheerfully advancing to meet advancing years, attempt to _rajeunir
leur beaute passee_, and who, vainly endeavoring to stem the tide of
time, catch at every straw which affords a hope of impeding their
career into oblivion. If it be indeed true, as all who have experienced
it acknowledge, that a worldly career, decked with all the glare and
glitter of success, is yet a weariness to the spirit, what must such a
life be to those for whom it does not even assume the tinsel of deceit.

Mrs. O'Donoghoe had appeared during nine successive seasons at
Harrowgate, where she shone like a moving rainbow, dressing of course
younger as she became older, and being considered now quite a part and
parcel of the Granby establishment. Though it had been remarked that
she always appeared about the same day as Lord Doncaster, yet her usual
place of habitation and means of existence were perfectly unknown; but
as, on her arrival, she generally entered the public room about the
same hour as the post bag, it became shrewdly conjectured that she
might perhaps condescend to travel per mail, while, nevertheless, she
boasted long and loudly of her enormous jointure.

Sir Patrick alleged, that on a former occasion, when the house was
crowded, Mrs. O'Donoghoe ordered a bed to be made up for her on the
billiard table, and that now she had bespoken one, after the dancing
was over, in the orchestra, while she gladly dispensed with a
sitting-room, as the deficiency formed an adequate pretext for
constantly frequenting the public room, which she greatly preferred,
alleging at the same time, in the most emphatic terms, that saving six
shillings a-day for the hire of a parlor was not of the slightest
consequence to her, money being "no object," as poor Mr. O'Donoghoe had
left her more than she could ever hope to spend.

Mrs. O'Donoghoe's name appeared regularly in the weekly printed list of
company at Harrowgate, and she was certainly by no means a dead letter
in the brilliant circle. She sang a little, played a little, and talked
a great deal, while no topic of conversation ever came amiss to her.
The gay widow floundered through anything or everything, making a
thousand blunders, and adapting herself to each individual who
conversed with her in succession, being ready and anxious for the
admiration of all. She seemed willing to compensate for the want of
silver in her purse, by having plenty on her tongue, and apparently
thought, if she thought at all, that conversation resembled a game at
whist, where each individual should implicitly follow his partner's
lead.

In every carriage going to races, balls, pigeon matches, or steeple
chases, Mrs. O'Donoghoe generally manoeuvred to get herself a place,
either inside or outside, she seemed by no means particular which; and
whenever the master of the ceremonies became perplexed at balls, by an
application for a partner from some heavy elderly gentleman in yellow
gloves, who desired to risk his tendon of Achilles by dancing, he was
sure to be rapturously welcomed by Mrs. O'Donoghoe. She had been always
hitherto the favorite flirt of Lord Doncaster; and her bold bravura
manner amused Captain De Crespigny, who called her "Fountain's Abbey,"
on account of her being so picturesque a ruin on so very large a scale.
Though not quite so "wither'd, auld, and droll," as he and some
refractory officers had alleged, when entreated by the master of the
ceremonies to dance with her, yet Mrs. O'Donoghoe's best friends
allowed she was thirty--her enemies protested she was forty--and the
truth lay, as usual, between both extremes. Forced almost to
acknowledge at last that she had arrived on the debatable ground
between youth and that uninteresting period, middle age, too old for
dancing, too young for cards, and not quite beyond the excitement of
love-hunting, she still eagerly hoped to forget, in a brilliant
establishment, the blighted hopes of former years. No unmarried man was
too elderly or too juvenile for Mrs. O'Donoghoe to try her
well-practised fascinations on; and whether they were majors or minor,
Lord Wigton, Captain De Crespigny, Sir Patrick, or the Marquis, she yet
continued to hope for their admiration. Still she retained a firm
conviction that every gentleman arrived at Harrowgate with the full
intention of marrying within a month or two--that happy couples, at the
end of every season, were to be paired off like pairs of gloves or
shoes--and that every gentleman among her numerous assortment of
intimate acquaintances, would at last make his own selection; but the
most sanguine hope of her sanguine mind was, that the attentions shown
to her during many a successive season by Lord Doncaster, which had
gone so far as even to excite some scandal, might at last ripen into an
offer of his coronet; in which very ardent expectation she had recently
suspended her dancing propensities, and diligently exercised on the
Marquis her talents for listening, when his society could be had, or in
his absence, she even tolerated his shadow, the Abbe.

"Mrs. O'Donoghoe," exclaimed Captain De Crespigny, throwing himself
into a seat beside the piano during the interval of a quadrille, "only
look at your old superannuated admirer and Miss Dunbar. People laugh at
the susceptibility of seventeen, but that is nothing to the
susceptibility of seventy. Your ears have generally been the best of
listeners to Lord Doncaster's prosing, but you are fairly outdone
to-night. How all you young ladies must be tormented by that old
fellow's button-holding propensities."

"Quite the contrary! His conversation, though not always perfectly
correct, is, it must be confessed, very amusing. Men in general are a
queer set, but I like Lord Doncaster's old-fashioned compliments--quite
of the _vieille cour_--one might fancy he had lived some centuries
ago!"

"I heartily wish he had! I could back old Doncaster against the world,
for being the dullest proser in the United Kingdoms of Great Britain
and Ireland, with the Colonies besides. He will die talking, for he
talks everybody else to death! The Abbe, too, has no more mind than a
sparrow. His conversation should be filtered every evening to purify it
from bad taste of every kind. He picks up half a dozen stories every
morning at the ordinary, and retails them to any wearied victim who can
be forced to listen at night; when these are done so is he--his barrel
organ has run down--and you may know when the Abbe has come to an end,
by observing the hurry he is in to be off."

"You are an habitual hater, Captain De Crespigny, and have put on your
black cap to condemn us all this evening; but I will not have our good
Abbe hissed off the stage in this way."

"Good! Look out that word, Mrs. O'Donoghoe, in the dictionary
to-morrow, for you cannot know its real meaning!"

"Your criticisms on his conversation are like a shower of sleet this
cold night, but I assure you the Abbe started a perfected new story
yesterday, and I have sometimes heard him say very good things!"

"Then you have the advantage of everybody else, for I have known him
since the time of William the Conqueror, and who ever heard of his
saying or doing a single good thing? He cannot even understand one. The
whole pattern of his conversation is egotism in all its branches, and
you must positively permit me to enjoy my detestation of the Abbe in
peace."

"I allow that he is in bad taste occasionally," whispered Mrs.
O'Donoghoe, confidentially. "The Abbe can say very shocking things
without causing one to feel shocked. If he has any hypocrisy, it is in
trying to appear worse than he is."

"Could any one be worse? That seems to me impossible. No human being
would think of calling me strict, but of all the odious, revolting
sights I know, none can go beyond an irreligious clergy-man. The Abbe
always looks to me like a person who had something very heavy upon his
conscience--a guilty, suspicious expression of countenance. I have
occasionally wondered, Mrs. O'Donoghoe, to see you out-laugh him at
some of his own abortive attempts to be witty; but you can do many
things that no other person can, and that is one of them."

"Captain De Crespigny, we must now and then laugh at other people's
jokes besides our own!"

"I never laugh! I am the gravest man in Europe. I do sometimes give a
bewitching smile, but never more."

"Did you ever try an ineffable look?"

"Perhaps I may some evening, when anxious to cut out old Doncaster!
Miss Dunbar must find her two hours' conversation with him a serious
grievance; but what would a life-time be! The ideas which proceed from
the inside of my uncle's wig are certainly not of the most original and
amusing. Fancy him day after day _toujours_ Doncaster! Dunbar says he
would dismiss the best servant he ever had, if the fellow so much as
admitted him to a morning visit. If I had an ill-will at you, Mrs.
O'Donoghoe, which is luckily not the case, I should certainly wish you
were married to my uncle! Ladies and gentlemen may laugh; but I can
assure them it would be no laughing matter!"

"Well, say what you will; but I may perhaps think my rose-colored satin
has done its duty if I have an offer from the Marquis of Doncaster, old
as he is!"

"Ah, Mrs. O'Donoghoe! If you had worn that red satin when we were first
acquainted, there is no saying what might have happened. Another day of
it now, and I should be perfectly done for! With a train, you would be
fit to appear at St. James's! You alone, in the whole world, never
alter! You must have been born a century old, and become younger every
day!"

Though Mr. Granville and Marion, with the good-humored connivance of
Sir Arthur, now spent many delightful hours in rational and animated
intercourse, their happiness became gradually clouded with anxiety
respecting the lovely but fragile Clara, who evidently drooped and
faded. Her mind was stronger than her body; while resigned and gentle,
she never caused a moment's distress to others that could be avoided,
though the bright eye, and brighter cheek, which might have been
mistaken for the glow of health, were but too evidently caused by
fever; and her brother's heart occasionally misgave him, on observing
that a vivid flush, and a deadly paleness, chased each other on her
countenance when she spoke. There was a nervous tremor in her manner,
and a deep sensibility in her smile, which saddened the eye that looked
on that form of almost ethereal delicacy, while she tried, but tried in
vain, to conquer the wasting sorrow with which she thought the vices
and follies of Sir Patrick had forever divided them.

Several transient rencontres with the young Baronet, accidental on her
part, but preconcerted on his, had renewed the conflict of her
feelings, and unable to sustain the nearly frantic reproaches of one
whom she loved only too well, Clara became now almost entirely a
prisoner in her own apartments. It was the power of principle over
feeling which caused her to reject, with gentle sorrow, the expression
of attachment once so precious, and the fascination of Sir Patrick's
manner to her was such, that his very errors she could not utterly
hate, though day after day, she schooled her heart afresh with the
remembrance how unjustifiably her own best hopes of lasting peace would
be endangered by trusting her affections to the keeping of one who had
betrayed others, and who would have but too baneful an influence over
her own mind were they united, as he could so little sympathize in the
emotions, occupations, and duties of the Christian life. While she
might have said, like the poet, "I but know that I love thee whatever
thou art," Clara felt that if her life were to be the sacrifice, he
must be rejected; therefore, day after day, with pious resignation and
fortitude, she endured the slow but agonizing martyrdom of
extinguishing from her memory one whom she had so deeply loved. Sir
Patrick contrived to testify by a thousand indescribable assiduities,
only too gratifying to her nature, how constantly she was the object of
his solicitude. Every morning Clara's sitting room was adorned with
flowers from an unknown hand, which she felt and knew must be sent by
Sir Patrick, though it was an attention he had never shown to any
other; and the rarest fruit was frequently produced at her solitary
dinner, though the waiter neither could nor would give any clear
account of whence it came, while not a day passed that Clara did not
see Sir Patrick's graceful figure lounging beneath her windows,
conversing in an animated tone, with everybody except herself, or
throwing himself on horseback, and galloping almost madly out of sight.

Every evening Mr. Granville urged upon his sister the importance of her
being speedily conveyed to the continent; but every morning Clara
postponed their preparations, feeling too much enfeebled for the
journey, and unwilling to lose the delightful fascination of Marion's
society, who sat beside her couch all day, and every day, making hours
seem like moments while they conversed together. Clara knew nothing of
ennui, and never had occasion to kill time, for she valued it as time
ought to be valued, at an inestimable price. She had no weariness to
dissipate, as every hour was occupied in improving her own mind and
heart, while she exerted herself for the happiness of others, and never
laid her head on the pillow at night without an anxious examination
whether she had done all in her power for the real advantage of herself
and others. It was the opinion of Mr. Granville, frequently expressed,
that the very essence of earthly happiness is found in exertion,--that
"while a right discharge of religious duty is in itself the greatest of
all exertions, even the trifles or the essentials of life must all be
gained by making existence one great struggle against nature. Study,
integrity, good-humor, benevolence, early rising, and moderation are
all exertions that must be made upon principle,--a principle of
Christian obedience; and, as difficulty is the condition of success,
our frame is strengthened by exertion, our skill by practice, our
reasoning powers by opposition, and he who wrestles most will wrestle
best."



CHAPTER XXXII.


Little of what is really going on in society can be traced on its gay,
sparkling surface, where, amidst laughter, music, jesting, and smiles,
a deep current may be flowing on of anger, envy, mortification, and
disappointment. Agnes had lately allowed herself to suspect that her
preference for Captain De Crespigny was by no means mutual; and though
it still lingered in her mind, out-living all that coldness and caprice
which had superseded the persevering ardor with which he once
endeavored to engross her attention, the indignation of her feelings
drove her now to seek relief in any counter-irritation, and especially
in cultivating, beside Lord Doncaster, the society where he was most
depreciated, and where she heard many a story of him from the Abbe,
which filled her with angry misgivings.

Captain De Crespigny now perceived, with almost bewildered
astonishment, that the beautiful Agnes remained stationary the whole
evening with Lord Doncaster, wishing, he conjectured, to propitiate the
uncle as a preliminary to securing the nephew, and that she actually
made him a secondary object in society, while it was evident the
Marquis observed and enjoyed this very visible alteration. It became
particularly conspicuous at last, when Captain De Crespigny having
spoken, one evening, a few words to Agnes, strolled away in momentary
pique at the careless inattention of her reply, after which the vacant
chair, beside her and Lord Doncaster, was immediately occupied by the
Abbe, who talked down both his companions, while a long discussion
ensued, of evidently deepening interest, during which the eyes of all
three were frequently directed towards Captain De Crespigny. Those of
Agnes now assumed an almost unnatural brightness, and her cheek became
dyed with a hectic flush of excitement. Then, for the first time, he
perceived the gold crucifix which she held carelessly in her hand,
while the Abbe spoke with an air of artful and subdued earnestness, and
Lord Doncaster, looking like winter beside spring, watched, with
evident admiration, the changes of color and expression which flitted
like an aurora borealis on her beautiful features. It occurred to
Captain De Crespigny, that his uncle, believing, perhaps, in some
degree, the report of his marriage to Agnes, and being an enthusiastic
admirer of beauty, might wish the Abbe first to convert the young lady
to his own faith, before bestowing him upon her, and as the idea
flitted through his mind, he smiled inwardly to think how they would
all be disappointed. Still the ceaseless conversation continued, and
Captain De Crespigny, apprehending it might never come to any
particular end, resolved, for his own amusement, _coute qui coute_, to
break up the _coterie_.

"Miss Dunbar," said he, advancing, and in a matter-of-course way
offering his arm, "allow me the pleasure of this quadrille with you!"

Agnes seemed almost to awaken from a dream at these words, but, after a
moment's evident perplexity, during which she assumed an air of
dignified indecision, Lord Doncaster having turned away to converse
with Mrs. O'Donoghoe, she slowly rose, and silently took her place in
the dance.

Captain De Crespigny had hitherto been to Agnes like the sun to the
dial, causing the lights and shadows of joy or anxiety to flit over her
countenance according to his own pleasure, but now he became piqued and
astonished to perceive that he could not even command her most
transient attention, and with a satirical glance at her absent
countenance, he emphatically exclaimed,

"A delightful party this!"

"Yes, delightful!" echoed Agnes, mechanically.

"And delightful music too!" added he, observing with increased surprise
the total absence of her thoughts.

"Delightful, indeed!" repeated Agnes, in an almost dreaming tone.

"And what a delightful partner I have secured!" added Captain De
Crespigny, with some asperity of tone, while gazing more and more
curiously into her countenance. "I am so well pleased, that really it
was fortunate I did not shoot or drown myself yesterday! We are
excelling ourselves to-night, Miss Dunbar! I never saw you so
agreeable, so particularly facetious! Your spirits are perfectly
turbulent!"

"That is the more surprising, as I have done nothing this evening but
yawn and be yawned at," replied Agnes, resuming her gay, bantering
tone. "I have been plastered to the wall like Warren's Japan blacking,
looking as grave as an old gate-post, while you were generally so far
off, that I borrowed a good telescope at last, to try whether it might
be possible to see you!"

"I could not approach within a mile, you were so barricaded with Abbes
and Marquises, but you of course occupied all my thoughts. Shall I ever
forget my vexation on beholding my fossil specimen of an uncle
depositing his bones in the very seat I intended for myself. He is
really becoming a formidable rival!"

"Very true!" replied Agnes, forcing a laugh. "Lord Doncaster is so
agreeable, that I am all but captivated, and if this were leap year I
might, perhaps, use the lady's privilege and propose!"

"Take care, or I shall tell him so!"

"Pray do! It will save time, and he has but little to spare!"

"I am very certain, if the old boy were ninety years younger, he would
make you an offer! But certainly marriage is a juvenile indiscretion,
only for young people like us!"

"Lord Doncaster says, he is any age I like, and pledges himself always
to continue so!" replied Agnes, laughing, though she became agitated to
the very tips of her fingers, while, trying not to seem embarrassed,
she hastily drew her gloves on and off, adjusted her necklace, and
betrayed, by other nervous manoeuvres, that her mind was not quite at
ease under the observant eye of Captain De Crespigny, who looked at her
with satirical surprise, and at last exclaimed, in accents of wonder,
"May my bridle be too long, and my stirrup too short, Miss Dunbar, if I
ever dreamed of jesting with you in earnest, about the old veteran
amateur in flirtations, my uncle! That is rather beyond a joke,--and as
for the Abbe, you ought to put him down in your private list of
detestables, being a bad and dangerous man for young ladies to form an
intimacy with. Let me be your father confessor to-night, Miss Dunbar,
and tell me when, under his auspices, you mean to take the veil!"

Seeing Agnes become more and more embarrassed, Captain De Crespigny's
politeness now induced him to change the subject, though still unable
to conjecture any probable cause for her confusion; therefore assuming
his usual tone of careless conceit, he added, "Mrs. O'Donoghoe tells me
there are two singularly handsome officers in the room to-night; but I
cannot see the second. We can be at no loss for No. 1. There is a
strange-looking mortal opposite in black! He skips about in the
quadrille like an industrious flea! Does it not seem like a frightful
dream, that we are expected to find steps for such music as this? What
would Monsieur D'Egville say, if he saw me, his favorite pupil,
blundering through the figure to such discord?"

"He would still be proud of his scholar! I mistook you for Duvernay
last night when you danced with Mrs. O'Donoghoe at the Crown ball. Her
dancing-master must have been St. Vitus! She was as light as----"

"As a cork flying from a bottle of champagne! You seem perplexed for
once to find a simile!"

"And you are not particularly happy in yours! I have been puzzling my
head for the last two seconds who that gold man is opposite in uniform.
He looks like a clever caricature of an officer on leave!"

"That is Charleville of ours! Mrs. O'Donoghoe considers him the first
of men! almost superhuman! because, as she said to me yesterday, 'he is
quite the thing! drives a tandem--rides races in a bonnet and
habit--can back his horse down the steepest hill in Low
Harrowgate--writes occasionally in the Sporting Magazine--and smokes
more cigars in a day than the whole regiment in a week!'"

"There is an officer of that description in every regiment, who is
generally called 'Jack' or 'Tom.' I detest these hunting, racing,
smoking, and betting men; but you may introduce him to me when the
quadrille is over."

"That is a ceremony I never perform, and never undergo! It is too
solemn an affair for me to engage in! I never mean, as long as I live,
to be introduced to any one--never!"

"Then if your present list of friends is to last for life, I hope it
musters pretty strong?"

"Pardon me! We are not so particular at an ordinary as in an opera-box!
There are ways and means of becoming acquainted without my making
people conceited, by asking to be introduced! I tread on a lady's gown
in passing, look shocked, beg her pardon, receive the very sweetest of
smiles, enter into conversation, and am intimate in a moment!"

"Very easy and convenient! I never could imagine till now why officers
had all become so awkward at parties lately, in tearing my dress with
their spurs!"

"Believe me, nobody is ever introduced to anybody now, and ladies have
become equally ingenious with myself in picking up acquaintances. At
Almacks last season, Lady Sarah Wyvell, having the good fortune to be
next me in a quadrille, though we were not acquainted, asked, with a
modest diffident air, if I could possibly tell her the hour. I politely
took the trouble of answering her, and mentioned, that the key of my
watch had been for some time mislaid, and therefore it was not wound
up; but next evening, when we met at the Russian Ambassador's fete,
would you believe it, she walked up to me, and, with a fascinating
smile, begged my acceptance of a watch-key, beautifully set in
turquoises!"

"Which fitted exactly, of course!" added Agnes, laughing. "I like a
round unvarnished tale, and admire a ready invention, especially when
the story is perfectly credible, and betrays no personal conceit
whatever. The world certainly grows more ridiculous every day!"

"You never said a truer thing! It is a good plan in conversation always
to say what nobody can contradict! Never certainly was there a more
ludicrous medley of people shuffled together, than here at this moment!
Nothing but old Doncaster's whim could have brought me to such a
snobbery and tag-raggery! Harrowgate is like death itself for levelling
all distinctions! You may glance down the dinner-table, containing a
hundred and thirty odd-looking guests, and each individual has the same
quiet, little, unpretending bottle of sherry placed at his elbow, and
labelled with his name. Even the great millionaire, Mr. Crawford, who
might, if he chose, drink liquid gold, fares no better, though he has
brought home the sort of nabob fortune people used to make long ago.
The art is lost now!"

"You might find it, I dare say, in some of the Useful Knowledge books."

"Yes! but I manage still better, by spending a fortune without
possessing one, which does quite as well, and gives me less trouble.
The hat is his who wears it, and the world is his who enjoys it."

"What a pity that very good people like the Crawfords are so often
atrociously disagreeable," observed Agnes, listlessly. "We must allow,
that in this world rogues are the majority; and as their good opinion
is the most easily gained, and the most easily kept, I wonder less
every day that some men are satisfied to secure that, and live upon
it."

"I wish I had either!" said Sir Patrick, laughing.

"The whole tribe of Crawfords are, in my opinion, seriously unpleasant,
with their airs of condescending stiffness and ineffable superiority,"
said Agnes, "never vouchsafing to appear, except at dinner, and
huddling out of sight the instant we rise. Those who desire to be
exclusive should take private lodgings, and not spoil a place like this
by any purseproud finery! They almost live with Marion and the
Granvilles; but I abhor that whole set!"

"So I do!" exclaimed Sir Patrick. "I hate their very parrot! He sits in
a golden cage at the window, looking over his nose at one in the most
exclusive manner imaginable. Old Crawford was a shop-boy in some
green-grocer's once, I believe; therefore, it really amused me
yesterday to hear him in the loud authoritative tone of a connoisseur,
finding fault with the sherry. I never pronounce upon any wine till I
have drunk a few dozen of it; but it is credibly reported, that the
Crawfords at home indulge in nothing but Cape Madeira and water. We,
who have been brought up upon claret, conform to custom with a better
grace. I should never think of putting the cellars here out of fashion,
by saying what I really think of them; but _entre nous_, the whole
contents are perfect poison. Of the two, I would rather drink the
Harrowgate waters, because they have at least the one merit of being
wholesome."

"Lord Doncaster seems to find the sherry drinkable," said Agnes dryly;
"and, as you say, 'he has cracked a bottle or two in his time.'"

"Very true! a really aristocratic man is so accustomed to everything of
the best, that he tolerates or enjoys the inconveniences of an inn or a
steamboat as an amusing variety," said Mrs. O'Donoghoe. "Besides which,
Miss Dunbar, between you and me and the post, Lord Doncaster is old,
and somewhat _passee_. You and he made quite a _tableau_ together this
evening; but take my word for it, Lord Doncaster is no chicken!"

"I need not take anybody's word for that! I have my eyes in my head
like others!" replied Agnes, rather sharply, and glancing towards a
distant corner of the room where Lord Doncaster was seated, with his
eye at the moment fixed on herself. "We may all see that he is not the
youngest man in the world; but he is certainly one of the most
agreeable!"

"Well! old or young," continued Mrs. O'Donoghoe, resuming her habitual
smile, "Lord Doncaster is my very particular friend, and if I meet him
ten times in a day, he shakes me by the hand as cordially the last time
as the first."

"Tiresome old bore!" replied Sir Patrick; "I would put my hand in my
pocket the second time, and tell him, once a-day must do!"

"Instead of putting it into an empty pocket, Sir Patrick, offer it to
one of the two Miss Crawfords," said Mrs. O'Donoghoe, rolling her eyes
affectedly round, like the wire-drawn eyes of a wax doll. "The old
nabob is so rich, that it took five India ships to carry home his
fortune, and he has settled his whole countless rupees on the young
ladies. What do you say, gentlemen?--one each? That tall may-pole, the
eldest, who looks as if she could eat her own shoulders off, will be a
great catch."

"She has proposed to me twenty times," replied Captain De Crespigny,
"but I am not to be had! It would be necessary for me to hang all her
relations, they are so vulgar! The second looks as fat and round as
from yesterday till next year; but if she were less like a turbot
standing on end, more like the person I admire most in the world, and
several years younger, possibly I might propose."

"If you thought she would have you," replied Mrs. O'Donoghoe, laughing,
"you would propose without minding the years. If a girl had eighteen
pence, you would propose instantly, for fear she might spend a shilling
of it!"

"I am told Miss Crawford was born in diamond ear-rings," said Agnes.
"She looks as if it had rained precious stones on her ever since,--as
if she had been pelted at the Carnival with diamonds instead of
sugar-plums! The price of blonde and feathers is raised in every town
where the Miss Crawfords arrive!----"

"The Miss Crawfords must not be ridiculed," interrupted Captain De
Crespigny, looking very magnanimous, "at least by any one except
myself! They are my preserve! They both dress in the last extreme of
jewellery to please me; and I am pleased. If I have a weakness in the
world, it is for dress; and, in my opinion, ladies ought all to shine
like glow-worms every night. Look at this indefinite article of a man
approaching! Tall, and covered with orders, he looks like a house
insured! Who can he be?"

"Never distress yourself about who people are," said Agnes. "Somebody's
son, I believe,--and somebody's nephew or cousin, with estates in all
the disturbed districts of Ireland."

"Very accurate and satisfactory! Watering-place imaginations are apt to
be a little inventive; like Cuvier, who described the whole history and
formation of any animal from seeing merely a single tooth! With that
bottle-green coat and all that light hair on the roof his head, he
looks like a bottle of porter newly drawn, and foaming at the top. It
makes me thirsty to see him."

"I excel particularly in biography," added Agnes, laughing. "That
tigerish-looking man you are inquiring about, with all the little stars
and bits of ribbon, had a whole regiment of horses killed under him at
Waterloo! He saw sixteen colonels of cavalry lose their heads that day
in battle, and he received fifteen mortal wounds himself, before he
left the field!"

"Agnes, your stories would be as difficult to bolt as the American
oyster, which it took three men to swallow whole! You remind me of the
man who contrived to place a fly's eye so that he could see through it,
and he found that it multiplied everything, till a single officer
appeared like a whole army. I never saw a man ride as that stranger did
this morning! His horse is a mere spider, and he jumped up and down in
the saddle like a cup and ball?" said Sir Patrick, laughing; "but the
climax of all his atrocities was, five minutes ago, when Marion
re-entered the room, I heard him request that the master of the
ceremonies would introduce him to one of my sisters! I am at a loss to
guess which, but here he comes, drawing on a splendid pair of gloves!"

"Pray do not let me be the victim!" said Agnes, shrinking back with a
contemptuous toss of the head. "I have no turn for teaching a bear to
dance! and I will not be made ridiculous by having such a partner! The
ugliest man I ever saw for nothing! Is he a human being?"

"For my part, I do not feel that being ridiculous or otherwise depends
on any one but myself," said Marion good-humoredly; "and if it will
make a man, all ribbons and orders of merit, happy, to perform a
quadrille, I have not the least objection to be his partner, especially
when he wears such very clean gloves!"

"Miss Dunbar!" said the master of the ceremonies, approaching Marion in
his most pompous manner, "allow me to introduce the Duke of Kinross!"

Marion accepted his Grace's offered arm, looking by no means so much
petrified at the unexpected rank of her partner as Agnes did, who
started, and colored with evident vexation, at having even in thought
rejected the greatest man in Harrowgate, the hero of all her castles in
the air, and one who was considered as eminent for ability as for rank.

"Well, Agnes!" exclaimed Sir Patrick, in a bantering tone, "for the
first time in a long life you have made a blunder. You who never, even
at chess, would play a pawn, if you could move a knight or a bishop, to
have actually rejected a ducal coronet. I thought that in general you
could draw out people's whole histories and characters like an
opera-glass, and see through them in a minute. You generally know
everybody's peculiarities and everybody's value, who everybody is, and
what everybody does, with notes and annotations of your own, all
original and authentic,--who have elder brothers to impoverish them,
and rich uncles to give them hopes,--in short, their whole biography
better than they know it themselves!"

"To be sure! I am an inestimable cicerone, 'honest, civil, obliging,
and thoroughly to be depended on!' Where other people have only two
eyes, I have three, and I make it my duty to ascertain who brings a
footman or an abigail, what carriages people travel in, what stay they
intend to make here, whether they hire a sitting-room, or lounge, like
Mrs. O'Donoghoe, in the public saloon! I do believe the well-informed
visitors at Harrowgate know exactly how much silver we carry in our
purses every day, and what our washing-bills amount to!"

"Not much in some cases!" said Captain De Crespigny, fixing his
satirical, mischievous glance on a shabby-genteel stranger who seemed
to be lurking near and watching the lively party with an evil eye.
"Look at this dark figure leaning against the door in a sort of Italian
bandit attitude, trying to look romantic with his arms stuck on like
crooked pins, his neckcloth perfectly strangling him, and his scarlet
waistcoat like a robin-red-breast!"

"Is there a man in a waistcoat!! where?" asked Agnes eagerly. "Another
Duke, I suppose. He seems like the picture of a robber in some sixpenny
story book. But how he stares at you, Captain De Crespigny! I declare
that look would pin me to the wall!"

"It is rather odd! Surely I have seen that man somewhere before! He
must have dressed my hair at Brighton, or measured me for a coat at
Dodd's. He is probably now the sort of £200 a-year man who wears a gold
chain and vagabondizes about perpetually from one watering place to
another! He seems by his look inclined to pick a quarrel with me; and,
if he does so, I feel pretty certain he ought already to be sent among
the velvets below stairs, which he certainly shall be without much
ceremony. What can the fellow mean by looking such daggers at me in
particular?"

"One addition is expected to the Crawford party to-night, which will
puzzle you all!" said Mrs. O'Donoghoe. "That enchanting suite of rooms
next the garden has been bespoken during the last three weeks, by some
person whose name is quite unguessable! The landlady says that Mr.
Crawford has made her solemnly promise never to divulge it! Now! there
is something worth knowing!--a dark unfathomable mystery in a place
like this, is perfectly inestimable!"

"I undertake to solve it in twenty-four hours!" exclaimed Sir Patrick,
with animation. "When there is a real undeniable secret to be ferreted
out, I am wider awake than most people! I can do everything but what is
impossible! If I fail, then, as the lawyer once pathetically exclaimed,
'may my head forget the wig that covers it!' What will you bet that I
succeed? Here is my betting-book to register our agreement; I never
stir without it!"

"I have no turn for betting my head off my shoulders; but you shall
have the Pigot diamond for your trouble!" replied Mrs. O'Donoghoe. "I
have been busy about it for three weeks in vain, going about
investigating, with my glass at my eye, like Paul Pry, but the maids
pretend to know nothing, and the landlady looks bursting with
mysterious importance whenever she speaks of her coming guests!"

"Then I am twice a man when there is anything to be found out!"
continued Sir Patrick. "If I had lived in the days of the Iron mask,
that affair would have been probed to the bottom, and laid open. I have
quite a genius for unravelling mysteries!"

"If so, I allow you three days for scrutinizing the expected _incognito_,
after which, do you promise and engage to furnish me with their numbers,
names, professions, ages, fortunes----"

"And expectations! certainly! Also to disclose why they came here, and
when they go away. Mrs. O'Donoghoe, I delight in difficulties, and
glory in conquering them! I abhor everything easy! Even if you were
easily pleased, I should have less pleasure in fascinating you."

At this moment, a plain travelling carriage suddenly swept round the
road leading towards the Granby, while in the clear moonlight it could
only be discerned that two footmen sat behind, and two lady's maids
were mounted on the dickey; but before the rush of gentlemen towards
the lobby, which usually takes place on such occasions, could be
successfully achieved, the chariot stopped at a garden-gate beyond the
usual entrance, while in the dusky obscurity the most penetrating eye
could not discover who or what alighted. A torrent of waiters streamed
along the passages, a noisy outcry was heard summoning the landlady,
every bell in the house seemed ringing simultaneously, and Captain De
Crespigny was surprised to observe the dark, stern-looking stranger
standing near the door, as if he belonged to the party, and yet did not
wish to be seen.

A procession of four wax candles, and a tea tray proceeding afterwards
towards the newly occupied sitting-room, was all that the most
enterprising observers could discover; and as there were but three
cups, and Mr. Crawford was known to have joined the party, it became
very plausibly conjectured by Sir Patrick that there were but two new
arrivals.

The supper-bell had been rung that evening about ten minutes, and a
numerous bevy of gentlemen collected round it, varied by a scanty
sprinkling of ladies. The table was covered with wine glasses and
crystal decanters enough to fill a glass shop, with not a drop of
anything visible to drink, except cold spring water; each gentleman had
half a pigeon on his plate, and each lady a glass of jelly before her.
The uproar of waiters, plates, and tongues, and glasses had subsided,
and the conversation was at so low an ebb, that there seemed every
probability of the whole party being found asleep in their chairs next
morning, when suddenly their attention was roused by the door being
hurriedly opened by the _soi-disant_ gentleman entering, who had
already excited the notice of Captain De Crespigny.

Besides the eager curiosity felt in every small community, to see every
one recently added to their number, this was a gentleman whom few of
the company had seen before, and such a gentleman as is seldom seen
anywhere. His dark hair hung in wild profusion over his head. There was
an extraordinary wildness, almost amounting to ferocity, in his eyes,
which had the restless glare of a wild beast's, as he quickly glanced
round the table, while his pale haggard features, and the strong
compression of his upper lip, gave him an air of irritable melancholy,
along with a look of flustered, anxious suspicion quite unaccountable.
He seemed annoyed at having attracted any observation, while, if
Banquo's ghost had appeared, the apparition could scarcely have
awakened more attention, as the party had little to do, and nothing
else to think of.

"One would fancy a kangaroo had come in to supper!" muttered he,
angrily, glancing round with a look of scorching hatred at Captain De
Crespigny, and drawing his chair near Mrs. O'Donoghoe, who was almost
the only lady still remaining. He then cut himself a supply of cold
veal, that might have dined a couple of grouse-shooters, with ham in
proportion, not at all carved on the Vauxhall pattern, and glancing at
all the observant eyes around the table, he added, endeavoring to look
in a more amiable mood, while a most unpleasing attempt at a smile for
a moment disturbed his features; "I see, gentlemen, you are somewhat
amazed at my powers of mastication! I am not Dando; but let me tell you
I could finish all we see, and pick the bones of that turkey besides.
What man in his senses would profess to be hungry, and sit down to half
a pigeon! You seem to be quite a Temperance Society here! Fifteen jugs
of water in regimental order round the table! The waiters must have
bottled off the Thames!"

A suppressed whisper ran round the table, circulating many wondering
conjectures who the stranger could possibly be, for there appeared a
vehemence in his tone, and an irritability in his eye most repulsive
and peculiar.

"That man looks as if he had stepped forth ready made, from one of Mrs.
Radcliffe's romances," exclaimed Mrs. O'Donoghoe, in an apprehensive
tone, as she strolled away from the table. "Who can he be?"

"One of the swell mob! I remember his picking my pocket in Bond Street,
last spring," replied Captain De Crespigny, confidentially. "Did you
not observe his bunch of skeleton keys."

"You are quite mistaken," interposed Sir Patrick. "He is one of the
garden-room party. I saw him waiting for them in the passage; people of
prodigious fortune I assure you! Their names are--no matter what! but
they have estates in--I don't know how many counties!"

"He has rather an aristocratic look!" added Mrs. O'Donoghoe. "The sort
of arbitrary air, as if he were accustomed to command a regiment!"

"More like an unengaged actor from one of the minor theatres, or a
travelling dancing master. They are very well got up sometimes, and he
is exactly according to the last 'gentleman's fashions for the month,'"
said Captain De Crespigny. "But certainly in some shape or other, a
strolling gentleman-beggar; probably, like the dustman's dog, he
answers to any name."

"Perhaps," added Sir Patrick, laughing, "one of those innumerable
lecturers on astronomy, who are constantly tormenting me with
prospectuses. If any man whatever is in distress, he puts on a decent
coat, and announces a popular course of lectures, in which he makes the
comets ten times hotter than ever, and the stars as many millions of
miles distant as he pleases, shows plenty of diagrams, talks big about
Sir Isaac Newton, gives a dissertation on the political economy of the
moon; tells a few anecdotes, hazards a few conjectures, doubts what
everybody believes, or believes what everybody doubts, and his bread is
baked. I mean to try the plan myself some day!"

"Depend upon it, he is a peer of the realm," added Mrs. O'Donoghoe,
more imperatively than before. "I heard that Lord Wakefield was
expected to-day. His sister, Lady Jane, whom I saw once at a
Spitalfields ball, was thin, with dark hair, exactly in that style."

"I have no doubt he is an Earl one day, and a Duke the next, as it
happens to suit his fancy; and if you look well at him, Mrs.
O'Donoghoe, he has a coronet tattooed on his forehead," whispered
Captain De Crespigny. "That is the very last new fashion for peers."

"Coronets are falling into great disuse now; so I am glad they are to
be displayed any where," replied Agnes. "Lady Towercliffe's eldest son,
Lord St. Abbe, used to have one embroidered on his pinafore; but the
coronet on Lord Doncaster's chariot now is almost invisible, and not
larger than you would use for the seal of a note."

"I know whose taste ought to be paramount in ordering the next carriage
bearing the Doncaster arms," whispered Captain De Crespigny, throwing a
world of arch expression into his countenance. "How exceedingly well
our shield would look quartered with the lion rampant, and the eight
roses of the Dunbars!"

Agnes did not, as she would have done formerly, on hearing so broad an
insinuation, look down and blush, or attempt to blush; but she fixed a
long and searching look on Captain De Crespigny, during which her large
lustrous eyes betrayed an inward struggle between the interest with
which she would once have gathered up every expression of her voice,
and the lurking angry suspicion she now felt of his sincerity; but her
confidence was in some degree restored, when, keeping up a lively
dialogue till the last moment, he assumed his most becoming looks, and
escorted her to the door.

"Pray, Miss Dunbar," said he gravely, "will you give me a very serious
answer to a very serious question?"

"Perhaps I may," replied Agnes, looking rather startled.

"Then, whether do you think ladies or gentlemen are the greatest
humbugs?"

"Gentlemen, certainly; for they often pretend to feel what they do not,
but ladies conceal what they do."



CHAPTER XXXIII.


Marion and Sir Arthur were engaged next morning to meet the Granvilles
at breakfast in the private parlor of Mrs. Crawford, and they had
advanced considerably in the consumption of their muffin and first cup
of tea, when a very plainly dressed young lady glided into the room
with a timid, agitated step, and giving a slight nod to the party,
silently seated herself beside Marion, who, in compassion to her
apparent shyness, averted her eyes. She seemed recently recovered from
an illness, being thin and emaciated to excess, while it appeared as if
her hair had been entirely shaved off, as she wore a cap fitting close
to her face, and neither curl nor braid to vary the almost spectral
whiteness of her whole aspect. Marion ventured a second glance at the
interesting invalid, and observed a smile quivering about her mouth,
which she seemed vainly endeavoring to suppress, and a sly glance
towards herself, which enlightened her in a moment, for, with an
exclamation of joy, she sprang from her seat and was instantly
embraced, with laughing delight, by her old friend Caroline, whom she
had lately learned to know as Miss Howard, the heiress of countless
thousands,--not the more, nor the less dear to her on that account, but
still the beloved companion of all her early frolics and school
enjoyments.

"I wished to try your powers of recognition, and Sir Arthur's," said
Caroline, with tears of laughing and almost hysterical joy. "I am
changed--greatly changed, so that my best friends could scarcely
recognise me, and if my enemies were also deceived it would be well.
Dear Marion! I am still pursued and persecuted by that wretched madman,
the terror of our school days, the horror of all my subsequent life! My
aunt finds her nerves so shattered with the whole affair, that our kind
friends here have undertaken me for a week or two, and it is thought
that, amidst the crowd collected at Harrowgate, I may be in comparative
safety. My life has been rendered almost a burden to me in the country,
where not a corner of the earth seemed safe from that wretched
creature's intrusions, and it is thought that he must bribe some of our
servants to betray all my plans; yet, among them all, I scarcely know
whom to suspect or whom to trust! Remember, dear Marion, that here I am
to be treated as some humble cousin of Mr. Crawford's, and on no
account let your brother, or a living soul in the house, suspect that
you ever saw me before. Agnes also must keep my secret, and Mrs.
O'Donoghoe, who has heard nothing of my real history, agrees to be my
_chaperon_."

"Then you should adopt her name, for Patrick always calls the widow,
'Mrs. I-don't-know-who.'"

The most agreeable conversations are those of which there is generally
least to be repeated, and that which followed round the cheerful
breakfast-table at Mr. Crawford's, was carried tranquilly on, in a
pleasing animated tone, on subjects of immediate interest as well as of
permanent importance, showing, in the most prepossessing colors,
characters, and feelings, inspired by the finest impulses which adorn
the heart and mind of a Christian. Amidst the enlightened discussions
and unreserved vivacity of a conversation, displaying the ease and
fascination of high life, without its flippancy, frivolity, and
pretension, those who have lived to discover that what is called the
gay world, is sometimes but a dull world after all, might there have
learned for what important purposes the power of speech and the power
of thought have been given, if rightly used and enjoyed. There was the
joyous relaxation of happy hearts and well-ordered minds, without the
effervescence of empty affectation, or the flash of bewildering
excitement, which Marion had lately been accustomed to find among those
who seemed little better employed than Domitian of old, in catching
flies, and who prefer living upon exaggerated trifles, to enjoying that
calm, rational and intellectual intercourse which is registered in the
heart for ever.

With feelings of deep and animated pleasure, Marion gathered from Mr.
Granville a rich harvest of sound opinions, amiable sentiments, and
original ideas, while, with the free-masonry of real attachment, many a
sentence, which seemed addressed by him to the whole company, attained
its full meaning only in her heart. Richard was very seldom, as Agnes
expressed it, "tuned up to nonsense pitch." He wasted none of his hours
on the mere flummeries of conversation, but the frequent sparkling of
his wit shone the brighter for its occasional gravity; and never had
Marion seen him in a more buoyant and happy frame than now, when
developing the thoughts and affections of a mind and heart cultivated
to the highest tone of refinement, fortified by the strongest
principles of religion, and imbued with a supreme regard for all that
is noble, generous, or graceful in the conduct and characters.

To Sir Arthur, the social circle imparted feelings of inestimable
happiness. He had long considered human life as having nothing left for
him now, but the one great opportunity to prepare for eternity, not to
be trifled away in its smallest details; and he had remarked to Marion
the evening before, after spending an hour in the public saloon, "I
tire more of that Vanity Fair in the next room, than I would of
breaking stones on the road! I should become an idiot before long, if I
lived the sort of butterfly-life they do here, in a whirl of exhausting
and frivolous amusement."

The respectful deference paid by Mr. Granville to his age, his
infirmities, and his high character, was in itself most gratifying to
Sir Arthur; but more than all, he now saw his beloved Marion,
surrounded by those who loved and valued her, the happiest of the
happy. Inspired by the desire of pleasing, and unchecked by any fear of
being misunderstood or misrepresented, there was now a spirit and
originality in her expressions, and a native eloquence in what she
said, enlivened and assisted by a sunlight brilliancy sparkling in her
eyes, and beaming in her whole countenance, which was beautiful to
behold, while her partial and affectionate uncle thought there was
poetry in her look, and music in every tone of her voice.

Their discussions diverged after a time to the scenery and remarkable
places around Harrowgate, while Mr. Granville, deeply read in
antiquity, described with picturesque and most felicitous effect, all
that seemed best worth visiting in the neighborhood, enlivening his
animated sketches with many amusing remarks and original anecdotes, and
giving to everything he treated upon, some new and unexpected interest,
while Mr. Crawford varied the subject by an entertaining comparison of
what he had seen and known abroad, particularly as connected with the
Roman Catholics of Italy and France.

The convent which existed near Harrowgate having come under
consideration, Mr. Crawford described at great length what he had seen
there during a visit which he had paid to it many years before, and
recounted several almost traditionary anecdotes of former times, in
which the names of Lord Doncaster and the Abbe Mordaunt, became almost
insensibly blended, very much to their discredit, while Marion
reflected with wonder and regret that such men were frequently now the
chosen attendants of her own young and beautiful sister. There was
degradation even in their looks, and still more in their conversation;
but she hoped, trusted, and believed that the Abbe's influence would be
terminated when Agnes discovered that his attentions were not really
likely to influence those of Captain De Crespigny.

Mr. Crawford mentioned with peculiar and melancholy interest the very
beautiful niece of the Abbe Mordaunt, whom it was evident that he had
intimately known, and very greatly admired, while he awakened the
keenest interest in Marion and Miss Howard, by alluding to an abortive
attempt he had made at Beaujolie Castle, to take a last leave of Miss
Mordaunt, after she had been beguiled into forsaking the faith of her
fathers, and was supposed to be on the point of retiring within the
walls of a convent.

Marion could not but smile at the description given by Mr. Crawford, of
his first and last visit to Lord Doncaster, when he had called at
Beaujolie Castle sixteen years before, at which time the aged peer,
though leading a life of retirement, made it by no means a life of
solitude, as the vices of his early years enslaved him then as they
enslaved him still, and the libertine of fifty years then, was a
libertine now, when tottering on the brink of death. It became evident
that the proprietor of Beaujolie Castle, though a great lord, was by no
means in any respect a great man, being penurious in everything except
the indulgence of his own vices and superstition.

"It makes me shiver yet," said Mr. Crawford, "to remember the large
cold hall, paved with a curious mosaic of black and white marble, and
the chilling, uninhabited room into which I was first ushered. Your
uncle, Lord Doncaster, Miss Howard, never at that time associated with
any living individual of his own rank in life. Those who do not
cultivate good society, are always in bad; and it was supposed that he
had strong reasons against admitting any one to his residence. The
drawing-room was like a lantern with windows on every side, the floor
so polished that it might have taken fire from the perpetual friction,
and a scanty Turkish carpet served but to cover half the slippery
floor."

"I always wish, in such a room, to be rough-shod," said Sir Arthur, "or
to wear skates."

"You will remember, Miss Howard, that no foot was ever allowed by your
uncle to tread on its icy surface," continued Mr. Crawford, smiling.
"But pathways of green baize were laid along the floor in every
possible direction, where it could be supposed that any reasonable
person might desire to walk. A broad line stretched from the door to
the fire-place, and tributary streams of baize branched off towards the
sofa in one direction, and the writing-table in another, while directly
leading towards an invisible door in the book-case, was a still
narrower stripe, which it required some skill to keep upon rigidly."

"Were no sign-posts raised to point out the proper direction for
travellers?" asked Marion. "Nor threats of prosecution held up in case
of a trespass?"

"No! but I certainly did commit one unawares, for while examining the
invisible door, it accidentally flew open, when a lady whom I could not
distinctly see, hastily concealed herself, and beside her stood,
without exception, the most beautiful boy I ever beheld, bright and
radiant like a cherub. When I called him forward, he laughingly
disappeared, and no sooner did I leave that room, than the door was
hastily locked inside."

"It sounds like the prettiest romance imaginable!" exclaimed Marion,
eagerly. "In that old house, and among so many ancient portraits, what
could be more picturesque?"

"A poor relation of Lord Doncaster was at this time the talk of all
Yorkshire for her beauty," added Mr. Crawford. "Young De Crespigny,
then almost a boy, had come home, I remember hearing, and admired her
only too much; but whether she married, or what became of her, perhaps
you will tell me, Miss Howard, as I never heard?"

"Then you are not informed of all that has occurred in the world during
your natural life, though you seem very nearly so!" replied Caroline.
"Whenever I hear a story told, I like to put a hat on its head, a stick
in its hand, and to send it travelling rapidly round the world; but the
mystery relating to Mary Anstruther was, like that of poor Miss
Mordaunt, and of others in the same house, carefully hushed up, and my
uncle's family soon after moved to Scotland. Louis De Crespigny was,
even then, I am told, formed to gain and to keep the heart of any girl,
with a perfect consciousness of his own powers, and very little scruple
in using them!"

"He still has a very deep sense of his own supernatural merits,"
observed Marion, "and finds many admirers to agree with him, though I
think his uncle must have been still handsomer once. The features of
both are very peculiar!"

"I often think," said Caroline, coloring and hesitating, "that Sir
Arthur's young friend, Henry De Lancey, looks as if the whole family of
Doncaster had been distilled into one. He has the hair dark as
midnight, for which my uncle was so celebrated; that remarkable
drooping eyelid, too, as if his eye-lashes were too heavy to be lifted
with ease, and the magnificent outline of his profile."

"You are right," exclaimed Sir Arthur, in a deep, low, musing tone.
"The madman, Howard or Anstruther, who acted so long as my clerk, and
still persecutes you, once hinted something of the kind, in an
unguarded moment. I have been ever since on the watch to strengthen the
clue, but in vain. If I could but live to see that mystery solved!"

"You shall!" said Caroline playfully. "What should hinder you? I must
make it my business now, to ferret out more respecting the story of
that Miss Mordaunt, which has faded into oblivion, like the thousand
other wonders of the past.

    Of course, she lived until she died; but where,
    Or when, I never heard; nor you nor I need care."

"But I do care," said Sir Arthur, earnestly. "It seems to me, as if
there were here some scattered links of the chain by which we might
discover Henry's origin. Truth has been too long already at the bottom
of a well; but we must invent some diving-bell to bring her up! It
would give me satisfaction, whatever his connexions are, to identify
them!"

"May he live to wonder at his own good fortune!" said Caroline, gaily.
"People must exist twenty years in the world, as I have done, before
they can find out what a strange place it is, and what extraordinary
changes occur here sometimes."

Pleasure has a time-piece of its own, which certainly does not adhere
to the ordinary measure, for hours and minutes most perversely run on,
always fastest when it would be most agreeable that their course should
be delayed. Marion seemed to awaken from a dream of enjoyment, when Sir
Arthur struck his repeater at last, and found he had remained till
nearly the hour of luncheon; but, before the party dispersed, they
agreed to meet often with closed doors, in the same sociable way; and,
exchanging a thousand pleasing plans and anticipations of coming
enjoyment together during the following few weeks, they then separated.



CHAPTER XXXIV.


High Harrowgate, where the more aristocratic strangers and invalids
annually resort, is nearly two miles distant from the mineral well, and
from Low Harrowgate, which is infested by the more inveterate class of
water drinkers. Placed far from the offensive odour of the medicated
spring, on an elevated common, which still remains bare in all the
uncultivated barrenness of nature, the broad green expanse is
surrounded on every side by a wreath of miscellaneous buildings of
every size and shape, cottages, shops, lodgings, houses, villas, and
hotels, all marshalled in a row, and, like guests at the ordinary,
mingled without order or distinction; while, elevated above all, and
conspicuous for its whitewashed front and innumerable windows, stood
the extensive building in which Sir Arthur had his sleeping apartments.
Its aspect was extremely ancient, with a venerable stone roof peculiar
to old times, and testifying to its great antiquity; while the more
modern slates, or even thatch, on the surrounding dwellings, indicated
a recent construction.

At High Harrowgate, a crowd of large consequential-looking hotels may
be observed on every side, all unusually extensive in their
accommodation, and apparently of nearly equal calibre; but visitors,
after residing there some time, become aware that to those who
prescribe gaiety, as well as more salubrious air and water for
themselves, there are but three hotels in Harrowgate. Invalids may be
ill anywhere, and personages who wish to be exceedingly exclusive
retreat into private lodgings; but for anything that can be dignified
with the name of society at an ordinary, the Granby, the Crown, and the
Dragon, have by mutual agreement, established a singular monopoly,
giving balls every alternate night, to which the guests in each house
are reciprocally invited; the ladies and gentlemen of the Granby and
Crown requesting the honor of being patronized at a ball on the
following night; and each hotel provides a carriage for the
transportation of its own party, in case any of the distinguished
guests should happen by chance not to have brought their private
carriages. Meantime, it is rather arbitrarily taken for granted, that
there are neither ladies nor gentlemen at Gascognes, Queen's, the White
Swan, or the Black; but residents at these houses are allowed to appear
on sufferance, though not as invited guests; being merely "winked at."

At a Harrowgate dinner the travellers take precedence more according to
the length of their bills than by any other criterion, those who have
resided a month in the hotel going before those who have resided only a
week, and the visitors of a week being far in advance of all who
arrived the day before. A Peer of the realm must sit below his tailor,
if he arrived at the house after him, and no dispute about places can
arise, as each individual's name is accurately ascertained in the
morning, and a plate turned upside down on the table opposite where he
is intended to sit, with his name distinctly written in ink on the
china. A label is also attached to each bottle of wine, exhibiting, not
the name of the wine, but the name of its owner, and half an hour
before dinner, all the gossiping world at each inn, may be observed
slowly pacing round the table, and carefully reading the name, style,
and title of those with whom they are about to dine, illustrating their
remarks by exchanging biographical anecdotes and remembrances connected
with each successive person, as he comes under discussion. Thus, though
many arrive at Harrowgate strangers whose "names were never heard,"
yet, after passing through the ordeal of this gossiping committee,
stories and circumstances are gradually discovered or invented, by
which each individual is in some degree identified.

Between High and Low Harrowgate, besides a broad, circuitous high-road,
two pleasant rural paths lead through the fields, on which a
gaily-dressed crowd may be seen from peep of day in the morning,
hurrying along in rapid succession to the well, with looks of
anticipated disgust in the prospect of that strange compound of horrors
which they are about to swallow, only comparable to the washings of an
old gun-barrel. As Sir Arthur remarked, these waters seemed to have
been invented for the especial affliction of elderly gentlemen,
processions of whom might be observed drinking tuns of water, in order
that complexions evidently much the worse of wear might in the process
of renovation, be mended, cleaned, dyed, and repaired, till they looked
as good as new; and though the Admiral complained that, to his
uncomfortable feelings, it always seemed as if he had swallowed the
tumbler itself, yet he valiantly persevered in daily drinking bumpers
to his own health, saying that what was good for so many others, would
be good for his complaint, if he had one, though, except old age and
blindness, he was conscious of none.

In consequence of Sir Patrick's bet with Mrs. O'Donoghoe, he was on the
alert at an early hour before breakfast the next morning, to ascertain
who the incognitos were in the garden room. For nearly an hour he
sauntered on the common within sight of the Granby, exchanging gay
observations with those who passed, listening with a satirical smile to
Lord Wigton, who was practising to desperation some of Rossini's airs
at an open window, and watching with astonishment the repulsive
stranger of the preceding evening, who, closely buttoned up in a
military surtout, with his hat slouched over his face, was rapidly
pacing up and down, with ceaseless perseverance, close to the garden
room, with his eye fixed upon the windows and doors, making apparently
so accurate a survey of those private apartments, that had it been by
night instead of by day, he might almost have been arrested on
suspicion of intending to attempt a burglarious entrance.

Not a mouse seemed stirring within these rooms, the blinds were all
drawn down, and the doors all closed, but still the stranger paced
rapidly up and down, casting many impatient, irritable glances upwards
on the silent walls, yet keeping himself so concealed that no one,
looking suddenly out, could have perceived him lurking there. Sir
Patrick now, for the first time, suspected that he did not belong to
the party within, and became more and more interested in observing his
various eccentric movements, which betrayed a high state of excitement,
till at length, finding himself watched, with the quickness of
lightning he suddenly vanished round a projecting corner of the
building, though a few moments afterwards Sir Patrick perceived that he
was concealed in a thicket of trees not far off, where he could still
keep his eye fastened on the windows with unswerving steadiness.

Parties, meantime, hurried onwards to Low Harrowgate to do duty at the
well, while some of the loungers had already returned, being full
charged with their quantum of water, and all very loudly expressing
their astonishment that Sir Patrick had not yet set forth to hear the
military band, which was reported to be playing "beautifully!
enchantingly! or detestably!" according to the humor of those who
spoke.

The crowd was on this day so excessive, that the old well had been
completely exhausted, and alarming apprehensions were entertained by
the invalids, of a scarcity for the later visitors, but still Sir
Patrick stirred not! Though not usually endowed with excessive interest
in any affairs but his own, the movements of the mysterious stranger,
and his look of feverish anxiety, engrossed almost the whole of Sir
Patrick's thoughts, though, to avoid any appearance of espionage, he
kept up a lively dialogue with Mrs. O'Donoghoe and Captain De
Crespigny.

Marion in the mean time had been exceedingly amused by the scene which
usually takes place at the well, where every face seemed as if laboring
under the nausea of sea-sickness, and she stood for some time with Sir
Arthur and Mr. Granville, laughingly studying physiognomy, as parties
arrived in rapid succession, threw off a tumbler of smoking horrors,
and instantly departed, while a row of shabbily-dressed women, standing
behind a stone counter, hurriedly filled the glasses, and handed them
over in a long wooden ladle, to the expectant invalids, one by one, who
were waiting patiently or impatiently for their turn. Each of the great
hotels had an emissary appointed here, whose business it was to attend
on their respective guests with the proper allowance of water, and it
seemed as if these old women knew by a sort of instinct those who
belonged to their own house; but an angry contest having taken place
respecting one gentleman, who was obliged to wait with resignation or
without it, till the belligerent parties had decided whose privilege it
was to kill or cure him, Marion's attention was more peculiarly
attracted to the spot, where one of the women who assisted in serving
out the general beverage had been hitherto screened from her notice.
Her face was excessively muffled up, but in the little that remained
visible, traces of beauty still remained, though her features were so
attuned to suffering, that Marion with wonder and pity contemplated so
pale and ghastly a form. At length a dim idea stole into her mind, that
surely she had seen that face before, but while the floating
remembrance yet continued to flicker indistinctly through her mind, the
wretched-looking woman, with a startled glance, had vanished.

"Patrick!" whispered Marion, turning to take her brother's arm, "do
patronize me for one minute! Did you observe that melancholy-looking
woman at the well? I never saw so blighted a countenance! What can the
sorrows be that stamped such a look of ghastly woe upon these beautiful
features?"

Marion looked up for a reply, and started to find that she had
inadvertently taken the arm of Captain De Crespigny, whose usual
vivacity and presence of mind seemed at this moment to have entirely
forsaken him. His eyes were straining after the receding figure of the
stranger, with an air of eager astonishment and alarm, while his
countenance had become white as death. In a moment, however, he
recovered himself, when Marion, with an exclamation of surprise, had
drawn away her hand, making a hurried apology for her mistake.

"Did you not recognise her?" asked he, in accents of almost tremulous
agitation. "It could be no one else! Surely that must have
been--Dixon?"

"It was!" exclaimed Marion, breathlessly. "How has she come here? what
can she want? where is Agnes?"

"This must be inquired into!" muttered Captain De Crespigny, almost
inaudibly; and then resuming his usual careless vivacity of tone and
manner, he entreated Marion to let him benefit by the fortunate
resemblance of his dress to Sir Patrick's, and still continue to escort
her. "I envy Dunbar for the privilege whenever he enjoys it, for you
shun me like a rattle-snake," added he, in his most insinuating tone;
"yet I would not for worlds be your brother."

"It is but a troublesome office," replied Marion, looking anxiously
round for Sir Arthur, who had walked on a few minutes before, leaning
on Mr. Granville, and most impatiently did she long for their return,
being always on the alert to shun Captain De Crespigny without
appearing to do so. Though, like all other persons, amused and
enlivened by his whimsical and diverting style of conversation, which
had more even in the manner than in the words, and though with any
friend of her brother's it pained her courteous nature to be otherwise
than frank and good humored, yet she made a principle of unobtrusively
evading his assiduities, not only because his conduct to Agnes had been
and still continued unpardonably dishonorable, but she felt indignant
to think that he was disposed to beguile his leisure by also
captivating and deluding herself. It was obvious that whenever she
entered the room, he became silent and embarrassed with every one else,
and took the first opportunity of devoting himself exclusively to her.
Not giving one shadow of belief to all his professions, when Marion was
obliged to listen, she did so with unconcealed indignation on finding
the same insinuations of attachment made to herself which had been
repeated to her formerly with triumphant credulity by Agnes. Marion
thoroughly despised his double dealing and ungenerous trifling, while
feeling nothing for him on that score but contempt, she could almost
have rejoiced that he wasted his efforts to be irresistible on one who,
being so fully aware of his character, could incur no danger from the
fascinations which had been fatal to the peace of many. Safe in the
consciousness of a hallowed attachment to Mr. Granville, and convinced
that Captain De Crespigny was incapable of a single genuine feeling,
she could scarcely have considered it necessary even to be repulsive in
her manner; but it seemed due to Agnes as much as possible to avoid
him, knowing that her sister had not yet been able entirely to divest
herself of a lingering belief that the professions which were false to
all others were sincere to herself.

For the first time in his whole acquaintance with lady-kind, Captain De
Crespigny felt doubtful and diffident of his own fascinations, and for
the first time also he felt himself really and undeniably in love, as
the transparent single-hearted excellence of Marion's character seemed,
when compared with the hackneyed and artificial mind of her sister, and
all other girls, like the difference between a pure mountain breeze and
a London fog. The attachment he so often affected had now become
genuine, and the feelings he formerly invented for amusement, and
expressed with the utmost fluency, were now so real, that they could
scarcely be spoken at all; for language seemed to fail him when he
addressed Marion, and every day, as it increased his attachment,
diminished his hope. She had no vulgar love of admiration; and Captain
De Crespigny was mortified to perceive, that while the color mounted to
her cheek at the slightest evidence of affection from her uncle or
brother, all his own hints of a preference, all his fascinating
attentions and irresistible speeches, were listened to with the same
smiling good humor as if they had been devoted to a third person.
Marion always made some ready reply, without a _soupcon_ of
embarrassment, and seemed to take compliments, reproaches, love, or
despair, all as matters of course, which must inevitably be listened to
with the same indulgent consideration she would have bestowed on Lord
Doncaster's lamentations respecting his last attack of the gout. She
did not even pay him the compliment to drop a single stitch in her
knitting from agitation or from interest when he spoke to her; but all
his words passed away like arrows flitting through the air, which leave
not a trace behind.

Captain De Crespigny became, this morning, more than usually assiduous
while they stood beside the well, referring to Marion's opinion on
every subject, quoting what he remembered her formerly to have said,
rejoicing in everything that seemed to give her pleasure, regretting
the most trifling annoyance that fell in her way, approving of all her
sentiments, and talking in raptures of old Sir Arthur, while eyes,
smiles, voice, and manner, all indicated the feelings he wished to
convey; but Marion merely congratulated herself, that having seen the
cards already, she knew the game he was playing.

"Miss Dunbar!" said Captain De Crespigny, rushing eagerly forward to
pick up a flower which the wind had blown out of her bouquet, "may I
keep this rose?"

"Certainly! any gentleman may take a flower; but I never give one.
There are twenty better in the garden."

"I would give all the twenty for this one. This is more precious than
anything except the hand that gives it. Indeed this is the only rose in
the world I care for!"

"The white moss-rose is more fragrant, and not so common," answered
Marion, indifferently. "That was beautiful an hour since, though rather
the worse of wear now."

"I am so unalterable in my preferences, that even though withered and
decayed, still it would be precious to me, as connected with
recollections which I shall cherish till the world's end, and till the
end of time! Flowers speak a language which words cannot express; and
even if mine were to fade in an hour, let me enjoy it while I may. This
rose does not hoard all its sweetness, as you do!"

"Captain De Crespigny, if your conversation has a fault in the world,
it is too plain, matter-of-fact, and unadorned," said Marion, with a
careless laugh. "You have wasted a whole summer of lilies and roses
upon me during the last five minutes, and I ought to answer you with a
perfect conservatory in return; but it sounds dreadfully like the
double-distilled essence of the Minerva press. I thought this very
flourishing style of compliment had been worn out now, and given over,
as old clothes are, to the race of abigails and valets. But here comes
my sister; and, to speak in your own fashion, remember '_je ne suis pus
la rose, mais j'ai vecu avec elle_.'"

To Marion's astonishment, Agnes merely strolled past, with her eyes
earnestly fixed upon nothing, and did not interrupt her conversation
with Lord Doncaster and the Abbe Mordaunt, by whom she was escorted,
except to give a smiling nod to Captain De Crespigny, who seemed
exceedingly surprised at her indifferent "how-d'e-do" manner, and
excessively piqued at the carelessness she either felt or feigned,
saying, in a tone of satirical wonder:

"The Abbe seems to have every probability of gaining a proselyte! He
has been very successful among the lower orders lately, though; I
believe, my uncle's ale and roast beef ought to receive great part of
the credit; but I cannot be sufficiently astonished at our new
convert!"

"I must discuss this subject with my sister!" replied Marion, pleased
to observe Captain De Crespigny so much interested in Agnes. "It is
wrong to have delayed so long asking an explanation; but I could almost
more easily die for those I love, than distress them. My uncle would
care too much on the subject, and Patrick too little; therefore it must
devolve upon me to speak. We are to have a long drive, soon. Let me
consider! this is Tuesday--to-morrow will be Wednesday----"

"How clever of you to find that out! You would certainly have
discovered the longitude!"

"No doubt of that! I have discovered a great deal in my time; but in
the meanwhile I shall talk this over fully with Agnes to-morrow."

"Do not speak of to-morrow, when to-day is the happiest, perhaps, in my
life! I wish there were no to-morrows! Such an hour as this appears to
me like an aloe, which can blossom only once in my existence."

"You entertain very moderate expectations of life, therefore I think we
may confidently rely on your being agreeably surprised by many days as
pleasant."

"Then they must be passed in the same society; but Miss Dunbar, it
always seems as if you would rather say 'Good bye' to me than 'How d'ye
do!' You treat me with the most barbarous injustice! Your heart never
teaches you to understand mine! Is it that you hate or despise me? You
are so amiable to others, so charming, so everything that I could
admire, yet to me your smiles are as cold and chilling as a moon-beam
on snow. Be severe, satirical, anything but half absent and altogether
indifferent, while you listen to me only with the ear and not at all
with the heart. I shall positively be obliged at last to give you up."

"I wish you would! We might be the best of friends as well as cousins,
if you would only talk to me in an everyday manner, without rehearsing
over those absurd Romeo-and-Juliet speeches."

"Let us, then, be friends now, and more than friends in time to come."

"Never! O never! Patrick has led you to disbelieve my engagement to
another; but at all events, Captain De Crespigny, if we lived in
separate planets we could not be more entirely divided; and even in
jest, I cannot allow any one to talk as you do, though I know it is
merely an unconquerable habit you have of saying the same thing to
every young lady, indiscriminately."

"What a shocking aspersion! you seem to think me incapable of a single
respectable feeling, but believe me, since first we met I have scarcely
known whether there be another girl in the world but yourself! Every
moment I can be with you adds something to the value of my existence."

"Your civilities are all so complete a burlesque that I need never
forget they are in jest!" replied Marion, looking considerably bored,
and hurrying onwards, while Captain De Crespigny buried himself in
melancholy silence, and assumed a most perfect attitude of graceful
despair. Finding the pause rather awkward, she added, in an every day,
commonplace tone: "Are you going to hear Grisi to-night? I am told that
large sums are given for places on the heads of those who have already
secured seats!"

"If I go to Grisi's concert, the temptation is--not to hear him--that
you know very well--too well! I have but one object in going anywhere,
and that is--to meet you. _Esperer aupres de vous vaut mieux que jouir
avec tout autre._ I must quarrel with that little shake of the head.
It is a libel on my sincerity! Miss Dunbar, your face is a perfect
printing press, and publishes all you think! I wish you possessed the
magic ring which enabled people to know exactly what was thought of
them! You are in my debt several months of devoted attachment! Little
do you guess how often and how deeply your slightest words are
pondered, remembered, repeated, and dwelt upon in my solitary hours,
nor how constantly I wish that the man in the moon, who employs his
leisure in knitting people together with invisible cords, would, for my
especial happiness, give us a few stitches."

"It must be his fault that we have been kept so very long together this
morning. Where can my uncle be?" said Marion, impatiently. "You are
aware already, Captain De Crespigny, that I must receive all my
brother's friends with civility. In that respect his authority shall be
obeyed, as it is of no use quarreling with the wind, but if you
consider me indifferent, that is what I am and ought to be, therefore
think me so always."

"That very indifference is distracting! Let me acknowledge, Miss
Dunbar, that I may have deceived others, but you I never even wished to
deceive; others I have flattered, but no one can flatter you, because
nothing can be said equal to what I think. I wish new words could be
invented to express the ardor of my sentiments! When we are together,
the present moment is everything! I have neither past nor future,
neither hopes nor fears, but what are connected with you," said Captain
De Crespigny, with hurried impetuosity, while a rush of mingled feeling
swept across his features. "I forget everything else when you are
present, and neither know nor care where I go in your absence. I love
you as I never loved before and never can again. The world, in short,
has only two divisions, in my estimation--where you are, and where you
are not. Despise my attachment if you will, but at least believe in
it."

"You grieve me to the very heart," said Marion, in a low, tremulous
voice, for there was an irresistible air of truth in Captain De
Crespigny's manner which startled and shocked her. "I never for a
single moment could imagine you serious about anything! Life and even
its most sacred affections seem all in your estimation a mere jest, to
be thought of and forgotten with a smile. I trust it is so now! I would
not for worlds believe you in earnest! You seem really to have parted
with your senses!"

"Or rather I found them from the moment I learned to appreciate you!
Did you never hear, Miss Dunbar, that in this world two individuals are
always created suitable to each other, who must both be miserable
unless they become one, and you exactly fill up the beau ideal which
has haunted me from the hour I left Eton."

"Why? De Crespigny!" exclaimed Sir Patrick, coming forward, "with that
melo-dramatic air, you seem to be rehearsing a last speech and
confession."

"Or rather my first speech and confession," replied he, with a
conscious laugh. "And Miss Dunbar, I must entreat you not to
believe----"

What Captain De Crespigny entreated her not to believe Marion did not
wait to hear, as they had at last reached the Granby, and she rushed up
to her own room, while he, as much astonished at his reception as a
gentleman could well be, strolled slowly away singing to himself with
angry asperity,

    "If she love me, this believe,
    I will die ere she shall grieve;
    If she slight me when I woo,
    I can scorn and let her go."



CHAPTER XXXV.


Marion had frequently sketched in her own mind a faint outline of what
she should say to Agnes on the subject of her unaccountable intimacy
with Lord Doncaster, who seemed to delight in making a parade of her
preference for his society, especially in the presence of his nephew;
but when Marion found herself at length alone one day with her sister,
she felt her heart sink with apprehension, yet, being resolved to
conquer nature, and do her duty, if possible, she approached the table
where Agnes was seated. A large, foreign-looking book, with gold
clasps, lay conspicuously before her, which Marion discovered at once
to be a missal, bound in antique boards of beautifully inlaid wood,
with massy gilt ornaments, and illuminated by designs in the style of
Albert Durer.

To hide her confusion, and begin the subject with advantage, Marion
placed her hand on the shoulder of Agnes for some moments, and leaned
forward, examining those splendid paintings, the singular beauty of
which she admired, while expressing considerable amazement at the
strange, distorted designs on the border, where animals with five heads
and their faces all nose, were varied with fish mounted on legs, and
birds exhibiting human countenances.

"These eccentric creatures resemble the figures in some horrible
dream!" observed Marion; "but they are not a greater distortion from
the truth of nature, than the Popish superstitions which they
illustrate are from the truth of revelation. Nothing seems left in
either, of the perfect symmetry with which all things come from a
Divine Creator."

"I am no controversialist," said Agnes, indifferently. "I take matters
as I find them."

"That is not the safest of all plans, unless you are very careful from
whom your ideas are received. I have heard that there are writers in
the Roman Catholic Church, such as Massillon, Pascal, and Fenelon, who
were nearly as pure in Christian doctrine as ourselves, resting their
hope on no merits except those of our Divine Saviour; but I should
think, for instance, that no Protestant could gain anything from
associating with such a man as the Abbe Mordaunt, who would disgrace
any church. Dear Agnes, allow me for this once the privilege of a
sister; not merely to love you with my whole heart, as I always do, but
also to prove my affection by saying for your sake what is most painful
to me, and may probably be annoying to you. It is with the greatest
anxiety and surprise that I have lately been watching you----"

"Watching me!" exclaimed Agnes, starting round with angry asperity, and
fixing her flashing eyes on Marion. "What right have you--or what right
has any living being to watch me?"

"The right of affection and kindness," replied Marion, with emotion,
while a large tear glittered in her deep blue eyes. "We are motherless
girls, Agnes, and therefore we owe each other the greater solicitude.
There are many eyes upon you, less friendly, I fear, than those of a
sister. If others were not placing a sinister construction on all they
see, I might not perhaps have ventured to begin the subject; but as it
is, I have no choice except to discuss it with either Patrick or
yourself. Our kind uncle must not be agitated, on any consideration;
otherwise I have sometimes thought of asking him to take us at once
away from this place."

"And pray, what has your mean 'watching' of my conduct,--your police
investigation, discovered, which might render so desperate a measure
necessary?" asked Agnes, with a flickering color in her cheek, and in a
bitter tone of suppressed anger. "Wisdom will die with you, Marion! I
ought to be duly sensible of my good fortune, in having such a sister!
Perhaps you intend obligingly to favor me with a few hints for the
regulation of my conduct,--to honor me with a little of that valuable
advice which I have not been sufficiently alert in asking."

"Agnes! I know myself to be in a most unsuitable position, when
criticising anything in your conduct; but if I had died, and returned
from another world with permission to speak, I could not be more
entirely free from any personal motive. If I give pain to you, I give
greater pain to myself; but every one combines in saying, that this old
Roman Catholic peer, and his Abbe, are most profligate men; that they
scarcely deserve to be well received by ladies of character; that the
very glance of their eye is contamination, and that you alone, of all
the ladies in this house, are singled out to be, not distinguished, but
insulted by their attentions. Surely, Agnes, it is time for me to
speak. Our reputation is all we have on earth--more precious to any
woman than the wealth of the world, and more precious, if possible, to
us, than to others, because we have no other dependence. Patrick is
every day on the brink of ruin, and must leave us before long. Our
uncle--but I cannot speak of that--when he is gone, we shall be alone
indeed."

"When that day comes, I shall be as sorry as yourself; but there is
nothing to fear at present. Captain De Crespigny says, all old uncles
or aunts who wish to be lamented by their young nieces, should die in
the midst of a gay season, to interrupt the parties and balls; but
good, worthy Sir Arthur is more considerate than to incommode any one.
When we do lose the Admiral, however, be under no apprehension of my
remaining alone! I have made up my great mind upon that subject, and
you will see that circumstances do not always continue the same."

"Nor people either, Agnes! I have long feared that you trust too
implicitly in the constancy of Captain De Crespigny."

"Trust! Do you suppose that I any longer trust him!" exclaimed
Agnes--her color rising, and her large eyes glittering with a strange
expression of indignant contempt. "No, Marion! He has been represented
to me now, as he is, a heartless, vain, unfeeling coquette. All men are
monsters, but he is the worst! I can be revenged, however! Even he,
cold and indifferent as he is, shall repent! I shall blight his hopes,
as he has blighted mine. I shall cross his views, humble and disappoint
him. To inflict on him all that he has so wantonly and cruelly
inflicted on me; to destroy his insolent triumph, and bring down the
pride of his success, I would--yes, Marion, I would, and I shall
sacrifice the happiness of my whole life!"

"Dear Agnes! do not say so! Do not even think so for a moment! What can
you mean! Revenge would be a wretched satisfaction, at best! If he has
treated you ill----"

"If he has!" interrupted Agnes, with startling vehemence. "Marion! the
Abbe thinks he could never have married me, even had he wished it. That
Captain De Crespigny became entangled, from the time he was a boy, in
one of those horrid Scotch affairs, half a marriage, or a whole one,
just as he pleases, and Lord Doncaster told me one day in
confidence----"

"In confidence, Agnes! What confidence should ever exist between you
and such a man as Lord Doncaster? an old _roue_! You ought to despise
and avoid him!"

"I am apt to think you are quite mistaken," replied Agnes, with a
sudden assumption of haughtiness, while she shot an angry glance at
Marion. "The last Lord Doncaster but ten, may have been a _roue_, or
what you please, but I know nothing, and will hear nothing against the
present."

"That is the very point on which I must speak!" answered Marion,
hurriedly, her features working with agitation, while the blood rushed
back to her heart. "In a case like this, where love or marriage are
completely out of the question, our friends are all astonished that
you, Agnes, who make no secret of liking admiration, should waste so
much time in deep conversation with that really disreputable old Peer.
Believe me, it gives rise to much animadversion, and even calumny,
especially when connected with that new ornament you wear; and I begin
seriously to fear you may be persuaded into taking the veil."

"Only a bridal veil," replied Agnes, arranging her ringlets. "I am not
quite so mad as you think. I certainly have adopted this badge! At Rome
I shall do as Rome does. Now, Marion, as young Rapid says in the
comedy, 'I shall take it a personal favor if you will not faint;' but
the Romish faith suits me best, and I consider it religion in full
dress, instead of religion in deshabille. I admire the almost
theatrical magnificence of its ritual; the splendid processions, the
consecrated dresses, the superb music, the dazzling lights, the clouds
of burning incense, the romantic convents, and the magnificent
cathedrals."

Marion looked aghast with consternation and sorrow, while she listened
in silence; but at length, in a tone of subdued and mournful
indignation, she replied, "Is this, then, possible! that without one
serious thought, you would forsake our holy faith, for a mere external
mockery of religion! a solemn pantomime? Attracted by rosaries,
crucifixes, tinkling bells, and empty symbols, you would forget the
lessons of our childhood, the church in which we worshipped with our
father, the Bible which he taught us to revere. Surely, Agnes, you will
consult a clergyman of our own persuasion, before taking rashly the
most important step which a mortal can possibly contemplate,--which our
parents would rather you had never been born, than that you took."

"Excuse me, for interrupting your sermon. It is against all rule, but
it may save you a great deal of trouble," said Agnes, arranging her
rings, and re-tying her bouquet; "my sole intention is to be of a
similar religion to the man I marry."

"Do _you_ still expect," said Marion, with a look of surprise, "to be
Mrs. De Crespigny?"

"Or Marchioness of Doncaster!"

"Yes, in due course of time, when Captain De Crespigny succeeds!"

"He never shall succeed," replied Agnes, setting her teeth, and
speaking with stern determination, while her face became rigid as
stone. "Captain De Crespigny has deceived me, cheated me of my youth,
hopes, and happiness. I have been fooled, trifled with, basely
ill-treated. My heart is seared against any real attachment to another;
but I shall be amply revenged on him. I shall destroy his happiness, as
he has destroyed mine. Without his long-expected wealth and title, he
will find that the butterfly is but a grub.--I mean to marry his
uncle!----"

A dead silence followed these words. Marion made no exclamation, and
did not even look at Agnes, but buried her face in her hands, with a
feeling of unutterable shame and consternation. The very idea had never
before occurred to her imagination, that her young and blooming sister
could contemplate so degrading a sacrifice; but when, at length, she
looked up, there was something in the proud, stern expression of that
beautiful countenance, which forced upon her the unwelcome and
extraordinary conviction that all had been said in earnest.

"Agnes!" cried she, gasping with astonishment; "that dissipated,
horrid, dreadful man! Impossible! The miserable wreck of an ill-spent
life! A superannuated _roue_. Are you in jest? or are you mad?"

"Mad! or at least delirious! Marion, we have lived long together, and
yet you do not know me! I am not one to sit tamely down, as you would
do, and wash my heart away with tears! My sorrows are not to be
closeted in silent desolation, but I must act. If hope and happiness
are crushed for ever, he who turned my feelings to stone shall suffer
for it! He shall no longer wind me on, and wind me off, according to
his own caprice! It is like death itself to love in secret, but worse
than death when it is known, and he does know all! He knows, believes,
and rejoices to believe, that I have waited, suffered, hoped, and
feared for him, and for him only; but I am not one to die of scorned
love. Now every spark of my regard for him is crushed out. His vanity
shall not have another moment's triumph over me," said Agnes, her eyes
becoming frightfully brilliant. "My heart feels as if it were buried in
a snow-drift, and nothing warms it but the hope of vengeance."

"Agnes! who in her senses would think of being consigned to misery and
contempt both here and hereafter, merely to punish one who ought to be
despised! If Captain De Crespigny be vain, foolish, and unprincipled,
is that a sufficient reason for you to become degraded, and, I must
say, infamous!" said Marion, in a tone of undisguised disgust, though
her voice made no more impression than the gentle wave on the hard and
unbending cliff. "Such a step as this would separate you for ever from
those you have most reason to love."

"I am one of the Positive Club, Marion, who never change their minds
about anything! and my resolution is unalterable. ''Tis best repenting
in a coach and six.'"

"Think, Agnes, not of the short triumph over Captain De Crespigny, but
of the long years that must follow,--of the living death you must
endure, linked to vice, decrepitude, and immorality, lowered in your
own eyes, and contemptible in those of others."

"Mistaken as usual, Marion! a life of mediocrity would be a life of
misery to me, and few people think the worse of any young lady for
becoming a Marchioness. Lord Doncaster can give me every thing except
happiness, and I must find the best substitute for that in my power. A
blight is on my heart! my pride has been mortally wounded; but I cannot
undertake a cold, insipid, colorless existence, devoid of motive and of
hope. It would be ennui drowned in wretchedness, if I return jilted,
mortified, and disappointed, to our uncle's dog-hole of a villa at
Portobello?"

A red spot burned on Marion's cheek, and indignant tears, occupying the
place of words, glittered on her eye-lashes, while her thoughts
reverted to their generous, kind-hearted, and high-spirited uncle,
whose affection was so undervalued by Agnes, and whose better feelings
were about to be so outraged by the announcement of a preposterous and
really disgraceful project.

Agnes now assumed the dignity of a peeress in expectancy, looking cold,
resolute, and haughty, till at length Marion, overcome with emotion,
threw her arms round the neck of her sister, and burst into tears,
saying, in accents of incoherent affection,--

"Agnes,--dear Agnes! take pity upon yourself. Lay open your heart to a
kind Providence,--pray for peace, but do not barter yourself for
revenge. Do not become utterly lost, as well as unhappy! For my sake,
for everybody's sake, let us go home as we came! Life is only precious
for the eternal hopes and the domestic affections it bestows. Would you
rashly throw away both, bringing on a lifetime of unpitied remorse?"

Marion looked up with anxious solicitude, but scarcely had she ceased
to speak before Agnes glided out of the room, leaving behind her the
splendid missal adorned with Lord Doncaster's arms in gold upon the
white parchment binding. Beside it lay the envelope of a letter, with a
marquis' coronet on the seal, and underneath was engraved, to her
astonishment, the exact date of Agnes' birthday. Marion started when
she saw this absurd piece of gallantry, and covered her face with her
hands, as if she never could show it again.

    She did not know how hate could burn,
    In hearts once changed from soft to stern;
    Nor all the false and fatal zeal,
    The convert of revenge can feel.



CHAPTER XXXVI.


Though the leaders of fashion have decided that it looks greedy and
gormandizing to be punctually ready for dinner, yet, at the Granby
Hotel, no sooner does the clock strike five than the bell rings, and
the instantaneous rush of company which then takes place towards the
dining-room can only be compared to a congregation hurrying out of
church, or a flock of chickens in a poultry-yard assembling to be fed.
Doors fly open,--guests are seen precipitating themselves headlong down
stairs,--elderly matrons advance, leaning on their gouty, red-faced
husbands,--troops of marriageable daughters follow,--and solitary
gentlemen are visible, strolling forward in all the unencumbered
independence of having no one to care for but themselves. The
noise-meter then rises to a deafening pitch, when, to the din of a
hundred tongues, is added the jingling of glasses, plates, knives, and
forks, while the long serpent-like procession winds slowly into the
room, and gradually subsides into places.

Amidst the moving mass of strangely mingled personages, Captain De
Crespigny had offered his arm to Marion, which she did not seem to
observe, but led forward Sir Arthur, while all eyes were turned upon
Agnes, who walked beside Lord Doncaster, with burning cheeks and
downcast eyes, yet affecting to look superbly dignified.

Sir Patrick, in the mean time, always on the _qui vive_ for variety and
adventure, entreated Mrs. O'Donoghoe's permission to sit between her
and the young lady under charge, who attracted his especial notice
because she so obviously suffered from that apprehension of being
conspicuous, common to strangers on their first appearance at a public
table, and was dressed with a degree of plainness which amounted almost
to eccentricity.

"I lose no time in making new acquaintances here," whispered he aside
to Mrs. O'Donoghoe, with a glance at her timid companion, who had
become a perfect aurora of blushes as she seated herself at the table.
"Our short visits at Harrowgate scarcely leave me five minutes to spare
for each new face."

"Then I hope you do most of the conversation yourself, for I suspect
the young lady, who was placed under my _chaperonage_ by Mr. Crawford,
is not so much accustomed to live upon airy nothings, and to run up
_impromptu_ intimacies as you are."

"The sooner she begins then, the better. I have a thousand things to
say to her!"

"Perhaps she may not have time for above five hundred of them. You must
talk to her like a dialogue book, supplying both the questions and the
answers; for, as far as my experience goes, she seems to be shockingly
silent and nervous. Are you generally reckoned amusing?"

"Everybody agrees in considering me so, and many people think me quite
the reverse, but I can be either the one or the other, on a moment's
notice."

"Indeed! a little of both, and a great deal to spare! I imagine it all
depends on which way the wind blows!"

"Exactly! I am sentimental in a westerly breeze,--cutting and sarcastic
in an east wind,--noisy and boisterous in a northern blast,--and during
'a southerly wind and a cloudy day,' the genius of nonsense takes
possession of me so completely, that I have bestowed on myself the
privilege of saying whatever I think."

"How shocking! I do not particularly fancy you in any of these moods!"

"Adagio! do not condemn me yet! choose your own subject, concerts,
sermons, pic-nics, dress, Harrowgate water, or the last new novel,
nothing comes amiss to me! I mean soon to publish a weekly programme of
the five or six subjects to which all conversation at the Granby is
usually limited; a complete set of the questions invariably asked by
all the visitors every day, with a sketch of the most appropriate
answers. For my own part, all my replies are given by rote, and it puts
me out entirely, if the inquiry whether I have been at Ripley, comes
before the question how I like the waters, or who was the last arrival,
which is, _a propos_, the only subject on which I am not very well
informed."

Sir Patrick saying these words, gave a sly glance towards his left
hand, where the young _incognita_ sat, without apparently listening to
what passed, and as she seemed at the moment to be looking another way,
Mrs. O'Donoghoe archly turned round the label on her bottle of wine, so
that the young baronet could read that it bore, according to custom,
the name of its proprietor 'Miss Smythe.'

Nothing could be a more complete balk to curiosity than such a name.
Sir Patrick had already known seven Mrs. Smythes. His washerwoman was
Mrs. Smith,--his sister's governess had been a Miss Smith,--two
Captains in his own regiment had gloried in the name of Smyth,--and his
old Colonel's widow was Mrs. Smith. There was no individuality in the
name, but a whisper had reached him in the morning that a Miss Smith,
the authoress of several popular romances, was expected at Harrowgate,
and a horrible apprehension crossed his mind that, young as she looked,
this might actually be the culprit, his surmises respecting which he
could not but whisper to the laughing widow, adding, with a look of
comical consternation--

"Only think how my portrait will look in her next book! There is no
escape, unless I faint away immediately and am carried out! We must
remain together now as long as I stay at Harrowgate, for no change of
place is allowed. Even if you and I quarrel, there is no remedy! It is
like connubial felicity, we are settled here permanently, for better or
for worse."

"It might certainly be worse! I am tolerably resigned to my fate, for I
sat till lately among the dullest set of hum-drum bores who ever ate a
potato; but you are so clever, I always become clever in your company."

"That is a novelty, I suppose?"

"Why, for that matter, my mind is like a piano-forte, which requires to
be skilfully played upon," replied the widow, gayly. "I have often been
offered large annuities by people, merely to live in their houses and
entertain them, but lately I was in danger of falling into a state of
sensible, every-day dullness."

"Impossible!"

"You may doubt it--anybody would--but actually, yesterday, talking to
Lord Wigton, I was threatened with a fit of prosing! a thing I never
was subject to, and I never heard it had been in our family! Whether do
you dislike most, a professed wit, or a professed proser, Sir Patrick?"

"My favorite society is any old lady of seventy, who has met with great
misfortunes!"

"Well, I am not much upon that pattern, certainly, but fifty years
hence, we might make an appointment, perhaps, to meet here again."

"How many succession of visitors will before then have flourished in
this house, and vanished. Even after the interval of one season, a
visitor's return is like coming back from the grave. Nothing is
remembered of either yourself or your cotemporaries. Guests, waiters,
landlords, and even boots, have all disappeared."

"Very affecting, indeed," said Mrs. O'Donoghoe; "but half the dinner
has disappeared during that long moral discourse of yours, Sir Patrick.
Among the transitory things in this house, pray enumerate, another
time, the _entre-mets_ and vegetables."

"Pardon me--these dishes re-appear only too often. I have known some of
those pies intimately for several days. In our regiment, we called such
revivals 'old clothes,' and it really is too bad treating ninety
deserving people so ill."

"I should like to live upon the diet of a chameleon! Eating is a vulgar
necessity which the mind despises," observed Mrs. O'Donoghoe, helping
herself to a _pate_; "but some of the company here seem _ne pour la
digestion_, talking love and sentiment over a haunch of venison. Mr.
Crawford tells me that an Indian dinner party lasts twelve hours, and
people who sit down as thin as skeletons, rise from table quite
corpulent."

"It certainly does require the aid of refined conversation to keep up
our self-respect in a scene of such gormandizing. For my own part, I
live upon anti-pastry principles, and am also a no-vegetable man; but I
wish haunches of venison had never been invented! I made fifteen mortal
enemies by the last I carved in this house, because no one thought I
had given him the best slice," observed Sir Patrick. "I wish all men
like old Doncaster, who eat more good things in a day than they say in
a year, would dine alone."

"But I think," said Mr. Crawford, "that the habit of meeting at meals
is one of our most excellent social customs! If each individual in a
family were merely to snatch a morsel when hungry, there would be no
re-union, and often no intimacy among members even of the same
household. I like frequently to trace the usefulness of old established
customs, which have been sanctioned by successive generations, because
the advantages are always so much greater than they at first appear,
that it has now become quite a sufficient reason for me to respect any
custom, when I find that it is an old one."

"I take the liberty of thinking quite the reverse!" said Sir Patrick.
"Change is the very essence of enjoyment! change of habits, change of
company, and change of air, are all equally necessary, and I never have
a guinea in the world without instantly getting it changed. That custom
will make a scarcity of silver at the bank, when I marry the heiress,
Miss Howard."

"You!" exclaimed Mr. Crawford, his very wig standing on end with
surprise, while the young lady next him colored to the very tip of her
fingers.

"I beg your pardon," said Sir Patrick, turning to her with one of his
most winning smiles. "I thought you gave symptoms of speaking."

A torrent of blushes being her only reply, he began to doubt whether
she had the faculty of speech at all, and having decided at last that
the young lady was either a statue or an idiot, he turned to his more
accessible neighbor, muttering in an under tone, "Mute as a fish! An
exhausted receiver! I never saw such a genius for shyness! Her very
cap-strings are blushing! But about Miss Howard, my friend De
Crespigny, who was born and educated for the very purpose of marrying
his cousin, wishes me to take her off his hands, and if I could have
sold myself, which I cannot, she might have done. I am told she is very
romantic, so he and I agreed once to get up an amicable duel for her,
and after that I was to waylay the mad cousin who persecutes her, and
horse-whip him!"

"Nothing like spirited beginning," said Mr. Crawford, in agonies of
risibility, while the young lady on Sir Patrick's other side, after an
evident struggle, during which the ever-deepening color in her cheek
became perfectly scarlet, at length burst into an uncontrollable fit of
laughter, so full of fun and glee, that the young baronet instinctively
joined her, though amazed and perplexed beyond measure by the oddity of
her manner, and by her unspeakable silence. "Your love," added Mr.
Crawford, "is to be more in the heroic than in the pastoral style."

"Never was there a Captain of Huzzars so preternaturally in love at
first sight, as I should have been. De Crespigny tells me she is first
cousin to Croesus! has land in every country, gold in every bank, the
mines of Golconda for a part of her portion, carries a million of money
in each pocket, and changes horses three times in driving across her
own estate! I should think myself rich to be five minutes in her
company."

"I see you are half in joke, and wholly in earnest," said Mrs.
O'Donoghoe. "But some gentlemen certainly do speculate in matrimony,
exactly as they would in the public stocks. So my poor husband used to
say before he left me so handsomely provided for. As for Miss Howard's
hundred lovers, they will have but one idea amongst them--money! money!
money!"

"Love for an heiress certainly has the most solid of all foundations.
How much better to be married for your fortune than for your dancing or
singing--your pedigree or connections! There can be no mistake in
pounds, shillings, and pence! De Crespigny tells me she is said to be
not only very rich, but very plain, therefore as people generally marry
their opposites, we shall suit exactly."

The timid young lady had now fallen into a perfect paroxysm of blushes,
and an extraordinary twitching about her mouth betrayed the last
extreme of nervousness, though whether her agitation were not of a
risible nature, Sir Patrick felt somewhat perplexed to decide,
especially as she was seized with a fit of coughing which appeared
almost like laughter, while she hastily drank up the water in her
finger-glass, threw salt over her pudding, and committed a dozen of
absurdities, which caused the young Baronet to ask himself whether she
were in possession of her fifty senses. A moment afterwards, Sir
Patrick felt his arm convulsively grasped by the young lady, as if for
protection, while a half-suppressed scream burst from her lips, and she
clung to him with an aspect of breathless terror, her lips parted, her
cheeks livid, and her eyes almost startling from her head, as she gazed
anxiously after the receding figure of a man who was hastily leaving
the room.

Sir Patrick, when thus unexpectedly appealed to, started from his seat
to offer assistance, though at a loss how to act, when, seeing Miss
Smythe's countenance become of a ghastly paleness, he rapidly poured
out a tumbler of water, and held it to her lips, proposing, at the same
time, to support her out of the room.

"No, no! I am better here!" replied she, in trembling accents.

"I--I need society! I am so nervous! It must have been some dreadful
mistake! Excuse me, I would rather remain!"

Mr. Crawford, in the mean time, had rushed hastily out of the room;
and, having now returned, he made a signal, as if desirous to escort
her also; but to this implied proposal the young lady only answered by
an almost imperceptible shake of the head, while she fixed her eyes on
her plate, resolved, apparently, to remain stationary. To the great
surprise of Sir Patrick, two tall footmen, in plain livery, now placed
themselves behind her chair; and, having afterwards closely followed
her when the ladies retired to tea, they were observed lounging about
in the lobby during the rest of that evening.

"What could be the meaning of such a scene?" asked Mrs. O'Donoghoe, in
an undertone of extreme curiosity. "Can you conceive, Sir Patrick, why
the young lady started in that extraordinary way?"

"Yes!" whispered he confidentially. "I can explain, but do not mention
this. It was because--she couldn't help it! There is a sublime mystery
of some kind at work here! I cannot dive into it! Suppose she were to
turn out Miss Howard Smytheson _incog._!"

"Oh no! that is impossible! Her aunt was coming with her, who is one of
my most intimate friends!"

Never had anybody so many most intimate friends, as Mrs. O'Donoghoe.
Every person she met for half-an-hour, had the honor to be so
designated, and if a gentleman were distinguished by the appellation,
it was generally followed by a very plain insinuation that she had
refused him. Of late, however, Mrs. O'Donoghoe had been more cautious
in such assertions, having been discredited in one of her many
forgeries on the bank of truth, by its being proved, that she boasted
of a proposal from Mr. Crawford three weeks after it became known that
he was already engaged to his second wife. Such accidents happen,
however, in the best-regulated families!



CHAPTER XXXVII.


It is absolutely indispensable that every visitor at Harrowgate shall
go through a course, not merely of its waters, but of all the castles,
ruins, rocks, lakes, gardens, and houses in the neighborhood, and
especially that, _bon gre, mal gre_, he shall spend one entire day in
rhapsodizing among the splendid fragments of Fountain Abbey. The
leading question asked of every visitor at the Granby, at least nine
times a day is, whether he has seen the Abbey, followed by exclamations
of dismay and astonishment, if he have not. A shower of inquiries then
follows, how soon he intends to go there, after which no one forgets
the exact day and hour named, while every good-natured friend fills up
occasional gaps in the conversation by hoping he may be favored with a
fine morning for his excursion.

No stranger, unmarried and marriageable, at the Granby, has any right
or title to the squandering of his own time, as the whole race of
chaperons have assumed the privilege of knowing how he spends it, as
well as of dictating the various ways in which he should and must
dispose of himself; and, accordingly, Sir Patrick and Captain De
Crespigny found themselves one day ensnared into a _soi-disant_ party
of pleasure to Studley, from which they had no more chance of escape
than a brace of partridges at a _battu_.

As Madame De Stael remarks, "English weather does better to rail at,
than if it were finer; and if Britain had a settled climate and a
despotic government, there would be an end of all conversation." After
a long succession of good-for-nothing days, during which the rain
seemed to pour from a thousand water-spouts, till the world was in a
perfect dropsy, and it was feared the sun must have met with an
accident, as he seemed unable to appear, he at last, contrary to
custom, when a pic-nic is in the case, blazed out with unprecedented
splendor, and became quite a spendthrift of his rays. September had
evidently borrowed a day from June for the occasion; and yet Sir
Patrick, who would much rather have encountered any danger than the
smallest discomfort, staid an hour in bed to consider whether there was
anything that might happen in the whole course of that day,
sufficiently agreeable to reward him for the effort of rising. Except a
fox-chase, however, nothing could have done so; and he secretly
detested the very thoughts of walking five mortal miles, and spending
five mortal hours in "doing the rural" among the dismal cloisters of a
roofless ruin, or bush-ranging through damp shrubberies, with a
committee of enraptured young ladies.

His fellow-sufferer, Captain De Crespigny, stood yawning and humming a
tune beside him, waiting for the carriage, and expressing a hope, that
though he had almost fallen out of acquaintance with nature, and wished
pic-nics had never been invented, yet perhaps, with the assistance of
sandwiches, champagne, chicken pies, porter, music, and young ladies,
the expedition might be endurable, when the noise of wheels grinding
along the gravel, attracted their attention, and Mr. Crawford's
carriage passed on its way to Studley, with the two tall footmen of the
evening before, mounted behind. A moment afterwards, Sir Patrick
perceived the excited looking stranger, whom he had already remarked,
leading his horse out of the stable, with a degree of haste and
impatience quite unaccountable, while the animal seemed resolute to
postpone the evil hour of being mounted, though his master lashed and
swore at him with an extreme of cruel violence, which raised Sir
Patrick's utmost indignation. He was rather strangely attired for so
sultry a morning, being equipped in a large, rough greatcoat, a thick
neckcloth, a riding whip, and a broad brimmed, melo-dramatic looking
hat. Having at length mastered his refractory charger, he rode straight
up to Sir Patrick, with a contracted brow, saying, in tones of high
irritation, while riveting his fierce eyes on the young baronet with an
expression that strongly betokened insanity:

"You are disposed to be observant this morning! We shall certainly know
each other again! In which direction did Mr. Crawford's carriage drive
off?"

"I observe only for my own amusement!" replied Sir Patrick, haughtily
turning away, and humming a tune.

"Allow me to remind you that those who whistle before breakfast, may
weep before night," said the stranger, with a malignant scowl, drawing
back his lips, and breathing through his clenched teeth, as he glanced
at Captain De Crespigny, and galloped rapidly away, followed at a more
moderate pace by the two gentlemen.

"I am in the humor to knock every body down!" said Sir Patrick; "and
there was an admirable opportunity lost! I dislike the looks of that
man! He is evidently cracked! Depend upon it, his skull will never ring
again! Do you observe, De Crespigny, he has nearly overtaken the
carriage, and pulls up now, apparently anxious not to be seen by the
servants. In days of yore, we might have been certain he was a
highwayman, going to rob that barouche; but such things are done in a
pocket-picking, pettifogging way now, without an atom of spirit or
adventure. Why, my good friend, what a very particularly brown study
you are in! What is the matter?"

"Nothing! nothing! I am solving an enigma! I must get another look of
this man! Dunbar, years have passed since that voice rang in my ears,
but it must be Ernest Anstruther's! Though shrill from excitement, and
every fibre of his body seems dilated with madness, it can be no other,
and we must have him seized this day. I actually shivered before the
fierce glare of his eye; but let us forget it. I cannot speak upon the
subject at present, for it involves all the deepest interests of my
life. Now, then, for Fountain Abbey! I feel in the humor that I could
strike the air for breathing in my face. It would be dangerous for any
body to ask me how I do!"

"I wish all gaunt skeletons of deceased houses were buried out of
sight! The very idea of those damp, mouldy walls would give me the
rheumatism. Had we not better return?" said Sir Patrick, looking
anxiously at his companion.

"No!" replied Captain De Crespigny, who seemed resolute to conquer his
agitation, or to conceal it. "I say like Luther, 'if it rained madmen,
let us go on!'"

"Then, my good fellow, you deserve to be put in a straight waistcoat
yourself!"

"Well, if you will buy and pay for one, I have not the slightest
objection to wear it."

"If we could get up a good old-fashioned belief in ghosts, for this
occasion, and go to Fountain Abbey some other day by moonlight, there
would be some sense in it," persisted Sir Patrick; but seeing that his
friend was not to be dissuaded, he changed the subject, adding: "Our
existence now is detestably matter-of-fact. I should like to have lived
in the days of giants, fairies, witchcraft, and the philosopher's
stone!"

"You would have required the last, Dunbar, certainly. For an excursion,
commend me to Harwood House. It is like a fashionable residence in Park
Lane. Such Brussels carpets, rosewood sofas, and damask curtains, that
I felt quite at home; but here we have a bad road; and worse dinner. A
refrectory with no refreshments, and a kitchen fire, where a whole herd
of oxen might be roasted whole, and not so much as a beefsteak to be
had. Visitors may not even take, like the horses, a nose-bag with
provisions."

"We might at least air the ruins with a segar. Well, here are the
ladies; and now that I have brought you here, and you have brought me,
let us make the best of it. We must honor the old Abbey with a glance,
though I am sure, before we are done, I shall be walked off my legs."

"I knew a gentleman, once," said Agnes, "who walked till nothing was
left of him but his hat."

"It seems as if all the birds and butterflies in Britain had an
appointment here to-day," said Marion. "How their twittering and mad
spirits enliven me. That thrush is a perfect Orpheus! Few can ever sing
like these simple, self-taught musicians."

"Anybody can. Grisi, Pasta, you, or I, could," replied Captain De
Crespigny. "It is pleasant, however, to be received with so lively a
serenade. These little creatures are happy without being able to say
why or wherefore; and how often we ourselves are miserable, though
unable to tell the cause, or perhaps, Miss Dunbar, to excite the pity
we deserve."

"There is evidently a much greater proportion of happiness than of
misery in the animal world, as they do not make unnecessary annoyances
for themselves or others," said Marion, wishing to talk on indifferent
topics, as she observed her brother watching, to see how she received
his friend. "What bird in all the world would you like best to be?"

"A canary, or a piping bullfinch, because you would keep me in a cage,
and treat me kindly. I should wish to borrow the language of any living
creature that pleases you! I am born to succeed in everything but in
gaining your approbation, which I would rather never have been born
than live without. I could willingly go step by step round the world,
to find out the secret of pleasing you; and I am falling rapidly into a
Byron-like, misanthropic melancholy, because of your cruel
indifference. How I wish emotions were communicated like electricity,
without the slow, vulgar use of language, for I always feel so much
more than I can express, especially in your society."

"Why do you not take to writing verses; for you know poets all work
themselves up into fictitious emotions, which they pour out upon paper,
without troubling any one individual more than another, to believe or
disbelieve them. Your poems might be lithographed for private
circulation, and one of each sent to Agnes and me, to the five Miss
Ogilvies, and to all Lady Towercliffe's daughters. You would require
eight eyes, like a spider, to look after so many!"

"But," replied he, in his most sentimental tone, "there is a want of
which one might die in the midst of plenty. If all ladies were like
you, one might be surrounded by a hundred, and yet die of a broken
heart!"

"Any one may break his own heart, if he pleases, but he has no right to
break other people's," replied Marion, jestingly; "and there are some
who have no more scruple, I am told, in doing so, than in breaking
stones on the road."

"Perhaps the hearts are as hard as the stones, if we may take yours as
a specimen; but you really are becoming severe! Take care you do not
hurt my feelings!"

"Your feelings!" exclaimed Marion, with a gay, half-reproachful laugh,
as she caught the eye of Agnes. "I thought you only played upon the
feelings of others, because you really had none of your own."

Near the gate leading into the superb grounds of Studley, no less than
two-and-thirty carriages were assembled, from the low elderly gig and
graceful pony carriage, to the aristocratic barouche and four, not to
mention tax-carts, phaetons, curricles, and coronetted chariots, filled
with joyous groups and laughing faces. The landscape around seemed as
if colored in the rich, deep tints of some ancient painter pre-eminent
in his art, so bright, so distinct, and so immoveable in its rare and
singular beauty, serene and lovely, like a mind at peace. The pencil of
Poussin or of Watteau could scarcely have done justice to such a scene.
The air was literally raining sunshine, and a light cloud here and
there sailed across the blue sky from the foreground to the distant
horizon, while the rich canopy of massy trees over head, tinted with
the many-colored hues of autumn, and the carpet of velvet turf beneath,
were enlivened by a thousand birds, hopping sportively from bough to
bough, like feathered arrows, and by the gay insect world fluttering in
rapid career from flower to flower, humming aloud their ceaseless
sounds of joyful activity.

Every walk was sprinkled over with gaily-dressed loungers, sunning
themselves in the bright atmosphere, and no flower in the field looked
more fresh, more natural, or more lovely than Marion, whose beauty had
never appeared more attractive than now, amidst all the sumptuous
magnificence of nature, which seemed on the present occasion to be
adorned in her full dress regalia.

"This is a very tolerable imitation of a fine day!" said Captain De
Crespigny, shading his eyes to gaze around, and looking as if the
landscape were made on purpose for him. "I see determined admiration in
your countenance, Miss Dunbar, but I mean to out-ecstacy you altogether
in my expressions of rapture! Ye hills and dales, ye rivers, woods, and
plains."

"Charming!" said Marion, absently, and looking round for Sir Arthur. "I
am glad you are pleased."

"To be sure! you are pleased, I am pleased, everybody is pleased! This
was called a party of pleasure, and nothing could be a party of
pleasure to me, unless you were included; but now all the world is
here! at least those who are all the world to me, and I expect a day of
perfect happiness."

"That is as much certainly as any reasonable person can reckon upon,
and I believe it is more likely to be enjoyed in the simple rural
pleasures of the country than anywhere! Some persons whom we might
almost envy, think it pleasure enough for a whole day to find a
tom-tit's nest, containing, for a wonder, five eggs instead of four, or
follow the flight of a king-fisher during six whole hours, at full
speed, in a morning, to see where he feeds, and can talk for half a day
about some new combination of colors in pansy or chrysanthemum."

"And yet they would be reckoned silly and vulgar, to speak half as long
about a new combination of color in a ribbon, which is in my estimation
quite as interesting! If all those who detest the country, had courage
to confess it, as I do, how the shades of rural life would be deserted,
and volumes of rural poetry cast into the fire! I am not one to 'hang a
thought on ev'ry thorn,' and indeed my thoughts have thorns enough
already!"

"There is too much still water at Studley, and the grounds are
altogether too artificial for my taste," said Marion. "Those little
ponds, like globes for gold-fish, are dull and uninteresting."

"They resemble china bowls, and should be filled with iced punch!"
observed Sir Patrick. "Anything so like the basin of the Serpentine
reminds me of old women committing suicide! This is not a good sporting
country, so crowded with laurels, temples, statues, cascades, and that
sort of trash! I wish we had all staid at home, and looked over
Turner's views of Studley, for they are beautifully done!"

"Yes!" said Agnes, yawning, "I like the works of art better than
nature, pictures, statues, books, or pianofortes; and" added she, with
a withering look at Captain De Crespigny, "I like human nature least of
all."

"What has set you off Childe-Haroldizing this morning, Agnes?" asked
Sir Patrick, with angry surprise. "Strike me poetical, but I like
Marion's style of admiring, exclaiming, and wondering the best, for it
is not either overdone or underdone!"

"You shall have a most intelligent guide, Sir, immediately," said the
superintendent of the lodge, civilly touching his hat to Sir Patrick.

"Let him be deaf and dumb, if you have any compassion for me. It is
trouble enough to come here, without listening to an endless rigmarole
about ancient abbots, clustered pillars, and stone coffins. The fellow
will not abate a single tomb or tree! I could invent a story quite as
good as his, and equally true! 'built nobody knows when, and destroyed
nobody knows how.'"

"I like to hear all, and believe all," said Marion; "but you remind me,
Patrick, of the French lady, who said she wished to be taught
everything in two words. Now let us summon up any little poetry that
may be lurking in our composition, to admire those noble, pillar-like
elms, with branches so thickly clustered that the wind can scarcely
elbow its way through the leaves. Those shadows are magnificent,
flickering across the road."

"Give me an old post-horse instead of an old tree, and I shall call up
much finer associations!" said Sir Patrick. "My sole idea of enjoying
the country is connected with hunting, shooting, and fishing; but as to
living for ruins, flowers, green trees, fat cows, rocky mountains, and
all that sort of trash, excuse me. They do for poets and painters,
professionally, to rave about, but I care no more to look at that
prodigiously aged tree before me, than at old Lord Doncaster, tottering
behind us with Agnes."

"That tree, Sir, is a Spanish chesnut, 112 feet high, and 22 feet in
girth," said the guide, in his usual business-like tone. "It has seen a
hundred summers."

"Then it has certainly not lived in this country!" replied Sir Patrick,
affecting to shiver. "There's a thing they call summer in England, made
up of east wind and fog, with a half-extinguished sun, trees trying to
put a good face on the matter, a few leaves and flowers born apparently
in a consumption, and one or two misguided birds mistaking the
imitation for a reality, while chirping their notes all out of tune."

"This oak, Sir, is 500 years old," continued the guide, pertinaciously
bent on executing his task; "it contains 300 feet of solid timber."

"And how many leaves are there on it? You never heard! Do you pretend
to be a guide, and not know that? The timber will cut up for a
tolerable sum, which will suit the next heir."

"Have you the barbarity, even in imagination, to prostrate that kingly
tree! look at its gigantic shadow on the grass!" exclaimed Mrs.
O'Donoghoe. "I really had, even upon our very short acquaintance,
conceived a better opinion of you."

"Then be not rash in altering it! I am all you ever thought me, and
more! At the same time I cannot but think, in looking at this immense,
overgrown prodigy among trees, how fortunate it is that they stop
growing at last, or one such monster might at last overshadow the whole
world. Now, it is a hundred years at least since the ground beneath
that tree has been enlivened by a single sunbeam! Spare me all the
exclamations of delight I see impending! Ladies are taught a taste for
the picturesque as part of their full-dress manners, but the truth is,
that you care no more for scenery than for a painted sign-post."

"I have no eye to spare for the landscape," said Captain De Crespigny,
glancing towards Marion. "Therefore pray let us, like 'Puff in the
Critic, omit all about gilding the Eastern hemisphere; or about the
setting sun pillowing his chin upon an orient wave.' Nothing gives me
so mournful an estimate of people's general happiness, as to join what
they call a party of pleasure! Such rising before daylight, such
climbing of inaccessible hills, such scrambling on slippery rocks, and
such eating of trash, which no one in an ordinary rational state of
mind would ever dream of tasting! In short, it begins with the total
sacrifice of all comfort, bonnets and dresses in jeopardy, as well as
every limb of your body in danger, a great deal of forced vivacity, a
number of old, worn-out jests, a seat upon the damp grass, and
returning home after sunset in a fog! If these are people's pleasures,
what must their miseries be?"

"Certainly the most toilsome of all vocations is that of an idle man,"
said Marion. "I often think, when observing the extraordinary plans of
life on which people set out in search of happiness, that if during one
day in every year, we were all obliged to exchange the modes of life we
voluntarily adopt, it would produce universal misery. If Mr. Granville
were obliged to play sixteen hits at backgammon every forenoon instead
of Lord Doncaster; if Patrick had to visit and condole with the sick
all morning; if you had to blow the flute five hours a day for Lord
Wigton; if he had to hunt eight hours in your place; and if I must
lounge all morning in the public room, like Mrs. O'Donoghoe, how
wretched each individual would be!"

"Very true," replied Captain De Crespigny. "The various species of men
are as different from each other, and as little calculated to
associate, as the various species of animals. Sportsmen have a natural
antipathy to literary men, politicians to jockeys, and infidels to
Christians. Life is to each of these a perfectly different affair.
Their feelings, desires, habits, occupations, and pleasures, are
entirely opposite, their conversation quite unsuitable, and they all
hate each other."

While Sir Patrick, with ceaseless vivacity, teazed the guide by asking
a thousand unanswerable questions, the replies to which should have
occupied several hours, he amused himself with making premeditated
blunders and lively questions, enough to bewilder the brain of their
matter-of-fact conductor, who hurried forward with a velocity of body
disproportioned to the slowness of his understanding, pointing to an
arbor elevated high upon the ridge of a hill, from whence he intimated
that the finest view was to be obtained. With a rueful grimace, Sir
Patrick prepared to make a forced march in that direction, measuring
the height with his eye, and protesting that the fellow certainly had
an ill-will at him, for imposing such a task, when he was falling to
pieces already with fatigue.

Marion, in the mean time, looked as happy as she felt; having now
achieved two very great pleasures, as, in the first place, Captain De
Crespigny had been called away by his uncle, and, in the second, he was
succeeded by Sir Arthur leaning on the arm of Mr. Granville. The smile
of confidence and interest with which Marion now listened and talked,
when contrasted with the constrained attention she had bestowed on
Captain De Crespigny, was like the difference between the glowing
warmth of a summer morning and the icy brightness of winter. While
loitering along their beautiful path, picking up here and there a wild
flower, or pausing to enjoy the verdant beauties of nature in her
holiday garb, cold would have been the heart, and vacant the
imagination, not crowded with thoughts and feelings of poetical
interest, when, thus surrounded by memorials of many romantic incidents
in the national history. To Mr. Granville, all the charms of the place
and season seemed familiar. He pointed out to Marion a thousand
beauties overlooked by ordinary eyes, while many a refined allusion to
his own attachment arose spontaneously out of the subject, and was
listened to by her with modest but heartfelt interest. They conversed
with glowing delight and perfect communion of thought, on the various
interesting subjects which abound in the rich stores of a cultivated
mind. Throughout the remarks of Mr. Granville on music, science, and
every elevating enjoyment of the human intellect, the poetry of
literature, as well as the poetry of nature might be traced. Even the
most indifferent subjects were no longer indifferent to Richard and
Marion when thus viewed with mutual interest, and when affording a
deeper insight into each other's heart and mind; while the gorgeous
scenery around inspired them with feelings of enjoyment beyond any that
could be attained in gaudy festivity and artificial amusement.

"This place is quite a morsel of Arcadia!" exclaimed Marion, while her
eyes were beaming with delight. "I could fancy it some undiscovered
country of our own, with not a living being in it but ourselves."

"Excuse me there," said Sir Arthur, smiling. "I shall by no means vote
for having my world made so small and select! I am the most sociable of
created beings, having fully convinced myself that nothing renders
people more utterly selfish than solitude; all your strollings alone in
forests and reclining beside rivers, what do they lead to? a prodigious
opinion of ourselves, and an extreme indifference or contempt for
others!"

"Most undeniably true," replied Mr. Granville. "If we had no happiness
to seek but our own, I should not have far to search for mine; yet, as
a matter of duty, I am for association and for cultivating the kinder
feeling produced by mingling with others. Man could not be happy alone,
even in Paradise, and the sternest misanthropes can do nothing worse
against society than to become solitary hermits."

"The injury is inflicted on themselves also, as Providence has ordained
for wise purposes that, bad as men are, they should love one another,"
observed Sir Arthur. "My Marion here brings the joys of spring to cheer
the winter of my life, and I give her in return the gathered experience
of many a long year; while, with you both beside me, the withering
leaves of autumn look almost green and almost gay."

"Yet this is certainly the most melancholy of all seasons," replied Mr.
Granville. "It has been called the time of fulfilment, when hope is
realized,--but it can be an emblem only of Christian hope realized in
death. Every hue and every sound reminds me of decay. The howling
winds, the fleeting clouds, and the rustling leaves all speak of change
and mortality; but permanent hopes and feelings belong only to our
religion, which become the charm of existence when they arise, and
which neither time nor death can alter. Our earthly affections when
founded on such ennobling prospects, entitle us to believe that we
shall advance, hand in hand with those we love, along the journey of
life, and even at the end, be only separated for a very short period,
to be reunited in a world of which even hours so bright as these are
but a faint representation. When a Christian dies, he dies into another
world. He is then born into a scene more beautiful, more joyous, and
more lasting than this."

"How surprising it seems, that so little real admiration is felt for
the wonders of nature, though so much is pretended!" observed Marion.
"If anything could vulgarize so glorious a scene, it would be that
tawdry crowd of many-colored visitors, rending the air with
exclamations of delight, which seem chiefly addressed to the crows and
jackdaws."

"We should have a band of fairies here, to give suitable music," added
Sir Arthur; "and you ought to rob the poets of a few verses to
celebrate the shades of Studley. I observe, Marion, that though in
actual conversation, a single line of poetry sounds pedantic, yet young
ladies in all novels have the whole British poets by heart, and spout
entire pages by the yard measure, for every emergency, taken from
Cowper, Milton, Byron and Co."

An interesting discussion now ensued, respecting the effect produced on
the mind by sacred poetry, which diverged to the subject of sacred
music, when Mr. Granville spoke with enthusiasm of the exalting,
touching, and saddening influence of Handel's choruses, and of the
affecting thoughts they occasionally create. In every remark referring
to the heart or imagination, he expressed himself with a depth and
fervor, felt and appreciated by the fresh young mind of Marion, who now
experienced, under the happiest auspices, how much the mental faculties
are enlivened by studying nature. Amidst surrounding peace, the soul
exercises its brightest powers of thought, undivided by the shifting
scenes of human life, with its thousand fluctuating objects and cares;
while the fancy, liberated and unoccupied, is thrown back upon itself,
and discovers once more the visions of other days, the stores of
memory, experience, and hope.

From the point of view to which their guide now left the party, all the
finest characteristics of Fountain Abbey became visible, and Marion
found Miss Smythe finishing a masterly sketch of the landscape, which
she blushingly yielded up for examination, while Sir Patrick confessed
that he had been standing in his most picturesque attitude during five
minutes, in hopes of obtaining a place in the foreground. Nothing could
be more strikingly beautiful than her spirited representation of the
large eastern window, like a light triumphal arch, the patches of ivy
clinging round those mouldering walls, and the high, stately tower,
nearly transparent with its many windows, all yet in perfect
preservation.

"What a fatigue!" exclaimed Sir Patrick, throwing himself in a graceful
attitude full-length on the sloping turf. "This day is like the famous
Peter Schlemihl, without a shadow!"

"Well done art and nature both!" added Captain De Crespigny; "we have
not existed in vain after seeing that matchless view! I shall give bail
to live contented and happy during the rest of my life, if you will
only endow me with all I see, and let it be shared with the person in
this company whom I like best, though perhaps she might tire of me."

Agnes bit her scarlet lip with scorn at words which would once have
thrilled to her very heart, but she turned away with an insufferably
haughty air on perceiving that her _ci-devant_ admirer had turned his
most irresistible looks towards Marion, who was earnestly talking in an
undertone to Miss Smythe, while a look of anxious alarm had become
depicted on the countenances of both.

"Such moments as these are like the colors of a rainbow, very bright
and very fleeting," observed Sir Arthur. "If I had a place magnificent
as this, even with the power of choosing my own society, yet, as Dr.
Johnson says, 'such possessions make men unwilling to die!'"

"Allow me to differ, then, from Dr. Johnson," replied Mr. Granville.
"It is not our possessions, but our affections that could ever make me
grieve to forsake this bright green earth. I would rather be loved by
one than envied by thousands. I can imagine no happiness that does not
spring from the heart, and the most splendid mansion that ever adorned
the earth, would be a desert without the smile of those who loved me to
welcome my entrance there."

"Who that knows the worth of friendship would not say the same," added
Marion, in a deep, low tone. "My wishes never grasp at great
possessions, as their very vastness appears disproportioned to our
nature and powers. The most superb houses are those most generally
deserted by their owners, but I scarcely ever see a retired and
peaceful cottage without whispering to myself, 'There I could be
happy.'"

"Take my word for it, the whole thing would be odious in a week," said
Captain De Crespigny. "I have been a great observer of life from the
windows of the New Club, and my serious opinion is, that poetry is all
written to mislead our unsuspecting youth into an effervescence of
empty enthusiasm about rural felicity on an income of nothing per
annum; but I drew the cork out of that bottle long ago, and found it
all froth. Once upon a time I was betrayed into living a month at one
of those little bird's nests, a gaudy, stuccoed gimcrack, all plaster
and green paint, surrounded with roses, hollyhocks, and the flaring
trash people call flowers. There were within the walls, three noisy
dogs, four ditto children, a roasting-jack and a mangle, all screeching
at once! It was distracting! No! no! I hate money myself, but that
cured me of ever making a mere bread-and-butter match."

"Yet I could live on the bread without the butter, for any one I really
liked, or even the butter without the bread," said Mr. Granville,
smiling. "Money is only the raw material of enjoyment, which must be
raised into a fabric of solid strength, and embellished with taste, to
suit my wishes and hopes. The hook and eye will never be of gold that
attaches me, and nothing has ever been so difficult to my comprehension
as that any one can possibly form the nearest ties of life upon a mere
calculation of profit and loss!"

"Well," exclaimed Sir Patrick, who always assumed an air of bravado
before Mr. Granville, to conceal his real feelings, "I am above all the
follies of inferior mortals, but I do say, that to me, the most
interesting object in nature is a young lady of large, independent
fortune, ready to throw herself away on the first man who asks her!"

At this moment, Miss Smythe's sketch-book fell to the ground, while,
with a sudden exclamation of affright, she started up, but instantly
endeavored to recover herself, and when Sir Patrick had gathered up her
pencils, she received them back with blush of double-dyed carnation, as
if she could never unblush again, and making an apology for having been
startled by the sudden apparition of a hare, she silently resumed her
occupation, and Sir Patrick continued to rattle on at his full pitch of
nonsense, as if nothing had occurred.

"I wonder Lady Sarah Marchmont did not wait another season for me! I
was hastening rapidly to my last shilling, and might possibly have been
driven, by stress of weather, to propose, if she had not accepted the
Duke of Middlesex, in despair; yet had she possessed a thousand pounds
for every shilling, I am not certain that the most golden of her gold
could have gilded her.----"

"My dear fellow!" interrupted Captain De Crespigny, in his most
sagacious tone, "_L'amour fait beaucoup, mais l'argent fait tout_; it
is easy to say 'fortune,' but where will you ever find one weigh in the
scale against Lady Sarah?"

"Easily, any day! As the Spaniards say, 'a man of straw is worth a
woman of gold.' Last season, in London, all the heiresses were dying
for me."

"Except three who never saw you."

"And at balls, when a chaperon asked any young lady who she would
prefer for a partner, the invariable answer was, in the sweetest voice
imaginable, 'Sir Patrick Dunbar!'"

"Or the Duke of Tunbridge, and he never dances!"

"Indeed, next season I have serious thoughts of lending; myself out to
parties, at so much an hour. It is all nonsense about fortune being
blind! The goddess has one eye left, which has been fixed upon me
during the last five years, if I would only accept her favors."

"Well, Dunbar! We all know that you are like the elephant in an Irish
menagerie, who was the greatest elephant in the world except himself.
But be warned in time! They say every man has one opportunity given him
of succeeding in life, and if he lose that, he never has a second!
Positively, old fellow, now is your time! Do not think me malicious,
but even I, your best friend, must allow that you are growing fat."

"Yes!" observed Agnes, in the same rallying tone. "Pat is scarcely such
a 'look-and-die' person as he was. I remember him younger, once!"

"Very true! I am getting quite uneasy about you," added Captain De
Crespigny, in an admonitory voice. "A young lady's reign lasts from
seventeen till twenty, and our best days are over at forty! Dunbar,
shall I give you a line of recommendation to Miss Howard?"

"A million of thanks; but as you never succeeded in recommending
yourself, De Crespigny, I shall be better, in case of extremity,
standing on my own merits."

"Then you will stand as precariously as my old uncle Doncaster, toiling
up the bank there, whose legs look so thin, that I often wonder he has
courage to venture upon them at all. He is most unfit to come up hill,
when actually going down the hill of life so very fast, that he might
as well be setting his worldly affairs in order."

"Worldly affairs! He has no other affairs, I suppose," replied Agnes,
with a supercilious smile on her haughty lip. "And I think Lord
Doncaster will be able to manage his own affairs for many years to
come! He intends to live as long as Great Britain is an island. Nobody
is old, till he feels old!"

Captain De Crespigny looked at Agnes with a penetrating air of
astonishment, which gradually changed to an expression of satirical
indifference, while he added, "This is an odd world, Miss Dunbar!"

"So it is! When did that idea first occur to you? It seems so very
new!" replied Agnes, in a tone of biting satire. "Patrick has often
told me that the De Crespignys are reckoned a sagacious family; and
perhaps, after so bright a remark, you may turn out by no means the
sort of every-day person people expected."

"Probably not! I shall, perhaps, be like Cimon, awakened from stupidity
by the charms of a second Iphigenia," said Captain De Crespigny, with
an air as if he had surpassed himself; but the smile with which Agnes
listened to this characteristic reply was cold and transient as a gleam
of sunshine on a frozen lake; yet while her features remained
immoveable as those of a beautiful statue, a strange, unnatural fire
sparkled in her splendid eyes, and with a look of withering indignation
she turned haughtily away to address Lord Doncaster; while Captain De
Crespigny, humming the last opera tune, and switching with his cane the
heads off all the flowers along his path, quickened his pace, and
resumed his not very welcome assiduities to Marion, who felt
insufferably annoyed at being obliged always to hear the same nonsense
talked, and to play her part in what she considered a mere hack
flirtation on the part of Captain De Crespigny; while she greatly
wondered that he had not long since tired of always, in her company,
drawing up an empty bucket.

Sir Patrick was preparing to follow, when he observed the young
sketcher hastily adding a last touch to her beautiful drawing; and
before she could assemble all her scattered implements and materials,
which he had assisted her to do, the whole joyous party had nearly
vanished out of sight; while the young Baronet's eyes flashed with
amazement, on giving a clandestine glance into the sketch-book, to find
there an extremely clever caricature of Captain De Crespigny, as he
stood a few minutes before, endeavoring to divide his attentions among
the whole group of ladies. On examining another leaf, he found, to his
yet greater surprise, a beautiful likeness of Clara Granville; and
turning instantly to his young companion, with sudden emotion, he
entreated permission to have it copied. While he was yet speaking, the
young lady, with crimsoned cheeks, though a lurking smile played about
her mouth, continued hastily to follow the guide, tracing his footsteps
with an accuracy worthy of a Mohican, impatient, evidently, to overtake
their companions, as she hastily threaded her way through the forest
glades, and beneath the arching branches of many a lofty tree, towards
a dark, gloomy-looking plantation, to which their guide seemed now
impatiently hurrying them. He was dressed in a smock frock, and had
become singularly silent, his replies being all so short and so
grudgingly given, that Sir Patrick had angrily yielded up the point,
determined to give the man nothing, and not to ask him another
question, when suddenly his arm was tremblingly grasped by the young
lady beside him; while in a low, strange, unearthly whisper, and with a
look of mortal terror, she said, "I do not like this! What can it mean?
Has he escaped from confinement? Are you sure that man is our guide?"

"I scarcely looked, but of course he is! It can be no one else!"
replied Sir Patrick, in a soothing tone; for he thought she must
certainly be deranged. "There he waits for us! We shall overtake our
friends immediately."

"Look at this tree!--pretend to be admiring the landscape!" continued
the young lady, in a deep, concentrated voice; "but tell me,--can we
make our escape unobserved by that man? My life, probably, depends upon
your answer!"

Sir Patrick now became confirmed in his opinion respecting the insanity
of his young companion, and fixing his eyes on her countenance, he
perceived with amazement that every tinge of color had been drained
from her cheek--that her lip quivered with fright, and that terror
spoke in her eyes, and trembled in every limb; while her words poured
out with a rushing vehemence of tone and manner which startled and
alarmed him.

"I caught a momentary glance of his countenance! Where could I ever see
these eyes and be mistaken? There is madness yet in their expression.
He has sworn to destroy me. The whole purpose of his being is revenge!"

"Revenge on you--impossible! Who could be so unmanly--so----"

"You forget that my cousin is insane--that he thinks I drove him into
madness--that he pursued me day and night till we shut him up! Can
nothing be done?"

"Miss Howard! I might have guessed this! Can it be? When I am here, you
need apprehend nothing! He dare not harm you."

"Oh! how little you know him! In his present state, he has the strength
of ten men," replied she, with wild and hurried glances. "Once I saw
him struggle in their grasp. Why must I forever remember that scene?
His cries, his imprecations; but see, he returns! Let us appear still
to advance, but concert some plan for my escape, or believe me, my
moments are numbered."

The tone of intense agony in which these words were uttered, filled Sir
Patrick with pity, while knowing the fearful and mysterious power
communicated by madness, even to the feeblest frame, he felt a
well-grounded apprehension for the terrified girl's safety, on
observing the strong, muscular figure of the maniac; therefore, after
walking on some steps, he whispered to her, almost inaudibly:

"The guide seldom looks back. Let me ask him a question, and
immediately afterwards drop down the side of this hill, and conceal
yourself. I shall continue to follow him, that the sound of your
footsteps may not be missed. Whatever the danger is, be firm, and you
will certainly escape. Guide!" continued he, elevating his voice in an
authoritative tone, yet, even at this crisis, unable to resist a joke;
"tell me the exact age of this tree, and how many stones it took to
build the Abbey?"

The man threw back some inaudible reply, in a surly, dogged voice, and
quickened his pace towards a dark group of fir trees, while again the
almost fainting girl gave an agitated glance at Sir Patrick, who
silently pointed towards the turf edging along the gravel-walk, making
her a sign to take flight upon it as noiselessly as possible, while he
proceeded forward himself with no fairy tread, making the sound of his
footsteps as loud as if there had still been two behind.

After the terrified girl had hastily slid down a steep bank and
disappeared amidst a mass of evergreens, Sir Patrick was beginning to
contemplate the expediency of adopting a similar plan, seeing that in
conflict with a madman he could gain neither honor or advantage, and
might be seriously injured, when the maniac suddenly burst into a
thrilling, fearful laugh, and, snatching a pistol from his breast,
turned fiercely round, when Sir Patrick instantly recognised, as he had
begun to expect, the countenance of that excited stranger, whom Captain
De Crespigny had in the morning named to him as Ernest Anstruther.

Astonishment and unimaginable fury glittered in the madman's wild and
haggard countenance, when he missed the object of his pursuit, and he
looked for the moment like a wild beast at bay, till, springing upon
Sir Patrick with a cry of hideous rage, he seized hold of his arm with
a delirious grasp, and clenched his fist, shouting in accents of
frenzied rage, while the white foam was on his lips:

"Where! where is she? Tell me, or you shall die! Have I tracked her
through earth and air, through sky and ocean, to be disappointed now?
With sleepless care have I dodged her steps! Demons drove me on! Fiends
and serpents have beset me! Coals of fire are on my brain! Cold hands
are on my heart! All is horror! Every human soul shall shudder for the
deeds I do! A brand of shame shall be on my head! The dogs shall howl
when I pass! Even now, the sun never shines on me! Show me, then, where
she is, or I will tear you limb from limb."

Sir Patrick stood firm as a rock before this whirlwind of passion,
though filled with horrible amazement, as he beheld the burning glare
of the madman's eye, and heard the sharp, shrill, shrieking voice in
which he spoke; but if he appeared terrible in his fierce excitement,
he seemed more terrible still, when a moment afterwards, with a cold,
livid look, as if turned into stone, he added:

"She shall be mine, or she shall never be given to another. I would not
spare her for ten thousand lives. If she refuse me, her lips shall be
closed forever and ever. I shall destroy and be destroyed. My love or
my vengeance must be gratified; and mark my words. You are the friend
of Louis De Crespigny. I would it had been himself, and one of us
should never have left this spot alive. There is a dark and dreary
account to be settled between him and me. My first warning shall be my
last," added he, in a hollow whisper, while a look of dangerous meaning
gleamed in his eye. "He deserves death at my hands. He wrenched my
sister from her home, trampled on her affections, and is born in all
things to injure and supplant me! He must die!" added the maniac, with
a strange glare in his eye-balls. "It is, perhaps, for his sake that I
am rejected! Wild voices are whispering in my ear! Unnameable horrors
beset me! Fierce phantoms are hissing and shouting behind me!"

The unfortunate being uttered these words with preternatural fury,
while his countenance wore an expression of deadly malignity. He then
paused, ground his teeth, and with the frightful levity of a maniac,
uttering a howling, fiendish laugh, and rushing away, disappeared into
the thickest part of the forest, leaving Sir Patrick horror-struck at
the awful spectacle of a shattered intellect, the fragments of which
were of so deadly a nature; while, at the same time, amidst a torrent
of other thoughts and feelings, chiefly directed to secure the safety
of Captain De Crespigny, he could not but smile at his present
discovery, that the plainly dressed, shy, reserved, but rather
satirical young lady, whom he had been of late patronising and bringing
forward, was no other than the superbly endowed heiress, Miss Howard
Smytheson, respecting whom he had so often rallied himself.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.


Sir Patrick gave instant information to the civil authorities at
Harrowgate, respecting the dangerous madman now in the neighborhood;
and when every particular of his adventure had reached Agnes, she felt
an undefined sensation of disappointment that the end had not been of a
more exciting nature. Never happy unless her mind were in a complete
foam of excitement, she lived for sensation, and would have bought it
at any price, being heard often to complain, that now nothing ever
happened. Every day she considered as a chapter in her own life, into
which she wished as many incidents crowded as possible, caring little
whether joy or sorrow prevailed among those around, if the weary vacuum
in her thoughts were but filled up. A few elopements or murders made a
newspaper extremely acceptable; while even public riots she would have
allowed to a certain pitch, provided she could pull the check-string as
soon as they became at all inconvenient or alarming to herself; while
she often remarked, in a querulous tone, that a revolution had been a
thing threatened and talked of all her life, without ever seeming any
nearer. The world, in short, if arranged to suit her taste, would have
been one shifting scene of accidents and offences, fires, overturns,
explosions, narrow escapes, marriages, births, deaths, mournful
catastrophes, and astonishing vicissitudes.

On the evening after the pic-nic at Studley, Sir Arthur having gone
early to bed, at his lodgings near the Granby, Marion accompanied her
sister and Mrs. O'Donoghoe, to fulfil a dinner engagement at the Crown
Hotel; and on their way home, the lively widow rallied Agnes on her
prospect of walking at the next coronation, saying, that Lord Doncaster
had evidently laid down twenty years of his life, lately; and that she
had once seen the Doncaster diamonds, then considered the finest family
jewels in Britain, which Queen Charlotte herself was supposed to have
coveted, and the box containing which required two footmen to carry it.

"The tiara would shine like glow-worms in your dark hair, and the
bandeau round your waist would be exquisite! I have heard it remarked,
that people in this perverse world will not be happy; that those who
have every wish gratified, and not a want upon earth, invent a
grievance for themselves, and live upon it; but I wonder where the
Marchioness of Doncaster could find one. You might drive away care in
that beautiful pony carriage, kill time with your grand pianoforte, and
read your own happiness in the envy of every one around. Even your
sister seems scarcely so happy at your good fortune as might have been
expected!"

"There is no earthly blessing I do not with my whole heart desire for
Agnes," replied Marion warmly, when thus appealed to. "But if she has
any plans such as you speak of, let no one ask me what I think, as it
is quite enough that she should herself know my utter abhorrence of
them."

Tears of indignant sorrow sprang into Marion's eyes, and she gazed
earnestly out of the window, trying to conceal and to conquer her
emotion, while Mrs. O'Donoghoe exclaimed, in a tone of satirical
burlesque,

    "For of the choice, what heart can doubt,
    Of tents with love, or thrones without!"

As their carriage drove on, the night being clear and moon-lit, the
wind sweeping over the earth with a rushing sound, and ten thousand
stars twinkling in the blue vault above, Agnes remarked, in accents of
surprise, that crowds of people were running eagerly on the road, with
animated looks, and an appearance of most unusual excitement. Soon
after she heard a rumbling noise behind, as of some heavy vehicle
hurtling and thundering along the road; and the next moment a
fire-engine passed at full speed, amidst the cheers and vociferations
of a dense multitude, who assisted and followed its progress, with
looks of mingled curiosity, delight, and apprehension.

Marion hastily thrust her head far out of the carriage, and perceived
that a lurid glare burned on the sky, evidently reflected from High
Harrowgate, while bright spiral flames shot upwards into the flaming
arch above, and burning flakes of fire descended in showers of
terrifying brilliancy. Every now and then a fresh burst of dazzling
light blazed to the very heavens, while Marion watched the flickering
flames with intense and solemn interest; but Agnes, after the first
surprise was over, sank lazily back into the carriage, saying, with a
look of peevish disappointment,

"It is only a fire somewhere! Fires are so common now, that they excite
scarcely any sensation! One might fancy, Marion, that you had a
valuable uninsured house at High Harrowgate!"

"It looks, even at this distance, very awful!" replied Marion. "The
hills are like molten fire, while the broad red reflection on those
massy clouds makes the very heavens seem on fire! What gleams of fiery
light! What sheets of flame! It is fearfully grand! We should pray,
Agnes, that no lives may be lost!"

"Fires are never fatal now! Years ago, they were said to be sometimes
really frightful; but now any one I ever saw might be extinguished with
a tea-cup. I never so much as read the accounts in one of the
newspapers. We shall of course be asked to subscribe for the
sufferers," added Agnes, in a tone of contemptuous pity, "poor
creatures!"

"What a strange look of terrified enjoyment is depicted on the
countenances of all who hurry past," exclaimed Marion. "It is curious,
that probably some of those people who are ready to risk their lives in
extinguishing the flames, would yet feel quite disappointed and
ill-treated on arriving, to find that there was actually no
conflagration. There are no limits to the love of excitement. When
people have made up their great minds to a catastrophe, they feel
really cheated if it does not occur; and I often think, that old people
especially wish their few remaining days to be crowded with events,
like the last pages in a novel."

The noise and the mob had greatly increased: loud shouts, hoarse yells,
and clamorous cries of fire resounded on every side, with the heavy
trampling of a hundred feet, when suddenly Sir Arthur's coachman
whipped the horses violently, and proceeded forward with unprecedented
rapidity, till Marion fancied the horses must have taken fright at the
ignited sparks, which were now borne along in the air, and that
maddened with terror, they were actually running off.

Agnes, now really in a state of excitement, thrust her head again out
of the window, believing that the coachman must be drunk, and that a
catastrophe, though not exactly what she would have selected, might
actually occur, and Marion continued anxiously gazing around, till
gradually a horrid sensation of doubt and fear gathered upon her mind,
as she looked in the direction from which the light came. The curtain
of night was withdrawn--the surrounding scene seemed one mighty
furnace--and the roaring noise of the flames was now distinctly
audible. At a turn of the road the whole became distinctly visible; and
Marion, suddenly uttering a wild cry of horror and amazement, covered
her face with her hands, and sank back, almost fainting, in the
carriage; for she had at once become aware that the fire must be among
the houses where Sir Arthur lodged. The garden around them was one
vivid blaze of burning light--the stems of the trees were visible in
dark relief, on a drapery of fire--while a brilliant pillar of flame,
like a gigantic serpent, twirled its enormous coils upwards into the
very sky. Forked flames appeared bursting from every window, and
sweeping over the whole house, which was one great reservoir of fire,
while a black volume of smoke rolled far away to the distant horizon.

"Is there no mistake?" exclaimed Marion, wringing her hands with
terror, and bending her head almost to her knees in unendurable grief.
"Is there no hope? Tell John to drive on faster--faster! O let me
out--let me fly to the house! This is dreadful! fearful! Shall we never
reach the spot! Listen to their cries! Let me out! let me out!"

"Dear Marion! there are crowds giving assistance! He must have
escaped," said Agnes, in trembling accents. "I feel certain he has
escaped. He has surely heard the noise, and called for help!"

A dense mass of persons round the crashing house, wild with agitation,
and vehement in their attitudes and gestures, prevented the carriage
from advancing farther; but Marion instantly opened the door, sprang
out, and with an impetuosity which nothing could resist, rushed
onwards. She was not one whose faculties could be prostrated by terror
or danger; for it was then that her quick judgment and generous spirit
became most active; and while crowds were standing around, in vacant,
helpless wonder, she reached the spot where a tottering ladder had been
placed against the walls, and where the engines were playing upon the
blazing roofs, while flames spouted forth in every direction, and a
confused din of cries and vociferous oaths became audible on every
side.

Timid and easily frightened on slight occasion, all emotion now
appeared to be dead within the breast of Marion, who paused, while,
with bloodless cheek, and a face as rigid as death, she seemed turned
into stone; yet every word whispered around fell with frightful
distinctness on her ear.

"The last house that caught fire is uninhabited, I believe?" asked a
stranger, calmly. "I am informed that the whole conflagration was
raised by a madman--a perfect Guy Fawkes, who afterwards escaped. There
are crowds of servants belonging to the heiress Miss Howard, and he had
some scheme of carrying her off; but most mercifully she and her
attendants were all saved."

"Very fortunate indeed, as the stair-case is now falling in," added
another, while crash followed crash in frightful succession. "Some one
talked of a blind gentleman being there, but that is probably a
picturesque addition, to give the story interest, for that tall house
seems really empty."

At this moment, a low murmur of grief and horror arose among the crowd,
followed by a death-like silence. In a part of the building high above
what had yet been consumed by the flames, though already undermined,
the shutters of a window were slowly opened, the sash hastily thrown
open, and the venerable figure of Sir Arthur appeared there, his grey
hair streaming in the wind, and his head stretched forward in the act
of listening. He raised his hand to his forehead, as if bewildered, and
seemed evidently calling for help; but his feeble voice was lost amid
the war of elements, the crackling and blazing of all around, and the
loud crash of falling timber.

No one had a hope of his being rescued, and the most selfishly
indifferent looked on with breathless dismay, while Agnes threw herself
on the grass in an agony of horror and despair; but Marion rapidly
grasped her hand with convulsive energy, saying, in a low deep whisper,
"I shall save him, or die with him."

Using the speed of thought she flew forward, while every voice was
raised in loud shouts to stop her; and several persons, as soon as they
became aware of Marion's rash intentions, followed vehemently in
pursuit, determined to force her back; but eluding their grasp, she
wrapped her large cloak around her, and ascended the crackling beams of
the staircase, beneath a shower of glowing sparks, while blazing flames
were running round the cornices and ceiling, with a sound like
incessant thunder.

The smoke nearly blinded her--the smell of burning wood became
suffocating--and the heat was nearly unbearable. Long wreaths of fire
and smoke soon shut Marion out from the view of those who followed, and
none could pursue with their eyes the fearful progress of her
enterprise, while she hurried onwards, having one only thought in her
heart, that Sir Arthur, blind and alone, was calling for help, and
might yet perhaps be saved. A wooden gallery, leading from the stair to
Sir Arthur's room, though fringed with an intense and devouring flame,
which had almost entirely burned it away, showed yet a plank remaining
close to the wall, charred and blackened, while shrivelling and
crackling in the devouring element. Over this Marion quickly but
cautiously glided; and opening the Admiral's door, she tried to compose
her voice, saying in a clear, distinct tone--

"I am here, uncle Arthur! come away quickly! give me your hand!"

"What is the matter, Marion? What is all this?" replied he, turning
round with a quivering lip, and in a tone of piercing agitation. "The
blessings of your blind and helpless uncle be upon you! I am so
agitated and confused! Where is the fire? Every body had forgotten me
but you!"

"Uncle Arthur!" answered Marion, hurrying with him towards the door,
where they were almost suffocated by a dense cloud of dust and smoke;
"you were always brave and determined. All our courage is necessary
now. Be firm and we may escape. You are now at the door. This wooden
gallery is nearly burned away. It could not sustain us both, and no
earthly power shall persuade me to go first. You can only impede me by
speaking of it. Lose not a moment, then, for that will but increase our
danger. Cling close to the wall; feel it all the way. I shall call out
when you are safely over. Then remember the fifty steps we always
counted to the first landing-place. After that, turn to the right, and
you are safe. May the Almighty protect and guide you!"

"But Marion! my dear child! you are coming this way too?"

"Yes! or perhaps some other!" said she, assuming a tone of
indifference, while she despondingly gazed at the rapidly consuming
beam, and the thick smoke, which arose like mist before her sight.

"Go on, dear uncle, and pray for yourself and me."

Marion led Sir Arthur to the very brink of the yawning gulf, and
cautiously placed him on the tottering gallery, deaf to his entreaties
that she would seek her own safely first, and imploring him not to
render her enterprise unavailing by delay. Flames were leaping upwards
in the dark abyss beneath, dust and mortar fell in clouds on every
side, while the heat and noise of the flashing light became more and
more terrific; but still she spoke calmly to him, in tones of
confidence and encouragement, giving directions while he remained in
sight, and anxiously watching, as he slowly and cautiously groped his
way. All Sir Arthur's firmness of look and voice had now returned, as
he questioned or thanked her, when suddenly a deafening crash took
place over head, an impending fragment of the roof was precipitated
with a roaring convulsion upon the spot where a moment before the
Admiral had stood, and nothing now remained beneath the eye of Marion
but a hideous gulf of smoke and ruins, one bewildering medley of
crackling beams and falling floors, a mighty mass of horror, which it
made her giddy to behold.

Marion ceased now to speak, fearful that her voice might induce Sir
Arthur, if yet alive, to return; and nearly hopeless of his having
escaped, she now felt that no duty was so imperative, as, if possible,
to seek her own safely. Yet what resource remained? Her heart beat
hurriedly, stopped and beat again, while a choking sensation arose in
her throat, when for the first time she fully contemplated her own
instant danger. The noise was like that of a mighty wind, while the
flames swept the very heavens, with a sound more appalling than the
loudest thunder, and she hurried almost breathlessly back to Sir
Arthur's apartment, which had not yet been attacked by the devouring
element.

The heat was even there so intense, that she hastened to a window for
air, and a shuddering groan burst from the surrounding multitude when
they beheld her; but no succor was near, while the door became
instantly blockaded by shivered beams and smouldering ruins, which had
fallen at the entrance, setting it on fire, and she saw around long
aisles of flame, and deep caverns filled with surges of fire and smoke.

Marion felt now that death impended in its most terrifying form. It was
no new thing with her to prepare for the certain approach of
dissolution; yet often as she had tried to realize the idea of that
mighty change, never did it appear before with the appalling
distinctness, which now filled her spirit with unutterable awe, while
standing as it were between earth and heaven, all beneath full of
boundless terror, but all above promising peace, and full of hope.

No effort of her own could avail. Marion looked at the long line of
tall houses on her left, untouched by the flames. She glanced at the
crowd below, all anxiously gazing upwards, in death-like stillness, and
at the garden, which seemed paved with faces; but while the consuming
flames pursued their desolating track, not a hope of rescue appeared. A
storm of burning ashes fell on every side, and all around was a
whirlwind of fire and smoke.

Marion's figure became conspicuously seen at the window, every pane of
which was already so heated by the blazing conflagration behind, that
she leaned against the shutters, and gazed towards heaven, as if
already lost to all connection with the world around.

"Martyrs have willingly died in a scene like this," thought she. "Let
me also testify the faith in which I die."

Marion clasped her hands, while now her spirit rose superior to danger,
and, seeing the hundreds gazing at her in silent, horror-struck
sympathy, she calmly pointed upwards, that all might remember the
comfort derived from a hope full of immortality.

The heat had become so intense, that Marion, choked almost to
suffocation, leaned farther than ever out of the window, trying to
catch one breath of air, when to her astonishment she now perceived the
figure of a man descending from the window of a house far to the left,
and having planted his foot on a narrow ledge of stone, which ran along
all the buildings as an architectural ornament, he pressed his hands
firmly against the wall, to preserve his balance, and, with a degree of
skill and intrepidity scarcely to be credited, rapidly traversed that
shelf towards the place where she stood, carrying one end of a rope in
his hand, the other extremity of which had been already fixed to the
window from which he came out.

"Marion! dear Marion!" cried the voice of Richard Granville, which even
at this awful moment thrilled to her heart with deep emotion, "we must
live or die together. Trust yourself to me! Here is a firm footing. Try
it! At the worst you cannot be in greater danger than now."

While yet speaking, he had securely fixed the rope to the window-frame,
thus forming a temporary balustrade, and after carefully assisting her
out, he slowly led Marion with one hand on the rope, and her face to
the wall, safely towards a house as yet untouched by the fire.

A low, whispering murmur of intense interest arose among the
spectators, when they saw hopes of her being preserved, but not a voice
was raised till they perceived her safe, when a deafening cheer burst
from the spectators, which rang through every ear like a trumpet. Again
and again it resounded, louder and louder still, but Marion heard it
not, for no sooner was she out of danger, than, with a cry of
thankfulness, she rushed into the expanded arms of Sir Arthur, and
fainted.

When Marion recovered to consciousness, her first evidence of returning
life, was the deep blush with which she extended her hand to Mr.
Granville. Tears now streamed from the blinded eyes of Sir Arthur,
while he spoke to her with every term of affectionate endearment,
saying, in a voice that yet quivered with emotion--

"My child! my dear Marion! I thank God that your life, young and full
of hope, has not been sacrificed to keep my grey hairs a few hours
longer from the grave. Would that I were able to thank you as you
deserve."

"Never thank me for anything, dear uncle Arthur. I owe you more than my
existence, for I owe you, under Providence, all the happy days I have
ever known in it, and long, long, may I be able to show you my grateful
affection."

"My very dear girl, aged as I am, and shattered now by this night's
alarms, I have little more hold of life than of the gale that blows
along the ocean, but existence would yet be precious to me, if I could
only live to see my Marion as happy as she merits."

"Already I am!" replied Marion, affectionately embracing her uncle,
while a torrent of joyous, agitated tears rushed into her eyes. "I am
too happy, dear uncle Arthur! You are saved, we are restored to all we
love, and my life is doubly precious to me, preserved by the generous
courage of--of----"

"Of one whose first earthly wish is to render it happy," said Mr.
Granville, warmly. "I trust that for many long years we shall testify
together our gratitude to God for the mercies of this night."

A smile and a tear struggled hard for the mastery in Marion's downcast
countenance, while Richard continued to speak with confidence and hope
of the happy future, trusting that their engagement, though unavoidably
postponed, could not be long delayed, and that if Clara recovered in a
more favorable climate, to which she must set out the next evening, he
might speedily return, to resume his duties and occupations, with new
motives of hope, while Sir Arthur expressed, in brief and powerful
language, his fervent wish that nothing might interfere with a prospect
which secured the happiness of his beloved Marion.

"Yet," observed Sir Arthur, next morning, when Mr. Granville called to
take leave, "I dislike long engagements, and never would recommend one.
If you both remain constant, it is unnecessary, and if either of you
change, it would be little worth to obtain from a sense of honor what
should only spring from affection."

"There is nothing to fear on that score," replied Mr. Granville,
exchanging a smile with Marion. "We are most apt in general to doubt
where we have most at stake, but I have lately become almost
presumptuously confident. I would not wish, Sir Arthur, that Marion
should feel engaged one hour after she ceased to love me more than she
could love any other, or if there were any man on earth who could value
her more, and make her happier. One thing I ask of you, dear Marion,
and only one," added he, his eyes flashing with animation--"That till
we meet again, nothing shall make you doubt my unalterable affection;
and in asking this, I ask only what I intend in return towards you,
that our mutual confidence may be for ever unbroken, from the first
hour we met."

"To trust you once is to trust you for ever," answered she, in a low,
scarcely audible voice. "All my happiness in life depends on one, who,
I am certain, never will change."

"Then, as surely as day follows night, I hope our present parting shall
be followed by a happy re-union; and months will seem like hours, till
I return to claim you as my own, till I once more hear your voice, and
till this hand is again clasped in mine."

Marion listened with a quivering smile on her lip, while a tear
trembled in her eye. For a moment, the blood forsook her cheek, and
returned again in rushing torrents over her whole countenance, while
the eloquence of the heart was in her eyes, though she attempted not to
reply; and Mr. Granville continued, in accents of the deepest
tenderness,--

"It grieves me more and more every day to think of leaving you, but my
duty to Clara must not be postponed any longer. Her strength is
gradually diminishing, and though she does not idly or selfishly
indulge her feelings, yet here, above all places, she seems least
likely to forget a sorrow, which is, I trust, not incurable. We, who
are Christians, know that there is some good purpose in her affliction,
and that the lightest straw which casts its balance into our lot, is
ordained by the infinite power, and the infinite goodness of One who
cannot err."

"Yes," replied Marion. "In going through life, I feel myself reading a
book by the best of all authors. Many of the incidents, as we advance,
surprise and disappoint us; but, knowing that the whole is on a plan
which could not be improved, we feel certain that all shall turn out
right and best in the end."

"It is a conviction such as you describe, Marion, which allays the
torturing and almost feverish anxiety I should otherwise suffer
respecting those around whom my warmest affections are kindled,"
observed Mr. Granville. "Religion is indeed the best of all anodynes
for pain of every kind; otherwise, who can tell how greatly I should
have suffered in our sorrowful uncertainty respecting Clara's recovery,
and in leaving you, my Marion, to whom I am now bound by every tie that
can unite heart to heart. I will not,--I cannot say, farewell; but let
us live in hope of better days to come."

Mr. Granville at length took leave; and, as he hurried for the last
time across the common, Marion leaned against the window, and followed
him with her eyes till he vanished out of sight; while Sir Arthur's
countenance shewed that his kind heart was full of anxiety and sorrow;
for he had seen many vicissitudes in human life and human attachment,
therefore he trembled for the possibility of sorrow hereafter, to one
whom he loved with all the unbounded warmth of his nature.

Marion closed her eyes that night with the pleasing conviction, that
the world contained not a happier being than herself. She felt
conscious how much Mr. Granville had elevated her mind by his
conversation, what a treasure of interesting thoughts and pleasing
hopes he had left her; and, while following him in imagination through
every mile of his journey, and sadly counting the many days that must
intervene till they could meet again, she resolutely turned her mind
towards all the pursuits and occupations calculated to render her
worthy of Richard Granville, when he returned to claim her as the
partner and companion of his future existence.

    "Discerning mortal! do thou serve the will
    Of time's Eternal Master, and that peace
    Which the world wants, shall be to thee confirm'd."



CHAPTER XXXIX.


Captain De Crespigny had heard, with frantic alarm, of the fearful
danger from which Marion was so wonderfully delivered; and then, for
the first time, he discovered the whole depth and reality of his love.
The gracefulness of every thought which she expressed, and the bright
beauty of that look with which it was accompanied, had made an
indelible impression on his heart, so that now, when he saw her so
unexpectedly snatched from the jaws of death, no words could do justice
to his emotion. He hurried that very evening to ascertain the reality
of her escape, and to say what he could on the occasion; while the
tremulousness of his voice, and the quivering of his lip, gave a degree
of depth and reality to his few incoherent sentences, which all his
well-turned speeches in former times had failed to convey. Marion
thanked him warmly for his friendly sympathy, and spoke to him with all
the intimacy of relationship and old acquaintance; but when she turned
to Mr. Granville, Captain De Crespigny then observed the flutter of her
voice, the deep tone of tenderness, and the look full of confidence and
full of interest, with which she spoke to him, and to him only; while
there was a degree of tact and delicacy in her manner of testifying the
wide disparity of her feelings, which left him nothing of which to
complain. Careless of the dry and sarcastic air with which Agnes
watched his mortification, Captain De Crespigny did not even take the
trouble to conceal it; but soon after strode out of the room, and
walked with hurried and agitated steps up and down in the garden,
whistling, but not from want of thought. When thus alone and
unobserved, a thousand angry and indignant feelings made him writhe
with mental suffering, to think that he, who had been so deeply, so
fatally loved by others, who had never sued in vain, and never truly
had loved before, should endure now the agonies of unrequited
affection, should be slighted, avoided, and forgotten, for a man he
hated, as he had always hated Richard Granville.

"He cannot love her as I do!" thought Captain De Crespigny, vehemently
clenching his hands, and throwing himself on a seat. "What does he know
of that magical feeling! a passionless being from boyhood, master of
all his own feelings and impulses, incapable of the wild, ungovernable
ardor, which carries me forward, in the face of all obstacles, to win
her! He has indeed acted manfully on this occasion, but shall the
accident of his success destroy my hopes of happiness! No! it must
not,--shall not be! Dunbar will never consent to their marriage, and he
must prevent his sister from thus throwing herself away. She shall yet
be mine! The only girl who was ever insensible to my preference! I
cannot live without her, and if there be means in the wide world to
thwart Richard Granville, I must find them!"

Sir Patrick received next day, with gratified surprise, the explicit
declaration of his friend's unbounded, and, at length, undisguised,
attachment for Marion, which he had already, in some degree, suspected,
though so much accustomed to Captain De Crespigny's being in jest, that
he could scarcely believe now that he was in earnest, while listening
to the vehement expressions of his attachment, and promising,
nevertheless, to enlist himself in the cause, with all the zeal and all
the interest he could command.

"As her guardian, I have a perfect right to postpone this most absurd
engagement, and Sir Arthur deserves to be _spiflicated_, for ever
having encouraged such a mere penny-wedding affair for that girl, who
does not know her own value. Agnes tells me my uncle has allowed them
to correspond; but this he had no right to do without my consent, and
therefore I shall take most effectual means to intercept every letter,
either to or from her, till she is of age, after which my reign ends,
though, I hope, long before that, yours shall have begun."

Sir Patrick took an early opportunity of expressing to Marion, in no
measured terms, his utter abhorrence of poor marriages in general, of
poor curates especially, and of Richard Granville in particular; while
she, with downcast eyes, blushed, and re-blushed, deeper, and deeper
still; though, unwilling to irritate him more than could be helped, she
listened in silence, till at length, encouraged by meeting with no
reply, he added, in a tone of high exhilaration--

"But we need not talk of that now! The thing does not bear speaking of!
You shall hear news to-day that must positively drive all this nonsense
out of your head. The best 'catch' in Britain has actually lost his
heart to a tolerably pretty, and not very disagreeable young lady, by
name Marion Dunbar! A better fellow does not exist on earth than De
Crespigny; and he will render you the happiest of women. I never saw
any man so anxious to make himself liked by any girl as he is!"

Marion felt now that she must no longer be silent, and blushing her
brightest red she replied, in a low, deep, earnest voice, "Hear me,
dear Patrick, and I shall not annoy you by saying one word in favor of
my indissoluble engagement, that being a subject on which, I fear, we
shall never agree; but without reference to a previous attachment, had
it not even existed, my feelings towards Captain De Crespigny would
have been the same. I never could confide my affection and happiness to
one who has found his amusement hitherto in betraying all who trusted
him, and who feeds his vanity by causing misery to those who are as
deserving as myself. It would have been more merciful to destroy life,
than to destroy the happiness of life, as he has done, for many, and
for our own sister, I fear, among the number."

"Pshaw, Marion! Do not stand in your own light like a thief in the
candle!" exclaimed Sir Patrick, impatiently. "De Crespigny is worth a
hundred thousand Richard Granvilles!"

"One is all I care for!" replied Marion, timidly. "But, Patrick, as you
have begun the comparison, let me say, that to have once known Mr.
Granville is a talisman against every other attachment. There is no
pleasure in life worth a thought, without mutual confidence, such as, I
trust, we have established between us for ever, and such as I never
could have felt with Captain De Crespigny. My taste has been tuned to a
higher pitch than to be satisfied with such a transient and capricious
attachment as he could ever offer to any one--mere tinsel and filigree,
compared to the strong and lasting sentiment on which I may now rely."

"Marion! there is not a man living who deserves a more grateful return
for his preference than De Crespigny; and I still hope the time may
come when you shall see his value, and more than return his attachment,
or it will inflict a very great disappointment, which I should be
annoyed beyond measure to occasion him!"

"Patrick! how could your friend, with his heart splintered into atoms,
ever presume to expect a whole one in return? He often reminds me of
that German lady, whose picture is drawn encouraging three lovers at
once. She is giving her hand to the first, stealing a glance at the
second, and treading on the toe of the third, while each believes
himself the favorite. Captain De Crespigny will take the
disappointment, if it be one, to the next ball, and dance it off in a
single quadrille. His love is like wax, ready for all impressions, and
he has weathered so many flirtations already, that you need never be
uneasy about him now. I venture to say what I think, Patrick, to
convince you how vain all future importunity on the subject would be;
and I cannot but observe, that if there be any blame on this occasion,
it is yours, for obliging me so often, most unwillingly, to meet
Captain De Crespigny. Let us hope, however, that you have been misled
into over-estimating his intentions and feelings. Caroline Smythe
sometimes takes off your friend to the very life; and I wish you could
see how cleverly she carries on a furious flirtation with two ladies at
once. There really seemed danger, one day, that uncle Arthur would die,
like the famous Mr. Hope, of suppressed laughter! I wish all ladies
could view the case in as ridiculous a light as Caroline does; but
Patrick, it is very different in respect to Agnes. Her whole thoughts
are embittered by Captain De Crespigny's unpardonable coquetry--her
whole feelings lacerated; and I fear she may, in a paroxysm of angry
disappointment, consign herself to long years of misery--I may even
say, of degradation. You know all I mean, Patrick, and you ought, if
possible, to soothe her, to advise and persuade her into a better line
of conduct. As for myself, Patrick,--lastly, and to conclude," added
Marion, a wandering blush resting its warm tint again on her cheek, "I
can say, like Cardinal Wolsey, but with more satisfaction, 'Farewell to
all my greatness!' Richard is not affluent--probably he never may be
so; but I am no spendthrift. I would rather have love than money; and
whatever befall us, it is happiness enough for the rest of my life to
know that he thinks me deserving of his attachment. We love, and we
understand each other perfectly."

Marion rushed through what she had to say with agitated rapidity, and
on reaching the conclusion she bent down her head, and leaned it on her
folded arms, while Sir Patrick hastily left the room, uttering a few
emphatic exclamations, which were lost in the thundering report with
which he closed the drawing-room door, till it quivered upon the
hinges.

"Very absurd and unaccountable!" exclaimed Sir Patrick, interrupting
himself next day, during a paroxysm of angry whistling, which he had
carried on for some time, standing with his back to the fire, in that
attitude peculiar to Englishmen, and in which he was said to be the
only man who ever looked graceful. "Most extraordinary."

"What?" asked Agnes, with a start of eager curiosity. "What is there
which astonishes you so much?"

"That I am the only one of our family who cannot endure to eat roast
mutton!" replied he, evidently resolved to balk her inquisitiveness.
"This is a teazing and tormenting world, Agnes, where we cannot order
everything as we like."

"But what has ruffled the surface of your humor to-day, Pat?" asked
Agnes, indifferently. "You seldom treat me to a stage soliloquy!"

"Then, if you must have it, all I can say is this! Here are my two best
friends on earth, Wigton and De Crespigny, with a thousand mental,
personal, titled, and landed recommendations, each making his proposal,
and I cannot give either of them the slightest hopes!"

"Patrick, you must be mad! If they wait long enough, I may perhaps
marry both, but at all events I have no intention to refuse either!"
replied Agnes, in her most conceited tone. "Are you in jest or in
earnest?"

"Why, both! That strange girl, Marion, has given them each a good,
round, decided negative. I did not think she had it in her nature to be
so positive."

"Impossible!" exclaimed Agnes, with angry vehemence, while her eyes
seemed literally striking fire. "This is some ill-natured jest of
yours; but Marion understands Captain De Crespigny too well to fall
into any such absurd mistake. She knows he is secretly attached to me,
though, indeed, that has been no secret for ages past, and Marion never
hinted to me that he had an idea of proposing to her."

"No! Marion is exactly the sort of person never to mention what might
hurt the feelings of another, especially as you would probably not have
believed her; but I had yesterday a point-blank, _bona fide_, serious,
and even solemn proposal to make her from De Crespigny, which I had to
decline with all the usual regret, surprise, gratitude, offers of
friendship, and so forth. It is a great inconvenience, Agnes, that both
your strings should break in this way at once; but Marion is a perfect
loadstone for attracting the attentions, the hearts, and the good
opinions of all mankind. I have seen both these affairs coming on for
some time, and it is really awkward and irritating to be placed in such
a predicament with all my friends," continued Sir Patrick, in the tone
of an ill-used man, thinking only of his own grievances, while Agnes,
feeling herself extinguished at a blow, gazed in his face with a look
of pallid amazement. "If Granville could only be sunk to the bottom of
the sea," added Sir Patrick, impatiently, "I would not beckon with my
finger to bring him up again!"

When a separation is inevitable, those who depart have generally the
advantage, in seeing a variety of interesting novelties, to force their
attention, and occupy it; but while the thoughts of Mr. Granville
reverted continually to Harrowgate, Marion's became now more than ever
engrossed with Sir Arthur, whose nerves had been greatly shattered by
his recent adventure, and who ardently longed, as soon as his health
was in any degree re-established, to be again in the quiet sanctuary of
his own home.

Amidst scenes where she was hourly reminded of the happy past, Marion
delivered herself up to the pleasing consciousness of Richard's
unalterable attachment. Though circumstances had now separated, and
might keep them apart for months, she felt a steady assurance that
their mutual attachment could never be shaken by either time or
distance. In the solitude of her own heart, Marion hoarded up many
cherished remembrances of what he had said, and how he had said it,
while the most transient of Mr. Granville's remarks seemed indelibly
imprinted on her recollection. She read the books he liked, practised
the music he admired, traced out all his favorite walks, and lived with
him as the continual companion of her thoughts.

Marion's was an unclouded sunshine of hope, as she confided so entirely
in her absent lover, that she would quite as soon have distrusted her
own heart as his; yet day after day, and week after week passed on,
without a line ever reaching her from either Clara or Richard, and
little did she dream, while suffering from the melancholy monotony of
their long-continued silence, that letter after letter, written from
heart to heart, with ardent affection and entire confidence, had been
consigned to a premature end by the order and contrivance of Sir
Patrick; but nevertheless, with all the ardor of a young and sanguine
mind, she daily expected a satisfactory explanation, and still looked
back upon the past with unembittered feelings.

Marion's was not a weak, wavering, suspicious, or fanciful nature, but
high and generous in all things, she had not lightly confided her
happiness to one on whom she could not implicitly rely. She knew his
attachment to be one of principle as well as of inclination, and though
uneasy lest Mr. Granville might be ill, she entertained no jealous
apprehension that he had become changed, but perseveringly trusted,
believed, and hoped the best. Many a time had Marion's heart throbbed,
and her color risen with a tumult of hope, as she watched the return of
Martin from the post-office, and the flutter of expectation faded sadly
away in mournful disappointment, when she found that another day and
night, at the very least, must be added to her long and weary
disappointment; for no "hope deferr'd" makes the heart more sick, than
vainly watching for a letter, in which the happiness of a life-time is
involved.

"Out of sight out of mind!" said Agnes, sarcastically, one day, when
she observed the look of surprise and anxiety with which Marion was
leaving the room, alter seeing hoards of letters brought into the room
from every quarter but the right one. "Marion! as Shakspeare says, 'No
word from Goodman Dull yet?' That is just like men in general!"

"It may be like men in general, Agnes, but it is not like Richard,"
replied Marion, coloring and smiling. "On him I have the most
consummate reliance. We can both depend on our perfect knowledge of
each other, and I shall not break the long chain of our mutual faith by
a single doubt. I have given him my confidence, and that was all I had
to bestow."

"Well! as some sensible poet remarks, and I quite agree with him," said
Agnes, with a peevish, discontented sigh--

                      "The maid that loves,
    Goes out to sea upon a shattered plank,
    And puts her trust in miracles for safety."

"No, Agnes! Those who have loved lightly may change as lightly, but I
should little deserve the inestimable happiness of having known Mr.
Granville so entirely, did I not always believe him above the suspicion
of caprice. We have read each other's mind and heart, we have been
willing to trust each other in life and till death; therefore now,
unless Richard were to tell me with his own lips that he had changed, I
would not believe it,--and scarcely even then! This alone is affection
that deserves the name, not to torment him with distrust, nor to take
up the first cause of offence, but with unenquiring confidence to judge
him as I would myself be judged. It would add a pang to the sorrow of
separation if we believed ourselves at the mercy of every idle
suspicion; but I know his heart to be as incapable of deceit or
dishonor as my own."

In the mean time, Mr. Granville had continued to write from abroad with
unceasing assiduity, believing that some unexpected obstacle must have
occurred to prevent Marion from answering his letters, but never
suspecting that she did not receive one of the many he had written. In
his candid and elevated mind, there was no room for jealousy or
suspicion, and conscious that the transparent nature of Marion's nature
admitted of no concealments, he rejected every angry or impatient
thought. The more he saw of other society, the more dear she became to
his memory now, while his attachment was of that deep and lasting kind
over which the accidents of life have no influence.

"Miss Dunbar," said Captain De Crespigny, one evening, placing himself
on a sofa beside Marion, while Sir Patrick, to whom he had been
speaking very earnestly some minutes before, anxiously watched her
countenance from a distance: "I wish you were now seated in one of
Merlin's chairs, from which no one can rise till a story be finished. I
have something to say, so important to myself, and let me hope also to
you, that I expect to be heard to the end."

"Of course, if you wish it," replied Marion, in a faltering, agitated
voice. "But, Captain De Crespigny, allow me to remark how unlikely it
is that any subject can very deeply interest us both. I trust and hope
we fully understand each other."

"It is time, indeed, that we should," replied he with emotion.

"And if I dare say all I wish, it would still be less than I feel.
Dunbar assures me you are still at liberty to consult only your own
inclinations, and let me hope I am not entirely the dupe of my own
vanity, in believing that I might yet conquer your indifference. Since
the hour when we first met, I had eyes for no one but yourself. Even
when we could not converse I have watched you with ceaseless interest,
and am forever thinking of you in absence, counting the hours of my
existence only by those passed in your society. Why, then, do you so
obviously avoid me? Why am I for ever made the companion of Miss Smythe
or Miss Anybody-else? You know and see that my whole object in life is,
to remain beside yourself. Every look, word, and action tells you as
plainly as language can speak, that I love you to distraction, that my
attachment has not been hastily formed, to be as hastily laid aside,
and now my only apprehension is, that by too openly disclosing my
feelings the confession may separate us for ever, yet it can no longer
be delayed, for I must know at once now, whether I am to be happy or
miserable for life?"

"Patrick has done very wrong," faltered Marion, while tears sprang into
her eyes, "I told him long ago to let you know all. It is most
unfortunate that your preference should be given to one of the very few
who never can return it. You ask for a heart which is not mine to give.
My engagement to Mr. Granville cannot be soon fulfilled, but while we
both live, we shall live only for each other."

"That, Dunbar assures me, can never take place," replied Captain De
Crespigny, while a dark red flush passed over his countenance; "and
till it does, I cannot cease to hope. Nothing is more annoying, I know,
than the perseverance of an unrequited attachment, but I must cling to
the faint and haggard hope which remains. A mere taper is extinguished
by being blown upon, but a fire burns only the brighter. The greatest
felicity of life would not be good enough for you, nor so much as I
wish you, provided only we share it together; but with another, I
cannot wish you happiness. No! the words would choke me. May you never
find any till you find it with me. If you can ever feel one relenting
thought in my favor,--if, dissatisfied with another, you think with
even momentary regret of me, then, were I at the extremity of the
earth, let me but know it, and you shall find that I have been true as
the dial to the sun, even though not brightened by its light."

Captain De Crespigny continued with vehemence of tone and manner which
nothing could interrupt, while Marion's countenance became more and
more expressive of grief and confusion.

"If I have been to others the reckless, inconstant, and unprincipled
being you think, all who ever suffered a pang on my account are now
revenged. I never really loved any one but you! All else was
fancy--vanity--any thing but love. Were others like you, there could be
no changeableness or caprice, but never have I seen before, and never
shall I see again, so much to attract affection and to secure
constancy. Hereafter a solitary recollection of the hours spent with
you will be my only remaining happiness. Happiness!! there is no such
word for me, now! You, who delight in making all others happy, would
condemn me to misery! The thought of my defeated hopes will forever
ring upon my heart. The remembrance, that when I asked that of you,
which I never asked before, you coldly and indifferently rejected me."

"Not indifferently, but with heartfelt gratitude for your disinterested
preference," answered Marion, in a low, agitated voice. "If already
married to another, I could not be more decided in saying, that you
must never renew the subject again, for I owe it to you, as much as to
myself and Richard, to say that my answer is final,--that we never can
be more to each other than friends, but that I sincerely hope the time
may come, when we shall meet as we did formerly, without emotion, but
with kind and cousinly regard."

"Never! oh never! The very thought shows you have never loved as I do!
I could not be in the same room with you,--no! not in the same kingdom.
You may pity, if you cannot love me," replied Captain De Crespigny,
with a deep gasp of acute disappointment; and seizing his hat, he
rushed out of the house, nearly suffocated by contending emotions; but
as he ran, rather than walked, towards his lodgings, the first and
foremost of his thoughts was, under all circumstances, and at all
hazards, to persevere with unalterable pertinacity, and only with his
dying breath, to resign the hope of success.



CHAPTER XL.


Life is indeed a complicated and mysterious drama, in which Agnes felt
more and more dissatisfied with the part she had to play. Harrowgate
had been the threatre of many interesting scenes to her; but now Lord
Doncaster had departed with a vaguely-expressed hope of her visiting
him at Kilmarnock Abbey; and when Sir Arthur felt sufficiently
recovered to begin his long-desired progress towards home, she slowly
and sadly prepared to accompany him.

Before they reached Portobello, winter had already covered the earth in
a shroud of snow and of ice; the birds no longer carolled gladly on the
boughs; the rustling leaves had ceased to fall; the naked trees hung
their dejected branches, in bare and stern desolation, and the
blood-red sun glittered on the cold and barren fields. "Winter's dumb."
All life and joyfulness had departed from the face of nature, which
looked, as Agnes remarked, like a wedding-cake without the ornaments;
and amidst weeks of dreary discontent, she compared the death-like
contrast of nature now, from what it had been, to her own sadly altered
feelings. She appeared constantly now to be in a state of restless,
almost feverish excitement, always, evidently, expecting some event
which never happened, while she became daily more depressed and
irritable.

Marion, in the mean time, during many a long and dreary evening,
resolutely buried beneath a smiling aspect, her own anxiety respecting
Mr. Granville's unaccountable silence, and devoted herself as entirely
to Sir Arthur's comfort, as if there had not existed another being upon
the earth; yet still, every knock at the door made her heart palpitate
with hope, and every note brought into the room, caused her a new pang
of disappointment and surprise.

If a grain of hope or joy were to be found in any circumstances,
Marion's was a mind to sift out and enjoy it; and her buoyant spirit
now shielded her from a too sensitive apprehensiveness, while she
repelled the withering fears that might have forced themselves on a
heart less candid and trusting. Her whole spirit rebelled against a
vagrant thought of Richard Granville's inconstancy or indifference;
though in Sir Patrick's letters from the continent, there was much that
might have insinuated distrust into her thoughts; but Marion clung to
the unswerving belief of her lover's infallible truth. She knew that
the stamp of Christian excellence was on his whole character, engrained
in his very being, and only to decay with life itself; therefore her
opinion was not at the mercy of any idle representations; but the blast
which might have uprooted a superficial attachment, only deepened the
root of her own, which nothing could undermine.

Mr. Granville, in the mean time, having long ceased to hope for any
answer to his letters, became more and more impatient for the time when
he might seek a personal interview with Marion, of whose constancy not
a doubt ever crossed his imagination; while day after day he watched
with saddening apprehension over the declining health of his sister,
whose failing strength required all the affectionate attentions he
lavished on her, especially when, after a few weeks, Sir Patrick also
arrived at Florence, and Clara shrunk with blighting, heart-broken
grief, from every engagement that might endanger her meeting him. She
mournfully acknowledged, that having at first esteemed as well as loved
him, she was still unable to conquer her misplaced affection; and that
while nothing could induce her to unite her fate to Sir Patrick's, or
to place her happiness in his care, still the painful consciousness
that he was unworthy and dishonored, weighed the more deeply upon her
spirit, and crushed her whole heart with anguish.

The constancy with which Sir Patrick tried to regain her affection was
deeply touching to Clara's young mind; and in vain she tried to blot
out his name with her tears. Still, Mr. Granville, with
inextinguishable hope, continued to believe that the germ of life must
be stronger than it seemed; but day after day she faded and drooped.
Change of air had done less than nothing for Clara's feeble frame and
wasted strength; while she spoke often, with a smile of affectionate
interest, respecting her brother's future life, though he observed with
emotion, that her own name was never included, and that only when
talking of a world hereafter, did she speak now of their being
together.

"We must die to be perfectly happy," observed Clara, one day, in a tone
of calm and elevated peace. "My sun has set in the morning, Richard;
and it might have seemed hard thus early to leave such a world, so
beautiful, so fragrant, so joyous, and embellished by such affection as
yours; but we know that sin has destroyed this whole magnificent
creation; that misery, decay, and death, are hid beneath all. It is the
glorious discovery of Christianity that we are immortal; that we are
created, not for time, but for eternity! So long as my spirit continues
to lodge in this most fragile of human bodies, I must have sorrow and
suffering to prepare me for throwing off the homely garb of an earthly
nature, and assuming the glorious garments of heaven."

Mr. Granville covered his face with his hands, unable for some moments
to reply, while Clara continued, in a tone of solemn sadness and
fervent emotion--

"The near approach of death fills my heart with strange and wonderful
thoughts! When, like the lightning from the cloud, my soul departs from
the body, O then, Richard, how I shall learn to know the value of our
immortal salvation! It bewilders me now to think, that I myself shall
survive that glorious sun, the solid earth, and all the wonders around
us; that I shall see and understand all the miracles of creation; that
I shall know and love all the wisest and best of human beings who ever
existed on the earth; and that I shall then be wiser than the wisest,
as well as happier than the happiest of mortals. Richard! that is
marvellous! and were it not for leaving you, I could rejoice with a joy
that is unspeakable, and full of glory."

Mr. Granville clasped Clara's emaciated hand in his own, and would have
spoken, but his voice failed; and after an ineffectual effort, fearful
of agitating his sister, he turned away and was silent; but she saw his
unutterable grief, and continued,

"You could have borne this better if it had been yourself, Richard; but
I leave you in the hands, not only of an atoning Saviour, but also of a
sympathising friend, who will send you comfort according to your utmost
need; and, my dear brother, let us now remember, that as the infidel La
Harpe said, there is one text in Scripture sufficient either to live or
to die on, 'God so loved the world, as to give his only Son, that
whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting
life.'"

Mr. Granville solemnly bent his head in token of acquiescence, and
closed his eyes, but large tears, notwithstanding every effort, coursed
each other down his face, and he avoided looking round, while Clara in
tremulous accents continued--

"Before long I shall live only in your memory, and well do I know the
place you will give me there; but remember, dear Richard, when my
mortal frame is dissolved, that you will have another relative then
awaiting you in heaven, and that I shall yet be in as active a state of
consciousness there as here. When we are separated, you must still
sometimes revive old times, by reading with Marion the books I have
loved--by listening to the music I have delighted in--by walking in my
accustomed haunts at home--by rearing my favorite flowers--and most of
all, console yourself, my dear brother, by reflecting, that when you
and Marion are both worshiping God together on earth, I shall also be
adoring Him in heaven:--

    'Tis sweet, as year by year we lose
    Friends out of sight, in faith to muse
    How grows in Paradise our store.'"

The wintry year rolled on till Christmas eve, when Agnes, with a
discontented yawn, loudly wished that she had been born in the planet
Jupiter, where there was no winter at all. That night she announced
after tea to Sir Arthur, that she was about to leave home for several
weeks next day, being engaged to spend some time with her friend, Mrs.
O'Donoghoe. A considerable air of trepidation appeared in her voice and
manner when she spoke; and Marion, having recently observed that her
sister's thoughts were continually pre-occupied, felt startled and
amazed at the look of agitated determination with which she intimated
her approaching departure, after which she hurried towards the door,
anxious apparently to avoid all discussion; but Sir Arthur, in a tone
of mild authority, called her back, and drawing in his breath between
his compressed lips with evident vexation, he assumed an air of grave
but ironical humor.

"May I take the liberty of inquiring, Agnes, whether you have fully
investigated all the stories we heard at Harrowgate respecting Mrs.
O'Donoghoe's former connection with Lord Doncaster, and what she
actually is, before I consent, on very short notice, to entrust her
with my niece."

"Oh! she is everything on earth most delightful! You need not have a
minute's anxiety about me, uncle Arthur! I can take excellent care of
myself. Nobody knows my own value better than I do!"

"Convince me of that, Agnes, if possible; but you are aware that my
whole heart abhors your recent very unaccountable intimacy with that
contemptible old _roue_, who shall be nameless," replied Sir Arthur,
with strong, deliberate emphasis. "Any continuance of that exceedingly
familiar intercourse would be utterly improper; and as for a young girl
of your appearance setting out on a wild ramble with any Irish
adventuress recommended by Lord Doncaster, let me hear of her having
some very different introduction, or I cannot allow you to go."

"My dear uncle! I would dig my own grave and bury myself, if anything
prevented me! As for your permission," exclaimed Agnes, her whole face
illuminated with angry eagerness, "I shall certainly be most happy to
have it; but if people strain the cord too tight, it sometimes snaps
altogether. I have made myself a positive promise never to decline a
good offer, and go I must. Mrs. O'Donoghoe is to take me in her own
carriage, free, gratis, and for nothing. Only think how very kind!"

"My dear Agnes," replied Sir Arthur, while his brow darkened with
mournful anxiety, "I cannot wonder if you tire of the dull, monotonous
house I have to offer you. A perfect mausoleum indeed! It is a
premature old age for girls like you and Marion to be, evening after
evening, the companions of a solitary old man. Often, of late, have I
considered in vain how it could be remedied. Yet, my dear girl, there
might be a solitude far worse, if you lose the respect of others, and
the peace of mind you may enjoy with me. Hearing what I have lately
done of Mrs. O'Donoghoe, and knowing all I do of Lord Doncaster and the
Abbe Mordaunt, I must lay my positive prohibition on your accompanying
them now. You may think me a whimsical old man; but, Agnes, you cannot
long be troubled with my care. Loaded as I am with the weight of years
and infirmities, my life is like a spark on the ocean. Its fleeting
joys and troubled thoughts are drawing rapidly to a close; but if these
were the last words I am ever to speak, you must not go unprotected
into such society."

The Admiral walked with slow and musing steps up and down the room, his
fine countenance flushed with agitation, and his eyes shaded by his
long white hair, exhibiting an expression of mournful solicitude.
Marion's heart swelled with agitation, while inwardly moralizing on the
officiousness of Irish widows, and Agnes bit her beautiful lip with a
look of resolute determination, flashing glances of angry surprise at
her uncle, and pouting her beautiful lip, though the reverence which
Sir Arthur never failed to inspire kept her silent.

"Tell me, Agnes," continued he, stopping at length before her, with a
look of benignant kindness, "is there anything within the compass of my
powers that could be done to make up for this disappointment? We who
are old must not forget that there are pleasures for the young which
they naturally wish to enjoy. If there be any place you wish
particularly to see----"

"It is not places, but people, that I care for!" interrupted Agnes,
peevishly. "With respect to this excursion, it is impossible for me to
get off. I shall go deranged if you interfere with it! The party is
made on purpose for me, the horses are bespoken, my things all sent to
Mrs. O'Donoghoe's, and nothing left for me but to bid you good-bye!"

"This is little short of an elopement, Agnes!" replied Sir Arthur, with
a mild but resolute countenance, while there was a tone of strong
resentment in his voice. "What good object can there be in a scheme so
clandestinely begun! But I have no legal authority to detain you, if
affection and kindness are insufficient!--One thing only let me say,
painful as it is to my feelings," added the Admiral, while his whole
frame shook with emotion, and he walked several times across the room.
"In the name of your father, Agnes, I forbid you to leave my roof with
the party you speak of; and if, in defiance of all propriety, you do
go, then--I would have said, never return here again; but no!--I cannot
say that to my brother's child. No!--till my home is in the grave, you
may share it with me. Come back when you will, Agnes, and if I am
alive, you shall be welcomed."

Marion caught the hand of Sir Arthur in her own, and kissed it with
ardent affection, while she felt a tightening in her throat, and a mist
before her eyes, till tears fell fast and thick, like rain, upon her
cheek; but Agnes, with whom kindness, in its most impressive form,
could excite no generous impulse, rose in silence, and hurried out of
the room.

That night, after Marion had been asleep for several hours, she
suddenly started up in bed, with that bewildered feeling of perplexity
experienced by those who are unexpectedly aroused at an unusual hour.
It was four o'clock in the morning, and a pale, cold, livid moon-beam
streamed faintly into the room, giving a chilled and spectral aspect to
all around. A death-like stillness reigned beside her, and unable to
account for having been so suddenly disturbed, she was about once more
to consign herself to repose, when she heard the noise, repeated which
she had begun to fancy must have been only a dream. She listened in
trembling astonishment, for it seemed as if in her uncle's room
over-head, some persons were trampling up and down the room, drawers
opening and shutting, heavy weights falling on the floor, and a sound
sometimes reached her, as if several carpenters were at work.

Finding there was no mistake, Marion sprung out of bed, threw on her
dressing-gown, rushed up stairs, and having hastily thrown open the
door, she stood there transfixed for a moment with amazement and fear.
Through the glimmering dawn of light, she saw that Sir Arthur was up,
and completely dressed, while he appeared to be hurriedly groping about
the room, as if packing up for a journey. He seemed unconscious of
Marion's entrance, who stood for several minutes watching him in
speechless perplexity and consternation, while her very blood forgot to
flow, when she saw the stony look of his eyes. His countenance was of
an ashy paleness, his long grey hair matted over his forehead, his
expression sad beyond mortality, and when she took his hand in her own,
it felt cold and damp. His eyes wandered over her face for a moment,
without any apparent recognition, and then giving a smile of utter
vacancy, he resumed his occupation with restless eagerness.

"Uncle Arthur! dear uncle Arthur! what are you doing?" exclaimed
Marion, throwing her arms round him, while her limbs were faint, and
trembled with fear. "Speak, dear uncle! Speak to your own Marion! Why
do you not speak?"

A deep silence ensued. Sir Arthur evidently did not hear her. His cold,
livid lips moved as if he would have spoken, but not a sound became
audible, and with the same vacant smile as before, he turned away. The
terror-stricken Marion now felt utterly appalled. A death-like sickness
came over her, horror and darkness seemed gathering over her mind, and
apprehensive lest her senses might entirely fail, she hastily and
vehemently rang the bell, calling loudly for assistance.

Marion's was an intellect of that high tone which rises to meet a great
emergency, and though nearly paralyzed by grief and terror, when she
first saw the fearful, ghastly smile, with which her uncle gazed around
him, she now endeavored, by gentle persuasion, to make him lie down in
his bed, and tried, by speaking in accents of tenderness, to recall his
recollection, while impatiently longing for Martin to appear; and
during the few minutes that elapsed till he entered, it seemed as if
time itself had ceased to move.

The doctor was at length summoned, and having pronounced the Admiral's
illness to be caused by an oppression of the brain, threatening
apoplexy, he attempted to bleed his patient, though almost without
success; for Marion observed, while she held him in her arms, that the
blood scarcely flowed, till after some time he uttered a fearful,
convulsive cry, which rang through the room, and fell back in a violent
spasm, the immediate precursor of apoplexy.

Awe-struck and paralyzed with grief, Marion clung to her uncle, and
remained by his side, watching with deep and solemn affection every
turn of his features; while her cheek assumed the hue of death, her
tearless eyes were motionless, her quivering lips compressed, and she
remained as silent and immoveable as if the mortal shaft had reached
herself. Without shedding a tear or breathing a sigh, she bent over the
distorted countenance of Sir Arthur, and assisted in cutting off the
long white locks of his hair, which she had often loved to look upon,
but which were now strewed all unheeded on the bed, and again seating
herself by his side, she riveted his hand in her own, becoming white
and motionless as an image of marble.

Notice had been sent to Agnes' room of the afflicting event which had
taken place, and Marion expected every instant that her sister would
appear; but time passed on, and she came not, being one who
systematically avoided any scenes of distress, therefore she satisfied
herself with sending frequent messages of inquiry to the door. At
length, after some hours, Sir Arthur appeared to have recovered his
recollection; for he looked at Marion with a feeble smile of deep
affection, and laid his hand on her head as if to bless her; but words
were denied him; he struggled in vain to speak; and she who had not yet
found the solace of a tear, now bursting into an irresistible agony of
weeping, sobbed aloud. After gazing long and tenderly in her face, Sir
Arthur's eye-lids at length closed with fatigue, and still clasping her
hand in his, he fell into a peaceful, quiet slumber of many hours'
duration.

Those who have most leisure to contemplate death, generally think least
about it, and no one had ever meditated less on the subject than Agnes.
She occasionally remarked, when the infirmities of the old and the
indigent were forced upon her notice, that they might hope soon to be
released, and that to them it must, of course, be a happy escape. The
busy and active, she thought, had scarcely time to die; and, for
herself, she considered death as a very unpleasant subject, which fifty
years hence must be attended to, when the joys and the dreams of her
present life had vanished; but it seemed to her most preposterous now,
to lower her spirits by melancholy reflections on what could not
certainly be avoided, and would come only too soon in the end. In
short, her whole plan of life was, "To-day to sparkle, and to-morrow
die."

Marion had stolen away to complete her midnight toilette, before she
settled for the day beside Sir Arthur's pillow, when she was amazed
near the door to meet Agnes, hurrying past in travelling costume, and
anxious, apparently, to avoid being seen, though, when an interview
became inevitable, she tried to carry it off with careless audacity,
being evidently in a perfect delirium of high spirits, which she vainly
tried to conceal.

"Well, Marion! I am quite relieved to hear from Martin that there is
not the slightest danger! The doctors also say that everything has
taken a favorable turn, though, as for their opinion, I have despised
all physicians from Esculapius down to the magnesia-and-rhubarb doctors
of the present day. They all tell us the same thing of an invalid, 'If
he does not die, he will certainly recover!'"

Marion listened with a look of grave and melancholy surprise; while
Agnes, trying not to seem aware of it, and evidently anxious to avoid
any reply, fixed her eyes on the door, as if impatient to proceed, and
continued, in rapid accents of assumed bravado--

"You are looking really ill, Marion, and must have got a dreadful
fright! It would have killed me altogether! But make your mind easy,
for these attacks are, I am told, very common. The Duke of Middlesex
had ten or twelve, and people live often for years after the first,
which is a great comfort."

"They do sometimes, but not always," replied Marion, with mournful
gravity. "My dear Agnes, do not be too sanguine. This is a very serious
attack. You may hope, but I cannot; for it seems to me that our uncle
is laid on a bed from which he will never rise again."

"Oh! you are nervous, after being so frightfully alarmed this morning.
It must have been very shocking," said Agnes, shaking her well-arranged
ringlets, and attempting to get up a melancholy look; but in her mind
there never was any of that gentle, feminine apprehensiveness for
others, which is so amiable and so endearing. "I feel quite confident
that in a few days he will recover; but for the present, Marion, you
see everything through a darkened glass. I have no fears whatever,"
added she, in a tone of superior wisdom. "Old people always remind me
of a creaking door, forever complaining, but never any worse! It is
lucky for those who have nerves to endure it all. I have none;
therefore being of no earthly use here, I should be quite in the way.
Indeed, a single week of moping at home, with fright and anxiety, would
lay me up also."

"You are not going, Agnes? Impossible! Listen to me for five minutes."

"I am not equal to the exertion! What can I do? It is out of the
question to break off my engagement now! I am really between the horns
of a dilemma, and must be tossed upon one or other of them. Both Mrs.
O'Donoghoe and Lord Doncaster have set their hearts upon having me;
and, as the schoolboys say in their speeches, 'It must be so! Agnes,
thou reason'st well!'"

"If we are sisters, hear me," replied Marion, in accents of breathless
indignation. "Agnes! you cannot, you must not think of going."

"But, as the lover says in the Critic, 'I can, I must, I will, I ought,
I do!' Marion, you do not know the importance I attach to my excursion,
which will last only a few days. As for this absurd affair of Sir
Arthur's, you think every breeze a hurricane; but it is well over now,
and, since he is ordered quietness, he will miss me the less, or
perhaps not at all, if you never mention my absence. Certainly my forte
is not in a sick-room, and yours is. My chief fault, as an attendant on
sick people, is, that I am good for nothing. As for danger, Marion, I
do not see any."

"Or, rather, you will not see any. Agnes, I would not for ten thousand
worlds leave him now. Our best--almost our only friend, and probably
dying," exclaimed Marion, while hot, scalding tears rushed in torrents
from her eyes. "The question now is not, whether Sir Arthur will be
restored as he was to us? but only, how many days or hours he can be
kept from the grave. Every passing moment is a knell of death to my
heart, when I think how few more we shall see before he is gone
forever. If you consider nothing but mere appearances, Agnes, you ought
to stay."

"As for appearances," replied she, clasping her bracelet, "I am of
opinion with the Abbe Mordaunt on that point, as on most others, that
those who study appearances have seldom any realities to boast of."

"Such sentiments might be expected from such a man, but I should not
certainly have supposed you would act upon them, especially now.
Believe me, Agnes, your own heart will reproach you forever after. The
danger is immediate and very great," said Marion, while her tears fell
drop by drop on the ground. "My uncle is hovering over the very brink
of the grave, therefore, for my sake, and for his sake, do not leave
us."

"But for my own sake I must! You have a teazing, exaggerated way of
stating things; but pray, remember now, Marion, the maxim Madame
D'Ambert taught us at school, '_Pour porter legerement la vie, il faut
glisser sur bien des choses!_' I always prefer hopes to fears, and hate
that desolate, dreary look of yours, this morning. You wish to rule and
direct everybody, but I will not be governed or trampled on," said
Agnes, in an angry imperious tone. "I did not suppose as much could be
said on any subject in the world as you have said upon this. One would
think, from your way of talking, that Sir Arthur was nobody's uncle but
yours; or that I did not know how to act for myself! Well! I hope, for
my own especial happiness, very soon to be independent of those who
never have appreciated me."

"At all events, we have loved you, Agnes."

"Yes! of course. Ah! here is the carriage! Good bye, then! Sir Arthur
will never miss me while you remain; but write often, though where in
the wide world to direct your letters is more than I remember; but,
Marion, we see in the Times newspaper every day, advertisements
entreating persons who have left their homes to return, that all their
wishes may be granted, therefore, when you and Sir Arthur want me back,
pray insert something of that kind. Good bye!"

With heightened color, and eyes fixed on the ground, Marion received
the hand of Agnes, and gave her one parting look of expostulation,
hoping to the last that nature and feeling might yet make themselves
heard; but when Agnes had sprung into Mrs. O'Donoghoe's carriage, and
kissed her hand with a parting smile, every trace of agitation vanished
from the face of Marion, but a band of iron seemed around her head and
her heart, as she slowly turned away, disgusted and astonished at her
sister's heartless levity, and in the privacy of her own room, she sank
upon her knees and offered up solemn, fervent prayers for the many to
whom she was attached, but, above all, for her much-loved uncle.



CHAPTER XLI.


With all the acute susceptibilities of youth, Marion now experienced,
for the first time, what it was to watch over an almost hopeless
illness, and, with a shuddering sensation of unutterable woe, she tried
to obtain that comfort from above, which nothing on earth could supply.
Days passed slowly on, the longest and most melancholy she had ever
known, while most of her hours were spent in prayer, but all around was
gloom. Nothing could be more oppressive to her than the subdued whisper
and stealthy step of Sir Arthur's attendants, his vacant seat, his
darkened room, the mute and solemn looks of his physician, and, above
all, the inward anguish with which, hour after hour, she sat with his
hand in hers, watching the fluctuations of his feeble pulse, observing
with awe and grief the pale ensigns of death gathering over his
features, and feeling as if every labored breath he drew gave him but a
momentary reprieve from the grave, while she could not bear to
contemplate the probability of burying with her beloved uncle, all the
dear and tender ties that bound them to each other.

With no one to console her, and nothing on earth to screen her from the
desolating blast of grief, the whole fabric of her worldly happiness
seemed crumbling to dust. Her heart was like an exhausted receiver, and
her spirit sank, yet no inducement could have withdrawn her for an hour
from that scene of solemn, deep, and awful melancholy. Throughout the
long, dreary hours of night, each of which seemed an eternity of
anxious care, Marion felt too deeply impressed with the solemnity
around for the indulgence of any violent emotion. Nothing is so silent
as intense feeling! Stunned and stupified by the sudden affliction, a
wild chaos of sorrow, fear, and amazement rushed through her young
mind, filling her with agony, which tears could not relieve; but now
was the time for that supernatural aid given by Divine grace to the
humble, believing Christian. In silent, speechless prayer, Marion found
her first and only relief; then she felt that her heart was read, and
her sorrows pitied, by One who has shared every human grief, carried
every human sorrow, and to whom the suffering sinner never applies in
vain.

One morning, the grey light of dawn stole through a crevice of the
shutters, while, in her lonely silence, Marion felt as if the whole
world were in a trance, and not a sound was heard, but the slow ticking
of the clock, reminding her that time and death are forever advancing.
She sat watching every minute change of that beloved countenance
shattered by sickness, and evidently sinking in decay, when Sir Arthur
unexpectedly opened his eyes, which once more beamed with intelligence,
as he fixed them with a look of touching mournfulness on Marion, and
called her by name. That voice, which had so long been dear to her, now
sounded strange and unnatural, being palsied by weakness, while the
glassiness of the grave was in his eye; but Marion, forcibly subduing
all appearance of emotion, stooped down, and, with a momentary gleam of
hope, kissed his pale forehead.

"Marion! we have loved each other well," said he feebly, extending his
hand to her. "For your sake I would stay, old and weary as I am, but
the far better will of God is otherwise. Before that clock strikes
again, I shall be in a better world."

Marion covered her face with her hands and attempted not to speak, for
she saw that the sure hand of time, and the heavier hand of sorrow, had
indeed done their work. It was but too evident that Sir Arthur would
never see another night, for he was about to awaken in the mighty dawn
of eternity, where no darkness ever would follow. The frail, old,
worn-out tenement of his body, so full of infirmities, was now to enter
its rest; his head, whitened with age and suffering, had been anointed
with peace, and, having partaken with cheerful thankfulness of the
banquet of life, he was evidently willing to make way, that others
might fill his place; not disgusted or dissatisfied with existence, but
thankful that he had tasted better joys than those of earth, and
desiring to enjoy them at last in never-ending perfection. A mysterious
conviction is generally given to the dying, when their disease becomes
mortal, but though nature shrank at first from the solemn change,
religion supported the powerful mind of Sir Arthur, who added, in a
tone of commanding calmness, while a beam of ineffable peace overspread
his countenance,

"You are now my sole earthly care--as you are my only earthly comfort.
It breaks my heart to leave my Marion worse than alone, while Patrick
and Agnes remorsely pursue their own pleasure, careless how you are
trampled down in their wild career."

"Dear uncle!" whispered Marion, wishing to soothe him, "you consigned
me to the care of Richard Granville, and year after year, while we
live, you shall be remembered by us both with the affection and
gratitude of children to a parent."

"I did hope, my dear girl, that I should have lived to understand his
conduct, and even now, while standing in the gloomy porch of death, it
would cheer me to see him and dear Henry again. If Granville be the man
I believe him, he will come immediately to see you now, and all will be
satisfactorily explained--if not, the world is worse than I thought."

"If Richard is alive, he will come, dear uncle--but oh! what a meeting
it would be, without you!"

"Take comfort, dear Marion. Think of me often, but let it be with
consolation. My long life seems but a span! May yours be blessed with
every affection of this world--with every hope for eternity--and may
your death-bed be attended by one as dear and affectionate as mine is.
May your eyes be closed in the same undoubting faith, and may I be
permitted to meet you on the very threshold of heaven, and in the
august presence of Him, whom 'not having seen, we love, and in whom
believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.'"

With a face livid as death, Marion choked back her sobs and restrained
her tears, while she listened to every faltering word Sir Arthur said,
as if her life depended on hearing him. When he became silent from
exhaustion, she attempted to whisper a few broken expressions of grief
and affection in his ear. Unable, however, to think or speak under the
weight of her sorrow, she might have been mistaken for a corpse, but
for the look of living agony in her eye, while struggling with a sorrow
which tears or lamentations could not have expressed, and could not
have relieved.

At length Sir Arthur's breathing became uncertain--his majestic chest
heaved convulsively--a damp, cold dew broke out on his forehead--the
heart which had beat with every kind and noble emotion, could beat no
more--and, giving a last glance of fond affection at Marion, a grey,
ashy hue stole over his features, and his countenance assumed that
strange, peculiar aspect which is seen in death, and in death only.
Marion saw it, and long afterwards that look was forever before her
sight. Nothing in all the earth is so unutterly sublime as death.
Strange and solemn was the mysterious horror, the inexplicable wonder,
with which Marion, for the first time, witnessed the soul forsaking its
earthly tabernacle. Day after day, when she returned to watch beside
all that now remained of her earliest and kindest friend, while her
heart seemed scorched and seared with grief, she gazed on the mortal
form in ruins before her--its light extinguished--its tenant
departed--its whole nature in a moment transformed--and, forgetting
sometimes for a moment her own grief, her loneliness, her deep and
fearful bereavements, she thought but of that purified spirit now
emancipated into the regions of eternal glory, and almost longed for
the period when she also might become as indifferent to things of time
as the inanimate corpse beside her. Often, however, she tried, with an
eye of faith, to look beyond the portals of the tomb, remembering that
death is to a Christian, like the setting of the sun, for while lost to
human sight, he still exists and shines with unfading glory and
everlasting brightness.

When Sir Arthur's remains were placed in the coffin, Marion felt as if
the last link were severed between them. His better part had, indeed,
already departed, but the cold image before her was still associated
with all she had ever known of happiness or affection, yet, in the
strong agony of her grief, when all seemed a gloomy chaos of solitary
desolation, she felt consoled by reflecting that her own devoted care
had assisted in smoothing his passage to the grave; and she could not
but think how great must be the joys of another world, when such
affliction as her's was not worthy to be compared with them. A wide
horizon of sorrow seemed before her, long days of loneliness and longer
nights of grief; while, though young in years, she already felt old in
affliction, for a blight and a mildew were upon her spirit. Marion's
sanguine mind and ardent feelings had nothing near her on which to
rest, the whole energy of her being, for the time, seemed crushed and
withered; the future appeared to stretch before her mind in a long
vista of moving shadows, and the memory of past happiness, like gold in
the hand of a drowning man, sank her only the deeper in grief. Her
beloved uncle seemed still to be everywhere--yet she saw him not. In
all the earth there was not a thought which did not pierce her, or a
worldly hope which did not now bring an icy chilliness to her
heart--for a dark cloud had fallen between her and all those whose
affection once adorned her existence.

It was now that Marion, like a tempest-tossed vessel, surrounded by
darkness and fear, turned for direction and help to that steady and
benignant light burning at a distance, which alone could direct her
into a haven of rest. Her sorrow became gradually illuminated by hope
and peace. She clung to every shattered wreck of happiness which
remained, and sinking on her knees, she felt that no one could ever be
completely alone, or completely miserable, who rightly used the
privilege of speaking her wishes in prayer to that great and holy
Being, who is the father and the friend of all his earth-born children.
Marion had long believed that the happiest life is that most conformed
to the will of God--that grief arises from not believing whatever is
appointed to be really best; and now she found in the Bible that
comfort which is nowhere else to be gained. The deepest emotions of
this world remain unseen and unknown to all around; for the strength of
character which gives power to feel, gives power also to hide, and
there is a modesty in real sensibility, which admits not of display;
but Marion, cut off now from all the tenderest sympathies of life,
became the more zealous and diligent in preparing for that hour when
"mourned and mourner lie together in repose."

    Oh! if belov'd ones from their hallow'd sphere,
    May witness warm affection's faithful tear,
    At this deep hour, they hear the mourner's sigh,
    And waft a blessing from their homes on high.



CHAPTER XLII.


At Florence, Clara Granville lingered and recovered, and lingered
again, sleeping little, eating nothing, and patiently trying every
remedy, though she herself was without hope of recovery, till at
length, decorated in all the radiant coloring and bright beauty of
consumption, she sank slowly but surely, evidently hastening to the
grave, though still Mr. Granville, with the tenacity of affection,
continued to hope, and still he told himself that she might, perhaps,
yet be spared. Day after day he sat beside her couch, reading,
conversing, and praying with her, while his brotherly attachment seemed
to grow only the more engrossing and considerate the longer she needed
his care; but it became evident to all around, that his cares and hopes
on her account were drawing to a close, and that his sorrow must soon
be without hope in a present world, though full of hope in a world to
come.

Letters now reached Mr. Granville, announcing that his long-pending
law-suit had been at length finally decided in his favor, giving him an
income more than equal to his utmost desires; but letters far more
deeply interesting to his feelings still were missing. Often and
anxiously had he watched for a single line from Marion, yet so well had
Sir Patrick arranged the measures which, as her guardian, he persuaded
himself it might be allowable to take, in order to intercept her
correspondence, that not a single letter ever escaped the vigilance of
his emissaries; and Mr. Granville, though he still cherished, as his
best earthly treasure, the belief of Marion's attachment, felt so
painfully perplexed respecting her, and so grieved for Clara, that the
almost unexpected change in his circumstances appeared scarcely worth a
thought, while a dense curtain of sorrow seemed gathered around his
spirits.

If the vital spark of his own existence had been about to expire,
Richard could scarcely have felt more deeply than now, beside the dying
bed of his young and lovely sister, who took his hand in her own one
day, while a fixed expression of tenderness and grief appeared in her
speaking eyes, and there was a melting softness in her voice, when she
said:

"My only reluctance to die, is, dear Richard, because I must leave you!
This is sorrow; but our sorrow shall hereafter be turned into joy. When
patience has had her perfect work, you, like myself, have a sure and
certain hope of a better world, and, unlike me, you have a hope also
for this life, which contains the best blessing left to man upon earth.
Yes, Richard, you will soon have a loved and trusted companion, suited
in every respect to yourself; and with her, I trust, you may enjoy a
long course of usefulness and of joy, after I am no more."

Mr. Granville kissed his sister's forehead with deep and solemn
affection, while his cheek became pale and his lip quivered; but his
heart was too full to reply, and Clara proceeded:

"We have saved ourselves much unnecessary anxiety by placing a firm and
well-founded confidence in dear Marion. Let that remain unshaken,
Richard, till you meet," said Clara, fixing her large, mournful eyes on
him; and slowly closing them as she faintly added, "Tell Marion I died
without a doubt of her constancy and truth. And now, there is but one
wish remaining to me in life, Richard--only one----"

Clara hesitated, the hectic color deepened on her transparent cheek,
her lip trembled, and she became silent, while Richard took her hand in
his own, and listened with affectionate anxiety for what was to follow;
but it came not. With a look of desolate grief Clara turned away her
head and was silent, while Mr. Granville, using every term of
affectionate endearment, entreated her not to let him suppose there was
a wish of her heart unspoken, or a desire which he could grant
unfulfilled. After a short struggle, during which he was alarmed by the
greatness of her emotion, she seemed at length to have entirely
conquered her feelings, and said in a perfectly calm, unimpassioned
voice--

"A letter was conveyed to me last night--I know not how it came--from
Sir Patrick. He has been some time in Florence; he sends every morning
to inquire for me! I am told he even watches daily till the doctors
come out, and asks how I am!"

"True, dear Clara, and I feel for him deeply."

"Richard!" added she, raising herself up with sudden energy, and
clasping his arm, while her large, bright eyes became fixed on his, "I
wish to see Sir Patrick once again! to have a last conversation with
him on this side of the eternal world. There is a sacred power in the
words of a dying friend, and I would summon the whole faculties of my
being, to bid him a last and solemn farewell. He has always listened to
me. If I have any influence, let me use it now. Think what a blessed
consciousness I yet might carry to the grave, if our unhappy attachment
were no longer a source of misery to both, but of real and eternal
advantage. Let me make a final effort of life and of affection, to
leave in his heart a thought of immortality. Such a hope might almost
hold back my spirit from the gates of death! Dear Richard, I shall rise
for half an hour to-morrow, and then let me see him!"

"It would destroy you, Clara! you are quite unfit for the effort; but
give me a message. Say what you please; and, painful as it must be, I
shall see Sir Patrick, personally. We can sympathise with each other
now, as we never did before, and I shall deliver your very words. You
are unfit now, Clara, for any agitation."

"Dear Richard! you never yet denied me anything! Do not now refuse my
last--my very last request. Whatever be the faults of Sir Patrick, his
attachment was disinterested and generous. I cannot die in peace
without saying that I am grateful--without, at least, endeavoring to
convince him, for his happiness now, as well as hereafter, how true it
is, that 'he sins against this life who slights the next.'"

"It might be a work of usefulness and mercy," replied Mr. Granville, in
a musing tone; "and if there be a pleasure in life you can yet enjoy,
dear Clara, I am not the person who could withhold it."

"That I know. In this world which has so long been my home, Richard, I
have never lived a moment without being the happier for your affection,
and it will be so for ever. I am now counting the last grains of my
sand-glass as they fall, and ready to go alone through the portals of
the tomb. Every sorrow is about to be eternally forgotten, every
blessing to be eternally enjoyed. Most of my feelings and affections
are already transferred to another and a better world; while I ought,
as a dying Christian, to be like an eagle soaring to the sky, and
seeing nothing but the sun, yet, Richard, the hope of serving one whom
I loved only too well still lingers round my heart, and will not be
repulsed. Say then, Richard, that we may meet;--tell him that, standing
on the very brink of eternity, I feel as if, even in another world, it
would increase my felicity to know, if permitted to look back on
earthly scenes, that I had not left him without hope or consolation."

"I do not believe, Clara, that the invisible world is very distant; but
only that it is hid by the grossness of our mortal bodies; and I do
believe, my dear sister, that we may both, perhaps, yet see the
influence of your prayers and of your last words upon one whom I most
sincerely pity," said Mr. Granville, observing the mild, full,
melancholy eyes of his sister fixed upon him, while gradually, as he
spoke, her countenance became irradiated with peace. "The ways of
Providence are indeed wonderful! If Dunbar be willing to forget all
that has ever been amiss between us both, I have forgotten it long ago.
If he choose it, we shall become friends, till Marion makes us
brothers."

"Oh that I could live to see that day, and then close my eyes in peace;
but it must not be! In a few hours I shall have shed my last tear,
endured my last sorrow, and conquered my last enemy. Who would not be
willing, then, to change time for eternity, the sufferings of earth for
the joys of heaven, misery for happiness, and a dying life for
immortality!"

A lovelier morning never had smiled on the glad earth, than that on
which Clara Granville received the visit of Sir Patrick alone. On a
couch near the window, into which the sun poured a flood of light and
warmth, propped up by cushions, Clara, with an unearthly brightness
glittering in her eye, and burning on her cheek, looked more like a
celestial spirit than a creature of earthly mould; but what passed
between them, during the long interview which ensued, no one could
tell. Clara's features, when it was about to close, betrayed no
agitation, but continued almost motionless for some time, while the
tone of her voice became slow and languid. Gradually her words appeared
fainter; her voice grew nearly inaudible; the color which had tinged
her cheek died away; and a death-like paleness succeeded. Not a groan
was heaved, nor a feature disturbed; but scarcely had Sir Patrick time
hastily to summon Mr. Granville, and to support her in his arms, before
her countenance became rigid as marble, and her ethereal spirit had
mysteriously fled from its mortal dwelling.

    Loveliest of lovely things are they,
    On earth, that soonest pass away;
    The rose, that lives its little hour,
    Is prized beyond the sculptured flower.

    Ev'n love, long tried, and cherish'd long,
    Becomes more tender and more strong,
    At thought of that insatiate grave,
    From which its yearnings cannot save.

Sir Patrick's grief and horror now became almost delirious, and he was
tortured by a feeling of unutterable agony; yet still he seemed
resolute to doubt the fatal truth, to hope against hope, to believe
that by a miracle Clara might at length awaken from her seeming repose;
but her hand grew cold within his own, and the glassy fixedness of her
eye carried death to his heart. He felt and knew that all was over, yet
he could not allow himself to credit the solemn event; till, at length,
covering his face with his hands, he groaned aloud in all the anguish
of a sorrow without hope or resignation.

Mr. Granville, forgetful, apparently, of his own grief, tried now to
impart consolation from that rich fund of sublime peace and everlasting
hope which belongs, at such an hour, to the Christian; for, though his
own feelings were lacerated and torn with a sorrow that seemed as
sudden as if he had never till now expected it, still there was a balm
for his wounded spirit, which soothed the first anguish of his
sufferings, and would at last, he knew, bring him daily more abundant
consolation. No affliction seems to come so directly from the hand of
God as the death of those who have been so truly loved; and in
contemplating the wide gulf which now divided him from Clara, the manly
spirit of Mr. Granville was overpowered with grief. This seemed a
moment too awful for vehement sorrow. He had watched the last struggle
of existence in one with whom every thought and emotion were hitherto
shared, and now, while her beloved and well-known features remained the
same, all intercourse and all sympathy between them had at once been
closed; and, in the hours of solemn contemplation which followed,
Richard felt more than ever a desire to learn what is seen and felt
when the gloomy curtain of life is withdrawn, and the glories of
eternity are first revealed; but, checking the speculations of a vain
curiosity, he opened the pages of holy inspiration, there to find an
inexhaustible fund of sublime and elevating comfort, convinced that, to
have his affliction sanctified, was even better than to have it
removed.

The sympathy established between Sir Patrick and Mr. Granville now
brought them daily together, when the young Baronet learned, in such
society, to venerate and admire that holy faith, which as yet he could
neither feel nor comprehend; and every hour he became more conscious of
its happy effects on the mind and heart of Richard Granville, who
seemed always ready to forget every selfish thought, when the glory of
God or the good of others claimed his most arduous and zealous
devotion; and even his grief for Clara, deep and agonizing as it was,
found a vent in the most implicit attention to all her wishes, and
especially to her injunctions respecting the restoration of his
friendly intercourse with Sir Patrick.

    The darts of anguish fix not where the seat
    Of suff'ring hath been thoroughly fortified
    By acquiescence in the will supreme,
    For time and for eternity.



CHAPTER XLIII.


There is said to be a stage in sorrow, after which an addition can be
borne with apathy; but this the heart of Marion seemed never likely to
reach. It is a natural source of comfort, however, in mourning over the
loss of those we love, to find that they are appreciated and lamented
by others; and many kind letters of condolence on the death of Sir
Arthur reached the young mourner, from old companions and young
acquaintances. Some were written with overdone and inflated expressions
of sorrow, as if the writer had lost a parent of her own; and if the
occasion had been less heartbreaking to herself, Marion might almost
have smiled at their tone of exaggerated grief. Others wrote studied
compositions, so beautifully got up, and with such skilfully turned
periods, that the writer must have felt certain of Marion's "Life and
Correspondence" being hereafter collected and published; while others
concluded with "Yours, in haste," as an evident apology for neither
head nor heart being much enlisted on the occasion; but all were
received with grateful interest, being more or less a proof of kind
intentions, very soothing to the feelings of a solitary girl.

Each letter, as it came, caused her a palpitation of hope, followed by
a pang of disappointment; for every morning she arose with a confident
hope that now Richard Granville must certainly write, and every evening
closed in with an added weight of discouragement and sorrow; for now
indeed the roses of life seemed all to have faded, and the thorns only
to remain.

As Shakspeare observes, "every one can master a grief but he that has
it;" and among the many well-meaning but commonplace acquaintances who
came to gossip over the sorrows of Marion, and to ascertain exactly how
much Sir Arthur had left, there was not one to whom she could unveil
her feelings. Each of her well-intentioned visitors said a few words in
praise of Sir Arthur, enough to convince Marion that no one but herself
could appreciate the hundredth part of his inestimable worth--a
sentence or two then followed of pious reflection, obviously spoken
with restraint, and picked up by rote from some volume of religious
meditations, and the whole was generally concluded in a masterly
manner, by repeating a few texts of Scripture, strung together from a
concordance.

There is a solemn dignity in real grief, beside which all commonplace
or trifling consolations fall powerless and cold; but strangers in
return for their contributions of sympathy and comfort, evidently
expected from Marion an ostentatious display of affection, and were
often not a little disappointed, at the pale, still, concentrated
calmness of the lonely girl, who, subdued beneath the weight of her
recent sorrow, received visitors only when she felt able to do so with
composure, speaking to them with gentle, melancholy kindness, and
evidently endeavoring to derive all the comfort she could from their
society; yet often in the solitude which followed, did she feel
inclined to agree with an author, who remarks, that "_la pitie n'est
pas le plus due a celui qui pleure dans la solitude_."

Marion seemed to live in a dream, yet she gazed on the daylight and the
people moving about on their errands of pleasure or business, till she
felt that the whole was a sad reality. The common, every day routine of
life seemed strange and unnatural, amidst the agony of her first
sorrow, when the tomb had so recently closed over her earliest friend.
She felt as if nature herself should have suspended her ordinary
course, and as if the melancholy awe so impressed upon her own heart
should extend to everything animate or inanimate around--as if the very
sun itself should scarcely rise and shine as heretofore; and nothing
appeared to Marion so strange, as that sameness visible in the outward
world, contrasted with the mighty revolution in all her own inward
feelings. Marion tried to take a lesson in cheerful resignation, from
thinking sometimes of the many created by the same Almighty Father, and
yet suffering far more than she had ever done; and her eye fell one day
on a blind beggar, seated near her window, shivering with cold,
emaciated with hunger, solitary and deserted, shut out from the light
of day, friendless, homeless, and desolate, with none to sympathize in
his sorrows, or to cheer him by their affection. "Yet," thought Marion,
"that miserable being finds an object to live for, and would not
perhaps willingly die! God gives something to all his creatures; and
who makes me to differ from the most wretched. But bodily wants are not
the real sorrows of life! O no! The mind, when relieved from such
abject cares, has more leisure to grieve over withered hopes and
blighted affections; yet all trials, if rightly received, are but
blessings in disguise. It is well if, by tasting such sorrows as
mine--and they are many--I am taught to avoid the far greater and more
permanent evils of futurity. In this world, we are suspended over the
abyss of eternity, by a thread which grows more feeble every hour; and
all events should be welcome which are ordained by infinite wisdom, to
prepare me for that hour when my place on earth shall be vacant, and my
place in eternity--in a ceaseless eternity, shall be filled."

Time has wings, even when they move most heavily, and as day after day
passed slowly onwards, Marion felt more and more astonished to hear
nothing of Agnes, who had written but once, a very few days after her
departure from home, in gay and almost triumphant spirits, boasting of
the excessive attention she met with from all the party, of the
splendor in which they travelled, of the admiration she had herself
excited, and of several magnificent presents she had received from Lord
Doncaster. In a postscript to this letter, she expressed a careless,
patronizing hope, that poor, dear Sir Arthur was now convalescent; and
as for anything but a recovery, she seemed no more to doubt it than if
death had been altogether abolished. To Marion's surprise, when looking
at the signature of Agnes, a broad line had been drawn through the name
of Dunbar, and the whole was surrounded by a fantastic wreath of
flourishes, exactly imitating the very peculiar way in which Lord
Doncaster was accustomed usually to encircle his own autograph; and
much she marvelled what this uncommon device was intended to indicate,
though she secretly dreaded to hear the interpretation of it, which her
fears had at first suggested.

As the mind and heart become more matured in this world, they too often
become, from sad experience, more apprehensive of evil, and more
suspicious of earthly friendships; but it was otherwise with Marion in
respect to Richard Granville; though a dark curtain had fallen suddenly
between them, all intercourse was most unaccountably suspended, and the
very thought of his attachment, once a pleasure without alloy, was now
accompanied by a heavy, leaden depression and anxiety. She told herself
a thousand times over that all would hereafter be explained, and yet
her heart seemed turning to stone, while day after day dawned and
closed without a line to give her comfort or to reassure her heart.

In this state of wearing suspense a visiting card was brought to Marion
one morning of Captain De Crespigny's, accompanied by a letter which he
had brought from Sir Patrick, strongly urging on her, in almost
arbitrary terms, his earnest desire that she should reconsider her
decision against her friend, and no longer wasting her affections on a
penniless curate, who had proved himself undeserving of her,--bestow
them where they would be so much better appreciated, and where they
would exalt her to so distinguished a situation. Marion was astonished
to think how Sir Patrick could know that she had any cause of
dissatisfaction against Mr. Granville, whom she had never even named of
late; but resolute if possible to avoid meeting Captain De Crespigny,
she was denied again and again when he called, though to her surprise
he persevered in almost daily inquiring for her, and numbered his
visiting cards conspicuously on the corner till they amounted at last
to more than a dozen.

Marion was sitting alone one evening, beside her solitary hearth, and
to a spectator she would have seemed of more than earthly beauty,
though the cold tear stood unheeded on her cheek, while her memory had
become haunted by the ghost of departed happiness. She thought of her
deceased uncle in his silent grave, yet it seemed as if still she could
trace his step and hear his voice by her side. All was still as death,
her soul seemed wandering in a mysterious existence, amidst the
solitary and deserted world, and hope itself grew dim within her
breast. The flood-gates of memory were now unclosed, pouring into her
heart and spirit a ceaseless stream of old recollections, old scenes,
and recent sorrows; while the bright mirror of joy which had once shone
in radiant splendor before her eyes seemed now broken to shivers. No
one seemed destined hereafter to know the deep mine of thoughts and
affections which lay unspoken in her breast. She felt as if the summer
might shine in its brightness, the spring might be gay with the
blossoms of hope, but that her spring and summer would return in this
world no more, yet she believed and knew that it was better to witness
the death of every dear affection, and the burial of every promising
expectation, if, when thus blighted and withered upon earth, they
became rooted and strengthened for eternity.

    "What empty shadows glimmer nigh!
    They once were Friendship, Truth, and Love!
    Oh! die to thought, to mem'ry die,
    Since lifeless to my heart ye prove!"

Martin had brought in the tea-tray, and Marion scarcely noticed his
entrance or departure while mournfully gazing on the dim embers
expiring in the grate, when her attention became suddenly attracted by
hearing a carriage draw up close to the door, and her pale cheek grew
paler, when a moment afterwards her sister hurried into the room, and
with a strange, wild, hysterical smile, clasped her arms around Marion,
and locked her in a long embrace. Marion thought no grief too great for
the loss they had both sustained, and yet she became startled to
perceive that Agnes was actually shivering with agitation; that her
eyes were blood-shot, her hair dishevelled, her whole form shrunk and
altered, while her lips quivered for a moment as if she would have
spoken but could not articulate; and a look of unutterable anguish
swept across her pallid countenance. At length, burying her face on
Marion's shoulder, she exclaimed, in a voice of thrilling agony,

"I knew you would welcome me! I knew it, Marion! Cold and heartless as
I have been, you will not reproach me. You deserve a better sister."

"I could love none other so well," replied Marion, alarmed and shocked
at the unexpected excess of Agnes' grief. "We are all the world to each
other now, Agnes!"

"Yes! yes! Who ever dreamed it could come to this! You alone will pity
me, Marion! Here at least I shall find a refuge till I find one in the
grave! Do not look so alarmed, Marion! If I had brought disgrace to
this house, I never would have entered it again; but I have been duped,
made miserable, and, worse than all, ridiculous! The whole world will
laugh, and well they may; but in the living death I have brought upon
myself, still one friend remains who will never reproach me for my
folly. Dear kind Sir Arthur, too, if he had lived! Alas! Marion, I know
his value now; but I know it too late! To obtain his forgiveness, I
could follow him to the very grave."

Marion gasped for breath, and tried to suppress her emotion, that she
might compose the mind of Agnes, whose voice had become hollow, her
eyes were brightened by fever, and there was a frantic energy in her
tone and manner so tearfully agitating, that Marion entreated her to
postpone all farther discussion till she was better able to bear it;
but Agnes continued to pour forth her words like a gushing torrent.

"I shall be better when all is told! Hear me out now, Marion! Believe
me it is better! You remember Dixon!--that wretched woman who attempted
once to destroy me. She stole into my room at Mrs. O'Donoghoe's some
weeks ago. Imagine my horror and affright when she entered! Dixon
related to me her own history--seduced, ruined, and forsaken by Captain
De Crespigny. She fancied at first that he had deserted her for me; but
she has since discovered, as I have done, Marion, that he is attached
only to you!"

"It matters little, Agnes, who Captain De Crespigny fancies for a
passing hour, provided it be one whose happiness cannot be injured by
his caprice."

"Dixon added," continued Agnes, with a gasping sob of angry emotion,
"that Lord Doncaster had been equally deceived into believing that his
nephew liked me--that I was the only obstacle to his marrying the
heiress, Miss Howard; and his whole attentions at Harrowgate were paid
to expose my self-interestedness,--he had carried it on as a farce to
amuse an idle hour. The plot had amused him; and, after a time, he
became flattered by the consciousness that a girl, young, beautiful,
and admired, as I was, could be induced to accept him; but Mrs.
O'Donoghoe is now actually his mistress! Spare me, Marion, the
recapitulation of all that passed: it is too humbling, too dreadful.
She told me that Captain De Crespigny, the only man I ever loved, had
spoken of me to his uncle--as--as I deserved, with scorn, derision, and
censure! She repeated the whole scene, and I then saw myself as I am in
the sight of others--seared in heart, degraded, contemptible, wretched!
and oh! how ungrateful to those who were, indeed, my friends!"

Marion saw that Agnes, when she spoke, gazed at the portrait of Sir
Arthur; and tears sprang into the eyes of both, as they looked upon
that silent memorial of past worth and affection.

"My reputation must be irreparably injured in the world's eye by such
association!" continued Agnes, rapidly. "All is agony and horror! While
Dixon yet spoke, I hated myself and everything around. Shame and
mortification overpowered me! All became shadowy, confused, and
wavering in my thoughts. That night I was seized with fever and
delirium. A sick-nurse was placed to attend on me; and I am thankful to
find that Mrs. O'Donoghoe, with her party, instantly left the house. I
am ashamed to think what folly my ravings must have disclosed! The
worst horror of fever is, that it betrays all to others! I hovered on
the very brink of the grave! Oh! that I had been as fully prepared to
enter another world as I was to leave this! How happy are those whose
trials and mortifications are buried in the silent grave, and whose
pulse is no longer like mine--the knell of a living death! Life is,
indeed, an awful gift, with its deceitful hopes and consuming sorrows!"

"Yes, if we will not be satisfied with the happiness provided for us by
God himself; if we will persist in laying out a plan of life for
ourselves, and in being wretched when the infinite wisdom of our
Creator sees fit to alter it. Even now, Agnes, you may, if you choose,
have peace and cheerfulness. How much better it is, to lose all your
lovers, than to marry a bad husband! Let us live for each other; let us
improve our minds; let us console the many who are worse off than
ourselves; let us encourage one another in all the difficulties of
life; and, whatever is wanting to us now, we can look the more
thankfully forward to those regions of eternal joy, for which our
sorrows here are all sent on purpose to prepare us. Dear Agnes, for my
sake you must not despond."

"I ought not, Marion, while you are my sister! I hate the world and
every thing in it, but who would not love you," replied Agnes, in a
voice of dark and stormy grief, while no tear was on her cheek. "My
heart seems dry as summer dust! My body is a dreary sepulchre to my
mind, all dark, cold, and desolate. There is nothing in life worth
living for!"

Though little of Agnes' depression was really caused by Sir Arthur's
death, yet her grief became now as deep as crape and bombazine could
make it. She had not the generosity to struggle against her mortified
feelings, or to spare those of Marion, but from day to day her wayward
mind seemed to cherish the chagrin which inch by inch consumed her. No
gentle self-renunciation appeared in her sorrow, but she seemed to
fancy that in all the world there was no tear except of her
shedding,--no sigh but of her breathing,--and she forgot to observe how
Marion had banished all her own anxieties and cares while listening to
the egotism of grief in another, thus bearing the whole burden of both.
Agnes gradually delivered herself up to a state of peevish, listless,
apathetic despondency. If she attempted to read, her eyes looked only
on a wilderness of words without meaning; she had no taste for work,
not a correspondent in the world, and never had cared for a newspaper;
therefore unable to fix her attention on any employment, she proceeded
with sullen, mechanical indifference, through the ordinary routine of
life, without energy and without interes